“Dinosaurs may be lighter than we thought!” That’s the news item I welcomed in RPG science: Designing dinosaurs just got easier? a couple of years ago. I liked the sound of that discovery, as the crushing weight of dinos made realistic designs a challenge when considering the effects of weight vs power. But now? T. rex was bigger than thought, mused paleontologists more recently – over 9 tons for the Chicago Field Museum’s resident specimen, Sue (“I’m not fat, I’m just really big-boned”). So we may be back to super-heavy reptiles (go easy on the carbs there, Rex!), and back to various tweaks needed to keep the big dinos mobile under design…
RPG science: Character tails
Got a game character with a nice fluffy tail? Those things can be good for more than just Furry decor, you know. At a recent TED conference, biologist Robert Full presented research into the wonders of the wall-crawling gecko. (The video, embedded below, is worth a view; you’ll see both people and robots mimicking the gecko’s Spidey-like climbs.) But while uncovering the secrets of the lizard’s famous feet, scientists found the creature’s tail enabled some amazing acrobatic feats of its own, all with nice character-design potential. As the biologists point out, a passive tail – a simple dead weight – hampers maneuverability. But an active tail does quite the opposite. Here what’s…
RPG science: Designing dinosaurs just got easier?
23Dinosaurs may not have been as heavy as previously thought. Those are the words of scientists who found flaws in the models used to estimate weight: “Palaeontologists have for 25 years used a statistical model to estimate the body weight of giant dinosaurs and other extraordinarily large extinct animals,” said Gary Packard, from Colorado State University, whose research will appear in the Zoological Society of London’s Journal of Zoology this week. “We have found that the statistical model is seriously flawed and the giant dinosaurs probably were only about half as heavy as is generally believed.” In other words, dinosaurs are just as big – long and tall, that is…
RPG science: Biology fun for creature design!
Clearing out some old links I’d noted, here’s some good reading for game designers (or just detail-happy GMs) wanting to give good, hard biology a friendly nod: The Biology of B-Movie Monsters http://fathom.lib.uchicago.edu/2/21701757/ Wow, this is a heck of an article by Michael C. LaBarbera, professor in Organismal Biology & Anatomy at the University of Chicago. It’s a layman-friendly grand tour of how size and scaling work in reality, and what that means for B-movie creatures – and by extension, game-table monsters. Scaling of area vs mass and its relevant effects on cooling, terminal velocity, metabolism, and so on; mass and falling damage; mechanical difficulties posed by huge size; and…
RPG science: Biomechanics fun
I would have liked to hear the speech by the inimitable Steven Vogel on “Power from the People: Life When Muscle Was Our Main Motor”, an overview of how biomechanics shaped the lives and work of our ancestors. The article at http://scienceblogs.com/principles/2007/02/archeological_biomechanics.ph… provides some interesting fodder for the dilettante game designer, though it’s unfortunately brief. Less sober: The Science of Godzilla, at http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2007/02/the_science_of_godzilla_… . The radioactive breath jet? It’s all thanks to a plasma gland. Yep, a plasma gland. (How we know that, isn’t answered.)