Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction Writers => Writers' Corner => Topic started by: Yora on October 29, 2014, 10:42:34 AM

Title: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on October 29, 2014, 10:42:34 AM
It just occured to me that I can't really think of a lot of fantasy books in which monsters play a significant role in either the plot or the world as a whole. What occasionally shows up are some kind of zombie horde controlled either by the Dark Lord or a human sorcerer, or some kind of creepy, not-quite-human servant of the Dark Lord. And of course dragons.
The one exception I can think of are Andrzej Sapkowskis Witcher books, in which the main character is a professional monster hunter who likes to show of his monster lore when starting to investigate the clues left after an attack by an unknown creature.
But other than that, monsters seem to be much, much more common and numerous in RPGs and videogames, where they offer new kinds of enemies that fight in different ways that human soldiers.

I love monsters. For me, they are pretty much what fantasy is all about, even more so than magic. Why is it they appear to be so relatively rare, and what do you consider good uses of monsters in a story?
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Nyki Blatchley on October 29, 2014, 06:02:46 PM
Out of the more recent authors, Peter V Brett has plenty of monsters, and there are plenty of them in classic S&S. And of course, Tolkien has the Watcher in the Water.  I'm sure there must be plenty of others.

I use monsters as and when I need them, using creating my own.  My novel At An Uncertain Hour has a couple of scenes with different kinds of monsters, and I have a scene in an unpublished novel with a thing I call an ice-worm.  It's pretty disgusting  8)
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Elfy on October 29, 2014, 07:36:21 PM
It does seem to be something that happened more years ago. Beowulf and The Hobbit spring immediately to mind and given Tolkien's interest in the former, that shouldn't be any great surprise.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: xiagan on October 29, 2014, 07:53:51 PM
Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle books, Terry Brook's Shannara, to a degree Steven Erikson's Malazan and Tamora Pierce's Immortals series come to my mind.

And there's our (err...) highly successful book club read Foundling (also known as Monster Blood Tattoo) by Cormish.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on October 29, 2014, 10:23:56 PM
Tolkien actually had a decent range of creatures. Trolls are perhaps on the border between monster and people, but then there's giant spiders, and the balrog and the watcher, which I think are described as just two examples of two much larger families of creatures. And there's mention of werewolves and vampires, though those don't seem to be the classic Transilvanian types, but something else.

I've recently been reading Robert Howard and Fritz Leiber, and was quite surprised that the number of monsters in their Sword & Sorcery stories is relatively moderate. At least much less than I expected. Conan generally faces one creature per story. Sometimes two, but in those cases one of them tends to be a monstrous ape or a giant snake, which are still relatively "mundane" wildlife creatures. And I don't recall any monsters in Leibers stories (though that might just be my memor, but if there were, they were rare).

By contrast, any fantasy roleplaying game will have at least one book entirely devoted to creatures, often around 200 per volume.
I must admit having read none of the popular novel series of the last decades, but could it be that we're currently seeing a phase in which political intrigue and war stories are very much in fashion? Song of Ice and Fire would certainly fit that, and I believe Wheel of Time as well. From what I've gathered of The First Law, Malazan, and Farseer,  they seem to fit as well. Mistborn might be the one exception among the books that are very popular right now, but I am not sure what exactly they are about. Such stories wouldn't really need monsters, as there are plenty of human(oid) threats that are directly relevant to the story.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: cupiscent on October 30, 2014, 02:06:10 AM
Well, Wheel of Time has the Trollocs. But yes, Brett's Demons was the first thing that sprang to mind for me (probably because I tended to skim-read the pages of demon-smashing because there was no real plot or character impact in the smashing itself). And I'm currently grumbling my way through Brian Staveley's Emperor's Blades, which seems to have a few kinds of monstrous things included.

But fantasy at present definitely seems more interested in people versus people, rather than people versus monstrous threats. Possibly a post-cold-war thing. Given the state of the real world, "killing the dragon" seems laughably naive.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: jefGoelz on October 30, 2014, 03:36:31 AM
I think the absence of monsters is a very recent thing.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Ryan Mueller on October 30, 2014, 04:24:31 AM
I love monsters, and I don't think there are enough of them in fantasy. In urban fantasy, you see plenty of them. Of course, I feel like my writing is a mix of epic and urban. I have the epic plot lines, but I like to move them along with the pacing of urban fantasy (and monsters). The key thing is making sure it's more than pointless monster killing. You have to present the possibility that characters will die in these battles.

That, for me, is the biggest failing of R.A. Salvatore's Icewind Dale trilogy. It's fun, but the battles get kind of old after a while because you never feel like anyone's in danger.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on October 30, 2014, 09:59:29 AM
But fantasy at present definitely seems more interested in people versus people, rather than people versus monstrous threats. Possibly a post-cold-war thing. Given the state of the real world, "killing the dragon" seems laughably naive.
Perhaps. I think there's definitly a post-cold war change in storytelling, but I think in regards to fantasy, that would mainly make "fighting hordes of orcs" no longer relevant. Fighting beasts seems to fill a different purpose. I think that's more a case of extremely dangerous wilderness. Demons would be a supernatural evil.
Orcs and the like would be "the evil others", and that's something that doesn't really fly anymore. Not that I am missing that at all.

As I said in my first post, fantasy in which there are one or two types of fictional monsters are quite common. What I am thiking about is worlds in which there are dozens of monster types. That seems to be quite rare outside of games.

