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Beleriphon
2019-05-10, 05:49 PM
... and your job is to help establish the clades/taxonomy of creatures in your setting.

For the purposes of what I'm thinking wanted to see how say dragons would fit into the current phylogenic taxonomy.

I figured start at the top:
Life: dragons are alive
Domain: Eukaryota - dragons are multicellular
Kingdom: Animalia - dragons aren't plants or fungus
Phylum: Chordata - dragons havespinal cords
Subphyla: Vertebrata - dragons have bones, specifically vertebrae
Class: and here we stop as dragons don't fit anything currently alive


So, if we wanted to add something in there we have to recognize that dragons are part of a separate clade from tetrapods - at the very least they're hexapods, if not part of some other clade that covers vertebrates with more then four limbs.

Mastikator
2019-05-10, 06:14 PM
Considering the natural armor of dragons there could be a case made that they are invertebrate hexapods. They're insects. It would have to be a new order since dragons have lungs and hearts which is what allows them to grow so big.

RedMage125
2019-05-10, 06:15 PM
I'd start with a new Class for Endothermic Reptiles. Or magical reptiles. Since between scales, eyelids, eggs, and so many other aspects, they are reptilian.

Beleriphon
2019-05-10, 07:22 PM
I'd start with a new Class for Endothermic Reptiles. Or magical reptiles. Since between scales, eyelids, eggs, and so many other aspects, they are reptilian.

Very good thought. What do you think of the following? I'm trying to see if I can work in outsiders somewhere, I figured they're probably either another Kingdom or Domain at the highest levels.

I think it gets funkier with stuff like beholders that are vertebrates in so far as they have skulls (okay only a skull) but not spinal cords so they aren't really falling into chordate, but should be vertebrates.


Life: dragons are alive
Domain: Eukaryota - dragons are multicellular
Kingdom: Animalia - dragons aren't plants or fungus
Phylum: Chordata - dragons havespinal cords
Subphyla: Vertebrata - dragons have bones, specifically vertebrae
Class: Thermoreptilia
Order: Magykosauria - magical reptiles, I like the association with dinosauria
Family: Halitos - Sounds like halitosis, but it has to do with breathing in Latin
Genus: Theres - ancient Greek for "monster", specific connotation of big and scary for the chromatics OR Bipneuma for metallic since they have two breath weapons
Species: Bipneuma jinsedae- Gold dragon: JīnsŤ is the transliteration of the Chinese word for gold, and gold dragons kind of have a Chinese dragon look to them so it seemed like a good fit.


So with that in mind, do we think all dragons are the same genus, or even species? I'm inclined to make them all the same species with a bunch of subspecies, but I'm open to thoughts. Metallics and chromatics as different species?

As a group the metallics are:
Gold dragon: Bipneuma jinsedae
Silver dragons: Bipneuma aegisidae
Copper dragon: Bipneuma comoedus
Bronze dragon: Bipneuma fulgurum
Brass dragon: Bipneuma oratio

And chromatics
Red dragon: Theres pyrecagia - literally conflagration monster
White dragon: Theres pagomenos
Green dragon: Theres dascalos
Black dragon: Theres necrocephali
Blue dragon: Theres eremus

Mark Hall
2019-05-10, 08:49 PM
Draco causticus sputem
Draco rigidus frigidus
Draco lmpudentus Gallus
Draco Gerus Bronzo
Draco Electricus
Draco Comes Stabuli
Draco Orientalus Sino Dux
Draco Chlorinous Nauseous Respiratorus
Draco Conflagratio Horriblis
Draco Nobilis Argentum

Mechalich
2019-05-10, 11:45 PM
The problem with dragons is that they have an extra set of limbs in D&D. Other draconic beings, like drakes or landwyrms are easy by comparison, they're just some kind of weird archosaurs that diverged back in the Triassic, probably evolving from some sort of basal avemetatarsalian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avemetatarsalia) like the Aphanosaurs or Legerpetids. True dragons though, well, all tetrapods have only four limbs by definition, so either you have to go all the way back to fish and run an entirely parallel evolutionary process of emergence onto land and transition into a winged form later, or you have to posit a drastic realignment of physical structures to produce an extra set of limbs and all the associated bones, muscles, and organs to make them function. The latter is probably the one you have to go with. Unfortunately, true dragon skulls are clearly very highly derived and it is difficult to determine whether they are diapsids or synapsids. Diapsids seems more likely, especially given the clear provenance of drakes and others, but that could be convergence. Assuming they are also nested within the Avemetatarsalia their origin probably lies very close to the dinosaurs, probably within the Dracohors (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dracohors).

I might hypothesize that dragons are actually the most derived form of draconic being, with taxa such as Landwyrms being the most basal. In particular, the transition from forelimbs to wings that resulted in the emergence of drakes would have occurred first and then dragons resulted in an event which duplicated the forelimbs and caused the wings to gradually shift position upwards toward the back in response.

Kyutaru
2019-05-11, 12:37 AM
I would also hypothesize that dragons play an integral role in the diversity of the planet's species. Beyond that rampant evolution that D&D settings are know for there is also the normal sexual transference of genetic material. Dragon DNA, being quite magical and dominant with crazy amounts of favorable traits, would lend itself well to any creature it mates with. And what creature hasn't it mated with? Due to their gift for shapechange, dragons have had sex with literally everything from beholders to black pudding. In this way, dragons are actually the ancestors of 99% of the now existing species and many species can trace their origins to common clades originated by dragons.

Xuc Xac
2019-05-11, 06:21 AM
... and your job is to help establish the clades/taxonomy of creatures in your setting.


