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  1. #21
    Member Rojack79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    Saving the world is always a compelling reason

    Origin location of the myth is a good place to start, but you don't *have* to stick with it or even necessarily research it. It's just an idea to shove 'em in a location.

    Figuring out what weaknesses and limits a given monster has might give you some inspiration for how to use them and where to stick them.

    You might also try tying regional monsters in with their human neighbors--by trade, religion, culture. For instance, maybe yetis are able to interact with the spirits of their dead, and this is why they're hesitant to live anywhere else (because they can't give up their past). Eastern religions, like Shinto, might have borrowed some of their religious aspects from the yetis around ancestor ties and worship. Maybe male yetis are mostly white and female yetis are mostly black, and this led in part to the yin-yang concepts of balance and duality. There is sooooo much room to play with.

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  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rojack79 View Post
    Man I probably just have to boil my ideas down to there basic necessities and go from there. .
    That's really the essence...none of this needs to be explicitly explained in your story but however you want to build your world is the framework.
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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    We seem to be agreeing about pretty much everything and just quibbling over terminology. Maybe I'm reading this wrong.
    Agreed. I just like a good exchange of ideas. However, as writers, I tend to think terminology is important.

    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    Maybe your school of biology uses "race" differently, but I don't believe I've heard anybody in the life sciences community (as opposed to social sciences) use it referring to anything but humans
    From Merriam-Webster. Race, 2nd definition, noun, use #3
    a : an actually or potentially interbreeding group within a species
    also : a taxonomic category (such as a subspecies) representing such a group
    b : BREED

    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    (and even then, it's largely discredited as a concept and only used as a shorthand to describe ethnic traits)
    100% agreed. Ethnic phenotypes are just that, variations on a common human theme.

    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    The term "tool" gets redefined by seemingly everyone in every field.
    Not sure that's fully accurate but my view is that any time an animal makes use of any object not a part of its body to perform a task, that's tool use. I am drawing a distinction in terms of tool making, however. Selecting a reed or stick and stripped away excess is not manufacture, it's modification. Those two words are very distant in terms of the intellectual ability needed to perform them.

    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    but as usual, there's a human taking a metaphorical crap on the barest notion that an animal could possibly make and use a tool.
    Not me, mate. I absolutely believe that animal intelligence is far greater than we realise because humans have a serious issue recognising any intelligence different than their own. That's the real issue, honestly, is that the way of thinking is entirely different between a chimp, a lizard, and a human. It's a contextual experiential thing that there exists no translation for. Birds, as you mention, have shown incredible problem-solving skills.

    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    Interestingly, gorillas have been known to make bridges and a few other structures/tools,
    Well, not exactly the Golden Gate...

    "A second example was also captured on film, when Efi, a gorilla from another group, used a stick to lean on for support while she foraged for food with her free hand. She then used the same stick as a bridge to help her cross a patch of swampy ground, says Breuer." SOURCE HERE

    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    I'd rather err on the side of animals being more intelligent than we give them credit for than deny them intelligence they have-
    I agree. However, I was using the rather large gap in tool-making ability between other primates and humans as context in my earlier comments. As in I don't see Gorillas making tools to the level that would allow them to adapt to new environments. In no way do I wish to take away from what many species are able to do. Some scientists have stated, with convincing evidence, that Chimpanzees have entered the stone age based on their use of tools.

    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    I think authors too often get stuck in the habit of making monstrous races/aliens/peoples stick to a "habitat" that probably shouldn't confine them.
    ...
    and I can only suppose it's just because strict mono-culture ghettos are tidy and easy to write
    Not quite my point. In no way was I saying that, for example, this stretch of woods belongs to hobgoblins and the next to forest trolls. But a monster without the ability to adapt to new environment would by necessity live in that environment. As you said, things that need to breathe air are rarely found happily floating in space. Water monsters cruising around land isn't going to...well...hold water.

    Let's look at dragons. In most mythologies dragons keep relatively to themselves in caves or other dens, often on mountains. This does not mean dragons can not be found in the lowlands but they are unlikely to live in heavily wooded areas that would limit take off/landing, for example, or areas without a lot of game within their reach. In the mountains dragons can feed on goats and other animals or visit the local village in the valley for a few sheep or firstborn humans. Would we see a dragon in a desert? In fiction anything is possible of course but it strains the underlying logic of the world to think that a large, winged creature would be able to survive in an, effectively, flat and featureless are with very few prey species.

