Old. Given to long, frequent periods of rest partially due to age, mostly due to lethargy.
Wild. Largely a feral animal. Behaves primarily according to biological needs and desires.
Proud. Strives to be respected and regarded as reliable. Confident and easily offended when dismissed.
Voiced. Speaks aloud to communicate, as a human would; has modified anatomy to do this, caused by Forest Magic.
Casual. Acknowledges others by looking at them with no reaction, or sniffing them, then returning to what he was doing—this is a means of displaying approval.
Natural. Equally capable of feral communication, however is limited by species, being more accurate and detailed with those of closer taxonomic relation.
Reserved. Does not bow, considering it too "unnatural." May use similar gestures—such as nodding—though these actions are performed with an unusual curtness.
Enduring. No longer physically ages since entering The Forest; all bodily characteristics are unknowingly governed by his belief, be that to his favour or detriment.
Purposed. Driven to be the protector and provider he feels stags live to be. Protective to a fault; views himself as the, if necessary, expendable protector of his herd.
Nostalgic. Often found at the Pond or in the Birch Forest—they remind him of home. (Note: Background image is of his home range, the phumdis of Loktak Lake.)
Perceptive. Capable of spontaneously understanding virtually anything via Forest Magic; feels distinctly ambivalent toward this.
Prejudiced. Distinctly hates having, using, or receiving enchantment spells, especially those which more drastically alter his appearance. Will never participate in Magic.
Mistrustful. Tends to avoid areas he associates with Forest Magic, such as the Twin Gods and the Old Oak. Also tends to avoid the Ruins without a real reason.
Companionable. Considers others around him to be herd-company, even at a distance. Often reliant upon socialization and camaraderie.
Smooth bistre back and beige belly with a wenge base. While fur is overall much denser during cooler months, the fur on the neck is particularly thicker and coarser than bodily fur, lending to the appearance of a "mane" which is also somewhat darker than the fur on the body. Colours are overall darker and desaturated; colouration is somewhat inconsistently "patchy" across the body.
Fawn-like chestnut back and tan belly with a beaver base. Fur is overall much thinner during the warmer months, as to be expected. Colouration is somewhat more uniform across the body, and there is a distinct presence of fawn-like pale spots on the flank.
Year-round coat qualities
Smooth, thin fur with thin and sparse underfur; uneven hair length resulting in a "shaggy" appearance. Fur inside the ears is very long and smooth, almost silky but still somewhat rigid. Fur is speckled with gray overall, having lost pigmentation over the years; fur continues to grow more gray over time due to stress, but this pigmentation loss is reversed in times of calm when body chemistry returns to homeostasis.
Average (kg)/lb. Ranges from ~100 kg/~220 lbs to ~130 kg/~287 lbs based around season and activity level.
Antlers may begin being shed at end of June, and will be shed by the beginning of September; free of velvet between late December to early January. Rut period is from late January through early May, with the peak fighting months being late February and March—musk is produced through rut period.
Though he is theoretically capable of breeding with any fertile female deer through Forest Magic, I limit his reproductive capacity to his own species (preferably subspecies, though species is logical), though he's comfortable with mating with most "naturalistic" females of many cervid or cervid-like species. He will only mate during his own natural rut or The Rut event (as it sparks the same physiological reaction within him due to pheromones triggering his own hormones). He may still court outside of these periods, however.
Much like that of a dog, a deer's sense of smell can be up to 1000 times greater than that of a human, with deer being able to distinguish up to six individual scents at once. This sense can extend up to roughly 800 meters or half a mile.
Smell is a primary method of communication for deer, with species possessing several varied forms of scent communication such as urine or feces, salivary deposits, or a number of scent-producing glands called the preorbital, forehead, tarsal, metatarsal, and interdigital. Stone freely utilizes all of these to the fullest extent of his capacity with absolutely no regard for "social norms," and consequently may come off as a bit… Smelly.
Despite appearances, deer hear roughly as well as humans do, and he is no different. A human's most sensitive range is from 2,000 to 5,000 hertz, and a deer's most sensitive range is from 3,000 to 8,000 hertz. However, deer can hear ultra-high-frequency sounds humans cannot, and can utilize the muscles in their ears to target the source of a sound with precision.
