(C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » 02 Feb 2019 21:06

Well, the cookbook method is actually two methods, iirc - there's a first-principles construction, and then there's a guide based on succession of climates at different latitudes, east coast vs west coast. You can work it out from first principles, but the succession of climates cheatsheet only works if things are sufficiently similar to earth.

You'd have to have a proper map, and it's been years since I did this sort of thing seriously, but unless I'm missing something, a west-east coastline would have to deal with factors like:

- if it's poleward of the polar front and has sea poleward of the coast, the prevailing wind would generally be equatorward over the coast, bringing a lot of rain; if it's land poleward of the coast, the prevailing wind would be away from the land, leading to a lot of dryness

- this would be the opposite way around if the coast is equatorward of the front

- but this could all swap seasonally depending on the axial inclination

- if at any point the coast is directly under the front, you could have a lot of wet stormy territory but with unpredictable weather

- but then also bear in mind the effects of seasonal pressure variations over sea and land.

Iirc, what I've noticed in the past is that if everything is set up "right", you can basically end up with vast amounts of subarctic rainforests, a climate/biome type that only occurs in very small coastal areas on earth. On Earth, the canadian and siberian north coasts are too far north - they're way north of the polar front, and they're basically frozen anyway. But if you move them south, you can make them a lot warmer (particularly if you can direct a gulf stream along them), and a LOT wetter.

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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Zekoslav » 03 Feb 2019 09:31

Thank you for this information. I've never had a proper map of the whole planet, since the continent was slowly developed bottom-up, region by region - I guess I should first make such a map and then reinterpret the climate.

The thing about subarctic rainforests is extremely interesting (I could use it to make a super-wet "Australia" by placing it more polewards), since the northeastern part of the continent might qualify - although, if the conditions are such that it receives most of the moisture in winter, I guess that could lead to a quick buildup of an icecap if climate gets cold enough?

As for such a coast near the horse latitudes, I wonder if it would be more mediterranean or more humid subtropical in it's rain regime (think Eurasia without Africa and India, as in the Mesozoic).

EDIT: It looks like multiple regions of Akana might qualify for the interesting humid boreal climate :)
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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by LinguoFranco » 22 Feb 2019 07:08

How should I handle gryphons in my world?

The gryphons are just as intelligent as humans and have their own language and religion. In the past, they were at war with the humans. The reason for this war was because the gryphons saw humans as a tasty snack, and the humans retaliated by constructing siege engines like trebuchets in order to hit the gryphons in the sky. Eventually, the humans win, and the gryphosn agree to stop hunting them. Now, they work together as neither side holds a grudge.

Some humans ride into battle on the backs of gryphons. However, why would a gryphon agree to let a human ride them? Where are gryphons kept when not in use and how would a rider get ahold of them when needed (the gryphon could be out hunting for example, and the rider needs him to come back.)

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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Keenir » 22 Feb 2019 07:37

LinguoFranco wrote:
22 Feb 2019 07:08
How should I handle gryphons in my world?
with tongs. very very long-handled ones.
:)
Some humans ride into battle on the backs of gryphons. However, why would a gryphon agree to let a human ride them?
increased amount of firepower per individual attack?

because each gryphon hand-selects the human?
Where are gryphons kept when not in use
{my emphasis}
wait, you just said no grudges.

so my first thought is "wherever they {the gryphons} want to go."
and how would a rider get ahold of them when needed
raise a flag or blow a horn/bang a gong?
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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by LinguoFranco » 22 Feb 2019 17:18

Keenir wrote:
22 Feb 2019 07:37
LinguoFranco wrote:
22 Feb 2019 07:08
How should I handle gryphons in my world?
with tongs. very very long-handled ones.
:)
Some humans ride into battle on the backs of gryphons. However, why would a gryphon agree to let a human ride them?
increased amount of firepower per individual attack?

because each gryphon hand-selects the human?
Where are gryphons kept when not in use
{my emphasis}
wait, you just said no grudges.

so my first thought is "wherever they {the gryphons} want to go."
and how would a rider get ahold of them when needed
raise a flag or blow a horn/bang a gong?
I want it to be practical. Yeah, they probably shouldn’t be made to be kept anywhere if they are equal to humans, good point.

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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » 22 Feb 2019 17:37

LinguoFranco wrote:
22 Feb 2019 07:08
How should I handle gryphons in my world?

The gryphons are just as intelligent as humans and have their own language and religion. In the past, they were at war with the humans. The reason for this war was because the gryphons saw humans as a tasty snack, and the humans retaliated by constructing siege engines like trebuchets in order to hit the gryphons in the sky. Eventually, the humans win, and the gryphosn agree to stop hunting them. Now, they work together as neither side holds a grudge.
This doesn't seem very narratively plausible.

If the gryphons, as an entire species, spend time systematically murdering humans to eat their corpses in a colossal global holocaust, then they are obviously evil sociopaths. They could never be trusted, and few people would be willing to forgive them. Elves aren't going to live in peace with balrogs - and the balrogs were just tryig to enslave and torture them, not (so far as we know) randomly murder and eat them. Certainly humans aren't going to tolerate any situation where the gryphons remain an active military force. Yes, the Allies let some Nazis live; but they didn't allow Himmler to operate a Nazi regiment inside the US army... and your gryphons are far, far more evil than the Nazis. If humans win, gryphons are getting their wings cut off at birth at the least.

Also, if the human weapon against gryphons is trebuchets, the humans will not win. When you have stealth bombers fighting guys with rifles, who wins? Sure, now and then a gryphon (/B2) will by freakish bad luck get shot down, but the numbers lost will be tiny, and the number of humans lost will be horrific. Gryphons may not be as bad as dragons (who have flamethrowers and are basically armageddon for any pre-modern enemy), but they're still awesome.