    I suppose if I had to sum up my meaning it would be to make the environment fir the creatures you put in it.
    Last edited by velo; July 11th, 2019 at 02:32 AM.
    My blog- Hidden Content thoughts on trauma and healing through psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy

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  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by velo View Post
    Not quite my point. In no way was I saying that, for example, this stretch of woods belongs to hobgoblins and the next to forest trolls. But a monster without the ability to adapt to new environment would by necessity live in that environment. As you said, things that need to breathe air are rarely found happily floating in space. Water monsters cruising around land isn't going to...well...hold water.

    Let's look at dragons. In most mythologies dragons keep relatively to themselves in caves or other dens, often on mountains. This does not mean dragons can not be found in the lowlands but they are unlikely to live in heavily wooded areas that would limit take off/landing, for example, or areas without a lot of game within their reach. In the mountains dragons can feed on goats and other animals or visit the local village in the valley for a few sheep or firstborn humans. Would we see a dragon in a desert? In fiction anything is possible of course but it strains the underlying logic of the world to think that a large, winged creature would be able to survive in an, effectively, flat and featureless are with very few prey species.

    I suppose if I had to sum up my meaning it would be to make the environment fir the creatures you put in it.
    Ah, but see, this is where I think you miss something...

    From the point of view of a scientist (or somebody who studies cryptids, in this case) you would be dead on. But as writers who can do what we want, picking an environment that naturally fits a fantasy creature actually seems like a bad idea. Writers must subvert expectations. Must innovate to find the flickers of originality. That is especially vital if we are talking about done-to-death monsters like dragons.

    The fact dragons dont typically inhabit forests is all the more reason to figure out how to put them there. We can create forest dragons. Why can’t we? The creature must obviously be modified, yes: A dragon that was no bigger than a cow could live in a forest no problem (large birds live in forests), their design and behavior and entire identity would have to make sense. It’s not easy to do, but it’s possible.

    A story I just wrote and submitted includes a gigantic, prehistoric monster (not unlike Loch Ness but more fishlike) that literally swims through outer space. It’s absurd when I put it that way, but in the context of the story it works. Certainly I feel it’s an innately more interesting monster than if it lived in the sea where it “belongs”

    I hear “forest dragons” and I am immediately more interested than I would be about some classic Tolkien dragon that lives in a cave. I hear “Bigfoot on Venus” and I feel a spark of intrigue that I do not feel about one that lives in a wood or mountain. “Volcanic insects”, “Porn star witch”, all kinds of ways. Environment isn’t always the key to originality but it can be. It is no longer generally acceptable, IMO, to write about a vampire who lives in a castle.

    Of course, the tough part then becomes believability, because it is much easier, safer, to keep things conventional. But expectations must be subverted, especially when dealing with monsters that are themselves not original. Execution is another thing.
    Last edited by luckyscars; July 11th, 2019 at 05:16 AM.
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  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by velo View Post
    Agreed. I just like a good exchange of ideas. However, as writers, I tend to think terminology is important.



    From Merriam-Webster. Race, 2nd definition, noun, use #3
    a : an actually or potentially interbreeding group within a species
    also : a taxonomic category (such as a subspecies) representing such a group
    b : BREED
    But I'm talking about life sciences papers--not Merriam-Webster. Each scientific discipline and professor and textbook uses its own definitions. You might as well be throwing Urban Dictionary at me for all the relevance Webster's got with published scientific literature and debate. The fact that you pointed to the third definition should state that it's not exactly the most common use of that word anyway. My experience in the college biology department give me a different take on which departments use which words how. My experience in the public health/epidemiology department at the same college told me that not all sciences use the same words the same way.

    Same thing goes for "tools" and "tool use", as I've already stated. Even within the same scientific discipline, everyone defines the terms differently. "Modification" can also be termed any number of ways. After all, we're not creating the atoms in the material. But when a human sharpens the end of a long stick to make a pike, we still it call it a weapon and a tool... and that's less complicated than termite sticks.


    Not quite my point. In no way was I saying that, for example, this stretch of woods belongs to hobgoblins and the next to forest trolls. But a monster without the ability to adapt to new environment would by necessity live in that environment. As you said, things that need to breathe air are rarely found happily floating in space. Water monsters cruising around land isn't going to...well...hold water.
    Again, if the monsters are people, that's all irrelevant. Even if the monsters aren't people, they can still be adaptable (like mice, rats, cats, dogs, coyotes, raccoons, bedbugs, cockroaches, fleas, bears, pigeons, swine, mosquitos, lice, and every other species that has followed us around, sucked our blood, hitchhiked on our boats or bodies, dug in our garbage and ticked us off). The urban environment isn't the "natural habitat" for any creature--including man.

    Of course, it's a great idea to put a critter in a suitable home, but I think it's equally important to recognize that "life finds a way". While some species stay put, others don't, and that's not only okay and realistic, it can add a lot of depth to worldbuilding.

    I've seen a lot of fantasy where certain races either "never leave the shire" or where "ugly races are banished to ugly places" and "beautiful/fair/noble races all live in harmony". Total crap and old hat. It's even worse when the races are all basically rubber forehead aliens with no real differences that ought to matter. Why must orcs be evil and live in some desolate hellhole? Why do elves live in forests? Neither race/species has specific bodily needs that require these habitats. This sort of crap happens all the time. Drives me crazy.

    Let's look at dragons. In most mythologies dragons keep relatively to themselves in caves or other dens, often on mountains. This does not mean dragons can not be found in the lowlands but they are unlikely to live in heavily wooded areas that would limit take off/landing, for example, or areas without a lot of game within their reach. In the mountains dragons can feed on goats and other animals or visit the local village in the valley for a few sheep or firstborn humans. Would we see a dragon in a desert? In fiction anything is possible of course but it strains the underlying logic of the world to think that a large, winged creature would be able to survive in an, effectively, flat and featureless are with very few prey species.

    I suppose if I had to sum up my meaning it would be to make the environment fir the creatures you put in it.
    The largest pterosaurs preferred flat ground, and being the closest thing to dragons that have ever lived, I'd say they had their reasons more than you're giving them credit for. Flat lands tend to be crowded full of the largest herds of herbivores. You don't see the kinds of herds on rough terrain. Do consider that quetzalcoatlus was as tall as a giraffe, could eat a good size critter pretty quick--and could gallop like a dang horse on all fours. Yeah, it'd take some G force to get that sucker off the ground from a standstill, but the fact that it happened is pretty dang fascinating. Dragons, being often described as larger and heavier than pterosaurs could still have the preference for flat and relatively arid lands, which do have great thermals that help gliding, and also have abundant visibility and prey. Prey in large herds can't hide--but the whole point of herds is protection in numbers. The more friends you have, the more likely one of them is going to get picked off by the predator and not you. Bigger herds actually mean more protection for each creature in the herd, but grasslands are the best suited for massive herds to form. It takes about 10,000 prey animals to sustain a lion (not feed it individually or as a pride, even. They won't eat that many prey animals, but the prey population must have enough weak, sick, young animals to pick off to support the pride; plus, the herd has to be able to replace its numbers and grow alongside the lions... or else you get fun parametric curves and die-offs). Just think of how many are required to sustain a dragon. Part of this will depend on the dragon's metabolism, how it utilizes flight (walking vs flying, flight styles, etc), what range it's comfortable keeping its core at.

    Erratic winds, cold, decreased oxygen in the air, poor visibility, relatively less prey, and foul weather would all play against dragons living in mountainous regions. Prey in mountainous regions can escape with far greater ease than those in grassland environments--plus, they're often smaller and so less worth the effort of catching them. Rough terrain makes for rough, tough, wily, jumpy creatures. A dragon's not going to be flying around in the mountains, cruising for mountain goats if it can help it because those goats are far more mobile in that terrain than it is--especially in flight where it could easily collide with terrain in pursuit of such a nimble creature that can change direction in all dimensions so much faster than it can.

