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S'mon

Legend
A quick googling tells me Belit and Valeria are much closer in body type to classically feminine. I would peg them as DEX fighters (in 5E terms). Crucially, they look nothing like the muscle mountains I associate with 20 STR 20 CON.

Yeah, if I was running 1e up to even 3e I'd likely follow your POV. I remember playing 3e and keeping my female Fighter PC's STR to 16.

4e-5e, I ceased believing that the D&D STR stat had anything much to do with actual visible musculature, so when a 5e player of mine rolled up an Atlantean noblewoman with STR 18 I just described her as Brigitte Nielsen type, not Hulk-type.

I'm much the same with INT stat, I don't think it has much to do with actual intelligence.

Edit: However in practice, many of the Belit type NPCs IMCs are DEX-based Finesse fighters with moderate STR, just as you say.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
so when a 5e player of mine rolled up an Atlantean noblewoman with STR 18 I just described her as Brigitte Nielsen type, not Hulk-type.
Yeah, well I don't get to or even want to describe my players' characters for them, so...

What I (personally) want is for the system, not just the gamesmaster, to just say "no" to the player who wants to create a character that is just as strong as Conan, but with the body of an attractive woman. That is the specific cake you should not both get to eat and have in Sword & Sorcery.

In regular fantasy I have no opinion either way. But in S&S, that's tantamount to the player new to D&D that asks for a mighty warrior that can cast spells too. Sure you can, if you accept that you won't be as good as either (cue the Eowyn example earlier).

Red Sonja though? She's like a level 20 Fighter and a level 20 Wizard in one character. That's fine - for a comic book, where balance and spotlight isn't an issue. For a rpg where more than one character is the hero, nope. You're supposed to have things you don't do well. And I don't mean Sonja might not be the best at healing, or reading, or stealing. Those things are secondary. What bringing up Red Sonja means to me is "I want to be the best at both what a man does and what a woman does."

And in S&S specifically, you're either a man or you are a woman. Not both, unless you compromise. S&S is primal, almost caveman-like in its gender politics.

In other words, I want the following, not just in fluff, but in crunch too:

If you want to wield a huge sword and be best at cleaving Apes, play a hulking mountain of a man. Somebody everyone in the room immediately assumes is a lethal threat. Somebody every woman in the room secretly wants. You can play a lot of other male archetypes as well, but they will always be "lesser" in the fundamental aspect of being a manly man.

If you want to be able to wrap people in power around your little finger, play a voluptuous temptress of a woman. Somebody everyone in the room is dazzled by, but consistently underestimates. Somebody every man (not so) secretly wants. You can play a lot of other female archetypes as well, but they will always be "lesser" in the fundamental aspect of being a womanly woman.

S&S is like going back in time to the eighties before smart-ass heroes like Bruce Willis or androgynous heroes like Keanu Reeves took over cinema! Back to the curious time where wooden but well-muscled actors not only get the girl but are taken entirely seriously by the audience as well! ;)

Thank you for reading.
 

S'mon

Legend
What I (personally) want is for the system, not just the gamesmaster, to just say "no" to the player who wants to create a character that is just as strong as Conan, but with the body of an attractive woman. That is the specific cake you should not both get to eat and have in Sword & Sorcery.

You are denying Xena's Lived Experience!!! :-O
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
I guess I'm nitpicking the word "can" in "The following broad cultural archetypes can be used to further distinguish between characters who would otherwise have the same racial abilities." ;)

I see your point and I'm going to change it to "...are used to..." to make it clear that you must choose a culture.

I would totally ask players to choose culture first, since that is your #1 defining trait (whether you're a Barbarian, proud but uneducated, or some pampered but cunning citizen from a crumbling empire) and then list suggested races under each culture. (So the two chapters reference each other)

Once again, I see your point and I agree that (early) choice of culture will (should!) focus the character's concept in the player's mind. I'll let this simmer a bit before I do any layout changes...
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
Great stuff, but I have a big gripe -

None of what you list as races are races. They're ethnicities. There is only one human race, and what we call race is a social construct created by, well, racists.

Given that D&D actually does have contextually "real" races, it also avoids confusion of two concepts using the same word. You changed clerics to cultists, when you could have kept the name. Please consider doing the same for an outmoded concept.

I see your point, I guess I'm just using "race" out of habit since that term has been used in D&D since forever. That said, there are many definitions of the word "race", such as "a group of persons related by common descent or heredity" and "any people united by common history, language, cultural traits, etc." so rest assured that I'm not using the term to promote any specific agenda.

As for alternatives, "ethnicity" would work, but doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. PF2 calls it "Ancestry". I guess even "Peoples of Xoth" could work (but "pick a people" sounds a bit weird?). I'm open to other suggestions here...
 


xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
That said, Battle Cry is unbelievably broken and overpower. And at 3rd level, it's arguably the most powerful the class gets. Simply giving allies an extra damage die (like the Valor Bard's Combat Inspiration) would be much more reasonable.

