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 Post subject: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:45 pm 
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Hey gang! Just wanted to share some observations and thoughts about the types of creatures you generally see in fantasy books.

It strikes me as very ironic that fantasy authors will go to great lengths to create strange, magical creatures to make their worlds seem more fantastic and exotic but when it comes time to work on the "normal" animals they demonstrate a shocking lack of originality. Almost every fantasy author uses the same basic animals as the normal fauna of their worlds: deer, wolves, rabbits, bears, foxes, squirrels, snakes etc. All of these are animals common to western Europe and North America. C. S. Lewis broke from this pattern a bit by throwing some exotic animals such as apes, cheetahs, and lions into Narnia, but even then the Talking Beasts that usually played the biggest roles were ones familiar to Western Society. If you really want some creative creatures, why not look and see what the Pro has already done and borrow some of them? I'm not demeaning the use of magical creatures in fantasy, I'm just saying that it's more than plausible that a world in which Dragons and Behemoths and Dufflepuds roam freely would have a greater variety of species than just what most Americans are familiar with. Wouldn't it be great fun to have your hero look up from the road he's traveling and see a sugar glider coasting over his head or for the villain to have a pet howler monkey? :D It just seems to me that if God gave us such a great variety of wildlife in our world, it's a bit silly that all fantasy books only use the same few species. I mean obviously, we're writing novels and not biological profiles, but still, there are other large mammals that live in forests and are good for food besides deer.

Another thought is about demystifying fantastic critters. I understand that in a lot of cases the fantastical creatures are rare, but for those that aren't why do the people that live around them still act like they are. For instance, if your world has a creature with the body of a horse, legs of a lion, and head of a tiger, would horses really have been domesticated as pack animals and mounts? I know, that may seem less fantastic and exotic to some, but I think that horse/lion/tiger-riders are a lot more fantasy feeling than a regular cavalry. What if one of your races suddenly discovered that your non-race dragons were really tasty? Would the deer population be able to sleep in safety? :D

I know there was something else I wanted to add, but I've had this post open for hours and I can't remember what it is, so I'm just going to post it and hope I remember the last thought later. Hope this helps! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:13 pm 
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That was really interesting, Seer! Thank you! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:41 am 
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Very interesting, Seer!

Probably one thing to think about when it comes to adding in more exotic animals is the climate, though. You don't find monkeys running around in the forests of the U.S., after all. ;) But I very much like the idea of having a greater variety of creatures, and your point about "demystifying" the fantastic creatures is excellent.

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:26 am 
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The thing is that there are exotic creatures from similar climates. There are temperate forests in Asia as well at about the same latitudes as some of our forests. So wildlife from there would probably be able to survive here. But seriously, pulling from the variety of critters in our own country would still be doing better than most.

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:16 am 
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Very interesting.

*leaves thread mulling over topic in mind*

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:01 pm 
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Seer wrote:
The thing is that there are exotic creatures from similar climates. There are temperate forests in Asia as well at about the same latitudes as some of our forests. So wildlife from there would probably be able to survive here. But seriously, pulling from the variety of critters in our own country would still be doing better than most.

That makes sense. Good point. :D

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You have blue skin with orange polka dots. Four eyes, one red, one yellow, one green, and one blue. You have four arms, two are furry and two are scaly. One ear is a floppy dog's ear and the other is a pointy dog's ear. Your hair is a mess of tentacles. You have the body of a centaur, with four wings and two tails (both with feathers on the end). Two wings are pink. The other two are green and black, respectively. You have a row of sharp spines going down your back (very sharp). You also hiccup rainbow bubbles... ~Vili
So, now you all know what I look like.

We're creating a HW RPG! Come check it out!


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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:07 pm 
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I am now very glad that I decided to keep the secretary birds of the western plains :D

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:07 pm 
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This is very interesting, very interesting indeed. :) Thanks for your thought-provoking posts, Seer.

I would like to point out that I feel somewhat justified in using horses as means of transport. Horses are (or were) the worldwide choice for carrying humans. When you look at beasts of burdens, I can only think of camels that otherwise commonly carry humans. Plus, horses are fast thus good for traveling.

However, your point is well-taken. Perhaps we could take ordinary animals like monkeys, etc and give them unique cobha to our world :)

eru

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:50 pm 
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eruheran wrote:
I would like to point out that I feel somewhat justified in using horses as means of transport. Horses are (or were) the worldwide choice for carrying humans. When you look at beasts of burdens, I can only think of camels that otherwise commonly carry humans. Plus, horses are fast thus good for traveling.


Alpacas and llamas? :rofl: But good point. Still, this *is* fantasy we're talking about, so I think it would be pretty easy to dream up an animal different from horses that can carry humans and are fast.

Seer, that was definitely a thought-provoking post. Animals like pandas would survive pretty well in a modified temperate climate. Which makes me consider how I can change my bear-like gorra to be more panda-like... :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:05 pm 
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A very thought-provoking post! I haven't yet decided what sort of animals are in my world (though I need to) but this has given me some cool ideas of what to put in it. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2015 5:36 am 
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Many fantasy stories have people riding lizards, dragons, wolves, and catamounts. Having some with apes and monkeys would be interesting.

Another way to diversify is to change up the roles between fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, and mammal. Granted, fish is harder to do unless you work with sea people, but instead of mice, why not have a kind of starling hopping through the walls and sneaking into the house to eat your grain and build nests. People could ride giant toads, watch out for burrowing stingrays as they cross the field, have bats come out at night that look like winged chameleons rather than winged mice, or have groundhogs that change color to stay hidden as the move about.

