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/tg/ - Traditional Games

Hey you know how we've had periodic threads of how fucked up the bottom of the ocean is and how such an environment could be used as a spooky as fuck environment for a party to explore? I can't stop thinking about the opposite.

Think of the conditions of the upper atmosphere. It's sheer size and emptiness is not unlike much of the underwater vore hell region. What if a fantastical equivalent were to exist above the clouds of a setting? Instead of weird fish, it could be weird birds and insects along with whatever else you want to throw up there. The astral wind from the stars carries spores and detritus into the atmosphere, which serves as food for smaller creatures and filter feeders which form the basis of the ecosystem. Sight would be much more important, and the horror of it would be less about claustrophobia and lightlessness, but agoraphobia and the fact that you're exposed and vulnerable with few if any places to hide. If you can the gigantic fucked up bird the gigantic fucked up bird can definitely see you. Or even, it could be eyeing you from several miles away while you might just notice a spec in the far distance until it suddenly takes up the whole of your vision with its giganic mouth wide open to take you in one gulp.
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Give this thing the proportions of a hawk or albatross or something and a countershaded palette
Other than considering how the primary producers get their nutrients the second thing would be what incentive the players have to go there. Though other ideas are welcome I'd say that in addition to floating dungeons and the wreckage of abandoned airships wealth could come in the form of the beasts themselves. Something has to make being a gigantic fucked up bird viable, at least in terms of staying up there all the time. I would say that the answer is one or more of these three solutions

>the bodies of atmospheric vore hell creatures are incredibly light and strong, with birds the size of a man weighing as little as a fist but hunting with razor-sharp beaks. You could probably get a lot of mileage out of their parts for all kinds of tools.
>there is a particle or element which need to build up in their bodies which gives them mild antigravity properties
>there are specific organs within the body that generate lift. For example, they could expel gases through holes in their body, making them into fucked up bird jet fighters.
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An attempt to visualize the concept, only hampered by the fact that I do not know how to draw, and especially do not know how to draw birds. The most important traits for this kind of fucked up bird at least are the soulless shark eyes and beaks that can unhinge to swallow large prey animals in drive-by swooping.
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Doing dinner right now so I can't go in more detail, but these links show a 10th Century story about "aerial jungles" feeding off aeroplankton, and the gaming material a dude made about it:



And here are some possible aerial lifeforms of gas giants:

>fart-propelled birds of prey
I've read this, yeah, but I think it might be more interesting to make atmospheric vore hell derived from stuff that already flies rather than making it the sea, but above you. I feel like you could get a lot of mileage out of fucking up birds to the level of deep sea fish.

Some more thoughts about the ecology:

>Nutrients come in the form of a rain of spores and detritus from the astral winds of space, which is consumed by the massive schools of mayfly-like creatures which, lacking both speed and defense, rely purely on having as many children as possible, being little more than wings, a mouth, and a stomach.
>There are also filmy blobs of atmospheric microbes which fulfill a similar function as phytoplankton, photosynthesizing and absorbing detritus, though some are actively predatory
>Insects are fed on by bigger, nastier insects along with massive filter-feeders the size of cargo planes, which air plankton are grazed on by "herbivores" that take chunks out of them
>For most macroscopic creatures, the most important think is staying fueled so they can move at top speed. There is nowhere to hide except for rare cloud formations so it mostly comes down to running away. The two main methods utilized by hunters are engulfing, bearing down on prey at 200 mph and swallowing them whole before they know what happened, like a gulper eel with willful intent, and the more conventional evisceration in which sharpened beaks and talons flay apart a target in midair before stripping it to a skeleton (or less) as it falls downward. The entire layer is a perpetual mad max chase scene interspersed by stretches of dead sky where it feels like you're the only thing alive.
>Vision is very important, most animals will see you before you see them unless you have exceptionally good vision.
>If something isn't fast, it is either too big to handle for most predators or has some other kind of danger making other animals think twice, such as poison or plain ferocity.
In a highly fauna-dense region, everything with a brain would be trying to keep an eye on everything else, sizing up what the other creatures are doing and if it should attack or flee. If somewhere isn't empty or a chase scene, it's a mexican stand-off. Very different from the abyss, which is more based on bumbling around until you find something edible and then expending all your stored energy to get at it before going dormant again. Except for the emptiness, of course.
[Fetish thread hidden]
>he doesn't know about the rich culture of Underwater Vore Hell threads

