Building New Races

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Tywyll
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Joined: 2012-02-06 14:12
Building New Races

I love the class building mechanics. I think they are a fantastic addition to the game and well worth the price of admission. I've already built a class and half-way towards another.
What I'd like to see, and maybe it's buried in there and I've missed it, is guidelines for making new races. Some parts aren't that hard, but what about the racial abilities? How do you figure the extra XP cost? For example, I think the dwarven racial bonuses are worth far more than the elven ones (the bonus to saves is huge and far outstrips anything the elf gets) yet the elves pay more xp, and they do it twice...both for their abilities tacked on and the lump sum added to their after 8th level cost. Hell, you could build an Elven wizard on 4 points and he'd be paying through the nose for those few 'elf' abilities that aren't worth much by the time you hit high level.
So how do we build our own? Like say we want halflings back (I don't, but just saying), or half-orcs or whatever. Or our world has talking wolfmen. I really would like to see guidelines for building the racial side of the equation.

blizack
Joined: 2011-07-16 15:35

I second Tywyll's request. I'd also like to see a way to separate race from class. I understand that this is not the approach ACKS has chosen to take, but if the Player's Companion is heading in a similar direction as 3e's Unearthed Arcana (i.e., a compilation of interesting rules tweaks) it's something I'd be very interested in seeing.

Tywyll
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Joined: 2012-02-06 14:12

Hey blizack. That's not /exactly/ what I was looking for, as I just want to be able to make races beyond dwarves and elves as PCs.
Not to say I wouldn't mind those rules, mind you! :)

blizack
Joined: 2011-07-16 15:35

Right. I'd like to see it done both ways, though I could understand if Alex didn't want to provide rules for separating race and class.

creases
Joined: 2012-02-13 01:55

I would also love to see this!
From the manuscript, I notice that there is a relationship between the elf and dwarf 0-value powers and experience costs.
Dwarves get: bonus languages (+1), detect traps (+1), hardy people (+2 1/2), sensitivity to rock (+1/2). Equivalent to a total of +5 custom powers.
Elves get: attunement to nature (+1/2), bonus languages (+1), connection with nature (+1/2), keen eyes (+1). This is equivalent to a total of +3 custom powers. (I am discounting animal friendship because I don't think it's adding to the cost of advancing to level 2.)
5:3 is 1 2/3, and I notice that 200:125 (the ratio of their respective 0-value experience point costs to hit level 2) is 1.6, which is fairly close to 1 2/3. It suggests that each (+1 worth of) custom power is worth somewhere between 40xp (200/5) and 41 2/3 xp (125/3). I assume the difference is the result of rounding to the nearest multiple of 25. This is assuming it was okay for me to discount animal friendship.
I haven't figured out the higher demi-human value costs, though!

Tywyll
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Joined: 2012-02-06 14:12

Never mind missed the bonus language option.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Guys - I'm not sure I'll be able to add custom race building to the Player's Companion. If we make it to Bonus Goal #2, I can add a couple more race options. What races would you want to see?

James S
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Joined: 2011-07-29 12:36

I would LOVE to see goblins as a player race. In my homebrew they're aliens (along with humans) and thus genetically pure, instead of being a beastman created by the Zahars. So, completely selfishly, I'd like to see an example of goblin kind :)
To expand slightly - Goblins are a race that has mastered the secrets of elemental electricity. However, the dwarves stole it and there's a bit of a cold war as a result. It fits fairly nicely with the Dwarven Machinist idea and I'm hoping to have a Goblin Tinkerer class that can produce something similar to the Kobold Clonker on the machinist thread but using lightning instead of clockwork. Then there's goblin electrical abominations, a la http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1Ly1fmY6bsY/TcedMcrtCYI/AAAAAAAAB_k/XLOAZg9sme...
It's a bit more Magic-punk than Classical era D&D, so I'd settle for a goblin race as class that I can riff off and reverse engineer a bit :)
Nobody wants to see the halfing, surely ;)
I suppose there's gnomes if needs must.

