Game Design: Race, Society, Cultureon December 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm
I’ve spent a good chunk of time working on what makes a class tick (that sounds like half of a great subject line) and it feels like it’s time to look again at the concept of “race” in the context of character building. I’ve tried multiple times over the years to eliminate “race” from character creation but it feels like a losing battle.
I think I know why, but it’s hard to explain.
Anyway, I found a compromise that I think I’m willing to work with, and it started when I bit the bullet and looked up the definition of “race.” The Free Dictionary gave me this: “A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.”
Also this: “A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution.” And this: “An interbreeding population of organisms differing from other populations of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits … Formal taxonomic recognition is known as a subspecies.”
Based on these definitions, I came to the conclusion that I could have multiple races of the same species based not only on their biological differences, but their cultural differences as well. They could be considered isolated from one another, but isolation is easier to achieve in terms of an ancient civilization.
I’ve come up with some social, non-combat distinctions in terms of cultural and social groups, and also decision-making processes and whatnot. These are distinguished from combat abilities by being weird and abstract and really hard to reconcile with a combat system. I’m still working on how exactly they can be combined. It’s frustrating.
There will probably be some more throwbacks and references to games like Diablo, Arkham Horror, The Sims, The Elder Scrolls, Risk: Godstorm, Magic: the Gathering, The Settlers of Catan, Elder Sign, and my own card game. And lots of other games. When you get right down to it, I’m looking for alternate “victory” conditions.
From there, I can determine alternate “failure” conditions, and put other events alongside combat and death in terms of importance. There are a lot of things that ought to be important to character really, besides their life I mean.