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Alternative fantasy races

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Mythic Scribes, Feb 6, 2011.

  1. SarahM.

    SarahM. Acolyte

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    Thank you! This is exactly why I started my blog. There are so many other fascinating mythical races in the world that need to have some light shed upon them! I just did an article on vampires and came up with 15 so far that I'd never, ever heard of and one even sneaked its way into this year's Nanowrimo idea.

    I think the problem is that Westerners (British and Americans) are so influenced by Tolkien and those that tried to emulate him that many writers (even "seasoned" ones) fall back on the old, familiar stories. While, yes, they are fascinating and ground breaking, a writer should challenge themselves every once and a while and try to work outside of their comfort zones.
     
  2. The Grey Sage

    The Grey Sage Troubadour

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    I personally have created many unique species and incorperated them into my Realms but I also included some classics like elves and dragons. I even put a twist to our friends the dwarves and re-amped them to make Duerves (similar culture but entirely different beings than dwarves). So I say a mix of the old and new could be a good route when using a fantasy species.
     
  3. julienlegault

    julienlegault Scribe

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    I agree with the fact that if they aren't important to story, don't use them. My work currently has a mix of different races; elves are a part of it, as well as fae creatures, but with their own unique appearances and twists. There are also other more inventive races I've been toying with, but whether they are important to my current work is the question. They will probably be best saved for later.
     
  4. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    I wouldn't say that dwarves, elves and such have become too common either. What happened was one person put them in a book and hence made a stereotype of which future authors have followed. They've cut fat and added differnt things to that stereotype to make it their own but they're still following this original example. A good way to get a fresh view of these races is to pick a culture and look into their lore and mythology. It worked for my vampire novel. I looked up italian vampires dating back as far as I could find and have a whole book outlined. Find a culture or country that appeals to you and dig deeper.
     
  5. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

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    I've written one short story featuring elves, orcs, and humans, but I subverted the cliches for all three races. The elves were the bad guys, the orcs were more sympathetic, and the humans were African tribesmen rather than the standard medieval Europeans. Beyond that, I prefer my fantasy to have only humans. It's not that I don't like cultural diversity in my worlds---quite the contrary, I love it. I simply don't think each culture has to be its own species in order to have that diversity.

    That said, I do like those sapient races that aren't hominins or even primates. For instance, lizardmen are cool.
     
  6. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Fairly early on in the development of my WIP I replaced all my "stock" fantasy races with variations of humans instead. Works fine for me, and I think it actually adds depth. Now instead of 5 races that have one or two stereotypical traits each, I have one race with lots of variation and diversity.
     
  7. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    Most of my races follow traditional names; mermaids, elves, dwarves, gnomes etc, but look into lore and mythology to base them in. There are a few races I made myself. Zantharans and Kharls. The Zantharans are people with natural connections with the Spirits and have a natural ability to shapeshift into the creature they are most like. Kharls are a breed of warriors. A pure Kharl has thick hair, muscle bound and tribal tatoos signifying their rank in society. Their trademark is glowing orange eyes.
     
  8. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    I don't think it's necessarily that the stock races are overused, but rather that whatever race is going to be used, should be used for a reason. Putting a bunch of unknowns in your story for "uniqueness" would end up confusing the reader unless every race that exists there fits into your world-build.

    I love designing my own original creations, but I also love examining the oldies and putting a new spin on them or presenting them in ways they have not been done before.
     
  9. M.F.Hart

    M.F.Hart Dreamer

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    Creating something new, is reason why I started with writing. In my stories I created few races, that haven't been used in other stories. I also used some races that is known pretty well. For instence people or fairies, but I'm also trying to use them in way they have not been used before. It's always better to create something new, than do a copy of something someone alredy did...
     
  10. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    I like new things. I will say that though that if you create this awesome new race that turns to fit the exact same roles as an established one with only superficial differences, then you may be better off to go with the established one. Their very status of being established can make the difference in your story.

    That is my opinion anyway.
     
    ALB2012 likes this.
  11. Frog

    Frog Scribe

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    Is it just me, or is this discussion the mirror image of the "D&D races" thread?

    Here's my thing on new races: if you've got a sweet idea for a new race, go for it. But if you really like Dwarves, and you would really like to do a story about a stocky race of people who dwell in caves in the mountains and wield axes, for the love of God don't try to make that race anything other than dwarves. As soon as I see an author doing that, I immediately assume that they're covering up their lack of imagination with new jargon. If you want to tell me a story about dwarves, just tell me a really cool story using dwarves. There is nothing wrong with that.

    In other words, don't call a rabbit a smeerp.

    That said, if you can generate a sweet new race, with their own set of issues and characteristics, then awesome. Do it. The whole point of this being fantasy is to cut the imagination loose a bit.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I think someone who has successfully used a wide variety of "new" races that are, in many ways, identifiable as more traditional races, is Steven Erikson. He certainly has a unique spin on them here and there, but people have compared Tisti Andii to elves, for example. But in Erikson's world, it works. What's more, the world came out of a home-brew AD&D (and later GURPs) campaign, which is something writers are generally told to avoid doing.
     
  13. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    As a side note, the Five Races and their evil counterparts are useful frameworks with which to create new species. (For instance, my first attempt at a large fantasy story involved an alliance of orcs, dragons, and living shadows. I didn't realize it at the time, but though I tried to make the living shadows unique, they fell pretty easily into the Eldritch category--and it was a good fit for them, balancing them against their Savage and Fallen allies.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2012
  14. ScipioSmith

    ScipioSmith Sage

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    It's not just you.
     
  15. Bersli

    Bersli Acolyte

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    you can use Shakespearean fairies, who's physical features are not described a lot during the plays so that's up to you BUT these fairies are cooler then average pansy fairies. Shakespearean fairies can turn invisible, see gods and the more powerful fairies can control the weather, so when the get all aggro lots of natural disasters happen.

    there are aoelves (I think that's the right spelling) who are half elves half humans.

    ratmen (skaven) originally showed up in Warhammer fantasy tabletop game but haven't really been touched since.

    bipedal dragon things are good too, as are humanoid bird thingies (like harpies except more birdy)
     
  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Skaven are popular in the fiction, though. One of them from the Gotrek and Felix series even has some books of his own.
     
  17. Konstanz

    Konstanz Minstrel

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    Grey Seer Thanquol you mean? I love Skaven :) They are just so comically evil. If you've read the first omnibus of Gotrek and Felix you'll understand what's so delightful about them (I hope). The way they backstab each other but then manipulate themselves to believe "it's for the good of all Skaven" or the way they see running away (and leaving their troops to die) as a tactical retreat is just hilarious to read.

    I personally don't mind if you use the standard races. Warhammer did and they used a lot of clichés but they did it in a very good and enticing way (for me personally). They didn't just make dwarves in mountains, they gave them a thing of their own (science with gyrocopters and stuff like that!)

    I do agree that I hate it when authors use a race that looks like an elf, behaves like an elf and is stereotyped like an elf but then call it something else. It's not like the reader won't notice...
     
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yes. Thanquol is a great character. Talk about self-delusional. I agree regarding Warhammer - it is a nice universe with lots of great lore and a lot of great fiction surrounding it.
     
  19. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    I like some of Shakespearean fairies. I use the names and positions anyway.

    I've never heard of these. What are they from?
     
  20. Bersli

    Bersli Acolyte

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    I've never heard of these. What are they from?[/QUOTE]

    I used to be really into MMORPGS when I was younger and Aoelves were one of the races
     
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