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NESLife VIII: The Next Generation

Discussion in 'Never Ending Stories' started by Daftpanzer, Jun 8, 2021.

  1. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    The Lancer/Flentatail rivalry is a nice mirror of the previous Harpazo/Tentaflail rivalry, and a good example of how these clades continue to speciate in response to one another.
     
  2. North King

    North King blech

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    Hey Daft! :) I don't think "eggs" really makes sense at all, what I wanted was a creature where its young literally grew off of it like fingers that slowly gained autonomy. Somewhere between a kangaroo's pouch and a clonal colony of aspens? We could call it "sexual budding" because it is still something that involves sexual reproduction.

    I wouldn't fuss about it normally, but I think it's the only thing that gives the mandreg line flavor beyond being "cold tolerant lochoregs".
     
  3. North King

    North King blech

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    Aerotron - North King
    Evolved from: Vesicatron
    Added: Buoyancy x1, Transport tissues x1
    Genes: 1x Photosynthesis, 3x Buoyancy, 1x Fibrous Growths, 1x Transport Tissues
    Description: With vesicles that grow alongside the fibres of the vesicatron, the aerotron can transport water from one place to another, keeping the organism hydrated if any part of it touches the water. The buoyant cysts now float the aerotron completely out of the water and in the sky, with "roots" trailing down to the seawater, removing it from any threat of predation.

    With the sky to itself, the aerotron is both effectively invulnerable to predators (except those who nibble at its relatively fibrous and non-nutritious "roots") and can take advantage of sunlight, blocking competitors. This creates eerie patches of hovering seaweed in the air over vast patches of the ocean.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2021
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  4. Daftpanzer

    Daftpanzer canonically ambiguous

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    Thank you for the evolutions guys.

    @Jehoshua, I'm afraid I have an issue with the Lancer, since I feel that injecting digestive fluids should be a seperate ability IE 'External Digestion'. So I can't give you that ability for free. I guess you can sacrifice the level 2 harpoon to swap that out for External Digestion, or sacrifice the poison resistance and do something else with harpoon hunting for smaller prey - improved eyesight would be particularly helpful!

    @NK I will adjust your previous evolution, maybe 'mass reproduction'? The problem is that budding is the default method of reproduction, so it would already be doing that. For example I imagined that the early Crawlzords would reproduce by splitting off a tentacle, which would grow into a whole new creature eventually. EDIT: live birth? colonial reproduction?

    Aerotron may have some issues, I feel like it will need something to cope with direct sunlight for extended periods. It's kinda implied by Water Retention traditionally. But you could go for something like 'Mucus' instead. It's also very, very likely to be blown onto land, or high up in the air, or basically climates where it can't survive. If it was rooted to the seafloor that would get around that. EDIT: actually I think the Fibrous Growths could serve to protect from sunburn.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2021
  5. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

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  6. North King

    North King blech

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    Sure, though it is sexual and it is also mass.

    Well, this is why I had the water transport tissues from the sea. Castaways into land dying are totally fine by my estimation; the lack of predation is such a boon that I can't imagine it doesn't have a competitive advantage. Plus, the previously mentioned tangle of fibers in the vesicatron is supposed to keep them "rooted" by dint of how many of the species there are. It is also reasonable to have water retention instead of transport tissues? Makes less sense to me, but do what makes you comfortable!
     
  7. Terrance888

    Terrance888 Discord Reigns

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    Slinkyurt
    Evolved from:
    Flailzord
    Genes Added: Filter Feeding x1, Vibration Sense x1
    Genes Removed: None
    Description: With the adaption of advanced vibration senses, the slinkyurt finds many new independent niches, especially in slinking through the growing reef structures, their tentacled body and vibration sense giving them an advantage over the descendants of the dissolver. Additionally, they're much more patient than their predecessors, waiting with their sensing cilia ready instead of questing blindily for food. Of course, in all things Slinkyurts do together, even if not exactly coordinating. If any tentacles get snipped off in the thresher cloud, it’ll simply grow into a another slinkyurt or be added to the nutrient soup. Whereas for any hapless prey, a cloud of slinkyurts suddenly emerging from the seafloor or a bank of murky water is very much a death sentence.

