Racing, race track creation, breeding of our favorite beasts!

Zekiran Steeds

Engineered thousands of generations ago, these horse-based creatures bear a striking resemblance to the Earthly mythical Pegasus. Horses with wings are a standard of Zekiran life, but they come also without them, and with other enhancements which Animal Masters and Breeders can add.

The average Steed (the term for both winged and non-winged horses) is about 5 feet at the shoulder, or 15 (Earthly) Hands High. They normally have strong necks and overly muscled shoulders, the only odd feature on the non-winged versions is that they still carry what is known as the "Wing Girdle", a band of muscle around the base of the neck which allows the wings to function on other Steeds.

Flying Steeds specifically often run from 14 to 17 Hands, and are more slender than their non-winged counterparts. They also tend to weigh more, not just because of the wings, but because the muscles they must use to make flying possible are overly developed.

Steeds generally have stronger forelegs than rear, but this is variable on ground-Steeds. They are all intelligent to a degree, and have distinct personalities. They have excellent vision, and their eyes (at least on the flying Steed) are often set closer to forward than to the sides, providing them an advantage when landing and moving through the air. Some flying Steeds have been bred with third eyelids, and nose-flaps to keep the wind from their noses. All Steeds have unusually proportioned ears, much longer than Earthly horses, more like mules',

There are different sets of riding tack which are involved in ground and flying Steeds, both mentioned later, but the flying tack is clearly not Earthly in nature. Most ground Steed tack is the same as Earth's, varied for the Steed or conditions.

Different Breeding houses produce Steeds which have particular features: appearance, stability in certain terrain, attitude, and strength. These are detailed later. Breeding can be done by anyone, with or without an Animal Master, but more of the best Steeds are bred by them.

Steeds mature slowly, and have long lifespans by Earthly standards: they are considered "young" until they are ten years old. The average lifespan of a flying Steed is 40 years, that of a grounded Steed is closer to 55. Activity and usage always affect the final lifespan.

Steeds with wings have on average 34 more bones (the shoulder joint and wings themselves vary by breed) than the regular Steeds. Even grounded Steeds have six extra bones which serve as the wing joint, though the wings themselves are absent. These bones tend to make the shoulders 'lumpy' and often tack takes them into account for pulling harnesses and saddles. Steeds measure around 7.5 feet from nose to rump, winged Steeds have wingspans of 15-30 feet at maturity.

Steeds are herbivores only, subsisting on the local grasslands when the feed is not available. They can digest almost all kinds of native vegetation, but also have the supplimental Steed Feed farm's hay and grains. They have a small stomach, and huge colon, which allows their digestion even during flights or work. In most respects save that of having wings, the Steeds of Zekira resemble Earthly horses on the inside.

The easiest way to compare Steeds and Earthly horses is to consider an Arab, Thoroughbred, Trotter or Saddlebred horses equitable to Fliers; Draft, Quarterhorse, or Cob horses resemble the Grounded Steeds -- in both appearance physically and mentally.

When the Zekirans brought their Steeds to the world, they had been aboard the same Generation ships as the humans. They had little space to play with, but enough that the Breeders made for specific mutations of flight-wings. Able to finally stretch and show off, the Animal Masters have taken this art as their forte, and enter the world of racing, showing and work equally well.

There are three basic kinds of wings on Steeds, all of them bred for their usage.

Skin flap wings are batlike in appearance, though no 'fingers' are visible at the ends of the joints. They are normally covered in the same fur that the body is, though often are entirely bare. Skin wings usually are held over the body, back or upwards from the sides without tiring. These wings usually are smaller from tip to tip, but broad and so can support a lot of weight, only not for a terribly long time, as there is little ability to soar with these. These Steeds are good at strength feats, aerial pulling and dragging, and supporting more weight. There is the drawback that few of these Steeds are used to race on the regular circuit, they are plain and often considered too ugly to race.

Feathered wings bear the resemblance to bird's wings, are of average size but can be bred to be huge or tiny. These are held forward from the shoulders, or at angles to the sides of the body, they can nestle snugly down to the body because of the flexibility of the joints. While these wings are not as physically durable as the skin wings, they have the advantage of being truly feathered, and as such provide such a tremendous amount of lift that they can be used to soar. The bones are not hollow, so they are proportionately larger than birds' wings. Most aerial acrobatics can be achieved by feathered wings, with the consideration of the wingspan itself. These are primary racers.

Show wings are nearly useless as flight-wings, and often are considered vestigial, but they are pretty to look at or to the touch. Frail feathers ranging from 2' to 20' feet long often decorate these wings, curled, frayed, or transparent ones also. The butterfly-wing is becoming more popular with the show circuit, but some Animal Masters claim that these strange fairy-horses are just too unnatural. Very few of these Steeds will be able to race, let alone win, but they have their own show venue to compete.

Variations of the wings come in all kinds, but usually they are considered for show only, until someone comes up with one which beats all comers and is of a new design. (Skin with broad flight feathers, miniature wings for gliding, whatnot.)

Steeds without wings are used to pull vehicles, carts and transport goods, for personal use as riding animals or companions to fliers, general work animals, or show creatures. They are generally broader and squatter than their flying counterparts, but are also more stable and easier to train.
Ponies and Miniature Steeds are becoming more popular, simple small versions of the full-size Steed can be kept in much smaller areas (like space is a problem for someone who can afford a Steed?) and eat less, but clearly cannot be ridden except by children or very small adults. The Pony Steed is a maximum height of 13.4 Hands, the Miniature is up to 8 Hands. Either of these may also be found with wings or without, and troupes of performing Miniature Fliers continually astound audiences around the world.

There are no "wild" Steeds on Zekira.

Every color imaginable exists on these Steeds, from the Earthly Appaloosa to the Zekiran Standard Rainbow. Certain areas are known for producing one or more colors or patterns, and since these are not native animals, they have no 'natural' coloration to fall back upon.

The colors of a typical Steed run with contrasts in the mane, tail and feathers (if any). Patterns usually continue on the longer fur of mane and tail, but often are different on wings.

