I wouldn't say that evolution has an upper bound per se... though it produces many dead ends. An arms race may never stop, while all the actors keep changing, creatures without predators would be limited by their prey (and starving or adapting if it runs out), as well as parasites and diseases. Perfect killing machines can always be perfect only in given conditions, against a given opponent. And if someone is always winning the fight, then it pays to change the form of it, etc, etc...
I wonder if the raw magic-ness of the place was present before, or came to pass naturally in a magical world - where all living creatures trace back to a single place, magic will abound. Go to Comment
Evolution is a process of genetic mutation caused by the interference out outside radiation such as UV and the basic concept of genetic drift. In this situation, the outside stimulus is the high concentration of magic in the area constantly altering the basic structure of the local wildlife. Those species that are able to adapt to the basic enviroment and carry their inherent traits onto the next generation are the basic force of evolution. It is easy to confuse evolution with adaptation. The massive topography shift would likely destroy the majority of the wildlife each time it changed, and if a predator looses its basic prey, it to generally perishes. That, and massive topographical shifts just go against the magic saturated muggy feel of Mother Bog.
The Biological Arms Race - The dinosauria of the late Cretaceous period are a good example of the biological arms race. The herbivores began developing massively intricate defensive mechanisms, such as interlocking bone plate armor(anklyosaurs), massive horn and frill defences (Horned Dinosaurs such as Triceratops) and the mother of all defences, teh Stegosaur's double row of plates. According to Robert Bakker, it has been discovered that there were muscle grooves on the plates meaning that the dinosaur could move the plates in the same manner that a horse can twitch it's skin, or move its tail. The predators responded by growing larger and gaining thicker necks and more powerful jaws. This process was specialization, but it didn't always inbreed weakness. A triceratops wasn't easy prey for any other predator, it wasn't easy prey for anything.
The evolution that Monument describes seems more the like the Borg from Star Trek who are able to adapt and negate almost any weapon used against them in a matter of moments. And if you look at wildlife (not house pets, livestock, or zoo animals) it is fairly apparent that animals are not politically correct. Predators hunt and kill their prey, their prey attempts to survive by stealth, intimidation, or confrontation. It was Hoobs who said that 'Life is brutish, nasty, and short' or something along those lines. Go to Comment
What happens to adventurers who spend more than a few weeks there? Do they adapt to their environment, fins, gills, lower center of gravity, loss of firm muscle, elasticity, stuff like that?
Just FYI, evolution is a result of changing environment most often, more than anything else. Even with the prescence of magic, it is likely that evolution would stagnate in a single environment. If you want to use the evolutionary aspect of this, may I suggest making the swamp change dramatically as a result of the magic, and allow the creatures to adapt magically as well. One week you find a mountain stretching to the sky(arctic conditions), next week it's a forest, next it's a swamp, next there's volcanos and such, but the creatures somehow survive. Maybe there's like 4 shifts worth of changes in any creature, making it part swamp creature, part mountain creature, part arctic, and so on, depending on what just happened. There could be an array of truly bizarre but explained creatures in there, with parts from many different creatures all hodgepodged into one, like a platypus or something(but even more bizarre)
MAYBE if you go that route, if a person can observe, from the outside, they can discern a pattern of the magic changes and perhaps predict what changes a denizen could expect to face. Maybe they need a specific set of abilities from the PCs, and if they agree, they must study the swamp to find the appropriate time to enter the swamp to get the changes they want. Fire resistance, cold tolerance, poison spit, water adaptations, you could make up a laundry list of things a PC would need to accomplish some goal, then send him in, have him change, and go for some mission, after which they can be magically altered back to normal. Go to Comment
The only problem with an arms race scenario is that it has an upper bound. Eventually, one side will grow a weapon so awesomely good at dealing with the opposition that they will wipe out their opponents, or their opponents won't be able to breach their defenses. You quickly reach the point of the immovable rock vs the infinite force. We see this in nature all the time, creatures with no natural predators.
I like the concept, it's workable, but if you go that route, then very quickly the denizens of the area are going to be killing and defensive machines.
Most importantly, to be realistic, you're going to ALSO have things that are so ultra-specialized in their ONE prey species that they will be an utter CAKEWALK for any group of standard humans. With that degree of specialization comes a price, and the price is lack of generality, the lack of dealing with the new things that come along.
