Paramites are terrestrial predators that normally live in Oddworld’s forests and caves, and are known for their social nature, which includes pack hunting and vocal communication. Glukkons hunts them for their meat, but they are sacred creatures to the Mudokons, who in turn are amongst the natural prey of Paramites.
Paramites have appeared in the first three Oddworld games, with diminishing roles in each, but maintain a high profile and popularity amongst fans.
Distribution and habitat
Paramites are native to the Paramonian Forest of Mudos, where they are now locally virtually extinct because of over-hunting and habitat loss to industrial deforestation. Wild Paramites can still be found living in large herds across the rest of Mudos. They are particularly successful in areas that have both forests and caves, such as the Wilderness Region, as they are nocturnal creatures that sleep in caves during the day.
Within Paramonia there is a sheltered population of Paramites that nest in the Paramonian Temple. Their survival here shows that industrial forces have only had limited success in penetrating the temple’s defences, despite no current Mudokon habitation. Another protected population was recently discovered when the excavation of Necrum Mines reached the Mudomo Vault.
Paramites are moderate-sized creatures, standing 3 feet (1 m) tall and 4 feet (1·5 m) long, and weighing 50 pounds (20 kg). They are tetrapods with muscular forearms that provide power for running, leaping, and climbing webs, and smaller, stabilizing hind legs that also act as spinners. Paramites are very agile, able to run up and down vertical rock surfaces and webbing, leap long distances, and jump upwards. Paramites can spin webs from their rear end, creating ropes they can nimbly ascend and descend.
The most distinguishing feature of a Paramite, is the array of six bony, finger-like appendages surrounding their mouth, like pedipalps, which give it a unique profile. Paramites thrash them to kill prey and defend themselves against predators, doing damage either by bludgeoing or impalement. This attack is enough to kill a Mudokon or shred a Fleech.:PVP7C8&9 & P11C02&4 They are also used to grasp objects such as ring pulls, to draw food into their mouth, and as visual gestures.
Paramites have no eyes, but sense other creatures by electroreception with their brain’s glands. In Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exoddus they can be heard sniffing whenever at rest, indicating they rely on a sense of smell. They also communicate verbally, implying they can hear. Interestingly, Paramites do not attack Abe when he is granted invisibility by Mudokon spirits, but they do react to his motion by rearing their heads as though confused or irritated.:PVP10C5&6 & P12C3&4
Paramites are made greatly uncomfortable by Mudokon chanting, responding by tensing up and hissing loudly, but it is not known whether they are reacting to changes in electromagnetic fields that can be theorized to be associated with chanting, or just the sound of the chant.
If you scratch a Paramite in just the right place, it will kick with its hind leg before killing you.
Paramites are very social and cooperative amongst themselves, able to graze, hunt and travel in large herds or smaller packs. There is little evidence of specialization or hierarchy within a herd, allowing it to operate no matter its membership. One nocturnal herd observed in the Wilderness Region was seen to have a kind of lookout, who hollered as the rest of the pack passed it.
Paramites have a complex system of audible communication, called ParamiteSpeak. The vocal sounds they can make include hissing, howling, rasping, squealing, and a kind of scraping squeak. They also grunt when grazing and gasp audibly when excited. These sounds are not only used to reinforce group sociality, but are part of an apparent vocabulary that allows Paramites to give instructions to each other, such as ‘Follow me’, ‘Wait’, ‘Work’, or ‘Attack’. They can also make a clicking noise by rubbing their facial fingers together, which is used as a greeting. ParamiteSpeak is indicative of Paramites’ social nature and problem-solving skills.
Paramites also use their facial fingers to provide visual gestures. When frightened, they will draw their fingers close to their body, but as a show of aggression they will also flare them greatly, possibly to increase their apparent size.
Diet and hunting
Paramites are pack hunters, and in aggregations of two or greater they will readily chase and attack prey, including Mudokons and Gabbits. Nearby Paramites will participate in such hunts without instruction. Paramites are such enthusiastic hunters that they are known to run into walls:PVP10C3 and land mines and off cliffs:PVP13C7 when in persuit of prey.
However, when a Paramite is on its own it will not initiate an attack, and may even seem docile and curious. It will follow a traveller, such as a Mudokon, cautiously maintaining a short distance. A lone Paramite will only attack a Mudokon if it is backed up against a wall or cliff top. However, if the traveller follows the Paramite, it will find itself being led into a trap: a concealed Paramite aggregation, falling objects, rolling boulders, or swarming bees.
Dead, old meat seems to be much preferred by Paramites over fresh kill, and they will abandon a chase and run right past a Mudokon just to get to the smallest scrap of meat. Even holding a piece of meat aloft is enough to grab the attention of nearby Paramites, which will cause them to gasp audibly. Mudokons often use this to their advantage, to get past Paramites that would otherwise kill them. They placed hanging meat sacks throughout the Paramonian Temple and Mudomo Vault to aid travellers.
