A world with no core races.


Advice


I've been trying to work around a problem that I didn't think I'd run into. In my homebrew setting, which is a science fantasy, post-apocalyptic Earth, none of the core races (all in the core rulebook) exist. Humans because they were (mostly) wiped out by some force centuries ago, and the others because they simply never existed. Humans are still around, but they're a critically endangered species. (If you are drawing parallels with this setting of mine with a certain show about a human boy with a white bear hat and his magic talking dog, then congrats, you found the show I ripped off from :P)

So now there's the problem that there's no longer a "common" race. So my question is, has anyone else done this? What common race, if any, took the place of the core ones?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

What about Vanara:-D

Maybe throw in some Catfolk, Ratfolk, Tengu, Nagaji and Grippli :-)


In my homebrew, reptilians are the primary races. Think Planet of the Apes, but with a variant lizard-folk replacing ape-men. Then throw in dragon-born, a form of tiefling, faen, cat-folk, and half-giants as other minor races.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber

Goblins!

Because a world where goblins were the main race and the force for civilization would be beyond awesome!

Okay... seriously. My main issue with humans not being available is their flexibility. The ability to choose your floating bonus, the skill point and the extra feat make it possible to pull off nearly any concept with a human. With them not available as a player race, your PCs won't have nearly as much flexibility for many class concepts. Others may seem overpowered.

Are you going to be building in stat flexibility or variant heritages (a la aasimar and tiefling) for whatever your common race will be?


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Why not use the Race Builder rules from the Advanced Race Guide? Give everyone 10 points to play with and see where it goes...

And Candy People. Got to have Candy People.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

A friend still runs his 'fuzzy' game, with the 'CORE' races replaced by animal equivalents. I play a Dwarf/Badger, but there are Elf/Deer, half-Orc/Wolf and Halfling/Rabbits! This started when his then 8 year old wanted him to run a 'stuffed animal' game of D&D over a decade ago (she's in college now) and it kept growing. There are modifications to the regular races to fit the world (I have a 'dig' speed, Deer have antler attacks and Gnome/Moles get tremor sense.).

The original game was very story book; all simple, gooey problems with an emphasis on teamwork and massive happy-happy solutions (a bad guy cured by fresh donuts!). There is no significant problems from not having a 'human' based culture. And I still get to hate those Goblin/Rats!

Ooooo! Candy People! Awesome idea! LOL!


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The animal races(and the Ghoran) could be a product of human experiments or just plane evolution. Androids would fit as well if technology was involved.


Hmm wrote:

Goblins!

Because a world where goblins were the main race and the force for civilization would be beyond awesome!

Okay... seriously. My main issue with humans not being available is their flexibility. The ability to choose your floating bonus, the skill point and the extra feat make it possible to pull off nearly any concept with a human. With them not available as a player race, your PCs won't have nearly as much flexibility for many class concepts. Others may seem overpowered.

Are you going to be building in stat flexibility or variant heritages (a la aasimar and tiefling) for whatever your common race will be?

What I might end up doing is still have human as a playable race...for one PC. But if anyone else wanted to be a human purely for its mechanical flexibility, I could maybe have an alternate racial feature for races that are human-esque, like the elementalkin, changelings, or androids? Sacrifice some of their racial abilities to get a bonus feat + skilled? Although there is still the problem of those who would also want the floating +2...

As it stands so far, the group that I'd play this game with are interested in playing non-human races anyway, except for one player.

Dragon78 wrote:
The animal races(and the Ghoran) could be a product of human experiments or just plane evolution. Androids would fit as well if technology was involved.

Technology will most definitely be a thing, although androids are probably going to be more android-y and less "weird artificial humans with nano tats" like they are in Golarion.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber

So your world still has humanoid races, just not core ones? With changelings and elemental kin around, I'm thinking there must be a small village of humans around somewhere because most of those races are half-human variants.


My first thought was actually Kamandi over Adventure Time. Since 'The Last Human' seems to be a popular trope in this kind of setting I'd go ahead and allow one human. It will make interactions interesting.


Hmm wrote:
So your world still has humanoid races, just not core ones? With changelings and elemental kin around, I'm thinking there must be a small village of humans around somewhere because most of those races are half-human variants.

I plan on having those races be the descendants of humanity. Not quite fully human and there's no mistaking them for one with the possible exception of changelings if they get a good disguise kit. Androids were the creation of a transhuman faction of humanity that tried uploading their minds into these synthetic shells when the Very Bad Thing happened centuries ago, with very mixed results. And Elementalkin...not sure how to implement them yet.

Humans are still around, they're just as rare, if not more so, as assimars and tieflings are in Golarion...before the mysterious plane-touched population explosion in the Pathfinder Society, I mean :P

And speaking of plane touched, Im not sure about having them as playable races too. This is definitely supposed to be a science fantasy setting with the emphasis on science, but the supernatural is definitely a thing.

