fantasy race building

Faeries, Pt. 3

Culture: Faerie society has, traditionally, been divided into four tribes, known as “courts”, each named for one of the four seasons. The Faeries of each court are intrinsically linked with the season for which their court is named, and their respective dispositions and cultural differences stem from that link.

The Faeries of the Summer Court are known for being particularly vain and overbearing. They are the most boisterous of the Faeries, and tend to want to be the ones in charge. When a Summer Faerie is set on something, little will deter them from their course. They are also the quickest to anger, having tempers as hot as the season that is their namesake. The Summer Faeries have a great respect for the Sun Goddess, far more so than other Faeries, though they do not actually worship her. The Forest God is the primary object of their devotion.

The Faeries of the Spring Court are known for being the friendliest of the Faeries, and are generally the ones who try to keep the peace between the four courts. With a great passion for life, the Spring Faeries go to great lengths to preserve the Forest Gods’ creations and are jealously protective of the Faeries’ mystical forest home. As friendly as they may be, the Spring Faeries won’t hesitate to kill those who threaten their forest, even other Faeries.

The Faeries of the Autumn Court are among the more mischievous Faeries, and have a deep respect for death. The Autumn Faeries do not fear death, nor do they view it as a negative thing. To them, death is simply a part of the natural cycle of life, not to be avoided. Unsurprisingly, the Autumn Faeries hold the Twin Gods of Death in high regard, as well as the Moon Goddess. The Autumn Faeries are often the ones who undertake the less savory occupations of Faerie society, which may include the disposal of dying trees, the butchering of animals, and even assassinations. It may come as no surprise that Autumn Faeries are the most likely to enjoy eating meat. 

The Faeries of the Winter Court are known for their wisdom and patience. They are the least brazen of the Faeries, and the most cautious. Whenever the Faerie race faces a dire problem, the courts always turn to the elders of Winter for guidance. They are, however, often seen as cold, emotionless, and aloof, and the other courts often prefer not to associate with them unless it is necessary. This has led the Winter Court to be rather isolated throughout the Faeries’ history, and has been the source of internal conflicts in the past. The Winter Faeries’ preferred deity is the Moon Goddess, who they view as the progenitor of the Faerie race.

The Faerie Courts were created by the Forest God himself, after the Faeries first arrived in Siolta. He believed that if the Faeries were to be the guardians of nature, they must understand all aspects of it, and so he bound them each to one of the four seasons. 

The Faeries of each court do have some physical differences, mostly in the color of their wings, hair, and eyes. 

Summer Faeries may have green, red, gold, or orange wings, and their hair may be red, blonde, or brown. Their eyes are most often green, but may also be blue or gold.

Spring Faeries may have green, gold, or pink wings, and their hair is most often blonde or red. Their eyes are most often green, but may also be blue. 

Autumn Faeries may have red, gold, or orange wings, and their hair is usually brown or red. Their eyes are often red, gold, or purple, and sometimes green.

Winter Faeries may have blue, white, silver, or purple wings, and their hair is often blonde or silver. Their eyes are usually an icy blue, but may also be a faint purple.  

The Faeries’ taste in clothing varies from elaborate gowns and robes (favored by the nobility) and minimalist, scanty garb (favored more so by the common folk). Clothing styles are largely consistent between the courts, though each court usually favors colors that go better with their respective hair and wing colors.

Each court is overseen by a queen, who, historically, has had varying amounts of power. Faerie society is heavily matriarchal, and only women may ascend to the throne of each court. 

All Faeries, regardless of their court affiliation, adore music and dancing. Parties and more formal balls are held often, especially in times of strife between the courts. Nothing brings the Faeries together more than a dance and some good music.

In the long-distant past, the Faeries were ruled solely by a council made up of the elders of each court. The head of the council, who held the power to veto and approve decisions, was always a queen of one of the courts. Which court’s queen headed the council was determined by the seasons themselves, and each queen would serve a roughly three-month term each year during her court’s respective season. 

