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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Alternate Racial Themes

    So, we all know the traditional views of elves, dwarves, halflings, and such. But I was thinking about it and I had some interesting ways to jumble up the traditions and give the whole thing a new feel. I was wondering how many of you have had similar things happen in your campaigns, and what some of your favorite mixes were.

    Some of my own:
    Japanese Dwarves.
    Australian Drow (Underdark/outback)
    Mongol Gnolls
    Mayan Lizardfolk
    My Homebrew
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Egyptian Dwarves. Renowned for their craftsmanship and engineering with regards to very large decorative structures that serve no practical purpose. Value duty over personal feelings. Ancestor worship. Feed their workforce with a beer so thick it counts as food.

    Ancient Egyptians and Generic Fantasy Dwarves have plenty of similarities, but enough aesthetic differences that it 'shakes things up' a bit. You'll never see dwarves wearing eyeliner anywhere else.

    Roman High Elves. Posh, debauched, corrupt aristocracy that thinks it's better than you (and is). Highly disciplined, debauched, corrupt military that utilizes exceedingly advanced strategy and tactics for its age, and thinks it's better than you (and is). Slaves that are treated with a modicum more humanity than everyone else's slaves. Art, philosophy, and science way ahead of every other civilization in the world.

    Romans and High Elves sound familiar to one another. (EDIT: Bonus points if you have Wood Elves as the tribes of Gaul )

    Humans as god-hunters. One of my favorite variations that I've used. Basically, they were created last of all races. They have the shortest life-span, and no inherent traits to help them survive. They were the trash of the gods, and weren't expected to live very long.

    But they endured. They fought, tooth and nail, and carved out a respectable home for themselves in a world that had been populated by elves and dwarves that had been there for thousands of years, and who live hundreds of years themselves. The gods were never there for them, and that suited them just fine - they didn't need them. Now, to pay them back, they bribe, intimidate, or murder every other civilization that pays homage to the divine, as to turn them away from the faith. Once no one believes in the gods, the gods will cease to be, and they will have payed for their hubris against mankind .
    Last edited by Xefas; 2010-09-22 at 11:11 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Australian Drow

    The underdark isn't full of massive venomous monsters all trying to kill you as is?


    Really, I would prefer that rather that change existing races that entirely new ones that everyone hasn't stolen from Tolkien be made up.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Gnomes as the dominant race instead of humans, against godless industrialist elves who just want to invade the rolling hills and woods and pave over them.
    Witty sig here nosey, aren't ya?

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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Some interesting combos I've done... Well I ran a whole bunch of Dwarves as Rednecks (accent, love of shooting varmints, i.e. the whole kit and caboodle).Gnome Jar Jars (does he count for this?). Japanese Halflings. Chinese Drow (vast matriarchal empire). Arabian Tieflings.

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Mayan Lizardfolk
    As an aside, the Lizardmen range of models from games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy game would be the perfect minis for this combo!

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    I once knew a guy who ran a campaign in which he Trekkified the races.

    Elves were Vulcans
    Gnomes were Ferenghi
    Half-orcs were (duh) Klingons
    Dwarves and Halflings were races I don't remember.
    Humans were basically the Federation
    And Drow were the Borg (dark elves controlled by a network of Illithids)

    I know.
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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Humans, dwarves and to a lesser extent (mostly just cuz it hasn't really come up) orcs are pretty typical fare in my game. However, there is the ultra-conservative dwarven homeland that is pretty much stereotypically "fantasy dwarf", and also more easygoing non-homeland dwarves that tend to be miners, artisans/blacksmiths, or simple farmers.

    Elves are also pretty standard, but also more variable. Like the dwarves, there's their super-elven homeland. These Arbour elves are very Tolkeinesque - tall, grand, mysterious, arrogant. They have a long-standing war with the ultra-conservative dwarves. However, some clans disagreed with some policies, and split off. Some went into the swamps and became feral xenophobic survivalists - the Bog elves. Others went into the fey forrests and became Sylvan elves, fluff-headed naturalists. Others have pretty much merged into the human nations. Drow are drow, pretty boring, but perhaps more redeemable than in other worlds.

