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Thread: Fantasy Races

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Fantasy Races

    I wasn't sure where to put this, so I came here.

    I'm looking for some fantasy-style races to populate a setting for a short story/mini-novel. The original incarnation went with the standard Tolkien-esque Humans, Dwarves, Orcs, and I'm pretty sure Elves came up too. I was going to rewrite, and thought that some more original races might be in order. So I was wondering: does anyone know of any other races from other fantasy settings I might could borrow or tweak? I know D&D generally uses the Tolkien-esque races as well, but are there others that are less well-known that'd work? Preferably not the half-human, half-animal hybrid type.

    I'm looking for, besides humans, at least one race to be the "uncivilized" barbarians living outside the kingdom that aren't necessarily evil, but live in a decentralized tribal society that comes into conflict with the kingdom (thing the Gauls or Germans of Roman times), and at least one civilized race that lives much as the humans do but not under the authority of the kingdom.

    The only fantasy novel I've read that really breaks away from Tolkien's pattern was the Macht series by Paul Kearney (spelling?). If anyone has any ideas, I'd greatly appreciate it.
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    Killer Angel's Avatar

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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    Quote Originally Posted by rs2excelsior View Post
    I wasn't sure where to put this, so I came here.

    I'm looking for some fantasy-style races to populate a setting for a short story/mini-novel. The original incarnation went with the standard Tolkien-esque Humans, Dwarves, Orcs, and I'm pretty sure Elves came up too. I was going to rewrite, and thought that some more original races might be in order. So I was wondering: does anyone know of any other races from other fantasy settings I might could borrow or tweak? I know D&D generally uses the Tolkien-esque races as well, but are there others that are less well-known that'd work? Preferably not the half-human, half-animal hybrid type.
    Alternatively, you can rewrite the races.
    For example, pick the elves, and makes them wildlings, with gaulish-style druids and natural drugs that makes them reach unnatural performances (to swim across a lake under the surface, and so on)
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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    Well if you want to do the Roman vs Germanic feel, why not just do that? Make a race of humans or humanoid-like being that live outside the kingdom. You can make them seem like an entire sub-race by making them 7ft tall warriors who are very viking like.

    This even gives you why they are not part of the kingdom. Would you send an army to to fight 7ft warriors who wield giant 2-handed axes? That and they would be very effective in forested or snow-tundra areas, where conventional armies don't do too well.

    Of course they don't have to be human, or even one race. You could have 2-3 races of rough savage barbarians who live in the dangerous north. They just have to be terrifying warriors and hate any authority outside of their village. (And that sums up the Germanic peoples of 1 A.D.)

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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    I'm with Drumbum42--why not just have humans? Any fantasy race you're likely to come up with would probably end up just being odd-looking elves, dwarves etc. anyway, and humans come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. (Pretty sure I read a fantasy novel once where the thing that signified you were a member of the Big Evil Race was that you had blue eyes and black hair...).

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    That works, too, especially considering magic isn't prevalent in this world which further separates it from classic fantasy settings--it exists, but it is blamed for the fall of the empire centuries ago.

    Super-Viking-people (and other various people) would certainly work. Thanks for the input.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    The only two fantasy races that really follow the Tolkien mold any more are elves and dwarves. Hobbits/halflings kind of do, but they are in general pretty rare. Orcs and goblins now are a lot more like Warhammer defines them then like Tolkien did. Same with trolls.
    The problem with trying to rewrite elves or dwarves is that they are too well defined that people come in with their own definition before you get started and if you do them differently they just feel wrong.
    Terry Pratchett managed to do it but he had his universe well established before ever introducing elves and the dwarves were always there but he slowly changed them over many books. In fact he does a great job of taking well known races and tweaking them just enough that they are recognizable while still being interesting and almost unique to his setting.

    There are a lot of other relatively common, but not well defined races; centaurs, minotaurs, snake/cat/dog/lizard people all come to mind and they can all be defined almost anyway you choose. With the latter you just have to make sure they are defined as culturally unique and they are their own evolutionary track, not that they are half-breeds. The important part there is that they are like something other then humans (anthropomorphic works, but is a lot more common). Although that can be a bit tricky because humans easily run the gamut of cultures and actions. They can be smart, but if they don't have opposable thumbs they aren't likely to be building buildings or making armor and weapons.

    Humans always work too.
    With most of those though it is all in defining the culture, beyond that it is mostly aesthetics. And almost any race can have any culture you choose and that is the most important part.

    About the only thing there is the culture needs to match the creature, while centaurs might be one with nature they aren't going to be living in trees. While they might be great craftsman, given their size and how they are likely to fight and the types of tasks they would be good at they aren't likely to be building underground fortresses like dwarves are traditionally known to.

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    RedKnightGirl

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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    Be subversive and give humans a "Not the Main Race for the 1-Billionth Time in the Genre" role. Make 'em be the decentralized "savages" the more Imperial Rome-styled elves have to deal with. Have Goblins as the functional, non-Evil trade-neighbors. Have Dwarves be mad inventors getting ideas for fantastic murder-machines (which they sell to Elves instead of using themselves) from fiendish backers (there's even an underloved extant demon for this, the little-known Belphegor who could be their patron). Orcs could be living alongside the humans, as they were welcoming of the humans as they were pushed out of their warmer territory (into the colder climates that your Orcs are happy to share with others who don't want to kill them) by the militant, expansionist, xenophobic elves.

    Or something else. Do something original, because Tolkein worship's been done ta death.