There are four big reasons why trebuchets are not a threat to gryphons...

1) trebuchets had terrible accuracy; it could be a strugge to even hit a castle. Now try using one to hit a relatively small animal 500-1500 feet up in the air, that's moving at 50-100mph (people always fail to understand how fast large aerial creatures can move!). Or possibly 150-300mph, if the damn things can dive-bomb. Even if you just take something like the golden eagle - it cruises in the 30-40mph range, but it can sprint in level flight up to at least 80mph, it regularly dives at 150mph, and can dive at up to 200mph.

2) it will take the projectile around 5-20 seconds to cover that distance. During which time, the animal that can move at the speed of a motorcar (or F1 car when diving) can see it coming and can take extensive evasive action. Have you seen how quickly F1 drivers can react to the movement of other cars, late-seen debris, incipient spins, etc? And humans didn't even evolve to operate at speed.

3) it doesn't matter anyway, because trebuchets can't hit gryphons. Build the biggest, best, most anti-gryphony trebuchet you want, it's only going to achieve projectile heights of hundreds of, maybe one or two thousand, feet. Large birds can fly at tens of thousands of feet (and can fy much higher than they do - the limiting factor for them is convenience, not physical limits). Some vultures have been found at up to 40,000 feet. Throw a rock at a gryphon, and it'll just fly a bit higher.

Indeed, gryphons are likely to cruise at very high altitudes. The bigger the animal, the more lift it needs, which in general means it needs to fly faster (bigger birds have higher minimum speeds, under which they would just drop out of the sky). To fly faster, you fly higher, where drag is less and windspeed is greater. A big aerial animal like a dragon or a gryphon is going to want to at least spend much of its time at very high altitudes, even if it's able to operate for brief, tiring periods lower down. It's also going to be terrifyingly fast. The closest things in know history were the larger azhdarchids; theoretical flight physics reconstructions for azhdarchids with 10m wingspans (ie each wing is less than 5 metres long) show that their powered flight (flapping their wings at low altitudes for a couple of minutes at most) would be up to 70mph, with their optimal cruising speed at altitude around 40-60mph, and horizontal burst speeds of over 100mph, sustainable for one to two minutes. . They probably didn't dive (they probably weren't hunters in that sense), but you can imagine the speeds they could reach if they did. If an azhdarchid comes out of a cloud toward your trebuchet, you're on high alert and you manage to load and aim your weapon in only two minutes... the azhdarchid is already three miles away. They could travel 10,000 miles before stopping for a rest.

Now, maybe the azharchids are more like dragons, and gryphons are a bit smaller and slower. But they'll certainly have to be bigger and faster than eagles, so that's the sort of territory we're talking about...

4) projectiles fire in arcs. You can't just fire straight up, because then when the projectile comes back down it kills you. This has two consequences: one, you can't put many trebuchets together or put many people around them (because otherwise they'd kill your own people - trebuchets and armies are compatible when attacking a castle because all your weapons and people are going the same direction, but that's not the case if you're trying to hit something flying around above you). And two, a gryphon can soar around directly above a trebuchet dropping rocks on it and the trebuchet can't fight back.


[And yes, an intelligent flying animal with cat-like paws is going to attack people by dropping rocks on their heads from high altitude. Big damage, zero danger of being hurt themselves. Even if the rate of attack is slow - carrying one rock (and a small stone in their beak), then going and getting another somewhere - it can be continued indefinitely in a sort of aerial guerilla war. The only way to defeat them is on the ground - attacking their nests, forcing them to engage in pitched battles]
Some humans ride into battle on the backs of gryphons.
Unlikely - flying animals cannot generally bear that much weight. They have enough muscle to support themselves and not much more.
However, why would a gryphon agree to let a human ride them?
Humans have weapons. Bows would be useful in paw-to-paw aerial combat. A bag of small stones would be devastating in bombing raids.

Where are gryphons kept when not in use and how would a rider get ahold of them when needed (the gryphon could be out hunting for example, and the rider needs him to come back.)
If they're not slaves, they're not "kept". You may as well ask, where are the humans kept when the gryphons don't need them?

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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by LinguoFranco » 24 Feb 2019 01:11

Salmoneus wrote:
22 Feb 2019 17:37
LinguoFranco wrote:
22 Feb 2019 07:08
How should I handle gryphons in my world?

The gryphons are just as intelligent as humans and have their own language and religion. In the past, they were at war with the humans. The reason for this war was because the gryphons saw humans as a tasty snack, and the humans retaliated by constructing siege engines like trebuchets in order to hit the gryphons in the sky. Eventually, the humans win, and the gryphosn agree to stop hunting them. Now, they work together as neither side holds a grudge.
This doesn't seem very narratively plausible.

If the gryphons, as an entire species, spend time systematically murdering humans to eat their corpses in a colossal global holocaust, then they are obviously evil sociopaths. They could never be trusted, and few people would be willing to forgive them. Elves aren't going to live in peace with balrogs - and the balrogs were just tryig to enslave and torture them, not (so far as we know) randomly murder and eat them. Certainly humans aren't going to tolerate any situation where the gryphons remain an active military force. Yes, the Allies let some Nazis live; but they didn't allow Himmler to operate a Nazi regiment inside the US army... and your gryphons are far, far more evil than the Nazis. If humans win, gryphons are getting their wings cut off at birth at the least.

