Breed Spotlight: New Forest Pony

Breed Spotlight: New Forest Pony

New Forest Pony

Another quasi-feral breed (it’s complicated), the New Forest Pony is far more regulated than its prior two contemporaries. Only purebloods can be added to the registry anymore, so Astranar is quite lucky to be able to start their own breed book. As a pony, the New Forest pony is one of the options for a pony-mount the player will need to complete the game and will be given a quest line for funds. Unfortunately, that isn’t in the same district as this pony resides. Maybe you can arrange your play-order of districts to help you pick it for your own pony friend?

This pony dates all the way back to the Ice Age! It is indigenous to the New Forest in southern England, where it continues to thrive to this day. They are amusingly enough described as being workman-like in their composition by the registry. They have a sloping shoulder, powerful hindquarters, and straight legs that end in rounded hooves. Their gates can be described as “free,” without being too over-exaggerated, so no dramatics here. They are usually intelligent, agile workers known for their sure-footed steps and speed.

New Forest 1

Despite being quite beloved in their home region for work and agility work, including gymkhana, show jumping, dressage, and other eventing, the New Forest Pony has been labeled a minority breed. Steps were taken to improve the quality of foals, and then in 1960, the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society began to publish their stud book. The pony found itself being exported throughout the world, and other countries began their own studbooks and registries that have helped the breed. Being from England, the moors and craggy shorelines of Citrine must feel like home, and they have their own studbook there.

New Forest 2

Breed Characteristics:
New Forest ponies are most commonly found in chestnut (red coat and mane for Mystic Rider purposes), bay, or grey. Other solid colors are possible, though blue eyes and excessive white markings (i.e. paints) are not allowed. Lighter coats palomino and sorrel (red coat with blonde mane, again for our purposes, see above) are only allowed in mares and geldings.

Starting Stats: *
Speed:                    1                                              Discipline:        3
Endurance:         2                                               Agility:             6
Strength:             3

* Note, these numbers aren’t set in stone. They are Becca’s way of trying to reduce her knowledge/research of breeds and their particular skills and traits into numbers so when animators and programmers have to look at these horses, they can go, “Oh, this horse can’t turn worth beans but this one can on a dime, noted!”

Breed Spotlight: Camargue Horse

Breed Spotlight: Camargue Horse

Camargue Horse

In contrast to our last breed spotlight, the Camargue horse is an ancient breed indigenous to the south of France. The breed book managed in Astranar is what is referred to as Camargue hors berceau because they are born outside of that region. It is an optional horse, so you will have to pay real-world funds for it.

For thousands of years, the Camargue horse has inhabited the marshes of southern France in their namesake region. They live in semi-feral family groups referred to as manade. It is a compact horse, with a short neck and deep chest. The mane and tail are noted as being very full, with the tail set low. Its limbs are strong, long, and in proportion, ending in solid and wide hooves that have developed due to their marsh living conditions. Their heads are frequently compared to Barbs, being heavy, square, with wide, expressive eyes, in contrast to their short ears. Pictures of them galloping through water are considered very romantic and are a popular image in posters.

Camargue 1

Because of their ancient association to the south of France, they can be tied to many other breeds, including Iberians, the Spanish jaca, the Chilean horse, the Criollo, Barbs, Arabians, and Thoroughbreds. The French government began setting breed books to protect the breed in 1976, especially as they continued to be cared for and used by the gardians, the Camargue version of cowboys who manage the black bulls for the bull fighting present in Southern France. With their calm temperament, intelligence, and hardy nature, they are valued for dressage, games unique to the gardians, and endurance riding, which helps explain why the Citrine district is eager to keep the breed book.

Camargue 2

Breed Characteristics:
Camargue horses are only available for purchase in grey/white. While foals are born dark brown or black, when they shed their fuzzy baby coats, they turn full white by maturity (and of adequate age to be sold).

Starting Stats: *
Speed:                   3                                              Discipline:        3
Endurance:         5                                               Agility:             3
Strength:             2

* Note, these numbers aren’t set in stone. They are Becca’s way of trying to reduce her knowledge/research of breeds and their particular skills and traits into numbers so when animators and programmers have to look at these horses, they can go, “Oh, this horse can’t turn worth beans but this one can on a dime, noted!”

