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New race with a unique trait

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Kestrel, Apr 3, 2021.

  1. Kestrel

    Kestrel Dreamer

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    I've created a different humanoid race in my story. This race is, for the most part, immortal. They can of course die, but not from old age. As well, their constitution is very strong so they cannot be killed by poison, and injuries heal quickly. Nothing terribly unique in those traits. They also grow up to appear as adults very quickly. By the time they are 8, they are fully grown.

    The one really interesting feature of this race is that once they come of age, around 25, they receive all the memories of their same gender parent as far back as their species creation. Being able to see into the memories that far back does require a lot of meditation and mental strain, but its all there if they wanted to access it. Granted, their world was only created by the gods about 10000 years ago, so its not like there are millions of years of memories to sift through.

    I've made it so that these people "learn" things quickly, because of this. The idea being that if one of their ancestors has done it before, it would come quickly to them. Their memories would essentially guide them through it.

    My question is, can anyone think of any serious flaws or problems with this type of trait that I need to rethink or address?

    I've had so much fun with this idea in my story and its definitely a driver for the plot. Not sure if it's been done before. I almost don't want to know if it has!
     
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  2. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

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    Ah, the ancestral memory. And yeah, it's been around a while. Since Dune and possibly before. And that sounds like the bleeding affect from Assassin's Creed too. And one of the flaws would likely be that just because they have learned of it, means little until they themselves learn to do it. Just because you know how a certain thing works is a lot different then actually doing it. That tends to involve practice and experience. Even AC's bleed takes time, though it does speed one up in the process of becoming an elite super killer.
     
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  3. Kestrel

    Kestrel Dreamer

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    Lol, silly of me to think it could possibly be original. I play video games, but never did play either of those. Well, either way, I still love the concept and its firmly planted in my story now!

    I think I'll refrain from looking into how other works incorporated it into their stories. I'm worried it would taint or change my version in my head.

    I've definitely taken that into consideration, regarding the training to actually become proficient at the skill.

    Thanks for the input! Much appreciated.
     
  4. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Though not an ancestral memory I have something similar with the Angel race in my setting. They reincarnate and perfectly maintain their memories between each incarnation. The first main limit is that for a good chunk of each life they're naturally stuck in the body of a baby/child as each incarnation grows up. The second limit, and one that could work for your guys, is that with each incarnation they need completely retrain their physical and magical muscles from scratch. After all, having access to the memories of the greatest swordsman in the world won't amount to much if you're a pudgy merchant that's never picked up a blade in their life.

    Another possible risk for your guys might be an evil ancestor leaving a trap in the memories they pass down. Through some magical ritual or something accessing their memories could result in their personality overwriting the person doing the accessing and basically turn them into a clone of the ancestor.
     
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  5. Kestrel

    Kestrel Dreamer

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    Thats an interesting idea with the reincarnation. Imagine having all this knowledge, but being stuck within the limits of a child's body. That would be an interesting perspective!
    I toyed with the idea that they would be born with access to their memories, but decided I wanted them to be kind of helpless adolescents compared to their adult selves. Thats when I decided to incorporate a coming of age thing. Kind of like Eveagan (name of the race) puberty. Its an incredibly profound and debilitating process that can take days as their memories surface where they can access them. During that time they're very vulnerable and can be enslaved in a way, if they're in the company of other races with evil intentions. They were mostly enslaved by a nation of humans in their past. Thats their backstory for another book I'm working on.

    Absolutely, I agree with the training process. I've definitely incorporated that into my race as well. I've also created "houses" of experts. For example, there is a house of warriors with long history of memories with battle training. Same for houses of healers, herbalists, farmers, bakers, traders, etc.

    The trap is an interesting idea as well. My race are divine beings, very much devoted to their Creator gods. Think holy devotion on paladin level, lol. How could you not be when you have memories that go back to when you were created. When you've seen the face of your maker. So they wouldn't naturally be ones to trick or trap future generations... but what if at some point they were manipulated by another that wanted to use them!

    You've given me a lot to think about, thank you.
     
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  6. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

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    Saw that and first thing that came to mind was Alia from the Dune series. Very, very creepy it can be.

    [​IMG]

    As for being able to see the maker, that may require less faith overall. You know they are real, though whether or not they answer the faithful is up to them. Maybe that's my take on it, as in my main writing world people well know their deities are real. And can be killed. Though the latter took a while to know about. And now several portions of pantheons are dead. But that just comes with my own world.
     
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  7. Kestrel

    Kestrel Dreamer

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    I see what you're saying. I guess their faith is more of the kind where they don't doubt the Creators existence in a world of humans that have begun doubting them.

    Their Creator gods made their world and everything in it. Then other jealous gods with evil intentions came and rained corruption on their world. The creators then made their three children (the daughters of the Creator) to purify the corruption. The Creators then chase the Evil gods back to the heavens, but never return. The beings of the world don't know what happened. While humans forgot over the years, the Eveagan never do, and still follow in the path their Creator made for them.

