Titans are huge, lumbering, four-armed, gregarious bipedal herbivores that inhabit the grasslands and deserts of eastern Immoren, most commonly in the Ocean of Grass in Tor-Kademe, in the southeastern Skorne Empire. Titans have a thick, knurled hide, and the bulls sport a pair of massive tusks that jut up and backward over their heads. They are one of the most common species used by the skorne as warbeasts.
Up to five and a half metres tall, titans stand on two massive legs the size of tree trunks, each of which ends in a broad, flat foot. Four arms jut from their bulky torsos, each ending in three meaty fingers. The upper pair of arms are bigger than the lower, but the hands on the lower are capable of finer manipulations. Each bull has two giant, curved tusks that grow throughout the beast’s life, arcing further upward and backward as it ages. Some bulls grow a smaller set of secondary tusks later in life.
Titan herds live docile lives on the vast plains, grazing upon their preferred grasses and raising their young in peace. Years of abductions by the skorne, however, have made this species wary and, though they do not seek violence, they do not tolerate even the hint of a threat, which can send titans into a brutal frenzy. They rely on their thick hides, massive tusks, and great size to fight off predators. Rudimentary tool use is not unknown among the titans: they occasionally employ rocks and sticks when defending themselves or their herd.
Titans travel the grasslands and along the desert’s edge in search of sustenance. Their slow metabolism requires less food than most herbivores of eastern Immoren do, but a single titan can still consume hundreds of pounds of food each day. The size of a titan herd varies but can include up to a hundred, mostly females and young. Each herd is led by a dominant alpha bull. Several younger adult males provide additional protection to the herd and will vie for dominance if the alpha shows signs of age or disease. Titan young are known to remain close to their parents until their deaths.
Some herds are led by a larger bull called a bronzeback. As each of these males feast, muscles begin to bulge under its thickening hide. Its forearms lengthen and expand, and an extra pair of tusks sprouts below the sweep of its original ones. The skin on its back thickens and dries in a pale bronze strip, and a crest of thick fur grows along the spine to crown a new king among titans. A bronzeback drives away all competing males, keeping the entire harem for himself. It is unknown why some titan males transform into bronzebacks while others do not, though it may be related to the size of the herd and the ferocity of competition for alpha status. Bronzebacks seem to develop primarily where these contests are fiercest, as one male emerges victorious over his peers. Once a bronzeback develops, other titans instinctively acquiesce to his dominance. Notably, bronzebacks occur only in the wild. The skorne have not managed to breed a single bronzeback from their titans in the four millennia they have enslaved the beasts. Rarely, a bronzeback that has lost his herd might seek another. If an intruding bronzeback sets his eye on another bronzeback’s herd, a battle to the death is inevitable. The sight of two bronzebacks clashing can prompt a wild stampede that flattens everything in its path as lesser creatures attempt to preserve their own existence.
Titans have served the skorne for thousands of years as their favoured warbeasts, for they have the stamina to endure brutal punishment and the strength to rip apart most creatures. Titan nervous systems are well understood, and beast handlers embed barbed hooks in sensitive locations to goad them into fury before battle. The skorne have made every effort to encourage violent tendencies by inflicting an assortment of cruelly painful torments. Beast handlers have trained titans to wield an array of weapons and shaped them into a diverse array of useful warbeasts, each employing different techniques and handling. If driven to frenzy, a titan reverts to its instincts: wildly slamming opponents and rending them with their tusks.
Clad in heavy lacquered armour and taught to fight with gauntlets rowed with spikes, a titan gladiator’s body itself is a weapon. Gladiators use their tremendous weight to overpower an enemy and smash it to the ground, rushing forward with a surprising burst of speed. The gladiator pierces a downed opponent with a flurry of blows while it pins the hapless creature in place with its lesser pair of arms.
Titan cannoneers wield massive siege guns and are used in siege warfare as living artillery. Though they are trained and conditioned, the task strains their limited intelligence, and titan cannoneers usually require awarlock’s supervision to perform repeatedly and consistently. Skorne warrior codes, the cost of manufacture, and extensive training time combine to make titan cannoneers rare assets deployed by only the wealthiest houses.
Titans with the greatest mass and keenest minds are expertly chosen to become sentries. While other titans are sent forward to pulverize an enemy army, titan sentries are the unmovable objects upon which an opponent’s charge breaks. Armed with shields and halberds, titan sentries can easily weather a barrage of rifle fire or hail of arrows. Though few titans ever develop the refined skills of professional skorne soldiers, when a sentry lands a blow it is invariably telling. The intensive conditioning a titan sentry undergoes also encourages it to fixate on the greatest perceived threat and eradicate it before moving on to the next. When the sentry doggedly sets its mind on a target, all lesser distractions fade from its attention as it sets about the destruction of the target.
Breaking bronzeback titans is a dangerous job, for beast handlers must venture into the wilds to locate them and their subjugation requires tremendous skill. Any paingivers who cannot rise to the challenge bleed out their lives shattered and broken among the grasses. A single bronzeback commands a tremendous price, for every year at least ten handlers die for every beast captured. In battle, a single bronzeback can nearly guarantee victory by goading allied titans to renewed ferocity, inciting ancient instincts too powerful to deny. Captured bronzebacks — beasts not raised under the whip and taught since youth to heed those who wear the beast handler mask — are never fully tamed. The skorne must watch them closely at all times, both in and out of battle.
At birth, several titan calves are chosen to be subjected to horrible procedures designed to transform their suffering into a tangible force. Each of these starving creatures, known as agonisers, has skin stretched taut across its bones, riddled with hooked implements and impaled with barbed rods. A living embodiment of pain, an agoniser manifests its misery as an aura that afflicts those around it with its suffering. Fortunately for them, few agonisers survive even a single battle, and death comes as sweet relief after the constant torment they endure. Even hardened criminals and blood-soaked veterans have difficulty looking upon an agoniser and contemplating the unfathomable cruelty behind its genesis. To the skorne, however, agonisers are simply another weapon gained from their titan breeding projects.
Titan hide sees extensive use in skorne leatherworking due to its natural resilience.