Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The Ecology of Isomular
Isomular is a world with a diversity of strange ecologies. The Isomulii and other insectoid species reflect the most ancient of the ecological niches in the long history of this world, but there are a number of strange, reptilian species which are part of a more contemporary stretch of Isomular evolution, as well. Some Eldaran who are privy to the ancient lore suspect that the reptilians and amphibians of Isomular are part of a transplanted ecology, just like the Terran ecology created by the Architect.
When humans arrived, the machines of the Architect began to convert local materials in to a newly created ecosystem derived from Old Terra. The result was a fairly balanced ecology which immediately sought to insert itself in to Isomular’s own rough, predator-heavy ecology. The smaller mammals and beasts of man were better at avoiding predation, and were quick to spread. The result was a devastating shift in Isomular’s newly blended ecosystem, with a sudden dominance of the transplanted mammals. Many native herbivorous species on Isomular died out as small species such as rabbits, rodents, and birds fought for resources. The new species were cultivated by the Arechitect to be compatible with their new environment, even as the region was also seeded with Terran flora to further advance the terraforming process.
After nearly two-thousand years, few scholars can speak much of what the pre-Terran ecology was like. Isomular is now a blended ecosystem, with a strange balance between the insectoid, reptilian, and mammalian groups throughout the land. Some native beasts have still done well, such as Ankhegs, which are caught as young and raised as beasts of war and burden by both men and Isomulii. Likewise, horses and ponies are prized by both men and myrmidons, as well as other sentient species. A few strange niches have kept to their own. Except for the invasion of the mutated grimlocks, a human variant which survived the great journey of the Coral Ark in the deepest bowels of the vessel as beings hideously mutated by cosmic radiaton leeching through he Ark’s protective armor, most of the underground caverns and subterranean ruins of old still harbor a unique ecosystem unsullied by the presence of Terran lifeforms.
The following is a list of Isomular’s native life, as well as a short list of creatures which manifest that have a clear extraplanar origin, deriving from the Astral Realm. These beings from the astral definitely manifest from other dimensional planes and worlds, and some may even be beings from other civilizations on distant worlds which have discovered the secrets of planar gate travel.
When deciding if you want to use an existing creature for an Isomular campaign, consider that some beings which are of the “magical” type have that changed to the “psionic” type instead, and their special abilities are redefined as psionic abilities. This will mostly prove relevant in a cross-worlds campaign, in which real magic users appear in Isomular. Otherwise, assume all powers are psionic in nature.
Sentient, intelligent species are also note so as to provide a basis for those beings which are tribal, engage in civilization, trade, warfare, and communication. Some of these species are sentient, but due to numbers and interest are extremely isolated, but they are included anyway.
Special types of undead are found on Isomular. The undead are psionic manifestations, beings created when a strong psionic mind dies and retains an impression in the psionic energy which permeates the quantum strata of creation. Undead which are appropriate are listed below, and include both corporeal beings animated by a potent psionic presence (a possessing poltergeist) or incorporeal beings which have found a new level of existence in the Astral (a ghost of spirit). The understanding of psionic energy as a binding force of the universe has led psionic practitioners to identify death with transcendence in to deeper understanding of the universe. The afterlife, if it can be seen as such, is thought of as a form of ascension to an immaterial state, in which one joins with the forces of creation. Reincarnation is the return of that soul if it has not learned enough in its mortal journey, to be reborn as a new life. Undead appear when these spirits are unwilling to ascend or be reborn. A strange, reverse form of undead are called the soulless, mortal beings born without souls or psionic ability. These entities are anathema to psionicists, for they are immune to the powers of the mind and can never manifest such abilities, either. The soulless are strange, driven beings, and often outcast in some societies for their nature as anathema (see more on the feat which can be chosen to reflect a soulless character).
The Unbodied are psionic beings which have made and recalled the transition from death to psionic formlessness, and have learned to control this process to the point that they leave their mortal forms behind. Such beings are technically considered undead according to the description above, but they are also much, much more.
As a rule, any undead which is manifested through its own willpower, hatred, or other strong need or emotion is pemitted and considered a viable psionic entity. Undead which can only manifest through magical means or divine means do not exist on Isomular (mummies and skeletons, for example). A few corporal undead, such as ghouls and ghasts, do exist and are classified as undead by most advernturers, but are in fact human off-shoots who suffer from a terrible mutant disease that forces them to live lives as beast-like cannibals. Such undead are classified as “mutations.”
There are a great many different Terran-analog species among the insectoid fauna. Giant and varied sizes of scorpion, centipede, spider and other insects exist, though they are not biologically the same creatures as their Terran counterparts. Most of the human names for these things stem from their own titles, but the native Isomular name will be listed for such creatures in parentheses. These beings, while superficially similar to earth insects, have some startling differences, including stronger shells, larger brains and fully developed lungs with large mouths that extend proboscides for feeding along with mandibles of all sizes.
A small number of the creatures below are classified as “alien.” These beings are not native to Isomular, and clearly do not belong, but if they arrived by space or by the Astral realm, no one can say. Such beings are usually inimical to other life, have strange or unfathomable purposes and natures, and are often opposed to the Annunaki as well as humans and other native beings.