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Starting a Family
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Posted by Angier who has 439 posts.

Starting a Family.

Welcome to an in-depth part of the site where you can find all sorts of information regarding this chapter in your wolf's life on-site - becoming a mate and/or a parent. Starting at 22 months old, wolves reach sexual maturity and are now considered as young adults (they are also mentally ~20 years old by human standards). This is when the "magic" and character development gets interesting as your maturing character might start to realize what they want in life (to gain a mate, to have a family, to start a pack, etc.) and figure out ways how to make it happen.

As RoW is a realistic RPG, this article may help lend a hand when it comes to rolling through the motions of pack and family life with a significant other... and other surprises that may be in store!

(This post was last modified: Jul 06, 2018, 06:57 PM by Sahalie.)
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#1
Posted by Mapplethorpe who has 258 posts.

Courtship.

Starting March 1st until March 31st, female wolves all over RoW go into heat, evoking eligible males to become highly interested in them. During this time, a sign-up thread for players wishing for their characters to bear the next generation is posted. Players have until April 1st to finish their thread in order to qualify as a breeding pair. Threads do not have to be 10 posts long, but it is suggested that there be written undertones to imply the pair's intentions, as well as a proper "exit" or "fade-to-black" for both participating characters. Now, mating and breeding threads on Ruins of Wildwood are a sort of art in itself - cue the flying Cupids and all the declarations of love - two writers composing how one character expresses devotion for another. But wolves wishing to become mates and/or parents will exhibit these behaviors (and, on RoW, these primarily make up the sole content of a 'mating thread'):

  • Walking side-by-side.

  • Standing shoulder-to-shoulder before addressing one another.

  • Playing "tag" or chasing each other.

  • Asserting dominance over one another (gentle muzzle grabbing, draping their forelimbs over their mate's shoulders or back, resting their chin over their mate's body, lightly nipping at the back of the neck and ears, etc.).

  • Submitting to one another (respectfully lowering their ears, licking their mate's chin, brushing the bridge of their muzzle against their significant other's throat, etc.).

  • Marking and patrolling the pack borders together.

  • Nuzzling.

  • Cuddling together away from the rest of the pack.

  • Grooming one another.

  • Sleeping and resting beside each other.

  • Communicating with one another through simple vocalizations (barks, yips, whines, and whimpers).

  • The female, when ready to mate, will display a behavior called flagging, in which her tail raises high into the air, signaling to her mate that she is ready.

(This post was last modified: Jun 29, 2015, 04:31 PM by Valeria.)
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#2
Posted by Angier who has 439 posts.

Pregnancy.

Domestic dogs and wolves have a gestation period that lasts, on average, ~63 days. Depending on the parents' species and heritage, 59-63 days is a closer estimate when it comes to calculating due dates. These dates are given when the expected litters are announced by the Staff sometime at the beginning of April to the members of RoW.

Week by Week Development
(Courtship, Ovulation & Conception.)Week 1
Day 0
This is the day the pair-bonded wolves' "mating thread" has been started, and it is from that date that the birthdate of the cubs is decided. Courtship begins and whenever the female is ready for her mate to make his move, the puppy-making magic begins.
Day 2-4
In the days following the start of mating season, female wolves go into heat and become "receptive" to all male wolves - their significant others, the other males in their pack, as well as any male lone wolves nearby. Males are driven by instinct to both protect and possess the female of their choice and, in turn, will start to actively and tenaciously assert their dominance over all other males. The act of mating is preceded by a courting phase during which they play, nuzzle, and crave for one another's closeness (all, if not most of these, primarily make up an "eligible" mating thread on Ruins of Wildwood to insinuate a pair of wolves have pair-bonded and "done the deed.").

