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Author Topic: Inkfish: The Aquatic Master of Disguise  (Read 14492 times)
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Sivartius
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« on: 06 May 2009, 02:35:13 »

Here we go. A new mollusk for your collection Seth. Feel free to comment all. Changes in Blue.

Name:

Inkfish, Squiggler
In Styrash "Kraken-masyr" or Krakenfish.
Pisachara in the Tarshiinite language.


Overview:

A flash of colour, a cloud of ink, and then nothing.  That is all a predator usually sees of the elusive inkfish. To one with patience however, the inkfish will appear as a picture of beauty and undersea grace.

Description:

Though a cursory look would incline one to classify the inkfish as a much smaller and more colourful kraken, further investigation reveals a wealth of idiosyncrasies that amply earn it a place and category of its own. Unlike the kraken, the eight tentacles of the inkfish do not even make up a third of its total length. Its head/body is shaped like a rounded cone or oval, something like the head of a practice arrow. A long narrow fin runs the length of its body, and it is with this that the inkfish does most of its swimming. The inkfish also has two pseudo-tentacles which are much longer, but they are usually kept curled in a pouch under its eyes. While kraken share the ability to change colours, they are usually content to remain a dusky gray or green. The inkfish on the other hand garbs itself in brilliant colours of every type. The pupils of the inkfish are also unique, being shaped like the letter W. The maximum length of the inkfish is about one fore three palmsbreadths.

On the inside, we again see differences to amaze and delight us. Firstly, the blood of the inkfish is not red like that of other creatures, but is a blue-green colour. Why this is is not known. Also, while the kraken is completely boneless, the inkfish has an interior shell or “floatbone”. Into this buoyant floatbone, the inkfish can pump either liquid or gas, changing its buoyancy, and allowing it to rise or sink rapidly. The inkfish also has three hearts: one for each gill, and one for the rest of its body. The inkfish has the largest brain for its size of any marine form of life, causing some to suspect that it may be intelligent. Some inkfish such as the rheneu inkfish have ink that if it is not carefully cleaned off the flesh is poisonous to be eaten, causing a paralyzation of the heart and lungs, while most do not require this special handling.

Special Abilities:


The inkfish has several unusual abilities which allow it to survive in the intense competition  of life on the ocean. First is their famous colour changing abilities which far surpasses that of a chameleon, or even the kraken. Second is the last ditch defense of their ink. Unlike kraken who blow ink first and hide second, a inkfish will try to hide first, and only use their ink if they are found. The ink comes either as a cloud, or in the form of decoy inkfishes. The ink contains a substance which can deaden the sense of smell of a predator by coating the inside of its nose with the ink, or even put it to sleep if it is inhaled. It is especially toxic to the merpeople, and for them can even be fatal. They also can adjust their buoyancy by pumping water or air into pockets in their shells. Finally, each of the pseudo-tentacles has a small stinger on the end, which paralyzes prey to keep them from struggling. If an inkfish is caught and unable to hide or escape, it will use these stingers to attempt to dissuade its captor.

Territory:

The inkfish live throughout the seas of Santharia, especially the shelves and pools near shore and reefs, especially coral reefs. They tend to avoid the very deep places where the Giant Kraken and other sea monsters dwell. They are most common along the coasts or near underwater shoals, mountains, or reefs. Because of this, they can be a good indicator that land is near, but they make shipmasters nervous, fearing to be run aground. The sighting of a inkfish is therefore cheered and feared by sailors after a long trip. While inkfish can be found in many varieties in all the lands of Caelereth in numerous varieties of size and shape, the island of Denilou is home to an especially large breed of inkfish, who's incredibly toxic ink makes them very poisonous to humans.

Behavior:

Inkfish are semi-social. They evidence social behavior, but do not hunt or live in schools. This does not mean that they avoid others of their kind, but each inkfish is responsible for its own support. They will usually avoid swimmers and divers, except during mating season, when they are very friendly. Then they will follow swimmers around, and even come up to have their head scratched. When mating, males will wrestle with each other and do colourful displays to establish dominance. Sometimes a smaller male which could not defeat a larger one, would trick him by mimicking a female to get past him and mate with the female before the larger male realizes what has happened. When laying her eggs, the female covers them with a layer of ink to camouflage them.

