In this thread, we post alternative interpretations to common fantasy tropes, races, monsters...
I'm especially interested in alternatives for things like elves=humans with pointy ears, centaurs=bit human, bit horse...
Share all your ideas! Post 'yay' if you like an idea, 'nay' if you don't.
Instead of Wurms or dragon-snakes
I think a lot of boring fantasy races get a lot more interesting when you go back to their mythic roots. Or at least back to what Tolkien actually did with them, because Lord of the Rings was the last time an elf was actually interesting.
Like, centaurs as barbaric, partying rape machines. Sure, they're a little one-note, but at least they have a distinct character.
The problem with alternative interpretations is that you can not go too far without completely loosing the point.
An example: in an attempt to be original and clever, I make a setting in which dwarfs drink tea, live on trees, and look like half human half raccoon with a beard. Then I sit at at the table and I inform eveyone that yes, dwarves are in the setting but with those "twists".
Except these are not dwarves, these are the dreaded tea-addicted bearded raccoons. The is that the more you change a staple from its "baseline" the more it becames just somehing else. A centaur is half human, half horse. Give it another name if you want to make it an half dwarf half goats with wings. Otherwise you are just playig your brilliant OC race but with the name of a fantasy staple because... I don't know, you would feel ashamed having an original race in your setting, ir believe the players won't be able to relate to someone they have no fucking idea about how it behaves?
So it is not that small changes are bad, but when you start piling twists on something, you just end up with something else.
Yeah, they have more character, but I often find their appearance outdated and pleasing.
A centaur is literally half man, half horse. Seriously, if you didn't know what centaurs where and your GM came up with that, you'd say he's just lazy. And you can't think to hard about their anatomy either, because it just hurts.
Lots of fantasy races appear like: human but large/shorter/green/with one eye, stick some different animal parts here and there, make them big with sharp teeth and pewpew fire...
It's a personal preference, I don't think the classic stuff is bad, I'm just looking for possible alternatives. And I know you guys got them.
Exactly this. I suppose the best thing to do is fill the same niches with original concepts. Like giant centipedes. You're not making a special snowflake dragon that's really just a centipede with the name "dragon" slapped on, you're using an original creature to fill the dragon-shaped niche in your setting.
I get what you are saying, but I consider a good alternative more like 'filling the same spot, but being different'.
So dwarves are short folk that live underground? Why not make them blind, bearded moles with viking helmets. It's not the perfect example obviously, but they are now different yet fit the same niche.
Satyrs are a widespread race:
>Mountain goat satyrs with curly horns in cold territories
>Brown, woolly nomad satyrs in dessert areas
>Gazelle-satyrs in the savannah
See the satyr example is exactly the opposite of what I was saying. It seems good in my book, it does not change much about what a satyr is, it just assumes that satyrs in different places evolved in slightly different ways.
I get your point too, I just wanted to point out the obvious difference between "elves are not pointy eared people"and "i need something different to fill the elves spot". Both of these are fine, it is what lies in the middle that is not, the " it is still an elf, except it has nothing to do with elves!".
>afterlife is believed to be located under the sea
>Giant sea creatures are said to be angels and gods in mortal form
>Every church worships bodies of water, believing they are a gateway to the plane of the gods.
Man I've been doing this for more than a decade now
Never ever ever trust a unicorn and god save your sorry cunt if you're some stupid ass virgin maiden wandering around and petting creepy faeric white horn horses
it's not rape, or at least not that kind, unless you count a horn eagerly drinking virginal blood as rape
Nah, fish are like what birds are to regular heaven.
Birds aren't grandma souls, right?
Just like you could vision heaven as plane above the sky, sea-heaven is a plane below the sea, or in the really deep parts.
>Elves are the fairy folk trying to live among humans
>Sometimes the fairies find a baby and hollow it out from the inside, putting a fairy spirit inside it instead. The changeling grows up doing it's best to appear like a human, but never quite manages it.
>Most elves have something not quite right about them; fingers with too many joints, eyes pure black, leaf-like pointed ears, unusual birthmarks or similar. If the elf gets confused, they might forget what their appearance was meant to look like, and gain or loose features. Most elves try to cover these elf-marks up with concealing clothing so people don't notice them.
