Postcard from 1938 of the Nautiloid Weigh Station at Crowley Point (NWSCP), Provincetown, Cape Cod, an area famous for its insanely steep drop-off, its waters plunging from a depth of only 12 ft to more than 9,840 ft in a distance of about 3 yards, allowing all manner and size of sea devil access to the shore and the town’s necessarily stubby pleasure pier.
Its fragile scale broken in 1933 while attempting to weigh a reluctant mega-kraken, by the time this lovely card was released in 1938 carnival age and weight guessers were being employed to estimate the tonnage of giant passing cephalopods.
I guess that depends on your definition of unique.
If you define unique as rare (and valuable), then gems such as alexandrite, grandidierite, jeremejevite, musgravite, and black opal are some of the most unique gems in the world, found in very specific, limited regions of the world. With these, finding them in a pure form is incredibly difficult, which is why they’re usually worth so much. Black opal is one of my favorites, since it looks like a rock swallowed a galaxy.
If you define unique more subjectively - on uniqueness of appearance rather than rarity - then there are a few other gems that stand out. To list just a few that are my personal favorites:
Ammolite: this gem is similar to opal – both fossilized shell-making, silica-rich creatures but in this case made from fossilized ammonites (nautilus) rather than diatoms (which are a kind of plankton) – but you can find it as whole nautiloids that can then be made into gemstone pieces (though I kind of prefer it whole but that’s my inner paleontologist speaking)
Fluorite: possibly my favorite gemstone mineral, fluorite is awesome for a couple of reasons - namely, it forms in near-perfect cubic crystals, is dazzlingly glowy under UV light, and comes in almost every color (usually clear, purple, and green, and occasionally a rare blue or impure yellow)
Hackmanite: this gem is a particular kind of sodalite that actually changes color in response to light (it’s called tenebresence, and it’s the same concept as transition lenses in glasses - just natural and in a really pretty gem) - when it’s mined, it’s usually purple, but over time, it turns white; if it’s put back in the dark, it’ll fade back to purple, and you can repeat this over and over and over
Labradorite: with this gem, light reflects off the crystal structure in such a way that the rock has really strong blue-green iridescence, and it looks different every way you turn it - the light will hit it in one spot and the dull grey rock will suddenly explode with all this amazing blue color
Pietersite: I love this gem because it can come in any color - from brown to yellow to red to blue to purple to grey - and I’ve never seen two pieces that look even close to identical. Technically, it’s a variation of quartz - a really, really awesome variation of tiger’s eye quartz that looks nothing like other quartz types
These are just a few examples, and this is a really long and rambling answer to a very short question, but I think uniqueness can be defined objectively in terms of rarity and worth, or subjectively in terms of how freaking cool and special they are
Everyone’s favorite psychic monsters are a perfect fit for Starfinder’s science fantasy setting. In fact, many of you may have fond memories of the old Spelljammer setting, which heavily featured starfaring Illithid and their many nefarious schemes.
Unfortunately, Illithid are Brand Identity for D&D, and thus can’t show up in official Starfinder Material. Fortunately for us, however, I’m not affiliated with Paizo!
The goal here was to replicate the classic D&D Mindflayer as closely as possible. Illithids are a potentially powerful race; their mind thrust ability is more potent than anything in the Core Rulebook or Alien Archive that’s been publicly revealed, and they have more racial traits than is typically allowed. In addition, their main racial weakness (Dietary Requirement) can be mostly mitigated through the application of a rather cheap magic item, giving them an edge over normal characters.
GMs should mitigate this by emphasizing the various RP weaknesses of Illithids; specialized food is typically unavailable in most places (unless, of course, they choose to consume brains), and many other races tend to distrust them for their species reputation. They should be significantly more susceptible to the spells and spell like abilities of Elder Brains, and hated by Gith of all stripes. (Elder Brains and Gith coming in a later edition of the Starstone Gazette).
