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I'm trying to think of unique races for something I'm working on, any ideas?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Android 18, Nov 2, 2016.

  1. Android 18

    Android 18 Acolyte

    I just need some good ways to come up with unique races. Also if you have any examples of really cool unique races I would love to hear about them.
  2. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    I tend to think of environment when thinking up races. It is probably the thing that affects evolution most over time. Those that live underground tend to be shorter and are either completely blind, or have expanded low-light vision. A denizen of a frozen wasteland would probably have a higher body fat ratio than someone living in a desert, and have more body hair.

    I have a dog-like race of demi-humans called Ahraks. At one time they were sedentary, but they have been constantly pushed out of habitable land for millennia as humankind does what it does best.

    This has caused them to develop an immunity to most natural poisons, given they had eat something, even if it made them sick. It has also robbed them of much of their culture, turning them into scavengers and gypsies of a sort. They dwell on the fringes of human society, raiding livestock if necessary to survive.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2016
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  3. The first thing you need to think about is physiology. How are they physically different from humans? How does it help them survive? You could look at animals for inspiration, the adaptations and unique traits they have, and apply them to humanoids. Think about what habitat you want them to inhabit and think of the adaptations animals in that habitat have. A race of desert dwelling elves might have huge, batlike ears like a fennec fox instead of the delicate leaf-shaped ears of wood elves, for instance.

    Some ideas for habitats might be: Forest, desert, tundra, Arctic, mountains, underground, underwater, in the sky. Or practically anything you can dream up, really.

    Some classic differences fantasy races have from humans include lifespan (elves, for instance, are often immortal or really long lived), and magic (is magic innate to these creatures? What kind of magical powers or enhancements might they have?) You can experiment with different skin, hair and eye colors (purple, or blue, or striped skin, for instance).

    You could also look to mythology for inspiration. Take a classic fantasy race such as mermaid or vampires and add your own twist. Also, research lesser known mythologies for ideas. There are plenty of races just as interesting as mermaids and vampires, that are not used as much for whatever reason.

    However, you should also consider culture. As with physiology, you can draw on real world inspiration for this. I might base my desert dwelling elves' culture on the culture of real-life desert dwellers.

    Think about their food, clothing, customs, religious beliefs, and technology. How does it make sense given their physiological differences from humans? A race that is naturally covered in fur would have different ideas on clothing and modesty than humans, for instance.

    I hope some of this helps.
    S.T. Ockenner and Malik like this.
  4. Malik

    Malik Auror

    Don't take this wrong, but I can't help but notice that your first posts here have been asking other people for ideas for a story. This is the opposite of what being a writer is about.

    Most writers I know carry a pad of paper and a pen, or use a voice recorder on their phone, to write down story ideas, because we get ideas for our stories 24/7 and we can't turn it off. I'll see something in the grocery store or hear someone talking at the coffee shop and get an idea for my world. I keep a notepad by my bed because I got tired of waking up with ideas only to go back to sleep and forget them.

    If you don't have stories falling out of your ears, writing fiction -- especially fantasy -- is likely not your bag. It's hard enough when you have too many ideas; I can't imagine doing it with none. If you don't have stories or worlds inside you clawing to get out, don't put yourself through this. Writing sucks. Being a writer is painful, awful, headache-inducing, exhausting work that will cripple you with self-doubt and drive you to a small room where you self-medicate and talk to imaginary people. Further, promoting and marketing a book makes your soul all sticky, and the money is comparatively shit. I've got 20 years into researching and building my series and it will take me five more to finish it now that the first book is done. If I made a million dollars off of it, that's about $20 an hour for my time. You can make that digging ditches. Most of us will never make our production costs back. This is the world's stupidest side-hustle.

    There's no reason that you can't write, and I'm not telling you you can't -- I'm not the gatekeeper of the craft -- but the story is the thing. Everything revolves around your story. If you don't have more stories, and more unique and new ideas, than you know what to do with, get out while you can. Run. Save yourself. Christ, I would.

    We do this because we have to; because the stories will haunt us and make us insane if we don't write them down and blow on the sparks and make them come to life so that they can run around outside our heads. We have to get them out to make room for the new ones.

    If you're in a rut or a dry spell, that's different; go to the library, check out a bag full of books, and lock yourself in a room for a week until you come up with something cool. Books are free. But ideas are priceless.

    EDIT: If you're doing NanoWriMo, hell, knock yourself out.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2016
  5. Malik's description of writing is extremely accurate. I second everything.

    But, I don't think there's a such thing as not having any ideas. You just have to get better at seeing them. Dig deeper. Look harder.

    You see, "normal" people (that's our word for those who aren't writers...lol) have as many ideas as writers do, I think, but they aren't attuned to seeing them. They're able to filter them. Human society praises practicality and a focus on reality. Imagination is a childlike pursuit; maturity is what is socially acceptable. So, I imagine, humans teach themselves not to see cities in the clouds and fairies hiding in the shade of leaves. Ideas that could be made into groundbreaking works of art get shot down by phrases like, "That's dumb," "That couldn't happen,"

    Please don't think you have no ideas. You have ideas, I promise. You must learn to listen for them. Every cool thing you see on the internet, every "what if..." in the shower, every odd notion that pops into your head...that can be an idea.

    This can help you come up with fantasy races, of course. Look up at the corners of whatever room you're in, see any cobwebs? Imagine a race of spider people living in hanging cities of spun silk. Are you wearing socks right now? Imagine that, instead of feet, you had soft padded paws for walking on snow, and imagine yourself trekking across a snowy wasteland...you have fur, I suppose? Are you a predator or prey? Imagine...
    S.T. Ockenner and Malik like this.
  6. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    To come up with a unique race, start with the human race and change some intriguing detail. Then figure out how human society would be different if that one detail were different. The terrain and climate you choose for them will make some difference as to how the society functions as well, as it would affect any species living in the area.

    There are many details you can change about the human race. Give them scales/fur/feathers instead of or in addition to skin. Or take away their nostrils. Or give them all a set of tentacles protruding from their necks. Or make them all communicate by clicking their fingers instead of speaking. Now think about how a society of that race would function. As for the uniqueness part, you have to research to see if anyone else has done what you've come up with. That could be difficult, and I'm not sure it's worth worrying about. If you change multiple details regarding your race, it's a lot less likely you'll duplicate someone else. Don't blatantly copy someone else's ideas -- be original -- and you should be fine.
    S.T. Ockenner and KBA like this.
  7. Android 18

    Android 18 Acolyte

    I'm not asking people for their ideas, what I am asking for is helpful ways to come up with ideas. I can see where you would make that mistake, but trust me, taking others ideas are the furthest from what I am trying to do. I like the fact that you gave me examples of ways to come up with ideas, because that was what I was asking for in the first place.
    S.T. Ockenner and Malik like this.
  8. Thomas Laszlo

    Thomas Laszlo Sage

    This is pretty cliche but I felt like it could be dropped here. seventhsanctum.com has great generators you can use and mold to your genre etc. It does not cover everything but it is severely helpful for fantasy and Sci-Fi writing and worldbuilding.
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  9. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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  10. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Go out and about and think alternative earth evolution. What critter would be cool if it'd evolved into a human-like intelligence? What if a tree-frog evolved into a people? And so the ÃŽwark came into being and populate a small piece of jungle, see a concept sketch below. The final art is cooler, but not on this computer, LOL.

    So much potential out there, just look around.



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