November 23

RPG Blog Carnival November 2014 – Races


This month the Blog Carnival has a new home over at Johnn Four’s site  and he has the honour of hosting this months topic : Races.

I’ve got quite a few systems sitting on my shelves and for the most part all the pseudo-European Medieval fantasy worlds have the same sorts of non-humans inhabiting them; this I can sort of tolerate but they also appear to have the same racist outlooks on life.

Take for example Elves, Dwarves, Orcs and Goblins.  In many of these books these three races all hate each other but no reason or explanation is even given;  I would hazard a guess that  the popularity of Tolkien’s works may be the core influence here.   This gives a rather similar feel to each world where no thought is given to why they may hate each other.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay does give an explanation as to the rhyme and reason of the hatred.  I can see Dwarves and Goblins hating each other as they exist in a similar niche, just like the Elves and Orcs.  Why then do Dwarves and Elves hate each other since in the cookie cutter fantasy realms they don’t occupy the same regions; Elves like the surface and the forest, while the dour Dwarves toil away deep in the bowels of the Earth.

Adding racial hatred doesn’t mechanically unbalance the races but gives you a wealth of roleplaying opportunities to embrace.

In a recent game I played a Half-Elf who was raised by the Elves and so he had a hatred of them as they treated him as a second class citizen and he had a hard time being accepted as he was caught between two racial divides.  It was tricky to pull off but I found it very satisfying to be able to rail against the expected norms of a Half-Elf.

I would suppose that Half-Orcs have it worst of all, being a creature born of two normally warring sides, trying to fit in would be a real challenge to play.

While we’re at it, why stop with pairing similar bipedal creatures, why not have two different races and mix them together?  You may baulk at this idea but is this any stupider than a creature that is half-owl and half-bear?  You could always use the excuse of a  magical experiment gone wrong or what about a Frankenstein’s monster composed of bits and pieces stitched together and animated by a magical ritual?

If you wanted to do a similar thing in a sci-fi game, depending on what technologies are used you could easily do it, accidents with matter transporters seem to be fairly common in one TV show so why not use that as an excuse?


Using roleplaying like this though should be handled carefully and thoughtfully before you decide to embark on a character like this as there is always the temptation to push the envelope, you don’t want to have your PC swear and curse just because you say its “in character” as I find this is a poor excuse.  Treat it like a seasoning, you don’t want to over salt something as you can ruin it.  Going back to the Half-Elf, he never directly attacked other Elves, he just acted superior to them and made a few cutting remarks in their presence.

Until next month.




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Posted November 23, 2014 by GeneralTangent in category "RPG

About the Author

I've been gaming on and off since about 1989 and during that period have played with numerous game systems. I'm fluent in a few, have a basic understanding of quite a few more and can get by in others. Somewhere along the way I found time to be a playtester, contribute to an unpublished game supplement and be associated with another gaming magazine written by far more talented people than I. This lead to one infamous article being written in which I followed the letter of the adventure and torched the parties river barge. I'm also listed on as a game designer.

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