Rhino Riders and Giant Spider Drivers

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One of the fun things with fantasy and science-fiction is that you can play around with transportation.  You may always have horses, carriages, and the always favorite dragon/dragon-like being.  I have a personal preference for griffins, but pegasi, hippogriff, and almost any winged creature is fair game.  Still, what about the less magical and traditional critters that a hero can ride?

You can go the route of making a unique creature like the Rancors of Star Wars or take a real animal like the ostriches of W.o.W.  The fun part about making mounts for your characters is that the sky is the limit.  Grow small animals into large versions or have your heroes small enough to ride them.  For example, a story about pixies can allow you to use hummingbirds and chipmunks without making them bigger than normal.  The key point is to make sure the mount has a level of reality in the world.  By this, I mean the mount needs to make sense as a mount.  A monster species should not be used if they have been established as enemies and no explanation is given to their sudden use.  There are ways to do this like the monster was trained since birth or took a liking to its owner.  Personally, I think these types of mounts should have a level of aggression towards anyone that isn’t their rider.  You need to maintain a level of wild danger when going this route.

Another factor is the rider, which people can overlook.  You may become so obsessed with putting a halfling on a rhino that you ignore the problems.  How does the tiny halfling get on the large rhino?  How does the rhino acknowledge the halfling who wouldn’t normally have the strength to show dominance?  How would the halfling attack from the top of the rhino?  This can be solved, but you have to put some effort in.  As usual, I’m saying that you can’t half-ass these kinds of details.  Fantasy readers can be very detail-oriented and picky.

So, think about the following when choosing a unique mount for your world:

  • Does the mount make sense as a tamed animal?
  • Can the mount even survive in the land you’re putting it in?  This means no shark riding in the mountains.
  • Are there any difficulties with the mount/rider pairing?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the mount?  A unique should not be without its downsides.  Aggression, difficult to stable, and challenging diet are examples of factors.
  • Is the mount stronger than all the heroes?  If you have your heroes riding a dragon then you need to figure out a way to prevent the dragon from killing all of their enemies.
  • Does the enemy have an equally unique mount?  It can be fun to give the hero and his/her nemesis a unique mount.  Giant Spider versus a Diamond-Antlered Moose or Giant Electrified Hornet versus a Winged Cerberus.

Key point is to have fun, but always think these things through.  Doing stuff for the sake of being quirky and cool can get you attention.  So, make sure you have some depth to hold the reader and prove you’re more than an untamed imagination.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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12 Responses to Rhino Riders and Giant Spider Drivers

  1. Very interesting! I like the point about different types of animals having various downfalls and challenges.
    I haven’t done anything as creative as a diamond-antlered moose (sounds like a Pokemon) but I did decide early on in my fantasy novels that I wanted to replace the horse with something a little different. I used the extinct Earth species macrauchenia as a basis for the aptly named ‘steed’.
    Cool post, Charles.


    • Had to look that critter up and now I remember them. Definitely an interesting choice.

      I was used horses at first and then I started adding a few others. Mostly griffins and a gnome was using a sheep. I planned for a fairy story, which got my mind onto smaller creatures. It’s amazing what you can come up with in this field. I will admit that the diamond-antlered moose was a random thing I made up on the spot. Wonder what it’s Pokemon name would be.


  2. You are really good at the fantasy genre and you also make it look like fun. A talent to envy.


  3. Jack Flacco says:

    My favorite creature I’ve seen in movies is Obi-Wan riding the Boga. Talk about cool creatures. It’s the lizard he uses to run after General Grievous in Episode III. What a great image! But you’re right–in fantasy there really is no limit to what a rider can utilize as a beast for its transportation!


  4. jmcobbrn says:

    I’m struggling with what my people should ride. Right now they have horses. Several people who’ve read a few sections said they were disapointed because they were hoping for something more. I just don’t know how crazy I should go. And should my two countries have different modes of transportation? This question, and other plague me daily.


    • If you go for unique mounts then I would give a different one to each country. It can depend on the terrain of each area too. Mountainous regions can allow for mountain goat types or flying types. Swamps can have giant lizards. I think it also depends on how monster heavy your world is. If there are a lot of non-reality flora and fauna then you have a lot of leeway. If there are very few monsters then you have to keep it simple or to real animals that were simply tamed in that world.


  5. ioniamartin says:

    Totally. Challow rides a triceratops/rhino.


  6. Ostriches? Are those Ostriches that the Blood Elves ride? My honey and I always refer to them as “those damned big chickens, completely unbefitting a beautiful Blood Elf, especially a male with gloriously wavy, long locks”. LOL Hello, Charles. The fact that you are a Long Islander immediately endeared you to me (born in Glen Cove hospital three hundred and twenty-nine years ago). The W.o.W. reference, of course, sealed the filling inside the knish. Happy writing! Hola y adiós from Denver! -Tina
    P.S. The woodsy wallpaper here looks lush like the Long Island of my youth, and serves to remind me how much Denver does NOT look like that at all, and so I am feeling animosity towards you at this moment in time. I will get over it of course – the memory of swarming armies of ticks in the Spring snaps me back to reality rather quickly…


    • East Meadow born and bred here. I’ve actually never played W.o.W. officially. A friend showed it to me and I played a bit, but I know I’d lose my life to it. He showed me the ostriches, which I thought were the silliest things I’d seen.

      The woodsy wallpaper is of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. My friend took the pic and we made it greener. It isn’t as woodsy and lush around this area any more.


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