    Forests of any kind are certainly unlikely habitats, unless the dragon is very young and small. If they're say, cannibals, you might very well find all the baby dragons in forests. Also, even if dragons aren't cannibals, there may be fierce competition over territory and prey with other dragons or large predators (especially creatures like giant eagles, rocs, griffins, etc.). As a dragon is most vulnerable when it's young and small, all kinds of competitors are exceedingly likely to kill off baby dragons. Lots of large predators specifically kill off the young of competitors within the same species--and some even kill their own offspring--even if they don't eat them.

    Dragons, being so large and clumsy, probably can't incubate their own eggs and would have to pull a megapode (build a giant mound that heats as it decomposes, thus warming the eggs and protecting them. Lots of dinosaurs did or are presumed to have done this). Eggs have a finite size and thickness--there's only oh so far they can go before they can't work. Even the largest of dinosaurs didn't have eggs so much larger (if at all) than those of an ostrich. So... unless dinosaurs are livebearers, they're stuck being quite small when they hatch. Livebearers are another matter entirely, but could be sizable because I don't believe a dragon's pelvis would require an especially awful gateway to independent living unless that baby was huge.

    The whole "dragons in caves" thing is grossly overdone. A creature with that much armor has no need to live in a cave, can't fly in a cave, and is therefore actually more vulnerable to attack in a cave than about anywhere else. Depending on the size of the dragon, caves that could even contain it are few and far between--and often have small entrances. If dragons are burrowers to help them thermoregulate, their fondness for caves and burrows could at least be explained. I see no reason why they couldn't form temporary (or permanent/semi-permanent) burrows to keep a more stable temperature during the heat of a Sahara afternoon, to shield eggs from excessive moisture loss in an arid/high altitude environment, or to hibernate during long Scandinavian winters. They might even use burrows like traps for prey, and might only fly as absolutely necessary or for cultural/mating purposes.

    ***
    Holy crap, it is so late, and I have spent entirely too much time thinking about this. It's just so much more stimulating to think about this than to revise and write on Pinocchio.
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  6. #26
    Member Rojack79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    But I'm talking about life sciences papers--not Merriam-Webster. Each scientific discipline and professor and textbook uses its own definitions. You might as well be throwing Urban Dictionary at me for all the relevance Webster's got with published scientific literature and debate. The fact that you pointed to the third definition should state that it's not exactly the most common use of that word anyway. My experience in the college biology department give me a different take on which departments use which words how. My experience in the public health/epidemiology department at the same college told me that not all sciences use the same words the same way.

    Same thing goes for "tools" and "tool use", as I've already stated. Even within the same scientific discipline, everyone defines the terms differently. "Modification" can also be termed any number of ways. After all, we're not creating the atoms in the material. But when a human sharpens the end of a long stick to make a pike, we still it call it a weapon and a tool... and that's less complicated than termite sticks.



    Again, if the monsters are people, that's all irrelevant. Even if the monsters aren't people, they can still be adaptable (like mice, rats, cats, dogs, coyotes, raccoons, bedbugs, cockroaches, fleas, bears, pigeons, swine, mosquitos, lice, and every other species that has followed us around, sucked our blood, hitchhiked on our boats or bodies, dug in our garbage and ticked us off). The urban environment isn't the "natural habitat" for any creature--including man.

    Of course, it's a great idea to put a critter in a suitable home, but I think it's equally important to recognize that "life finds a way". While some species stay put, others don't, and that's not only okay and realistic, it can add a lot of depth to worldbuilding.

    I've seen a lot of fantasy where certain races either "never leave the shire" or where "ugly races are banished to ugly places" and "beautiful/fair/noble races all live in harmony". Total crap and old hat. It's even worse when the races are all basically rubber forehead aliens with no real differences that ought to matter. Why must orcs be evil and live in some desolate hellhole? Why do elves live in forests? Neither race/species has specific bodily needs that require these habitats. This sort of crap happens all the time. Drives me crazy.