Salvatore does have monsters, but he's doing licensed gaming fiction, so I don't consider it an exception to the general phenomenon.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Elfy on October 30, 2014, 10:52:24 AM
Maybe people are the real monsters.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: xiagan on October 30, 2014, 11:43:20 AM
Maybe people are the real monsters.
Yeah, that's certainly what Grimdark is all about. ;)
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: K.S. Crooks on October 31, 2014, 09:38:19 AM
I like having monsters in my fantasy stories. I like to start with the weaknesses of my main characters and create creatures that have strengths in those areas. Using animals as guides is helpful in terms of their appearance and behaviour. A person encountering large, four-legged beast may find it territorial like hippos or elephants, or may simply wander off lie a black bear would, depending on what you want it to be like. Monsters also provide the opportunity for fighting without in-depth reasons needed. This provides immediate action to the story whether the monsters are the ones killing or being killed.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Justan Henner on November 04, 2014, 06:23:46 PM
To me, monsters have always seemed more a mainstay to horror than to other fantasy genres, if only because (in my head) a monster should be scary, and quite frankly, trollocs, orcs, etc. aren't so scary. Xiagan mentioned Malazan, but as he hinted at, most the creature's in those books aren't exactly monstrous, and to me it comes down to the fact that the beings I'd otherwise call monsters tend to have their own cultures, and their cultures are complex enough to humanize them (the T'lan Imass, the K'Chain Chemalle, and so on). I think that's sort of why monsters have fallen out of fashion, because a scary monster has to be either a hard to understand intelligent being, or some kind of beast that's scary for the fact you have no chance of reasoning with it, otherwise it's just a separate species.

For things like video games, I tend to classify all the diverse organisms as either cultured humanoids or beasts, and a lot of the time, demons tend to fall into the cultured category.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: AzWingsFan on November 05, 2014, 05:46:54 AM
Mine tend to have a bit more than most contemporary fantasy.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: AniOneHereAlive on November 05, 2014, 06:02:05 PM
I think monsters have fallen to the wayside because a lot of writers seem to focus more on the human condition for lack of a better phrasing. That and monsters don't offer as much of an obstacle in most modern readers minds, because like someone stated previously they're just not scary anymore. I know for myself, I'd rather face down a cougar with a sword and shield than a sentient being who is plotting against me.  The cougar's motives are transparent, they fight for food and territory while the sentient being's motives are unknown as are their capabilities. That unknown with it's myriad of possibilities is far scarier.

Also, with Sapkowski in the Witcher it's human-ish sentient creatures and humans who perpetrate the most evils and are far scarier than the monsters who appear mostly as local nuisances. Yennifer scares the crap out of me.. (don't judge!)
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on November 05, 2014, 10:09:48 PM
In the Witcher stories I've been reading so far, monsters are never actually the prime problem and source of the trouble. Instead the monsters usually appear as the result of human actions and represent losing control of the plans they have set into motion.
Which is why Geralt usually solves the current crysis by talking things out with the humans instead of stabbing the monster with his silver sword.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on March 07, 2015, 04:17:51 PM
I found this piece on describing monsters, which I think is quite interesting to think about.

The art of describing a monster (http://monstersandmanuals.blogspot.de/2014/12/the-art-of-describing-monster.html)
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: JMack on March 07, 2015, 04:29:50 PM
I found this piece on describing monsters, which I think is quite interesting to think about.

The art of describing a monster (http://monstersandmanuals.blogspot.de/2014/12/the-art-of-describing-monster.html)
Very interesting read. Thanks, @Yora (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=35236)
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Skip on March 07, 2015, 10:37:00 PM
What's a monster?  For me, pretty much any non-humanoid qualifies, even if they aren't scary. But it sounds like for others here, "monster" is by definition "scary monster".

I've wrestled with the terminology in my own writing and have settled upon "creature" as a substitute for "non-humanoid". The leaves "monster" free for my characters to use to refer to something more horrific than, say, a centaur.

But I include things like dragons as monsters/creatures, so I don't see any real dip in the frequency. That said, I'm aware I do not read much recent fantasy, so perhaps I'm completely missing the trend.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on March 08, 2015, 04:54:12 PM
I've kept thinking about monsters a lot the last couple of months and made what I consider a pretty important observation. Great monsters are never about their looks, they are always about their behaviors. Add as many teeth, tentacles, slime and blood as you want, it won't make your monster more interesting.
There are dozens of monster books for roleplaying games  that have 200 monsters or more each (though lots of overlap with dragons, goblins, giants, and so on) and they almost always come with a picture for each creature. But I noticed that very often these pictures give you a good at the monsters body, they usually make the monster boring. Almost always the same posing and snarling. All the really great ilustrations of monsters show the creature in a situation, interacting with its environment and often in some fight with the heroes. Monsters posing in front of a white background really don't tell you anything about what the creature does and in what situations the heroes might encounter them.
Going to movies and videogames, visual design certainly matters, but when the heroes encounter them they are not memorable and exciting because of the way they look, but because of how they behave. Sure, the alien and the predator have a really great unique visual style, but if the heroes would just accidentally run into them comming around a corner, they would still be boring. But they don't just stand guard at a door or walk down a corridor at a leisurely stroll. The alien crawls on walls and ceilings. It can be very silent and appears to have no problem in the dark. It crawls through small spaces to sneak up from almost any possible direction and then it strikes quickly and can be gone again before anyone can get a look at it. That mouth and that tail and the acid blood are neat, but not what this monster is about. The creature from The Thing is absolutely terrifying as a huge mass of flesh, tentacles, and teeth covered in blood and slime crushing anything beneath it and being unharmed by bullets or blades. But that is not what makes the creature so horrifying. It really is all about its ability to take the form of any person or animal it devoured and to act pretty normal as long as it does not have to talk. It mingles with the group to observe and learn, and take out people one by one when an opportunity presents itself.

And I say all good monsters are like that. A disturbing appearance is nice, but does not really matter much, especially in literature where readers don't actively visualize everything the entire time. Even the special abilities don't matter nearly as much as how it uses them. The alien can survive in space and has acid blood, which are interesting powers, but don't really matter much by themselves.
Just think about zombies! They are possibly the most boring looking monsters imaginable with no special powers at all. When they get scary, it's all about the way they behave. Appearing in large hordes searching for people to eat alive and always creating more of them. That's the spooky part.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Raptori on March 09, 2015, 12:34:41 AM
Yeah I definitely agree with that. Actually that was one of the things that disappointed me in the Riyria books, the ghazel (goblins) were essentially people who were particularly bloodthirsty, ugly (with pointy teeth and stuff), and walked in a skittery and unnatural way. They were built up through several books into being an absolute terror, but they were very anticlimactic. Not to mention it annoyed me that their appearance was described twice, in successive books, using the exact same paragraph that could well have been copied and pasted from one book to another  :-\
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on March 09, 2015, 01:22:14 PM
What's a monster?  For me, pretty much any non-humanoid qualifies, even if they aren't scary. But it sounds like for others here, "monster" is by definition "scary monster".

