Just a few questions? Stand by, this'll take a couple minutes. :)
say type "lore questions"?
This may be a normal AMA, but I have lore questions and its been months since the previous lore ama. Feel free to answer as many as you can.
Do behemoths have organs and muscles to fulfill their bodily functions?
-They absolutely do, but since they aren't organic life forms (they're aetheric) their bodily functions don't correspond to the typical organic being's. They consume aether in all its forms (and some, like the Urska, even consume other Behemoths to get it) but process it very efficiently, so there's not a ton of waste.
Urska eats its prey, but does it actually digest them and shit their remains, or does it just absorb the prey fully into itself or puke them out?
Future Behemothologist over here! Like I mention above, since its prey is also aetheric life, it consumes them pretty efficiently. Most of the waste is expelled as particles or gas.
Basically there's not really an analog to "spore" for Behemoths in the sense of finding a bi ol' pile o' poo, but Slayers (especially Farslayers) are skilled at tracing those more ethereal aetheric waste products as well as good old-fashioned track-following and sign-gathering.
How does frostwulf call styxians, is it the howl, or does it have psionic abilities like boreus?
Priyani's not entirely sure whether there's a psionic element to it, but there is definitely a basic "rally round our Alpha" thing going on when it calls them in, perhaps with a heavy dollop of "I say! Our favourite prey, an inattentive Slayer, is quite distracted now, old chaps. Let us strike, shall we?" (The Styxian language is rich, complex, and completely indecipherable to humans, but it turns out that among themselves they're pretty loquacious.)
Are there current plans to reveal more about the other slayer civilizations(Farslayers, voidrunners, barbarians)?
Yes, we will be expanding on all those groups as the game continues, as well as bringing in new and previously unknown groups (often, admittedly, in relation to new event and hunt pass content—good thing it's always so creatively inspiring!).
Currently we are working on some narratives that will delve a lot deeper into some folks you didn't mention, btw. But we've already revisited the Farslayers and the Barbarians and would expect us to do so again, and the Void Runners are also a big dangling plot thread I want to pick up again in the future even if nothing is scheduled yet.
What is the current situation of Ostia and St.Avellaine? We were told about a rebellion in Ostia, but we haven’t gotten updates since Uesca, how is the rebellion going and how is it affecting St.Avellaine?
The Triumvirate is still in control of Ostia and they've developed a cold war-ish position with Avellainia for now--but one that could erupt into more open conflict later. The Triumvirate is said to be experimenting with one of the few near-universal taboos in the Shattered Isles—direct control of Behemoth as was done in the pre-Upheaval days—and if that were to be realized the war could heat up pretty quickly.
Which islands are closer to the Maelstrom? Is it just islands with stronger behemoths that are closer to it? Will we ever get an updated map of the shattered isles? The art book states that islands closer to the maelstrom are colder, has this been retconned?
Since Ramsgate is in a different position than it was when the art book came out, that's no longer necessarily true.
I think of the Maelstrom as analogous to the galactic core, and there is something, or some things, in there acting as the "black hole" in this arrangement. But unlike a real galactic core, this Maelstrom (which is a very long-lived and permanent storm that may have been around since the Upheaval) doesn't necessarily spaghettify you or show you that time is a flat circle, but it does hypercharge islands and Behemoths and spit them back out--the earlier Escalation islands were like this, though we got away from that with more recent escas.
But to more specifically answer your question: On average, the Behemoths closer to the Maelstrom are stronger, but the isles area all in constant motion that's tracked by people like Arkan Drew. So from a lore perspective a static map wouldn't really work (and tbh could put some unnecessary restraints on the narrative).
Side note: in terms of temperature, lower elevation = colder and higher elevation = hotter, and that corresponds to the bands of the aetheric spectrum you will tend to find there. Ramsgate and most of the Hunting Grounds should be considered in the goldilocks zone (known as the Helic Risers).
(End part 1 - turns out you only get 10k characters per post who knew?)
(Begin part 2!)
We are told that lower islands are colder and higher islands are hotter. If everything that is lower gets freezingly cold, how does the water system keep itself going? Wouldn't the water that falls into the void freeze down below and not recirculate? This goes entirely against the real world, is this just going to be “because da aether” or will it be retconned?
Behemothologist AND meteorologist, eh? I'm not scared!
You are obviously 100% right about how the hydrologic cycle works in the real world. I remember having my mind blown in 8th grade when our applied sciences teacher pointed out that if water, like almost everything else in the universe, got denser as it cooled instead of the other way around, ice wouldn't float, the oceans would freeze from the bottom up, and we wouldn't know about any of that because life as we know it would never have had a chance.