EDIT: and i now know I just forgot a few more humanoid races, the damphir and fetchlings and probably a few others. Ho hum...


I had a pathfinder setting where their were no core races, and the "human race" was humanoids with red tinted skin, computer like brains in their heads to allow for easier mental adjustments, telepathy, sharing morale bonuses, and genetic memory at the cost of seizures.

The other races were more... weird.

Giant ravens with twin tails that end in a mass of finely manipulating tentacles, acting in the place of arms. The ability to assimilate the traits of any creature who's corpse they feed upon. Flight. Biology that allows for more grafts than normal. Carrion scent.

Giant eyeless amphibious serpents with humanoid arms and heads who's scales have immensely minor bioluminensce, but also function as weak photo-receptors allowing them to "feel" colour with a touch. Their scales are also sealed to the extent they can function in space.

Small black gremlin like creatures that experience time faster than other creatures, allowing them to not only move and heal extra ordinarily fast, but also causing them to live immensely short lives and need to eat, drink, sleep, and breath more. Plus, diseases and poison afflict them amazingly quickly. Finally they can rewrite small bits of time now and then.

Organic machines similiar to warforged, though technically aberrations rather than constructs. Because of how mutable they are designed, with heal checks you can rearrange and reprogram their organs and tissues, allowing them to change between different ability sets whenever required. Could have flight one day, and swords inside their arms the next, to increasing speed, to becoming a quadreped.

And then my favourites, sentient psionic wolfspiders that stand at least 8 feet tall and are masters of biological science. They have a head that can rotate 360 degrees, six legs pointing up and six pointing down because they evolved in subjective gravity environments. Their exoskeletons possess tron-lines that they can use to show emotion (since they can't use facial expression). This only describes the female though, the "males" are simply Tiny sized spiders with humanoid arms that exist only as drones and servants to the females that spawned them (through spending a power point).

... I did like these races, they won a forum-based PF competition once.


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It depends why you want to build this world. If it's about fun for players, keep in mind these seven core races exist with a reason. They all appeal to different player types, with their unique physical appearance, background story and mechanics (half-elves somewhat undermining the idea). So take care to not only build races you personally like but cover a broad range.

If you want to build races from scratch, start with single words, e.g.:

brute cunning flexible xenophobic harmony inventive honor alien

Then build around that:

What physical traits make them that way?
What mental traits make them that way?
What consequences do these traits have for their society?
What do they consider favorable and unfavorable?
Who are / were famous or infamous members?
Who are exceptional members, breaking the cliche?
How do they interact with other races (likely different for different races)?
etc. etc. etc.

That might feel overly methodic, but it significantly helps to flesh out a world...


As a quick question, while altering a lot of the primary source material this much, is the PF rules set the one you actually want? Is it just a want for a d20 system, if so I am sure there may be a 3rd party product that has a lot of what you are looking for.

Otherwise, off the top of my head

Kitsune
Catfolk
Tengu
Ratfolk things
Grippli
All the goblinoids as mutant/human descendants

Or let the players be humans. Rarity is not really that much of a concern as far as player characters go. It just helps them stand out. It could be a pretty fun campaign if they were representatives of the last human village going out into the world.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

C'mon go with Vanara, just go with the new planet of the apes, not the Marky Mark one :-)

Also if you want to get dark have Kuru from Isles of The Shackles

Couldn't be hard making a turtle race... or other mutant animals (TMNT after the bomb, get it if you can find it)


My wife came up with a world where Elves, rather than Humans, are the predominant race. If translated to the Pathfinder system, you'd probably say that Elves, instead of their normal racial adjustments, get the Human +2 to any score and all other races have their stats based on where they sit relative to Elves. Nearly all races would have a -2 to Int and Dex, most likely, though significant advantages to Str and Con would be common. Alternatively, you simply have a void spot where the "meterstick race" would usually occupy. Typically, Humans are the "average, neither good nor bad at anything" race and other races specialize around them. Elves are "smarter and more agile, but also not as strong" while Dwarves are "wiser and hardier, but not as charismatic". But if there's no "middle-ground" race, that doesn't invalidate all the other adjustments, it's just that they aren't being "compared" to a specific race; they are being compared to some hypothetical, mathemagic average among all races which no race actually occupies. I've even seen this kind of a scheme with Humans, where they are just as specialized as any other race rather than occupying the "middle spot" (iirc, they were "Charismatic and Hardy, but lacked Wisdom).


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Honestly, it all depends what you want for your setting. There's a lot of fun possibilities, but I'd say the biggest thing to keep in mind is to make your 'core' races have a wide array of ability scores so PCs can feel free to play a number of concepts...and feel free to invent new races, refluff existing races extensively, or tweak existing races, using either the race builder to add or swap things out, or making some alternate racial traits the new defaults....or just rename a few traits. (I know I, at least, object to dwarves - the supposedly Lawful Good race - having racial traits called Greed and Hatred...)

