Saturday, July 10, 2010

Toward a Humanocentric Campaign

More and more I want to have a humanocentric campaign. I'm not sure I can really explain why - I guess it's that I want the differences between PCs to be completely class based and not race based. But that's not all of it, I guess.

Maybe it's Conan's fault. I've been reading the stories and, well, it's only people. Anything not human is really there to be killed. None of that elf and dwarf stuff there. Just demons and ancient beings from other worlds and...well, you get the picture.***

Maybe it's de-Tolkien-izing the game.

Whatever. I want elves to be way more than just humans with pointy ears and some cool powers and dwarves to be way more just short grumpy humans with Scottish accents.*****

I'm toying with the idea of having some racial diversity among humans, if players want the "special abilities" I can go that route.

But...why? I'm working out a bit of a skill system (sort of) that can customize the PCs (not to the level of kits and all that from 2e, though I may end up just playing 2e by the time I'm done with all this). The idea is that just about anything "out of the ordinary" has a 10% chance of success - but that training and practice increase this. (I've already posted a bit about that here).

So, without demihumans, what do I lose? Seeing in the dark, detecting sloping passages, what did gnomes and halflings bring to the table? Some magic resistance... I guess what I lose is "diversity" or whatever. I've rarely DMed a world where race made much, if any, difference.

But this world, Daen Ral, is different. The intent is that race really does matter. Dwarves HATE humans. Elves are angelic beings kicked out of Heaven for rebellion. Monsters are not exactly flesh and blood -but are fabricated out of elements and darkness and evil.

And in the midst of this chaos, human beings are trying to carve out some order and peace - human beings who are, themselves, exiles from another part of the world where powerful mages have decimated an entire continent in their magic wars.

And it really is Conan's fault, I think. My greatest role-playing days were with a single player and me as DM. The single PC could be the "star" - and the player and I created a cast of NPCs surrounding the PC (much like Conan is the star - yet in many stories there's someone else - often an ally or a victim to be rescued - sometimes both) in which the Player always played humans - though the world was a typical "vanilla" RPG world where dwarves and halflings and the like wandered the streets of the cities and villages and men walking around in full plate were not a unique sight.

So, it's people at the center of this RPG universe.

So...I just realized it's also George Lucas' fault. I'll blog some other time about how Star Wars rewired my brain (or maybe not, I forget to do stuff like that), but think about how humanocentric the Star Wars universe is... Yeah, it's George's fault, too....

*** Or not. Until I read REH's stories, I certainly didn't get it. But I'm starting to now...
***** Whose fault is the Scottish accent? Dunno, but it's certainly the stereotype, isn't it?

1 comment:

Trey said...

I'm mostly a fan of humanocentric campaigns, too, and for similar reasons--Sword & Sorcery fiction. In the game I'm currently plaing, I have the usual races, though, but dwarves are the uplifted descendents of Neanderthals, and Elves are posthuman society tranformed by magic. And haflings are sometimes cannibals.