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View Full Version : How Would A Base In the Frostfell Run By Lycanthropes Function Day-to-Day?



Leliel
2009-12-20, 11:55 PM
Well, as you may know, I may run a 4E PC lycanthrope game in the future, and given the moral ambiguity (the PCs aren't evil), it's quite possible that they may join up with Erebin, the local "misguided activist turned terrorist", and start working for him.

Besides facing philosophical questions on violent versus peaceful activism, the PCs are going to have to live with the rest of Ebebin's henchpeople, also mostly lycanthropes. Strength in numbers, and all that.

Now while I have a good idea of what the base is, I don't figure exactly how it works.

You see, it's basically a giant frontier fortress in a mountain range of perpetual winter, the result of a primordial prince of ice making his home there (or more specifically, the result of the gods bribing him to not try to break free again). The location was chosen because the fur coats of lycans protects them from the cold, and that, despite it's climate, it's actually a haven for monstrous wildlife (the energies of the primordial causes plants to mutate into snow-tolerant versions). This, combined with the fact that Erebin managed to wring out a treaty with the local frost giants means that it's naturally defended against attackers. Of course, it is in a region of only one season, and I have some trouble visualizing what goes on day-to-day to make it livable and relatively comfortable. I can already guess that there are nearly-constant runs for firewood, or something that can be burned as such, but...

How would you think a large colony of lycanthropes in a constantly-cold region with very few (on average) animals at the "pure prey" rungs of the food chain keep itself functioning?

erikun
2009-12-21, 12:05 AM
The same way every other arctic base keeps itself running - imports.

Unless the inhabitants are natives and have developed ways to survive, your lycanthropic southern rebels are going to need to bring in food from outside. You can't hunt enough meat for a large group, unless things are massively different than the real world arctic. If you dig far enough underground, you can get under the permafrost to potentially grow something, but that something will likely be fungus or other subterranean foods.

On the plus side, the larders will be naturally freezing, so preserving stores will be relatively easy. (Rodents and other pests are still a problem, though.)

Coidzor
2009-12-21, 12:19 AM
On the plus side, the larders will be naturally freezing, so preserving stores will be relatively easy. (Rodents and other pests are still a problem, though.)

If they're influenced by their lycanthropy enough that they can't just have tried or be investigating frost-agriculture, then rodents would actually be hunted by pups or just trapped to augment the food supply. Sort of like discworldian dwarves.

If there are any dwarves-turned-lycanthrope, then my money's even higher up on some kind of mushroom farming, possibly with rat ranching.

But yeah... importing in some way seems like it'll be very important.



What are the main strains?

SurlySeraph
2009-12-21, 12:25 AM
Depending on how high-magic you want things to do, you can have something like the explanation for why the Underdark can support so much life: some of the lower rungs on the food chain are sustained by pure magic.

Coidzor
2009-12-21, 12:34 AM
Depending on how high-magic you want things to do, you can have something like the explanation for why the Underdark can support so much life: some of the lower rungs on the food chain are sustained by pure magic.

Magiosynthesis? Manasynthesis? Magiasynthesis? Magicasynthesis?

veneficiosynthesis? veneficisynthesis?

Leliel
2009-12-21, 12:36 AM
What are the main strains?

Undomesticated canids (of course), badger (among dwarves), ravens, and big cats.

Yukitsu
2009-12-21, 12:42 AM
When I view this sort of thing, I like to view them as a sort of wild, feral nation, as opposed to a trade nation, which tends to be more advanced.

I'd imagine daily the strongest gather in small packs, which spread out around the fortress looking for animals to kill and bring back, over fairly wide ranges. I'd imagine that whatever they can find by forage they gather up and bring back with them.

The rest of the day, I'd guess they stay transformed where possible, huddled together for warmth, using as little energy as possible, only really being active on warmer months, training and fighting.

By necessity, they may be raiding or stealing vital food supplies from the people they are rebelling against. It's necessary for them to live, but at the same time, it brings up that moral ambiguity to the setting.

I'd guess that during the summer and spring, a lot of animals and fish are caught and brought back to be preserved with salt for the winter months.

