Cromnari

Overview

Size ★★☆☆☆
Phys attack ★★★★★
Magic attack ★☆☆☆☆
Recruitment rate ★☆☆☆☆
Summoner usefulness ★★★★☆

Cromnari (singular cromnar) are small gregarious demons who are immensely physically strong and reproduce parthenogenetically. They have heavyset horns, small vestigial wings and long heavy tails. It’s considered by everyone else to be a good thing that they’re small in size, as they would probably be devastatingly powerful if they were the size of an average demon. They tend to rely much more on their physical strength than on magic attacks. When they do use magic, it’s to buff their physical prowess even harder.

Physical

Adult cromnari are 1.2 to 1.5m tall. They are habitually bipedal but can easily run on all fours, owing to their short legs and long powerful arms. They can run faster on all fours than on two legs, but will generally not do this outside an emergency because they consider it undignified.

Their wings are small and vestigial, and cannot be used for flight. They are capable of doing a chicken-flutter to slightly boost their jumps or slow a fall, but they don’t like to be seen doing such an undignified action.

Cromnari have short thick horns that are often thorny or ridged. (Serick has unusually big horns for a cromnar, hence why she’s had hers made detachable in case they get in the way.) They have curved tusks in their lower jaws.

These demons have hair permanently on their heads. During winter, they also grow a ruff/mane of hair around the neck, as well as on their lower arms and legs. This hair is bristly and pig-like when it first erupts, but softens later. The hair is not water-resistant but keeps its warmth even when wet, much like sheep’s wool does. Growth of the winter coat is kickstarted by a drop in temperature. Cromnari living in warm environments might never grow it.

Cromnari live for 900-1,100 Earth years.

Metamorphosis

Cromnari begin their lives as larvae. Or more accurately, each adult cromnar began her life as several larvae. Multiple larvae from different parents will form a cocoon together and fuse to create a new adult with a new genome. In this way cromnari avoid genetic monotony while still reproducing asexually. The adult will emerge from the cocoon with all the combined memories of the larvae that fused together to become her, and will usually be able to speak at a rudimentary level, depending on how much speech the larvae overheard and understood on their travels.

Cromnari are r-selectors – they have several offspring and leave them to fend for themselves (as opposed to k-selectors, who have a small number of offspring and raise them intensively). After being left in the wilderness to fend for themselves, cromnari larvae will form roaming packs, splintering and merging as they explore. After several years, each individual larva from a clutch will hopefully have found a diverse gang of other larvae to hang around with. Once there is enough larvae biomass to form an adult cromnar, they will find somewhere safe and construct a cocoon with all of them inside it.

Newly-hatched adults have a kind of gross and unfinished look to them, because they’ve so far spent more of their existence as a disparate set of beings than as a composite, and they’re still deciding who they are. They become more elegant and refined as they mature and their identity coalesces and solidifies. They might remain in the wilderness or they might head for civilisation and hone their language enough to find employment.

If a clutch of larvae can’t find enough/any other larvae to bond with, they will return to the place of their birth like salmon, regroup, and (if there are enough of them still surviving) become a genetic clone of their parent. This happened to the larvae from Serick’s parent, and before that with hers, which is why Serick has a III in her name. She’s a genetic copy of a genetic copy.

If the above scenario happens, and there aren’t enough survivors from the original clutch to group together and form a decent-sized adult, they’ll give up and spend the rest of their lives as larvae. They will mature and become bigger and even uglier instead of staying as grub-like.

Diet

Cromnari are omnivorous. They use their tusks as a multi-tool for cutting up carcasses, breaking up friable rocks to get at minerals, boring into tree trunks to get at insects, etc. A cromnar’s diet is usually made up of fruit, buds and young leaves, insects and meat.

Social

These demons are adaptable and friendly. They get on with other demon species about as well as they do with their own, and when living amongst other demons will easily adopt their mannerisms and cultural expectations. However, they will shun any actions they perceive to be ‘undignified’. It can be a little hard to find out what is meant by this, as cromnari throw around the word ‘dignity’ in much the same way as Smurfs use the word ‘smurf’.

Adult cromnari retain all the memories of their lives as larvae. They remember faces from this period and continue to hold grudges against anyone who mistreated them when they were larvae. They also recognise those who were kind to them. If a strange cromnar offers to buy you a drink, search your memories for when you stopped to pick up a larva from the bottom of a ditch several years ago.

Adult cromnari who share a bed have a tendency to sleep in a cuddle pile, a behaviour left over from living as a swarm of larvae.

Habitat

Adult cromnari will roam the wilderness looking for a home. Sometimes they meet other cromnari and band together. Villages of cromnari have sprung up this way, as multiple adults converge on the same location ideal for habitation. A lot of trading posts end up staffed by cromnari for the same reason.

Sometimes a new adult will keep roaming until they find a city, move in and (assuming their grasp of language has levelled enough through osmosis) find employment.

Cromnari evolved in forests, and do very well in these environments. Their huge hands enable them to dig out temporary shelters, and their grasping toes enable them to climb.

Compatibility with demonologists

It is possible for a summoner to form a contract with a cromnar, but recruiting one is hard. Cromnari are very strong, and it will be difficult for a summoner to persuade them that they have anything to offer the demon with a partnership. A summoner’s interaction with them is likely to be limited to quick one-off recruitment for one task rather than a long-term contract. Cromnari are proud of their physical strength and getting to show it off and getting some cash in return is a win for them.

Magic and combat

Cromnari generally do not bother with magical attacks, as their physical strength is great. If they need to use a ranged attack, they are more likely to use a weapon than magical projectiles. Their strength means they can give a lot of stretch to a bow, or throw things really hard.

Gender

Cromnari reproduce asexually and are often described by demonologists as an all-female species. They don’t necessarily see themselves as such. They didn’t have a concept of gender until other species imposed it on them, because there was no need for one. Most cromnari use she pronouns. Those who don’t are probably trying another one out because of the novelty of other pronouns existing at all, or because they decided they liked the connotations that pronoun had.

Eggs

Cromnar eggs are translucent, usually green, and wet and squishy like frog eggs. They are retained in the parent’s body until a few days before hatching.