I would like races to have a larger impact. What are some ideas or ways I might do that?

I would like races to have a larger impact. What are some ideas or ways I might do that?

I would like races to have a larger impact. What are some ideas or ways I might do that?

Disclaimer: I’m prepping for my first campaign so I’m coming at this with limited experience

24 thoughts on “I would like races to have a larger impact. What are some ideas or ways I might do that?”

  1. I guess I’m just looking for more mechanical input. For example, dwarves having some of their standard D&D type abilities.

    I suppose it would be easy to just say, hey you’re a dwarf you know stone and are tough. But I was just curious what some of you folks might have come up with.

  2. In my opinion you don’t need mechanics. More mechanics just bogs the game down. If you really want to though, write some backgroud about the races in your setting. Can Dwarves see in the dark? Do Elves need to sleep? Do people mistrust Halflings?

    Fiction is mechanics in AW-based games. If Dwarves can see in the dark, then they do. If Elves don’t need to sleep, then they don’t. If everyone mistrusts Halflings, then have NPCs react appropriately.

  3. Well, if you really wanted to give a bit of kick, you could set up keywords for each of the races. 

    Eg Dwarf (Stable, Darkvision, Hearty)

    /Stable/ – Ignores the /Forceful/ tag from Large or smaller creatures. 

    /Darkvision/ – Can see in complete darkness, but only in greytones. 

    /Hearty/ –  You can take poison in horse doses.

  4. I would just suggest never, or at best rarely, giving tags dice adjustments. Make them change the fiction, make them change how moves trigger, but don’t adjust odds directly.

  5. Racial Compendium classes are a wonderful idea — if the player isn’t that interested in exploring the Dwarf half of their Dwarven Cleric they’re free to no select any additional Dwarven Moves.

    Humans should get one too, in this case.

    Monte Cook’s Arcana stuff (and others) had Racial levels that may provide some inspiration there.

    Or a really (extreme) “White Box” solution — make each non-human race a distinct class.

  6. Are you the GM?  If you are, you’ve already got a ton of tools to make race a more engaging part of your game – ask a ton of questions about cultural concepts, ask about biology, ask about empires. Fill in the blanks with your players. If you want mechanisms, write custom moves. If you REALLY want mechanisms, write compendium classes like;


    If you are an elf, you get ELF MOVE. Whenever you level, you may choose one of the following in addition to your level move:


  7. I think Aaron Friesen and I are basically saying the same thing. He just boiled it down to key phrases.

    This is a slight tangent, but part of the reason traditional fantasy bores me is that typically, everyone gets along. As long as you’re one of the “good” races, you’re welcome everywhere and everyone treats you decently and equally. However our own world is full of racial issues/problems, and yet has only a single “race.” Imagine what would happen if Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings suddenly popped up.

    I realize that not everyone wants to have racism in their games, and I respect that. But one way to make race matter to your players is to make it matter to the people in your fantasy world. “Sorry, this is a Dwarf bar. You’d better wait outside.” “In Celene, all non-Elves are required to register with their local officials and must carry a ‘Scroll of Residency’ at all times, which Celene officials may ask to see at any time.”

    If you, as the GM, have NPCs treat all the races as equal, then your players will too.

  8. “one way to make race matter to your players is to make it matter to the people in your fantasy world”

    This, all the time. Race and culture count. People are different and react to being different with varying degrees of excellence.

  9. Christopher Stone-Bush In our game our Elven Wizard was — well, a bit of a haughty ass. So the GM asked “are all Elves dicks?”

    “Yes” was his immediate answer. After the laugh we all had it had a very real effect on our game — this race had once been masters of the world, and were not at all happy with the “young races” they had tied their fate to. They were treated as allies, but saw themselves as masters.

    It certainly wasn’t a new approach, or a unique one, but I hope it underlines, in a primitive kind of way, what Adam is talking about.

  10. I’ll commonly ask the only members of a given culture or species in the party ALL the questions about that culture or species, but ask the others for details or common contradictions.  We built a whole sub-plot out of why the Dwarves and Elves didn’t actually hate each other but how humans spread rumors to destabilize their politics.

  11. I’m doing racial backgrounds for Pirate World, little collections of skills similar to compendium classes that you pick at charactr creation, with descriptive questions to get the fiction going.

  12. I think the racial backgrounds are a great idea, just a few extra moves you can take when you level up. Heck, I’d do it myself if James hadn’t already beaten me to the punch.

  13. James Hawthorne  Can you give us 1 sample/example of how you are doing these?

    On other notes…

    As it stands, I have to agree with the OP that I like the idea of having some predefined aspects of a race that is mechanical such as yes, Dwarves have Darkvision. I like the idea of Keywords for the most basic of these. However, I also like the idea of very simple moves as well such as the style Adam mentioned.

    For instance in my world, Elves are tribal mortal fey with Telepathic connections to their tribal totem animals (similar to the Marat of the Codex Alera series) with a Native American-like culture.  So I want them to have a racial option to have an Animal Companion from their tribe and Telepathy with it. At the same time I want someone taking an elf to know right up front that they are fey are have fey weaknesses, fey grace, etc.

    I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but for anyone who wants to have a designed campaign world, with some predefined material, we need to come up with a decent way of describing the Fiction in a loose mechanical way.

  14. I agree with everyone saying that to make race something unique all you have to do is ask questions and reflect it in the world. I also like the idea of tags for differences in the races. Very nice idea.

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