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D&D General how are stories infused with a race?

I think we would all agree that races have stories as part of them with tieflings and the half races being outsiders, halflings being the humble people and so on

what I want to know is how they are infused and what examples there are as I want to get my custom race working properly?
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Most of the "stories" attached to races come from pop culture perceptions of those races or the component parts of those races.

For example, tieflings, hobbits, and minotaurs. Tieflings are half-devils. The cultural baggage attached to "devil" carries 99% of the weight for their story. With hobbits it's Tolkien's The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Minotaurs are almost entirely defined by Greek mythology.

If your custom race doesn't have the pop culture cache in the vein of The Hobbit (i.e. popular literature backing it up) or mythology, then your best bet is to go the route of the half-races. Devil-folk are largely defined by our culture's general attitude towards devils. Rabbit-folk are largely defined by our culture's general attitude towards rabbits. Etc.

I mean, that's all the people who made the game did in the old days. Take something from pop culture or mythology and tweak it slightly to fit the game.
 

Most of the "stories" attached to races come from pop culture perceptions of those races or the component parts of those races.

For example, tieflings, hobbits, and minotaurs. Tieflings are half-devils. The cultural baggage attached to "devil" carries 99% of the weight for their story. With hobbits it's Tolkien's The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Minotaurs are almost entirely defined by Greek mythology.

If your custom race doesn't have the pop culture cache in the vein of The Hobbit (i.e. popular literature backing it up) or mythology, then your best bet is to go the route of the half-races. Devil-folk are largely defined by our culture's general attitude towards devils. Rabbit-folk are largely defined by our culture's general attitude towards rabbits. Etc.

I mean, that's all the people who made the game did in the old days. Take something from pop culture or mythology and tweak it slightly to fit the game.
yeah, I built something from nothing so that is why I am having such huge trouble?
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
The thing is that for me the story, up to creation myth and legend is everything, because this influences the race's characteristics and in particular its magic, which in turn influences the cultures developed by the race during the history of the setting.

Unfortunately, I don't have any good one in D&D since most of the races are more or less humans in funny hats, and in any case the creation myths are setting dependent, but the drows were not too bad (including at start where Gygax did not create them as inherently evil, but where their only shown society can give that impression).

Best races for me are those from RQ, they have a strong creation myth, and therefore their powers and general outlooks comes from this (Uz/Trolls being created by/in Darkness for example), which in turn described the way the cultures developped and the history. And it does not prevent the history to influence it further, for example the Uz/Trolls where subjected to the Trollkin Curse, which has had a major influence on all their cultures since then.
 

The thing is that for me the story, up to creation myth and legend is everything, because this influences the race's characteristics and in particular its magic, which in turn influences the cultures developed by the race during the history of the setting.

Unfortunately, I don't have any good one in D&D since most of the races are more or less humans in funny hats, and in any case the creation myths are setting dependent, but the drows were not too bad (including at start where Gygax did not create them as inherently evil, but where their only shown society can give that impression).

Best races for me are those from RQ, they have a strong creation myth, and therefore their powers and general outlooks comes from this (Uz/Trolls being created by/in Darkness for example), which in turn described the way the cultures developped and the history. And it does not prevent the history to influence it further, for example the Uz/Trolls where subjected to the Trollkin Curse, which has had a major influence on all their cultures since then.
RQ?
 



Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
I want to get my customer race working properly?

Entitled by centuries of market economy, Customers are the bane of the land. Everywhere they settle, not unlike a plague of locust, their appetites incite other into turning everything into goods for them to consume.

Customer Traits:

  • Ability Score Increase. Increase one ability score by 2, and increase a different one by 1.
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language that you and your DM agree is appropriate for the character.
  • Creature Type. You are a Humanoid.
  • Size. You are Medium. If your favorite product is fast food, you can be Large, too.
  • Speed. Your walking speed is 30 feet.
  • Darkvision. Countless nights spent on shopping website have given you the ability to see thing in dim light.
  • Compulsive purchase. You're proficient in Shopper Tools. You can also summon any object worth less than 100 gp out of your shopping bags. You can use this power proficiency bonus times per long rest.
  • Nature's Bane. You have advantage against spells cast by a Druid.
  • Questgiver. Instead of going out adventuring, you prefer to sit in dark corner of a tavern (due to your natural Darkvision), smoking a pipe, and waiting for an adventurous group to hire them to do it for you.
 

