Korvan Puma and Korvo Cat
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2016 issue.
Korvo (Virtchok System/DMG7) is a low-gee, thin-atmosphere world in the Dole Moving Group whose only native life are aerobic microbes. A land biosphere was imported during terraforming and settlement, using flora and fauna from the Andes Mountains of Earth, including the apex land predator of that ecosystem, the puma (Puma concolor).
Korvan Puma (Puma concolor korvanus)
|Rough, Broken, Mountain, or Forest Terrain
|2D Teeth, 2D Claws
The Korvan puma is a subspecies of the Terran cat adapted to Korvo’s lower gravity and thin atmosphere. The differences are subtle, primarily slimmer legs and a wider barrel chest to accommodate the larger lungs. Fur color varies from tawny to grey, depending on environment; grey fur is more common in rocky mountain habitats.
Size ranges from 60-90cm at the shoulder, 150-250cm nose-to-tail, and 30-100kg weight, with males being larger; the 50kg weight in the stats is an average. A good climber of both trees and rocks, they can leap 6m vertically and 12m horizontally under one gee. 8m/16m under Korvan gravity, 4m/8m under Telerine). In an attack charge, they can run 60-80kph for up to half a minute.
Classic solitary ambush predators, they will prey on anything they can catch, preferring medium-sized prey—on Korvo, larger quii (coypu and capybara) and camelids. The normal attack profile is a charge-and-leap from cover onto the back of the prey, normally from behind.
Vocalizations include a rumbling purr, a loud deep meow (“Rrrow…”), and a bloodcurdling scream like that of a woman being murdered.
They are most likely to be encountered around dawn and dusk in Rough, Broken, Mountain, or Forest terrain, i.e., where there’s prey and cover for stalking. They will not be found in harsh Desert (like the salt flats around Korvo’s remaining seas or extreme Outback).
Though wild, they are not very aggressive towards humans, and will tend to flee if encountered. This argues for the original ancestor being the less-aggressive Argentine subspecies (Puma concolor cabrerae).
The Korvan Puma is very skittish around any sort of canid (including Vargr), and will withdraw or flee if confronted by a dog half their size.
The Korvan Puma (Puma concolor korvanus) strongly
resembles its Terran ancestor (pictured here) in
appearance and behavior. (photo derived from
CC-BY-SA-2.0 Facebook user AskJoanne)
Korvo Cat (Puma concolor domesticus)
Korvan name: Inka Puma (“Royal Powerful
Telerine name: Ailuros Korvanos (“Korvo Cat”)
As apex predator of the mountains, the puma is venerated in Korvan folk religion and associated with royalty. The word “puma” itself is Korvan for “Powerful One”, and Korvan kings and chieftains would hold court with one or more next to their throne. In such a situation, it was important that the Royal Animal not maul its Royal master.
During the Long Night, Korvans selectively bred a domesticated version of the Korvan Puma for this purpose, breeding for less aggression and more social behavior, especially towards humans. The original wild cat species was known for a wide range of personality, so the potential for a mellower, more social breed was already there.
Over several generations, this “low-tech genetic engineering” resulted in the present domesticated Korvo Cat, companion of kings.
Domestication usually has the side effect of neoteny (retaining juvenile features into adulthood) and the Korvo Cat is no exception, retaining more kittenish facial proportions and faint spotted fur. Though only slightly smaller than its wild ancestor, the Korvo Cat looks like an adolescent puma kitten. And has the personality and attitude of a housecat—a 30 to 50-kilo housecat.
They also have twice the lifespan of their wild ancestors; 10-20 standard years instead of 5-10.
With the end of the Korvan monarchy and annexation into Telerine’s
pocket empire some two generations ago, the Korvo Cat became an
expensive exotic pet in general; the first few Telerine
Governors-General adopted some of the trappings of the old kings,
including having a domesticated big cat/Powerful One at their side; both
kittens and breeding stock were imported to Telerine, and those lines
that best adapted to Telerine’s heavier gravity and atmosphere became
the Ailuros Korvanos.
A Korvo Cat is expensive to keep—two-to-four kilos of vitamin-and-calcium-enriched, moderately-fatty chunk meat per day. (Hope you have a big budget for cat food…)