photo by Mike Lehmann, via WikimediaSo cute! Does it really deserve to be called a devil?
What about the dire Tasmanian devil? A lot of dire animals in D&D and fantasy in general are based on actual prehistoric creatures. This started with the dire wolf, canis dirus, which was a slightly bigger than normal wolves. Fantasy game designers ran with the exciting 'dire' descriptor and applied it to a slew of prehistoric animals like the short-faced bear and irish elk. They didn't stop there, though, creating 'dire' versions of animals with no real prehistoric equivalent, like dire weasels and dire badgers. The dire Tasmanian devil is one of the latter. Although there were larger prehistoric devils in Australia, Sarcophilus laniarius, they were only slightly larger than modern devils, not five feet long like the dire Tasmanian devil below. I took some creative license because I like 'dire' animals.
via WikimediaTasmanian devil skull. Nice teeth.
I ran through several potential alternative names before settling down on one. 'Devil quoll' sort of works - quolls are a related cat-sized marsupial carnivore that are smaller and less bitey than Tasmanian devils, but if I named it 'devil quoll' I'd have to explain what quolls are. 'Marsupial devil' gets the idea across fairly well, but it also conjures up images of Satan with a pouch full of babies on his tummy. Its genus, sarcophilus, sounds pretty cool but it sounds more like a dinosaur than a fuzzy little guy. Eventually I settled on 'tarrabah', which is one of the Tasmanian Aboriginal names for the creature recorded by early white settlers, along with 'poirinnah' and 'par-loo-mer-rer' - I went with tarrabah because it starts with a 't' like Tasmanian devil. If you incorporate it into your campaign (and boy have I been giving a lot of thought to an Australian-inspired fantasy world), call it by any of those names or none of them.
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