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    Troll in the Playground
     
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

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    Default Balancing the Foodchain

    So, in D & D, I notice there are a LOT of predators. Dear God so many! Some of them would eat each other, but many of them would starve to death or be hunted to extinction in short order. What I'm trying to get at is there is an inbalance in the food chain. A HUGE inbalance. To placate this, I've been creating creatures to supplement this. Monsters that are herbavores, larger versions of some creatures (Giant Hare) and so on. Some creatures likely find a certain race as a good food source, but I'd like to create a few more stocks for them to eat. Especially large ones. Like mammoths are a good place to start.

    I have a continent in one of my worlds that is inhabited by a LARGE number of dragons of MANY different types. I need food sources that are able to thrive despite this. Some that live in forests. Some in planes. Some in lakes. Some in mountains. Some in oceans. Some in the icelands. And some in swamps. I guess we also shouldn't forget more animals means more things to feed them, so don't hesitate to come up with some interesting plants or things. Keep in mind too, these things won't be defenseless! They'd all have ways of dealing with dragons, whether mentaility (herds, schools), protection (horns, thick skinned), or camouflage (blending, imitating). I'll worry about balancing, you worry about populating!


    Used creatures will be posted in the first post, unused on the third.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Vegetation:
    • Carnivorous Grass - Carnivorous Grass is a vegetation that has mimics the appearance of grass to catch prey. The grass serves as feelers for the plant which is actually grows level with the earth it grows from. As a creature of a small variety passes through the feelers, the plants "mouth" opens out from under the creature and it falls into the mouth, which then closes again to digest the animal. Carnivorous Grass is generally found in clearings or fields. A patch can be up to 5 to 6 feet in diameter. From above, it is easy to distinguish a Carnivorous Grass plant, as it's easier to notice the closed "mouths" in it's bed. This is good for the plant and large animals alike, as it saves energy spent opening and closing for the plant, and save an animal from avoiding sudden holes where it is walking. Some grazing animals love the taste of the grass of the plant. The grass also has a small flower for pollenation and reproductive purposes.
    • Cavekelp - Plants that hang from the roofs of caves, like seaweed rises from the seafloor. Highly nutritious and requires only a little indirect sunlight, though it requires a moist environment.
    • Dusk Creeper - Rapidly growing weed consisting of multiple stalks and vines. It grows beautiful, pearly berries which are coloured a mix of pinks and oranges, hence the plants name. The berries are poisonous to most creatures, but release an extremely wonderful scent upon very minor bruising or cutting, which attracts many creatures to eat them; while the creature will die, it either lives long enough to pass on some of the seeds in it's stool, or the seeds will grow from the animals rotting corpse. Due to the plants rapidly growing nature, the berries are often forced into tight spaces or are pushed from their place, which often leads to them being damaged and releasing the scent. Dusk swallows are birds that are immune to the plants poison, and use it as a common food source
    • The Everfrost- The everfrost is something of a miracle as far as nature goes. This grey and forest green tree grows in cold areas such as tundra, but they are also found in snowy areas, likely from a race transplanting some to cold regions outside of the frozen tundras. The everfrost grows thick layers of branches covered in needles similar to that of fir trees. The needles grow in out of the branch and split at the end to make a 'Y' shape. These needled branches form a canopy that grows from the top and drapes to the ground like a dress. As the tree ages, it grows new branches on the outside to cover the older ones. The most inner branches then begin to die off, dropping needles on the ground around the base of the tree. Under the canopy of branches is a place of protection from harsh winds, and it is actually quite a bit warmer than the harsh exterior. The inside of the canopy often becomes the home to a variety of creatures. The true purpose of the canopy's warmth is to melt away the snow that builds up on it's exterior, which allows the tree to take in light from the sun. The water that melts drips along the trunk and the tree uses the water to nourish itself. The canopy also keeps the ground directly beneath itself from freezing, thus protecting its roots.

      Many a jester have reffered to a cold demeanered, serious or hostile woman's undergarments as 'everfrosts', as the tree can resemble the layers of a Lady's dress.
    • Quivering Wart - What the tin says. The Quivering Wart is a large, bulbous plunt or fungus, resembling a great red or brown lump rising from the ground. They live in relatively dry areas, like saharas or dusty scrublands. It is sponge like in texture, and absorbs a lot of water; more than is needed for it to survive. Animals, who might be having a hard time finding water in the local area, come and drink the spare water from the surface of the Wart, or suck it directly from the sponge directly; the disturbance causes the "quivering", which might not seem large but is just enough to help the plant disperse a cloud of seeds/spores.
    • Sirahas Berry - (ink berries, still working out their make up. Leaning away from it's stalk being as thick as a tree)


    Insects: Flesh Fly
    • Creep - Spoilered due to size.
      Spoiler
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      CREEPS (Ultimate Omnivore, no really, they even eat rocks!)
      These creatures are stocky and squat insects with a 12 segment forked abdomen (kinda like an earwig). They have 6 powerful but small legs which splay out to the sides with a small set of tough hairs along the underside which aid in climbing and burrowing. The upper part of their body is upright, with an elongated head hanging back down from the top, with a long spine-like crest across the top. Their mandibles are made of a bio-mineral with similar properties to adamantine (created from the rock they digest as they burrow, see below) and are extremely elongated, resembling a pair of scythes, which they use as both tools and weapons, equally good at cutting and burrowing through rock or flesh. A sticky acid sprays forth from their mouth whenever they burrow, assisting them in cutting through rock as tough as basalt with alarming speed (10ft burrow through rock, 30ft through earth), and dealing minor but painful damage when they attack. They have a psionic hive mind which allows the Queen and any males within 100ft to 'see' anything a worker or warrior is doing at any given time. Males and the queen have independent intelligence scores, but multiple workers and warriors behave under a single intelligence score and always act as if a single entity. They are usually seen outside the hive in scouting groups (1-3), foraging groups (2-5 workers, 1-3 warriors) or harvesting groups (4-10 workers, 2-5 warriors). Larger groups are referred to as Swarms which will almost always be directed by at least 1 male, depending upon size (or perhaps even a queen, but that is rare). Swarms are extremely dangerous on account of their fierce attack, large numbers and worrying intelligence, and as such should be avoided by all but the toughest and best prepared of folk.

      Worker (70% of hive population): These are tiny creatures, standing nearly 2ft tall and 3ft long, and weighing only 15lbs. Their mandible scythes are about 1 ft long, 3 inches wide across the base, tapering to a curved point at the end, which is serrated for the last 3 inches of length. They are usually very skittish, and prefer to burrow their way to safety than to fight unless they feel cornered or the hive/queen is at risk.

      Warrior (25% of hive population): These are small sized, standing at 3ft tall and 5ft long and weigh over 40lbs, stockier than workers and with broader, more powerful mandible scythes. They are far more aggressive than the workers, preferring to stand and fight than to run away, often protecting the workers they are with and only retreating once their charges are safe.

      Both workers and warriors have low animal intelligence in small groups (3 or less), but have been known to exhibit problem solving and tool use in larger numbers (4-10 = int 4, 11-20 = int 6, 21+ = int 8).

