The Bestiary

Post Reply
User avatar
Artemis
Global Mod
Posts: 392
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 3:31 am
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Contact:

The Bestiary

Post by Artemis » Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:47 pm

The following articles will cover the fantastic and mythical creatures of Terra Firma. Note that this does not include all sentient non-human that inhabit our realm, nor does it include spirit-beasts or the various kinds of "intelligent animals," which are likely not natural at all but the result of magical "uplifting" sometime in the species' genetic past.
"The universe's most essential beauty is its endlessness. There is room and resources enough for all of us. Whether there is room for all of our passions is the question, and the problem that we work tirelessly to find a solution to."

-Qhameio Allir Nlafahn, Commonwealth ambassador, during the signing of the Kriolon Treaty.

User avatar
Artemis
Global Mod
Posts: 392
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 3:31 am
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Contact:

Re: The Bestiary

Post by Artemis » Wed Jun 11, 2008 9:12 pm

Trolls

Trolls are bipedal mammals of the order Primates and suborder Haplorrhini, infraorder simiiformes. There are more than three hundred species of troll, making it a very successful superfamily, having spread to every continent except Antarctica, though many species face extinction from loss of habitat and the still-frequent practice of "trollslaying" in Europe, Africa and Japan.. The troll is an ancient animal, with skeletons dating as far back as forty million years ago, much older than the apes, and suggesting an even greater variety of troll species than now. Most modern apes stand between six and eleven feet tall, though they are usually hunched over, and at their full height the largest species, the Greater Black Forest Troll, stands easily fourteen feet tall. They possess opposable thumbs, stereo color vision, and some Asian species have short, stubby tails, though these are largely vestigial.

Trolls are immediately differentiated from other primates by three main features: the first is their relative hairlessness. Long before Cro-Magnon man began to shed his fur, trolls evolved to retain only thick patches of hair near joints or or vital areas, such as the chest and pelvic region. The second are their profound nasal organs, often dominating the face and lending troll craniums their distinctive triangular shape - trolls have bones instead of just cartilage in their noses. The third feature, cranial horns, is only found on some species of Eurasian trolls, never on American, African, or Australian species, but nonetheless such an unusual feature on a primate is a case of fascinated study for zoologists, even today.

They have been called ogres, oni, giants, elves, dwarves, and dozens of other names, though these days "troll" is the common accepted term, though regional names still hold much sway, especially in rural areas where humans frequently still come in contact with trolls. They have featured greatly in the mythology of dozens of different culture, from Scandinavian to Greek to Chinese to aborigine American legends. They were often depicted as monstrous human-like creatures, guilty of all manner of transgressions, including raiding towns, eating humans, and stealing children. This last accusation does seem to have some element of truth to it, in fact, as some species of troll have taken to the unusual practice of robbing the young of other primates and attempting to raise them as trolls, even mating with the stolen child when they reach age. Obviously any young born of such a union would be a sterile hybrid, but it happens often enough that some bands of trolls, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and the western United States, will be seen traveling with unusual, sometimes deformed creatures, likely these so-called "half-trolls." This practice was once much more widespread, and the trolls likely drove many species into extinction with their cradle-robbing.

Trolls are, like most primates, very curious, very clever, and very social animals. A group of trolls is commonly called a band, though some African species are more frequently said to travel in troops, similar to gorillas. Some species of trolls have exhibited tool use, such as using fallen branches as weapons or to clear their way through foliage. Some accounts as recent as the eighteenth century speak of trolls building stone cairns for their fallen, but this practice has never been conclusively documented. Brain studies suggest that trolls are nearly as intelligent as simians, though with such a large spread of species it is hard to come up with any kind of "average" intelligence for this family - for example, the Japanese trolls (locally called oni or yoni), are considered to be very intelligent, frequently using tools and even building makeshift shelter from storms, while the Chilean Mountain Troll has never been seen using tools, but many theorize they may have a complex language incorporating hand gestures.
"The universe's most essential beauty is its endlessness. There is room and resources enough for all of us. Whether there is room for all of our passions is the question, and the problem that we work tirelessly to find a solution to."

-Qhameio Allir Nlafahn, Commonwealth ambassador, during the signing of the Kriolon Treaty.

User avatar
Ford Prefect
Posts: 957
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 11:12 am

Re: The Bestiary

Post by Ford Prefect » Sun Jun 15, 2008 4:31 am

I like the way you presented that, Arty. It has the feel of trolls being 'real', though admittedly, the idea of 'half-trolls' is rather creepy.
FEEL THESE GUNS ARCHWIND THESE ARE THE GUNS OF THE FLESHY MESSIAH THE TOOLS OF CREATION AND DESTRUCTION THAT WILL ENACT THE LAW OF MAN ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

User avatar
Siege
Site Admin
Posts: 2494
Joined: Mon May 19, 2008 7:03 pm
Location: The Netherlands

Re: The Bestiary

Post by Siege » Fri Jun 27, 2008 4:20 pm

Indeed. The scientific approach (somewhat surprisingly to me, I confess) really works well with the subject matter. Now I have to wonder however if there are 'great white hunters' out there who want a few troll skulls to put beside their oliphant tusks and tiger skins because they go so nicely with their late-Victorian fireplace...
"Nick Fury. Old-school cold warrior. The original black ops hardcase. Long before I stepped off a C-130 at Da Nang, Fury and his team had set fire to half of Asia." - Frank Castle

I breakfast upon Armadas such as thine!