This is like saying "you've been transported back to the 19th century and have been tasked with classifying steam engines as AC or DC." The classifications don't fit the things being classified.

D&D creatures didn't evolve naturally and don't necessarily have any relation to other creatures. The concept of genus and species (or any higher groups like family or even kingdom) is kind of pointless. Sometimes, they just sprang into existence spontaneously because "a wizard did it" or something.

RedMage125
2019-05-11, 01:58 PM
I kind the idea of "draco" being the Order for all creatures of the Dragon type. And use something for Family that makes all "true" dragons (metallic and chromatic) distinct from other things, like landwyrms, drakes, and dragon turtles.

hamishspence
2019-05-11, 02:03 PM
well, all tetrapods have only four limbs by definition, so either you have to go all the way back to fish and run an entirely parallel evolutionary process of emergence onto land and transition into a winged form later, or you have to posit a drastic realignment of physical structures to produce an extra set of limbs and all the associated bones, muscles, and organs to make them function.

The Dragon Eel from MM3 looks rather like a 6-finned version of the prehistoric fish Dunkleosteus:

http://archive.wizards.com/dnd/images/mmiii_gallery/82963.jpg

so - if one were to go with that - it would make a good basal member of the family.

Kyutaru
2019-05-11, 03:33 PM
I kind the idea of "draco" being the Order for all creatures of the Dragon type. And use something for Family that makes all "true" dragons (metallic and chromatic) distinct from other things, like landwyrms, drakes, and dragon turtles.

Draco metallicus aureus
Draco metallicus aeneolus
Draco metallicus aercus
Draco metallicus auricalcinus
Draco metallicus argenteus
Draco chromaticus rubricatus
Draco chromaticus caeruleus
Draco chromaticus prasinus
Draco chromaticus albineus
Draco chromaticus pulleiaceus

Grek
2019-05-11, 04:43 PM
Phylogeny doesn't really work in D&D, as a majority of creatures arise through magic and have no genetic relationship to anything else. Even if we exclude outsiders, fey, elementals, cocaine wizard experiments, polymorph spells, stone-to-flesh sculptures, etc. we're still looking at a wide variety of cases where the local divinities just fiated some species or another into existence. So instead of genetics and heredity, the system should be more of a phenetic approach, where you look at the phenotype (the size, shape, ability, etc.) rather than speculating on the genetics (which most of the creatures-to-be-classified probably don't even have).

In the phenetic approach, we have four kingdoms:

Monads, the creatures who have a combined soul/body, as seen in outsiders and elementals and then further divided into the phylums of Inner, Outer, Transitive, Native and Other (based on plane of origin) and then into specific classes like Archon, Baatezu and Genie. Arguably should include petitioners, but since they're distinctly post-mortal, they get put in under Biad Spiritus Divisus instead of as Monads of the appropriate plane.

Duads, the creatures who have a separable soul/body in the manner of humanoids, giants, abberations, etc. AND who have their souls/bodies currently attached to one another. These would then be divided into phylums and classes according to the pantheon and creator of their most recently created ancestor (ie. most elves would be in Phylum Seldarine, Class Correllon). Upon death, most Duads become some sort of Spirit, often a Petitioner. Despite the name, does not necessarily imply a one to one soul to body ratio - Kalashtar fall under this category, for example.

Biads, the creatures which are either a body without a soul (constructs, certain corporeal undead, certain warlocks, possibly other things) or which are souls without a body (petitioners ghosts, those unborn souls on the positive energy plane, removed souls). Classified into Corpus (just a body) and Spiritus (just a soul) and into Divisus (for halves of a former Duad) or Innatus (for everything else - constructs, unborn souls, etc.)

Nonschematia, because the second that you declare your set of categories complete, some annoying mad wizard is going to try to create a living being which is none of a body with or without a soul, a soul with or without a body, a body that is also a soul nor a soul that is also a body. Included in this category are the Unbodied (a psychic entity which contains neither body nor soul), the Caller in Darkness (several souls fused together), Swarms (arguably), defictionalized out-of-schema hypotheticals created using SLAs of Clones/Simulacrums/other similar spells, Shadow Conjurations, Phantom Steeds, certain experimental results using Summon Instrument, Unseen Servants, Dream Larva (briefly and only occasionally), and probably several other daft things that some wizard out there is trying now that they've read about this attempt to classify all life.

HouseRules
2019-05-11, 05:14 PM
Are all Humanoids Homo Sapiens? They create fertile mix-blood.

Elves have a single Material Ethereal entity, while Humans have split Material and Ethereal entities.

100% Elf Blood Half-Elf is possible because Half-Elves have split Material and Ethereal entities, while Full-Elves have merged Material and Ethereal entity.

Clistenes
2019-05-11, 05:16 PM
Heaven's Design Team... (https://manganelo.com/manga/im917904)

Vulsutyr
2019-05-12, 09:08 AM
Phylogeny doesn't really work in D&D, as a majority of creatures arise through magic and have no genetic relationship to anything else. Even if we exclude outsiders, fey, elementals, cocaine wizard experiments, polymorph spells, stone-to-flesh sculptures, etc. we're still looking at a wide variety of cases where the local divinities just fiated some species or another into existence. So instead of genetics and heredity, the system should be more of a phenetic approach, where you look at the phenotype (the size, shape, ability, etc.) rather than speculating on the genetics (which most of the creatures-to-be-classified probably don't even have).

