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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Hello,

    I have been going around asking my friends and other circles I lurk in a very simple question and I would love it if you could all pitch in and give me your responses as well!

    If you were designing a fantasy setting that already had Humans present in it and could only pick three races to accompany them in filling out the other major civilizations in their world, what would those three races be?

    To give some clarification to what I mean by race; a mortal species that propagates via some form of breeding and is sentient. This does not count species that require a host body of some sort (Slaadi, Illithids), or propogate via disease or curse (Lycanthropes, Vampires, most undead really, etc.)

    I look forward to hearing your responses!
    Last edited by StrengthofMany; 2016-06-18 at 10:03 PM. Reason: Fixing the title, I am not conducting an actual Poll so it is misleading.

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    Default Re: [Poll] Pick Your Top 3 Races For A Setting

    Hmm. First, Hobgoblins, I think. Their culture isn't so much warlike as constantly mobilized, organized and powerful and dangerous, generally capable of sustaining a large and viable state for as long as they have common enemies to fight against. Their culture is cohesive, and their social structure orderly, which makes them ripe for social and intrigue campaigns as well, but primarily their focus on systematic conquest and expansion make them rich sources of conflict.

    Next, Giants. Where hobgoblins represent a cohesive societal threat, giants represent an overwhelming physical threat. Giants of all sorts are held in place by societal expectation, but their physical variety and their cultural differences towards outsiders mean that the Giants come ready-made with a wide range of factions. Plus, Giants make an excellent fallen-precursor civilization, as well as potentially tyrranical rulers.

    Lastly, Halflings. As Giants are to humans, so humans are to halflings, and I find it always refreshing for humanity to be a more physically dangerous race compared to others. Halflings are so very much like humans in many ways, contributing to the flexibility of concept behind the race, and their inclusion in the setting allows for an easy mixing of cultures, a multiculturism which softens the blows of the clearly demarkated 'foreign' races, allowing humans and halflings to ally, act as a representative government or make a nation and civilization in concert with the humans.

    P.S. I've tried hard to make this comprehensible, but i am very tired.
    Last edited by Marcelinari; 2016-06-19 at 05:46 AM.

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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    It depends on the setting, but in any of the cases I'd go with a distinct set of four, where humans fill one of four niches and all the races fit together thematically. I'm also not pulling exclusively from D&D, which can cause confusion with names - for instance, every time I refer to Naga, I mean the snake tailed mer-people sort, not the D&D naga. A few examples:

    The Tolkien Knockoff - Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Orcs. I'm not big on this one, but it's a pretty good example of a cohesive set. Plus, if you really want to do Tolkien, these are the key four. Hobbits/Halflings make up a fifth, but are comparatively non essential.
    The Land, The Sea, The Sky, The Depths - Humans, Icthyids, Avians, Antpeople. Here we get a setting with four distinct domains, all of which border each other. Other than humans the specifics vary, but you need one race that populates the water, one that lives predominantly underground, and one that lives mostly in the sky. This creates distinct zones for each, along with defined borders that can be potential conflict sites, which can be further emphasized if you play up humans as seafaring, mining, and maybe even having airships. It also creates some interesting opportunities for trade, particularly if the races are far from unified.
    The Remnants of The Human Empire - Humans, Half Elves, Half Orcs, Mechanical Human. The mechanical human stretches both mortal and breeding to some extent, but they presumably still rust and decay, and a process similar to breeding could easily be imposed. The point of this set is to suggest that it's not that there were only the four races, but that only the four are left, and to create the whole grandeur of the past thing.
    The Weird - Humans, Octopus People, Sentient Fungi, Treants. Sometimes you want something that's well and truly alien, and this comes pretty close.
    The Less Weird - Humans, Naga, Lizard People, Antpeople. Sometimes you want something that's well and truly alien, but Sentient Fungi? Really? Tone it down a bit.
    A Sense of Scale - Humans, Halflings, Pixies, Giants. This one isn't particularly inspired, but I might as well throw it in there. Again, it's a cohesive set.
    Ice Age - Humans, Neanderthals, Australopithecus, Homo Erectus. There's a lot of early sword and sorcery that brings in "Ape Men" of some sort, and this is essentially the set of early hominids that provided a lot of the inspiration behind it.
    The Four Elements - Humans (Earth), Naga (Water), Avians (Air), Azer (Fire). I'm personally really burnt out on the whole four elements thing, but some people are fond of it, and this would be a way to do it.

