Fantasy Creature Rodeo

"I want BR to write about his favorite fantasy creature, including ones he's created himself."


That’s a rather entertaining reQuest, but also a hard one because when it comes to fantasy creatures I have a lot I like. One of the great appeals of fantasy fiction is the ability to build worlds shaping not just continents and cultures, but the entire natural world. World building is often its own reward and a good map opens the mind to all the possibilities located therein. Who lives in the cities? What lurks in the mountains? Are there orks? Giant bats? Cannibalistic space wizards?

The following, as per the reQuest above, is a list of some of my favorite fantasy creatures, by other authors first, and then from myself. Some of these creatures, especially by other authors, I like mostly because they’re frick’n cool, but I’ll try to give more reasons than that.

Trollocs

What they are:

Trollocs are large humanoid creatures with animal features that appear in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Functionally, they provide the same storytelling element the orcs do in Lord of the Rings. Lore-wise, they are shadowspawn: creatures created by the series antagonist by blending humans and animals together. They are physically imposing shock troops that strike terror into all who see them. Though, like most mook villains, their intimidation factor tends to decay over the course of the story as the protagonists go from simple villagers to ultimate badass super mages.

Why I like them:

They’re a clever take on your standard ork (I alternate between ork and orc to differentiate between orcs specific to Tolkien’s work and orks from wider fantasy). Any villain with a massive army is going to need soldiers, and when you have a nonhuman army any creature you use as fodder is going to be compared to the orcs from Tolkien. Here, it is primarily the word trolloc that I like. I’m a huge word nerd and this word is just fun to say. It both invokes trolls and orcs being a portmanteau of both words and while they aren’t much more than orks, they’ve been re-skinned in quite an entertaining manner.

Thestrals

What they are:

To say that they’re winged horses would be untrue. Appearing in the Harry Potter series, Thestrals look like cadaverous horses that are carnivorous and invisible. They can only be seen by somebody who has seen somebody die and as such have a negative reputation despite being rather docile and friendly to humans.

Why I like them:

One of the things that makes Harry Potter is JK Rowling’s superb imagination. Winged horses are common in fantasy, and these are a particularly dark take. Storywise, they’re a nice metaphor for the reality of death and how, as adults, we can see it much clearer than children.

Dragons

What they are:

Dragons are lizard-like creatures appearing in a variety of cultures since ancient times and have any number of attributes. They are so common, it’s hard to know whether some things we would call dragons such as the feathered serpents of Mesoamerica or the Eastern Dragons from Japanese and Chinese myth are even dragons at all.

Why I like them:

Dragons are multiform and useful for metaphoric stand-ins. They have so many attributes that the fantasy author can shape them to his or her purpose in the narrative and they are powerfully symbolic to the human mind and that’s a wonderful creature to have around, as a tool.

Ents

What they are:

Ents are sentient, tree-like beings from Tolkien’s legendarium. They are a dying race, having no women left, who protect the forests of Middle Earth. They’re physically very powerful, but slow moving and slow speaking. This doesn’t mean they’re dumb, but they take their time much to the frustrations of other beings dealing with them.

Why I like them:

I like their tragic story, how they’re doomed but join the fight in The Two Towers despite there being very little hope-- not in the battle, but for their future regardless if they win. Something about doomed quests appeal to me; where victory may be achieved, but the quester is destroyed anyway in-spite of or because of their actions.

Ents represent a fading nature, and are a powerful statement about protecting the environment.

Werebears

What they are:

Lycanthropes who turn into bears instead of wolves. Perhaps “Lycanthrope” isn’t the right word as it comes from the Greek λύκος meaning “wolf”. Perhaps “arctosthrope” would be more appropriate. The White Wolf roleplaying games call them Gurahl. They appear in D&D as well.

Why I like them:

They’re a step up from werewolves. Scarier and more primal. A silver bullet may kill a wolf, but you better have a high caliber silver slug for the werebear. The word is also fun to say. As a writer, I’d be inclined to use them rarely to hint at how large and dangerous a forest is, perhaps.

BookReader creations:

Bonedren

What they are:

Bonedren are extremely large collections of bones of various animals and people resurrected together as one undead being. They’re physically powerful and very dangerous. Like all undead in My Sister Still Speaks they are under the control of the Clockwork Goddess. It takes a very powerful necromancer to raise one up, and like all undead being wounded by one will eventually turn a person into an undead monster. They exude a powerful sense of dread wherever they go and are often seen giving slower moving zombies -- sometimes dozens at a time-- a lift.

Why I like them:

Because they’re scary, more threatening than your standard undead and can be customized by your necromancer for whatever task is required. Need something with twelve serrated blades, instead of hands? Gotcha covered. Need something with seven wolf heads and two human skulls? Good to go? Need something with all of these things? Let me show you the combo pack. I’ve used them in a variety of stories.

Alleguan Forest Hyena

What they are:

Medium-sized hyena species, scientific name Crocuta cruentus, dwelling on the continent of Alleguay. Despite their name, they are found both in forests and plains. They look similar to the real life spotted hyena, but are generally smaller and some have short manes. Some have primitive magical abilities (about 1%), though nothing as sophisticated as a sentient species might have.