In the phenetic approach, we have four kingdoms:

Monads, the creatures who have a combined soul/body, as seen in outsiders and elementals and then further divided into the phylums of Inner, Outer, Transitive, Native and Other (based on plane of origin) and then into specific classes like Archon, Baatezu and Genie. Arguably should include petitioners, but since they're distinctly post-mortal, they get put in under Biad Spiritus Divisus instead of as Monads of the appropriate plane.

Duads, the creatures who have a separable soul/body in the manner of humanoids, giants, abberations, etc. AND who have their souls/bodies currently attached to one another. These would then be divided into phylums and classes according to the pantheon and creator of their most recently created ancestor (ie. most elves would be in Phylum Seldarine, Class Correllon). Upon death, most Duads become some sort of Spirit, often a Petitioner. Despite the name, does not necessarily imply a one to one soul to body ratio - Kalashtar fall under this category, for example.

Biads, the creatures which are either a body without a soul (constructs, certain corporeal undead, certain warlocks, possibly other things) or which are souls without a body (petitioners ghosts, those unborn souls on the positive energy plane, removed souls). Classified into Corpus (just a body) and Spiritus (just a soul) and into Divisus (for halves of a former Duad) or Innatus (for everything else - constructs, unborn souls, etc.)

Nonschematia, because the second that you declare your set of categories complete, some annoying mad wizard is going to try to create a living being which is none of a body with or without a soul, a soul with or without a body, a body that is also a soul nor a soul that is also a body. Included in this category are the Unbodied (a psychic entity which contains neither body nor soul), the Caller in Darkness (several souls fused together), Swarms (arguably), defictionalized out-of-schema hypotheticals created using SLAs of Clones/Simulacrums/other similar spells, Shadow Conjurations, Phantom Steeds, certain experimental results using Summon Instrument, Unseen Servants, Dream Larva (briefly and only occasionally), and probably several other daft things that some wizard out there is trying now that they've read about this attempt to classify all life.

This is neat, I like the idea of a metaphysical scheme, since a biological one just isnít going to work well. But I donít think the creatures you list fit so well in the categories. Particularly:
Fiends. Monads here, but when they die outside the Abyss they reincarnate. Does that mean they have spirits?
Golems. Biads here, but the 5e MM (you may use a different edition) says they are elemental earth spirits bound in artificial bodies. Other constructs sometimes also are animated by elemental spirits. I think constructs are Duads.

Beleriphon
2019-05-12, 09:39 AM
Draco metallicus aureus
Draco metallicus aeneolus
Draco metallicus aercus
Draco metallicus auricalcinus
Draco metallicus argenteus
Draco chromaticus rubricatus
Draco chromaticus caeruleus
Draco chromaticus prasinus
Draco chromaticus albineus
Draco chromaticus pulleiaceus

Draco is already the genus for a gliding lizard. That's why I didn't pick use it for dragons. Perhaps less phynotyping and more classic Linnean taxonomy works for D&D since its based on observable physical traits rather than a tree of life.

RedMage125
2019-05-12, 12:11 PM
Draco is already the genus for a gliding lizard. That's why I didn't pick use it for dragons. Perhaps less phynotyping and more classic Linnean taxonomy works for D&D since its based on observable physical traits rather than a tree of life.

Drakkus, then? From the German Drakken for dragon?

Also, the guy you quoted misinterpreted what I said. I was suggesting "Drakkus" or whatever for the Order. For all creatures of the Dragon type (which would include landwyrms, drakes, wyverns, and dragon turtles), and then that all "True Dragons" have the same Family (I don't have a suggestion, but maybe something that reflects that they all come from Io, the Ninefold Dragon?). Then all metallics in one Genus and all Chromatics in another.

Mark Hall
2019-05-12, 01:23 PM
Draco is already the genus for a gliding lizard. That's why I didn't pick use it for dragons. Perhaps less phynotyping and more classic Linnean taxonomy works for D&D since its based on observable physical traits rather than a tree of life.

However, those taxonomies are at least 40 years old.

Beleriphon
2019-05-12, 01:54 PM
Drakkus, then? From the German Drakken for dragon?

Also, the guy you quoted misinterpreted what I said. I was suggesting "Drakkus" or whatever for the Order. For all creatures of the Dragon type (which would include landwyrms, drakes, wyverns, and dragon turtles), and then that all "True Dragons" have the same Family (I don't have a suggestion, but maybe something that reflects that they all come from Io, the Ninefold Dragon?). Then all metallics in one Genus and all Chromatics in another.

That's what I was thinking as well. I figured a class could be thermoreptilia, or "hot reptiles" (really all dragon typed creature have to be endothermic to degree). Magycosauria for an order for magical "lizards" (I like that it is similar to dinosaur) would be anything dragon-like or inherently magical or blatantly impossible, while land drakes and wyverns would be something else. The family is Halitos is for dragon like creatures with breath weapons. Then genus and species, with the chromatic and metallic dragons as separate genus.

The other thing is that most taxonomy by tradition uses a Latinized words, so the use of a double K atypical. I was trying to find more interesting things to call them as well. Black dragons for example in my proposition are theres necrocephali, which is death's head monster roughly. Which in D&D context makes sense looking at the way they're usually illustrated.

For the metallics the bipneuma means two-breath, since all metallics have two breath weapons.


However, those taxonomies are at least 40 years old.

True enough, these are super complicated when it gets to phenotypes and clades for taxonomy. Like, super, super complicated. I was looking at the clades for vertebrates and tetrapods are like eight branches down from the first vertebrates, so that means hexapods needs to branch much earlier, or be a separate branch from the tetrapods but have the same common ancestor, which seems wacky. So, I'm going to say classic non-phenotyped/genomic Linnean classifications based solely on a creatures physical traits both internal (when known) or external should work since it actually makes sense in many ways to do it that way.