Unless, of course, the party comes along and starts doing their thing and finds the creatures adapting at an astounding rate. At some point, the creatures the party is fighting are effectively immune to all attack forms, and the predators may dine at their liesure. If you go that route, make SURE you provide a reasonable avenue of escape, otherwise you're looking at a TPK(total party kill).
Maybe that is the time limit of any scenario. The party must complete their mission and escape the area BEFORE the creatures fully adapt to their prescence. If they wait too long, death will become all but an inevitability. Nothing like a hard deadline to motivate a party, huh? ;) Go to Comment
I was working under the suspension of disbelief that the evolution was "magical" in nature. If he's talking about a week to make a change as described in his comments about the frog and the fly, suffice it to say, the adaptations are going to happen at a "borg-like" pace. I wanted to grant that magic could do wacky stuff, including evolving creatures at the rate of millions of years of evolution in a week's time.
In a place like this, it seems only logical that a creature facing sharp swords and piercing arrows and blunt clubs would adapt to avoid taking that sort of damage somehow, and in very short order.
I'm open to other concepts, of course, but taken logically, I can't see any other realistic option, given the setup of the scenario. Besides, wouldn't it be cool to have an environment react to you specifically and not just you in the generic?
Off topic, but... Hey, maybe there's a dungeon that conflicts with itself as the party passes by. The walls read the emotions and interests of the people passing, and try to construct a pleasing image on the walls, but the conflicting goals and ambitions of the party are likewise reflected in a painting that fights with itself for control and space. Hrm. Kind of too small for a plot, maybe just for flavor. Go to Comment
In fact, concerning the whole evolution deal, I was thinking that the creatures adapt less to suit their environment than to suit the adaptations of _other_ creatures, which have adapted in turn to protect themselves from the adaptions of yet others, and so on, in a sort of evolutionary "arms race". For example, a species of frog preys upon a species of fly, until that species of fly develops a poison, causing the frogs to develop a substance secreted by its tongue that counters the poison, making the flies develop vicious claws to sever the frogs' tongues, causing the frogs to grow thicker tongues, et cetera (all within a fortnight).
I like your idea too - although one might argue that it's no longer "Mother _Swamp_" if it's suddenly a mountain range... Go to Comment
Nothing wrong with the character. The double agent thing shows how such a bookworm could be manipulated - let him simply find a fake book. And if he is a trusted source of information for adventurers, it won't take long until someone swallows the bait, and acts upon it.. it could be anything from a doomsday prophecy(tm) up to the location of some important dingus. And the heroes run where the bad guys want them. Go to Comment
I like the invalid angle, but the terrible cough of doom seems a tad heavy. If he is wealthy and there are adventurers and the like, why hasn't he simply procured magical healing for himself? That being said, he can be an excellent employer for PCs hunting down trinkets and books for him, or the spell components to fix his wounded lungs.
I also had the idea of the halfling being carried around by a Hodor-Golem Go to Comment
I'd like to put my two-pennies-worth in but I can't really add anything to Monuments comments, although I'm not too sure about the double agent suggestion (perhaps a bit overkill, but maybe that's just me).
This definitely is something I hope to steal. A sage with a reason to be curmudgeonly. Most of my sages are simply bookworms with very little personality beyond the typical "adjust the spectacles, mousey guy" bit.
You know why I can use this? It substantially differs from the norm, and I don't have to make it up for someone I consider to be a bit player in our game. This is truly useful. 5/5
OH! Make him a double agent. He gets to adventure without leaving his home! The bad guys hire him to spread faulty information to the PCs, things that would actually assist the bad guys but seem like they help the good guys, after they learn the PCs have availed themselves of his services. Of course, it would have to be very innocuous disinformation, otherwise he'd be discovered as the weak link rather quickly. And if he is discovered, he can just as easily betray the bad guys in an innocuous way, saying "I found that information in this book, a recent acquizition from the big bad evil guys, who I didn't know were big bad evil guys, honest! It's not my fault!" The bad guys pay him by making him the focus of a courageous book, they write of "Phineas' exploits", like "Thanks to the cunning Phineas, the group found what they are looking for... etc etc" That way, he's not reading about what others had done, he's reading about what HE did, and he loves it. Go to Comment
There is a person who has a well-known reputation, probably involving something illegal. But this person is either very clever and crafty, or really like his or her privacy, for no one knows who this person actually is. As an added twist, perhaps this person is of an age that would noramlly be wildly inappropriate (say, a child is a much-feared bandit) or maybe not the expected gender or even race.