Why do you feel it's overpowered? It gives each ally an automatic crit, if they hit, so that's one extra damage die per creature. It lasts one round. It can be used once per long rest per point of Charisma bonus. The conqueror has MAD (multiple attribute dependency) because Strength, Intelligence and Charisma are all important, so a maxed-out Charisma score would be unusual.

Possibly I can see it being toned down a bit by just applying to each ally's first attack in the round, not all of them.

(Also, while we are discussing Battle Cry, notice that the Improved Battle Cry at 11th level says the duration increases to 1 minute (10 rounds). That's a typo, that should be 2 rounds and this will be corrected in the next version of the document.)
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
In Xoth, you use the 5e Druid to represent the ‘shaman’.

However, the 5e Bard actually represents the shaman better and more straightforwardly.

Bardic songs work as shamanic songs to rapport with nature spirits and to inspire the community.

Unlike the Druid, the Bard wont normally shapeshift (but still could if learning the appropriate spell).

Everything the Bard does is shamanic, nature magic, healing, divination, mind manipulation.

And Charisma as the key ability makes more sense for a shaman anyway, many of who are also tricksters.

Interesting perspective, I've never thought of it that way. But what do you do with the Druid then?

The way I've implemented it, by using the Bard as a basis for another "social" class, gives one more option for PCs, not one less.
 

GlassJaw

Hero
Why do you feel it's overpowered? It gives each ally an automatic crit, if they hit, so that's one extra damage die per creature.

Crits double ALL damage dice, which includes things like Sneak Attack dice. I guess it's not as bad since paladins don't exist in the world but my concern it will cause unforeseen consequences and big swings in combat (especially boss battles).

Additionally, I don't believe there are any mechanics in the game that trigger automatic crits, aside from the paralyzed condition.
 

S'mon

Legend
Crits double ALL damage dice, which includes things like Sneak Attack dice. I guess it's not as bad since paladins don't exist in the world but my concern it will cause unforeseen consequences and big swings in combat (especially boss battles).

Additionally, I don't believe there are any mechanics in the game that trigger automatic crits, aside from the paralyzed condition.

My son loves his Goliath Rogue Assassin - Assassin path gets automatic crits vs Surprised targets, and as a Rogue-13/Barbarian-1 he's doing 16d6+6 damage with DEX 20 and a d6 +1 magic weapon.

He'd certainly like a friend who lets him do that on every hit. :)
 

S'mon

Legend
I see your point, I guess I'm just using "race" out of habit since that term has been used in D&D since forever. That said, there are many definitions of the word "race", such as "a group of persons related by common descent or heredity" and "any people united by common history, language, cultural traits, etc." so rest assured that I'm not using the term to promote any specific agenda.

As for alternatives, "ethnicity" would work, but doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. PF2 calls it "Ancestry". I guess even "Peoples of Xoth" could work (but "pick a people" sounds a bit weird?). I'm open to other suggestions here...

If you're going to lose 'race' for your human races, I'd normally suggest 'culture' rather than 'ancestry' (edit: except that you have Culture for Civilised/Decadent etc). The Xoth races do seem a mix of culture & descent - of course IRL the two traditionally went together. Traditionally in English-English one might talk about the Scottish race, the English race, being a common descent or heredity as you say. But no one says the American race - my American ex always objected if I called someone (eg our son) "half American".
Ethny is better than Ethnicity, but both sound too anthropological to me. Folk is likely to cause issues with people who think Race is racist, and anyway being Germanic it sounds more Tolkien than Howard.
Ancestry is ok, and means the same thing as traditional understanding of race, but overall I think Culture is best since it would allow for a PC to be raised in a different culture than their ancestry. OTOH one could argue that Ancestry fits genre norms more closely - in the genre one's blood/nature tends to show through over nurture. And since you have Culture for the 'cultural archetypes' it would need fewer changes. Hmm!
 
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If you're going to lose 'race' for your human races, I'd normally suggest 'culture' rather than 'ancestry' (edit: except that you have Culture for Civilised/Decadent etc). The Xoth races do seem a mix of culture & descent - of course IRL the two traditionally went together. Traditionally in English-English one might talk about the Scottish race, the English race, being a common descent or heredity as you say. But no one says the American race - my American ex always objected if I called someone (eg our son) "half American".
Ethny is better than Ethnicity, but both sound too anthropological to me. Folk is likely to cause issues with peope who think Race is racist, and anyway being Germanic it sounds more Tolkien than Howard.
Ancestry is ok, and means the same thing as traditional understanding of race, but overall I think Culture is best since it would allow for a PC to be raised in a different culture than their ancestry. OTOH one could argue that Ancestry fits genre norms more closely - in the genre one's blood/nature tends to show through over nurture. And since you have Culture for the 'cultural archetypes' it would need fewer changes. Hmm!
For this purpose I like "nation" or "tribe". "Descent" or "ancestry" connote to me a focus on who your distant forebears were rather than who you are: Conan is of Atlantean ancestry but the Cimmerian nation. For the record, I think "race" is fine, and it's definitely what was used in the genre being emulated -- it seems especially odd to switch to conspicuous progressive language on this subject but still write about about women and gender roles in faithfully 1930s terms. But while we're brainstorming alternatives, there are my thoughts.
 

