Saturday, July 7, 2018

Communal tool-users of the dawn

Following the lone trappers and the tree-dwelling ambush hunters, this next species is another kind of intelligent primate, but from a far corner of the world.  Their homeland was a hot, dry place with a brief yet intense monsoon season, leading to a few adaptations:
(Rob Jeff)
  • Active at dawn and dusk, resting during the hot mid-day.  Midnight and noon are similar times for them: a time to sleep, but be ready for danger.  (They're light sleepers.)
  • Wide, flat feet—not good for running, but for walking on loose sand.
  • Hibernation in extreme circumstances.  Like some types of lemurs, this species can go into hibernation if the climate is too hot or too dry for an extended period.  Their midday sleep becomes deep, with their heartbeat and breathing slowing enough than an unaware observer might think them dead.
  • Thick-walled homes to keep a more even temperature inside.  In prehistoric times they used rock overhangs and mud, but in more recent centuries they moved on to mud bricks and stone.  Upon arriving in the Northern Lands, they found log cabins to be a decent substitute that could be built from the abundant forest resources.
    (John Feist)
  • They eat high-calorie fruits, nuts, and tubers, picking and digging amongst thorny, gnarled plants.  Today they can only support their numbers through intensive farming.  Unlike other mammals, they also have a mutation that allows them to continue digesting milk after childhood.  (Humans ridicule them for drinking milk, like babies.)
Like other species, they're missing some human features:
  • No throwing.  Their long, gangly arms are dexterous enough (being good for picking through thorny plants) but they're just not strong enough.
  • Not omnivorous opportunists, these people are herbivores, potential prey rather than predators.
  • Not good at forming impromptu groups, but great at working in a deliberate, planned group.
In fact, they have a very strong group nature:
  • They're eusocial, like bees and mole rats.  Most of them are infertile, dedicated to supporting the small number of fertile individuals, the Mothers and Fathers of their species.  They live in colonies of related individuals.  (This species values its Mothers and Fathers the way most primates value their children.)
  • They're very team-oriented.  They form teams with deliberation and ritual, and they work well together, focusing on their goal.  Organizations are a fundamental part of life.  Membership in an organization is usually for life.
  • Upon spotting a predator, they shriek to alert others of danger so they can all mob the predator.  This alert behavior is instinctive; they can try to keep quiet and still, but only with great difficulty and distress.
In some ways, they're like humans taken to a further degree:
(Helos Sunnar)
  • Domesticated animals.  Instead of dogs, they have animals to provide milk, animals to carry burdens, animals to pull plows, and even animals to do arithmetic (more on that later).
  • Tools.  Humans are good at making and using tools, but they can survive without them.  This species has become dependent on their technology.  Without farming, nearly all of them would starve.  Without writing, they would forget most of their stories.  Without clothes, they would freeze to death in the cooler North.
It was their homeland that was lost during the apocalypse.  Today, only their far-flung colonies remain.  Whether they will survive without the resources of home is yet to be seen.

So far, we've been calling these people "elves".  It started as a placeholder, but I haven't come up with a better name yet.  What would you call them?


  1. Wizarding name: Acarnophagistes (eaters without meat)

    Common-name: Milkdrinkers, Sundown Folk

  2. Gaunts? Thin men? Scarecrows (as slang). I get a slight undead vibe here with the hibernating, shrieking and eusocial stuff.
    Making them plant or insect people could change up the naming options? I don't see anything that says they're primates, but I'm assuming they are.

    1. Yeah, these people don't match up with most of the names out there already. "Scarecrows" has a good feel.

      I have been assuming they're primates as well.