    Notes:
    Unlike the Tentaflail’s differentiation, the Flailzords that eventually became the Slinkyurt became even less differentiated, each tentacle gaining more feelers, more feeders, more ability to survive on their own.

    There are several independent niches the Slinkyurt may find purchase. First is among the growing reefs, where they are almost like ambush predators, hiding within tubester shells, filter feeding until a likely soft bodied prey approaches, or slinking amongst the crowded undergrowth, threshing opportunistic crawlers and diggers. Second is flattening itself in the open waters or shorelines, slipping under a layer of sand and waiting to spring up in a frenzy of flailing. Finally is to form more traditional thresher clouds in murky or occluded waters where their vision-reliant rivals are at a disadvantage.
     
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  8. ork75

    ork75 Prince

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    Kafkasus - ork75
    Evolved from: Corsus
    Added: Musculature x1, Plant Eating x1
    Genes: 2x Hyphae, 1x Aquatic Spores, 1x Water Retention, Musculature x1, Plant Eating x1
    Description: The fruiting colonies begin to grow shorter but comparatively thicker tendrils, which use specially adapted fibers to move in an approximation of legs or tentacles. This allows the Kafkasus to actively move in search of food, which helps mitigate the increased energy requirements imposed by the new approach. The Kafkasus also takes two other steps towards energy economy. First, its Hyphae become specialized to draw nutrients from plants as well as from detritus through digestive adaptations. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the fruiting colonies become much smaller. With a higher surface area relative to their volume, and less innards to support with the feeding and motile outtards, the Kafkasus is able to spread across plant-filled shallow waters. Additionally, smaller size means that predators are less likely to choose them as a meal given other options.

    [OOC: not sure whether to put down the energy intake gene as plant eating or digestion: either work, really, and the original concept covers a little of both.

    Additionally, not sure if the significant impact of small size warrants a trait or not: I was going for a sort of insect here, sort of like an aphid

    It's possible that the hyphae-derived leg stems allow the Kafkasus to parts of plants that exist above the water in conjunction with water retention, but I leave that to the mod to decide.]
     
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  9. Daftpanzer

    Daftpanzer canonically ambiguous

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    Hi Ork!

    I think Musculature here would be 'Crawling'. While this is technically possible within the rules, just bear in mind that Hyphae are slow-growing and you can't really move with them stuck in the ground / food. The Moldus line has been something like fungus in this world so far, spreading by spores without needing to move around as such. So you may want to bear that in mind. I'd reccomend picking an animal if you want to go down that route. I've no problem if you want to evolve the Corsus to be parasites of plants, though.

    EDIT: I guess this could be something like slime moulds, thinking about it, so that could work. I'd interpret it as an oozing mass rather than an animal with muscles.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2021
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  10. tuxedohamm

    tuxedohamm Disguised as crow.

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    Chillster
    Evolved from
    : Coolster
    Genes Added: Stomach, Filter Feeding
    Genes Removed:
    Description:
    Unthreatened in the isolation of cooler waters, some descendants of the Coolster became more efficient at being themselves. Additional folds within its mouth for trapping food along with more efficient stomach tissue has allowed species of Chillsters to explode in size. Slow swimming (relative) giants of the cool water.

    Genes: 1x Swimming, 2x Stomach, 1x Flesh Eating, 3x Filter Feeding, 1x Buoyancy, 1x Vision, 1x Cold Resistance
     
  11. Terrance888

    Terrance888 Discord Reigns

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    with the reference to aphids they might be the “work a hole and then sip the sap” type plant eaters too.
     
  12. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

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    Would it be possible just to have it subsist upon the internal fluids of its prey with the current point allocation given that would not involve external digestion? I (or someone else) can then climb that harpoon tech tree later on.