    I don't know why shaking up conventions is never considered. Yes, we're all humans, but in space operas/fantasy settings/what-have-you humans are always the species WITHOUT a hat (which itself is a hat, but that's beside the point).

    I hope I don't sound too harsh there. .-.

    Anyways, if it helps to align things;

    Elves: Lawful Evil
    Humans: Neutral Good (with a chaotic lean)
    Dwarves: Neutral Evil
    Goblins: Lawful Neutral (with a good lean)
    Orcs: Neutral Good (with a lawful lean)

    See? Subversively original, free of charge.
    Last edited by PlusSixPelican; 2013-08-10 at 08:11 AM. Reason: clarity
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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    I had actually considered a different story with an Elven empire modeled (loosely) on Persia, in which the Elves are the ruling class, humans live in a subservient role, and the dwarves retreated to the mountains on the borders and have little contact with the Empire. It was going to focus on an Elven general who was at best a medium-dark grey (on a black-white morality scale) trying to seize the throne himself after the king was assassinated.
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    RedKnightGirl

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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    Quote Originally Posted by rs2excelsior View Post
    I had actually considered a different story with an Elven empire modeled (loosely) on Persia, in which the Elves are the ruling class, humans live in a subservient role, and the dwarves retreated to the mountains on the borders and have little contact with the Empire. It was going to focus on an Elven general who was at best a medium-dark grey (on a black-white morality scale) trying to seize the throne himself after the king was assassinated.
    So clooooose.

    Make the Fantasy-Counterpart-Romans evil. Honestly, they (Romans) were kinda evil, especially from the perspective of the rest of Europe. Subvert expecations!

    If you stick to conventions, you're just writing more derived work, and tha's closer to bad fanfiction than actually bein' interesting. .-.
    Last edited by PlusSixPelican; 2013-08-10 at 07:44 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rezkeshdadesh View Post
    Why would someone want to kill catgirls?
    Quote Originally Posted by PlusSixPelican View Post
    Because they're mean butts jealous of how purrrrfect we are.
    Save the Catgirls: Save the World.

    ~~~
    Quote Originally Posted by Worira View Post
    Making sure you do all your puppy-kicking in a country with a puppy-kicking loophole in their legal system doesn't make you any less of a puppy-kicker.

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    Depends on how well it's done :)

    Quote Originally Posted by PlusSixPelican View Post
    Honestly, they (Romans) were kinda evil, especially from the perspective of the rest of Europe.
    Got a point there. Although the Romans were quite a bit nicer to conquered peoples than other ancient empires. Not saying a whole lot, admittedly, and they still weren't anywhere near nice by modern standards (and may whatever gods you pray to help you if you resist after Rome has conquered you).
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    RedKnightGirl

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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    Quote Originally Posted by rs2excelsior View Post
    Depends on how well it's done :)
    Not anymore. Fantasy is CLOGGED with the "standard fantasy setting". CLOGGED, ah tell you!

    And don't defend Imperial Rome. .-. There aren't even Romans left, you don't need to appease ghosts. They were mean. Civility just means they were a bit more Lawful about their Evil than the other expansionist regimes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rezkeshdadesh View Post
    Why would someone want to kill catgirls?
    Quote Originally Posted by PlusSixPelican View Post
    Because they're mean butts jealous of how purrrrfect we are.
    Save the Catgirls: Save the World.

    ~~~
    Quote Originally Posted by Worira View Post
    Making sure you do all your puppy-kicking in a country with a puppy-kicking loophole in their legal system doesn't make you any less of a puppy-kicker.

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    I'm not defending Rome. I never said they were nice people. Normally a conquered people lived as second-class citizens, always a long step behind even the peasants of the conquering empire. Rome offered conquered nations a chance to become Roman citizens. Especially later in the Empire, many if not most of the soldiers were "barbarians," not actual Romans. Of course, Rome still practiced slavery, still conquered independent nations, still engaged in blood sports. It was a brutal regime, but no more so than others of the day.
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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    Why make anyone evil at all? Evil is rare in the extreme in the real world; even people who practised human sacrifice had their own - in their minds, very good - reasons for it.
    Have culture clashes, sure, but I find cultural subjectivity to be far more interesting than the imposition of modern westernised morality on peoples with very different contexts and pressures and subsequent solutions.
    Last edited by Serpentine; 2013-08-11 at 09:58 AM.

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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    I Think you want the Role Playing Games subforum for this. Unless you're requesting pictures or the like of the races, then world building really belongs over there.

    As people have stated, sometimes it's a refresher to not have humans the main centralized race of a campaign, but if you're trying to recreate a historical feel to the novel, perhaps consider that the "savages" and the "Romans" could be members of the same race. Two peoples of the same race, whether that be human, elf, orc, goblin, etc, raised in different cultures under different religious beliefs will behave very differently. For once, perhaps a fantasy setting needs a war between two differing groups of humans, rather than a war between orcs and humans.

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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    Or between orcs and orcs... Orcs v. orcs being the defining conflict of the land and human tribes being caught in the middle.

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Fantasy Races

    Quote Originally Posted by Cealocanth View Post
    I Think you want the Role Playing Games subforum for this. Unless you're requesting pictures or the like of the races, then world building really belongs over there.
    I originally put this in "Friendly Banter," it got moved here.

    And the whole "civilized people and barbarians being the same race" thing sounds good. I may go with a feel more like Greek mythology rather than Tolkien-esque or D&D; there are sentient non-humans but they're relatively rare.
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