On the Ecology of the Minotaur

"What lairs in a maze is good hunting" - General Zaroff

Nomenclature: Minotaur, Tarus, Taurian, Bull-man, Brutal Beast

Description: Taurine humanoid, with the head of a bull

Things that are known:

  • They are fond of mazes
  • They are terrifically strong


Rumors and other whispers in the dark:
  • It is very important that the labyrinth the minotaurs inhabit contain no furniture. They must be bare of decoration
  • They are actually terrible at mazes. If they were any good, they'd all be living in sunny little villages retiring ,eh? No minotaur has ever escaped from a maze and they are all a bit sore about it
  • They fight and slay all intruders, because they are endlessly seeking someone worthy to end their eternal vigil over the infinite labyrinth
  • Any mortal that isolates themselves over a long enough period will slowly change and shift into the form of a minotaur. Dwarves who do so turn into particularly powerful monsters, larger and more powerful than the default beast
  • It isn't only isolation that causes the change in form. It's also stubbornness. This is the origin of the phrase, "bull-headed"
  • Minotaurs are all autistic, hence the predilection for mazes
  • Sometimes this happens quite quickly, the most famous incident was a Tartocrate the philosopher who transformed in the middle of a debate. His bewildering and confusing argumentation made of layers of unassailable facts manifested as a maze around him
  • Minotaur shamans wear human masks for their ceremonies
  • All minotaurs are hermaphrodites that can reproduce by parthenogenesis
  • Though known for the axe, this is actually confusion of the word Labrys, considered to be more than just a word describing the narrow mazes they inhabit. They actually prefer daggers and poignards, weapons much for suitable for tight quarters
  • The labyrinth is eternal, it is the equilibration matrix of the universe and minotaurs are its defense vectors, much like white blood cells
  • They are actually mechanical and scientific geniuses, the labyrinth is a training ground for the young. They are so aggressive because they are young arrogant teens, who know their species is vastly more intelligent than other humanoids. And what they do in the labyrinth is never spoken of once they escape
  • It is said were-minotaurs lair in the tangled groves of Kalabrinthia
  • The construction of labyrinths is an insane compulsion that overcomes them, until such structures reach a certain size. After these unknown criteria are met they abandon their maze. More than one dungeon was created by this method. 
  • There's just one minotaur and just one labyrinth, but the labyrinth is very very large and the minotaur is very very good at playing dead
  • The labyrinth is a physical representation of their crazed mind, and changes and shifts with their schizophrenic thoughts. An entrance or exit only appears during the rare dawns of lucidity and it never lasts long. Once slain, the labyrinth is disconnected from reality, and as a chaotic thought it is transported to the plane of Limbo, where it will slowly degrade over time. . .
  • Minotaurs aren't evil, just virile and well hung, causing writers and chroniclers (mostly male) to depict them as monsters, helping to exterminate them across Priapia
  • The first minotaur was a unsanctioned and terrible union between a god and a woman, but it was not a god of men, but one of beasts and the wilds that took her. This abomination at birth bred true with both beast and man. The labyrinths are their temples to their father, their savage rites honor their animal nature, their war, weapon, and brew craft, homages to the race of their mother. They are the true hybrid, both man and beast, mortal and divine
  • The labyrinths of particularly devout minotaurs can serve as gateways to other realms
  • Minotaurs are builders cursed into terrible shapes and obsessed with labyrinth building as punishment for cutting corners when building the temples of Zoes the Munificent and Magnificent in Phthyria Minor
  • Minotaur horns are indestructible. It is not possible to take one as a trophy. Other parts, however. . . 
  • Paying the gods: A minotaur feels compelled to peel the skin and pull the nerves and muscle fibers apart in their prey. They do this because they know the soul is aware of the body for days after death, and it clouds it's travel into the far planes, leaving it adrift. Such suffering feeds the taurian dark heart.
  • Having the head of a bull, they also have the teeth. In order to swallow flesh, it must be in large chunks, hence the popularity of axes among their kind. They also have trouble digesting it, giving them foul breath and a terrible temper
  • The (sunny?) disposition of the minotaur gives it an aura of inspiration, improving the morale of all bovine attacks and defenses within 35 feet
  • They are usually quite pleasant and docile, but at some point they all turned anthropophage. This is attributed to the spread of mad minotaur disease
  • The minotaur is a weak subspecies of a beast called a Majotaur which is 13 feet tall and breathes smoke and brimstone from its nostrils
  • The devil-man city of Trumachi is the source of all minotaurs. The high king would not pay homage to their throne, instead wanting to cast down the battlements and shatter the dark tower. The king's sapper's who wore hides of the bull were fused to their trappings. They entered the devil maze beneath the tower and found that the tower went into them. Curses shot, crackling and ricocheting through their ranks. Both the high king and the city are hollow ruins, but this is still a great sorrow, for the wash of monsters fills the ancient guts of the broken unassailable fortress
  • All minotaurs are actually vegan
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  • Minotaurs have no sense of smell
  • The Hurrian sages disagree, claiming it is by smell and hearing alone that the beady-eyed beasts navigate their mazes
  • The Samnitians go one further, claiming minotaurs have the ears of bats and use echolocation
  • They await the end-times, heralded by the coming of the great two-headed bull-man
  • The Bull God Dongbah insisted that all bulls be given free range. When economy-minded humans (who cared about not having their children trampled and so on) began to pen them up, Dongbah punished them by creating prisons to herd humans, to see how THEY liked it. Now Dongbah is quite unintentionally the Gaol God, and the warders are vestigial symbols from his pastoral history, now long gone
  • They all actually have the scrotum of a snake, but few know this
  • Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, minotaurs never eat beef
  • The arch mage Alsaziar was an arms dealer, specializing in organic siege engines. The minotaur was his greatest success, the ultimate berserker warrior that breeds true. The only way he found to control them was to lock them in mazes. Inevitably, Alsaziar was slain, and his island was left alone for many many years. A thousand years later, the minotaurs emerged, eyes brimming with magic and insanity of dark mazes, wielding massive shackles as weapons. Their mazes had grown dull, and they now sought new entertainments

