Before considering what you can do with a dead auroch, a word about the setting.
Rivanon and the aurochs originate in Crestfallen, a bronze age fantasy roleplaying game. Rivanon is a land of gods, spirits and wild places. Crestfallen uses the Fate Core rpg system, and is written by Dan Hiscutt.
The auroch roams the plains of Rivanon in small herds. Most herds consist of a single dominant bull and several cows with their calves. Of greater threat to the Horse Clans are the smaller, aggressive herds of bachelor bulls.
These monarchs of the plains supply the Horse Clans with many of the raw materials they need to survive in a hostile world.
A major commodity for the nomads is auroch dung. Dried dung provides vital fuel in the treeless plains. Some tribes trade dung with agricultural communities where it is used as fertiliser. This trade is a valuable source of supplemental food and goods for the nomads.
However, the primary source of material for the nomads comes from hunting these huge creatures. Such an activity require careful co-ordination, and may involve all the warriors in a clan to bring down a massive beast. Even acting as a group, there is still a significant risk to the hunters.
It is a lengthy task to separate a weaker auroch from the herd, and then kill it. After such considerable effort, the nomads make use of every part of the auroch. Only then is it worth the investment of time and energy.
So how is the auroch used?
Starting from the outside of the carcass, the nomads will shave off the hair to use as padding for cushions, saddles and pillows. The longer hair can be woven together to make rope, or braided to make ornaments for weapons and tents.
The darker hair of the auroch’s forelock, however, is a high status item. Thus, it is desired by hunters and warriors to decorate their weapons or clothing. The forelocks of bull aurochs are used whole as a headdress, and are usually claimed by the leading hunter at the kill.
Another distinctive part of the auroch is the tail. This is favoured by Horse Clan shaman as a a ceremonial tool, used for dances and ritual cleansing of spaces. Some hunters like to decorate their horses with auroch tails.
Inevitably, the scrotum from large bulls is also prized by shaman. They use it to create a rattle for their ritual dances. The greater the bull, the more powerful the ritual performed with the rattle.
The massive hide of an auroch is highly valued by the nomads. This thick skin, with the hair attached, is used for winter cloaks, tents and all manner of warm clothing. The shaggy upper quarters make good rugs, and are used to line the nomad’s tents.
Once the hair is removed, the skin can be preserved to make leather. This tanned hide is used for clothes, footwear, bags, bridles and saddles. The best leather, usually taken from the soft underbelly, is prized by shaman for drums. Leather from auroch calves is traded by some clans to the cities, where it is turned into vellum.
Of course, the bulk of an auroch, and the main reason for hunting this mighty beast, is the meat. Certain parts of the animal are used for specific purposes.
The tongue is the most valued part of an auroch. It is reserved for ritual sacrifice, or sometimes presented to a clan elder as a mark of respect.
The brains of an auroch are not consumed. Instead, they are used in the preparation of the hide as part of the tanning process. When the brain of a talking auroch is used, then magical properties are often ascribed to the resulting leather.
This is the warrior’s cut of the meat. Every hunter who pierced the tough hide of the fallen auroch is entitled to a share of the heart. This is often eaten raw as part of the ritual tribute to a fallen foe. It is not unknown for disputes over the heart to escalate into violence, should one hunter feel their honour is being challenged.
The blood of an auroch is used for ritual and food. If any novice hunters are present, then they are daubed with the blood of their first kill. Any female hunters with babes strapped to their back, will also daub the infant in blood to strengthen their constitution. A shaman often drains blood from a living, but mortally wounded auroch, as this blood still bears the strength of the beast.
In addition, clans will drain as much blood as they can from the corpse. This is then cooked over a fire with assorted offal as a black pudding variant.
The tough sinews of an auroch form an essential part of a nomad’s armoury. Not only does the sinew form the string of the powerful composite bows, but it is an essential part of the bow itself. Thinner pieces of sinew are used to bind feathers onto arrows and secure the heads to the arrows. It is also used more generally as thread for sewing.
Of final note is the bladder, which is used for all manner of pouches and bags by the nomads.
All the remaining meat is carefully carved off the carcass and used as food by the nomads. A successful hunt is generally followed by a feast to honour the passing of the auroch’s spirit. The remaining meat is smoked and carefully stored to preserve it for leaner times.
Much as certain cuts of meat have special purpose, so too are parts of the skeleton highly prized. The highest status bone is the massive skull of the auroch. This is given a ritual purpose, often acting as the home to a clan’s totem spirit.
As with the sinews mentioned above, the great, curving horns of the auroch form another vital component for the nomad’s composite bows. The ends of the horns are used as drinking vessels and entire horns are often worn as an elaborate headdress by shaman and clan leaders.
Surprisingly, the hooves are another essential component for making composite bows. The hooves are the source of glue used to bond together the three layers of the composite bow. The hooves of calves can be hollowed out to make rattles to accompany nomadic rituals.
The bulk of the auroch skeleton has no specific purpose for the Horse Clans. Yet, the mass of bone has a myriad of uses. Bone will be carved into all manner of tools, such as knives, hoes, spades and needles. The finest carvers will create delicate ornaments for hair, bridle and clothes. Off-cuts of bone will end up as beads or even dice.
The bone will also be turned into weaponry, and thus one slain auroch will help to kill many others. Smaller bones are used as clubs. Others are carved into spearheads. The most important use of bone as a weapon is to create the arrowheads needed by the nomads for warfare and hunting.
By the time the Horse Clans are finished with the corpse of an auroch, nothing remains but a dark stain on the plains. The nomads make use of every part of the great beasts which sustain them.
If you would like to hunt these aurochs, then take a look at the Crestfallen setting. Hurry, as the campaign closes soon.