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Coming up with new, but recognisable races. Reinventing the wheel in a good way.


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#1 ArchTroll   Members   -  Reputation: 131

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 05:33 AM

Creating big universe for a fantasy world is pretty hard, I was working on one for near a year (yeah, I know it's not enough). And the hardest part about this were the races. I'm presenting you races I came up with. Leave your feedback if at least something peeked your interest.

 

Note: author is not a native english speaker and has a unique way of showing races (not usual description). 

 

 

For now I have tought of 4 races:

  • Lothars (Basically humans)
  • Arhorians
  • Ulvaskars
  • Dvergs

First I will be tallking about Ulvaskars and Arhorians.They will be described by The Chronicler, special character created for sole reason of recording the history of that world.

 

 

Extract from “Chronicler's book”,

Crucial historical event for the arhorian culture and ulvaskars.

Year 1339, time between Age of Madness and Age of Redemption.

Dev.note: Time when arhorians(sailors) became arhorians(dessert), and birth of ulvaskar race.

 

 

...After the Age of Madness, arhorians left the shores of the Averum and sailed back to their city, called “The Storm Tamer”, the biggest ship in Foraland, serving as a home for arhorians for several centuries. However, the only thing they found were wreck and crushed parts of their home. This city, that survived even the roughest storms and waves, was gone. Destroyed by unknown force, giant ship took all the lives with it when drowned.

At that time they were worshiping Sea Goddess, portrayed as the faceless maiden, believed to rule over all the salty waters and arhorians, the children of the sea. However, she didn't protect their one and only home.

These events have lead to rejection of her as a deity and disorder in arhorian society. At that time they became broken – mentally and physically.

Left without home, they were traversing the sea without aim, until one day they stumbled upon the land of Khal'zir, which was yet to be known as the greatest desert. Back then it was just an archipelago, tropical and humid. But before arhorians were even able to drop anchor, fate brought another disaster for arhorians - earthquake. The dormant volcano awoke from it's slumber and made the earth tremble.

The eruption was of such force that the chain of islands were scorched and burned by lava and burning rocks, even though they were far from it. While earth was trembling, the land started to rise from ocean, connecting islands. And in the center of this chaos were arhorians. In a matter of days a huge continent appeared, Tremble was of such force that even the coast of Averum was aware of it.

 

After such event, arhorians were believed to be gone...

 

But fate finally spared them, and they survived this catastrophe surrounded by hills that created natural earth pocket. When they were able to get out and volcano has settled, they appeared in the midst of a vast scorched land, which now looked like desert. They thought that the Sea Goddess has finally abandoned them. And decided never go to sea again.

 

 

 

Year 1342,

 

First arhorian settlement was made from wreck, that was left after the ships. It was established near the lake, which was reduced to the size of a big pond. But it was deep and was supported by subterranean waters.

After a while they've learned how to mine special sandrocks and then temper them into sandstone with sun and fire. Near that time they were able to find their first precious ores, which they will learn how to handle and turn into fine jewelery, in a year or two.

In 5 years they have recovered physically but their mental state was getting worse with each day. Leaders of arhorians knew that their people will be doomed if left without spirit guidance, so the sea priests, who were communicating with Goddess, tried to establish a link with spirits that were present to this land. Many futile tries were made until one shaman succeeded in connection to the spirit world.

The person who was able to do it, was brother of the High Captain (analogy to King in other culture). At first everyone thought that he became mad, and was affected by disease. But then they understood that spirits were talking trough him.

 

From that day and now on, arhorians were able to communicate with spirit world, and now believe that water is not the greatest element but equal to others.

That was a truly good age for them. However, as it usually is, nothing goes smoothly in life for long...

One old priest, who once was serving the Goddess and his followers called the First Shaman mad and out of his mind. They started to spread the rumors that it's the Sea Goddess who talks trough him and she tries to make arhorians her worshipers once more, to make them suffer. This speech divided the arhorians, and soon after it first civil war came.

 

Most of arhorians, with memory still fresh of events which happened in the past, followed the old priest and denied the spirits.

High Captain and his brother First Shaman, were driven away to the outskirts of dessert, the rocky coast, where nothing could grow and land was even more harsh than in dessert.

