The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

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The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

Post by teotlxixtli »

The Tembo

The Tembo are a race of elephant-like creatures notable not only for their human-level intelligence, but also their bifurcated trunks, which operate like two independent grasping limbs. They primarily inhabit the savannah, but may also be found in forests, mountains, and deserts. They live on average to be 80, though the oldest cows have lived to be over 100.

The Basics

Tembo live in matriarchal family bands that remain nomadic year-round, meeting only with other bands for diplomatic, marital, and economic purposes. The eldest cow, the Matriarch, leads the band in all decision making, and is believed to be the literal embodiment of the sun. The two eldest bulls, the Moons, are her bodyguards and are believed to be the embodiment of the two moons.

Division of Labor

Cows gather food, while bulls build tools and protect the herd. Children become fluent in the Tembo language around one year old, and they are quickly segregated by sex and learn their respective sex’s jobs.

Art

Tembo art is primarily in the form of music and body paint, which often intersect in religious or social festivals such as a solar eclipse or a wedding. Their musical instruments include of course their trunks, but also bells tied around the ankles that jingle when stomped, flutes, drums, and xylophones. Tembo music is highly polyphonic and hypnotic, and is usually played to put the listeners in a trance. Body paint is primarily used by males to impress females, including entire plot lines and characters in complicated, repeating symbols drawn in ochre on the skin.

Relationship with Humans

Tembo were sapient before humans, and, according to the local mythology, actually introduced humans to fire. As such Tembo think condescendingly about humans, and relate to them infrequently. They do however permit the Watu people to maintain a monastic order that lives among the Tembo, learning their language, their customs, and acting diplomatically between Tembo and humans. This is only because the Watu worship the Tembo as their ancestors reincarnated, and the Tembo like the adoration.

If you’d like any more detail, just ask! Thanks for reading!
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

Post by Khemehekis »

That's a pretty imaginative extrapolation of what elephants would become if they developed sapience! Did you know elephants can be taught paintings of flowers and trees and paint them with their trunks?

The Lehola Galaxy has a quadrupedal sapient species called the nuk, who have two trunks evolved from mouth tentacles. Instead of evolving hands (or even flippers like the wama or kyuphi), they pick up and hold everything with their trunks.
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

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Khemehekis wrote: 21 Jun 2021 05:28 That's a pretty imaginative extrapolation of what elephants would become if they developed sapience! Did you know elephants can be taught paintings of flowers and trees and paint them with their trunks?

The Lehola Galaxy has a quadrupedal sapient species called the nuk, who have two trunks evolved from mouth tentacles. Instead of evolving hands (or even flippers like the wama or kyuphi), they pick up and hold everything with their trunks.
Thanks! I was kind of frustrated with the persistence in science fiction and fantasy of having humanoid body plans being so common among sapient species that I went through a list of smart animals and figured, "which one of these could develop sapience given the right push?"
The world the Tembo live in also has a species of sapient parrots called the Kasu.
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

Post by Khemehekis »

teotlxixtli wrote: 21 Jun 2021 06:49 The world the Tembo live in also has a species of sapient parrots called the Kasu.
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=7298&p=303376&hili ... an#p303376
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

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Khemehekis wrote: 21 Jun 2021 07:15
teotlxixtli wrote: 21 Jun 2021 06:49 The world the Tembo live in also has a species of sapient parrots called the Kasu.
viewtopic.php?f=24&t=7298&p=303376&hili ... an#p303376
I should’ve known I didn’t have that idea first
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

Post by Khemehekis »

teotlxixtli wrote: 21 Jun 2021 07:20 I should’ve known I didn’t have that idea first
You don't have to have an original evolutionary path to have an original conpeople. It's having unique biological and cultural details for your conpeople that makes them original. What are your Kasu like? (Not exactly like the parrotpeople of Psittacotia, I assume.)
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

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Im curious if youve thought about developing an interspecies auxiliary language to allow the elephants and humans (and possibly the parrots) to talk with each other, and if so, how close it can come to the standard forms of each species' language.