Also, if the human weapon against gryphons is trebuchets, the humans will not win. When you have stealth bombers fighting guys with rifles, who wins? Sure, now and then a gryphon (/B2) will by freakish bad luck get shot down, but the numbers lost will be tiny, and the number of humans lost will be horrific. Gryphons may not be as bad as dragons (who have flamethrowers and are basically armageddon for any pre-modern enemy), but they're still awesome.

There are four big reasons why trebuchets are not a threat to gryphons...

1) trebuchets had terrible accuracy; it could be a strugge to even hit a castle. Now try using one to hit a relatively small animal 500-1500 feet up in the air, that's moving at 50-100mph (people always fail to understand how fast large aerial creatures can move!). Or possibly 150-300mph, if the damn things can dive-bomb. Even if you just take something like the golden eagle - it cruises in the 30-40mph range, but it can sprint in level flight up to at least 80mph, it regularly dives at 150mph, and can dive at up to 200mph.

2) it will take the projectile around 5-20 seconds to cover that distance. During which time, the animal that can move at the speed of a motorcar (or F1 car when diving) can see it coming and can take extensive evasive action. Have you seen how quickly F1 drivers can react to the movement of other cars, late-seen debris, incipient spins, etc? And humans didn't even evolve to operate at speed.

3) it doesn't matter anyway, because trebuchets can't hit gryphons. Build the biggest, best, most anti-gryphony trebuchet you want, it's only going to achieve projectile heights of hundreds of, maybe one or two thousand, feet. Large birds can fly at tens of thousands of feet (and can fy much higher than they do - the limiting factor for them is convenience, not physical limits). Some vultures have been found at up to 40,000 feet. Throw a rock at a gryphon, and it'll just fly a bit higher.

Indeed, gryphons are likely to cruise at very high altitudes. The bigger the animal, the more lift it needs, which in general means it needs to fly faster (bigger birds have higher minimum speeds, under which they would just drop out of the sky). To fly faster, you fly higher, where drag is less and windspeed is greater. A big aerial animal like a dragon or a gryphon is going to want to at least spend much of its time at very high altitudes, even if it's able to operate for brief, tiring periods lower down. It's also going to be terrifyingly fast. The closest things in know history were the larger azhdarchids; theoretical flight physics reconstructions for azhdarchids with 10m wingspans (ie each wing is less than 5 metres long) show that their powered flight (flapping their wings at low altitudes for a couple of minutes at most) would be up to 70mph, with their optimal cruising speed at altitude around 40-60mph, and horizontal burst speeds of over 100mph, sustainable for one to two minutes. . They probably didn't dive (they probably weren't hunters in that sense), but you can imagine the speeds they could reach if they did. If an azhdarchid comes out of a cloud toward your trebuchet, you're on high alert and you manage to load and aim your weapon in only two minutes... the azhdarchid is already three miles away. They could travel 10,000 miles before stopping for a rest.

Now, maybe the azharchids are more like dragons, and gryphons are a bit smaller and slower. But they'll certainly have to be bigger and faster than eagles, so that's the sort of territory we're talking about...

4) projectiles fire in arcs. You can't just fire straight up, because then when the projectile comes back down it kills you. This has two consequences: one, you can't put many trebuchets together or put many people around them (because otherwise they'd kill your own people - trebuchets and armies are compatible when attacking a castle because all your weapons and people are going the same direction, but that's not the case if you're trying to hit something flying around above you). And two, a gryphon can soar around directly above a trebuchet dropping rocks on it and the trebuchet can't fight back.


[And yes, an intelligent flying animal with cat-like paws is going to attack people by dropping rocks on their heads from high altitude. Big damage, zero danger of being hurt themselves. Even if the rate of attack is slow - carrying one rock (and a small stone in their beak), then going and getting another somewhere - it can be continued indefinitely in a sort of aerial guerilla war. The only way to defeat them is on the ground - attacking their nests, forcing them to engage in pitched battles]
Some humans ride into battle on the backs of gryphons.
Unlikely - flying animals cannot generally bear that much weight. They have enough muscle to support themselves and not much more.
However, why would a gryphon agree to let a human ride them?
Humans have weapons. Bows would be useful in paw-to-paw aerial combat. A bag of small stones would be devastating in bombing raids.

Where are gryphons kept when not in use and how would a rider get ahold of them when needed (the gryphon could be out hunting for example, and the rider needs him to come back.)
If they're not slaves, they're not "kept". You may as well ask, where are the humans kept when the gryphons don't need them?
So a Gryphon War is out then, at least if I don’t want then to go extinct or have their wings clipped?

I know weight isn’t good for flying creatures, but that doesn’t seem to stop writers from using dragon riders, although dragons are admittedly larger than gryphons.

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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by sangi39 » 24 Feb 2019 01:53

LinguoFranco wrote:
24 Feb 2019 01:11
I know weight isn’t good for flying creatures, but that doesn’t seem to stop writers from using dragon riders, although dragons are admittedly larger than gryphons.
Dragons, IIRC, also tend to be used with a fair bit of hand-waving, with their ability to fly they way they do despite their weight being chalked up to "magic". Terry Pratchett, from what I can remember, addressed this, outright saying that noble dragons should not be able to fly at all, but because they live on magic they're able to fly, because magic (in contrast to swamp dragons, which fly as you'd expect, obeying the normal laws of physics).

I don't think G. R. R. Martin has said how dragons can fly in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" books, but given that magic also exists in that world, there's a good chance it's that, and I think the same was true for Tolkien's dragons.