Nefermandias

Adventurer
yeah, I built something from nothing so that is why I am having such huge trouble?
After tens of thousands of years of human history, I don't think it's really possible to build something from nothing. And even if you somehow manage to come up with something completely new, it's going to be so alien and detached from human sensibilities, that it's probably going to end up being unusable.
 

What's the race? Because most things, even if they're "new," have antecedents.

Even something as simple as descriptive tags like "nomad" or "horse-focused culture" will lend a lot to their story.
do you want the whole thing or do you want buzz words as sadly I only have the long version? also I plan to rework a lot of it.
After tens of thousands of years of human history, I don't think it's really possible to build something from nothing. And even if you somehow manage to come up with something completely new, it's going to be so alien and detached from human sensibilities, that it's probably going to end up being unusable.
true but I did not build off a standard monster or animal of any culture so I am at a loss at how to work something in?
 

Bluebell

Explorer
Some thoughts that jump to mind:

Relations with other races - How does this race fit into the rest of the world in relation to the other existing races? Are they friendly, hostile? Do they keep to themselves or are they integrated into diverse settlements? Is it rare to see them wandering around away from home or are they pretty common in certain areas? Are they viewed as strange by others? Do they have unique traits that make them stand out?

Importance to the story - What do they bring to the narrative? Are there key NPCs from that race to represent their people? Do they have goals that would align/clash with the PCs?

Culture - What is unique about them besides physiology? Are they from a particular climate? Do they have unique architecture or lifestyle? Do they view family units differently or have a particular philosophy? Do they have a unique governance structure?

I think how you play it depends on, for instance, whether you want your race to be integrated into the setting from the start, or if your PCs are traveling to a new location where this new race lives.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
do you want the whole thing or do you want buzz words as sadly I only have the long version? also I plan to rework a lot of it.
Another way to say buzz words is cliches or tropes. If you recognize that it's possible to describe your race using buzzwords, cliches, and tropes, you can pick a few prominent ones to bring forward and hang the story on. Again, if they're "nomads" or have a "horse-focused culture" then you already have a lot more story than most D&D / fantasy races have.
true but I did not build off a standard monster or animal of any culture so I am at a loss at how to work something in?
If it's completely alien, then play up how completely alien it is. That's the story of the race. If it's some Lovecraftian nightmare, then it doesn't need much of a story.
 

Nefermandias

Adventurer
Another way to say buzz words is cliches or tropes. If you recognize that it's possible to describe your race using buzzwords, cliches, and tropes, you can pick a few prominent ones to bring forward and hang the story on. Again, if they're "nomads" or have a "horse-focused culture" then you already have a lot more story than most D&D / fantasy races have.

If it's completely alien, then play up how completely alien it is. That's the story of the race. If it's some Lovecraftian nightmare, then it doesn't need much of a story.
I would also like to point out that it's literally (yes, literally) impossible for a human being to conceive something truly, completely alien.

Most of the eldritch horrors and aberrations you see in pop culture are nothing more than squid people or some conceptual energy being.
 

Another way to say buzz words is cliches or tropes. If you recognize that it's possible to describe your race using buzzwords, cliches, and tropes, you can pick a few prominent ones to bring forward and hang the story on. Again, if they're "nomads" or have a "horse-focused culture" then you already have a lot more story than most D&D / fantasy races have.

If it's completely alien, then play up how completely alien it is. That's the story of the race. If it's some Lovecraftian nightmare, then it doesn't need much of a story.
I am bad at trope recognition one is fairly religious and cultish the other is needing a rewrite.

pure otherness is hard for anyone to rp and only works for monsters.
I would also like to point out that it's literally (yes, literally) impossible for a human being to conceive something truly, completely alien.

Most of the eldritch horrors and aberrations you see in pop culture are nothing more than squid people or some conceptual energy being.
you are very correct there.
 

Bayushi_seikuro

Adventurer
I'll tell you about halflings from my last campaign. Honestly, I'm not even sure what they call themselves - 'halfling' really is a subjective term.

