Lifespan: Immortal Height: (varies) Diet: Magninium, omnivore Sex: (varies) Type: (varies)
Behemoths are born almost solely through accident - coming into existence painfully and slowly as an animal comes across and consumes large quantities of Magninium. As the magic within their body grows, it cracks and mutates their bodies beyond imagination, and warps their minds towards endless hunger for more Magninium. These creatures take more and more risks to attain magic as they grow more and more powerful, until they are preying on civilized cities and consuming sentients for sustenance. As such, behemoths are often culled as soon as they are discovered.
But such a fate does not befall all behemoths. Some's growth is slow enough that they achieve true sentience early in their lives and, in a strike of compassion, surpress their natural urge to hunt. They approach other sentients curiously and cautiously, and some societies choose to accept them into their fold as full-fledged citizens, seeing them as no different from the sentient races save for their unusual and violent birth.
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Identity is a difficult topic when considering that many behemoths do not end up achieving it at all, dying in their non-sentient stage as an animal.
Behemoths occur when an animal is exposed, continually, to a high quantity of magic. How this happens is varied - perhaps they stumble upon a trove of charged gemstones and are infused with magic, or continually consume magic-rich plants until they hit a breaking point. The overabundance of magic in their bodies begins warping their forms and minds, overriding their instincts and pressing them to find more magic, as magic always tries to seek more of itself.
At this stage, behemoths still appear mostly as they did as an animal, though often with added (or removed) limbs, strange growths across their body, and distinctly "aware" eye movements. They are cautious still, but much more aggressive than most animals, and will charge lone sentients if they think they can win against them.
Over time, the mutations increase in abundance and intensity, morphing the behemoth to look unlike any known animal. If this process is slow enough, they will attain true sentience during this "phase". If this process is too swift, however, they often will only achieve sentience upon becoming a titan, the largest class of behemoth. Titans are extremely powerful and aggressive, capable of casting magic and often hold enormous territories under their wings.
Behemoths never truly stop growing, though their growth slows if they are not consuming large quantities of magic. Sane behemoths will often abstain in order to avoid becoming too large to properly interact with people, though hostile behemoths obviously do not care about this.
Rarely, a plant may become a behemoth rather than an animal. As animals can move and attain more magic swiftly, it is exceptionally rare for a plant to undergo the process, but not completely unheard of. They are alike to their animal counterparts in all ways except physical, and that they are vastly more likely to become friendly behemoths with slower growth.
Killing titans is an extremely difficult task, so many societies try to sweep local regions for growing behemoths before they become titans.
Sentient hostile behemoths value their territory, their violent accomplishments, and how well they regularly feast. They are often somewhat arrogant and self-assured, especially if they are long-lived, and think of themselves as invincible. They may deliberately tend to and farm some of the animals in their territory to ensure a steady supply of food, but are often not sated by this and make premeditated plans to hunt cities.
Most do not seem to experience fear, but merely seek to avoid pain - especially pain earned from foolish mistakes. They are calculating and manipulative, and are aware of the sentient races' general cooperation. They tend to mock sane behemoths for "bending" to the sentient races by not simply pretending to be trustworthy before consuming anyone who trusts them.
Behemoths who remained sane through most of their growth and willingly approach cities seeking companionship or curiosity rather than violence are known as "friendly behemoths" (or sometimes "sane behemoths"), often counter to "hostile behemoths". These behemoths often view civilization and society as interesting centers of learning and understanding that they wish to be part of. Many highly prize information and are voracious readers, eager to expand their scope of the world and learn how it functions.
They draw a stark line between themselves and "feral" behemoths, and do not consider themselves to be the same species, citing their true sentience as separation. Feral behemoths who have achieved true sentience and choose to utilize it for hunting are often considered genuine threats by friendly behemoths, even if they are not local to the friendly behemoth's region, and many think hunting down intelligent ferals is a moral duty of theirs.
Friendly behemoths do not find it especially difficult to form an identity for themselves - the things they enjoy learning about often form a core of their identity, and they enjoy being experts on those topics. They do not associate their previous animal lives with their new life, and often only have vague memories of what it was like - if they remember their previous form at all.
Behemoths are generally widely feared; even if someone has never seen one face-to-face, many are told horror stories of great battles against them requiring the cooperation of entire towns. Sightings of an undiscovered behemoth in an area is often a call to arms, wherein the local cities are fortified and militia mobilized. Areas of known behemoth influence are avoided, especially if their presence cannot be purged swiftly - attracting attention can often collapse smaller or unprepared settlements.
Many react with some tension and uncertainty when meeting friendly behemoths for the first time, but generally warm up quickly as friendly behemoths hold conversations, often have jobs of some sort, and integrate into society as another member. Hostile behemoths, if they can talk at all, generally only speak to manipulate or trick individuals, providing a stark contrast to friendly behemoths. It is common for friendly behemoths to work in defense, especially against hostile behemoths, but this is not a hard rule.
As behemoths are effectively Immortal, some may become the guardians of a certain region after generations-long relations with the local people. News of these docile behemoths carries far, and they often attract some tourism and attention to their place of residence. How each behemoth deals with this gawking is, obviously, dictated by the individual.
Behemoths come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, though they generally do not appear exactly like any known animal, having been mutated away from their original forms. There is no limit to what sort of animal they can form from, though some animals are better at becoming behemoths than others - worm behemoths are not unheard of, but worms obviously would struggle to attain vast amounts of magic. Most behemoths do not remember what they were formed from, though some guesswork can be made based on magical signature.
Notably, behemoths that have grown from plants can still retain leaves or flowers, and are typically green in color, marking them uniquely as growing from plants.
