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March 16, 2007 / jadettman

Non-human Beings in GotR

Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of non-human character options in RPGs, so it should come as no surprise that I’m going to (mostly) do away with them in Guardians of the Realm.

My reasoning here is that non-humans as a character option simply make them too familiar and familiarity isn’t good. Non-humans should be alien, other. They should have strange perspectives. They should do things for reasons that humans don’t understand. They should not be fully comprehensible from a human standpoint. If they are, what makes them different from humans with pointy ears?

That’s what non-humans player ‘races’ have become in RPGs: humans with strange physical characteristics and I don’t like it.

Now, it may be appeasement but I am going to have fey-touched character options in GotR for people that want to explore such things. A fey-touched character is one who can trace her lineage back to a fey ancestor. Somewhere in her family tree someone procreated with a fey creature and passed that legacy down.

Fey-touched characters are humans with fey characteristics. They are still human because they were raised in human society and they are fully comprehensible from a human standpoint. Sure, they may have been mocked or ostracized because they were different. They may also have been prized and revered for that same difference. They are still human.



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  1. Dan / Mar 17 2007 6:01 pm

    This is a point that you and I have talked about quite a bit, and where we agree completely. It’s the problem of “humans in funny clothes”.

    I feel that in some rare cases there are they manage to make non-humans sufficiently alien that they are interesting, but in those cases the non-human races aren’t really playable, more or less by construction.
    The Birthright campaign setting is an example of this, for instance, where the Elves are quite xenophobic and are generally out to eradicate humans (making them interesting, but not exactly playable as PCs), and Halflings are refugees from the Shadow Realm, and are thus a bit more interesting than they might be in your typical D&D world.

    My question for this setting is: why have Fey-touched humans at all?

  2. J.A. Dettman / Mar 17 2007 9:47 pm

    Fey-touched exist because things like changelings and Thomas the Rhymer exist in fairy tales.

    The existence of the fey create a need for the fey-touched. I mean, I could say that the trickery and meddling of the fey has not effect on humankind but that seems rather simplistic.

  3. Shawn / Mar 18 2007 6:35 pm

    Also, depending on what magical level you expecting the PC’s/Humanity to have access to, there needs to be an explanation of it.

    Be it the winds of magic, being fey-touched, deal with infernal powers, advanced technology or attunement with Nature, there has to be a source, which is part of the fun of this whole thing.

    BTW: trying to not read ahead, have you thought of what publication location for this, or how big?

  4. J.A. Dettman / Mar 18 2007 10:57 pm

    I haven’t put much thought into publication. At the moment this is just a personal project that I’m toying with to help me keep my Game Design ADD under control. 😉

    I figure that I’ll do a text only write-up for free PDF distribution for the “playtest phase.” If I get decent feedback and people seem to like it, I’ll take things further: commision some art, polish it up, and sell it on RPGnow or Lulu.

  5. Shawn / Mar 19 2007 1:33 am

    What about the Savage World’s setting system books?
    Like 50 Fathoms, or Evernight or Low Life? It seems that this could nicely fit within the confines of that type of system with relative ease.

  6. J.A. Dettman / Mar 19 2007 9:11 am

    I probably could, yes. Here are the problems with that:

    I’m not familiar with Savage Worlds beyond a couple brief skims, and I really didn’t see anything that grabbed me.
    If I want to publish for profit, Savage Worlds has a “pay to publish” supplement model for anyone that isn’t Great White Games.

    On the other hand, the open gaming license is free and I’m familiar with d20 games from my current publishing ventures. See my dilemma? 😀

  7. dani / Mar 19 2007 11:20 am

    i solved the problem of non-humans being humans in funny suits… by making them humans in funny suits! mmm… genetic engineering… kind of like your fey-touched, they’re not really aliens, they just look funny…


  8. J.A. Dettman / Mar 19 2007 11:28 am

    That’s certainly a valid choice, and one that I’ve certainly toyed with.

    I really think that this topic depends a lot on the kind of game that one wants to run. 🙂

  9. Shawn / Mar 23 2007 7:56 pm

    The Savage World mechanics are a good generic mechanic which can be tweaked for any genre.

    I have played them in 50 Fathoms (specific fantasy with sea-faring mechanics), horror and golden age pulp. It has worked well for all of them. They address some of the concerns in the later posts well.

    I will have to tap my contacts to see how hard it is to get money from them/how their contracts work.

  10. J.A. Dettman / Mar 23 2007 10:32 pm

    Well, if you endorse Savage Worlds, I’m willing to take another look.

    Let me know what your contacts say. They’ve got a a page for licensee’s over here:

    It’s a bit on the expensive side, in my opinion, but then I like to keep expenditures low.

    Any idea what the player base is for the game?

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