Illithid(Medium Aberration) +2 Int, +2 Wis, -2 Str. [4 HP]
30 Feet (Ground)
Illithid Magic: Illithid gain the following spell-like abilities.
At Will: Daze, Psychokinetic Hand 1/Day:Mind Thrust
The Illithid treats their character level as the caster level for the purposes of this effect. When an Illithid uses this ability to cast Mind Thrust, it is always cast at first level. An Illithid capable of casting spells (such as a Mystic or Technomancer) instead adds Mind Thrust to their spells known. An Illithid with the Major Psychic Power feat may select Mind Thrust as a second level spell.
Psychic Potential: Illithid count as having the Minor Psychic Power feat for the purposes of meeting prerequisites. In addition, they do not need to meet the Charisma prerequisites for Minor Psychic Power or any feat which has it as a prerequisite.
Limited Telepathy: Illithid can communicate telepathically with any creatures within 30 feet with whom they share a language.
Tentacles: Illithid have long, grasping tentacles sprouting from their mouths which they use to consume their prey. They have a +4 bonus on attack rolls to grapple foes their size category or smaller. An Illithid can use these tentacles to perform a Coup De Grace on a Helpless Foe, dealing damage as if the Illithid had the Improved Unarmed Strike feat. If the target dies, their brain is extracted and may be consumed by the Illithid.
Darkvision: Illithid have Darkvision out to 60 Feet.
Light Blindness: An Illithid exposed to bright light is blinded in one round and dazzled for as long as they remain in the area of Bright Light.
Dietary Requirements: Illithid cannot consume normal food, instead relying on the brain matter of sentient creatures for sustenance. While substitutes are available in the Pact Worlds, they are rare and expensive. An Illithid who attempts to consume any food or drink (except water) not intended for Illithids, even unintentionally, must immediately make a DC 15 Fortitude Save or become Nauseated. All rations, meals, and intoxicants for Illithids cost twice as much as normal to accommodate for their specialized dietary needs. In addition, colonies lacking an Illithid population are unlikely to have such substitutes at all, though they can be crafted with the Life Sciences skill, non-sentient brain matter, and UPBs equal to their cost.
While these dietary substitutes are sufficient in keeping Illithids alive, they pale in comparison to a freshly consumed brain from a sentient creature. Whenever an Illithid successfully Coup De Graces a sentient creature with their Tentacles and consumes their brain, they are sated for an entire week. Such consumption is considered to be an evil act for purposes of alignment, and is highly illegal in the Pact Worlds.
Also known as ‘Mind Flayers’, Illithids are a fearsome psychic species found across countless worlds. They’re identified by their octopus like heads, with four tentacles draping down from where their mouths would be.
Illithid have a reputation for being loathed by most sapient species, due to their dietary habits and methods of reproduction; Illithid begin their lives as a parasitic, tadpole like organism which buries into, consumes, and eventually replaces the brain of a humanoid creature. The creature remains dependent on the brains of sentient humanoids for sustainance thereafter. Illithid ships (strange, biotechnical structures known as ‘nautiloids’ for their mollusk like shape) are often pirate and slaver vessels, raiding ships and settlements of sapient beings for food stock and breeding material.
Nearly every Illithid ship or compound is commanded by an Elder Brain; a psychic entity which feeds upon the brains and psychic energies of its victims. Though Illithid are all individually very intelligent and posess a great deal of willpower to an outside observer, they tend to lack any real will of their own. Their memories and perceptions are meticulously shaped by the Elder Brain, instilling loyalty to the point that most Illithid function as mere extensions of the abberant brain’s will. Each Elder Brain is different, but all rely on their colonies of Illithid to provide them with knowledge and sustainance.
The Illithid were, in the millenia before the gap, rulers of a vast stellar empire; led by a single Elder Brain and its many subordinates in a network of galactic tyranny. When this brain was slain in a rebellion by an ancient warrior known as Gith, the empire collapsed on itself, and the Elder Brains took to infighting and pursuing their own agendas, with some even settling on lost Golarion. It is unknown what happened to the Illithid during the Gap, as they had regained space travel and had already established hidden colonies on many Pact Worlds. What is known is the aftermath, and the effect it had on both Illithid and Pact Worlds society.
