# Explaining Why Monsters Don't Generally Prey On Their Own Kind

Monsters are creatures infused with (and mutated by) Chaos Energy, which both grants them "magic" and a sixth sense called, appropriately enough, Chaos Sense.

However, magic in my world functions on two principles: balance and flow. Balance causes magic to diffuse from areas of high to low concentration, thereby spreading the influence of Elemental energy out instead of concentrating it in one place. The Principle of Flow, however, limits spreading, as magic is attracted to magic of the same type as itself. In other words, Fire Magic is drawn to Fire Magic.

The end result is something like spilling water on a table; give it time, and the water will stop spreading, forming one aqueous blob on your tabletop. Magic spreads to fill the space around it, but it doesn't move too far from its source. Makes sense, right?

However, this also has some pretty big ramifications for monsters:

1. Flow: Thanks to the Principle of Flow, monsters are attracted to monsters of the same Element as they are (firesnakes are drawn to fire dragons, for example), but more especially to their own kind. This may not seem a big deal, but here's the thing: since magic attracts magic, monsters have an overwhelming preference for preying on other monsters.

2. Balance: Just as hot objects radiate heat, magical creatures radiate magic, causing a more or less uniform spread of magic in an area.

3. Synergy: This is yet another Principle of Magic, and how it works is simple: magic bolsters and enhances magic of its own kind.

If this doesn't make sense, here's an example, a metaphor: We have a Pyromancer, Alice. In the AU, she's a bowl of chocolate ice cream. Alice=Fire Mage=Chocolate Ice Cream. Alice meets a Giant Firesnake and, being a snake fan, she lets it coil around her. It's magic synergizes with her own, increasing both their power. Firesnake=Chocolate Syrup. Chocolate Syrup+Chocolate Ice Cream=2x the chocolatey goodness. Just like chocolate syrup makes chocolate ice cream better than it could be alone (and vice versa), the firesnake's fiery aura makes Alice the Pyromancer stronger than she'd be on her own.

Because of this, monsters find they get a boost (not just an energy boost, their speed, power, and durability are increased as well) from hanging around monsters of the same element, which is why firesnakes hang around fire dragons. This boost is especially strong between members of the same species, which is why monsters tend to be found in groups, if not in pairs, and are generally not alone. Exceptions are boss monsters, or any large and powerful monsters, as their magical and biological needs necessitate they keep their territory all to themselves and fight off other members of their kind.

Anyway, if a monster was to kill and/or eat their own kind, or to eat their own kind's Drops, they'd gain this boost from the Remnants or lingering essence of their species, and this boost stacks. This would seem to encourage cannibalism, if not interspecies combat, so why are monsters not known for either?

• Drops and Remnants have the same kind of magic that their originating creature had in life? Have you already set that up? Because it could be the inverse of what the creature had in life, and so to be avoided by creatures of the same magic type. This is a comment in case it clashes with established things in your world. Sep 29, 2021 at 14:05
• @Willk: Yes?.....it seems natural for Remnants to do that, considering the phrase "chip off the old block." Why, is something wrong? Sep 29, 2021 at 14:08
• "Explaining Why Monsters Don't Generally Prey On Their Own Kind" no ordinary animal does ('generally' speaking) so you really don't need to actually explain it, practically everyone will accept the normal way things are without question, you'd only need to explain it if you wanted it the other way around. Sep 29, 2021 at 15:11
• Embrace it: have the mages hunt and eat the monsters. Have they attract all sort of magical creatures and live in perpetual battle and understand why it was a bad idea in the first place. Sep 30, 2021 at 11:37
• Don't need a magical explanation for this. You've got natural selection. Some monsters probably did tend to prey on each other, others didn't. But the ones that cooperated not only didn't kill each other off, but also were more effective and powerful in general. This is how eusocial behavior evolves in general. Oct 1, 2021 at 13:51

## There are plenty of reasons why monsters should not eat their own kind

In our natural world it is actually quite common for a species to 'eat' their own kind. In fact, it is theorised up to 1500 aquatic species do participate in it - and many in the insect world and animal kingdom.

