>How should I decide what fantasy creatures to have in my world? Can I make up new ones or does it need to be the usual elves and dragons and gnomes?
It's your world, you can do whatever you want.
I did a mix of both. In my world there are alien races that are animal-human-hybrid-type people, for example my MC, Quaraun, is a JellyFish, that passes herself off as a male Elf, and keeps her long hair hidden under veils, because her hair is actually stinging man-o-war/jellyfish tentacles. She lives among the Elves because she has long pointed ears and is better able to pass herself off as an Elf, then a Human. So obviously my world includes Elves and Humans.
You don't have to include any race/species you don't want or need. For example, my world doesn't have things like orcs or kobolds, even though those are commonly found in the bulk of other writers' fantasy worlds.
I have written stories NOT set in my primary series' world and sometimes I'll include an orc or a kobold because they are logical for the story and world in question. But for my primary series, such creatures just don't make sense in the grand picture of how that world evolved so, I don't have them.
On the other hand, my main series features very "Christian inspired" Demons and ArchAngels as a race, and the Demons originate from a literal planet, named Hell (as opposed to a spirit prison type thing like is found in Christian theology).
My Demons, such as BoomFuzzy, GhoulSpawn, and ZooLock, are the classic Biblical human with the lower half of an animal (horse, sheep, goat, deer, etc), so they have the upper half of men and women with furry animal legs tails and hooves and horns, and other animal-like features. They include races like Unicorns, Kelpies, Phookas, Ursurigs, Satyrs, Centaurs, and other such real world mythology/folklore races.
Meanwhile my ArchAngles, such as SunTa, Dameon, and Checka, are bird-people inspired by Sumerian, Egyptian, Persian, and Jewish mythology and folklore. Basically they are winged Elves, who sometimes feature bird heads.
There is also a heavy use of Jinn, Devs, Guls, and other Persian Demons-I am myself Persian, so my own culture inspired the bulk of my creature races.
And my world has Merfolk and Elves and Gnomes and Fae all inspired by Scottish, Welsh, Irish, and other Celtic folklores. I am also Scottish. I am Scottish/Persian mix. And so, Scottish folklore is a deep influence in my world building process.
How did I decide to use what I did,, and not use others? I kind of just went with things that I liked and wanted to write about, while not using things I had no interest in, and then altering the ones I liked to make them things I liked even better.
Also, my world isn't the typical "European Medieval Fantasy". It's much more Middle Eastern. The bulk of my world is a very Persian and Scottish flavour. Americans who read my series, often describe it as "Arabian" and compare it to "Arabian Nights", even though it is Persian/Iranian inspired not Arabian inspired, but I think most Americans don't know there is a difference, so, I guess that means I did good getting the "flavour" "right", because the readers do see it as some form of Middle Eastern, even if they get the exact culture wrong.
But, I point this out to show you that you don't have to go with the whole Medieval European Tolkien style Fantasy that so many people do. You could go Chinese Fantasy, Contemporary New York City ruled by Elves Fantasy, India Fantasy, Yukon Territory Fantasy, New Zealand Fantasy, just, any place or time or era, and let it's folklore and mythology inspire the creatures you use.
For example Elves originated in Hebrew mythology as The Alfar, around seven thousand years ago, and are talked about in both the Torah (called the Alfar) and the Bible (called The Watchers), and did not show up in Scandinavian folklore until the era of the Templar Knights. Elves completely do not exist in ancient Scandinavian folklore, then suddenly show up after the Templar Knights brought Judean slaves to the Scandinavian regions.
This is why Elves stick out like sore thumbs in Scandinavian folklore, because they did not originate in it, and were added to Scandinavian folklore in Medieval times, but originated in the Persian/Sumerian/Iranian/Hebrew texts from several thousand years BEFORE the Medieval era.