I was thinking though, what is a shambling mound, or a myconoid? In theory myconoids are fungus at the highest classifications, and a shambling mound should be a plant (I think), but how do we classify a sapient fungus? From fungus on down myconoids are entirely their own thing, sharing only the most basic commonalities with common fungus. Maybe phylum is magical fungus to encompass all D&Dish fungi and then break down further for things that look like mushrooms versus other types.

Cluedrew
2019-05-12, 02:43 PM
Life: dragons are alive
Domain: Eukaryota - dragons are multicellular
Kingdom: Animalia - dragons aren't plants or fungus
Phylum: Chordata - dragons havespinal cords
Subphyla: Vertebrata - dragons have bones, specifically vertebrae
Class: Thermoreptilia
Order: Magykosauria - magical reptiles, I like the association with dinosauria
Family: Halitos - Sounds like halitosis, but it has to do with breathing in Latin
Genus: Theres - ancient Greek for "monster", specific connotation of big and scary for the chromatics OR Bipneuma for metallic since they have two breath weapons
Species: Bipneuma jinsedae- Gold dragon: JīnsŤ is the transliteration of the Chinese word for gold, and gold dragons kind of have a Chinese dragon look to them so it seemed like a good fit.
Its kind of fun to see all these groups and separations, all with there special names, laid out like this. But I'm not sure we could just strap this onto a fantasy setting. Well I guess we could if we are just talking about animals but if we extend it to all life... Domain (and maybe Kingdom) are going to get more entries.

For instance, I don't think a fire-elemental has cells. In some settings (I don't recall where D&D goes on this) they are magical constructions like robots, but others they are a sort of life on there own. So domain: <Latenish word for elemental> would have to be added. And so on down the line for a bunch of these things. And that's not even getting into undead, which are not alive but are a type of... thing that might belong in this system.

That being said I think people are doing a good job of fitting creatures that were never considered when making this system into it.

Beleriphon
2019-05-12, 03:33 PM
Its kind of fun to see all these groups and separations, all with there special names, laid out like this. But I'm not sure we could just strap this onto a fantasy setting. Well I guess we could if we are just talking about animals but if we extend it to all life... Domain (and maybe Kingdom) are going to get more entries.

For instance, I don't think a fire-elemental has cells. In some settings (I don't recall where D&D goes on this) they are magical constructions like robots, but others they are a sort of life on there own. So domain: <Latenish word for elemental> would have to be added. And so on down the line for a bunch of these things. And that's not even getting into undead, which are not alive but are a type of... thing that might belong in this system.

That being said I think people are doing a good job of fitting creatures that were never considered when making this system into it.

If one considers elementals alive, and a completely new domain I'd be inclined to include anything that is at least partially composed of thought stuff/something other than biological in the sense of a thing that has bones, and blood and cardiovascular systems we can at least understand (or pretend to understand in the case of silly things like beholders and dragons).

Incidentally, Latin for elemental is elementum, which from a Roman point of view would actually be the classical four elements.

For outsiders, or planar creatures like elementals, fiends and celestials I'd add another domain along with Eukarytos and the rest into Exteridae, a spin on the Latin exterus (literally outsider). I'm loath to use the Greek, which is xenos because it makes it sound sci-fi rather than fantasy with a natural philosopher twist.

Undead might need their own system given that the base of an undead thing is always the remains of a living creature. So a zombie is just an animated corpse of creature.

Malphegor
2019-05-12, 04:10 PM
I think trying to categorise a ecosystem that includes both tieflings and diaboli (one is a regular native outsider devil person, the other is a native outsider devil person but from lineage coming from a realm of nightmares rather than hell), beholders literally dreaming more vicious versions of themselves into existence, and mad druids creating abominations, plus the concept of discrete species that cannot breed with each other being a suggestion at best, would make this endeavour...Tricky.

Beleriphon
2019-05-12, 04:21 PM
I think trying to categorise a ecosystem that includes both tieflings and diaboli (one is a regular native outsider devil person, the other is a native outsider devil person but from lineage coming from a realm of nightmares rather than hell), beholders literally dreaming more vicious versions of themselves into existence, and mad druids creating abominations, plus the concept of discrete species that cannot breed with each other being a suggestion at best, would make this endeavour...Tricky.

And thus classical Linnean based on only observable phenotypes, rather than genetics. The particular process of reproduction isn't as relevant for beholders so much as they exist at all and are fall into X, Y, Z categories as a creature. I'm most going for for amusing rather than serious, thus all dragon like creature with breath weapons are the Halitos family. Because halitosis.

Quertus
2019-05-12, 04:46 PM
This is neat, I like the idea of a metaphysical scheme, since a biological one just isnít going to work well. But I donít think the creatures you list fit so well in the categories. Particularly:
Fiends. Monads here, but when they die outside the Abyss they reincarnate. Does that mean they have spirits?
Golems. Biads here, but the 5e MM (you may use a different edition) says they are elemental earth spirits bound in artificial bodies. Other constructs sometimes also are animated by elemental spirits. I think constructs are Duads.

(2e bias, btw) IIRC, fiends are just souls; elementals (which "power" most / all golems) are just spiritsÖ which are somehow different things, tied to the outer and inner planes, respectively.

So, outsiders (including deities) not slain on their home plane come back (because reasons). Constructs are one part physical, one part physical.

Vulsutyr
2019-05-12, 08:39 PM
(2e bias, btw) IIRC, fiends are just souls; elementals (which "power" most / all golems) are just spiritsÖ which are somehow different things, tied to the outer and inner planes, respectively.

