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Thread: Life cycles

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    OrcBarbarianGirl

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    Default Life cycles

    There is a post by Millstone85 about how a gibbering becomes a beholder, the matter seemed curious enough to ask if anyone has something similar.

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    I am glad that you liked my post, or at least the idea of creature A being in fact a young creature B.

    For reference, I made that post in DuctTapeKatar's Alternate Creature Interpretations thread, and I titled my post Full Life Cycle of the Gibbering Beholding Beast.

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    Dragons are hive queens, served by asexual kobolds (in my game, called dragon-newts), and dragonborn (in my game, called dragonkin) - collectively called the dragonbrood or hive.

    The dragon lays hundreds of eggs. Most of these hatch as newts, but some are selected for a ritual to create dragonkin. The ritual involves the amassing of treasure sufficient to bury the egg, used as a focus.

    A similar but importantly different ritual will produce a true wyrmling dragon - in addition to the focus of treasure, the brood must provide a sacrifice - for evil dragons, that's usually some harmless individual of a sapient species, for good dragons it's a libation of expensive incense and oils.
    This is usually done to seed a new hive: the dragon-newts and dragonkin will carry the new egg away to establish a new hive on the extreme edges of the queen's range. Sometimes, however, it's done by renegades of a brood, seeking to break away and set up a new hive.

    Finally, the process of becoming a dragon disciple is a step on the path for a newt or dragonkin to becoming a full dragon queen. Once they become a half-dragon, they may ritually cocoon themselves and with the aid of their followers enact a metamorphosing ritual similar to that required to make a wyrmling - emerging as a greatly experienced dragon, more powerful than a simple wyrmling.
    Dark rumours even speak of non-dragonbrood who follow this path...

    So when kobolds show up in the region, it's not just a distracting low level adventure - it's the beginning of a campaign!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xania View Post
    There is a post by Millstone85 about how a gibbering becomes a beholder, the matter seemed curious enough to ask if anyone has something similar.
    There's actually a few of that are canonically. The Phoelarch and Phoera from Monster III come to mimd, as do the Neothelid and Elder Brain from the Expamded Psionics Handbook

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    The two main thoughts that have gotten me hardest are Illithids that have the "grown larvae" be a more proper part of the life cycle and an Undead "life" cycle.

    With the former, the main thought is for Neothelids to be degenerated elderly, of a sort, with there being a few stages between Illithocyte and Neothelid that act as a proper independent life cycle, while the Ulitharid metamorphosis into Elder Brain is expanded upon as needing one of those intermediate stages to stabilize the striped-down Ceremorph that is the literal brain, lacking pretty much any vital organs. Whether this is a Ceremorphosis itself, with the "Elder Brain" being the Illithocyte rather than the Ulitharid, is almost singularly of intellectual importance, and may vary on a case-by-case basis and form a significant, though typically overlooked, barrier among the Elder Brains themselves, likely regarding the egotism of the individual specimen and by extension willingness to self-sacrifice by creating Brain Golems and degree of pressure against Arcane study.

    As for the nature of the in-between states, the Neothelid, as mentioned, is when they've "spoiled" and lost higher thought, if only as a matter of no longer caring for any matter other than raw consumption, with many of their other "unintelligent" properties being matters of Psionic consumption inherited from the Illithocyte stage. The first stage after Illithocyte, then, would be the functional individual breakpoint, similar to adolescents in more typical species. Individually-meaningful Psionic consumption, with an acidic "bite" that can deal meaningful injuries in its own right. Likely still able to undergo Ceremorposis with some specific targets, such as appropriately-sized dragons, and sometimes survive becoming an Uchuulon (with the completed Ceremorphosis having markedly different properties), with their pre-existing sapience offering a much quicker time to become active afterwords.

    Then the "adult" stage, capable of spawning in its own right and ultimately used in a pair-bonding with Ulitharids to form an Elder Brain, would have an acidic "spit", a precursor to the Neothelid's acidic cloud, and enough active Psionic consumption to essentially act as a supernatural Catapsi effect, devouring Psionic energy from pretty much every creature in its surroundings. Sort of the "shutdown button" to stop Psions from going Batman-Strange on the setting, and offering a reason for there to be Alhoons in polite Illithid society, because when one of these things goes off the deep end, there's very little Psionics able to actually do anything to it. Pretty much only an Elder Brain would have any hope, and by the time it decides to get close enough, it's running with enough charge to most likely win that fight. Hence Alhoons being present to beat the things down with Arcane powers.

    As for Undead... I'll save that for another post, to focus discussion on Illithid.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    Dragons are hive queens, served by asexual kobolds (in my game, called dragon-newts), and dragonborn (in my game, called dragonkin) - collectively called the dragonbrood or hive.
    I like this, a lot. But you left out the matter of how dragons mate.