They were a race with a history like American Old West frontier settlers. They had moved and found some nice dales to settle and farm and raise livestock. They weren't civilized like Tolkien, but more just average people who settled somewhere for their own community.

Fast-forward: Ymir's corpse crashed into the planet after being tossed from wherever Ragnarok was happening. It set in motion a lot of savage banditry and the rising of a great goblinoid horde. While the other races were panicking and trying to save themselves, the halflings volunteered to fight a holding action to buy time for the other races. With guns and warforged, both designed and made by the gnomes, the halflings made a valiant, final stand under the leadership of their Last Sheriff. Now, only two hundred halflings remain in this world. They've resettled but are resilient and a proud people.

The first time the PCs met halflings, they were disguising themselves as human children and savagely attacking travelers; a really good perception check could tell that these particular folk had been slicing pieces of their flesh off to sustain themselves. The next halflings the party saw were reanimated halflings, or spirits, going about their daily business in the town. They met the Last Sheriff - imagine a halfling Old West gunslinger combined with a wight. They managed to reclaim his badge, his heirloom pistols, and the last crucial lore of the people (doubling as a cookbook also) in exchange for putting the artificer effect on his long rifle where he never needed ammo.

To sum up my random rant - all of that started from halflings are the true heroes, not the sidekicks. and then details just fell into place.
 

In a custom setting you can write up almost any story for a custom race, or even actual playable race.
Tiefling can be view as a race of devil that been trapped on material place and thus start evolve and reproduce as humanoid being. A Tiefling can a view as a exceptional being escape from hell. In that case you don’t even speak of a race. It can be view as a humanoid kingdom who been cursed by making plot with devils and still are affected in their body by their ancestors. And so on…
So write up the story first, then adjust some feature for the race, on simply ask to use custom lineage for that race.
 

I'll tell you about halflings from my last campaign. Honestly, I'm not even sure what they call themselves - 'halfling' really is a subjective term.

They were a race with a history like American Old West frontier settlers. They had moved and found some nice dales to settle and farm and raise livestock. They weren't civilized like Tolkien, but more just average people who settled somewhere for their own community.

Fast-forward: Ymir's corpse crashed into the planet after being tossed from wherever Ragnarok was happening. It set in motion a lot of savage banditry and the rising of a great goblinoid horde. While the other races were panicking and trying to save themselves, the halflings volunteered to fight a holding action to buy time for the other races. With guns and warforged, both designed and made by the gnomes, the halflings made a valiant, final stand under the leadership of their Last Sheriff. Now, only two hundred halflings remain in this world. They've resettled but are resilient and a proud people.

The first time the PCs met halflings, they were disguising themselves as human children and savagely attacking travelers; a really good perception check could tell that these particular folk had been slicing pieces of their flesh off to sustain themselves. The next halflings the party saw were reanimated halflings, or spirits, going about their daily business in the town. They met the Last Sheriff - imagine a halfling Old West gunslinger combined with a wight. They managed to reclaim his badge, his heirloom pistols, and the last crucial lore of the people (doubling as a cookbook also) in exchange for putting the artificer effect on his long rifle where he never needed ammo.

To sum up my random rant - all of that started from halflings are the true heroes, not the sidekicks. and then details just fell into place.
but you started from the halfling any idea how to do it from scratch?
In a custom setting you can write up almost any story for a custom race, or even actual playable race.
Tiefling can be view as a race of devil that been trapped on material place and thus start evolve and reproduce as humanoid being. A Tiefling can a view as a exceptional being escape from hell. In that case you don’t even speak of a race. It can be view as a humanoid kingdom who been cursed by making plot with devils and still are affected in their body by their ancestors. And so on…
So write up the story first, then adjust some feature for the race, on simply ask to use custom lineage for that race.
true but I want to make a homebrew sufficiently good to share it properly also I am struggling on how to add a story for it hence this thread.
 

but you started from the halfling any idea how to do it from scratch?

true but I want to make a homebrew sufficiently good to share it properly also I am struggling on how to add a story for it hence this thread.
don’t expect that your first home brew shot will be a good one! Otherwise you won’t ever use them or share them.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I think we would all agree that races have stories as part of them with tieflings and the half races being outsiders, halflings being the humble people and so on

what I want to know is how they are infused and what examples there are as I want to get my custom race working properly?
Fast and the Furious is a great example, as is Cannonball Run. Jokes that are funnier in my head aside, D&D is an RPG. A role playing game. Characters play a role in a story - and each element of your game world should facilitate better story telling.

