Friday, February 9, 2018

Early exposition for a fantasy game with rideable animals

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

This came from thinking about the idea of a game where you ride non-traditional stuff.  Main character has just woken up from prolonged medically induced sleep and not-actually-a-doctor is delivering exposition by way of seeing what the character knows and filling in any gaps.

Main character has most emphatically not received retrograde amnesia rendering them a blank slate.  Name, rank, serial number, home address, and person in power at the time of going under are all recalled quite well (except rank and serial number as the character has neither), the procedure can, however, leave fuzzy spots and, importantly, things have changed, which is part of why the character is being helped by not-actually-a-doctor instead of a doctor as would have been expected..


Not-actually-a-doctor: Ok, that's all good, next question is what you know about humans.

Main character: I've never actually met one, so just the basics: short ears, short lives, short tempers.

Not-actually-a-doctor: That covers most of it.  Many of their strengths are likely coping mechanisms which allow them to survive when they'll never have more than a century of experience to help them out.  They're adaptable almost beyond comprehension.  I once saw one seamlessly change strategy twelve times in the space of two minutes because of changing conditions.

Not-actually-a-doctor: That's not important though, more of a curiosity.  While you were sleeping the human nation to the west was destroyed with nearly unimaginable speed.  The time that passed from the start of the attack to when the humans were forced to give up all hope of victory and instead concentrate on evacuating as many as possible was less than a week.

Not-actually-a-doctor: Anyway, this area is filled with refugees and you most definitely will be meeting humans now.  So, with that in mind, the most important thing for you to understand is that humans are heavy.

Main character: Heavy?

Not-actually-a-doctor: Yeah, really heavy.  They look a lot like us but the weight difference is absurd.  Snow or mud that you'd walk over the top of with ease they'll sink into and struggle through.  They can also use it to their advantage, if one runs right into you or jumps on you from above you will go down.  Hard.

Not-actually-a-doctor: But I'm mostly telling you this because of riding.  Never assume that because you can ride something a human can too. You'll break backs or cause lifelong injury if you do.  Donkeys, camels, horses, moose*, elephants, and dragons.  Don't put a human on anything else because the simple fact is that you don't know.  Something that can carry multiple elves no problem might not be able to take the strain of a human.

Main character: Rhinoceros?

Not-actually-a-doctor: I don't know, but my guess would be that the deciding factor in attempting that is how badly you wanted to be rid of the human.


* Can anyone confirm or deny moose?  They can and have been ridden (the plan for a moose cavalry in relatively modern times was only nixed when it turned out the moose could not be trained to be ok with sound of gunfire) but I can't find anything saying whether that hurts the moose's spine.  I wouldn't expect it to given how . . . moosey moose are, but as noted by the fictional elf above, you don't actually know how it's going to work out.

Also, interesting fact discovered when I was trying to find out about the resilience or lack thereof of moose spines:

Some reindeer have been bred to be ridden which makes them have the reindeer equivalent of super spines.  This is not, in itself, enough.  Special saddles must be used to reduce the load on the the spine so that the effects of the breeding actually allow them to be safely ridden.s

The saddle is designed to put weight (I'm not sure how large a portion we're talking about) onto the withers (shoulder blades) thus having the legs (which are durable enough for the job) bear a portion of the weight meaning that less needs to be supported by the animal's spine.

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