    If not then I suppose I could switch out the tier 2 harpoon with external digestion and make do with a shorter "straw", that would regretfully spare the spikier zords from its predations (although not the infernal blobs :p ).
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2021
  13. tuxedohamm

    tuxedohamm Disguised as crow.

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    Honestly, last turn I was considering adding Venom x1, Vision x1 to give it even better vision for harpooning with a toxin to kill prey it didn't want to hang onto.
     
  14. Daftpanzer

    Daftpanzer canonically ambiguous

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    Update 5 - The Halgatronian Epoch

    This epoch is named after the Halgatrone, the first true land plant and a landmark in the evolution of life on the planet. Being frequently buried by sediments, and with a lack of microbes adapted to breaking down the dead Halgatron growths, it has left behind many immaculate fossils from this era.

    The climate fluctuated chaotically throughout this epoch, as various mechanisms and feedback loops competed with each other to strengthen or weaken the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere. It also seems that the large southern landmass was beginning to break up, altering ocean currents. The full story has been impossible to fully decipher from the fossil record, but variability in temperature and relatively-extreme weather was a trend that increased towards the end of the epoch.

    The aforementioned Halgatrone was now spreading rapidly across parts of the land, and away from competing plant species. With an ability to survive only on rainwater, and tolerance for short dry spells, it could grow far from the swamps and riverbanks that had limited its ancestors. However, the Halgatrone was limited by its rather primitive roots, which it now relied on for nourishment, and it was a slow process to colonise land that was almost completely devoid of soils - being mostly gravel, sand and exposed rock. And with no means to fight against gravity, it grew horizontally across the land surface, leaving it vulnerable to being buried by dirt, sediment, or - more rarely - snow. However, it’s development of airborne spores was a key breakthrough, as it enabled the Halgatrone to gain a foothold on many separate small landmasses by the end of the epoch, even if overall coverage was limited. Viewed from space, the land masses would still be a gold-grey colour at this time, with hints of green only in a few flood plains and coastal marshes.

    The Bigster family suffered a big decline in this era, partly due to unpredictable climate, but also due to the appearance of two new groups of Swimstermorph predators, which adapted to resist the poisons present in this group. The Scrapers also evolved teeth to gouge chunks of flesh from the much-larger prey, while the Lancers adapted the small ‘harpoon’ of their ancestors as a tool to inject digestive fluids into their victim - which would cause grievous internal damage, and indeed often proved fatal. But while Scrapers could perform hit-and-run attacks, gathering a few scraps of food, Lancers had to remain impaled in their victims for some time in order to reap the full rewards, leaving them vulnerable in turn to other predators. For this reason it seems that the smaller and simpler Scrapers had a slight edge in the poison-hunting niche. Both groups could opportunistically hunt other animals, but there too they faced increasing competition.

    All surviving branches of Bigster show a decline in numbers by the end of the epoch. The Flapmellesters seem to have had the strongest population, as they at least had some ability to swim to escape attack, and had less-vulnerable offspring. Ironically, the non-poisonous Drifters were now best protected, thanks to the Clinger colonies attached to their undersurfaces, but were increasingly vulnerable to being blown into cold waters or onto land, either of which would rapidly prove fatal.

    Clinger species however had a renaissance thanks to the appearance of the Thoraxenia, a descendent of the Slugster and relative of the Clinger. Complete fossils of Thoraxenia are vanishingly rare - it is theorised that upon death, the soft body of a Thoraxenia would normally be partly digested by its Clinger passengers while they waited for another animal to attach themselves to. Nonetheless, it can be inferred from the pattern of Clinger fossils that Thoraxenia was common in warm coastal biomes of this epoch. It is believed to have evolved structures to actively feed its Clinger passengers and encourage them to remain attached, giving protection from attack while it went about its business of slowly picking algae and detritus off the seafloor. Though not an indestructible partnership, it evidently proved successful enough, and by the end of this epoch it seems likely that host and passengers evolved to co-ordinate the budding of offspring, ensuring newly-budded Thoraxenia started out with Clingers already attached.

