Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dark Sun: Races (Take 2)

The section of the original post regarding races was very off-the-cuff. I've worked on this some more in the interim. In general, I've tried to keep the spirit of both the Athasian races and the OD&D mechanical approach to races (that is, not too much); one of the things I disliked about AD&D was the huge list of advantages and things that Elves got. Enough already! Anyway, here's the current stab:

There are five races: True Men, Muls, Desert Men (replacing Elves), Wild Men (replacing Halflings), and Thri-Kreen.

Muls are artificially-bred hybrids. They may only be members of the Slayer class and can never possess sorcery. They receive a bonus of +2 to STR and CON Checks (as opposed to +1), but also suffer a penalty of -1 to WILL and CHA Checks.

Desert Men have evolved to accommodate life in the deserts. Tall and thin to radiate heat. They may take any class.

Desert Men have the following special abilities, for which they receive a -5% experience penalty:
  • +1 to DEX Checks and -1 STR Checks in addition to any class-based bonuses.
  • May perform shot on the run with the bow.
  • Move twice as quickly as True Men when unencumbered.. They have a base move of 120’ per round. This is reduced to 60’ in armour up to Chain and to a normal 30’ in Plate.

Wild Men are either evolved or mutates. They may take either the Slayer or Survivor class. They suffer a -5% penalty on earned XP.

Wild Men have the following special abilities, for which they receive a -5% experience penalty:
  • +1 to WIS Checks and -1 to INT Checks in addition to any class-based modifiers.
  • May perform shot on the run with slings or spears
  • Camouflage themselves in the wilderness, becoming effectively invisible unless they make more than a half move or attack.
Thri-Keen (Mantis Men) are a race of humanoid mantids. They may take any class. They are cold and emotionless from a human perspective—fierce hunters and warriors, they live for nothing so much as to continue living. They do not understand humour or religion and have no sentimentality—they eat their own dead as convenient.

They are not “hive minded” as sometimes thought by humans. They have as much individuality as any True Man. That said, they generally find communal life more conducive to survival and thus typically live in large “hordes”, herding __ and battling any whom they encounter. Also, they do have a concept of loyalty as “enlightened self-interest”. It has been observed that lone Thri-Kreen will sometimes form “horde –bond” with humans if they spend much time with them.

Mantis Men have the following special abilities, for which they receive a -15% experience penalty:
  • Nearly 360 degree vision, giving them +2 to any Checks against surprise where vision would help (their hearing and smell are human-normal).
  • They have four arms, allowing them to make one extra attack per turn.
  • Their bodies are covered in a chitinous exoskeleton, giving them a natural Armour Class of 5. Wearing other armour has no effect other than potentially slowing them down.
  • Suffer a -4 penalty to CHA for purposes of reactions from humans, including number of hirelings. This penalty does not apply to other Thri-Kreen nor does it impact CHA Saves.
  • Mantis Men can jump prodigiously. They may leap 15’ straight up or 30’ laterally. They often literally jump into combat. Doing so earns them a +2 to hit for that round, but their opponents all receive +2 to hit them in return
A variety of mutants exist. In general, they are not for PC-use.

I think this is fairly successful, although Thri-Kreen still seem a bit too mechanically involved for me. I may remove the jumping thing, although I do like it. It doesn't have too much to do with actual mantises (who fly), but it is a direct crib from Lin Carter's Yathoon of Callisto, which gives it a warm place in my heart. I also tried to differentiate the Desert Men and Wild Men a bit more in terms of abilities.


  1. Muls are artificially-bred hybrids of what, exactly? Just curious.

    Mechanically, can the natural armor of a Mantis Man be "ruined" like regular man-made chitinous armor?

  2. Heh, I've been dancing around that issue of the Muls' origin. Right now, I'm kind of thinking that they are created according to some ancient formula, maybe vat-grown, and hybridized from True Man stock mixed with weird essences and junk. Or, in other words, I don't know; you make it up.

    The problem that occurs to me is that if Muls are all vat-grown or something, then they all ought to be slaves of their makers. So how do you get a free, 1st level Mul adventurer? Other than having the Mul be the possesion of another player.

    Thri-kreen exoskelton definitely don't break like created armour. It's living chitin which repairs itself just like our skin does. Although, it might be neat if they molted.