I also tried to create a few races... somebody here suggested to use a basic stereotype for the race first (Like noble elves, greedy goblins) and to work from that. The problem is that this quickly becomes a cliche and makes it impossible for the race to have any depth.
I'd recommend to approach it differently. First, start with the races biology. Let's take a classical race: The Dwarves. They are small and heavy. The average dwarf is stronger then the average human. They have a similar metabolism to humans though they reproduce slower and live longer. Actually, they're VERY similar to humans.
Because they reproduce slower, it means that they will be much more defensive. They will also watch out for the single child more and put more... efford into it. They'll isolate themselves, be less trusting. Their size would make it easier for them to live in plains because small size, combined with more weight doesn't just make swimming harder but climbing as well. I personally think that they would survive best in plains and hill-lands, would dig themselves tunnels and live more underground. They would be more peaceful - they can't just waste children in a war like humans. Also, they'll be more educated.
So, I imagine MY dwarves to be more peaceful... they live in plains and hilllands. They will build more machinery like mills and dams but also be common woodcutters and farmers. They'll also be more artistic, blacksmithes, painters... a small, peaceful community. They will have an army but try not to get involved in wars. But if they should get attacked, they will stay loyal and sacrifice much to protect themselves. They'll also trust outsiders less.
I am new to the forum and find this thread really interesting. IŽd noticed that there are different ideas on how to create a race, which is good since this is purely a fantasy/imagination exercise and we should let our minds dwell freely to be creative.
I will like to add to the discussion that there is one single concept that should drive the whole creation process, specially if you are looking for a meaningful result. This one concept is: purpose. Clearly the best examples of creatures on any mythos that you can think of, are the ones that have a clear goal within the whole structure of the world/setting/story. By goal, I do not want to mean "save the princess", by goal we should answer ourself "What is the role/goal of this creature in my world?".
A few examples about how you can approach this question:
Horror Creature. The goal of this creature in my world is to terrorize people.
Examples, Alien and the H.P. Lovecraft Mythos.
These kind of creatures were created with a specific goal: terror. Their biology (Alien) or their backstories (HPL Mythos) make humans feel small, helpless and scared, their blood is acid, they exist long before humanity, there almost immortals or at least they are extremely difficult to kill and finally humans are just tiny preys for them.
Godly Creatures of good and beauty. The goal of this creature is to represent all that is "good" and "magical/divine".
Example: Tolkien Elves.
Clearly the goal of Tolkien was not only to portrait the folkloric elves (which are not as tall and handsome as the Noldor for example). Tolkien wants to make a point, these are good, magical, quasi-divine creatures. Therefore his "elves" are ageless, extremely beautiful, always with an "aura of light". Compare this to the orcs that fit perfectly with the idea of "evil creature and extremely ugly". Clearly both have a purpose within the world/story.
I hope this information turns up useful. Feel free to contact me to share your ideas.
That's actually pretty good. I have not used this approach before, but i think it will help me with some of the races i'm creating.... thanks for sharing.
I'd be interested in giving my opinions and ideas if you'd like, but a simple base or idea to go off of would be nice c:
I love this topic and would like to thank everyone for there ideas and opinions on the subject. i would like to make a special note of the race created by cypress11 and of the creative style suggested by falconer111