User:Rasarr/Rosharan Geography And Ecology

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Now on Roshar#Ecology

Ecology[edit]

The shape and form of Rosharan ecology is influenced by four major factors: lower gravity, higher oxygen content, highstorms and spren. The higher oxygen content and the lower gravity permit the existence of megafauna comparable only to the largest sandlings on Taldain, while several species of animals are capable of forming spren bonds, further augmenting their capabilities.[1] However, the most visually notable feature of Rosharan ecology is the way vast majority of them adapted to highstorms. Multiple species of both flora and fauna have developed shells to protect themselves from extreme weather, withdrawing into them whenever any danger approaches.

Several species are noted as having body parts made of stone, such as the bark of dalewillow or hooves of Ryshadiums.[2] As stone doesn't grow naturally, three possibilities must be considered:

  • The substance is actually stone, somehow either grown or gathered by the creatures,
  • The substance is organic, but highly similar in appearance to stone,
  • The substance is hardened crem, deliberately cultivated by those creatures.

Flora[edit]

Rosharan flora had to adapt to several conditions not found on Earth or Earth-like worlds, such as the severe weather and scarcity of soil.

In highstorm-heavy regions, laits like this are the oases of plant life.

The largest family of plants on Roshar are the rockbuds. They are characterized by having a thick outer shell from which they take their name, and tendrils, which retract into the shell upon detecting danger. The Rosharan grass, which acts in this way, is likely another subspecies of rockbud, albeit close enough in appearance to Shin grass to retain the name. Similar mechanism has been developed by vinebuds, which grow from a sturdy, yet elastic stem and, rather than spreading their tendrils along the ground, waft them in the air, akin to anemones.[3]

Further to the east, where the highstorms are the strongest, even such measures are not enough. There, plants grow mostly in sheltered areas, such as the chasms and laits, while remaining sparse in the open air.[4] More fragile flora, such as vines and weeds, grow and flourish in such terrain, though some, like knobweed, seem to prefer flatlands, utilizing highstorms deliberately to spread.

Roshar does have larger flora. Some trees, including the aforementioned dalewillow, have trunks made of stone while others, such as the jella, augment their wooden bark by accumulating crem. Like rockbuds, they withdraw their fronds into the trunks when sensing danger. There are also species such as makam and cobwood, which appear to be sturdy enough to sustain highstorms without added protection.[5][6]

Human uses

Some species of native Rosharan flora are edible for humans. This includes a number of fruits as well as a rice-like plant called tallew, and lavis, a type of rockbud that produces grain. Tallew and lavis appear to be the major ingredients of Rosharan diet, with massive farmlands devoted to them throughout the Eastern side of the continent.[7] In the West, the same niche appears to be filled by clema[8]

Additionally, there exist a number of plants with known healing properties. This includes antiseptics, such as the sap of knobweed and fourleaf, as well as lister's oil; treatments for specific diseases, such as bitterleaf for epilepsy and bloodivy for grindings; anaesthetics like winterwort and firemoss; and other, more specific medicines, such as denocax, which encourages skin healing.

By contrast, several species of plant are noted to have detrimental effect on humans. Firemoss is known to be highly addictive, and blackbane's leaves, once dried, are extremely poisonous. Eating shells of rockbuds is similarly known to be unhealthy, although the Unkalaki are capable of eating them without problems, likely thanks to their singer ancestry.[9] While not all plants are edible, some, like breachtree and narbin, are grown to make fabrics.[10][11]

A Chasmfiend, with gleaming mandras surrounding it. They allow the greatshell to exist despite its enormous size.

Fauna[edit]

Roshar contains a wide variety of fauna, most of which appears to be shelled. While most creatures are native to the world, several species have been introduced into Roshar during human exodus from Ashyn, among them mammals and birds.

Like Rosharan flora, the animals of Roshar have also adapted to their unusual circumstances. Several species, including the largest, grow massive shells which can protect them from highstorms. Others hide in dens or, in case of small sarpenthyn, ooze between the cracks in the rock.

Spren symbiosis

Multiple native species, as well as at least one imported animal, have formed symbiotic relationships with spren. This appears to be faciliated by gemhearts, crystals that grow naturally within the bodies of those creatures.

