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Uncommon/Underappreciated Mythical Creatures?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by evolution_rex, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. Feith

    Feith Dreamer

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    I recently discovered the Peryton, and I wish that more people would use it - I've never come across a single story that has even a remotely similar creature. Just look how beautiful it is!
    [​IMG]
     
    Night Gardener likes this.
  2. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Ah yes, the Peryton is described in Jorge Luis Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings. It has a nice collection with some creatures you don't really see anywhere else. Highly recommended.
     
    Night Gardener likes this.
  3. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    I recently learned Maryland has a legend of a snallygaster. Which is kind of a loch ness type of critter (ummm apparently with wings...). Thought it might be cool if we had a local legends type of contest somewhere along the way. But we need some more contestants first I think.


    [​IMG]
     
  4. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Inkling

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    I think true shape-shifting spirits/demons/entities (not humans that transform into assorted 'were'-creatures, but entities that can appear as anything they please for whatever purpose they want)... and paranormal 'Shadow People' are underutilized.

    Also, "swarming" sentient beings... one entity/spirit that manifests or exists as hundreds or thousands of creatures. I admit it's a newer concept because researchers are just now understanding "hive minds" in certain species, but that to me has some potential.

    Most swarms, etc. written on screen or in fiction are just under temporary control of some force, and return to being their 'not-posessed' normal state after their task is done. For a swarm to *be* the entity itself is kind of terrifying lol.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2018
  5. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Inkling

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    That's kind of neat! I was thinking about certain people riding giant deer/stag instead of horses in some regions.... never thought about it having wings...
     
  6. All the Inuit creatures. There's one that's a shape shifter which can transform from wolf to orca to move on land or sea. Also giant wolves. And dog people.
     
  7. JBryden88

    JBryden88 Troubadour

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    Giants.

    I feel like most fantasy settings that use them tend to use them as monsters/villains and nothing else. I've always been a fan of the barbarian archetype but I was inspired to write a story about giants as a people, as a culture, and to show their clash with humans in a way that... humanizes them. Also I gave them something most settings fail to give them... intelligence.

    I always hated that Orcs were always the mindless monsters, but The Elder Scrolls and Warcraft video game settings delighted me. Time for giants to get their due dammit >.>
     
    Yora likes this.
  8. Ooh, tengu! I really like Japanese creatures--kitsune, nekomatta, and yuki-onna in particular. One of my first writing attempts featured a tengu. It...wasn't very good at all.
     
  9. ArenRax

    ArenRax Sage

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    Is there a website or book that has a list of mythological creatures from all cultures/ time periods? And not just the popular ones.
     
  10. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Wikipedia's Lists of legendary creatures is pretty extensive and a good springboard for further research.
     
    DragonOfTheAerie likes this.
  11. I have an encyclopedia of mythology in my room.
     
  12. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Yeah, I have an Encyclopedia of Mythology and one more specifically for mythical creatures, but the wikipedia list has WAY more than you will find in any general mythology book.
     
  13. Jorunn

    Jorunn Dreamer

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    Unicorns that aren't exactly unicorns.

    For instance, the karkadann. Sure it's essentially a rhinoceros but the idea of a foul tempered lumpy gray unicorn has potential for humor and fun! I also quite like the Qilin, and I have them in human form in my current WiP.

    I haven't seen many fantasy world's utilising the English folklore worm either. Big slimy eel-type thing that crawls up out of a river or well and takes over a local hill from whence it terrorizes the peasantry until it's killed by a stalwart noble or a farm boy. Elements of them show up in dragons obviously, but they're always very traditionally dragonly. They always seemed like a pretty serious wildlife management problem to me.
     
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    One of several reasons why online resources are leaving printed resources in the dust. Not wholly, not quite yet, but the dust cloud gets more dense every year.
     
  15. Ouberos

    Ouberos Acolyte

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    I've drawn a lot of inspiration from the Basque myths of the Basa Juan who inhabit the mountains tops and yodel to each other in bad weather. I like wild man myths in general and someone mentioned Babylonian mythology, but the very first fantasy story, Gilgamesh and Enkidu features a wild man brought out of the wilderness and "civilised" with a hair cut and a prostitute.