Due to eye structure, deer are basically red-green colourblind; based on my current understanding, he has protanopic colour vision. He can distinguish blue from red, but not green or orange from red. He also sees colours like light gray and tan better than dark reds, browns, or greens. On the contrary, he sees colours in the blue spectrum much more distinctly than humans can, most likely because this is the most prevalent spectrum of light during the crepuscular periods, when deer tend to be most active. He can also see further into the ultraviolet spectrum than human eyes can, though none of it appears to "glow," he simply has a broader access to that range of the electromagnetic spectrum.
His horizonal pupils allow for nine times the light absorption of the human eye, leading to incredible night vision and a roughly 310° field of view, including about 65° of binocular frontal vision providing depth perception, and lacking only about 50° immediately behind him. This also allows him to track the motion of anything within his field of view, which is about 85% of his eye-level surroundings, without moving a muscle.
His vision is processed at least twice as fast as that of a human, giving him hyper-sensitivity to movement and ample time for reaction. However, with little need for acuity of detail, his vision is only about 20/60, or a third as detailed as a human's.
Though he was born in 2004 and is a member of a species whose wild lifespan only averages ten years, stone is much older than this. Since he arrived in The Endless Forest at nine years and four months old, he has not truly aged. His body now is only affected by his belief, though he is unaware of this. When he initially arrived, he felt old, and so his joints were frequently sore and he grew tired rather quickly. When he is stressed, his fur grows in grayed; when he is injured, he limps and feels pain. However, as time has gone on, he's forgotten some of his age, and has come closer to how he once was in his prime. In times of peace, his fur grows vibrant; his body seldom aches; he finds himself energetic as long as he believes it true. Though unaware of it, he has become timeless since entering, and is only affected so much as he believes himself to be.
Head is generally held high, not in a challenging manner but rather with the stance of an individual already in a position of importance. Bodily posture ranges from tense but confident to relaxed and open; very rarely displays any form of submission. Ears are typically relaxed; back is never hunched; tail generally hangs loosely; hooves are splayed in a manner suited to walking through marshes and swamps.
Quite non-confrontational, he is content to lie down most of the time, watching younger deer participate in their endeavours. He is ambivalent toward the intellect he acquired upon entering the Forest due to its magical source: on one hand, he enjoys being able to reason to the degree he now can, to think and deduce and understand; on the other hand, he never asked for it, and he cannot forgive the Magic for putting it upon him. As a result of his contempt, he does not let his mind wander idly—that is when the knowledge comes to him in full force. His method for coping with and staving off the knowledge is to occupy his body and mind with rock balancing. Though not particularly good at it—he is, after all, using his mouth—he devotes much of the time not spent on the upkeep of his body and socialization to carefully constructing these cairns. He does not keep track of their height or even where he builds them, as this would be too mindful for his tastes. He does not mind if something happens to them, even while he's building them; he does not bond to his craft, only uses it as a tool of distraction. He merely collects some stones by his side and sets to work, leaving when he is satisfied.
Though he is often at rest, it is not purely because of his age. It's true that, for his species, he has passed his prime—however, his body is still more capable than he lets on. Any soreness is largely from his idle tendencies, and he can still outpace many with less experience. Ultimately, he's just fallen into a habit of lethargy.
Being a feral creature, his personality is greatly altered by his hormones and physiological state. He is at his most vulnerable when he is without solid antlers. He is prone to wary behaviour around others, but has calmed down significantly as he's gone on living in The Forest. He finds safety when in the presence of those he trusts, and will stand up for himself or others in proper company. When alone, he wanders about seeking trustworthy company, avoiding and fleeing from that which he does not consider to be such. Rarely though does he truly fear anything now that he has grown accustomed to the Forest.
In contrast, when his antlers are grown, he tends to be quite confident in himself, but not brash or overzealous. His confidence is felt as a certain self-possession, and he is as close to objective in his analysis of whether it is wise to fight, flee, or freeze as he can be in this physiological state. This state of mind is the closest to his most base personality of all those governed by his physiological states.
Continuing on to the extreme, when his rutting period comes about/the Forest about him is in rut, he goes from being docile and unassuming to audacious and uninhibited. While not a stupid being, he's more likely to make rash decisions when his testosterone levels are higher.
Along with his rut comes an amplified sense of his responsibility to fill his role as the "patriarch" of a herd. He is the guardian, the provider; he must always be steadfast and reliable, to help and protect those for whom he deems himself responsible. From his perspective, it is his legacy to devote himself to a cause bigger than himself: the safety and comfort of others, and the continuation of his herd. Even while not in rut, this is a constant aspect of his personality which will come out when others are vulnerable, or others try to help him—though he will always be grateful for efforts made on his behalf.