I've wrestled with the terminology in my own writing and have settled upon "creature" as a substitute for "non-humanoid". The leaves "monster" free for my characters to use to refer to something more horrific than, say, a centaur.
The more I've been thinking about it, the more it appears to be quite important to me.

Monster does not equal monster.
I think the concepts I am thinking in are "people", "beasts", and "supernatural". A fictional animal is a very different thing from a demon or spirit. And I think it's quite important to make the distinction between them very clear with a strong contrast, even though in traditional mythology the line can be quite blurry with for example no difference being made between an ordinary fox or the servants of the god of agriculture, or black cats being creatures of the devil. But I think for modern fiction it's better to have a sharp contrast between them if you want the supernatural monsters to appear truly horrifying and terrible. If you want to go for a world that always feels strange and dreamlike, there probably isn't any real distinction between the two. But if you want to have a world that is usually normal but with occasional encounters with the supernatural, you need the contrast. Otherwise all the supernatural monsters lose their unnatural and otherworldly feel very quickly. Dragons and chimeras being a good example. Either make them natural or unnatural, but I really would avoid putting them somewhere inbetween.

A method I am considering to maintain the contrast is to use clearly separate vocabularies. If you describe a fictional but ordinary domesticated animal, use normal language and don't have your character be amazed at their sight or even giving it a lot of attention. Maybe even forgett about them for a time and only mention them later in passing.
In contrast to that, I would avoid scenes where the protagonist descends into some evil lair and is like "Oh look, a handful of zombies. How inconvenient." *hack hack*, next scene. It's not the reader who decides what is normal and what is horrifying, it's the protagonist who tells us how a person should react to them.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: silvijanus on March 09, 2015, 01:54:41 PM
There is a show in a local museum about folklore "monsters", witches, striggas etc. I might go check it out to see what they say. Anyway...
I think monster should evoke fear. Or it's just ugly (and strong). Primary, for stories purpose it should evoke fear.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on March 10, 2015, 03:35:24 PM
Quote
“The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain – a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.”

– HP Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature
I think here the master himself really nails it down what makes a creepy monster. It breaks the rules.

Breaking the rules is a vital part of horror in general. If you want to create a feeling of dread in any kind of medium, it is necessary that the audience and the protagonist do not know the rules by which the hostile presence works. Tigers, sharks, and rhinoceroses are scary, but they behave according to pretty clear rules of which we have at least a basic understanding. We understand what they want, we understand what they do, we understand what can hurt them, and with a bit of informing yourself in advance, we also have some ideas how we can avoid encountering them and how to get away from them when we do. They are the "fixed laws of Nature" that protect us. Being hunted by a tiger in the jungle at night is terrifying, but there is nothing inherently horifying about tigers.
When we don't know the rules, things get supernaturally scary. Because we have no idea what to expect, and therefore no way to tell if any action we can take will save us or only make things worse.

It's not limited only to horror stories though. All supernatural beings work that way. Take Gladriel from the Fellowship of the Ring movie for example. She looks completely normal and is clearly an ally, but she is creepy the entire time. Even compared to the other ancient elven nobles, she's on a completely different level. Some things about her are off and there is no way to tell in what other ways she is different from normal people and to what extend. She could be anything, clearly has the power to do almost anything she wants to, and there is no way to predict how she would react to anything people around here are doing. She doesn't have to do or say anything hostile, just by hinting that she doesn't opperate under the normal rules nothing about her is certain anymore and everything a possibility. And there are plenty of possible terrible things you couldn't see coming and avoid before it's already too late.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: silvijanus on March 10, 2015, 05:26:33 PM
Good post, Yora. You have a good point with Galadriel, she is kind off scary. Galadriel and Black riders are more scary then giant lake monster near entrance to mines of Moria. It's worth thinking about... some authors, sometimes throw in creatures and monsters to a reader in a way: "oh look what a cool thing I came up with (in my world building)". And it doesn't make any effect. It's more tiresome (suspending disbelief thing) then scary and it can feel sufficient in a story. And once reader starts to roll eyes, your on thin ice...
Existence of monster should: a) serve the story, b) evoke fear. If not, just skip it...

Sorry if I'm missing the overall point, I still haven't had time to read the whole topic. Just my two dimes on monster theme.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on March 10, 2015, 06:21:43 PM
Someone wrote a long series of articles examinizing The Lord of The Rings chapter by chapter and comparing details with the Silmarilion and he had really a lot to say about Galadriel. Considering all the details Tolkien wrote about her, she was no nature loving saint but a truly terrible person. She was always just a step away from turning out like Saruman. And she knew it, which is her one saving grace.
O Lórien! Too long I have dwelt upon this Hither Shore
And in a fading crown have twined the golden elanor.
But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?
It's pretty huge, but great reading for those interested in it. (Start at the bottom (https://sweatingtomordor.wordpress.com/tag/galadriel/))

And yeah, in contrast to that you have a big tentacle monster that wants to eat you. Run away from the water and it probably can't follow, hack at it with your sword and you probably hurt it. Yet the creepiest part about it is that you don't really get to see what it is. It doesn't leave the pool and nobody sees what's below the surface. The tentacles are easily understood and dealt with, but the mystery comes from not knowing what else there is on the other end.