But their faith in spirits helped them to keep fighting. A lot of small battles occurred throughout the year. Blood of their own kind was spilled and sand has sucked all of it.

In the 1347 last battle occurred. In this battle where the fate of arhorians was decided. Two brothers, who led this battle and their people fought well, but war is cruel and never has a happy ending. The First Shaman was gravely wounded. The only one who was able to communicate with spirits was on a verge of death. His brother, the High Captain, blinded by rage, struck down the old one. But even after he was struck down, his half torn body was able to create a curse of unbelievable power and curse High Captain and his followers. War was over but the Death Curse, made the life of those who fought for good, hellish.

 

All those who were struck by curse began changing. Their appearance was changing daily, they looked diseased and newly born children were more of abominations, than arhorians.

First they were pitied. Then disgusted. And in the end – feared. They were driven away from the dessert, and even continent. Those who hated sea were once again tossed in raging storms, abandoned by their own race, spirits.

No shaman, no spirits, no healing, no hope...

 

Time passed by, cursed and abandoned arhorians were becoming insane. Curse was getting stronger each day and High Captain and his followers were becoming weaker. Some of those who couldn't control themselves were tossed in the sea, others killed...

Storm though was getting weaker too, the season of storms was ending, and when the sky became clear again, they were near the land. Exhausted and clinging to life they embarked on unknown snowy land.

 

Thick forest granted them brief protection from cold winds and plenty of animals - food.

However Curse never left them, and every day was a pain for them.

The High Captain, knew that he needs to do something. So he tried to establish a spirit link like his brother did.

He tried a lot of times but each time it was a failure. He didn't know what his brother did to see the spirits.

He was in despair. Each day captain was going to the same place, under the mountain, and was trying to feel something. But in one day he felt presence. He opened his eyes to only see a warg, big and white, almost invisible in snow, despite the size. His red eyes were looking at him without any intent but curiosity. High Captain acted immediately and attacked first. Out of despair, pain and anger he ran towards it.

But he wasn't able to do something. He just dropped his weapon and fell on his knees. Giant wolf was looking at him. Intelligent, strong and ... Godly? In the end he was able to see a spirit. The spirit of North, in the form of a warg. It spoke with him. Accusing him in mindless destruction of this land and mindless slaughter. High Captain bowed tin forgivness, and cried for help for his people. Captan said that he will give his life away for his kinsmen, he was begging the spirit to help him. Spirit said that it's impossible to heal the curse. This one was used by dying and powerful priest, who was consumed by the same Madness that led humans to the land of Averum.

However, it's possible to "change" the curse and let it develop in another way.

After hearing the spirit, High Captain agreed on everything proposed by it.

So the blood of arhorians was mixed with the strongest creature out there on the North Continent - wargs. Curse didn't go away immediately but pain became lighter with each day, and changes were different.

With each day the warg's blood was overtaking over arhorians, changing their body and healing their souls. That day Ulvaskars were born and called this vast snow land - the Uldamar.

Arhorians though re-established their spirit connection and now led by Grand Shaman and High Captain in memory of those 2 brothers.

 

 

Also I present you some concept art on arhorians (early drafts) when they've established in desert.

arh_1.png

arh_2.png

arh_3.png

arh_4.png

arh_5.png


Edited by ArchTroll, 03 April 2013 - 05:44 PM.


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#2 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6744

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 06:12 AM

If you want to create a new and recognisable race you should start with the name. Many people tend to rate a fantasy race just by the name, which gets even harder if the name or description of a race sounds similar to any stereotypically fantasy race.

 

The (arguable) "new" race in my game is called Gnoblins, a mix of Gnome and Goblins, is always recognised as a 'lame try to rename Goblins to Gnoblins', nobody will ever read the part where you explain, that these are not goblins at all..

 

PS: nice art work


Edited by Ashaman73, 02 April 2013 - 06:13 AM.


#3 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4584

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 06:43 AM

Pretty art! smile.png

 

Personally when I make a new race I usually start by thinking about animals.  I think, how would human society be different if they had one trait of an animal?  Like the instinct to build nests.  Or I look at a small weird thing about humans, like blushing, and make it bigger - what if we turned colors like a mood ring?  What if this wasn't fast, but instead your skin color reflected the mood you had felt most often over the last 6 months?  Or, what if people turned color when they developed a crush on someone, or when they got pregnant, or some other biochemical change?  Animal traits are usually recognizable and memorable to an audience.