Beastman
Joined: 2011-11-11 08:23

>>What races would you want to see?<<
Well if you put new races, wouldn't you also have to put a new class for that race (for the book not looking incomplete). That asite: i would like to see a mysterious gnome (not that dragonlace tinkerer - we have dwarves for that). - perhaps a druid/illusionist...i would't mind a goblin snack, too

sean wills
Joined: 2011-07-07 19:39

I have a preference (half-orc) but I think it would be better to poll all the backers who've contributed to the bonus when/if we get there

luftmensch
Player&#039;s Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-10 14:21

The tragic heritage of the half-orc, especially in this setting, offers a lot of roleplaying possibilities. ("Am I human or abomination? Curse the mad wizard that bred me in his sanctum!" or "Throk smash puny mage!") So, I'm voting for a half-orc race-class.
I'm also a sucker for gnomes.

creases
Joined: 2012-02-13 01:55

I am new here and don't understand the hate-on for halflings, but if that is not on the table, I would also vote for gnome!
My hope was that my dwarves would have a PC-eligible servitor construct race.

Radioactive Ape...
Joined: 2012-02-02 19:39

I don't personally like "half-X" races, and wouldn't want another tinkerer (the dwarves have that covered).
If I was going to go for one of the monstrous races as a PC race, I'd go with Goblin, Hobgoblin, or full-blooded Orc.
A Goblin Wolf-Rider could be cool, and Hobgoblins and Orcs could work as mercenaries.
Colin

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

creases - the source of the halfling hate is me! Halfings were created by JRR Tolkien specifically as an example of a race that was NOT good at adventuring. That's their whole point in the story; they are the unlikeliest heroes imaginable, the meek, the average, the overlooked. But because the Fellowship of the Ring was the original adventuring party, and it had halflings, every RPG since has riffed on Tolkien and made halflings one of the core adventuring races -- missing the entire point. When a game includes halflings, they are aping the trappings of our fictional sources without understanding their context. Thus I refuse to make halflings a core playable race in ACKS for this reason!!*
I equally despise the idea that Klingons should be a core race on Star Trek: The Next Generation Federation starships (again, Worf was the exception, not the rule); the idea that Ewoks should be a core race in Star Wars RPGs; and so on.
*Except if Patron Deity-level backers want me to. I'm not THAT much of an idealist about it. Come on now.

Virgil
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Joined: 2011-07-08 04:09

Hey Alex, can you tell us your thoughts on Kender?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Don't make me destroy you!

luftmensch
Player&#039;s Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-10 14:21

With the whole "Beastmen are constructed abominations good only for slaughter" vibe of ACKS, I'm actually against having goblins, orcs, etc as PCs.
I like the idea of half-beastman characters because in ACKS, the whole inner-man/inner-monster conflict would be much more crucial. Good role-playing fodder. The "unfortunate implications" of their conception probably wouldn't be as sanitized as they are in D&D, either.
All that said, when I eventually get to play (as opposed to GM) ACKS, I'm totally going chaotic, just so I can hire me some wolf-riders.

creases
Joined: 2012-02-13 01:55

Alex, thank you for your response!
I'm sorry to hear it though; some of the most fun I've had has been playing a halfling. I understand your point as far as it applies to Tolkien, but I have a different view about their role in fantasy rpgs. Oh well, I guess I'm out of luck!

blizack
Joined: 2011-07-16 15:35

As I take a closer look at the class-building rules, I can see that it's actually fairly easy to separate race from class: one could simply create race-specific "packages" of abilities that are added onto the existing classes. Picking such a package would require recalculating the class' XP chart and level limit, but it looks like it wouldn't be too difficult, meaning that one could make a dwarven shaman or elven priestess if one desired.