Currently, however, the Summer Court has come to dominate Faerie politics, and their leader, the so-called “Emerald Queen” has ruled over the Faerie lands for centuries. And while the council does still exist, its primary function is now simply to serve as an advisory body to the queen. 

Culture & Appropriation in Fantasy World Settings (Consolidation)

fabulousdiscoglitterninja asked: In my fantasy world, the features of each individual are a mix of races found on Earth. In this world, people are not categorized by appearance, but ability. Similarly, the ways of life are influenced by many cultures on Earth, but aren’t direct copycats. Is this cultural appropriation, to have a character who has Indian and Latino features wield a katana-inspired sword? Is it offensive if the Asian-looking girl has blonde hair simply because she isn’t actually Asian (she’s not even from Earth)?

There is so much more to an individual (and their heritage) than their looks. There isn’t any one way to look Asian because we don’t all look alike. There isn’t any one way to look Latina because they don’t all look the same. There isn’t one way to look Indian because not all Indians look the same. 

My best friend is mistaken for being Latina all the time. We have a huge Latinx and Mexican population in our city. Many Mexican people will talk to her in Spanish, assuming that she is also Mexican. She’s actually half Persian and half Chinese. 

Looking “stereotypically” _____ isn’t an indicator of a person’s race, or background or heritage.  There are Asian blondes. There are people with mixed race backgrounds (including Indian and Latinx) that are interested in Japanese culture. Please stop pigeonholing people into “She looks _______.” It’s racist. 

None of our cultures or people groups are a monolith. None!  

Your sci-fi non Earth storylines can have people of all (and any) skin color and hair texture and face/body shapes. But if you’re going to have cultures that are loosely inspired by cultures on Earth, work a little harder at not treating other countries, cultures and people groups like a buffet where you can put whatever you like on your plate.  

Other people’s heritages are not for your playtime or consumption.  Believe in your ability to be creative. Don’t rely on cultural appropriation. You can create new and interesting weapons, fighting styles, countries with unique geography and politics.  Either be respectful of people’s backgrounds by NOT treating people and their cultures like dress up dolls OR create as much new, non-mishmash stuff as you can. 

 ~ Mod Stella

cosmic-star-dust asked: I have a situation where it might be cultural appropriation, but I’m not sure. In my story, I have these creatures called “Husks” which are essentially soulless, featureless clones. They have no gender, sex, or race. When they adopt a spirit (usually from folklore) they adopt that spirit’s features, race and language in particular. They aren’t white, they actually transform, so I thought it was okay, but I’m not entirely sure. Thanks!

I can’t really see anything wrong with it, especially if the Husks are formless to begin with. I would have to know more, but assuming this is for survival purposes and not because you think it’s “cool,” I personally have no problem with it.

–mod Jess

Anonymous asked: Maybe you can help: I have a fantasy race set in OUR world (human/angel). They’ve been living in several cities all over the world for 1000s of years but developed their own culture/traditions/etc. From a historical POV it seems logical for them to adopt traits of close-by cultures (especially if trade, oppression and “keeping the secret a secret”/assimilation were involved from time to time) but I’m not sure if that’s okay or appropriation.

A lot depends on how you developed this fantasy race and how they act in the world, but it’s okay for them to adopt aspects of the cultures they frequently come into contact with. On assimilation, cultural sharing, etc I’d advise you to do your research on the cultures in question and try your best to fully develop your race as much as possible so you can make the most logical decisions. Think about how these human/angel hybrids interact with their own on a global scale as well and how there will be different cultures within their race.

Some other things to consider: How much contact do these groups have amongst themselves and what are the differences between these nephilim and humans? Is it a real secret or are people partially on to them? How are they oppressed? What kind of culture did they originally come from and how did they come to be on earth?

Since you’re working with angels I am wondering how you will be creating your hybrids/race. Despite angels being a part of different religions and myths they usually get whitewashed to such an extent that angel is synonymous to white people for a lot of people (which is false). 

