Tuesday, September 24, 2013

CORPS - Player Races (1 of 4)

This post is series 1 of 4 that introduces the player character races of the CORPS (Combat Oriented Role Playing System) that is currently under development.

With many RPGs out there, player races often comes up as a deciding factor for how someone builds their character. This is perhaps most true in games like TMNT where your race can literally determine what kinds of powers (mutations) are available to your character. With CORPS being the classless system it is, we really wanted to try and find a way in which we could make nearly any race be applicable in nearly any role. Certainly, some races would have strengths leaning towards their racially natural disposition, but first we had to ask ourselves, what ARE the racial dispositions of these races? This ties so closely to the fact that we're knocking on D&D's door. With a system being used based in a fantasy setting we needed to ask ourselves what are OUR sterotypes. Do we have the normal races of fantasy? The agile elves, burly dwarves, or sinister drow? Do we have half-orcs, half-giants, gnomes and goblins? It took some time, but in the end I simply didn't want to follow in the footsteps of the well walked path that is 'normal' fantasy races.

My reasoning for wanting to pave my own way in the racial equation in CORPS has both pros and cons. The plus side is we get to define what is 'normal' for a race. Is one race particularly smart over another, is this race able to adapt better than others? Is there a race known to its amazing feats of strength? These are common enough themes, and they are answered very well in many fantasy games. You want to be a master bowman, well look no further than an elf. You want to be masterful with an axe and have a beard to the ground? A dwarf is the race for you. Anyone familiar with fantasy, and even many not, can rattle of these stereotypes. But why work so hard on a new system and new game, only to rehash the same old variables in a new setting with some new rules? This was a big reason why I felt compelled to break away from the common races of fantasy. However in doing this I also knew that I was also breaking the relationships many players have come to love and hate among the common fantasy races.

In the end for the races we wanted to focus on themes we wanted to represent in CORPS. There are many common characteristics between some new races and some of the common races, and even a few familiar faces among the lineup. Still with each race we wanted there to be a purpose as to why a player might want to play that particular race.  Since I wanted to include a good deal of detail with each of the races I'll only be introducing 2 or 8 races in detail, for the rest, I'll probably put them into future posts down the road. Each race is broken down into 4 categories that include commonalities among each race to help introduce players to them.  These categories are Overview, Physical Traits, Personality Traits and Life Span.

    Altwani  (Alt-whan-ee)