>They live forever, they have strange dietry needs (like live spiders or saucers of milk left out over night or rose petals), and they don't quite understand human customs.
>Inevitably, the elf gets found out and run out of town, and returns to live with the fairy courts in the wild places of the world, where they are eagerly received by their kin who want stories of the humans and things the elf has stolen from them.
>Sometimes the fairies find a baby and hollow it out from the inside
this is actually really close to traditional fey. They'd often steal children and put elf children instead. You could always tell a fairy-elf by its deformed feet, who were often backwards, had hooves or geese feet...
It's what I do in my games with fey. I mix the whole Tithe to Hell thing with a Mythos flavor: fey steal humans and try to deform them to that kind of madness through decadence and drug crazes and malforming their soul with faeric glamour madness shit.
This way, they make more targets to be dragged off into the horror of the beyond, since stealing mythos power to fuel their dreamland escapades attracts attention.
Faeries are bad, bad, bad, bad, BAD people.
I really can't say I do any of this stuff. If I don't like elves I don't reskin them, I just don't put in elves.
Though I guess the closest thing is my trolls; trolls are not totally stupid brutes. They aren't as smart as humans but they are generally sociable enough and live in normal society.
>If I don't like elves I don't reskin them, I just don't put in elves
tropes role is... that they're tropes
inverting them for the lulz don't create anything useful. It's not really funny. I'ts not actually original just "pretending" original.
It's quite infantile, being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian.
The problem is you are going too far in the other direction.
Having the occasional switch up is good, great even. Keeps things fresh. Elves that are a little different, dwarves that are a little different, these are good and positive things. The only problem is when it gets too crazy like elves being closer to dwarves then the dwarves are.
But saying 'everything has to be tolkien and standard or you are TV Tropes REEEEEE' is just as bad.
I'm not trying to be contrarian, I'm not trying dis the tropes, I'm not pretending that reskinning everything makes my setting original.
I just want to explore what alternatives /tg/ can come up with.
It's a brainstorm.
Where did i state that i am against any change?
As long as they fit in wide range of "general trope" with no concept-breaking changes that turns the ting, or major aspect of it inside out, it's fine
And btw it's kinda funny how most people screaming OH NO, TOLKIEN STANDARD AGAIN have very little idea how your standard fantasy stereotypes are actually far from tolkien's originals (and not generalized, setting-specific variants even more)
Yes, we know the meme about tolkien not actually being generic fantasy, we get it. Your post made it sound like you were against most or all sorts of changes to the norm, that's why I disagreed with it.
Well I definetly like to put a little spin to a race, and I really think it gives a certain freshness to a race.
For example dwarfs- someone mentioned mole-people and i tend to go in this direction.
My setting is a fantasy (secretly post-scifi like Might and Magic) setting. My dwarwes are geneticaly modified humas adapted to working in mines- small, pale, very little hair, good hearing. They went kinda feral through the centuries of beeing separated to the point of beeing "crazy hill people". They will often wear a lot of furs when going outside- hence the stereotype of a small agressive bearded figure running towards you with an axe and some archeotech.
Mind that i made tge setting for writefaggotry and not rpgs.
Here's how I'd make the difference:
If I introduce my players to a race called the kdjsqlkjfsjqfoi, who are short, strong humanoids who live inside mountains and love to drink, my players will say: "oh, so they're dwarves then?" -> bad alternative
If my players hear from the townsfolk that a great armoured beast lurks in the woods, a wyrm who devours their prey whole, and they go out there looking for a dragon or a wurm, but are instead faced with a giant centipede -> not a bad alternative
>I'm especially interested in alternatives for things like elves=humans with pointy ears, centaurs=bit human, bit horse...
If you're gonna redefine a word to the point where it becomes something else entirely, why would you continue to use the word? I could say my centaurs are giant squids who live in trees, but at that point it doesn't make any sense to call them centaurs. Why not give new names to the new creatures you create instead of forcing one of the old ones on them?
