Unicorns are one of the most recognizable mythological creatures in a number of cultures and they often appear in the fantasy series that inspired many tabletop roleplaying games. They’re a common sight in heraldry, are used in imagery ranging from medieval manuscripts to tapestries, and horns believed to be those of unicorns were sold throughout the middle ages. Popular culture has embraced the unicorn and made them so popular they’re easy to work into a game, even if it’s only as a minor reference. What you’ll find here is an idea for a unicorn that can be adapted to serve in also any campaign setting.
Unlike wild horses unicorns prefer to dwell deep within forests far from the cities and roads of men. A unicorn herd is made up of fourteen to thirty individuals. The hair of an adult unicorn is snowy white, but until they reach full maturity it remains a dappled shade of grey allowing the adolescents to blend in more easily with their surroundings. Their hooves are cloven and the males have a beard of fine hair similar to that of a common goat. Of course the most recognizable feature of any unicorn is the spiraling horns that grow out of their foreheads, these horns are silver in color and begin to grow after a foal has reached adulthood.
Most predators know to avoid the areas in which a herd of unicorns are grazing and it is rare for any of them to fall prey to the wolves, bears, or other beasts who share their forests with them. Using their horns unicorns will mark trees around a given region, these marks and the scent of the horned herbivores are usually drive any predators away. If anything should grow bold or desperate enough to approach a herd looking for a meal they’ll face horns that can pierce thick armor, and hooves capable of delivering a kick that could split an oak door. While unicorns aren’t territorial, but they will defend their offspring fiercely if they feel they are being defended. In truth the most common threats to a herd are hunters who set out to capture or kill them. The dense woodlands often serve to shield them from sight, or allow them to lose their pursuers in the tangled undergrowth. Adults have been known to allow themselves to be seen in order to draw hunters away from the rest of their herd.
According to legend unicorns can only be captured by unsullied maidens or virgins, and these young women are sometimes used as bait to try to draw one of the creatures out of hiding. In truth unicorns are curious and gentle, when they happen upon a lone traveler in their woods they may investigate. They have even been known to guide travelers out of their woods, and to drive of predators stalking lost children. Trappers, foresters, hunters, woodcutters, and the like have passed these tales from town to town for centuries. To earn the favor of a herd locals will sometimes venture to the edge of the nearest forest and leave bushels of apples for them. On the rare occasion when a unicorn is captured and caged they rarely survive for very long.
Many stories proclaim the purity of the unicorn and warn against harming these gentle creatures. In some of the tales those who injure one of these creatures will suffer under a curse of misfortune that will follow them until the end of their days. Scholars will scoff at these stories and dismiss them as the superstitions ramblings of fools and drunkards, but they still go to great pains to ensure no injury comes to a unicorn in their presence.
The horn of a unicorn is one of the most prized objects known to man, and as such it is also one of the rarest. The magical properties of these horns are reputed to be capable of accomplishing a wide variety of wondrous feats. In some tales they are used to purify befouled waters, and it is also believed that they can be used to detect poisons. A few enchanters have even been known to use unicorn horns when constructing staves or wands to aid them in their magic, the horns are also sometimes ground up into a fine powder to be used as a component in spells and potions.
Perhaps one day you’ll find yourself lost in the woods and catch a glimpse of something white running through the tress. If you follow the trail it leaves you will find yourself guided safely out of the forest. You may never see the horn, or hear the beating of their hooves, but you’ll know you just caught a glimpse of a unicorn.