Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Animal Chart

It's funny how much time I put into two charts that are essentially the same thing-- 100 animals-- because they were for different purposes.  The animals for the arena were meant to be exotic and outrageous fighting each other.  This chart is meant to encompass as many archetypal animals as I can on one chart.

The idea here is if you have a machine that mixes and matches animal parts, those parts better be pretty distinct in the player's mind.  So, weasel and ferret get to share a line (if you're more familar with one pick it, if you get tired of weasels pick the other).  No mongooses, no wombats. Had to cut the gnu.  No eland etc.  It's heavy on domesticated animals because I'm pretty sure we can all see a pig or goose clearly in our head.

I envision this chart's d% would be rolled simultaneously with other dice to let you know if this is group, young animals, oddly colored ones etc (still working on that).

The only problem, after going through many drafts of such a seemingly insignificant chart I started thinking, an important part of collecting/mixing/mashing fun is rarity.  Would it be better on this island where an ark has crashed, and animals run free, to just have mayhem and roll on this chart?  Or to have a few, say 4 or less, regions which would allow hunting for rare creatures?  But which creatures would be rare, the coolest?

I had originally intended to split out all the birds, but the numbers just didn't work out.  I still intend a Wet version, with all the fish and sea mammals etc.  And a dinosaur chart.  And insects.  Heck, if nothing else, maybe you'll be able to use these as weird summoning tables.


  1. the gnu is still there - you went with Yak, I suppose. I can picture one, but I'm not sure what it brings to the table.

    It's not easy to think of an animal to add to that second list. I would definitely go with hunting regions, or at least contexts, though - I wonder if zookeepers have any published insight into this fishtank-stocking problem? How can gazelles and tigers maintain stable populations in your small safari enclosure? How does Disney Safari or Longleat handle it?

  2. Thanks for the comment.

    How can gazelles and tigers maintain stable populations in your small safari enclosure?

    Fuelled by whatever powers a mage's magic missile I suppose. :)

    If it bothered a DM enough they could drop some Riverworldesque feeding stations around.

    But what you're almost saying is that you would want separate regions because that would help you make decisions of where things might live/hunt each other and help you suspend disbelief, right?

    Yeah, the Gnu doesn't bring that much to the table for me either (why I was willing to cut it). But if you're wondering about that in general, for any of these creatures, think of them as a wild palette-- colors you want for your painting that you have to go get. They would be incredibly boring as combat encounters (why people have great fun mocking entries like Herd Animal in the 1e MM), but that isn't my intended purpose.

    I'm thinking it could be fun to do Big Horn + Elephant + Yak to get something close to a Bantha, for example. But the main reason is to help players make monsters that work out of the box because they are made from easily imaginable pieces.

    I started thinking about it with Zak's post about Fantasy / Science Fiction monsters. Many classic monsters only work because we've seen their dang pictures for so long (rust monster, bulette, umber hulk), some almost work (owl monster-- which parts are owl and which are bear?), and some work well (mind flayer, beholder, displacer beast).

    I don't know, maybe it would be easier to do this with a chart of just those parts (how many different types of hooves do you really need?) But I'm trying to make a game-like little sandbox that would be fun to play around in too, not just a machine with certain dials (which could be done easier and would be fun to have in a dungeon).

  3. Hmm. What's the Big Horn for? Bantha are hornless, at least the superior variety raised by Sand People.

    Now, Elephant + Giant Lizard + Horse might give you a Ronto, and you could do Gold Dragon + Clam to get a Krayt Dragon.

  4. Huh? Only Bantha I've seen have the big curled horns.

  5. yes, I was thinking about ecology because I was wondering about encounters between the animals - tigers scaring up pheasants and so on: search the trees for all the stuff that can hide there from predators.

    Reading the list I was hearing the devil from Time Bandits and wondering how each animal would work; "half yak, half oyster? Half carrot?" And I see that you're avoiding classic phobia triggers like bugs and spiders, but scorpions are too good to pass up, no?

  6. I didn't intend too avoid the creepy crawlies, just trying to work with charts. d% seems the biggest convenient size and a 100 entry chart fits fairly well on one sheet of paper in two columns.

    But then having subtables means you have to roll more than once for an encounter. All this is not very exciting, but I suppose it has to be done if you're going to sit down and have someone explore the island.