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Smitehammer
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Circle of Life: The Biological Rhythms of Vvardenfell

Few things can make a game more immersive than intricate attention to ecology.  The kwama and their crazy life-cycle was brilliant.  Seeing the different stages and trying to make sense of it - and it WAS actually possible to make sense of it, after reading bits of the lore... this, for me, is one of the most fascinating things Morrowind brought to the table like few games before or sense.

I would like this sort of attention paid to the other alien forms of life in Morrowind.

To start things off, I have an idea for how the Silt Strider life cycle might play out.

Adult Silt Striders hold such a distinctive name because they stride across silt - so one would believe them to be at least semi-aquatic in their adult form.  Perhaps they are filter feeders, consuming phytoplankton as they wade through the swamps of the Bitter Coast - and perhaps they can also filter bugs and microbes from the ash stirred up in the Storms of the ashlands.

In the ashlands of Vvardenfell, one could find Silt Strider graveyards, not unsimilar to the elephant graveyards of Africa.  These massive corpses - so far from the silt for which these creatures are named?  Why would that be?  It may be intentional.

Perhaps Silt Striders are like salmon, leaving their hatcheries to spend life far away, returning to the ash of their birth to mate and die.  The eggs, upon hatching, could use the nutrient-rich husks of the adults for sustenance and shelter in the harsh landscape of the Ashlands until they're ready to pupate in their nigh-indestructible cocoons (as per lore).  Eventually, upon emerging from these cocoons, they would make the trek back across the West Gash to the coastlines to live out their lives, until they are compelled to return to the Ashlands and start the cycle anew.

Raising young in what is, on the surface, a harsh environment is not unheard of in nature.  Before giving birth, humpback whale mothers will often leave the nutrient-rich cold waters of the poles to nutrient-poor warm-water inlets.  Here the mother fasts while her calf nurses.  In such environments, there is not commonly enough nutrition to maintain populations of large predators, so the calf is well protected.  When the calf is stronger, calf and mother move out of the inlet to more bountiful seas.

I would like to see the different forms of Silt Strider reflect their stage in the lifecycle.  Adults, 'lobotomized domestic' and 'wild' around the Bitter Coast, Silt Strider eggs adhered to the underbellies of recently dead Silt Striders in the ashlands, nymphs within the corpses, or buried in the surrounding ash, indestructible larvae (just landscape objects - like rocks, no animations needed, perhaps?) and a juvenile 'molting' Silt Strider found throughout the western ashlands, West Gash, and Bitter Coast down to the Ascadian Isles.

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I really like this idea, if

I really like this idea, if people are willing to take on the extra work

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Sorry couldn't resist....

Sorry couldn't resist....

From the day we arrive on the planet
And, blinking, step into the sun
There's more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round
It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life
It's The Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

Twisted Logic
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Naaaaaannnnnnts ingonyama
Naaaaaannnnnnts ingonyama bagithi Baba! Sithi uhm ingonyama!
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That's very effective way to

That's very effective way to create interesting environment. Stages of lifecycle and castes (in particular sex) simple way that gives plausible items, material and ingredients.

Another version of strider's life cycle:

In some parts of Vvardenfell we can see dead Silt Striders. I think nice way to reproduce of Silt striders - it's like to Phoenix life cycle - new individuals raises from dormant embryos in body of dead strider, so of a carapaces of dead parent come out several new specimens large enough to be protected from carnivores.

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I have been waiting for this

I have been waiting for this thread mwahahaha! Anywho... I like the idea of seeing the sleepers and dreamers transforming. How does it happen, incantations, coccoons, rituals? So many opptions

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you guys better start

you guys better start learning to model, rig and code then.

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The simple version to do this

The simple version to do this would be to have some Silt carcasses assets so they can be dispersed in the Ashlands similar to how there were Mamoth corpses in Skyrim. It's an easy way to add a touch of depth and atmosphere to the game without necessarily cluttering up the tasks needing to be made for a similar result. Having every little version of a silt strider for the sake of detail might be a little overkill. I like thinking big, but then narrow down the idea to its most efficient form and you may have something that is both neat and feasible. 

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If there was a silt strider

If there was a silt strider larva/young model, you could simply put the spawn point right beside the silt strider carcass. It would require very little work outside of the modeling itself.

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thegentlemancaller wrote:

thegentlemancaller wrote:

 It would require very little work outside of the modeling itself.

Ya, the work required for the modelling is kinda of the point. 

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Ya, the work required for the

Ya, the work required for the modelling is kinda of the point.