Please Note: The mating process does not necessarily mean that fertilization has occurred (by scientific means that we don't particularly have use for or need to get into depth on on-site). Here on RoW, "breeding" is defined as coupling to produce puppies and "mating" is defined as coupling to become pair-bonded mates (without producing puppies).
Day 7
Towards the end of the first week following fertilization, the embryos, which are formed very high up in the uterus, will migrate towards the uterine horns. They then float and move around within the uterine liquid... Wolves generally have 4-7 cubs on average, but depending on circumstances on-site and in order to increase the chances of cubs surviving the nature of Relic Lore, 1-3 {surviving} cubs are the norm.
(First Phase.)Week 2
Day 8
Usually, after a week since the mating thread was started, the female wolf's heat has been resolved and it will be apparent to pack and family members and other wolves that she is pregnant. The embryos are well-protected in the uterus membrane and will not come to any harm; despite whatever went down in that thread, it is completely safe for her to continue her normal routines. Expectant fathers may be very protective of her, however, and they may spend their waking hours tending to their mate and grooming her by helping her shed her thick winter coat. Expectant mothers, on the other hand, may become moody or more affectionate towards their significant other.
Week 3
Day 16
By the third week, the embryos have implanted themselves into the uterine wall. These soon-to-be puppies are still developing within their mother, their cells rapidly multiplying and building the proper "components" for a possibly perfect bundle of joy. Expectant mothers at this point in time may begin to display mood swings, appetite changes, and breast tissue development.
Week 4
Day 22
The puppies aren't too much to really feel or "look at" yet, but their little ears have developed in the womb. Their spinal cords are also developing, along with prominent facial features, such as eyeballs, muzzle and nose, paws, and the points of the ears. The mothers will require a bit more food than usual as her appetite increases.
(Second Phase.)Week 5
Day 30-35
By now the embryos have begun to look like puppies. Their limbs, paws and tail have developed and are now more pronounced. At this point, they now have sex organs and eyelids! By day 35, the embryos are now considered as fetuses and have already acquired a third of their birth weight. The toes on their paws have also just separated into tiny individual digits and their organs are all now beginning to form. This day marks the end of embryogenesis, the first phase of gestation. Expectant mothers may see a drastic change in their diet; she might have cravings for more higher energy, protein, and mineral-rich foods or she might have a decreased appetite (Future dads and care-takers! Make sure she eats something at least once a day!). The fetuses develop their sex organs and begin to look like actual puppies. Her belly will also begin to look noticeably swollen as the pups take up more space in her abdomen.
Week 6
Day 40
The fetuses now have a small claw on each digit and pigmentation develops. Expectant mothers may start to feel uncomfortable and she may vomit occasionally due to the extra pressure against her stomach.
(Third Phase.)Week 7
Day 45
At this point in time the puppies now look as they should with chubby bellies, a pronounced canine-like snout with a button-nose, lengthened limbs, floppy ears, and a tail. Their fur starts to develop and their skeleton begins to ossify - turn into bone and bony tissue. The coat is one of the last organs to develop. Expectant mothers, even with their well-rounded abdomens and lack of energy - will start to search and make their birthing dens in a place well away from high-traffic areas where lone wolves or nosy pack members might discover or check in on them. Her breasts are well-developed and possibly contain a bit of colostrum or "first milk". It is now possible for other wolves to see and feel the cubs in the mother's protruding belly.
Week 8
Day 53-55
The birthing den should be well-equipped now with soft bedding and ready for the mother to occupy. Milk begins to flow from the mother's teats about one week prior to whelping. This is not, however, a reliable way to determine the cubs' birthdate. The fetuses now have fur and are beginning to feel a bit crowded in the womb. They are also highly sensitive to touch! If "mom" will allow it, expectant dads and trusted pack members might be able to stroke or nuzzle the expectant mom's belly and the cubs will wriggle in response!
(Approaching the Due Date & the Big Day!)Week 9
Day 58
The cubs now have a nice coat of fur and will look and feel more active than before as they position themselves for the upcoming birth. In the final days before whelping, expectant moms and their caretaker(s) will witness the female's body shape changing. Her hips will seem slightly wider or "fuller" as her pelvic ligaments will relax so that the puppies have enough room to pass through. By instinct, the future mother will seek out a quiet place or her chosen birthing den to make her nest and will seem on edge. It is advised for all other pack members outside of her most trusted attendants to keep their distance in order to keep her nerves intact and allow for her to continually nurture her relationship with her significant other, attending Medic, and/or caretaker(s). Expectant fathers who seek to help their mates relax will often groom them and offer words of encouragement during the last few days before birthing/whelping.
Day 59-63
Once the contractions hit, it's practically showtime. The mother will head to her birthing den and will not emerge anytime soon after the cubs are born. Labor will take a considerate amount of time and sap a great deal of her energy. When everything has come to pass and each cub has been accounted for (and their placentas consumed in turn), the cubs may nurse and sleep while "mom," herself, takes a well deserved rest.
(This post was last modified: Jun 29, 2015, 04:35 PM by Valeria.)
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#3
Posted by Angier who has 439 posts.

Choosing a Den: Building & Making a Home.

Location, Location, Location

Some pack Leaders who establish their own pack have it easy - as soon as they are approved by RoW Staff to make their claim on a portion of Relic Lore, the first thing they establish is the pack den. It is the central hub where pack members catch up to one another, rest, play and sometimes visit with the pack's youngest members. Oftentimes, these locations are used as birthing dens, but some Leading Ladies choose to have their own private quarters away from their pack members' hustle and bustle.

The most important factors in selection of a den site were determined to be adequate canopy (or large tree) cover, herbaceous vegetation nearby, small logs and rocks near the site, and the proximity to a water source (usually within 100 m). If possible, some favorable den sites are chosen for their lofty location, so that the mother or den-sitters just outside may detect approaching dangers.

