1. Simon Price

    Simon Price Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2017
    Messages:
    131
    Likes Received:
    59

    Need help fleshing out the concept and appeal of my setting's fourth new race

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Simon Price, Jul 19, 2017.

    Hey, I was wondering if I could get some help brainstorming the fourth new race of my story, because I know I want there to be five races including humans and I want to know for certain what all of them are so I can plan ahead a general outline for what the world will look like after a few decades, but I'm drawing blanks as to what I want the fourth nonhuman race to be.

    The way the races work in my story is similar to Shadowrun, in that all of these people used to be human before the supernatural shenanigans around modern day (2012 to be precise in Shadowrun) caused these new races to appear. However, while these changes were forced upon the characters of Shadowrun, here they are voluntary.

    Forgive me, there's something of a wall of text incoming, because the way races work in this story is a little weird and roundabout.

    This is an urban fantasy story about our modern world after a mysterious entity starts to, week by week, give humanity supernatural powers marked on a brand covering their inner forearm. It's a story of how we adjust to this, the numerous social, economic and political problems it causes, and four college students and their effort to adapt to a world that's rapidly becoming nothing like they thought they were going to have to deal with when they grew up.

    Every week, everyone on earth over the age of 13 (the age the brand appears) has a new symbol representing a new power added to the brand. There are six "circles" for powers on the brand, the powers in each circle can be moved around if you focus your mind on it while looking at the brand, and when they hit six the new power replaces whichever power was in the top circle. There are also four powers that were handed out to everyone who was over 13 in the first month after this started, and these four cannot be removed.

    Okay, so, basically the way races work in this world is that early on, some powers start "dropping" that grant people the ability to shift to a completely genetically randomized body that's a member of one of these new races. The idea is that for various reasons, a lot of people decide they prefer these new bodies over their old human ones and decide to adopt these bodies full time by discarding the power, which turns out to not turn them back but lock them in whatever form they were in when they gave it up, thereby letting them keep the body they prefer without losing a brand circle.

    The first race are the Peritails, who are basically my story's elf counterpart in that they're the most human-like aside from some minor features, specifically antennae for ears, long slender tails ending in a hand with a centered opposable thumb, and skin and hair colors ranging on the spectrum between red and blue and the purples in-between. Most of the people who choose to become this race fully are people who for whatever reason lost the human genetic lottery but won the Peritail one. People who find they were given way more attractive or otherwise viable Peritail bodies than human ones. Most noteworthy is the fact that, for completely unknown reasons, every transgender person on Earth, and no one else, was given a body that was the opposite of their biological sex rather than matching it, meaning that transgender people now have a real, natural, can-have-children body whose sex they actually identify as. While the theories on why the entity(s) responsible for the powers did this range from the benevolent to the cynical, what's important is the result, because I really want to throw these people a bone. You see, I soon realized to my horror that the healing factor power I need for the story would have horrifying side-effects on the transgender community that I simply can't avoid if I want the power to work the way I want it to. But anyway, basically these are the people who pioneer the concept of going full transhuman because why on Earth, in this dangerous time, would they waste a "power slot" to keep access to a body they don't even like?

    Next come the Wraiths, a race whose appeal lies in sheer utility. As I explained in my other thread (TL;DR, one of the powers creates a situation where most of modern technology can be made to work but vehicles are very limited and easily sabotaged just by looking at them), speedy transportation becomes important, and these guys are basically kinda like centaurs except they're sleek and jet black all over and instead of having a horse's lower half they have a giant chitinous insect abdomen capable of levitating a foot or so off the ground and propelling itself around at high speeds that are almost comparable to cars (though with low traction). Due to their bizarre and creepy appearance a lot of people are reluctant to become these things full time, but some people make the sacrifice of turning into them full time if their livelihood depends on the extra power space, or if they're soldiers who want to make use of the race's significant combat utility (imagine, in a world without guns or tanks, horseback archery with a completely smooth ride. That's what they can do, among countless other things). And then there are those who embrace the creepy, intimidating appearance of it and become them full time for the sake of it.

    Third, the last one I have a solid idea of, are the Greys, which are basically vampires with all of the weird kryptonites and supernatural powers taken out of the picture. A lot of people put two and two together and realize that their seeming undeath, translating to a lack of a need to breathe or even keep their bodies warm or cool, combined with some inherent pressure resistance, means that these "vampires" are actually perfectly at home in the ocean (where the sunlight can't even reach or burn them), resulting in a lot of people suddenly getting the idea to take these forms and try and colonize the vast unclaimed territory of the ocean and build their own sovereign states there, attracting a lot of people who want to try out bizarre, obscure or previously-failed political systems. Unfortunately, a lot of these societies don't work and their breakdown over the following decade or two results in the seas being full of what are basically amphibious vampire pirates, which complicates sea travel immensely once they start using ships again.

    As for the fourth one, well the only real idea I have is that the idea of a flying race appeals to me, but...