True... :)

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Oh, the biology of

Oh, the biology of Vvardenfell. If I were ever to travel to Morrowind, I'd say: "heck with magic, daedra or artifacts, I want to gather all the fossil record and stuff a nix hound!" Some time ago I wrote a post about local fauna, mostly about its classification and evolution, exactly here:

http://tesrenewal.com/forums/morrowind-general-chat/fauna-of-morrowind-a-brief-overview#new

Other things that came to my mind since then:

-Silt striders: Actually I have no idea how those things would feed. My main hypothesis are that -1. They migrate on ashlands but end up feeding on trees, bit like some elephants do (while elephants can lift stuff from the ground while silt striders don't, so this would rather make them more giraffe-like) -2. They feed on swarms of smaller insects that massively swarm from waters of Vvardenfell, like African lake flies. (I couldn't find a proper Wiki article) Problem is- nor the flies are shown or mentioned in Morrowind, or silt striders have any appendages that could filter them.

-Silt Strider Larvae: well, since small silt striders are potentially rather weak and slow, they would probably not follow herds of adults right after hatching from eggs; If they are not properly described in the game I think that they might just burrow underground, feeding on roots and bulbs until they are large enough to moult into properly large adult stage (which doesn't mean that they are so large as adults but enough to follow their herds) Before that however, a burrowed larvae are potential food for digging herbivores, which in my mind are kagoutis (like boars)

-last point about Silt Striders- i did not dig the topic But I think that it would be great to somehow rig the Silt Strider model to Mammoth skeleton. I have no idea about it, so I shouldn't really talk much 'bout that, but I'd love to see a herd of silt striders peacefully roaming in the ashlands or coast swamps.

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> Actually I have no idea how

> Actually I have no idea how those things would feed
I am only can see it's biting on this or that side of the fungus. That's because it's so tall.


 

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I can see it, probably

I can see it, probably munching on emperor shrooms. The Dragonborn DLC could be a reference, it confirms that they live in cocoons and that one was found in a cave. 

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@Ravanna

@Ravanna
> you guys better start learning to model, rig and code then.
That is right, off course.

But are community not have model of strider from DG? Or do you saying specific about walk animation and modeling larval stages of it?

@widacreator
> Mammoth skeleton.
Yeah, we need some Dali: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ru/d/de/The_elephants_...

 

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Dreugh

Dreugh

Morrowind only had dreugh in the seas.  Oblivion wanted to have dreugh, but they were mostly land-locked.  So they made 'land dreugh'.  Now, some folks at Bethesda figured this should just be part of a dreugh's life cycle - but Bethesda doesn't understand biology so they gave no reason for this.  That's where we, the fans, come in.

Dreugh live most of their lives underwater in the crabtopus form we all know and love from Morrowind.  But eventually, they molt into a new form - more crab-like, and come upon land for a year.  Why would they do this?  I'm thinking it could be a mixture between the cicada's mass molting and mating orgy strategy and the salmon's strategy of spawning and laying eggs upriver.

Dreugh are tough and strong, but their eggs are fragile.  To ensure that enough eggs survive to become the next generation of Dreugh, they implement a mass-mating strategy in areas relatively inaccessible to predators, while at the same time guaranteeing that only the Dreugh with the best genes pass their genes on.

1.  By molting and moving on to land, they're able to march upstream of rivers and streams to still-watered 'spawning grounds'.  In their marine forms, they might not be able to swim through the more shallow regions of these rivers - so land is the best way to go.

2.  Land-life would be tough for a Dreugh.  They've lived their whole lives underwater - they're clumsy on land, and unfamiliar with the dangers.  They may even fight with other Dreugh for mating rights over the course of this year of land-life.  Only the Dreugh with great brawn, guile, or stealth will be able to thwart, outsmart, or sneak their way past these obstacles and lay their waxy, frothy egg bundles in the breeding pools.  Cue the claw-Plagh!

3.  Like 13 and 17 year cicadas, Dreugh could all 'molt' at the same time, ensuring that for this year there are a LOT of Dreughs looking around for the perfect spot to lay their eggs.  That means there are a LOT of eggs in these places.  Just laying a few eggs at a time, it would be easy for predators to eat all of your next generation before they hatch.  But if millions and millions of eggs are laid all at once, the Dreugh are ensuring by sheer force of number that most of their eggs will hatch, and the fry will be given the opportunity to return and repopulate the cities of their ancestors.

 

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ahem dreugh . . . . that is
ahem dreugh . . . . that is all!
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Racial Inheritance

Racial Inheritance

Race doesn't mean the same thing in ES as it does in the real world.  It is not a set of distinct genes independently inherited in equal measure from both mother and father, eventuating with a phenotype determined to be more 'one race' than another.  The traits that determine ‘race’ are inherited as a ‘suite’, from the mother alone. 