As far as I know angels are non-physical/spiritual and raceless beings, sometimes described as soulless. How are you going to explain their mixing with humans? What kind of offspring do they give? Are you going to make them resemble the nephilim? If they are a separate race, how do they differ from angels and humans? 

Be careful not to make these angel/human hybrids all white, because that would be a similar statement as having all the pure beautiful and wonderful elves be white in other stories. Furthermore, were they all white, it would make it easy for you to fall for the cultural dress-up trap and possibly race dress-up. So be careful not to default them to white.

As a side note, this reminds me of the book Angelology by Danielle Trussoni which has Nephilim portrayed in an unusual way. You might want to look into that as an example of what’s possible.

~ Mod Alice

Anonymous asked: In my universe, the cultures are all a mix of different cultures rather than just one or two from a similar area. For my protagonist especially, her culture is like 1800s England meets Inuit cultures. I admit I’ve not done research on Inuit culture (yet- or 1800s England really) and my protagonist IS a PoC and like 90% of my cast is also, but is it bad that I’m mixing a non-white culture with white, especially since I’m white? Thank you in advance <3

It’s hard for us to speak on Inuit culture since we aren’t Inuit ourselves. Maybe you could ask someone who is Inuit or our Inuit followers might have something to share on the subject.If it’s okay to mix these cultures, I’d say at the very least be thorough in your research and approach the beta-readers who are Inuit. 

Since you’re white you’ll probably know, but just in case: there are more than one ‘white’ culture. I do wonder though why you are mixing all these cultures. Is there an in-world reason for it as well or was it just to add “flavor”? And why is there a specified time period for the English part but not for the Inuit?

~ Mod Alice

Anonymous asked: I write mostly fantasy and often when I write white characters/cultures I mix and match different cultures /fashion/ architecture/ customs (such as 1700s France + 1500s Germany, and so on) to make something newish. Now lately I’ve been wanting to write more POC, but I keep wanting to combine things the way I do with white characters and I’m wondering if this is okay or if I should just drop it? Like would it be okay to combine ancient Egypt and and Edo period Japan? Or nah? Thank you!

Cultures are not buffet style free for alls where you can pick and choose what you think is cool and leave behind, even with European cultures. This would depend on whether you plan to have all these cultures in one city or have a Pan-Asia or something of that sort. When you mix and match things in world building, they lose their uniqueness.  Not only that, but sometimes certain elements clash with each other or they just don’t make sense at all.

I can’t understand why things that are specific to ancient Egypt would be in a place that is coded to be read as the Edo period in Japan. And vice versa. Focus on doing one time period, place, etc. really well with full research, and that goes the same for all cultures. 

Check out our FAQ on cultural appropriation as well.

~Mod Najela

anonymous asked:

So I am writing a fantasy Novel where a few of my fictional races have pretty much no variety to their skin tone (ie my elves are all white and the dryads are all of a much darker tone) they both get the same amount of focus in the books. I have been made aware that an all white fictional race is problematic and I was wondering if it's in a world where it's not uncommon for a race to be 100% poc or 100% white is it still just as bad?

Writing fictional races who are 100% one skin color

Well, the biggest problem I have with fictional races which have no diversity of skin color within the race is not per se that there is no variety in color, but that there is no variety in characteristics within the race. Writer’s often forget to fully develop their races and give them common traits. You can see that with Tolkien and many writers who mimic him, the white noble beautiful and pure elves vs the black evil ugly and violent orcs. Then there’s the dwarves who are greedy and so and so. It’s viewing these races, although fictional through the lens of an outsider, since you are in fact stereotyping them. When writing fantasy and creating new races, you don’t just need to fully develop your characters, you need to develop your races as well. It needs good world-building.

