Icon of the Runaway spacecraft

Centaur Culture:


Clan System Politics:

The most important political unit to centaurs is the clan, which has resulted in a more fragmented political climate than found among other sophonts. Because the size of a clan is limited by the amount of offspring a single matriarch can produce and the number of adult individuals that unit can support and control, associations larger than 50 have to be interclan alliances, and those alliances are always subordinate to the clan. As such, there is essentially no way for nations or empires to form. Although territorial wars between settled clans are common, clans that absorb more people or territory than the family can manage will fracture into new family groups.

However, within the past 500 years, there has been a rising population of urban settled clans. Usually clustered around fertile ground for grazer and invertebrate farming, or around shorelines and rivers plentiful with aquatic animals, the borders of clan territories shrink and touch each other while commons areas grow alongside more complex rules about interclan politics. These cities function more like collections of micronations than cohesive political bodies, but it has become more and more common for clans to collaborate on large scale projects like railroads and industrial production. Ownership and usage rights of large projects like this is often determined by which clans contributed and how much, recorded on grooved tablets in clan libraries. Infighting is common and ownership transference upon the fracturing of a large clan is frequently messy.


Pre-contact centaurs are frequently described as being in their “Radio Age,” which for humans brings to mind their WW1 era, but the reality is not so symmetrical. Almost half of pre-contact centaurs were nomads living hunter-gatherer or herd-driving lifestyles with very little access to electrical technology. Meanwhile, technological development in settled centaurs varied do to the fragmentary nature of clan politics.

While multi-clan cities might have contained enough industry to support internal infrastructure like plumbing, factory sites, and electrical grids; large projects that extended into surrounding territory were often doomed. Railways, for instance, require the agreement of all the rural clans whose territory the rails are built through, and social upheaval within each of those clans may result on contract renegotiation, armed conflict, or project delays. And on the other end, clans with workers who specialize in rail-laying trades are often not willing to work very far from their home territory for a project that only fractionally benefits their own clan.

As a result, centaur homeplanet transportation infrastructure outside of the well trodden nomadic circle is abysmal. While centaur technology within larger cities (particularly on the Shess peninsula) could be quite complex, including electronic radios, fridges, heaters, audio recorders, cameras, portable batteries, motors, and more; these artifacts were often bespoke items made by craftspeople within the city and not widely distributed. The most complex metal possessions of rural settled clans within a 2 day walk of cities might only be hunting rifles, as a happenstance of their roads being too inconvenient to connect to an electrical grid and their terrain too rough to drag something heavy, metal, or wheeled down. Water routes were by far the best traveled for distribution of goods between settled clans, but large sailing vessels were rare. Vessels large enough to make significant ocean voyages are usually the home and income source of an entire large clan.

First contact introduced chaotic change to centaurs’ technological landscape. Flying transportation shortcut their ground infrastructure problems by flying over the clan territory rails would have to be built through. Extremely slow creation and dissemination of technology was shortcut by BFGC subsidized access to cheap, factory produced, incredibly powerful (and often more portable) electronic devices. Ironically, it was nomads who were quickest to mass-adopt and spread alien technology, finding a great deal of use in solar-electric ground vehicles and cell phones in their massive caravans. Settled populations are more divided, with most cities having anti-adoption clans who want to resist alien technology as it destructively replaces centuries of unique centaur artisan work, and pro-adoption clans who see alien technology as a way to dramatically improve centaur quality of life and quickly gain respectability in the galactic community.


Settled clans tend to have a patron spirit tied to the land they live in, or the main means of sustenance or commerce in the area. This patron spirit may also represent the matriarch of the clan, or there may be an additional spirit for that purpose. This spirit is believed to pass from the body of the matriarch to an eligible heir when the matriarch reaches the end of her fertility and stops growing antlers. Depending on local custom, this spirit may be purposefully guided into the next chosen matriarch, or sometimes the spirit is believed to chose for itself, and spiritual divination is preformed to determine the heir. Depending on region, nearby clans will often share a handful of other gods associated with creation, the natural world, divinity, or social forces; but these are rarely the subject of more devoted spiritual practice or attention than the spirit of the clan and matriarchal rights.

