Creatures and Peoples
by Chris Wayan, 2006-9
Pegasia's homepage - Geography and climate - Evolution - Creatures and peoples - Map and tours - Gazetteer - More worlds? Planetocopia!
First-time orientation--strongly advised! Pegasia is weird.
I haven't designed any intelligent Pegasian species. Pegasia is for you to populate. Invent a species! Pegasia is prime real estate--not a mere playpen for games but a fully worked-out planet (well, moon). Come up with a good species, plausible for a world with low gravity and dense air. Pick any niche--reefs, rift zones, jungle, prairie, desert, forest, polar, savanna, whatever you like. Describe your species's nature and origin, suggest a range as well as a habitat (it doesn't have to fill a niche all OVER Pegasia and probably won't), describe psychology and culture if any. Take up to a few pages--you'll notice from my sample that each short listing goes to a dedicated page with a couple of illustrations and more details than can fit on the chart below. Draw pictures too if you like. Email the whole mess to me, Chris Wayan, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What kind of species? Hmm. Required: intelligent. Smart enough to relate to others interestingly and have some self-awareness. Recommended: make it someone who'd get a report card that says "plays well with others" or at least "doesn't sting others to death then eat them" since your species will have to coexist with a lot of others, and I think any race that preys on other intelligent life will get allied against and either defanged or wiped out... I admit to a certain prejudice against vampires, predators, slavers, religious nuts and savage barbarian warriors. I have to read about clowns like that in the news every morning. I'm more interested in alternative societies that work, not more dysfunctional ones, however dramatic.
My judgments are final (since there's no one else running the site). Of course my judgments are also laughably bad (consider some of the anatomical howlers I've perpetrated on previous worlds in Planetocopia) but hey, editorial prerogative! The best dozen or so will end up on Pegasia. That's it for rules so far. Hmm. I'll frame it as a list...
Here's a reference chart of Pegasia's currently defined peoples. Each species' picture and name link to a page with fuller descriptions, a range- or habitat-map and some larger pictures. The top entries are earliest and thus are the most fully integrated into the tours and regional descriptions; species further down are still under construction. A new species, tentatively named the Drashet (north and west Continent 1), will soon join the list.
FROLCONS||Six-limbed, scaly froglike creatures with batlike wing-membranes on the hind and mid-pairs. The forepaws are handlike. They mass up to 40 kg but weigh only 25 kg in Pegasia's weak gravity (55 lbs).||Rainforest canopy in southern Continent 6. A maritime fishing subspecies has discovered the 89 Islands and may spread to Continent 9.||Playful, social people lacking vocal speech--their language is signed. They also lack a regular sleep cycle. Originally carnivores, but increasingly omnivorous, they tend treetop gardens.|
PWOKWE||Flightless rather dinosaurian bipeds with chitinous exoskeletons, standing about 2 m tall. Polygamous, seasonal breeders. Gender develops only at puberty; females outnumber males but the ratio varies.||Subtropical riverbanks and shores of eastern Continent 6, with colonies and trading ports on the north coast (on the Emwemfeek Sea) and the islands of the Kwao-Eebok Sea.||Quiet, practical wetland farmers, fishers and traders most of the year; but in mating season they're flamboyant creative artists (both sexes need to impress). Cities turn festive.|
BUSREHI||Large winged social insects like slender ants or clawless mantises about 1.5 m long. Diet: nectar, fruit juice and some animal protein. Able to fly short distances.||Arboreal. Tropical rainforests from southern Continent 1 through their heartland, Busre Island, to northern Continent 4 and Continent 5.||Co-operative silviculturalists and traders; competent mariners. Some large cities. Metals, telescopes, electricity, radio--yet they've never built a steam engine.|
DRIMROL||Hermaphroditic social burrowers, like wolf/squirrels a meter tall; on the tundra, they hop like kangaroos. Their clumsy hindpaws are still better hands than the digging-scoop forepaws.||Ancestral drimrols browsed berries, greens, nuts and roots in the subpolar steppes, berry thickets and open woods of southern Continent 3. They've colonized parts of Continent 9.||Many drimrol still browse, but many today are excellent traders, too. Not artisans; clumsy. Mostly rural, but a few clans have settled in mixed-species towns (in cool climates; 20°C / 68°F is hot to a drimrol).|