Dimensions

Spring is the ideal time to build a den with one's own paws; after the snow has thawed and the weather has given way to warmer days, the soil is soft and easily dug up. (source) Here on Ruins of Wildwood, what makes a den suitable to inhabit depends on the wolf. In the wild, in an average den, the birthing chamber lies at the end of a tunnel that may be up to 15 feet (4.6 meters) long (source). Wolves may also choose to use the den that has been long abandoned by its original owner - fox holes, badger burrows, and bear dens are popular choices with beaver dams and coyote dugouts being other interesting preferences that are "move-in ready." The entrance to the den is about 20 to 28 inches (50.8 cm. - 71.12 cm) wide and 15 to 20 inches (38.1 cm. - 71.12 cm.) high. Dens may also have two or more entrances, both of which are usually marked by a large pile of dirt.

Trivia

  • Cubs are moved from the birthing den at roughly two months old (when they are a little too large to sleep comfortably within it). It is up to the parents' discretion on whether they move to the pack/communal den or to one of a number of rendezvous sites within pack grounds. Lone wolf mothers might choose to stay put and only opt to move her cub(s) if and when the den has been disturbed.
  • Rendezvous sites are used from mid-May through mid-October and packs may have as many 3 or 4 different locations, with each location being one mile apart from one another
  • Dens are often reused by generations of wolves, sometimes passed from one generation to the next.
  • Wolves do not typically sleep within dens, but may do so for the sake of keeping puppies company, staying out of the rain or snow, or... maybe hiding from certain individuals. It is usually a pregnant female - Leader, subordinate, or otherwise - who will require one to prepare for the arrival of her litter.
  • Although a rare occurrence, it is not unheard of for more than one female to share a den.

(This post was last modified: Sep 13, 2015, 10:35 PM by Rook.)
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#4
Posted by Rook who has 444 posts.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Who can mate or breed?

Both female and males wolves must be 22 months old or older in order to breed. At the oldest, while no "age cap" has been formally introduced, wolves up to the age of 10 are still considered "fertile." (Fun Fact!: A Yellowstone wolf by the name of #302, a.k.a. "Casanova," sired one of his last litters at the age of ten.)

When can threads be started and when do they need to be finished?

Breeding season in Relic Lore spans from March 1st to March 31st. Sign-ups for potential parents close on March 28th.

Due-dates are decided by staff based on the date of the breeding thread (usually wolves on RoW will gestate for 62 days) and birthing threads need to be started on or after the set date. Expectant mother's will have two weeks from the original date to post a birthing thread, if they haven't, fathers will be allowed an additional two weeks to post a thread "finding" the new puppies (details can be worked out depending on the situation.)

If birthing threads are not posted within a month of the set due-date, puppies will be considered deceased.

What happens when a thread is not completed by March 31st?

Breeding threads that are not complete by April 1 will not meet the qualifications for cubs to be born, resulting in either: the breeding thread becomes considered a "mating" thread (which does not produce puppies) or the female will be allowed to carry her litter but will give birth to stillborns.

How are puppy traits determined?

What each puppy looks like and what gender they are is usually decided by the players of the puppy's parents, but it isn't unheard of for players to allow others to customize their future character.

How are the number of puppies per litter determined?

New in 2021 the litter sizes are determined on lottery night by rolling dice in discord, the number that each couple rolls is the maximum number of pups allowed for the pair. However, they're free to choose to have less pups than are rolled if they wish. The maximum number of pups a couple can roll is based off of the female's rank:

  • Leader: 1-5 pups
  • Subordinate: 1-3 pups
  • Leader/Lone Wolf: 2 pups
Lone wolves are not guaranteed a litter and must enter the loner lottery, the amount of litters up for grabs changes year to year, based on the amount of current members. Loners can only ever have 1 pup in their litter.

On average, how many pups are born in a litter?

If you'd like to get very realistic and include stillborns in your birthing thread, wolves generally have a litter of 5 or 6 pups. While very rare, it has been noted that wolves may bear litters as small as 2 pups or as large as 11 pups; exceptionally large litters of 14–17 pups occur only 1% of the time (source). Most players generally choose to have their character bear the maximum or minimum of 'suggested' pups in a litter; after all, "Puppy Season" (after the breeding threads have been wrapped up) is generally a happy, carefree time during the late Spring and Summer months in Relic Lore.

What kind of puppy character information needs to be submitted?

