Animal Master Status

Closer to the Animals than most would like to think

Animal Masters
Referred to as Beast-Lord or -Lady, or -Master/ess, Animal Masters are highly regarded in general. They are quite like Breeders, though their stock is exclusively non-sentient. They are usually found with animal-tuned mutations, serving all racing, breeding, veterinary and foodservice needs. They capture wild animals and breed them as they will, and specialize in a given field, be it vet service, captive training, food needs or what have you. Some do not work with animals as much as landscaping, conditions or environments, they usually are the non-Bred individuals, if someone has no innate powers they can still always work with those things, if they decide to retitle no one stops them..

Animal Masters are usually mutants themselves, found at a young age to have some ability with nature. They tend to be more fertile than most other Zekirans. Breeders know this better than anyone else, and few have told anyone. Breeders and Animal Masters sometimes are at odds, the Beast-Lord/ Lady often knowing their lineage of Slaves or other Low Status (where it's really improbable for a Breeder to have come that far up the Status charts in the short time BeastLords do). Animal Masters come from virtually any other class, only about five percent being born into the field but gaining with the other Status' lack of fertility! It is a special class, the only one that Owned individuals may attain immediately if they are freed (meaning without paying for their education to Raise to that Status), other than Bayaran returning to it or FreeWorker buying in. Usually an Owner is willing to give up a Slave for them to become an Animal Master, even though they have a higher ranking socially. They are that important to most people.

They are also the least numerous of the classes. Since the field is so specialized and contains most of the animal-tuned mutants, the individuals comprising this class are considered elite, even to one another. This is another reason they and Breeders hold more than a little contempt for one another. There are about seventy Breeders to one Animal Master. Most Animal Masters are women, simply for the reason that most animal-tuning mutations occur on the X-chromosome. Some High Holders who have been Bred (by their own parents - how could they!) have also adopted this class, and there are few laws regarding these dual-classed individuals but that will have to change. (Those changes will resemble the way Breeders must dual-class, most likely, without the necessity.)
Animal Masters' symbol is a vaguely Steed-like head set into a ring, like a knight in chess.

There was a time when the Animal Master class was indeed the smallest and most elite of the Status. All agree that their gaining in numbers is good for everyone. Animal Mastery is not confined to purely the ability to manipulate animals, but it is much easier to do with psionic power than without. People who raise into the Status include everyone from Slaves on up, and from High Holders on down. Those rare individuals who are born into the Status are the same ones who will carry the genes of the world: like their highly Bred High Lord friends, they are largely fertile and mostly strange. Those who buy into it include people working in fields and environments by and for animals, or in transportation, arrangements, hunting and other related fields.
You will notice the use of Animal Master, Beast Lord or other title freely intermixed. Animal Masters don't much go for the titling in the first place, since they see it as their duty to just work the creatures and relate to people as they really are. This brings them into conflict more often than not, with those who do demand the use of their Title or their respect purely because of that Status pin on their shoulder. Animal Masters usually see that pin as yet another shiny object. Could they play with it? Or better yet, could they play with your Slave, she's far more interesting...?

Being born an Animal Master is a very special occurrence. Most times, it is also no surprise to those who are bearing the child. They've been selected by a talented Breeder more likely than not, since these kinds of things happen but rarely outside of clinical conditions. Children made for the purpose of Animal Mastery are often quite specialized in appearance, powers and abilities. Some cannot be integrated into society because of their bizarre appearances, some cannot deal with people in general, preferring by far the simpler animals around them.
From birth, an Animal Master is given almost every luxury they can: they are able to Inherit at a younger age than most, and many of them pass their Status exam at age 8 or before! Their exam is close to a Land Holder's in appearance, with the special conditions that they understand any powers they carry and many of the laws which can affect them. Otherwise they are not as remarkably educated as their comparable Status friends in Breeding and High Holding.

The Animal Master youth is well respected and often in high demand for personal appearances: riders, Steed breeders, trainers and everyone all want a part of the action, and if a potential Beast Lord is on their turf early on, they don't waste a moment in trying to impress the youngling. The early life of a Beast Lord is hurried and scattered.
It goes without saying that they will have a job in the animal field. Whether it is with Steeds, feed, design, breeding, hunting or any of the other facets is entirely up to the Animal Master. They often use their baseline talents and powers to get a foot hold on the industry they're first offered, and then after many years they might go back to school once they can afford it and learn something more to their own liking.

The Animal Master is often the most on the move in the world, even more so than Owners running around betting on everything. They must be present before that big race, they must know the conditions in their arrival zone, they must see to every little thing once they are involved. A Steed racer or trainer is especially harried, since the Steed racing circuit moves from City to City on a very regular basis. If they miss one, there is sure to be another coming up to ride on. Conditions to train in, areas to flesh out strengths and expose weaknesses, they must demand the best in transportation and communications if they are to better the Steed, race or themselves.

It is common to see both young and old Animal Masters with far fewer lands Held than anyone of their worth. They are so much on the move, that it is often difficult to settle at all, let alone tend to hings like Slaves or Bayaran. Animal Masters work mostly alone when they are actually doing their job, but they know the value of having a good team to depend on for the things they must ignore. Bond agencies exist that purely cater to these needs, by the way.
Animal Masters don't need to hold either Slaves or Bayaran to carry on their work, legally they may own Hard Stock or Bond if they have the money, but as stated above they rarely have the time, and no one is interested in kicking out a Beast Lord from their Status simply because they don't decide to keep a Slave around. Since they are many times born into that Status themselves, they tend to look at things quite differently than others, and treat their stock of any kind with a more gentle hand.

Animal Masters who are born into their Status tend to live a little longer than their raised brethren. Both because they are Bred for it, as well as they are better cared for in the beginning of their lives. When an Beast Mistress has a child, she is watched carefully, more so than anyone else. Mutations and powers can surface earlier in Animal Masters than anyone else, so damage to either mother or child is possible. Animal Masters are rarely found in permanent relationships. Those who are tend to come from other Status. They are more often found to love staying with their current mate for a while, until they find another, and move on. The only reason Inheritances are so messy from Animal Master deaths is that they are so damn fertile... The best have so many children that they must stipulate at the start that the child will or will not Inherit from them. Sometimes that is a tough call, because of all the Status, they love their children more than anything else. All life to them is sacred, most like Breeders.