So, outsiders (including deities) not slain on their home plane come back (because reasons). Constructs are one part physical, one part physical.

This interpretation opens up a host of other problems then. If golems are physical+physical than the elemental spirits can't be Monads, they have to be Biads, thought whether Spiritus or Corpus I don't know.

Also, fiends can't be just souls because they have physical bodies. Is there an explanation for that in planescape?

Malphegor
2019-05-13, 04:20 AM
This interpretation opens up a host of other problems then. If golems are physical+physical than the elemental spirits can't be Monads, they have to be Biads, thought whether Spiritus or Corpus I don't know.

Also, fiends can't be just souls because they have physical bodies. Is there an explanation for that in planescape?

Don't fiends work in that weird pre-Socratic monism 'their soul is the same their body' way, which is separate to the more Platonic dualistic distinction between soul and body most creatures have?

Spore
2019-05-13, 05:10 AM
Drakkus, then? From the German Drakken for dragon?


Drakken is not a German word. Drache would be German. And if you use Lindwurm, you are describing a different creatures.

Kyutaru
2019-05-13, 12:34 PM
Don't fiends work in that weird pre-Socratic monism 'their soul is the same their body' way, which is separate to the more Platonic dualistic distinction between soul and body most creatures have?

I believe they work in that Patrick Swayze sort of way where being a soul doesn't stop them from killing you.

Eldan
2019-05-13, 01:15 PM
Phylogeny doesn't really work in D&D, as a majority of creatures arise through magic and have no genetic relationship to anything else. Even if we exclude outsiders, fey, elementals, cocaine wizard experiments, polymorph spells, stone-to-flesh sculptures, etc. we're still looking at a wide variety of cases where the local divinities just fiated some species or another into existence. So instead of genetics and heredity, the system should be more of a phenetic approach, where you look at the phenotype (the size, shape, ability, etc.) rather than speculating on the genetics (which most of the creatures-to-be-classified probably don't even have).

In the phenetic approach, we have four kingdoms:

Monads, the creatures who have a combined soul/body, as seen in outsiders and elementals and then further divided into the phylums of Inner, Outer, Transitive, Native and Other (based on plane of origin) and then into specific classes like Archon, Baatezu and Genie. Arguably should include petitioners, but since they're distinctly post-mortal, they get put in under Biad Spiritus Divisus instead of as Monads of the appropriate plane.

Duads, the creatures who have a separable soul/body in the manner of humanoids, giants, abberations, etc. AND who have their souls/bodies currently attached to one another. These would then be divided into phylums and classes according to the pantheon and creator of their most recently created ancestor (ie. most elves would be in Phylum Seldarine, Class Correllon). Upon death, most Duads become some sort of Spirit, often a Petitioner. Despite the name, does not necessarily imply a one to one soul to body ratio - Kalashtar fall under this category, for example.

Biads, the creatures which are either a body without a soul (constructs, certain corporeal undead, certain warlocks, possibly other things) or which are souls without a body (petitioners ghosts, those unborn souls on the positive energy plane, removed souls). Classified into Corpus (just a body) and Spiritus (just a soul) and into Divisus (for halves of a former Duad) or Innatus (for everything else - constructs, unborn souls, etc.)

Nonschematia, because the second that you declare your set of categories complete, some annoying mad wizard is going to try to create a living being which is none of a body with or without a soul, a soul with or without a body, a body that is also a soul nor a soul that is also a body. Included in this category are the Unbodied (a psychic entity which contains neither body nor soul), the Caller in Darkness (several souls fused together), Swarms (arguably), defictionalized out-of-schema hypotheticals created using SLAs of Clones/Simulacrums/other similar spells, Shadow Conjurations, Phantom Steeds, certain experimental results using Summon Instrument, Unseen Servants, Dream Larva (briefly and only occasionally), and probably several other daft things that some wizard out there is trying now that they've read about this attempt to classify all life.

I'm not sure that works, since many of those creatures are more like metamorphoses of others. Like, many monads are the soul of a duad, in your classification, separated from its body. That's like classifying the imagines and nymphs of the same insect in different kingdoms. The same of many undead.

I'd say we would do best with mostly restricting ourselves to "natural" life, so to speak, and for now not consider the million forms that are metamorphosed life, like most outsiders, undead, templated creatures and so on. Many of them are more like terratogenic forms or diseases anyway.

Telonius
2019-05-13, 02:30 PM
Very good thought. What do you think of the following? I'm trying to see if I can work in outsiders somewhere, I figured they're probably either another Kingdom or Domain at the highest levels.

I think it gets funkier with stuff like beholders that are vertebrates in so far as they have skulls (okay only a skull) but not spinal cords so they aren't really falling into chordate, but should be vertebrates.


Life: dragons are alive
Domain: Eukaryota - dragons are multicellular
Kingdom: Animalia - dragons aren't plants or fungus
Phylum: Chordata - dragons havespinal cords
Subphyla: Vertebrata - dragons have bones, specifically vertebrae
Class: Thermoreptilia
Order: Magykosauria - magical reptiles, I like the association with dinosauria
Family: Halitos - Sounds like halitosis, but it has to do with breathing in Latin
Genus: Theres - ancient Greek for "monster", specific connotation of big and scary for the chromatics OR Bipneuma for metallic since they have two breath weapons
Species: Bipneuma jinsedae- Gold dragon: JīnsŤ is the transliteration of the Chinese word for gold, and gold dragons kind of have a Chinese dragon look to them so it seemed like a good fit.


