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Creating Fantasy Creatures

Last night, I checked my old box of 'fantastic and twisted literature' and saw the sketches of the creatures I made. They have complete statistics such as strengths, weaknesses, and even current population count.

Is it feasible to create fantasy creatures out of scratch? Or you can just use existing fantasy creatures and make great twists about them?

By the way, I love dragons, elves, and beast summoners. :)


I am always interested in seeing new fantasy races. However, I think often, they are not too well done and are very reminiscent of the classical races like Orcs and Elves, only that they now have weird sounding names. So if it's not something very different, I usually prefer the classical stuff.

On the other hand, classical stuff can get a little boring and unimaginative after some time if it's just the stereotypes repeated, so giving them a twist is a good thing. However, here again, it depends on how much they are twisted. It's basically the opposite of above: Sometimtes, they do have the same name but are not really reminiscent of what you'd expect a Goblin to be or look like at all, in which case, you might as well call them something different.

It's hard to give any general advise, I thin k it's balance that makes it :) Regarding my worldbuilding adventures, I am not yet too certain which classical races I want to include and which new ones (or not so well known ones) I want to invent. Though I am continually shifting from all classical to almost all "self-made" (well, they're just inspired by mytholigy etc.). For example, I thought I might include elves aka Albs ("Alben", which would be the very classical German term), but currently, I am rather moving into the direction of having some kind of Satyrs replacing the parts of the "good" elves I like and adding something new, while I think some kind of Bird People (people with bird heads) might well fit with aspects of bad elves, rendering the elves pretty unnessecary, saving me the trouble of making some elvish characters interesting and not too clichee and giving me freedom to expand freely on the aspects I like :)


Its your world,
change traditional beings to suit your world, create new beings.

Be sure to balance them as to world existance.
How do they survive(if super weak) What keeps them from conquering the area/region/nation/world if super strong.

I took kobolds and rebuilt them to be annoying carniverous humanoids that reproduce quickly(like rabbits) and swarm their victims by numbers. They are easily killed being 3 ft tall and not very strong. Life span is 40yrs but rarely make it that far.

This shows why they are still in existence and why they haven't conquered the area.

Elves can be cliche, but just like humans they can be vastly different. Are humans cliche or are they just written cliche?
I write both fantasy and science fiction, I think this frees up my imagination, I don't even consider classic fantasy races, rather think of alternative evolution to come up with my races.


My world is a futuristic earth. I kind of figure some of the mythology will stick around in some form so when I make a creature it reminds me of a classic fantasy creature then the name will seem similar. For a couple creatures so far, like a Gargol(Gar'gol?) Like a Gargoyle but just a big bird that lives mostly in buildings and reminded someone of a Gargoyle. But since this is a future earth I figure the spelling will have changed.

Edit: I haven't decided on a big bird or a big bat. A large, mutated bat would probably work best.

Thanks for the pieces of advice fellow writers!

Here are the creatures that fascinate me:

1) Dragons- Most of these fire-breathing megalomaniacs are immortals. If not, they live longer than humans or any other creatures. I prefer dragons that can talk through telepathy and can take the form of a human. Dragons play important roles in my novel, but they are not exposed too much.

2) City-carrying beasts- These giant beasts are so large that they carry cities in their backs. The move very slow, though. So, if a city-carrier beast is attacked by a dark army or anything foul, the city is in terrible mess unless they have experienced defenders.

3) Summoners- It's cool to see a summoner in the battlefield. I love to imagine him summoning one creature after another. Summoning requires great physical and mental energy though.

4) Time-rippers- Creatures that can rip the fabric of space and time. These creatures can be powerful enough to withstand death, but they are a rare breed.

5) Shapeshifters- Any creature that can mimic another creature is a treasure in every fantasy piece. Just imagine the plot twists and mysteries a shapeshifter can do. It might even fool the protagonist, or the antagonist in that case.

Come, let's breathe life unto them.
It sounds to be like you've got some really original ideas. I like the city-carrying beasts. I've never heard of that one.

In the world I created for my novels, there is only one standard creature that I didn't invent, and that's a dragon. Why? I love freaking dragons. They're awesome. Other than that, though, everything is my own creation, which I think is pretty cool.

But I know authors who feel strongly on both sides of the argument. Some want only original creatures while others want to pay tribute to Tolkien and other legends by using their creatures. I say, to each his own, just so long as you make the creatures your own. Good luck to you!

My friend and fellow fantasy geek (Map the Dragon) and I created an entire fantasy library of creatures, places, and monsters, and now its there to pull from. We just try not to fight over who uses what creature. Once claimed, the author owns that creature. It was a pretty fun use of a Saturday.


I love inventing new little things. I've been working lately on the perfect city scavengers that are not rats or birds. Creating new creatures and races definitely gives a sense of elsewhere to your story, which is, I believe, the main point of writing fantasy. I want to transport readers.

The biggest thing to remember when creating a new race or species is to figure out why they exist. Everything comes from somewhere and everything fills a niche.


For my main fantasy story, I already have 10+ creatures/races created specifically for this story's world. But I also use typical ones such as dragons, and gryphons (with a twist). I've detailed all the information on these creatures, including what they're like, what they look like, behaviors, what they're capable of, they're purpose in the world... the list goes on.

It helps that I draw as well, so any time I randomly draw up a creature, I might find myself going "Hey... this would work really well in my world." Or I can easily sketch out a creature/species I have in mind.

I find making new, original creatures much more fascinating and engaging than re-using the same creatures that have been around in fantasy for countless years.


I wouldn't even consider myself a writer really(cannot sit down and write a story). It is important though to make sure the creature makes sense in your world. Is it something your people have to fear? Is it an animal that can be used for some sort of labor. Don't just throw a griffon into a story if it wouldn't have any effect on the people who live in your world. A mild ecosystem makes for deeper reading. Codex Alera does a great job of this for instance.


When I started writing I used the typical creatures.

But then I started finding questions:
Why are the creatures like this?
What history do they have?

Each time I stopped to concider the questions I decided more and more to make my version of the typical creature.
If I created them, with some background, then I can reason the answers to questions. If I try to use someone elses ideas of a creature then I have to try to reason with what I know about them or find the answer on line somewhere, possibly being someone else's idea of what the answer would be.

No creature you write about has to be like anyone else's.

If you use other peoples ideas for your stories, then they will border on cliche at best.
Elves and dragons live longer then humans, but do they have to live forever? no. They can have the same attitude living twice as long as humans.
Do dragons have to only breathe fire? no.

I encourage everyone to create their monsters/creatures. But you don't have to start from scratch on all. I bet it would be easier if you had some familiar creatures in the story, rather then have to describe every single creature to a fault because no one knows what they look like.


I bet it would be easier if you had some familiar creatures in the story, rather then have to describe every single creature to a fault because no one knows what they look like.

This. Exactly this.

I will admit while I thoroughly enjoy creating my creatures, it can be a bit of a pain to introduce them with the clarity I would like my reader to see them with. Pictures describe easier than words, unfortunately I'm not writing a picture book. :)

That isn't to say that it can't be done, and I certainly do it, but man it can be a pain. :)


It's difficult coming up with new monsters because monsters exist to represent some kind of greater fear from our collective subconscious. The monsters we read about have become symbols of creepy things that lurk in the dark of the unknown, slither and hiss in the brush, dangle from webs overheard, or stalk in unyielding, relentless hordes.

My advice is think about what frightens you. I think that's how creators come up with successful new monsters, like squid headed monsters that can control the mind, monsters that look like walking roaches with hooks for hands and kill by slitting throats. These are original D&D monsters that someone came up with and I think they're pretty scary, and definitely creative.

By the way, I was trying to describe the Mind Flayers and Hook Horrors from Salvatore's Exile book. :)
I think that, while describing the physical appearance of your monsters can be fun for both author and reader, what is more important is the emotional/psychological response of the characters in your story. Your description is most likely going to be through the eyes of those characters (unless you are using 3rd omniscient).

The victim who narrowly escaped your monsters last attack may not have noticed all four of the monsters arms with rippling muscles in all the wrong places, or the fact that it had five sets of eyes, one of which was in the back of its head which had two mouths with five rows of razor sharp canines each.

He did notice that the creature made no sound until it was almost on him, and when he tried to run it was like trying to get away from a man with stone arms, and he grabbed from all directions at the same time. He was sure it was going to eat him, but let go for no apparent reason. He has not been able to return to work at night since the attack, and has a look of shame while he tells of how his family is not eating well because of this.


Originally I was planning to have my elves be the standard Tolkien variety; immortal, wise, and respected. The more I delved into actually fleshing out the magic system I realized this simply didn't make sense in relation.

In my world the seven tribes are all connected to a different kind of magic. The elves' is Wood magic which draws its strength from change. Now it would make sense for a people whose strength comes from change their culture would be constantly changing. Now the longer a species lifespan the less a culture changes and vice versa therefore I shortened their lives to 1/2 that of a human. Also sense they are constantly changing it is probably unlikely that they would abide by longstanding agreements so the elves would have a reputation of being capricious.