According to his feral history, he is a herd animal through and through, and welcomes company; whether at some distance or up close, he is far more comfortable and at ease with others. That said, he does prefer a bit of distance while getting to know someone, and may settle himself away from those so eager to befriend him that they do not give him personal space. He is also seasonally prone to preferring large herds, smaller herds, or occasionally even solitude.
Contrary to his usual attitude toward the intellect granted to him by Forest Magic, he enjoys conversation, learning about others' experiences and thoughts, and even enjoys speaking himself (he can be exceedingly verbose around anyone he is fond of, though over time his chatter has lessened). This is because it is not knowledge which truly upsets him, but the manner in which he comes to possess it: it is the Magic of the Forest, not his developed awareness, which bothers him. He is perfectly at ease with all things he considers "natural," including thinking, speaking, and manipulating his environment, as he did all of these things back home to the best of his ability. These things, to him, are rooted in the "natural"—that is to say, they are physical, non-magical things which are Earthly in nature. For this reason he enjoys learning about the world around him and possessing his new-found intellect. However, given that the origins of his reasoning are still seated in the Magic of the Forest, he finds himself burdened by conflicting thoughts and feelings—comfortable with the nature of the Forest, but repulsed by the Magic at its core.
It is of note that the stone balancer actually does quite literally speak, aloud, as a human would. Upon entering the Forest, his body was instantly modified to suit the demands which were put upon it: his brain became more complex, to allow room for more developed thought and storage; and his vocal cords shifted and grew to resemble those of a human, while his anatomy was modified to produce human language. He considers all spoken languages to be the same "language" cognitively, simplifying them to himself as merely "talking." In other words, while he can become instantly aware of the pronunciation and meaning of any word in any spoken language, he does not recognize words in different languages as being in different groups, and instead merely perceives that there are many equally valid ways to vocalize singular concepts.
When not "talking," he communicates in the feral way one would expect of a deer: scent, body language, non-word vocalizations, and the like. He is, however, only capable of communicating perfectly—albeit simplistically—with members of his own subspecies in this way. When communicating in a feral manner with members of other species, miscommunication is common due to differences between vocal, visual, and olfactory cues. Simply put, different species communicate differently, and he is still limited to his own feral capacity in this regard.
As he's gone on living in The Forest, he's worked on coming to terms with his circumstances, and his herd has been imperative to that. Though he will always resent the Forest Magic for taking him from his home (if it did—he thinks so), forcing intelligence upon him, and continually feeding him information without his desire or consent, he's come to love many of the beings he knows here, the fact that he can think to the degree he can, and what his life has become as a whole. He will never be completely satisfied, and he will always be disapproving of most residents of the Forest, but given a chance to go back now, if he had to give up his new herd and his intelligence, he wouldn't. That alone speaks volumes of how he's changed since he first arrived.
Though he prefers the company of others, there are some beings which he may be wary of, or in some situations, even reject outright. These sorts include: his natural predators, or animals which he recognizes as formidable and omnivorous/carnivorous; beings intent on instigating ruckus in play or otherwise; beings which are in some manner a specific degree or beyond "unnatural," including human-faced beings, "unnaturally" coloured beings, beings with accessories or other decorative features which are not an aspect of their own body, hybrids of two or more species which cannot reproduce without the aid of Magic/science/etc, highly deformed beings; extremely large beings, even if appearing neutral; beings which appear sickly or somehow dead/undead; beings very deeply rooted in their intellectuality and/or strange societal traditions (human-like or otherwise); beings who highly associate themselves with Forest Magic; etc. Especially considering the length of the list, this is merely an example of beings which he may initially be wary of, but can easily warm up to over time. He is not usually mistrustful due to others being somehow "wrong," but more specifically is made uncomfortable by how their appearance and/or behaviour may negatively impact him. (e.g. an animal with a very bright pelt would, where he's from, attract the attention of predators, and he's initially hesitant to associate with such a "target" animal.) It is important to note that, like with other aspects of his personality, he's become much more open-minded since his arrival, and is tending toward more and more acceptance all the time, with regard to life events.