Sunchaser and nightchaser nomads, despite often being on opposite sides of the globe, have a more cohesive belief system than the settled clans. Many landmarks along their continuous path are considered sacred rest sites, and messages in nomad script and beads are often left for their distant kin.

The nomads' shared creation belief is that the world was born by the matriarch of the sky, sired by her entourage of three moons, whos numerous other children cover her back as stars. Two of her first litter spun themselves into a single cocoon as larvae. It was too large and round, and fell off the sky mother's back, becoming their planet. The two larvae ripped out of opposite sides of the cocoon, forming the great ring continent with its jagged tear of high mountains down the middle. The fluid of their shed larval skin became the two oceans on either side.

The two sisters saw they had fallen from their mother's reach, and each declared themselves as the matriarch of their new territory. One sister, who was the day, wanted burning sunlight to forever fall on the planet. The other, who was the night, wanted eternal dark and ice. Each sister demanded the other recognize her authority and leave. The sisters began to chase eachother in order to drive the other off their territory, but because the land is one great ring, they ended up running in an eternal loop. The chase exhausts them, and every solstice the sisters rest at opposite poles, scorching and freezing them before they regain their strength to chase the other. And although their pause to rest makes the poles unlivable during the solstices, they ultimately leave the land more fertile in their wake. The nomads enjoy the great seasonal bounty of the poles in the fall and spring, when they pass through. Sunchasers follow behind the day god, who bore their ancestors from her back, entering the poles at autumn. Nightchasers follow after the night god, who bore their ancestors, entering the poles in spring.

Although nomadic clans often have spiritual inheritance between matriarchs, similar to many settled clans, they will often refer to themselves as belonging to the clan of one of the two sisters, or refer to the day and night gods as the undying ancestral matriarchs of all centaurs. Despite having the typical conflicts between clans for resources and power struggles for matriarchal authority, nomads have a larger shared cultural identity than most settled clans do with one another.

A relatively recent development among settled clans are larger cities composed of multiple clans. These regions tend to have much more cohesive spiritual backgrounds, and often hold a local diety personifying a landmark or trade in high regard, and the clans on the city give tribute to that deity, agreeing to cooperate with one another to share the bounty of the region and better their neighbors. These cities, many of which are along the travel routes of nomadic bands, frequently borrow spiritual ideas from the nomads about the creation of the world and classify local deities as being either the children of night or day, and frequently have a preference between the two sisters that demonizes or lessons the importance of the other.


Centaurs have impressive long range vision, but compared to the other sophonts their short range vision is poor and blurry. Dense information storage can be a challenge– in addition to rich oral history traditions, tactile languages of various kinds are found all over the centaur homeplanet. Settled centaurs tend to prefer slab books, which are heavy but store well; and nomadic centaurs tend to prefer reel books, which are less durable but are light enough to be worn as jewelry. Slab books are made of clay and pressed with a wooden style to create a series of bumps and ridges that can be read by dragging a hoof over it after the clay has been fired. Reel books are a string with a series of beads and knots of different shapes and frequencies, which are read by pinching the strand between two fingers and drawing the string through, either by hand or with a reel device. Both slabs and reel books can be read “aloud” by allowing the hoof to hit the ridges audibly. The effect is comparable to Morse Code

The nomadic clans have the most comprehensive written language on the homeplanet, but it tends to used exclusively for signage and written with large pictographic characters that can be read easily at long and short range. It also features an unusual non-linear written sentence structure, with subjects, objects, an adjectives/adverbs being placed around the verb; and conjunctions trailing off the subject to attach new clauses. As such, sentences can often be read in different orders depending on the presumptions of the reader. Some theorize that this non-linear method arose to help comprehension with poor visibility or limited vocabulary, since position can help the reader guess the meaning of symbols.

Since the introduction of alien technology, reading glasses and contact lenses have become increasingly common on the homeplanet. Previously, wearable magnifying lenses had existed, but were expensive and primarily used by specialized craftspeople. Alien writing systems have been adopted by many centaurs for transliterating their own spoken languages, since they are more convenient for communicating on alien screen devices, threatening native oral traditions and tactile writing systems.

