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Reconsidering energy vampires
Posted: Posted September 22nd, 2016 by bloodb4roses

I'm looking at my danpyr again, more in the context of a scifi or scifantasy universe. And one thing I keep coming back to is: If they feed on energy from other living beings (without digestion or other regular routes of gaining nutrition), then why would they have a mouth? Or a "human like" face at all?

I have some characters who are danpyr already designed back when I viewed them as more humans + certain abilities. While it could be interesting to take the concept to its logical conclusions, including making them completely inhuman wherever it fits them to be inhuman, I'd like to keep the designs or if not that, keep the concept of them being humanoid but wear masks to interact with humans.

Anyone have thoughts on why a primarily or solely energy feeding species would be humanoid or have similar features?

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If they're bio at all similar to LAWKI, they probably still need to drink water, although probably not as much as if they fed on matter rather than energy. So they'd still need a mouth; but not teeth or gizzards (or baleen?), and their tongues might be very different.

The question for me is, do they have to breathe (or otherwise respire oxygen)? If so, isn't their need to breathe much, much less than that of LAWKI animals? Because they don't need to burn carbohydrates or fats to get energy, or do they?

IRL Green plants "feed on energy", yet both "drink" and respire.
But plants are net producers of oxygen during daylight; at night-time, they need to take in more oxygen than they produce.

Your energy-vampires may store excess energy as chemical energy, and then need oxygen to get it back when they couldn't feed. Both chemical processes might require water.

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If they're descended from lobe-finned fishes, most of the selective pressures that led from coelocanths to humans *here*, would (if they existed) be just as likely (however likely or unlikely that might be) to produce a humanoid form *there*.

Their mouths and noses might be the least-humanoid-looking external parts.

OTOH their chests might be much smaller if they don't need to breathe as much, and their bellies might be much smaller if they don't need to digest anything. They could skip the stomach entirely, and have a much-shorter intestine that merely absorbed water. They'd need an anus and a rectum in case they swallowed something they shouldn't, but it might be almost (but not quite) vestigial -- they probably wouldn't need to defecate every day. There might be no difference (and therefore no boundary) between the small bowel and the large bowel.

They might need just as big a liver, and just as big a pancreas. Of course they'd need a heart and a spleen. Their kidneys might be reduced somewhat. I haven't thought about any other internal organs.

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Just my two cents worth.

Posted September 22nd, 2016 by chiarizio

So assuming they don't eat to supplement things, it would still be reasonable for them to be humanoid (though they wouldn't have to be), but they could still have very inhuman features, especially facial features.

So some questions are:

Do they eat to supplement their energy consumption? In which case what do they (need to) eat? (They could need nutrients in order to store/use the energy they've stored, or for other reasons. They may need to eat as children to get the building blocks to grow and then stop or only rarely eat physical food as adults.)

If they only ever absorb energy for sustenance and never physical food, do they feed at close range or at a distance? If distance, then they probably have metaphysical abilities or attributes that allow them to do this. If up close, how close? Do they need to touch? Do they need to break a physical or metaphysical barrier to access the energy? And if they need to break a physical barrier like skin on humans, then could that be why they bite and blood has nothing to do with it?

These are more questions for myself to answer, and will inform how human or monstrous they look overall. But I'd like to see others' thoughts still if anyone has anything to add.

Thanks

Posted September 22nd, 2016 by bloodb4roses

So assuming they don't eat to supplement things, it would still be reasonable for them to be humanoid (though they wouldn't have to be), but they could still have very inhuman features, especially facial features.

Right! Or, at least, that's what I said. It's up to you to decide whether and how to take that "advice" (if that's what it is).


Do they eat to supplement their energy consumption? In which case what do they (need to) eat? (They could need nutrients in order to store/use the energy they've stored, or for other reasons.

Check what sort of nutrients, other than water, come out in urine. They probably need to replenish those, at a rate proportional to how often they micturate.


They may need to eat as children to get the building blocks to grow and then stop or only rarely eat physical food as adults.)

Absolutely! In fact, children's faces, including mouths and noses and chests and bellies, could very much resemble humans' children's at a similar age; and change during adolescence.

If they only ever absorb energy for sustenance and never physical food, do they feed at close range or at a distance? If distance, then they probably have metaphysical abilities or attributes that allow them to do this. If up close, how close?

If they can feed at a distance, I expect there's an inverse-square law. The rate at which they can absorb energy from a given source is inversely proportional to the square of the distance to that source.
(If for some reason "'meta'physical energy" involved a 4th dimension, they'd have an inverse-cube law. OTOH if they live in Flatland, it would just be "inversely as the distance" with no exponent.)


Do they need to touch?

If they can feed at a distance of even a millimeter, you'd need some kind of explanation why they don't or didn't gradually evolve abilities to feed at further and further distances. Eventually there'd be a point of diminishing returns; for instance, a radius within which there's almost guaranteed to be a suitable source.
Possibly there are racial differences. Those who live in areas inhabited by many concentrated human settlements will not need to feed at distances as long as the distances at which those who live in "empty quarters" or "deserts" etc. need to feed. It would probably also go with more of an ability to store excess energy; and/or to "go into a pre-diabetic state" in which they don't use as much energy as quickly and yet still stay active.


