Throughout the Shining series we encounter a range of species and races. From the well-known fantasy races such as elves, dwarves, hobbits, dragons and demons right through to gelflings, kyantol, halflings, vandals and more!
I feel that giving details of every race encountered is not necessary, given that so many of them are well known with fantasy fans. Instead, I intend to briefly cover some of the more unusual races we come across in the Shining series.
We're more than used to seeing human/animal cross breeds in fantasy stories, such as Satyrs and Centaurs, but the Kyantol races is one - as far as I know - that is only seen in the Shining series.
Kyantol (Kya-n-to-ru in Japanese) refers to a race of canine/human cross breeds. Individual characters of this race seem to vary in their appearance, some seeming more dog-like and others more human.
Kyantols seen in the Shining series include characters such as Khris (Shining Force), Sarah (Shining Force CD), Minto (Final Conflict), and Grace (Shining Force III). In Minto's case, she looks more like a Foxling, and without the race listings in the various guidebooks it would often be difficult to distinguish between the two.
The Kyantol race is generally thought to be a peaceful, gentle race and as such characters of this race are usually found in the role of healers or general magic-users.
The term Kyantol has in more recent Shining titles been translated to 'Cantaur', which in many ways is more fitting - sounding rather like Centaur but using the 'can' of 'canine' - however the Kyantol name has been in use among fans for so long that it remains the preferred term.
In classic fantasy, Halfling is another name for a Hobbit. In the Shining series, this is not the case. Rather, it refers to a race which is half one race and half another. Those two races do not necessarily have to include human, but more often than not it is so.
Technically, Kyantols are included under the definition of a Halfling, however since the race is not well known I have opted to include them as a seperate listing.
Typical Haflings found in the Shining series include: Wolflings; Foxlings; Kyantol; Monkeymen; Lion tribesmen; Scaven (giant rats); Minotaurs; Lizardmen and Salamanders.
The roles of these characters vary from race to race, with Foxlings & Kyantol generally using magic; Wolflings (and werewolves) using their own claws as weapons; and the other race using a range of weapons from small blades to huge axes.
Centaurs are, as most fantasy and mythology fans will be aware, a human-horse cross: the body of a horse, with a human torso. These characters are frequently encountered in the games and usually there will be several centaurs available in your Force. Generally kitted out as knights, with a lance or spear, centaurs can also be found using crossbows and other projectile weapons. Though a rare occurance, some centaurs are also known to use magic as a secondary skill.
Given a seperate entry in game guidebooks, I feel the Pegasus Knight should really be grouped with the Centaur, since Pegasii in the Shining world are almost always Centaurs, but with wings. Pegasus Knights are generally found using spears and lances.
Also fairly common in the Shining world are Birdmen, a race of humanoid birds. Types usually encountered are of the Owl, Eagle, Hawk or Falcon tribe. In the earlier Shining games, Birdmen were generally restricted to using swords as their weapons, however in Shining Force III, a new weapon - the Wing - was put to use.
Another variety of Birdman found in the games are Harpies, which seem to be more birdlike than humanoid, though they're certainly no smaller than your average Birdman. Harpies are almost always on the opposing side, and utilise a Charm skill to lure their prey.
The greatest range of Fairy types can be found in Shining the Holy Ark, and include: Pixies; Leprechauns; Incubus; Succubus; and Fairies.
It's most common to find Incubii and Sucubii on the opposing side (with the exception of Shining the Holy Ark), while Fairies will usually be found on the side of Light.
Most Fairies will use magic, and have some kind of wand as their weapon of choice.
Many Human-type races can be found in the Shining games. These races include Dwarves; Wood Dwarves, Wood Hobbits; Ogres; Goblins; Hobgoblins; Hobbits; Giants; Tribe; Yeti and Bugbears (which personally I'd class as a type of Halfling or Beastman, but are listed as human-type in the guidebooks).
Of these races, most will usually be enemies, though Dwarves and Hobbits are frequenty found with the Shining Force, and half-giants often become Monks of Light.
Most Human-types will use axes or swords, however the more primitive kinds often use brute strength instead of weapons. Monks use both magic and glove weapons.
Various kinds of Dragons appear throughout the Shining series, ranging in colour, strength, status and abilities. But it's not just Dragons that you'll encounter - there are Dragonmen (such as General Elliot from Shining Force and Eric from Final Conflict), Mandragons (such as Cyclops in Shining Force III Scenario 3 and Dragonewts (such as in Shining Soul, and as frequently found as enemies in the other games).
Then of course there is Dark Dragon (Shining Force) himself, who - though said to be a Devil King in Shining Force II is in fact just an ancient, evil Dragon. Shining Soul would have us believe Dark Dragon was created by Darksol as some kind of freakish experiment.
Not especially common in the series, however a race worth noting, as found in Shining in the Darkness. Dai, Dyan and Edward (from the Tavern) are listed as being Gelflings, even though many have assumed them to be Kyantol.
Little is known of Gelflings as far as the Shining world goes, however, they are the prominent race in the movie The Dark Crystal where their defining features (long, pointed ears and slightly dog-like faces) are very similar. More information on Gelflings can be found here.
Of course, the above is just a list of the more interesting races found in the Shining world - there are in fact many more you'll encounter...
Mythical beasts seen include the Griffins; Chimeras; Hydras; Cerberus; Unicorns; Golems; Wyverns; and Krakens.
Demons, devils, spirits & the undead are a common enemy, with types such as Zombies; Kyon Shi; Liches; Vampires; Skeletons; Gizmos; Durahans and other ghostly beings.
Giant creatures are another common enemy, such as Giant Worms; Crabs; Fish; and Bats. Large blobs of Ooze often seem to find their way onto the battlefield too - could these perhaps be a race of creatures?
Most of these creatures have their own special attacks or poisons, while some prefer to use brute strength over weapons.
Though you'll find more of a range of races fighting against you than with, you'll find a handful of them on your side, such as humanoid Tortoises; Phoenixes; Penguins; Beastmen; and more...