However, cannibalism generally occurs in resource depleted, or food scarce areas, and also that still leaves many species that do not do this - and for a variety of good reasons:

• Over time, the survival rate of populations that eat their own, or even similar related species decrease in population as external food sources are replaced by more easily found local ones (for instance your easily found siblings or children)
• There is an increased risk of pathogen transmission through eating animals of same or similar kind, including fatal or debilitating parasites
• Significant resources (both genetic and environmental) are expended by species in defence against their own kind, reducing the available resources for foraging or defence of other ostensibly more vital external threats
• Eating your own kind is actually not nutritious beyond immediate consumption - you may need nutrients that are not found in your meal and your prey may have only found them in others of its own kind. This means there are little or no external nutrients that may be needed injected into the system, and may cause developmental defects over time in particular if there are no immediately available alternative food sources
• It has been shown that many species that do have cannibalism are solitary, and communal or social species tend not to have these traits. For instance, spiders often are cannibalistic with females often eating male spiders, however males do not really perform any further role and often are in fact willingly consumed. However, females tend to be much larger, and able to exist on their own.
• Eating your own kind for your benefit also reduces your capacity to recognise your own children. Many species have been observed to 'accidentally' eat, or fail to recognise in time, their own children or eggs and unwittingly eat themselves out of their own gene pool.

All of these principles can transfer quite readily to your Chaos Energy, as this is really a similar function to that of nutrients.

• I think your last couple points is by far more important in this issue. Genetic traits, derived from natural selection dictating the habits of the species. Species do prey on their own kind, and in their environment it works, but other, it doesnt. If a population develops habits of eating their own would soon find themselves eaten out of the gene pool. therefore, the genes that would prevent cannibalism would saturate the gene pool and the ones that allow it would get removed Sep 30, 2021 at 14:19

# Wrong logic:

Strictly speaking, human is the best food for people to eat. It's perfect balanced nutrition, with the ideal mix of nutrients. Yet people rarely eat each other.

Your creatures could have instinctive revulsion to this behavior, because synergy is way more beneficial than a quick temporary boost from chowing down on another creature of your same kind. Intellectual monsters will recognize having another fire creature around contributes to sustained success.

So just as people get more from social behavior with other people than from eating them, monsters get more sustained benefit from symbiosis and society.

• Don’t forget disease as a cause for instinctive revulsion. Cannibalism is a great transmission vector for some nasties, and if the monsters that don’t eat Granny get less sick long-term than those that do it’ll quickly get baked into their genetic or social code. Sep 29, 2021 at 15:00
• "Human is the best food for people to eat" - huh? Human meat isn't even that nutritious compared to other animals'. A meat-only diet is widely considered unhealthy for the long term. It's certainly not "perfect balanced nutrition with the ideal mix of nutrients". Sep 29, 2021 at 17:40
• the other more important point is an animal is most closely matched combat wise to its own kind thus most likely to be injuried in a fight to the death with its own kind than anything else it has an equal or greater chance of killing. predators that maximize their chance of being injured don't survive long.
– John
Sep 29, 2021 at 21:01
• @NuclearHoagie The studies comparing the nutritional value of human to other animals did so on a human-to-animal ratio (instead of pound to pound) and focused almost exclusively on caloric content (ie is a caveman better off killing a horse or a human). All meat is full of nutrients, organs being the richest, so sure, a horse massing six times a human will be "more nutritious" by that standard. But the point is that people don't eat people for other reasons, despite human flesh being food. Sep 30, 2021 at 0:27
• "human is the best food for people to eat." Nope, digestion doesn't work this way. If it would, in extreme, if you were to take the elements (C, N, O, P, Fe, etc) in the correct proportion and you would have the most perfectly balanced diet too. In reality, your digestive system will still work to break the triglycerides in monoglycerides to absorb them, the protein to aminoacids, OK maybe the free glucose in the blood of the food will pass it like it is. Energetically, you'll be much better to have a diet made of monoglycerides, aminoacids, etc, ideally injected straight in your blood. Sep 30, 2021 at 3:14

You don't hunt something the same size as you

Preying on your own species guarantees a relatively even fight, which is far too dangerous.

Even if there is a clear favourite to win, they will be close enough in size and capability that they could cause serious injury. Any injury in the wild is a potential death sentence from infection, starvation or from not being able to escape predators.

Animals of the same species do fight over territory or mating, but this is not an all-out, to-the-death scrap because that would be far too risky.

When animals want to eat other animals, they pick prey that they can subdue with the least risk. As long as your magical creatures have an instinct to self preservation, they'll play it smart and avoid cannibalism.

Different flavors of magic!

In life, the life force of your creatures (and humans) reinforces their native magic flavor, suppressing the rest and especially suppressing the opposite type of magic.

In death with the disappearance of life force, the dominant magic in any drops or remnants is the inverse of what the creature had in life - the photonegative. The magic left over from dead things weakens the kind of magic that thing had in life, which is why the life force suppressed it.

The drops and remnants from a thing are anathema to creatures of like type to that thing. The magic remnants will contaminate and weaken them. Other things could be interested - things whose dominant magic life is aligned with this inversed magic produced on death. Those things will be attracted to creatures that are their opposites in life. That will be a hard fight for both, given that their magic types will be polar opposites.

