Saturday, December 29, 2018

Ranges (monster habitats)

Well, I didn't get this done today, but I worked long and hard on it and I want to be sure people see it. So ... here's some of the work for Monster ranges, describing habitats for living creatures. This is something that can be perpetually expanded; eventually I'll create individual pages for each range, when there's enough detail sorted. This will do for today:

I organize the appearance of my monsters on the presence of vegetation and thus food supply, not upon terrain such as "hills" or "mountains." Some creatures do occupy alpine areas, but this is dependent upon the presence of alpine vegetation and not elevation.

The collection of ranges that I use are composites of Kuchler's vegetation classification, organized by climate type as often as not. This is augmented by some vegetation types not included by Kuchler, as monsters exist beneath the sea and Kuchler did not account for sea vegetation.

Please note: this formulation continues to be in a state of flux ~ many of the monster charts already posted on the wiki need adjustment in order to be in tune with the text below, while that text is being finalized. I hope to achieve parity across the Bestiary files in early 2019.


Monster Ranges include the following, with descriptions and images.

Aquatic Ranges


Lake

Includes ponds. These regions range in size from a hundred square yards to thousands of square miles. Several are remnants from glaciation. As they are isolated from one another, the residents of one body of water may be considerably different from another that is nearby. Temperatures vary in lakes and ponds seasonally in temperate and northern zones, so that much of the life associated with these bodies of water exists only during half the year.

The topmost zone of a lake near the shore, where it is shallow, is called the littoral zone. Able to absorb the sun's heat, the water is warmer and supports the most life: aquatic plants, insects, mollusks, fish and amphibians. Eggs and larvae are laid in this zone. Turtles, snakes and bird-life, as well as humanoids, are most likely to hunt here.

The near-surface open water in the middle of the lake is called the limnetic zone. Well-lit, it is dominated by plankton, fish and larger monsters that rise to feed.

The deep-water of a lake, below 30 feet, is called the profundal zone. The water is much colder and denser, little light penetrates and the main food supply is dead organisms. The main animal life is scavengers.

Ocean

These regions are divided into four separate zones, depending on temperature, the amount of light and access to land.

The intertidal zone is where the ocean meets the land. Sometimes the bottom is submerged and at other times exposed, due to waves and tides moving in and out. Mollusks like places where they can emerge from the water to hunt on the land; creatures that prefer to remain submerged include snails, crayfish, sea stars and fish. Larger creatures, exposed only during the very lowest tides, include worms and large predatory mollusks and beasts.

The benthic zone consists of ocean where the bottom is largely untouched by tides and yet enjoys the benefits of life. The zone consists of huge ocean plains, much of it consisting of sand, silt and dead organisms, with little plant life on the bottom. Seaweed forests do reach up to the surface from the bottom but most plant-life is free floating weeds. The water is comparatively warm and nutrient-rich, with fungi, sponges, anemones, worms, sea stars, fishes and the largest number of dwelling humanoid species.

The pelagic zone consists of the open ocean, where the bottom is deep enough to be considered another zone. With no land at all, the pelagic zone is relatively cold, with surface seaweed. Fish tends to congregate in large schools, whereas much larger mammals (whales and dolphins), large fish (sharks) and ocean-going monsters dwell. Most very large creatures feed on abundant plankton.

The abyssal zone is very cold, highly pressured and low is sustenance. A constant rain of detritus floats from above, but light is scant and there is no plant life. Many strange animals are found on the dark floor, or near underwater volcanic vents ~ the largest monsters on Earth dwell in the darkness of this layer, occasionally swimming upwards to prey on large creatures in the pelagic zone.

Reefs

These are widely distributed warm shallow waters fringing islands and atolls, or located upon great shallow barriers upon a continental shelf. The algae that makes up corals produces nutrients through photosynthesis, creating sustenance for invertebrates, fish, urchins, octopuses, sea stars and some humanoid residents.

Rivers

Includes streams. These bodies of flowing water change characteristics as they move from their headwaters towards their mouths. In high country, the temperature is cooler, clearer and has high oxygen levels, which are good for some fish and water scavengers. As width increases and the river slows, species diversity increases, as does vegetation. Towards the mouth, the water becomes murky, decreasing the amount of light. Without light, flora decreases and monsters that use the river as a retreat from which to attack prey on land increases.

Wetlands

Includes swamps, marshes and bogs. Wetlands are standing water that supports aquatic plants and a high diversity of animal life. Species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and furbearing animals, as well as monsters seeking isolation and shelter from humanoid outsiders. Some, such as salt marshes, have high salt concentrations, supporting sea life. Marshes can form along river estuaries or in wide areas where much of the land is near or below sea level.

Terrestrial Ranges


Alpine

The zone of vegetation between the tree line and the highest point of all vegetation, called the nival zone. Alpine growth typically consists of herb grasses and plants, with all woody vegetation disappearing towards higher elevations. The upper limit of alpine vegetations also gives way to bare rock and permanent snow. Winds are strong and continuous, while precipitation is mist or snow. Temperatures are cold and it usually freezes at night. Residents consist of hoofed animals, small mammals and beasts that roost in the high country and plunder lowlands below.

Desert

Barren areas where little precipitation occurs and living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes an unprotected surface subject to weathering, exposing much bare rock. Downpours can create flash floods, resulting in a desert bloom of flora and much needed sustenance for animals and monsters. Plant life will occur wherever there is water, such as seepages from aquifers, surviving on sea mist or minimal rainfall, or congregating around springs that produce oases.

Plants tend to be wiry and tough, with cuticles and spines to preserve water. Creatures and humanoids need to keep cool, use little precious water and be efficient at finding food and water in the desert. Many creatures are nocturnal. Nomads move flocks and herds from oasis to oasis. The largest deserts include the Sahara, Arabian, Gobi and Kalahari, with large expanses of desert on every continent.
Links: ant (giant black) ~ ant (giant bull)

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