Steed Coloration And Patterning Chart
Either roll or choose for number of colors, pattern and what not. Wings, mane and tail may be rolled separately if desired, eyes may be chosen or left 'dark' or 'light'. Like Earthly horses, these Steeds' eyes show the white only in times of distress, so the color may either be very brightly contrasting to the fur or other colors, or simply a version of them.
Roll # of Colors (if colors>1)Roll Pattern
1 Only One 1 Socks Only
2 One, Fades 2 Socks, Blaze
3 Two 3 Spotted from Feet/Head to Body
4 Two 4 Spotted from Body to Feet/Head
5 Three 5 Rump Only Spotted
6 Three 6 Flanks Contrast
7 Three 7 Head, Legs Contrast
8 Four 8 Blocks of color from Head to Rump (fades)
9 Four 9 Stripes on Legs Only
10 Four 10 Stripes on Body Only
11 Five 11 Fully Striped, may fade to other colors
12 More than Five 12 Sprinkles (contrasted color dusted above)
13 Splashes (contrasted color from below)
14 Waves (contrast from Head and Neck side)
15 Back Wave (as above, from behind)
16 Flame Pattern from Above or Front
17 Flame Pattern from Below or Back
18 Two Patterns, roll again and mix
19 Steed is different on Left and Right sides
20 Pattern other than above list
Colors include...
Black, Silver, Pearl, Grey, White, Off-White (any shade made very pale), Off-Black (shade darker)
Yellow, Yellow-Orange, Orange, Red-Orange, Bright Red, Bay (Blood Red), Brown-Red
Red-Violet, Violet, Violet-Blue, Purple, Dark Blue (Indigo), Bright Blue, Pale Blue, Aqua
Blue-Green, Dark Green, Bright Green, Light Green, Yellow-Green, Brown-Green, Gold-Green
Dark Brown (Black or Violet Brown), Strong Brown, Light Brown, Tan, Cream, Yellow-Beige
Gold, Bronze, Copper (Red-Gold), Metallic (shades of color with Silver or Gold tint)

Most Patterns will involve fully contrasting colors (say, Light Green with Bay, or Gold and Violet), but Fades are popular -- gradually changing from Bright Blue to Brown-Red may go through Violet and Copper first, you never know what'll look best until you try it.

Terms for creating a Steed

First, decide if the Steed is to be flying or grounded. Different Breeding houses may or may not produce both kinds, so it is important to know where the animal is coming from. Gender is relatively unimportant, as these Steeds have been bred to be nearly equal. They are the same in size and attitude, occasionally males of grounded breeds may be larger or more ill-tempered, but this is rare. Age is described below.
Foal -- newborn to three years, all Stats are at 1/3 potential
Young -- three to ten years, all Stats are at 1/2 potential
Adult -- ten to twenty-five years, all Stats at full potential
Mature -- twenty-five to thirty-five years, Perception and Endurance may be lowered by 1/3, Aggresion and Speed may be lowered by 1/2
Old -- thirty-five to fouty-five years, in addition to the above, Strength and Maneuver/General lowered by 1/2, and Health by 1/3
Ancient -- over forty-five years, most Stats may be only 1/3 of potential, with the exceptions of Instinct and Quality
Racing Steeds usually begin their career at the end of their Young phase, and may continue in special cases through Mature but rarely to Old. Most work Steeds of either type begin their training for endurance at the beginning of Young age, and are often needed to work through their Old years. Except pregnant Mares, most Steeds are used for either work or racing while they are being Bred. A Steed must prove itself worthy of being Bred at all, so a female is just as likely to have had several wins behind her before she is chosen, as a male on a good streak. While there is a point when the racing Steeds are retired, put out to pasture and Bred a lot, there is never a time when an injured animal is "put down". The eagerness to heal an animal before allowing it to die can be seen at any dangerous race course. There are a multitude of ways to heal animals, from the Animal Master on staff to the little med-kits provided to all long-distance racers.

Decide what kind of emphasis you want the Steed to have: general health, exceptional agility, intelligence and attitude. Flying Steeds have more Stats to distribute scores into, so they start out with 200 points worth -- for an average of 10 in each score. Grounded Steeds have 150 points to distribute for the same 10 point average. Then, a random number of points (from 2 to 40) may be added to this value only at generation -- existing Steeds may not be altered in this fashion and most are minimum-stat only.
For either one, roll 1d4: 1 -- 2d8
2 -- 2d10
3 -- 2d12
4 -- 2d20

Quality is a rolled score, not included in the Stats distribution.
Roll 1d12: 1-2 Poor, modifier is -15% round up
3-7 Average, no modifier except as per Breeding house
8-10 Good, modifier is +10% round up
11 Excellent, modifier is +20% round up
12 Exceptional, modifier is +25% round up
So if a score is a 6 and there is a +20% modifier, it becomes 7.2, or 8. A score of 16 with a -15% modifier becomes 13.6 or 14. It is usually in this fashion that scores can go quite high. Keep the Quality of your Steed in mind when assigning scores, and this can work to your benefit.

Animals of the Poor and Average categories cannot hope to be Bred by anyone serious about the work. That is not to say that they don't get Bred at all, but they are never raced (embarassing!) and are rarely shown (stupid!). Poor usually reflects a bad Breeding House, or conditions there, or even the unlikely case of abuse, and cannot be raised to Average except if the Steed is found at the earliest Age.

The Breeding House Quality modifier may be assigned to only a few scores unless stated otherwise, but always apply the general modifier first, and then the singular percentage.

Quality and cost go hand in hand. The price modifiers of the Steeds is the same as their Stats mod, so a Steed at 100C and a Quality of Excellent now becomes a 120C Steed. Note that this is for PERCIEVED Quality, the seller may or may not actually have an Excellent Steed!

Finishing Touches
Assign your points to the Stats. Then, take the Quality modifier and raise or lower them. This is the finished number, and can only be changed by age.

Note that every category except Terrain must have a score of at least 2!
Decide what the appearance of the Steed will be, use the chart for color and pattern if needed, but otherwise they can be of any appearance. Show Steeds tend to be of a higher flair, while work Steeds are more often plain. Try modeling your Steed after the real thing first, to get an idea of how a racing or work Steed might come out in Zekira.

