Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

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Ghost #9
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Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#1 Post by Ghost #9 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 11:48 am

Good morrow, fine citizens of Lemmasoft! I've run into a small conundrum that I hope someone out there might be able to assist me with.

I'm presently developing a mysterious BL visual novel set within a lushly detailed fantasy world, but I'm having second thoughts about the name I've thus far been using to refer to the world's magical/supernatural/fantastical inhabitants.

To explain further, the world I've created exists on Earth, but is separated plot-relevantly. So, I was using a term that's commonly used for such beings: daemons. Daemons are defined as "a divinity or supernatural being of a nature between gods and humans" or, more simply, "nature spirits". While this definition does fit, I have two issues with it:

1. It is common, as mentioned previously.
2. It's very similar to, and could be mistaken for, the evil type of "demon" for anyone unfamiliar with the alternate term/definition.

For that reason, I've created this thread to inquire if anyone knows of any other terms that can be used to describe a large variety of different fantastical beings.

The ones I personally know of are Daemons (of course), Youkai, and Spirits. As you can see, my list is pitifully limited! Of note, these beings can be either humanoid or bestial in form. I am open to words from any culture's mythology. Every language is welcome! The more information you can provide, the better. Of course, I'm happy to look it up myself as well. I just enjoy learning!

Suggestions
--------------------------

1. Djinn (indoneko)
2. Demigod (fleet)
3. Totem (fleet)
4. Dodaem (fleet)
5. Fiend (Taleweaver)
6. Fae (ninjakaami)
7. Sprites (RotGtIE)
8. Daeva (Anne)
9. Phantasm/Phantom/Phantasma (Kuiper)
10. Specter/Poltergeist/Ghost (Kuiper)
11. -geist (Kuiper)
12. Kelpie (Kuiper)
13. Soul (Kuiper)
14. Shadow (Kuiper)
15. Entity (Kuiper)
16. Fairy/Pixie (Kuiper)
17. Nymph/Sylph (Kuiper)
18. Imp (Kuiper)
19. Tip: Translate Esperanto (Kuiper)
20. Mutants (Shinoki)
21. _______ Spirits (Shinoki)
22. Tricksters (WilliamofBangor)
Last edited by Ghost #9 on Mon Sep 26, 2016 1:58 pm, edited 11 times in total.

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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#2 Post by indoneko » Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:30 pm

Genie/djinn term covers both humanoid (sentient) and bestial form, though most people seems only familiar with efreet (a type of djinn mentioned in the story of Aladdin and King Solomon). Similar to human, the sentient ones also divided between good and evil...
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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#3 Post by Ghost #9 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:54 pm

indoneko wrote:Genie/djinn term covers both humanoid (sentient) and bestial form, though most people seems only familiar with efreet (a type of djinn mentioned in the story of Aladdin and King Solomon). Similar to human, the sentient ones also divided between good and evil...
Ah! That's one I hadn't thought of, but I am familiar with it. Thank you for the suggestion!
Some definitions seem to indicate that the term djinn can be generally applied to demons/spirits/angels. However, some are more specific. For example, the Quran (according to Wikipedia) describes them as beings "made of a smokeless and scorching fire, but also physical in nature". Another definition indicated than djinn are believed to be able to possess humans. Neither of these attributes necessarily applies to the beings in my story. But, I know there's more to the term than that!

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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#4 Post by fleet » Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:59 pm

The word demigod comes to mind.
Totem is another possibility (From wikipedia: A totem (Ojibwe dodaem) is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe).
Or you could just use the Ojibwe word 'dodaem'
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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#5 Post by Ghost #9 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:12 pm

fleet wrote:The word demigod comes to mind.
Totem is another possibility (From wikipedia: A totem (Ojibwe dodaem) is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe).
Or you could just use the Ojibwe word 'dodaem'
Thanks for your contributions, Fleet! In my opinion, "demigod" and "totem" are too specific. My understanding of the term demigod is literally "half-god", which requires divine lineage. A totem, as you described, specifically symbolizes or represents something. Alternatively, I've seen the term used to represent a patron spirit of sorts. For example, the animal totem that serves as a spirit guide to a specific individual.

I'm actually not familiar with the term "dodaem", or the Ojibwe language. Thank you for teaching me something new!

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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#6 Post by Taleweaver » Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:59 pm

I'm very fond of the term "fiend", which is both generic AND vicious-sounding.
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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#7 Post by Ghost #9 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 2:06 pm

Taleweaver wrote:I'm very fond of the term "fiend", which is both generic AND vicious-sounding.
Thanks for the idea! "Fiend" is just the right kind of generic, and one I actually don't see used very often in this context.

On the other hand, the beings within my game run the gamut as far as being good, evil, or neutral. So, I don't want to give the wrong impression.

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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#8 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Sat Sep 24, 2016 2:19 pm

Ghost #9 wrote:
Taleweaver wrote:I'm very fond of the term "fiend", which is both generic AND vicious-sounding.
Thanks for the idea! "Fiend" is just the right kind of generic, and one I actually don't see used very often in this context.

On the other hand, the beings within my game run the gamut as far as being good, evil, or neutral. So, I don't want to give the wrong impression.
Why NOT give the wrong impression? That's a great story-telling opportunity.

