Intelligent Species
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Condition: Normal
ID: 6177


October 23, 2010, 12:51 pm

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“So, you want to buy a horse?” the grizzled Catfolk horse-master said.

“Yes. I'd like to buy a battlesteed and I'll pay whatever you ask,” the human replied.

“No. We never sell the Little Brothers of the Clan. Find a regular horse instead.”

“But my Lord wants a battlesteed and ...”


The nomadic Catfolk have raised horses ever since they migrated to the Forevergrass far to the north. They have been breeding horses for countless generations and the Forevergrass horses are known throughout the lands of the Five Races as the best horses, with unsurpassed stamina, strength and beauty.

They have also bred up a race of horses that are as far advanced over the Forevergrass horses as the Forevergrass horses are over the normal horses bred by the other races. The other races call them battlesteeds. The word the Catfolk call them translates as 'Little Brothers of the Clan'. They never sell them or give them away, and the only time you will ever see one is under the rump of a Catfolk archer or lancer.


The battlesteeds look like well-developed, well-proportioned horses. However there are many differences. They are stronger and faster than normal horses, they can run a regular horse into the ground and they move like thistledown blown on the wind. But the most important difference is in their intelligence. While regular horses have normal animal intelligence, battlesteeds are sapient. They are unable to talk, but by wickers, neighs and snorts, they can get their message across to their Catfolk companions.

They enjoy music, although they can not create it. They love to dance, and a herd of battlesteeds dancing is like a vast choreographed display of interweaving bodies as the battlesteeds twist and turn, leaping into the air or over each other, dropping and rolling, then bounding back to their feet.

Battlesteeds can breed with regular horses, and are responsible for many of the superior traits of the horses that the Catfolk sell. However, battlesteeds can not be bred back from the foals of a horse-battlesteed mix. Battlesteeds can only foal from a pairing between two battlesteeds. Battlesteeds are quite ready to improve the strain of the regular horses, but they prefer to mate between themselves. However, battlesteed foals are rare and highly prized by both the Catfolk and the battlesteed parents. In fact, the battlesteed mother and father will normally take a sabbatical from dangerous work to raise the battlesteed foal.

How battlesteeds came to exist is a matter of conjecture, but most credit an intervention of the gods for the first battlesteeds. In fact, there is a lesser god, the Lord of Horses, that is worshipped primarily by the battlesteeds and the nomadic Catfolk. According to belief, he came as the first battlesteed stallion shortly after the Catfolk migrated to the Forevergrass and all his offspring were battlesteeds even though he mated with standard mares.

Battlesteeds are never sold or given away to non-Catfolk. Occasionally one will be kidnapped or stolen, but invariably the battlesteed escaped, dies trying to escape, or is rescued from slavery by Catfolk warriors, who regard them as clan members. There have occasionally been incidents where bandits captured a battlesteed and sold it to some lord for a lot of money, only to have a party of Catfolk warriors show up to demand the battlesteed back, and woe to the ones that stole it, or any who abused it.

Roleplaying hooks:

A stranger to the Catfolk stays with them for a while and one of the battlesteeds decides to partner with him. The Catfolk, with generations of protective instincts, refuse, the battlesteed, with other battlesteeds, says yes, and we have a spirited 3-way discussion with the third party.

A runaway horse is acting strangely towards the PCs, apparently asking for something. One who has the ability to mindspeak realizes that this is no ordinary horse. It is asking for help to get home. The lord's men want to retake it. What do the PCs do?

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Comments ( 24 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Murometz
October 20, 2010, 13:01

Good, solid equine race, well described. Nothing fancy, but quite usable. I bet that 80 IQ can get them and their riders in some interesting situations (read: trouble)

Love the name Forevergrass!

October 20, 2010, 13:05
Glad you liked the name. And glad you liked the writeup. Yeah, I'll bet that the 80 IQ does get both of them into 'adventures'.
Voted sverigesson
October 20, 2010, 13:11

Wait a second... These are a sapient race who breed with normal, unintelligent horses? I don't know, but in addition to the other flaws this post has, that detail just doesn't seem right. Maybe they don't care, but any description of an intelligent species that was fine with getting it on with what would be animals to them, whether or not it makes sense in the context of their history just seems a little weird.

Also, the fact that they "breed" so the Catfolk can sell their offspring seems to imply that because they are not quite as intelligent as other intelligent races, they are being taken advantage of.

Don't get me wrong... There are some good parts of this, but there is definitely some history and other information that needs to improve this.