    Gnomes are also split up. Those in their homeland(s), the Goblin Isles, are like Carribean pirates. The isles are full of feuding city-states, with shifting alliances and constant backstabbing. Those not in the employ of an island as soldiers or privateers tend to become out-and-out pirates - and a gnome is always welcome on a pirate ship, as they tend to bring with them all sorts of nasty gadgets and gizmoes. Some are in the process of inventing Warforged, basically as "plantation workers".
    Some gnomes went far north, into the Highlands, to start a colony in Clifftown. These are your typical tinker-gnomes. They're like the Goblin Isle gnomes, without the constant warfare. Generally amicable, tend to form a significant core of wizarding communities.
    Other gnomes spread into other parts of the continent, and effectively became the (medieval-type) "Jews" of the area - moneylenders, businessmen and bankers, used by many people, trusted (perhaps unjustly) by few.

    Halflings are Spanish gypsies. They're traders and musicians and travelling thieves, fond of bright colours and hearty food and other people's trinkets. A halfling book of erotica, "Bilbo's Biggun", can be found in a surprisingly large number of bookshelves across the continent.

    Did I miss anyone?

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Let's see....


    Elves: Paranoid, agoraphobic city dwellers with ADHD and a penchant for climbing.

    Orcs: Peaceful farmers who are instinctively driven into a rage by elves. This often leads to accidental raids on cities.

    Gnomes: A whole race of British WWII fighter pilots who's equivalent of cities and towns are giant metal fortresses built around lobotomised airwhales.

    Halfings: Asian, mostly Japanese, since Halfling samurai and ninjas looks epic.

    Dwarves: Cliff-dwelling, sea-diving hippies with house ties but no direct familial ones.

    Humans: Mongrels made by magically blending the other races together, occasionally one may show features of the other races.

    What do you think?

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    I typically stick to the Tolkien themes myself. I have had, though:
    Elven merchant-sailors. Edit: Now that I think about it these might be Phoenicians.
    Japanese dwarves (full of samurai).
    Chinese elves.
    Trojan (psionic) elves.
    Native American werewolves (I blame Rage: the Werewolf Apocalypse)
    Barbarian-savage dwarves.
    Orcish astrologers.
    Reptilian elves.
    Mongol orcs (back story only as their empire fell once their version of Ghengis Kahn died)
    LG elite-warrior elves Edit: These might be somewhat based on Troy as well.
    Savage (psionic) swamp dwarves
    Gnomes as swamp dwelling gypsies

    Aztec/Mayan Lizardfolk exist in Warhammer.
    I should put in Egyptian dwarves, I've had dwarves who worship Ra and desert dwelling dwarves who are often led by shaved death-priests but never Egyptian dwarves.
    Last edited by Zaydos; 2010-09-23 at 02:18 AM.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Oh yeah, I've got lots of Meso-American lizardfolk. That's kinda cheating, though, cuz I've based the whole continent on pre-colonial America(s), and basically dumped all the extra races there.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Australian Drow (Underdark/outback)
    i resent that mate , its hard enough dealing with all the steve irwin, kangas in the street, dusty road stereotypes without you adding in a similarity with lying cheating scumbags. us aussies are pretty stand-up blokes (and sheilas), just because we live so far away and are descended from convicts doesn't make us Drow.



    im kidding i think it is a great idea for Drow to be in the outback with some mild refluffing
    call me Dragon

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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Elemental_Elf View Post
    Gnome Jar Jars


    ....


    ....


    ....

    I hope someone made you suffer for that.
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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Serpentine View Post
    Humans, dwarves and to a lesser extent (mostly just cuz it hasn't really come up) orcs are pretty typical fare in my game. However, there is the ultra-conservative dwarven homeland that is pretty much stereotypically "fantasy dwarf", and also more easygoing non-homeland dwarves that tend to be miners, artisans/blacksmiths, or simple farmers.
    That sounds much like how it's in Diskworld, what with the "city dwarves" and the "deep-downers".
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  14. - Top - End - #14
    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Yeah, pretty much, except the "surface" dwarves have been around for centuries. And the dwarven homeland ("Hock Barrock" or something like that) has been completely quarantined from the rest of the world for a massive nation-equipping commission from a country that hasn't existed for nearly a hundred years, with travel outside being considered an extremely serious offense resulting in my character being exiled for following her brother out there and blah blah blah.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    I've got Viking dwarves- keeps a lot of the traditional look, but dwarves who are oriented towards the ocean is a fun variation.

