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yeti1069

Could Use Some Help w/ Homebrew Races

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I have a fantasy world that I've been working on for years (have run a few campaigns, first D&D 3.5, then Pathfinder, and now Genesys), and recently I've been expanding on the options and lore, but I'm a little stuck on the races at the moment.

Briefly, the world of Margonis is flanked by 4 planes that blend directly with the world: Rymfell, a land of ice-filled waters and frigid winds; Caldera, a land of terrible volcanic activity, hot and barren; Burgeoning, a land of life run rampant, light, and blessing; and Miasma, a land so decrepit that it is beyond decay, antithesis of life, and home to the undead. In addition, there is a world of the fey hidden behind the normal world, and poking through in places.

There are some of the standard fantasy races: elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, orcs

But I want to populate the world with denizens from these other planes. So far, I have some rough ideas, but nothing concrete, and I'm looking for suggestions on characteristic arrays and interesting abilities that can help define each race. Ideally, I'd also like to break each race down into at least 2, or 3, sub-races for further variety and options.

From the Rymfell

Sylphs -- wispy, born of the air and mist, these humanoids are curious and elusive, preferring to remain hidden from others, observing, and only occasionally inserting themselves into events

Ursus -- these are bear-like creatures; powerful, swift hunters, they are clannish but not necessarily warlike

From the Caldera

Oreads -- these vaguely humanoid beings are composed of rock or crystal, sometimes glowing from within as if filled with magma, they harbor great wisdom behind their impenetrable lithic gaze

Emberkin -- these creatures are small, not always of human shape, and burn as if made entirely of fire, though they do have a physical form beneath; they can be mischievous and disruptive

From the Burgeoning

Saraphim -- of angelic bearing, these humanoids almost seem to glow from within, and always seem to be bursting with life, often elevating those around them; rarely some are seen with great dove-like wings

something else on theme?

From the Miasma

Winnowers -- small shadowy creatures that have eked out an existence in the treacherous lands of undeath, they seek to form connections with other living beings, but struggle doing so: in some the Void has taken route and they are themselves inherently the negation of other life and light

Other Beings of Margonis

Amaranthine -- reddish hued humanoids, often covered in strange glowing runes, these beings carry with them the experiences of their forebears, either in memory, or in the manifestation of some past magical ability

 

 

 

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First thing I would note is which profiles my standard races are already using. There are 31 standard characteristic arrays (True Average, Brawn > Agility, Intellect > Brawn, etc), and while you certainly don't need more than half-a-dozen of them, it's still best to avoid repetition. For example, an Oread sounds like Willpower (or Brawn) > Agility would best fit.

Second I would start cataloguing the special/unique abilities I want to give various species, such as the Saraphim's Flight, and assigning them an estimated value (I'd say -15 points). Special Abilities don't always have to be beneficial either, a racial complication can be just as character defining as an advantage. For example, Emberkin could have "Chilled Easily" (+5 XP; cold-based attacks targeting an emberkin automaticically gain one Success); Winnowers could have "Light Blindness" (0 XP; treats areas in darkness as well-lit, and well-lit areas as being in darkness) instead of "Dark-Vision".

I'd try to avoid getting hung up on finding the precise values at this stage (I just guessed), because as you fill out the catalogue you're likely going to want to adjust the prices here and there anyway (usually because you've realized an ability is obviously worth more or less relative to another). Not every special ability is even worth an XP adjustment, some abilities are simply negligable bits of flavor, and others can impose downsides that compensate for their benefits (such as my proposed "Light-Blindness" above). If an ability provides a negligable benefit (notably less than a similar T1 Talent), is only usable once-per-session, and/or costs a story-point, it might just be worthless. E.G. abilities like Forceful Personality, Brilliant!, and Zero-G Adept are all worth 0 XP (IMO).

Regarding creating subraces: RoT does so by simply trading one special ability for another (all 'elves' use the same characteristic line). However if you've got a species with locked-in special/unique abilities, I think changing the characteristics instead should be perfectly fine. For example, you might have two or three Saraphim Archetypes, each with the same Unique Ability (Flight), but differing characteristics and skills: Aristoctratic Saraphim might have Presence > Brawn (and Charm), while Pedestrian Saraphim have Agility > Willpower (and Coordination) instead.

Edited by Cantriped

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Thanks for the tips, Cantriped!