October 20, 2010, 14:39
No, as I said, the battlesteeds prefer to breed with other battlesteeds, and that is the only way to get more battlesteeds. They also will breed with the regular horses, but that is more to help out the Catfolk with their breeding program and upgrade the standard horses, which they regard with affection but not as kin.

The Catfolk *do not* sell the batlesteeds! They regard them as junior members of the clan, hence the name, Little Brothers of the Clan. They would regard selling them as slavery. The battlesteeds have no owners, as such. They have partners, and both the Catfolk rider and the battlesteed being ridden have to agree to it. And any abuse will dissolve the partnership in a big hurry.
October 20, 2010, 15:05
I don't know the Catfolk (Furrys) may love their Battlesteeds, but there seems to be unwritten rule that they are second class citizens. Why can't they be full members of the clan?

But sverigesson is right, they breed to regular horses which they in turn respect less. This is one hell of a caste system you have here.

Perhaps there is a plot where a young Battlesteed refuses the saddle. Despite his father's request that he honor the Battlesteed tradition he runs off the human lands and get a job as an accountant. Then some liberal human writes a fictional book called "Mr. Ed's Stable" about a stoic and kind hearted Battlesteed who is ridden to death by his Catfolk (Furrys) senior tribesmen. Soon Battlesteeds start staging protests, and yelling (through snorts and neighs of course) that they ARE NOT GOING TO PULL THE CABOSE OF SOCIETY ANY LONGER!!
November 6, 2010, 9:09
But they do sell the halfbreed Battle-Horses, right? That's what I was getting at.
Voted axlerowes
October 20, 2010, 14:34

This obviously part of a larger stream of information.  The question always comes up, where do you break off things into discrete posts.  If you have a society of wizards that carries glass daggers filled with poison, do you make a post just for the glass daggers?    Maybe this should be just folded into a discussion of the cat people.  If not this bare bones list of facts should be developed to really be a whole image of how battlesteeds work and interact with Catpeople (Furrys).  There is obviously a culture that goes with the battlesteed breeding.  

Perhaps a love story, a battle steed has an arranged mating with another battlesteed, it all seems perfect, their children will add strength to the Catfolk (Furrys) fur generations. But instead, the battlesteed falls for donkey. 


Or what if the battle steed fall for his Catfolk (Furry) master, Robert Silverberg handled that one.


October 20, 2010, 15:15


IQ Range


140 and over Genius or near genius
120-140 Very superior intelligence
110-120 Superior intelligence
90-110 Normal or average intelligence
80-90 Dullness
70-80 Borderline deficiency
Below 70 Definite feeble-mindedness 

Hmm, perhaps the issue can be simply resolved by tweaking their IQ # a bit :)

October 20, 2010, 15:33
IQ testing is just another way the MAN (or the CAT) tries to keep the Battlesteeds down. Everybody knows segregation is damaging to the IQ scores.

October 20, 2010, 16:51

Huh. I seem to have unleashed a monster here.

In my campaign, the Catfolk. the Wolfkind, the Dwarves, the Elves and the humans are all co-equal, separate but equal. Each live in their own realm and, in theory, all acknowledge the High King. 

The bsttlesteeds were created very recently by the Lord of Horses. They are recognized as sentients, but ones that need help surviving in the world, since they 1) are less intelligent (?) (although the Catfolk realize that that is skewed towards being able to read and write) and 2) they are totally, physiologically, unable to speak any of the other languages. Also, they look like horses, which means, since they cannot talk, that the other races will *treat* them like horses. Battlesteeds have an honored, respected position in the Catfolk society.

I can easily imagine a plot hook where a human, or elf or whatever stays with the Catfolk for a while and one of the battlesteeds decides to partner with him. The Catfolk, with generations of protective instincts, say '[No', the battlesteed, with the support of other battlesteeds, says 'Yes', and we have a roleplaying scene where the Catfolk. the battlesteeds, and the prospective other party discuss it.

I don't have a problem with raising their IQ. In our game, 80 is the arbitrary cutoff for sentient intelligence, but since they can't talk, a higher IQ would work too.

October 20, 2010, 17:03
If you are really interested in putting a quantitative stamp on Intelligence perhaps you should try using Howard Gardner's 8 forms of intelligence.