      Male (5% of hive population): These creeps are medium sized, and stand in a more upright posture at about 7ft tall, weighing around 70lbs. Their mandible scythes are no larger than those of the worker's, but their front 2 legs are longer in propotion to their bodies and are used like rudimentary arms with simple, pincer-like hands at the end. Males have an individual mind (int 10), apart from the hive, and are the only creeps to have been observed communicating with other species in anything approaching a civilised manner. Although the species lacks vocal chords, they can chitter and clack a variety of sounds with various body parts, which along with simple psionic telepathy can be used to communicate effectively with many intelligent creatures to some extent. Often this communication occurs when the hive wishes to avoid trouble, and some males become well known to villages and towns where they collect tribute in the form of garden and cooking waste in return for the hive's benevolence and protection.

      Males are also the generals when a hive goes to war, they telepathically command segments of the hive, to allow the hive mind to split into swarms, each one capable of independant choices and actions. This means a hive can display complex and ingenious strategies and tactics when really pushed. This is highly unusual though, since the hive is rarely in the sort of danger where it need be that openly aggressive. Males can use some psionic powers as psi-like powers (2 level 1 powers, which ones are up to the DM), which they fuel by the number of workers and warriors they have under their control. Although this psionic ability is limited, it can cause a nasty shock if unexpected.

      When it comes to mating, males compete heavily to gain the favour of the queen. This rivalry is not always borne out in a fight however, often a battle of wits or a race to find the best food source will suffice to prove a particular male's dominance over the others. Once chosen, the male enters the royal chamber, where both his mind and body (and possible even it's soul) are completely consumed by the queen. This fertilises the year's clutch.

      The Queen: The big momma herself is indeed a sight to behold (although only a very small number of people have ever seen one and lived to tell the tale). She is large sized, being 10ft long 6ft high at the head, weighing over 600lbs, with a bloated abdomen and an extra set of legs at the front with scythes much like those of her mandibles, which are 2ft long and completely smooth. She has a fierce intellect (int 20) but can only influence the hive itself, since scouts, foragers, harvesters and even most swarms go beyond her psionic range to perform their functions. She is constantly hungry and often in a little pain due to her almost continuous egg-laying (6/hour average), and this is a large part of the reason that anything or anyone which even attempts to communicate with the queen is likely to be ripped apart. If you wanna talk to a creep, talk to a male.

      The queen is considered a psion telepath, having access to many psi-like telepathy powers, along with one or two more directly offensive ones and one or two useful others (again, which ones should be DM choice).

      There are many stories of queens having particularly powerful or impressive males of sentient races brought before her, which she consumes instead of a male creep to reproduce. According to the stories, this is the only way a queen will lay a female egg, which is taken away by 3 males and a few dozen warriors and workers to be hatched in a brand new royal chamber. This chamber is often dozens, if not hundreds of miles from the current hive, and becomes entirely independant the moment the female hatches. This new queen will exhibit mental and physical aspects of her 'father', and pass these things onto her brood, meaning every hive shows subtle but distinct differences in appearance.

      Lifespans: Workers and warriors can live to be 3 or 4 years old if they're lucky, but most aren't. Their average life expectancy is around about 6 months due to accidents and predation. Males can live to be 40, but will usually die far earlier by either failing or succeeding to win the right to mate. Males known to communicate frequently with other species often live long lives though, as it seems they are considered important (or possibly distasteful) enough by the queen to keep alive. A queen has no lifespan limit that anyone has ever been able to determine, there are hives on the outskirts of dragon lands which have been around as long as any dragon remembers.

      Foodchain: Many predators subsist on a diet including workers and warriors (perhaps even the odd male if they're feeling lucky) as long as they're powerful enough to catch and consume them without issue. The tough chitinous exoskeleton contains little calorific value but is a wonderful source of essential minerals, and the soft juicy internals of a creep are one of the highest energy-mass foods known, making them perfect for creatures like dragons who enjoy a compact but energising meal. The sheer abundance of creeps in only a single hive could sustain a dragon indefinitely with only a little care and prudence.

      Creeps are immune to non-magical poisons and diseases, and will eat just about anything including animal and vegetable matter in any state, minerals (consumed whenever they burrow) and even adventuring equipment (hehehe). More often than not, they will target carrion and rotting vegetation first, preferring it for some unknown reason. As such the most common sightings of creeps are after large battles and climatic catastrophies, but have been sighted often enough on the edges of farmland in the late spring, where they will eat the muck spread on the fields, and even young livestock on occassion.

      Very rarely, a hive will come across a prodigious amount of food which is close enough for the queen to reach (she generally dislikes moving from her royal chambers at the heart of the hive). When this happens, the entire hive acts as one under the guidance of the queen, and undermines the entire area by creating a chasm beneath. This is collapsed to create a creep-crater, filled with the lovely edibles from the surface, and is set upon by the entire colony in a feeding frenzy of horrific proportions which may last up to 3 days. There are tales of entire towns disappearing into a creep-crater, and history tells grim tales of such occurences and the following purges led against the offending hive. Nobody is even vaguely aware of a reason why a queen may suddenly opt to commit such a heinous act, but speculation has sparked countless debates and studies for generations on the topic.
    • Pebbling - Pebblings are insects that grow to be the size of a crab at its largest. These creatures burrow into sandstone and other softer rocks and appear to be from the beetle family. They have hard protective shells that are grey with brown and yellow spots. Their mouth's mandibles are strong and can break it down with their acid-like saliva. Pebblings gain nutrients from the rocks they eat, and they also hunt armored worms and other animals that reside underground. Their mating takes place on the surface and the females release their eggs, which resemble small pebbles directly onto the ground nearby. These eggs are a delicacy, but are hard to find for obvious reasons. Pebblings are a castle's worst nightmare, and so there have been many ways to attempt to deter these insects. A few smaller groups of this species have developed the ability to fly, and stick closer to the surface.


    Small Herbivore: Small Finch, Braidwalker, Dusk Swallow

    Large Herbivore: Cealamon (Giant Salmon), Goriath (suggested hammer head)
    • Giant Hare - Giant Hares, or Riding Hares, have an appetite to match their size. These hares are used for messengers and scouts to ride on. They are also a primary food source for Rocs, so those that run Roc roosts generally keep Giant Hares as well. It is uncommon to see an untamed Giant Hare in heavier populated areas. The coloring of this animal is a variety of browns and blacks, with white tipped ears and no tails. Take care of a Giant Hare's powerful hind legs, for if they get mad the can use them to kick it's rider. These hares will also stomp their feet in warning, or to ward off a predator.
    • Winter Bhrulle - This creature body is similar in build to that of a Caribou. It walks on four legs, has a thick coat of fur, and can grow to the height of 7 feet tall. The Bhrulle has a wide and elongated nose, and antlers that curl down behind the head into a "U" and flatten out parallel to the ground. The Bhrulle uses these antlers to shovel snow off the ground to get at the plants underneathe. It can also use these antlers for protection and in attracting a mate. Winter Bhrulles have a light brown coat, with patches of white along the neck and back. (Also with have some relationship with the Everfrost, possibly in the excrement as fertilizer idea)
    • Summer Bhrulle - Much akin to the Winter Bhrulle, save that the Summer is larger (reaches about 8 or even 9 feet) and it's horns curl up to protect it from flying predators such as dragons. However, this also can limit it's visual range above it. Summer Bhrulles also have a darker coat then the Winter.


