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How would a wild Mimic differ in behavior compared to a dungeon mimic? What are the strategies they may employ? What would they mimic without human influence?

In D&D and other media Mimics are always seen as the treasure chest monster found in dungeons and caves. But biologically that should not be possible or at least extremely unlikely as nature has a hard time mimicking man-made objects. An adventurer is far more likely to get attacked by a tree or rock looking creature than a treasure chest (perhaps that's why they are taken by surprise). So it got me wondering on how a Mimic would get by without any human influence, perhaps due to living far from human civilization. My interest is especially set on the various behaviors they may exhibit, hunting strategies, survival tactics, communication etc...

Biologically Mimics are amorphous blobs with large gaping mouths. They are stationary ambush predators that camouflage to attract prey, catch them with their tongue and bite them to death. They mostly eat humans but can also settle for other monsters or unlucky wild animals. Based on their environment I assume they are cold blooded. They don't seem to have visible eyes so I assume they can see with their skin to some extent, which would mean that they don't have to peek while camouflaged. At least this knowledge applies to dungeon Mimics, their wild counterparts might be completely different. Since they would live in places without humans they might feed on any kind of animal they come across.

A distinction to make is that wild Mimics don't live in dungeons and caves but rather out in the open in forests.

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  • $\begingroup$ We need to know - what are their natural prey in forests, and what are their natural prey in dungeons. Otherwise what you're asking for is purely opinion based. Could you edit to include these parameters please? $\endgroup$ – BLT-Bub Jan 2 at 0:06
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    $\begingroup$ It seems the "human influence" is a red herring here. If mimics are feeding on adventurers, that doesn't really seem like a natural evolution. It's more likely that they were designed to do that. Given the D&D universe, there are plenty of powers that might have done that - gods, deities, etc. Out of universe, though, it's just down to the early editions philosophy of "the players against the DM", where the DM will just throw whatever against the party members. Lots of things were designed in a way to hamper adventurers when this is hardly logical for this to occur naturally. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jan 2 at 0:14
  • $\begingroup$ Related: How to Train Your Mimic $\endgroup$ – IndigoFenix Jan 2 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ Stanislaw Lem wrote a story about a "mimic" (of kind) that in their native state was a lianas (waiting for animals bathing in sun) and when human came they changed into ties. Choking humans. So reverting a "chest" would yeld tree trunks, boulders with moss and fallen trees. $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Jan 2 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ Mimics are blinded by direct sunlight though, they're natural cave dwellers $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jan 2 at 10:01
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Physiology

Mimics are a highly adaptable, carnivorous variant of the "slime" class of monsters. While most slimes are simple scavengers or herbivores, Mimics have evolved a more efficient means of luring their prey by transforming into objects desired by their prey. Using a complex network of chromatophores and an amorphous, muscular layer with microscopic "locking" fibers that allow it to retain a given form without expending energy, a Mimic is capable of transforming into nearly any stationary shape, though they cannot accurately copy complex movement beyond wiggling or waving.

Unlike most slimes, which have at best a small ganglion for coordinating movement, Mimics possess a large, complex brain at the center of their mass. This allows them to learn from observation and experience, which is essential for their unique hunting strategy.

Hunting

Mimics are quite intelligent, and are believed to possess a rudimentry theory of mind, which is applied heavily in their hunting strategy. When a Mimic sees an animal it wants to eat, it will stalk the intended prey, transforming into objects in its local environment to stay hidden. It will watch the prey and try to ascertain which kinds of objects they are attracted to, and will learn to copy these forms to attract their prey.

Common Forms

The forms that a wild Mimic will usually adopt include rocks, dead animals, small shrubs, fallen fruits, and patches of land covered in grass, depending on what it is hunting. Usually a Mimic will transform a part of its body into the "lure" while camouflaging the rest as part of the landscape, allowing them to appear smaller than they actually are. Some Mimics have learned to turn a part of their body into a spider-like "lure" at the end of a stalk, which they will wave around to attract birds and insectivores, like the Spider-Tailed Viper.

As the forms they take are learned, rather than instinctive, the forms adopted by Mimics living in one environment will differ heavily from those living in different environments, even if the Mimics themselves are closely related.

Parenting

Learning to mimic objects properly takes time and effort, during which the young Mimic is vulnerable. Because of this, Mimics possess a strong parental instinct. A young Mimic will instinctively try to copy objects in its local environment; parental Mimics will facilitate this learning process by surrounding their children with objects that they have learned are useful to copy.

Mirror Learning

Mimics can recognize themselves in a mirror from an early age, and a parent Mimic will transform a part of its body into a mirrored surface so that the child can see what it is doing as it learns to use its transformative abilities. Mimics have also been known to treasure reflective objects, both for teaching their offspring and to refine their own mimicry skills. Access to a high-quality mirror greatly accelerates the Mimic's ability to master new forms - without one, the Mimic is forced to rely on extending an eyestalk away from their body in order to observe themselves, which can introduce inaccuracies in the process.

Domestication

While it is theoretically possible that Mimics living among humans may learn to lure humans using forms like gold or treasure chests, this is a poor hunting strategy - Mimics that learn to hunt humans are often targeted for destruction, like most man-eating animals. In reality, most "treasure chest Mimics" are actually domesticated - they were intentionally trained to adopt that form to catch would-be thieves.

Due to their instinct to adopt nearby forms when young, it is quite easy to train a Mimic from an early age - the trainer simply places the objects to be copied in the young Mimic's vicinity, and rewards them with food when they adopt the form. The Mimic learns to associate the "treasure chest form" with "food" in the presence of humans and will subsequently adopt that form when a human approaches.

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Hollow logs / trees

By mimicking hollow logs, animals seeking shelter hide in their mouth by mistake

Fruiting trees

By mimicking fruit trees the mimic can easily catch animals seeking food.

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Generally, they would look like boulders. After all, they are amorphous blobs of apathy, which is pretty much what a boulder is anyway.

As for hunting habits, they would probably position themselves in the shade, with their tops being essentially flat. This would make them look like a good resting spot, causing passing people/animals to stop there to rest. Their favorite food would probably be Boy Scouts, since they use just those kinds of spots as rest stops.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice. Although I did mention no human influence. $\endgroup$ – user71341 Jan 2 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ Boy Scouts aren’t humans. They are ambulatory mimics that evolved to fill the ecological niche left behind when humans went away. :-) $\endgroup$ – SRM Jan 2 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ "No human influence." I was just saying that, if it was an option, they would eat Boy Scouts; I already made clear that they could survive without. $\endgroup$ – Marvin the Paranoid Android Jan 3 at 23:02

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