>fae are "magical beings that live in the wild and cause trouble with kidnapping, theft, and spying"
>have all kinds of powerful "magic"
>at least this is how they are described by NPCs
>when you actually encounter them it becomes pretty obvious to the players that they are full-blown /x/tastic crystal skull greys
>only wise men and wizards are aware that they come from "beyond the sky" and this information is pretty hard for the characters to come by
>missions involving fae include infiltrating their temples (grounded spaceships), rescuing changelings (abductees), and stealing their magical artifacts (lezzer gunz)
OK, that's something I can agree with. I'm not sure if that's a different point to what people were saying earlier, or if I'm just thick and I didn't get it until you rephrased it.
Dwarves are half-goblins/bugbears and half-human that came to be through a series of raids on small towns and very kinky aristocrats in big cities.
Treatns/tree people/living trees/whatever are a colony of semi-sentient fungi/zooids much akin to Portuguese Man-o-wars (the animal/s not the ship).
(Not mine, taken from Might and Magic lore from it's Ubisoft time) Orcs being humans turned into tireless slaves and shocktroopers by mages using demon blood.
>Dwarves are half-goblins/bugbears and half-human that came to be through a series of raids on small towns and very kinky aristocrats in big cities.
>Treatns/tree people/living trees/whatever are a colony of semi-sentient fungi/zooids much akin to Portuguese Man-o-wars (the animal/s not the ship).
>Orcs being humans turned into tireless slaves and shocktroopers by mages using demon blood.
The planets are Gods and humans don't matter.
Trolls are actually the chosen people (the children of the titans that uplifted animals into intelligence), not humans as they believe.
Arcane magic that Wizards use is the same sort of power Titans and Gods use to shape and change the world but humans are so small and magically impotent that their mightiest Sorcerers's greatest effects are almost nothing on a cosmic scale.
How are these?
I like the kind of lore you are creating here because the more power and secrets the players accumulate, the more they will realize their insignificance in the overall world.
like real lifeSolves the classic DM problem of not being able to control a high-level party without doing immersion-breaking plot intervention.
>Trolls are actually the chosen people (the children of the titans that uplifted animals into intelligence), not humans as they believe.
Bonus points if trolls seem like dumb brutes to humans but are actually immortal wise men with so much on their minds that they spend all day staring at rocks and contemplating shit. They can't communicate with us because we are lower life forms, not the other way around.
>Like, centaurs as barbaric, partying rape machines. Sure, they're a little one-note, but at least they have a distinct character.
I think that's actually lazy, because honestly ALL Greek gods/heroes/mythic animals were like that
I prefer Centaurs to be the whacky creations of a deranged wizard who just wanted to create the perfect knight.
Forgot about that, haven't read those books since I was a yunger gatsby. So yeah, pretty much this but with a less dramatic irony.
That would go great in a comedy campaign imo
Elves being based off of ancient Near Eastern cultures like the Sumerians and Assyrians instead of god damned Celts or some shit. Hell, throw in some snow elves or some shit based on the Sami or something, I don't know.
I would exclusively go for native American elves. Both the redskin buffalo hunting kind as the Mayan torture-people-for-sun-god kind.
Come to think about it, I used to have the idea that Tolkien was implying something along those lines, with the elves moving to the west and all. But I'm not a Tolkien expert at all, so...
Humans are the barbaric hordes that destroy ancient kingdoms and such, with elves, dwarves, and other such races filling more of a protagonist role.
Might work best in a Not!Early Medieval Europe setting
This, that Satyr dude should've said that the new race will be called Striders, on the account of their legs being different from humans, or something.
You don't paint tiger stripes on a lion if you're missing a tiger in your zoo, you just get a lion and say there's a new attraction in the big cats section instead.
Slimes are a collection of Undines who have lost most of their power and are forced to interconnect with each other just so the collective survives.
Swallowing victims allows the collective to break down the victim's techniques and form and share that knowledge amongst all the comprising Undines.
When the collective splits into parts, Undines are using their gathered strength to try becoming themselves again. The process may be slow due to the relative strengths of its divided factions.