    Of the above, it's the second set that I like the best. Still, the sets individually are generally stronger than some weird mix. Humans, Fungi People, Elves, Giants - that's just an odd mix that doesn't quite work.

    I'd generally avoid all of them though. The vast majority of my settings only involve humans, which is why the list seems so exotic - if I'm going to be adding anything else, it might as well be something different. The Tolkien set just isn't worth it.
    Last edited by Knaight; 2016-06-18 at 11:39 PM.
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Without any more information on what the setting is going to be like, I can't answer this question, and once you have defined the setting you have mostly answered the question anyway.

    Knaight has the right idea.

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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    The simplest answer is the "Tolkein" triumvirate; Humans, dwarves, and elves, with orcs as the generic 'bad guy' race. Keeping in mind that Tolkein had about 9 races; humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins, halflings, wizards (what D&D would call aasimar), Maiar and Valar; it's a bit of an artifical restriction. Otherwise, it largely depends on the tone you're going for and the rules of the setting. An urban fantasy might do better with humans, vampires, fey and shapechangers.

    Personally? Well, my own original universe has no humans. Military elves, philosopher wolf-men, conniving dolphin-men and liberal cat-men are my four races, with angels and robots as additional player races.

    Oh, yeah. In reality, we might have had 5 races; sapiens, neanderthal, denisovans, soloensis, and floresiensis (scientific names). Rough 'common' names could be Africans, Northmen, Easterlings, Sailsmen and Dwarfmen.
    Last edited by Regitnui; 2016-06-19 at 02:21 AM.
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Some sort of crows, dodo people and intelligent land crocs. Although I'd love the Neanderthal and "hobbit" setting as well.

    Staying within the more traditional fantasy: maybe kobolds, gnomes (but really small, like actually gnome sized) and trolls or orcs or something ugly maybe.
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Goblin, Hobgoblin, Bugbear.

    Make Warcraft, Goblins v Humans.

    I really want to play an all-Goblinoid campaign designed to wipe out the Human menace.

    MAN, Humans are boring. :)

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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Herobizkit View Post
    Goblin, Hobgoblin, Bugbear.

    Make Warcraft, Goblins v Humans.

    I really want to play an all-Goblinoid campaign designed to wipe out the Human menace.

    MAN, Humans are boring. :)
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Gnomes, elves, changelings. Adds a bit of a fey flavour to the game.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    The Tolkien Knockoff - Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Orcs. I'm not big on this one, but it's a pretty good example of a cohesive set. Plus, if you really want to do Tolkien, these are the key four. Hobbits/Halflings make up a fifth, but are comparatively non essential.
    This would be my preferred trio. I might be prone to leave the humans out, even.
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Hmmmm. My pathfinder campaign currently has Humans, Dwarves, Giants, and Snake people. But that's mostly because that's what the players chose.

    If I was good at home brewing, I'd probably go reptile people (crocs are cool), ape people (Humans), a small flying race (bat people or bird people) and a small underground race (rats? Moles? Something).

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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    First some kind of lizard-people or snake people (in D&DRe/5e Dragonborn), probably as a mystical race and with ties to the sun. I just like reptile people, they've been a key part of my settings for years, ranging from druidic cultures to highly civilised.

    Then not a standard race at all, but boar-men. I just think they can look pretty cool and like them to play the elf role. Plus I can make them both tough and agile.

    Then I'm not sure. Bird men? It would be a third non-standard race.
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    I've often wondered about Deryni. They were a "race" in Kartherine Kurtz's old novels that were basically humans with inborn sorcerous abilities (no humans could learn wizardry or cast magic, but some had odd powers). The main issue was that being identified as deryni was basically a death sentence, but obviously the more powerful deryni (mostly politically power) could at least hold off the witchfinders.

    In RPG terms, Deryni would just be humans only with casting classes available.

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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Some people have already touched on this with their groupings but It depends on the purpose and background for your racial choices.

    Psychologically speaking Tolkien gave us a bestial other (orcs) or ID, the dwarves serving as the sociability constants on base emotions like greed and the elves as a Superego of immortality and conciseness. With humans showing all traits or blending well with the group that most fits their beliefs.