    Flentatail was a new predator adding to pressures in the tropical biomes in this epoch, and its appearance is a significant event in the evolution of the Crawlzorids. It is the first known member of its clade to have an active circulation system, with rear tentacles adapted to serve as both swimming appendages and as gas-exchange organs. It was thus a larger and more active creature than its cousins. This, combined with its primitive vision and barb-lined hunting tentacles, made it a formidable predator of the time. Facing Harpazo and Lancer as its main competitors for free-swimming predator niche, Flentatail would be more successful in capturing prey with its flailing limbs - its rivals had similar poor eyesight, but for their mode of hunting this proved more of a drawback. Flentatail was able to inflict serious damage on any of its soft-bodied opponents in a duel. Finally, Flentatail was also able to reproduce in much greater numbers when conditions were right. However, like its cousins the Horgazorgs, the Flentatail was not particularly buoyant and would sink to the seafloor when not actively swimming against gravity. This made it unable to penetrate far into open expanses of ocean, where the Swimstermorphs still had the advantage.

    Horgazorgs diversified further with the appearance of the Gallahorg, a group that simply seems to have been better at surviving in cooler waters, likely a response to erratic climate of the time. This was nonetheless significant as it meant the first arrival of the Crawlzorids in colder biomes outside the tropics. Here Gallahorg was a successful omnivore and generalist. There is also evidence that some varieties of Gallahorg were able to survive higher water temperatures than normal, though it’s not clear what evolutionary benefit this bestowed - perhaps, it allowed these creatures the minor niche of exploiting volcanic systems that occured in shallow water, feeding on bacteria growing near hot vent plumes, though this remains controversial.

    Slinkyurt is the final new branch of Crawlzorid from this epoch. In contrast to its ferocious cousins, Slinkyurt appears to have been moving towards the role of sessile planktivore and ambush-predator. A key adaptation was the ability to sense vibrations, giving it time to move its tentacles into position to prepare a strike. Fossils suggest this species was rather successful, one of the more common to be found in the tropical shallows.

    Chillster is likewise the latest branch of Swmsterid to appear. Diverging from the highly successful Coolsters, the Chillster had an even-more efficient apparatus for trapping and digesting plankton as it swam. With the decline in Bigsters, it also made inroads into tropical regions and began to take over as the main free-swimming planktonivore of the oceans. In fact, Chillster likely had access to more energy than it could fully exploit; like many other animals of the time, it was limited by its primitive means of locomotion, its lack of an effective means of reproduction, and its lack of any real circulation system, putting a limit on how big and active these creatures could get - keeping them small in size compared to the majestic Flapmellesters, even as they greatly overtook them in population. Their sheer numbers nonetheless added considerable food for the Harpazo and Flentatail.

    Aerotron is a remarkable among sea-based plants of the era, as it is believed to have been buoyant enough to rise clear above the water. Being lifted into the air would be a death sentence, as the plant could not survive out of sea water. However, it is theorised that large floating mats of Aerotron would combine together, with a large enough mass of tangled fibers remaining underwater to act as a kind of anchor for the photosynthesising parts of the plant to remain just above the waves and out of reach of herbivores - forming strange floating mats of vegetation, licking above the waves in certain sheltered parts of the tropics.

    However, like all free-floating sea plant-like lifeforms, this was a highly precarious lifestyle - firstly requiring water rich enough in nutrients to be able to grow, secondly being at the mercy of winds and currents which would often spell doom by being stranded on the planet’s vast tidal flats, or even carried far inland, or high up into the cold clouds. Aerotron was especially vulnerable to the increase in weather during this epoch, and was already struggling when the Kafkasus appeared.