Breeding information can be coupled with the second Steed sheet, if this Steed is available for it, or has been Bred by someone famous. The second sheet also has room for information about the conditions of the boarding areas, Loan information, and Riders, which may change over the course of play. Having one site in poor condition may make your Steed react badly to the next site, this comes out in play. More information on sites and facilities in the Courses section.

Racing statistics are in the Racing and Courses section, as well as descriptions of many of the current Courses and Trophies available. Betting and playing odds is of course, the ideal down-time activity for all Zekirans, so make your Steed the best they can -- you might have a winner on your hands!

For these Scores, ((Boldface indicates a general Steed rating Bold Italic indicates Flying Steed ONLY))book
* -- note that the two numbers reflect Flying Steeds first, then Grounded
Strength -- A measure of physical power and bulk.
1* Lift -- the amount of weight in addition to its own the Steed can fly without incurring any penalties for Endurance
2,1* Pull -- the amount of weight a Steed can pull or drag in addition to its own weight without incurring any penalties for Endurance
Health -- The measure of bodily health and fitness, ability to take wounds and disease.
3,2 Internal -- all internal organs including the Brain, Lungs, Digestive tract, Reproductive system, and Circulatory
4,3 Structure -- bones, ligaments, joints and musculature
5,4 External -- skin, fur, wings, mane, eyes and ears, teeth and hooves
Endurance -- a measure of time expended during activity, how long a Steed can keep up whatever it is doing
6 Air -- flight time, soaring, diving or lifting
7,5 Ground -- pull/drag, running, working
8,6 Terrain -- terrain modifiers are usually in the 1-bit increment, used as a bonus to Steed's activities on a course. Each one is normally Bred into the Steed, or Trained into it at a young age. Certain Terrains can be trained up, some cannot. There are rarely more than three specific Terrain modifiers for any Steed, further additions must be okayed by the Game Holder.
Altitude -- high altitude training gives a bonus to the lung capacity, and in certain conditions can cancel out negative modifiers for low-altitude races
Extreme Altitude -- only for flying Steeds, this includes ability to fly and remain in thin air locales, and up at the end of the atmosphere
Cold -- training here gives a Steed the ability to work or simply live in conditions of extreme cold such as polar or deep-cavern, or during extremely cold winds
Dark -- under conditions which would spook Steeds, such as in caverns, at night, or in artificially-darkened situations, the Steed is calm and acts normal
Dry -- desert training for lack of moisture conditions, can go longer without drinking than other Steeds
Hot -- not necessarily desert, but under temperature extremes of over 90 degrees average, the Steed does not suffer from heat-stroke as easily
Obstacle -- trained in the racing course, Steed is able to move with ease as per Wooded, but with man-made jumps and trees
Oversea -- able to keep from panicking and falling over large bodies of water, very dangerous to both train and race over water
Rocky -- able to keep its feet up and in the right places, the Steed is used to moving over large ground-areas with unstable footing
Steep -- cliffsides, high hills and loose dirt, not the same as Rocky, but close, Steed does not slow up when faced with a large cliff
Water/River -- quickly running water, waves, beaches and large or deep river systems do not slow the Steed down
Wetland -- from 1" to 3' worth of mire or swampland, slowly moving water and muck does not impeed the Steed
Wooded -- able to negotiate the unexpected terrain differences with large trees, rocks, grass and copses, knows when to leap and when to avoid ground
Special -- may include any other terrain or condition desired, specify if for flying or grounded
9,7 Maneuverability -- general rating versus the Course difficulty or the difficulty rating of the Terrain the Steed is going through: no check at all needed if the Steed's Maneuverability rating exceeds the course.
Agility -- specific rating as required if the Man. rating does not exceed the course or area
10 Air -- if the course is air only or mostly, each object or obsticle must take a check
11,8 Ground -- as per air, but obviously if the course is mainly ground-based, check here
Special -- water or other odd trained-up ability, specify what kind of Steed may use
Speed -- the rate that the Steed moves as compared to others
12 Dive -- flying only, the rate that a Steed can safely execute a dive (qv)
13 Soar -- flying only, how fast the basic airspeed of the Steed is while simply soaring or flapping their wings (compare to gallop)
14,9 Gallop -- the physical movement speed of the four legs on the Steed
Special -- swimming, top-speed, etc, specify if flying or grounded
Perception -- a measure of the sight, hearing and other senses that the Steed uses to move
15,10 Natural -- using only their own built-in abilities, how well they can pick out danger or terrain
16,11 Guided -- only for those with a rider or guide, how well they take commands and ignore their own senses
17,12 Instinct -- the intelligence of the Steed is measured by instinct, how they innovate and react to new things or people, and how many new things they may learn
Aggression -- the stubbornness or relaxed attitude a Steed displays is split into two categories
18,13 Versus Objects -- obsticles, terrain or areas in general, or other Steeds
19,14 Versus Rider/Guide -- human contact only
20,15 Appearance -- the overall look and sense of the Steed: coat quality, wingspan, alertness of the head, stance

Race Course Creation
When creating a course you must first decide what kind of Steeds will be racing: flying or grounded. That is the single most important item! Terrain modifiers are quite different for each kind, distances covered are absolutely different. Show Ring competitions are covered last in this chapter.

Grounded Courses
There are several basic types of Ground courses: Sprint Race, Distance Race, Endurance Race, Obstacle Course, Complex Course.

Sprint, Distance and Endurance races all have one thing in common: there is nothing in the way except time. Sprint races are usually either straight on turf or oval on dirt or turf for at most one mile of racing -- these most resemble Earthly racetracks. Distance races can be on any kind of surface (even paved or water) but must not have any drops, rises or hurdles to jump; the distance covered may be anywhere from ten to one hundred miles, the first finisher wins. Endurance races may be of two types: distances of over one hundred miles, winners simply finish first and the other more uncommon version of setting an area out and racing until a certain time expires, with the distance covered being the winning amount. This second type of endurance race is dangerous to both Steed and Racer, if either decide they can go farther they may endanger their own health.

Obstacle courses are usually done in a small area but with a pattern to follow, this is quite a lot like Earthly Show Rings. Typically, the course is less than half a mile long in actual distance, but there are a set number of jumps, dips, hazards and distractions along the way which make it difficult for the Steed and Rider to maneuver. Those that finish during a certain time are judged as to their performance (by not knocking down any jumps, shying away from hazards, ignoring distractions, etc).