Roses,Vineyards, and…River Otters?

Roses,Vineyards, and…River Otters?

So one of the big things that both Ginny and I want to feature in our world is nature for the sake of nature. Almost always, flowers or birds or really any other type of animal is included in a game only if it is tied to a quest. Sometimes they might appear in a cutscene (despite not being in the area normally), but for the most part, aside from pets and mounts, it’s pretty much trees, grass, bushes, and dirt. When we were building Astranar, we came up with other plants and animals besides the horses and pets to see as you are riding around. So when you are riding through a forest path, you’ll see a bird flutter off or see a undergrowth of flowers where logically they would be, rather than just waiting for a quest.

When it comes to the variety, though, and to somethings that were created specifically for this country, we wanted to tie them to at least a little bit of a side quest. This way the programmers would get to do something with all of this flora and fauna that was being created, and the player could actually interact with some of it. While pets are great, and we obviously love our mounts, there’s more to the world and the player should get to experience it. As well as learn how things we take for granted either need to change, or are different than media portrays them as.

One of the characters that we hope to introduce you to is the source of the rose species of Astranar, from a creative stand point, because she named all of her horses after the breeds! (Trust me, there was a lot of digging around to figure out how to name her horses and thus the roses.) There’s one of every general color, plus an extra species of white, and they are highly prized in any Astranar noble’s garden. While most roses aren’t hardy enough to survive in the wild, thanks to Astranar’s weather patterns, some vines can escape the towns to try and grow on their own.

Speaking of vines, Astranar vineyards and their rivalry are near-legendary, at least among locals. Each district has their own specialty, and they are the pride of the district. Each year, a bottle of the year’s harvest is given to the royal family to go sit and age in their wine cellar, and then the rest is opened up to the locals…and the collectors. (I’m not saying certain vintages are rare and fought over between one particular baroness and three-quarters of the nobility and upper merchant class types… but yes, yes I am saying it.) They also get downright competitive about whose is really better. Sometimes it’s easier to just nod and walk away…

Farms will have all sorts of livestock, from cows and goats and sheep…to alpacas and black chickens. (We’re weird, you’ll get used to it.) And it isn’t just the mentors and the players that have such variety! Who do you think they bought their animals from? The local farmers and ranchers have a wide variety of animals to pick from for your character’s farm, and sometimes need help with managing their stocks and crops. They can give helpful recipes or even teach about rare plants or animals that are attracted to them.

But outside of livestock, what other animals are you going to see? Much like in other parts of the world, there are wild cats and wolves that are endangered, and so there are education programs about them. You’ll also hearing some crazy fishing stories around the docks, encounter several types of birds and owls among the trees, and all sorts of creatures. (Though watch out for swans, they are protective and mean as much as they are pretty.) There are deer and big cat sanctuaries in Citrine and Sphalerite, respectively, to offer some specialty homes to a wide variety of species.

There are two animal homes however that are a bit more controversial, so they tend to have quests tied to them as the player explores the areas involved. Sapphire district has a bull fighting arena that is considered traditional, and getting them to consider closing it is going to probably cause a minor war with the older generation. Right now, the younger ones are hoping they can quietly let it die in a decade or two, but some are a lot more impatient and want to carry something out now. Navigating around that landmine may take some serious work for the player…unless they decide to get involved anyway, which could be a new mess.

The second home, you  have less of a choice. The mentor of Emerald (again, who I hope to introduce you as we get further along and have artwork) has gotten a bee in her bonnet over the zoo. It is home to several animals, from the old falconry birds and peacocks that the royal family donated to wild animals that were considered endangered, like the river otters…that are nothing like the cute little ones you probably think of. These are giant river otters from Emerald, and they are huge, fierce…and desperately craving watermelon, despite hating the taste. The conditions of the zoo don’t meet her standards at all, and she wants it burned to the ground. But there’s a new director of the zoo who wants to turn the whole thing into a conservation program, he just needs time. Sounds like they need a mediator, and fast!

Okay, anyone who follows the twitter for this game concept (and if you aren’t, why aren’t you, you are missing out!), you know that this is a total bait and switch. So I promise next week I will talk about the Diamond Media Complex and their stars, including a very special rose.