Races: Go Gonzo!

The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope a has the videos of a really cool discussion from NTRGPCon about Gonzo gaming. I mean really folks, you’re there to have fun. And in my humble opinion, one of the best ways to go Gonzo in your game is with player character races. So here I go again painting things with broad stokes and just brainstorming a little.
Let’s face it the standard fit out of races has gotten pretty damned boring. Also, players want their characters to be cool. So instead of having a couple dozen classes that are only slightly different from one another make some of your standard “monsters” available as races for player characters and like I did before tweak and twist some of the tropes of the standard races. I already started down this path with some preliminary notes on a Sexy Alien Elves, Hillbilly Dwarves and  Pragmatic Orcs.
Hey but what about game balance? OSR games are a slave to number crunching but there still needs to be some balance. The idea here is not to overboard but still make some neat choices and keep things freaking simple. Let’s take on that big elephant in the room. Everybody wants to play Drow. Oh, admit it. To that I’m saying screw it. Nope. Just make Elves freakier and just a tad bit evil and mysterious. What about Dragons? Hmm, maybe that’s a good one. Maybe I can run with that.
There’s another 800 pound gorilla in the room too. Especially, when talking about races in an old school game. That’s racial classes. There are good arguments on both sides of this debate. I stand firmly in the middle and proclaim, “It depends.” First, the racial class has to be special and not just a rehash of another class. It has to have some flexibility so not every member of a race turns into a cookie cutter Fighter/Magic User (You know what I’m talking about.) It also has to be cool. Just doing it to do it or doing to balance more powerful races just for the sake of some sort game balance.
Let’s break down what I plan on ending up with when I start hacking into the crunch bits of this Frankengame.
The Standard Races: Humans, Elves and Dwarves are in. Half-Orcs and Half-Elves are out. I’m just tired of Half-Races. I don’t know why. Halflings and Gnomes are just about the same damned thing so make them just one race. Let’s call them Gnomlings.
“Monster” races: Like I said Half-Orcs out. But Orcs are in. Here’s some other creatures that are up for consideration (in no particular order): Centaur, Lizardfolk, Ogre, Bugbear, Goblin, Kobold, Minotaur.
Some Monster Races that would take a little tweaking of fluff but still have some good potential: Satyr, Lamia, Nymph, Dryad, Medusa, Naga, Doppleganer.
I admit that I said I hated Half-Races. But for some odd reason, I find Tieflings and Asamir to both be pretty cool. So they deserve some gonzoing up and twisting to make them a little more interesting.
I can’t say that these ideas just came about. Our little group has played plenty of gonzo type games with Pathfinder and 3.X. And I’ve seen the dangers of over powered races and how too much crunch from too many sources can end up dragging a game to halt. And also there Zak S. over at D&D with Porn Stars. Hell, his game is totally gonzo and totally cool. Just dig back and see what kind of characters are in his game and all the tweaks he’s done to so many of the standard tropes.

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