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Where are we?

In my world, there's an island which is full of mountains where most dragons live. Is an arid place where few little vegetation is found. The island itself has around the size of Madagascar and in the center of the island is a sleeping volcano.

What are the questions?

I want to create a civilization that lives there, a rock-people. They would have a hard skin enough to resist some sword blunts and may be break a weak sword. They are few in numbers and they are slower than normal humans at walking and running speeds. They have develop almost no technology; they live in hole on the mountains they carve with they own hands and may have few antique tools.

  • Would they be mammals?
  • What would they eat?
  • What types of weapons would they develop?
  • What would it be their way of defending themselves against more advanced civilizations?
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closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, March Ho, Hohmannfan, John Dallman, MozerShmozer Sep 15 '16 at 17:01

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ like Golems or simply people with hard skin? $\endgroup$ – user24999 Sep 15 '16 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ Well depend on what exactly do you mean by rock people. If they are entirely made out of rock it would be difficult for them to be mammals and control their body temperatures, it would be more likely for them to be "cold blooded" if they have any at all? But they may be insect with very hard shell that resembles rock. Depending on how intelligent they are. If they have any sort of intelligence beyond basic instincts they will most certainly build some kind of weapons or at least use something as weapon. Just my quick thoughts on the subject :) $\endgroup$ – STARGATEBG Sep 15 '16 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ @STARGATEBG the rock-people is just a nickname, imagine a very very hard skin. They may be cold bloded or not, but they live in a place of normally hot temperatures $\endgroup$ – Yacomini Sep 15 '16 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ They aren't exactly animals, but also consider having your rock people being some form of plant based life. Assuming you can accept intelligent plants, it wouldn't be a much larger leap in logic to explain their rock-like characteristics. $\endgroup$ – kirkpatt Sep 15 '16 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, rock-people-civilization scans very close to rock-paper-scissors. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Sep 16 '16 at 0:16
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  • They could be mammals, but I'm going with reptiles instead.
  • Solid skin is not unique of prey, but surely it is not a feature of pursuit predators... but ambush predators instead! As predators their diet is carnivorous, so they dedicate their time to hunt.
  • Weaponry would be developed. As ambush predators anything that helps to kill fast and stealthy is welcome, although, they would probably be naturally equipped with sharp teeth and claws. I can imagine their society having values that favor killing without weapons and have a tendency to develop traps that immobilize the enemy for the killing. If that is the case weapons won’t be very common.
  • Their strategy is not to run, but to sit and wait. They want to camouflage themselves; they could dig trenches to avoid ranged weapons of the enemy and to stay hidden. The idea is to force infantry to come to get them.
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  • $\begingroup$ Being reptiles would then mean they would have diferent faces traits than human? Most reptiles have eyes on the side of the head and larger jaws (correct me if I'm wrong) $\endgroup$ – Yacomini Sep 15 '16 at 14:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Yacomini You are right that most reptiles have those features. Yet, I would expect that these need to accommodate for a large brain, so they would evolve away from large jaws. On the other hand, I don't think evolution will favor stereo vision because the idea is to be able to catch the target that approach them from any direction, not so much target or maneuver at distance. This may imply that they are less social than humans, as they wouldn’t need to rely on peers to notice prey or danger that approaches them. Edit: turtle heads, make them turtle heads. $\endgroup$ – Theraot Sep 15 '16 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Yacomini Animals which are prey have eyes on the side of the head to look for threats. Animals which are hunters (or at least which are not usually prey) have eyes on the front of the head to track their prey. That's as true for reptiles as it is for mammals. As predators, these will be looking forwards. And jaw size entirely depends on how they kill and eat their prey - crocodiles have large jaws to catch things, snakes have dislocatable jaws because they don't have teeth that can chew their food, and newts don't have big jaws. $\endgroup$ – Graham Sep 15 '16 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ An additional bonus of a reptilian species is that dragons are often thought of as reptilian - so it sort of makes thematic sense (even if there is no biological connection between the two. $\endgroup$ – Ghotir Sep 15 '16 at 19:30
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  • The main feature of rock people are they had thick skin, that exclude most fish, reptiles and bird. So mammals are the most logical answer, even if a reptile with hard skin are possible.
  • Solid skin are a defensive feature so more related to prey, given that predator tend to privilege speed and attack. Therefore, the rock people are more prone to be vegetarian/omnivorous. The fact they are slower than human suggest they save their energy while moving, so a fully vegetarian menu is more likely.
  • Given the fact they will most likely be mainly vegetarian, the main reason for fighting will be defend themselves, their crops and territory against animals, predator and hostile tribes. This appeal to defensive feature like fences and spear, a weapon that can attack behind the fence.
  • Rock people are resistant but slow and without modern tool so no long distance weapon. Consequently, close environment, where enemy can't flee nor attack from safe distance, are ideal for fighting. That's why the best tactics against an advanced enemy is ambush attacks or guerilla tactics.
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    $\begingroup$ I will specify now on the post, that when I mean slower I was meaning at running and walking. Also, you answered when I edited a quesiton as of course they would need weapons, so instead I question what types of weapons would they need. But very good answer $\endgroup$ – Yacomini Sep 15 '16 at 13:36
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    $\begingroup$ crocodiles have pretty though skin, yet they aren't preys....even turtles are predators... $\endgroup$ – user24999 Sep 15 '16 at 13:47
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I would go with a completely alien biology. Good old silicon based life forms, or hybrid carbon-silicon.