S'mon

Legend
For this purpose I like "nation" or "tribe".

Nation is good, a Latin-derived word which connotes birth ancestry (same root as natal, native). Tribe doesn't seem quite right for more civilised cultures, but I'm not sure Xoth has any where it would be truly inappropriate - you likely wouldn't talk of the Roman or Atlantean or Hellenic 'tribe', but Xoth doesn't seem to actually have a culture like that. OTOH a nation like Iran/Persia typically is made up of several ethnic tribes. So I think 'nation' is better.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
My personal advice is to not have a public discussion on such a contentious issue. Pick your choice in private and then stick to your guns. You want the discussion to be about your product, not arguing over what isn't or could be in your product.



For the record, I think "race" is fine, and it's definitely what was used in the genre being emulated -- it seems especially odd to switch to conspicuous progressive language on this subject but still write about about women and gender roles in faithfully 1930s terms.
Yes, this.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I went and had a look at the old mongoose conan game to see what they used for race. They used race when describing them. They did title the chapter as Peoples of the Hyborean Age. Honestly, I see nothing wrong with just using race.
 

S'mon

Legend
I went and had a look at the old mongoose conan game to see what they used for race. They used race when describing them. They did title the chapter as Peoples of the Hyborean Age. Honestly, I see nothing wrong with just using race.

As I mentioned, I don't much like how Mongoose Conan did stat mods by race, with eg Cimmerians taking an INT penalty. Though the high stats for Hyboreans did encourage playing the dominant culture - the stats seemed more about encouraging particular play choices, eg discourage Cimmerians because they don't appear in the stories, except for Conan himself.

I like how the Xoth guide doesn't have this issue, with the stat mods for 'cultural archetype', so eg Civilised and Decadent PCs have different stats, even if they are both nobles from the same culture/race.
 

cbwjm

Hero
As I mentioned, I don't much like how Mongoose Conan did stat mods by race, with eg Cimmerians taking an INT penalty. Though the high stats for Hyboreans did encourage playing the dominant culture - the stats seemed more about encouraging particular play choices, eg discourage Cimmerians because they don't appear in the stories, except for Conan himself.

I like how the Xoth guide doesn't have this issue, with the stat mods for 'cultural archetype', so eg Civilised and Decadent PCs have different stats, even if they are both nobles from the same culture/race.

I guess I just never felt discouraged by an int penalty to play a Cimmerian.

I do also like what is being done in the Xoth books with culture/race, I think it is an interesting way to do it and just suggesting which cultures each race tends to gravitate towards.
 

OTOH a nation like Iran/Persia typically is made up of several ethnic tribes. So I think 'nation' is better.
This is a nitpick, but since we're really digging down into the connotations here it seems appropriate: a "nation" is, in traditional usage, a genetically-and-culturally-homogeneous unit, roughly synonymous with "ethnicity" or "tribe". As the trailer for 300 put it with some numerical hyperbole but surprising terminological precision: "The thousand nations of the Persian Empire descend upon you!" You would not call the Persian Empire a "nation" in its own right. It was a state, but it was not a nation-state. (Indeed, in some contexts, this super-national statehood is the definition of an "empire".) The distinction between "nation" and "state" has become blurry since nation-states came into fashion in the Old World and colonial/immigrant countries like the USA started to emerge in the New World. (My history is Eurocentric here, of course, because we are speaking of English words.) Because of this blurriness, I wouldn't suggest "nation" as a substitute for "race" in, say, Pathfinder: to speak of an "elven nation" would connote to modern ears a sociopolitical unity among elves that seems inaccurate. But I think it still works in Xoth.
 

I do also like what is being done in the Xoth books with culture/race, I think it is an interesting way to do it and just suggesting which cultures each race tends to gravitate towards.
Thirded. And you can also easily do stuff like have a character born of a mostly-decadent people but raised in a barbaric one.
 

S'mon

Legend
This is a nitpick, but since we're really digging down into the connotations here it seems appropriate: a "nation" is, in traditional usage, a genetically-and-culturally-homogeneous unit, roughly synonymous with "ethnicity" or "tribe". As the trailer for 300 put it with some numerical hyperbole but surprising terminological precision: "The thousand nations of the Persian Empire descend upon you!" You would not call the Persian Empire a "nation" in its own right.

Well I was thinking more of modern Iran, which is a nation, than the Persian Empire at its height. Or Afghanistan, which is a nation with several very distinct tribes, though the Pushtun are practically a nation themselves. But I agree that 'the Persians' were originally one tribe, and an organic nation tends to have a single core ethnic tribe, or occasionally two related tribes.

Looking at fictional examples, does it work to talk about the '5 nations' of Wakanda? I think it is common to use 'tribe' as a sub-national ethnic unit. But nation works as a broader ethnic unit, which I think is your view too.
 

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