You see, because Illithids are parasites which replace the brains of sentient creatures, the unfortunate victim doesn’t actually die. Instead, the victims soul is metaphysically merged with that of the nascent illithid, and maintains a faint echo of the individuals memories, alignment, and personality. As Illithid are naturally psychically sentitive, the newly formed mind flayer is invariably influenced by the nature of their past host; sharing hobbies, interests, and even alignment. As a rule, Elder Brains take considerable effort to stamp out such remnants, suppressing any fragments of the host’s persona that still linger. As Charm and Dominate effects only function for a brief period of time and require constant maintanance, and an individual Elder Brain can have hundreds (if not thousands) of Illithid in their employ, most rely on manipulating the memories and perceptions of these 'problem children’ to ensure their loyalty.
So when a galaxy wide event wiped out everyone’s memories for the past few millenia, many of these so-called Renegade Illithid experienced the first moments of true lucidity, and the long supressed personas of their souls quickly reasserted themselves… now backed with the psychic powers and mental abilities of a fully formed Illithid. Many were horrified or enraged at the Tyranny of the Elder Brains, either staging their own rebellions or fleeing from the Elder Brains control. In the aftermath of the Chaos, the Pact Worlds suddenly found themselves host to a rather large Illithid refugee population, consisting of the Renegade Illithid who had regained fragments of their original personalities, and the many Illithid whose Elder Brains were slain in the chaos, leaving them listless and without a guiding force. It took years (and some nudging from Eox) for them to be recognized as Pact Worlds citizens, but now it’s not uncommon to spot an Illithid living on the decks of Absalom Station, or working independently in the Diaspora.
Free Illithid tend to work as information brokers and scientists, relying on synthetic brain substitutes, 'donations’ from Eox, or Aeon Stones for sustainance. Many have found work with the Starfinder Society, in particular the Infophiles, as their love of knowledge and secrets transcends the will of an Elder Brain. Some, eager to free their brethren from the command of the Elder Brains, have taken to raiding and capturing Illithid colonies in order to destroy their Elder Brains or (more likely) subject those they capture to Psychic Surgery in an attempt to liberate them. This rarely works.
A few Elder Brains have also taken to sending infiltrators, Illithid who are still fanatically loyal, yet who pretend to have been liberated in order to spy on Pact Worlds society. Despite this loyalty, the distance from the Elder Brain means that these Illithid run the risk of becoming the mask and going Renegade themselves.
Ammonites at the Smithsonian. Originating from within the bactritoid nautiloids, the ammonoid cephalopods first appeared in the Devonian (circa 400 million years ago) and became extinct at the close of the Cretaceous (65.5 Ma) along with the dinosaurs. - Helen Rumeau - pinterest
@drawtober Theme: double double toil n trouble A little waterwitch. I am not sure what kind of fish she is to be honest. face says catfish, fins say coelacant and the nautiloids say “we dont know. we are just adorable!”
Foot-long section of a large straight shelled nautiloid, both sides and end view showing the siphuncle. Based on the size of the section and the taper of the shell, this thing was probably 6 feet long or longer. I don’t know the species, but it’s from the Southern Lake Michigan/Illinois/Indiana region, likely Ordovician or Silurian in age. If you know what it is, I’d be happy to hear from you.
Do you have any interesting facts about cephalopods you can share?
Off the top of my head:
Octopuses have photoreceptors directly behind their eyes rather than a tangle of nerves eclipsing the eye and then the photoreceptors (a system all vertebrates have in place); this gives them excellent eyesight for hunting.
All cephalopods have beaks, and they’re so hard they can’t be digested. That fact enables us to calculate how many giant squid a year are consumed by sperm whales, and is the reason we knew so much about them before ever capturing one on film.
