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Building a Believable Civilisation: From the ground up

Stage 2: Planting the seed

Having determined the restrictions placed upon the creature by it's native land, and diet, we can now begin to craft the generic shape of the race itself.


We already know quite a lot about how this creature is constructed. However, up till now, we only have bits and pieces. This is where artistic licence can be applied to the creature itself.

We know our creature needs to store moisture internally, so, let's begin there, by crafting the fatty water store.

To do this, let's take a look at another creature which has such a water store, the camel.

Camels keep their water in several fatty containers on their backs, exposed to the air, in much the same fashion as human testis - to keep them cool. So, the water store needs to be kept on the outside of the body, though still well-insulated from sweat, or evaporation.

Additionally, the camel is covered in tough hair, to serve as an air trap for heat-regulation. They have padded feet, to avoid sinking in the sand. Their eyelashes are long, and they can seal their nostrils, to keep out sand.

I'm going to use a bit of artistic licence here, and say that this new race consists of quadrupeds (four-legged creatures), with opposable thumbs on their fore-paws. This is so they can indeed advance into tool-users later (Note opposable thumbs may not be necessary for tool-using races, however, some other method of manipulation must be found.).

Therefore, since they can sit on their haunches, and even stand - with practice, we have many more options open than just the simple hump.

In this case, I'm going to opt for a furry ring, a bit like a human beer-belly, that starts near to the spine, wraps round the front, getting thicker as it goes, then thins out again, as it wraps round the other side.

Basic profile of the creatures - beige area shows full moisture-store.

Cross-section of a being's stomach

Their paws are thick, padded, and semi-webbed, for maximum surface area. This allows them to walk on the shifting sands, whilst sinking no further than they do on sand-covered rocks near the eastern mountain range.

Their faces are hairy, providing a matting of hair to shield their eyes, and noses from the shifting sands. The nostrils are closable, just like a camel's.

As another piece of artistic licence, I'm going to have five digits on each foot, with four 'fingers', and a 'thumb' on each fore-paw. (sound familiar?)

Here, we see the right front paw (left), and right back paw (right) of the species.

Manipulative Limitations

We saw above, that their paws are webbed, and covered in thick pads. This aids movement, but does alter manipulation just a bit.

The webbing is in itself, no problem. It results in a slightly reduced lateral movement -side-to-side- by the fingers. Of more crucial importance, is the padding, which serves to reduce the inward angle of the 'fingers' of each paw, as well as that of the thumb.

Therefore, the creature cannot grip as tight as a human. It's tools will therefore, by nature, have a thicker handle than human tools. Shafts will have greater diamerers next to their length, and precision tools will be slightly on the bulky side.

Types of community

This is a desert-dweller, and so, not a great socialiser. As time passes, and the race grows more intelligent, they will begin to band together, to form settlements, and manage the land more efficiently.

These settlements will, by the very nature of their surroundings, be rigid structures, with little room for malcontent. The harsh environment breeds a harsh race.

NEXT: Stage 3: The seedling sprouts through

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