Do the elephants have linguistic and national divisions or are they all united worldwide? (It's a well known trope in science fiction that the alien species each have only one nation, one language, etc and while this is often criticized, I find perfectly rational, as animals' behavior can be radically different from ours.)

Do the elephants have any particular bodily vulnerabilities that they are always aware of? If humans and elephants come to war, who has the upper hand? Are there sports involving humans with elephants? Either with one species against the other, or two sides each with humans and elephants cooperating?

Im very interested in this idea, and I hope you dont see my questions as a burden ... Im just showing that I hope to read more about your idea in the future.
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

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I'd inject a word of caution: be clear when you're talking about a species and when you're talking about a culture! For instance, I have difficulty believing that it's genetically hardwired that in ALL Tembo cultures, each band has exactly two senior men who are believed to be incarnations of the moons. Think about the diversity of human religious beliefs by comparison!
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

Post by teotlxixtli »

Pabappa wrote: 21 Jun 2021 12:19 Im curious if youve thought about developing an interspecies auxiliary language to allow the elephants and humans (and possibly the parrots) to talk with each other, and if so, how close it can come to the standard forms of each species' language.

Do the elephants have linguistic and national divisions or are they all united worldwide? (It's a well known trope in science fiction that the alien species each have only one nation, one language, etc and while this is often criticized, I find perfectly rational, as animals' behavior can be radically different from ours.)

Do the elephants have any particular bodily vulnerabilities that they are always aware of? If humans and elephants come to war, who has the upper hand? Are there sports involving humans with elephants? Either with one species against the other, or two sides each with humans and elephants cooperating?

Im very interested in this idea, and I hope you dont see my questions as a burden ... Im just showing that I hope to read more about your idea in the future.
Elephants can make grumbling sounds that are too low pitched for humans to hear, so that’s really the only aspect of their language humans can’t learn with study. But I never envisioned an auxiliary for inter species communication...

Tembo-human war has never happened because the Tembo are highly diplomatically minded and always exhaust all possible peaceful measures before going to war. They don’t really bother with weapons because their bodies are practically weapons, and most of the humans they interact with are hunter gatherers so they aren’t at threat of industrialization yet in world history.

Tembo have a sport that works a little bit like croquet, and they also like to play darts
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

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teotlxixtli wrote: 21 Jun 2021 16:23 Tembo-human war has never happened because the Tembo are highly diplomatically minded and always exhaust all possible peaceful measures before going to war.
So... they've been exterminated?

If one side will accept any diplomatic agreement if it means avoiding war, and the other side will not accept any diplomatic agreement it doesn't like if it can instead attempt war, then the bellicose side will win every single negotiating point in every negotiation - they have no incentive to ever back down, because they know the pacifists will back down if necessary if the alternative is the threat of war (a threat that can be made freely, because it will never have to be carried out!). So the Tembo would be trapped in ever-shrinking reservations until they went extinct.
They don’t really bother with weapons because their bodies are practically weapons, and most of the humans they interact with are hunter gatherers so they aren’t at threat of industrialization yet in world history.
To be clear, though, hunter gatherer weapons are enough to annihilate unarmed elephants in any conflict. The bow and arrow is a devastating weapon (as is fire, in the right environment).
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

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Salmoneus wrote: 21 Jun 2021 23:44
teotlxixtli wrote: 21 Jun 2021 16:23 Tembo-human war has never happened because the Tembo are highly diplomatically minded and always exhaust all possible peaceful measures before going to war.
So... they've been exterminated?