    Omnivores Armored Wyrm (mix of mountain worm and armored snake)

    Small Carnivore: Pouncer (tumble runner)

    Large Carnivore: Shar (Giant Bear)
    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2012-08-30 at 07:51 AM.
    Scientific Name: Wombous apocolypticus | Diet: Apocolypse Pie | Cuddly: Yes

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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Food for the Predators! (no, not a movie reference)

    Vegetation: for mountains and caves, maybe a type of fleshy mushroom that partly feeds on magical runoff that enable it to grow large and regenerate/grow quickly if consumed in pieces; sustainable food, rare ingredient, possible adventure hook to find source of runoff. possible sentience and spell like abilities to stave off predators, or even a symbiotic relationship from feeding off dragon energy or positive energy from good aligned dragons or clerics/druids.

    Small Prey:

    Large Prey: Dire Salmon. 'nuff said

    Small Predator: Large swarm that appears as a patch of grass. feed on carrion but "hunts" if desperate.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground
     
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

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    Default Unused Animals

    Unused Ideas:
    Vegetation:
    • Cheese bushes - Bushes that grow wheels of cheese instead of berries. They have seeds throughout the wheels and spread by passing through the animals that eat the cheese.
    • Stoneroot - Large roots that grow deep into the ice. Their tops are hard, heavy, and dark colored, like a rock. They absorb energy from the sun due to their dark colors.
    • Cloudvines - These vines hang off the edges of clouds, but on the cloud surface, they sprawl out like a field of grass. The cloudvine and other cloud vegetation causes the cloud to increase in size until it is eventually torn apart by a cloud monger.


    Insects:
    • Moon Beetle - Nocturnal relatives of insects that are roughly the size of mammoths while in the moonlight, but shrink to the size of a small dog when the moon does not shine on them . They are omnivores, eating anything that is smaller than them, but only requiring food once every three weeks.


    Small Herbivore:
    • Ember Deer - Dog-sized deer live along the slopes of volcanoes and other fiery areas. They ingest a healthy diet of volcanic rock and drink from lava flows to supplement their herbivorous diets. When they run from predators, they are accelerated by bursts of fire and when cornered, they can release all the pent up fire energy into the area around themselves. Males can wrap their antlers in fire.
    • Bursters - Bursters are lizard-like creatures which are slightly larger than cats. They often eat poisonous foods and plants on purpose, like the berries of the Dusk Creeper, but their bodies are specially adapted to store the poison within special glands all over their body. Bursters live in large, very social herds. When threatened by a predator, the herd will flee, but if they cannot outrun the predator, then one or two Bursters will get near the predator and rapidly increase the pressure around their poison glands; the Burster sacrifices itself for the herd by violently exploding the majority of its body to shower the predator with poison, to scare it away from the rest of the herd. Even if no Burster makes the sacrifice and one of them is caught, then the effect is pretty much the same anyway; the predator bites into its freshly caught snack and gets a mouthful of poison.


    Large Herbivore
    • Thunder Rhinoceros - White, grey, or black rhinoceros that live on top of clouds and eat from the cloud vines and their relatives. When they leave their cloud for another one, their charge across the open air creates thunder in the skies.
    • Cloud Monger - Giant, flying whale-sized behemoths that eat entire clouds. They live in pods and seek out the clouds for the lush vegetation found within. They are slow moving herbivores that swim through the air as easily as a fish through the sea.
    • Octosnail - The name octo snail is misleading as the species actually has 10total arms. About the size of a horse the large swamp dwelling snail swims or crawls on land. Using its arms it pulls food towards itself(from trees) or as a defense swaying the arms about. The large spiral shell protects it from predators when its tentacles will not suffice.
    • Kraten - Giant crab-like creatures, some growing more than 20 - 40 feet wide. Flat backs. 8 legs, walk forward like spiders. Stone-like shell. Eat vegetation and rotting flesh. Live in swamps/coastal regions. Some have been domesticated, with homes built on their broad backs.
    • Tuskbeast - primarily docile, elephant-sized creatures with 4 foot razor tusks curving forward from their mouths (1 on each side, parallel to the ground). Tusks are used to scrape vegetation/knock down trees/dig/defense. Their hide is filled with lithoderms, granting them a substantial natural armor bonus. Generally slow moving. Eat bushes/trees/any other plant matter they encounter. Often domesticated for their meat and hides. More reptillian than mamallian. Herdbeasts. Any climate with large amounts of vegetation is appropriate.



    Omnivores:
    • Rumble Bird - An enormous, solitary, flightless bird that is known to make the ground quake when it gathers with others during mating season. This bird dominates the great plains, eating tree leaves, grass, or anything else it can peck at. It has developed an elongated neck that gives the beak incredible piercing power. The wings, now useless for flying, have developed into elongated arms that can be used to grasp vegetation for easier eating.
    • Swamp Gliders - Looking like the mix between a cat and a chimp the 'Swamp Glider' lies in family units which eat the maggots uncovered by the Octosnails search for food, they also eat berries and nuts and if low on food may try to take down a Octosnail.
    • Spider Monkeys - Tiny (<1 ft) monkeys with 4 arms, 2 legs, 2 tails. Spin webs from their abdomens. Build nests from their webs. Venomous bite (sleep effect), mostly for defense. Live in troops. If desired, give them 3 Int and they can be domesticated to weave cloth from their webs...


    Small Carnivore:
    • Airkat - Distant relatives of the meerkat that live in their burrows made in clouds. They feed on the smaller lizards, insects, spiders, birds, and rodents that live amongst the cloudvines.
    • White Viper - White or translucent snakes that live in sub-freezing areas. Their camouflage can transform their bodies into icicles. Their venom can turn their victim's blood to ice.
    • Lenid - Robin to crow-sized avians with 4 legs, pair of wings. Beaks filled with sharp teeth. Travel in large flocks (30-300), attacking anything that moves. Fearless but incredibly stupid. Can be cannabilistic. Will stop attacking to devour anything that has fallen.


    Large Carnivore:
    • Giant Mud Octopus - Amphibious octopi that are the size of a moose, these creatures stalk smaller prey in the swamps and are known to be mobile enough to swing about on low-hanging branches, though their mobility is significantly stunted on solid ground. A favorite tactic is to lash out with their tentacles to pull prey into the water nearby.
    • Rannit - Large serpentine, 8-legged lizard with squat, round head filled with large fangs/tusks. Has an underbite. Very fast in warm climates, very succeptible to cold. Any non-cold climate would be appropriate.
    • Mere Cats - Tiger-like cats with green and yellow stripes, larger heads. Intelligent (>10 Int), psionic. Can walk on water (psionics), blend like chameleons. Live in small groups (<10). Swamps, generally coastal. Prefer the taste of large reptiles.


    Extras:
    • Drow Degenerates - These small sized Drow are believed to be amongst the first elves to fall from grace and begin worship of Her Wickedness, the Spider Queen Lolth. Cursed by Corellan Larethian for their unforgivable transgression, these early Drow are smaller and frailer than normal, and are completely blind. They have none of the usual SLAs but do gain tremorsense 60ft and Web (which they are personally immune to) as an at will ability (CL = HD, save Con based). Instead of normal skill bonuses, they gain a +4 to climb and move silently. They take -2 con, int and cha, +2 dex and wis. Favoured class is Scout.