 

Another direction of attack is to make races (and hybrids) to illustrate different sides of a theme.  You can have one race which is obsessed with the past and tradition, and a different one which is very interested in new theories and experiments.  You can have one where people live communally and one where they prefer to be solitary or in small families.  You can have one where they have strong differences in social rank, and one where rank is very fluid and determined mainly by money or power.  You can have one race which has strong segregation of its 3 sexes, and one which has only one sex and doesn't understand the concept of sexual segregation.  Or you can put this kind of division within a race, like a winged race where some individuals can fly but some have only ornamental wings.


Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#4 ArchTroll   Members   -  Reputation: 131

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 07:09 AM

Pretty art! smile.png

 

Personally when I make a new race I usually start by thinking about animals.  I think, how would human society be different if they had one trait of an animal?  Like the instinct to build nests.  Or I look at a small weird thing about humans, like blushing, and make it bigger - what if we turned colors like a mood ring?  What if this wasn't fast, but instead your skin color reflected the mood you had felt most often over the last 6 months?  Or, what if people turned color when they developed a crush on someone, or when they got pregnant, or some other biochemical change?  Animal traits are usually recognizable and memorable to an audience.

 

Another direction of attack is to make races (and hybrids) to illustrate different sides of a theme.  You can have one race which is obsessed with the past and tradition, and a different one which is very interested in new theories and experiments.  You can have one where people live communally and one where they prefer to be solitary or in small families.  You can have one where they have strong differences in social rank, and one where rank is very fluid and determined mainly by money or power.  You can have one race which has strong segregation of its 3 sexes, and one which has only one sex and doesn't understand the concept of sexual segregation.  Or you can put this kind of division within a race, like a winged race where some individuals can fly but some have only ornamental wings.

Well, that's why I came up with Ulvaskars. Pretty basic - mix of a wolf and a new race of Arhorians. I'll give visual representation later. About society and culture - already written for each race beside Dvergs (I can't come up with anything for them). I'm aiming to become a script writer, so I try to work my ways around a lot of stuff right now.

Also here is small part about Lothars and one small town (each city, town and landmark will have their own lore). Also I'll post world map (blank and ready to be filled). So in these small posts I'll reveal some things about this universe of mine, I hope it will be interesting. 

 

NOTE: both lothar lore descriptions have expired. New one is not yet ready. It will have more info, and will redo some events that happened when humans came.

 

Attached File  Humans(L).rtf   8.81KB   47 downloads - rough draft of Lothars

Attached File  The Lore of the Lands- Tales of Chaos, Lothars..rtf   11.08KB   36 downloads - editted version with proper style (thanks to my previous editor D:)

Attached File  Greenkeep.rtf   9.02KB   33 downloads

Foraland map.png

Lack of rivers is disturbing, I know.


Edited by ArchTroll, 02 April 2013 - 02:23 PM.


#5 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1849

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 01:19 PM

I'm aiming to become a script writer

 

it shows!

 

lot of back story there.

 

but quite good!

 

i'd say you're on the right track, allowing races to "evolve" as the back story dictates. this leads to a continuity in the design of the game universe that is difficult to beat.

 

it may be just me, but it seems the whole "lizard man" "bird man" "animal-man" thing has been done enough. probably because its the first obvious source of inspiration.

 

but technically, race is a subcategory of species, not a separate species. like redguard vs imperial as opposed to human vs kajhitt in Oblivion.

 

if you're looking for races, as opposed to species, you'll have the same species, with minor physiological adaptations to local environment, with different cultures, value systems, religious beliefs, government types, economic systems, and of course, different histories.

 

the main influencing factor for the development of different races will be long periods of geographic isolation between groups of peoples.


Norm Barrows

Rockland Software Productions

"Building PC games since 1988"

 

rocklandsoftware.net

 


#6 ArchTroll   Members   -  Reputation: 131

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 03:45 PM

I'm aiming to become a script writer

 

it shows!

