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HappyDaze

Should the Drabatans Have Amphibious?

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Dawn of Rebellion gives us the Drabatans from Rogue One. These guys are described in several sources (including DoR) as being amphibious and even "excellent swimmers" but their game stats do not give them the Amphibious species ability (like the Mon Calamari, Nautolans, Quarren, Ish Tib, Chagrians, Gungans, and possibly other species). Is this an oversight?

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I don't think so.

I had to go check some pictures of the Drabatans and there's nothing in the imagery that screams aquatic about this species.  They may have adapted from a very distant aquatic species, but it looks like they evolved a lot of the aquatic specialization out of the current descendants.

 

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It probably wasn't an oversight, but it does seem strange. The only reason I can think of is if it's a balance issue, but as an example, the Quarren have their special abilities, Ink Spray, and Amphibious, and start with 95 XP. It seems like Drabatans could have gotten Amphibious tacked on for the same starting XP.

So maybe offer it to any players who want to play Drabatans: don't have Amphibious and begin with 100 XP, or spend 5 XP to get Amphibious.

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The ability (Amphibious) could be using the term amphibious to refer to living creatures capable of both living and breathing underwater and living and breathing on land (Mon Calamari are fish people, not frogs). Drabatans may be amphibians in the sense a newt or frog is, they just lack the ability to actually breathe underwater. They aren't fish, reptiles, mammals, or arthropods, so what else can a sci-fi writer call them?

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48 minutes ago, Swordbreaker said:

The ability (Amphibious) could be using the term amphibious to refer to living creatures capable of both living and breathing underwater and living and breathing on land (Mon Calamari are fish people, not frogs). Drabatans may be amphibians in the sense a newt or frog is, they just lack the ability to actually breathe underwater. They aren't fish, reptiles, mammals, or arthropods, so what else can a sci-fi writer call them?

The book talks about their young being tadpoles and only later developing lungs.

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3 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

The book talks about their young being tadpoles and only later developing lungs.

Still that doesn't translate to adults being "amphibious."

I mean, after a few million years at the top of the food chain I can see how even a "frog" species could lose the ability to hold their breath for extended periods or the capacity breath through their skin if there wasn't sufficient biological need to. 

I mean, humans are primates, and we can climb trees reasonably well when required, but we lost the "Arboreal" descriptor a long time ago.

 

Edited by Ghostofman

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So, you believe that the adults lose the ability to breathe water (and move through it without difficulty) when their lungs develop? This is an assumption, but so is the opposing view that FFG screwed up and forgot to give them Amphibious. I find it odd that so few are considering the latter possibility.

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59 minutes ago, Ghostofman said:

Still that doesn't translate to adults being "amphibious."

I mean, after a few million years at the top of the food chain I can see how even a "frog" species could lose the ability to hold their breath for extended periods or the capacity breath through their skin if there wasn't sufficient biological need to. 

I mean, humans are primates, and we can climb trees reasonably well when required, but we lost the "Arboreal" descriptor a long time ago.

 

Thats a poor example: Human babies don't grow up swinging from branches and then loses that ability when they start walking.

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2 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

So, you believe that the adults lose the ability to breathe water (and move through it without difficulty) when their lungs develop? This is an assumption, but so is the opposing view that FFG screwed up and forgot to give them Amphibious. I find it odd that so few are considering the latter possibility.

IF you look at most species of toads, they are almost exclusively land-dwellers, but they must return to the water to lay their eggs. Their tadpoles breath water before developing lungs and taking to the land. There are also species in SW lore who are the reverse. Look at the Melodies from the old Jr Jedi Knights books. They start life as land dwellers before metamorphizing into aquatic mer-people as adults. My suggestion is, if you have any doubts, as the Developers. But it seems pretty clear to most of us, that this was intentional, not an oversight. 

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6 minutes ago, Tramp Graphics said:

IF you look at most species of toads, they are almost exclusively land-dwellers, but they must return to the water to lay their eggs.. 

You make a good point, but Drabatans are noted to be "excellent swimmers (though they dislike salt water) and dine on a variety of insects, fish, and algae." Along with this, we have a passage on Drabatan cities that says "the area beneath the lake surface is just as busy as that above, and most buildings have entrances both above and below the water." These do not suggest that the Drabatans are exclusively land-dwelling like the toads you mention.

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1 hour ago, HappyDaze said:

Thats a poor example: Human babies don't grow up swinging from branches and then loses that ability when they start walking.