    ...What you may have noticed is that what I'm trying to do with this is give these races, with the partial exception of the Peritails, a sort of artificial built-in culture by having the fact that they're voluntary cause their traits and specialties to attract and discourage specific types of people, so that even after a timeskip in a later book to after the first generation of naturally-born members of these races reaches adulthood, they'll already have their own distinct cultures, trends and stereotypes in a lot of places almost as if they had been around for centuries. And I have this feeling that if I give the last one such a universal appeal as flight then I wouldn't be able to do that with them. I can't think of a good combination of traits or weaknesses to accompany wings that would attract a distinct and interesting group of people.

    So if you're still with me, first off, thank you, and secondly, here's where you come in: can you help me think of any features or traits I could combine with wings to give the "first adopters" of this race a distinct culture to them that would make for interesting stories? Or if you have any random thoughts for other ways I could go with this race, or even any input on the first three as I described them, I'm all ears.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
  2. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    3,414
    Likes Received:
    2,920
    That is a lot like how my own UrFan world works :) Humans are the only sapient species who evolved naturally, every other sapient species is the result of shapeshifting mages experimenting with new forms, and everybody in my world who knows about magic and non-humans knows that every non-human was descended from humans.

    Watsonian and Doylist. I like :)

    ... I need to rethink the implications of healing magic in my own work :ohno:

    If you're doing this because you want to make a statement about human dignity, then I'd quibble about some of the terminology you're using, but for the most part, I approve :D

    I probably would too :p

    They'd have to be pretty good at sign language if they're planning on communicating underwater ;)

    Would anything metal have to be imported from the surface, or do they have magical means of manufacturing it underwater?

    Are they only able to feed off humans, or would any meat work?

    Makes sense.

    Flight is easier with less weight to carry.

    Hollow bones are lighter than the alternative.

    Hollow bones break more easily.

    Maybe the main appeal of this form would be that of the Fragile Speedster: high speed, but low strength and durability (like the psoglavs in my own work)?

    Youtuber Shadiversity has a series about what medieval weaponry the classic mythical races would use, and I think his new episode about merfolk might appeal for your underwater Greys ;)

    The highlight for me was that merfolk live in an environment that humans cannot, so all they would have to do is impale a human with a grappling hook, yank him off the boat, and hold him until he drowns.

    In other words: fishing us :twisted:
     
  3. Simon Price

    Simon Price Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2017
    Messages:
    131
    Likes Received:
    59
    I get where you're coming from, and the main characters do have a policy ranging from "warm approval" to "politely electing to not give a shit" regarding what people do with their bodies, but the thing is that since there's very little functional difference between humans and Peritails, for a lot of people the Peritail race is kind of a fashion statement. While it does attract a lot of people, particularly the trans community, who just want a second shot at feeling accepted and comfortable in their own bodies, there is also unmistakably a certain shallowness that runs through the Peritail community in that it also attracts the vain or foolish sorts of people who would throw away a perfectly good body in exchange for a new, untested one that basically just looks better.

    I've actually already thought of that! I knew I didn't want to let them talk underwater because they weren't specifically designed for it, it's just a really cool unintended side-effect of their biology, so the idea I had was that one of the main characters, a really good swimmer and archer, has a deaf best friend on her college swim team whose deafness is healed when everyone gets the healing factor, but since they had both grown up using sign language, I can bring that back when I introduce the Greys to let them have an underwater adventure together.

    Here's the thing: They eat normal food and they don't appear to need to drink blood at all, but I'm thinking that's only because of overlap with a power they're taking for granted, a power that they can't pass down to their children, so I'm thinking the first naturally-born generation of Greys is in for a rude awakening that'll signal the collapse of the great Grey underwater political experiment and give way to the age of vampirates.

    Ah, yes, I've thought of hollow bones, I knew I wanted that to be a drawback, but I was thinking more of a drawback that would perhaps scare away all but a certain group of flight-enthusiastic people. Then again, flight is probably really dangerous even with their healing factors and minor super strength, so perhaps it attracts a generation of thrill-seeking daredevils who ironically act like they're invincible despite having hollow bones?

    Yes, I'm a huge fan of that series! That's actually what inspired the Wraiths, the idea of combining the stuff he said about centaurs with the idea of trading even more of their lost agility over rough terrain for totally smooth rides allowing for killer "horseback" archery.

    And yeah, the grappling hook thing? I'm thinking I might do that, or a similarly functional power, especially since it would basically turn them into aquatic sea monsters who rise from the sea at night to rob cargo ships. That would be terrifying.
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  4. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    3,414
    Likes Received:
    2,920
    I would say that going from "biologically uncomfortable" to "biologically comfortable" is a pretty strong functional difference in those cases ;)

    Makes sense :rolleyes:

    Awesome!

    ... I love it :twisted:

    Here's a thought: how long would it take somebody to get used to using their wings to fly?

    Perhaps the most immature daredevils would lose patience after a few weeks of not being able to do more than the equivalent of toddling?

    Awesome again :D

    So much :p
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice