Because of their size, build, and the horns that grow from their heads, asterion are presumed by most sages to be the offspring of minotaurs and some other humanoid race. (For example, human sages suggest a minotaur/orc heritage while orcish shamans claim asterion are minotaur/human crossbreeds.) This belief is also widespread among common folk of most societies, resulting in a strong distrust of asterion in cities and foreign lands, where they are seen as savage, honorless raiders just one step up from beasts.
This view has nothing to do with how asterion think of themselves, and the stereotype itself is often a source of conflict between asterion and other groups. According to their own creation myths, asterion are not related to minotaurs at all. Their shamans speak of an ancient chieftain (most agree he was a northern barbarian, though some describe him as human, others as an ogre, and a few even call him a dwarven warlord) who found himself waging an impossible war against raiders who used horseback archers to ravage his lands.
Outnumbered and outmaneuvered, the chieftain went to the river’s edge on a holy night to pray for aid in his battle. Unwilling to depend on just one god for his salvation, the barbarian chief directed his attention to the constellation of his birth, the Bull’s Head, and promised to show loyalty and respect to whatever deity would send him the power to defeat his enemies. As soon as his prayer was done, the chieftain was amazed to see mighty cattle emerge from the river’s edge, all females with star marks on their heads and gravid with young. Knowing these were the answer to his prayer, the chieftain brought the cattle to his village. Each of the cattle birthed four young, strapping youths with hooved feet and small horns atop their heads.
By morning, the youths were young men and women of full stature. When next the horse-archers attacked, they faced not just the chieftain’s people, but an army of supernaturally strong and swift warriors born of the star cattle. The horned warriors defeated the archers, and were welcomed into the chieftain’s tribe. Because they came as an answer to a prayer to the night sky, the new members of the tribe were called asterion, or the star-born.
If a GM chooses not to use asterion as an independent race, there are numerous other options for a race with the same approximate appearance and game rules.
Asterions are obviously designed with many similarities to minotaurs, and could be linked more closely to that monstrous race. Asterions can simply be considered a sub-species of minotaur, or could represent half-minotaur crossbreeds.
Physical Description: Typical asterion are powerfully-built humanoids, standing nearly 7 feet tall. They have roughly human features, though tend to have thicker, wilder hair and broader, flatter faces. Two horns grow from all asterion’s heads, beginning around the ear and jutting forward toward the cheek or jaw. These horns range from short spikes of just a few inches to mighty curved horns curling up and forward (though some rare individuals can be found with horns that curl downward). While males generally have larger horns than females, that isn’t always the case. From the knee down, asterion legs are covered in hair (ranging in texture from shaggy wool to fine fur), and their feet are digitigrade and end in hooves. Most asterion have a stout tails, like those found on cattle, though this is not a universal trait.
Though many think of them as a dusky race, in truth there are many lighter-haired and lighter-skinned asterion. They have a much broader range of skin and hair color than most races, and individuals may be white, cream, tan, brown, yellow, golden, bronze, red, brown, black, or even blue. More rarely some asterion tribes have members that are green or purple, which is often perceived by outsiders as a sign of orcish crossbreeding. In most cases, an asterion’s fetlocks and manes will match, as will its hoof and eye color.
Society: Asterion tribes are usually small and located in inhospitable territories such as frozen mountains, barren plains, deserts, and swamps. They are often part of larger racially-mixed tribes that include humans, orcs, and half-orcs who band together for survival in lands ruled by ogres, giants and dragons. Life in these societies is harsh, brutal, and often short. Since any group of asterion must repeatedly face the loss of one or more of its members every few months, ties of friendship and family are considered ephemeral and impermanent—to be appreciated while they exist but not important factors when weighing major decisions. However, these same cruel conditions make it crucial that every asterion feel responsibility for and loyalty to the tribe as a whole. An asterion will not think twice about leaving a wounded childhood friend to die, but he would freely give his own life if it meant giving his whole village a chance to survive.
Asterion appreciate things that are simple, easy to make, and easy to maintain. Things that appear more complex than necessary, too delicate, or purely ornamental are seen as useless and distasteful. Their vision of beauty matches closely with other races’ idea of functionality. An asterion does not care what a prospective mate looks like, but can quickly become enamored of a suitor who demonstrates a useful skill, power, or talent. There are two areas where asterion appreciate artistic efforts and skill—good music and fine foods, which they admire for combining functionality with pleasant aesthetics even though, from a practical standpoint, their artistic rendering does not have any material benefit.
Relations: Asterion form opinions about those they meet very quickly, and thus often have the best relations with those who are straightforward and do not stand on ceremony, observe rigid protocol, or practice stylish etiquette. They generally get along well with dwarves, humans, orcs, and giants, and have a difficult time understanding why those groups often do not get along with each other. Asterion don’t react as well to elves, whom they see as wasteful and flighty. Asterion are surprisingly accepting of gnomes and halflings, despite the often less-than-pragmatic attitudes of members of those races. Asterion seem to feel that since gnomes and halflings are small and weak, any off-putting behavior they engage in is part of some clever deception designed to help their fragile races survive.
Asterion communities are not exclusionary, this includes a noticeable lack of taboos regarding mating between asterion and humans, orcs (or other races, as long as they are members of the tribe). Such unions can be productive, through the offspring are invariably infertile. An asterion/human union produces short asterion, but asterion/orc unions produce tall half-orcs.
Alignment and Religion: Asterion have a very black-and-white view of the world. Once they identify someone as a foe, they rarely change their minds. They display emotions openly, seeing no point in concealing their feelings, but refuse to allow such sentiments cloud their devotion to doing what is right and necessary. They can be steadfastly pragmatic, and may consider certain actions imperative while others find them cruel or even evil.
Because of their origin myth, asterion tend to revere gods of the night, stars, and rivers. They also favor gods of war, battle, and craftsmen.
Adventurers: Heroes in asterion folklore often leave home to find and confront powerful foes from distant lands, fighting for the glory of their tribe, and earning eternal glory by dying in bloody battle. This tradition, coupled with the fact that most asterion homelands are barren and inhospitable, means it’s fairly common for young asterion to leave their tribes and seek their fortunes elsewhere. Many civilized nations hire asterion warriors, to serve either in the rank and file of armies headed to war or as elite guards for the noble families.
Male Names: Aranar, Bansab, Jadakir, Kikeru, Minjaros, Nashu, Pitaj, Rus, Tarin, Tikaku
Female Names: Arianah, Asikah, Ehn, Kitain, Mijari, Nashe, Pitajah, Pureh, Samah, Yishahr.
1 This category includes barbarians, oracles, rogues, and sorcerers.
The following feats are available to an asterion character who meets the prerequisites.