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Old 02-17-2015, 08:52 AM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default Albatross and Giant Albatross stats

In a fantasy setting, my PCs acquired the services of an eccentric character by the name of Spike McGurk and his Flotilla of DEATH*. This consist of three long flush-decked boats/barges crewed by thirty tasloi** each and carrying 20 gooney birds / albatrosses.

It's been established that these are extremely strong giant albatrosses that can, with great difficulty, take off with a running start carrying a load of up to 100 lbs. This, however, makes them clumsy and awkward in flight and landings with that load are flat-out hazardous.

This means either that the albatrosses have ST 13 and can fly at Medium Encumbrance or that they have ST 8 and can fly at Heavy. I think the latter is preferable, but I worry that flying at Heavy encumbrance may be less realistic than super-strong birds.

I'd like to get a better idea of the stats of real albatrosses before statting these fantasy ones more fully.

What is the ST of a real albatross of a given weight and wingspan? Say a big one weighing 25 lbs.?

Can real birds fly at Light encumbrance or heavier?

How smart are albatrosses?

How maneuverable in flight and how do I represent that in GURPS?

*DEATH is always pronounced with maximum emphasis, ideally followed by a dramatic pause.
**Slender, goblin-like beings less than 3' tall and weighing around 30 lbs.
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Old 02-17-2015, 11:55 AM   #2
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Default Re: Albatross and Giant Albatross stats

Ah Tasloi, fond memories of Dwellers of the Forbidden City.

Chicks take a long time to fledge and the parents return from their foraging expeditions carrying 12% of their body mass. While they could probaly carry more breifly you are talking about some monstrous birds.
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Old 02-17-2015, 02:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: Albatross and Giant Albatross stats

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Originally Posted by Purple Haze View Post
Ah Tasloi, fond memories of Dwellers of the Forbidden City.
These are rather less sociopathic than usual Tasloi, being curious, fairly friendly and social, rather than xenophobic man-eating monsters. They've lived in isolation for fairly long, with no humanoid prey, and developed ritual contests of athleticism in place of inter-tribal war.

They still take gleefully to aerial warfare and raining rocks down on Big 'Uns, now that they're back in contact with the outer world. The PCs are probably setting their culture back centuries by bringing war back into their lives. :)

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Chicks take a long time to fledge and the parents return from their foraging expeditions carrying 12% of their body mass. While they could probaly carry more breifly you are talking about some monstrous birds.
Of course they are monstrous! They lived on a lost island in a sea where some islands are portals to other worlds or lost periods of time.

I fully expect they will be stronger than any real birds. I just want them to be superior to normal birds in a fairly plausible way, i.e. not make them live and breathe magic quite as much as dragons, who couldn't even breathe without it.

I'm prepared to accept unusual muscular adaptations to background magical radiation, leading to them being stronger for their weight than they've any right to be, but I'd prefer if they were at least within nodding distance of reality.

Their wingspans are listed as being 12' in the source I stole them from, which is as much as the largest albatrosses in the real world, and it's possible to take that as a minimum.

Combine that with being maybe twice as strong for their weight...

I'm still an order of magnitude short.

On the other hand, what birds willingly carry and how much they could carry offers me some wiggle room. And these birds do take off from a ramp and are slow and clumsy in flight, so clearly they are carrying more than Earth birds like to carry.
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Old 02-17-2015, 03:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Albatross and Giant Albatross stats

Real life Harpy Eagles weighing ~20 lbs are known to snatch 20 lb sloths and monkeys straight off of branches without stopping.
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Old 02-17-2015, 03:33 PM   #5
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Real life Harpy Eagles weighing ~20 lbs are known to snatch 20 lb sloths and monkeys straight off of branches without stopping.
Nice! That sounds like something that could help me.

Do you know how long they can fly with one?
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Old 02-17-2015, 04:20 PM   #6
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This video seems to show it flying a considerable distance, but I don't know the specifics.
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Old 02-18-2015, 04:17 AM   #7
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Default Re: Albatross and Giant Albatross stats

Remember that if the players kill the albatross they're in for a world of trouble...

'God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!ó
Why look'st thou so?'óWith my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.
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Old 02-18-2015, 06:48 AM   #8
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Default Re: Albatross and Giant Albatross stats

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Originally Posted by Dalillama View Post
This video seems to show it flying a considerable distance, but I don't know the specifics.
That is a striking vid! I'd love to know the size/weight of the critters involved. After the sloth is snagged, you can see the eagle pulling hard under the additional weight. I'd consider it a cool visual example of flying under Heavy Encumbrance. Check out how the eagles wing strokes are very pronounced after the "pickup".

The flyer moves slower (1/2 or 1/3 move?) and descends automatically, spends FP to stay level? Gaining altitude would be more difficult, maybe impossible. Maneuverability during encumbered flight would be very restricted.
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Old 02-18-2015, 07:12 AM   #9
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Default Re: Albatross and Giant Albatross stats

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Originally Posted by LokRobster View Post
That is a striking vid! I'd love to know the size/weight of the critters involved. After the sloth is snagged, you can see the eagle pulling hard under the additional weight. I'd consider it a cool visual example of flying under Heavy Encumbrance. Check out how the eagles wing strokes are very pronounced after the "pickup".

The flyer moves slower (1/2 or 1/3 move?) and descends automatically, spends FP to stay level? Gaining altitude would be more difficult, maybe impossible. Maneuverability during encumbered flight would be very restricted.
As noted upthread, harpy eagles (females) weigh 13-20 lbs. and the sloth that are their typical prey weigh 13-20 lbs. The weights of the critters involved are therefore very likely about equal.

Harpy eagles also kill prey ranging up to x2 to x3 their body weight (small deer) and some sources I found online seem to suggest that they are able to lift such deer up to a tree branch before settling down to eat them. If true, that would represent the maximum weight they could fly with, either Heavy encumbrance or Extra-Heavy. In either case, unsustainable for more than a few moments.

I think there is a strong argument to be made that realistic winged fliers simply cannot fly with more than X encumbrance. Realistically, taking off or landing with enough weight that the creature is slowed by more than half Move is probably impossible for most fliers. For many of them, even Medium encumbrance might be impossible.

Fliers often have massive ST scores for their weight, but low mass and HP and are limited to carrying much less than a creature of comparable ST could carry on the ground.

I don't know if the harpy eagle in the video was at Heavy encumbrance. At the end, it certainly appeared to be gaining altitude. It might have been Light or Medium encumbrance, but at any rate, its own body weight seems to be the limit of what it can fly with for any distance.

Half their body weight is what they seem to elect to carry for long distances, being the most common weight of prey brought home to the nest for fledglings. I'd benchmark that as either No Encumbrance or Light Encumbrance, depending on whether the maximum that the critter will fly with for any distance is Light or Medium.
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Old 02-18-2015, 07:15 AM   #10
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Default Re: Albatross and Giant Albatross stats

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anders View Post
Remember that if the players kill the albatross they're in for a world of trouble...

'God save thee, ancient Mariner!
From the fiends, that plague thee thus!ó
Why look'st thou so?'óWith my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.
I wonder whom the curse will strike if the PCs are responsible for sending albatross-mounted tasloi aerial cavalry dropping fire bombs against the foe, who have no choice other than respond by castling spells or shooting at them?
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