If one side will accept any diplomatic agreement if it means avoiding war, and the other side will not accept any diplomatic agreement it doesn't like if it can instead attempt war, then the bellicose side will win every single negotiating point in every negotiation - they have no incentive to ever back down, because they know the pacifists will back down if necessary if the alternative is the threat of war (a threat that can be made freely, because it will never have to be carried out!). So the Tembo would be trapped in ever-shrinking reservations until they went extinct.
They don’t really bother with weapons because their bodies are practically weapons, and most of the humans they interact with are hunter gatherers so they aren’t at threat of industrialization yet in world history.
To be clear, though, hunter gatherer weapons are enough to annihilate unarmed elephants in any conflict. The bow and arrow is a devastating weapon (as is fire, in the right environment).
All worth thinking about. Although being diplomatic at all possible measures doesn't mean the civilization can't fight when they need to. Personally I wouldn't fuck with an elephant under any circumstance, much less one as smart as a human being and has their friends around. I anticipated that the Tembo would have strategies to deal with humans, especially hunter-gatherers even armed with bows and arrows, and their medical knowledge would be enough to save even heavily wounded members of the band. And not to mention the Tembo introduced humans to fire in the first place (at least if the mythology is to be believed), so they know how to use it to their advantage as well.

Also I'm only describing the lack of Tembo-human wars as far as I've worked out the history of the world, which is comfortably in BCE times, using an Earth equivalent. Maybe when humans become more industrialized the Tembo will be in real trouble, but as it stands in history at the moment they are sufficiently organized, revered, and intimidating to keep more than a few skirmishes over resources or broken promises happen.

I guess if they had to make weapons, they would be some kind of sharp implement attached to the end of their tusks, or some sort of bolas/chakra/boomerang type thing
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

Post by Torco »

I'm with Sal on this one: we humans made mammoth extinct pretty early on. sentient elephants, at least some deviant group of them, would see the need to prepare for fighting humans (and each other! real elephants are mighty aggressive creatures when they want). any intelligent creature that has been shaped by evolution, I think, will end up using their intelligence to increase their chances to do the being a living organism thing: eating, resting, protecting themselves from various threats, bumping uglies, etc.

In an old conworld I have my own elephantine sentient race, which is like a gracile wooly mammoth, less heavy but longer-limbed and stupendously large. they live these sort of slow, calculated lives, having long lifespans and migrating across large distances. unsurprisingly, they employ a number of strategies to survive people, including

build anti-human fortifications: from their perspective we'd be kobolds: the more of us they can wittle down before having to risk their valuable selves, the better. (since they have much longer reproductive cycles, this works in the long run, they need to be able to get many of us for each one we get). for this purpose, mazes and labrynths, moats and pits and traps are all excellent ideas. when attacked, they just need retreat into a nearby strongpoint.

armor and weaponry, of course: they weave big, ornate basket-like contraptions to cover their bodies when in danger, lots of wicker spines and horns everywhere that make it really really hard to get close, or get a hit in.

offensively I've thought a trunk can be very useful for shooting bolas, but also many of the same types of weapons a person can use an elephant could as well, just in a different way: for example, it seems likely that people with trunks could -with a tool-user's dexterity- use a spear to stab, or any lever-operated (wielded) weapon, other than perhaps edged ones since I don't know how you manage to keep edge alignment straight with only one finger, excessively flexible as it might be. but a mace can be used to devastating effect. reinforcing tusks, or creating some substitute of them, seems also a good idea: you have tusks and they're dangerous to others but they're your teeth! you'd like to keep them if it's all the same.

alliances: those elephant-worshipping dudes can really be useful at telling the herd when the humans are going to attack. call me cheesy, but having a sect of monk-spies serving gigantic shadowy non-human other sounds cool as hell to me. my guys mostly trade with the locals and lets some of them live amongst them... with proper vetting, of course.

superior command-and-control: humans are almost deaf! they can't hear low rumbles, which are the best way we have of talking across long distances. if we set up sentries and a few messengers then we can maneouver around them... and lead them to those traps.

ultimately, I think 'pacifist races' are kind of a fantasy trope... and one that probably existed to sanitize colonialism. no we didn't enslave them. no, no, they're not savages, they're just very peaceful and innocent. we're protecting them.
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

