Friday, May 13, 2011

It's tough to realize how old modes of thinking hold us back.

I started this whole adaptation of Freedom in the Galaxy to a rpg to do something different. I didn't want the same old "open the box and play the setting they give you." (Not that there's anything wrong with that; the AD&D game I'm in is set in the World of Greyhawk and that's working out well.)

My latest sticking point has been races. There are several races; it's a space opera.

And I was getting worked up over how to apportion special abilities to each of the several races, when a thought occurred to me: Why?

Just because every game that has ever had different races (yes, including D&D) has had some mechanical difference between them.

In other words, "because we've always done it that way." If that's the only reason to do something, it's not a very good one.

The dominant race in the game is the Rhone -- this is basically human. Once upon a time, all of the other races in the game were genetically modified, crossbred, by the Rhone. So while they look different, they share many of the same characteristics. Kayns look like dog-men, Leonids like lion-men, Saurians like lizard-men, etc. But there's really no mechanical difference.

So I'm just going to leave them alone.

Except in cases where a specific environment requires a change. Some races are flyers; they'll need a racial ability to fly. Some live in Liquid environment; they'll need gills or something.

And if I feel the need to 'balance' any of these advantages, I'll come up with something. But it doesn't seem that important.

This is a real breakthrough for me. It means the characters will be easier to create, which in turn means I'll be able to get the first adventure going sooner. And that's always a good thing.

(I was going to post this yesterday, but I'm glad I didn't -- blogger probably would have eaten it.)


Nick said...

I think that's probably the best possible way to detail races and honestly, if you look back far enough, that's the way they used to do it, too.

In oD&D, the difference between a fighter and a Dwarf was that the Dwarf could find some stone walls. The difference between a human and a halfling is that a halfling is better at hiding because he's so small.

It was really just extrapolations of common sense, and there's really no need to do that at all if you don't want to. You don't have to explicitly say that dog-men have a really good sense of smell and that lion-men can bite people to death; it's kind of assumed in the fact that they're lion and dog men, respectively.

So that's my 2c, anyways. =)

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