User avatar
Artemis
Global Mod
Posts: 392
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 3:31 am
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Contact:

Re: The Bestiary

Post by Artemis » Sun Jun 29, 2008 5:35 am

Oh, certainly. The Black Forest Troll was hunted to near extinction during Prussia's rise to power, and many Samurai made a name for themselves ridding the countryside of mischievous oni-Trolls. I can very easily imagine a yellow-tusked, huge-nosed troll head sitting over a fireplace somewhere in Essex.
"The universe's most essential beauty is its endlessness. There is room and resources enough for all of us. Whether there is room for all of our passions is the question, and the problem that we work tirelessly to find a solution to."

-Qhameio Allir Nlafahn, Commonwealth ambassador, during the signing of the Kriolon Treaty.

User avatar
Artemis
Global Mod
Posts: 392
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 3:31 am
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Contact:

Re: The Bestiary

Post by Artemis » Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:25 pm

Byrosti

The byrosti of the Russian steppes are a strange breed of creature, only recently conclusively proven to exist. They do not fit into traditional taxonomy practices, as they seem to incorporate traits of primate, equine, and pyrosquamata almost seamlessly. They might be the result of magical engineering, or they might be immigrants from another level of the aurasphere. If this latter is the case, they have adapted fairly well to Terra Firma, without suffering from the "island phenomenon" of most magically displaced species.

Byrosti are quadraped animals whose leg and lower body structure closely mimic horses, though there are major differences in bone structure and organ placement. Their upper bodies, however, are distinctly primate in appearance. From where the shoulders of a horse would be, a human torso rises, though a somewhat emaciated-looking one, as this is not where the majority of organs are stored. byrosti do not have hooves, but three-toed, clawed feet similar to many species of lizards. However, they are not scaled, but furred, as are the rest of the body. They have two hearts which pump in tandem, the smaller one seemingly dedicated to the upper torso, and the larger one dedicated to the lower torso. Their upper torso is dominated by a "fire-bag," a diaphragm-like organ connected to a gland that secretes a pyrofluidic substance which, expelled orally, can reach temperatures of up to 500 degrees C upon contact with air. This practice is hardly uncommon in many species of reptile, but is unheard of in mammalian species - if the byrosti is indeed a mammal. Debate continues.

The facial structure of the byrosti is quite interesting. The skull appears to be an almost perfect replica of a human skull, unlike the Greater Mediterranean Sphinx, which is not structurally similar to a human. This trait can be quite disconcerting, as byrosti are great mimics, and upon contact with humans will seem to almost mirror their facial expressions. The one deviation from a human face is a curling horn that grows from the left cheekbone and curls around the eye socket - this phenomenon is only seen in female byrosti. They are very curious creatures, and seem to recognize that humans look like them, raising questions about self-awareness of the species. However, observation of Byrosti is a difficult prospect - Russian zoologists believe there to be fewer than a thousand living specimens left, and none currently live in captivity. Reasons for such a low population include a low birth rate (Byrosti females seem capable of only giving birth once), climate change, and the successful re-introduction of the Siberian Dire Wolf into the region, intended to quell rising deer population.

Culturally, byrosti stand for many things. To see a Byrosti and to be mirrored by one is, depending on whom you ask, extremely good or horribly bad luck, and is either way an omen of fantastic events. Records speak of Russian, Arab, and Persian magicians all uplifting byrosti to sub-human intelligence for the purpose of making them familiars,and byrosti are common symbols for organized magical practice in the near-east, similar to the unicorn in England, or the coyote in the southwestern United States.
"The universe's most essential beauty is its endlessness. There is room and resources enough for all of us. Whether there is room for all of our passions is the question, and the problem that we work tirelessly to find a solution to."

-Qhameio Allir Nlafahn, Commonwealth ambassador, during the signing of the Kriolon Treaty.

User avatar
Ford Prefect
Posts: 957
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 11:12 am

Re: The Bestiary

Post by Ford Prefect » Sun Aug 31, 2008 3:43 am

That really is an intruiging take on the 'centaur' concept, Arty.
FEEL THESE GUNS ARCHWIND THESE ARE THE GUNS OF THE FLESHY MESSIAH THE TOOLS OF CREATION AND DESTRUCTION THAT WILL ENACT THE LAW OF MAN ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

Blackwing
Posts: 160
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2008 1:05 am

Re: The Bestiary

Post by Blackwing » Sun Dec 07, 2008 6:12 am

I know I'm late to the party here, but damn that's some pretty good stuff you're got there Arty.
So Einstein was wrong when he said "God does not play dice". Consideration of black holes suggests, not only that God does play dice, but that He sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen. ~ Stephen Hawking

Post Reply