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Old Screeds

Guest Blogger [4 March 05] Thanks to Nexx

I've gotten so much great feedback from Nexx that, with his permission, I've compiled his thoughts into an essay and placed it online. I quoted some of his comments in an earlier screed, but I wanted to share with you some other thoughts he offered me:

Wemic Technology

Wemics have neolithic technology, but I don't see them as being "trapped" by it, so much as without the resources to advance beyond it on their own. They don't know how to get iron out of the ground, or work it if they do, but nothing prevents them from trading for steel spearheads or for other such things. Their fur-covered bodies mean that fire-based technologies (like metalworking) aren't things they're likely to explore, but that doesn't make them stupid or useless.

I could see them being very much into leatherwork (as their kills would provide plenty of leather to work with) and wickerwork/basketry. A Wemic shield is likely a wickerwork frame with a leather face; light, strong, and it will foul arrows even if they pierce that first layer of leather. I also don't see them as necessarily eating their meat raw ... I see it as an option, especially if they're on the move, but cooking is prefered because it increases the longevity of the meat and gives a lot more flexibility. But if you need to eat on the move, or without drawing attention to yourself (i.e. no smoke), raw food should be an option for wemics.

Wemics vs. Liontaurs

I like the idea [to make a distinction between old-style lion-centaurs and third edition furry wemics. Let "wemic" refer to the 5-hit-die, beastial creature in "Monsters of Faerun," that is, the WotC intellectual property. And let "liontaur" refer to the less beefy, more traditional, human-from-the-waist-up creature -- and let liontaurs have only one racial hit die.]

On a related note, the first "Quest for Glory" game, which did not include the Liontaur (introduced in the second game), did have the Cheetaur, which were beasts. No evidence of intellect was ever given in the game (not much was presented for some other creatures, too, however, so there's some wiggle room). About the height of an ogre, they were also some of the fastest creatures in the game (which didn't say a lot, though they moved as fast as the dinosaur-equivalent Saurus Rex), they were primarily nocturnal and could be really nasty.

Here are a few things to think about, when you're describing the differences between wemics and liontaurs from a simulationist point of view.

1) How are they related?

2) How do they relate to each other?

3) What's the result of a crossbreed? (Think of the difference between a human, an ogre, and a half-ogre) This question may seem a little bit furry, but if you've got wemics and liontaurs sharing and competing for ecological resources, its going to come up if the wemics have at least a low intelligence and a compatible physiology ... and that's without magical intervention.

4) What kinds of subraces are there? Is there perhaps a subspecies from another crystal sphere who makes its home in the forests, and so is a bit smaller and more agile, but takes a hit to its strength (or even charisma, if they don't routinely interact)?

5) What social structures would they use? Now, the cliche would be to base it upon a pride of lions, with a King/Chief at top, with his female advisors beneath him, but then one would have to wonder at the fate of other males in such a structure. This can tie back to the relation question ... wemics keep a fairly strict one adult male per tribe, with the balance being females and sub-adults (with adult males being driven off if they cannot defeat their father-chief), while liontaurs have discarded this practice and allow non-chief males to remain and take wives and father children. This has resulted in a physically weaker, but overall more intelligent, prosperous, and "civilized" subrace of the same species, whose features are more refined and who tend to have a longer life-span (both of which are actual, documented results of domestication, both in humans and in animals). Even within that rough description, there's a huge amout of room for improvization ... liontaurs might rule that only Kings may have full manes, and that all other males must cut their hair short, in deference to the king. Yearly, the king must face challengers to his throne in combat or in a test of skill of some sort, to prove that he is still the best candidate for the job (perhaps a multi-faceted test of skill, rather than just a trial-by-combat would fit our more refined liontaurs). Liontaurs and wemics, right now, have such a vague social structure that we don't know who they are, so it's easy to make up who they might be.

These are great questions, and food for future screeds. For more excellent writings from Nexx, check out his Web site. There's no wemic content, but he does have a lot of great gaming material.

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