Edit: For those sorts of animals, you may want to put them near a forest, which can actually support a large number of reindeer as prey. Alternatively, waterways can always provide vast quantities of food.

Asbestos
2009-12-21, 12:43 AM
Whaling? Wait, you said mountains.

Presumably if there is vegetation then there could also be elk and musk ox.

Coidzor
2009-12-21, 12:46 AM
Undomesticated canids (of course), badger (among dwarves), ravens, and big cats.

Well, if they have any numbers of were-badger dorfs to speak of, unless were-badgers are vastly different from what I recall, they've probably been expanding the cellars and under-levels. They might even capable of tapping into geo-thermal if that stuff can exist at all given the frostfell's nature.

In any case, I can see the non-avian-based theriothropes, if they have pups/kits/???s, having them on "pest control duty" to occupy their time and aid in their education. Depending on how long they've been lycanthropes anyway. Ones that have lived in ordinary society probably aren't too keen on hunting rats to eat and keep the rats from eating them out of house and home. Dwarves... well, I'm always fond of interpreting them as eaters of rat on a stick due to Sir Pratchett, so I have a bias there.

Maybe there are some magical beasts that live around that make alright herd animals that they have a few parties out hunting/herding them to kill areas within convenient reach of the fortress. Sort of like a combination of those nomads that follow(ed) the reindeer and great plains native americans.

SurlySeraph
2009-12-21, 03:01 AM
Whaling? Wait, you said mountains.

Presumably if there is vegetation then there could also be elk and musk ox.

This is Dungeons and Dragons. There MUST be edible mountain whales in some sourcebook.

EDIT: My research (http://realmshelps.dandello.net/monsters/monsterscr.shtml) indicates that cold mountains are home to such delicacies as elk, dire elk, giant ravens, glacier snakes, asperi, avalanchers (whatever those are), rock wyrms, tundra worms, and glacierdraks. I will continue looking for flying mountain whales.

Zen Master
2009-12-21, 04:17 AM
There will be mountain goats, right? There may well be any number of species of bird. In fact, I think I might well make up some random flightless bird - call it the Kudu - as a food scource. Also, all sorts of rodents can survive cold climates. How much eating is there on a lemming? Well - not much, I guess.

Another thing - magical beasts seem to always be high hitdice, and often large. But really, even tiny critters like field mice might have magical relatives. And magical beasts might you know ... eat snow?! :)

Myrmex
2009-12-21, 04:31 AM
If they're on top of a frozen ocean, it could be full of frozen fish, whales, all sorts of stuff that got trapped in the ice during a great cataclysm that left the whole sea frozen. They mine their food.

If you don't want to go the cataclysm route, there could be chemo/mago/psychosynthetic organisms deep beneath the ice dwelling in lakes which are fished for, or maybe they just get entrapped in ice sometimes and pushed up to the surface. Rather than hunt for rich nodes of precious gems or seams of gold, the lycans look for frozen pockets of food.

[edit]
When you say they live in the Frostfell, I picture an endless wasteland of ice and snow; a massive glacier in perpetual winter.

FoE
2009-12-21, 04:39 AM
Magic. Dur.

There are Rituals for providing food and drink on a regular basis, as well as Rituals for preserving campfires and providing shelter.

"But oh, Face of Evil! Those darn Rituals cost money and/or residuum to cast!"

Oh yeah? Well, they're in a region populated by a freakin' primordial. Residuum is in easy supply. The lycans can mine the stuff out of the ground, or hell, it falls from the friggin' sky, like it does in the Feywild.

Coidzor
2009-12-21, 04:58 AM
This is Dungeons and Dragons. There MUST be edible mountain whales in some sourcebook.

EDIT: My research (http://realmshelps.dandello.net/monsters/monsterscr.shtml) indicates that cold mountains are home to such delicacies as elk, dire elk, giant ravens, glacier snakes, asperi, avalanchers (whatever those are), rock wyrms, tundra worms, and glacierdraks. I will continue looking for flying mountain whales.