From what I can remember, there have been attempts to make dragons more "scientifically plausible", but even then a lot of it comes down to "if we ignore this little fact for a bit, just to keep them looking and feeling like dragons". For example, in the film "Reign of Fire", I think, the writers came up with at least some reason as to how they could breathe fire (inspired by the Bombardier Beetle, perhaps), but almost nothing was mentioned of how they were able to fly, just that they could.
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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by elemtilas » 24 Feb 2019 03:09

sangi39 wrote:
24 Feb 2019 01:53
LinguoFranco wrote:
24 Feb 2019 01:11
I know weight isn’t good for flying creatures, but that doesn’t seem to stop writers from using dragon riders, although dragons are admittedly larger than gryphons.
Dragons, IIRC, also tend to be used with a fair bit of hand-waving, with their ability to fly they way they do despite their weight being chalked up to "magic". Terry Pratchett, from what I can remember, addressed this, outright saying that noble dragons should not be able to fly at all, but because they live on magic they're able to fly, because magic (in contrast to swamp dragons, which fly as you'd expect, obeying the normal laws of physics).

I don't think G. R. R. Martin has said how dragons can fly in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" books, but given that magic also exists in that world, there's a good chance it's that, and I think the same was true for Tolkien's dragons.

From what I can remember, there have been attempts to make dragons more "scientifically plausible", but even then a lot of it comes down to "if we ignore this little fact for a bit, just to keep them looking and feeling like dragons". For example, in the film "Reign of Fire", I think, the writers came up with at least some reason as to how they could breathe fire (inspired by the Bombardier Beetle, perhaps), but almost nothing was mentioned of how they were able to fly, just that they could.
While Tolkien never described by what means dragons fly, I suspect that magic isn't the answer. Simply because there isn't any "magic" in the usual sense of the word as applied in fantasy. I would argue that the dragons of Middle Earth (and the flying beasts of the Ringwraiths) were really nothing more than living realisations of huge flying creatures from Earth's past. Basically, dinosaurs. Any magic involved is solely sprinkled by Tolkien himself.
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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » 24 Feb 2019 18:05

LinguoFranco wrote:
24 Feb 2019 01:11
Salmoneus wrote:
22 Feb 2019 17:37
LinguoFranco wrote:
22 Feb 2019 07:08
How should I handle gryphons in my world?

The gryphons are just as intelligent as humans and have their own language and religion. In the past, they were at war with the humans. The reason for this war was because the gryphons saw humans as a tasty snack, and the humans retaliated by constructing siege engines like trebuchets in order to hit the gryphons in the sky. Eventually, the humans win, and the gryphosn agree to stop hunting them. Now, they work together as neither side holds a grudge.
This doesn't seem very narratively plausible.

If the gryphons, as an entire species, spend time systematically murdering humans to eat their corpses in a colossal global holocaust, then they are obviously evil sociopaths. They could never be trusted, and few people would be willing to forgive them. Elves aren't going to live in peace with balrogs - and the balrogs were just tryig to enslave and torture them, not (so far as we know) randomly murder and eat them. Certainly humans aren't going to tolerate any situation where the gryphons remain an active military force. Yes, the Allies let some Nazis live; but they didn't allow Himmler to operate a Nazi regiment inside the US army... and your gryphons are far, far more evil than the Nazis. If humans win, gryphons are getting their wings cut off at birth at the least.

Also, if the human weapon against gryphons is trebuchets, the humans will not win. When you have stealth bombers fighting guys with rifles, who wins? Sure, now and then a gryphon (/B2) will by freakish bad luck get shot down, but the numbers lost will be tiny, and the number of humans lost will be horrific. Gryphons may not be as bad as dragons (who have flamethrowers and are basically armageddon for any pre-modern enemy), but they're still awesome.

There are four big reasons why trebuchets are not a threat to gryphons...

1) trebuchets had terrible accuracy; it could be a strugge to even hit a castle. Now try using one to hit a relatively small animal 500-1500 feet up in the air, that's moving at 50-100mph (people always fail to understand how fast large aerial creatures can move!). Or possibly 150-300mph, if the damn things can dive-bomb. Even if you just take something like the golden eagle - it cruises in the 30-40mph range, but it can sprint in level flight up to at least 80mph, it regularly dives at 150mph, and can dive at up to 200mph.

2) it will take the projectile around 5-20 seconds to cover that distance. During which time, the animal that can move at the speed of a motorcar (or F1 car when diving) can see it coming and can take extensive evasive action. Have you seen how quickly F1 drivers can react to the movement of other cars, late-seen debris, incipient spins, etc? And humans didn't even evolve to operate at speed.

3) it doesn't matter anyway, because trebuchets can't hit gryphons. Build the biggest, best, most anti-gryphony trebuchet you want, it's only going to achieve projectile heights of hundreds of, maybe one or two thousand, feet. Large birds can fly at tens of thousands of feet (and can fy much higher than they do - the limiting factor for them is convenience, not physical limits). Some vultures have been found at up to 40,000 feet. Throw a rock at a gryphon, and it'll just fly a bit higher.

Indeed, gryphons are likely to cruise at very high altitudes. The bigger the animal, the more lift it needs, which in general means it needs to fly faster (bigger birds have higher minimum speeds, under which they would just drop out of the sky). To fly faster, you fly higher, where drag is less and windspeed is greater. A big aerial animal like a dragon or a gryphon is going to want to at least spend much of its time at very high altitudes, even if it's able to operate for brief, tiring periods lower down. It's also going to be terrifyingly fast. The closest things in know history were the larger azhdarchids; theoretical flight physics reconstructions for azhdarchids with 10m wingspans (ie each wing is less than 5 metres long) show that their powered flight (flapping their wings at low altitudes for a couple of minutes at most) would be up to 70mph, with their optimal cruising speed at altitude around 40-60mph, and horizontal burst speeds of over 100mph, sustainable for one to two minutes. . They probably didn't dive (they probably weren't hunters in that sense), but you can imagine the speeds they could reach if they did. If an azhdarchid comes out of a cloud toward your trebuchet, you're on high alert and you manage to load and aim your weapon in only two minutes... the azhdarchid is already three miles away. They could travel 10,000 miles before stopping for a rest.