Complex Courses include terrain that is difficult to follow or trails that must be ridden to a goal, often the Rider may dismount to do a task while the course is being followed -- a kind of treasure hunt or steeple chase. Generally these courses are wide and follow about a ten mile trail, outside, with only natural or nearly-natural barriers. Winners are those who finish first or with the best performance along the course.

Other courses and events include the Pull -- a strong Steed can pull a tremendous amount of weight, how long or how much, or over what kind of terrain; Swimming is extremely rare but gaining popularity with manmade courses (it's too unsafe to do so out in open water); Skills (standing jumps, response to command, etc) which may also qualify as Show Ring events.

Aerial Courses: the main difference is size! A sprint race in the air requires a much wider area (the wingspan of Steeds can't overlap, that becomes very dangerous), and a considerably longer distance. The same general rules apply to Aerial Speed, Distance and Endurance races, that there is a set terrain with nothing in the way and the top speed wins.

Aerial Speed Trials are of two miles length, when they are held no farther than 200 feet in altitude. Above that they are considered High Speed, to 2000 feet up; higher than that they are called High Altitude courses and are much more dangerous than any others.

Aerial Distance Races are usually held in the 100 to 1200 feet altitude range, and are of five to fifty miles in length. Often they are a circular pattern, above a ground-based reference course or object, or over a path designated by a road.

Aerial Endurance races are normally on the same course as a distance race, but with added area to cover or another couple laps. Usually they are of seventy to two hundred miles, and are of low complexity. Flying endurance can be modified by known updrafts and currents, storms and weather.

Aerial Obstacle courses are of ten to one hundred miles, of varying heights. Usually there are objects such as trees, buildings or other large manmade or natural structures in the way to soar around, as checkpoints. Sometimes there are added unnatural devices in the way: hoops, difficult to manage order of hazards, low-flying demands, narrow areas to maneuver, even unnaturally produced phenomenon like fire lines, water hazards, and fog. Those who complete the course are measured in the time it took as well as their performance.

Aerial Stunt courses are distinct from Obstacle courses by being entirely manmade, and by demanding the performance of both Steed and Rider in difficult moves such as loops, falls, and hovering. Aerial Stunt courses are run ONLY with one Steed at a time, never in a group, and are judged purely by performance.

Aerial Complex courses are the most entertaining of all, for most viewers, and the most demanding on the Steed and Rider. They combine the ground aspects of galloping and hazards on the ground, with the possibility of using flight to move around high obstacles, scale cliffsides, or skirt water. This is often a timed event but with equal value placed on performance. The distance traveled on an Aerial Complex course may be up to twenty miles long, and can scale into very high altitudes to reach hovering checkpoints.

Unique to Flying Steed competitions are the Lift, Altitude Climb, Speed Climb. Lift is similar to the grounded Pulling contest, how much weight may the Steed actually drag into the air straight up? Holding this is not advised, but there are specially designed Steeds for rescue and pulling work, so there are clearly participants for those rare events. Altitude and Speed climb tests the ability to raise farther into the air than ever before or doing it to a certain height as fast as possible. Speed Diving, Single Skill or stunt events, also exist.

Something that both Grounded and Flying Steeds can participate in is the Show ring. These Steeds need not be able to fly with their wings, if they have them, all they must be is beautiful. Health, quality, stability and personality are all important, visual looks, scent, the ability to obey a command, all these things count. The Zekiran Steed show ring event is much more like a dog or cat show on Earth, than a horse show for us: the Steeds aren't necessarily going to be put through paces, or even tested to their speed or agility. Care and tack, training and intelligence are the important factors here.

