Racial traits

Racial traits

Racial traits

So, we had a bit of an issue in our game with infra/dark/?vision. We had a hobbit and 2 elves. I said the halfling had none but the elves could see in the dark (as per Moldvay) – my halfling player was unhappy. But this points out to me that it is a missing element from the game since the racial traits don’t list any of this. OK, the rule may be to ask questions of the players and find out how your world works but I still think that some prompts in the rules would be good eg I like DCC’s phrasing of “heightened senses”. I personally think this is more important than being light of step and balance – which interacts in a weird way with DEX saving throws. (My halfling thief is getting a bit of an inferiority complex about the elves).

13 thoughts on “Racial traits”

  1. Personally I have no problem punishing or rewarding my halfling. My point is that Freebooters is leaning on D&D and/or our genre expectations for this IMO important aspect of races. The game would IMO be more complete if there was a tag here to prompt these discussions.

  2. I would give darkvision only to underground races – dwarves, goblins, drow but not “treelander elves”, etc.

    Perhaps this could be covered by the tag “underdweller”.

    You could ask your players “How has your race adapted to the environment in which it lives?”

  3. The intent was for those sorts of traits to be defined at the table by each group, using questions. The lack of explicit direction on that needs to be addressed. Will do, and thanks for bringing it up!

  4. I should add that Freebooters is not supposed to be a balanced game in the sense of giving every PC mechanically equal footing. From rolling 3d6 down the line to randomized class, spell names, alignment, and heritage, some results are simply “better” than others. That’s why the probability of rolling elves and wizards is lower.

    For me a big part of the fun of the game is watching those imbalances get identified, explored, and surmounted (or not). I designed consciously to that end. Making the most out of whatever crappy (or awesome) hand you’re dealt is central to the gameplay.

    The envy a halfling feels for an elf’s darkvision is appropriate, because elves are clearly cooler (to some people, in some ways). That envy has the potential to be a great component of the fiction.

    However, a player unhappy with their lot relative to the other players is obviously an issue, so steps can and should be taken to address it on a table-by-table basis. I will say that it’s probably a good idea to let prospective players know the score up front — that some characters are simply going to be “better” than others. And that even the most mechanically superior characters run the risk of dying.

    Doing your level best to survive while preparing for the worst is the name of the game. If you’re not able to take some small pleasure in watching your beloved PC meet an ignoble end, Freebooters as written may not be the right game for you (though it’s easy enough to hack it into a game that is right for you).

    The tradeoff, of course, is that when that crappy character you rolled survives an encounter against all odds, the victory is all the more sweet. Those are the satisfactions that always felt the greatest to me in the early days of my own RPG experience, and that’s the specific vibe I’m trying to recapture with Freebooters.

  5. I am totally cool with unbalanced characters. As you say the envy is playing out great at the table. I am just identifying the need for a prompt for discussion.

  6. Yeah, I am making a note to flesh out the heritage explanation and give examples of questions the Judge can ask to further define it in play. Your feedback on this point and others is enormously helpful, Rob.

  7. PS: I jest of course, but we have no trope races in my games, improvising instead at every session. My different groups all seem to think this is a wonderful departure. We’ve had some lasting creations. We give each culture an alignment and some tags but don’t detail anything else until it seems right. Here are some recaps: The Yala (lawful, subterrenean): Thin yellow bipeds with large eyes and long fingers; they gain bonuses underground. The Herajru (good, woods-wise): imposing forest dwellers of coppery complexion; they can spin moonlight into a meal and speak with plants (when the plants have anything to say).The Haeral (evil, steppe-dwelling) Conquering barbarians, they are excellent liars and cruel, ruthless warriors. Etc. We often use the RANDOM CHARACTER CREATION rules to guide Heritage creation, but what would really be fun is something more in depth like Class Warfare. So many ideas, so little time.

  8. Maezar, I plan to incorporate a similar approach into the Advanced Freebooters book by laying down some guidelines for people to improvise their own heritages. We create new heritages and monsters (no stock goblins, orcs, dragons, etc.) every time we start a new campaign, and I love it.

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