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MechaniCat

The Fantasy Races Thread

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Yes Duke, I was and am still a war gamer. I embraced technology and dived into FPS games and now play team based  shooters like ARMA III, and Warthunder to get my plane and tank fix. That being said I still have a bit of the tabletop itch. 
 

You are correct that a number of (my) races were/ are just a rejiggering of stats and abilities to exploit some different tactical ideas and capabilities. The Jaggiri were built as a “boss fight”, for one Memorable large convention run from back in 1992 or so. They evolved to have a culture and a national outlook that grew from and supported that situation. Large therapods with an expansionist outlook and a meat centric, ranching based economy, dependent on numerous family farms. Extremely near sighted, they never developed missile weapons, other than some rudimentary artillery. The Jaggiri took the elven role of an ancient, long lived culture that sneered at mere men, and pursued their arts and culture. They were, however, because of their size and power, quite unsuitable as a player character race (though I had one player who managed it. )


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The Lupines grew from a different genesis, and it was not entirely war game based. They started as a byproduct of an animation project:

1542143689.scottruggels_female_werewolf_
Anything dealing with animation, necessarily requires concentration and rumination, as one has to constantly imagine the subject in motion. Well that particular project settled down in my head, invited friends and family over, and finally bought furniture. As a landlord I wanted them to pay rent, so monetizing ideas based on a failed story seemed like a good idea. They aren’t incomprehensible aliens, as they had to be somewhat relatable to humans, but they had physical differences and cultural differences on what  would be based on a canine perhaps. (Faster, senses with different emphasis, not as physically strong, but with more endurance than humans, ect. )   Because of the similarity to humans, mechanically, they became a much better choice as a player race. They aren’t particularly special, as a lot of systems and campaigns have various “beast men”, but they were mine, and they replaced elves as the “forest innocents” of that campaign, but with a more Neolithic slant ( that is until some of them discovered that civilization granted them safety and regular meals as long as they followed the rules, and a portion of them moved into human settlements). 


Generally in my games I tend not to let players play other than human, until they have met a few NPC members of that race so as to get an idea of how they work, then I let the players loose. 
 

You always have the best comments to springboard off of, Duke. 

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All right, what is evil?  

 

By which I mean, is it a moral judgement, or a cosmic alignment?

 

If evil is a cosmic alignment, then those who are on "team Evil" are evil by definition, which means those who are on "team Good" are good by definition, right?  (I call that "sports jersey alignment", by the way.  Our guys are Good because they are our guys, and their guys are Evil because they are their guys.)  

 

They can be both, of course... but that means team Good has to be morally good, and team Evil has to be morally evil.  (Can someone who finds themselves on team Evil do good things?  Or is it always considered evil because they are on team Evil?  In other words, do they score Evil points for saving children?)

 

I don't find sports jersey alignment to be interesting.  I don't want to play in games that include cosmic alignment, because one thing they are not, is people who do things for reasons that people do them.  

 

If orcs are created to be evil... either they're on team Evil and have no choice in the matter, or they're created to do evil things... and have no choice in the matter.  Robots, in other words.  I don't find that interesting either.  (If I designed a horde of killer robots, and sent them out to destroy orphanages and slaughter villages... are they the ones that are evil, or is it me?)  

 

Lest anyone think I'm being coy, "the cosmic battle of good vs. evil" has been done to death.  I don't find anything interesting about it.  

 

...

 

Tolkien described orcs, in his own words, in a letter, as follows: 

 

Quote

squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes: in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types.

 

I'm not sure how you can look at that and say "not racist".  (By the way, I got this from Wikipedia, but Wikipedia got it from: Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-31555-7.)

 

And this is the point at which I think to myself, a game in which the point is to go out and slaughter thinly veiled racist caricatures of Asians, is something I don't want to be a part of.  

 

 

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Don't get me wrong-- I understand where you are coming from. And as far as "this race is evil because it is evil" thing: I agree with you, and always have, even before I ever knew you were a person who existed somewhere.  :lol: it's weak, and it's a crutch.  However, it exists because it's easy; it was easy to write; it was easy to grasp, and for a brand new gaming group, it's easy to build adventures around. 

 

If you are describing a people, it's pretty easy to use another people.  And for someone of Tolkien's generation, who were the most exotic people on earth; who were the people westerners knew the least about? 

