Sunday, December 15, 2013

Combination Animals - There are more than just the platypus

How often can I dip into the well that is Cracked's articles on animals. This time, it is from 9 animals that are just lazy combinations of other animals. These might work well with my Animal Planet idea to use Avatar-the-Last-Airbender-style combo animals ("I love you, my little turtle-duck") to differentiate the anthropomorphic player races from "regular" fauna.

9. Chevrotain

This is a combination deer and mouse about the size of a rabbit. It has the body and head of a mouse with the long, thin legs and hooves of a deer. Oh, and the males have saber-teeth. I can totally see a larger version of these serving as mounts and/or game for small races (like a pony-sized chevrotain for a halfling knight). The deer-mouse combination has a heavy fairy influence and so would also be very at home with pixies and other fae, in which case the smaller, rabbit-sized versions would work well. A full, clydesdale-sized version would be freaky weird with a fae hunter riding on its back (the type of elven-esque fae that stand like 7 feet tall).

8. Pichiciego (pink fairy armadillo)

A combination prairie dog and armadillo. The claws on these guys are wicked sick. They are quite small and eat ants. I can see an obvious giant version that eats giant ants or other large vermin. I can also see rat to guinea pig to rabbit-sized ones serving as wizard familiars or dwarven/gnomish pets.

7. Piglet Squid

Guess. This squid swims upside down with curly tentacles, a bulbous growth (snout) beneath its large, twinkling (literally; it has light-emitting organs in its eyes), anime-like eyes, and a bloated "head" that looks like a round little piggy body. It also has skin coloration that makes it look like a big smiley face when viewed head on. Given the cutesy appearance, it is more difficult to imagine this as a threat. And I am not interested in an anime mascot creature. I think I would make them larger, about the size of a seal up to walrus/manatee territory, and they would serve as a source of food. Because it swims upside down and the tentacles point up, it must travel along the bottom of the water and hide among seaweed and such to disguise the tentacles until something swims by, at which point it strikes.

6. Colugo

Bat + monkey. The colugo *is* Momo from Avatar (it is even called a flying lemur and lives in Southeast Asia). As with the pichiciego, this could totally be a wizard's familiar. It would also be super creepy to have a  troop (monkey) or colony (bat) of colugo screaming and jumping and gliding and chasing after you through a dense tropical jungle like a giant black cloud of fur and fangs. They offer all the high pitched shrieking and too-human eyes and nasty sharp fangs as monkeys as well as the unsettling wing-skin and nasty sharp fangs and blood-drinking connotations as bats. I think they work best at real size in large groups until you get to the point of a truly humongous one.

5. Saiga

When a goat and an elephant fall in love ... Despite the elephant part, the trunk is very, very short and looks like a bit of a bulbous nose. I imagine in real life they are larger than goats but in-game they would be moose-sized or maybe a bit larger. I would also make the nose longer; not quite elephantine in length but enough that they could reach the ground to pull up grass or reach up to pull down leaves without moving the head too far either way. They have large, straight-to-slightly-curved goat horns but no tusks. They might need tusks. One of the best things about them is that they can eat otherwise poisonous plants. I would take this to mean that their meat is more or less poisonous as well, depending on how often they have to dine on the poison plants.

4. Bilby

Body of a kangaroo, ears of a rabbit, face of a possum - by your powers combined, I am ADORABLE. The bilby is another small mammal that would not offer much by way of an antagonist. Again, wizard's familiar is on the potential job list. Otherwise, they are too cute to leave out. Bonus fact: they are endangered because the bilby gets its butt kicked by cats ... and RABBITS.

3. Honduran White Bat

The article says hamster plus pig but these guys look like furry white bats. They do have the ran-into-a-wall bat nose that looks like a spade-shaped pig snout, I guess. They are also cotton-ball white (like real cotton, so a dirty white rather than bleachy-clean white), furry, and cute. They also carry ALL the diseases. I think keeping them small and in swarms like stirges works well. They swoop in, bite, and fly away. In real life they eat fruit and they form "tents" by bending over the broad leaves of the fruit trees where they sleep during the day. I think, given the white coloration, it would be more fun if they were vampire bats and the locals know that white bats mean danger while red bats mean peace (they are red from all the blood of their latest meal and they only feed every few nights). Another idea is to have the disease they carry cause multiple weeping wounds, a foul smell, and severe fatigue. It would have a fast onset and the bats would make a brief initial attack to infect their prey then they would wait until the target succumbed to the disease. The foul smell would aid the bats in tracking the meal, the large weeping wounds would provide easier access to the blood (these are tiny little bats after all), and the fatigue would leave the afflicted unable to ward off the bats when they finally came to feed.

2. Velvet Ant

A wasp that looks like an ant and a bee (they are fuzzy and their coloration ranges from black&yellow to brown to red). The females are wingless and so they crawl about like ants on the ground, but much bigger. They make honey, too. The males have two pairs of transparent black wings, because why the hell not. However, what is awesome is that they have terribly painful stings that have earned them the nickname "cow killer." Their stingers are over an inch long and pierce like a needle. As with all vermin, giant versions are just as awesome. As a technical issue, they are mostly solitary, so you should not be encountering a whole colony of them as you would with ants. However, they are much bigger than ants and the stinger is likely much more dangerous than an ant's bite. Of course, there is no reason why you could not have a large beehive of winged males and a large anthill of wingless females forming a double-pronged "why I hate bugs" murder machine.

1. Pangolin

Snake + Anteater = Dragon scales. This creature looks like an anteater with some of the heaviest armor-looking scales in the animal kingdom (they are actually similar to human nails) and a long, serpentine body. It also has a forked snake tongue that can be longer than its entire body. It is able to roll up into a fully armored ball and can roll along the ground that way. These are definitely creatures that you would want to make larger. The pictures also have a very draconic aspect to the scales that really want to shout "give me a breath weapon".