Minotaur Guardianby *el-grimlock

  • They are considered a delicacy by the Paztecas, eaten with pasta al dente
  • The bellow of a Minotaur can attract cows from up to 3 miles away
  • Female minotaur milk is said to be liquid gold, prized in the markets the world over
  • The Daedelmar fleshcrafters blended men with horses to guard the plains and blended men with bulls to guard the mountains. They explained that all that was required was a burning heart of anger and a gut that trembles with lust for man-flesh. Sages pointed out that these things were not traits of bulls, the fleshcrafters mentioned that they spent long crafting the bulls before merging them with men. In the aeons since this event, minotaurs worked their way in and along the roots of the mountains and they are nothing but one large connected maze, bound by magic where it is not bound by stone
  • Their tails are components of magical whips
  • They don't construct mazes, but actually live in labyrinth-like towers.
  • There is a rare subspecies of minotaur, the 'dwarf' or 'pygmy' minotaur; who's body is that of a halfling and head is that of a calf
  • Emperor Flanyeer enjoyed board games, so he created the grandest game as creatures and men were coerced into costume to play at a life sized board. Mages would gain favor for creating the most spectacular pieces. Magus Dulwither created the minotaur which was considered a superb creation till it ran amok, killing and eating several other pieces. Dulwither created several others to protect him, and that was the downfall of the empire. They smashed and destroyed that city, and now they still play the grand game, making up their own rules. But the minotaurs have transcended their roles, becoming referees in their own right
  • They all have a third eye hidden under the skin on their foreheads, which allows them to see the true path through any maze or labyrinth
  • Savage tribes wear masks to take on aspects of the spirits. When a tribe nears its end, those who go into the last battle or journey take the form permanently, and some always survive the death of their people.
  • When rancher's moved in, spoiling the land of the peaceful halflings of Vestilech, they protested. The protests were of course ignored. The halflings captured the horsemen and painfully mated them with large stud bulls using powerful curses learned from the spider folk. The monsters that were made fear halflings as elephants fear mice, but hate humans with a burning passion. It was not long till the minotaurs managed the herds, treating the halflings with respect. The halflings are now long dead, but the minotaurs still tend the herds
  • There is no such thing as a minotaur. It is just tribal shamans wearing masks.
  • Boiled minotaur tongue is an aphrodisiac, sold in the markets of Farkathae, hence the rarity of said beasts today
  • The first of them were spelunkers. Shamans would mark the known routes on a bull hide which them would meld into the explorer. They would become bigger, stronger, and have their explorations marked on the hide. Some few got trapped, the hide unremoveable, and with time became terrible beasts under the earth
  • They are a nasty joke perpetrated by the god of fertility, while drinking in a bar where strippers rode a mechanical bull
  • Some star-crossed lovers were involved in a theater production practicing out in the woods with fey watching. One of the fey enchanted the dour pimp of the group, giving him a bull head. He was not a good sport, and he ended up slaying all the fey with his magic sword and grumbling off. That's how it all started...
  • They all have EM sensors in their horns, which is how they navigate in pitch blackness
  • They do not breed true. They are the product of human rape or curses placed on men