    Or a Once great race or empire now declined -Lizardfolk, other race actively competing to be dominate with the humans while being physically very different -Gnolls while a primitive tribal or helper race bides its time to be the next great civ -Halflings maybe?

    Historically speaking you can do a progression of races from the most awesome first race or golden age (dragons, or dragon-born if you need them to be humanoid) to the silver age or slightly fallen not as awesome but still mysterious and distant race (elves most of the time though I like Elans for the blending in but still different group, plus psionics.) Then it depends on if you want humans on the bottom or to have a failed/flawed/weaker race as cautionary tale, goblinoids are physically weaker and can be a good sign of corruption/failings while still being a valid threat or society participant. Or you go with something that has a leg up on humans but is overcome-able like ogres, trolls, giants, Minotaur: something in the giant-kin family.

    Or non-competitive niches: the Sahgain or Kuo-toa as the masters of the seas, raptorians own the skies and high places whilst dwarves toil underground. Leaving humans in the unclaimed terrestrial niche.

    You could just go the star trek route and make them all almost humans: humans with outsider blood -Genasi, Aasimar and tieflings. Magic Blood -Illuminun, Azurin, Fey-touched. extinct or forgotten races -half elf, orc, ogre, mongrelfolk, mul. Creates tension or maybe class warfare between the normal, extra normal, extraordinary or outcast. plus you can pick which is which.

    Now as a personal grouping of races I enjoy, that would have lots of conflict and fun: kobolds, gnomes, humans and an artificial race of their own creation warforged, elans, or necropolitian. Lots of tension at both levels but the potential for greatness when working together.
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Killoren: Fey forest-dwellers.

    Dwarves: Subterranean miners.

    Darfellan: Ocean-going bestial humanoids.
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    I'm thinking for the first choice, perhaps some sort of vaguely evil planar descended creatures. Tieflings, perhaps? Yes, always a good choice. And for variation, another subrace of Tiefling, perhaps some sort of Demonspawn. Can never have enough tieflings. And lastly, some sort of race descended from a great empire that fell to corruption, like tieflings. Done!

    In all seriousness, unless you have some sort of mechanical reason to require particular races (Fighter-Race, Magic-Race, Thief-Race of DnD games, for instance), I'd just work on other parts of the setting and then come back. The themes, tone, mood, and genre of setting should dictate races, not the other way around. For instance, a pirate campaign with merfolk, halflings, and oh, say, Hadozee works. You have a watery mage race, a small quick race that makes sense on boats, and a large bruiser race with assumed flexibility that would aid in climbing larger vessels. Have themes of good vs. evil and lots of planar stuff? Tiefling vs. Aasimar time! Jungle setting? Elves, Lizardfolk, and gnomes, because why not?

    If all else fails and you feel uninspired, make large portions of the map empty. See what your players want, and put them into those sections as needed. Less work, and many people really like the chance to flesh out their own race. And you know it'll have player appeal, which is really the important part.
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Depends on the setting. I like lizardmen as an ancient race that evolved prior to humans. Elves as a divergent evolution of humanity, maybe remnants of past advanced civilization or time/dimension travelling colonists. Orcs/goblinoids/gnolls or beastmen as genetically engineered subserviant/servant/warrior race that long ago went wild, the civilization that created them disappeared and forgotten.

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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Dragons, unbodied, warforged. Okay, warforged don't reproduce sexually, but who says creation forges can't be a form of breeding? Cyborgs are fine, too.
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Depends on the setting.
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    I would consider more varieties of humans, going back to the actually meaning of "race". And all varieties of humans are mortal and reproduce on their own (or with each other). Some fantasy stories actually do this and if the races are basically just humans with hats anyways... why not.

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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Quote Originally Posted by ExLibrisMortis View Post
    Okay, warforged don't reproduce sexually, but who says creation forges can't be a form of breeding?
    I can imagine a bunch of warforged banding together to demand access to their own creation forge, "taking control of our own race's reproduction!"
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    1. Humans

    2. Dragons

    3. Trolls

    If dragons and trolls are not available in the setting then Klingons and Romulans probably are. If they aren't either then just humans for the second and third spot. Humans are versatile enough to do anything, most games could easily only feature humans and do just as well if not better.
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    How about we go a little out of the ordinary and go Lovecraftian?

    Humans - Self-explainatory

    The Elder Things - Ancient race of tall aquatic plant aliens that build sprawling cyclopean cities and designed all life forms on the planet.

