- Had a thought: what if dragons use pneumatic natural muscle (i.e. like pneumatic artificial muscle except for that second word)? Like if each of their muscle fibers is a small air-sac that inflates or deflates in order to extend or contract? From what I can find a bird's body is about 57.7% muscle; a pneumatic artificial muscle has twice the power-to-weight ratio of bird muscle (400 watts per kilogram compared to a bird's 200—a human's is 50 watts, in case you were wondering). That means that replacing the normal muscle-fibers in a dragon with pneumatic muscle would result in a 28.85% reduction in weight. (That comes to 39.63% of the weight of a mammal-based dragon.)
This gets the otter-based dragons down to about 49 short tons. Giving that a bird-maximum wing-loading of 25 kilos per square meter (which is 5.12 pounds per square foot), I can actually get by (for my "approximately kite-shaped" dragons), with a wing-span roughly equal to 137 or 138 feet. Far from un-doable for a dragon 120 feet long, since the damn thing is going to have to learn to store itself somewhere anyway. With airplane-like takeoffs facilitated by the cheetah-sprint, I think I can drive that down to a wingspan of 63 feet, with the "kite" only running half the length of the dragon's body, to still have a takeoff speed of 88(.35) miles per hour.
- Suppose I, instead, base the dragon on Coelophysis—say with the mass of the wings taken from the thicker body and bigger legs, to produce a winged, almost serpentine dragon with equal-length forelegs and hindlegs. Coelophysis was 9.8 feet long and weighed 44 pounds; making that 120 feet long gives us a dragon weighing only 40.39 (short) tons before reducing the weight of its muscle. With the pneumatic muscle (a Coelophysis was probably only as dense as a bird so we can't reduce the rest of the density), we get a mass of 28.74 tons.
With a bird's maximum wing-loading, and a "basically square" kite wing, that would only need a 105-foot wingspan. If we give it bird-wings with the wing-proportions usually posited for Argentavis magnificens, the maximum wing-loading of a bird requires a wing-span of 260 feet. You can knock a couple dozen off that with the neck and tail kites, but really, like I said above, the thing is going to have to learn to store itself somewhere anyway, so there's no real reason not to just give it the c. 130-foot long wings. It's not like birds' wings aren't several times the length of their bodies, after all.
Guess we don't need the cheetah-sprint takeoffs after all.
- Pneumatic muscle also gives you giants with human (or elf, or dwarf) proportions that don't break the bank—being exactly eight times as strong as human muscle (400 watts per kilogram vs 50), it scales exactly right for something twice the dimensions. Perfect for 12-foot elf-based giants, 10-foot dwarf-based ones, and 11 foot 6 inch (male) human-based ones (the female human-based ones are 10 feet 8 inches).
- Decided to redo my naming systems, because my humans' date-naming actually seems quite strange if you're not from Mesoamerica, and it felt weird to have humans named after in-game things and the elves, dwarves, and gnomes using more ordinary name-systems. Now the dwarves are named for the fighter (melee) weapon-groups (plus firearms) and the enchantments that paladins can apply to them via divine bond, elves are named the fifteen wizard-spell schools (including universal and the six elementalist schools) combined with the basic metamagic feats, and gnomes are named compounds of the sorcerer bloodlines and the things bardic music can do. The gnomes' nicknames work more streamlined now—now a gnome who, say, kills an aboleth, can add "aberrant" and "deadly" from those two lists. Humans are named a combination of oracle mysteries and oracle curses (with the curse part being apotropaic).
Also changed it so dwarves have clan names derived from a combination of the kinds of aura a paladin makes and the cleric domains other than Death and Evil (in Pathfinder the good aspect of death-gods is the Repose domain, which was not OGL in 3.x). The elves' "grove names" now come from a combination of the cleric domains and subdomains that druids can access (if they decide not to take an animal companion), and the ranger favored terrains. Gnomes' surnames now work like human names, combination of oracle mystery and curse. And the humans have surnames deriving from the druid domains, like elves' grove names, but take an honorific middle name upon full initiation into a society or accession to a title, that derives from a cleric domain (again except Death and Evil).
