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Exotic Races and Strange Creatures

Discussion in 'World Building' started by SpaceAmoeba, Feb 12, 2017.

  1. SpaceAmoeba

    SpaceAmoeba Acolyte

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    One of my favorite things about fantasy as a whole are new and exotic races/species. Of course you have your elves, and dwarves, halflings, orcs, and dragons and I have no problem with those "typical" fantasy races. In fact, I still really enjoy them, but I also enjoy when an author does something completely different. Unfortunately the hardest part about world building for me personally is coming up with new races, or creatures.

    The world that where I'm setting my story in has a small handful of races and creatures of varying degrees of depth and culture, and even though the story is centered around Human main characters I love the idea of something very familiar living alongside something very foreign or alien.

    How or where do you guys get inspiration for making up new creatures or races? I feel like my world could use a little more of those.
     
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  2. ChasingSuns

    ChasingSuns Sage

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    For me, it's really the same process as coming up with a story. It could start with a type of location or an event, or perhaps an idea from something that I read about. For example, I have a kingdom in my story that has a ton of volcanic activity. This caused me to begin to think about what kind of creatures might live in such a place. The gears start turning and eventually I come up with beings that are spirits of the volcanoes who take on the form of a lava/obsidian. Folklore has provided a lot of inspiration as well. I do a lot of reading about mythology and such, and have found some pretty interesting beasts that have provided a framework for creatures in my stories. The animal kingdom has a lot of creatures with interesting traits or looks as well, which have definitely sparked some ideas in my brain.

    So all of this being said, what kind of environments do you have in your world? What kind of creatures do you want to inhabit it? Are they sentient? Amphibious? Malevolent? Otherworldly? Find a starting point that you wanna work from and go from there. At least, that's what usually works for me :p
     
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  3. My inspiration comes, well, almost entirely from just "what do I think is cool?" I have a race of people with feathery wings because I think wings are cool and I'm obsessed with the idea of flying. I have a race of underwater people because I think about how cool it would be to breathe underwater and swim in kelp forests and play with dolphins.

    I take inspiration from the traits of the creatures that live in the environments I want my races to live in. For example, my underwater race has smooth, gray skin, like dolphins. You can give your races claws, or stripes in their hair, or odd colored skin, or pointy teeth. It helps to take inspiration from real living things.
     
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  4. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    For me at least, environment will play into such inspiration. For example, in The World there are kinds of people of a sort that inhabit the Uttermost Deeps of Gea: far below the near-surface Underworld delvings of deep digging Dwarrows and nasty Elves and well beyond the realms of the giant beings that uphold the arcades of the Pillars of The World. Way down deep where the currents of a nickeliron-ocean flow and cyclones of magneto-thaumic energy batter the Shores Above and the Shores Below, here are folks who know no starlight, no sunlight and no weather colder their accustomed twelve thousand degree warmth of the inner core, Fireheart, where Yeola Stardaughter dwells at the center of their universe.

    Here is the tale of Scholar Ashyat.

    Whatever comes into view, no matter how mundane or ordinary, just put on your elsewhere spectacles and see into the deeper wonders that object or animal represents!
     
  5. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    Oo! Tell us about your feathery winged folk!

    Mine are called Daine. They have wings, but can't fly with them. They use them for communication mostly, and fighting at need, and, possibly most importantly, just to look cool!

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    Sometimes I think of what I want the being or creature to be able to do, then I decide on how they look and behave. At other times I think see an image or two and decide it would work well in a story. Check out these two website for ideas about beings and creatures you can use. I like that they show artist images of the creatures and provide a brief description of their cultural origin. It is nice to fuse the features of different creatures to come up with your own unique mix to fit your story.

    Mythical Creatures List - The Mythical Archive (This site is currently moving to another server and will be running again soon)
    Mythical Creatures, read about and see your favorite mystic creature.
     
