Monday, November 14, 2011

What races are in your campaign, and what can players play?

In the original rules for D&D, there was a big advantage to being human. The idea was that the world was mostly human, with demi-humans being hidden and mysterious and things of myth. In many campaigns, it is hard to find a straight up human player. With all the non-humans running around, the GM has to create rational for this in the campaign. Like magic, non-humans can become ubiquitous and mundane. If "diversity" spreads to ever small village and hamlet, where lies the awe in discovering the heart of Elvinkind? The mountain stronghold of the Dwarves?

Players and GMs should consider the overall feel of the world they want to play in. IMO, there should be plenty of room left for mystery. If a player portrays a character of a non human race, the GM has to give them much information about how that race fits into the campaign. This is information much better revealed through gameplay, rather than character creation. There can only be so many orphans left on doorsteps who have no knowledge of their heritage.

How prevalent are monsters? Is the campaign like something out of a wild west movie, with orcs in the place of indians and full pitched battles happening on a regular basis? Or do the monsters lurk in shadow, and only interact with humans when they are forced to by unusual forces?

Does the sight of a dragon flying overhead fill a typical villager with dread, or it is a ho-hum event like us seeing an airliner.

What about "dungeon clearing"? When a lair of monsters IS discovered, is the goal to go in and slay every last one of them? Or are their numbers so awe inspiring, their survival instinct so honed, that merely being discovered by them spells doom.This story to me, demonstrates what the result should be of being discovered in any lair:


by Lord Dunsany

A sojourn to a lair should have a specific goal. Not a "search and destroy", but a rescue, a specific treasure, or some information. Any deviation from the plan to achieve that goal should be very costly. Traipsing around in full suits of armor should spell the early death of a party. Provide ample opportunity for stealth to be rewarded.

Create monsters that are feared, rather than just a means to get XP

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