Creating a Course
¨ For every Mile = 1 point
¨ For every 250 feet in Altitude = 1 point
¨ For every Checkpoint = 10 points -- the Steed (and Rider) must circle the checkpoint to get the performance points for this site
¨ Water Hazards of any kind add 5 to 100 points (low for small streams or very shallow manmade pits filled, medium for marshland that is certified up to 4 feet deep but no deeper or manmade moving water areas, high for open water such as lakes, ocean, waterfalls or large rivers, deep marshes) See Terrain
¨ Fire Hazards of any kind add 50 points
¨ Each Jump Foot = 2 points (a Jump made of logs piled into a three foot high barrier is worth 6 points)
¨ Each Distance Jump Foot = 2 points (a Jump of a large pit four feet across is worth 8 points)
¨ Each Course Turn less than 120degrees = 5 points per 15 degrees less (a hairpin turn in the path of 60 degrees is worth 20 points)
¨ Distractions -- timed distractions are worth 5 points each, triggered as the Steed passes (a blast of a horn, motion caused by shaking trees or sheets of metal, etc)
¨ Permanent Distractions -- set and turned on at the start of the race, is worth 5 points (most courses will actually build in the cheering of the crowd as a permanent distraction, that's about the right way to look at a PD)
¨ Physical Distractions -- other riders, animals on the course, things that look like animals or people actually attempting to attract attention are worth 10 points
¨ Each Direct Hazard -- tree limbs, walls, etc are worth 10 points
¨ Each Dual Hazard -- trees over a pit, walls which the Steed must go between without touching = 15 points
¨ Each Stunt being performed -- stunts are generally rated by their difficulty
¨ Simple aerial turn is worth 5 points per every 15 degrees less than 120
¨ Complete circle, similar to that of a checkpoint judging is worth 10 points (this move is simply banking full circle)
Figure Eight flight at ONE height is worth 10 points
Spiral flight (up) = 10 points
Spiral flight (down) = 7 points
Hover = 10 points
Backing up = 15 points
Swoop (lowering from altitude) = 3 points
Half Loop (swooping from one plane to a perpendicular one) = 5 points
Full Loop (swooping vertically upside down and returning to normal without falling, stalling or losing the Rider) = 15 points
Banking (with one wing up and the other down while turning) = 5 points
Switch Banking (trading directions while in midair, often between flaps -- in earthly terms this is 'changing leads') = 10 points
Outside Banking (cresting in midair, or what is usually an attempt by an ornery Steed to lose their Rider...) = 10 points
Drop (allowing the wings to stop flapping, usually an ending move but often can be combined with other more dangerous stunts to simply lose altitude very quickly) = 10 points
· Terrain Modifiers: Mostly run as the Steed Worksheet instructions, but there are different levels of difficulty for certain terrains. For EACH area change, add the points.
Altitude (2000-5000 feet ON LAND) = 10 points for every 500 feet above sealevel
Grassland = 0 Dirt = 0 Paved = 0* *to 5 for rough, broken, ill repair or slick
Sand/Loose Dirt = 3 points
Mud/Slippery Dirt = 5 points
Marsh/Wetlands = 5 points per 3 feet deep
Water - very shallow/unmoving (2"-6") = 3 points
Water - shallow/slow moving (7"-1'; runoff) = 5 points
Water - average/moving (1'-3'; stream) = 7 points
Water - hazard/quickly moving (3'-5'; small river) = 12 points
Water - deep/dangerous moving (5'+ deep; rapids) = 20 points
Water - Over River = 30 points
Water - Over Lake = 50 points
Water - Over Sea/Ocean = 100 points
Water - misc -- through spray, waterfalls, etc = 15 points
Water - Frozen, Snow/Powder = 5 points
Water - Frozen, Ice/Sleet = 7 points
Water - Frozen Lake or River Surface = +10 points to Hazard Points (a stream frozen over is worth 17)
Rocky - pebbly (uncertain terrain) = 5 points
Rocky - stony (sharp) = 7 points
Rocky - boulders = 5 points
Hill = 5 points for every 5 % incline
Cliff/Canyon Wall = 10 points
Wooded - scrubland = 3 points
Wooded - light woods = 5 points
Wooded - forest = 10 points
Wooded - dense woods = 15 points
Other Terrain includes Cavernous, Barren, Tall Grass, Tundra, and most will be worth 10 points
¨ Weather Conditions can change a race dramatically (witness the famous Autev Akur Telva OverSea Loop, normally a gentle 40 mile 3 checkpoint race which happens to take place over the Pin Gulf... But with an added Rainbow Sea stormfront it suddenly becomes one of the most challenging races ever held!)
Clear = 0 points
Cold = 0 points; Very Cold (near-freezing) = 3 points; Extremely Cold (freezing) = 5 points
Wet - Foggy = 5 points; Drizzly = 5 points; Light Rain (no wind) = 7 points; Rain (slight wind) = 10 points; Hard Rain (stormy) = 15 points; Storm (full) = 20 points; Hard Storm/Hurricane = 30 points; anything harder than that you're best off cancelling the race
Hot - Summer Normal = 0; 80-90 degrees = 3 points; 91-100 degrees = 5 points; 100+ = 10 points
Time - Fully Day = 0 points; Early Morning (sun up) = 2 points; Late Afternoon (sundown) = 3 points; Twilight/Dusk (predawn or post-sunset) = 5 points; Evening = 7 points; Night (8-3) = 10 points
Darkness Otherwise = 2 points for every 1/2 mile (ground) or 2 miles (air) that the Steed must travel in the dark (dark is considered 'night' value, but is manmade)
Provided Lights = -2 points for natural Darkness being removed by simulated daylight (conditional)
¨ Steed Size: if a course requires a larger or smaller Size factor for reasons of obstacle density or narrowness of areas, 5 points for Larger than normal (Length not less than 7 feet Nose-Tail, Wingspan not less than 20 feet); 7 points for Smaller than normal (Length not more than 7 feet N-T, Wingspan not more than 25 feet)
¨ Other factors of physical build: weight, narrowness of Grounded Steeds, etc, all have a base value of 5 points, unless made to the extreme (for Miniature courses, naturally, you'll have to specify the Extra Small category for another 5 points, and reduce the Hazards accordingly)
¨ Other General building factors: imagine anything, usually if it is an annoying but passable object or event, 5 points; moderately dangerous but not impossible feat 7-10 points; for difficult feats or dangerous areas up to 20 points
¨ Most if not all Race courses have a distinct Start and Finish line, sometimes different locales. Decide what kind of Start and Finish areas your course will have, and remember that they can also have Terrain modifiers or difficulties assigned to them!

For using this Point based chart you can add up all the points and either compare it directly to the Total Points on a Steed, or divide it by 10 and compare it to the Steed's Maneuver score. This will give a good idea of how hard a course is. For every 100 points, consider an average Steed, 200 points and a good Steed will be challenged, 300 or more points and only the best Steeds will be able to attempt it.

To use the Steed Worksheet during a Race
¨ After completing a course description, check it through with a Steed of each type (poor, average, exceptional scores) to see if it flows the way you want it to, it's a good failsafe
¨ Each segment of Terrain gets a roll against the Steed's Air or Ground Agility PLUS their Terrain modifier if any, on a d20. If there are increased difficulties because of weather conditions and distractions: if they have a specific Terrain modifier add that or use it to balance the negative, Distractions roll versus Aggression-Object
¨ Each flat out speed area rolls vs Air or Ground Speeds: Soaring is the normal Air score, Diving is used only when two Steeds are wing to wing at the finish
¨ Rider scores are used to stay in control of the Steed when they fail a roll: the most important of which is Agility. Reaction is used to determine if the Steed went first (Aggression vs Rider against the Rider's Priority). Any Rider's Animal Tunings come in very handy here, too.
Examples follow!((eventually))

Breeding Your Steed
Steeds on Zekiran farms usually congregate in herds, as their ancient ancestors did on their home world. This is one of the last ways that they are entirely similar to those steeds. They have instincts to stay together and to breed when the weather conditions and physical timing is right. Watching a herd of Steeds select among themselves which will mate is an exersize in chaos theory.

The dominant male, only barely so now with the time between their original and Zekiran settings, usually becomes more aggressive when he notices more than one female in his area coming into estrus. He will attempt to keep them near him, or more accurately keep others away from them. This is a constant battle, of course, because the females don't necessarily want to be isolated fom their comfortable herd partners.