In ES universe, the child taking after the mother in most respects could make sense.  As a survival tactic, a child born of rape or otherwise unplanned would be the race of the mother, so the mother and her family would be more likely to accept it as her own, and her society wouldn't be able to reject the child on appearance alone.

Mutations to this 'suite of traits' could still occur, and those would still be passed on if they were inherited from the mother.

It's like inheriting a 'sex', more than individual genes for certain characteristics.  If your mother is an Orc - you inherit traits from the ‘Orc’ suite.  In this way, while you inherit traits from both your mother and your father, certain traits associated with 'racial appearance' are comprised of several genes inherited from your mother alone.  It is likely that all the phenotypic traits associated with 'race' are associated with a secondary genome inherited solely from the mother - something like mitochondrial DNA (see spoiler above) - rather than the nuclear DNA of the parent.  Then, you would directly inherit this little 'micro genome' only from your maternal line, and it would affect physical characteristics associated with race.  A phenotypic overlay on top of less noticeable traits inherited equally from mother and father.

In instances where the micro-genome was mutated, from there onwards the maternal line would carry this mutant suite of traits, which could lead to all progeny being 'left handed', or having the fairer traits of the Falmer.  If these traits were beneficial, natural selection would kick in and these mothers would be more successful than those without these beneficial traits, leading to an increased population with the new 'racial' characteristics.

Eventually members of the population with this altered 'suite' of traits would outnumber the original racial appearance of the population, and these people would be accepted as a novel race in their own right.

Of course, in the ES universe this is further complicated by divine curses, which would seem to specifically target whatever inheritance is maternally derived alone.

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I consider that even in

I consider that even in fantasy game's literature should be place to lie, delusions and superstitions.
---
If we close our eyes on fact about that is just game simplification (for not doing 10^10 half-bloods :) ).
So in "true" "races" can be just distinct species and cannot interbreed, so all children of "interracial" couples are illegitimate.

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The entire Breton race

The entire Breton race disproves that, actually. They're the result of interbreeding between the Direnni Ald/Altmersnd the native tribes of Men in High Rock.  This is a book on the subject that you may find handy.

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On a side note, I'd love if

On a side note, I'd love if Bretons had a slight point to their ears, making them something a bit like traditional fantasy half-elves, just more magical.

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Different Bretons have

Different Bretons have varying amounts of elvish blood, from some serfs that are pure human to some nobles that almost look Altmer. A slider for ear-pointedness would be really cool, though (assuming the modelers don't mind)!

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Kothringi

Kothringi

In the real world, the traits that add together to determine 'race' are determined by several genes, many individual traits are even polygenic - many genes with additive effects control height, hair color and kink, eye color, skin color, etc.  

As mentioned before, in the ES universe a suite of phenotypic traits seems to be inherited solely by the mother in a manner mimicking maternal inheritance of mitochondria in humans.

But what if in certain cases race isn't just determined by nature (genetics), but by the environment itself?

The Kothringi were a peculiar race of humans native to Tamriel, living in the Black Marsh region in primitive tribal communities.  They were described as nudists in their native lands, and having silver skin.  They were all killed off by a particularly virulent strain of flu, and a ship full of infected Kothringi was rejected at every port in Tamriel, last seen headed West from Hammerfell toward what used to be Yokuda (but these guys were already infected with deadly deadly plague, so the outlook would be grim).

This silver skin is intriguing, as a syndrome granting permanent silver skin can be seen in humans that ingest colloidal silver over a long period of time.  Silver builds up in cellular tissues, and the body has no way to dispose of it - so it continues to collect in these cells until its effects become visible to the naked eye.

So what if the Kothringi were just Nibenese men living in an area where silver compounds saturate their food to a degree such that the people there accumulate enough silver in their tissues to show signs of Argyria?  Humans have not moved back to black marsh since the flu incident, but if they did maybe they would become 'Kothringi' in appearance, if not in culture.

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2920 shouldn't really be

2920 shouldn't really be taken as gospel on the issue, as it's a work of historical fiction written in the 3rd Era; long after the Kothrigis' extinction.

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Complitely as "On racial

Completely as "On racial phylogeny" and other books. Its like medieval biology :)

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aal s, but 2920 was written

Yes, but 2920 was written by someone who could not possibly have seen a Kothrigi, while Notes On Racial Phylogeny is a recording of actual observations. While it isn't perfect (no book is), it is the best explanation we have, and reflects observable phenomena in the lore (such as the Bretons).

