Many wainscot settings are loosely based on a bunch of inspirations, in part or in full, while also having a lot of stuff added on. However, some 'splats' (types of entities living behind the wainscot) in such settings share barely anything other than a name with their inspirations, and have all of their lore and unique traits written from scratch. Examples to illustrate the spectrum:
- World of Darkness Vampires are significantly based on pre-90s memes of vampires such as those produced by Anne Rice and Bram Stoker, and some of their clans and disciplines are codifications of those tropes, but with major additions;
- WoD Werewolves and Mages are inspired by classics too, but then often go into uncharted territories, such as Werewolf tribes or Technocrat conventions.
- Chronicles of Darkness Demons share a name with their inspiration, but the rest of the Demon mythos is pretty much unconnected to conventional conceptions of demons - they're like the Technocrats are to classical mages, only more so.
Now, it seems to be the case that changing and developing an already-existing meme, like vampires or werewolves or ghosts is a 'safer' way to do things. But I'm interested in originality over safety. If I want to make a wainscot in such a way that all creatures living behind it to are all original and not intentionally based on prior art, where do I begin?
By where do I begin, I mean what basic principles should I keep in mind, principles that are broadly applicable for trying to make a new set of creatures conspiring in the hidden world? Whether it's a set of questions to be answered or of bullet point tasks to complete, or some other techniques, what should I do to ensure a good 'basement' to build such a setting upon?