Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ebberon Remixed: System part 2, Races

While I'm still feeling magnaminous towards D&D, I thought I'd continue with some D&D related topics, including my EBERRON REMIXED.

In last post on the topic I recommended specifically using Microlite--the Core + the Expert rules, or Microlite Purest Essence.  I also recommended pulling in the Microlite Psionics package (there's two available; pick whichever one you prefer) and wrote up the Eberron specific races as Microlite races.  If you choose to use a different system, you may need to do this work yourself (if, for example, you use Savage Worlds or B/X--two of my other recommendations.  If you use a d20 system or 4e, well you've already got what you want.)  While my recommendation for Microlite is just that--a recommendation--I'm going to assume it for most of this post.

The Microlite Core gives us four basic races--Human, Elf, Dwarf and Halfling. Since all of these races are in Eberron, and the Microlite system is designed to feel like rules-lite D&D, you should probably use them as is.

The Microlite Expert gives us four additional races--Gnome, Half-orc, Half-elf and Lizardmen.  Along with the four Eberron specific races I've mentioned, that now makes 12 races.  This should be plenty.  Sure, Eberron posits that there are, in fact, more races than that wandering around the setting.  Some of them are specifically meant to be monsters (not possibly PC races) of course.  Eberron is a little bit unusual, though, in allowing for orcs, goblins and hobgoblins to be "peers" with PCs, according to setting doctrine (even if even in the D&D books, they're not really set up for play that way exactly.)  Lizardmen also exist in Eberron, but are really only mentioned in a small corner of the setting.

Here's my recommendation.  Mechanics are mechanics.  Roleplaying is roleplaying.  You don't need to have specific, unique mechanics for every role-playing opportunity, i.e., the same mechanics can be coopted for more than one race.  I'd recommend using the lizardmen stats for hobgoblins.  Make half-orcs and orcs mechanically exactly the same.  Use the halfling stats for both halflings and goblins, and the difference between them is one of roleplaying, not of mechanics-playing. 

There really are too many races in D&D anyway.  I think 12 is fine in terms of mechanics.  You end up with 13 in terms of actual, meaningful choices, as described below.
  • Human: +1 to all skill rolls
  • Elves: +2 to MND
  • Dwarves: +2 to STR
  • Halflings: +2 to DEX
  • Gnomes: +1 DEX, +1 MND
  • Half-orcs and Orcs: +4 STR, -2 MIND
  • Half-elves: +1 DEX, +1 to 2 skills
  • Hobgoblins: +2 STR, +2 DEX, -2 MND
  • Goblin: same as halfling
  • Changeling: see last post, as noted above
  • Shifter: see last post, as noted above
  • Kalashtar: see last post as noted above
  • Warforged: see last post as noted above.
I'm also considering adding the Expert class (along with affinities) and the Race Builder a la carte option which I used in my m20 Star Wars, to be able to create even more mechanical options for those who desire it.  I love the flexibility of those two additions to create anything.  To go along with the whole "anything in D&D has a place in Eberron" vibe, this can be used to create emulations of anything in D&D, really (within reason.)  Heck; I consider it a great basic tool for anyone playing any kind of Microlite.  Here are the rules.  I've removed some of the Star Wars specific lanugage that I included as part of my own m20 Star Wars--although keep in mind that although I rewrote those rules in my own language, I didn't create them on my own.  I don't deserve that much credit.

Expert: Experts get one Affinity and +3 to their Knowledge skill. An affinity is a broad area of expertise, and any task (subject to GM approval) that falls under the heading of this affinity can be re-rolled if it fails the first time. A number of sample Affinities is listed here: Trap-setting (and disabling), Horsemanship, Healing, Investigation, Nobility, Deception, Stealth, Wilderness Survival, Acrobatics. Others could be devised too, as needed, but keep in mind the need to not be too broad nor too narrow.  I'd do so very carefully.

Races: Pick a race for your character. Because in Eberron (and most fantasy settings, frankly), all races tend (mostly) to be just regular people in funny masks, any characteristic can apply to any race if desired (subject to GM approval.) But feel free to try and play your race to type, or at least to construct it to type. Picking a race is an a la carte option with this system. Rather than picking a race and applying preset bonuses, you can decide exactly what being a member of a given race means. The system for constructing race bonus is to use two Racial Template Points (RTP) and add them to your character at creation. The same RTP can be taken, if desired, more than once. One RTP is equal to either:
  • A +1 Stat bonus (requires taking twice to get a for sure +1 to the bonus, of course. While this could be considered subject to "abuse"; I personally don't believe that this type of abuse of the chargen system is serious enough to try and worry about alternatives to "fix" it.) This could also include a +1 to AC as natural armor, even though AC isn't a "stat" per se.
  • Two skill points (i.e., +2 to one skill of your choice, or +1 to two skill bonuses of your choice.)
  • A special trait or ability (usually an affinity, as described above in the Expert class. If a character has the same affinity for both race and class, allow them to reroll twice! They clearly really want to be good in that area, and are spending character generation capital to do so at the expense of something else.)
Subject to GM approval, some races may give up the equivalent of a negative RTP to gain an effective third RTP, but I wouldn't do much of this. Otherwise, however, players are strongly encouraged to play around with this race system to create the customized version of their character that they want.

In fact, you could use this system entirely instead of the races presented above, but I don't recommend it; I recommend it only for unusual circumstances, or where the player wants to emulate a race that is known from Eberron source material but not listed above (like a tiefling or drow or something.)

Next up on EBERRON REMIXED: I'll actually start talking about setting elements and how I'd do them differently than presented in the book!

1 comment:

James Sullivan said...

I don't think this cow is all that sacred. I could take or leave levels. I'd rather just give out new abilities, based on training/ roleplaying.

I think there are a surprising number of people that agree.