The ringwraiths are freaking scary when they first show up. They still show up later too, but by then we have a pretty good idea what they are and what they want. And while it's challenging, Merry and Eowen try to fight one and it actually works much better than expected. By that time, they are just some evil boss dudes.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: JMack on March 10, 2015, 07:21:02 PM
I just want to say that this thread, the worldbuilding one and others that you have started, @Yora (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=35236), are really interesting and helpful as I think about my WIP. So, karma to you (even if you don't believe in it particularly ;-)
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Nora on March 17, 2015, 11:40:54 AM
Hearing how you love monsters it reminded me of a cool sketch by a French comic artist. It's been translated on his English blog check it out :

http://english.bouletcorp.com/2015/01/12/monsters/

 :P
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: JMack on March 17, 2015, 04:19:24 PM
Hearing how you love monsters it reminded me of a cool sketch by a French comic artist. It's been translated on his English blog check it out :

http://english.bouletcorp.com/2015/01/12/monsters/

 :P
Awesome. For some reason, site was blocked at work. I had to pull it up on my phone.
But awesome.  :)
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Raptori on March 17, 2015, 04:30:24 PM
Hearing how you love monsters it reminded me of a cool sketch by a French comic artist. It's been translated on his English blog check it out :

http://english.bouletcorp.com/2015/01/12/monsters/ (http://english.bouletcorp.com/2015/01/12/monsters/)

 :P
Haha nice! That's actually one of the fundamental principles of our world... humans aren't special. Every other species is just as likely to have magical powers as humans are. One of the main characters is a woodpecker who has powerful sorcery skills  8)

I actually always wondered about that in the ROTE as well - do Witted non-humans bond to other Witted non-humans? Or is it just any random non-human always bonds to a human? Don't see how/why that could be the case  ???
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on March 22, 2015, 05:23:48 PM
One observation I made quite a while ago is that many of the big names of classic fantasy writers have their own iconic signature monster which they use in different versions over and over.
Howard had his snakes, Lovecraft had his fish, and Tolkien his spiders. You even see it with multiple-writer universes, like Dungeons & Dragons has its dark elves and Final Fantasy the chocobos.

It's not something I would recommend any writer to specifically try to do, but I think probably something that most people who really like doing monsters very easily get to do eventually anyway. And having done some fine detailing and polishing on my own monsters, I've found that special type of monsters are worms.  :D
Which is somewhat strange, as I don't have any fascination with real worms and don't find them particularly creepy or horrifying in any way. I have a a good number of fictional reptiles that are mostly repainted obscure dinosaurs and plenty of living plant-spirits, but all the really weird alien horrors are almost entirely worms. Giant rock-burrowing worms, telepathic underwater worms, 5 meter long eels, a swarm of worms that forms into a human-like shape,  hordes of huge faceless centipedes,  a swamp and cave dwelling octopus that looks like nothing but tentacles, big centipede-lobsters, and giant centipedes with spikes. And now that I think of it, the mammalian monsters I created are all based on giant otters (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-qpXC-7QbKXc/UvO5T2OCHGI/AAAAAAAAADM/mMJMqtqHwCE/s1600/giant-river-otter-5-facts_72731_600x450.jpg), weasels, and leopard seals (http://www.skyhdwallpaper.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Leopard-seal-3.jpg), which are by far the wormiest of all mammals.
Which I don't mind, since they look cool.

With the primordial creatures of the underworld I specifically tried to base them on animals others than vertebrates. Mammals and reptiles are "normal", they are familiar and have dominated the world as we know it for hundreds of millions of years. So I was looking at insects and crustaceans, trying to avoid the obvious squids as that would look to obviously like Lovecraft. But somehow I ended up with worms, even though insects are only very rarely worm-shapes and crustaceans not at all. But I still made them into worms, and why not? It comes to me naturally and I think hasn't really be done much before. (Even Howards Worms of the Earth are actually serpents.)
The squishy and slimy types of worms are actually quite weird. They are obviously not plants or fungi, which makes them animals, but beyond that I don't have the slightest idea where they fit into the classifications of species.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Nora on March 22, 2015, 07:34:15 PM
That reminds me of the gruesome moment in Peter Jackson's King Kong movie when they fall in that trench iiiih. Besides the spider types, the cook and is Asian kid fall to worm like creatures that made my teen self's skin crawl.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on March 28, 2015, 01:46:29 PM
For anyone interested in really unusual monsters, I have a series of posts on my website about weird monsters from roleplaying games (http://spriggans-den.com/?cat=16). There's some really crazy stuff in those.  ;D
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: D_Bates on April 12, 2015, 11:44:04 PM
I have to say I also have a bit of a thing for monsters, thougH I sort of get why they seem to be going out of fashion when most tend to be giant versions of regular creatures that are one dimensional beings who exist as a stepping stone for the protagonist to tread over while they 'level up' to the greater threat.

Those that are relevant to the bigger plot are often human hybrids, and even most of them fall into the fodder roles. Those that make it to primary antagonist follow a pretty basic structure of: Protagonist investigates their existance > Protagonist almost falls prey to their powers > Protagonist slays them in some metaphorical fashion > the end. This is perfectly fine, but it seems a lot of modern day fantasy is heavily focused on ongoing plots--at least the last time I checked Amazon almost every single entry was Book X of whatever series--and monsters don't tend to carry over well into episodic stories.