Make the area extremely arid, and have sulfuric acid common. A SiO chain is apparently resistant to being broken down by sulfuric acid.

The dragons fire is also sulfuric acid based, and the "plants" and other animals these rock people eat as well.

Water would be irritating to these creatures. Dragons would be preditors that evolved a sulfuric acid spray to hunt carbon-based life. The same spray has little effect on the rock-life of the island they come from.

Such creatures could handle and use sulfuric acid projectiles and even melee-bladder weapons against non-Si invaders. These weapons would be as pointless as water-balloons against other rock people, but if the rock people (who are Si/Carbon hybrids) could use them for hunting Carbon-based life at the edges of their island.

Si based life is generally slower than Carbon based life, so their speed is acceptable on-island to interact with other Si-based life. Their warfare tools against C-civilizations would be based off of their C-hunting tools. They might use water-based weapons against other Si-based life forms; maybe as hunters of C-based life, they are more resistant to the usual harm of water?

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  • $\begingroup$ > Dragons would be preditors that evolved a sulfuric acid spray to hunt carbon-based life But they should be carbon-based themselves to digest that prey. Hower, in your setup they can easily harvest precursors for producing sulfuric acid, so that's fine. $\endgroup$ – Daerdemandt Sep 15 '16 at 16:48
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    $\begingroup$ @dae I am assuming some Si, some C and some Hybrid lifeforms. Being able to metabolize C would be very useful to a Si lifeform in a sea of C. It could be at the cellular level, or even symbiotic lifeforms. $\endgroup$ – Yakk Sep 15 '16 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ Well, same process that captured mitochondria and chloroplasts could occur, this would allow hybrid lifeforms in a feasible way. Cells of one form with organelle of another. $\endgroup$ – Daerdemandt Sep 15 '16 at 22:46
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If they live on the same island as the dragons, then what if they are protected by the dragons? They would need to be able to defend themselves against day-to-day stuff like animal attacks but maybe the dragons view them as pets and protect them from outside invasion.

Regarding their skin, what if they are mammals that grow mutated hair (wider, flatter, shorter and MUCH harder) that acts as a shield/tough skin (think rhino horn or even dragon-scale). It could be a symptom of their diet too - perhaps they have evolved to consume a diet high in metals/minerals and the hard-hair-scale-skin-thing is how their bodies eject the metals/minerals to avoid toxicity from them. If you wanted to get really crazy their "hair-plates" could be involuntarily activated from being somewhat soft (although stiff) and turn into a full-body shield when they feel frightened or aggressive (hardens and expands to cover all/most of their flesh). [This style of "change" happens somewhat in reptiles (such as bearded dragons and chameleons) - when some reptiles feel threatened or scared (or want to BE scary) they change colour]

Maybe their hair-plates ARE their weapons. If you allow them to involuntarily control the shield aspect of it, then adding on a "sword"/"blade" to that wouldn't be too big of a stretch. Perhaps the hair on their hands grows into giant-claw-like plates at the same time their shield plates active.

I'm picturing a creature a bit like a dwarf - short and squat, long life span, few children born, long gestation period (accounts for low population).

They could eat... rocks. Or how about some sort of native vegetation that has far better nutritional properties than actual rocks but also contains a lot of rock-components? Like a rock-carrot: grows in caves, looks like a greyish carrot, and tastes like a carrot that got sand embedded in it.

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Their hands would be more effective weapons than ours. Maybe they would tend to have weapons that improved their already powerful hands. Maybe hook like attachments for grappling the prey they ambush. One hand to grapple the other to punch.

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