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World Building Challenge: Create Original Chimera Species

Discussion in 'World Building' started by SinghSong, Dec 4, 2020.

  1. SinghSong

    SinghSong Minstrel

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    So, in the world of this new fantasy web novel/manga I've tentatively begun sketching the first few chapters of, 0.4-1% of the general population have the magical ability to both acquire infusions of the Qi/essence of other animals through physical contact, enabling them to magically splice themselves with those animals (effectively enabling them to become were-creatures at will)- and, perhaps more importantly in the context of world-building, this also extends to blending the Qi/essence of any two living things together to create magical chimeras ('Alchimerism'- though I'm open to other suggestions for the name of this magical art).

    There are a number of rules related to 'Alchimery'- firstly, this only works on members of the same kingdoms (i.e, animals, plants, fungi- creating animal/plant, animal/fungi, or plant/fungi chimeras isn't possible). Secondly, more tenuously interconnected chimeras (eg. vertebrate/invertebrate, flower/conifer) are both far more challenging to create, and involve a lot more trial and error, with a far lower success rate; these magical chimeras spontaneously die at magical conception more often than not, and are always inherently infertile regardless of how skilled the 'Alchimerist' responsible for their creation may be. And thirdly, for a sufficiently skilled Achimerist, chimeras created by melding together two sufficiently closely connected species (i.e, sharing common ancestry less than 50Mya) can be made genetically viable, capable of producing fertile offspring, and thus constituting entirely new hybrid species (though vegetative propagation allows markedly greater scope for success for plant chimeras).

    Any Alchimerist with a basic level of skill and training can magically create cross-breeds/cultivars between members of the same species; the '1st Rank'/level of mastery can be achieved through successfully magically splicing two different species together, with each rank corresponding to the exponentially more challenging feat of successfully creating living magical hybrids which bridge different levels of taxonomic rank. 2nd Rank=inter-genus chimeras, 3rd Rank=inter-family chimeras, 4th Rank=inter-order chimeras, and 5th Rank=inter-class chimeras. 6th Rank, i.e, inter-phylum chimeras, is borderline achievable, but only by a select few (less than a dozen in recorded history, 3-5 still alive) elite Grand Master Alchimerists, and only with members of sufficiently closely related phyla/divisions (i.e, deuterostomes or protostomes). And each rank corresponds with the two below when it comes to magically creating genetically viable hybrid species (i.e, only the few 6th Rank Alchimerists can create new species from two members of different biological Orders- e.g, primate-bat, pigeon-parrot, grasses/palm trees, etc).

    As you can imagine though, there are still a whole world of possibilities for successful new hybrid species in this setting. So, I'm asking for a bit of creative input, and setting the challenge of coming up with a bunch of fresh, interesting, diverse and imaginative magically-created chimera species (albeit having to be composed exclusively from living things which co-habitated the Earth with humans IRL), to add some breadth and depth to this world's biosphere. Up for it?
     
  2. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Troubadour

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    Oh I love this idea. So when you make a chimera, how much of each species is expressed? Like is it a gryphon with the head of A attached to the butt of B? Or more like Jurassic park where it looks mostly like A but has some abilities from B? Also don't be afraid to take from reality: just because you know about glow kittens doesn't mean your readers will.
     
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  3. SinghSong

    SinghSong Minstrel

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    How much of each species gets expressed depends upon the artistry and philosophy of the 'Alchimerist' who created them. In order to actually create a viable new (animal) species though, the work has to be replicated with a fairly high degree of accuracy, enough times to establish a minimum breeding population; so it can't be too haphazard (i.e, the abstract expressionist, Jackson Pollock-style approach might well work for creating a plant hybrid 'masterpiece' species, so long as it can be propagated through cuttings, but it likely won't work for establishing a new animal species).
     
