Descriptions: Saurians

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The1exile
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Descriptions: Saurians

Post by The1exile » July 15th, 2009, 10:14 pm

Even if the Saurian units don't need their descriptions rewritten, as a race they have no general description. Considering the pages that are written on other races, I think they deserve at least a paragraph or two, so I'm going to try and start writing it. Suggestions appreciated, especially since I'm rusty on whether Mainline supplies any background for the saurians already.
The Saurians are an odd race in Wesnoth. Sometimes intelligent, sometimes more bloodthirsty than the most enraged beast, Saurians tend to be found in the more extreme of Wesnoth's environments. Often mercenary, they frequently work with the forces of chaos, and have been known to work with Orcs or bandits as flankers and skirmishers. Oddly enough they also seem to share a kinship the magnificent but mysterious Drakes, possibly due to a shared lizard heritage.

The society of Saurians is fiercely hierarchical, not unlike that of Trolls or Drakes. Their shamans and soothsayers are masters of augury and black magic, and revered by their fellow Saurians. The warrior castes of Saurians focus on their agility of movement, eschewing almost all armour in favour of mobility.
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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by thespaceinvader » July 15th, 2009, 10:22 pm

Ideally, I;d like to (personally, no idea what anyone else in the Dev team thinks) portray the saurians as a society which, either through cultural mores or technical reasons, was stuck in the bronze-and-obsidian stage which is portrayed in the few mainline portraits of them, whilst others moved on to steel; but one which, like the ancient greeks and mesoamerican cultures, had a good understanding of the moon and stars, how they worked, their cycles etc. Intelligent, but at the same time, animalistic, perhaps intelligent on a more instinctual level than humans. With writing, but usually on clay tablets. With a culture heavily based on astronomy/astrology - I've already tried to include moon and star images in their oconography in portraits to reflect this. They commonly live in swamps and water borders, and are noctural. They can survive in deserts (and on beaches), but are more comfortable in damp environments.

There are various threads about where people have knocked around Saurian culture and history...
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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by kitty » July 15th, 2009, 10:27 pm

Since I'm working on serveral script projects for wesnoth atm, I also plan to develop an elaborate yet primitive looking numeral system for the saurians reflecting their astronomical sciences. Not sure when I'll have got something show-worthy, but just so you know.

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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by The1exile » July 15th, 2009, 11:03 pm

thespaceinvader wrote:Ideally, I;d like to (personally, no idea what anyone else in the Dev team thinks) portray the saurians as a society which, either through cultural mores or technical reasons, was stuck in the bronze-and-obsidian stage which is portrayed in the few mainline portraits of them, whilst others moved on to steel; but one which, like the ancient greeks and mesoamerican cultures, had a good understanding of the moon and stars, how they worked, their cycles etc. Intelligent, but at the same time, animalistic, perhaps intelligent on a more instinctual level than humans. With writing, but usually on clay tablets. With a culture heavily based on astronomy/astrology - I've already tried to include moon and star images in their oconography in portraits to reflect this. They commonly live in swamps and water borders, and are noctural. They can survive in deserts (and on beaches), but are more comfortable in damp environments.

There are various threads about where people have knocked around Saurian culture and history...
That's pretty much what I tried to get across in the description, also accounting for the bias of the Wesnothian scribe writing it down (intelligent but bloodthirsty, living in extreme environments...). No doubt there are tales of saurian culture and history, but in the same way that HttT and LoW's histories aren't included in the elf descriptions, I'd like to leave some vagueness.
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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by Turuk » July 16th, 2009, 4:06 am

This is actually one of my goals for the summer after the descriptions are done across the board/concurrent with that project, but no one was really interested beyond Melinath.

