is commonly known as the "Walking Log" and is sometimes called the "Jumping Log"
due to the jumping habits of some of the smaller forms in particular.
Actually a turtle, it has the appearance of a log with moss growing on top. Its shape comes from both sides of the shell, growing around the animal and forming a cylinder. This animal comes in a wide range of sizes. Most types are omnivorous though there are also herbivorous and carnivorous varieties. While most varieties of this animal are harmless, some are extremely dangerous. It is said that a man who sits on a dead moss covered log in Nybelmar might never stand again.
Below you might find a quick reference list for the local names of these animals: Kopak (Krar), Gopag (Santharian, generic of Gopak), Tortus (Krath'melarian), Rockwalker (synonym for Tortus in Krath'melarian), Tortus (Tartacus- Zhunite), Testudo (Korweynite) and Chelonia (Anpagan).
Appearance. Gopags look like dead logs with moss growing on top. They have two large holes on each end, one for the head one for the tail. It has two pairs of small holes underneath one pair in front the other in back for its 4 legs. The tails are short and stout. The necks are elastic: too short for the head to come out when fully retracted, but can reach half the shell length beyond the shell when necessary. Normally the head sticks just far enough outside the shell to make the eyes visible. The shape of the head varies between types. All Gopags have beaks with nostrils in front (towards the top of the head). The more predatory types have longer beaks. These animals have four feet with six claws on each foot. Most of the shell is like bark in appearance and touch. The back of the shell is thicker and green with a very rough texture similar to small stones. This texture varies in some Gopag species.
Categorization. Gopags come in many different varieties, which can be split up as follows:
These mostly herbivorous and occasionally insectivorous Gopags rarely get over two palmspans long and inhabit eastern Nybelmar. All Gak Gopags have extremely short, well rounded beaks. These Gopags have a particularly docile nature and are sometimes kept as pets.
a) Alffaenath Gopag
The Alffaenath testido (Korweynite for Gopag) is a small insectivorous turtle found in the forest of Allffaenath in northeastern Nybelmar. It is occasionally made a pet, due to its docile nature and its effectiveness in keeping down insect populations. Its shell is about one palmspan and four nailsbreadths wide. The beak, like that of other Gák Gopags, is well rounded. The diet of this animal consists of small insects and fruits. The Alffaenath testido lives about 30 years.
The claws are short, about ½ nailsbreadth in length. A common source of entertainment is to watch these Gopags eating insects since they can jump over two peds high to catch their prey.
b) Kosth Gopag
Named after the city of Kosth where they are commonly seen as pets, these testidos are completely herbivorous turtles. They can be found in the forest east of Kosth, a Korweynite city in south-eastern Nybelmar. One of the smallest types of the Gopag, they grow up to only half the size of an Allffaenath Gopag. They also have one of the shortest life spans living about fifteen years.
MEDIUM OR COMMON GOPAGS
These Gopags are indigenous to western Nybelmar.
a) Rolling Gopag
These turtles are from north-western Nybelmar (more specifically: the woodlands north east of the Julstenian Plains). They are about one ped long and one fore wide. These animals are completely carnivorous, feeding on small to midsize rodents. This variety is nicknamed the “Rolling” Gopag as the animal rolls to large predatory rodents off of its back. If the rodent is not removed from its back, the rodent will bite the turtle’s neck next time next time the Gopag extends its head to feed. The beak is about twice the width of the head and has small serrations. The claws are one palmspan long.
b) Spotted Gopag
The Spotted Gopag lives in western Nybelmar in the forest north of Therrein Nermarein. The three different shades of green at the back give this animal its name. The exact hues mimic the predominant local mosses. They can get as large as two fores long and two palmspans wide. These turtles are omnivorous, usually ambushing small rodents and lizards or foraging on berries. Beaks are about twice the size of the head and claws are about one palmspan in length.
c) Zhunite Gopag
A person who will eat anything is likened to a Zhunite Gopag. Rumour has it that this animal will even devour swords and armour off of dead soldiers on the battlefield. They grow to about one and a half ped long and one fore wide.
d) Desert Gopag
Desert Gopags can be found in the Naezshan Zhunith in south-western Nybelmar. These Gopags grow to just over one ped long. Their beaks are twice the width of their heads and their claws are just under a palmspan long. The top shell looks like it is covered in sand rather than moss. These animals are omnivorous, eating a large variety of desert plants and animals. Rats form a large part of their diet. Most of the water they get comes from the leaves of certain cacti.
These Gopags from the shores of northern Nybelmar all have webbed feet and are excellent swimmers. Much of their diet consists of fish. The green portion of their back is smooth to the touch if you run your hand from head to tail, but you will cut yourself badly if you run your hand in the other direction.
