Minotaurs are large, generally bestial humanoids which combine the features of a human and a bull. They have the build and musculature of a hulking humanoid, but with cloven hooves, a bovine tail, and a distinctive bull’s head.
There are two kinds of minotaurs in the world. The first, and much more well-known, is a race that inhabits the northern mountains and regularly raids outlying villages and caravans which pass through their territory. The second is a group of cursed children born to the Knossos merchant family in the river city of Foxwood.
Minotaurs and the Dawn War
In the distant past, minotaurs were intelligent and strictly planar creatures; as the primary inhabitants of the Astral domain of the Beastlands, they were peaceful beings with a sophisticated matrilineal society.
However, when the cosmos was young and the world itself was new, the primordials strove against the gods in what would come to be called the Dawn War. All creatures in existence were forced to choose sides—and the minotaurs chose to back the primordial Tabrach-Ti, the Queen of Bronze, when she marshaled a host of titans and mortals to her cause. This proved an unwise choice when the newly conceived army of the gods, led by Achra, descended upon the Beastlands and slew Tabrach-Ti.
The minotaurs were largely forgotten… except by Achra, who as a result of the battle became known as Bane. He stripped those few minotaurs who survived of all their possessions, and by an act of will transported them from their home plane to the world.
The minotaurs themselves remember little of this history. Their legends include a fall from grace, but the cause is generally identified as insufficient strength, and the god responsible varies according to the teller. Sometimes Bane is quoted as the author of the minotaurs’ misfortune, but it is just as often Kord or Gruumsh—and more often than either, the minotaurs’ fall is attributed to the bestial demon prince Baphomet. The legend is most often used to justify preying upon weaker races, with the idea that minotaurs who demonstrate their true strength and ferocity in life may earn their way back to the heavens in death.
Knossos Family Children
However, there is a second group of minotaurs, entirely distinct from the first. This group also results from the cruelty of Bane, but is much more recent. The forces of the Knossos family of Foxwood played a key role in the short but vicious civil war which resulted in the destruction of the city’s nobility. However, one of the last handful of battles was between evenly matched forces, and the Knossos had committed almost all of their partisans to the fight. Concerned about the outcome, Peter Knossos swore an oath the night before battle: if his side won the battle and his family’s forces were spared, he would execute all captured enemy soldiers in Bane’s name. The Iron General indicated his assent, and the merchant families indeed won the day.
However, Knossos soon found it politically impossible to execute the prisoners. The loyalists were close to capitulation, and many leaders among the merchant forces – particularly the Myrradin family leaders – felt that executing loyalist soldiers en masse would harden the resolve of the surviving loyalists to such a degree that surrender would be impossible. Angered by Peter Knossos’ faithlessness and cowardice, Bane pronounced a curse on the family: from that point forward, they would bear monstrous children suited only for war and conquest.
So it came to be that, among the human Knossos family, minotaur children are born. There is no apparent order to the curse; many Knossos women bear only human children, and more than one woman has married into the family and been horrified to learn of the curse only upon the birth of their firstborn. These minotaur children are never allowed to publicly associate with the family, and are always sent to work on farms, crew ships, or perform some other manual labor. Few ever discover their connection with the family, and most lead lives of menial tasks and quiet desperation far from the halls of power occupied by their parents and grandparents.