Hippocampus are aquatic equines the the forequarters of horses and hindquarters that mimic that of a water-based animal. All hippocampi spend the majority of their time in the water; however, they possess a unique 'land form' that allows them to walk on solid ground for brief periods of time. They are separated into three types: Vasa, Trosae, Nokal, which live in different areas respectively.
Average Lifespan:: 500 years
Average Height:: 15 hands (5 feet) at the shoulder.
Average Weight:: 900 pounds.
Location Found:: Abroad, anywhere there's water.
*all statistics based on averages; extremes in any direction, or found in odd locations, are always allowed.
Land Form Restrictions Hippocampi were not originally born with land forms; these came as odd mutations springing from the first few individuals' offspring, until it eventually became the norm. However, a hippocampus cannot stay away from the water for long before ill effects begin to take hold. Their coats and features will have a fine, subtle dampness to them - and if this dampness completely dries, the skin beneath the fur will become dry and cracked.
They will weaken considerably in the hours following, and if without water for more than a day, a hippocampus may die from the lack.
Diet This is what this species, and any variants, may eat at any given time.
tall seaweed/kelp, seagrass, and waterwheels.
seagrass, coral, and algae of all kinds.
pondweed, lilies, and most duckweed.
algae and anemone, after successfully rendering their shocks harmless.
anemone of all kinds, phytoplankton, and even the occasional jellyfish.
most emergent plants and floating plants. algae, if nothing else.
coral, if the need is absolutely dire; phytoplankton, and land plants rarest of all.
land plants, only if they can find nothing else; must travel to the shore to feed.
land plants, if inland water plants are unavailable.
Hippocampi are a unique type of obligate herbivore, feeding primarily on plantlife beneath the waters of their homes. Their teeth and facial structures most commonly mimic a terrestrial horse's, though their teeth and the inside of their mouths seem to differ with what they primarily eat. Vasa and Nokal hippocampi have teeth that resemble a true horse's most, while Trosae have been found to have their front teeth almost fused, giving them strength when eating coral. Trosae also have the ability to filter phytoplankton through microscopic gaps in these partially fused teeth, taking in water and then blowing it through their teeth, trapping the plankton within.
Of the hippocampus subspecies, kelpies are the most radically different in feeding habits and diet than their parent species. Kelpies have the unique ability to appear as completely normal horses so that they may lure unsuspecting prey to them, commonly sapient humanoids. They will use their sticky, adhesive hide to trap their victims and drag them below the surface of the water, where they'll drown and devour them beneath the waves. Capricorns, on the other hand, are very much like traditional hippocampi - they are aquatic herbivores, and eat much of the same things as a Nokal or Vasa hippocampus.
Species info credited to Nix, Fyfergrund, Hollander, Moonbleached, and Verridith.
Appearance Hippocampi have the forequarters of an equine, and the hindquarters of an aquatic animal such as a fish, eel, or octopus. A hippocampus' aquatic affinity depends on the variant and individual, usually influenced by where they live. Color varies widely between variants and differs from individual to individual, though the hindquarter colors tend to mimic that of the aquatic aspect most commonly.
All hippocampi, no matter the variant, have a land and a water form. All land forms have some type of distinction as to their nature, linked directly to their water form’s affinity. This can be anything from subtle gills and webbing to full fins and scales.
Vasa: The Vasa variant holds some of the largest hippocampi, with marine affinities that include sharks and rays, large aquatic animals, and smaller fish that tend to shoal. A Vasa hippocampus may display any range of colors, though they range towards darker and duller hues, with dark-to-light countershading being common among them. Their land forms are rarely used, but still display their most common attributes. Mutations include extra fins, spines, etc.
Trosae: Trosae are typically brightly colored individuals with flashy patterns and shades. Typically the smallest of the variants, their aquatic affinities tends to be the most varied. Individuals have been found with anything from small tropical fish, eels, octopi, many smaller sharks, and shrimp. Their land forms mimic their flashy colors and typically extravagant fins; they are generally easy to tell apart from any normal equine due to this. Common mutations include things such as bioluminescence, extra display frills, and long finned whiskers.