I'll post the characteristic arrays I'm considering later, along with some of the special abilities I've already got, but would welcome suggestions based on the (admittedly small amount of) flavor I've provided so far.

I'm inclined to not change characteristic arrays much among the subspecies, but it may make sense in some cases.

I also want to try to stay away from too many 3,3,1,1 arrays.

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My suggested stats in bold:

From the Rymfell

Sylphs -- wispy, born of the air and mist, these humanoids are curious and elusive, preferring to remain hidden from others, observing, and only occasionally inserting themselves into events - Agility 3, Brawn 1

Ursus -- these are bear-like creatures; powerful, swift hunters, they are clannish but not necessarily warlike - Brawn 3, Intellect 1

From the Caldera

Oreads -- these vaguely humanoid beings are composed of rock or crystal, sometimes glowing from within as if filled with magma, they harbor great wisdom behind their impenetrable lithic gaze - Willpower 3, Agility 1

Emberkin -- these creatures are small, not always of human shape, and burn as if made entirely of fire, though they do have a physical form beneath; they can be mischievous and disruptive - Cunning 3, Presence 1

From the Burgeoning

Seraphim -- of angelic bearing, these humanoids almost seem to glow from within, and always seem to be bursting with life, often elevating those around them; rarely some are seen with great dove-like wings - Presence 3, Cunning 1

something else on theme? - Plant folk are a good possibility.

From the Miasma

Winnowers -- small shadowy creatures that have eked out an existence in the treacherous lands of undeath, they seek to form connections with other living beings, but struggle doing so: in some the Void has taken root and they are themselves inherently the negation of other life and light - not sure, maybe Agility 3, Presence 1

Other Beings of Margonis

Amaranthine -- reddish hued humanoids, often covered in strange glowing runes, these beings carry with them the experiences of their forebears, either in memory, or in the manifestation of some past magical ability - Intellect 3, Agility 1

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What I'm thinking so far:

Dwarves: 3 Willpower, 1 Agility; Children of the Falls (from a warm southern kingdom), Children of the Frost (from cold mountains), Children of the Foam (seafarers); abilities under consideration: darkvision, a bonus on checks related to stone- and metal-craft, a bonus on resilience

Elves: 3 Agility, 1 Willpower; Wood Elves, Faean (normally high elves; more magically inclined), Half-blood (half-elves), Shadowfolk (drow); abilities under consideration: bonus on Perception, the innate defense ability from the GCRB, a bonus on Knowledge skills, bonus to Charm or Negotiate, darkvision, maybe a special action that creates an area of darkness?

Gnomes: 3 Presence, 1 Brawn; Brightkin (plucky, typical gnomes), Shadekin (live underground, secretive), Dwemerkin (closest to dwarves, maybe some shared ancestry)

Halflings: 3 Agility, 1 Brawn; Burrowstock (Bilbo and Frodo), Fieldtenders, Treetreaders

Orcs: 3 Brawn, 1 Presence; Goblin (smaller, more fearful, maybe a penalty on checks vs fear), Boarcine (larger, more brutish), Half-blood (half-orcs)

 

 

From the Rymfell

Sylphs -- 3 Cunning, 1 Willpower (thinking that while, yes, they are wispy, and airy, which leans toward Agility, to my mind they are more defined by they stealth and deceptive, secretive ways); Cloudpiercer, Breezewalker; wispy, born of the air and mist, these humanoids are curious and elusive, preferring to remain hidden from others, observing, and only occasionally inserting themselves into events

Ursus -- 3 Brawn, Intellect 1 (could also do something like 4 Br, 1 Int, 1 Pr), but it seems so stereotypical to make them strong and dumb; Maritimus, Rusfelt; these are bear-like creatures; powerful, swift hunters, they are clannish but not necessarily warlike

From the Caldera

Oreads -- 3 Willpower, 1 Presence (thinking they are quiet and uncharismatic); Crystalline, Magmatic;  these vaguely humanoid beings are composed of rock or crystal, sometimes glowing from within as if filled with magma, they harbor great wisdom behind their impenetrable lithic gaze

Emberkin -- 3 Cunning, 1 Intellect (maybe); Smoulder, Flamekin; these creatures are small, not always of human shape, and burn as if made entirely of fire, though they do have a physical form beneath; they can be mischievous and disruptive

From the Burgeoning

Saraphim -- 3 Presence, 1 Cunning; Vibrant, Rampant, Celebrant; of angelic bearing, these humanoids almost seem to glow from within, and always seem to be bursting with life, often elevating those around them; rarely some are seen with great dove-like wings

something else on theme? Maybe an Entling? But I don't know what stats it gets...maybe 3 Brawn, 1 Agility?