    Kafkasus was an Interesting development of the Moldus family. Rather than being purely a decomposer, it was able to actively attack and digest plant tissue - forming clumps of oozing matter that slowly moved through plant growths in slow-motion waves and ripples, smothering and digesting as it went. Kafkasus also had some ability to survive out of water, putting the tidal zone in reach, as well as the floating growths of Aerotron. Kafkasus growths were in turn a food source for inquisitive animals, but this was little comfort for the Aerotron. By the end of this epoch, it is believed only a few isolated pockets of Aerotron remained in isolated saltwater lagoons, where it may have formed a kind of accidental mutualism with growths of Kleptotron - leaching nourishment from the Aerotron in return for helping to keep it grounded to the lagoon bed and not blown away.

    A final evolution to mention is the Dodecaster, which for a long time was a puzzle in the fossil record as it left behind only jumbled polygonal armour plates. It is now believed to be yet another strange member of the Blobster family, and the favoured reconstruction is that of an oddly-geometric shaped animal, filtering plankton via gaps in the armour plates. Likely a response to the increasing number of predators around at this time, Dodecaster seems to have been moderately successful in the increasingly-crowded tropical biomes.

    Species List + Stats

    Notes:

    Horgazorgavorga renamed to Gallahorg to avoid confusion!

    EDIT: Something I forgot to stress in updates so far - this planet has seasons, and poles experience winters without sun, and summers without night. Some form of hibernation would allow these areas to be lived in permanently.

    If some form of Moldus could get onto land, it would help create fertile soils. However, the pioneer land plants have steamrolled ahead of Moldus, which aren’t yet tolerant of freshwater.

    Besides which, quite a few untapped biomes remain. The Deep sea is unexplored, but requires cold resistance and pressure resistance. It also contains volcanic vents which require heat resistance to exploit - so quite a few environmental hurdles there.

    The atmosphere of this planet is more buoyant than Earth, and has aeroplankton, though not in as great abundance as the oceans. Life in atmosphere is possible, but will likely require water retention and freshwater tolerance, as well as cold resistance.

    Announcing - Bonus Genes! Not player-specific bonus. You’ll find in the stats ‘Evolution Bonus: +1 gene’ next to some of the older life forms. What this means is if you evolve from this species, you’ll get 3 genes to spend instead of 2. This represents the accumulated genetic changes / genetic diversity in older groups. It’s also a handy mechanic to encourage people to fill out the tree of life in other directions :)

    As an example, I am evolving from Vorzord and now have 3 genes to spend:

    Bathyzord - Daftpanzer
    Evolved from: Vorzord (Era 5)
    Genes added (+1 bonus): 1x Cold Resistance, 1x Pressure Resistance, 1x Buoyancy
    Description:
    The Bathyzord genus has evolved to exploit scavenging found in cold, dark depths of the continental shelf. It cannot yet dive too deep, but it can go far enough to avoid harassment from other animals and monopolise the scavenging that settles to these depths. To save energy while searching for food, it has evolved buoyancy sacs which develop from one of two specialised tentacles. While hovering just above the sea floor, other tentacles lazily push the creature along, ‘tasting’ for any scraps of food as they go. Bathyzords break with the 14-tentacle symmetry of their relatives, often having an odd number of limbs, each specialised for different tasks.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2021
  15. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

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    Gallagahorg
    Evolved from: Gallahorg
    Genes added: Poison x1, Poison resistance x1
    Decription: The gallagahorg has evolved capsaicin, a toxin that makes it less edible, but probably tastier. It's also developed the ability to digest poisons, probably because they're all so hot.
     
  16. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    OOC: Great update! I finally gain predatory dominance and...the first thing I'm going to do is evolve a plant eater. Despite my natural Thlaylesque impulses to make something even more predatory.