Tywyll
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Joined: 2012-02-06 14:12

Alex
I'm really sorry (and a bit confused) to hear race building guidelines couldn't be included. Do they not follow some internal math that can be shown like classes?
But if we are limited to just prebuilt races...for the love of Zahar, please don't do beastman or tinker races. Give us the Dragonmen of the mysterious East, the Dhamphir scions of Old Zahar, or the elemental children of the Jinn races. I realize that Acks is a retroclone, but it is unique in so many ways...let the races be different too!

luftmensch
Player&#039;s Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-10 14:21

((the Dhamphir scions of Old Zahar))
Oh now THAT sounds interesting! Of course, I'd be happy to hear anything more about Old Zahar.
It occurs to me that instead of making a whole Half-Orc class, I can just make a "Tainted by Beastman Blood" proficiency, modeled after the "Elven Bloodline" proficiency, and get what I want RP-wise. Neat!
Now to brainstorm...

luftmensch
Player&#039;s Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-10 14:21

Zing!
"Beastmen's Blood"
Sometime the past, the seed of the hideous Beastmen entered your family line. This corrupted blood has manifested in you, twisting your body but granting you some monstrous benefits. You receive a +1 bonus to reaction rolls with Beastmen, but suffer a -1 penalty with Humans and Demihumans. You also have infravision of 90 feet. Evidence of your tainted ancestry manifests in some physical characteristic (prominent canines, sallow skin, porcine nose, red eyes, excessive body hair, etc.)
Available to: Assassin, Fighter, Shaman, Thief (and probably Barbarian when that class is released).

Charlatan
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Joined: 2011-08-08 15:20

luftmensch: I'd think twice before making 90' infravision available for a single proficiency. It's more powerful than the infravision that "full-blooded" orcs have, for one (60'). If you analogize that to the Elven racial powers for the analogous bloodline proficiency, it should be a partial form of one-third to one-half strength. I'd also expect it to be somewhat disruptive to the Thief and Assassin classes, as the corresponding benefit to them would be a bit out of proportion to other proficiencies.
Remember also that the playable demihumans in core ACKS have no infravision at all, so I'd suggest that having such a power implies a difference that would have farther-reaching effects than a -1 to reactions.

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

I have also been trying to come up with a proficiency, similar to Elven Bloodline, to allow for half-orcs in my campaign. I'm kind of struggling as to what benefit it ought to provide. I want half-orcs to count as beastmen when part of a military unit consisting entirely of beastmen and/or half-orcs, but that has little or no impact on a PC. I definitely don't want a proficiency that grants infravision. I was considering a +1 bonus to melee damage, as "mighty" is the half-orc's traditional schtick, but I think that would be too generous. I like your +1 reaction rolls with beastmen, -1 with everyone else" idea, but is that enough for a proficiency? It seems like it's kind of a push. Maybe a couple of bonus hit points, to model half orcs being "tough"? Or what about giving them a bonus on the Mortal Wounds table to make them tough guys? Hmm...I kind of like that idea. Has anyone experimented with granting bonuses on the d6 roll on the Mortal Wounds table?
Orc Blood: Due to some unfortunate event, you have at least one orc ancestor within the previous six generations. Your tainted ancestry manifests in some physical characteristic (green skin, prominent cainines, bestial eyes with little or no whites visible, etc.). You suffer a -1 penalty on reaction rolls when dealing with humans and demihumans, but gain a +1 on reaction rolls when dealing with beastmen. You gain 1 additional hit point at first level and a +1 bonus on the d6 roll on the Mortal Wounds table. You count as a beastman when part of a military unit consisting entirely of beastmen and/or other people with this proficiency.
Available to: General.

luftmensch
Player&#039;s Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-10 14:21

I'll admit that giving "Beastmen's Blood" infravision doesn't really "pop" for me either. It's the only thing I could come up with, though, that made me think of "half-human monster that lives in the night." Originally it was just going to be 60', but I changed it to 90' because that's what goblins have. In retrospect, that may have been a mistake.
I not't entirely sure that having the equivalent of an Infravision Spell with the Permanency ritual is too game breaking for Thieves and Assassins.
James: I really like the bonus to the Mortal Wounds roll idea. That's inspired!

