Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Monsters Resurrected: Terror Birds

Walking with Dinosaurs and others are shows that I enjoy. Monsters Resurrected is in the same vein if a little less impressive and cool. For one thing, it reuses the same footage over and over again. I get it, you're going to recreate the animal and you're going to show how awesome it was! But after you see the same elements over and over again, you're like, give me a damn break about it already eh?

Anyway, the first episode is about terror birds. I've seen these in D&D with all sorts of names including Axebeaks for example and there were probably several varieties of them in 3.5 with the utility of the OGL.

One of the interesting things about fantasy campaigns, Dungeons and Dragons in particular, is that the game isn't worried about the 'real' ecology of the landscape. Sure, Dragon magazine back in the day used to have some great ecology articles, and Kobold Quarterly has taken up that mantle, and even Paizo has their various 'revisited' lines. But to think that a setting could support as many giant, super predators as the typical fantasy setting has in it's back yard? Probably not going to happen.

Even here when talking about the terror bird and how it was an apex predator and had an impressive length of time as king of the wheel, it's two main competitors for food were not things like T-Rex or tool using man, but rather, sabertooth tigers and wolves. Turns out that not having teeth, being a solitary predator and laying eggs on the ground are possibly reasons why the wolves managed to use pack tactics, use packs to keep the young alive, and well, have really good teeth that can quickly down a meal before other predators come by.

To me, I always figured it was more like cow tipping. With those tiny little arms they probably got pushed down by proto-cavemen who were bored and couldn't get up like a little turtle on its back.

But no, seriously, when looking at these monsters with their razor sharp beaks and ability to inflict tremendous damage, with great eye sight, with fantastic hearing, and with great speed and stamina, in a fantasy setting, they would make for some great mounts. As meat eaters, they could dispose of any left over orcs, or if the orcs are riding them, any left over humans. In some aspects, they might make better beasts of burden for monstrous riders as those monstrous humanoids probably wouldn't feel too squeamish about feeding them any wounded on their side either.

Still, with the sheer variety that terror birds have been visualized with, its not that difficult to see different variants of the bird serving one master while another variety serves still a different one.

Another interesting aspect of these creatures, is that like with most ancient and old entities, they are always finding or testing out this theory or that, or how the animal might have lived and fought including some impressive kicking skills and larger speciemens.