Re: Would it be strange to only have elves and humans as the only races in my world?

#1
So I’m currently brainstorming a fantasy world. While my story won’t exactly be an epic fantasy that will delve deep into the lore of each race, I still want to have something in my notes. I plan to have two races: elves and humans, of course both of them will have different cultural groups under them. I worry that readers would be weirded out by this. It seems like a rule that whenever you have one Tolkien race you have to have most, if not all of them; orcs, dwarfs, halflings, you know it. Of course, I’m aware that many worlds give their own takes and sometimes subvert the stereotypes associated with them, but still, will it be almost unnatural to readers to only have elves and humans?

Re: Would it be strange to only have elves and humans as the only races in my world?

#3
Yeah, you don't need to include all the Tolkien races. If anything, your story will be stronger by cutting out the stereotypical extras. By just having the two, you can really develop the specific cultural differences and add some depth. I reckon by focussing on culture - especially sub cultures like you said - you can make your story feel much more unique than arbitrarily adding every D&D race from the players handbook.

Re: Would it be strange to only have elves and humans as the only races in my world?

#5
No, in the beginning of my world, I only had elves and humans. I added in giants because I kind of needed a race that was a danger to them both. The story is about elves, and I was in no way mimicking Tolkien. So there are no dwarves, haflings, or orcs. If I had it my way, I would just have as just a single race. Likely the project sometime I work on will be no humans, no elves, but races of my creation leaning onto a beast race.

You can do whatever you want in fantasy. You can populate and focus on whatever races you want in a story.

There are plenty of fantasy novels that just have one race or focus on one or two races. Granted, it's usually human of singular focused races and some that don't even have a single typical fantasy race in sight.

Re: Would it be strange to only have elves and humans as the only races in my world?

#11

Thedude3445 Wrote: I say go even further. Not only are elves the only fantastical race, they're the ONLY race, and there aren't any humans. Like nature intended.

I like that idea, too bad I already went far enough in planning that  I can’t go back. Though there  were several species of humans in real life such as the Neanderthals, but they became extinct due to several factors (mostly from us).

Re: Would it be strange to only have elves and humans as the only races in my world?

#12
Race or species?  Tolkien had half-elves, and since they could have children (unlike a Mule which is half horse, half donkey: unable to have children - though this might be interesting to explore for someone) that means the two are one species.  Race is this the same thing as black, white, Chinese... - all humans, but different cultures.  (Tolkien can be forgiven to not exploring all the issues of race relations, but modern authors need to be careful to handle the discrimination factors).   By contrast Orcs couldn't breed with the others (at least not that I remember?), and so were a different species.

This is becoming a pet peeve of mine:  Most races in stories don't exist for any purpose those than to have them.  Either you have races to explore race relations within a species, or you have species with genetic differences that humans could not have.  Note that races have different cultures, but cultures change over generations.  In Europe German and Irish are different races, but in America they are both just European (this used to not be true).  Even though species have cultures two species can have the same culture, and probably should if they have been living together in the same city for years.  (but if have been living in different areas of the same city they would have different cultures - and some genetic reason to not integrate despite living in the same city)

Re: Would it be strange to only have elves and humans as the only races in my world?

#13

hank Wrote: Race or species?  Tolkien had half-elves, and since they could have children (unlike a Mule which is half horse, half donkey: unable to have children - though this might be interesting to explore for someone) that means the two are one species.  Race is this the same thing as black, white, Chinese... - all humans, but different cultures.  (Tolkien can be forgiven to not exploring all the issues of race relations, but modern authors need to be careful to handle the discrimination factors).   By contrast Orcs couldn't breed with the others (at least not that I remember?), and so were a different species.

This is becoming a pet peeve of mine:  Most races in stories don't exist for any purpose those than to have them.  Either you have races to explore race relations within a species, or you have species with genetic differences that humans could not have.  Note that races have different cultures, but cultures change over generations.  In Europe German and Irish are different races, but in America they are both just European (this used to not be true).  Even though species have cultures two species can have the same culture, and probably should if they have been living together in the same city for years.  (but if have been living in different areas of the same city they would have different cultures - and some genetic reason to not integrate despite living in the same city)

I mean I did plan on making them more of a different species (I think that would still make Elves technically humans since they would be in the Homo genus, but I’m not going to get into that.) I referred to them as race do it being the norm.


I do plan for elves to have their own separate cultures that often intermingle with human ones. (I’m personally debating whether or not I should make it so when an elf and a human has a child , the child could be either an elf or a human, or to make it a mule situation.) 

I don't think I’ll go that in depth with the nature of humans and elves, I wanted elves since that’s how I imagine my world. Is that a weak reason to have elves?


(Sorry for any grammatical issues I was in  a rush)

Re: Would it be strange to only have elves and humans as the only races in my world?

#14

Bird Wrote: I wanted elves since that’s how I imagine my world. Is that a weak reason to have elves?


You haven't explained why elves are different from humans or have a different culture.  The Chinese have a different culture from Americans, but I've met some 3rd generation Chinese immigrants who are fully American in all ways - except looks which is a genetic difference.

Tolkien didn't think about what the different races really meant to his world enough, and so the races are cardboard: everything he did with race could be done with humans of different cultures. I'd expect humans living in mountains (dwarfs) to have a different culture from humans living in forests (elves).  I'd expect that in mountain mining towns being short and stocky would be an advantage, while in a forest tall and lean would be a genetic advantage, thus breeding different types of people over time - but they are all still humans, and can breed freely if they want to. 

You need to figure out what makes elves elves instead of humans.  It isn't culture: when they live in the same city they will adopt the same culture in some way  - unless there is reason not to.  (ie if elves and humans eat different things - in which case the shared feasts where they live in the same city will be important to describe in detail in your story) Of course my backyard has dozens of different species of bird, but each has a slightly different niche even when they sometimes eat the same thing.

Remember, the goal is to write a story.  Anything that doesn't add to the ultimate story needs to be cut. So if you have elves and humans both, then that needs to be part of the story. You might be forced to say I wanted elves, but they just weren't important enough to the story I wanted to tell so I had to cut them.  Maybe next story will get them.

I'm not against you having elves in your story. However if you do, please make them fill a purpose.

Re: Would it be strange to only have elves and humans as the only races in my world?

#15

hank Wrote:
Bird Wrote: I wanted elves since that’s how I imagine my world. Is that a weak reason to have elves?


I'm not against you having elves in your story. However if you do, please make them fill a purpose.

You do make a point. Just humans would make things more simpler. I think a reason I do want to add them is to make it feel more like a different world, I know elves are common place, but I don’t want my world to be seen as just a bunch of places that rip-off real world countries, with some magical aspects.