    I've got two books in the works. The first starts with the War in the Beginning. When the creators first send out their daughters. The other is many thousands of years later when the corruption comes back.
     
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  8. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

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    What you're talking about is genetic memory, which has been done before in various ways. It was in Clan of the Cave Bear and it made me almost put the book down and walk away since this happened about 80% of the way in the book and, up until this point, it went to great lengths to be as scientifically accurate as possible. It is, theoretically, a real thing, especially in relation to animals migrating, but I imagine you're going to be using this for skills like how to make a tool. But this is probably fantasy so it works.

    How are you defining gender? Gender is a cultural norm. If you have a boy with two dads (one cis one ftm), would he get both of their memories? Would his sister get none? Or are you conflating gender with biological sex? If so, how are you defining sex? Whether it's hormone levels, chromosomes, organs, or anything else, there are going to be cis individuals who have "nonstandard" things, which can lead to some real interesting things.

    In IRL, the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) has its own DNA, which is passed down from the egg-making parent, so there is a "mitochondrial Eve" of a female organism that is the ancestor of all living things with mitochondria (which is most of them). In humans, there are specific mutations on the Y chromosome (haplotypes) that you can use to track the "male" line of anyone back thousands upon thousands of years. Every human has at least one X chromosome (from the egg)(and therefore mitochondrial DNA), and can have 0-4 X and or Y chromosomes. They may also have a "mosaic" and be a chimera and have some parts of their body be one set and other parts be the other.

    So you can have an individual who looks male, but has both XX and XY throughout their body, would they be able to get both "sets" of memories? What about a girl whose body doesn't react to testosterone, so her phenotype is standard female but none of her cells are? How would she react to recieving male memories? IRL, many cultures have looked at people who have "both" sets of sex characteristics (whether they're gay, trans, intersex, nonbinary etc etc) and they're usually held in high regard, special healers or shamans that are important to their society.

    Or maybe this is a hormone thing. Getting estrogen for HRT is really easy, especially in low-tech socities (the most popular form of E for a really long time was Premarin, which is from pregnant mare urine), so would HRT be "peformance enhancing drugs"? Would there be men who choose to shift their hormone profiles to be more female in order to get female memories instead?
     
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  9. Kestrel

    Kestrel Dreamer

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    Wow... I actually never thought this deep into how the memories would actually be passed down. My mind is blown! I am beyond excited about this.

    One of the human nations in the world I built is very loosely modeled around Plains Cree. I am very fortunate to have a dear friend who is Plains Cree who is helping me with this, giving me ideas. One of the things we discussed was two-spirit people, because the love interest of one of my protagonists is a male presenting woman from that nation. It never occurred to me to apply that to my created race, and how it would affect the memories. So much potential there that I can't wait to explore!

    You are absolutely correct, gender is a social construct. I did mean to say that the persons biological sex would dictate who they would receive their memories from. I apologize if I come across terribly uneducated on the subject, I have zero background in any of this genetic stuff... indeed I am a humble retail manager with a two year college degree in police and security investigations. o_O

    My original thought was that memories were decided once sex was established in the womb. So, if it's a boy, the memories from the father would end there at conception. My thinking there is that the cells left the father and fertilized the egg... how would the cell be able to carry any further memories from the father at that point. (this is very much a fantasy book... nothing realistic here, lol)

    If baby is a girl, the memories would end at birth when no longer directly connected to the mother. Imagine being able to have the memory of your own birth from your mothers perspective.

    I should also clarify that when I'm talking about memories, I mean complete memories. So my character can meditate, sifting through the actual experiences of her ancestors. There is a section in my story where I describe this process like she is looking at a book shelf of all the different women who came before her. She can pick up a volume and thumb through the pages of that persons life. She can see what that person saw, through their eyes. The idea always intrigued me.

    Just want to add at the end here, Clan of the Cave Bear was the first novel I ever read when I was a young teen. It really spurred my interest in reading. I always loved the writing style of Jean M. Auel, even if some of the flint napping scenes bored me, lol. I actually completely forgot about the memories of the clan. I suppose when I read it, I assumed it was less so actual memories and more so, very strong instinctual behaviors?

    Thank you so much for pointing me in this direction, I'm liking where it's going!
     
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  10. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I think it's a wonderful idea.

    A few issues intrigue me, at least when I imagine them playing out.

    If the memories are passed down by birth sex, parent to child, then there's the possibility of creating a society in which each sex has some enormous blind spots the other sex does not have. You don't have to go this route if you don't want to do it, but it could be quite interesting. Some basic things, or memories, might be shared between the sexes. Other things, depending on historical cultural norms, might not. For instance, if only females in the society can give birth, that's one set of memories the males will not possess. If your society is stratified by birth sex in other ways, like professions, governmental structures, etc., there could be vast blind spots for either sex.