    A few possibilities:
    • Male dragons do not exist. Instead, the ritual to create a wyrmling involves blood from a different dragon than the one that laid the egg.
    • Like in an ant colony, drones do not survive the mating flight. In fact, they are non-sapient wyverns or diminutive pseudodragons.
    • Like a termite colony, the dragonbrood has a royal couple. The king is smaller than the queen, but still bigger than the dragonborn soldiers and kobold workers.
    • Dragons hatch male but become female as they grow up, which would complicate the process of creating a new hive.
    • Dragons are simultaneously male and female. Though capable of self-fertilization, they prefer to seek a partner.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    There's actually a few of that are canonically.
    I think the best known canon example is the stalactite monster (piercer) being the larval form of the stalagmite monster (roper).

    Quote Originally Posted by Morphic tide View Post
    I'll save that for another post, to focus discussion on Illithid.
    Not really a life cycle, but a common fan(?) theory is that illithids are degenerate aboleths from the future.

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    I have dwarfs start out as maggot like larvae inspired by their origins in Norse myth.

    The female dwarf births a large quantity of small eggs, places them in a pit, hollow or other suitable area to keep them safe and contained and the parent, couple or clan then feeds the resultant larvae on various organic waste products, mostly food scraps and plant mulch, with this period lasting for several years. As the larvae grow bigger they gradually cannibalise one another until all the survivors have reached sufficient size and nutrient density to metamorphose, at which point they all pupate in the brood pit and emerge several weeks later as sapient adult dwarfs. The more space and food the brood has the more that can reach adulthood.

    My dwarfs are naturally pretty greedy and largely solitary, so it's rare for one to provide enough food for more than one or two offspring to reach adulthood. They mostly have kids in the hope of getting them to do free work as an apprentice for a few decades and then boot them out when they start challenging their parent's wishes.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    I like this, a lot. But you left out the matter of how dragons mate.

    A few possibilities:
    • Male dragons do not exist. Instead, the ritual to create a wyrmling involves blood from a different dragon than the one that laid the egg.
    • Like in an ant colony, drones do not survive the mating flight. In fact, they are non-sapient wyverns or diminutive pseudodragons.
    • Like a termite colony, the dragonbrood has a royal couple. The king is smaller than the queen, but still bigger than the dragonborn soldiers and kobold workers.
    • Dragons hatch male but become female as they grow up, which would complicate the process of creating a new hive.
    • Dragons are simultaneously male and female. Though capable of self-fertilization, they prefer to seek a partner.
    This is a PG13 site, so I left the details for your imagination - but my own take on it is that dragons are hermaphroditic and self-fertilise.

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    Thanks everybody, has been better than i thought

    @Altair_the Vexed
    I like it for some weird kinds like the yellow dragons, they are seen very rarely because they are too busy in the hive.


    @Grim Portent
    How those dwarves look? Sound like insects.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xania View Post
    @Grim Portent
    How those dwarves look? Sound like insects.
    I go back and forth on it a bit, for one setting I have them as insect/mammal mixtures, sort of like bipedal house crickets with a pair of vestigial limbs and various human features smushed in, for another setting which is supposed to cleave more to folklore they're just normal dwarfs, though not as sturdy as often portrayed.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

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    Default Re: Life cycles

    it's nothing fancy like one race turning into another race or whatever...

    but i always liked the idea of Goblins reproducing in litters.

    The way i see it, when a Goblin gets pregnant, she starts releasing a pheromone that causes other nearby females to begin lactating. That way, when the swarm of children is born, there will be enough food for them to go around as the whole tribe helps provide for them.

    Female goblins are likely able to begin lactating like this before they're sexually mature enough to birth goblins of their own, this would help prevent situations where most females in the tribe are pregnant at around the same time and being unable to feed all the resulting spawn.

    The tradeoff for this is of course the Goblin's high mortality rate. I'd imagine just through being a Goblin, only two-thirds to a half of the resulting children reach adulthood, and adults die pretty frequently. Likely Goblins only live around ten years or so and reach physical maturity at two or three. Though that could always be tweaked.
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    During elven gestation, minor fey spirits of the land are absorbed into the fetus.
    This, more so than heredity, determines what kind of elf is born.
    environment elven type
    sea or coast sea elf
    underdark dark elf
    wilderness wood elf
    city or countryside high elf
    If several environments apply, like with a coastal city, the highest in the table wins.
    The elven half of a half-elf is also determined in this way.

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    I've been wondering about the carrion crawler. Does it turn into a carrion moth? I'm also slightly annoyed that giant caterpillars don't become giant butterflies/moths. It seems so silly to me not to include such a creature.

