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I am trying to flesh out the details of an interesting animal (for D&D) that will both disgust my players while at the same time have them think the animal is a "useful" creature. I want the creature to be as believable on an earth-like planet as possible.

Restrictions:

  1. Animal must fart as the mode of movement (I imagine this would make the creature smaller and possibly the size of an insect)
  2. Animal should be as hideous (small head/many arms/small or no eyes for some suggestions) as possible while still in the realms of evolutionary belief
  3. Animal must provide some tangible benefit to the people that live in the area as the animal (I was thinking something like how bees pollinate plants to help farmers)

What would such an animal look like and what would it be made of? How would it breed? What would it eat? Are there certain land areas/climates this thing should be limited to?

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    $\begingroup$ You are describing cephalopods. Seriously. They can move around by expelling water from their... They smell bad, they are fugly and yet people make a living out of fishing them. $\endgroup$ – Renan Sep 12 '18 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ Somebody in a comment to a question of mine was praising their little brothers' skills in this field. Maybe ask them to describe them... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Sep 12 '18 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ I recommend adding the creature-design tag. $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 12 '18 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ Looking at the title, my first thought was not about fantasy creatures, but about real world jet plane passengers in coach class :) $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 12 '18 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander I don't need to ask questions about my own history =P $\endgroup$ – Crettig Sep 12 '18 at 17:46
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You are describing cephalopods. Seriously. They can move around by expelling water from their [be nice]:

Whilst jet propulsion is never the sole mode of locomotion, the stop-start motion provided by the jets continues to be useful for providing bursts of high speed – not least when capturing prey or avoiding predators. Indeed, it makes cephalopods the fastest marine invertebrates, and they can out-accelerate most fish.

Motion of the cephalopods is usually backward as water is forced out anteriorly through the hyponome...

And just so that we are clear on the farting part. This is from the wiki article on hyponomes:

The moon

Also they smell bad and they are fugly. Yet people make a living out of fishing them, so their impact on economy is your advantage.

So all in all, make some magical flying squids and you've got your critters. Everything else (how they breed, what they eat etc.) can be inferred from that - they would eat animals smaller than them, just like regular squid, and could be eaten by predators such as snakes and eagles, for example.

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This doesn't really work for animals I'm afraid, the amount of propellant needed for what is essentially a rocket just doesn't add up.

The only way it might work is if you had it as an "emergency escape" mechanism - the animal normally travels through flying/walking/hopping/whatever. However it does contain a pressurized bladder which it can release explosively in order to get a burst of speed.

Even that is a stretch though - you'd need a lot of gas being expelled very fast to get any appreciable thrust.

On the other hand plants that do something like this to propel their seeds makes a little sense. They would fill little pods with highly compressed gas then use that to launch seeds into the air for dispersion. That gas could be as smelly as you like depending on how the plants made it.

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