From the Miasma

Winnowers -- 3 Willpower, Brawn 1; Quencher, Queller; small shadowy creatures that have eked out an existence in the treacherous lands of undeath, they seek to form connections with other living beings, but struggle doing so: in some the Void has taken route and they are themselves inherently the negation of other life and light

Other Beings of Margonis

Amaranthine -- Intellect 3, Agility 1; reddish hued humanoids, often covered in strange glowing runes, these beings carry with them the experiences of their forebears, either in memory, or in the manifestation of some past magical ability

 

Not sure that an even-enough distribution.

Still hung up a little on what racial abilities and skills they should all be looking at.

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Keep in mind that a low starting Intellect does not necessarily mean a species is stupid, just that the average member of the species is not well-educated or otherwise "book smart".  It could mean they have no formal education system, and/or most of what they learn as they grow up is how to hunt and survive.

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Here's what I have so far:

Dwarves 

Brawn 2, Agility 1, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 3, Presence 2 

WT: 11 + Brawn 

ST: 10 + Willpower 

XP: 

Tough As Nails 

Strong Backed 

Children of the Frost (live in northern mountains on western continent; cold; tough; skilled with metal and stone crafts) 

Dark Vision 

Cold Adapted: Remove b from skill checks imposed due to cold 

Starting skills: Resilience 1 

Children of the Falls (live in waterfall-riddled mountains toward the south of the eastern continent; warm; often most reasonable of the races on the gold dragon’s council) 

Kill With Kindness: Remove b from Charm and Negotiation checks 

Low-light Vision 

Starting skills: Cool 1 

Children of the Foam (live upon the sea; dwarves who long ago left one of the dwarghomes in search of the rest of the people and became enamored with the sea—usually merchants or pirates) 

Sea Tossed: Remove b from skill checks imposed due to wind or rain 

Born Sailor: Remove b on skills checks relating to sailing or boating (dealing with rigging, navigation on the sea, piloting, or fishing, etc...) 

Starting skills: Athletics 1 

 

Elves 

Brawn 2, Agility 3, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 1, Presence 2 

WT: 9 + Brawn 

ST: 10 + Willpower 

XP: 

Keen Eyed: Add b on Perception and Vigilance checks. Decrease the time to search a specific area by half. 

Sun/Faean (firstborn; most fey- and magic-attuned; snooty, more inclined to cogitation than action; crafters, experimenters) 

Magical Heritage: Learn one spell of no more than 2 difficulty. You may cast this spell using the Discipline skill, or the appropriate Magic skill if you’re trained in it 

Starting skills: Discipline 1 

Twilight/Wood (secondborn; prefer the woods, and low-light conditions; friendly, but isolated) 

Swift: Move through difficult terrain unfettered 

Nimble 

Starting skills: Survival 1 

Shadow/Deep (thirdborn; removed to the dark parts of the world, mostly far underground; extremely isolated) 

Dark Vision 

Isolated: Add b to Charm, Deception, Leadership, and Negotiation checks made against, or by other species, and on Knowledge (Community) checks for other locales 

Stealthy: Remove b from Stealth checks 

Doughty Dim-dweller: Add b on checks vs fear 

Starting skills: Knowledge (Forbidden) 1 

Half-Elf 

Starting skills: Gain 1 rank in a non-career skill, and Linguistics 1 

Elven Heritage: select one ability from another elf 

Mixed Heritage: In situations where being either an elf or a human would be more or less beneficial, may make an Average (dd) Deception check to pass as whichever of the two you prefer 

 

Gnomes 

Brawn 1, Agility 2, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 2, Presence 3 

WT: 8 + Brawn 

ST: 11 + Willpower 

XP: 

Small: Silhouette 0 

Stronger Than I Look: Remove b from Resilience checks, and increase encumbrance threshold by 2 

Brightkin (exuberant; prefer living aboveground in airy, well-lit areas; friendly) 

Plucky: Add b on fear checks made by the gnome and their allies within short range 

 

