So in the last posting I talked about powers and gods. I am detailing those out a bit more on one side of things, but now, as promised, races and monsters.
So many gamers will go… oh yeah I want to play… I like to fight… A fantasy world is just not right without… And truth be told we all have small or large bias like these. Like me and hating gnomes. Don’t ask, it wont end well for either of us. But have you ever noticed how hard it is to have a reasonable experience in gaming if there are 349 playable races and 850+ monster species with usually two or three variants on each (never mind dragons and giants… thank you Pathfinder and D&D). Yeah it is supposed to be fantasy. Yeah we need to suspend our disbelief. But when every third squirrel has some sort of mystic powers and every other tree is carnivorous it gets to be a pain in the ass to have any kind or surprise for the group. Now then if the world you are working on is about fifteen times the size of earth then maybe you can do something like that and expect to have divergent racial identities and cultures develop. But with an earth sized place… I just cannot see it. You will have all sorts of race wars and culture clashes all the time. Lord of the Rings manages something along those lines anyway even with a limited number of species all over the place.
So I wanted to be thinking of how I could really make some unique cultures and limit the number of races. Of course making sure to exclude gnomes.
Just to give myself a little wiggle room I thought I would start out with five or six races for the PC’s. I would also really put a limit on creatures that would not be found on the mundane earth we all live on for starting monsters. That would give me reasonable material to work with. Bears would be seen as the bad asses they are (for a while at least), and when magical creatures come up they can be a sign of change, surprise, or some damned magic using fool who is @#$^ing up the local area by trying to splice a centipede with a wand of frost and a bottle of chemical fire because it would be cool… again.
Then I jumped back to thinking about races… Humans have to be in there obviously. Elves and dwarves because I wont do a fantasy setting without them. Now then what else… hmmm. I often like to try and play Goblins. I make them out differently than most settings do. More like the Gobbers as presented in the Iron Kingdoms setting. Halflings could be cool too. Hmmm, that leaves me room to have a sixth if I want to add one later. And if I am skipping things like Orcs, then I don’t have to worry about half… oh crap… ok so lets just tackle that right now… no half anythings. The only exceptions would be when created/assisted/forced by magic or other powers. On their own no race can interbreed. So no half elves, no half orcs, no half dragons… no halvsies.
Ok so what about cultures. I would like to get away from some of the regular stereotypes.So how about things like …
Dwarves, still arrogant and proud. But lets liven up their culture a bit. Lets make them the underground version of the classic Japanese stereotype during the Edo period. Samurai culture. But instead of swords being the weapon of the Samurai it is the hammer. Working the forge is a right to be earned and defended. Fighters, clerics, and maybe a few other classes would be common.
Elves, proud and mighty in their own right. But instead of being a race older than the others, with wisdom and knowledge beyond the others. How about they are an island culture. Fishing, sea faring, swimming and living life to the fullest with a connection to the wind and the waves. Just sort of rolling with life. The stereo type that many Americans imagine when they talk about Hawaii and Pacific Island cultures. Sure they have towns and trade posts and visit the coastlines all the time. But they really dont seem to care about ‘civilization’. Barbarians, fighters, rouges, and rangers would be common. With the occasional sorcerer and psion if I allow Psi in the game.
Halflings. I always have fun with halflings. I wanted to give them something a little more interesting than usual. Even better than the Kender interpretation of them in the Dragonlance setting. A people who started on the boarders. On the edge of the plains, the edge of the forest, the edge of the desert and so on and so on. They learned quickly and easily how to talk to all the other races. They learned how to travel. And they learned how to adapt. I am thinking of a mix between the classic stereotype of the gypsy culture, and the trade caravan masters of old Europe. Welcoming and open. Running trade all over the continent. And one of the few people that everyone can respect. So while they wont have a geographic region of their own, they can be found everywhere. Just about every class you can imagine would be seen here. But rangers, cavaliers, bards and fighters would be most common.
Humans are going to be of the woods and jungle. Not in the usual fantasy elven way. More in the noble barbarian stereo type. Like how the Mongols are presented in the Netflix Marco Polo series. They have their honor and traditions, and while some want to stick to those there are others who want to reach out to other cultures and add what they have to their own. And while they have a strong tie to the land and the trees (in this case instead of the open plains) they adapt very well to other areas given the chance. I am seeing a mix of barbarian, ranger, druid and monk/brawler classes here.
Goblins… heh. Ok so how about we make the goblins the people of the plains and the deserts. Due to their size they had to learn quickly how to build cities and create all the intricacies that come with them. Because they needed things like wood and metal they had to learn to negotiate. And because of their size they had to learn to innovate. So they will also be the ones who started with arcane magic and alchemy. Something to give themselves an edge over the other races. Wizard, alchemist and any class tied to them are common. With bards and rouges being common in all the ‘civilized’ walks of life.
Ok so thats enough for the moment. These are all different from the standards you would usually see. And so not everyone would be interested, but I think with the right prep and players it would be very cool for a setting to be that different.
Gimme the dice, I gotta roll up a random encounter for dinner.