    Part of me wants these very ancient references of wild men to be memories of our early adventures with our Neanderthal cousins. What's interesting for me at least, is that across different cultures these outsiders are deemed to have a closer relationship with the natural order than we do. Beasts aren't afraid of Enkidu until he loses his innocence. The Basa Juan know how to grow wheat and a Basque hero tricks the secret out of them. There's a garden of Eden quality to the Wild man myth I like.

    Basque folklore is worth a look, lots of witches and restless spirits.
     
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  16. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Yes, I love Basque mythology. Years ago I came across a list of Basque names and loved the sound of them so much I started researching Basque culture and mythology and fell in love. Basque culture definitely has a large role in my worldbuilding.
     
    Ouberos likes this.
  17. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    A great resource is The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, https://www.amazon.com/Element-Encyclopedia-Magical-Creatures-Fantastic-ebook/dp/B003IDMUMW/ which is just full of critters and beings from all around the world. It's where we found the nuckalevee which appears in Faerie Rising. I won't share a picture because it's a bit of a horror show, but I will share my description of it.

    “Summer’s Get!” The voices were thick with mucus and gave Etienne a terrible urge to clear his throat. “My dread lord, Midir, desires your presence.”

    Fuck. Etienne raised his head to look. He couldn’t not.

    Tall enough to brush the ceiling with its head—the humanoid one—a nuckalevee advanced toward them. An unholy, skinless nightmare of horse and rider fused together at the rider’s naked, legless hips, the veins across its crimson, glistening shoulders were open to view and pulsing with effort. Exposed muscles flexed and contracted over white bone and tendon and each skeletal, eyeless face spoke in unison. Drying seaweed and slime dropped from its haunches to leave a trail behind it. What the hell was it doing here? Waiting to be turned loose in the Pacific?
     
  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Some timely references here, as I happen to be on a monster hunt. I am looking for a variant on "and then a bear jumped out" only I want it to be some sort of fantasy monster. The chief constraint is it has to be rather pedestrian.

    That is, no flying creatures. No creatures that kill instantly--I need it to be something my fledgling hero can overcome. No vampires or zombies or any of that ilk. Also no unique creatures and certainly no gods. Also not an "intelligent being" which is to say no dryads or centaurs or other humanoids with some modicum of intelligence or speech.

    Turns out, most of the "monsters" in various monster manuals fall into one of the above categories. A great many are one-offs. Various man-beast combinations are commonplace. Many other entries in such lists are gods or demons. But plain, ordinary dangerous monsters? Surprisingly few. Of course there are the combo monsters, the ones that combine goat, lion, bull, horse, etc. in various sets of two or three. I call them the Napoleon Dynamite monsters (liger).

    My short list came down to mainly to giant versions of ordinary animals--giant spider, giant wolf, etc. I confess I'm rather disappointed in humankind on this point. I expected to find an easy dozen to choose from.
     
  19. Dark Squiggle

    Dark Squiggle Troubadour

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    Yes, but you are forgetting the most mythical being of all - the bound book.
    There is also the Cerebrus, a three headed dog; the fictional version of the sandshark, that swims through sand and ambushes its prey from below; the mazik, a harmful, and sometimes invisible, or at least transparent little non sapient humanoid; akhlut, orcas with legs (I think one may be able to kill with a single bite, so it doesn't count.) I am sure there are others, but that is all I can come up with off the top of my head.
     
  20. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Thanks for the reply, DS. Here are my thoughts.

    Cerebrus: no unique creatures. This monster needs to be one of a type (afterward, a character will observe that this type of monster has never been seen in these parts; it comes from elsewhere). This is pretty much my MC's first kill, so I don't want her slaying a unique monster.

    Sandshark strikes out because it's not medieval, but mostly because we are in rocky, hilly country.

    I can't find any reference to mazik.

    The akhlut will do nicely, but in some other circumstance. It's Inuit, so those legends don't directly fit in Altearth, but I can see using the concept and coming up with my own name for it. Filing that one away; thx.
     

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