All canon/lore will be combed from mainline campaigns and pulled from bits across the forum to write out detailed (as possible) outlines of each faction, their makeup, society, behaviors, norms, etc. This would help to provide an overarching view of the factions by noting some of the major points for reference. While there is not a desire to cull out all chances for imaginative insertion of their own ideas by UMC authors in covering every little detail of a faction, a consistent overall view of each faction would prove beneficial.
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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by melinath » August 2nd, 2009, 9:26 pm

The1exile wrote:
thespaceinvader wrote:Ideally, I;d like to (personally, no idea what anyone else in the Dev team thinks) portray the saurians as a society which, either through cultural mores or technical reasons, was stuck in the bronze-and-obsidian stage which is portrayed in the few mainline portraits of them, whilst others moved on to steel; but one which, like the ancient greeks and mesoamerican cultures, had a good understanding of the moon and stars, how they worked, their cycles etc. Intelligent, but at the same time, animalistic, perhaps intelligent on a more instinctual level than humans. With writing, but usually on clay tablets. With a culture heavily based on astronomy/astrology - I've already tried to include moon and star images in their oconography in portraits to reflect this. They commonly live in swamps and water borders, and are noctural. They can survive in deserts (and on beaches), but are more comfortable in damp environments.

There are various threads about where people have knocked around Saurian culture and history...
That's pretty much what I tried to get across in the description, also accounting for the bias of the Wesnothian scribe writing it down (intelligent but bloodthirsty, living in extreme environments...). No doubt there are tales of saurian culture and history, but in the same way that HttT and LoW's histories aren't included in the elf descriptions, I'd like to leave some vagueness.
Does the desc have to have a Wesnoth scribe's bias? Even if it does, one thing that could help get your ideas across is to elaborate the phrase "Sometimes intelligent" and actually explicitly state how they are intelligent.

Hierarchy: You don't necessarily need to compare them to Drakes and Trolls, but you could try giving some shape to the proposed hierarchy.

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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by The1exile » August 3rd, 2009, 12:15 am

melinath wrote:Does the desc have to have a Wesnoth scribe's bias? Even if it does, one thing that could help get your ideas across is to elaborate the phrase "Sometimes intelligent" and actually explicitly state how they are intelligent.
It's possible to try and write the description from a completely impartial and out-of-character perspective, but i think this makes it a) less fun and b) less consistent with the other unit and race descriptions, which would need some going over to remove bias from them.
melinath wrote:Hierarchy: You don't necessarily need to compare them to Drakes and Trolls, but you could try giving some shape to the proposed hierarchy.
I will work on it if you like, but as Turuk mentioned this was a task he was intending to take on after gathering all the lore, I figured I'd leave it to him, or at least wait until all the mainline lore was collected so I could go through it.
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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by melinath » August 3rd, 2009, 12:43 am

I believe Turuk just meant that if you wait until the lore collection is complete, you'll have a much better base to work from, and that it would be good if the new description didn't conflict with canon lore.

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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by Turuk » August 3rd, 2009, 1:54 am

The1exile wrote:I will work on it if you like, but as Turuk mentioned this was a task he was intending to take on after gathering all the lore, I figured I'd leave it to him, or at least wait until all the mainline lore was collected so I could go through it.
Yeah, I just meant that it was on my to-do list given that no one else had seemed interested in any of this. You are free to write the race description but, as you noted, you will probably find it easier to do once the mainline lore is collected.
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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by Darker_Dreams » October 10th, 2009, 7:28 pm

I was going through the wiki information on various races as part of thinking about the calender project and I stumbled into the Saurian page... I'm not sure if this is the right place/thread (or if it's considered unfortunate thread-necromancy), but I figured if this was the wrong place it could be split off and was thus better than cluttering up the forum.

On to my point; the current Saurian page says they go through a process of budding for reproduction... Is this cannon, or is this a wild idea that can be boldly edited over? I do have to say it fits with the general desire to break stereotypes and fight assumptions... but it also seems like a radical departure just for the sake of being a difference.

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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by thespaceinvader » October 10th, 2009, 8:16 pm

as far as i know, the only place it says that is the wiki, so it could conceivably be altered. However, I have no idea how attached the original author is to the concept. Or even who the original author is.
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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by Aethaeryn » October 10th, 2009, 9:19 pm

http://www.wesnoth.org/mw/index.php?tit ... on=history

The one author is Mica and it is not cannon. The other descriptions are from the in-game help. This one is not. Saurians don't even have an in-game help entry.

