I have a confession to make, I don’t completely take all the dirt off mushrooms before I cook or eat them. Let’s be honest though, who really does? And how much time do you think you’re saving? Judge me if you want. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Race Building for TBS.
Character’s races play a very important part of the story in The Barrier Scroll, and I wanted the narrative to feel as varied and relatable as the diversity of real life. In the same way that we deal with the advantages and disadvantages of this in our every day life, and the way it affects everything from politics to relationships.
This world has a small handful of races that, for the most part live in variable degrees of harmony all the way to mild tolerance with one another. Humans, Volga, and Beastmin. Let’s dive a little deeper.
Humans in The Barrier Scroll world are the most numerous and the most influential of all the races. Unlike Beastmin or Volga, most humans are without the capacity for magic, but there are a special few that are born with the ability. Humans with innate abilities like magic are generally considered ‘gifted’ which causes societal contention between those born with and without magic abilities.
Within the Humans category is a subset of those who have the ability to shape shift into animals (I know, there’s a ton of animals in this world). This isn’t your mom’s Teen Wolf or Mystique from X-men type shapeshifter, these folks can simply change forms into pretty, ethereal, animals with a modest glowy aniridia (eyes with no pupil/no iris). The form itself is a simplified animal appearance that mimics and imitates the real thing.
Shapeshifting is an inherited subconscious ability that allows humans to transmogrify their form. The animal form they can change into is from which the epithet of their last name is derived, usually an adjective (e.g. ‘the Swift’, ‘the Clumsy’). The form itself is a simplified animal appearance that mimics and imitates the real thing. Since the shapeshifting ability is considered an automatic and sometimes subconscious reflex, they’re neither considered inferior nor superior to that of other humans with no abilities at all.
I really wish I could think of a descriptive race name here that doesn’t feel so rough around the edges but this is all I have right now. What important to note is that the suffix “min” is genderless. Beasts take on the last name of the animal-type that they are with the suffix ‘min’ added to the end (e.g. Crowmin, Badgermin, Frogmin.) Beasts can not be Shapeshifters, but they can have magical ability. Beasts can not be animals that would usually be kept as domesticated pets or beasts of burden (i.e. dogs, cats, horses). Beasts do not interbreed with other species (e.g. Humans, Volga, other Beastmin of different type). Beasts are considered the lowest caste and inferior to humans on both the Federation and Empire sides; primarily because they resolved to stay neutral during the East Territories War between Humans and Elves (I’ll explain this later too, just stay with me). After the Su’nethian Empire started to systematically eradicate Beastmin while simultaneously occupying their territory, Hally resolved to join the Federation.
I know, the biggest thing here is that I had to create a lot of ‘rules’ around this race. It might be odd to have Mr. Farmer Cowmin, who also owns cows. Or Miss Dogmin who also has a pet dog. Therefore Cows and Dogs do not exist in this world as Beastmin.
The last and biggest rule is around their character design. They should possess characteristics of anthropomorphism to a point. Here’s a bit from my own story notation:
[Beasts should be designed in a way where there are no human traits beyond the use of appendages and hands. (e.g. no: breasts, buttocks, abs, or nether regions of any kind that resemble that of a human). No clothing designs should suggest this as well (e.g. bikini top). Bottom appendages (feets) should be that of the animal’s original (e.g. hooves, talons) with the only relatable appendage being human hands at the ends of said ‘arms’. Bird ‘arms’ for example will also resemble wings, albeit non-functional. All beasts walk on two legs without the ability to fly, even if they are a bird-type.]Character & World Building, TBS
The last sub-race of now extinct elves. Volga resemble other elvin species but with dark-skin and dark features (we’re really just describing Drow here if you’re a DnD fan–Dark Elves works too). Their bodies are usually wiry and athletic, while their faces are usually chiseled and attractive due to a process of selective breeding that lasted for several generations. They have assimilated into other cities and towns across both the Federation and the Empire. Volga lifespan is anywhere from 200-300 years. In this world Volga almost always have a magic ability of some sort. It comes naturally to them.
Magic Wielding Beings
It’s safe to assume that most magic users will be Volga or Beastmin in this story, but there’s a few lucky humans in there, like our reluctant protagonist. Most professional magic users live in Vaal but magic users in general can be found anywhere. Vaal is known to be very magic-amiable. More advanced spell users will have face markings that enhance their power. Magic users (like those in the Onyx Guard/Army), will even wear masks or full face coverings to obscure their spell casting to enemies. Only Humans (non-shapeshifter), Volga, and Beasts can be magic-users. Out of all beings, magic-users make up the smallest percentage, and are therefore considered the most superior beings across all races.
There you have it, the race building around The Barrier Scroll. I’ve put a lot of thought and effort around all the rules and methods that develop these character origins, but there’s always room for improvement. Since the story and art is still in development I don’t have too much to share with you in terms of visuals, but as soon as I do, I will. In the meantime, I created a twitter to x-post the blogs from this site.
As always, Thank you for the support. ♡