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Old 10-24-2019, 11:33 AM   #1
Varyon
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Default Is there a generic term for creatures like centaurs?

What is says in the title. I'm working a bit on my Oubliette setting again, and am formalizing the "classes" of monsters the dungeons produce. One such class is a human/animal hybrid along the lines of the centaur. Each dungeon has an element - earth, wind, water, fire, darkness - and corresponding clade - mammals, birds, fish*, reptiles, arthropods, respectively. These hybrids follow the trend of being some animal roughly below the neck, with a second, human torso from the waist up (complete with head and arms).

Such creatures are extremely common in mythology and fantasy, so I'm curious if there's a good generic term someone has come up with. I've seen "taur" used, but that seems to be exclusively about four-legged types, and only one (maybe two) of mine fit with that. I'm currently thinking of the class as "chimera," but would prefer a more precise term (as chimera could easily refer to any sort of human/animal hybrid, or indeed various animal/animal hybrids like griffons and the like). I currently plan to use centaurs for the mammals, lamias for the reptiles, and arachnes (basically, driders where the top half is human instead of drow) for the arthropods. For birds, I'm torn between basically mounting a human body on something akin to a griffon (which I've seen at least once, in Dungeon Meshi) or creating some strange creature that's a giant bird with a human torso mounted on it (which I don't think I've even seen). For fish, I'm torn between a mermaid and a cephalomaid (octopus below the waist).

*While there probably won't be any aquatic arthropods, I may make use of aquatic animals other than fish for inspiration, like sea mammals (historically thought of as fish anyway) and cephalopods.
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Old 10-24-2019, 11:39 AM   #2
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Default Re: Is there a generic term for creatures like centaurs?

I use "chimera" in TT2 for any races whose body plan involves pasting together body parts from two or more species: the actual chimera, centaurs, mermaids, griffins/gryphons, angels, you name it. I would call the body plan you refer to "centauroid"; that's what I called the morphology meta-trait in TT2.

Edit: Well, actually, not quite. I used that for human torso on quadruped body. I didn't come up with a specific term that included, say, a lamia or one of Steve Gallaci's whale-based centauroids. But I think the possibilities are so diverse that a generic term may not be the best option; it might be better just to include them within the larger category of "chimeras" along with all the cut/paste races.
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Old 10-24-2019, 03:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: Is there a generic term for creatures like centaurs?

I keep forgetting Template Toolkit 2: Races exists. I'll probably pick it up once I start working on the templates in earnest (I've got 6 races, 40 monsters, and 5 "demon" metatemplates to build, so I suspect I'll get some mileage out of it).

And, yeah, like taur, centauroid usually indicates a quadruped. It looks like chimera is probably the term I'll be using, unless someone has a better one.
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Old 10-24-2019, 04:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: Is there a generic term for creatures like centaurs?

We can always coin a new word. 'Zooiped' is appealing to my bad Greek senses.
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Old 10-24-2019, 05:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: Is there a generic term for creatures like centaurs?

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We can always coin a new word. 'Zooiped' is appealing to my bad Greek senses.
I believe the combining form of zoon is just zoo-, without the i. It's "zoology," not "zooilogy." And -ped is Latin, from pes; the Greek would be -pod, from pous.

But it doesn't seem to me that "zoopod" or "theriopod" quite captures the concept. It's not just a question of having animal feet with a human body; if it were that, a faun would be a centauroid. It seems to me it's more a question of having a human torso sprouting out of an animal torso. That might be "diplosome," from diplo-, double, and soma, body.
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Old 10-24-2019, 05:39 PM   #6
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Default Re: Is there a generic term for creatures like centaurs?

For anyone suggesting "tauric", I'm afraid that, etymologically at least, that's a false friend. It would mean "bull-like" as "centaur" means "killer of bulls". WOTC used it in 3.5Ed of "That RPG" regardless, but they're not a place I would got to for wisdom...
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Old 10-25-2019, 12:26 AM   #7
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Default Re: Is there a generic term for creatures like centaurs?

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That might be "diplosome," from diplo-, double, and soma, body.
Diplosome would be pretty solid in a modern-ish setting, but to me at least seems to be too modern/scientific-sounding for a Fantasy setting. Food for thought, at least.

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For anyone suggesting "tauric", I'm afraid that, etymologically at least, that's a false friend. It would mean "bull-like" as "centaur" means "killer of bulls". WOTC used it in 3.5Ed of "That RPG" regardless, but they're not a place I would got to for wisdom...
Yeah, I decided to look up the etymology for centaur due to having both centaurs and minotaurs as monsters in the setting - I was hoping maybe "taur" could sometimes be used to refer to something other than bulls/cattle. Turns out "centaur" is etymologically troublesome - it appears to have started as Kentauros, and referred to a particular tribe of horse archers; the horse and archer apparently got combined into a single creature in later retellings. It may have been derived from something like "bull-slayer," which is where the taur bit could come in, but the etymology of Kentauros itself isn't clear. Sucks when trying to make a coherent setting but don't want to throw out weird names for otherwise-recognizable creatures, like hippanir (from hippos, horse, and anir, for man) instead of centaur.
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Old 10-25-2019, 05:05 AM   #8
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Default Re: Is there a generic term for creatures like centaurs?

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Diplosome would be pretty solid in a modern-ish setting, but to me at least seems to be too modern/scientific-sounding for a Fantasy setting. Food for thought, at least.
Perhaps cutting it down to disomes? Pseudo-Greek may survive where actual Greek fails...
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Old 10-25-2019, 10:27 AM   #9
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Perhaps cutting it down to disomes? Pseudo-Greek may survive where actual Greek fails...
I not certain that would actually count as pseudo-Greek - the prefix di- means "two," so it could just be "two-bodied" rather than "double-bodied." I decided to try out "double-bodied" in a few different languages to see if any sound better; Latin's bicorpor/duocorpor and Albanian's dytrup are so far the best. Since we're mashing monsters together with humans, mashing languages together might not be a horrible idea - I think I like the sound of dicorp, and dipplocorp doesn't sound horrible (both are a Greek prefix with a shortened Latin suffix). With the latter, they could typically be called "dipplos" for short. Sadly, I personally like chimera better than any of the above, but someone else might get some use out of this.
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Old 10-25-2019, 10:58 AM   #10
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dipplocorp doesn't sound horrible
Can't help thinking that it sounds like an arm of MiniPax to me...
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