The future of SagaBorn – Chapter 1 – Dealing with Races

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As I move forward with SagaBorn, I will be sharing changes and visions here on the blog. That way I can get feedback and make sure I am moving in the right direction. I will be editing the book from front to back, so you all can follow along as the book comes together.

So today is starting at the first part of character creation, what used to be called Race. We all know that this is a loaded term and having seen discussions in various groups, no one has a consensus on how to view that word. But it carries weight in our real world, and there is no reason to keep using it when it can be replaced by better words. Especially when the new words can relay meaning in a more concise manner and set the stage for a wonderful and diverse setting. So without further delay, here is the new section to replace the older Race section:

 

Choose Species, Biology, and Heritage

The peoples of Atheles are many and varied. Those who currently reside in this world may have evolved here, traveled here from the stars, or were pulled by the cosmic forces of chaos. Here they are divided by species, biology, and heritage. 

Species refers to the origins of the being. Those of the same species can procreate and share a common origin. Some within the same species have had factors in their history which have caused different biological differences.

Biology refers to basic genetic traits of a being. 

Heritage refers to the skills and knowledge given to a being based on their culture. The heritages are split based on the most common abilities from a species. This doesn’t mean a dwarf who was raised by fauns couldn’t have a Fey heritage, in fact, that is why it is a choice. This is your character’s story.

Species: Terian

Terians originated on Uteria, and have a close connection to the world. The dwarves evolved first, but were put to sleep for many millennia and have just recently (as in the last 4000 years) been awoken. Humans evolved in the world, which was inhabited by elves and eldar, though these peoples first ignored the humans until they gained enough technology and strength to be a nuisance. The humans grew in population until they became the most dominant race in the world.

Biology: Human: +1 to any skill (Misc. Mod.)

Lifespan: 60 Average Height: 5’ 8” Average Weight: 180 lb. Speed: 30

Humans are a diverse and prolific race. Their average lifespan is 60 years, though it is said those of the Aradan kingdom lived longer, their magic and advanced medicine responsible for fewer diseases and debilitating injuries. They spread over Atheles more quickly than any race. The average human family has 3-5 children, causing their population to thrive and cover the lands. The human population was decimated after the war 700 years ago, but has now begun to grow again, repopulating the cities and lands of the past.

Biology: Dwarf: low light vision 60’, 

Lifespan: 150 Average Height: 4’5” Average Weight: 195 lb. Speed: 20

The dwarves were the first sentient race on Atheles, but were put into a long magical sleep by the gods, awakening just 4,000 years ago. The dwarves of Atheles are a very industrious race, believing the only time a person’s hands should be still is when he has passed from this world. While several dwarven cultures exist, the one that is best known in Atheles is the dwarves of Greyhelm. They live in a grouping of cities at the base of the Swordspyne Mountains in the East.

Dwarves stand just over four feet tall and are almost as wide. They have large eyes, though in the daylight their heavy lids often give the impression they are squinting. Since they work throughout their lives, often reaching a venerable age of 180, they are typically muscular and deft of hand. They have a great mechanical aptitude, and can figure out most mechanical devices with deductive reasoning.

Biology: Half-Dwarf: low light vision 30’

Lifespan: 85 Average Height: 5’ 3” Average Weight: 225 lb. Speed: 25

Very rarely, a human and dwarf sire a child together. These half-dwarves stand close to 5’ tall and are broader and more muscular than most humans. Often shunned by both humans and dwarves in these hard times, still they manage to excel at nearly any given task, imbued with the best of both of their heritages. Half-dwarves are rare, and an adventurer might only come across one or two in all their travels.

Terian Heritage

Greyhelm Dwarf: +1 to Endurance (Misc. Mod.), +2 to knowledge checks on one of the following: stonework, woodwork, or metalwork

Skilled: +1 to a Skill (Misc. Mod.)

Wanderer: +1 to Survival (Misc. Mod.), once per day you get to reroll on a knowledge check

Species: Elven

The elves and the eldar were both of the same species, but they differed in origin and physical traits. The eldar have long passed from this world and the elves have long forgotten the world they originally called home.

Biology Elf:  cold iron causes harm, steel causes harm, low light vision 60’, require very little food or water, only need 4 hours of sleep

Lifespan: 250 Average Height: 6’ 6” Average Weight: 195 lb. Speed: 30

Elves are slender, averaging 6’5” in height. They have many different skin and hair colors, with pointed ears, with features far more angular and lithe than humans and dwarves. They live an average of 250 years.

The elves vary greatly in culture, but they share some similarities that players should keep in mind. In the current Age, they have not been seen in Atheles for 700 years. When they arrive in most human-populated areas, they are often looked upon with shock and fright. They have an aura that seems alien and strange to humans. This effect fades with time, but wherever they travel, their appearance might cause problems with those not used to seeing them.

During the Disappearance, all elves were pulled into the limbo between worlds. Time moved much slower there, with only 350 years having passed for the elves during the 700 years that elapsed in Atheles. During their in-between existence, they could see events in Atheles flash by, but were unable to interact with them. The elves who now return to Atheles enter a world unfamiliar to them—the home of their ancestors, which they know only from stories passed down by their elders. They find humans strange, and Atheles, which is much more “solid” than the limbo in which they were born, is often overwhelming to them.

When playing an elf, it should be kept in mind that they have spent their lives in a strange, dreamlike place, and are now confronted with a new world with unfamiliar physics. Although the elves are powerful, they should not be used as super characters. In fact, there are many great roleplaying opportunities. For example, elves with low Wisdom might have a hard time understanding the world outside their own culture. They might readily accept magic as normal, even mundane, but using it casually in a human tavern could cause the locals to rise up against the “demons” and their “wicked ways.”

Due to their fey blood, elves can not use iron without hurting themselves. If an elf wears or uses iron, they take 1d4 damage per hour. Steel causes a discomfort such as itching or soreness, but no real damage.

Elven Heritage

Alostrovari:seafaring (once per day when on a boat, you may reroll a skill check)

Anarvari: forager (once per day when in the wilderness, you may reroll a skill check

Evantari: dazeless (+10 against daze, sleep, or stun based mind magic)

Kaelvari: fleet of foot (in the forest you move across difficult terrain at normal speed)

Losvari: demon sense +2 to knowledge checks about the Navirim and its inhabitants

Orovari: +1 to Endurance (Misc. Mod.), +2 to knowledge checks about nature

Species: Fey

While part of the same species, many of the different fey biologies can not reproduce together. The fey have beliefs that this is due to the many facets of magic. Others believe it is due to evolution of the different types in different parts of the multiverse. They fall under the fey species due to other close biological similarities.

Biology Elfling: cold iron causes harm, steel causes discomfort, low light vision 60’

Lifespan: 130 Average Height: 3’ Average Weight: 65 lb. Speed: 20

Every elfling is different, but most have several things in common. Elfling adventurers are usually away from home because they are on their Calling. An elfling’s Calling lasts from their early adulthood until late in their lives, during which time they have a difficult time staying in one place for very long, driven to wander constantly by an insatiable need to explore the world. A campaign based out of one location could give the elfling player many roleplaying opportunities to encourage the group to move, explore, or do anything other than stay in one place. If the campaign is located in a massive city like Seahaven, the elfling will be content enough to explore all the crevices and alleys of the city before wanting to move on.

Despite their size and tendency toward merriment, elflings should never be used as mere comic relief. They see themselves as integral players in the game of living on Atheles, and are rarely petty or trifling. Even when acting as a thief, an elfling would not be motivated by selfishness, but rather would see himself or herself as an agent of the chaos of Creation. Often an elfling might steal from one place only to move it somewhere else where the victim might find it—just to observe the resulting confusion. This is serious business to an elfling.

On the other side of the coin, they do have a great appreciation for jokes, gags, and laughter. This can sometimes annoy other party members, but their Charisma usually helps keep them wanted within a group environment. Their selflessness is also a boon for a party. They do not hesitate to risking themselves for others, but not for heroics or morality: they do so to test the mechanics of the Universe, about which an elfling has endless curiosity.

If elflings travel with companions for a prolonged period of time, they will form a bond with them, seeing the group as their nomadic family: those whom the Universe chose to share in their Calling. This can lead the elfling to whatever they can to protect and help those with whom they have bonded. While this is endearing for companions, their propensity to get themselves in trouble can often swing the balance in the other direction. Having a poor understanding of—or distaste for—human laws of ownership and control, they often run afoul of constables and nobles.

Due to their fey blood, iron causes discomfort in Elflings. They can still use and wear it, but it may cause soreness, itching, or a skin irritation. Their connection with Atheles allows them less pain than other fey.

Biology Feral Elfling: cold iron causes harm, steel causes discomfort, low light vision 60’

Lifespan: 90 Average Height: 3’ Average Weight: 65 lb. Speed: 20

A feral elfling belongs to a group that was caught between the worlds during the Disappearance. They lived in a harsh dream-like world, fighting for their lives against both the environment and the demons that dwelt there. Unlike their cousins, feral elflings have little problem with violence, forced to extreme lengths to survive during The Exile, as they call it. They are not adjusting well to the world since their return, finding its inhabitants soft and weak. They do not get along with others, though some tribes have slowly begun to tolerate contact from the outside. 

Physically, they are nearly identical to their normal elfling cousins, but with more wideset eyes, a paler skin tone, and often have sharpened teeth and tribal scarification.

Due to their fey blood, feral elflings can not use iron without hurting themselves. If a feral elfling wears or uses iron, they take 1d4 damage per hour. Steel causes a discomfort such as itching or soreness, but no real damage. Unlike their western cousins, the time spent in the Between caused Elflings to develop an aversion to iron again.

Biology Faun: cold iron causes harm, steel causes discomfort, low light vision 30’

Lifespan: 100 Average Height: 5’ 6” Average Weight: 155 lb. Speed: 30

Fauns are a reclusive race found in the Eastlands, living in small communities deep in the forests, where they trade among themselves or with human settlements, if the need arises. 

They stand about six feet tall and resemble humans. They have more body hair than most other races, pointed ears, and small horns. Their feet end in two large, flat toes, although they can still wear standard boots and shoes. They live an average of 100 years, though the loss of their habitat and disease has shortened their lifespans in the recent centuries. Physically fauns tend to be androgynous, and their culture recognizes three sexes. They have no terms for gender and often struggle with other cultures’ strict classifications and beliefs.

As a culture, they revere nature-based magic and Talents.

 

Fey Heritage

Ancient Fey: +2 to saves vs charm, animal friend (can use the spell Calm Animal as a standard action)

Chaos Fey: fearless (+10 against fear based magic)

Wasteland Fey: +1 to Survival (Misc. Mod.)

About Michael Bielaczyc

Artist, Fiction Author, Founder, Game Writer