Continued from my previous post about races and design.
I’ve reached another milestone in the design & development process of my game system, which means that I’m ready to start building some more prototypes. You can probably guess I’m talking about player/playable races, and this time I have a better idea of what I’m going after, like specifically. Almost. Kind of.
In the past, I’ve tried to make a lot of things, “whole cloth.” This is a very taxing and time-consuming process, mostly because what I ultimately want to do is refurbish, not replace the various game systems in question. Now I’m going to start closer to home.
When we started working on the Star Wars races (which I’m going to insist on calling “species” in keeping with standards set by Saga Edition, the system I’m most familiar with), I determined the first few that we were going to develop based on the Original Trilogy: humans, wookies, astromech droids, and protocol droids.
Once the first four were out of the way, I began to realize how effective designing races in little foursomes could be. There aren’t as many races to balance against each other, and from a design perspective you can actually focus on their similarities (and where they overlap) rather than their differences.
Starting from there, I sorted out a number of race-groups that would be interesting to develop together in a “dungeon punk” setting like Dungeons & Dragons. The first I figured I’d address were the elves, ’cause “everyone wants to play a bloody elf.” It’s a mirror-image of the class conundrum, “everyone wants to play a bloody rogue.”
Curiously the more I worked on the groups, the farther back I pushed the elves. Elves don’t really “agree” with most of the racial groups I devised.
Maenads (humans), Changelings, Dryads, Satyrs
The first group was where I originally tried to place elves and half-elves. The more I thought about “woodsy” tree-themed races however, the more I began to realize I had a much more interesting “fair folk” theme running in the background. When I tried to group humans, elves, and half-elves, I thought “dryads,” then “satyrs.”
When I looked at them again though, I realized that humans, elves, and half-elves were boring and poorly defined, so I started over again with humans, dryads, and satyrs, and realized the ideal fourth party was “changelings,” and that if I was going to feature satyrs, there was a human subtype that really gelled, so they’re “maenads.”
“Shepherds” (humans), Werewolves, Gnomes, Gnolls
I’ll admit I drew on the Innistrad block from Magic: the Gathering for inspiration in this grouping. I thought first of hilly-humans and halflings, and I really wanted to include werewolves for some reason. I thought I might identify gnomes as Roma-inspired “traveling trickster” types, but they didn’t all mesh together very well.
Moving on to another group, I suddenly recalled that “gnolls are a cross between gnomes and trolls,” and realized that playing gnolls and werewolves off each other would be brilliant. Compare and contrast the two for added flavor. I dropped halflings in favor of making a group that included gnomes, gnolls, shepherds, and werewolves.
Up next: revising old races.