    The long lived altwani are often considered one of the oldest mortal races on the prime world second perhaps only to the elder. Debates still arise over that matter as older history records are sketchy at best but it is believed that the altwani came into existence after the creation of the prime world during a time when the Enchanted Realms were joined to the world. Regardless of which race truly came first the altwani and elder have had a great deal of interaction throughout the ages and although they haven’t always seen eye to eye they do share a common respect and reverence for nature. Since it is believed that the other realms mirror the prime world in many ways people knowledgeable of history attribute the altwani as being the prime worlds counterpart to the asari, a race of immortals from the enchanted realm. Although the altwani themselves show no natural affinity towards magic there are some physical similarities between the two. The most obvious being that the altwani display a unique gracefulness in nearly everything they do. 
    Physical Traits
    The altwani have a very similar appearance to the asari and feydra except that they tend to be smaller. Most male altwani ranging between 5’ 7” and 6’ 1’ and females usually between 5’ 3” and 5’ 7”. They have large prominent ears that end in a point and generally very angular facial feats. Altwani have keen senses and large cat like eyes allowing them to see clearly in low levels of light. Altwani commonly have blue or green eyes however they can also have brown and occasionally gray or even orange. Most altwani have little to no body hair. Those that do, usually only have small amounts of fine hairs on their arms and legs. Facial hair is nearly nonexistent among the altwani and while hairstyles vary wildly among the race depending on their region and culture, most tend to grow their hair out. Their hair color can vary between black, brown and auburn red. Occasionally and altwani will have golden or silver hair but this is very uncommon among their kind. Most altwani are also fair skinned but their skin color can vary as much as humans depending on where they are from. Altwani males generally weigh between 125 and 150 lbs with females usually being 15 to 20 lbs lighter. Almost universally the altwani are small framed creatures with slim builds. Despite their lean frames altwani are generally about as strong as their human counterparts but they have a natural agility about them that is unparalleled. The first altwani had spent countless generations in the deep forests before establishing cities and strongholds like the civilized races of the day and they relied heavily on their speed and stealth to survive. This trait seems to have stuck with the altwani more or less as the race still shares a nimbleness unseen in other races. As times the altwani have been referred to as windwalkers they are so quiet in their movements others often think they are literally walking on the wind. In combat altwani warriors are graceful and surefooted fighters. They excel at being able to foresee their agile movements ahead of time allowing them navigate difficult terrain with ease when keeping their defenses up. This ability to foresee borders on a type of natural precognition for the altwani. The altwani have described it as being able to see their actions play out in their mind and then make fine tuned adjustments to change the outcome of these foreseen actions all in the blink of an eye. While it does take some practice and a good deal of training for an altwani to perfect it does seem to be a natural trait present in them all. 
    Personality Traits
    Altwani have a fairly wide range of personalities that closely mirror those of humans with only a few exceptions. Among the few traits shared across the race is that the altwani are naturally soft spoken. While this is a natural tendency for altwani it can be overcome with a level of training however for most it isn’t an issue. In the past other races had often mistaken this soft spokenness as a sign of submission or weakness but it couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact when most altwani are exceptionally heated or deadly serious their words come out barely above a whisper. To the altwani with their keen hearing this is an obvious sign of danger but it has been overlooked by other, less aware races, in the past with dire consequences. Many altwani also take great joy in physical activities. Expressing their movement, be it through combat, gymnastics or dance seems to be intensely enjoyable to the altwani. It is rumored this helps play a part in their longevity but no research has proven this yet. Still it has spoken throughout their history that the altwani are most suited like a river in that they are always in motion. Like the elder many of the altwani also have a profound respect of nature and its simple elegance. Altwani carry this with them and often try to incorporate it into their daily lives. The most direct and simple solution is usually the best to the altwani. In their personality this often comes across as altwani being very direct about their feelings and thoughts. They say what they are thinking and usually care little for the intricacies of human customs which can result in the altwani as coming across as rude or disrespectful even if they don’t intend it. 
    The altwani have the longest lifespan of any humanoid creature native to the prime world. While the feydra tend to live slightly longer, many don’t consider them native to the prime world since they originated from the asari that came over from the enchanted realm. Altwani mature at a rate that is slightly slower than the elder. Altwani reach maturity by 18 and full adulthood by the age of 25. The birthrate among the altwani childbearing females is about 1 child every 35 years. Altwani females generally remain fertile well into the mid hundreds but the percentage of fertile females quickly drops off after the 150s. The gestation period for the altwan is relatively quick given their longevity and ranges between 8 and 12 months. The average age of an altwani is usually ranges between 255 and 280 years. Some altwani have been known to reach the age of 300 but generally experience a poor quality of life at that point. By then even the altwani have lost much of their ability to move as they normally do. This tends to result in the elderly altwani becoming deeply depressed, so much so that often it seems they simply choose to no longer live and die of quickly and quietly. There has been some speculation that the altwani could physically live for much longer if their natural agility were to remain in tact.