 

lot of back story there.

 

but quite good!

 

i'd say you're on the right track, allowing races to "evolve" as the back story dictates. this leads to a continuity in the design of the game universe that is difficult to beat.

 

it may be just me, but it seems the whole "lizard man" "bird man" "animal-man" thing has been done enough. probably because its the first obvious source of inspiration.

 

but technically, race is a subcategory of species, not a separate species. like redguard vs imperial as opposed to human vs kajhitt in Oblivion.

 

if you're looking for races, as opposed to species, you'll have the same species, with minor physiological adaptations to local environment, with different cultures, value systems, religious beliefs, government types, economic systems, and of course, different histories.

 

the main influencing factor for the development of different races will be long periods of geographic isolation between groups of peoples.

Well, after I come up with their place of living, how they developed trough history and what influenced their lifestyle, it becomes really easy to write.



#7 LorenzoGatti   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2542

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 07:36 AM

An interesting story, although the first part appears inconsequential (couldn't they start out as desert people, without cataclysms and seafaring?) and differences between the two races and plain humans aren't very clear.
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#8 ArchTroll   Members   -  Reputation: 131

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 08:22 PM

An interesting story, although the first part appears inconsequential (couldn't they start out as desert people, without cataclysms and seafaring?) and differences between the two races and plain humans aren't very clear.

To understand better the history of that world I suggest reading about Humans (or Lore of the lands). Because the story about arhorians kicks off after the humans came.

And abot second one, the difference will be seen when I'll post all the race descriptions. Right now I'm busy with history and events that happened in that world. To make that world "alive" I need to spend a lot of time thinking of how would the world develop. It's a little disorganized right now, but I'll make it's more appealing when I'll have free time.


Edited by ArchTroll, 11 April 2013 - 02:17 PM.


#9 Jeremy Slupinski   Members   -  Reputation: 143

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 11:55 AM

This is something I enjoy thinking about very much. The thing I find to be a "flaw" is that all the characters look too humanoid, or have minimal differences to creatures found on earth. My method of race creation is think of all the different physical attributes we have as in dexterity, grip, eating, protection etc. Then I take the ones that are most distinguished by that race's role and think of the best shape tool or way to accomplish that task and apply it to that creature as an actual part of the creature. Another thing that is often in my opinion a problem, is that these races are often just plain superior or inferior to humans. Create a balanced ability range that is simply better at some things than humans and worse at others.



#10 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6444

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 05:29 AM

Personally when I make a new race I usually start by thinking about animals. I think, how would human society be different if they had one trait of an animal? Like the instinct to build nests. Or I look at a small weird thing about humans, like blushing, and make it bigger - what if we turned colors like a mood ring? What if this wasn't fast, but instead your skin color reflected the mood you had felt most often over the last 6 months? Or, what if people turned color when they developed a crush on someone, or when they got pregnant, or some other biochemical change? Animal traits are usually recognizable and memorable to an audience.

 

Indeed. Most of our mythology (greek and scandinavian for instance, which are partly responsible for a lot of fantasy tropes) comes from humans misunderstanding a natural phenomenon and attempting to explain it in such or such way. In retrospect, we can hardly make these connections, but this is exactly what it is: an attempt at explaining the unknown.

Animals, odd humans habits, are a good place to start.

 

Another way to look at it is to redefine the definition of a lifeform. I'd recommend against using anthropomorphism in general unless its to depict a different species as inheriting human-like properties.  Good/Bad examples:

 

http://doom.wikia.com/wiki/Baron_of_Hell - A minotaur-like creature. Quite anthropomorphic indeed, but clearly borrows from an animal. You can wonder what led proto-Greeks to make this one up... quite judgemental of the Queen's encounters :)

 

http://doom.wikia.com/wiki/Demon - My personal favorite in Doom. Unless you know its a Demon, you won't find a suitable name to refer to it, and trying to explain to your friend what it looks like it sure to both: a) Create a great mental image and b) Cause a few laughters (and that does make it memorable enough to be recognizable)

 

To me that's where universes such as Star Trek or The Elder Scrolls err. Everything is too much like a human, and behaves too much like a human too. If you want memorable species, you need unique species both in terms of aesthetics and behaviors.






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