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Torco wrote: 27 Jun 2021 07:54 I'm with Sal on this one: we humans made mammoth extinct pretty early on. sentient elephants, at least some deviant group of them, would see the need to prepare for fighting humans (and each other! real elephants are mighty aggressive creatures when they want). any intelligent creature that has been shaped by evolution, I think, will end up using their intelligence to increase their chances to do the being a living organism thing: eating, resting, protecting themselves from various threats, bumping uglies, etc.
I'll caveat that, though: I think it's completely believable that a non-human intelligence might be far less warlike than humans are. War is not very efficient from an evolutionary point of view; it occurs mostly due toa combination of human traits that might be lacking in other species. [humans are highly aggressive, untrustworthy, resistent to compromise, tribal, and highly persuadable by their leaders]. While the idea of a species without any conflict is of course utopian, I think a species 'without war', or at least with war being a very rare and strange thing, is probably plausible.

However, that breaks down when you have humans involved. Starting wars is probably counter-evolutionary, but wars of self-defence are certainly not! When people are attacked, they'll fight back. [although you could have a race of 'cowards', which would be interesting - that is, a species with lower levels of self-sacrifice and persuadability. You need some of those properties to have any civilisation... but perhaps you could have enough to have a working society, but not enough to be able to persuade thousands or millions of people to lay down their lives for their rulers? Historically, it's difficult enough with humans, so...]
In an old conworld I have my own elephantine sentient race, which is like a gracile wooly mammoth, less heavy but longer-limbed and stupendously large. they live these sort of slow, calculated lives, having long lifespans and migrating across large distances. unsurprisingly, they employ a number of strategies to survive people, including

build anti-human fortifications: from their perspective we'd be kobolds: the more of us they can wittle down before having to risk their valuable selves, the better. (since they have much longer reproductive cycles, this works in the long run, they need to be able to get many of us for each one we get). for this purpose, mazes and labrynths, moats and pits and traps are all excellent ideas. when attacked, they just need retreat into a nearby strongpoint.
I really like that idea.

armor and weaponry, of course: they weave big, ornate basket-like contraptions to cover their bodies when in danger, lots of wicker spines and horns everywhere that make it really really hard to get close, or get a hit in.
Difficult to put such a contraption on, I'd have thought - maybe they have to help each other? The bigger problem, theough, is that baskets do little against arrows and spears and stabbing swords, all of which precede slashing weapons.

offensively I've thought a trunk can be very useful for shooting bolas, but also many of the same types of weapons a person can use an elephant could as well, just in a different way: for example, it seems likely that people with trunks could -with a tool-user's dexterity- use a spear to stab, or any lever-operated (wielded) weapon, other than perhaps edged ones since I don't know how you manage to keep edge alignment straight with only one finger, excessively flexible as it might be.
I don't think this would be a problem? I'd imagine you'd wrap your trunk in a spiral around the haft of the weapon, giving you a lot of contact with the weapon's surface, and letting you adjust the angle just by wrapping/unwrapping your trunk a degree or two. I'm assuming that the whole trunk is highly tactile, not just the tip.
but a mace can be used to devastating effect. reinforcing tusks, or creating some substitute of them, seems also a good idea: you have tusks and they're dangerous to others but they're your teeth! you'd like to keep them if it's all the same.
Not entirely sure how you'd do that. It's easy to armour your tusks against breaking, but you'd probably have to secure them against twisting as well (you don't want a tusk ripped out) which might require some sort of entire-head helmet device...
alliances: those elephant-worshipping dudes can really be useful at telling the herd when the humans are going to attack. call me cheesy, but having a sect of monk-spies serving gigantic shadowy non-human other sounds cool as hell to me. my guys mostly trade with the locals and lets some of them live amongst them... with proper vetting, of course.
This is a fantastic idea that I may steal at some point. In particular, beyond just having local friends, if the elephants are in some way seen as more knowledgable - more technologically advanced, more magically apt, more wise and socially advanced - they could easily inspire elephant-worshipping cults that could infiltrate the whole of the human world.