The Breeders. It is difficult to understand why Breeders and Animal Masters don't get along, at least from the BeastLord side. They have the best interests of the world at hand when they are breeding better cattle or plants, when they entertain the masses with their racing. Actually, when it comes down to it, the fight usually starts when a Breeder says something.

It stops when an Animal Master decides to stop it. Dueling for pride often gets in the way of what might otherwise be quite a pairing. To outside observers, an Animal Master and a Breeder might be the best pair ever seen, and genetically that is often the case, however it would be taboo to tell half the Breeders of the world that their next generation would be made better by the use of those animal people.

Those who dual-Status into Breeding are either loved or hated by everyone. Dual stationing is also occurring with High Holders and High Owners, getting in as money or time allows. The laws are just as complex as to these dual natured people as for the whole Breeding thing.

Those who are not born into Animal Mastery but are tested at puberty to have Tunings are obviously brought up the same as if they did not have anything special. They may suddenly learn they have a latent power, or it starts acting up during a race. Any number of things may trigger a latent power to come into active form, and when it does, the person has every right to be raised right then and there.

Not all are. That is the sad part about it all: probably close to 15% of all truly tuned mutants go through their lives as Slaves or Bayaran, rarely Worker or Land Holder, without really being able to do anything about their powers. In the case of Slaves or Bayaran, their Lord or Master has any say about if the tests are done, and what kind of contracts they must sign to get out of their current situation. Sometimes it's worse to try getting out and raised, than just to sit and know you're being wasted.

These people are also the ones who make up such a huge portion of the Animal Master population, those who have been raised. It is slowly moving toward a class which can sustain itself, and there are worries that the weaker tunings found in random mutants may begin going fully ignored by their Lords or relatives, if the Status becomes too exclusive. There is little danger of that really happening, but any excuse to rally to a cause, and people (read: Membayar) are on it.

Animal Masters rarely if ever change their Status to something else after they have it. They are allowed to add the title (see above) of High Owner or Holder, Breeder if they can manage it, or even Suzerain, but once they're in, they're in it for life. Like Breeders, they are proud of their achievement and will cling to it as long as they are able.
The other thing that Breeders and Animal Masters actually can agree upon is the use of their psionic powers. To Breeders or those who make up new animals, the ability to sense a gene flaw or to combat pain where it starts is a god send. The ability to control a patient or an aggressive beast is equal. The only difference starts up when the Animal Master looks like that same beast. They are often found with antlers, fur, scales, too many limbs, tails, and all manner of other non-human features. These are still not things which the general public is ready for, in most cases. So extreme are some Beast Lords that they just cannot work outside a confined environment such as a cave exploring for bats, or a tide pool looking at the mantas, or in the deep jungle keeping tabs on the flightless birds. There are so many different ways to mutate in these modern days that there have never been ways to teach how to deal with it.

The Beast Lord is left mostly to deal with it themselves. That could be seen as the largest flaw in the whole pattern, but with more and more of them being actually born, perhaps some day those might be able to teach their newcomer Status mates. Some of them never learn and become reclusive early on, most combat it in ways which surprise everyone.

The expectations of the Animal Master are often highest for themself. They are prized by society and alternately hated and revered by those above them. It is common to see a Beast Lord pushing themself to limits or beyond them, in favor of showing the world that they can.
Or they die trying.

Animal Masters Sourcebook

Zekiran Animal Masters are prized beyond most people or ideals.  At the same time being more exotic than any other type of Bred people, and those most in the spotlight of the world.

There are a variety of jobs which Animal Masters perform, every day, on Zekira.  Not the least of them is animal breeding.  They take care of farm animals just as they do any Steed, wild beast, or highly Bred creature.  But there are also chores such as feed growing, environmental shaping, legal ins and outs, and buying and selling.  Tack and Steed equipment are all-important ways to make a living, and it is rare to find an Animal Master without at least one Steed on their Holds.

Far from being 'just a vet', the BeastLord working in a small township as their only medical technician is also considered something like royalty.  They are often chosen first in meetings to deal with outside sources (beyond the obvious Holders, of course), they are elevated beyond what their often small Holdings might normally offer.

In this guide, I will discuss the abilities, uses, and jobs which Animal Masters perform, as well as their impact on the world.

Lives of Animal Masters
Since only a small portion of the mutated world has the Animal Tunings necessary (or at least useful) for the Status, this is often the lowest-populated of any Status.  Over the centuries, of course, the population rises, but there have been times when, because of lack of Breeders' intervention or just plain un-trendiness, the population of Animal Masters has drastically declined.  Of course, there has been the reverse often enough as well!

Many Animal Masters of old were Raised Slaves.  They had been Bred by someone, sold off, and once they were old enough to be tested, they were either found out to have those all-important Tunings, or their Lords had it in their head they might be better off without their Slave.

It is, after all, best to have someone being your friend rather than your ally, so most often a spontaneously raised Slave remains quite close to their old Lord once they've established themself as an Animal Master!  Most of those, as well, have nearby Holds, or even ones they have bought from their old Owner.

Those who are not offered immediate Raising might develop an attitude of distrust or outright hatred toward their Owner, before finally being bought or grudgingly Raised.
Once they are Raised, however, Animal Masters are not often seen to be resentful or at least openly hostile toward their old Owner, they have better things to do.
Those who have been actually born into the Status, a rising number these years, are considerably different than their Slaved and Raised counterparts.  They are often pampered or given to a lifestyle more like an Owner or High Holder.  Doted upon from birth, and often plainly expected to become an Animal Master whether they display the talents or interests, these kids become the more vocal, more outgoing members of the Status.