- Since I no longer needed the calendar to double as the humans' name system, or fit all the possible domains (or to incorporate obscure domains like Ruins to fill out a number), I decided to give the planet's two moons a trojan orbit, where they are always in the same phase but rise and set six hours apart, and have an orbital period of exactly twenty-four and one-third days.
I'll probably just number the days, though all the wizard schools and subschools, plus universal, makes twenty-five, as does the cleric domains if you take out the element and alignment ones. Every third month (on the actual calendar every first month of a group of three) has twenty-five days instead of twenty four. That allows you to have a 365-day year with exactly fifteen months, which bear the names of the fifteen oracle mysteries (in human languages or Gnomish; the elves and dwarves use versions of the Gnomish names).
Relatedly decided there's no reason to have the elves live "almost" twelve times as long: just let them live exactly twelve times as long (and gnomes nine times, and dwarves six). But since they're in no hurry, the randomly-generated starting ages reflect the fact they age that much more slowly—they're adults at the same age but they feel no pressure to go out and adventure.
- Black dwarves are now named similarly to other dwarves but with antipaladin enchantments, and have house names derived from the basic types of damage an alchemist bomb can do plus the discoveries that change a bomb's behavior. Ogres (including orcs), meanwhile, are named for the barbarian rage-totems and certain other kinds of rage, and only have their father's name as surnames (their father's names also go for their bands, and young males drop it when striking out on their own).
Dark elves are now named the original Advanced Player's Guide witch hexes plus the types of witch familiar (including the poppet, mask, and arcane bonded item versions from some of the archetypes). Goblins' personal names come from a combination of the inquisitor judgments and the domain-like inquisitions; their bands take their names from their patriarch. Goblins whose patriarch is vassal to another goblin patriarch have a string of names, in descending order of closeness to the goblin in question.
Witches of all cultures take the name of one of the witch-patron themes combined with the auras an antipaladin can project, in Primordial (maybe in their own language?), as an honorific. Giants (and beast-people) take the names of the cavalier orders and monk vows. And dragons have three-part names (can't imagine why) composed of natural attack, special quality like energy immunity or fear aura, and then the type of energy their type of dragon uses.
- As might be implied, the goblin priesthood (aside from adepts) are now inquisitors, not full-fledged divine casters like clerics or even oracles; the dark elf and black dwarf ones were already witches (black dwarves also have a lot of alchemists, who as I've mentioned are dwarves' main arcane casters). Orcs and ogres have bards—orc ones treat their Charisma as 2 higher for spellcasting (and Performance) purposes, the same way the "scarred witch-doctor" archetype in the Advanced Race Guide does with Intelligence.
All the non-renegade "civilized" humanoids have all three kinds of divine caster (cleric, druid, oracle), and the races who don't, like goblins, dark elves, and black dwarves (though not ogres) still have domains listed for their gods, because inquisitors use them even if they don't have clerics. Think I might give the spriggans (who I might make more like redcaps, since the size-change is weird) a combination of oracles and inquisitors; they split off from other gnomes before gnomes adopted clerical or druid magic from other humanoids.
- Still a bit unclear what the antenna requirements for passive SLF radar darkvision would be, so I'm hedging my bets and putting the antenna all over the surface of the eyeball—but it connects to the optic nerve and processes like light. Think the pupil dilates all the way shut while using it. And maybe the sclera glow while darkvision is being used, unless the organism deliberately stops. One thing this means is that I go back to 3e/PF darkvision rather than 5e darkvision, since passive radar works more like that. (Oh and you can't read with it any more, just like in 2e. Always wondered how they handwaved the drow wizards of Faerûn suddenly no longer being the only drow who ever use real light, when they had been for two editions previous.)
More fantasy game thoughts.