1. MatthewOliverGrey
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    MatthewOliverGrey Member

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    Fantasy Races?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MatthewOliverGrey, Jul 17, 2014.

    I'm planning a novel in a fantasy world and I like the idea of having different races of humanoids from different kingdoms and countries.

    My problem is I'm unsure which races to involve, elves, dwarfs, werewolves, vampires and the like have been done and in some cases over done.

    So I'm here to ask you lovely people to think up some races I could consider, also if you want to put a spin on one of the races I listed above feel free :)
     
  2. Domino355
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    Domino355 Contributing Member

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    There is so much you can do in that direction:
    In one fantasy project I'm writing, the "races" are all human. The entire term "race" is, like on our world, a stigma.
    Another idea is to take a world where all races are pre-human species. homoerectus, nedreathals, they all still exist, and managed to evolve brainwise to match mankind.
    Also, search in mythology for races who are not so commonly used in fantasy. A world of satyrs, Telekines (men with dog heads), werehyenas (yes, just like the name, except they are hyenas that disgiuse as humans). I'd suggest looking especially at Arab, Hindu or Greek mythology that isn't overused. If you want check Norse, but most of them are well used up.
    Another choice is just make them up. Start with a base creature, (human, maybe animal, or anything else you've read about), make it intelligent, (I don't think alot of people would want to read a story where all the MC says is "Moo"), and add some characteristics.
    And, if you really want to go with the good old Tolkein/Lewis races. Try and portray them in a way they have never been portayed before. For example, I really liked how in the Death Gate Cycle they turned the elves from the always "good guys" into very human, very racist imperialists who just enslave anyone they can.
    In the end, what matters is that your world has flesh and depth, and that you avoid as much cliches as possible
     
  3. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    I've read several fantasy novels with arachnid and other races based loosely on our insect world. Those races are always quite interesting in terms of how the writer handles their mindset and communication and community. It also gets away from the different kind of human thing. They are at their best when they are more than just scary beasts.

    And actually I came across some information recently (science article I think) that put it there that arachnids are the only species on this planet that don't seem to have a common genome with all the others, intimating that they are actually an alien species to earth. Throws up all kinds of possibilities and also explains why arachnids inspire intense fear in so many humans.

    I know your novel is fantasy but in my mind, fantasy and sci-fi are two sides of the same coin. One goes in the direction of future technology, the other in the direction of past (lumping magic into the category of lost technology if you like.)
     
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  4. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    It is really not all that hard to make up your own. If you have not noticed, races like elves and dwarves are merely minor adjustments to the base human form. All you have to do is repeat the process. Add some tails and animal ears and you have one race. Change the skin to blue and you have another. All you really need is something unique to each race to make it effective.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The insect creatures in District 9 were fantastic.
     
  6. Mans
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    Mans Contributing Member

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    I think dwarfs is a good idea. The dwarf robots can be interesting for readers because they have never seen such existence yet and it is a new thing for them.
     
  7. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    @EdFromNY has a lovely quote about some bridges that might come in handy here.

    Personally I think it should be down to you to come up with the specifics of these races, otherwise your just presenting other people's ideas. However I don't believe there's anything wrong with us giving you direction, you've already received decent advice: Check out mythology from foreign cultures, and research into nature - did you know that there's an estimated 8.7 million different species of animal on the planet? Surely there's a few of them that are decent starting points for fantasy races - you don't necessarily even have to take the appearance of these animals, you can borrow the characteristics and behaviours of them as well. For example, if I were going to base a race off of bears, here's what I could gather with just a quick scroll through wikipedia:

    Stocky legs, shaggy hair.
    Make caves and burrows as their shelters and hide away in them during the winter.
    Very solitary creatures,
    Excellent sense of smell.
    Good at fishing.
    The females often beat the crap out of the males to protect their cubs.

    Etc. Just a few interesting points about bears, but I can already picture a very unusual society of savage barbarian people. So go do some research, the more unique and interesting animals you find the more unique and interesting your races will be.
     
  8. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    My setting has (at the moment) four different species that belong to the Homo genus: Homo sapiens, orcs, cavemen, and an offshoot of sapiens that was created by the God of Fire. There are more if you count the various forms of intelligent human undead.

    I don't have any elves or dwarves because I don't really like them, but that's just a matter of personal preference. Either of them could be done in an interesting manner.

    What it really comes down is how well you can flesh-out each race or culture. Stuff like architecture, technology, environment, and food choice can be very important. If your story has magic, you could use magical powers to make them stand out from each other. As @HelloThere said, learning about different cultures in real life could prove useful.

    Of course, if you want to be really different, you could make sentient plants or fungi.
     
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  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, @HelloThere, it isn't a quote, just an observation.

    If you sail up the East River from New York Bay, you pass under two bridges in quick succession linking Brooklyn and Manhattan. The first, the Brooklyn Bridge, was designed by John Augustus Roebling and is widely regarded as one of the most aesthetically pleasing bridges in the world. The other, the Manhattan Bridge, was designed by committee, and is known, if at all, for the fact that subway trains run over it. Like bridges, works of fiction should not be designed by committee.

    Which is another way of saying that the specifics of the worlds that writers create must be product of the writer's imagination alone. I've been at times taken to task for criticizing what some view as ordinary brainstorming, but I maintain that as long as a novice writer relies on advice from others as to what his/her imagination should be producing, (s)he will never be anything but a novice. The creative mind is not so different from other muscles - it needs to be used in order to develop.

    To the OP - good luck with figuring out the answer to your question.
     
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  10. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @EdFromNY …Then, what do you come here for?
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I've come to believe that there are three realms of being a published writer: 1) the core creative process, in which the story is conceived; 2) the techniques for presenting that story to the reader; 3) the various means of publishing the finished product and getting it to the reader. I come for #2 and #3, and to be in the company of other writers.
     
  12. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Sorry I agree with Ed, depending on your story depends on your races. And that unfortunately is something we cant help with. I would just make some up. Then they conform to the rules of your world instead of you fighting to fit them into it.
     
  13. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm also writing a fantasy story that requires a lot of different races. Out of 25 different types of races, I created 15 of them. And even the other 10, I tweaked in order to make them fit my story. And honestly, that was my favorite part of planning! I loved being able to pick and choose what abilities they have and what abilities they don't, what they look like, where they live, what they eat, etc. It's a lot of work. But it's so worth it. It'll make your story more unique and interesting. And you'll feel so much more accomplished knowing you made your own versus basically using "stock" mythology.

    Coming up with names was the hardest part though... =\ I would pick their major feature (like I basically have an earth elemental), put one word into Thesaurus.com, and find a single word that can represent the race. Earth elementals = Naturals. Not super creative, but they're a very common race so they need a common name. =P My others are better.

    Enjoy it! It's fun!
     

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