    The largest pterosaurs preferred flat ground, and being the closest thing to dragons that have ever lived, I'd say they had their reasons more than you're giving them credit for. Flat lands tend to be crowded full of the largest herds of herbivores. You don't see the kinds of herds on rough terrain. Do consider that quetzalcoatlus was as tall as a giraffe, could eat a good size critter pretty quick--and could gallop like a dang horse on all fours. Yeah, it'd take some G force to get that sucker off the ground from a standstill, but the fact that it happened is pretty dang fascinating. Dragons, being often described as larger and heavier than pterosaurs could still have the preference for flat and relatively arid lands, which do have great thermals that help gliding, and also have abundant visibility and prey. Prey in large herds can't hide--but the whole point of herds is protection in numbers. The more friends you have, the more likely one of them is going to get picked off by the predator and not you. Bigger herds actually mean more protection for each creature in the herd, but grasslands are the best suited for massive herds to form. It takes about 10,000 prey animals to sustain a lion (not feed it individually or as a pride, even. They won't eat that many prey animals, but the prey population must have enough weak, sick, young animals to pick off to support the pride; plus, the herd has to be able to replace its numbers and grow alongside the lions... or else you get fun parametric curves and die-offs). Just think of how many are required to sustain a dragon. Part of this will depend on the dragon's metabolism, how it utilizes flight (walking vs flying, flight styles, etc), what range it's comfortable keeping its core at.

    Erratic winds, cold, decreased oxygen in the air, poor visibility, relatively less prey, and foul weather would all play against dragons living in mountainous regions. Prey in mountainous regions can escape with far greater ease than those in grassland environments--plus, they're often smaller and so less worth the effort of catching them. Rough terrain makes for rough, tough, wily, jumpy creatures. A dragon's not going to be flying around in the mountains, cruising for mountain goats if it can help it because those goats are far more mobile in that terrain than it is--especially in flight where it could easily collide with terrain in pursuit of such a nimble creature that can change direction in all dimensions so much faster than it can.

    Forests of any kind are certainly unlikely habitats, unless the dragon is very young and small. If they're say, cannibals, you might very well find all the baby dragons in forests. Also, even if dragons aren't cannibals, there may be fierce competition over territory and prey with other dragons or large predators (especially creatures like giant eagles, rocs, griffins, etc.). As a dragon is most vulnerable when it's young and small, all kinds of competitors are exceedingly likely to kill off baby dragons. Lots of large predators specifically kill off the young of competitors within the same species--and some even kill their own offspring--even if they don't eat them.

    Dragons, being so large and clumsy, probably can't incubate their own eggs and would have to pull a megapode (build a giant mound that heats as it decomposes, thus warming the eggs and protecting them. Lots of dinosaurs did or are presumed to have done this). Eggs have a finite size and thickness--there's only oh so far they can go before they can't work. Even the largest of dinosaurs didn't have eggs so much larger (if at all) than those of an ostrich. So... unless dinosaurs are livebearers, they're stuck being quite small when they hatch. Livebearers are another matter entirely, but could be sizable because I don't believe a dragon's pelvis would require an especially awful gateway to independent living unless that baby was huge.

    The whole "dragons in caves" thing is grossly overdone. A creature with that much armor has no need to live in a cave, can't fly in a cave, and is therefore actually more vulnerable to attack in a cave than about anywhere else. Depending on the size of the dragon, caves that could even contain it are few and far between--and often have small entrances. If dragons are burrowers to help them thermoregulate, their fondness for caves and burrows could at least be explained. I see no reason why they couldn't form temporary (or permanent/semi-permanent) burrows to keep a more stable temperature during the heat of a Sahara afternoon, to shield eggs from excessive moisture loss in an arid/high altitude environment, or to hibernate during long Scandinavian winters. They might even use burrows like traps for prey, and might only fly as absolutely necessary or for cultural/mating purposes.

    ***
    Holy crap, it is so late, and I have spent entirely too much time thinking about this. It's just so much more stimulating to think about this than to revise and write on Pinocchio.
    Wow. I have to admit I didn't know a whole lot of this going into this story but now that I do I will definitely be going back to the drawing board. So far the most that I have on my monsters is that my werewolves are going to be nomadic, constantly moving from place to place in search of food and that there are going to be a multitude of vampire subspecies involved along the way.