 

It's extremely easy to take the rules of today (oh my God!  You said "Sir!". How do you know that humanoid organic life form doesn't identify as a pansexual werewolf grapefruit spirit?!  You _monster_!   Or "you said Oriental!   That's racist!  You should know that they all come from different nations and which nation's people are which!  You _racist_! 

 

Though no one has ever been able to then turn around and justify how assuming Asians of this particular temperament, hue, outlook, stature, eye-shape, or whatever are most likely from which nation is not in itself a from of racist assumption.  Personally, I think it's because we've gone too far with correctness--and don't  bother educating me: not only will the lack of results prove you've wasted your time, the odds are I will be dead within fifteen years: my opinion doesn't matter, and any change you expect to make won't last lo g enough to make a difference, so will have trebky wasted your time.  Granted, it's your time, but there's the whole singing pig thing going on anyway. 

 

I am Not defending it; I am saying "I understand it."

 

The racism by description thing, thiugh:  there are two sides to that.  On the one side is the shallow knee-jerk assessment of "he said Asians so he means they are Asian. Racism." 

 

The other side of the coin is this:

 

He is using "evil because they're evil" because it's easy to write and easy for an audience to grasp.    What else is easy?  Painting an exact description with words. It's not; promise you it's not.

 

So what is an easy way to describe something that doesn't exist?  In general, "it looks like this, only more so.". You don't even have to be a writer to fall into that one: what GM has _never_ described something in terms of something else?   Who has never described a character in terms of a different person.  Is that personist?  Grabbing a picture of a character off the internet and saying "this is what my guy looks like.". Is that not plagiarist? 

 

While there is the chance that "he did this because he was racist" is valid (meaning that all fans of Tolkien endorse blackface?  I doubt it, but if we are making the racist argument, and ten million people love it, are they not equally racist?  By the same standard being used to judge the author, I mean). 

 

Anyway, it's equally likely that he just took the easy way out.  Like deciding he was tired of writing about walking so he added some big-ass birds to move things along. 

 

Just sayin'.... 

 

 

:lol:

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1 hour ago, Chris Goodwin said:

All right, what is evil?  

 

 There are several definitions: The oldest is "Not of our tribe".  Later it's "supreme selfishness", either  through narcissism, or sociopathy.    The definitions vary slightly by time period and culture, but in general it boils down to  those.

 

1 hour ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

By which I mean, is it a moral judgement, or a cosmic alignment?

 

If evil is a cosmic alignment, then those who are on "team Evil" are evil by definition, which means those who are on "team Good" are good by definition, right?  (I call that "sports jersey alignment", by the way.  Our guys are Good because they are our guys, and their guys are Evil because they are their guys.)  

 

 This has been the definition of pre-modern morality for most of human history.  Wrong race, wrong religion, wrong location, were all used to  bring war upon those not of "out tribe", regardless of the real reasons. These are the reasons that are used  up to the present day to motivate people to bring violence upon others. In the West we may frown upon this sort of things, but it defines the conflicts in the Middle East, and a Certain political party gaining power in Germany, and it's views of anyone not wearing their sports jersey sparked off a rather massive war in living memory. All it takes is for  other people to be defined as "objects", and mentally that is very easy for a lot of humans on this planet. Even if it is a situation of peoples with opposed goals, this is simplified so that even the most brainless person can understand it on an instinctual level.  I could be argued that modern applications of this trope have been so successful that generations have been heavily influenced to this day. I have walked away from firearm boards on the net, when they have a critical mass of folks that perpetuate the propaganda and myths about the Japanese from WW2, when today, Japan has been a steadfast ally of the U.S. ever since the end of the occupation in the early 1950's, and Japanese built weapons are of very high quality until the last 18 months (especially the last 4) of the war. So yeah, as off putting as it is, today the effects are still reverberating through the culture 75 years later.

 

 

1 hour ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

They can be both, of course... but that means team Good has to be morally good, and team Evil has to be morally evil.  (Can someone who finds themselves on team Evil do good things?  Or is it always considered evil because they are on team Evil?  In other words, do they score Evil points for saving children?)

 

I don't find sports jersey alignment to be interesting.  I don't want to play in games that include cosmic alignment, because one thing they are not, is people who do things for reasons that people do them.  

 

I can respect that.  I can also think that the opposite comes across as too much of a modern, anachronistic, sensibility to really work in a land of ancient mystery and superstition. 