Well, there's those ordinary flying whales. Maybe it's just easier to reach 'em with the added height of the mountains?

Fishy
2009-12-21, 05:23 AM
If they're on top of a frozen ocean, it could be full of frozen fish, whales, all sorts of stuff that got trapped in the ice during a great cataclysm that left the whole sea frozen. They mine their food.

HOW I MINE FOR FISH?

Myrmex
2009-12-21, 05:27 AM
HOW I MINE FOR FISH?

Heh heh heh.

FoE
2009-12-21, 05:37 AM
HOW I MINE FOR FISH?

http://slowwolf.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/shirt_vgc_minefish_med.jpg

Now can any1 tel me how I shot web

Mark Hall
2009-12-21, 10:16 AM
Sami (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami_people)

Hunting is obviously going to be a major way of life, and you'll likely need some degree of animal husbandry... possibly going so far as to start herding elk/reindeer like the Sami do. Since they lack whales (an excellent source of proteins and fats), they're going to have to do a lot of hunting, over a very wide area.

One of the big jobs is going to be roofing over their fortress, or at least portions of it, preferably with wood and hides... stone will just suck any heat away, while some wood will help to insulate them... even with fur, they're going to be cold most of the time.

Personally, I'd look into how the Sami and the Inuit live... but keep in mind that these were-eskimos won't be seal hunting or whale hunting in the mountains. Maybe dragons?

Aron Times
2009-12-21, 11:10 AM
Anyone remember Icewind Dale? The town of Kuldahar is built around a massive magical tree that maintains a radius of temperate climate around it. This allows the town to survive without having to import food from the south. Perhaps this nation could have something similar?

Leliel
2009-12-21, 12:15 PM
Personally, I'd look into how the Sami and the Inuit live... but keep in mind that these were-eskimos won't be seal hunting or whale hunting in the mountains. Maybe dragons?

Yes, dragons. Never mind that they're highly intelligent flying lizards who won't exactly take kindly to their kind being hunted for food and are quite capable of destroying a hunting party in their own right, not to mention various diseases that are mildly annoying to a dragon but fatal to humanoids...

Nah, not seeing it. Good point about were-Eskimo though (although they would prefer to be called were-Yupick).

Inyssius Tor
2009-12-21, 12:49 PM
Remorhaz, on the other hand...?

Lysander
2009-12-21, 01:23 PM
the energies of the primordial causes plants to mutate into snow-tolerant versions

If that's the case why not grow cold-resistant crops? Ice apples! Ice potatoes! Ice wheat! Ice bananas!

endoperez
2009-12-21, 01:32 PM
Why no mammoths?

Lots of good ideas all around, but mammoths would fit the area (snow-filled mountains) much better than whales. You could say that various animal (auroch herds, mammoths, woollen rhinos & all their predators) herds go through the area every 12 months (I'd like to say "every autumn", but that doesn't work with the single-season stuff) to get into a new area... This also has the added advantage of mammoth ivory, rhino horns, antlers of huge, elemental elk and all kinds of exotic furs. If none of them are traders, wise merchants will come to trade food for all of these exotic materials, likely getting huge profits since the lycanthropes are out-of-touch with the world of business. Note that the merchant getting huge profit doesn't mean that the lycanthropes wouldn't get enough food - it just so happens that it's easier to secure lots of food than rare animal exports, so he gets a huge profit.

Thrawn183
2009-12-21, 01:34 PM
How would you think a large colony of lycanthropes in a constantly-cold region with very few animals at the "pure prey" rungs of the food chain keep itself functioning?

The reason there aren't lots of prey animals where it is cold IRL is that there isn't enough food to eat. In a place where there are plants mutated to withstand the temperatures, you will have lots of prey animals. Food really shouldn't be an issue here.

Leliel
2009-12-21, 01:43 PM
OK.

What I meant was that most animals in the mountains are monsters, on average. Cold-resistant plants or not, the wildlife has to be hardy enough to survive the temperature and Elemental creatures roaming about(primordial prince, remember).

Bit of a grammatical error. Editing.

