Creating Unique Races

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Windsong, May 16, 2015.

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  1. I can never quite figure out if this forum is the proper place to discuss this. So any staff feel free to correct me and move it. Sorry for any inconvenience.

    How does everyone handle creating a unique race for a setting? Do you find a template and build off of that? Make it all up from scratch? Are humanoids overdone, or a grand blank slate on which to build? Maybe take in reality to keep them believable?

    Lately I've been a part of a multi-world setting with a particularly delightful writer and the speed bump of keeping up with unique races has me a bit bogged down. Mind you I've few qualms about straight ripping fictional races from another setting for the sake of speed, but it feels a bit like cheating.

    Would also like to ask a bit of advice for a character and his particular race.

    I'll make it bullets just cause bullets.
    • Straight up appears human, though thicker in musculature and build.
    • Bones are equivalent of iron/stone from having evolved/grown on a high gravity world.
    • Muscle fibers are incredibly dense and capable of extreme strength at a high caloric cost and heating. The idea being human muscles can't perform at 100% efficiency because we may literally snap them if we could. Stronger bones = higher efficiency?
    • A sort of overgrowth begins at around middle age, making joints stiff at first before becoming solid. Think the disease the older folk had in Nausicaa. Not as rapid in sedentary individuals or women.
    Think that about covers him.
  2. As a biologist, I find creating unique races, either "sentient" or not, is quite the enjoyable experience. Can't tell you how many actual races I've created. It tends to be a big process of initial ideas that then get modified when I realize they wouldn't be physically or biologically feasible. Regardless, especially in fantasy settings, I'll often take liberties when it comes to realism. Can't always be completely realistic!

    As for my methods, it always starts as a simple idea; the basic framework or characteristic I want to work with. "A photosynthetic race." "A race that communicates only with song." It can be broad or pretty narrow, but it's always something in particular. Templates never really come into question with my processes, as my development is always at my own pace, and is progressed "as ideas hit me" so there's really no room for following a formula and just filling in the blanks. The characteristics I tend to think of get a little too specific for any template to reasonably have available to fill in.

    Before I can actually give you advice for your own idea, though, I need to know what level of realism you're looking for. As for why we don't operate at 100% efficiency... that's not true at all. We tear muscles and tendons long before we break our own bones from overexertion, meaning their structural integrity is too poor to even have a "100% efficiency" capable of breaking bone. The reason we aren't "stronger" is due to our metabolism, the density of our muscle, and the general fiber-type composition of the muscles. Certain fiber types are more suited to different kinds of physical exercise.

    If your race is living on a high-gravity world, more than likely (speaking strictly in terms of Earthly physiology) their primary fiber type will be Type I slow oxidative fibers, as they're much better at resisting fatigue than faster-twitch fibers. This in turn, however, will mean your race won't actually be particularly strong or fast. In fact they'd probably be quite lethargic speaking in strictly realistic terms. Slow, cumbersome, and metabolically slow organisms, if anything.
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  3. This is the last time I'm listening to my fitness and weight lifting freak friend for character advice..

    Thank you so much for the input on this. How I missed the whole high gravity = slow is beyond me considering the first thought was of the Elcor from Mass Effect which fit your description quite perfectly..
  4. Yep! Elcor are quadrupeds for exactly that reason as well. Compression on your organs and bones is bitch on high-gravity worlds. If you're on all four, it means you'll have fewer organs sitting on top of one another, and fewer bones will be pointed "down" (save for their limbs) and suffering from serious compression. That being said, a high-gravity world organism's bones will be moreso evolved to be highly resistant to compression, rather than very strong. If they're super strong, they'll just add that much more weight and make it that much harder for the organism to lift itself around.
  5. I´d throw it in world-building and start with environment. They can't be the strongest physical creatures in their environment, otherwise there'd be no need for natural selection by intelligence. They do on the other hand, have to be social creatures, probably living in groups. Other races don't have to be humanoid, but realise we developed our brain. Looking at human evolution is an excellent start. Developing tools is our greatest strength, which left unchecked pretty much installed us on top of the food chain. However we were forced to develop this trait because we lack the fangs and claws, thick hides, etc. to help us survive otherwise. Without our tools we're pretty much doomed. If we were giant indestructible praying mantis people that could stalk and kill all kinds of prey, why would we need to be smart?

    Unless you want a very primitive race, you're going to have to borrow some of that tool-reliance. That doesn't mean you can't have a different physiology. Dwarves are a good example. Dwarves live underground and in mountains. They're short and stocky, but also hard-working and stubborn. This all has to do with their environment. Mines are not a nice, easy place and having a smaller but stronger frame is good. Many gasses are an issue when mining, and generally being shorter whereas gasses tend to rise is a good thing. Being more compact makes it easier to take hits from falling debris as well. You'll still have nasty bruises but you're harder to buckle under it by losing your balance. Also, mining is hard work, so for people who are more flighty and have less willpower, it's a much harder task due to being more prone to give up. Lastly, a dwarf's greed and proud essentially both stem from their working attitude. If it costs them sweat they so willingly put in, they want something for it in return. Be that a physical or mental reward.

    You can do the same for other races. They don't have to be short, bearded humans, you can get more creative no sweat, but do understand the core. Creatures are shaped by their environment, as well as their interaction with it's conditions and other inhabitants.

    As for your spoiler, what's your question specifically?

    idk I typed this up while dead tired and after backspacing a ton of RP stuff. 'cause those are the best replies.
  6. When I want to make a race outside of the more common types (ie: elves, dwarves, orcs, half-animals, fairies, etc) I try to think of a premise that would lead to something different. The premise is usually something like an element, creature, or ability idea that I build the rest of the species around

    For example, if I decided to use night vision as a general starting premise, I'd probably start by deciding that my race has large eyes; possibly multiple eyes. They'd look different from human eyes too, I could google pictures of creatures like cats and owls to get an idea what they should look like. If night vision is their primary advantage they'd be nocturnal, probably pale looking, and built for sneaking about in the dark. These can give me more ideas until I have enough for a sketch.

    I like to draw my races, characters, maps, items, and all kinds of other worldbuilding stuff, too; as I fill in the blanks and details (literally) it helps me brainstorm. I make notes in the margins as I draw.

    NAMING a race is where I really struggle; I usually turn to generators D8
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  7. Well, now that the idea for that race has to be rebuilt from the ground up I'll have to figure out how it'd work.

    @Asuras , any comment on what kind of background could lead to those kind of traits in a race? High mineral content? I'm at a loss.

    The original idea was the world was loaded with water and much of the land was rocky and rough with just enough being arable, most sustenance coming from the turbulent seas. Lots of large storms as well.

    @Kestrel , I was just looking for a bit of help with regards to making the race a bit more believable was all. If that made sense. Hope you got some sleep too!
  8. Which ones?
  9. Stronger muscle fibers, stronger bones, etc?
  10. Those could potentially be developed due to ecological presences. Perhaps the race partakes partially in scavenging and simultaneously lives in trees. As they came across carcasses, they could descend and pick up the meat quickly before ground-based predators could attack them. Pulling this off would mean the race would need a strong muscoloskeletal system to prevent their tissues from tearing as they pulled the carcass up a tree. As for stronger bones, maybe that could be explained socially? Mayhaps the race is strongly adversarial to opposing troupes, and thus get into fist fights. Stronger bones means you live, and if the selection is strong enough, you'd be seeing an increase in bone strength to help facilitate living frequent fights.
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