- On that note, decided to just take the plunge and switch to Pathfinder; it's an interesting re-balancing of the rules and using gestalt characters was making my game too high-powered for my liking. I decided to slightly re-tool some things so my races would fit into the balancing, like I had to get rid of the poisonous flesh for elves and gnomes, but I am still keeping things like my male ogres having the stats of hill giants. Had to make my male hobgoblins be hobgoblins again, because for some weird reason Paizo has never statted bugbears out as a player-character race—but it has done ogres. Rather than use the third-party stats for Homotherium that are actually there on the Pathfinder SRD wiki (you nerds), I just applied the "giant animal" template to the cheetah, knocked 10 feet off its speed, and replaced its sprint special ability with a bleed.
Had to jettison dwarves as psionic because it seemed like a lot of trouble; now dwarves' main non-divine spell-casters are alchemists—in my setting, they invented it. The gnomes now invented sorcery (I think the "bloodline" traits are more "what monsters did you emulate", like the blue mages in Final Fantasy), while elves invented wizardry. One thing I discovered is that Pathfinder's witch class is basically the modified sha'ir I was using; it makes an excellent villain class. I also decided that elvish society is primarily made up of spell-casters and martial classes with some spells—paladins and clerics, rangers and druids, and wizards and magi. (I think only my elves have magi, and only the evil ancient civilization has witches, who are its priests. My dwarves also use guns but don't have gunslingers, and I have no use for inquisitors, cavaliers, oracles, or summoners.)
I still don't care for their characterization of ogres, orcs, or the goblin races, especially not goblins.
- Crunched some numbers, wanted to see something. If you make a dragon the same proportions as a snow-leopard, but big enough to be Colossal, you wind up with a creature 120 feet long—of which 48 feet is tail—28.8 feet tall at the shoulder, and weighing 379,721.816 pounds. (In Draconomicon, they try to claim a dragon that size would weigh 1.28 million pounds. Um...no?) Only, birds are a lot less dense than mammals, overall; the lightest ones are 602 kilos per cubic meter to mammals' 1,080. That gives us a dragon that size that weighs 211,659.753 pounds, or a bit under 106 (short, this is America dammit) tons.
Now, you absolutely cannot give a dragon of that scale wings that fit inside a football field (or two), and have a wing-loading anything like the maximum wing-loading of a bird, 25 kilos per square meter. But you can get a wing-loading on par with many airliners, 115.8 kilos per square meter (the area is 8,924.6 square feet, specifically), if you give it the proportional wingspan of an Andean condor but make its wings—starting where the shoulders are on a snow leopard—triangular, going all the way to the end of the tail (something like the wings on the gold dragon in the illustrations in the 3e Monster Manual). If I'm doing the takeoff-velocity formula right, that results in a (sea-level) takeoff speed of 87.94 miles per hour. Apparently flux capacitors are involved.
While that's a speed over anything an animal can actually achieve, it's not much over. I envision dragons having a cheetah-like sprint, where they get up to speed in the same three seconds a cheetah takes, albeit they need 186 feet of "runway" to do it. And that's the biggest ones; smaller dragons have a proportionally easier time taking off. (We're ignoring things like how an organism that size can move that fast without breaking its bones, because there's a reason all their body-parts are worth more than their weight in gold and their skin alone can make armor equivalent to steel.)
- The way I envision my dragons, incidentally, their wings are not contiguous, batlike or pterosaur-like affairs, but more like bird-wings, except scales, not feathers; something like pangolins? Their entire bodies are lined with special mobile scales, like a bird's contour-feathers; lines of big ones along their back join the main wing when it's extended, and lock together the way feathers do, to make an aerodynamic surface.
I think their hind-limbs have feather-scales that extend in flight to form stabilizer-like structures, while their forelimbs fold up tight to their chest (or maybe stick out to make a canard?); the rest of their body, up to their head and along their neck, shifts so its feather-scales make a "blended wing-body" arrangement, to maximize lift. Seems weird to have the entire body lined with mobile structures that are not actually skeletal limbs, but stegosaurs did it. (So do birds.) Their tails are also mostly just empty space, like the tail of a snow-leopard; the scales along it flatten out to continue the blended wing-body.
One thing this causes in game-terms, I think, is that a dragon's wing-strikes become "reach" weapons, with (according to the Pathfinder rules) twice the usual reach, 40 feet. (Giving them a snow-leopard's proportions means their reach with a bite is no longer any different from their other reach.) Or maybe they count as "tall" where their wings are concerned, and have a reach of 60 feet? That seems more realistic.
- I was thinking about my elves, and how in Warcraft III the Night Elves don't exactly mine, they just stick roots down gold-mines. And then I was considering that since my elves base all their technology on the leaves of the darkwood tree, maybe they replace almost every other job with "Profession (herbalist)," too?
One thought I had was that rather than mining, the elves could breed a tree that, if planted in appropriate places, can suck up as much gold into its leaves as Moringa oleifera does iron—4 milligrams per 100 grams of leaves. Then they require 708,738.078 grams of leaves—0.78125 (short) tons—for each ounce of gold. The goldmine in the US with the lowest ratio of dirt to gold, Turquoise Ridge, still required 2.217 tons of dirt for each ounce of gold, in 2013. (And the average yield of Moringa oleifera during dry years—which are what you use for an Ice Age setting—is 615.604 pounds of leaves per acre, i.e. each ounce of gold produced by a "mining field" requires only 2.538 acres of plants. And with plant growth, that goes down to 1.692 acres.) You can also use those same plants to produce oil from their seeds.
Among the jobs I think they can replace with Profession (herbalist), other than Profession (miner), are Craft (armor, bows, carpentry, locks, pottery, traps, and weapons)—maybe also Craft (shipbuilding), which gladdens the heart of the Spelljammer fan—and Profession (architect, engineer, farmer, gardener, and woodcutter). They also can probably substitute herbalist products for many leather goods, so effectively Profession (tanner) and Craft (leather) are replaced. Maybe even Craft (alchemy) with specially bred plants? They don't have alchemists, in my setting that's a dwarf thing that the dwarves also taught to humans. (There is precedent in third-party rules for using Profession in place of Craft, indeed with (herbalist) specifically, using it to make alchemical products.)
I also think my elves' "composite" bows are actually cable-backed—using vines or fibers from the darkwood tree as "cable", which is also what they make their bowstrings out of. (I imagine a darkwood tree as looking like a black locust with leaves/needles like a yew, and cones like a tamarack or Japanese larch, except with wood more like an African blackwood, apart from weight.)
- Searching the blog doesn't think I've mentioned it, but my gnomes had ridden rheas (smaller New World ostriches, basically), back when the elves still rode elk. Decided to have them ride deer now. A whitetail deer is roughly the same size (39 inches at the shoulder), relative to a 3-foot-9-inch gnome male, that the 60-inch average horse is to a 5-foot-9-inch human male.
My dwarves rode big rams (or very stocky muskoxen, which are actually a giant goat). Considering maybe something like the large estimate for Megalictis ferox, the giant prehistoric wolverine—which probably only weighed 60 kilograms but for which the high estimate is "the size of a black bear". If, since this is a fantasy creature based on Megalictis, we interpret that liberally—a maximum weight of 409 kilograms—that gives it a shoulder height of 39 inches, which relative to my 5-foot-tall male dwarf is like a 46-inch pony for a human male. (But on much thicker legs than a horse.) The reason to use a wolverine is they're burrowing animals, like dwarves; actually the Megalictis was apparently even more so than the modern wolverine. I think I'll apply the "giant animal" template to the wolverine, rather than use the "dire" wolverine; mine only weigh 902 pounds, after all, not 2,000, and are only 8 feet 11 inches long, not 12. (And maybe convert it to a magical beast.)
I'm also going to apply the "giant" template to hyenas for the things my "gnolls" and dark elves ride, since Dinocrocuta was a 3 or 4 inches short of 8 feet long and weighed only 838 pounds. I'm gonna fudge the definition of "Large" on that one. Hyaenodon, which Pathfinder identifies the dire hyena with, was not related to hyenas (even to the degree Dinocrocuta was—at least that's a carnivoran, and indeed a feliform; Hyaenodon is a creodont to the extent there is such a thing, and it doesn't even really look much like a hyena). And the largest Hyaenodon species I can can verify dimensions for (there's a bigger estimate out there for it but it seems to be unreliable), H. gigas, seems to have been 6 feet 11 inches long and weighed 440 pounds—Medium, not Large—not 12 feet long and 2,000 pounds. (The smallest weighed eleven pounds.)
- Why this obsession with identifying the "dire" animals with prehistoric things, and then not even getting them right? There really was a "dire" wolf, for instance, but it's not even as big as Epicyon and even the largest Epicyon was only 375 pounds and 5 feet 6 inches long—thoroughly Medium. (Likewise, I'll be giant-sizing the regular boar, too, to make the things orcs ride—I'm going to base its size on Daeodon, like their dire boar, but apply those mass numbers to a javelina, which is at least roughly set up like an entelodont, dentition-wise. While they at least got Daeodon's size about right, like all entelodonts, its teeth were not like a pig's. Also, this far out, we'll probably never know if entelodonts had the special pig-javelina nasal disc.)