      Because of their accursed and tainted nature, they are shunned by other Drow, but many exiled Drider use them as something between pets and fodder, since they only live about 40 years and breed profusely (use kobald age and breeding stats). They are frequently eaten by just about anything which will eat sentient creatures, and taste like evil chicken.
    Last edited by TheWombatOfDoom; 2012-08-01 at 08:07 AM.
    Scientific Name: Wombous apocolypticus | Diet: Apocolypse Pie | Cuddly: Yes

    World Building Project:
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    : The Stuff of Sentience | Fate: The Fabric of Physics | Luck: The Basis of Biology

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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Thinker's Avatar

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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Vegetation:
    • Cheese bushes - Bushes that grow wheels of cheese instead of berries. They have seeds throughout the wheels and spread by passing through the animals that eat the cheese.
    • Stoneroot - Large roots that grow deep into the ice. Their tops are hard, heavy, and dark colored, like a rock. They absorb energy from the sun due to their dark colors.
    • Cloudvines - These vines hang off the edges of clouds, but on the cloud surface, they sprawl out like a field of grass. The cloudvine and other cloud vegetation causes the cloud to increase in size until it is eventually torn apart by a cloud monger.


    Small Animals:
    • Airkat - Distant relatives of the meerkat that live in their burrows made in clouds. They feed on the smaller lizards, insects, spiders, birds, and rodents that live amongst the cloudvines.
    • Ember Deer - Dog-sized deer live along the slopes of volcanoes and other fiery areas. They ingest a healthy diet of volcanic rock and drink from lava flows to supplement their herbivorous diets. When they run from predators, they are accelerated by bursts of fire and when cornered, they can release all the pent up fire energy into the area around themselves. Males can wrap their antlers in fire.
    • White Viper - White or translucent snakes that live in sub-freezing areas. Their camouflage can transform their bodies into icicles. Their venom can turn their victim's blood to ice.


    Large Animals:
    • Moon Beetle - Nocturnal relatives of insects that are roughly the size of mammoths while in the moonlight, but shrink to the size of a small dog when the moon does not shine on them . They are omnivores, eating anything that is smaller than them, but only requiring food once every three weeks.
    • Giant Mud Octopus - Amphibious octopi that are the size of a moose, these creatures stalk smaller prey in the swamps and are known to be mobile enough to swing about on low-hanging branches, though their mobility is significantly stunted on solid ground. A favorite tactic is to lash out with their tentacles to pull prey into the water nearby.
    • Thunder Rhinoceros - White, grey, or black rhinoceros that live on top of clouds and eat from the cloud vines and their relatives. When they leave their cloud for another one, their charge across the open air creates thunder in the skies.
    • Cloud Monger - Giant, flying whale-sized behemoths that eat entire clouds. They live in pods and seek out the clouds for the lush vegetation found within. They are slow moving herbivores that swim through the air as easily as a fish through the sea.
    "Only I may walk in the shadow between realms. Though I go mad, I do so to awaken those who came before and shall once more come again."

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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    I don't remember the source, but there was this one table-top, world-building guidebook I saw that talked about fantasy ecology. One of the ideas that stood out was an elk-like creature that constantly radiated a magical field that promoted plant growth. This not only vastly increased their numbers, but gave other herbivores a large enough population boost to balance the predator-prey relation.

    Not sure if that's what you wanted, but I'm offering it anyway!

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Perhaps a snake-like creature that has an exccesively rough skin, think sandpaper crossed with razor blades.
    Open the lid and snatch a homebrewed treat from Cookie's Jar

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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Troll in the Playground
     
    TheWombatOfDoom's Avatar

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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Thinker, thank you for the menagerie. Since I'm going for as realistic as I can, it would be hard to use things like the ember deer. But! I like the way you think, and other people might be able to use them. Cheese Plant sounds a lot like something you'd find in xanth. I'm looking for something you might find in like, a serious fiction. So the ability to live in the clouds isn't possible.

    To all, I'm really looking for less variations of animals and more original animals. I know this is easier when you're talking about plants, but yeah, we're off to a good start! Try combining more animals together to get something. The more info the better :)
    Scientific Name: Wombous apocolypticus | Diet: Apocolypse Pie | Cuddly: Yes

    World Building Project:
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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Hmmmmm....

    Foxbearthing?
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    Quote Originally Posted by super dark33 View Post
    Hmmmmm....

    Foxbearthing?
    Haha, go on?
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    Thinker, thank you for the menagerie. Since I'm going for as realistic as I can, it would be hard to use things like the ember deer. But! I like the way you think, and other people might be able to use them. Cheese Plant sounds a lot like something you'd find in xanth. I'm looking for something you might find in like, a serious fiction. So the ability to live in the clouds isn't possible.

    To all, I'm really looking for less variations of animals and more original animals. I know this is easier when you're talking about plants, but yeah, we're off to a good start! Try combining more animals together to get something. The more info the better :)
    I didn't know how realistic you wanted to be since you referred to dragons, which are just about as realistic as cloud ecologies

    Here's a more realistic menagerie.

    Vegetation:
    • Silverberry Vine: Vines that become as thick as a tree trunk and grow large, silver colored berries. The berries are used in a wide variety of inks and dyes. The leaves are large and firm, able to support birds and small mammals, who live on the vines and eat the berries.
    • Cavekelp: Plants that hang from the roofs of caves, like seaweed rises from the seafloor. Highly nutritious and requires only a little indirect sunlight, though it requires a moist environment.
    • Frostferns: Large, bright ferns that grow in extremely cold environments. Sunlight activates a chemical reaction that thaws the leaves and the roots, melting the water around it and allowing them to grow.


    Herbivores:
    • Braidwalker: A large, swamp-dwelling reptile that feeds on tree leaves. It has three fingers and a thumb on it's front paws and four fingers and a thumb on it's hind paws. It also has a prehensile tail. The braidwalker also has spinnerets in each of it's forward limbs that can launch a thick, silk-like material, called braids, between trees. They use this to avoid having to leave the safety of their trees. Different regions have braidwalkers that make different patterns with their braids.
    • Great Arctic Camel: Gigantic camels that live in small herds and walk across the barren expanse of frozen lands. They travel between oases made by the heat of the frostferns. Their diet consists of frostferns and ice, though they can go for months without eating the ferns and days without eating ice. The frostferns gain benefit from this, as their spores could not reproduce without the camel's manure.
    • Rumble Bird: An enormous, solitary, flightless bird that is known to make the ground quake when it gathers with others during mating season. This bird dominates the great plains, eating tree leaves, grass, or anything else it can peck at. It has developed an elongated neck that gives the beak incredible piercing power. The wings, now useless for flying, have developed into elongated arms that can be used to grasp vegetation for easier eating.


    Other:
    • Stone Sappers: Giant relatives of insects that eat rocks. After their larval stage, they find rocks to attach to and their carapaces change over time to match their surroundings. Their legs and feet dig into the rock, growing longer and deeper the longer they stay, becoming almost like a root system. Their mouth's mandibles also attach to the rock and break it down with their acid-like saliva. Stone sappers gain nutrients from the rocks. Their mating takes place before they attach to a rock and the females release their eggs, which resemble small pebbles directly onto the ground nearby. They can live for decades and never stop growing, though they make for easy prey for those who know how to look for them.
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    I didn't know how realistic you wanted to be since you referred to dragons, which are just about as realistic as cloud ecologies

    Here's a more realistic menagerie.

