In the world that I'm building, instead of humans being the primary species I want to make it a species that lives in oceans. While I may use mermaids in the story, I don't want the primary species to be mermaids. Does anyone have ideas for other fantasy races that could live in the water? I either need one that I can research about already or ideas to make my own race.
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There's a lot of choices here;
- A sapient version of the Bake Kujira. A Japanese skeletal whale monster
- The Ceffyl Dŵr. A shapeshifting Welse counterpart to the Selkie
- The Selkie. Seal-like Creature that shed their skin on land to become fair maidens
- The Kelpie. A Scottish counterpart to the Selkie that often appears as a horse or man.
- The Siren. Similar to the mermaid but usually more elemental
- A Sapient Abaia . A giant magical eel
Just based on reality here and not on 'known' fantasy races.
If you looking for intelligence, dolphins, whales and other 'cetaceans' could be a starting point.
If you looking for tool use, seals and otters are you best choice. Octopus and squid are also good choices (the kraken).
Star fish are an option because of their suckers but I have trouble imagining an angry horde of starfish-based creatures fighting each other.
The Vodyanoy from Slavic mythology (and as used e.g. by China Miéville in his books, Perdido Street Station and Iron Council) seem to fit the bill.
Namely, they are sentient creatures that live (and breathe) underwater, with some sort of power over the water itself. They exhibit frog- and fish-like feature (gills, membranes, scales, fish tail), as well as humanoid ones.
In Miéville's take on that Russian mythology, the Vodyanoi need water to survive, and are intelligent creatures that master the "watercraeft," i.e. the ability to shape and control water.
I'm not really sure I have a lot to add. Popular fantasy/mythological races have already been suggested, and I've seen quite a bit of real-life contenders to base it off of. So, let me try add my perspective.
First off, why only one? Does this one race dominate any other contenders? You could, for example have a 'natural race' (i.e. highly evolved octopi) and their once upon a time predators? Sharks? Eels? Perhaps the mermaids or sirens you're tying not to give the edge to? It could create a natural and primal tension between the two, given the octopus's natural instincts would be screaming profanities in this age old predator's presence.
Perhaps you could even go another route? Like two (or more) intelligent species coming together and creating a symbiotic civilization?
However, let me point out that fire was vital to human civilization for evolutionary reasons. Meaning, that once we found a way to control fire and cook our food, it allowed us a more robust source of protein and calories. This does not have to be the case for other species.
This doesn't have to be the case for other species. Especially aquatic ones, for obvious reason. HOWEVER! You could decide to go for something more interesting (if fire is that big a deal to you), like magics (if you want the fantasy route) or the underwater volcano that was already suggested (if you want sci-fi or a more naturalistic route).
Yes, I will fully agree that tool usage does set humans apart. But if a species can do something naturally, they would not need it. Though, this does bring up the question of why they would evolve to 'need' intelligence on that level (meaning: why intelligence would become a desirable trait when selecting a mate, if you go with evolution and natural selection).
You might look at the whale creatures in Prostho Plus.
Using an internal body cavity as an air filed area with prehensile appendages. It's hard to do much tool using in the water.
Using gills to filter metals as mining is different otherwise.
A dominant race no longer fears any predators.