Amphibious Gopags have beaks that are about four times as long as the rest of the head and are relatively narrow compared to other Gopags with a concave curve on the inside, making them excellent at snapping fish up.
a) Essalui Gopag
Located on the islands of Essalui Thareliath to the northwest of Nybelmar, these turtles feed entirely on fish. They are two peds long and one fore wide. The Essalui Gopag has a long sharp beak with a curve in it. Its claws are about one palmspan long.
b) Escandian Gopag
Located on a peninsula in north-eastern Nybelmar around the city of Escandis. This turtle is two peds long and two fores wide. Its beak and claws are similar to the Essalui Gopag. Though it also swims to hunt fish like the Essalui Gopag, much of its time is spent waiting to ambush smaller animals or eating fruits and nuts.
c) Kavoth Gopag
Located in the forests west of Oberion Kovoth in northern Nybelmar, this turtle is two and a half peds long and two fores wide. Its beak and claws are similar to the Essalui Gopag. It swims to hunt fish only from late Passing Clouds to early Changing Winds. The rest of the year it feeds on various nuts and berries. This turtle lives about 400 to 500 years.
MAN-EATING OR LARGE GOPAGS
These are purely carnivorous beasts of extremely violent temperament. Their ability to wait for long periods of time before striking suddenly makes them very dangerous.
They have long well curved claws, which they use to grab prey. Larger prey the will handle by rearing up on their hind legs and swinging their body like a club. Some that have survived such an attack compare it to being clubbed by a gorba.
Large Gopags have a beak about six times the width of their heads with multiple teeth like serrations that can grab and rip prey to pieces.
a) Gaeldorioth Gopag
This turtle can be located in Gaeldorioth by those with enough skill to find it. A certain type of moss native to the Gaeldorioth Woods usually grows on its back draping over the turtle. The “Invisible Moss” has excellent camouflage facilities, able to take on the colour of the surroundings, it makes the Gaeldorioth Gopag a very hard target to spot. Experienced hunters will concentrate on the depression made when the Gopag sits instead of trying to search this imperceptible animal. The Coór'hém hunt these heavily, forcing the animals to seek shelter in the eastern portion of the Gaeldorioth Woods.
This turtle spends most of its time waiting to ambush prey. Around the beginning of Singing Bird, the Gaeldorioth Gopag will roll to get the moss of its back to become “visible” to mate candidates. After breeding it will once again roll in the nearest “Invisible Moss” to get its bark cloaked again. This period in between is a very dangerous time for these Gopags since both the Coór'hém elves and local forest drakes pick this time to hunt them. Vól’aél drakes, a local drake species renowned for its incredible eye-sight, can hunt them year round since they are capable of seeing them even when they are covered with the colour-shifting moss. Certain drakes can hunt them using their extraordinary sense of smell, removing the need to glimpse these furtive animals amidst the undergrowth.
This drake is particularly dangerous because its powerful jaws can even destroy Gopag armour of small species like a twig. These Gopag grow to just under three peds long and have a width of about one palmspan. They have claws which are composed of numerous sets of bones. This joint structure allows them to temporarily extend their claws up to a fore outwards.
b) Zsharkanion Gopag
The majority of cases involving people eaten by Gopags in the lands east of the Zharkonian peaks are due to the ferocity of this animal. Unfortunately every year fewer cases get recorded as scholars are no longer as keen as they used to be to travel to this area.
From what we could gather so far, this turtle is just under three peds long and has a diameter of around one palmspan. It has sharp, well-curved claws about half a palmspan. The Zsharkanion Gopag, perhaps a bit like the vicious mountain ranges it lives in will attack any animal - from coin sized insects to dragons - that comes within its hunting range. Due to its ill-fortune in "unting dragons", the animal is often teasingly referred to as the "dragon food Gopag”. In fact, people on both sides of the Zsharkanion Peaks chastise boys who have too inflated an idea about themselves and will rashly volunteer for tasks beyond their abilities by telling them not to be like the Zsharkanion Gopag and assume responsibilities they cannot handle.
c) Anpagan Gopag
This turtle found in both the northern and southern parts of the Anpagan Peninsula is over three peds long and has a diameter around one palmspan. The Anpagan Gopag spends most of its time waiting to ambush small birds, mammals and lizards and can live up to a month without food. One of the longer living Gopag species, this turtle lives to be about 800 years. The Anpagan Gopags are extremely effective at camouflaging themselves in forest undergrowth. Most notably, their scent is so similar to that of a tree that even bloodhounds have trouble finding them.
c) Giant Gopag
The Giant Gopag lives in the south-westernmost jungles of Nybelmar on the Peninsula of Shar (aka the Krath Peninsula). About eight peds long and two peds in diameter, the Giant Gopag is sometimes called the “old man of the forest” because of its extremely long lifespan of about 2000 years.
