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The QueueJun 21, 2019 12:00 pm CT

The Queue: The Synapsid Empire

This is going to be an interesting Queue.


2BE: Narwals vs Rhinos

Roughly 298 million years ago, life on Earth began a process of change and diversification that would lead to the existence of many of the major amniote groups alive today. It was within the Permian that the first truly terrestrial creatures rose — while some would in time return to the water, these amniotes were the first creatures to lay eggs with shells that were not water permeable — in essence, the first creatures that could spend all of their lives outside of an aquatic habitat. All modern reptiles, including crocodilians and birds, all scaled reptiles and even turtles evolved from ancestors that first arose at this time. These animals are often considered to be part of the Sauropsidia,

But the Permian was ruled not by the Sauropsidia, but their rivals, the Synapsidia. From the beginning of the Permian to its end, some 251 million years ago, many species of Synapsid — Pelycosaurs like Dimetrodon, Therapsids like Inostrancevia and Eothyris, and many others arose and dominated the world as the most successful terrestrial amniotes that existed. But with the end of the Permian came the end of the Synapsid dominance of the Earth — the Great Dying, a mass extinction that claimed over 70% of terrestrial life and 96% of marine life. The few Synapsids that survived the Great Dying were unable to hold on to the dominance they had previously, and in time Archosaurs including Pterosaurs and Dinosaurs took control of the world.

But don’t weep for the Synapsids. Because you, reading this, are a Synapsid — many of them died, but the Cynodonts, a group of small burrowing Synapsids descended from the Therapsids, they survived, diversified and evolved and in time, when the Mesozoic ended and the Sauropsidia found themselves on the ropes of a mass extinction, those descendants of the Cynodonts seized the very same dominance over the land they’d once held before the rise of the Dinosaurs. These new Synapsids, known as Mammals, included a wide variety of animals, all descended from small underground burrowing Cynodonts. From the primitive monotremes to advanced creatures such as narwals and rhinos, all come down from creatures like Thrinaxodon — little furry creatures with a mix of reptilian and mammalian features that would one day lead to our entire class.

Including you. For the past 65 million years, our kind — Synapsids — have regained their worldwide empire. And yet, it could all be lost again — twice now Synapsids have faced global extinctions that have utterly changed the face of the world and the creatures that live on it. So take a moment to look around at the Earth, this Synapsid Empire we call home. Don’t mar its perfection by seeking to make narwals make war on their rhino kinfolk. Celebrate the diversity of our class, our order, and our ancestors and the long, long passage through deep time to this moment.


Q4tQ: How “seriously” do you take death in game? Like, on a healthy axis. For me, maybe it’s my early game roots, but I’ve never been able to say “meh, just take the death and try again” to anything but a hopeless raid pull. Like I’m the guy who will run out a near wipe in a dungeon because I don’t take a death for anyone if I don’t have to. Death is failure. In a large group, it’s a large group failure and calling a wipe makes more sense, but I will burn every resource and torch every social contract before I’ll “take a death for you people” haha!

For me, it depends on the game and the role I’m playing in the game. For example, while I hate dying in Diablo 3, I do not take it seriously at all unless I’m playing Hardcore, which I simply do not ever do. I have one Hardcore character and she only hit 70 through a pure miracle. But when I play WoW, if I’m tanking, I often find myself throwing every trick in my arsenal out there to keep from dying, but if I’m DPS, it’s my duty to die if the group is wiping instead of being selfish and keeping them in combat and unable to release. I mean, it’s a game. It’s not like dying has much of any real negative consequence in either Diablo or World of Warcraft. If it did, maybe I’d feel differently.


QfRossi: How do you go about DMing?

That’s a question, all right. I mean, DMing is a big job. You’re literally being everyone and everything in the world except the other players.

I generally sit down and think about what the basic story is going to be. I don’t try and make detailed plans, because players are unruly beasts and you can’t count on them doing anything — while I like to have a strong idea of everything that might happen, I don’t count on anything actually happening.

It also depends on if I expect a lot of role playing. The first session of the game I’m running for the Blizzard Watch crew, I deliberately threw them in the deep end of a weird situation so that any decisions they made would be under pressure. That way, they didn’t have time to really sit down and RP too much — they were trapped in a weird volcano by goblins and they had to get out. Now, as we progress, things will likely get less hectic and they’ll have the chance to RP more, which will space out the game.

I like to have the stats for various creatures ready to go so that I can use them at a moment’s notice, but aside from broad strokes I actually improvise quite a bit, so that I can react to what the players are going to do without feeling married to a plot. I know what my villains wanted to do, but I don’t try and make what I thought would happen survive contact with the players.

I also steal a lot from TV, movies, other games, books, etc. It doesn’t matter to me if my D&D game is original, as long as the players have fun. I once ran a game which was basically Willow, and nobody noticed. In general, it’s always a good idea to adjust your expectations to your players — if you were of the opinion that the game was going to be a serious world spanning game of political intrigue and your players want to be lovable losers who tell ridiculous jokes and go around getting into dumb scrapes? Let them. Try and always work with your players, give them experiences they’re interested in.

It’s a collaboration, remember. Work with them, not against them.

Okay, short Queue this week. But the answers were fairly long, so we might as well get ready for Monday. Remember to ask Anne, and remember, we’re doing a new D&D game this Saturday.

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Filed Under: Synapsids

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