Friday, April 26, 2013

Let's not talk about race

A few weeks back, I ran Austin Jimm's Contemptible Cube of Quazar, and I used these OD&D character generation rules, giving each player 10,000 XP to make as many or as few characters as they'd like, dividing the XP as desired. It ended in a glorious TPK, but that's not really the point of this post.

If you look carefully, you'll notice that race isn't referenced anywhere in the character generation document. I just didn't have room, and I figured we could handle it at the table. But an interesting thing happened that I hadn't anticipated. No one brought it up (with the exception of one player who said, "I want to be a black guy.") Now, this is a group that has a strong love for wacky character races, and I always get flummoxed by the race thing. I like to offer a wide variety of options, but I really don't like trying to sit down and codify special abilities for 30 different races, and that comes from the experience of having done it.

Another thing was this character I made and played at GaryCon. Since it was based off of Necron 99 from the wonderful film Wizards, I had no idea what race it was, and it didn't really matter.

So all of this has led me to believe that perhaps the question isn't race-as-race vs. race-as-class. Maybe it just doesn't matter. Maybe we can just toss race out the window entirely, at least as a mechanical game thing. Sure, you can be a kobold if you want, but it's more about how you look than how you function in the game. I think maybe next time I play a game with my home group where we make new characters, I'll just ask everyone to describe the appearance of their character, or even better - bring a picture! My hope would be that we would get some interesting things that are outside the scope of the traditional D&D stuff, like Necron up there, or something like the group on the title page of the Cook/Marsh Expert rule book, or perhaps something like this guy: