2020/10/31

Playing with Fantasy XX

Tetrahedral FRPG thoughts. One day to get it in this month; also composed and written in one day.
  • Decided that dark elves ride a talking giant hyaenodontid—I'm thinking Simbakubwa—and I think the goblins will ride wolf-, horse-, and elephant-sized versions of the sabertooth oxyaenid Machaeroides (actually I'll probably use the biggest oxyaenid, Sarkastodon, as the model of the horse-sized one, and then change its size accordingly).

    Basically, where elves, dwarves, and gnomes ride actual Carnivora, the goblins and dark elves ride predators that aren't members of the order but filled the same niche earlier. Similarly ogres and orcs ride pigs—I might change it so they actually ride entelodonts or even mesonychids (the latter have paws with hooves on them, rather than actual hooves or actual paws, but are still ungulates, though not actually Cetartiodactyla as the "pig" comparison might suggest).
  • I think I came across the term in the description of a manhua, but clearly the actual term for a D&D/Pathfinder monk is "cultivator". I considered giving the term to maguses, but they don't have everything that goes with it, and monks do.

    The obvious term for a magus is actually "adept", but they stupidly gave that name to the divine-caster NPC class. I'm considering "magister", but that feels really pretentious and has a lot of historical baggage in this hobby.
  • Decided that, rather than supporting most of their huge population by hunting, my nonhumans actually have a farmer, or rather pastoralist, class: the elves' cats and gnomes' hyenas herd hoofed mammals for them. Cursorial pack hunters like Chasmaporthetes and Homotherium have all the instincts required for a herding dog, and intelligence means they don't need a humanoid's oversight. The gnomes' hyenas herd sheep and goats, the elves cats herd deer—including the "stag-moose", Cervalces scotti, and caribou.

    They also professionally hunt longhorn bison on the steppe. The humanoids still raise small animals like poultry, rabbits, and squirrels, and they import vegetables from humans.

    The dwarves' wolverines might, now, be the ones who run their farms, particularly "herding" their cow-sized prairie dogs. I'm not sure because a wolverine doesn't have the instincts of a herding dog, but then again neither do humans. So intelligent wolverines might be able to learn to herd livestock anyway, particularly livestock that doesn't actually have herd behavior, like prairie dogs. Wolverines' ability to dig down into burrows to get at hibernating animals also means they can dig down to get prairie dogs that aren't behaving themselves.
  • I found out that, in the Miocene, there was a barn owl, Tyto gigantea, that was roughly the size of a bald eagle—32 inches tall, compared to the current barn owl's 14, and with a 78-inch wingspan compared to the modern owl's 34. (Why are there so many Texas-style extinct animals, anyway?)

    So that's what my Owl god is now; his followers who have familiars will still have regular barn-owl ones (because the stats of owl familiars specify a Tiny creature not a Small one), but the ones that have animal companions have the big kind (not sure if stats of an eagle or the "giant" template applied to a regular owl; whichever is weaker, presumably).
  • I decided the owl mages wear the same kind of helmet as the knights, with the barn-owl faceplate, but theirs is made of boiled leather instead of metal. There's no rule against mages wearing helmets—there are very few rules concerning helmets at all—and you'd have to be stupid not to.

    The part that hangs down in back of the helmet, over the neck (called the shikoro on a kabuto—apparently in English we call it a "havelock", the main meaning of which is the cloth thing that hangs down off certain regular hats to protect your neck from the sun), is also lamellar, like their armor, made to resemble feathers.

    The mages of humans' other societies will also, I think, wear the boiled-leather helmets, except maybe the Wildcat one will still have the jingasa with ears. Also going to give the nonhumans' mages helmets, the jingasa kind (made of the non-metalized version of their leafs and toadstools), because of their ears.
  • I've discussed how the "my bard seduces it" thing is puerile, non-canonical in the rules, and basically involves the underlying assumptions of the "pickup artist" community. But it's also not how bards work. Someone arguing "let people enjoy things" (a phrase only ever employed to defend the most worthless of undertakings) said "bards acting like bards", and I really wanted to say "you mean shaming people who do not conform to social standards, by recitation of epic poetry recording the deeds of revered figures of the ancient past?"

    If you're the kind of person who plays D&D, you probably know that the Old Norse word for "bard" is "skald". Well that word? Yeah, it has an English equivalent. "Scold". Because one of the major things they did, was uphold taboo by shaming those who broke it (see also Hopi clowns who mimic those exhibiting "un-Hopi" behavior). They're associated, for example, with accusations of ergi ("unmanliness"), which was so severe a social offense that killing the accuser on the spot was considered acceptable.

    Kingmaker, of all things, got this one right, with your bard's storyline involving shaming Irovetti for being an inveterate skirt-and-codpiece-chaser who gained power through subterfuge.
  • I know that my setting doesn't have owlbears, them being a really dumb monster (one of the several based on those cheap Chinese toys that were mostly knocked off from Ultraman that your mom would buy in a big plastic bag at the supermarket). I considered having my griffins be owls crossed with some big felid—possibly the Ngandong tiger, an extinct subspecies of tiger from Indonesia that was roughly the same size as Smilodon populator—because it makes sense with the nocturnal habits of the cat half. The bird part wouldn't be the barn owl kind of owl (though the giant owls are), but the Eurasian eagle-owl or the great horned owl. But then I thought nah, there's no real purpose to the griffin within the setting and the weird hybridization ("its front feet are the bird's legs") makes my head hurt. If you want a flying magical-beast steed, there's drakes.
  • My dragons, as I've said, have the head of Dunkleosteus, to save on the weight and gestation-time of teeth, and have Archaeopteryx wings with hands on them, but also have two fingers fused like a modern bird, inside their wing. Did some thinking about my wyverns and drakes, to make them align with that. For one thing, they have forelimbs, just tiny ones like Carnotaurus, which you can't usually see through their feathers. And they have heads like other armored jawed fish (which is fish that are armored and have jaws, not fish whose jaws are armored).

    Wyverns have the head of Bungartius. I considered giving them a stinger like a stingray's (those are the only vertebrates with stingers in their tails, if you wondered). But then I decided no, it'll be sharp-edged modified integument, like the weaponized tail-scales of a pangolin, modified to channel venom like the heel spurs of a platypus (this presumably means the venom is produced in a modified preen-gland—maybe all dragons have theirs at the end of their tail instead of at the base like birds).

    Thinking drakes will have a tetrahedral head, like Groenlandaspis.
  • Someone made a point about how dragons are always depicted with eyes on the sides of their head, and that's a prey-animal trait. And what, they said, can hunt dragons? I get around it by each of their eyes being like a chameleon's. And on that actual post, people pointed out that their eyes, like many bird and reptile eyes, only seem to be on the sides of their head; seen front on you can see they actually have binocular overlap.

    But there's a more basic point: some organisms have defenses not from predators, but primarily from conspecific competitors. And dragons are often depicted as hyper-territorial, egomaniacal bullies. What can hunt a dragon? A bigger dragon. Or, not hunt, but attack for daring to be within the radius the bigger dragon likes to fly from its own lair. (And possibly then get eaten, depending how you portray your dragons.)

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