The story behind how people of the Krath jungles could identify the lifespans of this extremely long-lived turtle is quite an interesting one – especially considering that the average lifespan of the Viaquis tribe is 40-50 years!
There was a highly revered profession among the Viaquis dedicated to the tracking and preservation of these extraordinary creatures. Often jokingly called “the pages of the Old Man” each of the “clubs” would mark one of these animals with the colour and insignia of their society and would be responsible for keeping track of that particular Gopag thereafter. This important task would be passed on from one generation to the next; new admissions were quite rare and successful applicants still had to pass several challenges to prove their worth and devotion to the club. Further, these clubs competed severely for the decadal state award (first instigated by Emperor Dearan Asaen to protect these turtles from extinction).
What later evolved to such a revered occupation started out when the sons of rich Viaquis rajas made it a hobby to mark these turtles and monitor them generation after generation - passing the 'honorable duty' (and all that nonsense) onto the new members of the aristocracy.
Up close, the back of the Giant Gopag shell makes this animal seem to be covered in rock up to eight nailsbreadth across. This turtle has a beak four times as long as its head is wide. Its beak is pointed with several teeth like points. Its sharp well curved claws are about one ped long. The Giant Gopag is extremely heavy, weighing about 320 pygges, and as a result very slow, walking at less than two fores per day. Capable of going months without food, the Old Man of the Forest will sit and wait to ambush almost anything that gets within one fore of its claws. Though it will hide from some of the larger dragons, the Giant Gopag is a fierce and fearless creature, known to attack animals quite bigger than itself without blinking. It has also been seen taking down the swift and ferocious fujin, cats slightly larger than a zyloth used by the Krathrians as mounts.
Very few of these astounding turtles are believed to exist today. The Viaquis, who have always been a superstitious folk, regard causing the death of one of these “wise” Gopags an omen of terrible misfortune. Even today they are quick to expel people who might have killed a Giant Gopag to avoid bringing bad luck to the community – even if the death had been accidental or not fully substantiated.
The locations where Gopags can be found are dependent on the species you look
at. For further details in this respect see the
Habitat/Behaviour. Although all types are slow on land, those that hunt fish can swim fast. Gopag all have a lunging ability which makes them able to attack any animal within a diameter of twice its body length. If the first lunge misses, the prey will most likely get away so it tends to wait till they get close.
Most Gopag species live about 200 years. The smaller varieties by and large have a shorter lifespan.
Hunting Large Gopags. Though large Gopags are difficult to stalk and especially to kill, several distinct styles have been developed:
The Coór'hém elves will throw a wounded animal in front of a Gopag far enough that the turtle will have to expose its neck to claim its food. When it reaches out to grab an easy meal the elves will hit the back of its neck with a small throwing axe. A rope is often attached to the axe to quickly pull it back after severing the spinal column. This technique, although originally devised by the Coór'hém, is the most common method of hunting the large Gopag species among humans. There is some variation in weapons used by the different tribes: Anpagans sometimes use machinated javelins to impale the animals to the ground. Some Zhunite mages on the other hand create illusions of wounded animals to lure the Gopags. Kavogerim dwarves will scout out ahead of the party they are protecting to look for Gopags amongst other hazards. They will hit the exposed neck of the Gopag with their halberds, decapitating the turtle. Although very dangerous and not at all a wise way to slay large Gopags, this has become somewhat of a show of strength and potency among the Kavogerim. Many rich merchants for example will ask their guide if he “has killed his Gopag” before deciding whether or not to hire him.
nomad hunting style
At least one Doimo nomad will run towards the Gopag holding an oversized spear used for hunting large game. As the Gopag attacks, the hunter will quickly move to hit the side of its neck, driving the spear into the neck as he runs. He will then usually run over the Gopag shell to escape, since gopags are incapable of scratching their backs. Krathrians used a similar method only they rode a fujin cat instead of running on foot.
orc hunting style
Chyrakisth orcs will move the Gopag close to a heavily used trade route, by luring it with a wounded animal or by magic, and wait for it to attack its victim. After the victim has been killed but before he has been eaten they will throw spears at its neck to kill it. They will then steal whatever valuables the victim has. This behaviour has led to a number of wars against them and even an agreement between the Coór'hém elves and the Anpagan humans called the treaty of KorMor by the Anpagans. This agreement requires both sides to kill any orcs found near the trade routes between them.
The diet of the Gopag varies considerably between the different species. For
further details see the Categorization section.
Mating. Most Gopags will mate for the first time at age four. Thereafter the mating ritual will take place every spring until the Gopag dies. The two notable exceptions to this are the Kosth Gopag, which begins to make in the first year of its life, and the Giant Gopag which will proliferate every seven years.