The mad Mollusk researcher Fridiv Alev claimed to have taught kraken and inkfish to go through mazes. After much philosophical rambling, his conclusions are as follows:
"The kraken is an inordinately variable creature. On one day it will travel the maze with perfect ease, and on another it seems not to even know where it is. At times it sticks itself to the bottom of the tank and sulks, or maliciously destroys all within reach. I wonder sometimes if it is mocking me, breaking my equipment and laughing at the importance I place on such toys. How can this spoiled creature, so different from the noble gnacker, be yet a close relation. It seems to posses all the failings and inconsistencies of humanity.

The inkfish, on the other hand, though still occasionally showing the frailties of temperament to which mobile life is heir, yet is still of a much more stable outlook. Perhaps this is because it, unlike the kraken, has the benefit of an internal shell. This bears thought. If man were born with a shell, like a clam or gnacker, would he too have the benefit of their outlook on life? It is notable how humans constantly try to create an artificial shell. Suits of armor, clothes, shoes, all are barriers between ourselves and the world. Even more so castles and houses are nothing more than attempts to create something like a shell for ourselves, where we can be safe. Are we blindly striving for the blissful passivity of the shellfish? A inkfish gains some of the benefits of  the shell, yet their exterior is still vulnerable. Perhaps this is why, though more stable than the kraken, they still sometimes show fear, anxiety, and ambition, things the gnacker and the barnacle never seem to be troubled with."
<- From "The Philosophie of the Molluske Race" by Fridriv Alev.


Diet:

The inkfish usually eats small fish, shrimp, and crabs. An inkfish will wait, blending in to its surroundings waiting  for a smaller creature to come by. Its tentacles wave in an interesting manner, drawing the prey within reach of its two pseudo-tentacles which are usually kept stored in pockets underneath the eyes. These shoot out and grab its prey, paralyzing it and dragging it in to be torn apart by its beak and tentacles and eaten.

Uses:

The ink of the inkfish is used as both an ink, and as a brown dye. The flesh of the inkfish is a common food item in most coastal areas. In Nyblemar shredded and dried inkfish is a popular snack food. In the southwestern coasts of Sarvonia, the inkfish is served with rice, while Northern Sarvonians serve a very similar dish using noodles. Many ships carry dried inkfish as a staple, along with saltpork and hardtack, because the residual ink acts as a powerfull preservative.  Sometimes it is added to a stew to provide meat, at other times it is served with rice or noodles, with the ink serving as a sauce. No-one knows quite where this serving method came from,as it appeared relatively recently, and in many widespread locations almost simultaneously. Perhaps it came, not from any particular region, but simply from the mind of a particularly inventive shipowner, and was then coppied because it was successfully.

The Alchemists of Tarshiinite people of Nyblemar mix the blue-green blood of the inkfish or "Pisachara" as they call it, along with the ground up shells of the Lobstare, water, and at least one other secret ingredient which they have never told outsiders, to make a liquid which they soak the hulls of their ships in. When their ships have soaked and dried, they have a metallic characteristic to them, and cannot be sawn or cut. They are also immune to the depredation of shipworms, a kind of woodworm which is one of the banes of sailors, and barnacles and other such. This means that their ships can go faster longer, as they do not develop the drag of barnacles on the hull. They also loose fewer ships at sea because of shipworm. This has also proved to be a significant advantage in their Naval Wars with the Gondlewenmith. Many navies and merchant groups have attempted to duplicate these effects in vain.

Occasionally a mermaid will be seen to keep a inkfish as a pet. However, because of the merpeople's very short attention span, it is unclear whether these are truly domesticated, or whether they simply live close to the mermaids and interact in a friendly manner.
This is especially curious as the ink of the inkfish is extremely poisonous to the merpeople. Paranoid minds might see this as evidence that the merpeople are not as unsophisticated as we think, and that these serve the purpose of guard beasts, but a more likely answer is that this is a case of simple understanding. Both sides know that if they do not threaten the other, the other will not threaten them.

Myth/Lore

Superstitious people have lumped the Inkfish along with the kraken and claimed a Coorish influence on them both, seeing thier following of ships as the eye of Coor watching them, waiting to bring about destruction. Others of more stable temperment see them somewhat in the same light as the waves, or the shore. They are not either good or bad, they simply are. As creatures of the sea, and sharing so little in common with humans, their ways are essentially unknowable
« Last Edit: 21 June 2009, 12:13:31 by Sivartius » Logged

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Valan Nonesuch
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« Reply #1 on: 06 May 2009, 03:05:27 »

Name:

Cuttlefish Another name or two would be interesting here. Ask Decipher or Miraran for some assistance if you'd like an exclusively nybelmarian name

Overview:

A flash of colour, a cloud of ink, and then nothing.  That is all a predator usually sees of the elusive cuttlefish. To one with patience however, the cuttlefish will appear as a picture of beauty and undersea grace.