>An example: in an attempt to be original and clever, I make a setting in which dwarfs drink tea, live on trees, and look like half human half raccoon with a beard. Then I sit at at the table and I inform eveyone that yes, dwarves are in the setting but with those "twists".
>Except these are not dwarves, these are the dreaded tea-addicted bearded raccoons.
Well that depends on if they're gruff greedy craftsmen that speak with a Scottish accent. If so they're totally still dwarves.
That actually reads as slightly less racist when you remember that unicorn is slang among polyamorists for a hot bisexual/bicurious girl who
>who is willing to join an existing couple, often with the presumption that this person will date and become sexually involved with both members of that couple, and not demand anything or do anything which might cause problems or inconvenience to that couple.
(the urbandictionary definition put it very well)
I've also heard some people use "unicorn" to describe a smoking hot girl who's still a virgin. Which if you knew any actual real gypsies you'd know genuinely ARE more commonly found in that community.
>because Lord of the Rings was the last time an elf was actually interesting
Tolkien cleverly changed Elves by giving them an entirely different theological place in the world despite being largely human physically. Elves are immortal within the world, which gives them a kind of immortality (reincarnation if they die, no aging), plus the ones who've been to Valinor learned many perks and power. But when the earth ends, their future is uncertain, and it's believed that they die with it.
Humans, meanwhile, are more like Maiar-- angelic/demonic spirits who visit the world but are not of it. When a human dies, that's it... but his spirit goes to the outer darkness to dwell eternally with each other, Illuvatar and other spirit beings. Plus, when the next world is created, humans will be permitted to reincarnate into that to play a part there, too. A consequence of this is that human bodies don't live very long because they're not tied to the world.
This really effects the human/elf cultural differences without completely rewriting elves as something else. All too often, "my unique take on fantasy races" amounts so swapping one rubber mask for another.
"Alternative interpretations" of fantasy races remind me how I was like 10 and used to draw elves with 8 spider-like eyes and fangs because that makes them "unique". Or that /tg/ poster in whose setting "humans are actually lizardmen". Changing the core definitions of fantasy races like "elves=humans with pointy ears" or "centaurs=bit human, bit horse" makes them completely different things and only creates unnecessary confusion for your players or readers when you could've just made them an original race.
First they would form a "mold" of the victim's body to trace their musculature.
Then they would slowly dissolve the target from the outside in, stopping at regular intervals to make observations of each layer.
It's a 3D copier. Once they cross-reference their data to piece together the victim's brain and neural network, it's a matter of running simulations in the collective's head like a quantum computer.
Alternatively, they could start at the brain and seep into the neural network that way.
well, that's terrifying.
Why is it that people here either assume you that trying to come up with an alternative idea is either:
1) not worth the effort because you are just re-skinning a bit and not changing enough to have something new
2) not worth the effort because you are changing too much and you should just accept that it's something else entirely
There is a fucking middle-ground /tg/, you can come up with an alternative that is just different enough to be original but still recognisable enough to fit the same niche.
Granted no every idea is great, but we could just have brainstorm without every two posts someone telling that we are wasting our time, don't you think?
Orc's are essentially mother nature's white blood cells. Greenskin due to being born of the earth. Sole purpose and focus is to purge and eliminate all other races from the face of the planet. Extremely strong, fast, and singleminded.
Elves biologically adapt to their habitat while in the womb. Their aspects and behaviour changes based on where they were conceived
Dwarves are partially made of stone. With age, they "die" by turning into statues. Most of them fight ubarmef because their fists are literally made of marble.
