Friday, April 29, 2011

About Races

The original cut of the game includes four core races: humans, dwarves, elves and gnomes. This is pretty close to the classic red box D+D approach, and also the one that best represents the game world. However, I’ve considered a few other races for inclusion. Here are the races, what I was thinking about, and why they ultimately got the axe…

• Trolls. These are excellent fighters; big, strong and tough. This role (except for the ‘big’ part) is already filled by dwarves. In previous games, I’ve made trolls basically a better choice than dwarves in most ways; dwarves are hardier (reflected in ‘stamina’) but not as strong or fast. Since I’ve given dwarves might +1, I’d have to take this away from them to give it to trolls… or, I could just give trolls regeneration instead, making dwarves inherently stronger. This I like better, but it’s a bit askew as far as abilities go from what the other races do. Additionally, I see trolls as a dominantly evil race, and I wanted to keep away from that in the core rules. Moon elves are mysterious and enigmatic enough, and humans have sufficient capacity for evil already, and Resolute is primarily a game about heroes- so putting ‘evil’ races for the heroes in the core rules sends a message about the nucleus of the game that I don’t want to send.
• Shadow Elves. Again with the evil (see above). Furthermore, I’ve decided that, as a rule, I’m going to pare back the races so that there aren’t so many (if any) ‘subraces’ that you deal with. If you look at a human, you know that human could be good, evil, neutral, selfish, selfless, arrogant, self-conscious – the sky’s the limit. That you can look at a humanoid/demi-human and immediately know “he’s a shadow elf, so he must be evil” seems counter-intuitive for a core race. Instead, it seems best that ‘shadow elves’ be slang for a moon elf who has sided with the Unseelie Court; this wouldn’t be reflected in the elf’s skin tone or hair color; it’s about a philosophical approach and a conscious choice that an elf makes.
• Goblins. Still another evil race, so they get the axe. Goblins are one of my favorite races to play (for some strange reason), but they don’t have a niche to fill in the core rules. I suppose that their greatest asset would be how hardy they are, so they’d take a soak bonus (invulnerability +1). They are definitely a race that will make it in at some point, but not right now. I’m still tempted to increase from 4 races to 6 (if for no other reason than a random table for D6), but I don’t think they’ll make it.
• Other fay races on the whole (brownies, sprites, leprechauns) muscle in on the territory of the moon elves. Eventually many of these races could make it in, but they feel redundant with the moon elves right now. I see them getting bonuses to stealth, aspect, or even evade. Brownies would be the most stealthy (partial invisibility gives a +1 stealth shift, even if they don’t have stealth), fairies would get the evade bonus (so they’re so small and acrobatic) and leprechauns get the aspect (due to their magical natures). I see all three of these (with maybe centaurs or fauns who would get speed +1) could be a good selection for a Seelie/Unseelie Court sourcebook.
• Similarly, the ‘evil races’ (trolls, goblins, kobolds, orks maybe) end up in a humanoids sourcebook. I don’t want to get too crazy with this stuff, but I’d like to keep the options open to expand the game in new directions.