 Starting skills: Charm 1 

Shadekin (somewhat dour; prefer living underground; closer in disposition and preferences to their dwarven cousins; have been more engaged in conflict over their history; hard to deal with) 

Dark Vision 

Stubborn: Add b to social skill checks targeting them 

Underfoot Combat: Add b to combat checks targeting foes of a larger silhouette than themselves 

 

Halflings 

Brawn 1, Agility 3, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 2, Presence 2 

WT: 10 + Brawn 

ST: 10 + Willpower 

XP:  

Small: Silhouette 0 

Indomitable: Remove b caused by critical injuries, the Disoriented condition, and on fear checks 

Burrowers (think traditional hobbits; cheery, living in elaborate holes or mounds; inclined to pastoral pursuits) 

Climbers (somewhat more adventurous; prefers living in trees; employ gliders occasionally; tend to keep to themselves) 

Swimmers (adventurous; many take to sailing or traveling) 

 

Sylphs(from the plane of cold, air, and water) 

Brawn 2, Agility 2, Intellect 3, Cunning 2, Willpower 1, Presence 2 

WT: 9 + Brawn 

ST: 10 + Willpower 

XP: 

Mistborn 

Breezeborn 

 

Amaranthine (my version of Samsarans; inherited memories of their past lives; inherently magical, attuned to the magical energies of the world) 

Brawn 2, Agility 2, Intellect 3, Cunning 1, Willpower 2, Presence 2 

WT: 8 + Brawn 

ST: 12 + Willpower 

XP 

Thaumaturgic (some inherent magical ability) 

Cogitoric (Some inherent recollection or knowledge) 

 

Oread (from the fire elemental plane, creatures composed of rock; similar in stature to dwarves) 

Brawn 2, Agility 2, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 3, Presence 1 

WT: 12 + Brawn 

ST: 10 + Willpower 

XP 

Crystalline 

Metalline 

 

Ursus (anthropomorphic bears from the plane of cold; tribal;, nomadic, hunters difficulty dealing with other humanoids in diplomatic fashion, but capable of approaching situations without violence) 

Brawn 3, Agility 2, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 2, Presence 1 

WT: 13 + Brawn 

ST: 9 + Willpower 

XP 

Claws 

Maritimus (polar bear-based) 

Rusfelt (brown-bear based) 

 

Saraphim (similar to Aasimar, I suppose...semi-angelic-seeming creatures from the positive plane) 

Brawn 2, Agility 2, Intellect 2, Cunning 1, Willpower 2, Presence 3 

WT: 11 + Brawn 

ST: 11 + Willpower 

XP 

Rampant 

Celebrant 

 

Winnowers (odd, humanoids from the negative plane; sneaky, though not necessarily evil; shy; shunned by many) 

Brawn 2, Agility 1, Intellect 2, Cunning 3, Willpower 2, Presence 2 

WT: 9 + Brawn 

ST: 9 + Willpower 

XP 

Quencher 

Queller (negates or resists magic in some fashion) 

 

Orks 

Brawn 3, Agility 2, Intellect 1, Cunning 2, Willpower 2, Presence 2 

WT: 11 + Brawn 

ST: 8 + Willpower 

XP 

Blackskinned 

Greenskinned 

Halfblood 

Gain 1 rank in a non-career skill, and Coercion 1 

Orkish Heritage: select one ability from another ork 

Mixed Heritage: In situations where being either an ork or a human would be more or less beneficial, may make an Average (dd) Deception check to pass as whichever of the two you prefer 

 

Emberkin (small fire beings from the fire plane; tricksy, but not smart) 

Brawn 2, Agility 2, Intellect 1, Cunning 3, Willpower 2, Presence 2 

WT: 8 + Brawn 

ST: 11 + Willpower 

XP 

Small: Silhouette 0 

Smoulderkin 

Flamekin 

 

Entling (young ent) 

Brawn 3, Agility 1, Intellect 2, Cunning 1, Willpower 2, Presence 2 

WT: 14 + Brawn 

ST: 11 + Willpower 

XP: 

Large: Silhouette 2 

Coniferous 

Deciduous 

 

Human 

Brawn 2, Agility 2, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 2, Presence 2 

WT: 10 + Brawn 

ST: 10 + Willpower 

XP: 110 

Ready For Anything 

Honrolaydean 

Aurumlander 

Dunedweller (thinking from the southwestern desert) 

Font-Touched (from the far east, near the positive plane) 

 

 

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