No, I’m not referring to the lacklustre 1997 movie (‘Not a sequel an equal’ my ass!) but rather the non-magical/enchanted/corrupted creatures that have counterparts in the Real World.
Okay, ‘mundane’ creatures aren’t as sexy or fantastic as vampire uber-bears or flying zombie wolves but they do lend a more down-to-earth (down-to-elemental?) charm that doesn’t throw magical creatures at you from the get go. Don’t get me wrong, I want fantasy creatures but I don’t want just fantasy creatures from the get go.
Seems to indicate some mundane creatures but what the hell I want to make a thread about it.
Bears are good example of a potential foe for early game. Although responsible for only 10-15 fatalities a year in real life, one can imagine that humans competing in the post-cataclysm world for shelter and food may lead to far more fraught man-bear relations than seen in an episode of Yogi Bear. Cave Bears, Black, Brown and Polar bears spring to mind as variations/levels of threat.
More importantly, with few troops in the early stages a pack of bears would prove rather dangerous, especially if you’re on a quest to steal some porridge. This in mind, having bears as units that are placed at the start of the game would demonstrate just how dangerous the world is, and how even mundane creatures can threaten your existence. As you advance, armies of well-equipped troops would not find bears that tough so perhaps a logical course of action would be to have them placed at a game start but not recurring- once all the bears are gone they don’t come back. Ever.
Guy on left- ‘You take the big one; I’ll take the little one’
Guy on right- ‘But you have a spear!’
Guy on left- ‘There’s always some excuse, isn’t there?’
Okay, I appreciate Elemental might not have much room for these guys unless you’re launching an attack through three feet of water using blood-based war paint but they serve to illustrate the point- if you were swimming in known shark territory and you saw a fin would you care if it was a cursed dire shark or a mundane Great White? Either way, the water would turn yellowy-brown in short order. ‘Case you were wondering, they cause about 100 fatalities a year.
Wolves get a bad rap. This is partly due to Hollywood horror movies and partly due to the fact they deserved their bad rap up until fairly recent times. Although rabies accounted for much of the attacks on humans, starving wolves were enough to create a truce between Russia and Germany during WW1 whilst they were beaten off. Packs of starving Wolves would be similar to packs of Bears- paced on the map at the beginning but unable to reappear.
Living in endless flat tundra can lead to very tiresome games of Hide-and-Seek.
Despite being rather comical and looking like my Aunt Catherine, Hippos are real jerks. Known for attacking people who so much as sneeze in a way that causes their displeasure, they kill more people a year than sharks and bears combined.
Unfortunately, they look hilarious, and if ‘You are attacked by a pack of Hippos!’ came up in a game you may fall off your chair laughing.
‘Ol Elephants have been used in warfare for millennia due to their trampling/goring combo. Having them as neutral creatures might be getting into hippo territory but as Empires seem to have that eastern thing perhaps a trainable unit a la Rome: Total War might be a possibility.
Three hours of trawling the internet and this is the best picture of an Elephant I could get.
See Elephants, minus the use in warfare.
Okay crocs and alligators might need a bit of an up-sizing to make them more threatening but I suppose we could assume they’re Sarcosuchus/Deinosuchus-like reptiles or just, you know, fatter than RL ones. Crocs are responsible for 600+ fatalities a year. Being ambush predators, having them invisible on the cloth map until to step on them in swamplands could be interesting.
Think you have the worst job in the world? DO YOU DO IT WAVING LIKE THIS GUY?!?
Yeah okay these guys need up-sizing too, perhaps as Titanoboa-like creatures (45ft long and weighing 1.2 tons). Giant Cobras would be awesome, too.
Pity they’re so small as they are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every year.
Pictured- Titanoboa. Not Pictured- 30 school kids that had been poking it with sticks.
A Clash of the Titans favourite, the scorpion is in many ways an ideal enemy, being possessed of tough armour, claws, and a poison-inflicting tail. The South African spitting scorpion can spray poison over 1 metre, because, you know, sometimes pincers and poisonous barbs simply aren’t hardcore enough. Again, grounding in reality-good, The Rock as a half-scorpion chasing Brendon Fraser- bad.
It’s a little-known fact a dance-off is the only way to defeat a Giant Scorpion.
Also- Big Cats (Mountain Lions etc)
Giant Spiders (see Giant Spider thread)
Mundane creatures can be interesting, as can those that simply enlarge commonly known creatures. In the beginning of Age of Empires the biggest threat was Lions, Elephants, Crocs etc, as they had no fear of humans. Given Elemental taking place a hundred years after the cataclysm, perhaps mundane creatures can prove a true danger to the survival of your people.