So with that in mind, do we think all dragons are the same genus, or even species? I'm inclined to make them all the same species with a bunch of subspecies, but I'm open to thoughts. Metallics and chromatics as different species?

As a group the metallics are:
Gold dragon: Bipneuma jinsedae
Silver dragons: Bipneuma aegisidae
Copper dragon: Bipneuma comoedus
Bronze dragon: Bipneuma fulgurum
Brass dragon: Bipneuma oratio

And chromatics
Red dragon: Theres pyrecagia - literally conflagration monster
White dragon: Theres pagomenos
Green dragon: Theres dascalos
Black dragon: Theres necrocephali
Blue dragon: Theres eremus


I'm not totally sure I'd classify dragons as endothermic. Their heat is usually thought to be generated from their breath weapon, but that weapon turns off in an area of antimagic (being a Supernatural effect). Then you have the example of the White Dragon, whose Cold breath weapon kind of throws the whole thing off. Maybe call it thaumothermic? Endothaumic?

hamishspence
2019-05-13, 02:42 PM
I'm not totally sure I'd classify dragons as endothermic. Their heat is usually thought to be generated from their breath weapon, but that weapon turns off in an area of antimagic (being a Supernatural effect). Then you have the example of the White Dragon, whose Cold breath weapon kind of throws the whole thing off. Maybe call it thaumothermic? Endothaumic?

A white dragon has a low but stable body temperature. Put it in a warm environment and its body will work to keep it cold - and the outside temperature is lower than the dragon's preferred blood temperature, its body will try to keep it a little warmer.

Draconomicon 3.5 (page 9):

An endothermic creature doesn't necessarily have warm blood. What it has is a body temperature that remains more or less steady no matter how hot or cold its surroundings become.

All true dragons are endothermic. Given their elemental nature, they could hardly be otherwise. A dragon's body temperature depends on its kind and sometimes its age. Dragons that use fire have the highest body temperatures, and dragons that use cold the lowest. Acid- and electricity-using dragons have body temperatures that fall between these two extremes, with acid-users tending to have cooler bodies than electricity-users. Fire-using dragons literally become hotter with age. Likewise, cold-using dragons become colder with age. Acid- and electricity-using dragons have about the same body temperatures throughout their lives, with younger and smaller dragons having slightly higher temperatures than older and larger ones.

Beleriphon
2019-05-13, 02:56 PM
A white dragon has a low but stable body temperature. Put it in a warm environment and its body will work to keep it cold - and the outside temperature is lower than the dragon's preferred blood temperature, its body will try to keep it a little warmer.

Draconomicon 3.5 (page 9):

An endothermic creature doesn't necessarily have warm blood. What it has is a body temperature that remains more or less steady no matter how hot or cold its surroundings become.

All true dragons are endothermic. Given their elemental nature, they could hardly be otherwise. A dragon's body temperature depends on its kind and sometimes its age. Dragons that use fire have the highest body temperatures, and dragons that use cold the lowest. Acid- and electricity-using dragons have body temperatures that fall between these two extremes, with acid-users tending to have cooler bodies than electricity-users. Fire-using dragons literally become hotter with age. Likewise, cold-using dragons become colder with age. Acid- and electricity-using dragons have about the same body temperatures throughout their lives, with younger and smaller dragons having slightly higher temperatures than older and larger ones.


I like that. Endothermic just means the body temperature self regulates, no need for sunbathing (ice bathing?) to have a core temperature in the correct range to be active. That isn't to say red dragon doesn't like sun bathing, its just that they don't have to in normal circumstances.

Quertus
2019-05-13, 06:05 PM
This interpretation opens up a host of other problems then. If golems are physical+physical than the elemental spirits can't be Monads, they have to be Biads, thought whether Spiritus or Corpus I don't know.

Also, fiends can't be just souls because they have physical bodies. Is there an explanation for that in planescape?


Don't fiends work in that weird pre-Socratic monism 'their soul is the same their body' way, which is separate to the more Platonic dualistic distinction between soul and body most creatures have?

Just as some characters wield their souls as weapons, outsiders *are* their souls. There is no matter in their "physical" form.

Which makes procreation logicÖ interesting.

Mark Hall
2019-05-14, 11:03 AM
Rogue theory: Dragons are monotremes. Or, barring that, synaspids.

RedMage125
2019-05-14, 11:19 AM
Rogue theory: Dragons are monotremes. Or, barring that, synaspids.

Funny thing, in 4e, they explicitly stated that dragonborn were monotremes. Which explained why they both hatched from eggs and why the females have mammaries.

Kyutaru
2019-05-14, 11:46 AM
Rogue theory: Dragons are monotremes. Or, barring that, synaspids.

Similarly, Kobolds were mammals that laid eggs in the oldest D&D editions. Such that when Dragonlance came around, we had Draconians that looked like kobold-dragon fusions with weird powers, born of corrupted good dragon eggs.

Totally supports the Dragons are monotremes theory.

Beleriphon
2019-05-14, 02:13 PM
Rogue theory: Dragons are monotremes. Or, barring that, synaspids.

I was looking at Wikipedia's articles on taxonomy and decided that yeah they're synapsids. As a super order that covers reptiles, birds, and their precursors like dinosaurs. I don't think they're monotremes, they don't share any of the traits of monotremes at all.

hamishspence
2019-05-14, 02:17 PM
I was looking at Wikipedia's articles on taxonomy and decided that yeah they're synapsids. As a super order that covers reptiles, birds, and their precursors like dinosaurs.