    Some will be subterranean super cannibals while others will be living beings that subsist on the blood of others. I plan on having a lot of variety when it comes to my monsters but the only hard part I see is how do I group them up. For example vampires are a type of undead but what about others? Werewolves are a type of Beast Folk but what about Hellhounds?

    The term mythological beasts could apply to all creatures that are not human but inhabit the world. My point is that I'm not to concerned about what word is use for them or even how it's used because even if i use the right word for this person or creature someone is going to go and point out that "that's not the proper word!" Plus I can always fix an improper word choice in the editing phase. Well I feel I should say in the second draft phase but still.

    For me these creatures are people in all of the ways that word implies meaning that they will have all of the same qualities as us, higher brain functionality, logical reasoning, and most will have the same humanoid type of body structure unless otherwise noted. Now that being said a lot of them will have a bunch of animal characteristics as well as animalistic features like ear's or a tail even in human form.

    That's a bridge that I'll cross when I get to it but for now let's go on with the facts being that I see these creatures as people no matter if they can speak our language or not. I was mostly just curious about where these creatures would or could live if they travelled across the globe because that seams like the information that a hunter would need.

    It was just frustrating trying to research were they would or could live and coming up blank or just seeing reference maps to Europe granted that's were most of the story takes place but still I'd like another opinion besides "oh that old hag lives down by the swamp" that I see in just about everything work of fiction I've ever read that has a hag as a monster. Still though I thank all of you for the help. Keep on discussing your topic. I find it very useful and informative.
    Last edited by Rojack79; July 11th, 2019 at 04:58 PM.
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  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Rojack79 View Post
    Wow. I have to admit I didn't know a whole lot of this going into this story but now that I do I will definitely be going back to the drawing board. So far the most that I have on my monsters is that my werewolves are going to be nomadic, constantly moving from place to place in search of food and that there are going to be a multitude of vampire subspecies involved along the way.

    Some will be subterranean super cannibals while others will be living beings that subsist on the blood of others. I plan on having a lot of variety when it comes to my monsters but the only hard part I see is how do I group them up. For example vampires are a type of undead but what about others? Werewolves are a type of Beast Folk but what about Hellhounds?

    The term mythological beasts could apply to all creatures that are not human but inhabit the world. My point is that I'm not to concerned about what word is use for them or even how it's used because even if i use the right word for this person or creature someone is going to go and point out that "that's not the proper word!" Plus I can always fix an improper word choice in the editing phase. Well I feel I should say in the second draft phase but still.

    For me these creatures are people in all of the ways that word implies meaning that they will have all of the same qualities as us, higher brain functionality, logical reasoning, and most will have the same humanoid type of body structure unless otherwise noted. Now that being said a lot of them will have a bunch of animal characteristics as well as animalistic features like ear's or a tail even in human form.

    That's a bridge that I'll cross when I get to it but for now let's go on with the facts being that I see these creatures as people no matter if they can speak our language or not. I was mostly just curious about where these creatures would or could live if they travelled across the globe because that seams like the information that a hunter would need.

    It was just frustrating trying to research were they would or could live and coming up blank or just seeing reference maps to Europe granted that's were most of the story takes place but still I'd like another opinion besides "oh that old hag lives down by the swamp" that I see in just about everything work of fiction I've ever read that has a hag as a monster. Still though I thank all of you for the help. Keep on discussing your topic. I find it very useful and informative.
    Its your story so by all means handle it how you like, I just feel the compulsion to keep staying here: There are no rules when it comes to mythical creatures. Researching dragons is great but as dragons are fictional you are essentially deriving any information you glean from such research from, well, other fantasy authors work. Which means right off the bat any time you use such “research” you are by necessity losing originality.

    Research says vampires are a type of undead? They don’t have to be. A vampire could be pretty much anything. Plenty of real world, not-undead creatures drink blood. The closer you make your version of vampire fit the established profile of “vampire” the less interesting it will probably be. What if the vampires weren’t malevolent at all but rather misunderstood creatures that on biting their victim actually help them in some way, and in the story this makes them healers? There are so many great ways to subvert reader expectations and you must must must consider every possibility to do this if you want your story to stand out from a very crowded field.

