I’m currently working on a tabletop game taking place in Warcraft, using 5E. The last Warcraft adaptations are from 3E period and honestly, whatever I read hasn’t been very satisfying. So I set out to write some adaptations.
Important Disclaimer: I am not trying to write a full-fledged system that’s perfectly balanced. In fact, I’m pretty sure they aren’t balanced. I am only creating stuff for the characters in the party. There is also a lot that depends on the DM. I don’t mind that — I’d like to have some mystery both because it fits the concept and gives me flexibility for storytelling.
Disclaimer 2: This game starts in vanilla era, in an alternate timeline. I’ll likely share more of my content and if you see anything that conflicts the lore, this is probably the reason.
A note: I really liked Knowledge skills on 3E and basically brought them back. Depending on your class and race, you get some knowledge options.
With these out of the way, here is my Tauren adaptation:
Taurens start with large size. They start with +2 to one of the following: Str, Con, Wis and +2 to Str or Con. These can be stacked.
All Tauren start with two of the following, or any sub-topics: Nature, Shamanism, Southern Kalimdor, Druidism, Hunting
Tauren can travel at the speeds of horseriding on open ground. They need to accelerate for a while to reach that speed, ie they can’t just sprint. They also might not be able to do it when badly injured (especially if they need to carry things) and need to rest just like horses. They also need to feed themselves well.
To see if they can keep going, make a Con check at every 6 hours. The base difficulty is 5 and increases by 1 every 6 hours, that stacks (so 6 hours: +1, 12h: +1+2=+3, 18h: +3+3=+6, 24h +6+4=+10) Being slightly injured, carrying too much and not being well-fed adds a +1 to difficulty each. Being badly injured or having a foot injury causes a disadvantage.
If they fail, they need to take a long rest. They can take a short rest during the run and if they do, the next roll is done with Advantage.
When a Tauren is pregnant, the parents go through a rite. They start this rite wearing nothing but some rags and carrying their own totems. They visit sacred sites during their journey and survive on their own, being expected to take from and give back to nature. These sites are natural locations usually dedicated to the Earthmother, An’she, Mu’sha, Lo’sho and the Skyfather. They plant seeds, bathe under moonlight in waterfalls. They forage and hunt and share what they find with animals of all kinds, making sure nothing goes to waste. Also, they look for signs for a tree, branches, logs etc that they can craft a totem for the newborn: A large wooden pole that they’ll carry for the rest of their lives. With this rite, the newborn is part of the process and part of the nature.
There are stories of those who followed the deities’ signs, sometimes in the form of a reflection of the moon over a river, sometimes being chased by predators. Some will find themselves sharing their game with lions, who lead them to a tree that’s shedded a lot of bark. Others slept with a herd of gazelles and found tall, sturdy grass that animals couldn’t eat, which was taking over the edible grass. Others found a lightning struck tree and in a famous case of twin birth, the parents fell a large tree whose shadow prevented local flora from florishing and planted seeds.
Before their journey ends, they craft the totem. This could mean finding natural ways to process the materials into a sturdy form, removing bark from a tree, shaping the log in the right way and so on. Finally, once they are back to their village, they draw their names, their parent’s names and their grand parent’s names and their village and the age. Then they stick the totem to the ground in a chosen place.
Once the calf is born, the parents put some powder on the calf’s palm and let them touch the totem. This is the start of the calf’s journey. Hopefully, they will grow to be healthy and grow to be a strong Tauren. Through all their life, the Tauren will draw on the totem, marking its life events, turning points, beliefs and thoughts in symbolic ways.
As a Rite of Passage, the Tauren will be expected to go on a hunt to prove his respect to Mother Earth and his willingness to provide for his people. Once this is completed, the Tauren will draw his experience and symbolize his bond to Earthmother. In the future, they will be drawing all sorts of things, but usually, each Tauren will find themselves drawn to one of their other deities more than the rest and will dedicate a part to them. Many Tauren also honor some of the influential figures. Common choices include The Dreamer (Ysera), The Winged Blossom (Alexstrazsa), The Ox of the Old (Niuzao), The Stag of the Forest (Cenarius). Important figures from Shu’halo history like Huln Highmountain or important warchiefs like Cairne Bloodhoof are chosen too — although Tauren wouldn’t pick someone who’s alive as that offends the humility of the living.
Tauren characters all start with the markings dedicated to Earthmother and the ability to Totemstrike. Later on, they dedicate to one of the deities and one of the important figures. These are highly encouraged to be roleplayed. Tauren deities do not have dogmas like regular D&D characters. Most Tauren won’t even see them as deities, but as parts of nature. That’s why each will interpret them through their own lens. As such, a Tauren’s personality, their own views about the particular deity or character and their actions should be in tandem. For example, a Tauren might see the Sun as the start of a day, and focus on An’she as a symbol of new beginnings and hope. Another might see the Sun as a giver of life or one that provides the light to reveal the truth or simply as part of a cycle together with Mu’sha.
Here is a list of potential characters and the potential effects of dedicating parts of their totem. Players can suggest alternatives to the DM, especially if their philosophy doesn’t match.
Totemstrike: Once per short rest, the Tauren can strike an enemy in melee with the totem as a bonus action. This attack always hits and deals 1d6 damage per proficiency bonus. The Tauren uses the highest of Strength, Dexterity or Wisdom on the attack roll and is proficient with it. This attack can be further enhanced with the dedications.
Dedication to Earthmother
Earthmother’s Strength: Increases the Totemstrike damage to 1d8 and removes the attack roll from Totemstrike, ensuring it always hits. It also adds the Strength bonus to the damage.