newfag detected
Alright, lets take a crack.
First, unlimited sunlight. Let's say there's aerial algae just kinda hovering wherever there's sunlight and water moisture. They eat clouds and block out the sun for the layers below, so there's immense competition for height. These fuckers are going as high as conditions allow; Water is almost non-existent above 15 km, the temperature is FUCKING COLD, oxygen is declining rapidly, and the radiation from space is going to be pretty awful. It's not impossible that some extremophile life exists beyond the Troposphere, but the majority is going to be well under the edge. Big creatures need much oxygen, yeah?
A problem localised to the Troposphere is winds. While some life would likely enjoy air currents for transportation (like modern air craft!) the jet streams still presents winds the strength of an F5 hurricane. It would be difficult for life to not fucking die from that. The jet streams roam the subtropics and up, from about 10 km up. So I guess there's a band of tropics and equator where life gets a free pass. AGAIN.
If the phytoplankton gets disturbed too much, it affects everything on up. There's zones where life is limited to fairly low altitudes, and there's zones where the algae can exist pretty high up. It would probably make the planet have a green and a brown band from space.
Interesting points, I've already considered the jet stream acting in a way similar to currents in the ocean, but it's a useful thing to bring up, as is the temperature issue, which would further elaborate on the importance of a fast metabolism combined with the need to stay airborne. But bear in mind, the starting point of the premise is "there already exists above the clouds an equivalent to the abyssal layer of the ocean in terms of being an absolutely horrific ecosystem characterized by incredibly fucked up animals, vast amounts of nothingness, and a free-for-all food chain, and furthermore it is intended to be a place worthy of exploring meaning it must support monsters to fight and things to loot" not "could such an ecosystem come to be?"

The latter question is already answered; for the purposes of this campaign, yes. It's just a matter of working backwards from that premise, filling it in, and fleshing it out, though keeping it setting-agnostic would likely be useful for any future readers.
>derived from stuff that already flies
Call me insane, but what if they're based on planes? Giant Antonovlike filter feeders, Concord cranes zipping about to catch an unwary Cessna, maybe throw in some synthetic/biotech bent to them.
>Call me insane, but what if they're based on planes? Giant Antonovlike filter feeders, Concord cranes zipping about to catch an unwary Cessna, maybe throw in some synthetic/biotech bent to them.

That's not exactly setting agnostic but it'd certainly be good for a science fiction setting. On the other hand you're just begging for the thread to be flooded with anthro plane images.
Wherever's there's plankton, there's creatures to feed on them. Small critters eat the plankton, bigger creatures eat the critters that eat plankton, and so on and so forth. I'll assume you know the generals of an ecosystem.
I can see balloon-like plants existing, growing huge leaves and air-sacks to keep afloat, and producing fruit for grazing animals. They'd be a tree analogue. And they'd come with their own host of parasitic plants and microbes, I suppose.
Animals would probably resemble birds the most. Huge wings, maybe sails for the grazing animals, and internal floating organs, or at least something to make gliding easier. Sight is the preferred sense, because you can't hear, smell or taste anything in strong winds.
When we're done examining reality, we can start discussing the weird and fantastic.
Like half of your points have already been covered by OP, you sure you've read the thread before posting?
I'm just an angry man yelling at clouds, dude. Don't put any faith in any of my posts.
I do like the idea of this being bird-centric horror. You see a lot of creepy deer because of the popularity of skinwalkers and innawoods memes, reptiles are pretty scary without changes, fish already have a real deep sea hell zone, but birds aren't really as utilized in horror. I imagine some predators having heads/necks that are almost entirely cartilage and capable of doubling their diameter, just stretching from a bird shape into a horrifically not-bird shape to swallow live animals and people.
I will argue that an extendable beak inside another beak is a fucking terrifying image. Like with hooks and shit to just drag it in.
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>some birds have split tongues that function like the grasping pair of arms on a squid or cuttlefish
>rather than speeding towards prey from an angle and intercepting them, they'll relentlessly follow from behind and slooowly gain on their victim until they can unhinge their beak and use their tongues to snatch them and yank the victim into their yawning gullet
>for this reason they're regarded by glider pilots as one of the worst birds to get hunted by, since all you can do is helplessly glance over your shoulder to see it coming closer and closer...
It doesn't work that well because the thing about flying creatures is that they eventually have to land. A monster that dies up there HAS to come down -- even if has something like a gas-bladder, some scavenger will eventually break it and at least some peices will fall. You can't have it just be "the sky."

