Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Save vs Lust (a Racial Mechanic)

Elves, dwarves and whatever else should be at least a little different from humans, or there's no point. Like, on some fundamental level, there should be a clear distinction. There never is though, because players have better things to care about, and that's ok.

If you want that distinction though, here's a storytelling mechanic you can use. (Storytelling?! In my OSR? It's more likely than you'd think.)

elves and dwarves and hobbits, oh my
Each race has a different vice - not drink or drugs necessarily, although those certainly are part of it. No, this is something much more deep seated in the species' culture or cosmology or whatever, a fatal flaw ascribed by the gods to their various clans of dramatis personae.

Once per session, a player may voluntarily roll a save vs this "racial vice", to find out how their character acts when that part of them is tested. Doing this earns them XP or Inspiration, whether or not they succeed, and they can get more benefits if the consequences of them failing are more dire.

If a character comes up against a test of another race's vice, they just use their normal better judgement like with anything. Or, for more fun, they constantly and fundamentally misunderstand the appeal of all other racial vices, to a fault.

(btw, these are written for the races as depicted in Standard Elfgame Fantasylands like the 5e default setting. Change em for your setting - in a lot of what I write on here, elves are the horny ones, f'rinstance.)

the most severe Good Cast to Bad Movie ratio since Ridley Scott's Prometheus
Humans: Save vs Lust

When you meet a half-orc or a half-elf, you never question what the other half was. Humans go for anything with a pulse. Roll vs sexy barkeeps, handsome princes and succubi.

Dwarves: Save vs Greed

They call it dragon-sickness, but that's just projection. There's a rumour that dwarves are just worker bee drones of the same species as dragons, anyway. Roll vs treasure, money and feasts.

Elves: Save vs Grief for Nature

This one's a bit more vague, but then we are talking about elves here. All the other races have jokes about how they get philosophical around trees. Roll vs seeing a tree cut down, picking a flower, or contemplating the life of a forest as you stroll through it in a reverie of numinous angst.

Halflings: Save vs The Quiet Life

Even the hardiest furfoot has to admit, there are times when she'd rather be at home with a good book, a warm fire and a pipe full of weed. In dangerous situations, there is always a halfling instinct, or perhaps destiny, to run and hide and wait for all this to blow over. Roll vs danger, adventure and your own potential for heroism.

Gnomes: Save vs Whimsy

You've never truly understood why your taller compatriots are always so brow-beaten and glum. Sure, it's a grim pseudo-medieval fantasy hellscape, but it's all in good fun, right? Roll vs etiquette, common sense and funerals.

Tieflings: Save vs Wrath

Brooding antiheroes aren't really cool right now (spoilers: they never were), but sometimes you need a good angsty yell sesh. There's hellfire in your veins after all, whether you like it or not. Roll vs being calm, letting people help you and self-actualisation.

Orcs: Save vs Hitting The Problem

The world is full of obstacles that require a delicate touch to surpass. And it's not that you don't know that, it's just that it's so tiring dealing with all the politics and backstabbing... Much easier to hit things. Roll vs traps, illusions and delicate social situations

how's that for a Racial Vice?


Josh said...

I like this a lot. Reminds me of Burning Wheel's racial stats, but simpler.

Dan said...

I dig this concept. I can imagine monsters adapting to prey upon specific psychological draws

D. G. Chapman said...

I haven't played BW, but Mouse Guard, which I think is a related system(?) has a Nature stat which I quite liked

D. G. Chapman said...

Mimics are just succubi for dwarves

Yami Bakura said...

I do like the idea, though if I were to use this, it would require some changes. I do like the Human one, though. Humans are total sluts.

TPmanW said...

I love the idea. I might have made the human one pride (although that sounds harder to play out). Elves can have lust, or maybe ennui/disinterest.

Mad King Christoher said...

I really like this idea, but I feel the need for some flexibility. I.e.: Humans- Pride or Lust, Elves- Pride or Angst, Dwarves- Greed or Manufacturing (why am I "adventuring"? If I'd stayed home, I could have honed my skills and really made a name for myself! And I'd save a bundle on healing potions!) Etc.