Description:

Though a cursory look would incline one to classify the cuttlefish as a much smaller and more colourfull Kraken, further investigation reveals a wealth of uniqueness-es that amply earn it a place and category of its own. Unlike the Kraken, the eight tentacles of the cuttlefish do not even make up a third of its total length. While Kraken share the ability to change colours, they are usually content to remain a dusky gray or green. The cuttlefish on the other hand garbs itself in brilliant colours of every type. The pupils of the cuttlefish is also unique, being shaped like the letter W. The maximum length of the cuttlefish is 60 nailsbredths.

On the inside, we again see differences to amaze and delight us. Firstly, the blood of the cuttlefish is not red like that of other creatures, but is a blue-green colour. Some think this means that instead of iron in their blood, cuttlefish have copper. How could we determine this in a medieval setting? Also, while the Kraken is completely boneless, the cuttlefish has an interior shell or “cuttlebone”. Into this boyant cuttlebone, the cuttlefish can pump either liquid or gas, changing its buoyancy, and allowing it to rise or sink rapidly. The cuttlefish also has three hearts. One for each gill, and one for the rest of its body. The cuttlefish has the larges brain for its size of any marine form or life, causing some to suspect that it may be intelligent. Some cuttlefish are poisonous, while others are good eating. Which ones? Details!

Special Abilities:

The cuttlefish has several unusual abilities  < extra space herewhich allow it to survive in the intense competition  of life on the ocean. First is their famous colourspacechanging abilities which far surpasses that of a chameleon, or even the Kraken. Second is their last ditch defense of their ink. Unlike Kraken who use this first, a cuttlefish will try to hide first, and only use their ink if they are found. The ink comes either as a cloud, or in the form of decoy cuttlefishes. The ink contains a substance which can deaden the sense of smell of a predator or even put it to sleep. They also can adjust their buoyancy by pumping water or air into pockets in their shells.

Territory:

The cuttlefish live throughout the seas of Santharia, especially the shelves and pools near shore and coral reefs. They tend to avoid the very deep places where the Giant Kraken and other sea monsters dwell. They are most common along the coasts of Nybelmar and the South Western coasts of Sarvonia, where they are sometimes caught and harvested for their ink, and also for their meat.

Behavior:

Cuttlefish are semi-social. They evidence social behavior, but do not hunt or live in schools. This does not mean that they avoid others of their kind, but each cuttlefish is responsible for its own support. They will usually avoid swimmers and divers, except during mating season, when they are very friendly. Then they will follow swimmers around, and even come up to have their head scratched. When mating, males will wrestle with each other and do colourfull displays to establish dominance. Sometimes a smaller male which could not defeat a larger one, would trick him by mimicking a female to get past him and mate with the female before the larger male realizes what has happened. When laying her eggs, the female covers them with a layer of ink to camouflage them.

Diet:

The cuttlefish usually eats small fish, shrimp, crabs, and other types of cuttlefish. A cuttlefish will wait, blending in to its surroundings waiting  for a smaller creature to come by. Its tentacles wave in an interesting manner, drawing the prey within reach of its two pseudo-tentacles which are usually kept stored in pockets underneath the eyes. These shoot out and grab its prey, dragging it in to be torn apart by its beak and tentacles and eaten. You mention these pseudo-tentacles here, they might warrant mention up in the appearance section

Uses:

The ink of the cuttlefish is used as both an ink, and as a brown dye. The flesh of the cuttlefish, when shredded and dried, is a popular snack in Nyblemar. In the southwestern coasts of Sarvonia, the cuttlefish is served with rice, in deep fried strips, or in some places with red kidney beans. Nice working in here, perhaps a mention of which peoples, perhaps some simply discard it if they catch it?