Orcs are native americans. Nomad tribes led by shamans with deep connection with nature. Poor technology compensated by strong traditions and hearth magic
Have an idea for a Lovecraft-inspired-Western Frontier, and I'm in the process of making a fishfolk race
>ancient dieties live in water, underground, and in space
>used to live on land/in the sky but moved up/down due to climate change (think of the difference between prehistoric era and modern era)
>fishfolk start off life as blobfish-on-land-esque creatures
>extremely weak but also extremely adaptable
>the fishfolk that remained in the seas evolved to become Shoggoth-esque creatures
>meanwhile, fishfolk living in coves/near land became much more traditional fish humanoids
>religion is based off the sea dieties once witnessed before moving onto land
>religious oligarchy, social status is divided between warrior, priest, and high priest, role and tutoring decided/started on birth
>warriors fight for the fishfolk, killing intruders and kidnapping people for sacrifice
>may also be guards, enforcing fishfolk code of conduct (no murder of fellow fishfolk, for example)
>use copper found near sea to make basic shields, staffs, and spears, but otherwise are underdeveloped and godfearing
>high priests sacrifice kidnapped people to summon Shoggoths from the sea via portal and to use as part of warrior force
>otherwise, are leaders of fishfolk colonies
>regular priests tame Shoggoths and provide assistance to Warriors during battle
>sacrifice is also performed to celebrate the gods and end droughts
>shoggoths consume everything in its path if left unchecked, hence why only high priests are allowed to summon them
>should a fishfolk break a code of conduct, they are sentenced to solitude by first offense, removal of the arms for second offense, and becoming food for the shoggoths for the third offense
Not really. There was nothing in that post about sentience and characters based on humans, it's about how fantasy races (sentient but also monsters) often seem like different animal parts lazily slapped together (including human parts)
Lizardfolk have a very complex social structure.
Sexual dimorphism is a thing. Females are slightly bigger than males, males have generally brighter scales.
Their society is a matriarchy. The leader of a tribe is usually the oldest and wisest female, often mother of many of her tribe. Despite this, males are generally treated as equals and have roughly the same possibilities of social adavnce as females. A male can never be a chief tho, since the tribe is always reverent to their Mother.
Females tend to be priestesses and diplomats, while males are warriors by nature. There are cases, albeit rare, of female warriors and male diplomats however.
Females get to chose their mate, while males use their naturally bright and colorful scales to attract the attention of a female. Scales are also a clear signal of health. Bright and colorful scales are sign of good health and youth, while dull colors indicate sickness or old age.
Tribes are usually divided by colors and patterns on the scales. Some tribes also have unique features like bright orange bellies, blue crests or reticulated patterns on their backs.
Among the lizardfolk there is a condition not too different from albinism called blackscales, which mainly targets males. Lizardfolk with this condition are born with unusually dark and dull scales, and despite being otherwise identical to any other lizardfolk, they are considered a rarity and a bad omen.
despite this, blackscales are usually accepted into Lizardfolk societies and can also rise to positions of power and respect, but more often than not their bloodline is destined to extincion since the color of their scales is considered "ugly" by females, hence the difficulty to find a mate.
For this reason, blackscales usually leave their tribe and pick up the life of adventurers. Hence blackscales are by large the most common tiype of Lizardfolk adventurers.
>I prefer Centaurs to be the whacky creations of a deranged wizard who just wanted to create the perfect knight.
You mean how Minotaurs were the whacky creations of a deranged wizard who just wanted the perfect nursemaid for his kids and builder for his castle?
Being humble people with a strict pragmatic mind, Lizardfolk fail to grasp the theoretical reasoning behind the study of magic, hence they can't become wizards.
they can however become sorcerers. Those born with magical powers are usually said to have "the Mark", a trace of their ancient draconic ancestors, not unlike kobolds
>we post alternative interpretations to common fantasy tropes, races, monsters...
Drow are basically a factitious version of North Korea.
They fought, and functionally lost, a war ages ago, but their propaganda machine keeps the idea that they chose to end the war going. The Underdark is basically the same thing as living in the middle of a desert, but with markedly less sunlight.
- Clean water is scarce and expensive. The drow priestesses and mages could probably work up spells to purify more water, but don't since it helps keep the rabble in line.
- Protein is hard to come by. Most drow can only get it from eating subterranean insects or fish - the former aren't great sources, and the latter are expensive.
- For that matter, food in general is badly portioned out. Mushrooms and lichens just don't supply a whole ton of calories or nutrients, and there isn't enough space to grow it all in.