NEVROS||Each Nevros is a ghostly entity composed of a swarm of airfleas. They may appear quite large but mass only a few kilograms. Nevros return to tidepools annually to mate and to undo flea attrition.||Cool damp woods in eastern Continent 1 and nearby islands. Potential habitat: space! The Nevros run the only space program on Pegasia.||Shapeshifting 'ghosts', imitative and playful. Omnivorous. They can speak, even harmonize with themselves, though softly. Highly intelligent. Sophisticated technology for Pegasia: rocketry! Pet peeves: loud noises, shapeless visitors.|
AVIATRICA||Tall, winged, vaguely angelic bipeds. Three subspecies: savanna, mountain, coastal. Soft voices. Sharp-eyed. Magnetic senses.||Mountains of Continent 8 and now the lowlands; the far south has leapt ahead due to its interhemispheric flyway.||Matriarchal. Aerial dances. Devout and prone to pilgrimages. A rather Buddhist religion emphasizing compassion. Oracles in every town.|
THE LURE OF NAMES
On Pegasia, unlike all the other worlds in Planetocopia, I've held off on naming features, leaving you readers to send me proposed placenames in the languages of your proposed natives. The new map of the archipelago around the large island or minicontinent of Busre, off Continent 4, is a straightforward example; Marc Cohen, the designer of the Busrehi, supplied some placenames and listed several dozen wordroots so I could construct more. A more extreme example of alien placenaming is southern Continent 6, home of Logan Kearsley's frolcons, whose language is gestural not sonic. I'll work with ya, I'll work with ya!
But submissions have been hesitant; and emails from some world-builders have suggested that many readers eager to create their own people feel intimidated by this extra linguistic task. It is hard to create a convincing language (and good names)--just as hard as the hard-science knowledge needed to invent a good alien and the artistic skills (verbal and visual) to depict it.
So on Continent 3 and nearby coasts of Continent 2, and on the 165 Islands, I'm trying an experiment; if it works, I'll extend it to all Continent 2, and perhaps the whole Outer Hemisphere. What Iíve done is name the major features along the tour route and introduced more detail about what I see, making the tour as full as I can without unduly limiting the appearance or biology of potential natives. My placenames will come from several hypothetical languages with clear, standardized spelling and pronunciation guidelines. And Iíll group these placenames by hypothetical language on a hidden page for species designers, in the hope one of these tongues will seem plausible for a species you have in mind.
Or maybe the names will evoke a species for you. For me, one of the great pleasures common to travelogues, good fantasy and science fiction is the tremendous evocative power of names. It's no coincidence that Middle Earth and its peoples are real to millions; Tolkien was a philologist and his names and languages are admirably consistent. In contrast, consider two of his contemporaries. David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus and E.R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros and other books rival Tolkien in originality and philosophical sophistication (Lindsay advocates a form of Gnosticism equally fascinating to punks, goths, Loren Eiseley and Harold Bloom. You try managing that!) But their names are either awkwardly allegorical (Lindsay) or derivative of Earth languages (Eddison); and I suspect that's one reason they're cult classics rather than simply classics. I'd argue that Tolkien's real rival is W.B. Yeats: his otherworldly poetry loots and reworks Celtic mythology and names so thoroughly it might as well be a new, entirely invented mythos. And why do you think J.K. Rowling is a billionaire? Itís partly that she can coin names like Snape, Quidditch, Hogwarts, and (my favorite) Blast-Ended Skrewt. Here's that world-renowned expert, Albus Dumbledore, on the power of names: "Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!" I may have just driven a lot of highbrows off this page, but Rowling knows what wizards always have: names alone have real magic; a few words can evoke a world.
So Iíll add names in the hope they'll manifest the creatures who coin them! Sympathetic magic akin to the cave artists of Lascaux and Altamira. But then isnít that what all fiction does? Summon people out of words? It's still up to you the reader to picture these people... and to actually send me the pictures! C'mon, don't be shy...
The gazetteer will have a full index of native placenames, with descriptions--once the contests's over and we have natives to name them.
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