Through displays such as pawing the ground, laying ears back and opening wings (assuming the Steed has them), or even forceful play around the females, the male attempts to show his prowess. Even if they are impressed (which an Animal Master can inform the watcher) they will feign disinterest until their cycle is fully appropriate. They will allow the male to mount only then, and by this time there are often several others coming along into their own cycles.
Apparently, Animal Masters have noticed, the female Steed has become somewhat cynical about mating. She seems to actively dislike being around males, and when the attempt to mount finally comes, it appears that is because she is so tired of spurning him. The whole thing is most likely chemically controlled, but it certainly is fun to watch - so say BeastLords.

In a herd of twenty Steeds, then, there are often five or six males, one of whom is the dominant aggressor and the others are submissive to his will as long as he is watching them. The bulk of the herd are younger females, with any three in some stage of cyclical readiness. Often there are two pregnant mares, and one or more with a foal. The dominant male usually stays so for around one season at a time, because by the time a fifth or sixth mare comes into heat he is so exhausted by keeping vigilant watch over his few the younger or next-in-line stallions will be able to move in quite easily.

Note that there is never a time that Steeds are gelded. It is simply not needed, because of their tame nature, and useless if they are as aggressive as they would appear. On Earth the horses can be far more ornery than Zekiran Steeds, but by gelding the males there is an obvious testosterone connection. This seems not to be the case in Zekiran settings, since the Steed is much more intelligent than its Earthly counterparts, they seem to decide when they will be obstinate and when they will cooperate. If a Steed is going to "be that way" usually an Animal Master is called in to teach them or try and control the problem. Most "ornery" Steeds wind up not getting Bred, not getting any special treatment, and being pretty bitter about it all, too.

In clinical settings, the breeding situation can be handled by Animal Masters. Most often they simply supervise medically the mare's cycle, or even her mental state, and coax the pair chosen together with either natural pheremones, artifically produced ones, or their mental powers. In more rare circumstances, they take samples of both male and female cells, and simply use the same techniques that 6th Degree Breeders do: artificially inseminating the egg and potentially altering it, and then implanting it with the proper devices in the mare.

Zekiran Steeds seem perfectly at ease with either situation, seemingly having come to the same relaxation with reproductive care in clinical settings as the Zekirans themselves, after such a long time in a completely artificial setting aboard the generation ships before arrival to the new world.

It can be noted that Breeders (of human subjects) that are also Animal Masters tend to have a more relaxed and comfortable setting in their clinics than Breeders who are anything else as their secondary Status. Perhaps they still understand the connections between animal and human brain chemistry, perhaps they simply have more empathic power than others, or maybe they just like being comfy.

In any case, the clinical setting may provide the Steed owner with a more sure foaling, and certainly provides for the less random nature of herd breeding. Most prize winning Steeds, racing or otherwise, have been bred in clinics, rather than on the range.

Foaling takes place nearly a year after mating, and during the intervening time, the Animal Master has complete dominion over a mare and her unborn foal. If a BeastLord is even just walking along down a street and sees something amiss on a nearby farm, they have every right to check up on the owner, the conditions and the mare herself.

Since the growth of a foal - and in fact the entire inner workings of Zekiran Steeds - is remarkably similar to that of Earthly horses, any good book on the matter will complete the education necessary for learning about the development of a foal, the health of the Steeds, and diseases found on them. There are quite a number of good books on the subject, so there is little need to go into the depth they do here, certainly for play instruction it is unnecessary.

Exersise of the mare must be supervised when she begins to show her foal weight. Her instincts will tell her to fly with her herd, and to even take up challenges and race within the herd. At less than half a year, this is perfectly all right. However when the mare begins gaining significant weight her wings may not be able to support her properly, and with the wrong conditions she may fall and injure both herself and the unborn foal. She may get increasingly ornery in this time, if she is not at least tended to and allowed some amount of physical exersize such as being trotted or even pulling heavier objects than she's used to if she is a work Steed. Most often, in the last month of pregnancy, she will slow down these activities herself, or even become more easily exhausted with exersize. Then, if a ranged Steed, she will decide on a birthing spot. If she is a stabled Steed, she will attempt to nest in whatever space is there, and most often in either case, her owners should supervise the birth.

Nesting is a herd behavior, where the mare separates from the herd but not too far, if there are woods or light brush around the herd's normal grazing area she will select a small and often covered locale for the birth. She will use the ground litter, leaves and small branches, and even discarded feathers (if of that variety) to bulk up a very bird-like nest, and remain there from three to five days before the foal drops. If she is stabled, she will not want to leave the nesting area, if ranged, she will occasionally join the herd but will obviously appear nervous when too far from her site.

Suffice to say that one year after the mating, the foal will drop. There can be complications in birth due to the wings of the foal, that being really the only difference in Earthly and Zekiran Steeds. Most births will go swiftly, but around 15% of them may have some form of difficulty. The foal MUST be head first out of the mare, otherwise the wings may sustain permanent damage. As Earthly horses, a foal's forehoof ought to come out first, then their nose. With Zekiran Steeds, their nose is shortly followed by their wing-wrists (the highest mobile joint on the wing), and if the wings are possitioned properly all should come out quickly. If a wing is not in place, facing forward or the foal is otherwise positioned, an Animal Master must be called in: it's not something that Joe Holder can fix themself without damaging either the foal or the mare.

As Earthly horses, the foal is covered by membranes which must be broken in order for it to begin breathing properly. Most often, the mare will lick them off but if she shows no interest in doing so, the attendant people nearby must do it, or the foal will suffocate. Most mares take great interest in their foals, however some small portion (around 10%) will either ignore or reject the foal. In these cases, the foal may be hand raised or placed with a surrogate. The surrogate mares usually have lost their own foal or are bred for this job.

As mentioned before the foal is considered to be inseperable from their mother for three years, and then "young" for 7 more years! Unlike Earthly horses, the Zekiran Steed is unable to breed while still with her foal for at least the first two years. After that point she begins to come back into estrus normally.

There are some mares who take much longer to do so, and it is a distressing thing to note from an Animal Master's possition: all the indications are there that they will repeat the disastrous Breeding habits of their human counterparts in several thousand years! They may slowly begin to live longer, but they may be incapable of Breeding often or at all. This is not going to be a problem for the next ten thousand years, so don't worry about it presently.