In the past, we'd look at hertiages likfe Halfling, Tiefling or Goliath and make them an analogy for something. In the modern day, reducing an entire heritage to an analogy for something is not considered acceptable. So what purpose do these different heritages serve if they're not going to be a shorthand to mimic a real world heritage or personal trait? If we don't want to have a greedy heritage, an evil heritage, a barbaric heritage, etc.... what purpose does the heritage serve?

The answer is: Not much. If we decide that there is in't anything that we want to make inherent to a heritage, the heritage has no inherent specialness. They just become a collection of characteristics. The heritage will do little to define the identity of the PC, leaving more space for us to design that freely independent of the heritage. That is appealing to many.

Now, there will be some exceptions. If you want to tell the story of someone that comes from a corrupt origin and is striving to get away from the world they were born into, there is an inherent advantage to the tiefling heritage for telling that story that is hard to divorce from the heritage. You could do it with any other heritage, but the origin of the tiefling and core description of it make it a more obvious choice. However, for most heritages, we're trying to move away from the stereotypes. You can have an elven miner, a dwarven farmer, a halfling cannibal, a half-orc librarian, a gnome sailor, or a goliath dressmaker.

My campaign world has always been more of a community with an amalgamation of heritages in it. There are no elven towns, for example. Mountain tribes may by 30% orc, 30% human, 20% half-orc, 10% elf, 5% dwarf and 5% minotaur. My underdark cities will be ruled by a family, but they'll have residents of many heritages within it. I have an Aspect of Demogorgon that rules over many tribes of gnolls, but it also has goblinoids, humans, and a variety of other beasties amongst their ranks. In each of these situations, I have a central concept and I imagione how that concept would organically come together in my world - and that rarely results in mono-heritage situations.
 

don’t expect that your first home brew shot will be a good one! Otherwise you won’t ever use them or share them.
I have just been working on this sort of basic idea for a while and I can't get the idea out of my head for some reason.
Fast and the Furious is a great example, as is Cannonball Run. Jokes that are funnier in my head aside, D&D is an RPG. A role playing game. Characters play a role in a story - and each element of your game world should facilitate better story telling.

In the past, we'd look at hertiages likfe Halfling, Tiefling or Goliath and make them an analogy for something. In the modern day, reducing an entire heritage to an analogy for something is not considered acceptable. So what purpose do these different heritages serve if they're not going to be a shorthand to mimic a real world heritage or personal trait? If we don't want to have a greedy heritage, an evil heritage, a barbaric heritage, etc.... what purpose does the heritage serve?

The answer is: Not much. If we decide that there is in't anything that we want to make inherent to a heritage, the heritage has no inherent specialness. They just become a collection of characteristics. The heritage will do little to define the identity of the PC, leaving more space for us to design that freely independent of the heritage. That is appealing to many.

Now, there will be some exceptions. If you want to tell the story of someone that comes from a corrupt origin and is striving to get away from the world they were born into, there is an inherent advantage to the tiefling heritage for telling that story that is hard to divorce from the heritage. You could do it with any other heritage, but the origin of the tiefling and core description of it make it a more obvious choice. However, for most heritages, we're trying to move away from the stereotypes. You can have an elven miner, a dwarven farmer, a halfling cannibal, a half-orc librarian, a gnome sailor, or a goliath dressmaker.

My campaign world has always been more of a community with an amalgamation of heritages in it. There are no elven towns, for example. Mountain tribes may by 30% orc, 30% human, 20% half-orc, 10% elf, 5% dwarf and 5% minotaur. My underdark cities will be ruled by a family, but they'll have residents of many heritages within it. I have an Aspect of Demogorgon that rules over many tribes of gnolls, but it also has goblinoids, humans, and a variety of other beasties amongst their ranks. In each of these situations, I have a central concept and I imagione how that concept would organically come together in my world - and that rarely results in mono-heritage situations.
I keep trying to find a race I just get you know? as I have failed to find such a thing I set out a while ago to try and make one that might fit.
 

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