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What do the following have in common?

Mermaid

Satyr

Centaur

Griffin

Hippogriff

Pegasus

Minotaur

Harpy

Sphinx

Lamia

Jackalope

Angel

Chimera

The title probably gave it away. One of the most common ways of creating a new creature, dating back to ancient times and myths, is to take two different creatures and combine them. Often, humans were one half of these equations. The Greeks in their mythology seemed especially apt at this. It is a lot harder to create something completely unique, so they took two things and created something new. Some are somewhat successful, like the centaur and mermaid, others like the satyr are somewhat superlative and lose their uniqueness (Since so many farm animals can be combined with humans, let’s combine all of them with humans: half horse, half goat, half sheep, half pig, half chicken, half cow, half goat, half dog) The chimera, with a head of a lion, goat, eagle, and snake, and bat wings, all in one creature, is the extreme in ridiculousness. In a way, this is similar to creating creatures that are just big animals, like giant spiders. A bit lazy.

In worldbuilding, to create really interesting creatures, there can be recognizable elements from some real animals, but it should be more complex than the top half being one creature and the other half another. Some things to think about can be how a unique creature can adapt to its environment. If it is burning hot, its skin should somehow withstand the heat. Even using recognizable creatures, like elves and dwarves, can be tweaked to become unique. Do dwarves have excellent night vision, or are they blind like moles because they’re underground all the time? Do elves twist in the air like cats to always land on their feet when falling from their trees? Are mermaids two different halves, or one whole where the top looks somewhat human and the bottom somewhat fishy? On griffins, is it completely covered in fur, or feathers, or both? Is there a creature that jumps like a frog, has a tail like a snake, skin like a crocodile, with horns like a ram, sees in heat signatures, and attacks with a jumping head butt?

Anyway, the point is that half things have been done to death and unless used in a new way, should probably be avoided. New ideas, perhaps built off of the old ones, expand the imagination. Since some of these creatures are so ridiculous or overused, many avoid them completely and just use humans for the drama, like George R. R. Martin (with the exception of the mysterious Others and three little dragons). The great thing about fantasy is that it can be as ridiculous or serious as you want.

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