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Basic Information

Fish are aquatic animals with gills. There are very many species of fish, with a great deal of variety between them, including eels, rays, and sharks as well as scaly things you might more traditionally associate with the word. In general they are usually cold-blooded vertebrates, and don't have digits.

(Long ago, the word "fish" used to mean something broader, essentially indicating anything found in the water. That's why a lot of things that are no longer deemed to be fish still have the word in their common name, like cuttlefish, shellfish, jellyfish, starfish, etc. Technically, it's now more accurate to call these cuttles, crustaceans, sea jellies or sea stars, but the colloquial terms are likely to stick around for a while.) Also, the entire order of cetaceans were considered to be fish at one point (hence "whale-fish").

Fish can be found almost anywhere there is water, from fast-flowing shallow freshwater streams to deep saltwater oceans although most species can only tolerate one regime (salt or fresh) and even those that can tolerate both may need to acclimatise for a time when moving from one to the other. Size varies from microscopic, to vast - with the current largest fish in play being the whale-shark1 (unless, of course, rumours of the survival of the giant prehistoric shark megladon turn out to be true).

We think of them as being silent, but many species can actually engage in a form of acoustic communication.

Noteworthy Species

Mythical Fish

See Also



Game and Story Use

  • Fish-monsters are a classic threat for adventures set along the coastline. They combine cold-blooded ruthlessness and the alien-ness of a thing that lives beneath the waves and rarely sees daylight.
    • There is one obstacle that may get in the way of using them in your game, and it's the same thing that makes Jaws less frightening as an RPG than as a movie: there are a lot of easily exploitable tactics (chief among them being just staying out of the water) that render them a non-threat if the fish in question is restricted to the water if it wants to breathe and move normally. You can get around this by making the monster amphibian, or so big it can snatch people off of shores and docks, or by employing the tropes of Hazardous Water.
    • Or just make the buggers get in the water - because what they want is in, over or through it.
  • Fishing is an important primary industry, and likely to be a significant portion of the diet in any community near the water, especially during pre-industrial times of biological-plenty. Besides food, fish - especially fish oil - can provide a useful source of industrial hydrocarbons (fuels, lubricants and industrial feedstocks).
  • A person who trades in fish as a food is generally called a fishmonger - this does not normally include those involved in the canned fish trade.
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