# The deciding factor is how much bigger the consumption boost is from the companionship boost.

Let's say in a hypothetical example that 5 well equipped adventurers will be attacked by chompers. We have 2 scenarios: one in which 10 chompers attack the party and one where a single chomper that ate the other 9 attacks the party. For the sake of simplicity, I'll say that here the boost doubles strength and shell thickness temporarily, but the boost is permanent if you eat the others.

On scenario 2, the chomper has a shell 512 times as thick as that of a normal one, and is 512 times stronger. And now off it goes to face the party. Let's assume each party member takes T seconds to take down a single normal chomper, but when they get to act together and gang up on a creature, that time is divided by 4. For simplicity, let's say that if the chomper's strength and durability doubles, the average time is multiplied by 1.5 times the mustiplier (aka if it takes T seconds to kill a normal chomper, a chomper with a shell 4 times thicker and 4 times stronger takes 6T seconds to be killed).

So essentially, each party member alone would take T times 1.5 times 512 equals 768T seconds to take down the super chomper, but since it's a single chomper the party can gang up on, that time is divided by 4, meaning the party needs a total of 192T seconds to take it down.

Now let's say they instead face the 10 chompers, with each party member facing 2 chompers at once. As far as I understand, the boost is bigger the more individuals there are, but I'll say, here that the boost is approximately half of what it'd be if they just ate the others. That means that in the second case the chompers are only 256 times stronger, but since there's twice as many chompers as there are party members, they can't gang up. Now each party member takes 384T seconds to take down each of all of the chompers, meaning they take a total of about 728T seconds unless I got something wrong and assuming that facing more than a single chompers doesn't take more time than it'd take to just take them down individually one after another.

According to the calculations, we can easily see a potential reason the boost wouldn't make it worth eating your companions: the boost you get from eating your companions would help you survive individually, but it's worse than the boost you'd get from sticking together and playing the numbers game. if you only care about your survival, it's worth it, but if you care about the group's success it's not. If the boosts are cumulative, but the boost of eating only makes you twice as strong. Meanwhile, sticking together not only means you don't have to risk your life killing all of your companions, it also means you're more likely to succeed as a group, because while you're only half as strong, you're 10 times as many.

Sure, this scenario is simplified, ignores some factors and makes the boost of companionship for the group half of the consumption boost you'd get, but it explains my point well enough: Whether it's more advantageous to form a larger group than it is going rogue and eating any other monster of your kind depends on how much bigger the boost you get from eating your group is than the boost you get from sticking around. If the final boost is not big enough to justify sacrificing the boost of companionship and the numerical advantage, then you're better off cooperating instead of risking your life by turning your would-be "friends" into threats.

Q: doesn't magic fade out when the holder dies ?

Opening: "Anyway, if a monster was to kill and/or eat their own kind, or to eat their own kind's Drops, they'd gain this boost from the Remnants or lingering essence of their species, and this boost stacks. This would seem to encourage cannibalism, if not interspecies combat, so why are monsters not known for either?"

How would the magic be transferred ? With the fire snake intimously coiled around the pyromancer in friendship and cooperation, it seems logical the two magicians merge. With one magician preying on the other, or killing the other, why would magic of the victim be preserved in any way ? It died, the magic evaporated and gets blown elsewhere, with the wind.

It's an inappropriate pattern for "magic monsters"

When you involve magic in a story, there's also a certain freedom arising from that. The author can use magic to bend the scenario in a certain direction.

Existing stories featuring "monsters" follow certain patterns.

Generally, "monsters" don't kill each other, they kill humans, we are their victims. That is what monsters do. Killing or preying on each other would be pointless, because monsters are supposed to threaten civilization, that is: the viewer, the reader, or the gamer.

When monsters fight, the winner is the good guy

When they are different species, monsters killing monsters is a popular topic. The bad guy is clearly distinguished from the good guy, by assigning human-like properties to the good guy. This effect was used in the iconic Godzilla and King Kong. They fight, the really dangerous one got killed.

In Jurassic Park III, the Spinosaur is killed by the Mosasaur, because the Mosasaur's artist behaviour resembles mammal species we all fancy.

## Risk versus reward.

There are many species that will prey upon their young however outside of perhaps insects I am not aware of any that regularly prey upon adult or even semi adult members of their own species. (Except perhaps in times of extreme hardship/scarcity like droughts etc when driven to do so by desperation.) For that matter most large predators avoid hunting other large predators for food on a regular basis. Think lions hunting leopards for example. Yes lions will stalk and kill leopards occasionally if they can catch them without too much effort but that's because they view them as potential threats and competitors. They don't hunt them for food.

The reason for this is simple. If you are a dangerous predator then hunting other members of your own species (or other highly dangerous species) is by default also dangerous. Predators instinctively do a risk and reward calculation. There's the amount of energy required to catch and kill the prey and the likelihood of being injured while doing so versus the amount of nutrition gained.