After their Raising, or after a born Beast Lord passes the Status exam, at any rate, they rarely go back.  Those born into it are the only ones who ever really consider changing Status, even to Breeder or High Holder added to their own.  Mostly content to be what their Breeding meant them to be, the Raised  Slave version rarely change their Status, until possibly late in life if they have made enough to become a High Holder and retire in luxury.  Or broke as a Bond, it's all relative.

Training for an Animal Master is at once completely different and exactly the same as that for Breeders.  Their competition in the actual use of the machinery - Breeders and Animal Masters both use precisely the same machines and technically the same programming on their Networks - is still a great source of argument on either side.  Which one is more qualified to use it?  Which one is better at it?
Usually, either one could argue.  It should be mentioned that at the start of the colonization, Breeders had a far easier time of it than Animal Masters using splicing machinery!  The native animals and plants were not the same as their own genetics, and only after time did the powers and influences of their work start to be seen on native life.  Exceptions include Steeds, and any of the other creatures or plants the colonists brought with them, those share and will always share the same coding in many situations.

Assuming that the characters being played are in the 'modern' time (around 10400), these differences are so nullified by both the Zekiran influence and long term research, that should an Animal Master find something totally 'new' in the field, they'd still be able to use it as if it had been around in their labs for years.
Any given Animal Master is at least marginally proficient at handling any animal, or knowing about anatomy.  They often have a very strong suit such as Steeds, Birds, Winged Insects or some other specific category of creature.  Settings, too, can be specialized, such as High Altitude, Mining, Wetlands, Urban.  Certain kinds of work may be demanded from a Beast Lord, farming, racing, mining, transportation, etc.  Most Animal Masters choose one thing, and stick to it, rarely do they consider themselves 'renaissance' Lords.  When they choose a field, it is most often because they have a power or special mutation which allows them to use it fully.

Powers of Animal Masters often mirror those found in other people, only they specifically target animals or plants but not Zekirans.  This is actually a bit of a falsehood which Breeders have played upon: any Animal Master with a strong Steed or other imported animal ability may try their hand at using the same power on a person.  Since the genes are technically of the same origin, they have a built-in commonality.  Anything specifically for the native life, however, stands a very low chance of working on an imported one.

Those which work on the native animals also stand a chance of working on the native people, but so few of the Zekirans around even care to know there are natives that it really won’t make much difference, will it?  The fact that even most extremely Bred people with strong mental abilities (but not Animal Tunings) cannot affect those natives worth a damn really pisses some Breeders off.

Most Animal Masters are Bred.  However, there are those rare individuals who are natural and want to flaunt their knowledge or skills.  They are often found tending Steeds, running very large farms, running race facilities, or as transportation experts.  These people are just as likely as any other unBred person to be infertile, and the quantity of this portion of the Status is so low because they rarely are replaced by their offspring.  Most of this group are Owners or Land Masters who get into the business because they can.

Powers and Mutations
If any one thing can influence an Animal Master’s life, it is their use of psionic powers.  Most Beast Lords have at least one strong power which they use on any given day of the week, often every day in a working environment.  Animal Empathy and Telepathy, Controls, Life Sense, Healing, any of these can be used on a daily basis and specifically must be used if they are to gain any notoriety.

The appearance and mutations of Animal Masters can be quite amazing and intimidating to those who have rarely met any other Bred individuals.  Those with the more extreme mutations (such as bat wings instead of arms, or centauroid bodies) are found in communities who have had to really try hard to get used to them.  They are often given a stand-offish attitude by others, and given any individual temperament, they may want this treatment above being spotlighted.

Those who are shapeshifters are the most complex of all, and even though they are extraordinarily rare, their presence is felt all around the world.  It is as if these people can more thoroughly understand an animal, better even than the strongest empaths.
The ability to take on features or whole forms is a dangerous one, obviously, for if they are found stuck in the shape without a way to communicate... More than one shape shifting Animal Master has accidentally been hunted down and killed by people who then found out the hard way that their prey wasn’t on four legs after all!

The ability to summon animals is a strong one in Hunting parks.  One very useful power for Steed handlers is that of  Control Specific/Breed of Animal, or Training Mind Lock.  With this, they can take an animal and cause it to learn at whatever pace the Animal Master is going at, rather than what pace the animal itself would be allowing.

While it is often confounding for their neighbors, a Beast Lord with fur and a tail is often more comforting to another creature than their furless counterparts, for some reason.  Their scent is more acceptable, they are seen more closely as 'pack' or 'herd' brothers and sisters, and acted upon as such.  It often also allows the Animal Master to run with a pack or herd with more comfort themselves, living in the wilderness is not something that the faint of heart attempt.  Most Zekirans prefer the comforts of a bed and roof over their head, to curling up beside a campfire with the Hern Rats...

It is also possible that those with certain features also have specific enemies in the animal world!  For instance, someone with a pelt of fur, ears and fluffy tail similar to the Field Rabbit might be a target for those Hern Rats, who hunt them mercilessly for both food and fun.  It's always a good idea to find out if the mutations will cause a bad reaction in another species before trying to situate into them.  Likewise, a person with alligator skin and features might also give off a strangely aggressive aura to a Yol Crane and drive off whole flocks of them accidentally.

It might also drive off whole flocks of people too.

Note well that of all the Breeding projects ever attempted, perhaps three of them have been specifically for aquatic tunings.  It is so rare that the couple that exist today are seen as quite the tourist attraction.  There are a few, now, but they are also very solitary and don't really like the intrusion.  Leave them alone.  Stop picking at that.

Groups of Animal Masters congregating means one of two things: there's a race or there's a hunt.  That also means: there's money involved.  Not necessarily theirs, mind, but definitely money is around when that many Beast Lords are near.  Show rings, finish lines, hunt campsites, all these places are ones to watch if the idea is to bet on something happening.

