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Mind Link with birds

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This is a "how would you handle this in your game" question, not a rules question. A ranger PC in my current low fantasy game is a falconer who bought Mind Link with his trained bird.

 

Falcon Phonetics:  Mind Link, Falcon class of minds, One Specific Mind (5 Active Points); Feedback STUN Only (-1), Costs Endurance (Only Costs END to Activate; -1/4) [2 RP, 1 END]

(I suggested calling the power "Bird Brain Connection" but the player demurred.)

 

Note that the falcon is a perfectly normal tho well-trained bird. (The PC does have Animal Handler.) It's not magically uplifted or anything unique, and if it gets killed, he buys a new one at Pets R Us and trains it up. We debated buying the bird as a Follower, but decided if I wasn't going to make the other PCs pay points for their horses and so forth, it didn't make sense for him to pay points for a common falcon.

 

My question is what sort of information would you let the player get through this link? And how detailed? Given the low fantasy nature and tone of this campaign, we don't want to go full on Dr. Doolittle, so they're not going to be having full conversations. Presumably the bird can recognize things like "There's a river off to our left" or "A group of horsemen approaching from our right." But would it be able to recognize "It's the same guys you fought yesterday" let alone "They're all wearing chainmail and carrying broadswoards" and such? Falcons have terrific vision, so spotting these details isn't the issue - it's their ability to communicate those details to the Ranger that I'm wondering about.

 

Thanks,

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A couple of thoughts right off the bat. The first one is that, unless the bird's senses are bought with Transmit or the Ranger buys Clairsentience via the bird's senses, he can only gain whatever impressions the bird has of a given situation. I kind of like how Robert Jordan gave the wolves of Wheel of Time a sort of culture that underpinned their lupine nature. They also interpreted things a little differently than humans, so while they had their own names and reactions to the common monsters of the setting, they also could communicate which monster (after a fashion) they encountered. When it came to groups of humans, there was little to no differentiation. I figure the same for this falcon. Anything that was a stock evil race would probably be identifiable to the birds, but it could not tell the difference between a large group of Albionese versus a large group of Cambrians.  All it knows is that there is a large group of humans over the ridge, further down the valley, etc.

 

I would also make it unreliable, in the fact that instinct plays a huge part of the way it experiences the world. Getting distracted by a hare or squirrel, enjoying the thermal that lifts it high up, that sort of thing. 

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I really like what Nolgroth said.

But I would add the bird should be able to think about as well as a 3 or 4 year old.

So let it tell him the humans are the same (based on rough physical appearance).

But it may not be able to tell the difference between two soldiers of the same army and definitely would not tell the difference between armor type or weapon type.

Just imagine in your head what would be relevant to this bird and it's need to survive. Those are the ideas the bird would really form and roleplay.

Abstraction would be a newer impossible feat for anything short of Raven intelligence.

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I would let the bird differentiate between humans or other large creatures but not between one set of humans and another. Thier primary focus for both prey and predation is other birds. They specialize in sighting small objects moving at high speeds. They would be more interested in an arrow than a human, in my mind. If the campaign has monsters (aside from flying ones) that typically predate them, then they would certainly recognize those as a species. 

 

I am not sure what I would give as far as information. Probably fairly vague: "You get an impression of a group of humanoids near a river". "You sense a dangerous predator is lurking in a forest clearing nearby".

 

Directions would be relative to large land features, not compass. Maybe relative to direction of travel if you are lucky.

 

- E

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unless the bird's senses are bought with Transmit or the Ranger buys Clairsentience via the bird's senses, he can only gain whatever impressions the bird has of a given situation.

Exactly. The player and I talked about the option of upgrading this to Clairsentience later down the road, so I want to leave some room for the effect to improve as well.

 

I kind of like how Robert Jordan gave the wolves of Wheel of Time a sort of culture that underpinned their lupine nature. They also interpreted things a little differently than humans, so while they had their own names and reactions to the common monsters of the setting, they also could communicate which monster (after a fashion) they encountered. When it came to groups of humans, there was little to no differentiation. I figure the same for this falcon. Anything that was a stock evil race would probably be identifiable to the birds, but it could not tell the difference between a large group of Albionese versus a large group of Cambrians.  All it knows is that there is a large group of humans over the ridge, further down the valley, etc.

I haven't read Wheel Of Time, but I think this fits. Humans on foot vs humans on horseback, yes. Humans from City X vs City Y, no. Tho from what I've read birds have really good color vision, so he might be able to get what colors they're all wearing, if the mooks are thoughtful enough to color-code by nationality.

 

I would also make it unreliable, in the fact that instinct plays a huge part of the way it experiences the world. Getting distracted by a hare or squirrel, enjoying the thermal that lifts it high up, that sort of thing. 

I could use the character's Animal Handler Roll to measure his ability to keep the falcon focused on what the character cares about rather than what the bird wants to chase. Hmm...now I'm wondering if I should've thrown RSR on the build?

 

Just imagine in your head what would be relevant to this bird and it's need to survive. Those are the ideas the bird would really form and roleplay.

That's a good way of putting it.

 

They would be more interested in an arrow than a human, in my mind.

That's a great point - "They have bows!" is something I think the bird would recognize, know to avoid, and therefore be able to communicate. But swords vs spears? Not so much.

 

As far as quantity, I'm thinking it's basically: one, few, many, hordes?

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When I am playing scenes like this I stress the different and even alien kind of sensory input.
You can see every single hair on a mouse from 30 meters above.
But you could not recognize yourself in a mirror.
You can see kinds of white a human cannot see (ultraviolet) and the world is radiant and shiny even when it rains.
But you cannot discern between a creature and the tools it is using or the clothing it is wearing. You can't even tell horse from rider. (It's a centaur with a bow arm to you.)
You have a bit of magnetic awareness and a lot of discrimination for aerial currents. So you much more "feel" where a creature is in relation to your path of flight (in a way we can feel surroundings with our skin even if we close our eyes).
Your abilty to triangulate distances and vectors beats every engine of war engineer's ballistic algebra. Within tenths of seconds.
But apart from that you are rather dull, always hunger, and seeing a mouse or fish gives you an hormone rush that almost compares to being horny. :)

You might find more inspirations here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_intelligence

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This is a "how would you handle this in your game" question, not a rules question. A ranger PC in my current low fantasy game is a falconer who bought Mind Link with his trained bird.

 

(I suggested calling the power "Bird Brain Connection" but the player demurred.)

 

Note that the falcon is a perfectly normal tho well-trained bird. (The PC does have Animal Handler.) It's not magically uplifted or anything unique, and if it gets killed, he buys a new one at Pets R Us and trains it up.

But he only has a Mind Link with THIS one. He wouldn't be linked to the new one.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

Attempting a Vulcan mind meld on a palindromedary

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But he only has a Mind Link with THIS one. He wouldn't be linked to the new one.

Technically true per RAW, but I felt it wouldn't make sense to tie those character points to a single fragile (and short-lived) animal. The sfx is it's something he's learned to develop between himself and a bird, so while the Mind Link is only with one bird, if that bird dies he can with time re-establish it with a new bird. Which is good, because his falcon did in fact get shot down a few sessions ago; the character went without for awhile until he could obtain a suitable replacement, and is currently training it up.

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