There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

Creating Your Fantasy Bible: Creature Feature Edition May 2, 2013

We are still on the journey to creating our encyclobibliogrimoires for our fantasy worlds, and today I thought we might mix two related topics: Creatures and Races.

First, let’s distinguish between the two. Obviously, Races need to be your more sentient beings whereas creatures would be the things that go bump in the night or swoop in from overhead. No, no swooping. As Alistair might say: Swooping…is…bad. For characters, anyway, but not for plot. Which is why you want to include them in your encylobibliogrimoire. If your characters have to fight magical creatures of some kind, you need to be able to keep them straight in your head and know at least as much about them as your characters will.

How you distinguish between the beasts and beings is, of course, at your discretion. But for organizational purposes I suggest doing it. For example, I would consider the House Elves from Harry Potter to be beings, not creatures, because they are intelligent and have their own cultures and traditions. But I would consider the giant spiders to be creatures because, well, they scare me.

Like I said, your discretion. Here’s an example from my bestiary for Heirs of War:

Black Dog by Micha F. Lindemans (Encyclopedia Mythica)

The black dogs are found all over the British Isles, especially on deserted roads. They are roughly the size of a calf and they move in utter silence, except for the clicking of their claws. The chill despondency and despair these dogs cause is the reason why there are no detailed descriptions of their appearance. While a companion is no guarantee for safety — for one might see the dog and the other might not — it offers a better protection than walking alone. It is said that the best companion is a descendant of Ean MacEndroe of Loch Ewe. He rescued a fairy once and in return he and his descendants were given perpetual immunity from the power of the black dogs. (See also Barghest).

Some creatures I have pictures of, others I don’t. Now, here’s an example of a description of one of my races:

Donnfaybrownies

Description:

  • “a pair of eyes so big they gave the impression that someone had screwed two light bulbs into a light brown furry face and painted large brown dots on them”
  • “humanoid creature with its gangly limbs. The creature was maybe two feet tall, coming to just above the girl’s knees. Two skinny hands were placed on its hips, the thin lips of the creature’s mouth pulled down as it frowned”

Origins:

Brownies are invisible brown elves or household goblins who live in farmhouses and other country buildings within Scotland. While the members of the household are asleep they go about doing labours for the house owners. Brownies are protective creatures and become attached to the families if the family move the Brownie will move with them. If a brownie is treated badly by the family or is offered payment the brownie vanishes without trace. Children because of their innocent nature can only see Brownies, though this does not prevent the brownies from helping adults

The donnfay aren’t one of my more prominent races, more just a nod to my love of Irish and Scottish folklore. Hence why there isn’t a lot of information on them. The more prominent a race features in your story, the more information you should have on them. You should include their origins (which part of your world or land), their traditions, their cultures, their physiology, any special powers or gifts they have, their weaknesses, their prejudices…the list can go on and on. Don’t panic if you can’t answer all of those criteria and don’t feel like you are overdoing it if you have more. Keep in mind that your encyclobibliogrimoire is there as an aid for you.

We’ll talk about geography next go round. For now, make sure you hit the comments to let us all know how your encyclobibliogrimoire is going!

Mara Valderran
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