  • Larger animals on Roshar utilize bonds with Mandras, or luckspren, to decrease the pull of gravity on them, allowing creatures such as Chasmfiends to exist without collapsing upon themselves. In the case of Skyeels, the same bond, coupled with smaller size, permits them to fly.
  • The native sentient species, the Singers, bond with a variety of spren to attain a number of forms, which alter their mental state, biological functions and appearance. While bonded, the spren remain within the gemheart.
  • Ryshadiums bond with what appears to be musicspren, attaining higher intelligence and physical strength. It is, however, unclear so far whether or not they have gemhearts.[12]
Non-shelled animals

Mammals dwell mostly in Shinovar, though a few species have been successfully exported East. Those include horses, which are widely used as far east as Alethkar, and hogs, which are the primary source of non-soulcast meat. While most mammals are domesticated, hogs, as well as minks, can be found in the wild. Several species of birds are known to exist, although they are all known as "chickens" among Rosharans. This includes actual chickens as well as more colourful birds, such as parrots. In contrast to mammals, they do not seem to do well in the wild, as all examples observed so far are domesticated. Amphibians, such as the lurg can also be found, as well as wide variety of fish, including both salt- and seawater ones. A category without a clear Earth analogue are sarpenthyn, which appear to be similar to both mollusks and cephalopods, albeit without shells and with smaller number of arms.[13]

Shelled animals

The largest known group of animals on Roshar are crustaceans. Those can be of various sizes, from finger-long to four-stories-high. They are all noted as having purple blood and multiple stages of life, with the initial stage being called a larva and the process of switching between stages called pupation.[14] The creation of shells is aided by the presence of crem in the rain, which the creatures can process into minerals.

The smallest crustacean family are cremlings, a group of small, multi-legged scavengers preying mostly on deceased animals, although they will also feed on uncovered plants after highstorms. Cremlings come in variety of colours, with different features, numbers of legs, and behaviours. While most are individuals, some are part of the Sleepless swarms, and as such share a sentient hivemind. The Sleepless cremlings are bred for particular purposes, such as imitating human body parts.

By Ashley Coad A Santhid. Roshar's greatest creatures are far larger than humans.

Other than the cremlings, Roshar also features a number of larger crustaceans that are nonetheless smaller than human. This group includes predatory species, such as the Axehound, and herbivores like Axehind, and near-cremling sized creatures like leggers and larkins. The larkins in particular are unusual for their flight, as well as the ability to pull stormlight out of other creatures and absorb it.[15]

The largest family of animals on Roshar are known as Greatshells, which exist both on land and in the seas. All greatshells possess gemhearts and utilize them to attract Mandras to decrease their own weight. The land greatshells include domesticated herbivores known as chulls and two large predatory species, the chasmfiend and the extinct lanceryn. The marine greatshells include the Yu-nerig, which comes on land to pupate and is known to feed on humans,[16] and the Tai-na, the largest animals known to inhabit the Cosmere. Their legs are said to be sixty feet long, while the body itself stretches hundreds of feet tall. The back of Tai-na, which sticks out above water, is an ecosystem of its own, inhabited by multiple species of plants and animals, as well as humans.[17]

The Santhid, a massive marine species with large shell and a number of tendrils, might be considered a greatshell, and houses its own ecosystem, much like the Tai-na; however, as they were considered half-mythical until very recently, it's impossible to state so with any certainty.[18]

Domestication

Large number of domesticated creatures on Roshar are the imports from Ashyn. All forms of birds are domesticated; some for food, while others as pets. Hogs are kept for meet, minks, like birds, are pets, while horses are common riding mounts. Of the local wildlife, axehounds are often kept and bred, similar to dogs, while chulls are the primary mount for hauling cargo or for riders who cannot afford to keep a horse. Another greatshell species called a gumfrem is kept for its gemhearts, which can be used to Soulcast meat.[2]

Sapience

Due to the presence of the Shard Cultivation, the creatures on Roshar have higher chance of developing sapience.[19] So far, behaviour indicating sapience has been observed with three species, Ryshadium horses, Tai-na and Santhids, all of which appear to have above average understanding of humans.

Separately from this, Roshar is known to have developed three independent sentient species: Sleepless (known also as Dysian Aimians), Siah Aimians and Singers. While the Sleepless are hive minds of cremlings, both Siah Aimians and Singers are humanoid, and capable of breeding with humans.[20][9]

References[edit]