You can instead have massive, fuckhuge cliffs and steep mountains which reach past the atmosphere on which your monsters can roost. You could also use floating islands, but rather than just big rocks they could be lifted via airborne plants like the hydrogen trees from Titan A.E, so you not only have blimp islands but also a way for any civilizations to build airships easily by harvesting the gases from the native flora.
Look up monarch butteryfly migrations. Those things get high and they stay thick.
Ok but what if multiple tongues
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>It doesn't work that well because the thing about flying creatures is that they eventually have to land. A monster that dies up there HAS to come down -- even if has something like a gas-bladder, some scavenger will eventually break it and at least some peices will fall. You can't have it just be "the sky."

There's nothing really wrong with this being a thing, but I would argue with sufficient adaptation it's entirely possible for an animal to spend its lifetime without landing, even if it falls to the ground upon death. We already have birds that spend 10 months at a time never touching the ground, that's 2 months shy of them doing it year round, and that's without a bountiful upper-air ecosystem to keep them sustained.

Sounds like an even more overt squid-octopod analogue to me. Pic related, they could have hummingbird-like wings that let them stay upright, but tilted so that their head perpetually hangs down, along with their retractable tongue-tentacles. They might not be fast but they could be annoyingly agile and thus more trouble than they are worth in most cases.

The picture should also have feathers and wings that are not shit but again, I cannot draw. The beak could also be more like the other tongued bird, basically extending into a circular orifice that vomits the tendrils out and closes to protect them when retracted.

Some could also have vibrant tailfeathers that act as a kind of fan or crest for like, mating purposes and shit.
the brains of octopusses, the disposition of geese.

>birds of the high skies typically do not lay eggs outside their body, but incubate them in a pouch until they hatch, or utilize a kind of live birth.
>The exception to this is a particularly nasty family which will actually use a bladed ovipositor to lay bird eggs in larger animals, using secreted numbing and clotting agents to patch over the wound and keep victims unawares
>The largest of them are the size of a man with eggs the size of a golf ball, while the smallest are the size of a man's forearm with eggs about the size of a thumbnail.
>Humans are not exempt from this, though they do make for poor hosts.
>There have been reports of sailors stung while sleeping on the deck, unaware of what was incubating below their skin besides a nasty rash, until a half-dozen eggs hatched inside of them and the afflicted body part was left looking like a gristly patchwork of open holes filled with cracked eggshell, which will need to be extracted and the wounds cleaned before infection sets in
>also if you crack the eggs inside of you it's even worse because then you have a dead, soon to be rotting bird embryo and all its associated fluids inside your tissues, so try to avoid getting into melee combat while afflicted, or doing anything strenuous at all really
Actually I guess insects in this ecosystem would do this too but I feel the proper introduction for ignorant PCs exploring the Bird Layer would be chicks bursting from someone's flesh after the party didn't bother setting up lookout shifts while sleeping on the airship
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I am fully prepared to continue to bump this thread until I run out of fucked up birds to draw in MS paint. This is a threat.

Have a filter feeder. The strong upper beak is for dueling other males for breeding rights and absolutely ruining your airship after he mistakes it for a rival.
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Smaller, stabbier birds. They're cunning and know how to cut you off if you're trying to escape. If you're not careful they'll filet you with their sharpened beaks, shearing off chunks of meat as you fall down until only a bloody skeleton and a few loose chunks are left. Swords and other edged weapons made from their beaks are of excellent quality.
You can't talk about atmospheric beasts and not have rods.
>For most macroscopic creatures, the most important think is staying fueled so they can move at top speed. There is nowhere to hide except for rare cloud formations so it mostly comes down to running away.
>The entire layer is a perpetual mad max chase scene interspersed by stretches of dead sky where it feels like you're the only thing alive.
Holy shit that's terrifying, and also fucking amazing
You've got a real gem idea on your hands here
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Anyone else picturing the roblox skybox in their head?
My shitty attempt at sone kind if filter feeder
I think it's worth considering the tradeoff between speed and efficiency here - generally speaking, the faster you move the less bang for buck you're getting in terms of how much energy expend versus how far you move. It's why animals like jellyfish or deep sea fish can survive so long without food - they just don't use that much energy on locomotion.
That being said, I feel like cloud formations would probably become a parallel to coral reefs, with the abundance of hiding spots attracting prey animals that in turn attract predators. These would turn cloudier regions into biological hotspots that could mark the more dangerous parts to traverse for the party.
Drifting Dragons might have some ideas you guys could be interested in, by the way. It's about dragon whalers.
Yeah, I was think of predator birds kind of like eagles that conserve their energy by gliding slowly until it's time to strike and dive, slow moving filter feeders that provide a bit of shelter and a place to land, and insect swarms
>It doesn't work that well because the thing about flying creatures is that they eventually have to land.
(Semi)Solid Clouds