EDIT: And what I meant by "pure prey" I mean "prey without the ability to fight back." Bit harder to hunt when the quarry is a gorgon.

Mark Hall
2009-12-21, 03:08 PM
Yes, dragons. Never mind that they're highly intelligent flying lizards who won't exactly take kindly to their kind being hunted for food and are quite capable of destroying a hunting party in their own right, not to mention various diseases that are mildly annoying to a dragon but fatal to humanoids...

Nah, not seeing it.

Depends on the dragon. White dragons are idiot loners (prior to Adult, most of them are of sub-average intelligence; all are chaotic evil) who lack much in the way of power. A group of lycanthropes (with their 5/silver DR and ability to use weapons and spells) can do a lot of damage to a Young or Juvenile white dragon, enough to either subdue it (training it into a useful tool) or to simply kill it and remove it from competition. And they live in arctic climes.

The real power of a younger white dragon is the fact that he can fly. However, so can some werecreatures (by spell or by being werebirds of various varieties), and more will be able to use ranged weapons, and others will be able to use spells (especially the fire spells that whites are vulnerable to). Heavy clothing (or its equivalent in fur) can mitigate the effects of ice breath. Pre-Young Adult, a white dragon is pretty vulnerable to any lycanthropic hunting party that wants to come after it.

Myrmex
2009-12-21, 03:11 PM
(although they would prefer to be called were-Yupick).

Eskimo is the generic term for arctic indigenous peoples. Try calling an Inuit a Yupik and see how far you get. :smallbiggrin:


OK.

What I meant was that most animals in the mountains are monsters, on average. Cold-resistant plants or not, the wildlife has to be hardy enough to survive the temperature and Elemental creatures roaming about(primordial prince, remember).

How cold is cold? And is it that cold all the time? Interior Alaska has animals that survive -60F. Mundane animals have some pretty ingenious adaptations to withstand the cold. Snow itself is a great insulator, so you can burrow down into it and stay warm. If the Frostfell does have its own winter period, when temperatures dip down to -120F or whatever, the animals simply migrate to warmer places.


EDIT: And what I meant by "pure prey" I mean "prey without the ability to fight back." Bit harder to hunt when the quarry is a gorgon.

Most animals have the ability to fight back. Moose, for instance, are notoriously aggressive. This is due to their large size and inability to run in deep snow or thick brush. When confronted by wolves, they tend to stand and fight with powerful kicks. They also surprisingly agile, able to kick straight out to the sides with two legs at a time. They're like kung-fu masters. I imagine dire versions of animals would also have the ability to fight back.

Of course, the biggest advantage prey animals can have is simply predator avoidance. Sheep & mountain goats dwell in impossibly difficult to reach terrain. Caribou have large feet that buoys them on soft tundra and snow, allowing them to run for long distances. They also travel in herds, so as to minimize their chances of being eaten.

erikun
2009-12-21, 03:39 PM
Inuit are nomadic, generally travelling from campground to campground. I was under the impression that your werefolk were setting up a base to run their rebel organization out of, and so wouldn't have the time to we wandering all over the place. If they're planning on retreating from the rest of the world entirely, though, they can focus more on providing food and shelter.

But yes, if there are large amounts of edible plants that far north, then you'll have large amounts of wildlife. No amount of monsters will keep the prey down, simply because the monsters would all die off with nothing to eat. Temperate lands have goblins, dragons, and shambling mounts, but you don't see a lack of deer and rabbits. Your "Frostfell" might look more like a winter pine forest than an arctic desert, though, if it is that densely populated with vegetation.

And yes, herbivores can fight back just fine. A deer would likely kick a human to death in a hand-to-hand fight. There's a reason hunters go after them with bows and guns, after all.

FoE
2009-12-21, 04:04 PM
And yes, herbivores can fight back just fine. A deer would likely kick a human to death in a hand-to-hand fight. There's a reason hunters go after them with bows and guns, after all.

And here I thought it was because they're much faster than us. Little did I know the pure terror that is Bambi. :smalltongue:

Leliel
2009-12-21, 04:16 PM
Point about kicking taken. I meant to say that most prey in question have more than just running as a defense.

