Friday 12 May 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #131: Leopard, with Cubs of Note

Six hexes north, two northeast of Alakran.


Here lairs another leopard, a she, solitary as is the way of her kind. She has a litter of three cubs which sleep in the cleft of a rock too narrow for the mother to pass.

But ... how? Is there a male leopard on this side of the Scarp? Not to my knowledge, though the cats do move around in their twenty-year lifetime, and it's possible that the random generation process I'm using would come up with one somewhere in the 50 mile region.

Still, we have to consider our existence here in a fantasy world, with unnatural apex predators flying and crawling around -- dragons, chimeras, ogres, and whatnot. Mere natural beasts are crowded out, so that every hex inhabited by a sandworm or griffon precludes a leopard. Leopards should find it harder to get together, should be more widely dispersed, and possibly in danger of extinction. Except ...

for our shapeshifting friends, the Sandwalkers. Let's just say that some people who can transform into animals might become curious about the whole animal experience. Official D&D lore decorously skirts this topic, and so shall we, without ignoring completely the additional ecological motivation a Sandwalker might find, to help a scattered populatrion thrive.

So then, the three cubs. 

One mews with an almost-human voice. It's only as smart as a normal leopard, but can express its simple needs in a human language it learns.

One has the mind of a human child, but will become highly intelligent if allowed to grow, although it cannot speak.

And one is a hexadactyl cat, with an opposable sixth toe on each forepaw.

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