Now, maybe the azharchids are more like dragons, and gryphons are a bit smaller and slower. But they'll certainly have to be bigger and faster than eagles, so that's the sort of territory we're talking about...

4) projectiles fire in arcs. You can't just fire straight up, because then when the projectile comes back down it kills you. This has two consequences: one, you can't put many trebuchets together or put many people around them (because otherwise they'd kill your own people - trebuchets and armies are compatible when attacking a castle because all your weapons and people are going the same direction, but that's not the case if you're trying to hit something flying around above you). And two, a gryphon can soar around directly above a trebuchet dropping rocks on it and the trebuchet can't fight back.


[And yes, an intelligent flying animal with cat-like paws is going to attack people by dropping rocks on their heads from high altitude. Big damage, zero danger of being hurt themselves. Even if the rate of attack is slow - carrying one rock (and a small stone in their beak), then going and getting another somewhere - it can be continued indefinitely in a sort of aerial guerilla war. The only way to defeat them is on the ground - attacking their nests, forcing them to engage in pitched battles]
Some humans ride into battle on the backs of gryphons.
Unlikely - flying animals cannot generally bear that much weight. They have enough muscle to support themselves and not much more.
However, why would a gryphon agree to let a human ride them?
Humans have weapons. Bows would be useful in paw-to-paw aerial combat. A bag of small stones would be devastating in bombing raids.

Where are gryphons kept when not in use and how would a rider get ahold of them when needed (the gryphon could be out hunting for example, and the rider needs him to come back.)
If they're not slaves, they're not "kept". You may as well ask, where are the humans kept when the gryphons don't need them?
So a Gryphon War is out then, at least if I don’t want then to go extinct or have their wings clipped?
Well, the conflict and its resolution as you've described it seem problematic to me. That doesn't mean those problems can't be resolved, but I think that would require more thought.

I know weight isn’t good for flying creatures, but that doesn’t seem to stop writers from using dragon riders, although dragons are admittedly larger than gryphons.
Writers do all sorts of things. Harry Potter can actually cast spells, which isn't realistic at all. Pernese dragons can not only carry humans, they can teleport via a non-dimensional space (even between planets), communicate telepathically, and also time-travel.

But you're on this board, and your phrased your questions in what seemed like a rational way, so I thought you'd want a rational answer. Of course, you can handwave anything you want...

[but yes, it is more plausible for dragons to have riders, because the weight of one human is smaller relative to the dragon's weight. Assuming, of course, 'traditional' big-mass dragons]

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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » 24 Feb 2019 20:27

elemtilas wrote:
24 Feb 2019 03:09
sangi39 wrote:
24 Feb 2019 01:53
LinguoFranco wrote:
24 Feb 2019 01:11
I know weight isn’t good for flying creatures, but that doesn’t seem to stop writers from using dragon riders, although dragons are admittedly larger than gryphons.
Dragons, IIRC, also tend to be used with a fair bit of hand-waving, with their ability to fly they way they do despite their weight being chalked up to "magic". Terry Pratchett, from what I can remember, addressed this, outright saying that noble dragons should not be able to fly at all, but because they live on magic they're able to fly, because magic (in contrast to swamp dragons, which fly as you'd expect, obeying the normal laws of physics).

I don't think G. R. R. Martin has said how dragons can fly in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" books, but given that magic also exists in that world, there's a good chance it's that, and I think the same was true for Tolkien's dragons.

From what I can remember, there have been attempts to make dragons more "scientifically plausible", but even then a lot of it comes down to "if we ignore this little fact for a bit, just to keep them looking and feeling like dragons". For example, in the film "Reign of Fire", I think, the writers came up with at least some reason as to how they could breathe fire (inspired by the Bombardier Beetle, perhaps), but almost nothing was mentioned of how they were able to fly, just that they could.
While Tolkien never described by what means dragons fly, I suspect that magic isn't the answer. Simply because there isn't any "magic" in the usual sense of the word as applied in fantasy. I would argue that the dragons of Middle Earth (and the flying beasts of the Ringwraiths) were really nothing more than living realisations of huge flying creatures from Earth's past. Basically, dinosaurs. Any magic involved is solely sprinkled by Tolkien himself.
Just to clarify, because you may have missed this: Tolkien's novels are actually fictional. Dragons didn't exist - as dinosaurs or as anything else - and not only the 'magic' but actually absolutely everything was added by Tolkien, because Tolkien wrote it.

Within the world of Tolkien's novels, of course, there IS "magic" - Gandalf lobs fireballs at people, for instance.


I'll post something more substantial on dragonflight in a bit...

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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by elemtilas » 24 Feb 2019 22:33

Salmoneus wrote:
24 Feb 2019 20:27
Spoiler:
elemtilas wrote:
24 Feb 2019 03:09
sangi39 wrote:
24 Feb 2019 01:53
LinguoFranco wrote:
24 Feb 2019 01:11
I know weight isn’t good for flying creatures, but that doesn’t seem to stop writers from using dragon riders, although dragons are admittedly larger than gryphons.
Dragons, IIRC, also tend to be used with a fair bit of hand-waving, with their ability to fly they way they do despite their weight being chalked up to "magic". Terry Pratchett, from what I can remember, addressed this, outright saying that noble dragons should not be able to fly at all, but because they live on magic they're able to fly, because magic (in contrast to swamp dragons, which fly as you'd expect, obeying the normal laws of physics).