    Gender is another interesting possibility and one already brought up in this thread. Suppose there are sex-related blind spots. Perhaps trans individuals hold a special place in their society because they move between groups, or are "bridges" of knowledge. So a trans man might have inherited memories from his mother but work and/or live primarily among the cis men who inherited memories from their fathers. This could present special difficulties for that individual but also perhaps special strengths, rank or other type of position within the society.

    In the case of trans individuals who actually end up becoming parents...well, that would present even more interesting circumstances involving the transmission of memories, since they could pass on their experiences of being trans in this society to offspring that are cisgendered.

    Then you have the more granular aspects that are interesting. Individuals have inherited memories directly from a parent, down a long line stretching 10,000 years, so their individual sets of memories will be different, unique, even among their sex group and gender groups. How all this plays out ... seems very rich to me, with lots of potential.
     
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  11. Kestrel

    Kestrel Dreamer

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    Yes! Thank you! That was my intention with this. Each person has a very unique set of memories based on the lives of their ancestors that lived before them.

    As I think I mentioned above, my stories follow the the memories of the three daughters of the creators that were created to cleanse the land of corruption that was started by a jealous rival God. Each daughter was gifted with different strengths. These women are seen as the Divine by the regular folk. Saviors I suppose, after they cleansed the corruption from the War in the Beginning. After the world was cleansed and their creator didn't come back from the war with their rival in the heavens, they just settled in to regular society over the years. That is until now, because the corruption is returning many thousands of years later.

    There's the Ilican (i-li-can) who was born of the creators passion. They have moderate magical abilities and the ability to manipulate emotions, bolstering their allies and striking fear in their enemies. (Think bard) as the generations go on this line developes into very rogue like charismatic characters. They're quite volatile, but good natured.

    There's the Paleth. They're borne of the creators mind. She's the leader, decision maker, adept at finding solutions to grand scale problems. This line is less magical then the rest, but all of this race has an affinity to magic, some just more then others. Her line ends up becoming very intertwined in the politics of the world, and in my current book I'm working on she is actually the queen of the nation of Calbrea. Honestly I havnt developed this line as much as the others. I need to work on it.

    The last line is the Maycein. She's my favorite. They are the hands of the creator. She describes herself as a tool of the creator. Their magical ability is extremely advanced and they have developed into a line of highly skilled magic weilding warriors.

    The Eveagan people are not typically set into gender specific roles. And despite their memories, they may choose to go different paths then their ancestors. So someone who comes from a long line of healers, may decide they want to become a trapper, but would not find it as easy to do because they'd be starting from scratch, with no memories to guide them.

    They would see this as a good thing though, as they would be adding to the skill set of their future generations.

    As a whole, their society is dwindling as children are not born often, and they are highly sought after as slaves by the nation of Istyre. They mostly live very spiritual natural lives, valuing minimalist ideas. You won't find large sprawling cities of Eveagan people, small villages though. They do live amon humans in their settlements around their world.
     
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  12. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    There's three things which come to mind for me which you should consider:

    - Knowing something and being able to do something are two very different things. If you've ever played an instrument then you'll know that just knowing how a piece of music should be played doesn't mean that you can actually play it. It's down to muscle memory and brain wiring (read The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle for a nice introduction). This might actually lead to overconfidence. If you have all the memories of a super sword fighter but you haven't actually put in the work to really learn what those memories do, then you will still be a crappy sword fighter.

    - It can lead to a very layered society. You can be judged based on what your great-grandmother has done. Or you're a farmer because everyone remembers your whole family has been farmers for the past 5.000 years. Or something similar.

    - You should decide on how static your society should be. It could very well be that they're so focussed on the past that they don't care all that much about the future. Or they're busy trying to recreate a golden age they had 3000 years ago but they fail to understand the specifics of why that age occurred.
     
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  13. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Dune is not a video game. It's a classic Sci-Fi novel.
     
  14. Kestrel

    Kestrel Dreamer

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    Well... thats embarrassing...
    When I saw Assassins Creed mentioned my mind went straight to video games. My older brother or cousin used to play one called Dune, which now that I think about it, was probably based on the book.
     
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  15. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    Dune is not even just 1 video game, it's somewhere between 5 - 8 video games (depending on how you count), with especially Dune II being noteworthy as a landmark game in the RTS genre.

    But it was a ScifFi novel first, and a famous and influential one at that. Though published originally in 1965, so I guess you can be forgiven for not knowing it ;)
     
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  16. Kestrel

    Kestrel Dreamer

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    Absolutely, this is definitely something I've addressed in my story. The characters do still have to develop themselves to become proficient at the skills they remember.

    I kind of like the idea they could be judged based on past actions of ancestors. Ooo, think of the grudges that could be had!

    How static they are, hmm another interesting thought. I always assumed they were fairly set into the old ways. Could explain why their society is starting to dwindle. I'll need to explore that more!

    Thanks for the ideas.
     
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  17. Kestrel

    Kestrel Dreamer

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    Yep, I am thoroughly embarrassed.
    I actually have very vague memories of the books being mentioned at some point in my childhood.... something about spice... and flowing... lol

    Well at least I learned something!
     
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