In classical mythology, a lot of these creatures - djinn, demons, angels, spirits, etc. have both good and evil members.

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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#9 Post by Caveat Lector » Sat Sep 24, 2016 2:23 pm

I can highly recommend this book, which is an encyclopedia of various ghosts and legends, as somewhere to start: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6411 ... -hauntings
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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#10 Post by indoneko » Sat Sep 24, 2016 2:31 pm

Ghost #9 wrote:Ah! That's one I hadn't thought of, but I am familiar with it. Thank you for the suggestion!
Some definitions seem to indicate that the term djinn can be generally applied to demons/spirits/angels. However, some are more specific. For example, the Quran (according to Wikipedia) describes them as beings "made of a smokeless and scorching fire, but also physical in nature". Another definition indicated than djinn are believed to be able to possess humans. Neither of these attributes necessarily applies to the beings in my story. But, I know there's more to the term than that!
Djinn was originally mentioned in Quran as an umbrella term that define sentient creature other than human and angel. Djinn was made of fire, while human was made of dirt/earth and angel was made of light. Both Djinns and Angels can have enormous power (like jumping over a vast ocean in a blink of eye or turning a mountain upside down), but Angels lack selfish emotion/desire (which is by design, because they're supposed to be totally obedient to god). The human is physically weak, but in exchange we are given wit/intelligence/creativity that surpassed Djinn and Angels.

Back to the definition, as it was just an umbrella term, not all Djinn are equal. Different types of Djinn have different abilities/specialties. Some can posses human, some cant. Some can even materialize themselves to imitate the living/dead people - either just for fun or for more wicked goals. In my country, we're familiar to a magic practice known as "Santet" (similar to voodoo) where a Djinn is asked (with some kind of payment) to bring damage to other person (like sending 40 sharp nails into your intestine). Some people also use Djinn as personal bodyguard that will protect them from any damage to their body (imagine that you can happily accept a gunshot without worrying about scratching your delicate skin).

But despite the differences, it is believed that all Djinn have the need to eat and breed (just like human... or at least essentially).
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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#11 Post by ninjakaami » Sat Sep 24, 2016 2:33 pm

How about 'Fae'? It's a term I like to use myself and has a distant vibe to the way it rolls off the tongue, almost as if referring to beings beyond our understanding.

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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#12 Post by RotGtIE » Sat Sep 24, 2016 4:06 pm

If your setting is in an alternate Earth, that should be incredibly helpful to you, as you can use geography to assist you in finding the terminology that our own cultures used for their mythological creatures in the time period you are aiming for. Youkai are of course appropriate for the far east, whereas Djinn work better for a middle eastern setting. Sprites are an option for a European setting, though you might want to hone it down based on which specific areas you are covering.

Basing your setting off of the real world is an excellent way to start, and gives you a wealth of resources to tap into. Just grab at a loose thread and start pulling until you've got everything you need.

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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#13 Post by Anne » Sat Sep 24, 2016 6:46 pm

Daeva (also has other spelling / regional variants to choose from)

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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#14 Post by Kuiper » Sat Sep 24, 2016 7:49 pm

Partly I think it depends on how corporeal or ephemeral these "spirits" are. If they're the kind of things that flicker in and out of existence and take on different forms, then something like "phantasm," "phantom," "phantasma," or "specter" might work. Other non-corporeal names include "poltergeist," "ghost," and "kelpie." I'm also a fan of just using the root "geist" to refer to a "class" of beings, and then combining it with random prefixes, like "topplegeist" in Magic: The Gathering which is just a spirit who walks around knocking things over like so.

"Soul" is kind of synonymous with "spirit."

"Shadow" is kind of generic in the sense that it has so many pre-existing associations that you can basically mold the word "shadow" to mean anything that you want (for example, in the Persona games, all of the generic enemies are "shadows" that can take on pretty much any form. (In the Persona series, "shadow" may as well mean "monster.")

"Entity" is the most generic of all terms, and you can define it in your universe to mean whatever you want.

Other fantasy creature names that you could reappropriate for use in your world include fairy, sprite, sylph, nymph, imp, fae, and pixie.

My other favorite technique for naming fantasy critters is just to load up Google language tools and translate random words into Esperatno, giving you names like:

mischievious -> petola
nice -> bela
evil -> malbona
content -> enhavo
anger -> kolero
wanderer -> vaganto
scary -> timiga
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Re: Looking for a general term to replace "daemon"?

#15 Post by Ghost #9 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:15 pm

Ah! I wasn't expecting so many responses in such a (relatively) short amount of time. You have all been incredibly helpful so far. I appreciate your assistance immensely! I've also realized that I didn't include nearly enough information about my game's supernatural entities, but that works out just fine. I imagine that it allows for a greater variety of responses.


LateWhiteRabbit:
Why NOT give the wrong impression? That's a great story-telling opportunity.

