This is a discussion on "Monsters, and other things that inhabit your worlds" in the World Building forum.
It's just my blog. Really nothing that interesting. I actually kind of loathe it.
It's not that I don't like humanoids. It's just that Dwarves and Elves seem to make it into a lot of fantasy, which makes sense, but they always seem the same to me. I want to see a race of dwarves or elves or even gnomes that go against all the other stories. It won't stop me reading a book if they have those cliche races and their characteristics, I just find it monotonous. A lot of them fail to stand out to me.
As for making your own humanoids, or recreating an old race. That's the kind of thing I want to do.
Hey guys thanks for the all the posts you've given me a lot to think about.
I try to "break" an old creature before turning it into something new. I might not include anything of the breaking to the making in the actual story, or even history, but it's still a part of my process to try and breathe life back into something I've seen just too much of.
If a manticore is a combination of some beasts, then why not combine a few beasts that haven't been combined before?
Dragons are giant reptiles with wings. Why not take that logic and apply it to some other kind of creature? The Pegasus and Phelddagrif are similar examples, but what about giving a creature something other than wings, and "making a big deal about it" in your world? After that, it's mere nostalgia & tradition that keeps the Dragon around these days. It's not bad to reuse creatures and tropes -- it gives an experienced reader a bone to quickly chew on in your world after all -- but even giant talking reptiles get a li'l boring when they're as numerous in tales as the trees in Evilwood forest.
@Whytemanga: That's exactly what I'm doing with creatures in my world.
Currently, the creatures in my novel are dragons, humans (squabbling over power and politics), dwellers (intelligent, zombie-like beings), daemons (fresh from Hell), and daemon incarnates (leaders of daemons).
I have all manner of creatures in my story. I don't have typical fantasy creatures, I have horses with claws for hooves, six legged oxen, and a companion animal that resembles a foot long pill bug.
I am debating a second intelligent species, that no human can communicate with. As communication is impossible, there would be constant war with them.
Come visit my blog, and see what I've been up to.
For my story I used a terrorizing tribe of regenerating trolls that live in the caves of the mountains. The residents in the valley live in constant fear, expecting them to storm down upon them in the middle of the night and kill them while they're sleeping. Sound familiar? There's also a troll version of the wicked witch/snow queen archetype and references to other green humanoids like orcs and hobgoblins-- a nod to Emerson.
I've got some walking undead too, but they're supposed to be more of an ironic representation of immortality rather than the relentless hordes that traditionally symbolize the feeling of modern stress. I also wanted to use the Dread Knight monster in my story because they represent the tragic hero perfectly. The fall from grace theme is a big one in my novel.
There's also a cyclops, much like Polyphemus from the Odyssey, that represents the primitive and violent, yet sensitive, nature of an unforgiving wild. He doesn't herd any sheep though, and no, he doesn't gets stabbed in the eye. Oh, and there's also threat of a disease, which I guess is a micro-monster, isn't it?
But, even in a world filled with such creatures, the true monsters in my novel are the people. If you're interested in reading it, PM your email and I'll send you the pdf.
In the story I'm currently writing, one of the first creatures to be introduced is the kezzit - "Baby Dragon" in the language of the protagonist's mentor's culture. As the name suggests, they're reptiles of a sort, like man-eating iguanas the size of Alsatians. Komodo Dragons, basically, but a bit bigger and a lot faster. They can spit and spray their neurotoxic venom, which they coat their claws with by licking them in their downtime, which produces a pain similar to being set on fire. Their gums are also basically petri dishes for dozens of nasty pathogens, so even if antivenom is acquired, bites are usually fatal from the ensuing infection. However, their large diets combined with their small frames means that their meat is packed with nutrients, and they have two huge bladders filled with practically drinkable water that make them very valuable to hunters in the desert environment in which they're found.
And in one of the stories I'm planning for (set in a tundral environment i.e. Northern Siberia), the main pack animal is a great big fluffy dog the size of a pony with huge, wide paws that distribute its weight over a large surface area in the snow to prevent them from sinking in. They're characterised in folklore as being aloof, noble wolves, but in reality they're just big, dumb, friendly animals. Domestication might have something to do with that.
I also have a species of spider that lays millions of microscopic eggs when it reproduces, which, due to its verminous role in the local ecosystem, get stuck in food stores, slums, etc. They are subsequently ingested or inhaled, gestate by drawing nutrients from the host's body, then grow and expand in large clumps underneath the host's skin, forming pox-like sores. The sores erupt when the eggs hatch and hundreds of baby spiders spill out. It's awesome.
@Whytemanga: I think you're thinking chimaeras. Manticores are mythological greek things with cat-like bodies, human-like faces and barbed tails they can use as projectiles. They're a bit of a chimaera themselves. If I'm wrong feel free to correct me, I'm a teenager not a professor. My own rendition of manticores are giant poisonous insects with long stingers. Inspiration came when a (wood wasp?) bug with a stinger as long as it was smacked into me while out camping. After the initial "OMG that thing is massive and looks painful!" I got some inspiration.
I also have basilisks (neurotoxic spitting lizards) but both of these creatures might not even make their way into my story, as they're from the far south, mostly in an area controlled by some countries of the other hominid, the horned draey. Like humans these guys have different skin colours and features, but they all have goat like ears and ramming horns. (This made me unhappy when I learned Bioware ws smacking horns on the qunari. They ended up looking like what I had imagined the draey.)
Other than that I can't think of my other creatures ,unless you consider the cave lions, mammoths, aurochs, whoolly rhinos, (European) hyenas, and (Irish) Giant deer to be monsters. (If you haven't heard of the Irish deer, the thing stood 7' at the shoulder and could have a rack 12' from tip to tip) I do have some evil things one of my main character's distant ancestor apparently destroyed, but if they ever show up it will be in his son's generation, or his son's.
As with Leuco the true monsters are the people. They kill, they burn, they plot, they rape.