    The Deep Ones - Humans corrupted by the eldritch god Dagon, an aquatic race of fish people that have nearly mastered jewelcrafting, practice deeply wrought and dark religious sacrifices, and make dark deals with humans to interbreed in order to spread their species.

    The Shoggoth - Escaped servants of the Elder Things, eight-foot tall shapeshifting masses of biological goo that are subsectible to psionic attack, formed a rebellion against their former masters and are believed to have integrated themselves into human society, either posing as humans or animals.
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    I think it depends on how many cool racial origin stories you can think of (natural evolution, magically created, fallen from the skies, etc.) and if you can justify that they haven't already exterminated one another. "These guys live in the desert" isn't good enough. Why do they live in the desert? What makes them better at living in the desert than others? What keeps them from living elsewhere (aka why aren't they engaged in brutal war with the guys who live in the fertile, temperate grasslands?) How did they start living in the desert? Where did they live before that? Can they breed with other races? Why not?

    That's the part that makes it complicated, I think. Evolution-wise, it's really rare for an ecosystem to have two peacefully-coexisting dominant species. Look at humans: only one self-designated dominant species, and we can't even keep the peace among ourselves. So when fantasy settings have dozens of races living alongside (occasionally at war, but not extinct yet), my suspension of disbelief struggles.

    Which is why there are all of 3 races in my setting (plus the Returned, basically the Necropolitan template): Humans, Sidhe (slightly magic-touched humans) and Beastmen (slightly less civilized humans).

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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Quote Originally Posted by ILM View Post
    I think it depends on how many cool racial origin stories you can think of (natural evolution, magically created, fallen from the skies, etc.) and if you can justify that they haven't already exterminated one another. "These guys live in the desert" isn't good enough. Why do they live in the desert? What makes them better at living in the desert than others? What keeps them from living elsewhere (aka why aren't they engaged in brutal war with the guys who live in the fertile, temperate grasslands?) How did they start living in the desert? Where did they live before that? Can they breed with other races? Why not?

    That's the part that makes it complicated, I think. Evolution-wise, it's really rare for an ecosystem to have two peacefully-coexisting dominant species. Look at humans: only one self-designated dominant species, and we can't even keep the peace among ourselves. So when fantasy settings have dozens of races living alongside (occasionally at war, but not extinct yet), my suspension of disbelief struggles.

    Which is why there are all of 3 races in my setting (plus the Returned, basically the Necropolitan template): Humans, Sidhe (slightly magic-touched humans) and Beastmen (slightly less civilized humans).
    That's why there's so much fighting in fantasy worlds. The game/story doesn't take place at a time of relative stability but one of precarious imbalance quickly descending into existential turmoil. Species don't go extinct overnight. What if the game takes place during the hundred thousand year period where many species have co-evolved in isolation and are just recently coming into contact and starting to conflict? The explanation for why/how so many species ended up in one place can be varied. Climate and geology once separated the populations of intelligent species, global change has now brought them in contact. It's an interdimensional/planar crossroads world where groups get pulled in or trapped from other places. Beings are remnants of spacefaring species that crashed here long ago, so populations were small enough that they coexisted for many generations. Genetic tinkering by some master race created dozens of varieties and the world is an experiment or a dumping ground for failures/abandoned projects.

    I'm not saying a setting needs dozens of intelligent species, but it could be explained if one wanted it so.
    Last edited by Thrudd; 2016-06-23 at 09:42 AM.

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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Freeform games, I stick to humans 100% of the time. That's actually the one reason I've never even read Shadowrun, even though it sounds like I'd like it otherwise (same for Cthulutech, but I hear it gets creepy on certain social issues).

    If I'm adding races, I'm not opposed to adding sentient nonhuman creatures. But they get the weird treatment. Like I might use a scifi space-fungus or individually-mindless insect species, but I'll never run a rubber-forehead star trek alien if I have the chance. When it comes to Elfs, Vulcans, Dwarfs or Klingons, I don't even see the point - they're just people with a gimmick anyway, so why differentiate them in the first place? Consequently, I don't love players playing aliens/monsters.

    I'm also not opposed adding cybernetics or AI to a setting, or treating them differently than unaugmented humans by the game rules, but that's setting dependent. I guess I could see that playing into fantasy races by making certain "races" that have been altered by magic in different ways, but that's not something I've seen in any game that I can think of.

