After mulling it over for some time, and thinking about the various games I've published over the last several decades, I've thought about my favorite character race options over time, and I think I've managed to get this to several options, linked both to attributes and to magic. Here's the current rundown in my imagination:
- Elves are associated with light magic, and rely on persona (element: air).
- Dwarves are associated with deep magic, and rely on might (element: earth).
- Gnomes are associated with arcane magic, and rely on reason (element: fire).
- Changelings are associated with wild magic, and rely on intuition (element: water).
Running into several problems caused me to move to this, but it actually feels right. The first problem was that it didn't feel right to link deep magic (which I liked being tied to dwarves) with reason (which I don't like linking to dwarves). Having a type of magic that is rooted in your own physical endurance actually works nicely. Adding changelings gives me a nice alternate option that creates the 'thief' default race, but is magical in nature, and which allows me to shift nature magic from being domestic to more untamed. This also then sets up the idea that other faerie folk (leprechauns, sprites, pixies) can use wild magic too, which is also nifty. Gnomes shift over from nature to arcane magic, and from intuition to reason. That also works, but it does change gnomes a bit from my previous post. It makes them more aligned with the tinker gnome trope, which I am a bit meh about, but I think I can find a way to differentiate them going forward. Any dwarf caster is going to use deep magic (they cannot use the other three); any elf is going to use light magic (again, restricted from the other three). There may be 'general' magic available to all four caster types (detect magic, some fundamental spells like light or a basic protection spell of some kind).
All of these changes mean that I'm going to basically clean out the core rulebook I've got going and start over again. I keep rebuilding the game from the ground up, but I'm okay with that. The goal is not to get the game publication ready; it is to get the game to where I want it to be, whatever that ultimately looks like.
There's a link to the ongoing update to version 2.0 of the game rules over on the left (under Hack'D & Slash'D resources). Feel free to jump over and take a look.