Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sword & Planet: Some Thoughts On A Bestiary...

Good Morning, All:

In thinking about developing a Sword & Planet bestiary, I wanted to start with some basic concepts. As a GM, I've noticed that the more I touch on common or shared experiences between gamers, the less time I have to take explaining things and the easier it is for gamers to accept the details of the scene and immerse themselves in the world and the storyline that we are creating together. In terms of a bestiary, this is no different.

Looking at the Swadesh list, I can easily see that there are five animals that are identified. This means that these animals are part of the 200 concepts most commonly communicated in languages. These animals are:


Of course, you can't really do a lot with that list. There's simply not enough options to explore. However, there's a Universal Language List project, that expands on the idea behind the Swadesh lists, which one can assume also includes creatures that are common enough that most people can use them and move on. Looking through the list, I found the following forty-six creatures identified in the list of animals as common concepts that cross cultural boundaries and thus lend themselves well to shared experiences and more immersive gaming:

ant (insect of family Formicidae)
mantis (insect of order Manteodea)
cockroach (insect of order Blattaria)
worm (broad category of insect larvae)
bee (member of genus Apis)
fly (small winged insect)
snake (reptile of suborder Serpentes or Ophidia)
turtle (reptile of order Testudinata)
dragon (winged serpent with crested head and large claws)
whale (large marine mammal of order Cetacea)
frog (web-footed tailless leaping amphibian)
cow/bull, cattle (bovine animal of either sex)
donkey, ass (Equus asinus)
goat (animal of genus Capra)
horse (Equus caballus)
pig (mammal of family Suidae)
sheep (Ovis aries)
bear (animal of Ursidae family)
deer (animal of family Cervidae)
lion (Felis leo)
tiger (Felis tigris)
fox (member of genus Vulpes)
wolf (Canis lupus)
monkey, small primate
rabbit (animal of family Leporidae)
squirrel (rodent of family Sciuridae)
dog (Canis familiaris)
cat (Felis catus)
bird (egg-laying feathered animal with wings)
turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

Therefore, when developing creature concepts for a Planetary Romance game, I am going to make an effort to describe the appearance and/or behavior of the beasts in terms of these common animals listed above. Sometimes, the inability of a player to visualize the world described by a GM gets in the way of enjoying a non-standard gaming experience, and as the Sword & Planet genre is not strictly Fantasy, we can safely say that we may need every bit of help we can get to help players enjoy the game.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any other suggestions to offer?

With Regards,

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