 

1 hour ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

If orcs are created to be evil... either they're on team Evil and have no choice in the matter, or they're created to do evil things... and have no choice in the matter.  Robots, in other words.  I don't find that interesting either.  (If I designed a horde of killer robots, and sent them out to destroy orphanages and slaughter villages... are they the ones that are evil, or is it me?) 

 

it's the Robots, or the orcs.  You are just the Movie Director/ script writer.  Setting the stage for your players to do their deeds, heroic or otherwise as they choose. You are just defining the situation and background. 

 

1 hour ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

Lest anyone think I'm being coy, "the cosmic battle of good vs. evil" has been done to death.  I don't find anything interesting about it.  

 

That may be the defining trope of high fantasy, though, Everything apparently descends from Ancient Myth and story, and Tolkien, just codified it.  If it's not interesting, that's all fine & dandy, just as I walked away from the "modern" sensibility of 4 color,  as that silver Age morality was not interesting to me any more.  I am thinking that the modern "anti-racist" sensibility is a bit of an anachronism in Fantasy, much as universal literacy would be as well. Even with readily available magic, things would still be a bit under developed, unless you took the time to work it all out in the background, to the point of being a cosmopolitan society like ancient Rome, which wasn't very racist in comparison to what came after.

 

1 hour ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

...

 

Tolkien described orcs, in his own words, in a letter, as follows: 

 

 

I'm not sure how you can look at that and say "not racist".  (By the way, I got this from Wikipedia, but Wikipedia got it from: Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-31555-7.)

 

And this is the point at which I think to myself, a game in which the point is to go out and slaughter thinly veiled racist caricatures of Asians, is something I don't want to be a part of.  

 

Valid.  But different strokes for different folks. Sometimes you just want to stretch your arms out, and win your own empire by the skill of your sword arm, and damn the opposition.  sometimes you want to go on a long journey and see what other strange folks there are.  But then for a game, you have to read the table. (Which is why I am prepping a near future SF game instead, because that's what the players wanted.)

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That quote of Tolkien has been made to argue that he consciously portrayed Asians as Orcs. Again, I dispute that, and I am speaking as someone who self-identifies as Asian. Orcs were described as not being a natural race. Keep min mind Tolkien's main story was about the good vs. evil struggle. And even the so called Free Peoples (notably elves and Dunedain) were themselves guilty of horrible crimes.

 

This Wikipedia article discusses alleged racism and Orcs, and this article in Tolkien Gateway discusses racism in general. I know there are some fascist groups trying to pervert the meaning of Tolkien's works to fit their agenda, the same way they try to pervert Norse Mythology. Tolkien once told off the Nazis when they tried to use his works for their purposes.

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Since our gaming discussion is now being infused with philosophy of good and evil :think: I'm going to offer a concept I've used for my supers games, but which I believe can have broader applicability.  Archoth is a "cosmic entity," the universal embodiment of Justice. By that I don't mean that Archoth acts primarily as a judge over lesser beings, although it may do so in exceptional circumstances. Rather, Archoth embodies the concept of justice within the minds of beings with consciousness, one of the fundamental components of society and civilization. Through Archoth's influence the concept evolves among communities of sapients, from the crudest "might makes right" to the most sophisticated legal codes; from basic commandments to complex theologies and philosophies.

 

When manifesting to human mortals, Archoth appears in any of three guises: an old man, representing Necessity; a young woman, symbolizing Compassion; and a giant owl, standing for Vengeance. It may shift among these guises as the topic and tone of conversation changes. All three aspects of Archoth must be in agreement before it renders any sort of judgement. Injustice within a given society occurs when these principles are ignored, or when one of them is out of balance with the others.

 

Archoth perceives every sapient species as being on an ongoing test of its worthiness to continue and grow, a type of self-judgement. Archoth often creates a powerful agent from a member of a particular species, known as a Witness. A Witness observes the progress of that race, sometimes offers advice and guidance to worthy individuals, and may even help defend them against other cosmic or supernatural powers; but is forbidden from directly interfering with the species' own activities. Every race must pass their own test -- the Witness simply makes sure the test is fair.

 

(If anyone who's read Hero Games publications thinks any of this sounds familiar, you're right. I shamelessly crib what I consider good ideas from any source I come across.) :sneaky:

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I can best explain that by looking at actual definitions of the terms used. "Vengeance" is, strictly speaking, punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong. It's a frequent component of what our society calls justice, bringing consequences for actions; but taken to extremes it becomes revenge, which is a more personal retaliation out of feelings of anger or resentment.

