Reinventing Fantasy Races and more world building ideas

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dreamscaper, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. Dreamscaper

    Dreamscaper Royal Hamster Wrangler

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    Not getting out much anymore so I'm trying to get everything down before it leaves my mind...

    If you were to create an entire new set of races, how would you go about doing it? I think if done that one should take their time in writing to explore a race before introducing more and thus creating a shock effect so that the universe doesn't just get too confusing. Other others that have tackled this successfully, how have they done it? What are the ones who did not manage to do so well do that caused their attempt to fail? My idea is to take national ideals from various nations at various places in time and modify them to fit together with one another including the adjustments for the environment, while taking them and fitting them in such a way as to not be obvious about their origins (ie. America, the great 'melting pot' of colors and races being the inspiration for a people who are a variety of great colors, more resembling a tropical bird in coloring than a human, kind of a silly concept but its a good starting point I think)

    What of fantasy that is set so far after a post-apocalyptic universe that it is no longer considered such? Examples of such work? (A transfer from a sci-fi universe to a fantasy one? Apocalyptic battle leaves survivors on a world who, after generations, completely regress to a medieval or antiquity lifestyle and manage to connect to the magical/spiritual forces present on the world and live in what is essentially a fantasy universe in the midst of a high technology science fiction one?)

    Are there examples of fantasy written by someone with an intimate knowledge of plants and thus featured plant based magic systems, plant based races, or other ideas that are born from an understanding of them rather than the general 'that green thing over there can move'? What worlds have been built literally 'from the ground up' with a keen focus on plants, light, insects, soil, planetary layers, volcanic activity, water table levels and bacterial agents? Is building a world in this manner worth doing or is it seem to be a waste of time? (Not that if it is it will stop me, I rather enjoy learning about biology and the natural world anyway.)

    I got a new job that can be done by a simpleton, but I can never stop asking why stuff is the way it is and not just focusing on the mind-numbing task at hand, hence the questions. Thoughts and feedback always appreciated!
     
  2. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    I immediately thought about Poison Ivy :p


    But seriously, I get your point. There is a lot of recycling in Fantasy, and very little innovation. People tend to stick to what they know. And there is a lot of character you don't have to build when using a dragon, an orc, an elf or a pixie. I do see a way out of this - in analysis. I might actually pick up on this. Every known fantasy creature has a specific set of attributes which make them recognisable; as well as a variable set of recurring attributes. When you would list these, there must be niches, gaps which are not being filled. There, your fantasy might cook up something to fit in neatly.

    Magic systems are quite interesting in their own. I think there's a lot which has already been used. But I don't quite think that it's been exhausted. For this, your fantasy is the only limitation. The only thing you need is a powerful notion :)
     
  3. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Your concept reminds me a little of the movie "Avatar" Dreamscaper where the premise was sci fi to us but very mythical/magical to the Na Vi (might have spelled that wrong) natives and eventually to some of the human characters in the story. I thought there was a very neat world built into that story.... very based in biology.

    As for plant-based magic systems and plant-based characters... that could be amazing for its originality. The challenge will be getting the reader to relate to such strange characters. People sometimes have trouble identifying with things that aren't very much like them and that means they find it hard to care for them or show compassion for them. Authors often "humanize" their animal and alien characters to make them more likeable and easier for a reader to relate to. Even Tolkein's Ents had faces, and they walked and talked for example. In contrast, villains sometimes come in extremely alien forms. I don't know how many sci fi books and movies I've seen where the villain(s) was/were insectoid: "Alien", "Starship Troopers" and Anne McCaffrey's the "Tower and the Hive" Series are examples. If you can blend the originality of truly plant-like characters with relatability (that may not even be a word... sorry: it's getting a little late :p), that would be awesome.
     
  4. Dreamscaper

    Dreamscaper Royal Hamster Wrangler

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    Been giving this all some thought, making a plant into a familiar character would be difficult. Maybe just making more magical settings where it is apparent that the area is alive would suffice? Not just "blah blah blah they passed through a random field then a random wood blah blah blah" type thing, but not necessarily a 'a tree is talking to me and chasing me' type deal? Happy medium, somewhere... Was thinking of making the druid archetype being able to read the impulses that plants have and determining things through that to plants that are out-and-out psychic to characters who are capable of understanding that medium.

    Never did see Avatar, might go rent it or something just to see if any ideas surface.

    I had a new idea, possibly a premise for a story itself or just a minor conflict between characters. Having a living planet, which is asleep, and the various forces of nature are battling themselves, continental and oceanic plates themselves trying to push each other down into the planet and gain dominance, tsunami vs volcano type stuff. Minor conflict being between the druid archetype characters (life which lives in the upper part of the crust) and the earth mage (earth itself, possibly viewing life as parasites to the planet?)
     
  5. Lodriraj

    Lodriraj New Member

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    It sounds like a tall order. Even Tolkien borrowed from mythology, yet created some new races like orcs.
     
  6. Dreamscaper

    Dreamscaper Royal Hamster Wrangler

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    Should keep me busy for awhile and I'll learn lots of new stuff in the mean time! The greater the hurdle, the greater the reward! Or something along those lines, lol.
     
  7. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    You could maybe use your Druid-type character as a sort of "interpreter" between the plants and the rest of the character and "humanize" the plants that way.... revealing they have emotions or ideas or concerns that the reader can relate to, in spite of the fact that they stay true to themselves as plants. Just a thought anyway...

    oooh... that sounds neat! :)
    and yes... if you're considering the "living planet" idea... you gotta see Avatar ;)
     
  8. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Nice one.

    I should say that Terry Pratchett already did a living planet of sorts. The question he tended to raise was how the planet (or, in his case, turtle) would procreate. Never would the term Big Bang Theory be quite the same, I can tell you that ;)
     
  9. Dreamscaper

    Dreamscaper Royal Hamster Wrangler

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    S.J. That definitely sounds like a good way to do it, will have to give it a shot.

    Turambar, this was a bit of a different story concept, but it may fit here. The idea that was life is similar (vaguely in reality, at least I think) in the macro as it is in the micro. You have systems orbiting systems forming other systems which in turn orbit or are orbited to for another system etc etc (electrons orbit the nucleus forming atoms which form molecules molecules that fit together to form planets which orbit stars to form a system which orbits the galactic center which forms the galaxy that potentially orbits its own gravitational center of a galactic cluster and superclusters which potentially do the same thing on a massive scale, etc etc. At which point the planet would be an electron of sorts, which wouldn't reproduce. But if you were to take the electrons being a 'cell' of sorts to the 'body' of a molecule, which forms the 'cells' to a single celled organism, or a single cell in a living organism which itself forms a 'cell' within the fabric of society and a part of the biosphere of the planet which is itself an 'electron cell' which is a part of the 'solar cell' which is part of a 'galactic cell'... etc etc, then the planet would simply reproduce via mitosis. Also adds in the 'prophetic scroll/wall of impending doom' element, potentially.
     
  10. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Have fun :)
     
  11. Dreamscaper

    Dreamscaper Royal Hamster Wrangler

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    I shall! If nothing else I will learn a lot, which makes me happy in itself.
     
  12. kwlanford

    kwlanford Active Member

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  13. Dreamscaper

    Dreamscaper Royal Hamster Wrangler

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    I haven't but I'll look it up.

    From my understanding going with the standard set of races makes a story familiar and lets the story shine by itself, but isn't terribly original in itself since it's been done to death. New creatures can work, its just a matter of presentation, doing too much at once or mentioning races without introducing them leads to a lot of confusion and can hide or muddle the story if they aren't introduced slowly. At least, that's my understanding from the previous discussions on it.
     
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