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  7. Mine don't have a name yet (I'm calling them 'sky people') but I know they are a proud, strong race that dwells in flying cities. In their society, women are often warriors and men are expected to be poets and musicians and artists. They are ruled by a handful of powerful families with supposedly superior bloodlines, which practically own the lower class. The servant class gets their wings clipped, binding them physically to one city ruled by one family. Your wings are symbolic of power and agency, which is part of why an execution consists of cutting off the victim's wings (while they're alive and conscious) and shoving them over the side of the city. It's not only gory and excruciating, it's also humiliating. They don't show pain or emotion and generally revile weakness, which is why it's considered good to get rid of a child who is sickly or has a noticeable disability. You aren't considered sentient until able to speak, so infanticide is acceptable. On the other hand, in terms of medicine, science, art, music, and poetry, they are the most advanced and refined in the world, and they value the arts almost above all else, as the highest pursuit. In fact, the arts are seen as really the only acceptable display of emotions. The only purpose for emotions.

    In short, it's a very elegant and refined, but also very fierce and brutal, culture.
     
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  8. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    I think that there are many interesting creatures in nature, alive or extinct, that could easily be used as inspiration and in addition to that there are also mythology, legend and folklore to inspire you. Or even making a cultural twist on a known creature. For example if you're world has a heavy feudal Japanese inspiration, then a troll will be a bit different from a troll in a world with heavy Norse inspiration.
     
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  9. SpaceAmoeba

    SpaceAmoeba Acolyte

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    I really like the idea of a "noble but savage" culture. To me, it's an interesting concept to read, and write about. What I'm curious about is the 'sky people's' disdain for emotion, and how to effects their art. Is it their only way to express themselves, or is the art reflective of something other than the artist's emotion?
     
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  10. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    Spiff! Daine would love the idea of floating cities, but no one I know of has tried that yet. Anyway, some Daine have airships, which is almost as good.

    So, I can see some similarities, but also some clear differences.

    Here is a similarity. While it's usually boys who engage in war (a highly ritualised spectacle) and beating the bounds (necessary to keep wild beasts and other assorted ruffians away from the flocks), girls are by no means barred from either. And all youngsters learn basic martial arts as a matter of course.

    Most bards and poets are boys. You find more girls that are storyweavers, writers & caligraphers. More boys engage in visual arts than girls.

    This modern Daine will no longer put up with. Been there done that, and while they don't wear shirts of any kind, they've got the metaphorical t-shirt. Back in very ancient times, there were certain thedes of Daine who believed themselves superior and lorded that superiority over other thedes they considered to be inferior. Wing clipping was indeed a sign of servitude, and all of this chafed on the "lower" classes to the point they just had enough of the social aberration and the oppressed simply snuffed their oppressors and restored the old order.

    I think Daine might take a fancy to that notion. For them, wings are actually physical manifestations of unfallen personhood; but are also symbolic of beauty, interpersonal relationship and overall sex appeal.

    Quick and to the point, I'll grant!

    Capital punishment many Daine don't see much point in. It doesn't serve to restore tes (cosmic balance), doesn't recompense the victim and doesn't punish the illchooser for more than about five minutes. For some very serious ill choices (savage rape being the primary) they will "execute" the offender, and often with uncharacteristic brutality. For a murder, the aggrieved family will generally have options ranging from simple execution (by the long & painful process of strangulation) to branding and banishment.

    Ah, here are some key differences. Daine appreciate a healthy show of emotion, whether sadness or gaiety. They naturally prefer close relationships and can almost always be found close to one another. Weakness has its moments, and everyone has them. They're not something you flaunt, but they're not something you shy away from or try to hide either. They're something to be overcome.

    Nature seems to have ways of taking care of sickly babies; infanticide, while not generally practiced and not considered "acceptable", is an understood and sometimes necessary tragedy at times. Children also aren't considered sentient persons until they can speak

    While Daine would very strongly disagree about art being the only purpose for emotion, I don't think many other folks in The World would dispute their place at or near the summit of the various arts, right living and physical graces.

    For Daine, I'd say elegant & refined, also morally fierce but not cruel or brutal without need.

    Okay, picture time!

    What do the Sky People look like??

    Also, what about their music? What's that like?
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2017
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  11. Do we all have winged races? :p I only have five in my current book, though--err...five winged characters, not five races. These five are great winged spirits, each created from a different element, so the fire spirit is literally made of fire, the water spirit is actually liquid, the earth spirit is huge and literally mountain-like, the air spirit is invisible, and the light spirit is brighter than the sun.
     
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  12. Art is seen as the purpose for emotion, its proper use. Art is how they express themselves and process their feelings. Their art is full of emotion, even if they themselves do not show emotion in everyday life.
     
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  13. Thomas Laszlo

    Thomas Laszlo Sage

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    I create them by using tropes of course but also mixing old tropes or especially new ones like the Balrog from LOTR, Imagine that mixed with some sort of griffin like abilities... those sort of thoughts brew new creatures


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  14. Alyssa

    Alyssa Troubadour

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    I try and mix creatures together as well as going down the more generic "spirits" route.
    Angler frogs
    Walking humanoid mountains/rock formations carved into cities
    Crystalline beings condensed out of mist
    Aquatic insectoids that weave underwater webs that act like fishing nets
    Flying desert manta rays that use their wingbeats to kick up dust and protect them from the sun during the day
    Semi dryadic creatures that form habitable structures with their roots
    Wind spirits (essentially a Sylph) linked to elven glades that have gone untended

    and of course, elves, dwarves and dragons - but try and make a catch to them. How are they different?
    Are the elves no more than legends?
    Have the dwarves been driven out of their mines and relegated to being second class citizens?
    Have the dragons been captured and exploited as furnaces?

    .

    And once you have a few basic animals and races, think about how they are connected. How the world must change to accommodate them, do you need any new creatures to facilitate this?
     
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  15. And they look basically human (they were once humans, many thousands of years ago, but I'm still figuring that out) but with large, feathered, birdlike wings (and hollow bones, like birds.) They are born wingless, but grow their wings through childhood (a process that is often very painful), and dont grow in their full set of flight feathers until late adolescence. The wingspan can be massive (up to thirty feet or more). The feathers of a sky-person are the same color as the hair on their head, which can be black, grey/silver, or pure white, and shades of brown. The women are typically the same size/height as men; there's not as much difference. I can't really think of any other difference between them and humans other than the detail that facial hair is pretty rare in men.

    I don't know about their music yet; I'll have to develop that much more though, since one of my major characters is a musician...
     
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  16. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    The more the merrier! :D
     
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  17. ^We could even do a cross-over. [Just kidding.] ;)
     
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  18. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    Daine aren't / weren't human, but Men do look something like Daine (no surprise given the principles of Creation involved).

    Daine are born winged, though an infant's wings are small and generally feathered only with downy hair-like feathers. A child's wings remain short throughout adolescence: Young Daine Scholars. During puberty & thereabouts (around 20 to 30 years of age), the wings grow to their full spread and the long feathers reach their maximum length. Adult Daine

    Wingspan is one of the best ways to determine if a Daine is a boy or a girl. Boys have longer wings as a rule: a seven foot tall boy might have a wingspan of 22 to 25 feet --- so not quite as impressive as the Sky Peoples'! A girl of seven feet will have a wingspan of perhaps 16 to 18 feet. A boy's wing-hands also tend to flare out at the distal end (extra feathers) and their wings tend to be slightly curvier than a girl's.

    The colours of their feathers compliment that of their hair. Hair colour is much more variable: black, dark brown, various reds, green, blue, purple and mixtures. It's not too unusual to find individuals with red on one side and black or white on the other. A brown haired person will have mostly brown feathers, but also some tan, white, mottled, grey and russet mixed in.

    Daine have four kinds of feathers. The long feathers answer to a bird's flight feathers and there are also short and downy kinds of feathers. There are also thin, hairy feathers that line the leading edge of their wings. Some individuals also have such feathers along the crest / midline of their scalps and the nape of their necks.

    About the same for Daine: girls & boys are about the same height (six to seven feet) and build (narrow and tending towards willowy). Unless they're entirely naked, it can be difficult to tell one from the other.

    Daine never have facial hair, and body hair is scanty. When they do have body hair, it is always aesthetically placed and generally very short.

    Even Men only rarely have facial hair, and that is usually little more than a thinnish moustache.

    Ah, homework!

    I have some music from The World here. Some Daine music further down the page.
     
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  19. elemtilas

    elemtilas Inkling

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    Sure! That might be fun!
     
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  20. Dark Firestorm

    Dark Firestorm Acolyte

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    I feel the same way. I usually get my inspiration from names of household items.
     
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