Paramites will eat Slurgs, doing so without bursting the Slurgs noisily.:PVP1C3 & P9C2 They have also been seen rummaging in the grass of the Wilderness Region, whether combing for small animals or grazing the grass.
Interspecific predatory relationships
Paramites generally avoid other predator species of Mudos, namely Fleeches and Scrabs. Although Fleeches inhabit many of the same forests and caves as Paramites and may be active at the same time, the two creatures will not normally attack each other, as they both pose a risk to each other. Fleeches will only attack Paramites if they are cornered; Paramites will only attack Fleeches if told to by another Paramite.:PVP7C8&9 & P11C2&4
Paramite and Scrab herds will battle each other if they come into contact, but this is normally prevented by the species inhabiting different environments (Scrabs deserts, Paramites forests) or, in shared territory like the Wilderness Region, being active during different times—Scrabs are diurnal, Paramites are nocturnal.
Paramites are a super species, the entire race’s reproduction being done by specialized queens, which have not yet been observed. If they are similar to Oddworld’s other super species, then all Paramites seen so far are asexual workers. Paramites build nests, which they line with webbing and are fiercely protective of, but it is not known whether their purpose is to incubate eggs, rear infants, or neither of these.
Paramites in other societies
Paramites in native society
Ancient Mudokon temples, rock paintings, and cults are dedicated to Paramites, who were once seen as sacred animals for their power and beauty, their place in the food chain, and their connection to the spirit world. The Paramonian Temple was built to honour the creatures, and today shelters the last remaining wild Paramites in Paramonia. This belief may have begun with the Mudomo tribe, who adopted Paramites as their emblem and introduced the creatures to the Mudomo Vault below Necrum to protect the bones of the noble deceased.
Mudokons rescued from slavery are rediscovering the reverence of Paramites, kept alive by holy natives, but will ultimately find that the religious attitude to the animals used by ancient cults will not satisfy their spiritual needs.
All the same, Paramites are a natural predator of Mudokons, who have developed practices for avoiding predation in their villages. The deadliness of Paramites is used as a rite of passage: Prophecy foretold that the Mudokon who survived the creatures’ nesting grounds in the Paramonian Temple would be the saviour of his people.
Paramites in developed society
Paramites are little more than a source of meat to the industrial races. RuptureFarms hunts Paramites, driving them into box cars to take to their abattoirs where they are processed into Paramite Pies, a popular item in the Tasty Treats line of novelty meat snacks. Paramite Pie adverts feature a green cartoon Paramite, ironically promoting the consumption of its own flesh. RuptureFarms 1029 has driven Paramites to virtual extinction in the Paramonian Forest, but Glukkons only lament this as an inconvenience to their profits.
Paramites are inspired by a number of different animals and animal issues. As they are used by the Glukkons for food, they are inspired by creatures facing the threat of extinction because they are treated like an expendable natural resource, their storage and slaughter as livestock touching upon issues of animal welfare. Their appearance on Paramite Pie adverts is inspired by food mascots like Charlie the Tuna and Happy Meals: before he first came up with Oddworld, Lorne Lanning noted the absurdity of these mascots that apparently wanted to be eaten. Their relationship with Mudokons is inspired by real-world native cultures that worship wildlife, particularly in the belief that that wildlife has a natural connection with the spirit world that the natives themselves have lost.
More biologically, the social and hunting behaviour of Paramites is modelled on pack hunters like hyænæ, while their morphology is based off of spiders: their face fingers function as pedipalps but have a quality like spiders’ legs. They also spin webs. Unlike spiders, they live in eusocial groups with all reproduction handled by specialized queens, just like bees, termites and mole rats. Paramites rub their facial fingers together to make noises: this stridulation is most commonly associated with crickets and grasshoppers, but is also performed by goliath tarantulæ.
‘Paramite’ is a portmanteau of ‘parasite’ and ‘mite’, but during pre-production, Paramites were called ‘Arachnid Jr.’. The creatures were designed by Steven Olds, then physically sculpted by the Shiflett Brothers, Brandon and Jarod. This maquette was scanned and digitized to create the 3D computer models used for Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exoddus.
A concept painting by Raymond Swanland for the Abe’s Oddysee feature film released by OddBlog in June 2009 depicts unidentified creatures swarming through what appears to be a burning factory. One of the creatures in the foreground displays a facial structure similar to a Paramite, suggesting these creatures may be Paramites redesigned to take advantage of higher CGI capabilities, something Lanning has said he will do with Oddworld characters.
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