W.I.P. Warning:

Below are bunch of cringe copy-pasted tumblr text blocks youve been warned. Some information may be outdated.


Centaurs will sometimes shave patterns into their short body “fur,” and will often dye these patterns. Centaur’s “fur” is structurally more similar to feathers and only molts a couple times a year, so these patterns last much longer than they would on a human head. Body painting in general is a big dealio for centaurs, and many paints have a clay component to help with body cooling and standing out on fur. Piercings are also fairly common, especially on the trunk, lips, breathing outtakes, and… genitals…. Fur and antler dyeing is common as well, though most traditional stains are derived from plants and animals and don’t come in wild colors. Human and ferret artificial dyes can be used instead, but it’s a mixed bag how centaur biology will react to them (accidental poisonings and allergic reactions are common in situations like this). Antler carving is another common tradition, usually accompanied by staining, and the shed antlers of dead loved ones are often kept and displayed together at clan altars.

I mean, unlike the human infant feeding mechanism, the spinnerets sit right above the rest of the reproductive bits (in both sexes, although in adults they are only prominent in the child-bearing sex). So basically if the culture takes issue with public genital exposure, they take issue with showing off your spinnerets. A pair of pants/skirt/etc that shows off only the spinnerets would either put an uncomfortable strap right over the junk or dip dangerously close to doing so. Centaurs in coverage-mandatory cultures who are currently feeding pupa generally have the spinnerets loosely covered by a maternity sling/shirt or the entire operation covered with an overjacket and chausses, depending on how cold it is and local custom.

This is actually one of the reasons that centaurs, especially ones living in city areas with a lot of hardscape, wear shoes. In addition to the pad of the hoof being vulnerable to sharp objects, hard rough surfaces like concrete can grind down the material of the hoof faster than it grows back, causing numerous issues… Wearing shoes does mean the hoof material has to get worn down through other means, though. Talita uses a set of metalshop files, a rotary tool, and sandpaper to shape and dull hers, though standard farrier tools would also work.


Centaurs on their home planet didn’t have much in the way of long distance tech except for radio and telephone, which is now getting messed up with space age tech from everyone else. On-planet their media scene is a mess, and dada-esque art and humor is popular because it embodies the cultural theme of “nothing makes any goddamn sense anymore.” They have a large emphasis on sculpture, murals, practical art, graphic design, fashion, and visual art, and videos spread through alien tech are already fighting with previously hugely popular radio shows for attention. Performance art is mostly oration– given an option centaurs seem to prefer listening and seeing a performer say a story rather than reading it– which may have something to do with the fact many centaurs are far-sighted. Talita wears glasses to help with this, since she grew up with humans, who prefer text over oration. Written language in centaur culture is mostly used in signage, or to disseminate information quickly, before it can be recorded in sound bytes. New alien tech is making the spread of information through audio rather than text even easier. Oddly enough they don’t have a lot of music, at least as we would consider it? Centaurs don’t have a strong sense of rhythm like everyone else does, the closest thing they have to music is like… collections of pretty noises and exaggerated poetry reading. They’re difficult to listen to as someone trying to find a beat or musical sense to the sound, since it’s more comparable to human media targeting ASMR than music.

Centaurs appear to have tusks on their face, but technically not! Tusks are a permanent structure derived from teeth, but antlers are a seasonal growth that develops under velvet. Despite their fearsome appearance, centaur antlers aren’t there to fight or injure prey (in fact they can make biting opponents harder), they evolved to help root up tubers from the ground. Although centaurs are obligate carnivores, due to the harsh light binary of their planet’s seasons and fickle availability of migrating prey herds, they often supplement their winter diet with the rhizomes of dormant plants.

Like deer antlers, a centaur’s face rack grows under a layer of velvet, or thinly furred protective skin. But unlike deer, centaurs have hands, knives, and too much spare time. Many cultures, not willing to let some free leather go to waste, wait till the velvet has just loosened and lost nerve connection, score the underside and base, and peel it off in one go. The resulting fuzzy pizza slice of flesh is tanned and used in either warm clothing, historical records, or family heirlooms. The antlers themselves are sometimes also mounted as a keepsake, especially when carved and decorated with dyes.