Money is not always at the top of the list for Beast Lords.  They tend to either spend it like it's going out of style, or keep it to themselves and carefully invest, with little in between.  Since most of them were Raised from Slavery, it might depend on what kind of Lord they used to have, as to the style of their spending.  Many Beast Lords are frugal, careful spenders, however.  Since there is always something for an Animal Master to do, anywhere in the world, they are rarely caught in Bond.  If their work is interrupted by some disaster, however, they are more apt to lose it all because many Holds they have are small, compact, or 'the whole enchilada'.  Those with the biggest Holds are those who have been born into their Status, generally speaking.

As mentioned many times before, Animal Masters are often the most compassionate about those they Bond or Own.  It is common to see Beast Lords only Bonding those Workers they can easily support once their Bond is finished, offering them a job afterwards.  Their Slaves are mainly given to keep up the houses or homesteads, or directly assist them in the field, and it is extremely rare to see an Animal Master with more Slaves than eight or ten, and those are often ones with very large places to maintain.

It is also common to see Animal Masters with closer friends and family than other Status'.  Though they may not marry permanently, the family is important to them perhaps because of their genetic heritage.  Raising children is easier for Animal Masters, perhaps because actually bearing them is commonly easier.

Don't get on the bad side of an Animal Master.  It's just not a good idea.  Like their other common traits, when you gain the distrust of a Beast Lord, it's very hard to gain back any ground until you've had the chance to absolutely prove you deserve it.  They are not normally distrustful people, but they have an innate ability to learn good from bad.

Keep pressing that button that gives you the food pellet, avoid the one that shocks you.  That's the idea.

Certain families have always been pervasive in Animal Mastery.  More recently, they have been supplemented by the addition of whole new created lines, bred by Haven or others.  Shapeshifters and centaurs mostly, they add to the already existing Kshau, Von, Morgontain and Tiir lines.  Most of them have been found Breeding with those, too.  Tani (Morgontain) and even the Kstet (normally High Holders both) are brought in to add with Rhiin (another of the Tiir family to begin with, however), and now there is also ahlKhat to deal with.

There are also many shining examples of what not to breed.  Even though he's an Animal Master, Beaoschkhava is more of a rakish Owner at heart, his powers of creation and alteration make it anyone's game when he's around.  His son Chaos fortunately considers himself more exclusively a Breeder.  Thank the Lords and Masters for that.

Animal Masters may choose to Hold land anywhere they want, and are often the first people to homestead somewhere isolated.  If they get anything out of the land, be it a good training ground for Steeds, excellent soil for growing feed, or just some peace and quiet with a pond to fish in, it usually attracts someone pretty soon.

Then they have to find somewhere else to settle so they can be alone.

Animal Masters may also be very protective of their stuff and lands.  They are, however, far more likely to use animals to guard it than a fence.  "Oh, didn't you see the Hern Rat spoor there?  That's the border to my land, you ass.  Now back off it before I sic them on you." Trophies are common among those Beast Lords who run hunting parks or exploration sites.  Though most might take a claw or tooth here or there, some of them are apt to have entire animals stuffed and mounted.  Taxidermy is something that Animal Masters are either enthralled with or completely appalled by.

Animal Masters: Either they Bet or they Don't.

Those who do bet are often very good at it for one of many reasons: they can sense the best Steeds or conditions, they have access to the Steeds before the races, or they have friends who invest their money for them.

The variety of jobs that Animal Masters perform follow.

Farming is the mainstay of Animal Mastery.  Because grains and trees, roots and tubers and all kinds of other foods grown in the ground require their own kinds of Breeding and maintenance.  Most unBred Animal Masters are found working farms and gardens, or in the lab working up strains of bug-resistant grains and foods.

Environmental conditions are important everywhere, and this includes the inspection of Steed boarding and breeding houses, race tracks, even pony rides in the park.  Most often, the environment isn’t the first thing that is considered when an animal is found to be ill, but it is always eventually looked over.  Poor conditions result in poor Steeds or animals, obviously, so even if an un-hired Beast Lord is wandering by and sees conditions which are unsightly or bad, they may report the Holder and even fine them.  Altering the environment is also something that Animal Masters are apt to do, particularly with their host of mutations and powers.  Suiting the environment to the animal is often not easy, but sometimes proves to be the best way to get the highest performance out of one.

Transportation, boarding and selling are all usually the chart toppers for those working with Steeds.  Not just for racing itself, but for breeding and taking care of them, transporting a Steed is difficult!  Across an ocean, a plane full of people can be spotted every day.  But a Steed transport is a completely different can of worms.  The overhead space for one thing is vital.  Their wings need room, though most Steeds wings are gently restrained during over sea flights.  Custom made transportation include emergency landing vehicles for not only the passengers but their Steeds as well: the Steed can unfurl their wings and fly off a bad crash before it hits the water or ground, but they can only do so if the transportation has open hatches or is easily split.  Those winning Steeds which are taken to the best of the circuits around the world often have a special training course taught by an Animal Master specifically to allow them to get out of a Zekiran plane.  They’re also heavy, these Steeds, so their cargo capacity must be better than normal.  Whole industries have arisen, usually headed by an Animal Master or High Holding Beast Lord, which specialize in these custom transports.  Boarding facilities are required everywhere Steeds are: everywhere.  It is nearly impossible to walk down any street in any city (of most sizes less than the huge metropolis) without seeing at least two or three Steed houses.  They are usually kept by Animal Masters, though sometimes are by Owners or Land Masters.  These all have standards to maintain, also overseen by Beast Lords.  Auction houses and boarding facilities are often combined, in larger areas, and this is always done by Animal Masters.

Buying and selling other animals is dominated by Animal Masters, probably 98 out of every 100 pet stores are run by an Animal Master.  Often specialized to the type of critter they can command, summon or understand best, the Beast Lord can tell if a new pet owner is suited to their pet or not, usually not the other way around!  There are a multitude of pets available, anything which can be caught, tamed or caged humanely is around for sale.  As is mentioned in the culture section, bugs are popular because the Zekirans have very little “gross-out” factor from them (and because of the huge variety of bugs found on the world!).  Animal Masters may also refuse a sale to someone they deem inappropriate, this applies to any purchase, including Steeds.