So, if you wanted to use Elves, you'd have to ask yourself which type of Elves are you going to use? The 1980s Dungeon and Dragons/Drizzt type? The 1970s ElfQuest types? The 1960s-1980s Smurf type? The 1950s Tolkien types? The 1920s to 1940s Santa Claus type? The Victorian mini-type that lived under mushrooms? The 1400s to 1800s Austrian Krampus type? The Medieval Scandinavian type? The ancient Persian/Hebrew Jinn/Watcher types?
Most writers on Reddit seem to default to the Tolkien type and do no research into the history of Elves to find out the very first mention of Elves comes from the book of Genesis and the story of Noah's Ark, where 2 races of Alfar were doing battle: the Watchers of Azalea riding red dragons and the Guardians of Michael riding white unicorns, and that God cast the flood to drown the Elves to stop the war, and had Noah build the ark. So few people today have ever read the Bible that most people don't even know about the war of the Elves part of the story of Noah's Ark, and most modern religions, skip that part of the story citing it too "fantastical" so even kid's picture books just have god telling Noah a flood is coming. But read the actual Bible verses themselves and you see a blood tale of sex crazed Elves kidnapping and raping Human woman during a massive war between two races of Elves, and the women giving birth to a race of half-Elves called the Nephilim, and God saying he had to make a flood to wipe out the half-Elf race because it was an abomination.
That is the first known written story of Elves, and yet so few who use Elves in Fantasy are even aware that the entire Elf race ORIGINATES from the story of Noah's Ark in the Bible, predating Scandinavian mythology by a full ten thousand years!
My Elves are Noah's Ark Elves by the way, so are VERY much Middle Eastern and not even close to the types of Elves used by a lot of modern Fantasy writers who couldn't be bothered to actually research real world Elf folklore history, to find out Elves originate from the Middle East NOT from Scandinavia.
And I say all this to show you that even if you use a "generic" race like Elves, the Elf folklore is so huge, surpasses close to twenty-thousand years, that to stop at a part of their folklore that is not even yet a single thousand years old, like Tolkien and everyone since him does, is kind of foolish, because their pre-Medieval history is far more fascinating. But I point this out to show you that you don't have to be a carbon copy of every one else and just grab dull, boring, uninteresting Tolkien Eves, you could do some actual research into Elf history and grab some far more interesting and more rarely used types of Elves instead.
It's YOUR world, YOUR story, so, do what YOU want to do with it, don't do what others are doing, just because others are doing it.
>THE ECONOMY! I'm really confused as to how to establish a stable trade and economy for the world. How should I figure out the currency and what kind of exchanges are made?
My world is a post-post-apocalyptic Dark Dystopian Fantasy that was heavily influenced by Planet of the Apes 68, Mad Max, The Running Man, and more recently also Resident Evil and The Walking Dead.
My MC (Quaraun - the previously mentioned JellyFish) is a Necromancer, and his two lovers are also mages (it's Gay Harem Fantasy Romance - he has 37 lovers who live with him, but only the 2 primaries get a lot of page time-yes this is a published series I'm referring too), and the world id our real Earth, treated as though our real world folklores were actual history (thus why I use real creatures from real world mythology). My series picks up three thousand years into Earth's future, and starts by citing that in the year 2525, the world burned finally getting too close to the sun, killing 21billion people, leaving only 7million survivors who went underground because the forests and cities and mountains had all melted and turned to ash and magma. Earth was renamed Hell and dubbed The Planet of Flames. After a thousand years it went back onto it's older, colder orbit path, an ice age starting up once again, and people from underground returned to the surface to find that the 21billion dead, were now undead creatures whom ruled the planet, the world now lead by a Lich and his undead armies.
Well, because of all that, there is NO "economy" as we know it today.
People barter for what they need. The apple grower who needs milk, will trade a barrel of apples for a barrel of milk, from the dairy farmer the next town over. That sort of thing.
My main character (Quaraun- the jellyfish necromancer) is a silk weaver and travelling merchant and gets everything he needs from food to shelter, by trading silk scarves, silk shawls, silk shoes, and silk blankets with people.