A fun one I plan on doing is having all mammals, birds, and fish be gryphon or mer type creatures, always a mix between at least two of those kinds. Woodpecker squirrels, hummingbird mice, and jay foxes. :D

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Get a feel for the land. Visit Lor-Amar today!

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 2:30 am 
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Rinja wrote:
watch out for burrowing stingrays as they cross the field,
I love this. :rofl: :D

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 11:14 pm 
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I'm addressing this by going a few steps backwards through the fossil chain, drawing from long extinct creatures and either using them directly or an unmodified version. Part of that is because I'm not aiming for a super-fantastical world. It's supposed to be relatively familiar since it's an off-set alternate universe of our world. It makes things really different to think about how humans would respond and culture would change because of these creatures.

For example, I have the titanaboa living in some of my swamps. It's an extinct 50 plus foot long snake that's between 4 and 5 feet wide. It can eat humans and sharks. Not something you usually see in a fantasy novel, but it existed in real life. It adds a good twist without having to mix any creatures together.

Or, reality is weirder and scarier than fantasy. Giant sloths, you know.

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:22 pm 
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Now that is thought provoking, why not have giraffes and other such animals? I see your point. In Meridia I used a Burmathon a giant snake big enough to eat a human! Im sure they no longer exist a fiberglass replica was on display at a nature museum in Washington DC. I also used Spidras (spi-dra) short I. Giant spiders that release toxic fumes to paralyze and disorient their prey. I used giant scorpions much like the ones in Merlin and I used a Kirin. And I created the Swyrvel a Snake like creature with bat wings face and ears. The bite of one can cause torment anxiety regrets of the past etc.... eventually causing their victims to die from all of it.

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:25 pm 
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Varon wrote:
I'm addressing this by going a few steps backwards through the fossil chain, drawing from long extinct creatures and either using them directly or an unmodified version. Part of that is because I'm not aiming for a super-fantastical world. It's supposed to be relatively familiar since it's an off-set alternate universe of our world. It makes things really different to think about how humans would respond and culture would change because of these creatures.

For example, I have the titanaboa living in some of my swamps. It's an extinct 50 plus foot long snake that's between 4 and 5 feet wide. It can eat humans and sharks. Not something you usually see in a fantasy novel, but it existed in real life. It adds a good twist without having to mix any creatures together.

Or, reality is weirder and scarier than fantasy. Giant sloths, you know.




Titanaboa is the snake I used but gave it a different name :)

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:41 pm 
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Can I claim the giant toads? :wave:

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Whatever. CARPE NOCTEM!

GUYS IMMA PUBLISHED AUTHOR *CLICK ME*
Lady Kitra Skene wrote:
Hitler and flamingos will always remind me of Abi.
Kya Lightwing wrote:
I think "IDK ask Gael she'd know" is the story of everyone's life... :D
The Dark Golden Dreamer wrote:
You kill people, Gael. D: How can I not die over that?
Sometimes I wonder about the reputation I have here....:rofl:


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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:54 pm 
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All yours. ;)

They would be excellent to ride into battle, because if frogs are prodded in their front ends too much, they bite the thing that is doing the prodding. :D

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All resemblance to persons, people, friends, relatives, quotes, cultures, artificial intelligences, inside jokes, pets, unclaimed personalities, sentient objects, extra-terrestrials, inter-terrestrials, and draperies living, dead, undead, or comatose in any of my work are purely coincidental, incidental, circumstantial, inadvertent, unplanned, unforeseen, and unintentional. There's seriously no way I was referring to you. Honest.

The story so far:
Birthright: Eleventh chapter pending. 28280 words.
Heritage: First chapter drafted.
Legacy: Character and plot development stage.
Get a feel for the land. Visit Lor-Amar today!

Other novels on the brain:
Quicksilver
Shen'oh Story
Crusoe's Star
War Blazer
Seven Arts Story
The Queen's Knave
Polarians
Exile Realms
All Librarians Are Secret Agents


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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:56 pm 
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Lady Kitra Skene wrote:
All yours. ;)

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Whatever. CARPE NOCTEM!

GUYS IMMA PUBLISHED AUTHOR *CLICK ME*
Lady Kitra Skene wrote:
Hitler and flamingos will always remind me of Abi.
Kya Lightwing wrote:
I think "IDK ask Gael she'd know" is the story of everyone's life... :D
The Dark Golden Dreamer wrote:
You kill people, Gael. D: How can I not die over that?
Sometimes I wonder about the reputation I have here....:rofl:


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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2015 1:45 pm 
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:0 :shock: Giant Frogs!? Cool! :dieshappy:

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 Post subject: Re: Critter Creativity
PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2015 4:29 am 
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Brandon Sanderson's epic fantasy series The Stormlight Archive is a nice example of an author being creative with the types of animals on his world. The planet where the SA is set, Roshar, regularly experiences extremely violent storms called highstorms. As a result, most animals are more like crustaceans than mammals, with shells that can protect them from highstorms. So people have giant shell creatures pulling carts, little shelled creatures for pets, etc.

There's a hilarious scene in one book where a native Roshari protagonist is talking with a worldhopper who is originally from another planet:

Quote:
"A bunny rabbit and a chick went frolicking in the grass together on a sunny day."
"A chick...baby chicken?" [the Roshari] said. "And a what?"
"Ah, forgot myself for a minute," [the worldhopper] said. "Sorry. Let me make it more appropriate for you. A piece of wet slime and a disgusting crab thing with seventeen legs slunk across the rocks together on an insufferably rainy day. Is that better?"

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