 

"Compassion" is not forgiveness. It's sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. In proper measure it tempers harsher actions, and motivates positive change; but an excess of compassion toward a perpetrator can render a person or system incapable of taking appropriate actions against them to protect society.

 

Of the several definitions of "necessity," I think the one most applicable here would be, a state of things or circumstances enforcing a certain course. There are times when circumstances demand that a particular action be taken, whatever other feelings one might have on the matter. However, necessity has been used throughout history as a rationalization for the most unjust actions.

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I know what words mean. 

Your justice-god implies that "You did a bad thing." "I won't do that again." is injustice because no punishment was applied.  That figuring out the reason a villain is doing wrong, correcting it, and having the ex-villain turn their abilities to the greater good is wrong unless you first make the villain suffer. 

 

Your justice-god is evil. 

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I'm afraid you missed the point. All these things are components of justice. None of them are absolutes: they have to exist in balance. Our own justice system recognizes that sometimes, "I won't do it again" is enough, and sometimes it isn't; that sometimes a villain won't turn to the greater good without suffering, but sometimes they will. Perceiving that spectrum, establishing criteria by which their applicability is determined, is the evolution of justice. When any of those components are treated as absolute, as invariable, as incapable of temperance, is when injustice occurs.

 

And in that case, that should be considered evil. To bring this back on topic. ;)

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I too find noptions of "Team Good" and "Team Evil" kind of boring, at least when there's no serious thought about what Good and Evil actually mean, or why people (or species, or gods) are on each team.

 

In Steven Pinker's Better Angels of Our Nature, he cited a sort of evolutionary path of moral foundations that might be useful in designing different cultures (whether different "races" or not). Or at least a path of greater abstraction.

 

1) Primordial solidarity: We are one. We are good because we are us. Others are bad, or at least dangerous, because they are not-us. As Scott notes, this was the dominant moral theory for most people through most of history, and I dare say a great many people today still operate on this level, even in the most "advanced" societies. Why not, for hundreds of thousands of years of living with scare resources, it kept our ancestors alive.

 

2) Obedience to authority. Do what the king says, because he's king. Or what the priest says, because he/she speaks for God. Or the Party Secretary. Whatever. Follow the rules because they are The Rules. Again, this has been quite a useful ethical system for many times and places, because it helps people organize in large numbers.

 

3) Reciprocity: You did something to benefit me, so I am obliged to do something that benefits you. It brings some logical clarity when rules, authorities and group identities become multiple or muddled.

 

4) Contract: We spell out what each shall do and what each can expect in return. If anyone doesn't agree to the contract, well, there's going to be problems.

 

I also like the "Moral Foundations" theory of psychologist Jonathan Haidt. His experiments find six moral bases for the snap judgments people make about right and wrong:

 

*Care/Harm: To inflict suffering is generally bad; to relieve it is generally good.

 

* Freedom/Oppression: It's good to be able to do what you want, and bad to be forced to act otherwise.

 

* Fairness/Unfairness: Cheating to get what you don't deserve is bad. So is being denied what is your due.

 

* Loyalty/Treachery: Working for the benefit of your group is good. Working to harm your group is bad. Working to help an enemy group is especially bad.

 

* Authority/Insubordination: Following leaders is good. Defying them is bad. Note: There's a flip side, in that people in positions of authority are supposed to do their duty by their followers. Authority is a two-way street.

 

* Purity/Defilement: This is perhaps the slipperiest, most abstract of the moral foundations, because people can have quite different notions of what constitutes purity or sanctity, or what fields they apply the concept to. But disgust at what is seen as defiled is a powerful motivator.

 

What I like about schemata like these is they open up wider possibilities for what makes bad guys bad, or why good guys think they're good. You can have a ferocious struggle between two (or more) sides who both think they are righteous -- and they are, within their system of moral reasoning. (Which most of them are not consciously aware of, naturally.)

 

(Working with such systems can get uncomfortable, though.)

 

For instance, my just-starting D&D campaign is starting in a port city. Looking for potential adversaries, I find the sahuagin: fish-people who savagely attack all other sapient creatures. Why? Well, they worship the evil shark god Sekolah. Why? Um... They're just evil, okay? Shark people are going to be savage killing machines.

 

Boring. So what can I do with them?

