Strange Ecology – Starting Small

Ever since Exchange of Realities focused on various Ecology For World Builders articles all this past week, I’ve been thinking about how to implement her ideas in my own setting.

There is a region of Memory Fading where the ecology is strange. Animals are deformed or monstrous, and most are quite dangerous due to the amount of natural defenses required just to live in the Chulgeth. Things here run the gamut from mutated wildlife (e.g., the massive spineyback bear, with bony protrusions growing from its back) to occasional Monster Manual creatures (oozes, yrthak, various plant creatures, etc.). The general idea is that nothing here is really sentient, and that everything fits into a hot, humid jungle/swamp/marsh sort of habitat, and most things are clearly wrong in some way: twisted or deformed by mysterious local phenomena.

Anyway, I thought I’d share my thoughts so far on one of the smaller and more common creatures of the Chulgeth. I’m not really good at statting out monsters or anything, so here’s the brief text version:

Unnamed Amphibians (small-sized animals, or perhaps magical beasts?)
These salamander-like creatures are as long as a human’s forearm and twice as wide, with flat, spade-shaped heads and tadpole tails. Their membranous skin is oily and mottled black, and the webbing between their fingers and fanning out on both sides of the tail is a translucent, sickly yellow-green.

These amphibians are numerous in the Chulgeth, but no two seem alike. Most seem to be suffering some sort of deformity: wrong numbers of legs or eyes, a missing or truncated tail, misshapen or lumpy “collars” around the neck and shoulders– rarely even something so drastic as an extra head. The sirish scholars known as the Feng Tower is studying the creatures’ deformities, but the project is low-priority and underfunded, and has produced no conclusive results.

All noted varieties of the creatures are highly toxic to the touch; the slime that lubricates their membranous skin is a dangerous contact poison that causes spreading numbness and muscle paralysis. In some cases, the poison has been lethal, over large amounts of exposure. Some Chulgeth explorers have claimed to have seen the creatures spit their poison, or perhaps squirt it from glands in the flesh beneath the jaw; these claims are unverified.

When alone, these amphibians will typically flee from larger creatures. When in groups, they tend to attack intruders to defend their territory.

For now, that’s all I’ve got. This is my first attempt to pin down this particular area’s ecology system, which has been bouncing around the inside of my skull for about a week now. Thoughts?


3 thoughts on “Strange Ecology – Starting Small

  1. Paralysis on contact? No wonder the project’s low priority; nobody wants to handle it!

    They sound like they’d occupy an interesting little role in the ecosystem. How much do their deformities slow them down? It strikes me that that’s going to be the main thing keeping their population in check, since really, what’s going to want to eat something like that?

    Has anyone tried to find medicinal (or somewhat less honorable) purposes for the slime?

  2. Ravyn, my next post should answer your questions; sorry it took so long to get back to this, I’ve been internet-less for a week, down at a cousin’s wedding. I swear, she never told me they didn’t have internet. :( Thanks for reading!

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