Hey everyone! So, I'm rewriting some of the lore from the fantasy universe I've been trying to put to paper for a few years. This is because I find some to be a bit too clichéd and “clean.” On one hand, I want the world to be dirty and gritty… but, on the other, I have an urge to let my “spick-and-span” cultural upbringing “inspire” the appearance of the world. Two other problems are creating races to populate the world and how the world uses magic. I came up with a solution for one problem, in that cleanliness is a regional distinction, and I’m finding a good rhythm with the implementation of magic, but I can’t figure out one problem: Races. A few writers whom I have discussed this with usually tell me something along the lines of “I’d rather have a well written-elf over a generic author’s creation.” The problem is… I do not want elves! Elves, Dwarves, Orcs; they are all overdone and I want to make something I can call my own. Something that is more than just a human while appearing vastly different. Originally, the two races I created were based off dogs and cats. Without going into the specifics, one is fiercely loyal with undying compassion towards “the pack,” while understanding their place in the hierarchy. The other is individualistic and selfish, giving little regard to the needs of those around them. As time passed, I started disliking the two races because I feared association with furries (no offense, if there are any around here). I was going to ask a question here, but I seem to have gotten lost in TL;DR rambling… So, I will shorten everything with this question: What are ways of conceptualizing a race without going overboard? Creating something human-like, without it being a repainted human?