Governments no longer exist in this world, so there are no kings or presidents demanding their faces stamped onto minted coinage.
It's basically a gatherer/hunter/survivalist/prepper type of society, so economy has collapsed completely.
So, money gets used A LOT in my series. I world-build for a series of short stories that I write/publish, so context here is in terms of the stories which take place in that world. For context: I sent 10 years world building a massive world as a hobby, and then I wanted to explore the world I had built, so created a silk weaver/traveling merchant character, who travels the world selling his wares, for no reason other then to be a tourist of the world I built and explore all it's regions and cultures.
So I go back and forth between writing stories of his explorations of the world, then building more places for him to explore. I write the series simply to feed my addiction to world building, and made my main character a merchant for no other reason then to have an excuse for why he's in a different region/biome/location in every story. As such, currency get brought up a lot, like in almost every single story, due to my MC being a merchant and constantly having to deal with customers and marketplaces.
Well, because I'm dealing with hundreds of different cultures in various levels of completion, which will all eventually end up crossing paths with my merchant MC, Quaraun, that means I had to create a currency system for all of them. At first, I was drawing coins with royal busts and official seals, charting out exchange rates, and being all super persnickety about it.
I even bought a book about antique coin collecting, to use as reference for drawing up my coin illustrations to look like real world coins, LOL!
I definitely went overboard in it. And then one day I realized, I had no reason to be doing this level of detail because a good 90%+ of the stuff I was drawing and charting wasn't going to appear in the stories. It occurred to me that reading exchange rates and haggling in detail over those exchange rates was just plain boring to read, meaning it was also pointless for me to be going into the detail I was doing.
But then I realized that the way I had written my MC, Quaraun was an elderly man with failing memory and a resistance to change, and would rather barter then carry coinage, which meant in terms of story context, I had no reason to detail out the coinage or exchange rates at all. So, I changed my entire system of currency creation, to be in the context of my MCs mindset, rather then the actual currency of each region/government.
My MC Quaraun, -the JellyFish-Elf-Hybrid, known as The Pink Necromancer aka The Sacred Pink JellyFish, is a traveling mage/merchant and ends up traveling long distances (multiple countries, including cross oceans to other continents), plus he's a nonHuman around 750 years old.
So, Quaraun has coins and other currency from lots of places, but being elderly and having a failing memory, he can never remember the exact names of currency type of which region/country each type comes from. But then he can't remember the various names of each coin, nor can Quaraun remember which coins to use in which countries. He ends up having lots of coins made out of various materials: gold, silver, copper, tin, bronze, platinum, pewter, glass, gemstones (jade, turquoise, rose quartz, amethyst, etc), bones, shells, carved wood, etc.
Quaraun, -the JellyFish-Elf-Hybrid, known as The Pink Necromancer aka The Sacred Pink JellyFish. ends up carry some of each of everything on him, because he's never certain which ones to use it which places.
Because Quaraun can't remember the names of the currencies or which regions he got the coinage from, so, when he speaks about currency, he speaks in terms of the material it's made out of regardless of what the correct name is-thus he says: Gold coin, gold bar, silver coin, copper coin, brass coin, nickel coin, jade coins, string of coins, wooden coins, cowrie shell, moonsnails, clam shells, glass beads, seed beads, fur pelt (fox, beaver, bear, mink, marten, rabbit, etc), wood chips, quartz crystal, amber, citrine, paper notes, pearls, opals, gemstone chips (turquoise, jade, peridot, etc), silk threads, silk ribbons, silk scarves, silk worm cocoons, bags of rice, glass globs, marbles... are all things I've used.
I'll point out here that the world is mostly destroyed.
Civilization is decimated.
There are no big governments (no countries) anymore, because most of society is scattered into small tribes and clans. The world was once a high tech future state, but it's not in near medieval state due to a mass apocalypse. As such, more often then not, currency consists of whatever local regional item is readily available, rather then minted coinage. Minted coins are usually antique relics of civilizations past. Most villages have their own currency system, unique only to their village, for example: a village on coastal salt flats, may use clam shells as currency, while a village near a volcano, may use lumps of lava rock as currency.