Actually, synapsids cover everything that is more closely related to mammals, than to birds, dinosaurs, lizards, etc.



Sauropsids, are the group that includes lizards, birds, crocodiles, dinosaurs, etc, but not mammals.

Mechalich
2019-05-14, 07:13 PM
Actually, synapsids cover everything that is more closely related to mammals, than to birds, dinosaurs, lizards, etc.



Sauropsids, are the group that includes lizards, birds, crocodiles, dinosaurs, etc, but not mammals.

The divide between Synapsids, Diapsids, and potentially other classifications (Anapsids, Euryapsids) that are no longer used and may in fact be nested within the Diapsida, are based upon the position of temporal fenestra in the skulls of amniotes (basically, where there are holes in the head). unfortunately, art of D&D dragon skulls is inconsistent and limited so it is difficult to make any diagnostic determinations based on this feature - dragon skulls are often drawn without any temporal fenestrae at all, suggesting this feature was lost secondarily, perhaps to harden the skull for the purpose of breath weapon use.

There is a very good diagram of the post-cranial skeleton in the 3.5 Draconomicon, but unfortunately it doesn't diagram the ankles - which are diagnostic for relationships among Diapsid groups - in detail. However, the drawing clearly shows the calcaneus (that stubby bone at the rear) flared back behind the limb bones, in a manner very similar to that found in large felines. Compare with this image of a lion's skeleton:
https://sites.google.com/site/lionsbymarcuswilbanks/skeletal-and-muscular-system/download.jpg

If this can be taken as diagnostic (dubious, but we're not likely to get better) then you could place dragons within the Synapsida, probably branching off prior to the Therapsids, placing them close to Sphenacodonts like Dimetrodon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimetrodon). It's not that difficult to imagine going from a predator like D. grandis to a Hill Landwyrm, you're just changing the gait moderately. The wings, of course, have to be added post-hoc by magic.

Jay R
2019-05-15, 08:19 AM
Science is a process of identifying and understanding an underlying system. For it to work, there must be an underlying system to find.

Taxonomy works in the real world because it's true. These creatures actually came into existence via a process that leaves them related to each other.

But since there was no taxonomically-prescribed process in creating D&D monsters, there is no system there to find.

Owlbears, chimeras, hippogriffs, and centaurs violate any extension of real-world taxonomy, just as fireballs violate conservation of energy, and levitation violates universal gravity.

Mark Hall
2019-05-15, 08:54 AM
Science is a process of identifying and understanding an underlying system. For it to work, there must be an underlying system to find.

Taxonomy works in the real world because it's true. These creatures actually came into existence via a process that leaves them related to each other.

But since there was no taxonomically-prescribed process in creating D&D monsters, there is no system there to find.

Owlbears, chimeras, hippogriffs, and centaurs violate any extension of real-world taxonomy, just as fireballs violate conservation of energy, and levitation violates universal gravity.

Not necessarily. After all, the fireball may merely be a conversion of one sort of energy to another, through a process that wouldn't work with our physics, but is perfectly reasonable by the physics of this alternate Prime. Levitation doesn't violate gravity, any more than planes do... they're just different applications of technology and energy.

Likewise, the various fantastical beasts don't necessarily negate any attempt at a taxonomy, though they might rewrite some of the rules. Explicit magical creations (q.v. owlbear) might be no different than transgenic spider-goats (https://phys.org/news/2010-05-scientists-goats-spider-silk.html). There's no evolutionary reason for those goats to have spider DNA, but that doesn't mean they're inexplicable.

Mechalich
2019-05-15, 09:13 AM
Science is a process of identifying and understanding an underlying system. For it to work, there must be an underlying system to find.

Taxonomy works in the real world because it's true. These creatures actually came into existence via a process that leaves them related to each other.

But since there was no taxonomically-prescribed process in creating D&D monsters, there is no system there to find.

Owlbears, chimeras, hippogriffs, and centaurs violate any extension of real-world taxonomy, just as fireballs violate conservation of energy, and levitation violates universal gravity.

True, but we can muse about where certain hypothetical fantasy creatures might fall in a taxonomic scheme if they lived in the real world. Yes certain chimeric creatures violate any sort of evolutionary taxonomy - most of them also involve physiological absurdities and weird skeletal abnormalities. Dragons, however, aren't necessarily one of them. Six-limbed D&D style dragons are problematic, but four-limbed dragons are actually quite reasonable. There are actually dinosaurs with bat-like leathery wings (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2015/04/29/chinese-dinosaur-had-bat-like-wings-and-feathers/). From there to 'dragon' isn't that far at all.

Having a good idea of where you might want to put dragons into a taxonomy isn't very helpful for D&D fantasy worlds, agreed, but there's no reason why you couldn't have a more fully realized fantasy world where all of the 'monsters' were the result of actual evolutionary processes, and dragons are actually one of the more reasonable forms you might include.

Beleriphon
2019-05-15, 02:15 PM
Actually, synapsids cover everything that is more closely related to mammals, than to birds, dinosaurs, lizards, etc.



Sauropsids, are the group that includes lizards, birds, crocodiles, dinosaurs, etc, but not mammals.

Right you are, I keep mixing those up.

I'm actually looking at other creatures as well, dragon are fun and I think I have a pretty good feel for how they fit into what I'm thinking. I'm just calling them reptiles with a new class of endothermic reptiles, and then magical reptiles as a order so it can include stuff like dragon turtles) down from there with reptiles that have breath weapons as the Halitos family, and then true dragons splitting as I posted earlier into the genuses Theres and Bipneuma.

