Men & Monsters of the Aegean: Bull Centaur (5th Edition D&D Race)

Michael O. Varhola

Bull Centaur

Orthaon plucked a strand of grapes from one of the heavy wild vines closest to him and pushed a few pieces of the ripe fruit into his mouth, enjoying the sweetness of the juice and relishing the bitter crunch of the little seeds between his teeth. He knew these would make for an especially fine batch of wine that he and his herd would appreciate throughout the coming winter months and began to gather bunches of the purple globes and place them in the paniers hanging over his broad bovine back. Plodding forward on his heavy black hooves, he stepped over the body of one of the Hobgoblin raiders they had caught trying to steal their harvest, and reflected that they would help ensure that next year’s bounty would be just as rich …


Bull Centaurs are a race of people that have upper bodies and heads like those of Humans and lower bodies and legs like those of large cattle. They are thus at a glance very similar in appearance to more traditional horse Centaurs, but are somewhat slower and more ponderous, are a bit more robustly built, are much less mercurial in temperament, and do not tend to be as completely nomadic. Despite common use of the word “bull” in the name of this race it does, of course, include females that might more properly be referred to as “Cow Centaurs” and which might respond variously with amusement, offense, or indifference to being given a male designation. Members of both genders have broad, backward-curving horns.

            Bull Centaurs might worship any sort of deities but tend to be drawn to those associated with nature, the weather, and intoxicants, and their religious leaders are somewhat more likely to be Druids than Clerics.

            Itinerant Herdfolk. Adult males spend much of their time gathering herds of willing females and defending their rights to territory and breeding in vigorous battle with other bulls. Some young males and a certain number of females resist this prosaic herd existence and sometimes decide to avoid it by venturing afield and even into distant foreign lands. In males, this wanderlust is often combined with the intent of becoming powerful enough to return to their homelands and challenge a reigning bull. Many such females, however, find that they cannot return to a herd existence and prefer the freedom of adventure or some other life altogether.

            Bull Centaurs are not truly nomadic but herds do tend to favor two or three locales throughout the year, often going up into the cool mountains during the summer, wintering in lowland forests, and possibly spending a month or so in another appropriate spot (e.g., in the hills during harvest season for wild grapes or grains, along a river to catch and preserve a supply of fish).

            Most Bull Centaurs subsist on a diet of game and gathered wild foods, although some practice rudimentary agriculture and others are completely vegetarian. Beef is considered anathema by members of this race in general, and those who eat it would be considered aberrant at the least. Such creatures tend to like both wine and beer, depending on what is available in the regions where they live, and there are many proficient vintners and brewers among their number.

            Bull Centaurs do not generally live in permanent communities or houses like those of most humanoid races, but will often have walled enclosures commensurate with their means in their seasonal campgrounds (e.g., a clan of a few dozen might have a laager made from pickets, cacti, and brush, while an affluent group of a hundred under an aristocrat might have a stone shell keep). Likewise, while members of this race generally prefer to sleep in the open, their enclosures will often contain roofed structures they can shelter under during periods of particularly bad weather.

            Formidable Combatants. A charging Bull Centaur is a terror to behold and can use its hooves, horns, or weapons with which it is trained to inflict telling damage against opponents. A favored weapon among Bull Centaurs is the labrys, a massive, symmetrical, double-bladed weapon that has the characteristics of a greataxe. To the extent that such creatures use missile weapons they tend to favor ones that benefit from their great strength, javelins and darts being typical.

            A Lot to Cover. As Large creatures, it takes a lot of cloth, leather, scale, or mail to cover a Bull Centaur, and armor for one is, accordingly, much more expensive than it would be for a Human-sized character. A full suit of armor for such a creature involves a mix of regular Medium-sized armor components for the creature’s torso and proportionally large barding for its bovine portions. Any type of regularly-available armor can be purchased for Bull Centaurs at four times the cost of equivalent armor made for humanoids, and such protective gear weighs three times as much as its regular versions. Bull Centaurs who wear less armor will be commensurately less protected, and one that wears just humanoid armor on its head and torso will generally have a base AC that is one less for light armor, two less for medium, and three less for heavy (e.g., AC 11 rather than 12 for studded leather, AC 12 rather than 14 for a breastplate, AC 13 rather than 16 for chainmail).


Bull Centaur Names

Bull Centaurs tend to have uncomplicated names that refer back to the history and traditions of their people. Males are often named after one of the ancient heroes of their race, females are frequently named for natural features from their homelands like rivers and mountains, and members of both sexes are sometimes given the names of deities most closely associated with Bull Centaurs.

            Male Names: Aescaus, Amphithemis, Ceteus, Dionysus, Eurybios, Faunus, Gleneus, Nomeon, Orthaon, Petraeus, Phanes, Riphonus, Seilenos, Spargeus, Zeus.

            Female Names: Ageláda, Aphrodite, Cyprea, Elia, Europa, Ezousa, Hera, Gaia, Galatea, Kilikia, Kyrenia, Lamosa.


Bull Centaur Traits

A Bull Centaur character has a number of traits common to members of its kind.

            Ability Score Increase. A Bull Centaur’s Strength score increases by 2, and its Wisdom score increases by 1.

            Age. Bull Centaurs mature and age at about the same rate as Humans, reaching adulthood around age 20 and, while they live to about 60 years of age on average, it is not uncommon for some individuals to reach the century mark.

            Alignment. Bull Centaurs can be of any alignment but most are neutral with tendencies toward chaos and/or good.

            Size. Bull Centaurs have humanlike torsos set upon the bodies of robust cattle. Their size is Large.

            Speed. A Bull Centaur’s base walking speed is 40 feet.

            Robustness. A Bull Centaur’s hit point maximum increases by 1, and it increases by 1 more every time it gains a level.

            Charge. If a Bull Centaur moves at least 30 feet straight toward a target and then hits it with a melee weapon attack on the same turn — to include its hooves or horns — the target takes an extra 1d6 points of damage of the appropriate type per point of the attacker’s proficiency bonus.

            Hooves. A Bull Centaur can use its hooves to make an attack (reach 5 ft., one target), inflicting a base 1d4 bludgeoning damage per point of proficiency bonus.

            Gore. A Bull Centaur can use its horns to make an attack (reach 5 ft., one target), inflicting a base 1d4 piercing damage per point of proficiency bonus.

            Bull Centaur Combat Training. A Bull Centaur has proficiency with the great axe.

            Languages. A Bull Centaur can speak, read, and write Common, Elven, and its own native language of Sylvan.


In the Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting

In the Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting, and possibly in other settings with a basis in the history, geography, and mythology of the real-world Mediterranean, a number of specific details apply to Bull Centaurs:

            * While Bull Centaurs might be found anywhere in the campaign setting, their homelands and the areas where they are most likely to be encountered include the large island of Cyprus; the lands of mainland Anatolia north of and adjacent to it known as Çukurova; and the neighboring Taurus Mountains.

            * According to the origin myth associated with the Bull Centaurs of Cyprus, they were created when the god Zeus became aroused at the sight of the goddess Aphrodite and accidently impregnated the earth goddess Gaia when he spilled his seed on her.

            * According to the origin myth associated with the Bull Centaurs of mainland Anatolia, their ancestors were nature spirits affiliated with a local river who were chosen by Zeus to guard the infant deity Dionysus from anyone who might harm him. Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus, was so angered by this measure against her designs that she transformed these stalwart beings into their bestial forms. They remained loyal to Dionysus, however, continued to serve him, and subsequently followed him in his war against the people of the eastern land known as Bharata.

            * The Common tongue employed by Bull Centaurs is Greek.