General Notes on Creature Development
I have a Bachelor's in Biology and a Master's in Environmental Chemistry. Clearly, I have an analytical approach to solving problems and a flare for fiction. I love how nature seems to fit together to make functional systems. I also love stories having unusual elements somehow fitting seamlessly together and creating new and alien worlds. This makes stories both relatable and believable.
Unfortunately, this concept has yet to reach game designers. Many designers create creatures having features not in line with the environments from which they supposedly originated. A classic example being the red dragon. A massive carnivore living on mountaintops, breathing fire, and living in hot environments. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the white dragon. Another massive carnivore living on mountaintops, breathing ice, and preferring cold environments.
This imagery makes absolutely no sense.
Let's begin with the red dragon. To begin with, life on this planet has developed a range of expressions to adapt to the variations of its habitat. How could a creature breathing fire find food in an environment in which everything is required to also adapt to hot conditions. Due to habitat choice, the creatures found in the same habitat would be forced to develop the same resistances as the dragon. Making matters worse, the breath attack of the dragon would be ineffective against such attacks. The white dragon has similar faults on the cold end of the spectrum.
During the first release of Tortured Earth, dragons were deliberately withheld from publication. This was largely due to the desire to distance ourselves from established systems. The Creature Profiles developed for 2.0 will have a range of dragons designed to fit into an ecological niche, rather a traditional color scheme.
We chose not to focus on aligning breath attack type to color schemes. Instead, the developmental focus was habitat adaptation. Tortured Earth dragons are fitted into an ecosystem. Granted, it is a bizarre ecosystem but an ecosystem all the same. We begin with the physical description of the creature as required to blend into the chosen environment. From the perspective of habitat, the abilities are then assigned to the creature. Each creature, regardless of its world of origin, must have traits of benefit to that environment. NOTE: These traits may make for horrifying abilities when placed in our world, but in their natural world, they fall in line with the checks-and-balances of nature. Finally, we focus on the advancement stages of the creature, giving it perks and bonuses as the creature increases in rank.
Tortured Earth Mountain Dragons have a color range from sandstone to deep rust to dark brown. Their primary breath weapons are a Frost attack and a Kinetic Blast attack. The idea is the dragon will place a layer of ice on a surface then use the Kinetic Blast attack to push prey over ledges. They primarily kill prey by dropping them.
In contrast, Snow Dragons have a color range of white to grey with wing under colors of purple, blue, and black. Snow Dragons have strong necromantic abilities, a hypnotic effect with the wings, and a fire attack. The reasoning behind this is an abundance of dead, preserved animals in their natural environment. Snow Dragons hunt by encircling prey and melting the snow surface. They will then use mental attacks to draw or push the prey into the melted slush, allowing them to freeze. The meal may either be animated or consumed, depending on the need.
All Tortured Earth creatures are designed with this philosophy in mind. The nice thing about not using established lore is the freedom to create creatures as you wish. As we reach an end to the editing process, we will release creature examples, player race examples, and playtest modules.
On a side note, my son insisted I put links to the website on these posts. The original intent of the blog is to share information about the Tortured Earth universe and its new developments. We are still nearly a year away from the expected publication date and I didn't expect to have many readers until the convention circuit opened again. My how things change. . .
If you are checking out this post for the first time, you may access our website by clicking here: Tortured Earth Website
If you are interested in the creature development process, you may submit your own creatures by filling out the following form. We will review the forms before publishing the creatures to the website. Creature Creation Form