Saturday, March 10, 2012

Monsters Resurrected: Chill, Kill, or Ill?

And the use of Apex Predators continues!

The last episodes provide some more entertainment and I felt for a little while that I was watching some old show on an off station past midnight. I suspect in fifty years we'll see them do something like this for cars. "Here we see a pack of cars feasting on a train after one of the pack has sacrificed itself to slow the vehicle down." Or something along those lines. "The Hummer was the Apex of vehicle predators."

The dialog, cutting sequences, reuse of video material, and other bits are suffer greatly because apparently this was designed for small children whose parents couldn't afford a babysitter that would be filled with like ten thousand commercials so they have to continuously remind you were they left off. Ugh.

But on a more serious note, the last episode ends with who killed the mega beast? I thought it might have been Doctor Lucky in the living room with a crowbar but no, turns out there we have a whole field of experts to tell us basically that we don't know! Thankfully they do provide some entertaining options as to what could have happened and as I was watching, I kept thinking about how some of these elements would fit into a game.

For example, if we look at the chill factor. The world gets cold, and covered in ice. This in terns destroys the ecosystem that the animals, these mega-beasts, rely on. In D&D, Ice Age settings can be a one off and you get to fight against the sabertooths and mega-sloths and whatnot, but most settings don't really discuss them in terms of 'modern' history. And I'm not talking millions of years ago. Most think that the ice age 10,000 bc. In a game with liches, elves, constructs, and other forms of immortals, don't you think that would be a bit of a subject?

"So Legolas, how about that winter eh?"

"Bah, you puny humans. This is no winter. We had winter when I was a kid. It lasted a few thousand years."

If we go with that not untold time of ice age happening though, we could have things like neanderthal liches. Maybe the clerics or shamans of those dark winter gods were saw through those dark times and can now prey on modern man?

Such ice age events thought happened some would argue at least twenty times previously than the one where the mega-beasts are roughly wiped out so most of the other 'experts' tend to dismiss ice as the sole reason for death.

So how about kill? To me, this could be a no-brainer. A group of large mammals meeting humans? The animals don't know to hide? Humans tending to overhunt? Yeah, I could buy that. Hell in one instance, the Moa are essentially known to have been 'eaten' off about seven hundred years ago. That's even much closer than the old ice age. A lot of long lived races would remember humans killing off an entire species to satisfy their bellies.

The other thing about the kill factor though, is that tool using humans can be seen to be pretty smart compared to their prey. One expert was asking why would the humans overhunt so much? Another talks about how hyenas do it so yes, humans could to. But, at least in terms of mammoths, and maybe this is because I've seen too many of these shows, one theory is that to kill the big beasts with fewer risks to personal life and limb, the proto-humans would force them off the cliffs. May not be the most efficient in terms of meat and preservation of said meat, but beats going heat to heat with such a creature. Sure, you kill another five to ten of these creatures, but that's okay right? You made it!

The weird thing about Dungeons and Dragons though, is how exactly would this work out with character classes like the druid and ranger which in many instances are green peace hippy warriors? Unless these are new classes and new ideals, which with the druid, one of the older religions, would be funny, there would be clashes between humans who wanted to save the mega-beasts from extinction and those who, you know, wanted to eat them.

Druids would have a lot of formidable tools in their command of such beasts, but it gets back to what's the druid's actual role in the society? Are they priest who are for man, or are they hippies willing to kill their fellow man for hunting down wolves?

In terms of ill, the 'hyper diesease' is not found. But there are some thoughts along the line that if all of these animals started to die off at just about the time humans came around, that even if it wasn't humans that killed off the animals, that the animal companions normal people travel with, like dogs, could have contributed to the death toll.

In some cases, it could have just been bad timing for those other creatures. When you look at the dodo, one of the factors that contributed to it going out is the pigs and dogs people brought with them. Dodos are apparently very tasty to such animals and humans brought them to a new landscape where dodos had no idea what the hell was going on. Another fairly recent case of animal extinction that I can't see the old hippy elves being too cool with.

"Hey Arragon, what's up with wiping out the native species?"

"But Lego, you're eating dodo now?"

"Damn it!"

But the final theory, ah ha, they fooled you you stupid viewer you, the final theory is that it's a combination not only of all those elements, but the way man lives. See, humans have a huge tendency to make the land ours by clearing it out by slash and burn techniques. These aren't things that are no longer used by the way. We cut down forests and burn them clean so that we can farm.

If you're a nine foot tall tree dwelling mammal, well, you're finished. That's it. Game over. You're done.

Man's ability to completely change the landscape to suit his farming needs, which is still going on today if you think about things like aquatic Dead Zones caused by the run off of farming fertilizer, our powers to cause death and destruction are so advance that they might as well be magic. I can see humans finding the crypt of Cthulhu and saying that he might have been in a state of suspended animation once but all the cow shit has finished off the old boy and he never had a chance.

But in such terms, imagine what some of those things could do to aquatic civilizations if there was run off in fantasy settings? Sea Devils, Kuo-Toa, Deep Ones, and other nightmare creatures might be destroyed not through deliberate actiosn but because of rain water run off.

If you think about the potential conflicts in such elements of man versus the wilds, and assume that the wilds have protectors, most fantasy settings would be  vastly different in terms of how almost all the non-humans view humans.