1. Patriot6
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    Patriot6 New Member

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    Creating Races and Brick Walls with Lore

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Patriot6, Apr 2, 2012.

    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?
     
  2. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    What you need to do imo is make their actual way of thinking radically different to humans. I quite like the cat/dog idea, but if you want to avoid associations with furries, you could easily give them those characteristics but give them different appearances. Other options are hiveminds (which don't have to be insectoid.) or perhaps if it's a magically created race it can have a specific purpose in life, or maybe it can't leave it's homeland for too long.

    And I'm going to have to agree with the "well written Elves being better than a generic author's creation" quote. Yes they've been over done, but if you make them unique that won't matter. I have both elves and dwarves in my WIP, however they're separate from your usual LOTR versions.
     
  3. Cyrus
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    Cyrus Member

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    I think you have so start from the start. The Earth's eco system makes sense because everything has it's place and with research we can estimate where they came from. What lives on the planet pretty much ensures the planet's existence (For the most part), that's sort of the point. So you should look at your world and judge what it needs, then see how you can fit it in. On the other hand you can remove that sense of justifaction by taking the Tolkien route. Tolkien's world is creationist, Gods created the races of middle earth after their own preferences. Even then though they still have their purpose in the ecosystem.

    I think you need to start with your world. Look at what your world needs to work. Decide if you want to take an Evolutionary Stance or a Creationist stance (Possibly based on your own values) and go from there.

    I'll throw something together as an example:

    lets say there is a race of hulking yeti like people...called.... Epods. Maybe they are a less developed, less evolved, they have their own culture, and set of values, but are mainly tribal. Let's say centuries ago the humans "Liberate" and Educate them and set them to work in their mines. What you have is another culture, with different physical and ethical features who have been "elevated" into human culture. So these guys are gonna start thinking for themselves. Maybe a large amount of the population escape, and establish their own settlements. 200 years later you have an almost fully developed Humanish race that have prior history and still retain their seperate physical and cultural identity.

    It's also worth mentioning that this reflects certain elements of Human History. Independance and equal rights. People respond well to that. Take a look at what you believe in, Creating a Race is a great platform for that stuff.

    I hope this helps...even though I sort of TLDR'd too.

    Cyrus.
     
  4. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    First, TL;RD? I continuously see this and have no clue what it means...

    On topic, I think it's a little hard to make something you're own. Elves, dwarfs, etc that come with high fantasy are easily identifiable even by none fantasy readers. I think Cyrus has the best point, think about your world then create. Or, I'm lazy, look at different mythology and snatch something from them and then adjust them to your needs.
     
  5. Cyrus
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    Cyrus Member

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    Not lazy, Smart.

    TLDR stands for "Too Long Didn't Read"...or whatever variation.
     
  6. shangrila
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    shangrila Member

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    Yeah, you need to find what your world needs and then tweak them around that. There has to be a point, a reason they're in the world.

    I'll give you an example using the world I'm building, without going into huge detail. One race was once slaves, designed by their masters to repair their great machines. When the creators faded away, they were left with great machines, and the knowledge to use and repair them, but never to advance them. They've imitative, not innovative, and that limits their potential, but at the same time they feel they're the inheritors of their creators' legacy. They act as a representation of the sometimes crushing pressure of expectations, real or imagined, obsession with the past (they created a slave race themselves, that have since rebelled) and also serve to dim the holy light the other races look on their now-vanished creators.
     
  7. Cyrus
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    Cyrus Member

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    Sounds cool! :D
     
  8. WoodenPaw
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    WoodenPaw Member

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    I think creating your own race is better then copying from others as it is more interesting to know something new other than already we know, generally, writers copy other races, modify them but not very much so that reader's don't have to get into study part to understand or remember the key facts of that particular race as they know it already. Also a faithful race don't have to be a race of dogs or race of arrogant & selfish beings to be cats. Add more creativity, I liked the idea given by cyrus on how to create a race which is unique and fit well in story.
     
  9. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Actually im creating a world mixed with Animals from our Earth mixed in with completely new races. All the new races are going to have a place, and make my world much more flavorful. Creating new races is the best way to go. Don't do a Paolini. Paolini is king of stealing from other fantasy stories. I feel the same way about overdone tropes in fantasy. I hate Dragons expect the ones from Elder Scrolls because they have qualities that haven't been used before.
     
  10. Cyrus
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    Cyrus Member

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    Creating your own races from scratch is totally commendable, but more often than not the writer just doesn't do enough research or spend enough time developing them so they have enough believability. Can't believe I am saying this, AVATAR is the most recent success story in creating a believable fantasy race from scratch. So yeah they are a bunch of large blue, hippy/native americans but they do have a unique culture that is heavily tied into their planet. Cameron took years creating an eco system for Pandora. A lot of people just go:

    Cats + People = Cat People. SUCCESS.

    and what you end up with can be confusing.

    So if anyone is going to strive to create whole new race. Good on you I say, just take your time, draw from our world carefully let them evolve like real creatures.
     
  11. shangrila
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    shangrila Member

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    I agree. I think, too, people take it a step further and think they're giving it more depth. Like, "oh, the cat people live in huts and eat fish and wear lots of jewelry. That's totally depth!"
     

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