I'm personally trying to populate my world with many monsters/humanoids that are coexisting in an effort to explore those ways of life. My first effort didn't even have humans, just Faun, Centaur, and giant spiders. You can have so much fun when you take these creatures away from being side kicks and push the limits of their design. It makes me smile to imagine Fauns going all goat and butting horns after they get angry with one another, or brushing down the hair on their legs in the morning to make it neat and presentable. And when you go fully into the realm of spiders beyond the webs you can find some real beautiful horror scenes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64nbufskQhQ / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4GmmHWn6Jw

I was also imagining an ant/human hybrid kingdom that I never managed to plug into that particular tale but would like to revisit at some point. When I was doing research for them I found this gem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFg21x2sj-M . That's truly a kingdom if ever I saw one. I just find this sort of thing really fascinating. Sometimes the most fantastical things are right here on our very own planet.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Elfy on April 12, 2015, 11:53:47 PM
I just read a novella called Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant that actually has mermaids as the monsters. It's a highly entertaining little piece of fiction and reimagines the mermaids very successfully.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: JMack on April 12, 2015, 11:56:27 PM
@D_Bates (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40257), you might be interested in the SF novel A Wave Without a Shore by CJ Cherryh.
It has humans interacting with an ant-like alient race in a very interesting allegory for our own society.
I'm a Cherryh fan, so any excuse to flog her books, old as they are...   ;D
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: M.S OLNEY on April 13, 2015, 01:32:05 PM
In my novels the Sundered Crown Saga, monsters play a very important role. They are called Fell beasts and have been a major thorn in the side of humanity for millenia.

'It was the use of magic that paved the way to disaster for the early folk. A mage whose name was lost to history inadvertedly opened a portal to the void. Unable to reseal it the monsters of Vectrix entered the world of man. The first fell beasts burst forth from the Void. At first the beasts ran rampant across the world but, men are tenacious. An alliance of the kingdoms of the Niver banded together and over time culled the beast’s numbers. The best at hunting the monsters of the void were the specialist magic yielding hunters known as the Nightblades, the order which still defends the realm from the voids horrors.

The first Wizard, Aljeron sealed the portal to the void but the gap between worlds was damaged forever, beasts of the void would always seep through.'
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Elfy on April 14, 2015, 12:37:57 AM
In terms of signature monsters for certain authors that was a choice Joss Whedon had to make when he decided to write the script for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The film was basically the result of Joss' watching a lot of horror movies where the pretty young coed finds herself in an alley and confronted by a monster, then killed, roll opening credits. Joss thought, so what if she can fight back? Then he had to work out what monster she fought back against. In the end he decided to go with vampires. I think they were probably the easiest to film.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: D_Bates on April 14, 2015, 07:15:04 PM
@Jmack (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=37094) - I will look that one up, thanks. It's actually good to see what others have done with such things in the past to develop your own take on them.

@Elfy (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=1153) - I'll also look up that mermaid novella! Funnily enough, mermaids are also one that is sloshing around in my head for some point in time. I was thinking of going with a matriarchal society with a greek inspiration. (Hey, Atlantis!). The one hurdle I was trying to flesh out was how to bridge the gap between water and land. Gills are an easy thing to add, but I was thinking of flipping the fish end out by making it a suit rather than an actual part of their anatomy. Ah, so many options. Fantasy is so beautifully flexible.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: JMack on April 14, 2015, 10:09:15 PM
I was thinking of flipping the fish end out by making it a suit rather than an actual part of their anatomy. Ah, so many options. Fantasy is so beautifully flexible.
Love that... suits, yes.
Also, see Seanan Macguire October Daye books. There's a water race that uses skins that they put on. @Elfy (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=1153) will remember details.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on April 14, 2015, 10:12:35 PM
I have an idea to make merpeople straight up spirits. Not just trolls and kobolds kind of creature, but minor sea deities.

I thought it was quite funny when I figured out the meaning of the Japanese name for mermaids. Ningyo simply means "people-fish".
And the more Japanese I learn, the more bland all Japanese names get. There is usually nothing poetic or magical about them at all.  :D
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: JMack on April 14, 2015, 10:16:00 PM
I have an idea to make merpeople straight up spirits. Not just trolls and kobolds kind of creature, but minor sea deities.

I thought it was quite funny when I figured out the meaning of the Japanese name for mermaids. Ningyo simply means "people-fish".
And the more Japanese I learn, the more bland all Japanese names get. There is usually nothing poetic or magical about them at all.  :D
Imagine if we used "peoplefish" and "flyingdog" and "tall mountains" and "big water", etc. as the exotic-sounding names in our fantasy world. $0 sales, I think?  ;D
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Elfy on April 15, 2015, 12:41:58 AM
@Jmack (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=37094) - I will look that one up, thanks. It's actually good to see what others have done with such things in the past to develop your own take on them.

@Elfy (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=1153) - I'll also look up that mermaid novella! Funnily enough, mermaids are also one that is sloshing around in my head for some point in time. I was thinking of going with a matriarchal society with a greek inspiration. (Hey, Atlantis!). The one hurdle I was trying to flesh out was how to bridge the gap between water and land. Gills are an easy thing to add, but I was thinking of flipping the fish end out by making it a suit rather than an actual part of their anatomy. Ah, so many options. Fantasy is so beautifully flexible.
It may be tough to get. It was a limited Sub Press edition, but hopefully it will get a wider mass market release. To answer Jmack's comment about the October Daye's and the aquatic race. I believe he's thinking of the selkies. They're a race that put on seal skins to become seals, they divide their time between the water and the land.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: D_Bates on April 15, 2015, 05:22:32 PM
I have an idea to make merpeople straight up spirits. Not just trolls and kobolds kind of creature, but minor sea deities.

I thought it was quite funny when I figured out the meaning of the Japanese name for mermaids. Ningyo simply means "people-fish".
And the more Japanese I learn, the more bland all Japanese names get. There is usually nothing poetic or magical about them at all.  :D

Funnily enough, most names are like that, even with places. If you go back to the language era when they were created, many are simply descriptions of the area or a noticeable trait. For example, a nice irish sounding name like Loughennis just means 'lake with an island'. I believe the biggest river in Russia, the Volga, is a minor change to the russian word for water. I originally called my ant folk Mants as a play on Man/Ant combined, something I got criticised on, yet the same critic suggested I used a term like Myrmidon instead. Myrmidon translated from its greek origins means 'Ant People'--clearly a far superior connotation from back in the time! Even mermaid... I'm not 100% certain of this, but isn't mer a word for water or fish? And maid is unmarried girl. So yea, in it's most basic term mermaid simply means water/fish girls.