 

Well, D&D has other fish-people: the kuo-toa, who are dangerous because their ancestors were enslaved by Horrors From Beyond and the crazy got burned in so deep it's hereditary; and the locathah, who are just people. I put 'em all together: the kuo-toa and sahuagin both began as locdathah. Things in the eternal darkness of the ocean deeps took the kuo-toa and broke them. The sahuagin are descended from locathah who set out to fight the Horrors. And they decided that only devils were strong and fierce enough to win a war for the survival of the world.

 

So they think they are (to borrow the phrase from Captain Marvel) noble warrior heroes. Everyone they kill is a sacrifice to Sekolah, to feed the Shark God for its own battles in the Deep, and to raise magical power for the sahuagin's own use. It's brutal. But they are hard fish-men making hard choices, to save a world that doesn't even understand the threat, and their own deaths in battle are glorious martyrdoms. They are driven by an extreme code of duty, loyalty and a world purified of cosmic evil.

 

Nevertheless, I expect the PCs will probably agree the sahuagin need to be stopped from killing them and the people they care about.

 

Hm. Longer than I planned, Sorry.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

 

 

 

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How about law vs. chaos instead of good vs. evil? In Moorcock's books, they both have their benefits and drawbacks. Chaos is the force of creation, but it turns into destruction when it runs rampant. Law represents stability, but it leads to stagnation if left unchecked.

 

This cosmic struggle was reflected in early D&D. The original game had the law-chaos axis but not the good-evil axis. Lawful could mean good, and chaotic could mean evil, but that wasn't necessarily be the case. The cosmic struggle was also the rationale for alignment languages.

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Moorcock's spin on those concepts is really kind of backwards, from a physics point of view. Chaos is the ultimate stabilizer -- all matter becomes randomized until it's uniform, all energy becomes dispersed throughout until there's no motion at all. Order is what allows systems to evolve. But for Moorcock's purposes his metaphysical definition works fine.

 

I have to say that my preference for some clarity in good vs evil is strongly influenced by my love of the comic-book genre. In so much of real life good and evil are complicatedly mixed, and there's very little that any one person, however gifted, can do to fundamentally alter that situation. Having an identifiable person or group that's a source of evil, that can be confronted and defeated, gives a person pretending to be a "hero" a sense of empowerment and accomplishment. There's nothing wrong with mixing in some grey -- such shadings add complexity which can make things more interesting -- but a measure of black and white can be a positive thing in our fantasies.

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I admit I haven't read all of Moorcock, but in the Elric books Chaos looked pretty much like Evil under another name. Didn't see Arioch or other Lords of chaos doing much ta\hat looked like opening up new possibilities. The made whimsy of the Dancers at the End of Time was less malevolent, but looked ultimately unproductive. But I quite Moorcock in the early 80s. He may have written other material that developed his ideas further.

 

Dean Shomshak

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Maybe it's just me, but one of the greatest challenges I've found in using non-human beings in an RPG setting is in roleplaying them, either as a player or GM.

 

How exactly do you get into the mindset of a grizzled 423-year old Dwarf, a suave vampire, or a blob of jelly inhabiting a tiny tank?

 

I've known very few players who could set aside their humanness and really get into a non-human mindset. Most do caricatures of such beings, like the previously-mentioned Scottish Dwarf from earlier in this thread.

 

Is it truly possible to portray a non-human without making it seem like a human in very heavy makeup? If not, why have them?

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1 hour ago, Steve said:

Is it truly possible to portray a non-human without making it seem like a human in very heavy makeup? If not, why have them?

 

 

Thank you.

 

That's pretty much my guide for "how many races should I have."  When you can stop making them both alien and unique, you're got _at least_ enough.

 

As for the how.....    I have no idea; for the most part, we just "do."   However, there are mandatory limits: if it's a player race, they have to have enough in common (goal or motivation-wise, if nothing else) to interact and work together, else there's just no point in making them a player race.

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The most alien things about any alien are how they think and what they value. The D&D player races are, for the most part, very much like us. They value the same things humans of this time do, in different variations. I especially noticed this problem when reading Starfinder (which has its good and bad sides) and found that each of the player races needed a "hook" to make them seem less alien.