Well you can look at other examples if you want something more exact. 

We only have one example of Drabatans to go off of, so there's not much to analyze. However what little we have doesn't have membranous looking skin like Gungans, or pronounced aquatic features like webbed hands, tentacles, or big deep-water eyes like Mon-cals and Nautolans. Really the big "amphibious" element is just a passing resemblance to a terran frog (though technically a toad is probably a better comparison.)

All I'm say is it's not a stretch to say that even though they are hatched/born aquatic doesn't have to translate to them staying that way into adulthood.

From an evolutionary standpoint it can make sense. Imagine an ecosystem that features lots of small, shallow ponds separated by larger drier areas. You can start with a space-toad creature that starts as a tadpole, but spends the majority of it's adult life on land, just like a real terran toad. As it evolves and becomes bigger and more dominate, the need to retreat to water for protection becomes less important or even impossible (what if those previous mentioned ponds are only a few feet deep on average). As you go from these proto-Dratabans to early "cave Drabatans" the ability to absorb oxygen from water through the skin becomes weaker and weaker as they spend more and more time on land, along with the loss of other features like webbed hands/feet. (For comparison here, look at cave-dwelling critters that lost their eyes).  Eventually, while the egg-laying and tadpole stage of development stuck around, the modern adult Drataban is no longer able to "breath underwater" well enough to be considered truly "amphibious." Technically they might still have a vestigial ability to do so to  a very limited degree, and there might even be the rare occasional offspring that actually can be amphibious in much the same way some humans are born with small vestigial tails. 

 

I mean, yeah, it's kinda unusual that a "frog" species isn't amphibious when old Jar-jar is, but that doesn't make it "wrong."

 

 

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8 minutes ago, HappyDaze said:

You make a good point, but Drabatans are noted to be "excellent swimmers (though they dislike salt water) and dine on a variety of insects, fish, and algae." Along with this, we have a passage on Drabatan cities that says "the area beneath the lake surface is just as busy as that above, and most buildings have entrances both above and below the water." These do not suggest that the Drabatans are exclusively land-dwelling like the toads you mention.

 

8 minutes ago, Ghostofman said:

Well you can look at other examples if you want something more exact. 

We only have one example of Drabatans to go off of, so there's not much to analyze. However what little we have doesn't have membranous looking skin like Gungans, or pronounced aquatic features like webbed hands, tentacles, or big deep-water eyes like Mon-cals and Nautolans. Really the big "amphibious" element is just a passing resemblance to a terran frog (though technically a toad is probably a better comparison.)

All I'm say is it's not a stretch to say that even though they are hatched/born aquatic doesn't have to translate to them staying that way into adulthood.

From an evolutionary standpoint it can make sense. Imagine an ecosystem that features lots of small, shallow ponds separated by larger drier areas. You can start with a space-toad creature that starts as a tadpole, but spends the majority of it's adult life on land, just like a real terran toad. As it evolves and becomes bigger and more dominate, the need to retreat to water for protection becomes less important or even impossible (what if those previous mentioned ponds are only a few feet deep on average). As you go from these proto-Dratabans to early "cave Drabatans" the ability to absorb oxygen from water through the skin becomes weaker and weaker as they spend more and more time on land, along with the loss of other features like webbed hands/feet. (For comparison here, look at cave-dwelling critters that lost their eyes).  Eventually, while the egg-laying and tadpole stage of development stuck around, the modern adult Drataban is no longer able to "breath underwater" well enough to be considered truly "amphibious." Technically they might still have a vestigial ability to do so to  a very limited degree, and there might even be the rare occasional offspring that actually can be amphibious in much the same way some humans are born with small vestigial tails. 

 

I mean, yeah, it's kinda unusual that a "frog" species isn't amphibious when old Jar-jar is, but that doesn't make it "wrong."

 

 

I'd say @Ghostofman nailed it. Just because they're good swimmers does not mean that they can breath both water and air. Crocodiles are semi-aquatic reptiles, that spend the majority of their time in the water and, as such, are very good swimmers, but must breath air. The same with Sea Snakes, Sea turtles, Dolphins, Whales etc. Those animals live their entire lives either exclusively, or almost exclusively, in the water, but must breath air. 

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Drabatans also lack the Swimmer ability of the Pale Nikto, which would be a good alternative to Amphibious if the issues is that they need to breathe air. As it stands, Drabatans are mechanically no better in water than humans, and that seems wrong.

