Tag Archives: Races

Class Based Ability Scores

A few newer games that use base ability scores are using a mechanic where your race and/or your class actually adjust your randomly generated/point-bought ability scores.  Races have traditionally played this role, but for some reason, classes haven’t.  

So, when thinking about different races, it’s easy classical to define that race by what makes them different than being human – and that almost always tends to relate to the core ability scores.  They’re like a human, but stronger, or like a human but wiser.  A race is something you are – and your ability scores are often the primary vehicle for enumerating “what you are.”

Classes, on the other hand, have traditionally been about what you do.  So your class defines the abilities you gain as you advance in experience and training.  I think because of this dichotomy, classes haven’t traditionally been tapped with the duty of adjusting starting ability scores.

Still, I think I like this new direction.  If you close your eyes and think about a fighter, or a thief, or a wizard, you’re probably not just envisioning a set of skills, you’re likely also thinking about a strong, a quick, or a smart hero.  From a play balance and design perspective, it recognizes that if I pick a fighter, I probably want to play a strong character.  Since we know up front in the design that strength is probably a pretty important characteristic for a fighter, it’s nice to help make sure new fighters aren’t too gimped from the get-go and help give the player what they’re envisioning when they decided to play that type of character.

Another nice thing this can do is help represent the years of training that went on before a character became a first level thief.  When you start thinking about multi-classing, and a character with 8 years of apprenticeship in the local thieves guild starts dabbling in magic, why would they be just as good at each.  That extra bit of ability score for your first level class can help, if only a bit, differentiate your first class with all that background from any class switches over time.

So, I think I’ll probably give each class a bonus point to a statistic that’s primary to that class.  That ability will either be chosen for you, or I’ll give the player a choice between two (like Strength OR Vitality) for a Barbarian.

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The Three Pillars

D&D Next has posited that the Fantasy RPG Genre is built on three main pillars: Combat, Roleplaying, & Exploration.

Over the course of the last year, we’ve distilled the essential experiences of D&D down into three general categories: exploration, roleplaying, and combat. We believe these form the three main pillars of gameplay in D&D, and, while broad, they can help guide our design.

A part of the design philosophy going forward is that each of those three elements contains some very specific things that contribute to the game and culture that is Dungeons & Dragons. However, we also know that individual DMs, players, and gaming groups might favor one of those elements over another; of course, sometimes they might favor one element over the others in one session, and then completely reverse that preference in the next. The goal, then, is to support all three of those elements in the design of the game in such a way that the individual gaming group can choose its focus and have a satisfying game experience. This doesn’t mean we necessarily need the same amount of game mechanics supporting each; obviously, combat has tended more toward detail and more rules support, and that may well be true going forward, but we also want to make sure we’re paying a similar amount of attention to the other two experiences.

This philosophy is something we want to extend beyond just character design; it should affect adventure design, monster design, setting design, and every other aspect of the game. Our goal is to make it so that you make choices for your character that speak to your preferred play style, and that it’s OK to do so even if other members of your party make choices pointing toward a different play style. Adventuring demands a certain amount of competence in all three areas of the game, but when you customize your character you might push yourself more in one direction or another.

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First Draft: Races

I have some conflicting goals with the first draft of races.  If I make them ethnicity instead of races, I need quite a few to have a fleshed out area to explore in.  On the other hand, I want the basic build of the game to keep things simple with just a few races.  I think I’m going to write up about 8 races, and make 4 available initially.  I have 9 examples below, although the final draft may have more or less (if some don’t make the cut).

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Open Design – Races

My initial discussion of Races can be found here.

I’m not getting as much feedback as I had hoped, so I think maybe instead I’ll take another tack and start working on the game.  I think I’ll begin with Races.  Races are going to be based more on regions of the world, so part of me wants to start with a world map.  Maybe I’ll spend some time working on that.

I’d love to get some feedback on some ideas for races.  I’d like to have at least six core races, and as many as twelve.  I don’t have a structure for them yet, I’ll be working on that in the near future, so right now I’m just looking for some conceptual ideas of what might make an interesting background for a race.

I’m curious how much impact your race choice should have mechanically.  It could have no impact but your relationship with various factions, or it could change your ability scores, special abilities, class options ,etc.  On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is very little impact, and 10 is character defining impact, how much impact do you think the race should have on your character?

Races

I see races as a function of campaign setting, but it seems to me that a fantasy RPG needs to have some rules for the classics: humans, elves, dwarves, and maybe halflings.  Part of me wants to do away with this, because we’ve been doing elves and dwarves and halfings for a very long time.

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