    *snip*
    I like some of these a lot! Do you just make these up off the top of your head?

    As for having dragons in my world, I actually have an entire evolution chain to how dragons came to be. I have some explinations of other things that occur in high fantasy, such as merfolk and so on, but mainly I'm trying to get as realistic as possible while also entertaining the idea of some fantasy creatures.

    A few questions - The cavekelp - how does it get sunlight if it's in the roof of caves? Reflection off the water?

    - Arctic Camel - I love the idea of a creature that makes it's own habitat as it moves - the Everfrost tree. I may go a little further in this direction, however. For now I'll add them in, though you might see a change in their areas. I have to think about how the everfrost would work biologically.

    - Braidwalker's sound cool. Again I'll have to consider the implications. I'd be able to create several creatures that rely on the braidwalker to survive.

    -I'll just go on to say I like most of them, and the others are editable enough to make them to my liking. I like the ideas behind all. Thanks! Should you think of anymore, I'll take what you got! I'll start throwing in some of my own as well, as well as what creatures I'm hosting from fantasy already. Might be we can figure out somethings from those.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    I like some of these a lot! Do you just make these up off the top of your head?
    Yes. World building interests me.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    A few questions - The cavekelp - how does it get sunlight if it's in the roof of caves? Reflection off the water?
    I got the idea from the African Violet (aka Saintpaulia). It's a house plant that doesn't require direct sunlight so it can grow in dark places. I would imagine that cavekelp would be somewhat near the entrances of caves, where light can get in, but doesn't beat down on the area from above. The African Violet also doesn't need a specific type of light, for example can stay just fine with only fluorescent lights and so if there are alternative light sources in the caves, a cavekelp might use the same mechanism to survive.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    - Arctic Camel - I love the idea of a creature that makes it's own habitat as it moves - the Everfrost tree. I may go a little further in this direction, however. For now I'll add them in, though you might see a change in their areas. I have to think about how the everfrost would work biologically.

    - Braidwalker's sound cool. Again I'll have to consider the implications. I'd be able to create several creatures that rely on the braidwalker to survive.

    -I'll just go on to say I like most of them, and the others are editable enough to make them to my liking. I like the ideas behind all. Thanks! Should you think of anymore, I'll take what you got! I'll start throwing in some of my own as well, as well as what creatures I'm hosting from fantasy already. Might be we can figure out somethings from those.
    I'm glad you liked them. I was hoping that they would be generic enough for you to alter for your own uses.
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Saw this and just had to add my own. Also I think we should include the more fantastical creatures for people that may be looking for something like the flail snail.

    The Octosnail(Large Herbivore)
    The name octo snail is misleading as the species actually has 10total arms. About the size of a horse the large swamp dwelling snail swims or crawls on land. Using its arms it pulls food towards itself(from trees) or as a defense swaying the arms about. The large spiral shell protects it from predators when its tentacles will not suffice.

    Swamp Gliders(Omnivore)
    Looking like the mix between a cat and a chimp the 'Swamp Glider' lies in family units which eat the maggots uncovered by the Octosnails search for food, they also eat berries and nuts and if low on food may try to take down a Octosnail. Yes they actually can glide on there thin membrane.

    Armor-Snake (Omnivore)
    Armor-Snakes eat rocks, metals, fungi, and flesh. The massive snakes grow to 100ft in length, and are covered in massive scales. The snake has 16sets of pits(Pits are a organ which detect changes in temperature similar to infrared) along with 4different eyes to give the creature a greater field of vision.
    Armor-Snakes search for ore digging with there armored body into stone. Armor-Snakes sleep in these tunnels looping around to make a small chamber once the snake reaches maturity it freely moves about cave systems without fear of other predators except former siblings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vknight View Post
    Saw this and just had to add my own. Also I think we should include the more fantastical creatures for people that may be looking for something like the flail snail.
    Yes, I agree this could be useful for someone looking for lighter fantasy creatures. I might need to expand down a post to do that list. I'll be working on better descriptions for things too, so people actually know what they are.

    The Octosnail(Large Herbivore)
    That's a big shell! I'm not sure I like that it lives in a swamp, but eats things in trees. Tentacles are generally evolved for snatching prey. Herbavores develop ways of traveling to it's food. Still, I like the imagination of it! Think it would go well in the lighter fantasy?

    Swamp Gliders(Omnivore)
    Looking like the mix between a cat and a chimp the 'Swamp Glider' lies in family units which eat the maggots uncovered by the Octosnails search for food, they also eat berries and nuts and if low on food may try to take down a Octosnail. Yes they actually can glide on there thin membrane.
    What thin membrane?? I don't see mention of it other than there. Could you explain it a bit more?

    Armor-Snake (Omnivore)
    With a bit of editing, I like it!
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    I'm unsure at to how appropriate they may be, but I created a whole race of tiny -> large sized pseudo-intelligent insects. The size varies depending on what role they play (workers are tiny, warriors are small, males are medium, queen is large), and they're actually loosely based (very loosely!) on WotC's own Slivers from MtG. These guys (which I affectionately nicknamed Creeps) live by burrowing through rock to create hives and tunnel networks, breaking surface in places to allow foraging groups to search for food on the surface. When food is found in enough abundance, the whole area is under-mined and collapsed into a feeding cave below, where the hive gorges itself upon the rich bounty. Such feeding frenzies are uncommon but well documented, and more than a few 'purges' have been undertaken to clear Creep infestations. They are seen in subtle variation right across subarctic, temperate and subtropical zones, and are omnivorous.

    In foraging groups (usually 3-10 workers and 1-3 warriors) they are a small encounter, but also serve as prey to larger creatures, the hive is somewhere you don't want to go btw, a dragon might shirk it in honesty. The males and queen have psi-like abilities (limited but useful) and are the only ones with a set intelligence score (males have 6, queens have 8). Workers and warriors have little individual intelligence (1), but a group may behave as a single entity (thereby scaling up the intelligence depending on how many are in close proximity), making them both a prey and predator, depending on numbers and organisation.

    I mention them because they were designed to populate underground areas (the 'beardy zone' between surface and underdark), serve as food to larger predators and be able to predate intelligent species, allowing them to fit into most ecologies big enough to house a hive or two. I'll see how many of my notes I can find if you're interested..?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Veklim View Post
    I'll see how many of my notes I can find if you're interested..?
    Very interested. As a preliminary question however, this idea would be fitting into a work that will one day be published. Is this ok?
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    Very interested. As a preliminary question however, this idea would be fitting into a work that will one day be published. Is this ok?
    As long as I retain 'creative' rights, sure! I'm writing a novel myself (half a million characters and counting) which may or may not be finished before I die of old age...they figure in it a little, and are more important in a set of sequels (hah!) which I wanna write if I ever finish the first one!
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Feel free to change any of these names as you see fit.


    Vegetation:

    Dusk Creeper; Rapidly growing weed consisting of multiple stalks and vines. It grows beautiful, pearly berries which are coloured a mix of pinks and oranges, hence the plants name. The berries are poisonous to most creatures, but release an extremely wonderful scent upon very minor bruising or cutting, which attracts many creatures to eat them; while the creature will die, it either lives long enough to pass on some of the seeds in it's stool, or the seeds will grow from the animals rotting corpse. Due to the plants rapidly growing nature, the berries are often forced into tight spaces or are pushed from their place, which often leads to them being damaged and releasing the scent.