There are no limits to what they can appear like, but they are generally quadrupedal and somewhat enlongated in shape. Larger behemoths attain expressive faces and can emote with them, and often gain thumbs to grip things with (or use telekinesis if they lack them). Many weigh more than they appear to be, and are difficult to move if they choose to plant themselves.
Most behemoths keep their organ systems as they mutate, though these are vestigial - their bodies feed solely on magic, not food. The only organ that remains significant is the heart, which pumps their magic-rich blood through their bodies.
The behemoth size classifications, from smallest to largest, are: larvae, modest, intermediate, towering, colossus, titan. These classifications do not have exact starting and end points, and are usually applied by comparing the behemoth's size to other known behemoth sizes.
Most friendly behemoths do not wear clothes - appropriate sizes and cuts for their unique bodies are impossible to find, and they generally don't care about nudity anyways. However, they will accessorize for formal events (or cover up if politely asked), and some may have particular trinkets or jewelry that they are fond of and wear constantly.
Hostile behemoths also do not care about clothes.
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In a word, behemoths are uncommon, especially in groups. Most behemoths are not truly sentient, and are often engaged in a blood-hazed state wherein they only seek more food. The rare behemoths that attain sentience late in their lifespans often only utilize their intelligence to hunt more efficiently.
They mature and mutate without family, friends, or guidance - when they meet their kin, they see each other mostly as animalistic competition for food and resources, making cooperation and culture among wild behemoths rare if not nonexistent. They may occasionally collaborate to take down prey bigger than themselves, but alliances do not last long, especially if they are on the smaller size and still competing with wild animals.
It takes much effort and feeding to become a titan of a behemoth, worthy of the name - the kind of feeding that typically means killing and consuming any other local growing behemoths, and maintaining a territory or hunting grounds. News of this may ripple to other behemoths as a warning to avoid the titan's region, and other behemoths may attain respect for that titan, if they are sentient enough. But this respect does not translate to admiration - many would be happy to take advantage of a titan's death to become the new top behemoth in the region.
As they are more common in highly-saturated universes, some vague behemoth societies may develop, though they are unlikely to produce art, care for their sick, or engage in culture beyond cooperative hunting and communal sleeping. These are not close-knit groups, however, and members of these roving bands are likely to turn on one another should the opportunity arise.
Even among sane behemoths, they do not have much of an individual culture. They differentiate themselves from feral behemoths and do not consider them kin, and generally frown upon their bloodlust and lack of intelligence. However, friendly behemoths are generally excited to meet one another, and if there are multiple in a certain region, they are highly likely to be friends.
Many take great pains to integrate into sentient society the best they can, and some can develop dysphoria regarding their bodies and selves, feeling 'trapped' in animalistic bodies or alienated from their bipedal friends. They generally value knowledge and learning, and most abstain from violence unless in defense against other behemoths, seeing it as uncultured and regressing to their feral origins. They are eager to "prove themselves" and are somewhat open about seeking approval from other people. Though most behemoths can't fit in libraries and archives, they nonetheless greatly enjoy reading.
Most do not leave a region once they have settled there, and dislike moving in general - partly from difficulty of finding a place to live, and partly because of a fear of not being accepted elsewhere. However, feelings of being "trapped" are uncommon, and this sensation mostly manifests in mild annoyance if they discover their friends are immigrating elsewhere.
Behemoths are incapable of producing children, possibly as a byproduct of how their Magninium has been forcibly mutated. Most do not experience a drive to find a partner and raise children, and unless taught generally do not differentiate between sentient children and adults. Sane behemoths who learn can serve as decent babysitters or teachers, if they choose to go into those fields, but still do not express much interest in children themselves.
Many are endeared somewhat to pygmy behemoths, though calling this a mentor or parental relationship would be overstating it.
They do not consider "growing" behemoths to be children, but consider newly-sentient behemoths as a sort of apprentice as they learn about the world and how it works.
As Immortals, behemoths do not die of old age, but can be killed through any other means. Sickness does not generally take them, but violence and bloodshed often do. Friendly behemoths will mourn the loss of one of their allies as any person would - celebrating their life and accomplishments, acknowledging missing their presence. They have no rituals associated with death, but will likely try to emulate the rituals of the societies they've integrated into.
Large behemoths' bodies are too enormous to bury, so many are dumped into the ocean or frozen in ice instead. Behemoths do not find this insulting; many like the idea of helping lesser creatures feed in their death.
Behemoths primarily consume raw magic, and particularly enjoy charged gemstones as a snack. However, they are capable of eating anything and everything once past a certain sizepoint. Hunger in the sense of food is not a normal sensation to them; they do not crave flavors or cuts of meat, but instead feel a "pull" to the nearest largest pool of magic and a strong desire to consume it. Friendly behemoths suppress this urge through willpower and consuming magic-rich materials instead.
Most often, this "large pool of magic" is a local city of the sentient races, but it can also be things such as an enormous gemstone deposit underground or occasionally the celestial bodies (which are huge conduits of magic).
Behemoths can withstand essentially all climates they are exposed to, and are unbothered by most weather. They tend to enjoy whatever climate their animal form was most suited for, however - a thick-furred animal will still prefer colder temperatures and tundras.
- Sane behemoths attain some degree of Common Knowledge as they mature, but this is usually limited to understanding how magic works, speaking Common, and vaguely the sentient races.
- Most titan behemoths form in deep ocean waters, where the sentient races cannot check as easily - as most aquatic races build coastal cities.
- Oceanic behemoths are called sea-behemoths, not leviathans - which are a separate type of creature.
- The terms can be used interchangeably, but generally a "feral" behemoth lacks sentience, while a "hostile" behemoth is self-aware but not friendly.
- Rarely, a "duo" behemoth can form - two intertwined plants or animals that form into one mutated body as they grow. However, this is exceptionally rare.
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