Still unsure what to make ogres ride. Might go back to giving them big scary elephants. (Only the African elephants, or something like Palaeoloxodon namadicus, are big enough. Many elephants are actually only Large, since their body-lengths are well under 16 feet—Asian ones are 11 feet long, woolly mammoths were 11 and a half feet, Columbian mammoths were 13 feet to 14 feet 8 inches long—and a mount has to be one size larger than its rider. It's really hard to find body-lengths for extinct elephants, by the way, most of them only list heights.) Oddly enough, elephants are one of the most purely herbivorous animals on the planet...but they sometimes eat human corpses, apparently purely out of anger (one famous case involved a cow Asian elephant whose calf had been killed, I think by a poacher, tracking him down, killing him, and eating him). That's thematically appropriate for something ogres ride; there's also the fact male elephants have "periodic homicidal mania" as a normal part of their life-cycle, the musth.
- It occurred to me while thinking about the elves' mining trees that since most of my dwarves' technology is based on glass, they probably do a lot of "daylighting" and "light tubes", for their lighting and agriculture. At first I'd considered having them do it by growing root-vegetables on the outsides of their mountains, and running preternaturally long, deep root-networks down into the caves below that the dwarves would then harvest; but that seems to be "applying eyedrops from the second floor". Now they can pipe light in directly using complex arrangements of glass tubes and mirrors.
I am of two minds as to whether they do agriculture on the higher levels of their cities, to reduce the distance they have to pipe light through on a major scale, and on lower levels just pipe in enough for room-lighting. (And adequate room-lighting means something significantly less when you have three times human night-vision—my dwarves don't have darkvision, they have the same "superior low-light vision", three times as good as human rather than twice, as my elves.) On the one hand that makes sense, but on the other hand they originally lived on one of the moons, so they probably piped light from one side of the moon to the other, during the half-month that was their night. Also moon-native crops of the kind favored by dwarves probably have drastically reduced light-requirements relative to normal plants. Could always be a mix of the two; maybe they pipe in lots and lots of light for growing newer crops they acquired a taste for since moving to the "Earth" and grow hardier, less light-hungry plants lower down.
Other dwarfish agricultural products I thought of include fish-farms and fungi; they probably use the manure from the fish-farms as compost, baking it properly rather than applying it "raw" like in premodern societies (and it suddenly occurs to me a cool worldbuilding thing would be if dwarves have a taboo on eating uncooked food, what with fire being so significant in their culture—China traditionally has a taboo like that, mostly because of the aforementioned "raw manure" issues). Another thing is they probably still herd some kind of livestock (I'm thinking giant rabbits or marmots the size of sheep, since those are burrowing animals); since they don't also ride them or use them to pull weight they probably don't have the taboo on slaughtering them that they had had with their huge rams. They also, I think, milk their big wolverines. Since wolverines are mustelids, and the only mustelid whose milk I can find a nutrition breakdown for is the mink, dwarves are probably the people in my setting known for their kumis: because mink-milk is higher in sugar than horse milk, or even human milk.
- It occurs to me, maybe give the elves weapons basically made from single stems lined with needles, like on the branches of a yew, that have had their needles modified to have very sharp edges (which many pine-needles do, but these would be hardened) and woven together to make a mostly-contiguous cutting edge. Maybe give them the stats of the "terbutje" (which is actually spelled "tebutje" and called "maccuahuitl" when lined with stone instead of shark-teeth), minus the fragile quality and with the bonus against sundering and Weapon Finesse applicability of the "elven curveblade". Not its threat-range, though, no need to be too generous.
Considering my humans are very loosely based on Mesoamerica and my elves are very loosely based on the Spanish (except both are much nicer people than their real-world models), it makes a kind of sense to give the elves a form of maccuahuitl while the humans use swords: it's just switching them around. Think I'll also give them the "great terbutje" and the tepoztopilli ("pole maccuahuitl", the glaive to the macuahuitl's sword.) Though actually, "tepoztopilli" seems to have originally referred to Spanish lances, since tepoztli means "metal"; the actual indigenous type was probably called "maccuahtopilli"..."pole maccuahuitl".
Can't very well call them Nahuatl words though; think I'll go with "(great) elf-blade" for the terbutjes and "elf-spear" (maybe elf-lance" since that's what we conflate it with—or "elf pole-blade"?) for the tepoztopilli.
Late Addendum: Or could have the darkwood's leaves be vaguely oaklike, like various Phyllocladus species. That'd not only make for better maccuahuitl "teeth", it'd make more sense for scale mail.
More RPG stuff. Did you know the Greek word for "pathfinder", ιχνηλάτης (ikhnilatis), also means "hound"?