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Breton case can be more

Breton case can be more naturally explained by RARE fertile hybrids of elf/man (like sapiens x neanderthal/denisovian IRL) or by simple convergence (if completely magical features of races can be explained by inheritance at all).
---
TES universe could use some revelations of delusions: like fact of enchantments of altars (so it will have some real myths). Because now even dragons in TES real.

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The Àurbis does not work like

The Aurbis does not work like our universe. Like, at all. Even if we stick purely to in-game works (which is rather limiting), we still have concepts such as CHIM (along with all the implications that come with it), the Monomyth, Aedric aspects, Towers, Old Ehlnofey,  2nd Era void travel, apotheosis, and much more. To assume that it all works exactly like real life but with magic is doing yourself and the lore a disfavor.

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Netch

Netch

Netch resemble cnidarians, the stinging-cell animals that include jellyfish, sea-pansies, hydras, and corals.

In the real-world, many coral have a symbiotic relationship with algae.  The algae live within the coral tissues and produce sugars and 'food' for the coral, which houses the algae and protects it with the afore-mentioned stinging cells and bicarbonate skeleton.

Under optimal growing conditions, many algal species have a boom in population known as a 'red tide'.  As many of these algal species are bioluminescent, under conditions of a red tide entire swaths of ocean may appear to glow.


Light is emitted in response to any shock to the cells, including the crashing of waves

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUbIWqiynBY

And even the algae-saturated sands may glow in response to pressure.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXw6WJ0RCT8

Now if we take the idea of the mutualistic relationship seen between coral and algae and apply it to netch, we have a creature that houses its own 'food supply'.  If that food supply bioluminesces, the netch that house these phytoplankton would also glow with a mystical blue light.

Of course, real-world cnidarians may also produce their own bioluminescent proteins as well.  But still, the idea of algae living in the tissues is a tidy little way the netch could 'feed' themselves in a way that defies normal convention.  Perhaps both could contribute.

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idk they look like mutated

idk they look like mutated (in brain of their author) silt-striders.
if it will be possible to add some walking larvae (with ability to hover when distracted) or relative intermediate species - it can be more plausible.
---
But i always wanted to see some sort-of-traditional jellyfish-like organisms in seas.

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Okay, a new idea popped into

Okay, a new idea popped into my mind. So, Feliix just posted a screenshot of a Cliffracer Nest he's modelling:



And I couldn't help but think it looks a bit like a flycatcher plant. So an idea was born off of it.

How about it's a kind of a fungi that would live in mountainous areas of Vvardenfell, and live in symbiosis with Cliffracers? It could be a bit like the flycatcher plant and be able to open and close - they could use a morph animations similar to Skyrim containers, (and work like a container when used by the player). When the Cliffy mom is away on the hunt they'd be closed, guarding the eggs or hatchlings from ashstorms, carnivorous bugs or other cliffracers. It would be able to recognize the smell of the Cliffracer mom it got into symbiosis with, and open only for her. In return it would feed off the guano produced by the hatchlings, or the mother, when the eggs didn't hatch yet. No need to graphically show that though ;)

That way the fungi is being fertilised, the eggs/hatchlings are safe from anything that can't penetrate it, and the nest is automatically kept clean.

 

This, if we ever make one, could be merged with Jiub the Eradicator quest. He would hate the Cliffies so much he'd discover the connection between them and their nest mushrooms, and ask us for help to destroy them all. That way we could make cliffracers nearly as annoying as in Morrowind, but we would have a way to get rid of them, once and for all. And it's lore friendly too :D

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Too artificial relation for

Too artificial relation for symbiosis (at least for big like this creature). Idea with chest/container, however, maybe interesting.

I think you could try some between
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edible_bird%27s_nest
--- and ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trapdoor_spider
--- and ---
add to it some ribs from concept.

EDIT: Will be good to apply Modularity and Stages_Of_Life principles to plants.

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That mushroom thing is pretty
That mushroom thing is pretty cool looking
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I hope so, and i hope it will

I hope so, and i hope it will be adequate detailed, cause i want full biome of it (northern/fungal analogue of mangrove forest).

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Wow 

Wow 

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Kwama

Kwama

The Kwama are one of the most important creatures on Vvardenfell from an economic perspective.  They provide two egg varieties (large and small) which are used as a food staple by the inhabitants of Morrowind.

The forms are the larval-like kwama forager, the much larger quadrupedal workers, the scrib (said to be a juvenile form of the worker), the 'warrior' and the 'queen'.  The concept art shows that the warrior (and supposedly the queen) are formed from a combination of a forager with a worker.