 

I have often speculated on what a true AI will look like in terms of how it thinks and what it values. Wanting to annihilate humanity seems the least likely such scenario. Their interactions with the world of humans might well be much different from anything ever portrayed in print or on screen. Depending on where they are built and what physical form houses them, it could be that the typical human desires for food, shelter, and "love" are incomprehensible to them. Perhaps they take joy in mental activity and entertain themselves for hours or days solving complex mathematics problems solely for their aesthetic appreciation. (I have no doubt that some humans, in fact, also find beauty in the math required to solve one of the great dilemmas).

 

Who knows how a dragon amuses themselves ion the course of their extremely long lifespans?

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Smaug also took careful inventory of his vast hoard.

 

The other hard thing about adding species to the campaign setting is that you have to take player preferences into account.  I know one player who'll only play if he can play an elf or the equivalent, another player who will basically always play a dwarf, and a third who will play whatever the biggest, strongest possible character is.  It gets even harder when you get into the why of it--are they powergamers, do they identify closely with drunken Scots, do they have deep seated psychological issues? 

 

So although I personally detest elves, my setting still has them.  They've mostly been driven mad, but they're there.

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I, too, have been known to include certain character options because certain players have, um, obsessions. But I would prefer not to discuss details.

 

As another example of "How are they evil, and w hy?" here's the text for a race I created as another possible antagonist, the Aegles: eagle-folk with powers of wind and lightning.

---------------------

    Men Who Would Be Gods. The aegle race began 12 centuries ago in the mountainous country of Maegoth. The templar aristocracy of that country devoted themselves to the storm and war god Viraskün, whose totem was the mountain eagle. In their zeal to emulate their god and conquer in his name, the templars bred with spirits of Jupiter and otherwise infused their offspring with magic to give them an eagle’s features and the power of storm.
    For decades, the first aegles conquered far and wide to glorify their god — and themselves, proclaiming they were the children of the Storm-Eagle and demanding that subject peoples sacrifice to them as if they too were gods. Tales say the aegles met their doom when a god finally struck them down for their blasphemous pride. Later tales say Viraskün himself punished the aegles. Earlier stories say the Storm-Eagle was well pleased with his self-proclaimed children, and some other god delivered punishment. Soberer historians say the aegles simply made too many enemies, who finally united to destroy them. However it appened, Maegoth was sacked and the aegles massacred, ending with hundreds of their young being burned alive.
    But it is hard to exterminate people who can fly. Dozens aegles escaped to live among high peaks very far from their enemies. The aegles eventually grew in numbers and, through constant struggle against nature and each other, achieved even greater power. Their ambition, pride and contempt for other people stayed the same.
    Bandit Eyries. Aegle communities live in remote and rugged mountains. They hew shallow cave-homes out of soft rock cliffs, expanded by covered, wooden porches held out on props. Since aegles live by hunting and gathering, these eyries cannot grow populous or large. Moreover, communities easily split due to personality conflicts and power struggles: Aegles have difficulty submitting even to other aegles. From these eyries, small bands of aegles fly out to raid caravans, loot noble estates or extort tribute from villages.
    Every few centuries, aegle warlords gather the scattered eyries to try conquering a new kingdom. As in Maegoth, the aegles enjoy early success through their individual power, but they make too many enemies. Inevitably, they are once again massacred and driven away. Aegles are now a hate-filled race, raised in bitterness that their ambition and obvious superiority have been so many times denied.
    Warriors of Storm. <How they fight, not important here.>
    Aegle Characters. Aegles may seek greater power by following a character class. Most aegles become fighters of some sort. They have a tradition of eldritch knights who specialize (of course) in spells of lightning, wind and other weather-related phenomena. Fewer aegles become sorcerers (always of the Elemental Air path), deepening their mastery over their inner magic, though every aegle carries this potential. Aegle druids are perhaps the least bitter of their race, for in dedication to the natural world they learn to curb their pride. Hardly one aegle in a century becomes a cleric: Most aegles would rather die than kneel — even in spirit, to a god — and say, “I am your servant; thy will be done.” They continue to honor Viraskün, but their rites have become hollow displays, empty of reverence.

-------------------

Dean Shomshak
 

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1 hour ago, Old Man said:

 I know one player who'll only play if he can play an elf or the equivalent,

 

 

I freakin' _knew_ I wasn't the only GM with that problem!  It comes up too stinkin' many times to be a unique problem!   :lol:

 

 

 

1 hour ago, Old Man said:

So although I personally detest elves,

 

 

I knew I like you....   ;)

 

 

 

1 hour ago, Old Man said:

my setting still has them.  