- Most common drow have deficiencies in every vitamin and mineral you care to name, though particularly vitamins C and D.
- Except salt. Salt is dirt-cheap in the Underdark - and as a result it's considered a peasant's food.
- None of this applies to drow in the upper noble houses, who thanks to money and power can acquire plenty of clean water and food for themselves. Rothé meat is exclusively for nobles.
- The lower classes of drow are kept in check pretty much only because of threat of extreme violence against them. Sometimes this happens anyway even if they've done nothing wrong.
- The lower classes are also constantly told lies and propaganda about the surface world that sounds absolutely absurd to outside ears but which they earnestly believe because they have no other point of reference (i.e., "The surface world is preparing to attack us and only doesn't because they fear our might"; "humans only live for ten years before dying", that kind of thing)
Dwarves are a eusocial, ground dwelling race similar to the naked mole rat. Hundreds upon hundreds of dwarves can share the same mother, which can bloat to the size of a small mountain over and live almost indefinitely in ideal conditions. All infant dwarves are borne more or less anatomically identical, being nurtured into biologically distinct 'castes' depending on the diet they receive in their early years. This diet always consists of their base food product, a fermented barley-and-root slush, and an earthen materiel grond into powder. Workers, who form the vast majority of the colony will have ground coal mixed into their childhood meals. They more or appear to be your average dwarf, save for the fact that their eyes luminesce in unlit areas. A member of the soldier caste, which can reach anywhere inbetween 3 and 4 meters in height, will recieve either powdered copper or iron instead. This will result in metallic crests jutting out from the knuckles, joints, and forheads of the soldiers, rendering them a formidable opponent even unarmed. The 'drone' dwarves, who are the only ones aside from the 'queen' caste who can successfully reproduce, ingest gemstones and crystals. This causes their dermis, which would otherwise be leathery and smooth like their kindred, to develop a vibrant array of scales that cover their entire bodies save for their upper torso and face.
The few queens that are born receive a dose of orichalchum in their meals. Orichalchum, and almost hideously large portions of meat. That can include the flesh of dead dwarfs int he most dire of circumstances; this, however grisly, is considered to be a particularly honorable method of 'burial' amongst their kind.
An elf is something beautiful. It may be dark, evil, bright, good, natural, or unnatural, but it is never ugly. They are incredibly vain creatures. An elf that’s become ugly is worse than death, and disfiguring scars are hidden in shame with illusions, or the elf is banished from their people. They are always gracefull, for grace is beautiful. They obsess over longevity and youth, because both the old wise mind, and the youthful face are beautiful. They live in twilight realms of enchanted groves, crystalline caves, or silvery palaces, for they evoke beauty. They are patrons of the arts, knowledge, and magic, as they they can work beauty. They garb themselves in fine things, to accentuate their beauty. Groups emerge over beauty styles, and there are great competitions for designer outfits, that can result is elaborate duels that are more a performance art judged by peers. Elves are sexual, because sex is beautiful. They have a fondness for beautiful humans, and will lay with them, making a half-elf child. Often these children are not as beautiful as they hoped, and are very unwelcome in elven society. Elves are very elitist, and while not overtly so, they can be indirectly condescending. To live in elven society, you must be part of the piece of art.
Centaurs are an alien parasite race disguised as hybrid humanoids, this knowledge is a secret for most people, and must be keep that way to some day kill the humanoids of this planet.
Dwarves were an early experiment of this race to produce an artificial host, but they turned out to be resistant to their infection.
Humans are mutant orcs, weak in nature, but with superior reproduction.
Elves are secretly part of a Hidden God, elves are his sacred eyes, so he grants them magic powers.
Although I feel this is already a part of most elves, its actually a great fucking idea to put emphasis on this.
It will also prevent weebs from wanting to play a badass-elf-warrior
My lizardmen just want to kill off all mammalian life. They worship the bones of ancient dinosaurs and some even have dinosaurs trained for battle or riding. They have long slumbering liches in cold tombs. They worship dragons as the greatest "lizards" of the age. It's rumored their men can wear the skin of other races and manipulate events of history from the shadows.