Now if only they could do this for Hard Stock and Slaves.

Racing is the most visible career for an Animal Master, though in fact it is fewer than one in fifty who actually do race.  Most Beast Lords run breeding facilities, or do the other previously mentioned jobs in addition to attending races.  Actually sitting on a Steed and flying to victory is something that more High Holders appreciate than their Beast Lord friends.  The pure and simple fact is that most Animal Masters aren’t in it for the races, not for themselves, they’re in it to watch the Steed race, how they actually respond to commands and to each other in the air.  Animal Masters get quite distracted while they are up there, unless they’re very well trained themselves.

“Ooh, look at The Pride’s pretty red wings!  Ouch!  Look at that hoof in my face!”

Training and breeding is the finest thing that anyone could ever aspire to in Zekira.  As a cultural fact: the job is as important as the money it brings in.  Being able to produce a Steed with a new set of colors, or a style of wing tip action, or even one with a special ability (some have bred psionics into their Steeds!), that is the pinnacle of the world, other than that of Breeding Zekirans!  To be able to get close enough to a Steed and bring it to understand what your commands are, to teach it and receive the pleasure of having succeeded — or to be kicked repeatedly off and put in your place, those things are what any Slave living on a race farm dreams of.  Those are what any kid in any town that has a racing circuit visiting once a year builds up their pocket money to bet on.  If they watch the right trainer, who knows?

Tack and feed are equally important to Zekiran Steeds.  Some Steeds don’t want anything except grazing grass.  Some only eat custom made carrots and mash.  Some of them will eat your hat if you’re not careful.  The food that goes into a Steed directly affects their performance, that is well known for any animal or person, of course, but when you’re talking about an animal who will have almost 80 million people watching them every few weeks as they fly to another victory — of course people are interested in what they’re being fed!

That’s why Steed Feed stock went so high when all those nice horsies from farms using it started winning!

Tack is something that Steeds have to get used to, more the saddle than anything.  Since Zekiran riders do not ever use a bit — they have a bridle quite like those used by the Native peoples here on earth’s Americas with a soft brace around the muzzle rather than a bit through the mouth — they don’t have much to complain about there.  But the saddle is a very complex thing that must work with the Steed’s wing girdle, their flanks, and particularly with their weight and ability to lift.  Most standard tack for grounded Steeds resembles that of any earthly stable.  It has a little bit of change because of the vestigial wing girdle found at the front of the body, but otherwise they are designed in precisely the same manner.

The saddle on a flying Steed is usually very small, comfortable for both rider and Steed, and is lightweight.  Depending on the conditions for use, the Steed might even be able to take it off themself.  All these things are designed, and usually built by, Animal Masters.  More about the actual tack in the equipment and Steeds sections.

Race announcing is a fun way that Animal Masters can get the best of any world, watching the races, yelling and screaming when their Steed comes in, and schmoozing with the high class people all come with that job.

Hunt Park management has always been a dual natured beast.  High Holders always have the best Parks, but they often have the best Animal Masters, usually their close personal friends, in the business of managing them.  Hunting is usually organized for those of Owner or above in Status, since it’s an expensive and dangerous thing to do.  The prey is selected, be it rabbits on the open plain, birds in flight, or much bigger and more dangerous grazers or even predators.  Again, depending on what kind of mutations or powers the Animal Master has, they might select only a certain kind of hunting.  Those doing the bigger hunts or for the more dangerous prey are often loners or quite dangerous themselves, those with the ideal set of bunny hutches in their field might just sell off their wares to those who then slaughter the poor little dears.

Some Animal Masters drool at the thought.

Exploration is the other and much more dangerous job that some Animal Masters take up.  At first to find new locales for hunt sites, or breeding facilities, but then later just to explore for the sake of seeing what there is out there, Animal Masters and their (more often high Status) friends go out and break new ground.  Always keeping in mind that if they find something they like they can always claim it for themselves and put up signs warning of that.  Then the raptors come and tear it down, eat up all the stored food, and you wind up with a rescue party coming in, rather than a Land Holding lawyer there to finalize the property.

Exploring Neres is becoming a trendy thing to do, but it is like all exploration, a very dangerous thing.  Since the natives still live there, they are often caught off guard and misunderstandings occur.  It is rare that a Zekiran and a Native come in contact, but mostly if they do, the Zekirans will respect their territories.  Mostly.
There are several other much more rare jobs that Animal Masters do.  Historians and Network designers, machinery operators and race course designers are all rare but necessary.  These however are also professions mostly held by other Status’, purely because they don’t always require any Animal Tunings or any kind of psionic use at all.  Anyone can learn the history of a breed, but it does take an Animal Master to understand why it died out, or why it’s now the biggest thing since toast in current breeding circles.

Being an Animal Master means that you’ve got an edge over the competition in all matters of fauna.  What you do with that is your own business.  And probably your own livelihood!

Many Animal Masters work very narrowly above Bond at any given time, when they are first starting out.  They need to afford housing, perhaps a laboratory, and definitely animals to work with.  Since Steeds are completely Held property, there is no way to start breeding them until they can be bought.  Other animals, such as the wild one found everywhere outside of the city Zones (and sometimes within the zone too!) can be caught and possibly tamed, that is the only free ride Animal Masters usually have.

Since they are so much in demand, however, it is rare that they mis-manage their early funds, and many Raised individuals have their former Owner or friends to fall back on.

They also tend to help out their own.  Farms run by multiple Animal Masters always succeed, they seem to cooperate better than others.

A town without an Animal Master is a town without Steeds.  It’s that simple.  And one without a Breeder often looks to its Beast Lord for simple medicines and treatments (though it is not completely illegal for them to do this, it is often not a great idea to get caught this way, either being the Animal Master, or the town without a Breeder).
The children of Animal Masters of any Breeding are often the best adjusted in the world, or the worst.  They may be caught up in the risky world of racing, or in the absolute boredom of utterly rural existence.

