In my last Flora & Fauna post, I started to discuss the process of creating creatures for your world. I did my best to show the difference between creatures that are also characters and creatures that are vehicles to move plot forward. This post, I am going to pick up the thread that I ended on: the four major questions to answer as to your creature's role in the story. Last post, I addressed the questions regarding what your creature's importance in the story is and I started to discuss the attributes to be considered for your creature in general terms.
This post, I want to focus on this point a bit more intensely. I have a checklist that I go through when I am developing creatures for my stories. It may seem a little too particular but the beauty about things like this checklist is that you don't have to fill in all the details. You can just answer only the questions you need to. My creature creation checklist is going to look a great deal like the one I use for character development. (I am in the process of drafting up worksheets for this. These worksheets will be free for anyone to use when I get them done.) Below, I am going to present the questions I use and give an example of how I answer them for my own work.
1. What does the creature do in the story?
Deamon hounds are vehicles for the Shadow Riders. They are also roving monsters that terrorize the population.
2. How does the creature interact with the protagonist, antagonist, and minor characters?
They harry the protagonists and most minor characters. They obey the deamons and some of the priesthood of Morguthu who are of exceptional fortitude and faith.
3. What are the creature's strengths?
They're very large. They have great stamina. Their jaws are powerful. They have modest intelligence, on par with most dogs. They with stand a moderate amount of damage to the upper body on the basis of the pure bulk of their muscles. They can be pack animals.
4. What are the creature's weaknesses?
Not as smart as humans. Tends to go for easiest targets first. Will be distracted from living prey by fresh kills, unless directed/trained otherwise. Can not reproduce (produced by magical manipulation of a dog or wolf). Can't see colors. Possess many of the weaknesses of most canids. Unless specifically manufactured, they have a relatively short life span - long lived deamon hounds are rare and the result of the magical efforts of powerful deamons.
5. Where is the creature found?
No natural range. The ones that are 'wild' will frequent places with lots of dead because they default to scavengers with out direction. Small population of deamon hounds are present in the Darklands, they're the last of the ones created during the Great War. Distinguished from present population by size- they're much larger. They're also more intelligent.
6. What does the creature look like?
Largest of the deamon hounds in the present generation are approximately the size of a small pony. These are the alphas. Smaller deamon hounds are about the size of Great Pyrenees. The largest deamon hounds come from the largest dogs or wolves. The smallest deamon hound is the size of the dog it was transformed from and is a transitional state to the regular size. Transitional deamon hounds look like mutated dogs and retain some dog behaviors. Fur patterning will be appropriate to the environment but will generally looks like a diseased animal, with out the symptoms of illness.
7. What does the creature need to survive?
Steady supply of meat and water to drink. Water needs not be fresh or clean.