In the world I am making, there are two main species:

  • A dominant humanoid species
  • A lesser probably ape like species with similar intelligence

I need to have a system whereby the dominant species can maintain control of the lesser species without actually locking them away. Theoretically, the lesser species could win if it came to a fight (which it shouldn't) so I cannot resort to violence. There are roughly equal numbers of each population

  • $\begingroup$ In what way "lesser", and how much "lesser"? $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 6:59
  • $\begingroup$ Also: how much self-awareness do these ape-like creatures have? And how ape-like? (Remember, apes are not-very-dexterous knuckle-walkers that grunt, and the height of their technology is using giant fronds as "rain hats".) $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 7:08
  • $\begingroup$ This is basically word for word the pseudoscience that every system of brutal oppression of ordinary humans by other ordinary humans in recent memory asserts to be real in order to justify bad actions, expressed in fiction as real. There's nothing fundamentally stopping such a system from existing and being good and beneficial to both groups, but you as an author writing in reality really don't have that option. You can make it so that the dominant group is evil, or you can make it so that your readers think you're an apologist for real life evil. $\endgroup$
    – g s
    Commented Nov 26, 2022 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ we need a lot more information for this to not be just a list of ideas. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ Possibly just "lesser" as in "less powerful"? Since it's mentioned that their intelligence is similar. $\endgroup$
    – A. B.
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 7:51

3 Answers 3


The dominant species lives in large groups. The lesser species is widely and sparsely distributed.

Your dominant species lives in settlements of dozens to thousands of individuals. They have agriculture. If you see one there are others nearby, and they work well in groups.

The ape-like species is spread widely through the land, including wild places and inhospitable places. They live off the land as hunters and gatherers. They live in family groups of a dozen individuals at most. They are not antisocial, but the more people there are in a group the harder it is to keep them all fed.

Where ape and human populations overlap the apes are there for the food, and are employed as farm laborers. The ape-like species is controlled by the more human species because the ape-like species is never present in any numbers and humans always are. If an individual ape acts up it is quickly overpowered by many humans. This is also the case if an individual human acts up. Offenders are punished, or banished, or executed as the crime warrants.


The dominant species produces resources the lesser ones have become dependent upon. Economic enmeshment is a classic mechanism of control, and there’s all kinds of resources one population could be dependent on. Imagine for instance that the lesser species doesn’t have the knowledge or means to create metal tools, while the other one can mass produce them. Or it could be the production of alcohol or tobacco or opium etc.


So many strategies...

  • Control education so that only the humanoid species learns anything relating to technology or business
  • Spread philosophies and religious beliefs that proclaim that the humanoid group must be dominant
  • Develop a culture that constantly demeans the ape group, and continually reinforces the heirarchy
  • Spread fake science that makes it seem that the dominant group is more innately productive or more intelligent than the other group
  • Make sure the laws are all written to favor the dominant group
  • Poltical participation should be limited to the dominant group by law
  • Ownership of land and productive capital should be limited to the dominant group
  • Misinformation can be spread about all the inequalities to push the belief that power, laws, justice is equal
  • Make sure the non-dominant group has enough to eat; no matter what else you do, a group will rebel if their necessities are not being met
  • Foster hobbies that are distracting and keep the ape group from thinking about rebellion

Just look at how enslaved people have been treated throughout history, at caste systems, at how Europeans have treated all colonial subjects, and how the rich treat the poor. Also might want to watch Planet of the Apes.


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