Foals are generally accepted to the herd if their mother also accepts them. Those which have been rejected stand only a 50% chance of the rest of the herd doing so. Animal Masters watch the interaction with the herd carefully during the first few weeks of a foal's life. If too many of a rejected foal's herdmates also reject them, they must be taken away or the herd may actually turn on it. Currently there is no available record of foals which have been rejected and why, but there are many Animal Masters working on this phenomenon. The proportion of Bred and Herd rejections are equal, so far as can be judged.

Lifestyles of the Zekiran Steed
Depending on what kind of Steed it is, the life style and cycle may vary considerably. The main difference is between the Grounded and the Flying Steed.

Grounded Steeds usually are stabled. They tend to be owned in fewer numbers then flying, and their range if they have one is most often smaller to graze and run: flying Steeds require take-off space, while the grounded ones obviously do not. Grounded Steeds require lower ceilings than flying, clearly, and also less width in their stables. However, most grounded Steeds will respond better with that space still provided, it is still an obvious facet of their breeding which says that those wings were bred out of the Grounded Steed, rather than the wings being bred on.
Many grounded Steeds are used for pulling farm machinery, carriages and being ridden by single-city curriers. They may be used for anything that a vehicle is also - note that if there is anything that can be done by any Steed, rather than a vehicle, Zekirans will go and use the Steed! Grounded Steeds also are used for performances, racing and show arenas, but at a very low percentage compared to flying.

There are equal numbers of Grounded and Flying Steeds around the world, but most people don't notice the grounded ones as a rule, unless they distinguish themselves by having a certain coloration, temperment, or winning their races. Flying Steeds always take precidence in Zekiran mindsets.

A FreeLandHolder who owns a Steed usually has only one or two, and they will usually be of the grounded variety, because they are much cheaper and easier to house. They are also easier to buy tack and equipment for, even though flying ones are more popular. FreeWorkers who buy a Steed must house it somewhere, and many times this gets them into Bond pretty quickly. (Of course, simply selling off the Steed will take care of that.)

Flying Steeds are usually the ones owned by racing families, Owners usually, and are most often bought in quantities over five. Flying Steeds seem to do best with company, when a lower Status person buys their first Flying Steed they may also already have one or two grounded ones as well, and this suits the flier perfectly. For a variety of reasons: the flier is more comforable and can be trained better with the presence of already-trained Steeds, they can assert themself and become part of a herd mentality which relaxes them, and if they are the only flier, they may also become the head of that herd pretty quickly.

Flying Steed displays are often impressive to watch, both their mating display and their dominance display. If they are feathered they often "dance" and strut about (either sex, by the way, does this if they are competing for a herd spot) with their wings held at angles which cannot support weight: they're showing that they can fly too, in addition to all this pretty color and flash. Leather-winged Steeds often use flapping and "snapping" their wingtips, where they purposefully strike the wings together above their backs, producing a loud noise. This display also happens in feathered herds, but not often, and usually is very aggressive. Displays of pure anger and aggression are rare, but always involve showing teeth and lowering the head, so that the wingtips may actually strike the opponent. This move is one which most racing Steeds are taught to avoid, it is very wearing on their wings, and often they may break vital flight feathers that way. The attack of a Steed is fast, brutal, and decisive. They paw the ground, will strike with their forehooves first, then bite, then lift their wings and clap them together over the eyes of their opponent. Note that native animals will back the hell away from an aggressive Steed, rather than attempt to take one down.

Both grounded and flying Steeds graze most of their waking hours. Ones with supplimental food like Steed Feed products or cut hay and oats will graze slightly less, but will always nibble. They love fruits, crunchy ones particularly, and will never refuse a sprig of Zpara - it has a bit of a narcotic effect on Steeds, opposite that of the Zekiran effect of slightly caffeinating them. Most often, only older Steeds really like sweet things. Steeds digest for a number of hours, and there are whole departments of most cities' street cleaning crews devoted to nothing but taking up the refuse and selling it off as fertilizer.

Flying Steeds are most often found as racers, rather than work Steeds. Their wings do get in the way of pulling cart tack, but they are often used as lifting services. Most of the lifters are very stable personality-wise, calm and seem either more intelligent than their racing counterparts or at least more trainable.

In either case, the racing Steed is the most important in terms of pure money. Steeds which race must have been trained to do so, or at least trained to race with someone on their back. There are no "harness racing" games, other than chariot-style in the ring. The posing of harness racing is far outweighed by the sheer thrill of chariots, though a number of Animal Masters argue that these races are showing off both the decadence of their society and the tempting of fate, with the number of injuries on these races.

A losing Steed still gets raced once in a while, depending on who owns them. Steeds which show profiency at speed or endurance racing are put into a few local races first, if they show any promise then, they are usually trained if that is affordable. For larger races, however, if the owner or racer cannot prove they've had the Steed trained properly, they may not even be allowed to participate, due to the level of complexity or facing other Steeds. The losers are less often bred, but they are still preferred over those Steeds which are never Raced!

A winning Steed on the other hand... Winning means money, plain and simple, for the owner of the Steed and often their rider. These are not always the same person, and there are two pots of winnings for just such occurances. With the money which is made by winning even just a few times, even locally, a FreeWorker might buy into Land Holding. From there, it's history. The Steed gets better and better treatment, hopefully, and continues to win. There, also, supporting the purchase of new Steeds, Breeding, and larger grazing grounds.

Steeds also just like to win. They love the attention, they've been known to show off for the crowds after an obvious win, while they're in the circle. They show off far more for humans than for their other four-legged companions, too.

Flocks of flying Steeds (called so when they're in flight, on the ground they're still Herds) going overhead always attracts attention. An actual flock of Steeds move in formation and accept their flight leader the same way that they accept their dominant leader on the ground: however these may not be the same Steed! The flurry of wings, colors and the sounds of baying and huge flapping noises always gets a crowd of people looking up. Poor saps if they're underneath the fallout of feces and loose feathers and fur... Fortunately, since Zekirans are often fastidious and clean freaks, they either don't build under the flight paths, or they insist the flocks be kept to uninhabited areas. Animal Masters can alter a flight path, nothing short of that can.