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25 minutes ago, HappyDaze said:

Drabatans also lack the Swimmer ability of the Pale Nikto, which would be a good alternative to Amphibious if the issues is that they need to breathe air. As it stands, Drabatans are mechanically no better in water than humans, and that seems wrong.

 

3 minutes ago, Swordbreaker said:

And Wookiees are no better climbers than Green Nikto or Iakaru, despite having an extensive and well-documented arboreal lifestyle.

@Swordbreaker is correct there. This is true of a lot of species. For instance, according to the lore, Sullistans are said to be incapable of getting lost. Their sense of direction is that keen. However, their stats only give them one rank in the Astrogation skill or Skilled Jockey talent. 

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44 minutes ago, Swordbreaker said:

And Wookiees are no better climbers than Green Nikto or Iakaru, despite having an extensive and well-documented arboreal lifestyle.

Yes, so many things I hope they address in the second edition...

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I seem to recall one of the designers mention during the Order66 podcast that some of the content for DoR was written before they had seen Rogue One. 

It may have just been an oversight based on information (or lack thereof) supplied to them by Disney?

I would say add it at an XP cost as per the suggestion from @CaptainRaspberry

17 hours ago, CaptainRaspberry said:

So maybe offer it to any players who want to play Drabatans: don't have Amphibious and begin with 100 XP, or spend 5 XP to get Amphibious.

 

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2 hours ago, Andreievitch said:

I seem to recall one of the designers mention during the Order66 podcast that some of the content for DoR was written before they had seen Rogue One. 

It may have just been an oversight based on information (or lack thereof) supplied to them by Disney?

I would say add it at an XP cost as per the suggestion from @CaptainRaspberry

 

All of the information I am using comes from what was included in Dawn of Rebellion. In this case, they had the information.

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A lot of species throughout the books don't have all the abilities they should according to lore, or often even according to flavor text.  Wookies should be able to climb, Nautolans should be able to see in the dark, Drabatans should be able to swim, etc.  The FFG species design philosophy seems to be "keep it simple" which generally means only one, maybe two abilities per species.  As a result they end up dropping a lot of abilities from the more multi-faceted species.

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Another simple solution:

GM to Drabatan PC:  You are faced with a river that blocks you from the entrance you are trying to sneak up to.

Drabatan PC: I flip a Destiny Point to trigger the innate Amphibian that rests within my DNA

GM:  Ok you can have the "Amphibious species ability"  for the rest of the scene.

This is why I love this game.  Controlling the narrative is only limited by your (GM & PCs) imagination. Within reason, of course.

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1 hour ago, Andreievitch said:

Another simple solution:

GM to Drabatan PC:  You are faced with a river that blocks you from the entrance you are trying to sneak up to.

Drabatan PC: I flip a Destiny Point to trigger the innate Amphibian that rests within my DNA

GM:  Ok you can have the "Amphibious species ability"  for the rest of the scene.

This is why I love this game.  Controlling the narrative is only limited by your (GM & PCs) imagination. Within reason, of course.

That sounds way too much like FATE aspects for my liking.

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9 minutes ago, HappyDaze said:

That sounds way too much like FATE aspects for my liking.

It is no different mechanically to using a Destiny Point to invoke "Luck and Deus Ex Machina" to pull out a re-breather to do the same task.  Its RAW, but a more creative use of the narrative based on the player's species. 

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5 hours ago, Andreievitch said:

It is no different mechanically to using a Destiny Point to invoke "Luck and Deus Ex Machina" to pull out a re-breather to do the same task.  Its RAW, but a more creative use of the narrative based on the player's species. 

The biggest issue I have is that it is done inconsistently. The Chiss have infrared vision without doing this through a traditional species ability, but the Trandoshan has to use a narrative approach to activate its infrared vision. Why? Likewise for the climbing claws of the Green Nikto vs those of the Wookiee? I strongly prefer a consistent approach taken throughout the lines, and the only consistency here is that the writers seemed to make these decisions on a whim.

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On 7/17/2018 at 2:53 PM, HappyDaze said:

Thats a poor example: Human babies don't grow up swinging from branches and then loses that ability when they start walking.

Humans need develop tails and then sublimate them back (mostly) during the earliest stages following conception. Additionally, humans can no longer process many raw meats through their appendix... 

While they may be amphibian, I doubt they are aquatic, and I think that’s the reason this was purposefully left out, intentionality. I would have done the same. 

You can ask the races’ creator though, @KRKappel

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