Why I like them:

I’ve always had a thing for hyenas. I find them unbearably cute and I don’t know why. The thing about them is I also find them hideous too. They’re not super-powered fantasy animals, but as you go along world building you eventually come to the question if the normal animals in your story are going to be the same as the real world. Are there going to be American Robins flying around Caer Aurelie? Will there be house sparrows in downtown Sangre Sanctus? Or will there be something like a sparrow, or something like wolves, or deer, or whatever else. I like hyenas so there they are. I like klipspringer, so they’re running around too. There doesn’t need to be a greater reason than that.

Kuroni

What they are:

Large sentient wasps, the sort from the Song of Ceber. Physically, they are about the size of Labrador retrievers. They live in two small sections of Alleguay, having a hive in the Alba Silva Rainforest and one in the temperate rainforest of Trepxe. Their string is lethal to humans within a few minutes bringing shock about almost instantly as the body cavity is flooded with peptides and histamines. Additionally, they have powerful jaws capable of severing bone and each leg ends in four rending claws. They have a nominal alliance with the Trepxian government brought about with the advent of human machine guns.

Why I like them:

Giant wasps? What’s not to like? Most of their development comes from when I was composing the Song of Ceber and their characteristics evolved with the story. Their religion is a weird blending of both Greek and Norse mythologies, the dialogue is weird and more like declamations than conversation, and they have bizarre social customs. Very fun to write. Very.

Wearets

What they are:

Wearets are large sewer dwelling mammals resembling polecats. They are an often ignored problem in the major cities of Alleguay, though occasionally humans will organize purges. They aren’t dangerous except in large groups, but have been known to attack sleeping homeless people especially in cold weather and can be aggressive around their kits. Their intelligence is assumed to be nominal.

Why I like them:

I was a bit tired of giant fantasy sewer rats, so I tried out a few creatures to populate underground places, and giant polecats are what I struck on. Weasels have big personalities and are fierce, which makes for interesting background. I doubt I’d ever have a character fight them, but they can be used as sinister background flavor, something that is always there worrying in the back of the mind like wearets worry on homeless people’s toes. Why I like them:

Emerics

What they are:

Often called Emeric Immortals mostly because of the assumption their bodies are unkillable, these are actually not physical beings at all, but extra dimensional singularities projecting themselves into the physical plane (mostly due to boredom). They can assume any physical body, though not at will. The body must be biological and capable of maintaining the Emeric’s intelligence (they're not too much smarter than humans with their IQ averaging out to 140, though they grasp mathematical concepts quicker. Contrariwise, they have a harder time learning languages-- though this doesn't matter too much as they have infinite time to do so). Despite the bodies being as susceptible to damage as any mortal body, the Emeric is able to project force fields, instantly heal wounds, and keep a body moving long after it has bled out. Being smart and having literally all eternity to develop it, their technology far outclasses any creatures’ they might come across, however, they are not social by nature and are limited in number (maybe a three thousand in the entire Multiverse). They are territorial and often hostile to other Emerics. Their nature is unchanging, and so cannot grow as people. An Emeric now will have the same personality as they did a thousand years ago, and their opinions once formed never change. While powerful, they are very arrogant, and even ones who are “good” are extremely dangerous as they do not perceive life or even time even close to the way mortal beings do.

Why I like them:

They mostly exist as a way I can test out thought experiments about perception. They exist in a few stories, but due to the problem of portraying them as relatable, they can never be protagonists. Their view point is too alien and they clash with my concept that for a story to be interesting there has to be some danger to the protagonists. An Emeric cannot be killed by anything except the heat death of the universe or being swallowed by another singularity. They’re essentially intelligent blackholes. To show just how alien their thoughts are; their perspective of a human would be more that human’s worldline. (The worldline concept is important here, it is the path you take through spacetime from beginning to end and would look like multiple images of you lined up, basically everything you do through time as a snapshot). The Emeric however doesn’t perceive you as your worldline, but rather it perceives your atoms’ worldline. Humanity to them is more akin to a traffic jam of atoms at a specific space of time. You are where a bunch of atoms have a tendency to congregate. Much like how the spiral arms in a galaxy aren’t moving, but stars are bunching up in those locations creating the illusion of arms. Humans in this view aren’t real things. It is very hard to write a character who thinks like that, but very interesting to think about.


There it is. It feels kinda weird and egotistical to post this as a regular node, so it is a daylog. Hope you enjoyed it.

I have to tell you (as your friend who is named Behr) that I was not really prepared for this long journey starting in the forests of Bavaria. Truth by told, I expected us to use the military transport plane since it was supposed to be a long journey and as such only put on one of my shoes. So, now one of my socks is very wet and dirty (the one not having benefit of shoe) and extends several inches beyond the reach of my toes, which are not gnarled and birdlike the way women's hands become when they become old and useless.

The old bearded man leading the party tells me it is "complicated" when I question him about not using the military transport plane or other modern conveniences. The elf keeps smiling at me. He knows I know.

Some glowing red dead German soldiers from the time when Germany was great again attacked us while riding Bavarian night wolves, but the people I am traveling with are pretty handy with weapons and were able to defeat them although one of the fully grown bearded men traveling with us was killed. He kept wanting to touch me so I'm not too sad about this.

For some reason there are four children in the group and after the bearded guy was made dead I was sent off with two of the children. This seems like a very unsound plan to me and should provide many opportunities for escape.

I will be with you again helping to make American great again.

My friends.

PS: The WiFi (internet kiddie slang) is spotty out here in the forests of Bavaria so I am uncertain as to how often I will be able to update.

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