My biggest smile came when I discovered Gandalf was an actual norse name that means 'Elf with wand.' When I then found Frodo as 'One who is enlightened by life', and followed that up with Aragorn--a minor alteration of Arathorn which means 'Eagle King'... well, by that stage I stopped worrying about names altogether. Now I tend to think that something pronounceable is much easier to associate with than some made up gibberish. And if you're going to go the route of taking an established name and switching a couple of letters here and there, I think more people will notice that and raise an unimpressed eyebrow moreso than if you'd just used the original version and be done with it.

Great call on the Selkie btw Elfy/Jmack. I vaguely remember them from my rpg days. On a quick glance they seem to be awesomely close to the sort of thing I was considering. Time to add that one to the little notebook to go into greater depth at a later date!
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Elfy on April 16, 2015, 01:04:05 AM
Selkies have the advantage of being able to move between the land and water by means of their skins. Seanan McGuire has a fantastic short story about it In Salt Sea Tears, which I believe is still available for free on her website. In regards to the fishtail being a kind of prosthetic, that's very similar to  the commercial 'mermaids'. There are groups of ladies (there may be men, too, I just haven't heard of any) who are professional 'mermaids'. They use prosthetic tails, they're not real obviously, but they're also not cheap flimsy things.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: ScarletBea on April 16, 2015, 07:59:12 AM
Elspeth Cooper has got some Selkies in her books, women and men (I think mostly in book 2, but don't quote me on that). And they're very minor characters.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Ryan Mueller on April 17, 2015, 05:08:14 AM
For anyone interested in really unusual monsters, I have a series of posts on my website about weird monsters from roleplaying games (http://spriggans-den.com/?cat=16). There's some really crazy stuff in those.  ;D

I bookmarked that. There's some good material there to develop some of my own monsters. I do love monsters.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Ryan Mueller on April 17, 2015, 05:11:29 AM
Here's my key thing with monsters. In RPG terms, you don't want to write all the normal battles. You want to write the boss battles. If you write all the battles, it becomes repetitive and boring. Even in RPGs, those normal battles are only there so you can level up. In a novel, leveling up isn't necessary.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on April 17, 2015, 10:31:21 AM
As had been discussed in the Fight Scenes thread, characters need a good reason to risk their life in a fight, and the same goes for fighting monsters. There needs to be a point in fighting it. If you could just leave or ignore it, fighting makes no sense.
The most classic example is probably: "The monster stands in front of a door and I really need to get to that door." A somewhat more refined version is "I need to get through this building and accidentally run into a monster that is just coming around the corner. And I don't want to risk it getting me from behind while I try to run away." Another good one is "The monster wants to eat me and for some reason I can't leave this place." (Because it's on a space ship or Antarctica.)

I'm not a fan of fight scenes in general, and the same goes for monster. The most interesting parts about a fight is what happens before and after. Once the fight starts, things are already pretty clear. One of them will die. If the monster fights the hero, it will be the monster. If the monster fights anyone else, that other guy dies.
All the interesting stuff about a monster is what happens before the fight. When will they fight, where will they fight? Who will be ambushed? Which weapons will the character have? How many monsters will it be? Writing good monsters is much more about those things than what it can do with its teeth and claws.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: JMack on April 17, 2015, 11:15:17 AM
As had been discussed in the Fight Scenes thread, characters need a good reason to risk their life in a fight, and the same goes for fighting monsters. There needs to be a point in fighting it. If you could just leave or ignore it, fighting makes no sense.
The most classic example is probably: "The monster stands in front of a door and I really need to get to that door." A somewhat more refined version is "I need to get through this building and accidentally run into a monster that is just coming around the corner. And I don't want to risk it getting me from behind while I try to run away." Another good one is "The monster wants to eat me and for some reason I can't leave this place." (Because it's on a space ship or Antarctica.)

I'm not a fan of fight scenes in general, and the same goes for monster. The most interesting parts about a fight is what happens before and after. Once the fight starts, things are already pretty clear. One of them will die. If the monster fights the hero, it will be the monster. If the monster fights anyone else, that other guy dies.
All the interesting stuff about a monster is what happens before the fight. When will they fight, where will they fight? Who will be ambushed? Which weapons will the character have? How many monsters will it be? Writing good monsters is much more about those things than what it can do with its teeth and claws.
Really interesting fight with monsters in the Emperor's Blades. Interesting for the context, rather than the fighting.
Special forces soldiers in training for medieval tech army have to face the Slarn in their final test. Slarn are bipedal lizards with many female workers and one king. They live in winding tunnels underground, so are blind, but have other senses enhanced. Poisonous. The spec ops folks expose the cadets to the poison, and the cadets have 24 hours to get the antidote from down in the Slarn tunnels. The antidote is to drink the viscous Slarn eggs. Later, it turns out the test is not just of bravery and ability; the egg liquid enhances the cadets' senses as well. Meantime, there is very little description of the actual fighting, though there is some. It's really the terror of the dark, the desperation to find the eggs and avoid the Slarn - when you can't see a damn thing.
I think this is right to you post @ Yora.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Ryan Mueller on April 19, 2015, 01:38:11 AM
Another key thing with fighting monsters (or any kind of battle) is that there should be consequences. A battle in which the heroes defeat the monster without suffering any injuries or advancing the plot in some other way is probably not worth being written.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: NinjaRaptor on April 22, 2015, 11:56:19 PM
Dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures were my first love, so no fantasy setting I create would ever feel complete without those beasties wandering the wilds. Usually I place my dinosaurs deep in the tropical jungles whereas Ice Age mammals like mammoths and saber-toothed cats get the frigid polar regions.

I'm not such a big fan of the common "supernatural" monsters, but occasionally I find it fun to take traditional fantasy creatures and give them a naturalistic, or at least non-magical, explanation. Vampires might be a separate species of hominid that evolved prominent canines and a diet of blood (wonder how nutritious that would be?), or perhaps mermaids are descended from some hi-tech genetics experiment combining human and fish parts.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Nora on April 26, 2015, 04:52:08 PM
I'm not a fan of fight scenes in general, and the same goes for monster. The most interesting parts about a fight is what happens before and after. Once the fight starts, things are already pretty clear. One of them will die. If the monster fights the hero, it will be the monster. If the monster fights anyone else, that other guy dies.

