Saturday, September 12, 2020

Considerations on Fantasy Folk, Part 1

D&D tends to minimize the differences between core playable races. In D&D 5e, they usually give you small bonuses to primary attributes, small perks, and maybe a racial language. In 3.5 and Pathfinder, they are similar, giving abilities you can choose from to improve your Character Build.

In earlier editions, non-humans were restricted in what classes they could be, or were a class in and of themselves, but this seldom resulted in fundamental changes to how a character solved problems. If the elf class is simply a wizard with a bow and armor, they are effectively humans with slightly fewer game-rule restrictions.

For the folk of Vain the Sword, I have gone in the opposite direction. Differing species have bodies and minds that lead to very different lived experiences and concerns. The way these concerns affect adventurers emerge through play, but I find it worth considering how communities with different ideas about necessities and abilities might function, in ways that can be reflected at the table. 

In this project, I cannot give considerations on every folk. For instance, talking animals and golems are so varied as to be impossible to consider in their totality. In this first installation, I will be focusing on eulogy, orcs, and serset, since those folk are more common in my current weekly game.

Eulogy (snake-like creatures with no legs. Cold-blooded. Flexible)
  • Buildings typically lack stairs or ladders, preferring poles instead.
  • In poorer settlements, families may pair off and live in one house during winter to cut down on firewood consumption.
  • "The duke's son, who was unfortunately born with legs, had special ramps constructed between his main quarters and the courtyard to help with his disability."
  • A fortress hallway with small alcoves behind hidden panels in random hallways, built to hide coiled eulogy to ambush invaders.
  • Square beds to facilitate coiling.
  • "The ambassador rushed to his room but saw that no one was in it. Suddenly, hissing laughter floated down and he gazed up at the thin rafters to see the assassin--"
  • Some meals are offered without utensils, for it is only good manners to swallow them whole.
  • Proud parents save the first shedded skin of their children to mix into potions of good fortune.
  • The first function of a nursery is to make the mother comfortable for the months spent keeping laid eggs warm.
  • Eulogy shackles take the form of a long stick with straps running down it, the prisoner pulled taut and held in place.
  • "It is ludicrous that my brother was chosen as heir when I am his clutchmate, and have twice the learning and wit that he does!"
  • Miners favor picks, mattocks, and hand-shovels, never something that assumes you can step down on it.
  • A slithering eulogy does not need snow shoes, since they can slither. However, to do so is considered dangerous.
  • Adventurers can easily use their trusty 10-foot pole as a ladder.
  • Nobility often have winter homes in warmer climes or near hot springs.
  • Some warriors favor long shields to cover their lower half, since metal armor is not usually practical.
  • Travelers commonly carry black, heat-retaining stones in netting during the day, relying on them in the early part of night.
  • Passageways can be much smaller when it is assumed that those using them will not be carrying much.
  • Thrust-focused weapons are considered weaker.
  • Among minor nobility, non-eulogy guests may be presented with light ladders to aid in navigating the household. Higher nobles may even have sections of their homes built for non-eulogy, or staircases built in out-of-the-way locations for the clumsier races.

Orc (can see in darkness and firelight, but not sunlight.)
  • It is not uncommon to see an orc walking with a lit torch by daylight. (Yes, this is how this works.)
  • Homes lack shutterless windows.
  • Settlements often have permanent wooden awnings or cliff overhangs between major locations.
  • Hunters encounter nocturnal prey more frequently than other folk do.
  • Travelers seldom camp by the road when they can retreat to the shade of trees.
  • Someone forced to travel by day without any fire, will walk facing their own shadow.
  • In diverse settlements, bells and barkers are replaced with silent alternatives, such as chimes made of colorful fabric.
  • Some adventuring parties and military units which are not primarily made up of orcs may assign one as a "night-captain," with the role of directing marches through darkness.

Serset (parasites who control the bodies of those they infest. Live in lakes when without a host. Three-member reproduction that results in the death of participants. Gender based heavily on host-imprinting.)

  • All societies are dependent on the proximity of other kinds of folk. There is near-universal emphasis on learning the tongues and customs of neighbors.
  • "Lawful" serset pools are known to harshly punish blatant seizure of host bodies, to avoid the reputation of being, as a race, raiders and slavers.
  • Depriving someone of a host once they have already inhabited one is to demand a deep sacrifice, on the level of asking a high noble to give up their birthright.
  • Pools will always have a complex of buildings beside them to service controllers guarding the community from interlopers or predators. Smallers pools will even have fences.
  • In climates with freezing weather, serset will stick together at the bottom of pools or stay in warm barrels for the duration of inclement conditions.
  • Everyone has over a hundred siblings. Incest is not taboo.
  • "Dungeon" complexes never have lethal traps.


  1. This post is a torch that allows everyone to see in the light/dark...

  2. Re: the snake people: I can't not think of them as the Eugoogoly.