Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange
130

In this world, bodies are more durable than intelligence. Imagine mineral creatures who accumulate bodies of crystals, metals and minerals. It takes a really long time to grow a good body and lots of immatures die before their bodies get big enough to withstand the abuse of their environment. But once those bodies are big, they are super durable. More ...


116

Consider the lowly sling. A couple of lengths of string or leather lace and a pouch, from which one hurls stones or cast shot. The sling was one of the earliest weapons created by man, and it was used by regular soldiers in warfare as recently as the Spanish revolution. In warfare, the Aztec slings were considered to be as effective as the Spanish muskets. ...


114

Starting from the ground up: how much caloric energy even exists in the things orcs eat? Energy metabolism for aerobes involves combining oxidizable with oxygen - in essence burning them. One can burn things in a bomb calorimeter to see what the caloric value is. I looked up caloric values for fats, ethanol, protein and conventional carbohydrates (e.g. ...


89

They're immortals, they've had thousands of years to hone their skills. They don't die easily. They're all veterans of countless battles and know when to retreat. For humans losing mere dozens out of thousands in a pitched battle is a fantastic success. For them even one or two losses is a rare and sad event. Any normal attrition rate would leave their ...


86

Supposedly birds (those with eyes set on the sides of their heads) compensate for monocular vision with rapid head movements, their brains stitching together images from multiple angles into one 3d image. From http://www.ducks.org/conservation/waterfowl-research-science/a-birds-eye-view Another way birds compensate for monocular vision is rapid head ...


84

You say to avoid political factors but realistically it is ALL about politics. Specifically Orcs cannot sustain political authority or more precisely loyalty. Orcs are loyal to the most charismatic (or simply powerful) leader present. If the leader is not present they will not follow the leader. This might be due to high level of aggression, short ...


84

Their skin contains a set of proteins that will bind to each other and harden when exposed to certain wavelengths, much like dental composite polymers: Composites are placed while still in a soft, dough-like state, but when exposed to light of a certain blue wavelength (typically 470 nm), they polymerize and harden into the solid filling (for more ...


79

First off, repopulation. There are two possibilities - either the elves have a birth rate similar to humans or they have a birth rate vastly reduced to match their lifespan. In the former case, the elves would become vastly overpopulated very, very quickly, with a death rate that's negligible next to their birth rate. Such a species could conceivably become ...


78

One word: fire. Cooking and metalworking are the first two things that pop into my mind that are made easier, if not possible, on land. While you could argue that neither is necessary for an aquatic species, neither is necessary for terrestrial species either, but have certainly benefited the human race.


75

I think you have unfairly disregarded the Phalanx Whilst other answers are correct about focusing on ranged weaponry and fortifications, they are primarily defensive measures. You need to be able to take to the field and push the enemy away, because focusing only on defence merely delays your defeat. However your Orthaks sound like they have a lot in ...


73

The different causes of death are the biggest issue here. Humans will lose a lot of children to disease, elves don't seem to suffer from this Humans lose fertility early then die fairly young, again not a problem for elves Most of the death rate for elves appears to be wars, in a time of war they'd need a birthrate approximating that of humans just to ...


70

What your son wants, and in fact you describe /and when their opponent is vulnerable for the final blow, will say: "See you next time" and go home./ is counting coup Any blow struck against the enemy counted as a coup, but the most prestigious acts included touching an enemy warrior with the hand, bow, or coup stick and escaping unharmed.1 Touching ...


68

If they don't need to eat, drink or sleep what motivation do they have? Most of our technology was created to help achieve one of the three. It sounds like they should have basically no technology, no curiosity, no drive for exploration. Since none of these give them an evolutionary benefit, unlike humans who need to seek out new resources and thus are ...


64

Square-Cubic Law tells us that at some size the neck of our giant breaks under its own weight(2), but how large is a giant that has a ring that fits a forearm? Our Giant's finger's diameter is the diameter of the forearm of the human. I am a rather slender person of 2 meters height, my wrist is pretty much skin over bone. To fit my wrist, that'd be $d_{w}=...


64

If the creature needs its ears to function well in battle, or for ritual or cosmetic show offs, you need holes. Helmets for military dogs have them: Otherwise, do fold their ears:


63

Santa's Elves are a distinct species, separate from other species of elves, characterised by their submissiveness, lack of imagination, endless patience, love of stable, predictable environments, and delight in performing repetitive, menial tasks. So, far from feeling oppressed by Santa, Santa's Elves thank Santa daily for providing them with the ...