Specific jobs of Animal Masters

For any Steed there are many jobs.  Stable hands, cleaning up after them, are the most common.  They are usually Slaves or poor Free Workers, and they do the drudging washing out, repairs, generally cleaning up after everyone is gone to the race.  They make sure that the stable is clean and neat for the arrival of new Steeds, or is prepared for a seller or buyer's visit.  They rarely take care of the tack or feed, as those jobs require a little more attention to detail.

Tack and feed are not the same job, by the way.  As mentioned before, the tack is very specific and often must be customized to both the Steed and rider.  The person in charge of the tack is also responsible if that tack is assembled improperly before a race, if the rider falls and it can be proven the tack had not been carefully set up, you’re in deep water. 

Feed requires at least marginal knowledge of when Steeds are hungry, what sorts of food they get at different times in the day, when not to feed, and water the animal, etc.  Feeding a Steed is often the first job that an Animal Master oversees when they are inspecting the Steeds.

Race inspections are important jobs, always held either by an Animal Master or someone higher than Bond.  Usually this is because they are required to get to the race site on their own, not brought in by anyone.  The Kshau circuit has their own set of inspectors, and those are also hired out by other units all around the world, they are trusted individuals who have a lot on their minds.  They must make certain that none of the animals has been altered in any way, that they are all fit to the race which is being held (or the show ring, for that matter) and may be able to pull a Steed for any reason in cases of emergencies.  Their word is law before and after a race.  During, the judges go for broke.

Judging and announcing, both things that anyone can really do but Animal Masters judge best.  They often can sense the Steeds' mood and temperament during a race and that is always a good clue as to if they have been pushed too far or have more in them.

Rescuing lost Steeds and downed riders is a dangerous line of work which some Animal Masters thrive in.  High altitude races and over-sea courses have been known to take down half the field of racers and a third of the rescue parties sent after them.  It's a thrill in and of itself, but it's not always cut and dried.  Murders in progress have been interrupted by rescue parties, and that's never good for anyone.  Well, hopefully for at least one person!

Most cities have Steed works, a public office which oversees sales, upkeep, and treatment of Steeds and other domesticated work animals within city Zones.  Those with few Steeds on the street or working in fields or mines, have fewer of these offices.  The people running them are always Animal Masters or above, and they take care of any civil disputes regarding the care and abuse of a Steed, the upkeep of streets for them, conditions of boarding houses and such other related places and things.  Like a race inspector, the Steed Works inspectors can shut any operation down with a word.

Buying and selling Steeds are often done by Owners or higher Holders, but they are always done in the presence of a qualified Animal Master.  They actually pay more attention to the person buying the Steed than the animal itself, since it is more important to them that the Steed is going to a qualified home.  (Hence the legal terms of sale requiring someone buying one to present either a Homestead certificate or a Boarding receipt to a certified house!)

Most Steed-based Animal Masters work as veterinarians, checking the health of farm animals and working Steeds.  If they are hired by a Holder of some kind, often they work on site and stay there, renting a house or even being put up in a nice wing of a mansion.  They are called upon to look at sick Steeds, attending to broken wings or legs, colic, skin and eye ailments, foaling and birthing, and even the disposal of dead Steeds.

Steed Feed is one of the world's best feed providers, and many other Animal Masters have tried to get in on it's success.  It's not easy unless you know where to grow the food, and to do that, your powers come in very handy.  If you can actually terraform and alter plants, even better!  There are a variety of foods grown for Steeds and other animals, and those also used for domestic food animals is actually the first in sheer need for numbers.

Trainers for other animals such as Hern Rats as guard animals and other performing creatures are popular.  Usually a good power dealing with the animal in question is necessary, but not always.  Regular people can just as easily get a cat to ignore them just like a Beast Lord, most Animal Masters know better than to teach a pig to sing, too.

Any other non-Steed Animal Masters work in similar function to a vet on earth, prepared for anything from little Lord JoJo's pet gecko's broken-off tail to HighMistress Snoot's poochie-woochie-who-isn't-eating-is-he-is-he?  (Ghods, they shake their heads, it is the same everywhere, isn't it?)

Hunting parks hire on several stages of people to work the huge Holds involved.  There are those who do nothing but scan the lands looking for the right animals to track, reporting in that yes there are deer here but they're in rut and you'd best be careful, or no there aren't any white snow-pigs here this season.  They also might be hired to clean up after the hunters go through the woods, there are broken trees and shredded shrubs to attend to, and items which might be dropped to be picked up.  Arrows, jewelry, even spare people have been known to be picked up by these scavengers.

Most hunting is done either on foot or on grounded Steed-back, like earthly fox hunts.  There are groups to consider: who can and cannot work well in this group with an obnoxious Owner (yeah, name one who isn't?) and a Breeder with a penchant for losing patients into Bond... Who can and can't hunt is largely up to the Holder of the park.  If you make a mess or ruin someone else's day (usually someone of higher Status than yourself) you most often don’t get invited back in.  There are in fact bouncers for hunt parks.

The other parts of hunting include those Beast Lords who actually lead the hunting when there isn't one in the party already.  They are responsible for tracking the prey, explaining it all to the newbies, bringing people into the right area to hunt, keeping them from being killed by the more dangerous prey, and pretty much telling people when to and not to shoot.  If they tell someone not to kill an animal (applies to only Animal Masters, not other Status doing this work) they are automatically speaking law.  If the animal is hurt or killed after their statement, then it's hell to pay, usually to the Holder of the park.  ("You just shot and killed Morgontain's only red-furred Quick-cat.  You idiot.  She won't be happy.  It took her five years to get that thing that color!")

The last parts which hunters do is that of either killing and gutting, skinning and preparing the kill, but that is often enough done by someone else.  Organizing them and leading is mostly enough.