    Gypsy halflings, arabic gnomes.

    I still need to come up with a good theme for my elves.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Eberron has:

    Haitian Elves
    Mongol Elves
    Swiss Dwarves
    Hippie Orcs
    Imperial Roman/Feudal Japanese Hobgoblins
    Mesoamerican/Sumerian Giants
    Australian Dragons
    British Gnomes
    Barbarian Halflings ON DINOSAURS (Civilized halflings are mafiosos)


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  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    I alway make sure I have more than one culture per species.

    I've got
    • Roman / fascist elves
    • Arthurian elves
    • Guerrilla elves
    • Surfer / mariner elves
    • Scottish dwarves
    • Russian dwarves
    • Necromantic Setite dwarves
    • Cavemen dwarves
    • Assyrian dwarves
    • Gypsy halflings
    • Hobbit halflings
    • Watership Down halflings
    • And all the human variety I can manage
    Last edited by Altair_the_Vexed; 2010-09-23 at 10:39 AM.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Mongol Gnolls
    I already like saying this out loud.

    I've never done any of this, but I like the idea. Thanks for a fun thread!

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Oh, I played a hawaiian halfling once. He was a paladin of freedom and rode a giant tortoise. Very laid back.

    There was also a halfling who lived on an island with an extinct volcano whose caldera was a roc's nest. He was a ranger who rode a giant eagle and he worshipped birds.

    Also, there was a hippie halfling who was eternally stoned on a pipe and rode a brixashulty.
    Last edited by Admiral Squish; 2010-09-23 at 12:55 PM.
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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Egyptian elves. Think their land is the best land, and no land is better, as the world evolves around them.
    Assyrian Dwarves. They already got the beards, and they are famed warriors. Mix some Hittite for a people with a strong technological advantage.
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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Oh, I played a hawaiian halfling once. He was a paladin of freedom and rode a giant tortoise. Very laid back.

    There was also a halfling who lived on an island with an extinct volcano whose caldera was a roc's nest. He was a ranger who rode a giant eagle and he worshipped birds.

    Also, there was a hippie halfling who was eternally stoned on a pipe and rode a brixashulty.
    Win, win, win! All three of those are awesome!

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Oh, I played a hawaiian halfling once. He was a paladin of freedom and rode a giant tortoise. Very laid back.
    That's Bad. Ass.

    I'm totally logging this idea away for later use.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Admiral Squish View Post
    Oh, I played a hawaiian halfling once. He was a paladin of freedom and rode a giant tortoise. Very laid back.
    I also love this idea...I could totally see a tiny little ukelele involved...bard maybe?

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    I make it a point to have half-elf hippies in all of my games (what else are they good for?).

    Dwarves are impossible to distinguish by their voices alone, as they all have oddly similar ultra-deep voices. Gender makes no difference.

    Gnomes are also typically from a country called Gnumbler (pronounced guh-num-blur). They all have squeaky voices and British accents.

    One time when I was sick of a friend rolling up halfling rogues all halflings (no exceptions) had been rounded up and forced to live within the borders of their small nation because of a political snafu with the surrounding nations. Halflings found outside of these borders would either be arrested and deported or executed on sight. Kind of a jerk move on my part, but it was pretty funny at the time (even he thought so).

    One day I will run a game with super posh half-orcs.
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by ArcanistSupreme View Post
    One day I will run a game with super posh half-orcs.
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    Posh 'nuff?
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    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Let me see what I remember from old games...

    Steampunk Dark Elves. While the entire world was mostly medieval stasis, the dark elves lived in their Walking Manors, vast but elegant constructions of stained glass (mostly green) and gothic spires of black metal, powered by hordes of slaves from the lesser races below. The dark elves lived in endless, corrupt debauchery, while their warforged maintained the manors and supervised the slaves.

