1. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    High-Fantasy question...

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Marcelo, May 14, 2009.

    What do you prefer, when an invented fantasy setting has many races in it (LoTR) or when there are like only humans (SoIaF)? I wanna know this because... Well, let's say I've been having a bad time deciding wether to include other races apart from humans (especially since I can only come up with elves, orcs and dwarves!). I just want to know what people out there think about this, I already know that it is my story and I can do whatever I want with it. :)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Then why does it still matter what anyone else prefers? You aren't getting a statistically valid sample from here, so as a market survey, it's useless. You may as well flip a coin. It's quicker and just as accurate.

    'But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?
     
  3. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    My bad, I forgot something. If there are races, do you prefer them to live together (The Elder Scrolls is an example, where you can find orcs, elves, etc. in any settlement) or separated (Like Lord of The Rings. Moria = dwarves, Rivendell = elves, The Shire = hobbits, Gondor = men)?
     
  4. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    I prefer just humans, but that's just a pet peeve of mine.
     
  5. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whether you use humans or multiple species, do it in Tolkien style, Star Wars style, or not, does not play a part in people liking a book. Sure, there are certain things that people prefer. What has to be done is what makes the most sense for you and the story.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Marcelo,

    It really depends on the story you have to tell, what world and the races and the cultures that inhabit it.

    There is high fantasy out there that doesn't have elves and dwarves and orcs. Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant would be a good example. There were humans, but also Cavewights, Ur-Viles, Elohim, etc. Yes, there were plenty of humans, but even they were different in some ways, and there were giants too.

    It is too difficult for me to explain an entire set of books, but Donaldson's (the series I'm pointing out) were best sellers back in the 80s and 90s..

    You can check out his website: Stephen R. Donaldson's Website or even Amazon or other reviews.

    The point is, that you can create creatures and societies that are totally off the map.

    Ur-Viles (in Donaldson's world) were created creatures that serve Lord Foul, the Despiser (also called The Gray Slayer). They're black roynish creatures that can run as easily on two legs as on legs and arms. They don't have eyes, but seem to sense through nose and other means. They are led by loremasters, who know magic. They fight in wedges, where the members of the wedge focus their strength on the member at the front point (a powerful loremaster) who then wields that power (magic) in combat. Even individually, they are nothing to trifle at. They are smaller than the cavewights, but smarter and usually direct them in battle, etc.

    I only touched upon a basic outline with the Ur-viles. There is much more, adding to the richness and depth of the world created.

    Sorry if I got off track, but come up with your own creatures and world, or at least put your own take on them, and make it work for your world and the story or stories you want to tell.

    Terry
     
  7. Catastrophe
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    Catastrophe New Member

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    In my fantasy story I have only about six "core" races, but among each there are many subcultures, just like in the real world.

    From a a creativity-based standpoint I think it's best to make up your own races if you do decide to include them. Not only will it be more unique, but you won't have to grapple with the stereotypes of elves and dwarves and be able to have complete freedom.
     
  8. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I'm sure that he just wants to hear opinions from other people so that it causes him to think and consider.

    If one of us gives a particular reason we do or do not like having many races, he may find that reason very intriguing and, consequently, follow a particular course of action.


    Me, I don't like elves and dwarfs (dwarves?) and like creatures.

    I prefer to invent my own, and perhaps you should, as well. Bring something new to the mythological foreground.
     
  9. Tall and Weird
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    Tall and Weird New Member

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    Elves and dwarves (as they seem to me) are long-lived people belonging to civilisations that have lasted for longer than every human civilisation put together.

    I've always liked them but they have always seemed to not be quite as I imagined them - the elves are too quick to act and the dwarves are just not stubborn enough - but that's just my opinion.

    Also, if elves and dwarves live for hundreds of human generations, why would they bother learn the names of any human that comes their way? It would be like learning the name of every fly that zips passed.
     
  10. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    My sister thinks like this, as well.

    We often feel compelled to help dogs that are lost, though we usually don't. (Most of us)

    And that's only a mildly intelligent dog with no language understandable to humans. Even passionless pricks often still feel something toward a wounded animal.
    And dogs live, what-- a third the length of a human? No understandable language? Don't look the same AT ALL? Many of them are ferocious, as well.

    Now, let's look at the difference in a dwarf or elf and a human:

    Humans look about the same as an elf or dwarf: Bipedal, two arms, two eyes, and the structure of the body and face is virtually facsimile between them.
    Elves are taller, though, and dwarfs shorter.

    Our vocal chords are the same, in that either can learn the others language and make the same sounds. All three are intelligent, have a complex language and the ability to instigate complex societies.


    I don't understand WHY people think that dwarfs or elves would equate humans to FLIES, and not even DOGS, which they are also more intelligent than in every manner.

    Hmh. . . .
     
  11. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    If you can find a new racial trilogy to replace the orc, dwarf and elf, you'd strike it rich.
     
  12. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Replacing the dwarf, the elf and the orc... It can be difficult, but I'll try to come up with my own races. I already came with one! :D
     
  13. bumboclaatjones
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    bumboclaatjones Member

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    I find the problem with high fantasy is the elves, dwarves, and orcs. It's been done to death. Unless the story totally calls for it, I suggest forgetting about them.
     