P.S. The budding idea is just ridiculous.
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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by Darker_Dreams » October 10th, 2009, 10:42 pm

I just did a complete rewrite of the page trying to incorporate all the ideas that have been thrown around recently and generally make a somewhat compelling race. Looking for critique, comment, etc.

I so wanted to include a Mote in God's Eye shout out somewhere in that, but it's been too long since I read the book.

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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by Sapient » October 18th, 2009, 8:27 pm

Personally, I vote in favor of budding or a similar appearing form such as on-the-back incubation (as the midwife toad).
This is something to make them distinct from drakes, barbarians, etc... make them a distinctly non-human society.

They need something to emphasize their cold-blooded, blood-thirsty nature and nocturnal tendencies. The astrological emphasis is a good start. As an extension to that astrological theme, you can make them have so many unwritten superstitions (varying slightly from tribe to tribe) that no outsider could ever hope to chronicle them all. An example superstition common to most tribes is that they have a tendency to gather jewels and metal and bury them in the night after undertaking long journeys... where they would rather die than reveal the secret location. They make excellent guides across long distances due to their memorization of the night sky. For the blood-thirsty angle, maybe they eat their weaker offspring (or their siblings).

I'm not convinced by the whole thoughts on strict gender roles though. Why would their entire race enforce this? I prefer it if the two genders are indistinguishable to non-Saurians. A unisex society is far less human than a gender-segregated one.
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Re: Descriptions: Saurians

Post by Darker_Dreams » October 18th, 2009, 9:11 pm

Sapient wrote:Personally, I vote in favor of budding or a similar appearing form such as on-the-back incubation (as the midwife toad).
This is something to make them distinct from drakes, barbarians, etc... make them a distinctly non-human society.
I'm in favor of something like budding for a race like the Wose; it's a very plant-like thing to do.

I feel Saurians should do something more lizard-esque, however, like lay eggs and have a social structure based on guarding the nest and bringing food back for the young- which is what I (tried to) write. I can see how it can read as a(n abnormal) human social structure- but the variety of human tribal social structures, and the willingness of humans to adopt successful strategies from animals, makes it difficult to write something that involves dual-gender reproduction without being vulnerable to the "humans in strange clothing" critique.

On the other hand, I think linking the two (making a lizard like race that buds) runs the risk of becoming fodder for comments structured like; "X was a cool game- but Y? I just couldn't take it seriously after that." I'm sure a lot of people here can give examples of this sort of thing in commercial games/movies/franchises (midichlorians is the one that springs to my mind). There are precedents for the kind of thing we're talking about in literature- "bizarre" reproductive processes (example) -but it's something that has to be handled pretty carefully.

And then there's the gene-pool stagnation issue.
Sapient wrote:They need something to emphasize their cold-blooded, blood-thirsty nature and nocturnal tendencies. The astrological emphasis is a good start. As an extension to that astrological theme, you can make them have so many unwritten superstitions (varying slightly from tribe to tribe) that no outsider could ever hope to chronicle them all. An example superstition common to most tribes is that they have a tendency to gather jewels and metal and bury them in the night after undertaking long journeys... where they would rather die than reveal the secret location. They make excellent guides across long distances due to their memorization of the night sky. For the blood-thirsty angle, maybe they eat their weaker offspring (or their siblings).
I actually agree with most of this, it's details that can be added in. I did try to get a start (cannibalism not being taboo, using their own weaknesses against one another, leaving the tribe at the whim of the signs), but I agree that more should be done.
Sapient wrote:I'm not convinced by the whole thoughts on strict gender roles though. Why would their entire race enforce this? I prefer it if the two genders are indistinguishable to non-Saurians.

I actually got the strict gender roles directly from the mating patterns of some lizards (and birds). While lizards don't (generally) incubate their eggs some species do guard them. Whether the guarding/hunting duties are split in an egalitarian manner or something more gender -decisive varies by race. I chose this particular pattern because it would seem abnormal to the modern eye- a direct attempt to mitigate the "humans in scaled clothing" syndrome.
Bear in mind that this isn't something that I most or even many non-saurians would know. It's the sort of thing someone whose studied saurians (like, done dissections or been particularly...close to one) could figure out... but you'll note that nowhere does it imply there's a visible (biological) difference between the two.

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