Cetacean Hsunchen

From: TTrotsky@aol.com
Date: Tue 29 Apr 1997 - 01:14:16 EEST

Tim Ellis suggests (Digest 4:366) that cetacean Hsunchen shouldn't exist
unless they were aquatic non-humans. You may have gathered (same Digest) that
I don't agree. I'm not very keen on this 'Hsunchen are not human' thing,
although I'm prepared to concede it may be true in some cases (such as the
Basmoli as described in TOTRM). But anyway, is it really necessary for a
Hsunchen tribe to follow the habits of their totem so closely that (in this
instance), they don't land?
      IMO the Hsunchen realise they aren't actually animals, and that they
have to make some concessions to this fact. They believe they have the soul
of the animal, sure, and they try to emulate it as much as they can. A case
in point are the bat-hsunchen of the Shan-Shan mountains. I rather doubt they
sleep hanging upside down (although they probably do live in caves), and I'm
sure they don't fly every night - although obviously their Transform Limbs
spell would let them do that when it was needed. Their nature would be
reflected in being nocturnal and to some extent in eating habits, as well, of
course, as in their overall outlook on life and the nature of their
mythology, gender relations, etc.
      Likewise, IMHO dolphin Hsunchen wouldn't have to spend their entire
lives at sea, and certainly not underwater. They'd spend a lot of time at
sea, sure, but being poor inferior humes, they'd have to do a lot of their
travelling in boats. The boats - I think they're more likely to be rafts
actually - could be quite large, and carry a whole family for an extended
period, provided they had rain-water to drink and plenty of fish to catch.
Again, the Polynesians seem to have managed this (unless somebody wants to
correct me, it isn't my strong point).
      They would also spend some time on land, gathering the materials to
make the boats, etc. I don't see this as a contradiction with their
dolphin-based lifestyle, just a necessary reflection of their physical nature
as humans. In short, I still feel that dolphin-Hsunchen would be a worthwhile
field to explore, especially in the unlikely event my players were ever to
visit the Eastern Isles!
      For what it's worth, I'd suggest that the divine spells for dolphin
Hsunchen would be:
Flukes (Transform Limbs) - removes the need for a swimming skill, as with the
Triloni races.
Submerge (Transform Body) - allows the subject to hold their breath for hours
at a time, again like the Triolini.
Watersense (Transform Head) - gives the subject sonar. [I don't see the
dolphin Hsunchen calling it 'darksense', although that's what it is, hence
the different name].

All hail the Reaching Moon!


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