[I like conworlds that actually look at the interface between species in this way, rather than seeing each one as an isolated entity... pity I don't do this more myself!]
superior command-and-control: humans are almost deaf! they can't hear low rumbles, which are the best way we have of talking across long distances. if we set up sentries and a few messengers then we can maneouver around them... and lead them to those traps.
This is a very good point - we massively underestimate the extent to which battles were very often won by discipline, tactics, and effective communication, rather than numbers of equipment. Instantaneous communication across a battlefield would be a huge advantage (there are many historical battles that would have been won by the other side if messages had been able to be transmitted sufficiently quickly).

Another advantage elephants have, incidentally, is that they're terrifying - both to humans and, even more so, to horses. Against elephants, you pretty much can't use cavalry. Historically this has been offset by the elephantine instinctive terror of fire, but presumably sapient elephants have gotten this a little more under control...
ultimately, I think 'pacifist races' are kind of a fantasy trope... and one that probably existed to sanitize colonialism. no we didn't enslave them. no, no, they're not savages, they're just very peaceful and innocent. we're protecting them.
Historically, noble savage theories were actually invented for the opposite reason, to argue against slavery and colonialism. In turn, this was underlyingly a debate about political centralisation in the Early Moder period - those who favoured strong monarchs (like Hobbes) argued that uncivilised people were brutal and violent, while those who favoured more consensual politics (like Montaigne) argued that uncivilised people were peaceful and democratic.
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

Post by teotlxixtli »

I conceived of the Tembo as being diplomatically driven because of the way that real elephants solve problems within their bands and between bands, not due to any noble Savage influence, although I can see the parallels for sure.

All really helpful add ons, thank you all!
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

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I'll caveat that, though: I think it's completely believable that a non-human intelligence might be far less warlike than humans are (...) However, that breaks down when you have humans involved.
exactly! it's a good caveat, though... we do see variation in inclination towards war between cultures and people, so why not species.
I really like that idea.
innit? it has the added benefit that bits of your conworld are filled with weird and dangerous contraptions, kinda like dungeons, apparently for no reason.
Difficult to put such a contraption on, I'd have thought - maybe they have to help each other? The bigger problem, theough, is that baskets do little against arrows and spears and stabbing swords, all of which precede slashing weapons.
way I figure, it depends on how thick the wicker is. we puny humans weave baskets from thin branches, but these dudes, with the help of heat and whatever else, can make wicker out of wall siding. of course, it'd take experimental conworldology to figure out if it's actually viable, but worst case scenario you cover the wicker in leather and/or thick fabric to make it more pierceproof. the putting it on is, of course, with help, but also armor really isn't going to be a single piece, but it's still a big deal to put on and off: probably the kind of thing a knight or professional soldier -who can afford support staff in war- would go for.
I don't think this would be a problem? I'd imagine you'd wrap your trunk in a spiral around the haft of the weapon, giving you a lot of contact with the weapon's surface, and letting you adjust the angle just by wrapping/unwrapping your trunk a degree or two. I'm assuming that the whole trunk is highly tactile, not just the tip.
mmmmm.... good point. and if you're strong enough to lift 300 kilos you can exert pressure on a stick to keep it from rotating in your trunk anyway. the wrapping will take away a foot or two of reach, but it may be worth it. man, elephants with swords sound terrifying.
This is a fantastic idea that I may steal at some point. In particular, beyond just having local friends, if the elephants are in some way seen as more knowledgable - more technologically advanced, more magically apt, more wise and socially advanced - they could easily inspire elephant-worshipping cults that could infiltrate the whole of the human world.
please do, and even if they aren't seen like that, they're still be numinous to some degree: we humans have a thing for macrofauna, i think, and anyone who's stood in person before a giraffe or an elephant or a whale, hell even a bison or a horse can tell you, there's something emotional that's stirred up in the soul of a man by large bois.
Another advantage elephants have, incidentally, is that they're terrifying - both to humans and, even more so, to horses. Against elephants, you pretty much can't use cavalry. Historically this has been offset by the elephantine instinctive terror of fire, but presumably sapient elephants have gotten this a little more under control...
Oh, yeah, absolutely, and this works in conjunction with the other strategies: it's the fifth day of your incursion into the trunklands, they have not let you sleep. you don't know how, but you swear there's an unearthly growl in the land every now and then, and it gets especially noticeable before they attack. rocks are flung stupendous distances at the camp every night, and everytime you march a good day's march you fall into some strange trap or other. after the five days, when your men are exhausted and paranoic from the exertion, a 4 meter wall of flesh and trunk and tusk charges at you sounding like a brass band. and then they invite the survivors to join a weird cult.
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