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  4. SinghSong

    SinghSong Minstrel

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    So, here's a little example I came up with myself, to kick things off:

    Ratelgulin (Mellivora capensis-Smutsia gigantea): This large, terrestrial species inhabits the Western Sahel, having been created by one of the famed Alchimerists of Timbuktu, under the Mali Empire. Mostly solitary, this animal has an extremely strong sense of smell and large anal glands, which it uses to mark its territory, as well as an anal pouch, the smell of which is reportedly "suffocating", and may assist in calming bees when raiding beehives. The species walks with most of its weight on its columnar rear legs, and curls its front paws, walking on the outside of the wrists rather than the palms to protect its remarkably long, strong and well-developed front claws (three on each forepaw, with reduced first and fifth digits) which can be up to 9 inches long for adult males, and are curved outwards to aid it in digging, enabling it to dig tunnels into hard ground in 5 minutes or less. However, these are also notoriously useful and deadly for self-defense, as are the overlapped keratinized 4-5 inch long, jet-black razor sharp scales which armor its entire body (as well as exhibiting anti-adhesion and anti-wear properties against soil and rock, allowing them to more easily burrow into the ground), plating its remarkably loose skin, which allows it to turn and twist freely within it.

    The head is small and flat, with a short muzzle, and its teeth often display signs of irregular development, with some teeth being exceptionally small, set at unusual angles or absent altogether; its canine teeth are exceptionally short for carnivores, but it still possesses a formidable bite. Its incredibly long tongue has sharp, backward-pointing papillae which assist it in processing tough foods, as well as being covered with sticky saliva secreted by a large submandibular gland. The eyes are small, and the ears are little more than ridges on the skin, another possible adaptation to avoiding damage while fighting. By using its tail for balance, it often walks upright as a biped, and is capable of climbing trees, though it rarely does so on account of its size (with adult males, which are larger than females, having an average body length of 1.5m, an average shoulder height of 40cm, and capable of rearing up to 1.2m tall when standing on its hind legs and walking in a bipedal stance, using its tail for balance). The rategulin is notorious for its strength, ferocity and toughness. It is known to savagely and fearlessly attack almost any other species when escape is impossible, reportedly even repelling much larger predators, attacking any animals which intrude upon their burrows on sight (or rather, scent), and being practically impenetrable to bee stings, porcupine quills, and animal bites; their skin and scales combined are almost impervious to arrows, spears, and even bladed weapons, capable of resisting several machete blows, and leave them with no natural predators, with Ratelgulins living for up to 25yrs.
     
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  5. SinghSong

    SinghSong Minstrel

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    Sooo- anyone else care to give it a try?
     
  6. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    The Grorks are a large, three headed creature that were created by the blood of Santa Claus dripping onto the ground after he got a cut.
    Grorks have one reindeer head, one humanoid head with a beard, and one humanoid head with a pointed hat and ears. Each head has magical eyes made out of snow, allowing them to see heat instead of light- also making it impossible to blind them. The body of the Grork is a large carrot that acts as a drill. They wait underground for their favorite food, children, and drill above-ground to get to them. They have retractable limbs that are segmented and spindly, much like an insect's limbs. The Grork picks up children then drills back to its cave to eat them. The only thing that can tame Grorks is familial love.
    Grorks have three brains, and are thusly each three different beasts in one body. Their brains are made of ice.
    Grorks are quite rare, and only mate whenever they cross paths with another Grork- Grorks do not have sex organs and instead mate through building a snowman together, which becomes a baby Grork.
     
  7. Dayu

    Dayu Scribe

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    Can it also be done to humans and otherworldy beings? Like a Hell-hound and a lion or Minotaur? Can you also mix a already "Alchemized" creature with another "Achemized" creature?

    Oh, and I hope you have a funny character alchemist that'll give funny names to his/her creations like"Danger noodle" and stuff.
     
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  8. Thea__

    Thea__ Acolyte

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    I recommend before creating arbitrary chimeras to look for the intentions of its creation.
    Such as:
    • for experimentation,
    • creations to help out daily work (working animals)
    • for combat or similar fantasy stuff
    • Or maybe just simply as pets, created for cuteness. UvU
    You need to look at the availability of the animals used.
    Example:
    You have a chimera of a lion with eagle wings.
    Flashy and all.
    But why would an alchemist create this creature?
    If its just experimenting why not use a stray cat and a pigeon instead? They are more easily available and common.

    Similarly you would probably never use animals like whales or polar bears in your creations since they are just too hard to get to unless explained otherwise.

    I think these are fair questions that need to be considered in human creation of chimeras, before I just randomly throw around animal parts.