As long as you avoid

  • Black and white symbolism in creating and developing your races,
  • Have a logical reason for your races to have no skin color variety (if you want to be thorough in your world-building),

There’s no problem in having a 100% white, brown or black race.

~ Mod Alice

P.S. 100% poc does not make sense, since it is very vague in this context. 

Handling Race/Culture in Alternative Worlds

anonymous asked:

I’m writing a fantasy story set in an alternate dimension (the protag is a girl from “our” world), and I was wondering on how to handle different ethnicities in that alternate world. Would just assigning skin colors and physical features and stuff to them be enough to represent different real world races? I’m kind of worried that if I don’t acknowledge real world cultural aspects I’d be erasing people’s cultures and stuff, but at the same time I want it to be its own world with its own cultures.


Representing races depends on what you want to focus on and express in your narrative, plot-wise and theme-wise.  With any detail, be it a world-building detail or something else, you need to be careful that your readers won’t think something you write about is going to be a story element if it’s just for the pure sake of worldbuilding. If you mention a race-based issue in the narrative, depending on how you do it, readers might think that it’s a plot element and be confused or let down when it never shows up again.  Alpha/Beta readers are the way to make sure you’ve successfully balanced the line between effectively communicating your world-building and misfiring Chekov’s gun.

In scene-setting contexts/scenes, simply describing what’s going on (rather than why it’s going on) is enough. Think about it in terms of TV and movies establishing different settings: they typically don’t dedicate a series of shots explaining the new world to you like it’s a documentary. Instead they just have the world existing. Your describing the people in the background in terms of what they wear or what their languages sound like and so on could be your written equivalent to that.

However, that’s usually just good for the ‘establishing shot’ part of writing, and within the course of your narrative, there are going to be opportunities (if not the expectation) to go further than just description. 

Think about the themes of your narrative, or about the literal events that are going to take place.  Think about if there is some sort of aspect of some culture that you could use as foreshadowing, comparison, or contrast for the things your protagonist is going through.   For instance, let’s say my character will get really hurt in a nasty scuffle.  Perhaps she can meet a doctor beforehand, who is treating somebody who has wounds similar to what my character is going to receive. Later when she is hurt, she remembers the doctors’ remedies.

Re-read or go read fantasy books and take notes on how they introduced their cultures and how much attention they did or did not put into things.  Ask yourself, “Did I like how they did that? How can I do what they did, or how can I improve on it?”  Having a go-by helps you make much more progress than trying to think from scratch.

- Rodríguez

anonymous asked:

I am writing a story set in the future where humanity colonized a different planet and so much time has passed that the people on that planet are a different (biological) race. Instead of homo sapiens they're homo nova and they've evolved to survive conditions that would kill modern humans. I'm worried about exotification because the nova all have very dark skin, pale hair, and red eyes while my sapien characters are different ethnicities with more contrasting appearances.

New human race after planetary colonization and exotification

If you don’t want them to be exotified, treat them as people and the way you’d treat your homo sapiens. Don’t describe them too scientifically (since this always distances the reader from the subject). It would also help to have Black sapiens in your story.

Now, since I couldn’t help myself (being the nerd that I am xD) I’ll add a little bit on human race from within your given context.

The way you’ve written it, from a scientific perspective your homo nova aren’t a different race, but a different species, else they’d be named homo sapiens nova. To simplify the difference between race and species, I always say different races can normally produce fertile offspring while the offspring of different species are called hybrids and are infertile. Examples are mules and ligers (hybrids). Examples of different races within the tiger species are Siberian and Bengal tigers.

But, outside of your setting, in real life human races are a social construct which greatly impact lives on a global scale. This cannot be ignored during your writing, because it could alienate non-white readers. To be sure, research stereotypes and tropes for Black people and make sure you don’t apply them to your nova’s. And explore how sapiens would react to nova concerning racism. What kind of dynamic do the two different views on race create between sapiens and nova. There’s a lot of world-building to do for both sapiens and nova, so good luck and have fun!

~ Mod Alice