Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Species and Sorcery

At the moment, I'm considering doing this thing up in three "chapters" or "parts", with each a reference to the Little Brown Books.  Why do I insist on coming up with these overly-clever bits?  Beats me. 

Anyway, the first part would be called Species and Sorcery.  But the actual content is still very undetermined.  Once I get the Psi rules from James, that will help me flesh out the second half of the equation.  But the first half is trickier.

I tend to prefer my games with nothing but humans nowadays.  Oh, maybe the occasional Thark just to throw the humans into relief, but the whole interracial, Fellowship-thing does not much suit me anymore.  So I'm very tempted to restrict Species to exactly one category--True Man. This would play up the idea that we are at the end of the run for Homo sapiens, as the last representatives of that paradoxical species battle their own creations at the terminus of the world.

On the other semi-human hand, there is so much scope for near-humans here.  I mentioned this in the first post: Ultramen, Inframen, Pseudomen, and New Men.  That's a lot of possibilities right there.  Genetically engineered, mentally unbalanced Ultramen battling side by side with with organic android Pseudomen and the sentient descendant of uplifted Fossas?  Yes?

The biggest problem with the second scenario is mechanical.  I don't want to define all variations of uplifted New Men, engineered Hypermen, etc.  Neither do I want to come up with any complex way of mechanically distinguishing them.  One of the draws of the old-school game is that there isn't actually a heck of a lot of rules differences between the various "races".  In my games, being a demi-human basically just means that you have the option to multi-class and a little trick or two (such a detecting slopes) in exchange for an XP ding (I don't use Level Limits).  This isn't GURPS and there shouldn't be any complex system of exchanges that turns the whole creation exercise into a point-buy system.

But I'm not sure how I'd do those various Semi-Men otherwise.  Well, something to ponder.


  1. I guess you already know that Goeffry uses 12 types of human with different skin colours (influence from Burroughs Mars series) in his Carcosa campaign with nearly no mechanics at all...

    A lot of people have problems with the original three tolkienesk race, coz they just not fit into an average s&s setting. But I wanted to change the rules as little as possible, so I looked on what is their role, what do they represent in dnd. I tried to keep these things while changing the `color`, so now I have:
    - Elf (MU): Elf is somehow ancient and different so I made them human scientists who sent their minds from the past to explore the end of humanity, with an unfortunately choosed new body (something like the Yiths from Lovecraft).
    - Dwarf (FM): Hate goblinoids and good in dungeoning? They are the Gnoles! Cannibal hibrids of the underground living black peoples and an alian symbiotic spore whose original homeworld got infested by the intrastellar goblinoids.
    - Halfling (third class): They are just crazy domesticated goblinoids, for fun! :)

    If you take a look on my changes, you can find the basic idea that every race is an answer about humanity and its conditions. Elf are humans in inhuman body, dwarfs key is symbiosis, halflings are aliens grown up in human society... Its science fantasy like yours but with different influences.

    I totally share your principles about the races so I hope that my examle could help you to find new possibilities between the original concept of dnd races and your 'men's...

  2. I like your demi-humans. In my straight fantasy D&D, I now usually have Elves as Moorcockian pre-humans and Halflings as the dwindling remnants of the aboriginal inhabitants turned into "Little People" a la Arthur Machen.

    Hypernotus just seems to call for something wilder than that.