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Agriltheans



Agriltheans are marine mages made of a morass of multiple limbs.

Examples of agriltheans:

Anatomy and physiology

Agriltheans are elusive water-dwelling multi-tentacled demons. Their skeletons are a mix of bone, cartilage and segmented chitinous plates that flex with sinews. They are largely soft-bodied and are sometimes seen as fragile for this reason, but they do not see themselves that way. They think of bony land-dwellers as fragile because our joints can only bend one way or snap, whereas an agrilthean's tentacles can entwine any which way without discomfort.

These demons have a more decentralised nervous system than most intelligent beings, to the extent that they have secondary (non-sapient) brains used for controlling leg movement. Agriltheans sometimes get called 'arsebrains' as an insult, but they don't understand why that's meant to be a bad thing. (They'll still be offended, because they can tell you're trying to be rude on purpose.)

Agriltheans can breathe in fresh and salt water with gills, and in air with lungs. When in water they will periodically surface to breathe air, because air-breathing delivers a bigger payload of oxygen faster than water-breathing. Agriltheans who haven't breathed air for a while can get a bit sluggish, as one does with low blood sugar. When moving between salt and fresh water, agriltheans prefer to ease the transition by breathing air instead of going straight from breathing one type of water to breathing the other.

An agrilthean's teeth form a single hard plate used only for cutting. The tongue is mostly hard radula that grinds food against the reinforced hard palate.

Magic use

Agriltheans are powerful mages. In combat, they rely on long-range magical projectiles to kill their opponents before they can close the distance.

Limb distribution

These demons always have a total of 12 limbs, plus any number of additional tendrils.

Configurations with 4 or 6 legs are the most common. 8 legs is uncommon, and 2 or 10 legs is pretty rare.

Here’s Melmarus with her 4 legs (in blue), 4 major arms (in orange) and 4 minor arms (in reddish-purple). She also has 8 tendrils (in grey) on her head-frill, and 4 tendrils at the top of each leg.

melmarus

Here’s Varin with its 6 legs (in blue), 2 major arms (in orange) and 4 minor arms (in reddish-purple). It also has 6 tendrils (in grey) on its back.

varin


Number of legs Number of major arms Number of minor arms Examples of individuals
2 2 8  
2 4 6  
2 6 4  
2 8 2  
2 100  
4 2 6  
4 4 4 Melmarus
4 6 2  
4 8 0  
6 2 4 Varin
6 4 2  
6 6 0  
8 2 2  
8 4 0  
10 2 0  

Reproduction and ontogeny

In the prehistoric past, agriltheans were partial r-selectors. They laid large clutches of eggs, and left them to manage by themselves. After a couple of years, any young still alive would be taken in, looked after and raised. As the agriltheans evolved sapience and developed civilisation, they decided it was cruel to bring so many young into existence that were doomed to die. The agriltheans switched to being k-selectors. They still lay large clutches of eggs, but as they lack the resources to raise so many children, they set aside the few eggs they judge to be most hale, and raise these. The remaining eggs are simply eaten before they have a chance to develop. Agriltheans lay fewer and bigger eggs than they did at the beginning of their recorded history, indicating that they are evolving further down the k-selection path.

Newly-hatched agriltheans are basically plankton. They are born unable to swim of their own volition, and with the remains of their yolk sacs still attached. They will will live on the yolk nutrients for their first few days of life. By this time, they will have developed enough autonomy to swim and feed. Very young agriltheans find air-breathing a bit difficult, and they shouldn't be brought out of the water if it can be helped.

Agrilthean eggs are sausage-shaped and have wiry tendrils at both ends to anchor to e.g. seaweed. Eggs must be kept underwater to remain viable.

Diet and cuisine

Agriltheans are omnivorous, with meat and soft water weeds making up the bulk of their diet. They also crunch up and eat magic-imbued crystals that grow naturally in their undersea habitat.

As cooking is limited underwater, most agrilthean cuisine is raw salads, or things boiled on undersea hot vents. Agriltheans also sometimes swallow small pebbles to aid grinding up their ingested food. Heated pebbles are a popular addition to stews, as they have the additional benefit of keeping food hotter for longer.

Agrilthean poo is hard, gem-like and pretty, as a result of their crystalline diet. It also floats to the surface of water, and washes up on beaches. Because of its prettiness, it gets picked up by beachcombers who don't realise what it is. When agriltheans first established contact with surface-dwellers, the former were hysterically amused to find that some of the surface-dwellers wore jewellery made from carved agrilthean shit. The value of the 'jewels' plummeted overnight and put a few people out of business.

Distribution and Habitat

These demons mostly live in the sunlit layers of the sea, with increasing populations living in fresh water and swamps inland. A few agriltheans live on land permanently because they have land-dwelling partners (such as Varin with Krog and Melmarus with Serick). While agriltheans can live on land indefinitely, they do desire to return to the water sometimes and should be allowed to do so for their mental wellbeing.

Social structure

Agriltheans value knowledge and as a species are great cartographers and astronomers (they rise to the surface of the sea to map the stars). They may live in travelling pods or have a territory they defend. Until relatively recently, agriltheans had an exclusively oral recorded history and used no written language. Many of them have now taken to learning to write in the common demon alphabet, if only for the purpose of being better able to send messages long-distance.

Genders and pronouns

The concept of gender does not exist in agrilthean society. These demons are monoecious, like molluscs. Individuals producetwo types of gamete, and during reproductive sex can swap both kinds so that both participants can lay eggs.

Agriltheans do not quite understand the concept of gender as it applies to dyadic species. They can understand why it would be necessary to have some way of telling others 'I make gamete p and I need someone who makes gamete q to reproduce with' (although that sounds frightfully inconvenient) but not everything else it entails. Most of them much prefer to be referred to by non-gendered pronouns so as to opt out of the confusing system.

When reproducing, agriltheans do sometimes argue over which participant has to lay the eggs. In many couples, both partners lay some eggs each, in the interests of fairness. Others hold the opinion that the burden of egg-production should go to the one who brought up the idea of reproducing. This can lead to an awkward impasse in which an agrilthean couple would like to have children, but neither partner wants to be the first to suggest it.

Clothes

Agriltheans do not wear clothes except sometimes when travelling on land. They will wear leather sleeves on their leg tentacles to avoid touching the ground with their bare skin.

Compatibility with demonologists

It is impossible for a summoner to form a contract with an agrilthean. The demon simply won't. They don't hate humans particularly (in fact, agriltheans will rescue drowning humans and are often happy to ferry them across bodies of water if asked nicely), but have no interest in working for us. They will talk to demonologists and might even exchange information or trade items, but they won't be recruited.


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