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Torco wrote: 27 Jun 2021 19:51 innit? it has the added benefit that bits of your conworld are filled with weird and dangerous contraptions, kinda like dungeons, apparently for no reason.
Though presumably they'd be protecting the elephant homes? Unless they've been abandoned.

[in my SF conworld, I have an alien species that instinctively constructs large structures (think of them as the sentient and co-operative equivalent of bowerbirds... giant six-legged crab-hippo bowerbirds...). Now I'm wondering if they went through a labyrinth-and-castle period in their history...]
Difficult to put such a contraption on, I'd have thought - maybe they have to help each other? The bigger problem, theough, is that baskets do little against arrows and spears and stabbing swords, all of which precede slashing weapons.
way I figure, it depends on how thick the wicker is. we puny humans weave baskets from thin branches, but these dudes, with the help of heat and whatever else, can make wicker out of wall siding. of course, it'd take experimental conworldology to figure out if it's actually viable, but worst case scenario you cover the wicker in leather and/or thick fabric to make it more pierceproof.
I don't think it would be great. We humans weave armour out of steel, with very small rings, and it's still vulnerable to arrows and pointy things (a rapier can go right through chainmail). I think to make your wicker armour dense enough to stop spikes, you'd have to make it so dense that you might as well make it solid. And certainly might as well make it out of metal! Leather helps, of course, but not much; thick fabric doesn't really help at all, other than cushioning concussive blows a little bit.
mmmmm.... good point. and if you're strong enough to lift 300 kilos you can exert pressure on a stick to keep it from rotating in your trunk anyway. the wrapping will take away a foot or two of reach, but it may be worth it. man, elephants with swords sound terrifying.
Elephants ARE terrifying. Fortunately, we're smarter than them, and much better organised. Otherwise, we'd be in trouble!

Apparently elephant trunks can lift 300 up to maybe 500kg for the biggest. But they can actually lift more with their heads, maybe almost twice as much. Elephants have been caught on camera flipping hippopotamuses into the air and upside down. Imagine even just a spiked mace in an elephant's trunk - they would smash wide swathes through any humans nearby. I'm torn between thinking a sword would be even worse - like a scythe through grass - and thinking that at that power it may not really matter whether the weapon is sharp!

There's also the mobility to consider. A trotting elephant is a similar speed to an Olympic sprinter. How good are they at running backwards? Even if they're bad, they could surely outpace even a charging human, you'd have thought. Meaning that you could never get close enough to attack them, with anything other than a very, very long spear (and just think what carnage an elephant-hammer could do to a neatly-ordered spear phalanx...). Or ranged weapons, of course.

Their weakness might be throwing. I'm not sure they can throw much - their power seems to be upward, not forward (though I know they can flip small stones a distance). But then again, they can swing, so if you could teach one to release a discuss or a throwing hammer at the right point...
Oh, yeah, absolutely, and this works in conjunction with the other strategies: it's the fifth day of your incursion into the trunklands, they have not let you sleep. you don't know how, but you swear there's an unearthly growl in the land every now and then, and it gets especially noticeable before they attack. rocks are flung stupendous distances at the camp every night, and everytime you march a good day's march you fall into some strange trap or other. after the five days, when your men are exhausted and paranoic from the exertion, a 4 meter wall of flesh and trunk and tusk charges at you sounding like a brass band. and then they invite the survivors to join a weird cult.
As I say, I'm not sure about the flinging - if they can do this, though, there's probably no need for the charge, they could just be the equivalent of mounted cavalry, firing from a distance, too fast for humans to ever engage.

But in any case: elephants were historically terrifying in war even when all they did was run at you, let alone elephants with weapons.