I haven’t talked much about life on the centaur homeworld in Runaway to the Stars, so here’s some tidbits. Most centaur buildings have a stove in the center, both for cooking and heating the house. In the northern territories, a popular stove attachment is a basin of sand (This was inspired by how traditional Turkish coffee is made here on earth!). When the fire is started in the morning, the sand gradually heats up until it’s hot enough to cook food. Even after the fire goes out in the evening, the heated sand and stove walls radiate warmth into the air. The sand basin is removable and can be traded for a grill or flat stove top in the hotter months of the year. Most stoves are fueled with wood, grass, and dried animal dung; but in urban areas and wealthy households electrical stoves were quite popular, even before first contact with the other alien races.

Centaur guts are pretty short and designed for a diet of raw meat, not breaking down plant matter. But being opportunists, they’ve found ways to process some local plants into tastier forms. For tubers the method usually involves steaming, peeling, and then pounding into mash with enzymes juiced from the digestive glands of herbivorous prey. Nutritionally it lacks some amino acids centaurs can only obtain from meat, but it fills a stomach or two during bad years for hunting and livestock rearing.

Centaurs in Space:

Centaurs, as I’ve mentioned, eat a lot of raw meat and live meat. A common snack food is a bag full of live invertebrates, maybe sprinkled with spices and salt. A lot of these delicacies are not available off their home planet, as most food in space and on non-terriformed planets is made with synthesizer machines, which can make pretty alright fake meat out of organic molecules, but cannot create life Frankenstein style. Another weird food stuff of centaurs… is meat soda… they can’t taste sugar very well so a lot of their fun beverages are either basically weak vinegar, or meat broth. They also serve hot beverages with animal fats in them (so like a hot buttered rum, but with lard. They have no dairy equivalent).

Displaced centaurs in general struggle to replicate important elements of their culture in space, usually sticking into very tightly knit adopted clans of 5-20 people. The hardest hit aspect of their lives is food. As I’ve mentioned before, aliens in Runaway to the Stars do not have interchangable molecular biology– eating food grown from another planet’s biosphere can result in anything from indigestion, to allergic reaction, to death. Simple sugars, water, and atmosphere mix is about all we can safely share.

While avians, ferrets, and humans have many established planets with food production, processing, and interstellar shipping methods; centaurs only have one biosphere to call their own, their homeplanet. And shipping food off of it, especially raw meat (the majority of most centaur diets) is bloody expensive. Spaceships don’t move very fast in RttS, even with wormhole shortcuts.

The majority of spacer centaurs basically live off of food printers, which use component macro-molecules to synthesize ‘food products.’ While the tech has finally advanced to the point that centaurs eating only from printers won’t quickly die of malnutrition, it’s an incredibly limited way to eat. Most centaur food printers only have two options: raw pseudo-sausage, and “tuber” paste.

With most clans only able to afford limited amounts of preserved and dried food from their home planet, cooking has gotten a little… well… the first thing that comes to mind is prison recipes. Centaurs optimize their dishes to stretch the shipments of homegrown food as far as possible, with printer paste used to pad out calories. The more dignified recipes shape, steam, roast, boil, or fry (in printer lipid canister oil) the pastes; then season with dried spice and augment with preserved organ meats. The less dignified ones get creatively desperate. Some use random macromolecule printer canisters as seasoning or a cooking medium (pasteballs boiled in DNA, anyone?), add alien foods just below the gastric regret threshold, or even throw in non-food items, like clay, charcoal, indigestible fibers, and household chemical products. When you’ve been eating plain paste for 2 years because you can’t afford natural food, adding some laundry detergent to liven things up suddenly doesn’t sound like the worst idea.

Talita is a weird case even for a spacer centaur, and has lived her entire life under far more human cultural influence than centaur. Fortunately she eats pretty well with printer food and regular home planet shipments, but her culinary background for centaur food products is non-existent. Talita has eaten like a college kid slapping together strange human-recipe-adjacent concoctions out of whatever they find in the mini-fridge her whole life– picture ramen omelettes and chocolate chip mac n’ cheese galore. Yum!