Making environments for specific animals has been a new fad: expensive and indulgent, but if you've got the money and an Animal Master willing to customize a place for a Steed or set of critters to look like their 'natural environment' only with the viewing abilities of a zoo or observation park, you’ve got a really nice place.  Spraycrete walls for your bat collection, no problem.  Tide pools for your extremely exotic fish, a little harder but still can be done.

All in all, Animal Masters have access to the best things in the world.

Now, there are things to consider before leaping into the Status.

The enemies, for instance.  The Breeders.  Vindictive Breeders have made many Animal Masters regret their ties to Breeding houses.  Old contracts must be kept up, and if you’re a winning racer and your old Breeder says you’ve got to cough up a kid for them, that's law.  And be careful, because they probably Own them, afterwards.

It’s why most Animal Masters don't make a big deal of going to Breeders for their actual sex counselling.  They can just as easily conceive and keep their children.  But it’s hard to keep Breeders from looking over those genes you’ve got on file in the Breeder’s Network, and if they see something they want, you usually give it up to them.

There's money in it, certainly.  When a Breeder comes to anyone higher Status than themself, it's normally as a favor.  When they come to Animal Masters, it's often for a darker cause.  "You've got such beautiful eyes."  "You're exactly the right shade of striped for this next experiment!"  "Controlling insects is exactly what I need, sign here."

"Sorry, did I mention that I'm a Third Degree Breeder?"

Many stiffed Animal Masters buy back their own children if they have a chance, free them, and that's that.  But some just never get the chance.  Or, like some, their kids buy them out of Slavery if things have gone really badly.  (Witness the story about Jix, Johan and Ximanh in another section!)

To be fair, only a small but vocal portion of the Breeders in the world actually hate Animal Masters.  Note: VOCAL.  About equal numbers really and truly adore them and want them at all times to be near.  The dual-stationed Breeder/Animal Masters are a hotter commodity in the future than most people realize.

If in the unlikely instance an Animal Master is found to be abusing their Steeds, animals or other possessions (Slaves or Bonds too) they may be stripped of their Status, just like anyone.  There have only ever been a handful of cases of this, along the whole of history here, but the possibility always exists that the person in question just changes or was never right for the job in the first place.  In the whole history of Zekira, only one Animal Master has ever been Exiled, but some five dozen have been considered Renegade, and more than that Rogue.

We won't count the Outsiders.  Nobody counts them.

Hunt Park Tales

Thanadaeco, age 11
"Mom came to the Park with this group of people, some of Mirage's friends.  There was the one guy right off, the one they all claimed needed to get out more often.  So Mom just went right off for him.  I could smell it, they were hitting it off even though he was complaining the whole time about being outside and shit.  We were looking for something pretty and small and fast, not even to hunt that I remember.  Just to wander around in Auntie Morgontain's place and enjoy the day.  There weren't any hunts going on, at any rate, except Mom and this guy.  Then they went off, Mom was saying something about birds and songbugs and stuff, and like a couple minutes later they were doing it right in the bushes there.  Like none of us knew.  Mirage and them were just laughing and talking, and then, when they came back out like nothing happened, we just went on with the hunt.  Of course later I had a new sister named Vrtanya..."

Charade Kstet, age 45
"It's colder than people think out in Nakani in the deep winter, it's really wet.  There's more sleet and slush hitting the ground than snow, but the Grazers are out there waiting.  I know, people think, how hard can it be to find a Grazer in the middle of a white plain?  Pretty damn hard, when they change their coat for the winter.  Them and the rabbits.  I just take those idiots out and watch them stumble over the nests and under the Grazers noses..."

Ainyah Kshau, age 23
"I know I'm supposed to be working Steeds.  I think they're pretty darn boring, though.  I mean, those flying ones.  I like the ones you keep on the ground.  Yeah, they're getting rowdy.  That's because they're the ones I use to chase forest-runners.  Those are the ones who turn on you when you think they're ready to die.  Yeah, the Steed has to be on the mark.  They have to be ready, because most times their riders aren't.  Not for this kind of action."

Bevthelian, age 30
"Oh, I love taking little trophies.  But then my hunts are pretty mundane.  No, up in the air it's really amazing.  Flying with the Steeds, that usually surprised the hunters because they don’t always know people fly... (giggles)  I know Grandma Tani would love to be up here sometimes, with the wind and feathers.  She doesn't much like Steeds, though, I've seen her hunt them.  Pretty brutal.  I like chasing my birds, it's easier to take a feather off a tail than decide what to do with a whole Steed."

Avlen Kstet, age 169
"Just maintain a pace and stick with it, no matter what.  The Steeds can take it.  They're bred for speed.  Like me.  Oh, watch out for low branches and thickets.  They hide things.  And when you want to slow up they spring on you.  Like this!"

Vinna Kstet, age 200
"No, I don't expect to slow down any time soon.  My father wouldn't have it any other way.  It isn't like those little buggers slow down for me.  When I find the nests of stingers and stripes, they usually bite like crazy, and the clients aren't always ready for that.  It's why I make them all wear gloves.  Who me?  Nah.  Never have.  They can't get through the skin anyway.  What I don't have in dad's fur I have in armor, right?"

Grace Blackstone, age unknown
"If your trip wasn't to your liking, it was perfectly acceptable to come to me.  But... I'm always disappointed when my customers don't have a good time.  (attendant struggles to breathe, collapses)  No, I'm afraid you didn't see that.  (wave of hand)  Yes, your trip was just as fun as last time, only you didn’t come back with quite the same trophies.  Smaller prey, you know.  Harder to hunt but well worth the price of admission, yes?  Oh, no, I am afraid I don't have any openings on that Tenet/Rar trip next week, but I do have a nice slot in the Ref desert in four days.  If you can arrange payment, I can surely get you in on it.  Dress for hot weather, dearie."

Shire Chanay, age 130
"Onward to Neres Heartland.  Please don't touch anything that has yellow and red in it, not even the plants are safe.  (sighs) I told you that you shouldn't touch that.  I'm afraid that I don't have healing powers.  Does anyone in this group have any?  Oh, darn.  High Lord, I'm so sorry.  Would you like your remains buried where they sit or do you want us to carry your dead ass all the way back to H'lap and dump them there?"