Do they need to break a physical or metaphysical barrier to access the energy? And if they need to break a physical barrier like skin on humans, then could that be why they bite and blood has nothing to do with it?

Good thought!

Posted September 22nd, 2016 by chiarizio

P.S. Do either of the sexes have mammary glands? Does either sex lactate?
If so; a lactating parent will need to eat. Also, a suckling infant will need a stomach and rennin.

Posted September 22nd, 2016 by chiarizio

Do they eat to supplement their energy consumption? In which case what do they (need to) eat? (They could need nutrients in order to store/use the energy they've stored, or for other reasons.

Check what sort of nutrients, other than water, come out in urine. They probably need to replenish those, at a rate proportional to how often they micturate.


I know electrolytes commonly are excreted that way. Otherwise it's usually things that were metabolized.

If they can feed at a distance, I expect there's an inverse-square law. The rate at which they can absorb energy from a given source is inversely proportional to the square of the distance to that source.


True this will be good to keep in mind.

Do they need to touch?

If they can feed at a distance of even a millimeter, you'd need some kind of explanation why they don't or didn't gradually evolve abilities to feed at further and further distances. Eventually there'd be a point of diminishing returns; for instance, a radius within which there's almost guaranteed to be a suitable source.
Possibly there are racial differences. Those who live in areas inhabited by many concentrated human settlements will not need to feed at distances as long as the distances at which those who live in "empty quarters" or "deserts" etc. need to feed. It would probably also go with more of an ability to store excess energy; and/or to "go into a pre-diabetic state" in which they don't use as much energy as quickly and yet still stay active.


Actually, I'm thinking that they evolved on a world without humans and it's only that humans happen to make an adequate-to-good food source coincidentally. They would have fed on creatures on their own world originally. Hence why they wouldn't necessarily be human-like at all.

Posted September 23rd, 2016 by bloodb4roses

If they're an egg-laying species, the females will have to eat nearly all the time, to make their eggs; (just as female mosquitoes need to suck blood nearly all the time, to make yolk for their eggs). Even if there's no intent to, nor chance of, the eggs being fertilized, the female will still be making them. (Probably. Maybe I'm wrong!)

If they're marsupial or placental mammals, then (probably) the females will need to eat only when pregnant; and, if the females lactate*, while lactating. Or, maybe they'll need to eat just before being fertilized; in which case maybe the male will bring them a food-gift just before a mating intended to produce offspring.

*(If males lactate, males will need to eat while lactating. One sex or the other must lactate or they wouldn't be mammals.)

Maybe male adults will never need to eat.

It seems reasonable, to me, that a pregnant female's teeth (or gizzard), saliva glands, esophagus, stomach, and intestines, will grow along with her womb and her breasts, throughout her pregnancy; and, when her womb returns to pre-pregnancy size after birth, her gastro-intestinal tract's growth might actually speed up for at least a while, as her breasts' growth will.

I could be wrong.

Posted September 28th, 2016 by chiarizio

Not much to add but, I never did say they were mammals. While I'm not excluding that they may have some way of feeding their young physically from their own bodies, and lactation or something like it would be an easy way to do so as long as the member of the species doing it gets food to turn into sustenance for offspring, I never specified that they do. I only agreed that if they did, that would be a time that they would need to eat physical food.

But this comes back to my main problem in that, if they were a species that is on a completely separate world, and evolved to steal energy, it's more likely that many species on their planet has evolved this ability, and probably early on in their planet's history. Which would mean they'd probably be able to develop without needing "food", but may need water, air or similar to store the energy. And there'd be no reason for them to be human like at all.

If they evolved with humans, or on a planet that coincidentally had a similar-ish evolutionary history, there's still little reason why they couldn't have evolved from reptilian or insectoid or cephalopodian ancestors and look little or nothing like humans, even if they have a stage that they are required to eat like humans and most other animals.

Posted November 10th, 2016 by bloodb4roses

Not much to add but, I never did say they were mammals.

No, you didn't, and I didn't think you did.
But, when I said "... if they are marsupial or placental mammals ...", I was (in effect) also sort of assuming " ... if they are ... mammals ... ".
That was what I had in mind with my " ... lactate ... " comment.
Sorry for being confusing! :oops:


... I ... agreed that if they did, that would be a time that they would need to eat physical food.

We understand each other.


But this comes back to my main problem in that, if they were a species that is on a completely separate world, and evolved to
....
evolved from reptilian or insectoid or cephalopodian ancestors and look little or nothing like humans, even if they have a stage that they are required to eat like humans and most other animals.

Good points!

Posted November 14th, 2016 by chiarizio

@bb4r: Have you anything to add to this, or, does reviewing this thread inspire any new ideas?

Posted December 26th, 2017 by chiarizio

More?

Posted December 24th, 2018 by chiarizio

AT this point I'm minorly handwaving my energy vampires looking humanoid, having mouths etc, while also including details of their biology that we do not have (like five eyes for example). But as said elsewhere, they do primarily subsist on "life force" with only minimal ingestion of physical matter in order to repair damage or during growth stages.

Posted December 25th, 2018 by bloodb4roses
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