That said, I think your scenario may undersell the humans and oversell the elephants: the one thing humans ARE incredibly good at (other than throwing) is fighting/running for days at a time. Human endurance is far greater than that of almost any other animal, and I suspect elephants are included in that.
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

Post by Torco »

Though presumably they'd be protecting the elephant homes? Unless they've been abandoned.
oh, no, they'll just build traps and walls in random crossroads and river crossings, too! nasty fellows. simple labrynths are easy to build and frustrating to navigate, and i'm just saying, if the birdwomen start to get it into their heads that birdboys navigating their mazes is actually very sexy, well, it wouldn't be that many millions years until the maze race makes smarts soar.
I don't think it would be great. We humans weave armour out of steel, with very small rings, and it's still vulnerable to arrows and pointy things (a rapier can go right through chainmail). I think to make your wicker armour dense enough to stop spikes, you'd have to make it so dense that you might as well make it solid. And certainly might as well make it out of metal! Leather helps, of course, but not much; thick fabric doesn't really help at all, other than cushioning concussive blows a little bit.
my elephant-guys agree, but alas, they don't have steel or bronze in abundance: they're not very rich, by human standards, and it takes a lot of steel to dress a bull. but don't discount the effectiveness of lightweight armour! even with ancient technology (and that old conworld is kind of classical greece tech vibes) you can, for example, glue a bunch of layers of coarse linen with some glue (leather glue will do) and get something pretty effective at stopping stabs and cuts: it won't protect you from a full-on well-put stab to the stomach, but it'll increase survivability against everything else. the greeks called it linothorax. even boiled leather, say from a cow, can be persuaded to stop a stab or a cut, at least some of the time. there's many examples of non metallic armor, too! mexicas and quechuas used textiles, the tlingit used wood, the chinese used treated rattan... even a heavy jacket can be much better than nothing.

the thing with swords is that humans are just about strong enough that cutting someone in half with a really big, really sharp sword is possible, as i understand, though barely. elephants could, it follows, literally cut people down. the psychological effect alone. The mobility is an excellent point, too. less clever primates also don't throw, it's probably to do with tool use: in principle, with enough dexterity and practice, it seems likely they could use a flicking motion.
That said, I think your scenario may undersell the humans and oversell the elephants: the one thing humans ARE incredibly good at (other than throwing) is fighting/running for days at a time. Human endurance is far greater than that of almost any other animal, and I suspect elephants are included in that.
oh, yeah, i just find them cool as hell, but you're right: think of it from the elephant's perspective: there's these creepy, tiny upright things that just keep going... they jump on top of you... imagine if one climbs up your back! it'll have brought a pickaxe, the nasty things. and if you fall on your side to get him off, and hopefully crush him, you're now on the floor surrounded by his mates. they'll poke at your eyes and they'll make a mess of your ears, and cover you in nasty scratches and bruises and they're horrible, the damned things. they'll use poison and nets and everything. and there's just so many of them. just, if you find them, talk to your friends, keep your distance, do whatever damage you can and get the hell out of there, take a breather and try again. only charge when you're reeeally sure they'll break, never before.
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

Post by teotlxixtli »

Do y’all think sapient elephants would domesticate oxpeckers? I just had a vision of a baby elephant girl taking care of oxpecker eggs in a little portable nest while the parents of the egg clean the baby elephant’s mother behind her ears
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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

Post by elemtilas »

teotlxixtli wrote: 01 Jul 2021 05:31 Do y’all think sapient elephants would domesticate oxpeckers? I just had a vision of a baby elephant girl taking care of oxpecker eggs in a little portable nest while the parents of the egg clean the baby elephant’s mother behind her ears
Sounds cute!

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Re: The Tembo: A Race of Sapient Elephants

Post by teotlxixtli »

I’d also like to ask the forum how they feel about the Tembo practicing agriculture. They live in a habitat much like African elephants do now, which does not exactly come to mind when I think of agricultural fertility. But on the other hand as herbivores they would have greater benefits from the practice in terms of resources spent versus gained... what do y’all think?
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