    Essentially you can create originality simply by constantly taking everything you know or “research” and asking “but what if it isn’t like that?” This is the heart of speculative fiction.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Rojack79 View Post
    Wow. I have to admit I didn't know a whole lot id this going into this story but now that I do I think I'll go back to the drawing board. So far the most that I have on my monsters is that my werewolves are going to be nomadic, constantly moving from place to place in search of food and that there are going to be a multitude of vampire subspecies involved along the way.
    Only take what suits your story, and be sure to have fun with it.


    Although, I am compelled to ask, why the "multitude of vampire subspecies"? Anything that predates upon mankind is going to have a time of it. 10,000 prey/lion is nothing to the numbers of people it would take to sustain a vampire. Really think about it. A predator's population is wholly determined by the numbers of its prey species. While it seems like there are a lot of people right now, do consider that the metropolis we take for granted has only existed about 200 years because technological advances in medicine, microbiology, sanitation, engineering, animal husbandry, transportation, refrigeration/preservation, mass production, and farming simply weren't available or able to keep up with the rigors of urban living.

    Sure, a few vampires might be able to exist in a modern metropolis, but in ancient times? Nope. People were too far apart, dying off of too many other causes, and lacked the special emotional distance required by a society in order to shelter a vampire around. The fewer the people in the area, the more fight they will put up as a community. We're back to herd mentality. A serial killer can stalk a country, but not exclusively in the small town or family he lives in. He'll run out of victims, or the victims will start fighting back (and win because they outnumber him).

    Aesop had a great fable about a dog and a rabbit. The hunter asks the dog why the dog couldn't catch the rabbit--which is so much smaller and weaker than him. Surely, this big, strong dog with his long, strong limbs and his great teeth could take out one little, terrified rabbit. And the dog answers, "Because the rabbit was running for his life, and I was only running for my dinner."

    Terrified prey have lots of defense mechanisms that get glossed over in our often predator-glorifying media. They're literally running for their lives, and once they know it, the game's on. They do try to fight back every way they can. Humans are no exception to fight/flight response and going to great lengths to kill our killers and protect our own. If a serial rapist is prowling the streets, single women start packing heat, knives, pepper spray, taking martial arts classes, shacking up with bigger, stronger men or travel/live in groups. Prey get paranoid. And eventually, one of those potential prey is quite possibly going to kill that predator, one way or another--hauling it to justice, injuring it so it can't hurt anyone else, causing it to starve to death, crushing its skull, whatever.

    To get past our indomitable desire for self-preservation, a predator has to convince us that we're not in any danger and/or that someone else will take care of the problem. If neither of these conditions is satisfied, there's going to be a mob with torches and pitchforks. The more people are around, the more likely the bystander effect and diffusion of responsibility will kick in. Look up the rape and murder of Kitty Genovese for a great discussion on this dark side of human herd mentality.

    Even if vampires have a lot of strength and magic on humans, at some point, humans discovered those weaknesses... through killing vampires. Imagine being the first vampire getting killed by a stake through the heart, for instance. Here he was thinking he was invincible and just going to have a light snack... then, *WHOMP* Stabby McStabbypants has entered the chat.

    Another to consider with prey is how quickly they reproduce and mature. Humans mature and reproduce slowly--particularly when considering how small we are for all that time and resources we take to reach adulthood. We also don't have many offspring. A good prey species reproduces quickly, matures quickly, and has a great feed-to-finished-weight conversion ratio (more of what it eats adds to its mass). Humans are about the worst prey species I can think of on every quality--plus, we're dangerous and stubborn as a species, so if the monster is shown to be a big enough threat, why, we'll chase it to the ends of the earth, invent all new specialized weapons and equipment, and hang its head on a wall if it's the last thing we do. Bad enough predators of humans get wiped out quickly. So long as a monster is acknowledged to be a predator of mankind, we're going to wipe it out everywhere we find it.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Its your story so by all means handle it how you like, I just feel the compulsion to keep staying here: There are no rules when it comes to mythical creatures. Researching dragons is great but as dragons are fictional you are essentially deriving any information you glean from such research from, well, other fantasy authors work. Which means right off the bat any time you use such “research” you are by necessity losing originality.