In classical mythology, a lot of these creatures - djinn, demons, angels, spirits, etc. have both good and evil members.
That is very true! Your suggestion actually gave me pause, considering the possibility of implementing this misnomer as a plot device. It so happens, though, that "daemons" are common throughout the world my game is set in. Indeed, some of the central characters fall into this category. I don't imagine they would call themselves something with a negative connotation, though they would likely be familiar with the terminology.

Caveat Lector:
I can highly recommend this book, which is an encyclopedia of various ghosts and legends, as somewhere to start: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6411 ... -hauntings
That does sound incredibly helpful! Unfortunately, I get the impression that your link did not take me where it was meant to. The book that comes up on my end is Meditations by Sylvia Browne: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6411.Meditations

indoneko:
Djinn was originally mentioned in Quran as an umbrella term that define sentient creature other than human and angel...

...it was just an umbrella term, not all Djinn are equal. Different types of Djinn have different abilities/specialties. Some can posses human, some cant. Some can even materialize themselves to imitate the living/dead people - either just for fun or for more wicked goals. In my country, we're familiar to a magic practice known as "Santet" (similar to voodoo)...

But despite the differences, it is believed that all Djinn have the need to eat and breed...
Sorry for cutting your quote down! I didn't want let my post become too expansive, since I'm responding to several people at once.

This is all new information for me! With your explanation, it definitely sounds like the term "djinn" suits my vision quite well. I can attest to what you said in your previous post, as far as Aladdin-esque genies being what most commonly comes to mind in the "Western" imagination. My previous understanding didn't extend far beyond the term applying to a being with magical capabilities (not necessarily like Genie from Aladdin, but still a fairly rigid definition). Thank you for expanding my perception! Your post was a fascinating read. I much more trust the information of someone living within a culture that deals directly with Djinn than a random internet article.

ninjakaami:
How about 'Fae'? It's a term I like to use myself and has a distant vibe to the way it rolls off the tongue, almost as if referring to beings beyond our understanding.
Definitely a classic! "Fae" is quite a pretty term, and it brings to mind something beautiful and mysterious. Likely because that's how I've seen it used in the past, rather than the word itself. xD
Unfortunately, "Fae" is definitely up there on the list of common terms to describe supernatural beings. I also can't seem to distance it in my mind from a specific type of being. Something faerie-like.

RotGtIE:
If your setting is in an alternate Earth, that should be incredibly helpful to you, as you can use geography to assist you in finding the terminology that our own cultures used for their mythological creatures in the time period you are aiming for. Youkai are of course appropriate for the far east, whereas Djinn work better for a middle eastern setting. Sprites are an option for a European setting, though you might want to hone it down based on which specific areas you are covering.

Basing your setting off of the real world is an excellent way to start, and gives you a wealth of resources to tap into. Just grab at a loose thread and start pulling until you've got everything you need.
That is very insightful! Definitely a great suggestion. It so happens that for plot-specific reasons, the population within my game is made up of beings that hail from various geographic locations. From that, the question becomes do they refer to themselves as different words depending on where they hail from? Or is there a completely different term specific to the location they've all chosen as their new home? Perhaps these types of beings in general have a name for themselves, separate from human designations.

Anne:
Daeva (also has other spelling / regional variants to choose from)
This one is completely new to me! Thank you for bringing it to my intention. From my perusal of Wikipedia, Daeva are near-exclusively considered to be villainous (with the terms "demon" and "monster" listed as well). The article calls them "noxious creatures that promote chaos and disorder" and "false gods". This information was all within the first couple of paragraphs, though I did read beyond that!

As a blanket term for the beings within my game, it wouldn't quite fit due to them being not exclusively evil. They, like humans, can fall within any alignment. Blue and orange morality is not beyond the realm of possibility, either!

Kuiper:
Partly I think it depends on how corporeal or ephemeral these "spirits" are. If they're the kind of things that flicker in and out of existence and take on different forms, then something like "phantasm," "phantom," "phantasma," or "specter" might work...

"Shadow" is kind of generic in the sense that it has so many pre-existing associations that you can basically mold the word "shadow" to mean anything that you want...

"Entity" is the most generic of all terms...

Other fantasy creature names that you could reappropriate for use in your world include fairy, sprite, sylph, nymph, imp, fae, and pixie...

...load up Google language tools and translate random words into Esperatno...
Like indoneko before you, I apologize for shortening up your quote! Just wanted to keep things as manageable as possible with all of these replies.

I can't go into specifics without edging into spoiler territory, but I will say that in general the "daemons" are corporeal. Your list of non-corporeal descriptors was amazing, though! Phantasm and phantasma just sound so incredibly exciting, even on their own. And I am definitely loving this Topplegeist! It was saved to my computer post-haste.

Maybe I'm wrong, but "Shadow" doesn't seem very common as a blanket term. I definitely want to avoid giving off the impression that I'm ripping off another property! Entity might just be a little too general. Any living creature can be an entity, though I suppose the only limit in fiction is one's imagination!

The Esperanto language seems like an awesome tool (thanks, Google, for your extensive translation services!). One thing I like to do when I'm stumped coming up with names, and particular fantasy names, is to load up a bunch of generators and keep refreshing until I can combine bits and pieces into a coherent whole. With a bit of my own added flair, of course!

Thank you for all of your many, many suggestions. : )

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