    Quivering Wart; What the tin says. The Quivering Wart is a large, bulbous plunt or fungus, resembling a great red or brown lump rising from the ground. They live in relatively dry areas, like saharas or dusty scrublands. It is sponge like in texture, and absorbs a lot of water; more than is needed for it to survive. Animals, who might be having a hard time finding water in the local area, come and drink the spare water from the surface of the Wart, or suck it directly from the sponge directly; the disturbance causes the "quivering", which might not seem large but is just enough to help the plant disperse a cloud of seeds/spores.


    Small Herbavore:

    Bursters; Bursters are lizard-like creatures which are slightly larger than cats. They often eat poisonous foods and plants on purpose, like the berries of the Dusk Creeper, but their bodies are specially adapted to store the poison within special glands all over their body. Bursters live in large, very social herds. When threatened by a predator, the herd will flee, but if they cannot outrun the predator, then one or two Bursters will get near the predator and rapidly increase the pressure around their poison glands; the Burster sacrifices itself for the herd by violently exploding the majority of its body to shower the predator with poison, to scare it away from the rest of the herd. Even if no Burster makes the sacrifice and one of them is caught, then the effect is pretty much the same anyway; the predator bites into its freshly caught snack and gets a mouthful of poison.


    Large Herbavore:

    Hammer Head; Immensely strong forest dwelling mammal, with large boney growths on the fronts of their heads. Their strong necks mean they can swing their heads very hard, very fast. They swing their heads sideways into trees, and their boney growths smash open the bark, allowing them to drink the nutritious sap. The trees are also shaken by the impact, causing them to drop their fruit. At times when fruit is rare, and there is little sap, Hammer Heads will tear up the ground with their head growths in search of nutritous roots, or will simply eat less filling plants from the forest floor.


    Insect/Large Herbavore:

    Mountain Worm; Smaller relative of the Purple Worm, though they're still longer than a man. It lives on scree and vegetation covered mountain slopes, where it enjoys chomping down on decaying plant matter or burrowing under ground for nutrients. By living on mountains, predators who are not capable of climbing or leaping up the rocky slopes have a hard time getting close to it. However, it has a defence against those whoc an reach it; like the Purple Worm, it has a sting in its tail, though the Mountain Worm's is not poisonous, but it is formed from extremely hard chitin which can tear through a predator.


    Small Carnivore:

    Tumble Runner; Tumble Runners are quick, four legged mammals, slightly larger than your average wolf, with very tough, scaly hides and excellent coordination. The Tumble Runner is an ambush predator; it lurks in high, unlikely places, and then launches itself violently at prey. Its thick hide means that long falls typically do nothing to it, and its coordination skills mean that it can quickly stand up again if it has fallen over. The Tumble Runner than runs after any surprised prey in the area.
    E.g.; a herd of some animal thinks its safe in a deep crevice with steep sides. The Tumble Runner will simply launch itself into the crevice from the top, and its thick hide will protect it from any harm as it smashes against and bounces off the crevice's walls. If it then lands on its side after it's rapid descent, it will get itself back on all fours in the blink of an eye, and then go after the herd.
    Last edited by Obnoxious Hydra; 2012-07-27 at 05:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    As an insect: Flesh ripper flies.

    These things travel as a swarm, capaple of turning a human into bones in half a minute. Primaraly carrion feeders, these things introduce other neutrients into the ecosystem not normaly attainable. Despite being carrion feeders, they have been known to attack living prey.
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Ok, little idea whilst I prepare the Creeps in a FFF (forum friendly format ):

    Drow Degenerates.
    These small sized Drow are believed to be amongst the first elves to fall from grace and begin worship of Her Wickedness, the Spider Queen Lolth. Cursed by Corellan Larethian for their unforgivable transgression, these early Drow are smaller and frailer than normal, and are completely blind. They have none of the usual SLAs but do gain tremorsense 60ft and Web (which they are personally immune to) as an at will ability (CL = HD, save Con based). Instead of normal skill bonuses, they gain a +4 to climb and move silently. They take -2 con, int and cha, +2 dex and wis. Favoured class is Scout.

    Because of their accursed and tainted nature, they are shunned by other Drow, but many exiled Drider use them as something between pets and fodder, since they only live about 40 years and breed profusely (use kobald age and breeding stats). They are frequently eaten by just about anything which will eat sentient creatures, and taste like evil chicken.
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Alright folks, I've begun fleshing out the animals on the OP. Some are closer to others. I'm looking on suggestions on what there is so far. Blue is stuff i'm considering, if you have any ideas toward these, I'd love your help! And keep the creatures coming! Any unused ones I'll more than likely put in my second post (post 3) once I get the ones I have taken on already. That way I can even reference that list if I think of an idea for them. Any creature I transformed into appropriate to my world will not get an OP quote on that list, so you'll have to peruse.

    Thank you all so far for the ideas, and I hope you like what I've done so far!
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    The thing about dragons is they can probably visit other planes to find foodsources, travel long distances, and teleport. So a concentrated population like that is likely just a social concern. Like a rookery, but for dragons.

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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Quote Originally Posted by urkthegurk View Post
    The thing about dragons is they can probably visit other planes to find foodsources, travel long distances, and teleport. So a concentrated population like that is likely just a social concern. Like a rookery, but for dragons.
    Well there's plenty of other things besides dragons in most settings. but I have some campaign specific reasons why they can't teleport or access to other planes.
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Sure. They can still traverse entire continents though.

    Its worth noting that in the few 'natural' (non human-despoiled) regions we have left, like a few coral reefs or dense jungle, there is actually a preponderance of large predators... far from the swirling clouds of fish, a healthy coral reef has a few sharks, constantly patrolling and... thats it. Same with the rainforest. There are jaguars and anacondas, and then there are no herbivores bigger than a capybara.

    Most large populations of herbivores prevail because of A: an abscence of predators, like dodos, or lemmings, which breed incredible numbers, leading to an increase in predators, leading to a crash in the lemming population, leading to starvation of many of the predators, leading to a lot of lemmings again. In this case, the lemmings lameness and lack of a defense is actually its strategy to control predator populations.

    or else its B: they prevail because they are untouchable. Nothing in the dinosaur kingdom could touch a sauropod, so the huge inefficient bastards were everywhere. The only thing keeping their population in check was their deliciousness at younger in-between ages, and their yummy eggs. Bison were a similar sitch: sure humans hunted them prolifically, but a wolf or a mountain lion would only go after a young or very old bison.

    On the Serengeti its more complicated, mostly caused by the admixture of a lot of different species that evolved in different parts of the continent, came together, and have been competing for millions of years. Lions will even hunt elephants, albeit only when desperate, so there is no invulnerability, but the lions are social and keep their own populations in check by competition, unlike sharks. I imagine also the scarcity of resources like water means that large predators and large prey animals can co-exist in relative abundance.

    In short, only death allows for life. You need some sort of catastrophe or THING that kills off dragons periodically, or else put up with an ecosystem that is basically just dragons, with very few new dragons emerging to take the place of the old ones that die. Sort of like a tree falling in the dense forest, and all the young trees racing to take its place... In my campaign the world is overlayed by a demonic plane every 300 years, and the dragons understandably go to war with the invaders, loosing a large number of their kind in the process.

