Harranian Minotaurs (Harranians) originally come from the Harranian Mountains, a harsh, rugged region. The Harranian Mountains have given their name to the region called Harran, which also includes temperate forests. In the winter, snow can densely cover the high mountains, and savage winds are common. It is from such a harsh and severe environment, besieged by savage monsters and raiders throughout the area, that the Harranian Minotaurs rose to power. Powerful Harranian chieftains formed alliances for mutual defense, and gradually, an allied confederation was formed. Eventually, a powerful king arose, and laid the foundations for continued rulership amongst chieftains that were elected to the throne by the tribes within the kingdom. Civil wars, poisonings, and assassinations have always been frequent and not uncommon, but usually once a powerful chieftain reaches the point where he is elected as king, the tribes usually support him for the strength and unity of the kingdom. Chieftains, before they are elected to the throne, though, must often fight off many competitors. Once the king is elected, the king has virtually absolute power, and uses it ruthlessly. Former enemies are often hunted down, gathered up, and tortured to death. Family members of the opponents are usually thrown into the arena, where they are fed to the ferocious Hydras that await them.
The Harranians have a culture that glorifies war, conquest, and might. The eldest male rules haranian families. Female Harranians are permitted to participate equally throughout all levels of society. Harranian Minotaur society promotes individual achievement, and stresses that everyone must contribute to the greater society. Children are raised to be tough, energetic, and ambitious. Older Harranians are either cared for in their homes by their families, or gathered together to live in large Kherrigons, a form of retirement home for elderly Minotaurs.
Harranian Minotaur cities often have special guilds of Necromancers, who, besides assisting in warfare, also supervise the use of slave-zombies and skeletons that labor in great agricultural estates, toiling away day and night, often illuminated by great bonfire monolith-braziers that shed an eerie glow over the fields.
The Harranians have a history of conquering other peoples, and when they do so, they scatter the families and tribes throughout disparate areas of the kingdom, mixing them with other tribes, so as to inhibit common communication and rebellion. Enslaved peoples are often stripped of their best females who are then forced to live in vast fortified brothels where the Haranian human and humanoid soldiers get to breed with them on a mass scale. The vast horde of mongrel half-breeds that are born from such unions are then taken away from the mothers and raised in enormous barracks-complexes to be loyal soldiers of the Haranian kingdom. Stupid individuals are condemned to work in the mines for life, and are sterilized.
Harranians are willing to engage in trade with other kingdoms, and eagerly trade slaves, minerals, animals, and raw material like iron, silver, copper, and wood. The Harranians, though often ferocious and warlike, do not necessarily seek to make war with all of their neighbors. They often develop lucrative industries and resources, and are willing to trade with others. They always seek to do so from a position of strength, and seek to maximize any profits from such arrangements. The Harranians often deal with more civilized kingdoms, being willing to secretly trade creatures and resources that the civilized kingdoms often have difficulty with, or desire to be kept secret.
Harranians can often be found serving abroad on foreign battlefields as regiments
of ferocious, terrifying mercenaries. The Harranians pledge their loyalty to
serve their employer well, but they insist on rights of conquest. The Harranians
also insist on taking part of the population that is defeated as booty. Some
of these are kept within the mercenary regiment, and some are sent back to the
Harranian Kingdoms to serve as slaves forever. The Harranians are not the most
disciplined as a unit, but some individuals can take great pride in their efficiency
and skill as warriors. The Harranian mercenary regiments are feared for their
ferocity and determination. The mercenary regiments, often named for the region
in Harran where they were first raised, are highly desired by foreign kingdoms
to fight in tough campaigns, and to perform ruthless tasks that others may find
difficult, or uncomfortable.
Harranians worship a large pantheon of ferocious deities. Harranians have organized temples in every city-state. Throughout the various city-states the temples are built from large blocks of basalt and granite. The temples are carved with elaborate demonic heads, and monstrous statues that decorate the patios and galleries. The monstrous statues are often of bronze or marble, and depict strange and terrifying monsters such as Chimera, Hydra, Griffons, Lions, and demons. Great braziers flank the doorways into the temples, and upper galleries look down on the large, expansive entrance hall that greets the visitor. The temples have columns throughout the temple halls, and finely carved pillars that display religious scenery and inscribed religious virtues and doctrines. Most of the Harranian temples are rectangular, with a large dome that dominates the central portion of the temple. The central dome rises high over the inner hall, and is often decorated with a great mural depicting the early history of the Harranian Minotaurs. The temples usually have three levels, with the dome rising to some eighty feet overhead. Doors to the temples are usually of a fine bronze, edged in rich onyx, and engraved with large solid gold winged lions in the center facing of each door.
From the great temples, the Harranian priests serve the community. Many of them are skilled healers, and diviners. Others serve as advisors and counselors, and still others enthusiastically serve in the military, going on expeditions of conquest, exploration, and raids against hostile neighbors. In rural towns and villages, a less elaborate temple made of huge timbers and decorated with bones, skins, and bizarre fetishes serves the local community. Instead of a dome, there is simply a finely carved peaked roof. The rural temple has carved gargoyle or demon heads all along the upper edges of the roof, with the peak being decorated with a great figure of a winged demon forged from copper and gold.
Rumors exist of a mass religious ceremony where 10,000 or more slaves are sacrificed
to the gods in an orgy of blood and slaughter! The slaves are brought into a
vast, enclosed area, where they are naked and defenseless. Then, the gathered
Minotaurs leap upon them, biting, clawing, and goring, until all of the gathered
slaves are slaughtered. This great ceremony is designed to feed the gods with
blood and strength, but also to keep the Haranian Minotaurs in touch with the
inner spirit of ferocity and blood-frenzy.