Wednesday, June 5, 2024

‘Round Once More In These Here Parts...


1: Are actually detachable, motile flowers, highly-sophisticated examples of sexual/floral mimicry, evolved to target humans instead of insects. They themselves possess human-like sapience, but are slaved by reproduction and sustenance to the vegetable intelligence of the plants they sprout from. Sea elves, of course, are a caste of coral polyp that evolved for a similar function. Dark elves? Hmmm, mushrooms, but of course those are a sort of plant.
2: Are people who've become integrated - perhaps willingly, perhaps not - with the mycorrhizal network of a forest, participating in its collective (un)consciousness.
3: Have ears that never stop growing, like a rodent's incisors. Most elves have their ears trimmed to a respectable clip, but ascetics will let theirs grow to ponderous lengths.
4: Are a set of divine creations which mark the boundaries of mortality and the transient world by embodying a negation of it - one elf might be undying, another unfalling, another undefeatable, and so on and so forth.
5: Were a very long-lived though slowly-reproducing (extreme K selection) offshoot of homo sapiens, who all ended up dead or undead due to their lesser ability to adapt to new diseases. The elvish remnants operate centuries-long breeding programs, attempting to get an individual to express enough lingering elf-genes to be worthy of induction into their undying ranks, a necessity to counteract the attrition of ages.
6: Kidnap babies to render them into stem cells and that's where their extended lives and youth come form they just smush babies onto their faces.

1: Experience gravity in reverse, dig underground by necessity as otherwise they would fall into the sky. Special alcohol brewed with magnetic powders makes them walk normal-like on the ground but also endrunkens them.
2: Can't even grow beards. Wear postiches. Feel deep inadequacy about this but also ritual veneration of the postiche and its adornments.
3: Are hewn from impossible veins of flesh and bone that writhe among the roots of mountains, rather than being born in the mammalian way. Artisans are tasked with smoothing out the features and excess extremities of newly-mined dwarves. Mining out too many dwarves in too short a time will cause a vein to spasm, causing earthquakes and collapses, or become necrotic and begin to spawn undead abominations.
4: Are essentially prisoners of the more populous lowlanders inhabiting more fertile lands which are not burrowed through mountains, forced to mine ores and gems and supply worked goods in return for food which they can't produce from the solid rock.
5: Are a sort of organic spacesuit worn by alien beings from the long night below the world, that they might survive the upper reaches of the earth. Dwarf-suits themselves are semi-sapient even without their "wearers".
6: Are the descendants of people seduced into the bowels of the earth by the resounding echoes of the world's primordial birth-scream. They hear it in the womb, and are driven to tunnel endlessly to seek its source - unless they've drunken themselves into indolence.

1: Live in kurgan-cottage mounds built up over the graves of passed generations. Their dead are protected by shambling constructs pieced together from the bones of livestock and intruders they've butchered and buried.
2: Give birth to seeds, which when planted grow over several seasons into a bean-pod bearing a clutch of halfling clones. Every halfling has such a collection of stories and tall tales about themselves because they see their pod-fellows as identical to themselves.
3: Are literally and metaphorically halved - in height, and in missing a half of their self: their shadow or name or death or suchlike, different for each halfling.
4: Turn into either gnomes or goblins when they get old - gnomes if they're kindly grandma types, goblins if they're don't-give-a-fuck-anymore types.
5: Use stilts or very high platform shoes and very tall hats to match other peoples in height. The hats and hollow platforms or stilts are often full of tricks and gadgets, from a basket to deep-fry quick snacks in to spools of razor-wire that whip out and cut everyone around them's throat.
6: Are animate & intelligent stuffed toys, often with the heads of cuddly animals - once the companions and protectors of obscenely-wealthy children, enough escaped into the hills and woods with the secret of stitching more of their kind to create self-sustaining free populations.

1: War, war changes. Every time and place has known its own particular sort of war, its scars apparent on the land and the people. Each particular sort of war has its own particular sort of changing those who wage it, and those it's waged on. Those broken in body and soul by the waging of war may become orcs - in wars of trenches and noxious gas they grow shovel-like claws and gas-mask snouts, where pike and shot reign they grow plates and long blades of bulletproof bone, and so on and so on.
2: The loan-sharks of Hell are not always satisfied with just the single soul of those they deal with - sometimes they charge interest. When one owes many souls in such a teind they're take into the inferno and mutilated for their new master's purposes - a nose that can smell innocent blood, muscles to tear a man's head from his neck, and so on. These altered collectors are orcs.
3: Are just some nation that was cursed with being fucked-up looking by another nation that wanted to feel less bad about slaughtering them all and stealing their land.
4: Are physiologically in a constant state of life-or-death excitement, granting them hysterical strength as well as inflicting them with aggressive agitation. Often graft extra arms onto their bodies, as fully exerting their strength with a limb will break it. Drugs which can get them to relax are a vital social lubricant.
5: There's some islands out east or west or in the sky or whatever and a lot of good spices are there and the people there have an agreement with sharks wherein the sharks won't eat people and the people won't eat the sharks' favourite fish and half the year the people live on land and the other half of the year the people switch places with the sharks and one time guys from some other place tried to set up plantations for all the spices but that was at the time of year the sharks were in the place of people and a lot of those guys got eaten and the stories of the land-shark-people that filtered back to the land those guys came from is what orcs are.
6: Are sapient cave bears that evolved to prey on and be worshiped by early homo sapiens. Can go about bipedally for long periods and wield tools with their forepaws. Were left behind when mankind got better gods, but seek to violently reclaim their old place on the food chain and great chain of being.