So lions don't hunt mice because the effort involved exceeds what they'd get back in food even if there's zero risk of injury. And they don't hunt leopards or other lions for the same reason. Yes, they would get a lot of food if they succeeded but at the same time there' also high risk of injury and a lot of effort/hard work involved.

And if you are seriously injured? Your dead. Badly injured animals (or monsters) won't survive long in the wild. They are now 'weak' and by default the risk calculation has reversed so they are now on the menu.

So lions pick prey species that provide the most food for the least risk - antelope etc and so will your monsters.

The only exception to this rule are juvenile members of the same or similar species. Lots of animals will catch and eat the juvenile members of their species, particularly aquatic animals. But again that's because the effort required is less than the risk/reward. In this case big can eat little without to much effort/risk. And is some species like crocs self predation is part of the thinning out process because once your large nothing preys on you.

I take that they are somewhat sophisticated mentally. In this case, they should be able to understand that they are better off collectively if their collective behaviour is towards surviving, as a function of individually not obeying the continual (but minor) urge to kill each other.

Tigers don't eat other tigers.

Small aggressive dogs can scare off much larger more gentle dogs.

This is because animals respond to confidence. Predatory animals stake out a territory where they hunt. They keep out their neighbors of the same species, but prefer to drive intruders away rather then kill them. There are several reasons this behaviour is beneficial.

1. Same species violence is very dangerous for both individuals. Predators tend to hunt things that are smaller than them, or pose them little danger. The same species fight is much more fair.

$$\ \ \$$ 1.5 Remember ANY open wound can become infected and kill the victor as well as the loser. In nature animals prefer to intimidate or chase each other off than come to blows.

1. The neighbors are your children or siblings. Genetically you don't want to kill something that shares your genes.

2. The neighbors are potential mates during the breeding season, when the territorial behaviour is temporarily suspended.

3. The weaker neighbor is weaker than you because they are carrying a contagious infection. Stay away!

The above doesn't change if you give the tigers superpowers. Even if a lvl 50 tiger is 100 times stronger than a lvl 20 tiger, they are not genetically programmed to understand this. They still respond to confidence and don't realise they are now five times the size they were at lvl 1.

Any large animal can be considered to be some sort of "monster" in the real world.

For example, in the eastern USA there are small songbirds and squirrels everywhere that isn't very urban. And when I get within a certain distance they run or fly away from me because I, a human, are a giant monster to them.

In prehistoric eras, the largest land monsters were sauropod dinosaurs. As far as I know they didn't fight each other much, and being herbivores they rarely deliberately ate meat. Thus it would have been extremely rare for sauopod dinosaurs to prey on and eat other sauropod dinosurs.

Of course there were many species of carniverous dinosaurs that preyed on dinosaurs of other species. If think that tyrannosaurs often fought other tyrannosaurs. And if they killed other tyrannosaurs they might have eaten them instead of letting the meat be wasted by being eaten by other critters.

In the present time, the largest monsters on land are herbivores like elephants, rhinos, hippos, buffalos, etc. And sometimes they might fight and even kill members of their own species, but being herbivores they would rarely eat any parts of their victims.

And most of the largest and most monster like carnivores on land at the present might sometimes fight and kill members of their own species. And maybe sometimes they might eat dead members of their species, but I don't think that preying on other members of their species would be regular.

And there are hundreds of living species of large enough to be considered "monsters" on Earth. And each species has its own lifestyle, and you would have to study all their lifestyles to see how large the percentage of species that could be said to prey on thei rown species is.

It is my impression that only a small percentage of "monster" species actually prey on members of their own species.

So possibly the real world reasons why it is rare for real "monsters" to prey on members of their own species also apply to your magical "monsters".

There are many similar symbiotic relationships seen in nature. Remoras are fish that attach themselves to other, bigger fish, getting protection while helping their "host", by cleaning them of parasites and bacteria. Sharks have been observed slowing down and allowing remoras to attach themselves, while some shark species simply hunt and consume them.

Monsters could eat another monster, and gain a temporary boost in their power, more than what their otherwise symbiotic relationship would offer. But over time, it sickens them, it corrupts their own inner magic and as such, they become less powerfull than they would have been, had they not consumed their pet fire goldfish. A sort of magical loan, you need the extra bucks right now, but end up paying a little more back than you initially received. The effect could be more or less permanent, at the builder's discression.

This would also give you ample opportunity plot-wise, you could try and trick a big, mean dragon that a big threat is coming, he eats his fellow snakes, but the attack was a ruse and all that burst of power wasted. A week later, he starts feeling bad from his fire gastritis, and that's when the water nation strikes.