Vrtanya, age 142
"Yes, I do know that story.  The one about my conception.  Okay.  Get over it.  I was conceived in the same park I run now.  Dad still doesn't go back there, of course.  I can't force him.  He just doesn't like bugs.  Or trees, apparently.  But it's never hard to get people into the park.  All that other stuff aside, the place is packed in summer.  More sight seers and observers watching the hunts going on in the deeper parts of the park.  Those guys don’t understand what goes in to making their entertainment even possible.  There are people running around using their mental powers to see through people's eyes.  Watching with out of body and stuff.  And then we have the people doing the electronic observation, bringing up all those attractive images of the hunters.  Sweating.  On the Steeds.  Ugh.  Oh, hold on.  (a butterfly drifts by)  One of my mom's.  (snatches it out of the air with a snap of her arm) Dad thinks they're pretty.  (begins pulling the extremely vibrant wings off it)  Of course, he tells me he can hear them screaming, too.  Some day, I hope to hear that lovely sound.  Till then, I have to settle with the Steeds and people gutting LongNeck deer."

Animal Masters Game Information
"I don't even know who my parents were. I guess there is a down side to this, huh?"
-Sani, BeastMistress, Feed Production, Tana/Imaa/Dre

Who You Work For...
Your work involves every conceivable facet of animal tending, be it feed, storage, transportation, treatment or racing. Everyone hires you for one reason or another. You yourself have people working below you, but mainly you are a solo act. You cannot do everything in the field by yourself.

Who Works For You...
You may Own Stock, and Bond workers, but most Animal Masters hire Freeworkers and FreeLandHolders to do anything but the most menial work.

Where You Work and What You Do...
Where you are depends on the kind of services you are capable of performing. If you are a mutant tuned to animals or flora you might work on a farm as a vet or the like; if you have a knack for training animals there is a good chance you would work on a racing farm, or at a track for that matter. It all depends on what kind of expertise you have.

How Breeding Has Affected You...
Of all the Titles, Animal Masters are the most affected by Breeder's hands. Since many Beastlords are specifically bred mutants, this follows. As mentioned above, any animal-tuned mutant has a chance to become an Animal Master. Only 5% of Animal Masters are actually born into the Status, but for the sake of streamlining the character creation process, if the player rolls an Animal Master, assume they have a history to work with, and use the charts below as if they were born into the Status even if they were not.
01-25% B2, never natural (two normal people just don't stand a chance...) and never B1, same reason
26-37% B3
38-50% B4
51-70% B5, gain one specific animal-based mutation
71-100% B6, gain two mutations, one must be an animal tuning.
For those who have chosen to create a character who has lowered their Status from Breeder or High Holder (it happens) use their charts, with the exception that any extra mutations are of the animal or biological nature.
A note about Breeding and Animal Masters...Because they are in such high demand and there are so few of them available, Animal Masters who are fertile (women) might still be under 'contract' to Breed if they had been Owned before. Personal taste dictates most Animal Masters' love lives, but if there is a chance at making more Breeders jump at it without hesitation. This causes some unwanted strife between the two Stations.

Rights of Animal Masters
Even if their former Status was Owned or Bayaran, they may vote, etc, they tend not to be in any offices other than pertain to their profession. If they Own or Bond, they must abide by all the same laws that Owners and Membayar must. They may Hold land, but not at the outrageous rates that everyone else does. Usually, they rent or share land Holdings with FreeHolders, or High Holders, and as long as they can maintain their end of whatever contract is established, they in effect 'own' the land. There are extensive laws relating to the treatment of animals and lands, and some Bonders work very closely with Animal Masters in this respect. Only in the most dire of situations do Animal Masters break these laws. In essence, they are the most humane of the Zekirans, they respect all life and are deeply disturbed by any harm that comes to their charges (be it a racehorse or a rider, or even the land they live on).

The Breeders and the Animal Masters go way back. The few Breeder/Animal Masters work as diplomats when they can, but that is not often. Most Animal Masters do not bet on their steeds. They take things a little more seriously than other people do in that respect. Also, since they have their mutations to deal with, this might come into play.

Note that many Animal Masters who have been Raised or Freed into the Status never have the full Edu score, use discretion when deciding how much Edu the character actually gets, given their history.

Lands Held: d4/1=d4, 2=d6, 3=d8, 4=d10 or as High Holder Rates: 1-4
Bond: 1d8/year Own: 1d6/year

Also note that some characters may either be or have offspring that is "naturally" Bred. (Some tactless Breeders call this same thing "accidentally Bred"... go figure.) Treat these characters as an average (round up) of their Parent's Breeding levels. (A B3 Animal Master and a B6 Owner have a child naturally without any assistance. The child should be considered a 5th level Breeding.)

Stat Roll Natural B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6
Intelligence 30+8d10 * * +5 +10 +10 +10 +15
Education 50+3d10 * * +5 +10 +10 +15 +15
Strength 20+8d10 * * +5 +10 +10 +10 +15
Health 20+8d10 * * +5 +10 - +/-5 +/-10
Agility 30+7d10 * * +5 +10 +5 +5 +10
Reaction 30+7d10 * * +5 +10 - +5 +10
Appearance 10+9d10 * * - +5 - +5 +/-10
Charisma 20+8d10 * * +5 +10 +/-5 +/-5 +/-10
Social Skill 50+1d10 * * +5 +10 +10 +15 +15
Aggression 30+7d10 * * +5 - - -5 +/-10
Sanity 10+8d10 * * - +/-5 - +/-5 +/-15
Courage 20+8d10 * * +5 +10 - +/-5 +/-10

Recently Raised Beast Lady Bepa and a pair of her favorite Hern Rats. She was born a Slave and Raised, and has enjoyed herself immensely since then. An expert in the field of Hern Rat lives, she trains them, breeds them, helps sell them as guard animals, and generally speaking has a terrific time playing with them.