The way I imagine this working, is that the kwama forager is 'male', while the kwama workers are 'female'.  The males hatch from small kwama eggs, and retain their form for life, unless they merge with a female to become a warrior/queen.  The large kwama eggs hatch into scribs, which molt several times and take on the duties as workers.

Foragers are produced in large quantities, as they are small and have relatively little nutrient cost.  They go out in the world and 'forage' for nutrients.  Like little caterpillars, their focus is on eating.  Carcasses and living things they can hunt offer deliciously nutritious fats they crave, but in their absence plant material or organic waste works too. Like butterflies, they're not really picky.  They would engorge themselves and then feel compelled to return to the next, to exude a nutrient paste (cuttle?) for the other kwama to live off of.  Many won't return, but those that do are so plump and nutrienty that it makes up for them.

When the hive is under threat, or the queen dies, the workers will emit a pheromone signal that leads a nearby forager to attach itself to them.  In this combined form the kwama worker and forager become a warrior - strong and able to defend the nest against invaders.  If a queen in present in the nest, she emits hormones that prohibit any other warriors from becoming queens themselves.  If the queen is dead, each warrior races to develop into the new queen.  Whichever advances the fastest begind to produce the 'queen hormones' and stall further development into queens themselves.

The queen's (and also king's in this case) sexual development is analagous to the angler fish, where the male joins with the body of the female and then just lives as a sperm repository to fertilize her eggs.  In this case, the kwama forager joins with the larger worker, and sexually mature as the queen form.  The forager fertilizes the eggs of the worker as they are laid.  Male embryos become small eggs and hatch into foragers, female embryos become large eggs and hatch into scribs, which molt and become workers.  Or some of the eggs are just mined and eaten by the people of Vvardenfell.  Such is the circle of life in Vvardenfell.

 

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I think system need another

> The way I imagine this working, is that the kwama forager is 'male', while the kwama workers are 'female'.  The males hatch from > small kwama eggs, and retain their form for life, unless they merge with a female to become a warrior/queen.  The large kwama > eggs hatch into scribs, which molt several times and take on the duties as workers.
= I think system need another creature as a male, because of forager is so immobile (idk why it even named forager, if he is so slow). Most of social animals (except termites) have very mobile and ephemeral males, which have only one contact with female.
I want to make new cast of scavenger as a bridge bw worker and scrib form (also he is alike scribs from ingame signs)
Maybe male function is more close to it, because this cast should be very mobile and go-outside.

Would be good to treat forager as symbiotic species that is used to be egg_mimic, later evolved into protective and very useful - acid saliva of foragers kept in big head socket of workers (it should be used for transport of eggs, soil too) can dissolve limestone and provoked other workers to burrow in this weakened place in rock. Lately this evolved into attacking sequence of warrior that can mark  target for massive attack by other inmates.

Foragers should have great distant attack and weak health, workers should have weak attack and great health/armor, warriors/soldier will have big health and great distant attack.



> They provide two egg varieties (large and small) which are used as a food staple by the inhabitants of Morrowind.
= Ravanna said good idea to morph large egg to pupae. And i think this can be placed in cocoon of Scrib as early stage of it (if player touch mature cocoon - Scavenger emerges, maybe even agressive).

> Many won't return, but those that do are so plump and nutrienty that it makes up for them.
= That's the right thought. Catterpillar would be VERY ineffective on transport/forager work.

> When the hive is under threat, or the queen dies, the workers will emit a pheromone signal that leads a nearby forager to attach itself to them.  
= I think forager need more egoistic behavior. It just need place to hide their weak body to. Or maybe use it's musculature to attach itself in workers head when worker take it first

>  If the queen is dead, each warrior races to develop into the new queen.  Whichever advances the fastest (begin) to produce the 'queen hormones' and stall further development into queens themselves.
= Yep. Good thought. If it will be possible, i think it be good to attach sail from mature queen to worker and make "pre-queen" (without big abdomen) models involving in several quests. It can be worker too, but obvious in this fight soldier will be winner.

> The queen's (and also king's in this case) sexual development is analagous to the angler fish, where the male joins with the body of the female and then just lives as a sperm repository to fertilize her eggs.  In this case, the kwama forager joins with the larger worker, and sexually mature as the queen form.  The forager fertilizes the eggs of the worker as they are laid.  Male embryos become small eggs and hatch into foragers, female embryos become large eggs and hatch into scribs, which molt and become workers.  Or some of the eggs are just mined and eaten by the people of Vvardenfell.  Such is the circle of life in Vvardenfell.
= We can make another system (only mentioned) in the books, i presume: all workers and warriors of the colony should be males and they cares about eggs, because they are ones who fertilizes them (with external fertilization in special pools for eggs).