Nokal: Nokal hippocampi are generally dully colored and perfect for blending into their inland surroundings. Their aquatic half tends to be freshwater fish such as eels, catfish, trout, perch, and other similar creatures. Their land shapes are the most normal, and hardest to tell from a normal equine, and these hippocampi have the least mutations, although they exist.
Culture Hippocampi can be sorted into two distinct cultural types, regardless of variant; those that group together, and those that do not. Most smaller individuals will form herds, called shoals, usually based on their animal attribute. Larger individuals may not join any such group, and live alone in a relatively solitary lifestyle.
All variants hold a unique kinship with merfolk, oceanic xeriin, and selkies, often serving as aquatic mounts or city guards to their allies. If they find someone in trouble, they have been known to help shipwreck victims, or ferry people across the sea. However, most hippocampi are very protective of their merfolk, xeriin, and selkie companions, and should one they've rescued mean to do them harm, they are not above allowing the sea to claim its own.
Vasa: These hippocampi are the most exclusive when it comes to shoals. It is primarily dictated by affinity: if the affinity of the individual more or less matches that of the shoal, they are allowed to join, but if not they are usually driven off. Those with larger affinities do not shoal, and live solitary lives. A Vasa hippocampus is regarded as the most varied of the different types, and thus the most unpredictable.
Trosae: The friendliest variant, Trosae hippocampi are bright in both appearance and personality, known to be the most outgoing and accepting of all. While some are bright in terms of intelligence, others are more so in the way of cheerfulness and general happy-go-lucky demeanors. Shoals formed by Trosae hippocampi are inclusive, and may be accepting of many different sorts. Those Trosae that live away from the traditional marine herds are regarded as unusual, and may be treated with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension by their kind.
Nokal: The Nokal are the most reclusive of the hippocampi variants, and least likely to form shoals no matter their affinity. These hippocampi are heavily set in their traditions, which are taught from parents to foal. They are proud and honorable, though each Nokal hippocampus is different, with family law being the foremost in any hippocampus' education. To break the law of one's family is to dishonor that family in its entirety - and to do so may mean being disowned, driven off by one or both parents, never to be seen again.
Abilities Hippocampi are physically powerful and quite swift, no matter the variant. While they can have magic, it is rather uncommon; most often, a hippocampus that is magically aligned may be blessed with water abilities or reiatsu manipulation, though other magic may be found as well. Any elemental affinities are possible, save for fire and lightning - which so rarely are found among hippocampus foals that they are thought to be extinct.
All hippocampi can converse telepathically - and often do - beneath the waves, while they are capable of true speech above the water and in their land forms.
Vasa: Vasa are commonly hippocampi blessed with the greatest physical strength overall, with more stamina due to their life in the open ocean. When blessed with magical abilities, their magic is almost always water or reiatsu, rarely ice, and tends to be defensive.
Trosae: Trosae are the most magically gifted of the variants, and most likely to have unusual abilities. Their abilities are extremely varied, but common ones involve the elements of light and air, along with various non-elemental abilities. Many are less physically inclined than the other variants, and the ones who aren’t are less magically inclined.
Nokal: Nokal are the least magical of the hippocampi. When they do have the rare ability to use magic, their magic tends to revolve around camouflage and protection, though there has been a common trend noted that has produced wildwhisperers.
The Dark Five do not have many periods in their history where they have broken free; but all have attempted freedom and attained it, even if the time was brief. In one such period, Gurthril erupted from a shattered bone flute, her fury at being imprisoned tempered by a severe need for revenge.
It is said that the last one who helped the gods to lock her within the dragonbone flute was a knight - one with a beautiful stallion for a mount, one with a pelt as white as snow and eyes of midnight blue. The goddess had an idea, then; she sank into the shadows, and sped north, seeking the one who had locked her away.
But alas, the knight and his stallion were long dead. The mortal lives of both had been cut short, many, many years before; hissing in anger, the goddess was about to leave when she spotted a mare and foal drinking from a nearby river, their coats both just as beautifully white as the stallion's had been. Looking at them more closely, she realized that they held the same blood as the stallion, and grew interested in their fate.
Suddenly, the goddess smiled, and sent her will to the water - suddenly, the river rose up and caught the mare and foal in its folds, and smashed them across the riverbed. The thrashing equines were drowned in the grip of the god-tainted current, and the waters washed their broken bodies onto the shore, before calming as the goddess approached.