Contrastingly, he is to some degree or another drawn to some entities upon first meeting them, including: benevolent or neutral spirits/deities/mythological creatures and the like (I headcanon that animals on Earth are generally innately aware and at peace with such beings, and that these beings are entirely separate from the Magic of the Forest/Twin Gods); exceptionally peaceful beings; "natural" beings—especially but not limited to deer—which are generally herbivorous; female two-toed hoofed beings (particularly cervines), for obvious instinctual reasons, as well as that a good portion of his Earthly life was spent protecting his harem and their offspring; etc. Again, obviously, this is only an example of the sorts of beings he'll find himself drawn to.
He will, generally, treat all in-forest actions and appearances as they seem to be in-game. For example, when he receives any form of Spell, he experiences that change literally, to some extent. (e.g. The peacock pelt results in him being covered in peacock feathers in the same pattern as an actual peacock.) He can remove all Magic by some means or another (e.g. taking off masks, breaking off antlers, pulling out feathers) and this process is always painless. In fact, Magic produces no physical sensation for him, but can be quite time-consuming to remove bit by bit. As soon as the Magic is removed, it disappears—unless it's willed by him to stay. Rather than meticulously groom Magic off of himself, he often uses the Pond to "wash off" Magic, as he's observed its tendency to remove spells. Ultimately, he perceives the Forest thus: all "unnatural" things (e.g. spells, glitches, etc) are viewed as some form of Magic; he generally perceives a being to look like its set implies due to his poor eyesight, and is only granted clarity if I elect to research the character (understandably, this can lead to some interesting misconceptions, and his behaviour will reflect his current understanding); we assume the least detrimental result of his actions until shown otherwise (e.g. if he bares his antlers to a character, I assume he is merely trying to intimidate them and they have not been harmed, unless the player chooses to have their character suffer a wound); etc. On top of that, movements such as tripping or walking through trees are also perceived literally. (Basically, I only alter his perception of The Forest to suit his character and when I'm not certain how to translate it.)
Interestingly, despite his distaste for Magic, he is exceedingly fond of the Pond and, to a lesser extent, the Crying Idol, despite their obviously Magical ties. This is due to the fact that the Pond is capable of removing all Magic, and that the Magic granted by the Crying Idol differs from all other Forest Magic (Spells cannot be cast upon those who bear its pelt). While he still prefers things of a non-Magical nature, this area of the Forest is distinctly different to him. He has come to regard De Drinkplaats with mixed feelings; while it does remove Magic, it also generates its own. Despite this, he is especially fond of the area it occupies—particularly the most grassy areas of the Birch—and has come to tolerate it for this reason.
Having come from essentially a swamp, he spends much of his time in or around the Pond and stream. At the Pond, he occupies himself with drinking, eating water plants (a personal favourite of his), and wallowing in the muddy shore water. He may at times spend hours just laying or even sleeping in the water at the shoreline, and has grown fond of watching some of the smaller animals which frequent the area. His homeland also strongly resembled the Birch Forest away from the water's edge, and thus he is happy to spend days simply wandering through it. In general, he may be found bathing in the Pond, resting near the Crying Idol, grazing the blueberries in the Blue Bowl, lounging in the tall grasses near De Drinkplaats, or observing the Forest from Red Hill.
Due to Manipur Eld's deer being so endangered, little research has been done on their social behaviour; his extended body language is thus based on the behaviour of other species.
Typically, the stone balancer will behave amiably, maintaining a sort of cautious acceptance. He does react negatively to certain set items (e.g. Zombie set items, Deer of the Dead set items, etc.), which is an assumption about the character based on the items which are used to represent them. I will generally try to locate the character's biography via the map prior to/during interaction, so his behaviour may change to reflect his current perception.
His behaviour is a combination of his natural behaviour as an animal, what he finds reasonable with his intellect, and certain social body language he's adopted from other members of the Forest. He is, however, very picky about body language, and absolutely will not use certain gestures, such as bowing.
He may come off as rude, abrasive, or aloof due to his tendency to err on the side of caution. He far prefers to run or be standoffish if he knows it will keep him and others safe.
Initial Response: Upon first meeting another, he will look at them from his current bodily position, moving only his head while doing so. He will hold a stare for a few seconds while he evaluates them based on their behaviour, set items, company, and biography.
Ambivalence/Impartiality: Often times, he neither accepts nor rejects another outright. In this period, he'll exhibit somewhat in-between signals, though none are intended to be ambiguous.
Indecision: Body held at about a sixty° angle toward the other, neither aggressive nor fearful, but not comfortable.
