Sweet Turbo Christ it's cold down here right now. Damn you Northern Hemispherers and your mid-year summers.
I am back, anyway. One of these days I'll make a few posts in the space of a week and you guys will be like "woah! How did he do that?".
So anyway, races.
We covered this last time. I said that I was going to use a few of the "standard" races and make them The Same But Different (TM) for now, and throw in some homebrew stuff. There's nothing wrong with familiarity, after all.
I mentioned briefly like two years ago that I really don't like subraces. So let me get this straight: humans are "renowned for their diversity and ambition", which means they get to swank around with their bonus feats and tool-making skills and survive anywhere, but when elves or dwarves or orcs or whatever give it a try they split off into a new taxonomic subdivision? What the hell? The only scientific explanation I can think of is that Lamarck was right, and that is causing Charles Darwin to spin in his grave and emit mutating radiation.
I don't hate subraces, it's just... why do we need so many? In a lot of cases the original race would do just fine in whereever they are without physically mutating. I guess they would after a long time, but still.
On a similar note, though, I should start introducing ethnicities. I've seen a few settings do this - keep the races simple but describe the different physical characteristics and cultures they develop in certain regions, usually by nation. For some reason it's mostly humans I see doing this.
Also, I could use some black people in my setting. JUST SAYING.
I kind of mentioned this last time, but I am not averse to just making up a bunch of stuff and throwing it in there when I feel like it, or even on request. If someone really likes, say, warforged, then what the hell, right? As long as it's not something messed up, like triple-breasted hermaphrodite elephant-men or kender or something.
With that in mind, I think I will leave the roster of races open to a little tinkering later. I don't even have a whole setting mapped out, so there's no reason not to include STAR GOBLINS or something if I feel like it.
I went and dug through the "old" notes for my setting which, admittedly, is easy because most of them are in my head. Actually it's just a list of what I remember settling on over the years, and a lot of it (thanks to my penchant for retconning) is at best a year old. Whatever, let's do this.
Ah, humans. Always ambitious and flexible and blah de blah. This was always a little hard for me to jive with, though I can see it.
They are pretty much as they are in most other settings. I tend to give them a bit of a focus on religion - humans tend to be more influenced by their gods, and sustain larger pantheons compared to other races. They also have more clerics and paladins. That's fine with me, though I am thinking of de-emphasising that slightly, or at least playing it up a little in the other races so they don't all look like terrible atheists or something.
Two things that can fuck right off:
Well, okay, they are kind of still there. So far the dwarves (for reasons which change every time I mention this because the reasons I come up with are universally forgettable) tend to see the world in terms of a "harmony of opposites": fire water, air and earth, light and dark, etc. all balancing each other out to create a nice neutral place for people to live in.
This has been a little awkward for me to explain, though, since a lot of people assume that means the dwarves are all True Neutral, completely obsessed with that philosophy and have to go kick a puppy to "balance it out" every time they fight evil. This isn't the case for the same reason that being French doesn't make you prance around in a weird beret and eat baguettes while watching extremely weird high-class pornography.
They do tend to do things like try and see both sides of an argument, though. They also make lairs deep underground and high up on the slopes of mountains because they enjoy the asymmetry, though. Having a philosophical outlook based on duality and opposing extremes doesn't mean you have to tend toward the middle ground.
Other than that... dwarves are honest, hard-working, direct, fond of the outdoors (indoors counts if it's natural) and the art of creation, and a deep love of brewing and drink which many outsiders might mistake for rampant alcoholism, possibly because that is mostly true and who doesn't like bearded men getting hammered? It is a silly thing to niggle over. As long as they drop those goddamn accents I am fine with it.
Speaking of, since most of the dwarves I see are bearded dwarven men and I don't feel like doing the "derp women have beards" thing, so far I have written them as having a low number of females compared to males for whatever reason, and so dwarf women are allowed multiple husbands. Also, they are more inclined towards the arcane arts (so favoured class: wizard for the ladies) and style their hair like crazy since they do not have beards. I am not sure if putting a bunch of unusually influential wizard-hairdressers in there makes dwarves more interesting or if it seems that way, but I am fine with it for now.
While I am confident enough in my sexuality to use the hippy tree-hugging version of elves (I really should make a new post and explain my thoughts on this more clearly, but I may just have a penchant for hating anything I wrote more than a year ago and I think I covered the salient points anyway), I tweaked them a little until I liked them.
Most of the change was relocating elves, really. I dropped them on a different continent to the east, in the middle of a jungle, and also there were dinosaurs because I like dinosaurs. That naturally made them a little tougher.
Their past is a little all over the place, because I never got around to solidifying the different things I've said into a cohesive whole that actually makes sense. So far they have been stated to be immortal or at least live an extremely long time (but tend to get bored and either go exploring/planeswalking and never come back or undergo an elaborate, magical suicide ritual after thousands of years), to have had at least one advanced civilisation in the past (which was either decimated when the elves took a side in a war between dragons and archomentals or relied on being very high-magic and fell apart when the moon decided to cast Antimagic Cone at everyone, depending on what game you heard it in - maybe two civilisations?), and to have started aping human culture a little after being impressed by how well their allies are doing, though so far that has only seemed to happen in large elf cities in contact with humans or near human lands. Elf otaku?