The Shattered Isles aren't just islands on a planet, though. They're suspended by the aetheric spectrum itself, pretty much, and that spectrum, like the light spectrum, changes from one end to the other.
So things in the lower reaches, into the Sky Below, and all the way to the surface of the old world (if it even still exists as such) get colder because directionally, that's the frost-ier end. Things get hotter the higher you go because that's the blaze-ier end. Terra tends to cling to the middle ground, just like Ramsgate and most of human civilization at this point.
That said, the hydrologic cycle still works as usual, more or less. Islands with lakes on them also contain natural springs or collect rainfall (which, fortunately, Slayers seem to avoid a lot?). True, the aetheric influence can have a more worldwide impact, making a place like Skaldeskar remain cold af even after it drifts into the Lower Risers, but one where the regular hydrologic cycle still functions.
How do the hunting grounds stay afloat? They’re constantly ravaged by multiple behemoths and slayers can’t always be active on the island, wouldn’t the island completely drained of aether by now, or is it more gameplay than lore?
The Behemoths are big, but the islands are bigger, and the isles of the Hunting Grounds represent some of the largest that are habitable. All of the islands that remain aloft do so because they have archonite cores that react to the aetheric spectrum in such a way that the island stays roughly in that band—or at least it has a tendency toward that band, even if it's been carried into a different one (again, like Skaldeskar). That archonite core, if not drained and consumed, will eventually "recharge" the island through resonance with the spectrum.
The HG islands can of course eventually be brought down with effort or a Behemoth population explosion, but one of the reasons they're the Hunting Grounds in the first place is that they're a relatively stable place to face off against the Bs.
Many islands are not so lucky, containing small or fracture archonite cores, and those can definitely be drained. And in much the same way we mostly only sort-of worry about a meteor strike or the sun growing into a red giant at some undetermined time or climate change turning us all into Costnerian gill-folk, for now, the fact that all of the Shattered Isles could, eventually, fall from the sky isn't something people are super-concerned about right now vis-a-vis the Hunting Grounds or other major settled island (and archipelagos) like the Ram, Avellainia, Ostia, Krolach, and Andar.
How do islands handle at most 3 types of aether each? Is it not possible for opposite elements to be present on islands?
Possible, but extremely unlikely lore-wise. It's aetheric physics. Opposite bands tend to want to separate and push apart, while others can resonate harmoniously. (Note that I say "lore-wise," but if it's for design purposes and makes the game better and more fun, Arkan Drew may discover a loophole upon deeper research.)
What are the mechanics of behemoth disintegration? Because it makes the behemoth become suddenly hollow, is that just animation or something intentional?
Once the "life force" part of the Behemoth is gone, everything holding the elements of the living-aether Behemoth immediately begins to break down. But those particles then spread into the atmosphere, and 1 in a million will land on a floating island, absorb just a bit of local aether, and begin to grow anew with frightening rapidity.
The reason you don't see child or baby Bs in general isn't just that they don't reproduce sexually, or because we don't necessarily want everyone beating up on cute and cuddly versions of our world-ending monsters—but they mature so quickly to adulthood (by design) they're exceedingly rare encounters and skittish until they're at full strength.
Is shock aether unable to create variants, or is just because of dev time constraints?
Not unable, no, just not any around at the present. Shock is very volatile. Behind the scenes, while the push to get Shock Escalation (the very FIRST Escalation) into the game was an exhilarating epic thrill ride, the focus was on the (at the time) brand-new hunt type more than variants.
In the time since, we have admittedly not gone back and added any to it (and I'm not sure we will). But there is some cool shock news you already may know: The Thunderdeep Drask is rumbling in the distance, getting a bit tired of GvK getting all the big-lizard press, and getting ready to call the thunder.
What is it that actually kills behemoths? Do they bleed out, succumb to trauma, or spend their aether? How do aether vents heal behemoths?
This is a really great question! I think it's easiest to say that, well, damage kills Behemoths. Duh. But obviously it's slightly more complex.
Damage and wounds, as you can see visually when they open up, actually cause living aether to bleed out of the wounds (though this is usally gaseous or particles). Once that matrix of living aether that keeps all the aetheric matter--it's body, in essence--can't maintain cohesion, it breaks down and the Behemoth dies. It then breaks down even further (from the inside out, as you noted) and then they spread (as described above).
Whew! That took a while. Is the AMA still going on? What year is it?