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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    - Pseudo-Tolkien - Humans, Elves, Dwarves... and Hobgoblins. This is roughly the setup my personal campaign setting uses, with hobgoblin culture roughly analogous to ancient Sparta. (Mind you, my actual setting has a few more races built in.)

    - Elemental - Humans (Earth), Salamanders (Fire), 5e Aarakocra (Air), Sahuagin (Water),

    - "Intermediate Elemental" - Humans, Dwarves, Lizardfolk, and a dragonfly-themed race. Basically themed on the four "connecting nodes" between the elements rather than the elements themselves. In this setup, dwarves are Earth/Fire and use lava/magma ("fire from the earth") to cook meals and smelt metal. Humans are Fire/Air: they live above ground and generally away from volcanoes, burn fire in the open air using tinder from plants that grow in the open air. Lizardfolk are Water/Earth, since they are associated with swamps and similar areas, and a dragonfly-themed race as the Water/Air makes sense because although dragonflies are certainly flying insects, they spend their larval stages in water and are often found near ponds and other bodies of water.
    Planck length = 1.524e+0 m, Planck time = 6.000e+0 s. Mass quantum ~ 9.072e-3 kg because "50 coins weigh a pound" is the smallest weight mentioned. And light has five quantum states.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    It really depends on what I'm aiming for in a setting, but I do have some preferences. Note that these are not universals, just trends or preferences within a group.

    Order-aligned: A race/culture focused on community, or honor, or discipline, or something else in the lawful-principled-organized-traditional-responsibility of power range. Dwarves, Hobgoblins, Imperial, City-Builders, Agents of Law sorts of things.

    Chaos-aligned: A race/culture with a more "relaxed" or "impassioned" approach to things. Individualism over Collectivism, form over function, innovation over tradition, more at home in nature, freedom over security. Some versions of elves and gnomes, goblins, demifae, trickster races, migratory societies, Agents of Fortune, and such.

    Savage: Destroyers, Pilferers, Invaders, Inherently Violent Systems, Lack of proper tableware, etc. Nominally a "bad guy" race, this can be merely crude and bestial, or outright fueled by the blood of the innocent. Orcs, Ogres, Beastfolk, goblinoids (if not in the other two), fiends, raiders, conquerers, etc.

    If we are talking seperate races, Human usually isn't in the list. They normally end up in the mix anyway since they tend to be the glue that draws the groups together in settings. But some time, I fully intend to set up a "no humans" setting, just to see what it takes to make it work.
    Why yes, Warlock is my solution for everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by obryn View Post
    Active Abilities are great because you - the player - are demonstrating your Dwarvenness or Elfishness. You're not passively a dwarf, you're actively dwarfing your way through obstacles.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Lvl 2 Expert's Avatar

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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Klingons, Vulcans and Ferengi.

    Death before dishonor, logic and reason, sleazy car salesmen.



    There is no reason these wouldn't work brilliantly in a low tech fantasy setting. Just remember to make Listen(wis) a Ferengi racial skill with a +4 bonus to compensate for their -2 in wisdom.

    And if I'm allowed a fourth race make the bad guys the Borg. Again, especially in a fantasy world.
    Last edited by Lvl 2 Expert; 2016-06-24 at 01:22 PM.
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  30. - Top - End - #30
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: What Are YOUR Top 3 Races For A Setting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert View Post
    Klingons, Vulcans and Ferengi.

    Death before dishonor, logic and reason, sleazy car salesmen.



    There is no reason these wouldn't work brilliantly in a low tech fantasy setting. Just remember to make Listen(wis) a Ferengi racial skill with a +4 bonus to compensate for their -2 in wisdom.

    And if I'm allowed a fourth race make the bad guys the Borg. Again, especially in a fantasy world.
    *mulls over the idea*

    Yeah, that could work. Only reason we think of those as inherently sci-fi is simply because they originated in sci-fi. I'd go so far as to say that probably the reason the Borg started space-faring is that they had already assimilated everything on their home world that could be assimilated (which probably occurred sometime around the First Crusade, extrapolating backward from Memory Alpha).
    Planck length = 1.524e+0 m, Planck time = 6.000e+0 s. Mass quantum ~ 9.072e-3 kg because "50 coins weigh a pound" is the smallest weight mentioned. And light has five quantum states.

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