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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Quote Originally Posted by urkthegurk View Post
    Sure. They can still traverse entire continents though.

    *snip*
    Well, what I'm getting at is I'm trying to make a setting where a large amount of dragons is sustainable. They're a sentient race with language and culture, and there are 11 clans, some that battle each other, so they keep each other in check. Some dragons are banished to other continents - the rest live and stay on one. Dragons are rare in the rest of the world because of this. But even so, in settings and in my world there are other things other places. Ogres fitting into an ecosystem, or harpies, or nagas. All of these hunt and eat and are "intelligent/super predators". I'm reverse engineering things to follow this, basically making the world ecosystem similar but different.
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Some of the dragons think of themselves as, well, predators, and eat the ogres, etc. Some of them think of themselves as enlightened beings, and subsist on very little, like morning dew and the occasional ground squirrel.

    Vast herds of one or two types of prey might be your only option, I can't see a complex ecosystem supporting large predators without being depleted super fast. Which is fine: a barren moor-like landscape populated with a few cowering prey animals seems like the perfect scene for a dragon.

    If those giant hares burrow (not a burrow speed, just tunnels to hide in) then the dragons would have to at least take awhile to dig 'em out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by urkthegurk View Post
    Some of the dragons think of themselves as, well, predators, and eat the ogres, etc. Some of them think of themselves as enlightened beings, and subsist on very little, like morning dew and the occasional ground squirrel.

    Vast herds of one or two types of prey might be your only option, I can't see a complex ecosystem supporting large predators without being depleted super fast. Which is fine: a barren moor-like landscape populated with a few cowering prey animals seems like the perfect scene for a dragon.

    If those giant hares burrow (not a burrow speed, just tunnels to hide in) then the dragons would have to at least take awhile to dig 'em out.
    You're thinking along a different line to the purpose of the thread. You're trying to disprove my need for it at all, while I'm saying that I do need it. Allow me to figure out the balance, I'm looking for creatures. As for lack of support for a complex ecosystem, I feel that all that needs to be tweaked is how the animals survive despite large predators, such as defense against them, or other factors like reproduction, or specific dietary requirements. I appreciate any imput, but telling me there isn't a need for the creatures here is a bit counter-intuitive. Especially because compiling a list is great for other people who might like to use some. I might not use all of them for the dragon area, but I certainly can distribute them acrossed my world.
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Quote Originally Posted by urkthegurk View Post
    Its worth noting that in the few 'natural' (non human-despoiled) regions we have left, like a few coral reefs or dense jungle, there is actually a preponderance of large predators... far from the swirling clouds of fish, a healthy coral reef has a few sharks, constantly patrolling and... thats it. Same with the rainforest. There are jaguars and anacondas, and then there are no herbivores bigger than a capybara.
    The largest herbivores in the Amazon are tapirs. They have thick hides and are big enough that it is a challenge for jaguars and anacondas to hunt them. At maturity, the South American Tapir is about 225 kg and 1.8 to 2.5m in length. Otherwise, Jaguars find plenty of prey in that they eat rodents, frogs, reptiles, deer, monkeys, and anything else they can catch in the forest.

    Coral reefs are also home to millions of species, not just a few reef sharks. Within the reef, the reef sharks are the apex predator and eat anything that they can, from fish, jellyfish, and squid to octopi and other sharks.[/QUOTE]

    Quote Originally Posted by urkthegurk View Post
    Most large populations of herbivores prevail because of A: an abscence of predators, like dodos, or lemmings, which breed incredible numbers, leading to an increase in predators, leading to a crash in the lemming population, leading to starvation of many of the predators, leading to a lot of lemmings again. In this case, the lemmings lameness and lack of a defense is actually its strategy to control predator populations.
    This isn't correct. Large populations of herbivores are prevalent because that's how the species survives predation. Even if a large number are eaten, there are plenty of others to pass along their genes. This is seen in deer, rats, buffalo, zebras, prairie dogs, goats, sheep, monkeys, ducks, yaks, and many, many more species.

    Lemmings don't really behave any different from other rodent population except in how they handle predators. Rather than fleeing from all threats, lemmings are erratic and are just as likely to attack the predator and have brighter, more distinctive displays that are likely a warning to predators.

    Quote Originally Posted by urkthegurk View Post
    or else its B: they prevail because they are untouchable. Nothing in the dinosaur kingdom could touch a sauropod, so the huge inefficient bastards were everywhere. The only thing keeping their population in check was their deliciousness at younger in-between ages, and their yummy eggs. Bison were a similar sitch: sure humans hunted them prolifically, but a wolf or a mountain lion would only go after a young or very old bison.
    This is a rarity among herbivores and even size doesn't keep them safe from everything. Packs of wolves specialize in taking down American bison, lions hunt elephants in particularly lean times (like every dry season), and there is some evidence that packs of allosaurs attacked sauropods. Further, larger herbivores typically have slower reproductive cycles and are very vulnerable when young. No species is untouchable.

    Quote Originally Posted by urkthegurk View Post
    On the Serengeti its more complicated, mostly caused by the admixture of a lot of different species that evolved in different parts of the continent, came together, and have been competing for millions of years. Lions will even hunt elephants, albeit only when desperate, so there is no invulnerability, but the lions are social and keep their own populations in check by competition, unlike sharks. I imagine also the scarcity of resources like water means that large predators and large prey animals can co-exist in relative abundance.
    I'm not really sure where you're getting this from. Ecosystems adapt with migration until there is something close to equilibrium and it doesn't take millions of years. The Serengeti is no more unique than the Russian Steppes. Also, most species compete for the right to mate, they just do it in different ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by urkthegurk View Post
    In short, only death allows for life. You need some sort of catastrophe or THING that kills off dragons periodically, or else put up with an ecosystem that is basically just dragons, with very few new dragons emerging to take the place of the old ones that die. Sort of like a tree falling in the dense forest, and all the young trees racing to take its place... In my campaign the world is overlayed by a demonic plane every 300 years, and the dragons understandably go to war with the invaders, loosing a large number of their kind in the process.
    Life is cruel. A lot of predator populations don't explode for a number of reasons. Disease takes some. Competition among siblings takes others in their youth (not many runts of the litter survive to adulthood). Some prey animals also frequently attack young predators to kill them before they become a threat. Other predators eat the prey. The environment might have a season where food becomes scarce, thus starving other prey animals. In short, there's more to an ecosystem than some sort of boom and bust cycle.
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Some for a world I've been developing:

    Small Omnivore/prey
    Spider Monkeys: Tiny (<1 ft) monkeys with 4 arms, 2 legs, 2 tails. Spin webs from their abdomens. Build nests from their webs. Venomous bite (sleep effect), mostly for defense. Live in troops. If desired, give them 3 Int and they can be domesticated to weave cloth from their webs...

    Large Herbivore/prey:
    Tuskbeast: primarily docile, elephant-sized creatures with 4 foot razor tusks curving forward from their mouths (1 on each side, parallel to the ground). Tusks are used to scrape vegetation/knock down trees/dig/defense. Their hide is filled with lithoderms, granting them a substantial natural armor bonus. Generally slow moving. Eat bushes/trees/any other plant matter they encounter. Often domesticated for their meat and hides. More reptillian than mamallian. Herdbeasts. Any climate with large amounts of vegetation is appropriate.