I don't think G. R. R. Martin has said how dragons can fly in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" books, but given that magic also exists in that world, there's a good chance it's that, and I think the same was true for Tolkien's dragons.

From what I can remember, there have been attempts to make dragons more "scientifically plausible", but even then a lot of it comes down to "if we ignore this little fact for a bit, just to keep them looking and feeling like dragons". For example, in the film "Reign of Fire", I think, the writers came up with at least some reason as to how they could breathe fire (inspired by the Bombardier Beetle, perhaps), but almost nothing was mentioned of how they were able to fly, just that they could.
While Tolkien never described by what means dragons fly, I suspect that magic isn't the answer. Simply because there isn't any "magic" in the usual sense of the word as applied in fantasy. I would argue that the dragons of Middle Earth (and the flying beasts of the Ringwraiths) were really nothing more than living realisations of huge flying creatures from Earth's past. Basically, dinosaurs. Any magic involved is solely sprinkled by Tolkien himself.
Just to clarify, because you may have missed this: Tolkien's novels are actually fictional. Dragons didn't exist - as dinosaurs or as anything else - and not only the 'magic' but actually absolutely everything was added by Tolkien, because Tolkien wrote it.

Within the world of Tolkien's novels, of course, there IS "magic" - Gandalf lobs fireballs at people, for instance.
You are misunderstanding, assuming that I am writing from the perspective of the primary world. To the contrary.

And no, within the novels there is no "magic". Gandalf is not some cheap conjurer; he is a divine messenger who, on occasion, manifests his native powers and more rarely the majesty of his true form.

Gandalf seems to be doing magic because he has the knowledge and ability to manipulate matter. Elves seem to be doing magic because they have the knowledge and skill to manipulate forces and matter in ways that Men and Hobbits lack.
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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by shimobaatar » 24 Feb 2019 22:47

I suppose I'm confused then. How is that not simply magic being described in a way that avoids using the word "magic"?

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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by elemtilas » 25 Feb 2019 01:05

shimobaatar wrote:
24 Feb 2019 22:47
I suppose I'm confused then. How is that not simply magic being described in a way that avoids using the word "magic"?
Because there are things that either highly learned (technological) folks can do, or things that angelic people with abilities beyond the mundane can do that seem like magic even though they are not. If you took a tablet back in time and played some jazz for Mozart, he'd very likely think it was "magic". It's just technology. Some guy comes along and touches people and heals them. People think it's magic, when it's just his natural capability.

I think Elvish magic on the hand and Galndalf's magic on the other are no different.
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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » 25 Feb 2019 01:29

How big can flying creatures be, and what might they be like?


Let's start with some outliers.... (general estimates, going for larger specimens but hopefully not wild speculation)

Albatross: 3.7m, 8.5kg
Condor: 3.3m, 11.3kg
Whooper swan: 2.7m, up to 15.5kg (these are very close to the limit of flight; some specimens of other swans and bustards have topped 20kg, but average weights for all these are closer to 10kg)


Ailornis: ~5m, ~23kg
Argentavis: ~5.5m, ~40kg
Pelagornis: ~6.5m, ~40kg

Argentavis was a huge-winged giant condor. Pelagornis was a slender-winged albatross thing.

Dimorphodon: 1.3m, 1.3kg
"Largest ornithocheirids": 8-9m, 160kg
Large azhdarchids: 10-11m, 250kg

Dimorphodon is said to have been a bad flier, probably like some game birds, which only fly in bursts when necessary.

Leopard: 40-90kg
Tiger: 100 (small female) - 300 (large male) kg
Polar bear: 125 (s.f) - 700 (l.m.) kg
Horse: light riding, 400-550kg, heavy riding, 500-600kg, draft, 700-1000
Rhino: 700-1000kg
Giraffe: 1200 male average, max 2000kg.
Male saltwater crocodile: 200-1000kg.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There seem to be two problems with flight: wing loading, and launching.

Wing loading is the kg per square metre of wing. Increased loading requires more lift, which requires more speed, which generally requires more energetic flapping, and at some point the energy requirement exceeds the ability of animal flesh to generate power. Aerobic (sustainable) limits can be avoided by using thermals, wind-currents, soaring and the like, but you still need to be able to navigate between your thermals, and get from the ground into a thermal in the first place, so anaerobic (sprinting) limits are still an issue. Birds have loadings up to 20kg/m2, although apparently 25kg/m2 is the 'theoretical' limit (planes can exceed this because they can go faster than birds can). [the big pelagornis mentioned above was apparently arguably slightly beyond the wing loading limit; it was probably restricted to marine soaring]

Launching is getting off the ground in the first place. Apparently you can't be much bigger than the biggest extinct birds and still launch bipedally.

Large pterosaurs got around this in two ways. One: they launched quadrupedally. Their wings had feet halfway along, and they walked on all fours. When launching, their rear legs gave them a push, and then they leapt into the air on their front limbs. This both gave an additional set of muscles for launching, and more importantly let them use the same muscles for both flight and launching (these flight muscles were around 60kg of a 240kg animals, so...). This dramatically reduces the amount of 'dead' weight they have to carry. And two, their bones were remarkably strong for their tiny weight. Apparently azhdarchid wings could theoretically have launched up to 500kg without breaking... but no more than that.


As you make your fliers bigger, launching is a bigger problem, because the ratio of total mass to mass-actually-producing-launching-power soars. Azharchids notably tried to avoid this by having tiny bodies - a big azhdarchid was the height of a giraffe and the weight of a large tiger, but had the torso of a human...

