I’m fascinated by Family Sagas and Generational Heroes.
In the vein of “All goods things must end,” I think many of the best stories not only have an “ending,” but involve a certain amount of “passing the torch.”
There are some historical figures whose life stories are made more poignant not only in knowing their ending, but in knowing what came after. They’re usually pretty tragic — as most human lives are — but they’re occasionally uplifting.
I’ve done some limited research on generations in the past, and my most recent reading has been on the Strauss-Howe theory of generations.
It’s worth noting the limitations of their study — it’s based almost (if not) entirely on generations of people living in the US. I think this limitation is acknowledged — but that doesn’t mean there isn’t also a broader take-away.
Glimpses of some larger truth and all that.
What this means to me.
I’ve been looking for some time on how to “differentiate” fantastic races through methods other than intangibles and incomparables like language and vision — yet something more than “just numbers” like ability and skill modifiers.
I have a thought here — with regard to this generational model — to differentiate the races somehow through philosophy and worldview.
Originally, I had this complicated model to show how all the races were related to each other through racial “families,” and while that hasn’t completely gone away, it’s less important than it once was (there are half as many races, besides).
Additionally, there are some truly unique differences between some of the races — notably how some races reproduce. Races within the Deep One family are hermaphrodites by nature, but cannot themselves bear children.
Complicated genetics and relations with other races ensue.
Nymphs and Satyrs are one-gender races whose offspring are always Nymphs or Satyrs, respectively. While compatible with one another, the monogendered races fail to produce viable offspring, creating a situation for some really complicated racial relations.
“In a world of almost two dozen biologically viable races, what happens when two races or more are mutually incompatible?”
Then there are the Orcish races, who reproduce via parthenogenesis.
And three out of the four Cycladic races reproduce via reincarnation.
It’s a complicated, highly magical world.
I also have some political system maps and methods and whatnot, built to help differentiate between the races. I still don’t know what all will go into the final product — apart from the fact it will be awesome.
I think borrowing some ideas from this generational model will help maintain a certain “iconic” model for races, while also allowing them to be different. If one race is always styled as “Nomadic” or “Prophetic” for example, you can have individuals who diverge from the norm.
The difficulty in maintaining cohesion amid individuality arguably arises from trying to be everything all at the same time without really acknowledging how complex the process is — human cultures fluctuate quite a bit, and we try to reconcile them with capital-H History.
Much of the narrative requirement for complex, fluctuating cultures will be alleviated by having so many fantasy cultures to choose from — and some with varying degrees of “openness to change.” Elves and Dwarves don’t change because they don’t strictly need to, their culture is enduring.
And some of this enduring cultural narrative will borrow from enduring, real-world cultures.
At least partially enabling historical in-jokes for the fans.