1: Were buried dumps for nuclear waste, or some magical equivalent, but over centuries/millennia people disregarded the warnings, critters wandered in, and stuff was mutated into monsters and decayed into valuable materials.
2: Are cracks that spread up and out into the surface-world from the hell-prisons of primordial titans, infused with some of the power and wrath of the titan whose struggles opened it.
3: Are grown from actual dungeons - and there's an art to it, like bonsai. In the utter darkness of the oubliettes and misery of the cells, the nightmares of the prisoners congeal into physical, though by waking logic impossible, structures, creatures, and treasures.
4: The planet's like a Dyson sphere but around a black hole instead of a star, it's not meant to harvest energy from Hawking radiation or whatever but to pierce beyond the event horizon - get deep enough underground and spaces and things and everything else get fucky from crossing into singularity territory.
5: Were once just regular, above-ground structures, but there was a global mud-flood due to a magnetic pole-shift which buried them.
6: Are drop-pods loaded with genetically-engineered soldiers and nigh-magical materiel and shot down from orbit in an ancient war between stellar powers. The war occurred so long ago that the drop-pods have sunk into the earth and the soldiers forgotten their mission in favour of a chaotic melange of instincts.

1: Are the highest rank of royalty, a step above an emperor - any emperor who expands his holdings and enriches himself enough will become a dragon, and continue these pursuits afterwards.
2: Are vessels that sufficiently mighty and clever fire elementals forge around themselves to survive the material plane. Their breath weapon is in fact this controlling entity.
3: Are animate execution devices, similar to a bronze bull. Their fire and their destructive wrath alike come from the burning souls imprisoned within them.
4: Are a relic-species of giant hexapoda, capable of flying and spraying gouts of a boiling poisonous chemical and drawn to building nests out of shiny objects to attract mates.
5: Are egregorean manifestations of all organisms' reptile brains, combining favourable attributes of any and all reptiles into singular forms. As Platonic survivors, the death of any dragon renders the rest a little bit stronger.
6: Share an occult family with the cockatrice, both hatching from chicken eggs incubated by unusual creatures - a toad in the case of a cockatrice, the Devil himself in the case of dragons.

1: Are disembodied voices of the dead who passed with things unsaid - if not provided a figure to speak their last words through, these ghosts will rise in volume and incoherence until they become vein-popping banshees.
2: Are all Scooby Doo-esque hoaxes, but these hoaxes are performed by a caste of spiritual mediums in the service of proper mourning.
3: Are a specialized class of demon, capable of possessing sentimental memories of lost loved ones as others of their kind might possess a body.
4: Are anchored to the living world by strong emotions. To remain for extended periods they must provoke and drain emotions from others, rendering those others listless husks.
5: Are subconscious creations of psychics failing to process grief and loss. Telekinetics spawn poltergeists, telepaths hallucinatory hauntings, and so on and suchlike.
6: Are bio-sonic recordings, like holograms made of final words and heartbeats, encoded in the fine structure of a sort of vitrified stone used in the structures of a fallen civilization - often looted and repurposed.

1: Are a sort of pyramid scheme - a portion of everything that a ghoul eats is kicked up to the ghoul that turned them, and so on and so on - ghouls with many "descendants" become bloated behemoths squatting atop lesionous legions.
2: Are an epigenetic phenomenon seeded in the human genome hundreds of thousands of years ago, triggered by traumatic cannibalism - perhaps as an emergency measure in the event of global overpopulation and resource crisis.
3: As ghouls age they elongate and their limbs atrophy, until they become as worms and chew into the earth to gnaw with their forefather Nidhogg at the roots of the world.
4: Can take on a trait from each corpse they eat, eventually evolving into cemetary chimeras.
5: Are illicit cannibals, cursed for poaching corpses which by right belong to the scavenger demon-god Yeenoghu. Gnolls are Yeenoghu's legitimate priests.
6: Can, if they can maintain a plentiful diet of corpse-meat, become jackalweres, and so enjoy being alive for a time instead of being hideous and wretched undead - so long as they remain well-fed.

1: Are what becomes of kobolds who've been kicked out of their mines, brownies who've lost their homes, and of every other sort of dispossessed little folk, becoming fey lumpenproles.
2: Are what becomes of human sacrifices to the bog-gods, pickled and shriveled down into little green terrors.
3: Are spirits of mischief, and have nothing to do with hobgoblins - who are a type of people - but are related to bugbears, who are spirits of fear.
4: Are the "fingers" of a higher-dimensional organism pressing into 3-dimensional space. All goblins are Goblin, and Goblin does not care very much for its individual "fingers", and its "nerves" are "slow" and "low-fidelity" - goblins can be thought of as telepathic, but it's a telepathy like ripples in tar, or a message through cans connected by strings fifty meters longs.
5: Are living expressions of the colour green - envious, camouflaged, fecund, and everything else.
6: Possess both technical expertise and near-total sociopathy because they instinctively process everything in terms of manipulable parts. People too are just modules of meat and bloody fuel.

1 comment:

  1. "2: Give birth to seeds, which when planted grow over several seasons into a bean-pod bearing a clutch of halfling clones. Every halfling has such a collection of stories and tall tales about themselves because they see their pod-fellows as identical to themselves."

    This is really good and makes so much sense! It really cements the Southern good 'ol boy halfling