What about other creatures, like say goblinoids. I'd assume they're mammals of some kind, but not part of the homo genus, even if they are hominids of some kind. Heck, why not just call the family they come Cobalidae (cobalus is Latin for "goblin") as a play on Homindae?

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-15, 07:16 PM
What about other creatures, like say goblinoids. I'd assume they're mammals of some kind, but not part of the homo genus, even if they are hominids of some kind. Heck, why not just call the family they come Cobalidae (cobalus is Latin for "goblin") as a play on Homindae?

My setting inverts the usual ordering.

It's humans that are part of the goblin tree. Mutated from hobgoblins via elven magic. Same with orcs

So humans are the pius goblins (leaving others to do the latin translations here).
Orcs are the angry goblins.
Halflings are the lucky goblins.
Hobgoblins and bugbears are temporary mutations on top of the regular goblins.

My "playable race" taxonomy has 3 starting races from which all others descend, usually by magical alterations. For setting reasons, goblins are especially susceptible to magical alteration.

The Lightbound -> Angels/devils, elves->genies
The Titanborn -> dwarves, goliaths->giants
The Proteans -> goblins -> humans, orcs, halflings, dragonborn, gnomes, etc

Beleriphon
2019-05-18, 01:23 PM
My setting inverts the usual ordering.

It's humans that are part of the goblin tree. Mutated from hobgoblins via elven magic. Same with orcs

So humans are the pius goblins (leaving others to do the latin translations here).
Orcs are the angry goblins.
Halflings are the lucky goblins.
Hobgoblins and bugbears are temporary mutations on top of the regular goblins.

My "playable race" taxonomy has 3 starting races from which all others descend, usually by magical alterations. For setting reasons, goblins are especially susceptible to magical alteration.

The Lightbound -> Angels/devils, elves->genies
The Titanborn -> dwarves, goliaths->giants
The Proteans -> goblins -> humans, orcs, halflings, dragonborn, gnomes, etc

I kind of like the idea that goblins split off from the group that became demi-humans/humans at the order level, becoming a completely separate family of creatures. That's my preference, but I'm also trying to slot everything into a rough understanding of taxonomy that largely keeps what we know to be accurate true.

That's cool that you have goblins are you root for a bunch of common specieis.

Mark Hall
2019-05-18, 04:32 PM
Of course, everyone knows that all humanoids save the thri-kreen were originally halflings, transformed by the Pristine Tower (then subsequently genocided by the Sorcerer-Kings, who were unbeatable).

IOW, this is also pretty setting dependent.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-18, 07:10 PM
That's cool that you have goblins are you root for a bunch of common specieis.

The story behind how that became canon is one of my favorites. It was pretty early on in my setting's play-time and I hadn't pinned down any of these details. I figured that humans were the protean-children, not goblins. But I had a player whose character was a high elf with a serious case of "better than you lesser types". So I threw in (as an "unproven theory") a document in an arcane library saying that humans were artificially created from goblins, mainly to see what he'd do. His reaction was as expected, and we laughed. But then as I thought about it after the session, I realized that it explained so much. I had already established that that was possible (dragonborn were created from humans through experimentation with dragon souls), and it explained why humans were so social and could interbreed with lots of things, it explained orcs, it explained halflings, and it allowed me to explain the origin of all the races. So it became canon

It also sparked internal issues in a country, because there were lots of human-supremicist bigots there. Which led to an adventure I hand't planned on at all, which led to large changes in the world.

Eldan
2019-05-19, 06:52 AM
That runs into problems though if you include half-elves.

I prefer the explanation that humans, elves and orcs are basically three prevalent phenotypes of one species and that they are mostly cross-fertile.

Chronos
2019-05-19, 07:07 AM
The real-world genus Draco has already been mentioned, but it's worth noting that they're a real-world reptile that has both four legs and two wings (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draco_(genus)). They can't quite fly with their wings, only glide, but that's a relatively small matter, evolutionarily.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-19, 07:11 AM
That runs into problems though if you include half-elves.

I prefer the explanation that humans, elves and orcs are basically three prevalent phenotypes of one species and that they are mostly cross-fertile.

Humans were created by mixing hobgoblin base creatures with elven "DNA" (not really the molecule, but fragments of the soul resonance). So they're inter-fertile with elves because they're related. They're interfertile with orcs because orcs were created by mixing hobgoblin base creatures with other, mostly animal "DNA".

My setting doesn't use genetic evolution. Instead it's more Lamarkian, but magical. If you polymorph a human into a single animal shape persistently enough, then their children will carry animal traits. Or you can transform another creature into a human shape and breed it with a human (squicky, I know) and the children will be altered. The first was how humans were created (polymorph hobgoblins into a pseudo-elven shape a bunch and let them breed, then do the same for the children and the grandchildren, etc) and the second explains orcs and a bunch of the anthropomorphic beast races (tabaxi, etc).

The other way to create new creatures is to use blood magic to fragment a large powerful soul (like a dragon's) and merge it with unborn children. But this causes serious abyssal pollution and has lots of other nasty side effects, like sparking magical nuclear civil war once the rest of the people find out (especially if the mothers of the new dragonborn were unwilling and you treat it like a factory operation).

Beleriphon
2019-05-19, 10:00 AM
The real-world genus Draco has already been mentioned, but it's worth noting that they're a real-world reptile that has both four legs and two wings (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draco_(genus)). They can't quite fly with their wings, only glide, but that's a relatively small matter, evolutionarily.

Those are still tetrapods, not hexapods. The excess skin flaps that form the wings are just stiff along the edges, they aren't actually separate limbs like say a red dragon is depicted as having.