Ebbing Ironhorn (right) and his grandson Swirl, both Hargreth Hoomin, with some of their flock.
Hoomin are generally shorter than humans, tend to be slightly shorter than, are roughly the same height as the Kharad, and a lot shorter than most Phraif.
Their most obvious and distinguishing characteristics are their horns, the cloven hooves on their lower limbs, and their short, stubby tails. The horns are seated in a bony ridge that crosses their forehead, and they continue to grow throughout the Hoomin’s life. Male Hoomin horns tend to be more prominent and ram-like than those of females.
Hoomin females have four breasts and commonly give birth to twins, although triplets and quadruplets are also known. Female young are birthed roughly three times as often as males, leading to the situation where a male Hoomin may have as many as five wives at a time. Gatherings – where Hoomin herds meet and mingle to celebrate their festivals – or Fairs are occasions when herds may ‘foster out’ their younger Hoomin, enabling the later establishment of new family groups, or even new herds, and help prevent potential inbreeding.
Hoomin hair has qualities closer to the fleece of sheep or goats than that of other races. When young it is short and curly and confined to the top of their head. It continues to grow as they age, becoming longer, and sprouting from further down the spine and sometimes over the shoulders and onto the chest, giving a mature Hoomin a thick mane of curled fleece.
They live in family groups, with a strong sense of connection and ancestry. They acknowledge some of the gods, primarily Val V’achea and her associated pantheon, but their ritual and religious focus is generally one of reverence for their ancestors. Living Hoomin often have relics of family members who have died – amulets made from a notable ancestors horns, braids twisted from a grandparents hair, and occasionally a prized tool or instrument carved from an ancestors bones. Their homes often have the skulls of ancestors on display, allowing them to continue to watch over their descendants and their flocks.
They are principally herders – some being semi-nomadic, moving flocks from high mountains down to lower meadows depending on the time of year. They keep sheep, sometimes goats, and – very occasionally – other domestic animals. One of the most prized breeds they keep is the Meflone sheep, whose fleece is particularly sympathetic to magic. Certain of these animals can evidence magical traits and these are particularly treasured.
Hoomin can be found throughout the Known Kingdoms, but their largest populations dwell in the Down County. They tend to prefer rural areas, but not exclusively. Younger Hoomin are known to go adventuring, and others are not unknown in towns and cities. Smaller flocks are scattered among the foothills of the various mountain ranges, including those surrounding Oscallon, the Southern side of the Starrin Heights, and the northern slopes of the Edgeline.
The Hargreth Hoomin are a subgroup who commonly herd on salt marshes – their sheep (Hargrales) are smaller and hardier, and able to graze on marsh grass and other harsher vegetation. Their Melfone sheep are a cross breed with these hardy beasts, and are distinguished by either having an almost glowing fleece, or producing ebony black lambs (which are truly black and not just a very dark brown). Hargreth legs and hooves tend to be more goat like than the more common Down Hoomin, and they are true nomads, living in tents and able to shift locations easily – a valuable trait when living on land that can be submerged when a red tide runs.
Other known subgroup include the Swales, and the Norrofolk – both of these can be found in Cannoway, along the Edgeline.
One final point to note – many a grizzled mercenary has discovered that a Hoomin is no less a warrior, and no more an easy kill than an a mature ram. They learn a fighting style that uses their herding crooks as weapons, and have a tendency in battle to simply put their heads down and charge. The impact of a Hoomin’s bony forehead and the subsequent twist of sharply point horn can be a deadly as a thrust of a sword.