    Animals that would probably be the most plausible for use in experimentation purposes:
    • Any working animal (horse, pigs, sheep, cows, etc.)
    • Any kind of pet animals, depending on what is common in the world (dogs, cats, hamsters, ...)
    • Local wildlife if there is any (depending on location)
    • Gernerally considered common animals (Rats, mice, pigeons, but also: bugs, insects, fish, etc.)
    • You can look at animals that are already often chosen to be reserched on (jellyfish, monkeys, bananas,...)


    Of course all I've said can be worked around with explanation given. To make it short i just thought about the animals most likely used for experimentation, but of course, as I've said before, there could be many other kinds of intentions behind the chimeras!

    I actually really love your story's world idea ovo!
    I hope this can help.
     
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  9. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    Ok, I'm going to go with an inter-class chimera (if I'm reading that right).
    First, we get a crab - a big one. Maybe a Tasmanian giant crab. Because we need some heft and really big claws. Also, it's believed that crabs can't feel pain.
    Next, we get a centipede. It doesn't need to be anything fancy but we want those killer instincts and ferocious bite. Giving it that horrifying multi-legged tail would be a plus. I'm thinking the chimera would ultimately look like you took a gigantic centipede and replaced it's head with a 40 pound crab.
    Finally, and here's where it gets tricky, we throw in a tardigrade. They can survive exposure to extreme heat, extreme pressure, air deprivation, radiation, dehydration, starvation and the vacuum of space. They, like crabs and centipedes, belong to the superphylum of ecdysozoa.

    So, there we have an unkillable 100+ pound chimera with an exoskeleton, claws, a powerful bite and probably a minimum of 38 legs which doesn't feel pain and completely lacks thoughts or emotions, running entirely on its instinct to hunt.

    I can't imagine what kind of lunatic would create something like this but if I came-up with it, I'd assume someone in your world would try it.
     
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  10. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

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    Congrats WooHoo, you made a Catachan Devil.

    Catachan Devil

    Sorry if this is slightly disappointing.
     
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  11. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    That's more scorpion than crab - which I figure if you'd use a scorpion for this chimera, it'd be a good deal smaller - and there's nothing about invulnerability but yeah, I'm thinking basically that.
     
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  12. SinghSong

    SinghSong Minstrel

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    Thanks for all the feedback! Delving into it, since there've been thousands of people with this ability over the course of history in this world, there've people who've had all of those reasons and more as the intentions behind their creations. And it's also worth mentioning that, as a fairly major part of the backdrop for this world, the area in which 'Alchimery has arguably had the greatest impact is agriculture; and not just in the creation of working animals, but in the creation of new crops as well. For instance, emanating from East Asia, the wholesale replacement of rice by literal Bamboo Rice (Pocacae Oryzoideae-Pocacae Bambusoidea hybrids) along with other similar Bamboo-cereal hybrids (Bamboo Wheat, Bamboo Oats, Bamboo Barley etc.- all of which are closely related plant species of the same sub-familial clade whose common ancestors diverged less than 30Mya, which would make the magical creation of mix-and-match combinations between them all easily achievable by any 2nd Rank Alchimerist) massively increased crop productivity, and facilitated a huge pre-industrial economic and population boom.

    Taking your example though, of the chimera of a lion with eagle wings- why would an alchimerist create this creature? Because plenty of them would've still been mad, eccentric, or well-funded/well-persuaded enough by those who commissioned/demanded under penalty of death for them to do so. Those sorts of chimeras would have some of the most interesting backstories behind their creation, but they'd also have the highest failure rates, still be infertile in the same manner as ligers and mules IRL, and be the least practical in the long run. And regarding animals like whales (which are, or would have, been widespread and close-to-hand enough to get to for most civilizations) and polar bears, I was planning to include things like that as tangential plot-points; trading in rare, endangered animal parts is lucrative enough even in our world today, so just imagine how much more lucrative it'd be to capture and sell rare, endangered animals in this world. Especially the flashiest, most impressive ones, like polar bears- how much would an Alchimerist Institute be willing to pay to get their hands on a few of those? Think about it...
     
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  13. SinghSong

    SinghSong Minstrel

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    This kind of lunatic, perhaps?
    [​IMG]
     
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