Potential puppy-adopters (if not interested in fully customizing a character) are primarily interested in this basic information:

  • Full name (first name, nickname, second name/middle name, surname)
  • Gender
  • Species (the breed of the puppy)
  • Fur Color / Eye Color (both cub and adult colorations)
  • "Trademark" features which might have been inherited (dorsal/facial stripe, "Tainn family" irises of fire and gold, mismatched eyes, the "Lyall" mask, etc.)
  • Adult Physique (Small, Medium, Large)
  • Cub/Adult Avatars (275x275 and 250x100 to be put into use when the character is registered on-site).
Other optional information to provide (what makes each puppy unique):
  • Personality Shape
  • Character Alignment (If not suggested, cubs more than likely take after their parents' Alignments as they take up their moral code through valuable lessons or, as most "new" characters start out, are considered "Neutral.")
  • Possibilities as to what the character might become
  • Full-body reference picture
  • A title ("The Assassin," "The Princess," "The Scion," "The Heiress of Grizzly Hollow," etc.)
  • Relatives (characters on-site, active or inactive, to help fill in profile fields)
  • Character in 3 words
  • Any underlying themes that link the puppy to continuing elements in their parents' or family's history/histories

* Puppy parents might want to leave some of these aspects blank to allow players to explore plot possibilities for their characters.

When do the puppies arrive and when are they playable?

Puppies born on RoW arrive between Early May and Early June. Players adopting puppies may start playing their bundle of joy on pack territory boards three weeks after their pup's birthday.

What do expectant mothers do when it comes to "nesting" behavior?

Female wolves, when nesting, start this behavior as early as the 7th week of their pregnancy. They are driven by hormones to look for a safe place to give birth and care for her pups. These might be abandoned dens, caves, or burrows once used by another animal, a hollow tree trunk, a crevice on the side of the mountain range, or even a personal den that was built especially by her pack; once selected, this will also be the whelping place of her future litters. To fulfill her developing or resurfacing maternal instincts, she will gather and rip up all sorts of soft materials to make her den - grass, moss, scavenged animal pelts, strips of bark, etc. - and she will excessively groom herself. She may seem anxious and begin to take up leisurely walks to settle her nerves and may constantly seek out quiet, more private locations away from the pack; though, she will almost always return to her birthing den now instead of her usual haunt(s).

How do I prepare my character for/in the birthing thread?

During the first stage of labor her cervix begins to dilate and the contractions begin; they are assumed to be quite painful, and for first-time mothers, they might even be perplexing. She might be uncomfortable and restless - pacing, shivering, and panting. She probably will not eat and may even vomit. She might whine and seek the company of her significant other or her attending Medic or caretaker; or, she might occupy or distract herself by making her birthing den feel "just right" by clearing out the den floor or fixing up the material used for nesting. Labor could possibly last from 6 to 18 hours. By the end of this period the mother’s cervix will have completely dilated for the puppies to pass. During this period, it is recommended to keep the mother’s environment quiet and calm; her mate and/or Guardians might find themselves dutifully placed just outside the birthing den to keep nosy pack members from snooping about or bothering her.

How long does it take for each puppy to emerge?

Puppies are generally born 15 minutes to 1.5 hours apart.

So, what happens after the puppies are born?

As each pup emerges, their mother uses her tongue to lick each of their faces and ensure their airways aren't blocked by mucus or any other birthing material (blood, embryonic sac, etc.). She then encourages them to nurse and once all pups are accounted for, it is time to rest. She may also take a moment after the birth of each pup to consume its placenta as a source of protein; this may help ensure that she has enough strength to recover from the birth and won't have to leave her pups to find food immediately. The mother will also have a ravenous appetite in the days following after the arrival of the pups and she may eat as much as three times more than her usual rations. Of course, then there is the time to name each pup! The birthing thread is a great opportunity to introduce readers and other players to these new characters!

Can I earn Life Points for anything?

Yes! With completed threads as proof, characters may earn...

For Moms and Dads:

  • +20 Development; Have Pups. (Your character has had pups on Relic Lore.)
  • +40 Development; Gain a Mate. (Completed at least 5 private threads with your character's mate and established a relationship. The breeding thread may possibly count towards this achievement, granted that it has at least 10 posts.)

What happens if a puppy is born breeched or feet first?

It is actually very common to have a puppy be delivered feet first, this is NOT a breech birth, but simply a rear presentation. Nearly half the time, offspring enter the world this way. It is more difficult to deliver than a headfirst puppy, but it does happen quite often. If a breech birth does occur or if the puppy becomes stuck, the mother can be helped by a practiced medic, who may gently help by grasping onto the puppy and very gently pulling during a contraction. It is not recommended to do this unless it is certain the puppy is stuck; if the pup remains stuck for too long it will suffocate and will die.

Afterword.

We hope you enjoyed learning a bit about how to pace your character's pregnancy or take a moment to understand what your wolf's mate might be going through. From here, if would like to learn more about how your Relic Lore-born pup will continue to develop, please check out RoW's Development Guide.

(This post was last modified: Apr 05, 2021, 05:34 PM by Viorel. Edit Reason: updated to include lottery )
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#5