They had been beautiful creatures, to be sure. With pink skin and glistening coats, their staring eyes an icy blue, they were marvels to behold, and she fancied their beauty for herself. The mare she took and lifted into the air, tail twitching like a cat's, and the body paused floating a few feet from her muzzle. You were beautiful in life; and now I return that life to thee, she said with a purr. But you are mine, forever, and will take to the waters that took your lives. No longer will you run among the grasses, nor give the humans your aid. No; you will serve in my name, and my name alone! You will be the First Hippocampus, and you will help make the world mine.
And thus the mare awoke, and began thrashing in the air, screaming and squealing in pain; her hind legs were fused together, and twisted into a single long tail. Gurthril implanted gemstones all along it, and these became scales - two beautiful feathers she wove into the end, and this became a fin. The new-made hippocampus squealed again, and bit at her when she went to stroke it - anger suddenly flaring, she struck her creation, and the gashes from her claws became gills. You and all who follow will follow in my name! she screamed, wings flaring. She lifted her claws and rounded on the terrified beast, who now lay upon the ground, with her hippocampus foal not fifteen paces away. Between her claws danced a flicker of her will, darkness incarnate. Me! Only me! You are my creation, and with this, you will-
But she was suddenly interrupted by a great roar. Whirling, the goddess found herself face to face with Gaz'in, angry at her interference with his Realm. She spat in his face and stole away with her creations, fleeing the god of knowledge as quickly as she could. Before he could give chase, Gurthril was gone; she retreated far, far beneath the earth, and placed her hippocampi in a large, flooded cavern.
They were stupid beasts, she realized, thinking about the god of knowledge. Of course they would not know to obey her. So she took both the mare and foal, and granted them sentience - but they were afraid, and there was intelligence in their fear. Light shone in their eyes, and the mother curled around her foal protectively. You shall understand me, now, Gurthril hissed. You are mine, and mine alone. You are my beautiful servants, and in you I will implant my esteemable wi-
No, they won't.
Suddenly, Gurthril cried out as golden chains erupted from the cavern walls to bind her; the shadows coalesced into the form of Gaz'in, who looked simply amused. The god of knowledge moved the dark goddess aside, ignoring her struggles, to approach the terrified hippocampi, who cowered in awe and fear. Do not fear me, little ones, he said quietly. You are safe, and free. Do you understand what has happened? What you have become? The hippocampus mare found words in her mouth - and the ability to understand what the god had said. "Y-Yes," she answered, looking bewildered. "I am… we… we are - different. No longer horses… hippocampus… hippocampi?"
Yes, the god of knowledge chuckled. You are not horses any longer; Gurthril has changed you, and made you new. But you will not be servants, no - you are free creatures, and you've every right to roam the worlds at your leisure. I will not allow Gurthril to control you, but I will not let you roam all alone, either.
It is known that night that Gurthril was, once more, sealed away; and that the two hippocampi were released into the sea. Gaz'in went on to create an entire herd of hippocampi, led by the First - and though the herd no longer exists, a little of its spirit lives on in every hippocampus, all across the Realms.
This species did not have an Ancient First.
Classification: non-equine hippocampi. Location: abroad.
This subspecies differs from normal hippocampi in that the front half of their bodies can resemble any kind of non-equine hooved animal. Capricorns have been seen in the forms of deer, goats, rams, buffalo and more across the oceans, lakes and rivers of the Realms. Capricorn variants are often found in waters near the climate regions of the Realm which are populated by the land-animal they resemble; for example capricorns which appear elk or moose-like are often in colder waters, and those with gazelle or kudu features dwell in warmer seas. The horns of these subspecies resemble those of the forequarter animal, but are often more curved and smoothed to allow for more streamlined, hydrodynamic swimming. As their appearances are very diverse, so too are the overall sizes of capricorns, influenced by what creatures their forequarters resemble.
Capricorn abilities range all across the board. However, elementally-gifted capricorns are often limited in their affinity; while water and earth are commonplace, fire and lightning affinities are usually inert or dangerous to the individual caster. Most capricorns with abilities contrary to their nature are unable to survive, and may suffer throughout their lives as their bodies try to cope with conflicting magics.