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    I've always liked the idea of elves, dwarves, and halflings all being the same race at different stages and in different genders. Elves being the flighty, fay, serendipitous male adults and dwarves being the gruff, steadfast, homebody female adults. The two groups almost never mix, and in fact can't stand each other most of the time, except in a short mating season that comes around roughly every 50 or so years and lasts for roughly 3 months, though different regional groups might have different cycles than others and the period might be shorter or longer. In between this time, however, the two groups are distinctly unfriendly towards each other and indeed prefer the company of their own kind, both romantically and otherwise.

    Halflings, however, are the child and adolescent stage. From birth to the beginnings of puberty* they are drastically different from their adult stages and once able to fend for themselves are driven from the dwarven halls to learn about the world. Upon reaching puberty they begin their transformation into their adult stage, becoming either Tallfellow Halflings(male) or Deep/Stout Halflings(female) and proceed to slowly grow into their new forms over the course of 50-65 years. Once they've reached full maturity* they feel a yearning to return to the lands of their birth and from there to seek out the settlements of their respective type.

    This helps to explain why both elves and dwarves appear to be dwindling, ancient races that almost never seem to have any new members come about and the child-like antics and theivery of the hobbitshalflings.

    *I use these words because they're the best analogy, not what actually happens. Halflings grow at a similar rate to gnomes and reach the end of their adolescent stage around 60-ish, though they are physically, mentally, and emotionally equipped to do the deed well before then albeit highly unlikely to be fertile or even really wanting to until they enter the Middle stage. Upon the end of their middle stage they reach "maturity" though again, it is fully possible for them to have children before that point.
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    Draconi Redfir
    Although it's not fancy that's enough. Instead of goblins i use gibberlings, tasloi and mites, among others, most likely some of them act like that aswel.


    Millstone85
    I like that, could be applied to other magical things, like dragons.


    Aniikinis
    Dwarfs and elves being the same sounds strange to me, but makes sense having two kind of halflings that are pocket versions of them and another one being a race of Artful Dodgers and Tom Sawers.


    the_david
    Tried to make carrion crawlers become mindflyers, because the squid-like head, but such idea never went too far.
    Last edited by Xania; 2019-08-08 at 06:33 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xania View Post
    Dwarfs and elves being the same sounds strange to me, but makes sense having two kind of halflings that are pocket versions of them and another one being a race of Artful Dodgers and Tom Sawers.
    Yeah, the idea came about after a jaunt and a few things from 4chan. From there I just kept picking at it and embellishing it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Quarian Rex View Post
    Sometimes you need more than well crafted crunch. Sometimes you need well crafted crunch that is playable in the game.
    Black for normal/uncaring/bored. Purple for in love. Blue for being a jerk/sarcastic bum.

    Black(Blue and Green) or Sultai is my khanate, and my colour alignment.

    For some strange reason I have a severe reaction to sunlight when it hits my eyes, no clue why or what causes it so yeah...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    Dragons are hive queens, served by asexual kobolds (in my game, called dragon-newts), and dragonborn (in my game, called dragonkin) - collectively called the dragonbrood or hive.

    The dragon lays hundreds of eggs. Most of these hatch as newts, but some are selected for a ritual to create dragonkin. The ritual involves the amassing of treasure sufficient to bury the egg, used as a focus.

    A similar but importantly different ritual will produce a true wyrmling dragon - in addition to the focus of treasure, the brood must provide a sacrifice - for evil dragons, that's usually some harmless individual of a sapient species, for good dragons it's a libation of expensive incense and oils.
    This is usually done to seed a new hive: the dragon-newts and dragonkin will carry the new egg away to establish a new hive on the extreme edges of the queen's range. Sometimes, however, it's done by renegades of a brood, seeking to break away and set up a new hive.

    Finally, the process of becoming a dragon disciple is a step on the path for a newt or dragonkin to becoming a full dragon queen. Once they become a half-dragon, they may ritually cocoon themselves and with the aid of their followers enact a metamorphosing ritual similar to that required to make a wyrmling - emerging as a greatly experienced dragon, more powerful than a simple wyrmling.
    Dark rumours even speak of non-dragonbrood who follow this path...

    So when kobolds show up in the region, it's not just a distracting low level adventure - it's the beginning of a campaign!
    This is very similar to my own take on dragons and dragonkin. Main difference is that true dragons are born rather than made; the kobolds, dragonborn, and drakes come from unfertilized eggs, while another true dragon egg is laid only after the mother has mated. This happens very infrequently, due to dragon courtship being wrapped up in their complicated politics. Dragons and dragonkin are all hermaphroditic, and the kobolds, dragonborn, etc can also mate among themselves (though they aren't terribly fertile); this is how small, independent dragonkin societies without a ruling dragon can exist here and there.


    I also came up with a couple other sort of hive-like systems to tie related groups of monsters together.