Earthmother’s Grace: Allows Totemstrike to be used twice per short rest and allows for a 10-foot move that doesn’t grant an attack of opportunity. This move needs to end with the attack. It also adds the Dexterity bonus to the damage.
Earthmother’s Wisdom: The Tauren rolls a D4 for each wisdom modifier along with the attack roll. If the attack fails to hit, the D4s are added to the roll and negate natural 1. If the attack roll is enough to hit, the target needs to make a Wisdom or Constitution (whichever’s weakest) saving throw against the Tauren’s Wisdom modifier+result of D4s. Should they fail, they are incapacitated until the start of the Tauren’s next turn. Even when they succeed, they are stunned until the start of the Tauren’s next turn.
Dedication to Nature/Deities
An’she or Mu’sha: If the Tauren dedicates a part to one of the twin deities, they might occasionally get their help. This happens in two ways and there are differences in how each deity approaches it.
The first way that it happens is rather subtly and unexpectedly, sometimes the Tauren might not even be aware of it unless they are observant. Mu’sha might cast its light brighter on the Tauren while they are travelling at night. An’she might grant its life-giving light to the crops of the Tauren in a season, allowing more produce during harvest. The Twin deities are interconnected, so these can sometimes even happen for Tauren that dedicated a part to the other deity, especially if the deity is particularly moved. An’she, despite not being as revered as Mu’sha, has always supported the Shu’halo and empowered their druids. The twins are generous deities and they aren’t selfish. But they respond to sincerity and humility which shaped the Tauren culture.
The second way is the Tauren asking for help. While they don’t do it the same way, this is close to praying. This is the part that the deities act quite differently.
An’she acts more often than Mu’sha, ready to take action in many cases. She is more likely to help if the Tauren sincerely feels his cause is just. Occasionally a Tauren might hurt others with the powers of light, but if they genuinely believe they are doing good, they might get An’she’s help.
Mu’sha is less likely to help, as she expects her followers to survive on their own. But especially if the Tauren is desperate, Mu’sha might interfere and when she does, it’s usually quite impactful.
It’s important to remember that anyone who hasn’t dedicated themselves, like being a priest, will have little control and the interference will be limited. Eluna might grant Tyrande miracles, but Tyrande has dedicated herself to Elune for thousands of years. Still, under the right circumstances, anything can happen.
On average, An’she will likely not interfere more than a week and Mu’sha is unlikely to interfere at all except in dire circumstances.
Lo’sho: Lo’sho is not as impactful on the Tauren society as the twins, but all shu’halo knows the story, at least their version of it. According to the Tauren, the Earthmother left Lo’sho to the twins, summoned elements and embraced the land to protect Azeroth and the shu’halo. Those who dedicate their totem to the Blue Child will receive Lo’sho’s protection. This is a subtle mark that might trigger a favour, a better attitude and more from the protectors of Azeroth. This list includes but is not limited to Dragonflights, Giants and Titan Keepers. The more they commit themselves to protecting Shu’halo, Azeroth and other dwellers of Azeroth, the more likely for Blue Child to whisper to its protectors to treat them better.
Sky Father: A Tauren totem dedicated to the Sky Father will eventually draw a young giant eagle. This eagle isn’t a follower, minion or a pet — they are a friend to the tauren. As such, they may want to disappear at times but they are sure to come back later. When treated well, the eagle will keep their friendship, fiercely protect the Tauren and their friends and when it’s grown large enough, might even accept to carry the Tauren.
A third part of their totem depicts an important character in the Tauren culture. These beings do not grant or allow channelling of power, but they will be reflective of the owner’s behaviour. Some will recognize the symbols and might react to them, not always favourably. There are stories of the Earthmother or other beings granting certain blessings but it is not clear if these are simply myths.
The Dreamer: Druidism is an important part of the Tauren society which makes the Emerald Dream and Ysera a part of both their history and their current lives. They’ve crossed paths multiple times over the Tauren history.
The Winged Blossom: Being one of the old races, having fought against the Legion together in the War of the Ancients, valuing compassion and having a high degree of respect for life, Alexstrazsa has been a part of Tauren culture both as a historical and a mythical figure.
The Ox of the Old: The tauren and their cousin races were cut off, but stories of a Black Ox that can withstand endless punishment have survived to this day. Some think it was a child of the Earthmothers, some think it’s Earthmother herself, but a handful still remembers the Ox as the Celestial Niuzao.
The Stag of the Forest: Cenarius is another figure that has been an important part of the Tauren history and culture and one whose presence they are constantly reminded of by their night elf neighbours. When the news of Cenarius’ demise reached the Tauren, it saddened them greatly. If it wasn’t for Thrall’s respectful ways, the orcs might have found themselves on the wrong side of the shu’halo’s totems.
The Old Moose: Another one in the old Tauren history, Huln Highmountain is a known and remembered hero of the shu’halo.
The Forgotten Roamer: Not even the yaungol themselves were able to keep their history after their slavery at the hands of the Mogu. No names, no heroes, no chieftains are remembered. But even if their names are forgotten, stories of the early taurens are still occasionally remembered and spoken. Despite the yak-like races eventual aggressive ways, the Tauren believe their roots were peaceful.
The Circle of Four: The Circle of Four represent the four elements and the elemental lords. The circle represents the unending change of elemental lords, their behaviours and also the elements transforming and affecting each other. While the elemental lords are famous for their destructive behaviour at the current times, the Tauren believe that the embodied elements are simply chaotic and will have different characters over time.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed coming up with it. As usual, I’ll be more than happy to hear your thoughts. Would you have liked roleplaying as a Tauren this way? What do you think is missing?
You can read my Forsaken adaptation here.