Unless you're in game of thrones. In which case, the most wicked survives.

All the interesting stuff about a monster is what happens before the fight. When will they fight, where will they fight? Who will be ambushed? Which weapons will the character have? How many monsters will it be? Writing good monsters is much more about those things than what it can do with its teeth and claws.
Really? I came back to this thread to say that I was beginning a story starring a proper "monster", but in my case there will be no direct fight.
Some examples come to my mind of monsters making some serious damages and where the fights aren't so much the main interesting points.
Like in the B.P.R.D. comics, derived from hellboy. One character has been turned into some sort of evil were-jaguar by a forest jaguar spirit. He feels it in himself, but turns involuntarily and keeps no memory of the mess he makes. When the tension builds and the character actually lashes out in that form, he makes some damages (destroys the physical body of a medium, kills several 'red shirts', kills his own doctor and the assassin who came after him) but the real point of interest is how he deals with the realisation that he's responsible of deaths and lost control, is a monster and yet wishes he would keep his friends from harm.
His final battle against another monster is mint. Hand to hand combat.

Comes with amazing art too :

(http://bloody-disgusting.com/photosizer/upload/bprdlongdeath2.jpg)

(http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lp06iuvbRk1qmb56bo1_500.png)
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on April 26, 2015, 05:26:34 PM
Can't really go wrong with big cats.

Those and bears.  ;D
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Nora on April 27, 2015, 03:10:44 AM
Can't really go wrong with big cats.

Those and bears.  ;D
True. But then Hellboy and BPRD are two series that star real monsters, Ars Goetia demons, old gods and practices and their own take on more traditional "monsters" (werewolf, vampire, homunculus, ghosts, witches) and some celebrities, including baba yaga, vlad the impaler, Hecate, Raspoutine and the like.
I really love these series. Ever since Mike Mignola has adopted it it's been blowing my mind away.

It stars a very cool wendigo :
(http://cdn.comicartfans.com/Images/Category_14838/subcat_30195/Wendigo.jpg)
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7139/7661746166_8570c19b43.jpg)

The were jaguar is hardly very sexy :
(http://i42.tinypic.com/zn3f48.jpg)
(http://i.imgur.com/ECNNvxn.png)

A large part of plot revolves around frog monsters that turn humans and keep a very gory cult :
(http://images.tfaw.com/common/salestools/previews/bprdpofhcv1/bprdpofhcv1p2.jpg)
(http://multiversitystatic.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2014/10/Sacrificial-Similarities.jpg)

There are a wealth of unexplained fancy monsters :
(http://seantcollins.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/davismonster.jpeg)
(http://westfieldcomics.com/wow/art/large/DEC110056.jpg)
(https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/5d/ea/49/5dea49af58606e58ba0141b7eb2c8257.jpg)
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: JMack on April 27, 2015, 11:52:55 AM
The art is very cool.
But wendigos were, to my understanding, humans overtaken by the wendigo spirit, usually when they'd eaten human flesh during the hungry times of winter. But, really, who gives a crud, it's cool art.  ;D

Meanwhile, one of these days I'll pull out the book Where the Chill Came From and put some notes in here about the wendigo.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on April 27, 2015, 12:52:12 PM
But wendigos were, to my understanding, humans overtaken by the wendigo spirit, usually when they'd eaten human flesh during the hungry times of winter.
It may not look like it, but it is just that.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Nora on April 27, 2015, 03:11:47 PM
The art is very cool.
But wendigos were, to my understanding, humans overtaken by the wendigo spirit, usually when they'd eaten human flesh during the hungry times of winter. But, really, who gives a crud, it's cool art.  ;D

Meanwhile, one of these days I'll pull out the book Where the Chill Came From and put some notes in here about the wendigo.

In this story they have a nice twist : the spirit has a body, the one you see, and each time it kills a murderer, the soul inside the body is switched. In this specific case the guy caught in the wendigo is a good soul who has moments of lucidity as it meets our heroes, and is called Daryl...

(http://25.media.tumblr.com/b4c278b382ddc439803aa7592997bd30/tumblr_mo21qvXEgV1rn8v67o3_1280.jpg)

He's caught by the BPRD and is given a pic of his family... Sad stuff..

(http://www.rachelandmiles.com/xmen/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/BPRD_Daryl.png)

But that's what I love with the treatment of monsters in the Hellboy series. Some are senseless, some regret their humanity, some don't, other have their own values and motivations, and they're all different.

Meanwhile I'm precisely working on a new short story for a submission somewhere else, revolving around a wendigo. But I'm doing the old school one, as Jmack conceives.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: JMack on April 27, 2015, 03:42:52 PM
@Nora (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40237), this is dated in its prejudices, and I haven't read all of it, but it might be of interest:

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/10897/10897-h/10897-h.htm (https://www.gutenberg.org/files/10897/10897-h/10897-h.htm)
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Nora on April 27, 2015, 03:50:14 PM
@Nora (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40237), this is dated in its prejudices, and I haven't read all of it, but it might be of interest:

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/10897/10897-h/10897-h.htm (https://www.gutenberg.org/files/10897/10897-h/10897-h.htm)

Thanks a lot! I wanted to look out for it, hadn't thought it might be free of rights already! Cool, straight on my ereader, thanks a lot!
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on April 27, 2015, 03:54:26 PM
This actually makes me want to give the comics a try. Monsters that are also people (but also still monster) are often the most interesting. I usually don't like american comics, but all the ones I do like are also by Dark Horse, which I take as a good sign.
I think I saw the first movie but don't remember anything about it (maybe I didn't actually see it, not even sure about that). But Ron Perlman is always great. 8)

