Lifeforms of the Ring Realms

General Classifications

© Will Greenway 2000

General Classifications Humanoids Mutations Magical Species Aberrations
The Undead Non-corporeal Symbiotic/Parasitic Constructs Synthetically Created

General Classifications


A fairly obvious classification. Non-sentients are creatures that lack a sense of self or identity, and have no inherent ability to learn or act outside of a genetically determined pattern. Insects, invertibrates, and similar creatures fall into this category. Animals are not considered 'non-sentient' as they definitely have a sense of preference and will. They generally follow instinct, but most have the potential to learn and adapt to their environment.


In the realms, there are many magical and technological means that can result in a synthetic organism capable of exhibiting basic behavior. Simple robots and magically created golems fall into this classification. These creatures are not technically alive, and may or may not be organic in nature. They, like insects, generally have a pre-determined set of behaviors that allow them to interact with the environment. These behaviors can be so elaborate that they simulate a kind of 'intelligence' but, in general, lack the flexible action/reaction patterns one finds in naturally evolving semi-sentient creatures.


Semi-sentience is an interesting distinction. Many colony type creatures give the appearance of intelligence because of the highly evolved nature of their genetic programming. Creatures like ants and bees have threat responses, they hunt for food and resources, and sometimes can utilize the environment in ways that animals cannot. Aside from these and few other species-specific behaviors they exhibit no other recognizable intelligence.

In general animals fall into the classification of semi-sentient. The basic definition being that any creature that exhibits adaptive behavior that exceeds genetic programming. By this definition, many kinds of fish and reptiles do not qualify.


Reserved for creatures that have everything but the recognized facets of identity ('I-think-therefore-I-am'). Rather than fall into a particular camp with gray-area creatures, this category was created for them. Often, identity is associated with the ability to communicate—and while certain creatures do possess a means of sending messages—there is considerable debate as to whether those messages constitute language.

At the risk of upsetting people, one could say that infants are not sentient because they lack many of the refinements attributed to true sentience. However, if one accepts that an infant is sentient, then creatures like chimps, gorillas, dolphins and whales which all exhibit intelligence must also be considered sentient.

Thus for purposes of the realms such creatures (infants included) are considered all-but-sentient.

Synthetic sentience

This distinction is made for organisms that did not grow and evolve naturally. In the Realms, there are many artificial constructs which are indistinguishable (in behavior) from evolved life. The only way these creatures differ from natural creatures is in the presence of a lifespark, spirit, or soul—and even that distinction is problematic.


Natural creatures with adaptive behavioral patterns, some kind of language or communicating medium, and at least some kind of rudimentary culture or self identity.


Creatures that exhibit not only the facets of sentience, but a broader relationship with the cosmos and their physical bodies. Savants whose life essences are tao based rather than spirit or soul based have a far more concentrated life persistence, and can even exist outside of a physical shell for extended periods of time. The intelligence of such creatures is not truly within their physical shell, it is instead housed in the lifespark which animates them.

The 'super' part of the sentience of such creatures stems from the fact that they can inhabit, and cohabit with, other creatures so as to extend their identity beyond their physical shell. In simpler terms, they can possess and sometimes control other entities by insinuating their lifespark into those shells.