And as your flier gets bigger, loading is a problem, because (for the same body shape) doubling the wingspan multiplies the wing area by four, but the mass of the animal by eight. this very rapidly becomes a problem!


-----------------

So let's look at a couple of "designs"...


1. The roc.

Rocs are just big birds. So they'll be limited to bird sizes - 5-6m wingspans, MAYBE 6 or 7.

2. The gryphon

By 'gryphon', I mean something broadly catlike, with four legs, but also two wings. Let's take two gryphon models into consideration...

...first, let's assume a big cat (I'm assuming here minimal wing weight, for sake of argument - feathered wings will weigh more). This is around the weight of the largest azhdarchids, so the wingspan will have to be similar, around 10-11m. Maybe a bit less, if we assume broader wings (for manoeuvrable, relatively slow flight, rather than falcon speed or long-term marine soaring - an eagle, not an albatross). But azhdarchids were fairly broad-winged, so you can't get it down much more. Even so, that's still huge.

Two problems. First: cats aren't tall. That's a LOT of wing, VERY close to the ground, which you'd think would be a problem taking off. (also, it's a LOT of wing to fold over your back!). Second, and more objectively: how does it take off? It has four limbs, so it can lauch more powerfully than a bird, but it's also not using its flight muscles for launching. That means weaker launching, or vastly larger muscles, which means weight removed elsewhere. One plus is that if the wings join the body around the shoulder, there are at least some efficiencies in bone structure and anchoring.

I guess what you'd be looking at is less a cat, and more a whippet - longer legs, particularly the forelimbs, MASSIVE musculature around the chest (combining flight muscles for the wings AND launching muscles for the forelegs), and relatively powerful haunches, but hardly anything in between. I guess that cat-like launching (flexible spine) can help spread some of the muscle out over the length. Cats are actually a good model - a tiger can jump 3m in the air, which wouldn't be enough to take off (and of course it's harder to jump when you're unfurling 10m of wing...), but is a pretty good start. I think these gryphons would look partway betwen a greyhound and an emaciated tiger, although instinctively they'd look bigger, because they'd be taller (plus, 10m wide!). They wouldn't be that scary on the ground, though - with so much weight bound up in launching and flying, there wouldn't be much muscle left over for anything else (and they wouldn't want to eat much at a time, certainly not before flying!).

These animals seem... possible? to me. But probably pushing the boundaries.

...then there's the miniature option. Leopard gryphons. With a weight of 70 or 80kg, these would be much closer to bird sizes. You can launch 40kg off just the hindlegs. You can then add the front legs and maybe bring it up to the necessary capacity? Wings might only have to be 7 or 8 m? If we think a pterosaur can fly, say 120kg on 8m of win (and those ornithocheirids had narrower wings), it's not unreasonable than a gryphon might fly 100kg on 7m wider wings quite decently - a decent-sized leopard plus some wings muscles. For launching, if wing-launching can get you 160kg with pterosaur body structure, 100kg with four-paw launching doesn't look too horrible? the gryphon would certainly look whippety compared to a real leopard, but not necessarily freakishly so. And they could be more robust on the ground than the more specialised giant-gryphon depicted above.

[one observation: if you're pushing how much you can launch, you don't want to waste mass on massive necks. This means your aerodynamics will be all wrong for soaring flight, so, again, you're going to end up with something better suited for agile but inefficient flight.]


3. The wyvern

Only two legs, two wings, like a bird. However, they're often depicted as less strictly bipedal than birds, so we could imagine something very much like an azhdarchid.


4. The plain dragon

Our problem here is that the 'dragon' model is basically a gryphon but bigger (and traditionally depicted as less athletic...). This would seem at first to be impossible - if a gryphon is pushing it, a dragon is right out.

If we imagine that our dragon is, to start with a fat pegasus - a destrier that flies like a pheasant. Given the maximum bird wing loading, and the aspect ratio of an eagle, it would need a wingspan of 26m. That's vast! And that dragon struggles to take off, and every landing is a crash. For something more mobile, we may be talking a 35m span. [which would still be a wing loading three times that of an owl] For context, that horse is only around 1m wide! And of course, with a lot of its mass spread out over that wing, and about 140kg in its primary flight muscles alone, and probably another, say, 120kg in its legs and haunches for taking off, the actual torso will be considerable thinner than that of the big horse.

Then there's the issue that in order to get that aspect ratio, you need a body long enough to carry the wing. Assuming rectangular wings for a moment, if each wing is 18m long, that means it needs to be about 2m wide, which is pretty much the whole of the horse, minus the neck and head. And what about the mechanical problems of wings that wide? 18m... how do you support a rigid bone that long, or even three or four bones that long? [more bones reduces the stress on each one, but means more muscles to hold them in place]

Now let's admit, a fat pegasus is still a small dragon. Let's scale it up! Let's take a big croc or a rhino. Actually, let's go a little further and take a giraffe. Now, with a loading and aspect of 10, we'd have a wyrm with a 50m wingspan. That's twice the wingspan of concorde, though still less than a 747. And I don't know what the body looks like, because it needs to have about 200kg of flight muscles alone...

And then there's the real killer: azhdarchid bones, the strongest we know (seriously, though things are RIDICULOUS) could apparently only launch up to 500kg, and we're now twice that and, honestly, still not in serious great old wyrm territory. And that's even assuming that the legs could somehow push that much mass into the sky in one leap - how damn massive must those legs be? [could be smaller if dragons exclusively live on cliffs and never land on flat ground, and can rely on dropping into powerful winds whenever they want to take off..]

We need serious changes.