I think investing in more grey area and implied abilities and less concrete "facts" will improve the presentation of the idea and allow readers to meet the idea halfway. Or you could just say Battlebeasts are like Smartsharks.
October 20, 2010, 23:15
I must say, this line makes good sense

Also, they look like horses, which means, since they cannot talk, that the other races will *treat* them like horses
October 21, 2010, 5:52
But do they have their own language?
Voted Pieh
October 20, 2010, 17:22

I agree with Muro's first post, and what Axle said about idea breaking points. This is a decent submission, but seems to lack anything to mark it as special. They are just the Catfolk's super horses.

I don't have a problem with the odd breeding habits, but the Catfolk monopoly on awesome horses feels strange. Might be because I don't like Catfolk to begin with, but trying to imagine a humanoid cat (maybe?) riding the best horse ever is odd to me, especially after reading the words "the only time you will ever see one is under the rump of a Catfolk archer or lancer." I can only picture a cat ass stacked on top of a horse ass. And that makes me feel unclean.

October 20, 2010, 17:28
First time I laughed today: "I can only picture a cat ass stacked on top of a horse ass. And that makes me feel unclean."

Well played sir, well played
October 23, 2010, 11:25

Okay, after some reading, and some supplemental reading (Axle's linkages) I am left with a question. When you say these horses have human level intelligence, why do you say that? How do these animals demonstrate superior intelligence to mundane horses? Do they have music? Do they have a communicated language, just because humans and catfolk (ick) dont understand horse, that doesnt mean that said horses could not communicate complicated ideas between each other with a vocal language. Do they have art or music?

I ask these things as I own horses, and have had a lot of experience with them.

October 23, 2010, 12:45
They can communicate with their partners, and have useful ideas. They can communicate complicated ideas among themselves as well.
Art or music? Hadn't thought of that. They do appreciate music, but have you any idea how they'd create music?I can visualize them dancing, however. Should be quite a show, I'd think.
October 24, 2010, 16:55
How do they communicate these complicated and useful ideas? Telepathy, spoken language?
October 24, 2010, 19:29
They have a language between themselves, and with the other races, it is a matter of empathy, an expressive range of neighs and wickers, and charades. The partner says what he thinks is being expressed, and the battlesteed agrees or keeps trying. Not as much information gets across, but still a lot.
October 24, 2010, 20:49
Do they have a culture, a social hierarchy, a value system are their Battlesteeds who don't make the cut?

There is an interesting plot, The Bad News Battlesteeds
a young human noble is granted an undeveloped estate as part of his herditary entrance into the peerage. The new lord is a delicate unsocial boy, interested in books, models and engaging in collective story telling with his equally unphysical friends. His estate has no market, no castle and the population possess little war related craft. The only thing of interest is the herd of Battlesteed living free in it.
At first the estate is boon to him and his friends, by staying at the estate they can avoid the tournements, the costume balls and bullying of the other more sword and mace minded young nobles. The estate becomes a haven of book clubs, speculative writings and simple craftmaking.

Yet eventually war comes to the Kingdom and the young lord is required to put together a company of calvary. So obviously he and his friends, convice the battlesteed to join them. Only to find that the Battlesteeds are those felt unfit for combat by the Catfolk. They are the skittish, soft hooved steeds who get motion sickness and have a crippling anexity whenever led to water. Of course the PCs get this group of misifts to command, Can your players find a way to win with worst calvary in the land?
November 6, 2010, 9:13

"Also, they look like horses, which means, since they cannot talk, that the other races will *treat* them like horses"

Then how did the catfolk originally partner up with them? There's some history missing here that could explain some things.

"The Catfolk have also bred up a race of horses that are as far advanced over the Forevergrass horses as the Forevergrass horses are over the normal horses bred by the other races. The other races call them battlesteeds."

You say that the catfolk bred up the  Battlesteeds. But then you say that they were created wholecloth from this Lord of Horses breeding with standard horses. So which is it?

November 7, 2010, 9:38

Axlerowes, interesting plot idea, I may try to work it up into a scenario someday.

sverigesson, they took the updated strain of horses, the battlesteeds, and continued to refine them. Somehow, along the way, they discovered that the battlesteeds were different from regular horses. I can see a young Catfolk archer or something who starts to get the idea that his horse is trying to tell him something. Perhaps the Catfolk is also a bit of an empath and he realizes that it really *is* trying to communicate with him. A story there, I am sure.

April 24, 2013, 14:08
Only voted
Voted valadaar
June 1, 2016, 13:33
I like these a lot more since I voted last. I like this idea and can accept their foibles.

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