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Alex -I'm really sorry (and a bit confused) to hear race building guidelines couldn't be included. Do they not follow some internal math that can be shown like classes?
APM: No, not in the same way. The values in the class building system were reverse engineered from a large set of data (all the various classes). With the races the pool is much smaller. If you look at ACKS's XP curves, you'll see that dwarven vaultguards and elven spellswords have XP curves that mirror those of B/X dwarves and elves. From that starting point I reverse-engineered the costs for the elven and dwarven racial values of 0 and 3 respectively. It was then a case of estimating from there.
Because of the lack of data, doing a well-balanced race-building system would be harder than doing a class-building system. Race introduces an enormous number of variables. For instance, how to handle multiple HD creatures? Creatures capable of carrying other PCs as mounts (i.e. centaurs)? Races with special senses? Special movement capabilities?
I'm fairly confident I could develop a few extra races, space/time permitting, but I'm not confident space and time would permit to create a balanced and playable race construction set!

Tywyll
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Joined: 2012-02-06 14:12

Ah well ok that makes sense. Maybe something for the DM's guide... ;-)
I'd been thinking about 'tougher' races and I think you could do something similar to elves but instead of race points going to mage category they go towards hd. Possibly intetspersing it with some other benefit. I was thinking something like this for a dragonblooded race:
1=1pt in HD
2=1pt in HD & 1pt in mage
3= 2 pt in HD & 1 pt in mage
4 = 2 pt in both
or something. I'll be tinkering around with it.

Anglefish
Joined: 2012-01-26 21:02

Given the setting, I'd suggest centaurs.
Given the heritage of the game, I'd suggest Lupins, Tortles and Rakasta (along with anything from the Creature Crucible line.)
Given the craziness of AD&D 1e, I'd like to see something like Githanki, but more tied to the Material Plane.
But no "drow" please.

sean wills
Joined: 2011-07-07 19:39

'But no "drow" please.'
- check out the Dreadsword template for the Elven Spellsword

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

Thanks luftmensch! As for infravision, I don't think it will break the game. I think it would be too good to pass up, though, which is usually a sign of a bad feat/proficiency/whatever. As someone who is prone to playing stealthy PCs (on those rare occasions when I'm not DM), infravision is the one ability I will do anything to get. The difference between "you can't sneak at all in the dungeon because you need to carry a light source" to "go ahead, sneak all you want" is just too big to do otherwise. I think it's better to leave that kind of power as something to be earned as you advance.
Angelfish: I heven't thought of the Creature Crucible series for years! I wonder where my copy of Top Ballista ended up? Oh, and if we're suggesting those, we should throw Orcs of Thar in there as well.

luftmensch
Player&#039;s Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-10 14:21

(( As for infravision, I don't think it will break the game. I think it would be too good to pass up, though, which is usually a sign of a bad feat/proficiency/whatever.))
That... is a good point that I hadn't considered. Probably because in my old AD&D games 80% of the PCs were elves and 10% of the remainder were dwarves. Come to think of it, I can only think of one PC we had throughout the 90's without infravision.
Point conceded, sir! The Mortal Wounds bonus has more flavor anyway, and nice connotations of hidden troll-blood.

Undercrypt
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Joined: 2011-07-21 00:40

Sign me up for mystic non-tinkering gnomes. Ideally, illuminated masterminds controlling the world from behind the scenes.

luftmensch
Player&#039;s Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-10 14:21

{{Sign me up for mystic non-tinkering gnomes. Ideally, illuminated masterminds controlling the world from behind the scenes.))
Ha! That's almost exactly how Knomes operate in a comedy-fantasy RPG I worked on called "Qerth." Everyone thinks they're lame, but really the run the world behind the scenes.

luftmensch
Player&#039;s Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-10 14:21

But seriously, a Gnome Trickster/Illusionist would be pretty sweet. Leave the tinkering to the Dwarves.

