Creatures are split into three classifications in Alturas: civilized, mundane, and Fey.
Civilized creatures sport a complex language system, exhibit powerful critical-thinking behaviors, and have strong innovative tendencies. Humans, for instance, are civilized creatures. So are dragons, unicorns, and a large number of magical creatures. Mundane creatures are what Terran (Earth) animals are: while sporting a wide range of intelligences across species, they have the inability to create the cultures and societies that civilized creatures are capable of. In short, they are simple, and run primarily on instincts. Fey are highly intelligent, civilized-liked creatures, but lack the ability to feel compassion or love, as well as the ability to innovate. Fey are incredibly complex, and therefore have their own page.
Interestingly, many species have mundane halves, as well as civilized halves. These are called “counterparts.” Horses, for instance, can either be mundane, and be used as riding vehicles for the well-off, or be civilized and intelligently progress in life. A civilized horse is only capable of having civilized offspring, and the same goes for mundanes. Offspring between any cross of the classifications are impossible. No matter the subcategory, civilized creatures can only produce offspring with civilized creatures, Fey with Fey, and mundane with mundane. Such are the laws of nature. Unlike mundane or civilized creatures, the species of Fey can only ever be Fey, and have no mundane or civilized “counterpart.”
Sadly, there is, across Alturas, a general lack of understanding regarding mental illnesses. It is not unheard of for an child with mental illness thought to be mundane and treated as such. In many cultures, including Themble, the “mundane” child will often be killed once “diagnosed”, and the family often ostracized. Some societies go to the extreme and will slaughter the entire family for fear of their “curse” spreading.
Different societies have different labels for each classifications, some scientific and some unkind. Many of these societies include complex social stigmas on different creatures, and specie– or magic-based hate crimes are all too common in many societies.
Below are a list of subcategories that further break down the species of creatures in Alturas, no matter the classification.
Pure creatures are usually magically talented, and may be mundane, civilized, or Fey. Pure creatures do not have counterparts – meaning that there are only civilized unicorns, and no mundane unicorns. There are only mundane fish, and no civilized fish. If they do possess magic, it is much stronger than that of an impure creature. Certain pure creatures, such as unicorns, can breed and produce offspring with certain impure creatures (civilized horses), which are called half-breeds. All half-breeds are usually sterile, although not always.
These creatures can be mundane or civilized. These species do have a counterpart – there are mundane and civilized horses. Impure creatures can, although often do not, possess magic. It is much more common to identify magic in civilized creatures, as they possess the intelligence to properly and purposefully use their magical abilities. Magical impure creatures are almost always less powerful that magical pure creatures. Creatures that are half impure and half pure (civilized horse crossed with pure unicorn) are considered half-breeds.
A pure hybrid is any creature that is a cross between two or more creatures. Like all hybrids, they do not possess counterparts. Each specie may only be Fey or civilized or mundane, although there is a significant number more of civilized pure hybrids than any other classification. Pure hybrids are called such because they cannot mate or reproduce with one of their “crosses.” A griffin cannot reproduce with neither a feline nor a bird, nor can a centaur reproduce with a horse or a human. Pure hybrids may also be further subcategorized into a theriomorphic. The range of magic abilities is large, if present at all, and tends to rely more on the individual’s own abilities than an assumption of the entire species.
A theriomorphic creature is any creature that is a cross between a human and one or more creatures. It is given its own separate classification from hybrids due to the large population of human-animal crosses. Typically, the creature has the head and/or torso of a human and the body of a impure creature, or a human body with the features of and/or the head of an impure creature (fur, tail, wings). A theriomorphic may look mostly human (such as cupidines like Burdell) or lean more heavily on the other cross(es). Therios do not have counterparts, and are civilized or Fey, and never mundane. They cannot reproduce with any of their “crosses,” or other therios unless it is of the same specie. Therios may or may not have magic, and their magical ability greatly differs depending on the individual.
An impure hybrid is any creature that is a cross between two or more creatures. Like all hybrids, they do not possess counterparts. They may be civilized or mundane, although there is a significant number more of civilized impure hybrids. Unlike pure hybrids, they can mate and reproduce with one or more of their “crosses.” A pegasus – a cross between a horse and a bird – can mate with a civilized horse (or a unicorn or kelpie), but cannot reproduce with a bird. The resulting equine offspring would be considered an half-breed, and may show the characteristics of each individual cross (a pegasus-unicorn may have a horn and no wings, but feathers in the coat on the shoulder and back). Genetics decide how much of each species trait a half-breed offspring shows. There are few impure hybrid species, but these may have large populations.