Monsters as a race of people. Where would they call home? - Page 4

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Thread: Monsters as a race of people. Where would they call home?

  1. #31
    Member Rojack79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post

    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.
    This is true as well. I had an idea to make a subspecies of living vampires that were blood mages who used there talents to help the sick and dying. These guys may one day see the light of publication of I can get there motivation down.
    This might not be my best work but that just means there's room to improve.

  2. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Rojack79 View Post
    This is true as well. I had an idea to make a subspecies of living vampires that were blood mages who used there talents to help the sick and dying. These guys may one day see the light of publication of I can get there motivation down.
    Don't write "vampires", in this case. Give them a different name (not one associated with modern vampires at all) and properly liberate them from the shackles of expectations. "Vampire" a loaded term, heavy with the connotations imparted by so many other writers, movies, and video games. Existing creatures always come with baggage. They have their fans and detractors. But new races don't. They're fresh and exciting automatically--especially if they don't read like carbon copies of other existing creatures but with a funny new name and perhaps a prosthetic rubber forehead.

    I've only written one straight fantasy novel (had a prolific fantasy phase in my early twenties), but even then, I discovered that making up my own dang races was a very fulfilling experience.

    I've got two major long fiction projects currently. One's a stand-alone fantasy romantic tragedy turned... far future science-fiction series that still pretty much reads like a fantasy. Other than humans, the races are all-new. Whole story started due to Twilight mania around my workplace at the time (~2009ish). Supposedly, Twilight was a great romance in part because the love story was "impossible". I didn't view it as "impossible", in part because it "worked" in the novels. Matter of fact, in the right circumstances, with enough skillful cajoling and torment, I think most people could form a reasonable romance with almost anyone (might take more extreme circumstances for some people though). So I set out to make the impossible romance, which meant that I had to make at least one new species--one that was biologically incompatible with another sentient race--because humans simply can't make impossible romances with each other (we just make for exceedingly, perhaps even nigh-infinitely unlikely romances). I wound up using two non-human races: the Alasei, and the knyrans. Neither of these races has any prior versions in fiction, so I can say anything I want about both of them without ticking anyone in the readership off for grossly changing an existing mythological creature.

    After thinking on this more, Alasei are a kind of Cat Folk, even if they're not one someone else made up. As an unabashed #bionut and animal person, I included a lot of weird details in their design and made some of these central to the plot. Lots of fictional cat people are basically "little bit beastly" Cat Girls. If it's important to set off an erotic adventure, cat girls have heats sometimes in fiction, but otherwise, such cat details don't show up unless it's to embarrass a female cat lady. Nobody ever seems to pay attention to the more veterinary aspects of cats when making anthropomorphic cat peoples though--and without this, they come off as humans in a different skin, furry window dressing on a rubber forehead alien. While some dedicated furries might be attracted to Alasei, the beastly sex appeal that seems to follow cat people is not something I've intended to indulge (even if a POV Alasei gets some, the race as a whole isn't intended to be sex on a stick just waiting to happen). I've intentionally done a lot to subvert common cat people tropes.

    Knyrans, however, are an altogether different monster. They've been gradually changing since my childhood, and they've always been complicated. While they don't look as "beastly" as Alasei (which are basically bipedal Siamese of very roughly human size and proportions), knyrans have other "not human" qualities that often take other races by surprise (or themselves, if they're not raised by their own kind). Like debilitating heats/ruts that might involve blackout periods, rape and murder.
    Last edited by seigfried007; July 12th, 2019 at 05:32 PM.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."

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

  3. #33
    Blood mages vs Vampires
    So, these blood mages use their talents to help the sick and dying... why do they need another motivation? It can, at this point, be as easily a cultural aspect to an existing class of mages. They just choose to go into medicine--perhaps for any of the same reasons that doctors do nowadays. Maybe they have a magical art that requires blood sacrifice to cure an illness. Perhaps the art requires sacrifice of equal weight or value to whatever is given. Maybe the amount of cure is directly proportional to the amount of blood sacrificed. This could be for any number of reasons. It might be part of a divine spell--a spell component or part of a sacrifice to some other entity, much like ancient religions sacrificed animals and crops to their gods (only the gods actually answer for blood sacrifice in this case). It could also be a food item--this race feeds on blood and needs to eat to live, so this is just payment and actually has nothing to do with the magic itself. Maybe, because of their diet, they're very sensitive to the changes in sick persons (just like we don't want to eat diseased animals) and thus able to more accurately diagnose us. While such distinctions in our state of health might have evolved to keep them from getting sick by eating infected persons, they can use it to practice medicine on us more effectively, and thus we tolerate them so long as they play nice (treating us in exchange for non-diseased blood or money) and thus they've turned a parasitic or predatory relationship into a mutualistic one.

    Re: Cannibalism
    Also, just because you've mentioned it earlier, cannibals eat their own kind (so a vampire can't be a cannibal unless it's a diseased human). Cannibalism itself gets a bad rap but is a morally gray area, as played by a given culture and set of circumstances. It's detestable, forgivable, preferable, or even an honored tradition in some places at some times to some peoples. The more research I did into the practice (not something one should generally do at 2am alone in dark house), the more nuanced it got. You want to stick your given moral/cultural compass on its head, give cannibalism some nuance. It doesn't take much imagination for anyone born in a Western culture to turn cannibals into bad guys or monsters. I'm not saying cannibals are always "good guys", of course, but I did find it rewarding to make a culture of cannibals who weren't intrinsically horrible. Come to think of it, I've made a few cannibal cultures that weren't so bad.

    Even when working with human cannibals as strictly bad guys, do keep in mind that subsistence cannibalism is very difficult to make work ecologically speaking because humans have such a low feed conversion ratio, so if humans form a large or the largest portion of the diet, frequent bloody wars with other tribes are necessary to sustain such a culture. Such diets will most likely need a lot of supplementation with the meat of other animals and lots of plants. While we all know why cannibals don't eat clowns, fewer people know that cannibals don't like eating smokers (true story, they apparently taste terrible), so, even among your man-eating monsters, they might prefer eating some people to others.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."

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

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