Q) What are the limits to making creatures for floraverse?
A) There’s a single restriction, and it’s that humans don’t exist. You can use humanoid features, but avoid people faces for your critters. Monkeys and apes are A-OK though! Use your own discretion.
Q) Wait, hold on, how does copyright work? Do you own everything? Do I own my own things?
A) This is the page for info on that! (The legalese page is here)The gist is that everything in the Floraverse group is under this license, which means everyone’s free to do whatever they’d like with any of our species or any of our characters or any locale or place we make up. Yes, even selling things. However, you must give credit (by way of linking/sourcing the group), and anything you make has to fall under this same license. This means that if you make up cool creatures and we’d like to introduce that species into canon, we can do so as long as we follow the same rules.
Q) I don’t like that. My species should only be mine, and my characters should only be mine. My ideas are too good.
A) Hopefully in time you won’t feel that way, but we’ll understand if that makes you not want to participate. People produce the best and most amazing things when they’re not restricted by others; you’ll still have to receive attribution for any ideas you come up with, so people will still recognize you for it. You’ll still be able to sell things with your characters, if you wish, but you’ll have a library of other free things to refer to within the group for crafting a story without starting from scratch. The goal is to make a huge sandbox where ideas can be used by anyone, and where creativity helps breed further creativity and sharing.
Q) What species are available to us?
A) Anything that exists in real life can be used as a base, but there’s also a growing list of canon species on the way for you to pick and choose from. The folder, which will be updated from time to time, is located here.
Q) So, what, we make up our own? Or pick from canon things you provide? Can my own species be canon?
A) The answer is: yes. To all three questions. You can choose to make up your own, you can pick from canon and make an original character of a species, and any species you make up has the chance to become canon if we think it would have a good place somewhere. Even if we don’t, others in the group might see it and get inspired to use it themselves!
Q) So how do we make up a species? Do they all have flowers on their head or something?
A) Not quite. A fair number of the critters do, but most of them don’t. It depends a lot on the common elements the species may possess an affinity for! A little fire elephant creature, for instance, may be too hot to have flowers on its body. Or, maybe it does have plants growing on its body despite the heat: perhaps fire-resistant plants are all over its back, or trunk, or what have you.
Q) But how do we make a species that makes sense? I still don’t understand. How do we work elements into it?
A) I suggest taking a thorough look at the elements guide, and also at the folder of canon creations. Try to make at least 2-3 variants of a species that have different body shapes and faces, as well as a different theme about them. This will help you start to understand what you’re going for with that species. It takes a little practice to really get into it, but it’s well worth it! If you’re concerned about the species making sense, try looking up real animals and plants to get inspiration. Nature is the best place to find it. To really make a species that’s interesting, try brainstorming with a partner - getting the perspective of another is always great; sometimes questions will pop up that you might not have thought of at all!
Q) What if a canon species exists, but I want to change one animal feature to another? Or if the common elements aren’t one I want to use?
A) Then go ahead and make a new variety of the existing creature. If you feel you need a less-common element for your character, then feel free to use it! Just keep in mind how and why such an affinity would be present in your species or character.
Q) Wait, how exactly do affinities form, again?
A) They tend to be hereditary or picked up via the environmental magic in the area. You can become more aligned with elements by existing in an environment with the same magic. Abilities tend to come about from affinities.
Q) Abilities! So what does that mean, exactly?
A) Creatures with affinities for elements tend to have the capacity to take on abilities. Very often, the personality of the character is what ends up causing an ability to manifest. Less often, characters are able to decide what sort of ability they want to work for, and they’re able to achieve that goal. Magic isn’t easy, and there are schools and classes and teachers for honing your skill with your element, and for learning new abilities.
Q) Could I get some examples?
First example: let’s say there’s a flowercat with an affinity for Poison. This flowercat might have a passive ability that the scent of her flower causes anyone who can smell it to experience the feelings or emotions the flowercat has. It’s essentially a mood-affecting flower. The strength of the smell and the effectiveness of the ability depends on how strongly she feels and how strong her tie to the Poison element is. The flowercat might have a more active, effort-conscious ability that allows her to interfere with the mood of a conversation in innocuous-looking ways, “poisoning” the talk in some way. In this case, the flowercat might not be able to control what she says to the others in the conversation after opening their mouth the first time, even if she wishes to stop. She might be obligated by how her ability works to carry the conversation through to the end, which would be the catch. Usually there’s a catch to active abilities, but less so to passive ones because passive abilities are harder to control and are always working.
Second example: this time, we’ll go with a manticore of Fire affinity. The passive ability might be that whenever he gets passionate about something, he works hard at it and the passion consumes him until it burns out, and then he might not be interested in the subject again. Notice that not all passive abilities remain terribly useful! They tend to reflect the unchangeable part of the character’s personality, and sometimes the personality develops alongside a passive ability. The active ability might allow the manticore to easily inspire passion in others for whatever he’s into at the moment, but the same burnout will occur for them as it does for him. This would be useful in achieving a particular goal, but isn’t useful for maintaining friends - they’re likely to feel used and forgotten after the manticore’s goal has been achieved.
Abilities aren’t always something physical and tangible, as you can see by the above examples. Sometimes you’ll indeed get something that develops an ability to breathe fire or freeze water or things like that, but those will still often tie into the personality of the critter or the character if they weren’t born with it. To breathe fire, a character might always be spewing angry words, which could tie into the development of their fire breathing. A character that’s distant and wishes everyone would just slow down might end up developing an icy touch. But of course, there are countless other ways these two physical abilities might manifest, and it’s entirely personal to each character.
Q) This sounds really hard!!!
A) It can be if you’re not willing to think about it! Think of it as a challenge to get to know your character. What makes them tick? What obstacles will they face, or have they already overcome? What failings do they live with? What sort of ability might come from that? How creative can you get without being overpowered? What interesting tales can you weave from that?
Q) And what’s the limit on affinities?
A) Creatures often only have affinities for one or two elements. Sometimes more, but those cases are much rarer. In areas where magic has been stripped from the environment (such as Mew York City), natives often are without any affinity at all, except when hereditary. Affinities can be developed over time by simply spending time in an area with the element desired as an affinity, but it’s not guaranteed, and can be a lengthy process - ESPECIALLY if it’s not a common element for your species. There are other, quicker ways that have been discovered to develop a magical affinity… but those have been banned in every province on the continent of Owel, and enforcement agencies are always looking for ways to stomp out illegal, black market activity.
Q) I need to know more, I don’t feel comfortable making something up yet. Help?
A) Feel free to ask questions below, but be warned that we won’t do the creative thinking for you! We have an IRC channel you can visit to discuss ideas, however, which might be what you’re looking for. We’d be glad to answer any other questions that don’t involve making up your character for you, though!