Development Diary #11: The Scarpe

When creating a world that exists outside of our own, science fiction and fantasy writers like to take their audience to a place that ranges from the very strange and foreign to the very familiar… sometimes familiar in the most unsettling ways.

When I started building the SOPC world, I decided to create a place that wasn’t so strange that the learning curve would require a glossary as prerequisite study, but also different enough that there was always something new to discover around every turn of the page. Today’s Development Diary is about one such discovery. Its origins began as a means to improve a story, but end as a new piece of SOPC lore.

The scarpe an arachnid and can be imagined as a cross between a tarantula and a scorpion. About the size of a man’s hand at full maturity, this creature is black, hairy, and most ungraceful. A stinger protrudes from its abdomen and releases venom. Their venom is effective on small animals and insects, but isn’t enough to kill a man.

Scarpes live a primarily solitary life in the Dominion Desert. They burrow deep into sides of sand dunes downwind of the common currents. Like most spiders and scorpions, they don’t actively hunt. They instead wait for their prey to stumble into their vices.

While the majority of their life is spent alone, they sometimes migrate in herds to water sources within the Dominion wilderness. It isn’t understood how they find their way to water. One theory is that they have an acute sense of smell that includes water. Another is that starlight guides them (Their poor vision seems to rule out this possibility).

Another mystery is how they congregate in the first place. After some observation, it would seem that there is little pattern to when these migrations take place. Temperature, season, weather patterns, and mating cycles have all been ruled out as governing factors. Until more research is conducted, this phenomena remains an enigma.

The scarpe’s creation begins with my short story First Blood. In the original draft of the story, I hadn’t included the creature, but after discussing the effects of PTSD with my editor, she suggested I add an element of fixation for my character to focus on in her detachment. She suggested a small animal or insect, but we agreed it would be much more interesting to create something new for this. It’s name is derived from the Irish word for scorpion: scairp. I took this word and twisted it to my liking. I then allowed my imagination to create the details.

What About You?

If you’d like the read the story in which this creature makes its debut, you can read it here.

I'd love to know what you think of the story and of the scarpe.

Let me know in comments below!