These last weeks I find myself increasingly bored by the idea of monsters that are ultra destructive and grotesque. The monster stuff I've been looking into for several months may be very unique, but I feel like the people who write about them are overdoing it in a way that is analogous to ultra dark and gritty fantasy. Being 100% unpredictable heaps of slime and tentacles that rip aparts mind and bodies with their sheer presence in this world do become stale and predictble pretty quickly, even if each and everyone is a completely new arangement of eyes, mouths, and tentacles that makes peoples brains explode in different ways. The end result is still the same.
I am now going back to concentrate more on what originally got me interested in horror creatures, which is the fey.
Creatures that look like animals, can talk and think like people, behave similar to people in most ways, but have just very different priorities. Not creatures that are completely alien in every way, but instead familiar but off. Things that are just not quite right. And many of the Hellboy creatures seem to lean in that direction. Things that are intelligent and can reason, but still are beasts in their true essence. Like wolves and tigers, which can be friendly, playful, and obedient, but at any moment decide to kill and eat you because for them in that moment it seems like a good idea. And that's actually what the majority of Lovecrafts creatures are as well. There are a few that attack on sight, but most are able to have some form of meaningful conversation with you. It's just that their goals and priority are very different from those of humans and their minds are not alien in the way that it's impossible to communicate, but that they will come to conclusions and make descisions that are just horrifying to a person.
Fighting such creatures is not a flight of mad panic, but more about suspense as the character tries to avoid making a wrong step. A tentacle horror from another dimension will act truly randomly, so what the character does or does not really doesn't make a meaningful difference.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Nora on April 27, 2015, 04:22:23 PM
Yeah I feel you, I can imagine the originality wearing off. Give a try at the hellboys though, and the B.P.R.D too. It's the bureau of paranormal investigations Hellboy grew up in and worked for, before going on his own adventures (to the depth of hell! Yay).
I cannot impress how much I love these series. Mignola gave both the art and then the story such an air, such a depth...
What is great in his treatment of monsters is also people's reaction to them. Some people see a giant egg of monster and make a hippie festival around it. How cool is that?
Monsters are around by the thousands, some fight, another makes a suit and tries to place himself as their leader. Human reactions are more varied than in many other stories.

Even the myth of creation revealed in the plot includes monsters :

http://25.media.tumblr.com/f1ce6d8e16901a243d39bd0426d43abd/tumblr_muinp72FOY1sl2v8po2_1280.jpg

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/hellboy/images/5/59/Ogdru_Jahad_The_Island.png/revision/latest?cb=20121118002434

I found the movies horrible and incomparable with the comics. Definitely give them a try.
Any Dark Horse production to recommend by the way?
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on April 27, 2015, 04:47:19 PM
I very much like their Conan comics and especially Knights of the Old Republic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_Knights_of_the_Old_Republic_%28comics%29). The later is actually a Star Wars series but doesn't really have any connections to the movies at all. I think it's really good with plenty of very unexpected twists that still all line up perfectly and make total sense in hindsight. Doesn't really have much monsters though.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on May 02, 2015, 10:12:04 PM
Someone actually recommended Hellboy to me a few years ago when I was first working on a concept for my spirits. And now I see that was a really good call I should have followed on back then. Baba Yaga and Grugach are great examples of what I want to aim at. They talk and they reason, but in the end they are not human and are concerned with thing humans don't know anything about.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on June 12, 2015, 08:13:07 PM
I'm doing some polishing on a type of creature I've been having in mind for years now, but never been able to give a good name.
What would you think of when characters in a story say a previously normal person has become an anathema?  :D
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Lady Ty on June 13, 2015, 01:25:48 AM
I'm doing some polishing on a type of creature I've been having in mind for years now, but never been able to give a good name.
What would you think of when characters in a story say a previously normal person has become an anathema?  :D
Someone to be disliked and shunned.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: MeanMachine on September 05, 2015, 01:40:12 AM
The stories I am writing are mostly about adventurers who either are professional monster hunters, or have to fight  monsters to do their adventuring anyway (exploring, treasure hunting, even while just plain traveling.), so monsters abound.

A lot of the monsters are your usual Fantasy fare, like Zombies, Dragons, Wyverns, Golems, sentient trees, larger and/or magically enhenced versions of real world animals, etc,  tough a lot of well used fantasy monsters that are basically anthropomorphic animals such as Gnolls, Kobolds, Lizardmen, ect, are integrated in human society, along with a slew of other animal-looking humanoids.
Title: Re: Here there be Monsters
Post by: Yora on October 02, 2015, 10:29:41 AM
I recently read an academic book about how some fantasy writers in the mid-20th century had the goal of writing stories that blurred or dissolved the clear distinctions between gods, humans, and nature. In modern western thinking people think of nature as something outside of themselves (it's telling that it's called "environment") and most concepts of something divine assume it to exist almost entirely outside of this world and not being present in either humans or nature.
Today I've coincidentally stubled on an old post by someone who I generally very much agree with when it comes to bringing fantasy to life, but his argument was that writers should use very few monsters or non-human humanoids, because that blurs and dissolves the clear categories of the natural and the unnatural. I think he knows and understands a lot about of fantasy that is really "fantastic", but why is the default assumption that natural and unnatural, or supernatural should be clearly distinct?
When you go back to past ages where we have plenty of mythic stories full of wonders, monsters, and magic, there isn't really any such distinction at all? Animals can be like people. People can be actually divine. Some animals are divine. The deeds of humans affect not just themselves but the entire world of gods, humans, and nature.
Fairies and talking animals, as well as giants that look like rock and sleep for years, or caves that lead into the underworld are all means by which the borders get diffused and ultimately annihilated. Elves, dwarves, lizardmen, and talking bears wearing armor might not only be acceptible, they might actually even be necessary if you want to write fantasy that is "mythic" and has a strong presence of the supernatural and divine. Not being able to which of the three domains something belongs is possibly one of the main elements of "mythic fantasy".