Last week, I explained how I created my fictional world, Myrillia. This week, it’s all about the characters. Or rather, their races.
I mentioned previously that I’m very fond of wood elves, or Tolkien elves, or whatever else you would call them. In fact, my entire writing project started because I wanted there to be more books with elves as the main race. So my original concept was to have elves as one dominant race, with another ‘opposing’ race. Then things started to get a little murky.
First, I’ll explain that I had some different ideas about how I wanted magic to work in my world. I’m a pretty avid gamer, and I love the concept of ‘elementalists’ from Final Fantasy, or the shamans from World of Warcraft. Even the spell schools that mages use (fire, ice, arcane) are a similar concept. This played a huge role in how I created my magic system. I wanted the elves to have the power of the Elements – the ability to manipulate Fire, or Ice, or Nature, etc. (Details about the Elements and the spiritual side of Myrillia are in an upcoming post). Also, in keeping with the whole ‘elven’ idea – I wanted the magic using race to live in elaborate, beautiful, magical cities. Think sweeping spires, elegant castles, gold and marble – decadent but tasteful.
Now onto the enemy. (Or are they?) Because my ‘elves’ turned into more of a superior ‘fancy’ race, I wanted the second race to be more earthy and natural. In fact, my foundation for this race was based on Native Americans. Sort of. I wanted small, close-knit family groups – villages rather than cities. I wanted them to live in harmony with nature, never taking more than is needed. They also had to have power of their own – otherwise they wouldn’t stand a chance against the magic-wielding elves. I really wanted them to be shifters. No, not werewolves – there’s no bloodlust, no loss of control, no weird man-beast. Rather, they have a guardian spirit – an animal spirit – who lets them borrow an alternate form. Think more like the druids in World of Warcraft, or the Animagus of Harry Potter. I wanted the ‘spirit bond’ to help the race grow closer with nature – to help them understand and respect how important the natural world is. See how this world-view might clash with that of the elves?
Now I ran into a dilemma. If I called my magic-users elves, what do I call the shifters? Shifters? It sounds so … boring. But I didn’t want to use human, because they aren’t. This isn’t Earth, it’s Myrillia! I thought about magic-users and shifters … but that was a mouthful, and silly sounding. Childish. So what should I do?
Well, I already created my own world, and these were my own races. Why not pick out my own name for them? Going back to my ‘Latin’ rule, I decided to call my magic-users by the Latin word meaning superior, or better: Melior. Because, well. They thought they were. And my shifters? They became Transeatur, which literally means: shift. This was the point where I dropped my idea of elves – my only remaining nod was to have the races both sport pointed ears. Well, and they’re pretty.
Next week, you’ll get a glimpse of the magic system of Myrillia and how it all began!
What techniques do you use when creating new worlds or races? What sort of things spark your creativity? Do you dream up your ideas all on your own, or do you take stuff you like and twist it to fit your goals?