    Arabian cloud Gnomes. In this world, gnomes were an ancient legend no one had heard of for millennia, except for single incidents which could never be really verified. In truth, the gnomes, using their mastery shadow magic and their friendship with the djinn had created flying cities, part invisible, part hidden in eternal cloud formations.

    Mongol Orcs: not that much of a change, really. The orcs ride across the northern steppes as small family clans, mostly herding and hunting. Several clans belong to the same tribe, and will help each other in their internal feuds. Once a century or so, a powerful warlord, with the backing of their prophetic shamans, will unite several tribes and lead them against the dwarves. Which is the reason the dwarves have such massive fortresses.
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Posh 'nuff?
    Close, but there also need to be more powdered wigs involved. Think eighteenth-century French royal court. Monocles may or may not be involved.
    Awesome avatar by starwoof

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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
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    Posh 'nuff?
    This is now my favorite picture ever. What class is that halforc?
    Witty sig here nosey, aren't ya?

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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Most of the "standard fantasy races" that appear in my stuff are either mutated humans - due to ecological disaster or the meddling of another race - or non-existant as they are typically presented.

    Examples! :

    -Fae are creatures like satyrs, pixies, etc., along with Elementals and various other 'stock' mythical creatures like six-legged horses and so on are lumped into an all-encompassing "nature spirit" archetype; however, their bizarre alien physiology is such that their bodies essentially turn into radioactive waste when they die. Also, they're all capricious jerks, to put it kindly, who enslaved a third of the human race for awhile.
    -The Dwarves are essentially a hivemind of ants the size of bears, made of what looks to be clockwork, and powered by furnaces which use the aforementioned radioactive fae leftovers as fuel. They are created by a sentient factory deep underground.
    -Elves are humans who got infused with the aforementioned radioactive fae leftovers and granted superpowers that drive them varying degrees of insane. These powers can be passed down through bloodlines over several generations, but like any other trait, doesn't always manifest, even if it is carried down through the family tree. Oh, and a third of the "real" human race wants to kill them on sight for being blasphemous half-breeds. They have legal rights like "real" humans, but the Kill On Sight people aren't all that understanding.
    -Ogres/Orcs/Giants/Etc. haven't really come up due to geography and politics, but I've got some ideas about them being humans mutated into hulking monstrocities by a similar process as the Elves.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Alternate Racial Themes

    Off the top of my head from a campaign setting:

    Steampunk Magitek Psionic Theocratic Dark Elves
    Look, to even survive down underground, you basically need to get your head out of the Medieval Stasis idea. To summarize, fey with strong PLAs wielding blades of resonating crystal and supported by the only god(dess) in the setting who's existence is confirmed. Males favor Cloistered Cleric rather than Cleric, but both males and females have Psion as a favored class.

    They believe that a potent drink made with fermented spider-venom and mushrooms brings visions of the past. It works. They believe red or purple blades make wounds that don't stop bleeding quickly. Because for them, it's true. They believe that women are more in tune with their god(dess) than men, but men are closer to the drow psionic field. This is TRUE (men have more PP and Mind Thrust as a PLA, women have Augury as a SLA and Empathy as a PLA). They believe that the soul is in the heart, and if the heart is not cremated, the soul is trapped forever inside. If the heart is consumed, the soul is destroyed. This too, works. Their racial psionic field actually created an intermediate deity from belief. They're that powerful.

    Dwarves with Lightbulbs

    As the modern human analogue, dwarves in this setting not only have SR/PR equal to 'Insane', they have to cast through their own spell resistance/psionic resistance. Basically, they can't be mages reliably. They compensate with guns, dynamite, cameras, guns, telegraphs, ATVs and did I mention the guns?

    They can certainly hold their own in this magical time, though. They interact with enough magical creatures who can spell-cast anyways. Kobolds especially. Kobolds provide magic, dwarves provide technology. +1 flaming/shock/whatever guns are not uncommon. And do a lot of damage.

    They elect their leaders out of the communities based on merit, community leaders in turn can get elected to become the Deeplord of the Dwarves. Also, they're trying to invent computers.
    Last edited by Ajadea; 2010-09-23 at 03:40 PM.

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