63

Dogs, Fasting, Passwords and Tokens Modern IT has a similar issue. It is generally handled by having a physical token and a user known password that changes regularly and is unique for each user and both are securely handed out. Add a kidnap password that includes a coded message of location(if known by kidnappee) and when the shapeshifters try to use ...


63

What you're looking for is largely the opposite of what we saw for the 1mm tall robots. Surface tension of water is a noticeable thing, there's a clear bulge that would seem smaller than memory suggests it should on any given surface. Of course we're not looking at such a pronounced effect in this case, but it would be significantly reduced. Gravity would ...


60

Deeply. In fact, in Ovid's metamorphoses, Perseus tells that he found Medusa (and the snakes) sound asleep, a condition that canceled the petrifying ability of the monster, thus making it easier for the hero to succeed. I am also suggesting that sleeping on the side does not bring pain to the Gorgon, nor to the snakes. First, some snakes seem to sleep ...


59

The mind and body are less separate than most people seem to think. Changes to body chemistry can greatly change how, and even what, we think: Alcohol is well-known for its disinhibiting effects and also for changing one's perception of what makes an attractive potential partner ("beer goggles"). I have type 1 diabetes and occasionally become significantly ...


55

The elves have handlers. Here is Theodore Roosevelt on safari. He and his buddy there are the great white hunters. Do you see all those other people? Usually they are moved out of the picture but not here. Those are locals who are along to do the work - the beaters, bearers, animal skinners etc. Bringing the hunter to places where there is likely to be ...


54

Another classic trait of trolls, is a tremendous regenerative ability. Sometimes to the point where only fire can kill them. So I'd suggest trolls create a chemical in their body that boosts their regenerative abilities, and any damage will increase the levels of this chemical. Sadly (for the troll) this chemical reacts with UV light from the sun, and ...


52

Some quick thoughts for you: Social Taboo: yes, they could mate with each other, but that's not socially acceptable. If this taboo is strong enough, it'll result in species differentiation. (Um, I mean "maintain a pure breed..."). I think (American) society is much more accepting than it used to be for this sort of thing. Courting between races may be ...


52

Radiotrophic melanin. Underground there is more ambient hard radiation. Radon gas is a prime example and a major source for radiation exposure in subterranean spaces. The Drow use this radiation to supplement their metabolic activity in the same manner as radiotrophic fungi. http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2017/ph241/white-t2/ . Robertson et al. ...


52

Denizen rights, Person rights, Personal rights, Individual rights, life rights, citizen rights. Perhaps the most similar is Person rights because in some fields like anthropology the word person is used as distinct from human to mean a thinking being whose interests need to be taken into account (which includes humans, of course, but also might include ...


51

Cut off their tusks Fortunately, trolls have tusks. Cutting the end off of tusks takes a bit of work, but there is no blood involved, so it is suitable even for the squeamish. Note, horns are keratin over bone. Tusks are overgrown teeth. Troll tusks won't bleed.


49

Gravity - Time of fall. Assuming they live in the same gravitational field as the non-giants then simply drop something and see how long it takes to hit the ground. A normal human is about $2m$ tall. It takes an object roughly $0.6$ seconds to fall $2m$ in our approximately $10\, ms^{-1}$ A $10m$ fall would take about $1.4$ seconds. The relevant formula ...


47

I would think along the lines of Ligers, Mules and other mixed species mating. They produce offspring but their offspring are infertile. The number of "ligers" in general population would be unlikely to reach large numbers due to inter-species cultural differences and possibly more importantly, inter-species attraction. I can't see myself going for a ...


47

For why silver kills werewolves, I'm pretty sure the original idea had to do with the magical associations of the metal - silver was for the moon, with associations of water, transformation, and purity, just like gold was for the sun. Given the moon plays a big part in a lot of werewolf legends (and given that these stories were based on magical worldviews),...


46

If the caves the dwarves live in are not pitch black, maybe due to natural light or glowing rocks, then animals that lived in the caves when a particular species of dwarf first evolved could have hunted these prehistoric dwarves by sight. The rocks in the caves and mountains could conceivably be black in colour giving the prehistoric dwarves a camouflage ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible