Monster Hunter World

Fan Theory: When you hunt a monster, you are not necessarily ending its life

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Looks like great minds think alike and fools rarely differ because u/TyrHawk had some similar thoughts about the quest text from the recent Lunastra update. I hope they see this post!

Spoilers are very mild and concern the conclusion of the MHW story, the Lunastra update, and a couple remarks on older games.

Look, obviously this is a fantasy setting, as well as a setting that is famously shallow on the lore end. I get that and I even appreciate that quite a bit. However, some of the quest text from the Lunastra unlock chain got me thinking. I'm referring, of course, to

#t=2m24s”>what is discussed with the Second Fleet Master after your Teostra hunt. He does respond to the player character as if you told him that the Teostra in the Arena is the same Teostra you just hunted, and he responds as if that's plausible. Obviously, if slaying a monster ends its life, that doesn't make sense. When you go into the quest, though, you see that the Teostra is completely intact, not showing any signs of the hunt you just had with it. Most noticeably if you cut off its tail, as I did, the Teostra in the Arena quest has its tail intact. From that, one might easily just say that the player character was mistaken and that there was simply another Teostra that snuck into the Arena.

However, what is more interesting is that the Second Fleet Master says right after that, which is that when Teostra are injured, they gorge on gunpowder. Uh, what? So, not only is it possible that that was the same Teostra, it has a strange, known behaviour that it does when it's injured… not to mention, if you get any significant, noticeable breaks on Lunastra during that quest, she also shows up fully intact in the quest afterwards. Obviously, you didn't injure her gravely, but if you cut off her tail, how does it reappear?

My theory addresses not only the whole "rarity" issue of Elder Dragons that you end up killing dozens of but also some basic facts about what "hunting" is in this setting and some basic facts of the ecology of this setting, and it is this: Elder Dragons (and perhaps some other very powerful monsters known to be rare) have nigh miraculous healing powers. "Hunting" them merely puts them into a deep state of stasis, and for the most part, makes them retreat for a time to heal. To permanently kill an Elder Dragon, perhaps through utter destruction of their bodies or removal/trauma to a specific organ, is extremely perhaps almost impossible, and, as far as I can remember, has never really been explicitly depicted in the series. Longer veterans with better memories than me may be able to offer more insight there.

This theory is supported by the events of the Lunastra quest chain. The Teostra that holes itself up in the Arena during the quest chain is indeed the same Teostra, and it was indeed eating gunpowder, because the gunpowder gave it sustenance or fuel in some way to power its natural healing ability. By the time the player character returns to Astera from the Elder's Recess, the Teostra was already there. Assuming you do the quests back to back, that takes a good chunk of a day; I can't remember how much in-universe time appears to pass in the day night cycle, but it could be 6 hours, or it could be 30 hours, pr it could be 54 hours, and so on, so it's not really a variable worth thinking too hard on. By that time, the Teostra has been gorging on gunpowder in the Astera Special Arena for some time, a known response Teostra has to extreme wounds, which gives him enough time to heal his superficial wounds and grow back his tail. He's still low on stamina, and lovesick, so his mate comes to the rescue. After you repel them, they fly back to the Elder's Recess, and Lunastra also has time to heal any superficial damage you may have done to her in the Special Arena. Perhaps they eat lava? Who knows.

I find this theory to address a lot of inconsistencies of this game's fiction for a variety of reasons:

It supports the fiction's insistence on the rarity of Elder Dragons. It also does this while recognizing that outside the scope of the main story, the player character is hunting the same Elder Dragon as much as the individual player wishes. They are not individuals, but they are very rare, with only perhaps a few dozen known individuals in the whole known breadth of the fictional setting, and maybe only a few individuals that the player is hunting in the New World, if not a single individual that is down for a scrap whenever you are, and regenerates afterwards. Keep in mind that Tempered Monsters are more or less addressed in the fiction… I really don't think the fiction supports the existence of Tempered monsters that well, but we could just say you really pissed off that Vaal Hazak last time you took it down, and it's returning with a vengeance. Might explain why they have similar health pools and just do more damage.

It lends even more weight to the complex death ritual of Zorah Magdaros and lends greater mystery to the lives of Elder Dragons. We never really learn that much about Zorah Magdaros but this does support the notion that its death is a notable occurrence, not just because it's a Zorah Magdaros dying and its death is not that well understood, but that Elder Dragons of any kind permanently dying is not that well understood. And if Elder Dragons can regenerate, how long do they live? What makes them move around and threaten human colonies? What do they eat and why do they even need to eat? Why aren't they commonly shown eating and the notion of an elder dragon having a snack is only just now being addressed in the fiction?

Carving off of an Elder Dragon is taking a chance to harvest rare materials off of the fallen Elder Dragon while it is in its brief, physical trauma induced stasis. You're not really carving out its heart* or brain** or anything. Horns, claws, tails, scales, carapace, these are all superficial body parts and it's not implausible to imagine them being able to regrow these things. Oh, you want an Elder Dragon's kidney stone? That's gross, but maybe if you cut a deep enough gash into them, you might have a small chance to find a gem that the beast's body produces over time. Perhaps Elder Dragon Bones are from a forelimb and not necessarily like a spinal disc that would be debilitating to remove from its body. Most flavour text in MHW does not make mention of killing the monster, only that the parts are obtained by carving. I don't remember how much flavour text in the older games talked about the monsters dying or being dead.

* – The monkey wrench in this aspect of my theory is Rajang, who is explicitly characterized as being very rare, but whose parts can be pretty biologically necessary for life (Rajang Heart, anyone?), and the flavour text for Rajang Nerves in MH4U explicitly mention that they still pulse after its death. Also worth mentioning that Rajang are not Elder Dragons, and are relatively small, and perhaps not as ecosystem disrupting as displaced Elder Dragons can be. And the nerves pulsing even after death suggest organisms in this setting may have incredible capacities for hardiness, defying death, and regeneration.


** – Carapaceon aren't rare creatures either, but perhaps ones as big and aggressive as Daimyo/Stonefist Hermitaur are? That might explain why they are a 1% droprate from Daimyo/Stonefist Hermitaur, harvesting at least some of brain of that impressive of a specimen of that creature is not usually done or not practical, but the smaller ones the brains are a high drop chance. Perhaps the smaller ones taste better! Real life crabs also have incredible regeneration capabilities.

This theory doesn't necessarily have to apply to anything but Elder Dragons or other notably rare and powerful monsters with otherwise puzzling ecological significance. I can easily believe a huge forest might have 40 Great Jagras in it, and that they reproduce pretty quickly. Monster death is occasionally addressed in the fiction, a colourful example is the belief that a Deviljho's insatiable appetite is capable of emptying entire ecosystems of all life. Deviljho is almost like a pseudo-Elder Dragon to begin with, with its size, power, Dragon attacks, and really, Deviljho being anything other than exceedingly rare does not make ecological sense, since a stable and somewhat numerous population of Deviljho statistically would cause a severe global extinction event. They don't really co-exist after all, and would have to spread around, killing and eating everything in sight. However… if we imagine Deviljho as being as rare as Elder Dragons are in this setting… and sometimes even eating meals off of especially powerful creatures that aren't killed by severe physical trauma… and can be knocked out and made to chill out for a while, their existence starts to make a little more sense. Other monsters that come to mind as at least potential candidates for few-individuals-that-regenerate status are Ukanlos (nope, not an elder dragon!), Akantor (also not an elder dragon!), Agnaktor, Lagiacrus, Brachydios, Duramborous, Najarala, Glavenus, Mizutsune, Astalos, maybe Gammoth depending on how old a fully grown Gammoth is, Deadeye Yian Garuga being a veteran of many battles is its whole concept, and so on and so forth. Anything big and exceptionally powerful, really, that would be ecosystem disrupting in the best cases. I particularly feel like imagining Duramborous as an individual that keeps coming back because its design incorporates so many features that would come only after a massively long lifespan.

Storyline monsters regenerating limbs is something we've been seeing for a while and, let's be real, it hasn't been a technical limitation for a long time, if ever. If these games that have only ever been seen on sophisticated hardware platforms couldn't remember what breaks a monster had, older games might have not had the capability to maintain part breaks in between zone changes. I feel like, even assuming it was a technical limitation before, or a creative oversight, it definitely isn't one now, as now we can see that when you capture a monster and cut off its tail, the captured monster in Astera will also have its tail missing. That was a wonderful touch by the dev team and made it all feel the ecology of this world so much more well thought out. It would have been as simple as storing a few variables somewhere in between quests in the Lunastra questline, and I think it's a detail the dev team wouldn't have overlooked. Sure, it's the way the dev team is giving you an opportunity to get more parts, but don't lie, I am almost certain that most of you must have thought in between those quests that you thought you would or hoped to see proof that the player character was right and that was the same Teostra, and the easiest proof would be to see if it had the same parts broken from your recent hunt. Edit cause I forgot this part too: the cutscenes are all in-engine, they're not prerendered, meaning part breaks could have been maintained in the cutscenes too. That's why you are able to see your personalized hunter in your personal gear in cutscenes afer all, with or without helmet even. This explains how I could have gotten so many tail cuts off of, say, a monster like Gore Magala from MH4U, before finally "killing" it. Worth mentioning that the game's entire story is centered around it being the same individual Gore Magala. Maybe even something unique like Gore Magala mightrevert back to its former pre-metamorphosis state if it receives enough physical trauma while it is in Shagaru Magala form… and even more rarely, an event like this might even cause the creation of a Chaotic Gore Magala!)

It lends a little bit of realism for monsters on a gigantic scale who only appear in the games in a single habitat, such as Jhen/Dah'ren Moran, Dalamadur, Ceadeus, Zorah Magdaros, Nakarkos, and why a tiny little pea of a thing can "kill them", even with cannons and stuff. Because you aren't really killing it, right? Just knocking it out for a while to carve off some parts. No, this theory doesn't address why these fights are so often janky and not that fun, unfortunately.

Some monsters in particular are portrayed as having particularly dramatic healing capabilities with healing that occurs in real time. World's notable example of this is of course Nergigante. Obviously his spines are one thing, and modeled after sharks having rows of teeth that replace broken off ones. You also have at least one decent opportunity to slice off a Nergigante tail before the end of the game, on Zorah Magdaros' back. Why wouldn't he be able to grow back a tail between your showdown on Zorah Magdaros' back and when you hunt him if he has such amazing healing capabilities elsewhere? Another monster that comes to mind is Seregios, who is regrowing spines that it then shoots at you while you fight it. Seregios is also spoken of as being particularly rare, to the point where killing a few dozen of them just isn't plausible, since they are also enormously territorial and seize huge areas as their sole living area. Perhaps it is also a powerful enough being to have Elder Dragon-like healing capabilities?

Many forms of real life organisms have at least some capacity of reparative regeneration, and many possess the capability to re-grow entire limbs over and over again, notably reptiles. It's not even in the realm of pure fantasy! It might also address why the beasts we know as Elder Dragons are generally not mammalian, as mammals do not tend to have complete regeneration capabilities (although a notable exception is hair regrowth and things like deer growing antlers annually).

Anyway, I had fun writing that. Again, I am perfectly aware that the developers might not intend any of this at all, and they certainly have never stated that this has been their internet all along, and ultimately, this aspect of the Monster Hunter games doesn't really need to justified within the fiction because it's a repetitive grinding action game because repetitive grinding action is fun when it's done right, but hey, if it can be justified, why not?

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