Bovids in GURPS

The bovids are a group of cloven-hooved, ruminating, cud-chewing mammals equipped with horns that includes in its numbers the antelope, cattle, bison, buffalo, goats, and sheep. They are widespread across the old world and North America, and have been introduced to many islands and every continent except Antarctica by man. The general bovid form has been modified to suit everything from huge plains-dwelling bruisers to agile cliff-jumpers and fleet-footed runners; bovids have evolved forms to exploit every habitat type and many different size ranges.

All male bovids have horns. They use these as weapons against predators and to fight for dominance among themselves. Some horns are sharp and used for stabbing, others are curved back to expose a flat base to provide a device for ramming and slamming. In many species, the females also have horns.

Bovids tend to be alert and quick to startle. Their best defense is a good turn of speed, and they will run from danger if given the chance. Many species, however, can get rather ornery and will use their horns and hooves on an antagonist if cornered, wounded, or brought to bay. Large species sometimes attack smaller annoyances without much provokation, particularly males during the rut.

Bovids have excellent hearing and an acute sense of smell. They use these two senses to warn them of danger and to communicate among themselves. Their eyesight is good for detecting movement, but poor at discerning details or color. The bovid's sense of touch is primarily centered around the muzzle and lips - a curious bovid will nuzzle or mouth an object it is trying to investigate.

One reason for the bovids' success is their highly efficient digestive system. They have a large fermenting gut that can process nearly any plant material and extract nutrients. After grazing or browsing, partially digested food is brought up to be chewed a second time as the bovid rests, then swallowed again. All bovids are exclusively herbivores, but they can subsist on low quality fodder. Some bovids take this to extremes, and can thrive on thorny, woody, dried up scrub.

Bovids are usually active around dusk and dawn, and bed down durring other parts of the day. Most species gather together in herds, with the males defending territories durring the rutting season but grouping together in bachelor herds for the rest of the year. Females and their young tend to stay in herds year round.

Bovids have been extensively hunted by man for meat, leather, and horns. This has driven a few species to extinction and made others rare, although many species have adapted to human persecution. A number bovids have been domesticated by man, such as cattle, water buffalo, sheep, and goats. These provide meat, leather, milk, and wool for our needs, as well as traction to pull plows, carts, or wagons.

Game Statistics

choose a species:
Species Male Gelded Female (optional)
enter weight (kg)
Captive? T?HR?
Beef Cattle

Dairy Cattle

Auroch (extinct)




Cape Buffalo

Water Buffalo


Musk Ox


Domestic Goat

Wild Goat or Ibex



Mountain Goat

Barbary Sheep

Wild Sheep

Domestic Sheep




Greater Kudu

Lesser Kudu






Sable Antelope

Roan Antelope












The radio button entries in the table above give typical sizes of the bovid species of the selected sex. If you want a larger or smaller specimen, enter the weight in kg manually.

The Captive checkbox is for animals that have been kept in captivity all their lives, without the ability to hone their skills like their wild relatives. It would be appropriate for a bovid fed hay or grain and allowed to graze in a protected pasture.

Marking the T? checkbox will give you the stats in template form with all costs listed, otherwise you get a stat sheet as for a character.

Marking the HR? checkbox will print the information using all my house rules. Otherwise, the stats will be as compatable with plain vanilla GURPS as possible (although several custom advantages and disadvantages will be present, see my Traits page).

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