    Flestuary
    Evolved From:
    Flentatail
    Genes Added: Freshwater Tolerance x1, Plant Eating x1

    The striking success of Class Flenta opened up a variety of new niches for a mobile, tentacular swimmer to exploit. Perhaps the most obvious one was the great rivers and marshes of the world, with their massive abundance of unchecked Tronic plant life and virtually no major competitor for this source of food. The Flestuary moved to exploit this niche, with a large, bulky gut specialized for plant eating. Its barbed fore tentacles suffice to shred whatever Halga, Falga, Galga or other Tron happens to come into view, as it languidly ambles over the riverbeds tearing up plants and stuffing them into its mouth. (It can also pull up lightly anchored roots to pull the leaves down for eating.) Technically an omnivore, the Flestuary supplements its diet with the occasional Snifahol. While much slower than the Flentatail it descends from, this isn't exactly a problem, as its quarry is abundant and not exactly going anywhere.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2021
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  17. TerrisH

    TerrisH Mischief?

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    Igatrone
    Evolved From:
    Halgatrone
    Genes Added: Buoyancy x1, (Acidic) Roots x1

    The Igatrone was a significant step in the Gatrone line, known for being the branching point in the linage for the land and the sky. It's airborne spore stage became a little more hardy and slightly larger, capable of staying alive on the wind for longer periods of time, thought they are still microscopic in nature and otherwise identical to the Halgatrone. Ground side, the change was quite a bit more noticeable. Longer roots whose tips were slightly acidic in nature, letting them to slowly dig into and break up rocks for nutrients. small spore nodule on the surface of it's body, allowing it to produce small clouds of spores without having to wait for it to dry out. they were also filled with air by their nature, providing a very slight upward pressure, a handy feature that let the Igatron to slowly dig/grow themselves out of any substance they ended up buried in, as long as it wasn't to deep.
    ----------------------
    Visually I see spore chambers would be very small spheres distributed everywhere over the plant. but whatever you decided is also good. ^_^

    Buoyancy serves two purposes. first to let the spores stay aloft longer and be slightly larger though still microscopic. second, to let the plant dig/grow itself out of any soft substance it ends up buried in if it's not too thick. which manifests as the air filled spore chambers. which are simply a different way for the airborne spore gene to manifest (equal but different)

    Acidic roots was not something I was completely sure would be a valid gene, and if it's not simply being a second level of roots would work. Their slightly acidic nature is to let them break up rocks easier and colonize more areas.

    On a completely different note Daftpanzer, have you considered tying the Gene removal step to Bonus genes in a limited fashion? such as you can add a third gene to an evolution that turn if you also remove 2 or 3 genes from the species. It would encourage pruning of unnecessary genes from species, and more drastic changes in evolutionary lines. repurposing old features/abilities of a species to new uses if you will.
     
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  18. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

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  19. Daftpanzer

    Daftpanzer canonically ambiguous

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    Thank you Iggy!!!

    I actually do like that idea, and have discussed it a bit over discord... Iggy pointed out that evolution doesn't really work that way.

    Thlayli mentioned adapting / switching genes to something similar - like how barbs could be adapted into a pincer as a free action - but I can imagine getting bogged down in lots of discussion about what does and doesn't merit a free evolution. If we had a blanket rule that you get a +1 evolution bonus from removing any two old genes, that would avoid any arguments.

    I will think about it for after the next update - the rules will stay as they are until then, to avoid confusion. Feel free to make your thoughts known here or in discord. At least there is now the +1 bonus for evolving from certain older species.
     
  20. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

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    Flentablight - Jehoshua

    Evolved From: Moldus (1x Hyphae, 1x Aquatic Spores)
    Evolution Bonus: +1 Gene
    Genes Added: 1x Freshwater Tolerance, 1x Parasitic Tendrils, 1x Parasitic spores

    Description: The Flentablight fungus is adapted to brackish tropical waters and specialises in parasitizing zords. The lifecycle begins with spores attaching to the external body surface of the zord, oft as a result of their messy feeding style disturbing them from sediment. These spores then germinate and grow as hyphae with parasitic tendrils boring into the unfortunate creatures body cavity via enzymatic hydrolysis. Once the cavity is breached fungal cells proliferate and consume the tissue resulting in the zords death and the production of new spores, with fruiting bodies emerging from the corpse to disperse their payload on the ebbing tide.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2021
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