So I spent some time thinking about 4e and the way there are so many different races a person can choose from. Maybe less than 3.5 (by the end) and maybe less than, say, Talislanta, but, about 25, if you include the three Player’s Handbooks, the Genasi, the Drow, the Eberron races, bladelings, and a smattering of Monster Manual races. With that in mind, I wanted to impose some differences, some hierarchy on the lot of them, but still make everything available to PCs. Now the trick was reflavoring it the way I wanted it…
This is a rough look at my current thinking and I’ll probably change it even more before we get around to playing, but this is a beginning.
Men and Sub-Men
When the dwarven races unleashed the Devastation on the world, the race of men underwent some changes. Some breeds of humans, untouched by the magic, remained pure and they are collectively referred to as First Men. But many were shaped by the powerful, chaotic magics and elemental disasters sweeping the world, shaped into new types of men, with strange differences, some subtle, some not so. The races that are now “human” are:
–Goliaths (whose appearance is still massive and strong, but not mottled anymore… I’ll explain their markings more later.)
–Genasi (and Genasi have more of their 3rd edition appearance. They have hair, don’t grow crystals on their heads, etc.)
–Kalashtar (these may need a new name)
–Githzerai (they are going to need some new fluff, but are still men)
— Tieflings are also included in this lot, because they are closely related to First Men, but they had already made their infernal bargains before the Devastation and so are uniquely tiefling.
Game Note: Despite being “human,” these races are still mechanically their own. This allows for feats and such to remain the same, and it just changes the flavor of these beings. Thus, a Goliath cannot take human feats even though they are, socially, a sub-race of man in this world.
The Blighted World is also populated by many strange hybrid beings. Some of these are proud and noble races, whose history goes back as long as humankind, but more are monsters, brought to life by the changes wrought when the magic of the Devastation touched them. Even among these monsters though, some stand out. These are the beastman races acceptable as PCs.
Dwarves (and Duergar)
The dwarves are responsible for the Devastation. They fled the world on flying citadels forged right out of the mountaintops of their homes. Now they ply the skies in skyships and a brisk trade is done between the dwarven clans and the surface folk.
The duergar on the other hand, are a bitter, frustrated lot. Left behind when the other dwarves headed for the skies, the duergar were at ground zero of the evil magics unleashed. Changed by these energies and left for dead they somehow survived. Now they lurk in the remnants of the ancient strongholds, grown strong on hate, a mockery of once-proud dwarven civilization.
Eladrin and Gnomes
Members of these two races are exceedingly rare in the world, living mostly in the Feywild. When the Devastation struck, the Fey Lords closed the gates between the natural world and the Feywild. Eladrin or gnomes in the natural world are most likely exiles, or explorers seeing what has become of the natural world, now that life is beginning to flourish again.
Elves, Half-Elves, Half-Orcs, Revenants, Shadar-Kai, Drow
These races work as written.
I’m dropping the “mind” part from the name of this race and just calling them Shards. Born 2,000 years ago in the Devastation, the shards arose from the wild magic released in the dwarven ritual, as it coursed through the gemstone veins of the mountains. In the long years since, they have spread across the lands of men, exploring, learning, and becoming a part of this new world.
The first Warforged were build by the dwarven clans as servants to the artificers, and soldiers to fight proxy wars to preserve dwarven life. But the Warforged proved to be far more than the dwarves could ever have predicted, and fought a revolution for their freedom. The dwarves lost, offering peace and giving the warforged the freedom they desired. Many Warforged set out into the world beyond the mountains, but others stayed with the dwarven clans. Those who left spread the secret of their creation and now they may be found in all parts of the world, from the Flying Citadels to the bazaars of Al’ara.
The deva presented an interesting idea to me, and an interesting opportunity for players. The first deva were not just angels who chose to take on mortal forms, but angels specifically chosen to take mortal form, walk among the dying civilizations of the Blighted World and help them survive. They were emissaries to show the gods had not forgotten their earthly followers. Since that time, these beings have constantly reincarnated in the world, always striving to expand past the cycle of death and rebirth, to become part of the celestial world once again. And some fall into darkness, ruined by their long memories of mortality, and turn to the way of the rakshasa.
So, that’s it for now. Let me know what you think and I’ll keep you posted as things change. Next time, I’m going to look at the way I want to use Monsters in this world. What’s staying and what’s not.