The majority of capricorns are generally seen to be more frivolous than normal hippocampi. Capricorns are often light-hearted and flighty, although those resembling larger hooved animals are usually more stolid and patient in nature. Their culture often differs from region to region, though multiple types often come together in waterways and marine trading routes to exchange news and goods, find mates, and commingle with other capricorns.
Common cultural tendencies vary based on the diverse creatures that they can resemble; those based on rams and goats can be stubborn and direct, deer can be attentive and easily-startled, and the buffalo are deliberate and cautious. Across all variations of this subspecies, most capricorns tend to be lackadaisical and nonchalant about keeping schedules and arriving on-time for appointments, and they are often at least a little late. They value the free pursuit of happiness, and rarely form organizations or hierarchies within their herds, pods, and folds. Even the older and more serious capricorns only rarely take any leadership role over their own herd.
Classification: carnivorous, aquatic equines. Location: abroad.
The natural form of a kelpie has the ghastly appearance of a corrupted hippocampus; usually their hide is fleshy in texture with a slick and slimy residue. Their mouths are long with flesh stretched taught revealing sharp teeth and large eyes that are set more forward on the head than a traditional equine's. They are tricksters and trappers, using three supernatural abilities which, when used in concert, allow them to entrap their prey in a unique fashion; prey may include both sapient and non-sapient creatures, though they enjoy predating on weak-willed humanoids the most. The first ability is one of transformation; all kelpies have the ability to transform into a similarly-sized terrestrial equine animal while on land; this form may be any species of horse known to the Realms.
This transformation is imperfect - the horse-form’s appearance is disturbingly altered, and it tends to retain some of the features of the kelpie’s true form. These may include an elongated mouth, the color and slightly larger size of their eyes, and a tinting of the coat in shades reminiscent of the colors of the kelpie’s true hide. While transformed, the kelpie is able to stay on land for quite some time before the urge to return to water becomes too strong for them to resist. The kelpie must heed this call or be forcefully transformed back into their true form in a gruesome and horrifying contortion. A kelpie’s true form can breathe air, but they are clumsy on land while in their natural form, and are vulnerable to larger predators. Further, if forced to transform back in such a way, the kelpie is left weakened and disoriented, and they will be unable to take on the form of a horse until they have fully recovered.
The second ability of the kelpie is a two-part passive magical ability that is active the moment one of these aquatic animals emerges to walk on land. A kelpie out of water in their horse form has a mesmerizing effect on all those who look upon them; the effect is not active if the kelpie is in their natural form, whether in water or on dry land. This acts like a mass illusion spell that attempts to affect the mind of the individual(s) who gaze upon it; if the effect is successful, those who look upon the kelpie see one of the most beautiful and enthralling horses they have ever seen. The appearance of the kelpie to those enthralled in their mesmer differs depending on the affected individual; those affected will see the species and breed of the horse they fancy or revere the most. The second part of this two-part ability is a deeper enthralling effect. Victims of a successful mesmerization become enthralled by the kelpie, and cannot help but want to touch and ride on the back of their perceived dream horse. Thus, they are compulsorily driven forward without fear towards the kelpie, until either they touch the beast or are driven from the mesmer-state. Clamoring up on the back of the kelpie spells doom for any who dare mount these cunning steeds, as once seated upon the kelpie's back, the prey is most easily at the mercy of the kelpie's sticky hide.
Kelpies have a very unique hide that is slick and slimy, and at their command, this slime can take on the viscosity of a resin-like adhesive in mere moments. At this point, the kelpie can quickly retreat back to the safety of the water, where their true nature is revealed, the illusion is dispelled, and they may drown their prey without problem.
Nomadic and reclusive by nature, kelpies usually lead simple, solitary lives. However, when two or more individuals happen to encounter each other, they tend towards a competition of feats through storytelling; kelpies often revel in bragging about their devious conquests of hapless victims. When not joining together to brag or breed, kelpie are wanderers with no set territory, changing locations often to avoid retaliation on behalf of their prey. Kelpies who spend any time in the company of a non-kelpie that they aren't trying to eat would be considered strange at best by its fellows; kelpies who go so far as to befriend, or worse, fall in love with a non-kelpie become hated outcasts among their kind, and are unwelcome anywhere that other kelpies dwell.