And it should also be noted that "monster", as said here, is defined as "creature with abilities that make it a viable foe for adventurers of any level."

In that definition, there are also herbivorous monsters, thus the plant life.

Coidzor
2009-12-21, 04:22 PM
Deer can trample us, but to be honest, their instinct is going to be flight rather than fight if they're just normal deer-minded critters. As far as I know, most tramplings occur if they're cornered and they're running away by running over someone. Which is why we have to be careful when going near the metal shop due to the fact that the deer can wander in there and get panicked if we surprise them.

So we've got ranged, mixed ranged and melee, nets/bolas(?) and other immobilizers, and various tactics* to deal with whatever herd animals are around as well as some of the solitary ones which can be ganged up on and ganked.

The tactics I can think of off hand are things like causing stampedes over cliffs, lighting fires to drive animals in a certain direction where they'll be less able to stand together and some of them can be broken off from the main group, picking off the sick and weak, capturing and training the young of other critters to aid in the hunting, (wolfpack) hunting-herding tactics...

All of this is aided by probably having healers of some sort available (and the lycanthropy) so that the usual limitations that natural predators have of not being willing to get injured in pursuit of prey are lessened. Still don't wanna get crippled or killed, but a wound is likely to go untreated and result in an infection that would kill off a wolf if it got gored a bit.

Thrawn183
2009-12-21, 04:24 PM
Sure, but aren't lycanthropes pretty awesome in their own right? Even if they aren't quite as awesome as their prey, that's what hunting parties are for. I wouldn't try and take down a hippo solo, that'd be a great way to get killed.

Leliel
2009-12-21, 04:38 PM
Sure, but aren't lycanthropes pretty awesome in their own right? Even if they aren't quite as awesome as their prey, that's what hunting parties are for. I wouldn't try and take down a hippo solo, that'd be a great way to get killed.

Pretty much. That's why Erebin set the base up here, rather than in some valley. The werebeasts have an advantage, and there's enough food to offset the normal tactical drawbacks of a wasteland.

As for my creating a bunch of potential crises waiting to happen, keep in mind that I want an adventure-rich environment in case the PCs move there. A disaster-prone area is a plot-hook factory.

urkthegurk
2009-12-21, 04:39 PM
Actually, we humans used to hunt deer by jumping on their backs and cutting their throats with knife. Sure, a big buck could gore you, and you wouldn't want to fight an elk.

You mostly have to run very fast, and jump very well.

EDIT: Lyanthropes would, of course, not face this problem. It would be quite the ungulate to take a werewolf on.

Asbestos
2009-12-21, 07:58 PM
Actually, we humans used to hunt deer by jumping on their backs and cutting their throats with knife. Sure, a big buck could gore you, and you wouldn't want to fight an elk.

You mostly have to run very fast, and jump very well.

EDIT: Lyanthropes would, of course, not face this problem. It would be quite the ungulate to take a werewolf on.

I'm challenging the accuracy of this statement. Persistence hunting I can understand. Straight up out sprinting an ungulate and leaping onto its back? Don't see that happening.

Myrmex
2009-12-22, 02:57 AM
There's also a big difference in behaviors between old world & new world animals in response to humans. African animals are extremely aggressive, and regularly kill humans, herbivores especially. This is likely because they've co-evolved with human hunters. Humans have only been in North America for 40,000 years or so.

Dixieboy
2009-12-22, 03:06 AM
I'm challenging the accuracy of this statement. Persistence hunting I can understand. Straight up out sprinting an ungulate and leaping onto its back? Don't see that happening.

Yea, from what I understand our superiority as hunters came from the fact that we, unlike other predators, would stalk our prey for hours/days if need be.

Not from using tactics that our physique is completely unsuited for.

Myrmex
2009-12-22, 03:25 AM
Yea, from what I understand our superiority as hunters came from the fact that we, unlike other predators, would stalk our prey for hours/days if need be.

Not from using tactics that our physique is completely unsuited for.

Not stalk; flat out run.