    Research says vampires are a type of undead? They don’t have to be. A vampire could be pretty much anything. Plenty of real world, not-undead creatures drink blood. The closer you make your version of vampire fit the established profile of “vampire” the less interesting it will probably be. What if the vampires weren’t malevolent at all but rather misunderstood creatures that on biting their victim actually help them in some way, and in the story this makes them healers? There are so many great ways to subvert reader expectations and you must must must consider every possibility to do this if you want your story to stand out from a very crowded field.

    Essentially you can create originality simply by constantly taking everything you know or “research” and asking “but what if it isn’t like that?” This is the heart of speculative fiction.
    Nah.

    Limyaael's Fantasy Rants took this one with gusto. Two big tropes when it comes to fantasy races come to mind: Our Critter X is different, and Our Critter X are all the same. Dwarves are about the only race that gets the "all the same" treatment. Elves, dragons, vampires and werewolves are about the worst offenders.

    Just making something different and "imparting originality" doesn't make a story better or a creature more compelling on its own. Ultimately, the story is what sells it.

    Research is pretty much always a great thing to do. We don't want to fall into cliches. We don't want to write the same stories as everyone else, but we want to be recognized and read. Sometimes, this takes market research to know what the readers expect and want to see. Sometimes subversions are a great thing, but in an of themselves, they don't make the story. The gimmick isn't the story. Research doesn't need to deprive an author of originality--a lack of imagination is what does that on its own. All research can really do is broaden horizons. The author is under no obligation ever to write exactly what someone else has written before. Knowing what others have written can inspire a fresh new perspective and get ideas churning--and also let us know potential pitfalls in advance.

    Scientific research is never a bad thing (#bionut).

    Steal my ideas. You'll never come up with the same story as I would--even if we both decided to write a yeti screenwriter in LA. Plus, I don't see myself getting back into straight fantasy ever. I've been out of the writing game a long time now, but I'm pretty sold on science fiction--even if it's sometimes pretty soft and might even feel like fantasy. Fighting over who's got the best gimmick is pointless.


    That said, your advice was totally sound, and some of the vampire ideas are fascinating. The Anita Blake series gimmick on why vampires are allowed to feed is that the bite has a drug-like effect on the host species. Thus, some people actually like being fed upon.

    Would be kinda cool if vampires were more like Victorian doctors--bleeding people out for a presumed medical benefit--and even cooler if that bleeding actually had a medical benefit. What if they got the reputation for drinking blood undeservedly and it turns out they're just surgeons? Maybe they're a race of empaths and are thus predisposed to medicine because they can't stand the pain of persons around them? Maybe they're a symbiotic or parasite of sorts on mankind. Maybe they're intellectual vampires who subsist on stimulating conversations and starve in dull environments. The less likely they are to kill us and more likely they are to help us, the more likely humans are to tolerate/encourage their presence.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Its your story so by all means handle it how you like, I just feel the compulsion to keep staying here: There are no rules when it comes to mythical creatures. Researching dragons is great but as dragons are fictional you are essentially deriving any information you glean from such research from, well, other fantasy authors work. Which means right off the bat any time you use such “research” you are by necessity losing originality.

    Research says vampires are a type of undead? They don’t have to be. A vampire could be pretty much anything. Plenty of real world, not-undead creatures drink blood. The closer you make your version of vampire fit the established profile of “vampire” the less interesting it will probably be. What if the vampires weren’t malevolent at all but rather misunderstood creatures that on biting their victim actually help them in some way, and in the story this makes them healers? There are so many great ways to subvert reader expectations and you must must must consider every possibility to do this if you want your story to stand out from a very crowded field.

    Essentially you can create originality simply by constantly taking everything you know or “research” and asking “but what if it isn’t like that?” This is the heart of speculative fiction.
    You know I had thought of doing the whole living vampires but figured people would hate them for not being undead, I put it on the back burner of I decided to revisit it at any point in the future but its mostly stayed there collecting dust. And now I'm really inspired to take some creative license with my monsters. Ok yeah I'm making a list and seeing just what I can do with these guys.
    This might not be my best work but that just means there's room to improve.

    I don't have a big ego. You just can't comprehend my greatness!

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