It looks solid to me. The details are what bothers me. The knowledge of the difference in oxygen carrying proteins seems a little advanced, and you need a few more tie ins here and there. Perhaps the Avennorian pearl-divers run into Cuttlefish often? Such an apparently intelligent fish (well, shellfish) might have a plethora of rumors or superstition around it. Are they the spirits of dead fishermen?
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« Reply #2 on: 06 May 2009, 03:18:00 »

Wow, you work quickly, Sivartius! i'll definitely give this a proper Uri-check later, but for now i don't want to impinge on Valan's, it'd only be superfluous. one extra suggestion i did have is that there aren't many differences between the terran cuttlefish and this one. we like Santharian animals to be very much Santharian - is there a ky aspect of it that you could adapt to make it different like that? part of the fn of working within a fantasy world is that you don't have to be entirely logical in your thought processes. how, for example, do cuttlefish interact with/ defend themselves against merpeople, who would be likely to see them as a major food source, as they share some habitat. or maybe they have complex communication rituals, anything you like. grin
and i'm hating myself for pointing this out, but technically cuttlefish aren't molluscs but cephalopods; literally "head-foots". that might be a route to explore if you're looking for extra names.
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« Reply #3 on: 06 May 2009, 04:25:53 »

For the blood thing, I was just thinking they'd extrapolate. Iron turns red from water. Copper turns a bluish green. Red blood=Iron+Water, (Earth and Water), Bluish Green blood=Copper+Water, (Still Earth and Water). Aristotle etc. were pretty good at drawing inferrences. I probably should have said so in the article.
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« Reply #4 on: 06 May 2009, 04:34:24 »

It just doesn't feel right in the sense that we have... dragons I understand that Aristotle and similar were smart, but it seems off. Not an important fact. It's important in modern science because it explains why they have a heart for each gill (hemocyaninn carries less oxygen than hemoglobin) but in this case, the fact that the blood is blue/green is strange enough I think. We also have other materials that are blue/green maluthite and herne among them. There are also different shades of iron (we can apparently create blue iron according to the compendium entry)
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« Reply #5 on: 06 May 2009, 05:50:16 »

Looks good, but just passing for now.

Thought I'd mention that on Nybelmar the Tarshiinite Men have huge coral reefs and are always on the look out for new or unusual aquatic life, so I would greatly appreciate you referencing them. They are quite the ingenious folk, so if there are any particularly novel uses for Cuttlefish that you come up with, then you could say the Tarshiinite men had a hand in discovering them if you like (the more references the better!)

Deci  grin
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« Reply #6 on: 06 May 2009, 05:54:17 »

First off,  i think cuttlefish in terran world is awesome, so I like this idea alot. Since I know what a cuttlefish in "real" life looks like I have a pretty good idea of what yours looks like here as well.  Keep in mind if you change the name we will not have a very good idea of what this creature looks like, because we will not be able to compare it to our worldy creature.  More detail will need to be added.  Think like an atist and try sketching what you have described.  See what you come up with.
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« Reply #7 on: 06 May 2009, 06:29:42 »

Decipher, I think I've got something you'll like. It's going to give them a very specialized advantage over all others on the sea. One thing. I need a Nyblemarian name for the cuttlefish. Would you please come up with a Tarshiinite name for it. I can't find their entry. Good news Valan, I think this will fix your problem with it also.

Seeker, I'm glad you like the idea. I've only seen cuttlefish in pictures/movies but I agree that they are very cool. I'm not very good at drawing living things, but I'll give it a try.
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« Reply #8 on: 06 May 2009, 06:49:44 »

Pisachara could be a Tarshiinite name...Translating in my own head to 'Ink Fish'!

And no they havent got an entry yet Sivartius, I still have to write that one up....
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« Reply #9 on: 06 May 2009, 07:41:46 »

I have seen cuttlefish in a couple of different aquariums.  One in Hawaii and one in the Washington DC National Zoo.  They are really neat to see change colors. Very smooth and subtle transitions.

The point of sketching your creatures is a test to see if you gave it enough description.  So sketch what you wrote, not what you " think".  If that makes any sense.  You don't need to provide it to us, just use it as a test to see if you are providing the rest of us with the vision of what you want this creature to look like.
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« Reply #10 on: 06 May 2009, 10:23:12 »

Thanks. I found a couple things I had missed describing.
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« Reply #11 on: 06 May 2009, 10:48:55 »

It's not particularly clear that it is think ink that is toxic. Are we talking "inhaled" (as in through the gills) contact (getting inked) or consumption (much the same way as eating improperly prepared Fugu) that is the primary way of this toxicity reaching the merfolk?
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« Reply #12 on: 07 May 2009, 03:26:23 »

Seth, I quoted Fridiv here, but I'm not sure I managed to capture his mad genius. By the way, cephalapods like the cuttlefish are a sub-type of mollusk.
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« Reply #13 on: 07 May 2009, 04:31:10 »

Maybe on Terra...
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« Reply #14 on: 07 May 2009, 07:59:40 »

Yeah, I don't know if we have a set system of Taxonomy here in Santharia. The Medieval view was based on the Biblical concept of "kinds".
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