Flying Steeds usually take wing at least once per day, not less than once every three days. Often they will soar for up to an hour, depending on the weather and wind conditions up to three. Few feathered Steeds will fly in rain, it seems that the leather-winged ones will take the blustery conditions better and with more aggression, purely because they can. Feathered Steeds can maintain their air time much longer than the leathery, but both enjoy simply flying about. Flocking spans up to one hundred miles distance, though sometimes the flock will simply circle over the same ten or twelve mile area for an hour, on the updrafts.

Single Steeds flying will often just sprint into the air, circle about for a while, and then come back down to the ground. If they are professional racers, they may actively perform stunts or practice moves without being told to, it's a matter of their training.

Once a Grounded Steed gets too old to pull or work otherwise, they are put out to pasture if the owner can afford it, or sold to a place which can. As mentioned before, there is never a time when a Steed is put down, and old age is certainly no excuse to do so! Flying Steeds are a little differen

When they start showing signs of aging, and their performance (be it in racing or work) starts to wane, they are phased out of the ring or races or their work, but every attempt is made to keep them active as long as they can. At the point when they cannot fly properly, they are put to pasture as grounded Steeds are, but they must have attention paid to their wings. Most fliers will still at least attempt to fly, just like Earthly race horses are apt to run even after a fall or being put to stud. For most fliers, this means they must have their wings clipped. Animal Masters generally agree that this is best for the Steed, since it will save them injuries incurred by flight and falls. Some Animal Masters will attempt to psionically dissuade their Steeds from flight after a certain point in their lives, but that is only successful when the BeastLord is around full time.

Most show Steeds can be kept in their rings until their physical condition deteriorates so much that they are not pretty enough or healthy enough to compete, and there are age categories for the eldest of the Steeds, for just such a reason. Show Steeds are beautiful usually until the final years of their life.

Any Steed in its long years will appreciate being around other older Steeds, though many respond well to Zekiran children and younger Steeds, mainly foals. This benefits both animals, and certainly benefits children because their exposure to gentler animals will often temper their own attitudes. When a Steed is ready to die, their condition reflects it. Their fur becomes matted and clumps off when groomed, their mane and tail knot and begin falling out, their feathers if they have any are apt to break and fall out without being replaced, their eyes fail, and they may have respiratory or joint problems. Some Steeds who have become well known may get a plot in a family burial ground, there are whole cemetaries devoted to winning Steeds of certain breeds.

There are Steed Breeding houses which have samples of Steeds dating back several thousand years, or at the very least the computer coded information about the cells which could be customized. So even if a Steed dies, they may yet continue their contribution to the world!

Breeding Houses and Race Course Circuits
Across the world, there are millions of Steeds. Thousands of them race. All of them are individuals in their own right, but most which have been Bred by professional Animal Masters have certain expectations set upon them, just like having a family name for a Zekiran.

There are better and poorer known Breeding Houses, most of those less-well-known may have their day. Just because their work isn't being recognized doesn't make a House a bad one! When there is a House known for producing bad results, however, there's the issue of how long they're going to be in business!

The best of the best is Morgontain's. Her Ri'iri facility is well known for producing both the best in Tuned mutants, as well as some fabulous Steeds. She usually supervises the use of the machinery, Breeding Steeds the newfangled way. Once she knows she has a viable foal ready, it is transferred to a mare in one of her other facilities, and trained either by her, or by one of her assistants. Morgontain's family is spread out over Curra and Zerin, and when they participate together, the results are often stunning. Morgontain's facilities produce hardy endurance-racers and calm, intelligent hunting Steeds.

Morgontain's son Salem is also well-known for his Steed breeding, he works directly with the Steed Feed company to produce not only animals which work with their foods better but simply outrageous needs for the food growers! Salem is working on Big Steeds, really Big Steeds. They eat a lot, they cost three times what a normal Steed does. He's working on both grounded and flying versions, but the fliers are outright terrifying to behold, with their 40 foot wingspans!

The next best known and certainly the next best in quality overall are the Kshaus. Bred by Morgontain anyway, they are a huge extended family of Animal Masters and Land Holders, nearly all of whom work with Steeds or animals in general. They pay special attention to racing Steeds, and have a very high standard for their racers. They will train anyone, usually with success. It isn't as much that they train people to win, exactly, but they will allow nearly anyone to race with their Steeds as long as they are trained properly for it. The Steeds themselves tend to be smart, fast, and sensible, and are amenable to far more mental commands than other Steeds. The Kshau family also runs one of the largest Racing circuits in the world, owning the lands and running the races.

The Haital family uses their lands for many racing facilities, betting areas, and boarding for Steeds, though few of them actually participate in the races themselves. They are able to hire the best in the business otherwise, broadly speaking, and the Steeds they tend to put into races tend to do well. Fast, bold Steeds come from the Haital facilities, like their own family.

Lish Tiir is extremely well known for loving Steeds. The ones she creates may not always win, but they look good, are very healthy, and tend to be sweet-tempered and good with people. She produces more in the way of work Steeds than racers, and devotes equal amounts of time to grounded and fliers.

Rachael's facilities are comparable to Morgontain's in their high-tech aspects, she works with samples mainly, and when she can does so directly instead of allowing anyone else to do it for her. She also trains Steeds for high-dexterity moves, tight courses, and racing which requires more than speed.

Certain Areas and Cities also have well-known general benefits. In the north of Imaa, the city of Mofto is a racing and breeding site with speed as the main course. On the east coast, Emnta is "a Steed Paradise". Mostly the betting and racing aspects, but the land is healthy and good for grazing. In the badlands north of Emnta is Dre, not the nicest of places in general but the race training is already providing excellent high-danger conditions and surely the zone will be included in future circuit choices. In Difar, J'ren is a good place for obstical racing, low-flight and even grounded-marsh races. Up in the central Difar area, Geses is the locale for the yearly Steed Championship races, which lead directly into the Grand Championships which occur once every ten years. t. Pukaet in the southern areas of Difar is excellent for the fully aerial and long-distance races, since the landscape is largely flat or very slightly hilly. In the central scrublands, Quman is an excellent land to Breed and keep Steeds. The health of Steeds bred there is considered top-quality. Vimit, still in Difar, is an all around racing town. All sorts of racing and levels of challenge are available there, and for many age groups. Zogan has aspirations, but has not yet established itself as a racing town.

- Race Courses individually follow-