Speaking of the fearsome and Jules Verne-inspiring giant squid, even smaller species of squid can be super aggressive. Humboldt squid are NUTS; they’ll attack anything from divers to other squid.
Cuttlefish may use their camouflage (changes in skin color controlled by chromatophores) in dizzying and very fast patterns to hypnotize prey.
I know jack shit about nautiloids for some reason; I’m very sorry. They’re the oldest cephalopods I guess? Like they look very similar to how they looked during the cumbrian period (squids lost their little conical wizard hats. Rest in piece.)
One of my favorite underrated aspects of all cephalopods is that they’re some of the few animals adapted to hunt and eat crustaceans. I know we’re all used to eating crab, but you have to remember that we had to make special tools just for ripping the shells open and cephalopods can do it with their arms like they’re opening a pickle jar (and yes it’s arms not tentacles. Squid and cuttlefish have eight arms and two longer tentacles, and those things are fucking scary- suction cups on the arms are already barbed but tentacles on larger squid can end in hooks.)
Dear Lady helix. Are nautilus descendant of our dear lord helix and you? Thank you and Praise Lord Helix!
To answer your question directly, no, a nautilus
is not a descendant of an ammonite
(both of these are my beautiful bbys)
However, they are somewhat closely related. Within the class Cephalopoda, there are three sublcasses: the Coleoidea (squids, cuttlefish and octopus), the Nautiloidea (a diverse but mainly extinct group, with the exception of the modern day nautilus species) and the entirely extinct Ammonoidea, which of course includes the ammonites, and lord helix himself.
In fact, it is thought that both the Coeloidea and the Ammonoidea are descended from a particular group within the Nautiloidea, kind of opposite to what your question asked!
But like I said, though it’s not apparent today, the Nautiloids were a huge diverse group back in the palaeozoic day, and included not only those similar to the living reclict nautilus species, but also a variety of other forms, including the straight shelled orthocones (which in turn included this huge bastard)
Spiral shelled nautilids and ammonites superficially look very similar, however, there are key differences, for example, the siphuncle (a thread of flesh that runs through the animal’s shell, used growing the shell, and also for controlling water/gass input/output within the shell chambers i.e. controlling buoyancy) runs through the centre of a nautilid shell, as apposed to along the outer edge of an ammonite shell. There are also differences in the number of chambers within the shell, suture shape separating champers, and the fact that ammonites were thought to be able to completely retract within their shells - nautilids (at least living day ones) cannot.
anyway both groups are really super cool and I like cephalopods a lot, I hope that answered your question!
There is no glamor in eating garbage, no elegance in sifting through the sand for loose particles of decomposed weeds, or flesh rotting inside a nautiloid shell, or an osctracoderm’s curled droppings. Bumastus creeps on the seafloor with its own kind. They’re a near-sighted and nervous species. When the shadow of a eurypterid glides over them, the stout trilobites wriggle backwards into the sand, leaving just their eyes peeking from the speckled grains, watching anxiously for another shadow to sweep past. They’re cowards who would rather roll into a tight ball than fight when attacked. They distrust strange flavors, dislike different species. Neophobic, apprehensive, small-minded, and socially fussy, they just want to be left alone to pick through the sea’s waste and maintain their 60 million-year dynasty of bottom-dwelling.
Like their modern relative the chambered nautilus, Nautiloids had a soft body with tentacles that emerged from a hollow shell filled with gas for buoyancy. Unlike the Nautilus, which is admired for the beauty of its spiral shell, the Nautiloid shell came in a variety of shapes. Orthoceras (which translates as “straight horn”) Nautiloids had long, cone shaped shells, and must have swum like torpedoes through ancient seas. Their fossilized shells are common and are used as decorative stone all over the world. These distinctive black and white specimens come from Morocco, and are often quarried in slabs teeming with fossil Orthoceras shells. The originally hollow chambers of the shell have filled in with white calcite crystals, and in some pieces the siphuncle, a tube that ran through all the chambers of the shell, is visible.