I should probably bash those together and work out something that makes good sense. My main issue is that I am not exactly sure how to keep their history sensible while explaining why they are currently roughly equal with humans technologically. I don't want to do the whole "dying race whose time has passed" bit, though.
Oh, and just because some players wanted to play the usual elf, I picked up some elves again and dropped them back near human lands, in a relatively tranquil forest called Linde'taure (which is a stupid name I came up in my teens and intend to replace with something that doesn't have a turtlefucking apostrophe in it), where some elves split off to make their own country and do more "standard" elfy stuff. Also they live in giant mushrooms. They don't get to be their own subrace, though.
You will never guess which way I went with this one.
So, gnomes like creativity. They don't care where it's directed. Studying arcana or divine magic is cool. Natural philosophy is also great, so there's your tinker gnomes if you want them. Art and music are also great, though, so you see a lot of bards.
The more noticeable things are the seemingly crazy ones, though, like the few floating cities they have hovering in their homeland. To be fair, their homeland is a swamp and smells like one.
There are a couple of bad things about the gnomes, though: One, they are secretive and see no reason not to be, especially about dangerous knowledge (if it's dangerous, hide it. If it's safe, use it!). Most of them just see things like a free press reckless and silly, but some take it further and actively hoard knowledge and inventions for themselves, and the primary gnome nation of Brellan tends to send out spies more often than necessary, worried what others - even their allies - are keeping from them. Two, the more intellectual (especially older) gnomes tend to go a little funny in the head sometimes, which is where most of their "wacky tinkers" come from. They are usually treated with pity. Sometimes they turn into mad scientists. Sucks to be them.
Oh yeah, and a game I ran once may or may not have implied that gnomes were actually refugees from another world in the same solar system, where they had an advanced civilisation before magically nuking most of it during a war and either retreating to Otherworld via portals or to other systems via spelljammers. If that is true, though, the gnomes aren't aware of their own past and their historians have failed to uncover the truth from the murky swamps of their homeland.
Also, by implied I mean the PCs found a portal back there, and it was filled with grues and beholders.
I have barely used halflings, actually. I'm just not a fan. Why do I need a second (or third, if you count the dwarves) race of midgets? I have no idea what to do with them and have left them out almost entirely, though I have been considering just making them gnome gypsies or something.
These are the first major homebrew race I threw in... Kind of. They are humanoids from the elemental planes, and have had wings. Kind of like elemental fey; their first name was actually the Faeri before I decided to stop using a shitty placeholder name and stole one from Planescape instead. Their history is tied to the archomentals in this setting and they haven't had much of a presence yet, possibly because their homelands are extraplanar.
They suit me find as background characters, though.
I am running out of things to say about them all, so I'm just going through them all quickly as they come to me.
Drow still live in Subterra (the Underdark, more or less) and stay pretty faithful to usual depictions, though after reading a Forgotten Realms book which suggested that the favourite hobby of most drow is backstabbing other drow, I put their civilisation in decline due to all the backstabbing going on. Some drow in outlying communities have either turned to demonic patrons other than Lolth or turned away from the path of evil - mostly PCs, though there's a small subsection of surface drow in one of the human kingdoms and another group resides in a chaotic good mountain city called Drizzimatizz which is guarded by dual-wielding rangers.
Naga are an evil humanoid race here, which a few elements nicked from Warcraft (3, not World of, thank you very much). Watery, snake tails, may have been spawned by a marilith lord from some elves, generally hate people. Oh, and they can produce...
Sthein, which I stole from the Green Ronin book Bastards & Bloodlines. Basically, they are elf/naga crossbreeds which look like elves with snake tails and probably have a lot more daddy issues than half-orcs.
Half-elves are just kind of there I guess. Do these need much changing?
Goblins have shown up, as a bunch of green-skinned flat-headed little bastards who usually worship demons and serve as cannon fodder. They could use some expanding.
Orcs tend to run a little closer to the, er, "Blizzard" version described here, but apart from a pretty strong showing in one part of my setting which is mostly tropical islands and pirates they tend to serve as cannon fodder like the goblins. Could use some tweaking, but I'd like to do something that hasn't been done before. Or at least, not done in the exact same way.
Half-orcs might change a little depending on how the orcs are portrayed, though I never quite imagined them as being integral to a setting. Can probably leave as-is.
Kobolds are even more over the place than goblins, but they also have a powerful nation of their own. And by that I mean one particular magocracy in the setting lets the kobolds claim a small part of their territory as their own in exchange for cheap labor. Also, by nation, I mean town.
Gnolls are basically Yeenoghu-worshipping tribal cannon fodder for the lands closer to elf territory, though they have also been seen far away from it serving as backup cannon fodder for orcs, goblins and kobolds for some reason. Demon worship is starting to become a pattern for these Generically Evil Humanoids, but
There might be more, but frankly it's not coming to me right now. I am going to leave the "lesser", or at least less important, races for now so I can work them as needed later.
Next up I am not sure what to do. I was thinking of diving into pantheons, but I could also work out some geography stuff and insert nations and ethnicities. The latter seems more complicated, so why don't I skim the basics like a lazy asshole and post about that next?
See you soon, I hope!