    Kraten: Giant crab-like creatures, some growing more than 20 - 40 feet wide. Flat backs. 8 legs, walk forward like spiders. Stone-like shell. Eat vegetation and rotting flesh. Live in swamps/coastal regions. Some have been domesticated, with homes built on their broad backs.

    Small Predator
    Lenid: Robin to crow-sized avians with 4 legs, pair of wings. Beaks filled with sharp teeth. Travel in large flocks (30-300), attacking anything that moves. Fearless but incredibly stupid. Can be cannabilistic. Will stop attacking to devour anything that has fallen.

    Large Predator
    Rannit: Large serpentine, 8-legged lizard with squat, round head filled with large fangs/tusks. Has an underbite. Very fast in warm climates, very succeptible to cold. Any non-cold climate would be appropriate.

    Mere Cats: Tiger-like cats with green and yellow stripes, larger heads. Intelligent (>10 Int), psionic. Can walk on water (psionics), blend like chameleons. Live in small groups (<10). Swamps, generally coastal. Prefer the taste of large reptiles.

    That's all I've got for now. I may add more later.
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    Default Re: Balancing the Foodchain

    Quote Originally Posted by TheWombatOfDoom View Post
    You're thinking along a different line to the purpose of the thread. You're trying to disprove my need for it at all, while I'm saying that I do need it. Allow me to figure out the balance, I'm looking for creatures. As for lack of support for a complex ecosystem, I feel that all that needs to be tweaked is how the animals survive despite large predators, such as defense against them, or other factors like reproduction, or specific dietary requirements. I appreciate any imput, but telling me there isn't a need for the creatures here is a bit counter-intuitive. Especially because compiling a list is great for other people who might like to use some. I might not use all of them for the dragon area, but I certainly can distribute them acrossed my world.
    Oh ha ha, no, I like the thread! I'm just trying to work out the way ecosystems function on a world with tons of dragons. As I said before, my dragons tend to go to other planes to feed. The material plane is generally human-habitable because its a rookery for dragons, and their tendency to not hunt close to home. Rampaging dragons are a rarity, happening only when a dragon for some reason looses the ability to travel, or becomes psychotic. So its a new puzzle.

    Defenses are of course, something that creatures want to have, but in the balance the predators either find way to hunt them anyway, or they don't. If we're talking a large population of dragons (like how many, btw? And how big is the continent? Lets get a dragon-per-square-mile estimate)

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    Life is cruel. A lot of predator populations don't explode for a number of reasons. Disease takes some. Competition among siblings takes others in their youth (not many runts of the litter survive to adulthood). Some prey animals also frequently attack young predators to kill them before they become a threat. Other predators eat the prey. The environment might have a season where food becomes scarce, thus starving other prey animals. In short, there's more to an ecosystem than some sort of boom and bust cycle.
    Yes! Its true, very good point. We're talking about an 'ecosystem', though, that HAS a (mostly) permanent boom going on, so I'm just discussing ways to achieve that. Some of my other points are kinda sloppy I admit, and thats partly due to ignorance, but also partly because I am trying to apply the existence of dragons (or other super-super-super predators) to these examples.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    The largest herbivores in the Amazon are tapirs. They have thick hides and are big enough that it is a challenge for jaguars and anacondas to hunt them. At maturity, the South American Tapir is about 225 kg and 1.8 to 2.5m in length. Otherwise, Jaguars find plenty of prey in that they eat rodents, frogs, reptiles, deer, monkeys, and anything else they can catch in the forest.
    That's a bit bigger than a leopard, though, and nothing we've seen here has similar defenses against a dragon. Even the whale is just a flying ball of meat. Without supernatural defenses, nothing is going to have 'tough enough hide' to be a challenge vs. dragon. So imagine if, in this scenario, every time a jaguar met a tapir, it could kill it with relative impunity. The only thing limiting population growth here is food supply, and since the dragon doesn't have to work to hunt, the food species will plummet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    Coral reefs are also home to millions of species, not just a few reef sharks. Within the reef, the reef sharks are the apex predator and eat anything that they can, from fish, jellyfish, and squid to octopi and other sharks.
    I meant the other species were there, just not in large (as-large) populations, and you can't see them. I was attempting to convey the sense of a barren landscape patrolled by a few relentless super predators. Yes, there are a lot of species, but they constantly hide. Not that any of these suggested species are off the table! Its just they better be hiding someplace!

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    This isn't correct. Large populations of herbivores are prevalent because that's how the species survives predation. Even if a large number are eaten, there are plenty of others to pass along their genes. This is seen in deer, rats, buffalo, zebras, prairie dogs, goats, sheep, monkeys, ducks, yaks, and many, many more species.
    Large numbers as a method of keeping predation in check works, but only as long as the predator numbers are low. Which means they have to have secondary defenses, none of which work against a dragon. Deer run away: can't outrun a dragon. Buffalo fight together to protect the herd: won't work against a dragon (at least for the species we've seen). Zebras fight, run away, AND are confusing to look at! The confusing thing might work on dragons? Monkeys hide up in trees. Ducks fly, and also migrate, so a predator population can't depend on them year-round and has to find other food sources, limiting the population to whatever the year-round species can support. Sheep are a domesticated species that rely on humans to protect them, which, you guessed it, probably won't work...

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    This is a rarity among herbivores and even size doesn't keep them safe from everything. Packs of wolves specialize in taking down American bison, lions hunt elephants in particularly lean times (like every dry season), and there is some evidence that packs of allosaurs attacked sauropods. Further, larger herbivores typically have slower reproductive cycles and are very vulnerable when young. No species is untouchable.
    Yes; I mentioned the lions going after elephants thing, and made specific reference to wolves in particular going after the young, slow-developing bison calves. And the delicious baby sauropods. As a rule, packs go after the weakest in the herd, if there is no weak member perhaps they would try their luck with a healthy one. I am talking about invulnerability as a strategy, though, and like all strategies, it sometimes fails. It will fail every single time with dragons, though, unless we are talking steam-jet-shooting sauropods, or razor-wind-bison. Both of which would be awesome, but not 'realistic' enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thinker View Post
    I'm not really sure where you're getting this from. Ecosystems adapt with migration until there is something close to equilibrium and it doesn't take millions of years. The Serengeti is no more unique than the Russian Steppes. Also, most species compete for the right to mate, they just do it in different ways.
    Yes I agree, it is in equilibrium, or as close to it as one can accomplish in nature. Or at least it was pre-overdevelopment and desertification. The Russian Steppes are sort of unique though, c'mon.. Most ecosystems are. This one is characterized by a plethora of prey animals, all of different species.

    The genus Equus evolved in N. America. The genus Elephantidae evolved in Asia and Europe. Antelopes, Wildebeest and other Bovids keep on popping up everywhere. These are only the most 'iconic' species, there are of course many many more. They all migrated into Africa, resulting in a every-changing but paradoxically still stable ecosystem, in a process that took millions of years. Humans and Lions both evolved there.

    Not that this last point has much to do with dragons, but I do SORT OF know what I'm talking about. A little bit, at least.

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