Fur
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Basic Information

Fur is generally used to describe the body hair of an animal, especially those animals whose hair is regarded as high quality and desirable to humans (this can vary, horse hair is certainly useful but not particularly attractive, no-one talks about mink or sable "hair" - that's always fur, whilst cat hair is generally "fur" when on the cat and "hair" when stuck to the sofa).

The term also extends to such body hair when it (and the skin) has been removed from the animal for human use (generally for use as clothing). A preserved skin, with fur, is generally called a pelt and has been a traditional trade good and treasure item (as, indeed, are non-fur bearing skins, but these will generally be called hides instead. English is a confusing language). Such pelts have traditionally been used for making high end furnishings and clothing, prized for their softness and/or warmth. Specific furs may also be prized for specific roles (sable makes excellent paintbrushes, whilst wolverine fur used to be used for the hoods of snowgear as it was particularly resistant to icing).

Fur using societies often had a hierarchy of who could wear what furs, frequently enforced by sumptuary laws (or simple honour politics1), although where fur is an essential part of clothing (as in the high arctic) this will probably not be the case. Some furs may also be taboo in a given culture (see how far you get in the modern west with a coat that is obviously cat … for example). The attachment of other animal parts to the fur will also vary - for example the wolfskins worn by various warriors of antiquity often had at least part of the head left intact to serve the wearer as a headdress orhelmet decoration, whereas in other contexts this might be seen as ludicrous or distasteful. Wolfskin garments - especially those which also happen to be the fetish for a wolf spirit are sometimes associated with some varieties of werewolf and/or the Norse Ulfhednar - and other varieties of lycanthrope and mystic warrior2 have equivalent associations with other animal skins.

Furs can also be used as rugs, wall hangings, blankets and similar things.

Sources

Bibliography
1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Historically, trapping and trading for fur drove a great deal of economic activity, exploration and settlement worldwide.
  • Note the application as treasure, whether as a preserved pelt, processed clothing or even just bits recovered from an animal the PCs have killed.
  • Magical furs from magic animals might have particular uses.
    • Some werewolves (specifically loup-garou) and other shapeshifters were said to use magic animal furs to transform themselves.
  • Animated fur cloaks, rugs and the like are favourites in many kinds of fantasy.
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