A lot of places don't use currency, rather trade goods, so a man who needs a plow for his garden, might trade a bag of apples from his orchard for it, while a woman who needs flour to cook with might trade milk from her cow for it. Well, my MC, Quaraun, is a silk weaver and glass blower in addition to being a mage for hire, so whenever he needs food, he'll find a house that has a young girl/teen daughter and ask for her to cook a meal in exchange for making her a silk scarf or embroidered silk slippers or fancy glass genie bottle or a necklace made of braided silk ribbons and blown glass beads. Quaraun uses currency when people demand it, but usually he can get most everything he needs by trading his silk and blown glass items. This type of bartering trades is used far more often in my series, that coins or currency.
All that said, if you were to cross paths with Quaraun, and ask for say, a cup of tea, he'd likely invite you into his tent and serve you tea without asking anything in exchange, other then that you spend an hour conversing with him.
On the other hand, should Quaraun end up at your shop looking to buy a cup of tea, he'd probably argue with you is you gave him a dollar amount. He'd likely just hand you a gold or silver coin from his purse, and who knows from what region or government it'll be from. Depending on where you are and your personality, you might just take it because you realize that it's real gold and this single coin is more money then you'll make in a year and you can melt it down and exchange it from some money lender or pawn shop. If you are a more honest person, you'll tell him that it is way too much money and hand it back to him saying you won't accept it.
My MC, Quaraun, -the JellyFish-Elf-Hybrid- came to realize that humans like gold, so he strives to keep at least 10 gold coins on him at all times, and whenever he gets in a haggling war with someone over an item, he can usually pull out a gold coin and hand it to them, and they just take the coin, because gold is very rare and usually highly sought after by most humans.
However, because the world is in a decimated state, most people would rather have useful items then currency. Thus a fur pelt that can be made into a blanket, or a bag of wheat flour that can be used to make bread, or a box of candles that can be used to light a room, may in fact be seen as more valuable then gold coins, due to the fact that one can not eat gold or keep warm with it.
But all that is just how I do it in my world/ Quaraun's world.
So, for YOUR world, look at what your world's society is like and make the economy match. There is no right or wrong here. Just do what YOU want to do for YOUR world.
>The cultural practices. I don't even know how to explain this but if someone could help out it'd be so great!
I draw on inspiration from real world cultures.
For example, my main character, , Quaraun, -the JellyFish-Elf-Hybrid-his culture comes from real world Gypsy/Romani/Traveller cultures of the Middle East, Persia, Mongolia, and Scotland.
Pick a real world culture that you like, study geography and sociology books about their history, and then use that to inspire you in creating your own worlds' cultures. That's what I do, at least.
Hope this helps. Good luck with it!
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What do you want to become?
What did you do today to step closer to that goal?
Whatever you do, be your best at it!
And remember to have yourself a great and wonderfully glorious day!
Evil men go out of their way to try to drive a person to suicide.
Are you an evil man?
Are you sure you're not?
How many people have YOUR hate filled words killed?
Next time you go to do a mean thing to a fellow human, stop and really think about the consequences of your actions.
Did you ever notice how every one has a story to tell about me, yet not one of them ever speaks the truth?
What lies has YOUR gossiping tongue spread about me?
Did you know...
October 16, 2006, bomb blew up my house because of YOUR lies.
August 8, 2013, the house which replaced the one the bomb blew up, was driven over by a backhoe.
November 14, 2013, my 8 month old infant son was murdered because of your lies.
November 14, 2013, I was beaten up, paralized for 5 months, spent 18 weeks relearning to walk, I'm now crippled for the rest of my life, because of YOUR lies.
Are you proud of what you have done?
Enjoy your eternity in Hell. You earned it. You've certainly worked hard for it.
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