Wednesday, April 11, 2007


And what kind of day shall it be...? A-ha! It shall be

...for nothing says "FRPG" with quite the same tone and timbre as "You can play elves and dwarves and hobbits."

These races are mainstays of FRPG tradition; somehow, when you start adding in cat-people and haf-deva-half-fiend dragon-cat-people and stuff it starts feeling sort of...I dunno, too much, in my estimation.

A better way to say this is: To me, elves/dwarves/halflings are cool. Cat-people are not. Therefore...In They Go.

So. A few notes on the races of The Realm:

...are the predominant race, partly because their numbers multiply so quickly and partly because they're more expansionistic than the other races. [NOTE: I'm not sure that's really a word.] They are not unlike the humans that you and I know, with their ups and downs and spectrum of experiences and motivations.

...are effectively the bog-standard elves of most FRPG settings (Like the Forgotten Realms, say), but they have a unique cultural identity. Their race is old, and their works are great, and over time these factors have had an effect on the elves as a people: they are over-achievers, with an almost neurotic need to excel and do great things. They are all compulsive perfectionists to some degree, and although individuals do of course have their own identities, drives, etc., that inner elf worries at them all. This is made worse by the fact that, long ago, the elves built a splendid city of wonders and great beauty...and they lost it. No no, not "it was destroyed in the War of the Blah-Blah". More like, "We built this place behind a magical portal, hid the portal, and now...uh..." Everybody wants to find this fabled city, because if the legends are true, it's the most astonishing thing ever built. The elves want to find it because, in their minds, losing it makes them look bad.

[Those of you thinking, "Hey, he's just gonna shove in Myth Drannor, isn't he?" can have a Gold Star. Oh, and stop rolling your eyes.]

DWARVES The Realm are the bearded, axewielding underground craftsmen we all know and love, but with an interesting addendum. Dwarven culture is centered not so much on craft and achievement and family honor as it is on respect and politeness. To a dwarf, the phrase "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" isn't just a truism -- it's a way of life. It's very simple, to them: folks who show respect, say 'please' and 'thank you', don't hassle other folks overmuch and generally act civil don't get their freaking blocks knocked off. This doesn't mean that they bake each other pies and smile and put up Mary Engelbreit postcards all over thir forges, it just means that they understand (and have fully assimilated) the value of showing respect for others. They assume that every other race understands this, so they try their best to be polite (if not always pleased with) everyone else. Disappointments in this cause a certain amount of displeasure in dwarves, which leads nearly immediately to punches.

...don't live around here.

...are from Willow, and I'm using them. They're like Hobbits, only cooler; can you picture Merry and Pippin taking up pike and spear and pokin' a Death Dog to, um, death for bustin' up a hoedown? Well, yeah, but it's a stretch. Nelwyns fill the "pastoral little folk" role quite nicely, have wizards (Aldwins etc.), keep standing men-at-arms ("Vohnkaaaaar!") and don't seem to get any FRPG love. I bought the Willow Sourcebook (writen by Allen Varney) back in 1988 and by gum I'm gonna use it.

[In the aforementioned book, by the way, it's stated that, in his youth, Vohnkar totally went apenuts one night and killed his dad for being a dirty damned abusive drunk who had it coming. It has featured fiction on all of the major players and many of the minor ones, too. It's a great read and I recommend it.]

MORE WILLOW LOVE: Click here and here to see some pre-production art. And if you can't see the image abve, clicketty-click-click.

There you go. The major playable races of The Realm, which I guess is what I'm calling it for now. QUIT ROLLING YOUR EYES I SAID!