Or maybe giant perpetually-floating organisms like sky whales or blubber masses that serve as moving ecosystems.

If things need to land, put what they want to land on in the sky.
In the same ways some dinosaurs used hardened bone and ivory to headbutt other animals, it would make sense for extremely high speed birds to adapt in similar ways.
Smacking into their prey at extremely high speeds, breaking bone and killinh or stunning on impact.
>Hit your prey
>it dies/get knocked-out
>you now need extra energy to grab it back.
I think piercing or just grabbing would be better in the long-term if they're small, could also help them "hijack" some bigger floating creatures to rest.
Big predators would probably just gobble up preys or bite preys to keep them close.
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Well there a some things to keep in mind with jupiter.

> the lower layers are denser and more warm
>it even becomes boiling at 40 km unter the 1 bar niveau
>if you can stand the heat it becomes so dense that you are almost swimming, there are more pretators there though

shits terryfing
Like >>82423185 points out, some form of snaring or grabbing attack would probably be far more effective. A stunning or headbutting attack would make more sense as a defensive mechanism, an all-or-nothing play to try and stun the predator for a quick escape.
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The last thing you see as a sudden impact knocks you off your vessel
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I'm reminded a bit of The Integral Trees, an old sci-fi novel sereis that took place in a gas torus around a neutron star in a binary system and lit by it's companion star. The only 'ground' in the setting was a type of massive tree that grew to resmble an integral symbol due to coriolis effects. Predatory wildlife tended to be arrow-shaped, and would free-fall sideways around , picking off smaller life-forms in the air, or just picking off life forms that dared to attempt climbing the trunks of the trees.
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>>82427251 (me)
They had some pretty nice art for the covers, too.
Written by Larry Niven eh?
Gonna have to check em out.
Cheers anon
>if they're small, could also help them "hijack" some bigger floating creatures to rest
Symbiosis. The 'aircraft carrier' is a scavenger, they feed it portions of their kills.
It seems to me like all of this is better for the ecology of a plane of elemental air rather than for the skies of the normal world.
Personally I think planes are kind of lame. Just taking all the really fantastical parts of a fantastical setting and partitioning them into neat little boxes instead of having them be integrated into the world itself. Why can't you just make the elemental plane of air the troposphere and beyond? Who needs an astral plane when you have outer space? Or an earth plane when you have caves?
I changed my mind. I like the idea of space as a sort of plane of elemental air instead of just a separate dimension or whatever.
I've often thought about a setting or game set in a gas giant. Players would be roughly neutrally buoyant at some layer in the clouds. Similar to the ocean, I'm sure the bottom of the foodchain would be either photo or chemosynthetic micro-organisms and build up from there. A lot of the wildlife would be things that sort of filter through the clouds, creating some horror as large whale like inverted jellyfish rise up out of the clouds.

I read a book on this concept set on Saturn, and that book supposed the great dark spot that seasonally rises and falls was a giant creature that filtered massive portions of the cloudcover at once, before falling again.
Based on a mix between the Mactera Grabbers from Deep Rock Galactic and those spiders that make web nets
I would imagine this thing is like 2 or 3 feet long
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Oh, how could I have forgotten about spiders. Your net idea would be perfect, but when it comes to true spiders one could always use ballooning rather than wings, gif related. After all, spiderlings have been found three miles in the air just with that technique, so perhaps a percentage of them just never bothered to come back down and became permanent inhabitants of the upper air, using silk-woven sails and glider wings to get around. Maybe some of them are solitary hunters while others swarm around in shoals. You'd probably find a lot of them in the jetstream.
>After all, spiderlings have been found three miles in the air just with that technique
jesus christ

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