Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Concerning wempons

Wempons are large beasts for riding and carrying. They are almost four meters high, have long horns pointing sideways, are scaled on top and are otherwise clad in thick dense fur. They have large burrowing claws also used for climbing (yes, there are trees on Kitas that can carry a beast of almost four tons), their muscular tails can grab. They are mostly vegetarian, preferring leaves, fruit, and roots, but also eat bugs and the likes.

"Sometimes I wonder why I put up with all this nonsense from that beast. It bites, it kicks, it tries to spear me with its horns. But then it wakes me in the middle of the night to flee from lava, runs over highwaymen, scares off most predators, and intimidates the innkeeper to go down with the stable price. So, all things considered, having a wempon is like have a best friend, albeit a really grumpy one."
— Martel, traveller

They are great mounts if one can get along with them. Wempons are picky about riders and hard to get used to being rented; usually they belong to only one person. Riders climb their mount holding on to the horns or stepping on a bent leg. Wempons need additional training to serve as packing animals, but can then carry great loads - some nomad tribes have herds of them packed with an entire village worth of belongings. Wempons don't like having things dangle over their legs, so the riders' legs have to be out of the way and are pulled up on the saddle.

Being sent to herd the wempons is among the least favourite jobs for youngsters; the beasties will push them around and be hard to look after. On the other hand, it's a good way to become friends with one that will be a loyal mount later.

"Strange to see how friendly wempons are with children, almost like bug fairies. Even stranger to see how vain they can be - once you get the holiday dress on them, they want to keep it, and the paint, too. Silly creatures."
—Martel, traveller

Artist's Notes
These beasts were among the first creatures I stuck with when I began developing Genius Loci, and their design has never changed much. My main inspirations were anteaters, watussi cattle, and pangolins, but there's a bit of elephant and camel in it too, the latter mainly in their behaviour. I often put them in paintings because I imagine them to be ideal travelling companions, even if I made them sound pretty disagreeable. There are also other riding animals in development; for example, riding birds, seen in the salt flats landscape of the "Introducing Genius Loci" entry.

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