    Elder  (El-dur)

    Believed to be the first race of the prime world their way of life still remains mostly a mystery to mankind. As far as tales go the elder are said to have been created with the world before all other creatures on it and were witness to the gods who came and introduced magic to the world along with the other realms that influence it today. The Elder took breath when plantlife was introduced in the world. Although much of their history is orally passed down through the generations most elder firmly believe their kind was created as the natural guardians of the untamed world, before nature had been sullied by others. 
    Physical Traits
    Elder most commonly resemble tall humanoid walking trees similar to treants, though one telltale sign that sets them apart is that elder do not grow leaves of any kind. They have a bark like skin which is made up of interlocking crusts that resembles wood although it is not nearly as durable yet still offers some protection. Their hair looks like branching roots which they usually keep tied in braids. Their appendages appear as solid branches with hands that split of into 4 smaller segments, making up 3 fingers and an opposable thumb. Their torso appears as if it were a solid trunk going from just below their shoulders down to their groin area. Although elder appear to very solid since their skin is made up of interlocking crusts they have roughly the same range of motion as a normal human might have. An elder’s head sits between their shoulders on top of their trunk. To many humans it appears as though elder are always shrugging their shoulders but the position is relaxed and natural for elder. The head of an elder is usually described as a upside down tree stump but rather than roots branching out they taper down to thin roots that act as the elder’s ‘hair’. They have deep set eyes and usually carry large protruding noses and have a lipless mouth. Multiple tiny holes on along the side of their face serve as auditory sensors enabling them to hear with great accuracy. From what would be a human's groin area an elder’s trunk splits to form two legs. Their feet are made up of a bunch of snaking vines they refer to as “flexurei” [flex ur-eye] which they can actively move to churn through soft earth, sand or mud allowing them to move unimpeded. They can also use their flexurei to grasp ahold of and balance on uneven surfaces making it fairly trivial to cross most natural landscapes. Although elder have what appear to be ‘roots’ both on their feet and heads they still consume food in similar fashion to other humanoid races. eldar are usually between 6’ 2” and 8’ 0” when they stand on the tips of their vines, although they are usually 6” to 8” shorter when their vines are burrowed in the ground or are just standing normally with their flexurei relaxed. Males and females are roughly the same size with males being taller narrower and females being shorter and wider. Eldar usually weigh between 175 lbs and 235 lbs. 
    Personality Traits
    Elder as a race tend to be very focused in nearly all walks of life on particular objectives. Most elder gravitate towards a single profession at an early age and stick with it throughout their lifetime. They have a natural competitive nature about them and once they've chosen a profession they will work to perfect it throughout their lifetime. Given their longevity and self discipline elders who focus on skilled crafts often become masters of their trade. However their focus on singular skills or subsets of them often leave them lacking in other areas. Elder often have great respect for nature and in particular trees and forests although their preferences can vary greatly depending on their location. Other common traits among elder is that they tend to be bold in the face of adversity when their beliefs or ideals are questioned. Some attribute this to elder being a strong willed race while others feel elder are particular bold because of their imposing size and natural resilience. Much like their trade elder also prefer to keep other factors of their life fairly consistent. This is most commonly observed in the circle they keep company with. Be it childhood friends or people who follow the same trade as they do, elder generally prefer to have a close group of a few friends rather than impress themselves upon larger groups. This idea of consistency can also extend to their general routines throughout their lifetime as well. An elder may visit a lake at a particular time of year every year for no other reason than having a pleasurable experience the first time they happened upon it. Needless to say first impressions are very important to elder. Overcoming them while not impossible does generally prove to be difficult. 
    Elder as a species procreate in a similar fashion to other humanoid races with the major exception that after roughly a year after conception the female will birth a germinated seed or egg (speculation between the two still remains) which is then planted into the ground. After roughly another 20 to 30 days the innards of the seed will be consumed by the young elder and it will literally ‘sprout’ from the ground. Young elder are capable of walking but little more when they are first born. The birth rates for elder average roughly 1 offspring every 10 to 12 years, although female elder can be fertile into their early 90s. The rate of death from the birthing process is almost nonexistent among elder. They reach maturity within the first 15 years of life and can live up to be nearly 200 years old, however most elder enjoy a lifespan between 150 and 170 years.
So now to the poor soul who managed to make it this far I have to ask, when getting into a new RPG in a fantasy setting such as this one, do you feel better coming in knowing the familiar common races or do you prefer seeing new ideas?  

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