Sunday, January 29, 2012

Race, Weapons and Culture in RPG's

Lot of hoopla around the inter webs about Monte's blog. Really I can't understand what all the fuss is about. The crux of the argument seems to be about wether the bonus a dwarf gets for the use of an axe is a physical distinction or cultural one. The other aspect of the discussion centers around if the use of an axe should be supported, forced or ignored by the mechanical rules. Are the days of the race driven weapon proficiencies over?

4e held onto these tropes for only three races dwarves, elves and high elves (or eladrin if you prefer). But what are these proficiencies? Do they limit what your character can use? Nope they open up choices for them. Support check. Do they force your dwarven rogue to use an axe? Nope. Do they allow your cleric or wizard to tote around an axe yep. So what is the issue? On the surface it seems to hinge on a portion of the community telling another part of the community how to play at your table. It's as sad as the edition wars. "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules."* Why people need permission from a book to employ fun baffles me.

I can't figure it out. At my table I have had a Minotaur make a case for being a dwarven defender. Raised in the dwarven mines by his adopted father, he developed a lower center of gravity yada yada. Alah Corporal Carot of Discworld+ he finds out he is an orphaned heir to the throne and sets off to win back his throne from his treacherous uncle and finds his two brothers in the process. King Kordek has shaped the world and left a lasting mark on our campaign setting. Did the mechanics force any of that... No really good role playing and commitment to a character concept did.

Like wise the draegarian race is a direct cause of the above. Not the Stephen Brust usage but a re-envisioning. The race is the offshoot of a dragonborn and minotaur union. The exact mating requirements aren't important but the result is a scaled minotaur with horns. Players select stats from one race, and racial benfits from another. Is it balanced? Seems to be working so far. Had Kordek never been, the dragon born, dwarf, Minotaur alliance would not have been formed to fight the aberrant threat and draegarians wouldn't exist. Also helps that a drawing in an old Gurps supplement sparked my imagination many, many moons ago. 240 of them and counting.

Point is half-races are more than just elves, orcs and humans. At least they are at my table. Inspired by Darksun¥'s Muls, Flanaess€'s gnome titans and players with a flare for asking what would happen if I wanted to play a half bladeling half tiefling. By the way, is that a halfling? What if a halfling mates with a tiefling is that a three quarterling.

Anyway, outside of organized play dm's should say yes. As for the rules I leave that to calmer minds, because I can't see the issue. Even broken combos supported by strong story can change the campaign world in ways a DM can never envision and for fun there ain't nothing better. Till next time, "Game On!"

*Attributed to Gary Gygax by Allan Varney in a sidebar to a review of the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game: "AMBER DICELESS ROLEPLAYING: Thoughts at Non-Random" in Dragon Magazine #182 (June 1992)

+ Terry Pratchett's Discworld is a series that uses a fantasy setting to satire the modern world.

€Flanaess is the world of BA's campaign setting in Knight's Of The Dinner Table written by Jolly Blackburn. Gnome Titans are also a playable race in Hackmaster Fourth Edition. Both published by Kenzer Co. Gnome+Dwarf= Gnome Titans

¥ Darksun is a campaign setting published by Wizards of the Coast, a division of Hasbro. Dwarf+Human=Mul

Yes I realize both of the examples I know off the top my head are the union of dwarves with some other race. I did mention I was a dwarf lover didn't I?

Coming soon:
half and half = ? More mixed races.
Timing Weapons Sheathed or Drawn

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