Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What Creatures Populate the World

What sentient beings populate the world? One of the joys of fantasy is the ability to pretend you are a pointy haired being who dances with trees; a stout dour earth worker, or any number of other possibilities.

One of the curses is that all the nations feel about the same - there's one elf nation, one dwarf nation, etc., - humans of course have a multitude of nations. As I said before, I'm going to try and limit the variety of the "monsters" in play, however, I'm also going to try and widen what's a permitted "player race" - 13th Age makes this easy by limiting what benefits races get inherent to the game. I may widen and tweak that as appropriate as the game continues onward.

Old World Races

Generally all the races are fairly similar - +2 to an attribute, and then a racial power that can happen once per battle.

Humans - +2 any attribute; starts with two feats; Quick to Fight Roll initiative twice, choose either.

I like have the flexible humans, especially with the idea that they are quick, violent, and adaptable.

Dwarves - +2 Con OR Wis; Is That Your Best Shot? Use a Recovery to heal as a free action after getting hit

I'm actually on the fence, for as much as I love the idea of dwarves in my world, I'm having trouble finding a place for them to fit in. But that's why this is a draft and not a final decision. I want them to serve as an older, more methodical viewpoint.

Elves - +2 Dex OR +2 Wis; Elven Grace Possibility of extra standard actions. 

Elves I can find an easier spot to fit them into the world, probably because the only ones I want to use from the core rules are the Wood Elves, I want to throw an almost Dark Sun like feel to them, turning them into wild hunters in tune with deeper harmonies of how the world works.

Goblins - +2 Dex OR +2 Cha; Tricksy Daze on a 16+ attack roll.

Goblins are smaller creatures, cousins to the hobgoblins, but they are plentiful, skulking creatures who hunt, scout, and are somewhat looser organized than Hobgoblins.

Hobgoblins - +2 Str OR +2 Cha; Battleline When a nearby ally rolls a 16+, the die roll becomes a natural 20

Hobgoblins are brutal warriors, who have organized together and work efficiently in groups. They are big, burly warriors. They are the ones where every army wants to hire them, and few want to face them.

Ogres - +2 Str OR +2 Con; Destructive Reroll a damage roll, and take the better roll.

Ogres are large burly machines of destruction, perhaps not the most brilliant tacticians, but simple destruction has its place. They frequently serve as linebreakers or as the center of a line that must hold.

Steelborn - +2 Strength OR +2 Con; Never Say Die When dropped to 0, chance to use a recovery to stay conscious.

Like the Dwarves, I waver on whether I will have the Steelborn in my game. I have loved the Warforged since Eberron introduced them. With there having been a great war in the recent past, there is at least a reason why they would exist, but they introduce a lot of other conundrums into what having this level of ability means.

Demonspawn - +2 Intelligence OR +2 Charisma; Curse of Chaos Turn an enemy's 1-5 roll into a natural one and enhance with a nasty curse.

What can I say, I love Tieflings, and I want the aspects of the demonic to play a large roll in the game.

New World Races

Assuming the game goes on, and players either retire their characters or have characters die off, I wouldn't oppose starting off with new races.

Yuan Ti - +2 Intelligence or +2 Wisdom; Cruel Deal ongoing damage to a target you hit.
I see these as the ruling castes in the jungles of the new world, sitting on stone thrones as they manipulate their kingdoms against the threat the invaders bring.

Lizardfolk - +2 Dex or +2 Con; Poisonous Maw Against a staggered enemy on a successful hit may weaken them.

Lizardfolk are the footsoldier and warriors of the Serpent Queen and associated kingdoms. Large, scaly and mean, they feast upon the weakened enemies.

Kobolds - +2 Dex OR +2 Int; Evasive Force an opponent to reroll a successful attack with a penalty.

I love my nasty little kobolds, making traps, having to outthink and outmaneuver bigger races. I see them as frequently disregarded, but simultaneously valued when needed.


  1. First of all, I wish I was closer, so I could participate. I'm not going to suggest a skype presence, because that didn't work at all well last time.

    Second - are you constrained by these races? Human seems pretty straightforward, but why stick with dwarves and elves and such? (Although, as one who is [entirely too] familiar with your kobolds - yeah, keep them!) Lora and I have just finished the first three of Kelly McCullogh's Fallen Blade books, and one of the things I liked best about his world building was the way in which he did not offer the standard fantasy races. There's an underground race - and they aren't dwarves in any way at all. There's an aquatic race of shape-shifters. And there's a third non-human race which has not been introduced yet, but will probably be sylvan in some way (but not, I hope, elves...)

  2. Why? Because fiction is different than gaming. If you have interested players who will loved to get into the background, history and variations, then sure, I can create shape changing aquatic beings, and then everyone can slowly learn to that.

    However, if I want to get 5 friends around my table to game, I need to hang my weirdness off the frame of the familiar.

    From what I've read, seen, and experienced, this is why fantasy does so much better than science fiction for gaming, there's less to explain, there's a zeitgeist for fantasy that allows for people to quickly assimilate the information. The stranger it is the slower it assimilates. The slower it assimilates, the riskier the health of the campaign is at.

  3. That makes sense to me, yeah. Perhaps that's why I have trouble with group cohesion (as well as scheduling, which is a whole nother thing) - the character creation has too much explanation of races and classes, and sometimes you just want to throw down with some recognized tropes.

  4. Yeah, it all about what you can get buy in for - so instead of odd-ball languages, I'm going to try for gameable cultures with defined characteristics for players to draw upon.

    I also want to draw on other cultures rather than just European ones. While there are some problems, I think utilizing the gameable ideas, I can do some justice to the idea.

    Yes all those links are to the same site for Black History Month - some of this game and the idea of playing with nations again stems from that idea.

  5. This is as good of an place as any to share an idea I had, specifically re: Dwarves, Elves, Humans... That there's no racial difference, that it's only cultural.

    Are you a human who lives in the cities and plains? That's a human. Are you a human who lives in the mountains and caves and mines? That's a dwarf. Live in the woods and wilds? You're an elf.

    Doesn't work as well with lizard men, and iron warbots though.

  6. I like that gameable cultures thing - nice idea! Perhaps, even, a starting point for a particular sort of gaming group - "ok, folks, name and define the culture from which your character comes - go!" Not, perhaps, my current group, which includes a pair of 10 year olds, but a thought.

    I like where you're going with the YuanTi/New World/MesoAmerican thing. That has great potential. Have you read any Dave Duncan? I'm thinking specifically of "The Jaguar Knights", from the King's Blade's series.

    I also like Matt's idea. Lizard Men is a little tricky - but, say, Marsh dwellers? People who live in marginal terrain - scrub and semi-desert - are goblins, perhaps. And iron warbots - clearly constructed by one of the other cultures, not a problem.

    1. Maybe for the marsh, but Lizard Man sounds more like a hateful slur than Dwarf or Elf (in a fantasy setting, anyways) unless they, say, garb themselves in crocodile hides.