Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Creatures: Tribal Animals

Not all intelligent creatures on the planet of Aarn have been created by a god. There are a handful of animal species who have developed human or near-human intelligence through natural evolution. Of course, without being touched by a god, they cannot use magic (divine or otherwise) and have no access to elemancy. These creatures due to their lack of magical abilities are normally considered "mere animals" by godtouched, and in kingdoms such as Cerenbaun, owning one of these animals as a slave is legal, though not common.

Wolves, dolphins, pigs, gorillas and monkeys could technically fall under this category, however I will not describe them here because they can only very rarely learn to meaningfully communicate with humans.

Camarian Floaters - A colony of polyps that have evolved neural pathways between themselves, a camarian floater is filled with hydrogen and resembles a large man-o-war. They are usually 7 feet across with tendrils that hang down for twenty feet or more. They live in the upper atmosphere and feed on birds and insects. While the adults cannot speak the human tongue, their young are parasitic organisms that take control of a host for one part of their life-cycle. The adults drop spores to earth, and if a spore is eaten by a creature, that creature is then controlled by the parasitic young until it is ready to bud and drift up into the clouds. Budding will usually kill the host, but during infection the parasite can communicate crudely with other creatures using the host's language. Camarian floaters grow much more intelligent as they mature (due to their size they gain more neurons) and use complex flanking maneuvers to lure in and trap their avian prey.

Giants - The precursor of man, (and as described in many other posts already) the god Jennin used giants as stock in order to create the human race. Giants are slightly stupid, large humanoids at least 20 feet tall. They live in tribal societies, especially in the tallest remote mountains and deepest jungles. The giants have a spoken language that is an ancient precursor to the human tongue, and giants can learn to speak human languages easily. They have a rich oral tradition of storytelling, but they have no inclination for any but the most simple tools and weapons. If a giant is found wielding armor and martial arms, it is invariably being funded by some outside source.

The legends of elves and dwarves can be traced back to the giants themselves. Those who have studied the subject have come to the conclusion that the terms "elf" and "dwarf" come from the giants' own storytelling. The giants used these terms to describe the early humans who were smaller, more magically adapt, and more technologically savvy than their giant counterparts. Because the human language and the giant language was the same at the time, these terms entered human society. Eventually, mankind forgot that the terms referred to themselves, and they began to believe that elves and dwarves were in fact lost species of other godtouched.

Goblins - Tribal, four foot tall wretches. They are ugly, scaly creatures that imitate human society, but are not quite intelligent enough to do so properly. Though they cannot cast magic they have learned to use magical items stolen from humans. They are quite clever for an animal, but are usually little more than a nuisance, except in groups. They can learn the human tongue, but speak it in a broken pidgin that is as comical as difficult to understand properly. The goblin's most distinguishing feature is its ears - they are large and fin-like, with several barbs stretching a large membrane into the fin shape. From a distance, ardlins and goblins can be confused with one another, especially because goblins were one of the three animals that the goddess Leshia used to create the ardlin race.

Hermit Turtle - A miserable creature that is usually 5 feet tall, a hermit turtle has a large shell on its back, from where it gets its name. Hermit turtles have beaks and large, protruding eyes. Their skin is also very soft and wrinkled, and often looks like it is melting off their bones. They have a hunched-over, stooped posture; their front legs are easily three times longer than their rear legs. They walk on all fours, however they have hands with opposable thumbs, and can use tools. Unlike many of the other "tribal" animals, they are solitary and do not live in social tribe-like groups. They can mimic sounds in a method similar to a parrot, and this is how they can learn to speak the human language. While many consider them grumpy and horrifyingly ugly, certain elite members of human society (who do not like visitors) have discovered they make excellent butlers.

Killer Apes - Mainly living in the jungles of Rensvan, killer apes are cunning and intelligent animals who are jealous of mankind's favor in the eyes of Jennin. They are slightly more intelligent than gorillas, and they can crudely vocalize in the human tongue. This is mostly due to natural selection, due tot he fact that those who could speak most like humans over the last 8 thousand years won over the most mates. They in fact envy humans so much that they will ruthlessly hunt and kill any humans in their jungle, and then fight amongst themselves over who gets the right to wear that human's skin, in an attempt to gain their power.

Lizardmen - Not to be confused with anthromorph lizards, lizardmen are a natural animal race that are, of course, tribal in nature. Lizardmen often live in the deserts and swamps, and come in several different varieties. Unlike anthromorph lizards, they have digitigrade legs, and very long, stiff tails. (An anthromorph lizard has a much shorter, flexible tail.) Lizardman females also do not have breasts. Lizardmen can occasionally speak the human tongue, but it is barely understandable. Lizardmen have very thick accents due to their differences in facial structure. They're typically 5 to 6 feet tall, and 7 feet from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail. Despite being reptiles, lizardmen are quite communal, and care for one another very tenderly.

Ogers - A distant cousin of giants, ogers have shorter legs and longer arms, but smaller overall stature- an oger is usually 10-14 feet tall. Their skin is scaly and puke green and they have large tusks coming out of their lower jaw. They are strictly carnivores and far more violent than giants. They shun weapons, though they have the skills to make them. They prefer to kill with their own two hands. They instead use their toolmaking abilities to craft drums, which they use both for religious ceremonies and also for confusing and herding their prey.

Vzzbzzt - A curious intelligent animal, Vzzbzzts are quite possibly the most intelligent of all animals, being able to easily learn to read and write. Though they have not discovered a way to mimic human speech, the sounds of their own language can be mimicked by humans. This limits their interaction with godtouched society, despite their high intelligence, and they are often known as stinkwasps because of their smell and their wasp-like wings. Anatomically a vzzbzzt is more of a beetle than a wasp, and they are quite formidable physically. They tend to be 5 feet tall, and despite four thin and spindly legs and two thin and spindly arms, they are extremely strong. Their bodies are large and round with flat stomachs, and they not only can fly, but their legs allow them to jump long distances. They tend to live near saltwater, building their homes in beach sands. Vzzbzzt are commonly employed as sailors by godtouched races, due to their skills at jumping and flying, and their ability to very easily tie and untie knots with their needle-like fingers.

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