Respect/cautious acceptance/”I don't want trouble”: Standing with his side to the other at about a ninety° angle, his gaze averted.
Acceptance: If he accepts the other but their acknowledgement is brief, he will then return to what he was doing, reassured that he does not need to pay close attention to them.
If they express friendly behaviour (bowing, sniffing, any other amiable behaviour), he will return with a sniff and maybe a curt nod if he thinks the sniff does not suffice. If no further action is taken by them, he will return to what he was doing, even more assured than he otherwise would have been.
If they attempt to engage in further amiable behaviour, his own behaviour will be his version of that same degree of acceptance. He welcomes all friendly company, to varying degrees. He never ignores a friendly being, and will only turn one away if he thinks they are truly dangerous and he cannot trust them, though he may also be aloof with those who he takes qualms with but does not fear.
Trust: He will graze, drink, and bathe around the other, putting himself in positions of vulnerability.
Complete trust: He will lie down and sleep around the other, and feels no need to observe their actions whilst awake, comfortable even with them in his blind spot. (Take with a grain of salt, as I also inadvertently let him fall asleep.)
Rejection: Things can go negatively in two ways: a flight reaction (cautious/fearful), or a fight reaction (defensive/aggressive). Stone sets his own health above virtually everything, and thus will almost always flee from any perceived confrontation. His exceptions to this rule are: when defending another being, when he is in rut or a pseudo-rut, and when he knows that fleeing will not help him.
Alarm: Facing the other, side turned fully toward the other.
Snort: Side turned toward the other + Dancing (cut short) (+ Sneezing).
Stomp: Side turned toward the other + Dancing (cut short) + Head shake "no" (+ Taunt).
Flee: Any of the above actions + run!
Ear drop: Facing the other directly with head and body.
Hard look: Facing the other directly with head and body + Head shake "no" + Taunt (+ Sneeze).
Sidle: Standing with side at a thirty° angle toward the other, head facing toward them; walking an advancing circle around the other while keeping that posture, pausing to look at them. Taunting periodically.
Heralding from a protected area (Keibul Lamjao National Park) created due to the low numbers of Manipur Eld's deer, he and his herd rarely faced predation by humans, and were given some protection by them from other natural predators as well. As one of the older members of his herd, he had given up his place as one of the dominant stags in the breeding season before coming to the Forest. Despite this, in his prime, he sired many fawns and led his own harems. Though past his prime, his antlers are still quite impressive due to his age, and he's had a fair deal of experience, so he knows plenty of tricks if need be, and has certainly not given up on courting and showing off.
While he was originally a purely feral deer led almost entirely by instinct and qualia, upon being brought to the Forest he was granted intellectual awareness of the world by "Forest Magic," resulting in essentially a human level of cognition. In the Forest, he finds himself aware of language, logic, complex cultural beliefs and behaviours, a gist of the overall nature of the world, the greater implications of cause and effect and the problems which may follow current paths of action, and other general data-based knowledge. So long as he keeps his mind idle, busied by unimportant tasks, the knowledge will not come; however, if he focuses his attention upon something, awareness of details relating to it come flooding into his mind via that Magic. Though he has come to terms with the nature of the Forest and his new-found intellect, he still strains to keep touch with his feral past, and to resist embracing the knowledge and its source.
Documentary on the sangai of Keibul Lamjao National Park.
Present for and bonded since Stria's birth, he witnessed a good portion of her growth in her early days before his increased absences, and considers her a daughter. Though he's not always been the fondest of her decisions in company or life progress, he's always supported her the best he can even where he cannot understand her. Regardless of his concerns, she's grown to be more physically capable even than he, and he's finally come to realize she does not need his protection anymore; regardless, whether she wants it or not, she still has it. She is constantly there to press at him and force him to face the world, encounter new things, and challenge old ideas; he is there to impart his own knowledge upon her and guide her where he can, if needed, though not always wanted. It is no longer about what he should do for her, and is instead about what they will do for one another.
Thinking fondly back to when Rune, barely older than a newborn, first snuggled up to him for warmth at the Pond, stone considers him a son. He feels a special tie to him not shared with his "sisters," since stone was the first to bond with the buck. Stone takes comfort in his very feral appearance and is comforted by his cautious nature, in that he ought to do well for himself with it. Like many, Rune is a scarce but welcome blessing, and will always be held dear to stone as one of his most rudimentary herd-mates.