Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Flavorful Races

Art by Pete Venters
Continuing with the ideas I talked about on Monday, I started to think about ways to add some more flavor to not only the classes of D&D/Pathfinder, but the races as well.

I'll probably be ridiculed for saying this, but I have always HATED elves. Generally, they are always depicted as perfect beings who are gorgeous and can do no wrong and are just awesome at everything. However, I will admit this has to do more with how people treat them then how the race is actually depicted.

Still, I have been wanting to tinker around with the elves for a long time and give them some interesting flavor in my games to make them a lot more different and unique without being "special snowflakes".

So, I kind of want to play up the otherworldly nature of elves, making them both fascinating and completely alien at the same time. The more I thought about this goal, the more I started to visualize the more "satyr-like" elves from the Magic: The Gathering's "Lorwyn" set. With that image clear in my mind, I decided to run with it.

So, elves in my games could be immigrants from the Feywild (or whatever you'd like to call the realm of the fey) that migrated to the material plane thousands of years ago. While young elves look similar to humans, with their pointed ears and thinner frames being the only noticeable difference, the race's fey heritage slowly comes out as they age and gain power. Let's follow the same progression as the Sorcerer from Monday's post and say these changes happen to the elf at 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th level. Male elves could become more satyr-like while female elves become more dryad-like. While their racial traits would remain the same, this process of metamorphosis adds an interesting amount of flavor to the race and makes them more unique.

 Also, since elves go through this strange metamorphosis as they age and gain power, you can also see their culture taking this into account. For example, they would be a race who does not fear change, but embraces it. There would probably be very little taboos since those cultural mores need to have a stable base to build from, and a society that's in constant flux would make that rather difficult. This lack of taboos would make the other races that have them view elves as strange and weird and the elves would have no idea why, therefore making their thought-process a little more alien.

You could do this very same thing with the other races as well. For example, maybe all dwarves in your world are born with a purpose and dedicate their lives to that purpose once they discover it. This purpose could be anything, from crafting the greatest weapon in the land or making sure your family is safe from harm.  Since a dwarf has to discover this purpose, that could be the motivation for a number of young dwarves to become adventurers in the first place.

The possibility for flavor-based features for each race are endless.