Yesterday we looked at race and culture selection in worldbuilding and campaign design. Now, we can look at a more specific application to our worldseed that has grown into Endamon, and more specifically its “starting zone” Crimson. Looking at what we have decided about the area we were informed a lot by the class-based decisions we have made and the refined villains and conflict groups. So running down the racial checklist from yesterday:
Considering the Core
Dwarf – We are wanting most of the core to have a decent presence and we know that red Shard of Crimson is a force of vitality that needs some mining to extract. That screams for dwarves. To further increase their relevance I decide that the dwarves control underpasses that allow the basilisk infested lands to the East of Crimson to be bypassed. Yeah, these guys are here and a nearby dwarven undercity and maybe even closer villages (under-neighborhood?) relationship to Crimson seems likely.
Gnomes – I am not seeing a huge gnomish influence but with a decent Charisma they do seem likely Fire sorcerers and might represent one of the families given these powers by the Shard.
Half-Orcs – I am seeing the racial synergy with the barbarian class meaning that these guys probably come from the western tribal lands and that means there are orcs nearby, probably to the northwest.
Halflings – I am going to work with a classic comfort-loving approach to halflings which probably means our halflings are southerners. Seems pretty clear that Crimson is in the Northern hemisphere of a relatively Earth-like world. Successful merchant families live in Crimson but probably not in large numbers.
Humans – I generally speaking don’t like a single human ethnicity. I decide on three major groups in the near vicinity. The Imar people a pale skinned western populace. The Omal being a taller darker skinned people from the South. Lastly the Xuril, a bronzed fleshed people from another continent that migrated over the ice bridges and down through the elven lands to the North. This also means that most Half-Orcs are of the Imar human lineage and likely that any Half-Elves are born mostly to Xuril lineages.
Elves – I saved these for last because I am thinking they will be the least recognizable of the fantasy core. I want a clear emphasis on Crimson’s significance as a center of magic and healing. To differentiate this from classical (and often elven) notions I decide that the magic of the Elves has been altered by the impact of shards in the Elven lands. The catastrophic event altered the world’s orbit just enough that the once emerald paradise of the Elves has become a frozen wasteland. That and the presence of black and white Shards pushed their magical access toward necromancy and cold magics. The climate change destroyed so much that the long lived sensibilities of the Elves are still in shock. Using their relatively new necromancy, some of the Elves have even taken to “restoring” their old homes, filling them with ghosts of the past. Quite a large departure from classic fantasy race roles. To allow a more classical elven option I imagine small communities fled to the Imar homelands and have found spaces in between barbarians and the druids of the Stonewrath.
Evaluating the Additions
Crimson is pretty robust and I don’t see a big need for major racial additions initially. Early player discussions indicated a players interest in the fetchling race. I like the idea of the Moonvoid altering the planar relationship for the world and allowing the plane of Shadow greater presence. Another player mentioned “spell-jamming” types of games being fun and I envision suddenly the shadowborn race arriving on ships in the dark of the Moon’s fall. These “nightships” provide and interesting alternative to airships of other fantasy worlds. Sold as to the importance of the race I am going to say they colonized the world in the days after the cataclysm and have been on Endamon for a couple generations.
Establishing the Commonality
I am going for a pretty classic mix and without getting down to specific numbers I settle on the following commonality breakdown for Crimson:
Humans (Imar>Omal>Xuril) > Dwarves > Fetchlings > Gnomes > Halflings > Elves > Half-Orcs > Half-Elves >Other Non-Core races.
I make a note to make sure my players know about elven changes and the fetchling presence.
Altering the Norms
I think my decisions with fetchlings and elves are my major alterations. I am also pleased that fetchlings are another good race choice for oracles. Evaluating the Imar and the druidic rejection of the divine, I love having the idea of the colonist-converts the fetchlings present. The extended environment of Crimson supports the Core Races and sets up likely social tendencies for them. Further customization can probably wait until I have an idea of what people are most interested in playing.
It is possible to go further with your specialization without an idea of characters people will create, but if you do so you risk your campaign world being un-receptive to their ideas and as we saw in our discussions of build characters, that is going to lead somewhere less than satisfying.