Dave2
Joined: 2012-02-18 10:21

I would stand up for Goblins as your go-to "Are they people, are they monster?" race, rather than start interbreeding to get it. Knowing Players, that would just end in experimental sex and demand for rules to play their half-Orc-quarter-elf-quarter-quarter-fishman descendent.
And that's a crazy place to go.
My second vote would be for Gnomes, giving them the trickster set. I.e. let the Gnome racial scale give extra thief skills.
One of the classes should probably be illusionist, bu I'm looking for them to live up to the "thieving gypsy" negative stereotype.

James S
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Joined: 2011-07-29 12:36

luftmensch, Undercrypt - are your Gnomes originally from Zurich by any chance?
In terms of which Races to add, is the fact that ACKS has already stated that a bunch of them are strictly cross-breeds from the Old Zaharan Days an issue?

Undercrypt
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Joined: 2011-07-21 00:40

It would also be interesting to see a race of Zaharan sorcerer-priests awaken from their slumber beneath the sands, not quite living and not quite dead, with six score years to wander before their dark bindings fail and they crumble to dust. (Or maybe that's the Dhamphir that Tywyll mentioned.)
Or the woodwose, primitive hairy proto-humans of the ancient forests, with ties to nature - and darker powers - older than the elves.
You know what would be a really fun but not completely overpowered monster race to play? Doppelgänger.
James: Maaaaaaybe.

Quasimotocar
Player&#039;s Companion Contributor
Joined: 2012-02-02 00:42

Lizardmen as a playable race gives me seductive visions of a 10,000 BC style campaign. That's my pick.
Quasi.

Radioactive Ape...
Joined: 2012-02-02 19:39

Other cool possibilities:
1) A "half-fiend", such as a Cambion (after all, Merlin was said to have been a Cambion as was Caliban in Shakespeare's "The Tempest", and the term is not specifically a D&D one). Appearance could vary greatly, like the older version of the D&D tiefling.
2) A "half-giant". Basically, base it on a variety of myths such as the Nephilim, etc. Mythology is replate with tales of heroes of giant size (Ajax, Achilles, Orestes, et al.), the offspring of mortals and giants, etc.
I could certainly get behind a dhampir (good possibilities), woodwose (nice idea!), or lizardman racial entry also.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

We have a confirmed Lizardman racial addition in the Player's Companion!

Ryan
Dwimmermount Backer
Joined: 2011-06-30 00:28

perrrfect!!!

Ronin84
Player&#039;s Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-11 13:52

I am trying to talk my group into trying the game out and if anyone wants to take a stab at the Dhampir I would appreciate it! :)

DM John
Joined: 2011-12-19 22:54

I understand the want to leave the Hobbit out, for the reasons stated above. But what are the reasons for leaving out the Gnome? There isn't really any precedent for them adventuring, but they are a classic fantasy race. Is it due to the Dwarf taking up the Machinist class that there isn't any 'room' for the Gnome? How about Gnome Illusionist? That seems to have been usurped by the Elven Enchanter?
Why such hate of the little people???? :-/

blizack
Joined: 2011-07-16 15:35

John, I think one of the high-paying backers requested a gnome character class, so we should be seeing one eventually. Don't despair.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Yes, it's confirmed. In fact, I just finished drafting the gnome today. Gnomes are hybrids between dwarves and elves with a variety of illusion spell-like abilities instead of dwarven proficiencies.
The Gnome Trickster is a thief-illusionist with spell-like powers, arcane dabbling, prestidigitation, and light magery.

ZenDog
Joined: 2012-03-10 00:35

A Thri-Kreen or Phraints would be a nice Sword & Sorcery flavoured race to add.

Ronin84
Player&#039;s Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-11 13:52

Don't forget the Deodanth...