First, the logical thing to do to address the ridiculous wingspans is to lower the aspect ratio, creating stubbier, wider wings. This is impossible with a horse/rhino/giraffe body plan, because they're not long enough. [Our current 25m wing would have to be about 2.4m wide already]. So, let's have a longer, thinner animal, more snake-like. If we half the aspect ratio, to something more like a small hawk or an owl, that gets our wingspan down to 34m. Cut it further, to 3.3, and we've got a wingspan of 28m; our aspect ratio is getting into butterfly territory, which is very weird, and the wings are 4.4m wide... Cut it down to 2 (a hangglider) and wingspan drops to 22m (width of a rectangular wing increases to 5.5m).

Second, how about something more radical: more than one limb per wing. If wings are fused from multiple limbs, they could be reinforced, reducing the stress on each wing, and there's more for the muscles to attach to (rather than having all the body mass bunched up in a collar around the front shoulders). And how about more than two pairs of legs? I don't know, but I suspect an additional pair of limbs would help with launching. You could also use the tail as a spring for launching - why, after all, do they even have those tails?

But I think you're still left needing to handwave something really radical, because I just don't think any natural substance will withstand the forces involved in leaping 1200kg off the ground high enough to fly. [rhinos, we should note, are not noted for their vertical leaping]. So I guess the answer is... spiders?

Spider silk is amazing. And not useful for this task at all. But look at how amazing, and complicated, spider silk is. If you want 'realistic' medium-sized dragons, you need something equally amazing. Basically, you need your animal to be able to extrude some sort of carbon-composite ultra-light, ultra-strong material for its bones. This might also explain the legends of dragon scales being impenetrable, if they're made of the same stuff. This is of course totally implausible. But so is spider silk. So...

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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by elemtilas » 25 Feb 2019 04:19

Right. In reality, if you want flying dragons and griffins and so forth, just do it!

Dragon over England! Don't see any issues or problems there!

The point of worldbuilding isn't to fret over how something can not be.
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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Salmoneus » 25 Feb 2019 14:09

Because whatever you do, elemtilas will swan in, remind you that he's superior to everyone and we're all doing it wrong.

Alternatively, fuck off. All you do around here is belittle people, bully people and mock their interests; why can't you do that from the vantage of a different forum? If you've nothing productive to add, and you're not interested in a topic, why say anything at all?


while we're at it: that's exactly what 'magic' means, you're just trying to make yourself sound superior again. "Oh no, my magic isn't magic, it's far more pretentious sophisticated!".

And don't waste everyone's time with this primary/secondary world bollocks, because a) you're not actually delusionally psychotic, so you CAN distinguish what's real and what's not, you just pretend not to, and b) in reality there are no dragons, and in Tolkien's world there never were any dinosaurs, so the "dragons are just misremembered dinosaurs" is bullshit from either perspective (Bilbo isn't 'misremembering' that T-Rex he saw as having wings, it's actually a fucking dragon). You're just appropriating Tolkien's work to lend credibility to whatever weird LARP you're engaged in here, and it's grossly disrespectful both to us and to the memory of Tolkien.

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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by elemtilas » 25 Feb 2019 16:08

Salmoneus wrote:
25 Feb 2019 14:09
Because whatever you do, elemtilas will swan in, remind you that he's superior to everyone and we're all doing it wrong.

Alternatively, fuck off. All you do around here is belittle people, bully people and mock their interests; why can't you do that from the vantage of a different forum? If you've nothing productive to add, and you're not interested in a topic, why say anything at all?


while we're at it: that's exactly what 'magic' means, you're just trying to make yourself sound superior again. "Oh no, my magic isn't magic, it's far more pretentious sophisticated!".

And don't waste everyone's time with this primary/secondary world bollocks, because a) you're not actually delusionally psychotic, so you CAN distinguish what's real and what's not, you just pretend not to, and b) in reality there are no dragons, and in Tolkien's world there never were any dinosaurs, so the "dragons are just misremembered dinosaurs" is bullshit from either perspective (Bilbo isn't 'misremembering' that T-Rex he saw as having wings, it's actually a fucking dragon). You're just appropriating Tolkien's work to lend credibility to whatever weird LARP you're engaged in here, and it's grossly disrespectful both to us and to the memory of Tolkien.
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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Dormouse559 » 26 Feb 2019 02:31

Here are a couple of best practices I'd like to lay out for when disputes arise:

1) If you have reported a conversation, please don't try to continue it in PMs. That just makes it harder for mods to see the current state of affairs.

2) No excessive reports. A single report from a given user is enough to alert the mods to what's happening.

I or another mod will post more specifically soon. But I just wanted to get this out there in the meantime.

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Re: (C&C) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Post by Keenir » 26 Feb 2019 06:05

Salmoneus wrote:
25 Feb 2019 14:09
Because whatever you do, elemtilas will swan in, remind you that he's superior to everyone and we're all doing it wrong.
pretty sure you've done the same thing - you're a very good swan, I grant you.
Alternatively, fuck off.
to quote Captain America, language.
All you do around here is belittle people, bully people and mock their interests;
ditto.
why can't you do that from the vantage of a different forum?
not sure the internet allows that degree of telepresence. :)
If you've nothing productive to add, and you're not interested in a topic, why say anything at all?
except that Elemtilas did add something - just because you take issue with it, doesn't abruptly make it nonproductive. (oh if only language worked like that) :)

And don't waste everyone's time with this primary/secondary world bollocks,
is it irony that you're a conlanger saying that to a conlanger in a conworlding thread in a conlanging forum?
You're just appropriating Tolkien's work to lend credibility to whatever weird LARP you're engaged in here,
there's a larp here?
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