In early Singing Bird, the female Gopag will begin to show reddish spots on her back. Males interpret these signs as an indication that the female Gopag is in heat. If two males arrive at the same time they will fight until one of them gives up. The spots on the female’s “bark” disappear soon after mating occurs. Eggs are laid in a circular pattern in pairs and are about a tenth of the shell length of a full grown Gopag. The mother sits on the eggs until they hatch and the newborns are ready to begin their adventure on the dangerous Nybelmarian continent.
Hatching time varies. The Allffaenath and the Kosth Gopag eggs hatch in a couple of hours after they are laid. The Essalui and Escandian eggs usually take about two weeks to hatch. The Giant Gopag takes three to four months to crawl out of its protective shell.
Usages. While smaller types are often kept as pets the shells of Gopag are well liked by those who use bone crafting and by those few who are strong enough to wear heavy armour made from these animals. The hide trader Occillo had a very profitable business making armour from Giant Gopag shells. The giant Oog is said to have worn such armour made from several Giant Gopag.
Various parts of the Gopag are used to fulfill different purposes:
Coór'hém like to use the backs of Gopag shells for necklaces or suits of armour since they are very resistent to blows (and being thrown at the nearest wall in post-romantic rage…) and are often mistaken for emeralds if rigorously polished.
The claws of the Giant Gopag are used in earrings because they can be used as swords. Kosth and Essalui Gopag claws are popular in earrings amongst female assassins since women tend to wear more jewelry and they are able to use their charms to get closer to their victims.
Gopag claws are used by the Coór'hém elves in wristlets since they make effective stabbing weapons. Men of the lower castes among the Viaquis were known to wear Giant Gopag claws on one ear. These often had elaborate metal extensions on one end with various jewellery attached and were considered extremely gaudy even by Viaquis standards.
Kosth and Essalui Gopag claws are also popular as earrings amongst female assassins as a weapon of last resort. They are small enough not to be considered dangerous by the intended target but large enough to make effective stabbing weapons - though of course taking them off without the target noticing is not very painless. The Coór'hém assassin Cár'tuuléna wore at least four of these on each ear at all times.
The claws are also made into rings. Those of the Gaeldorioth Gopag are particularly popular since they can be extended by clinching a fist. Cár'tuuléna was rumoured to assassinate the more famous of her victims always with a Gaeldorioth Gopag ring.
Gopags over a ped in length are sometimes utilized as impromptu battering rams due to their weight and extreme durability. Legend has it that these were first used during the First Shadow War and several reports coming from this exotic continent confirm that the Gopag-ram is still in use in some eastern nations today. It is worth mentioning however that over the centuries – especially among the Anpagan – the battering mechanism has grown considerably complicated.
Allffaenath Gopags are also often kept in farm fields to eat
insects that would otherwise devastate crops. They are at times kept in yards
and homes to control insect populations.
The meat, though edible, is seldom eaten due to its extremely sour taste. Recipes that use Gopag meat are usually very heavily sweetened. The Viaquis for instance have a ritual delicacy (which most outsiders find quite revolting) where the Gopag meat is cooked in honey and olive oil. The Compendium’s correspondents in eastern Nybelmar say the meat is sometimes also marinated in ale or R’unorian brandy.
Myth/Lore. The Gopag is often typecast in local fables either as the dim boy of the class (since these turtles tend to be very heavy and slow for their size due to their dense shells) or a patient elderly Arathrian plotter. Similarly, young women searching for a husband among the Sharosar are told to act like the Gopag, to wait patiently under the canopy until their prey is most unsuspecting and vulnerable. In much the same way, Arath officials teach their sons never to strike until the target is in range and never to move against their Emperor openly unless victory is certain.
There is a myth among the Viaquis that their ancestors when they first arrived in the southern forests of the Earth Peninsula after escaping Menemronn's destruction hid themselves from the 'little mountain men' (also thought to be a myth by many scholars) inside the empty shells of Giant Gopags. Soon the ancient Viaquis started building homes, even entire villages, from strange combinations of these giant shells using their magic to shape and mould the hardened armour of dead gopags - or so the legend goes. Perhaps there is some truth to this rather fanciful myth, for contemporary Viaquis architecture, with its characteristically elongated domes, is indeed reminiscent of these mysterious animals.
The Alffaenath Gopag is thought by many people to ward off evil spirits since those that own them get sick less often.
People on both sides of the Zsharkanion Peaks chastise boys who have too inflated an idea about themselves and will rashly volunteer for tasks beyond their abilities by telling them not to be like the Zsharkanion Gopag and assume responsibilities they cannot handle.
The Viaquis, who have always been a superstitious folk, regard causing the death of a Giant Gopag an omen of terrible misfortune. Even today they are quick to expel people who might have killed a Giant Gopag to avoid bringing bad luck to the community – even if the death had been accidental or not fully substantiated.