 

 

The bulk of my settings do, too.

 

However, they will not look like Tolkien elves, and the negatives are expressed moreso than the positives.  You can't deny it's an elf, but you can't freakin' make Legolas out of it, either. ;)

 

 

 

37 minutes ago, DShomshak said:

I, too, have been known to include certain character options because certain players have, um, obsessions. But I would prefer not to discuss details.

 

 

Oh, c'mon, Dean!

 

We're all friends here.  :)

 

 

Is it elves or cat girls?

 

;)

 

 

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2 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

if I remember my childhood correctly, 

 

by kidnapping princess and serving up Knight Flambe

 

 

I wonder how many elopements start out with a young knight saying "Your Majesty, a Dragon has kidnapped the Princess! Permit me to rescue her from the foul beast!" This could play out in two different ways, and probably others as well:

 

1. There is no dragon, at least no dragon involved in this event. By the time the fool of a King realizes he's been had the happy couple is halfway across the continent with a boatload of the King's money to support themselves with.

 

2. There is a dragon involved, but they're in on the plan. They participate because it amuses them. The knight and dragon "fight", the Dragon feigns death, and the "grateful" King unites the lovers, not knowing he'd been had. A very small portion of the dragon's hoard is given to the knight to give to the King, mollifying any doubts about what might have happened.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Steve said:

Is it truly possible to portray a non-human without making it seem like a human in very heavy makeup? If not, why have them?


It’s not very possible.  Human players can’t rid themselves of their humanity. Also the truly alien doesn’t work for player characters as non aligned goals will break up the party. But, games as entertainment, means a lot of the customs and tropes from fantasy and science fiction filter into the games. So, that means human in a monster suit, or heavy make-up. There was a thread in the Star Hero forum on The Truly Alien or something like that, where the initial poster wanted a game with truly alien aliens. In the discussion, it became apparent that in most cases the presence of the truly alien became a horror. The truly Alien is CREEPY!!  At best, divergent goals make things a hassle, for the GM and the players. At worst is the alien leading to a TPK, or RL conflicts within the group due to IC/OOC miscommunication. 
 

So what that leaves us is basically actors in funny suits and make up. From Star Trek aliens on the low effort end to Hollywood CG characters, all boil down to actors portraying characters interacting with other actors and the audience. Most people experience with the non human are their pets. But the pets have similar gross motives as their human owners, food, shelter, affection, and breeding. The differences are in intelligence, and knowledge.

 

But the races at this point are required to present the proper atmosphere to a fantasy or science fiction game. Not having them turns a fantasy into  historical fiction with magic, and  science fiction becomes a techno-thriller, not that there is anything wrong with that (see A Song of Ice & Fire, but even that had some non humans). The problem may be more of  being  a good “actor” in one’s role play rather than the non humans being alien. I don’t expect or put any expectations upon my player’s ability to act, just to put out some effort and be involved and active in the game.  But In creating non humans, what I try to do is to give them different capabilities, subtly different goals

or motivations, but not to give them odd mental frameworks that might make them creepy or hard for Joe Gamer to play. Goals should be able to be aligned and having them in a party of mostly humans should not cause a lot of friction nor derail the game. Putting on a funny suit, and heavy make up also keeps the players from getting entirely bored. So it’s a choice to have or have not include them in one’s game, but Intend to include them, like a spice that signifies a dish as foreign, even if it is made of the same meat and potatoes as local dishes. 

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9 minutes ago, Michael Hopcroft said:

 

2. There is a dragon involved, but they're in on the plan. They participate because it amuses them. The knight and dragon "fight", the Dragon feigns death, and the "grateful" King unites the lovers, not knowing he'd been had. A very small portion of the dragon's hoard is given to the knight to give to the King, mollifying any doubts about what might have happened.

 

This is the backstory to the Fantasy Hero Complete cover...  

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19 minutes ago, Michael Hopcroft said:

2. There is a dragon involved, but they're in on the plan. They participate because it amuses them. The knight and dragon "fight", the Dragon feigns death, and the "grateful" King unites the lovers, not knowing he'd been had. A very small portion of the dragon's hoard is given to the knight to give to the King, mollifying any doubts about what might have happened.

 

 

 

9 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

This is the backstory to the Fantasy Hero Complete cover...  

I don't know if it's the actual backstory, but not bad.

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