  • Shulabu of Hulum created a chimeric creature, combining a minotaur and a gargantuan mantis shrimp, creating a deadly aquatic predator
  • A prank by a fledgling god is the beginning of it, bulls were struck with lightning, holding great transformative power. The resulting creatures, minotaurs, were so fascinated by the lightning that they ever strove to recreate its complex patterns, digging out labyrinth after labyrinth.
  • In the beginning was Minotaur, firstborn son of the All-Father, the Great Bull of Sky. When he rebelled against All-Father and ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge All-Father exiled him from the Pasture of Ease and split him into men and cattle, that his stolen knowledge would be scattered and lost. Now and again All-Father sends another divine minotaur son to see how the mortals live on the lost Earth. Some become bitter with their lot, others not. The greatest of the Messiah Minotaurs ascend bodily back to the All-Father with their judgements, others fall from grace and become demonic reavers
  • They are all human, blessed by the evil Baphomet with strength and power
  • Minotaurs like delftware and collect it in preference to all other valueables
  • Minotaurs are actually cyborgs - robot heads mounted on the slain bodies of humans. For cost-cutting reasons the Elven Transhumescence Corporation decided to mount the hardware in a bull's head, because the extra space allowed for cheaper, off-the-shelf equipment
  • The minotaurs of southern Tauriscia are organized in several crime syndicates collectively called the Corno Nostro. They are primarily active in smuggling dairy products, drugs and fermented mare's milk. (Ha Ha Luka Rejec, funny)
Special Minotaur Combat attacks
  • The Doubled Shaft: Double crossbow at range, fires two bolts at once for double damage, one to hit roll. Save vs. paralyzation or be knocked prone. One round to reload
  • Charge: Minotaurs recieve double benifits from charge (i.e. +4 to hit and double damage)
  • Impalement: On a succesful charge that is a critical hit, the target is impaled on the horns, taking gore damage every turn they are held. They must succeed at a grapple (against the minotaurs full hit dice) to escape
  • The Push: Minotaurs are experts at knocking people back and down. If their only action, they get a large (+4) bonus, or they may attempt it as part of a normal attack action. The penalty is that they are terrible at grappling, being hoofed, top-heavy creatures, acting as if they had half their hit dice. 
  • Vengance at Death: Upon being reduced to 0 hit points or less, the minotaur can make one final attack with a bonus to hit, doing double damage against the nearest melee target.
  • Savage Ferocity: Every time the minotaur attacks and missess, he becomes more angry, getting a cumulative +2 bonus on damage and +1d8 temporary hit points until the end of combat.


The ecology series is a crowdsourced series of articles, and contributors can be found on google+ under the hashtag #crowdecology. They are limited posts, but following me on G+ will allow you to see them. All artwork is credited where the artist could be found. Classic ecology articles from Dragon magazine are used both for reference and inspiration; the whole impetus of the idea was to create 'classic' ecology articles that are actually useful. Let's Read the Monster Manual by Noisms is also a source of inspiration.  Special thanks to Luka Rejec and Andrew Shields who does great work.

1 comment:

  1. "All minotaurs are hermaphrodites that can reproduce by parthenogenesis"

    So literally all you minotaurs can go fuck yourselves.

    ReplyDelete

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