So it has been a long time since I wrote a TSI article. There are various reasons for that, but just because I have not been putting words to digital paper, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about this stuff. I have been doing a lot of thinking about it and a good chunk of my thought cycles have been dedicated to These Scattered Isles, my oceancrawl setting. And since I came up with a clever name for this article series, I might as well see if I can make a good old try for making this a weekly thing. So let’s go!
One of my big personal requirements for TSI has been the concept of a briefing document, a bunch of notes submitted before players begin the campaign so they know the basics of the world, including stuff like the gods, different factions, different class options that I’m restricting or providing, and, important to today’s article, the changes to the available races I’m providing.
So in the grindy spirit of the daily ramble, lets do some talkin’-
First, I’m cutting out Tieflings. THe devil kin make a statement about the world they exist in. They say “Hey, there are devils here” ANd that’s not a statement I want to make in TSI. I don’t want to run demons or devils as foes. In part because I don’t find them interesting, but also they don’t fit the lore. Devils and demons have weird lore in cannon D&D universes and I don’t want to deal with it in my world. I may use the statblocks for things, but I don’t want the baggage that the diabolic hold, and, by extension, tieflings.
Dragonborn are also out. I’m not going to say “there are no dragons anywhere,” but in a world with boats, dragons can be very scary and I don’t want to fall into that temptation of common dragons and such. We also use them a lot at our table. These may be, however, an “unlockable” race. I picture an island with the savage ‘cannibalistic’ dragonborn that can be captured and civilized or something. Think Queequeg from Moby Dick. I also want kobold to be reserved for these pygmy savages. Like those weird painted rats in some of the redwall books.
I’m also cutting out elves. I have a cool idea about elves, but I decided after a lot of thought that I had a lot of options and I could use my elemental elves in something else and it would make everything work better. (My drow in that project are awesome. Just saying).
The main reason of cutting elves is how I hate Trance. I don’t like it and I don’t want to deal with it. I ignore it fairly often anyway, but I don’t want it to be a thing in my world. And its easier to cut a race than it is to change it.
Half elves are also cut, by association.
Halflings sadly also must go. I had wanted to do something weird with them, but I never made it work. There may be a pun(n)y small colony of halflings somewhere but i don’t really expect anyone to berate the loss.
Humans are staying, gnomes are staying (with changes), dwarves are staying (with different options).
I’m cutting out half orcs, but that’s because I mostly forget they are there. They’re the try hard fighter/barbarian race and that doesn’t make a lot of sense as TSI has copious oceans, not wildlands.
I think that’s it for races from the PHB. I don’t think any of the other splat has allowed races. I pondered Warforged, but decided against a race that would sink to the bottom of the ocean in short order. It may make a fun campaign, but not for worldbuilding.
So what is Mad Matt going to add? Good question!
First the Darfellan. I need to pick up Stormwrack, the book they appeared, if only for more official pictures I can draw from. I don’t like a bit of their lore, but we’ve had one at the table to great effect. Of course, that was some cobbled together homebrew that had no cohesion or real impact on the world. So it’ll need rebuilt. We’ll use Chuuk’s character quirks as a basis for the civilization, but I want to do some cool stuff for the race. I mean, Killer Whales, what the darfellan were based on, are smart enough to use bait. And they can paralyze things with sonar pulses. Because they echolocate. They are cool and a crappy reskin is a poor tribute.
Second, I want merfolk in there. I think they can manifest legs/tail as an action, so it eats time in combat, but outside of structured turns, they’ve got free usage. I don’t have much else for them, yet.
Shardminds were an ‘unlocked’ race from the first run. They’re psychic rocks and they’ll have some cool powers. The Stone King is also a big player on a political scale, so that should be cool too.
Calmar is the working name. They’re half octopus. I’m not sure what I want to keep from it. The race hasn’t been played to good effect, yet. SO I need to work on that. Maybe badger a DM into letting me use it. I have a lot of conflicting thoughts and they bring it away from its origins. I dunno.
I’ve also though about Selkies, a Celtic legend of seal people who can become human. But I’m not sure on it. It feels thrown in randomly as opposed to blended with the world. Sanguin or Koa Toua as playable races is also a thought, but I haven’t decided if its a useable one or not.
And I’m sure there is a bunch of races out there I can use. If you have any I should consider, let me know! Other than that, we’ll come back and hit this some other time.
This article is number 3 of a daily D&D ramble Grind. If you have a topic Matt should cover, leave a comment!