Skaurgere (plural "Skaurgere" as well, also called "Plainsbeasts") are large, broodish animals prowling the vast expanses of the Nybelmar plains. Gruff in nature and quick-tempered, they are dangerous to tame. But they are far brighter than their hairy lumbering exterior lets on and once "broken" can easily be ridden and can pull carts. The loud guttural growls and roars they produce carry well across the plains.
Skaurgere stand around a ped
and half at the shoulders. They regularly walk on all fours, but can rise to a
standing posture of nearly three
peds if threatened. Captive
specimens can weigh about five
pygges, but several claims have been made that wild Plainsbeasts can easily
measure up to 2.5 peds and
nearly 10 pygges - though
no wild specimen has been brought down near that size.
Black, beady eyes sit shallow on a wide, heavy-browed face. The muzzle is short and a large black nose is on the end of it. The males are in possession of a fur-ruff around the neck and it extends into both the chest and shoulders, while females usually only possess a ridge of fore-length hair along their spine to the shoulders. Their arms/front legs are longer than their back legs and they are deeply muscled. The paws of these creatures are massive - a fully extended paw can cover the face of a man easily. Retractable claws hide within their digits, if a Skaurgere spends much of its time on four legs, these claws can be very dull. Their spine is short and rigid, leading into hips that are relatively wide for quadripeds, giving them a short but brisk step. Their tail is thick and stumpy, about two fores in length.
They regularly range from a sandy blonde to a very dark brown, and only on the legs and tail are there any stripes - most often of a darker hue than their base colour. The manes of Skaurgere are often the same colour of these stripes. Black-hued plainsbeasts (called "Ur-gour", a corrupted form of the Styrásh word for "demon") are considered evil by many tribal peoples (it is believed the Taeanrhim started this myth) and killed on sight. Living white Skaurgere are very rare in the wild, but many can be seen in captivity.
As stated, the Plainsbeasts are quite intelligent, at least as smart as a
horse, though more closely resembling an untrained dog.
Their large size and speed make them a threat on the plains.
Territory. Skaurgere prowl the plains of the whole of Nybelmar, more prominent in the western half than the eastern half.
Habitat/Behaviour. Skaurgere roam the plains and savannas of Nybelmar. Some have been sighted in hilly brushland and sparse forests, but these reportings regularly indicate a much smaller beast - perhaps a relative of this beast. More research must be made into these "smaller" woodland beasts.
Skaurgere are known to be vocal animals.They regularly make low, rumbling noises, and growling is quite common, though not in the context of displeasure, it tends to function more as an acknowledgement of presence. Skaurgere roars are loud and carry for many leagues. Mother Skaurgere make short chirplike sounds to keep babies (called Skaur) within short range.
These Plainbeasts are not normally territorial, not to other animals. The do not mind keeping company around other animals or even minding the sentient races too much, but once the nosing of the necks and grunting occurs (it is a sign that the herd is preparing to hunt) it's best to leave the vicinity in a quick fashion.
Skaurgere do seem to become very violent in hunting and feeding of their kills, as well as with scavenging. They have no qualms about fighting for possession of the kill, and many of these beasts have scars across their flanks, shoulders and faces as a testament of getting to close to another's kill. This researcher has noted, however that females do not possess as much scars as males. It was observed that males will share the kill with females, but only one female - therefore females to not get attacked as often. It is also noted that shortly after feeding, the male and female mate - though rarely producing offspring. If a female brings down an animal or finds a scavengable meal, she does not have preference - the strongest male (by successfully fighting off the others) shares the meal with her, and they mate thereafter.
Skaurgere also do not seem to have a problem with cannibalism. If a member of the herd dies, all will attempt to consume him - this is a rare instance when no fighting occurs. They will also attempt to kill a weakened or injured member of the herd - though only if the weakened or injured is visibly so.
Plainsbeasts regularly move in herds of 6-10 adults and their Skaur. There is no visible leader, they seem to follow other herds of animals as they migrate the plains.
However, Skaurgere do not migrate all year long. When the temperatures get cool and winter comes, these beasts hibernate. The herd disperses (the first year Skaur stay with the mother) and they find places to bed down, usually by digging a hole in the side of a hill, or in the roots of an upturned tree. Some do move into the forests and find caves - this researcher assumes that the "smaller" plainsbeasts reported are simply food-deprived beasts waking from their winter naps.
They sleep until early spring and form new herds, taking to the plains once again.
Diet. Skaurgere are omnivorous, though mostly ranging toward flesh. Their favorite form of food is meat - be it brought down by themselves or scavenging. They will also eat grasses and leaves for sustenance in lean times. Before hibernating, they hunt feverishly and consume everything within sight to store up fat for nourishment during their hibernating months.
Mating. As stated earlier, Skaurgere regularly mate, though only during the mating season will these animals be capable of producing offspring. These beasts fall into heat mid-summer and into early fall. This is the prime time to mate and produce offspring- and this is also the time of season when hunting occurs most often.
The mating process is very similar to the one stated above - the male will share a meal with the female, and it is given instinct that the pair will mate thereafter. However, there is a sense of display in the feeding during the mating season - Males tend to roar violently several times during the meal, perhaps as a signal that he is aware that she is in heat and that she is his for the remainder of her season.
If another male chooses an already taken female, a battle usually ensues between the males- much like food-battles. The victor takes possession of the female in question, and the loser must choose another.
Females give birth towards the end of winter, just before the end of hibernation. Regularly, only a single Skaur is born, but two Skaur is not uncommon - usually of different fathers. At birth, the baby Skaur weighs about two hebs, and cannot walk. The Skaur latches on to a feeding teat, where he will stay until the mother awakens from hibernation. This allows the baby to develop, sheltered away from the world. After the hibernation is complete, the mother and her Skaur (at this time, usually ranging between 5 and seven hebs) join up with other plainbeasts and continue to roam the plains.
The following summer, she is incapable of having offspring as she is still in possession of a Skaur, and while she may still mate, will not fall into heat until the next summer. The Skaur is considered mature at about two years.
This researcher has noted that white Skaur (usually not actually white, but in possession of a paler coat than average, though albinos have been raised in captivity) are rejected by the mother upon joining a herd. It is assumed that white Skaur are seen as a hindrance to hunting - their white pelts stand out against the plains - and are abandoned by the mother. Trainers find these white babies the easiest to see and catch, and it is why they are so prominent in captivity.
Usages. Skaurgere can be trained if either captured in their youth, or "broken"- a process of dominating the beast through the use of ropes, bridles and harnesses, much like horses - only much more dangerous. Their pelts are thick and when washed, can be very soft. Some tribes use their pelts as blankets. Their flesh can also be consumed, it is leathery and tough but very nutritious. Plains-dwellers like to make stews of it.
Myth/Lore. It is believed that the Taeanrhim established the Black Pelted Beast, chiefly named Ur'Gour, as Evil. In early times, when Ur'gour were more prominent, they were most often pack leaders or the most dominant beasts. Some researchers noted the Ur'gour was more prone to violence - it charged at observers and was found to hunt for pleasure, dragging down and killing beasts but not consuming them. This caused the Taeanrhim to believe that it was an agent of Coór seeping into the natural world to turn others to chaos. As the Taeanrhim became more obsessed with the vanquishing of all Evil, these Ur-gour became easy targets, and were killed on sight. This tradition still lives on, with tribes of human and dwarven origin as well.
Researchers. Bertrand D'Alba was a researcher and prowled West Nybelmar. He studied many things about this region, including the Skaurgere and some of the material in this entry was from his book "The Extraordinary Journeys of Bertrand D'Alba".
Information provided by Viresse