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Making a savage, nomadic humanoid nasty...

Discussion in 'Research' started by Mistresselysia, Oct 2, 2011.

  1. Mistresselysia

    Mistresselysia Scribe

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    ... that isn't a bloody lycanthrope.

    Yeah, I fell in the trap. When I was writing my first draft, I wanted to just get a bunch of nasties into my novel that were savage, pack-orientated, nomadic and good at tracking, so I stuck in a bunch of lycanthropes and crossed my fingers that something better would crop up (that didn't make me look like I'd just opened my Monster Manual up on a random page).

    Problem is, short of opening my Monster Manual up on a random page, I'm not succeeding in creating a bunch of nasties that do what my lycanthrope pack do!

    So - to the rub. To Lycanthrope or not to Lycanthrope? That is the question! To continue on with my own interpretation and suffer the slings and arrows of a potentially jaded readership, or to sally bravely forth with my own idea of what a Lycanthrope is?

    Also - any good substitutions for Lycanthropes that I might be able to draw on (without potentially attracting a Wizards of the Coast lawsuit?!)? For some reason, I've drawn a blank at this *punches self in the head*.
     
  2. Hans

    Hans Sage

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    How humanoid do they have to be? Do you by lycantrope mean shape shifting? That part would be easy to drop. Some kinds of furries would do. They are pretty common in fantasy.
    Let's see:
    - Savage
    - Nomadic
    - Nasty
    - Humanoid
    - Group oriented
    - Hunters
    Yea, you could very well do that with normal boring humans.
     
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  3. Mistresselysia

    Mistresselysia Scribe

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    Good point - they don't actually shapeshift, so a furry of some kind would definitely fit the bill. I need the animalistic bit 'cos they have to be able to run and keep up with a galloping horse, plus the whole sharp teeth and claws dealie. I think the creatures themselves are probably okay - they just need a better name than 'lycanthrope'... (I was feeling supremely unimaginative the day I did that, and now the sleep deprivation (I have a 12 week old baby) is really beginning to take its toll, half the time I don't know who I am, let alone be able to name something else...)

    Thanks, Hans!
     
  4. Shadoe

    Shadoe Sage

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    You don't need lycanthropes. An animalistic strain of humans would seem to do just fine. Run a quick search/replace to change "lycanthrope" into something of your own choosing and see what they look like then.
     
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  5. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

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    In a Dresden Files book, author Jim Butcher has four kinds of wolfen human-ish species, hexenwulf, loup-garou, werewolf aaaaaand ... lycanthrope. In his world, a lycanthrope is a person with the animalistic nature of a wolf [strength, etc. linked to the full moon.. of course] without having them shapeshift. Considering the research he seems to have put into the other types of wolfen peoples I'm wondering if the word lycanthrope was originally meant in the way he uses it in his books.

    As Shadoe said though, you don't neeeed to invoke werewolf stigma if you don't want to, you could go with something like a wendigo myth or, make something up. There are any number of myth surrounding the kinds of people who may fit your maybe maybe not lycanthropes :)

    I guess its just a case of picking an area to pull a myth-like story from, or simply coining a new word for your savage people.
     
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  6. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

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  7. Johnny Cosmo

    Johnny Cosmo Inkling

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    I'm not so sure. You could certainly take them as influence, and adapt them, but they don't fit the bill as is. Berserkers were human warriors, and likely influenced fantasy lycanthropes anyway... so I'm not sure what the suggestion is.
     
  8. Mistresselysia

    Mistresselysia Scribe

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    Thank for all the suggestions, peeps - I appreciate it! In my world, my tentatively-named 'Lycanthropes' (it is just a place-holder name, really) are huge, humanoid wolves - they are not humans at all (considering what I need them to do, I don't want them to be human - they need to strike fear into human hearts with just a glance, and I thought the wolf has that whole 'historical fear' thing going on). They need the growl and the howl in order for the scenes with them to work. I was thinking about delving into Germanic myth to see if there is anything there... they tend to be pretty imaginative when it comes to these things. It isn't so much the creatures that need to change, just the name - I want to use something recognisable, but just not bloody done-to-death Lycanthropes! (I do like Hexenwulf, but since that has been appropriated, I shall steer clear).
     
  9. Johnny Cosmo

    Johnny Cosmo Inkling

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    'Berserker' might be a decent name, but I think 'Ulfhednar' was the Old Norse name for those warriors. You ought to look under 'Other Terms' on Wikipedia, there are a few different names. 'Hamrammr' was a Norse word for a type of shapeshifter, for example.
     
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  10. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Maester

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    To break even farther from the almost were-wolf/lycanthropes, you could have them as humanoid bears. I think wolves have been a bit over done while the only thing close would be Beorn from the Hobbit.
     
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  11. Mistresselysia

    Mistresselysia Scribe

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    Again - thank you for all your replies, I really, really do appreciate it!

    If no one minds, I might post the main scenes with these creatures up in the appropriate forum (if people will forgive the fact that they are first drafts and therefore a bit rough around the edges and potentially rather long (although I could cut out the middle scene... but then the later scene might not make all that much sense!) so you can see what I am after, and the effect they have on what is going on.

    Everyone is so helpful here... :D
     
  12. Mistresselysia

    Mistresselysia Scribe

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    Balls. I posted up the relevant stuff... and fecked it up, big time. Can you delete posts?!
     
  13. DameiThiessen

    DameiThiessen Minstrel

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    I think you should break it down into the basics of what lycanthropes are, going back to the origins of their mythologies and the reasons why they were so feared and where the tales came from, and then build them back up in your own way to suit your story. That way it's original but still familiar.

    Honestly, the best advice I can give in this situation is form following function. For example, the function of a chair is something to sit on. As long as you are able to sit on it the form can be anything - a throne, a stool, a table chair, or a park bench. The more specific the function, the more specific the form. If the chair needs to be comfortable, classy, and fit in the medieval time period, it will probably have cushions, be embroidered, made of the finest materials, and look like something from the 1300s.

    Determine what function these monsters serve in your story, and then their form can be anything. So far what you've said has included the following criteria to fill: Savage, pack-orientated, nomadic, good at tracking, fast, sharp teeth and claws, humanoid (but not human), and to look and sound scary. They could look like anything. They don't even have to look like anything that actually exists - they could have a bear's body with a wolf's head and tail, and boar's tusks and a lion's mane. They could travel in packs of family groups or they could all be a warlock's pack of hounds. They could act just like wolves but look completely different. Or look just like wolves and act completely different. The possibilities are endless.
     
  14. flashfire07

    flashfire07 Acolyte

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    If I as writing a book about shape-shifters I would possibly try looking into skinchangers, people who skin animals and take their form, that way you have something a bit more... exotic than a werewolf. Or you could try a batch of creatures which possess local animals and reveal their true form when they need to bring their pointy bits into the fray. Or people who have been enchanted to have features of predatory animals, or even weretigers or were-eagles. Or feral humanoids with magic. Or amalgams of human and animal caused by dimensional rifts or demons or nature spirits or... there's a lot of alternative shape shifters out there :)
     
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