  14. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Wow, it's more difficult than I thought. Every time I wanted to come up with an evil and brutal race, orcs came to my mind. When I tried to come up with some nature-affined race, elves came to my mind. However, I already came up with two races, which I think is going very well.
     
  15. Tall and Weird
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    Tall and Weird New Member

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    I read somewhere that the Elven language is so intricate and complex that humans just can't live long enough to learn it completely.

    So, since humans can understand some of what elves say, I suppose that humans would be more likely considered by elves as pets rather than insects... which is a little disturbing. :)

    Marcelo, the reason that you keep thinking 'orc' and 'elf' is because they are the races you've always seen in those positions. The orc is the standard bearer for 'Cruelty and Evil' and the elf carries the banner of nature.

    Give them their marching orders! Tell the elf to make like a tree and leaf! Tell the orc to kick himself out the door!
     
  16. seije
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    seije Member

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    i'm writing a fantasy novel myself, and while i am using humans, most of the other races i'm using are of my own making, or modified versions of existing fantasy races.

    Humans- (self explanatory)
    Dragons- more humanoid, and live in structured societies, though there are much fewer dragons than any other race... Similar to Fire Emblem for the GC or Wii in all but appearance (I'm tired of stories where dragons are just another type of beast, or they're evil, or they're subservient to some other race)
    Ledín- a Wolflike race in almost every way. They travel in packs, they walk on all fours, and to the untrained eye, one might actually mistake one for a wolf.
    Pankana- Ocean dwellers. Large and whale-like, they are very xenophobic.
    Samaán- Subterranean. Bred, conditioned, and molded for fighting. The 'orc' type of race of my story, though even they have redeeming qualities.

    I like the idea of multiple races as long as it really means something. What's the point of having a bunch of different races if they're all basically the same thing? Not that there's anything wrong with using humans, elves, dwarves, etc., but if you're trying to decide on whether or not to use different races, perhaps you should first decide on what, if any, barriers your characters would have to overcome.
     
  17. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Yeah, I'm using different races. At first it was difficult, but as of now I've already came up with four races (out of six I need, due to "geographical issues" :p). I have an avian race, a diminutive race of sea-farers, a barbaric race and... well, humans. I'll come up with the other two tomorrow I think... right now I'm pretty tired so yeah, the decision I took has given me great results. :D
     
  18. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Star Wars is high fantasy, and has no elves, dwarves or orcs. It's amazing how many people feel the need to have these species to make something fantasy or high fantasy. I read a lot of it, and very few of the good ones even have Tolkien-esque elves.
     
  19. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    Doesn't Star Wars classify more as a Space Opera?
     
  20. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's also amazing how many stories can fit into more than one genre. If you look at the basic parts of what makes something high fantasy, Star Wars has all of them.

    *An epic struggle between good and evil
    *A young hero, or at least he starts out young or child-like, who often has a mysterious history or powers he didn't know he had, and is often an orphan (as far as he knows, anyway)
    *a evil threat or quest that causes him to leave his comfortable life
    *a mentor who helps him discover his abilities and reconnect with his long-lost family
    *a evil overlord, often a wizard (or Jedi)
    *In the end, good usually wins, the young character has grown up

    It's just set in a universe where faster-that-light space travel is possible.

    I got all this from the wikipedia page, and the best resource they cited was this:
    The Writer's Guide to Fantasy Literature: From Dragon's Lair to Hero's Quest
     
  21. bumboclaatjones
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    bumboclaatjones Member

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    The biggest problem I've always had with writing multi-species fantasy is this: How do you deal with the motivations and aspirations of another, totally alien and nonhuman race? How do you write for them? I couldn't write a story about someone from England and get their motivations right because I'm an American, and our cultural values are different, even though we both speak English and come from the same general cultural background (Anglo-Saxon). Now, to understand the motives of a totally alien race? I can't understand the Serbian motivations for killing ethnic Kosovars or Albanians, and those are just regular people, but I don't share any cultural ties with them. I've found that I have a hard time even writing believable White Americans, they all tend to become stereotypes. My suggestion is to keep your main characters human, and keep it from their point of view, if you're really that determined to have other races.
     
  22. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's possible to understand, if in no other way, in an academic sense. You just need to be open-minded, get as much information as you can, and be empathetic.
     
  23. bumboclaatjones
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    bumboclaatjones Member

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    to a small degree, I guess. I can sort of understand a Pashtun Taliban fighter in a somewhat academic sense, but as for being able to make one believable as a real main character, I really don't think I could.
    But what we're really discussing here is totally alien fantasy races, and I'm simply making the point that making the motivations and reasonings for a person from another culture real and believable is really difficult, and if you expand that to made-up fantasy races, then it is even harder. Yes, you can just make it up, but in my opinion it just tends to fall flat. I'm not saying that it cannot be done, I just think that it never seems believable. Most people seem to think that high fantasy necessitates other species. I think that good high fantasy keeps other species out of the picture for the most part and deals with real human interaction.
     
  24. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It certainly does not require them. Remember my example of Star Wars. That could have been pulled on with an all-human cast, even Yoda. He could have simply been a dwarf in the human sense, as in they have a medical condition that prevents growth.
     
  25. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Yeah, I know that. I'm including them, though, because I'm this for fun and for... well, to gain experience. Having many races and a fantastical flora and fauna will keep things interesting for me, I think it'll be more fun. :)
     

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