“Hooves thunder across rolling fields. A horn sounds. Men and half elves rush to wooden palisades. On their faces are red tattoos, sun weathered hands clasp well worn bows. The terrifying drumming of the enemy hooves washes over stoic gazes. Women and children withdraw into the long houses. Men, with claws, feathers, and beads woven into long hair, draw arrows to their cheeks as the hideous horsemen, centaurs, ride into view.” — Archibald the YoungerThe rolling Bloodhoof Steppe sits along the northwest coast of the Western Southlands. Here the hardy settlers, fleeing the ruins of Kasrin, found a land of rolling hills. The families realized they wanted space and as they moved through the steppe, the clans began to take shape. Those who stayed along the coasts built their homes of the bounty of driftwood. Nearer the forests of Shade Vale, the bounty of living wood furnishes the clans with great halls. Here too the elves and humans intermarry. The clans are famous for their hill forts, their meads, and their resistance to the native inhabitants of the Bloodhoof Steppe.
Long before humans tried to settle the steppe, bands of cruel, brutal centaurs called it their home. Scholars, like Archibald the Younger, believe that the centaur races were a draconic experiment in the Age of Mythos. Centaurs have a loose society. Strong males collect mates and bring weaker males into their cadres. The reign of a centaur stallion depends on his success in providing food for his cadre, his ability to intimidate his male followers, and his ability to father a new generation. They have a crude language, but it seems rather rudimentary. The centaurs arm themselves with basic weapons, mostly slings, clubs and spears. Their great size though means that when their blows land, they can be quickly fatal to mortals. Settlers soon learned that these brutish creatures carried off humans for two reasons. Feeding and fun.
The hill forts of the humans are often ringed with forests of sharpened stakes, thick enough to cause all but the most foolhardy centaurs think twice about trying to hurdle them. The coastal clan forts are often less intensely defended, in part because fewer centaurs venture so far west, but also they live on the oceans. They create escape routes to their boats, and often wait out the raids from the safety of the waves. The coastal clans often draw names from the beasts of the ocean.
The clans, united by the threat of the centaurs, have a loose confederation of mutual support. But the human dominated oceanic clans are a bit stand-offish towards the intermarried clans of the deep Steppes. The threats of the centaurs have kept the clans from open war. Clans in the deep Steppes adopted the elven tradition of tattooing their faces. The water clans rarely decorate their skin, but they weave bones of sea creatures through their hair.