... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Custom Fantasy Races: Thoughts

I’ve been reconsidering my method for creating custom fantasy races to create easy to understand rules for Liber Zero. Here are my thoughts so far on the steps to create a custom race.

Step 1: Pick Classes Available

Each fantasy race is defined by one combat class and one magic-using class, one of these being the primary class. Starting characters must choose one of these two classes or any non-combat class based around talents (for example, Thief or Apothecary.) They cannot choose any other class, and if they are magic resistant, they cannot choose any magic-using class.

Standard maximum levels for each class are:
  • Primary Class: Level 8
  • Secondary Class: Level 4
  • Non-Combat Class: Unlimited
Exception 1A: Shorter Than Human

Combat classes for races that are shorter proportional to human height modify the level limit:

Proportional Height Primary Class Secondary Class
3/4ths Human Level 6 Level 3
1/2 Human Level 4 Level 2
1/4th Human or less Level 2 Level 1

Exception 1B: Clerics or Priests

Some settings define Clerics or Priests as part of the hierarchy for human religions. If so, pure non-human races may be forbidden from starting or becoming Clerics/Priests. Variant classes like Shaman or Diabolist might still be open, however.

Step 2: Add Innate Abilities

Each race may have one strong or two weak innate abilities, such as:
Ability Weak Version Strong Version
Winged Flight full Move Move x 2
Swimming half Move full Move
Burrowing Move/6 Move/3
Climb or Other Move/3 Move/2
Boosted Sense Torch Range/2 Torch Range
Resist Heat, etc -1 damage/die half damage

A second strong innate ability, or an ability that duplicates a 1st to 3rd level spell effect, requires a disadvantage, such as:
  • Physical Vulnerability (double damage from heat, cold, poison)
  • Attack/Defense Penalty (in bright light, dry conditions, etc.)
  • Slowed Movement (in daylight, on land, etc.)
  • Reaction Penalty (shift reaction one category worse for one major group)
  • Shorter Than Human (reduce combat class maximums, as per Exception 1A above)
  • Inherently Unmagical (unable to begin as a magic-using class)
All forms of Magic Resistance are usually paired with Inherently Unmagical.
  • Save as Level + 4
  • Immune to One Spell
  • -1 Damage/die from Any Magic
The exception would be using an innate magical ability as countermagic to resist an opposed form of magic.

Optional Step 3: Cultural Abilities

All non-human races are allowed to take their native language for free. Depending on setting, other languages that are related to or corruptions of their native language may be included.

Non-human cultures may also have iconic talents. These may be:
  • Mundane professions, like hunter or sailor,
  • bonuses to attack/defense in specific situations
  • talents that resemble Thief abilities or other talent-based classes
There is no limit on how many professions may be tied to a given culture, other than reasonableness. Bonuses or talents are bundled together and limited to what would be appropriate for a 1st or 2nd level non-magical character class.

Characters who are raised by a foreign culture (elves adopted by human parents, for example,) will not have the cultural abilities of their race, but may have any cultural abilities of their adopted culture. They will not learn their native language as a “free” language, but can learn it as an additional language if their intelligence is high enough.

Special Cases

Human subraces, “half” races, monster races, and other variations on fantasy races will have to wait for a follow-up post, but will all be close to the guidelines above. Above all else, custom fantasy races should follow the basic principle of changing the feel of a character, rather than being a way to optimize or supercharge a character. They should always limit character options in some way while providing only a small benefit.

Creative Commons license
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0

(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.

No comments:

Post a Comment