< Back to writing

Chronicles of Calelira: Entry Two

Classification of Species

(February 12, 2019)

As you might've guessed, Calelira is populated entirely by animal people. You might mistake me as a gigantic furry for that reason, and you might be right, but that's nevertheless not my point. Before we start getting into the fun stuff about Calelira, I should probably lay some of the bedrock of the world and talk about what it's built out of. Let's start with species.

There's five distinct classes of species in Calelira: Furbearers, Scaleskins, Cryptids, Featherbeasts, and Dragons. Of them, only Furbearers, Scaleskins, and Dragons are fully sapient, with Featherbeasts being semi-sapient and able to be tamed. Like classes in the real world, it goes more granular than that, but this is a nice starting point.

(The real world species each animal corresponds to doesn't have a made up name. Wolves are still wolves and otters are still otters. This is just a nicer way to classify all them and give certain groups certain perks.)

A Furbearer is your typical sapient across Calelira. They're bipedal, furred, have well-defined hands and thumbs, are capable of speech, and have some capacity for magic. They're based off real world mammals (by that, I mean pick an animal and put it on two legs, it's a Furbearer now), come in a variety of sizes, and can exist in a variety of climates, including extreme cold (though their heat tolerance is less so). Furbearers last about 60 years on average, though this varies with species.

A species of Furbearer worth noting are aardwolves, thanks to the Kuras clan having formed the earliest known settlement in Calelira, Daestus. It's their work that laid the foundation for later Elinar settlements, and technically, all aardwolves are Kuras descendants, hence why they're able to control city-state automatons. (I could write tons about the abandoned underground city-states, and I absolutely will at some point. Very fun to explore.)

Scaleskins are similar to Furbearers in their make, but are distinctly less common, live longer, and have more magical capability. These are based off real-world lizards and are covered in scales rather than fur (hence the name). Scaleskins are not native to Elinar, only the Isles states, and are often only found where it's very hot, humid, or both.

Dragons are where the invented species begin. Dragons are rare, long-lasting sapients with extreme magical capability in one distinct area each. They don't have the well-defined hands of the other two classes and instead rely mostly on telekinesis. Some are aquatic; the most common Dragons, Shalevens, have both gills and the ability to manipulate water telekinetically, and are dangerously adept at Conjuration and shapeshifting.

It's not canon just yet, but I imagine Dragons are probably pretty closely related to Scaleskins, hence their shared affinity for magic and longer lifespan. As Dragons are reviled in Elinar (especially northern Elinar and in the Mariteaux region), this would partially explain why Scaleskins tend not to settle that far north, despite some lizards living in colder regions in real life.

Onto the non-sapients:

A Featherbeast is a strange middle ground between a sapient and non-sapient. They're feathered, flight-capable creatures with limited capacity for speech and the ability to be tamed and perform actions on command. I guess this makes them pretty similar to birds in the real world, however, all Featherbeasts possess these traits. In the wild, Featherbeasts are incredibly social creatures, so most who do tame them tend to keep two or three around the house.

Cryptids are monsters, essentially. Very savage and territorial, with an extreme distaste for species that get too close. Most of them are rather bug-like, often out for plasma and bone marrow, and some are even venomous. My favorite example of a Cryptid species are Coreusens, who used to be Dragons before everyone got reclassified. Very radiant dragonfly-like build, very solitary, hover still water up in higher elevations, and will happily take a pint or two of blood from their prey at a time using their proboscis. You can tell a Coreusen's nearby when your skin crawls from the buzzing sound their wings make.

Other species that don't fit into the above categories act just like they do in the real world. No anthropomorphization, nothing. They're basically just normal animals. Ungulates (so sheep, oxen, horses, so on), amphibians (frogs, tadpoles, and salamanders), fish, crabs, snakes, and so on are all examples of beasts that generally serve as food or bait or resources for the other classes.

Originally, Calelira's species only had the four classes of Furbearer, Scaleskin, Featherbeast, and Dragon, but these were poorly defined and far broader in scope with less distinction between any of the four. They were all classes of sapient who just kinda stood in for the real world version of the animal in question. In-universe differences were mostly nonexistent. Socially, their dynamics were pretty arbitrary; Scaleskins were considered low in Elinar, and Featherbeasts were considered aristocratic.

It became pretty clear at the start of the reboot that some needed to be normal animals or have different capabilities to the actual sapients. If everyone's a sapient, it kills the chance to explore the way humans interact with animals in a way that's still coherent to a world of nothing but animals. I think it also makes the more common species a little less unique and defined, since everyone's upright and talking just like them.

The first ones to go were the ungulates and beasts of burden. The old Calelira featured the occasional livestock character as a sapient, and that was always contentious with me. Quite a few mammals in our world are carnivores, so what do they eat if the hooved guys are walking around too? The lack of hands makes using tools a little bit difficult too. I wanted to leave the door open to have shepherds and farmer characters with actual livestock to attend to this time around. After all, farms do exist in Elinar, and I don't buy they're purely for growing veggies.

Featherbeasts were also difficult because I wanted them to exist in the world, but they also don't have hands and thus can't fill the same role as an animal that does. I realized Calelira doesn't have much in the way of pets, and companionship is one of the major things that drive our species, hence why we've domesticated animals over time. They ended up as the middle lane, where you can teach them phrases and have them deliver mail, but it's up to anyone's guess how much of that is actual upper thought function.

Amphibians were also discussed as a distinct class of their own, Fleshbreathers, but I figured it was too broad for a very specific type of animal. Not like cats get their own class, you know? They ended up being used as normal wildlife too. I imagine someone's keeping a pet frog somewhere.

With some of these other groups of animals classed as their own thing, we now have a much tidier system of mammals-lizards-birds-dragons-monsters. What each of those classes contain is still being figured out, but it's a hell of a lot better than what we had before.

I imagine plants have their own classification scheme, but I'll get to that when we get to potions...

Your humble narrator,