    Goblins map much more closely to social insects than even dragons. Goblins are foragers and laborers, born in large number, with limited intelligence and short lifespans. Hobgoblins are the soldier and skilled laborer class, born much slower and taking far more time to develop (they're also the only fertile males). Bugbears are the heavy lifters and guardians of the brood chambers and queens.

    As for the queens: hags are a type of goblin in my setting. They spend most of their lives pregnant, and few survive their species' strenuous menopause equivalent. Those that do, however, become powerful spellcasters, and are the rulers of goblin society.


    Elves are symbiotic with trees. They reproduce sexually, but rather than carrying the baby to term the female elf mystically transfers the essence of her child into a tree, which grows it like an oversized fruit.

    Elves periodically attach themselves to trees and exchange nutrients with them, which is needed to keep themselves healthy and to maintain their instinctive awareness of the surrounding environment. When elves get old and feeble, they spend more and more time sleeping in their communion trees, and eventually they just stop waking up and are absorbed by the tree in body and soul. Trees that have absorbed many old elves are favored for use in reproduction, as infants that gestate in them will be born with memory fragments of the elders and thus have an easier time growing up and receiving their education.

    A tree that has absorbed hundreds of elves will develop a mind of its own made from a conglomeration of all of them. This is where treants come from. Treants are at the center of any large elf community, and regarded as divine beings by the ancestor-worshipping elves. They sleep most of the time, but are awoken in dire situations to share their ancient wisdom, and to uproot themselves and fight against existential threats.

    Some female elves give up the ability to have children of their own, and instead develop the power to help the trees support and protect the embryos of other elves. These chaste fertility priestesses become closer to the trees than to their living elf peers, and gain some interesting mutations and abilities from this. They become dryads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    Not really a life cycle, but a common fan(?) theory is that illithids are degenerate aboleths from the future.
    My personal theory was always that they were degenerate githyanki from the future

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flumphburger View Post
    They become dryads.
    Saw it coming. Still loved the journey to it.

    Now, I am a fan of the simpler, and very common, theory that dryads and satyrs are the same fey species, where the females are attuned to the flora and the males to the fauna.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    My personal theory was always that they were degenerate githyanki from the future
    I too love a cruel time loop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flumphburger View Post
    This is very similar to my own take on dragons and dragonkin. Main difference is that true dragons are born rather than made; the kobolds, dragonborn, and drakes come from unfertilized eggs, while another true dragon egg is laid only after the mother has mated. This happens very infrequently, due to dragon courtship being wrapped up in their complicated politics. Dragons and dragonkin are all hermaphroditic, and the kobolds, dragonborn, etc can also mate among themselves (though they aren't terribly fertile); this is how small, independent dragonkin societies without a ruling dragon can exist here and there.


    I also came up with a couple other sort of hive-like systems to tie related groups of monsters together.


    Goblins map much more closely to social insects than even dragons. Goblins are foragers and laborers, born in large number, with limited intelligence and short lifespans. Hobgoblins are the soldier and skilled laborer class, born much slower and taking far more time to develop (they're also the only fertile males). Bugbears are the heavy lifters and guardians of the brood chambers and queens.

    As for the queens: hags are a type of goblin in my setting. They spend most of their lives pregnant, and few survive their species' strenuous menopause equivalent. Those that do, however, become powerful spellcasters, and are the rulers of goblin society.


    Elves are symbiotic with trees. They reproduce sexually, but rather than carrying the baby to term the female elf mystically transfers the essence of her child into a tree, which grows it like an oversized fruit.

    Elves periodically attach themselves to trees and exchange nutrients with them, which is needed to keep themselves healthy and to maintain their instinctive awareness of the surrounding environment. When elves get old and feeble, they spend more and more time sleeping in their communion trees, and eventually they just stop waking up and are absorbed by the tree in body and soul. Trees that have absorbed many old elves are favored for use in reproduction, as infants that gestate in them will be born with memory fragments of the elders and thus have an easier time growing up and receiving their education.

    A tree that has absorbed hundreds of elves will develop a mind of its own made from a conglomeration of all of them. This is where treants come from. Treants are at the center of any large elf community, and regarded as divine beings by the ancestor-worshipping elves. They sleep most of the time, but are awoken in dire situations to share their ancient wisdom, and to uproot themselves and fight against existential threats.

    Some female elves give up the ability to have children of their own, and instead develop the power to help the trees support and protect the embryos of other elves. These chaste fertility priestesses become closer to the trees than to their living elf peers, and gain some interesting mutations and abilities from this. They become dryads.


    My hags are trolls, or rather trolls are the mindless sisters of the hag, don't know exactly how is that but they serve the hags in a similar way than all the goblin casted mentioned there.

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