For example, I've been playing around with a setting where elves have a more draconic theme...in the setting wizardry was invented due to dragons being curious if races without innate magic could learn to utilize it, and chose elves because they were long-lived and intelligent, thus creating the first elven dragon-witches (someday I will write the archetype, I tell myself), tutored by dragons, and the dragon-witches' own apprentices became the first wizards, while other supernatural creatures took note that nonmagical races could be made into useful tools/allies. It's believed by some races that dragons may have altered elves in some way to be even more long-lived, and originally they were far less so, but just because elves have skin coloration that mirrors the coloration of chromatic and metallic dragons, slit eyes, and a few rare ones gain special powers (the elven equivalent of the noble drow), usually bald and showing fine scales, is no reason to believe such rumors! And yeah, this was playing around with elves and dragons both often being portrayed as proud creatures with magical prowess who often view themselves as being superior to others.

Anyways, that's just an example of a possible flavor alteration...played with another, more complete one where tieflings (new racial name undecided) are a chaos-influenced default race with their own culture and whatnot, allowing all the variants as representing how chaotic their biological development is, natural weapons being the default for replacing spell-like ability, rather than humanoids with fiendish blood...but yeah, no need for me to ramble on too much. There's lots of possibilities.


Any race can be reskinned to fit a science fiction theme. Even the plane touched races could fit in. Instead of being descendant from outsiders they are mutants, or the product of genetic engineering. If enough time passed there could be stables strains of mutants that formed into tribes. This could allow you to use any race in the book except maybe human. Actually the more races there are the better.

Dark Archive

Starfinder Superscriber

I have ran games just using the Dreamscarred Press races. For Sci-Fi I would add Androids(maybe Warforged or Wyrwood depending on the group's tastes), Aasimar and Tiefling(as Advanced Humans),Fetchlings(humans that escaped the catastrophe by going to the Shadow plane), and Drow/Duergar/Svirfneblin as races that fled underground to survive.


Use Grippli, because they are adorable, and criminally underutilized.


Talislanta is the game featuring "still no elves". It's in either its fourth or fifth edition, and two of the premises is that A) there is no dominant race and B) none of the races that seem to get added "because Tolkien did it" were added here. I don't know how that game runs or how exactly the world was built, but I plan to look into just on those two premises. And it sounds like it's something you want to check out, too.

For my part, one of the rules I had in place when I started coming up with my own world was "none of the tired, overused standard seven" (this rule was soon followed by "no vampires or werewolves"). It occured to me that the fact that every race would still be some variation of the human form would be something that in-universe scholars would notice, so I decided to keep humans in the world, but only as a progenitor race that ceased to exist tens of thousands of years ago that the other races are descended from.

As far as dominant races go, I eventually went with a variation of minotaur, complete with the famed minotaur inability to get lost. Such an ability would mean that, while all the races would try exploring, only the minotaurs would show success at returning. So theirs would be the culture that would propagate most throughout the world and define it. Which isn't to say that my world's variation on minotaurs is the most populous; just that the world calender, the arbitrary decision of which is the northern hemisphere vs the southern, the units of measurement, etc. are the way they are because they originally come from minotaur culture.

What do the individual races bring to the world? Also, how does that let them compete against the other races? I've got a race of merfolk with the ability to echolocate, and through the long-range properties of water-based echolocation, they form the backbone of world communication prior to magic (since whale-song can be heard for miles). This doesn't make them a world power, but it makes all the other world powers want to stay on good terms with them.


Planet of the Apes did a nice example of what can happen after a cataclysm wipes out most of humanity - common animals take over, especially those kept as pets before. There common pets suffered a practical wipeout before humans did and so apes became the new pets, but without that part the whole glory could have gone to cats, dogs and rodents with a less frequent addition of other animals.
Thus you could end up in a world dominated by uneasy alliances and old hostilities between catfolk and ratfolk, gnolls who never really adapted to recivilisation, rare occurences of mighty but isolationist lizardfolk and..yes gripplis in the more sunken regions.


To be fair, PotA was also...

Spoiler:
...a predestination paradox because some of the intelligent apes from the future traveled back to the past and it was their child who "taught" all the common apes of the present and near future to be intelligent and to speak.

Back to the topic at hand, maybe some world-changing event like a globe-spanning, unstable, mass Awaken spell first awakened ALL the animals (and plants, I suppose) which then easily evolved into Humanoid races while all the existing Humanoids (that survived) became Native Outsiders, and all the material plane Outsiders (that survived) became material plane Gods. Extraplanar Outsiders would either be "natived" to the material plane, giving Native Demons and Angels and such who just "happened" to be on the Material Plane at the time of the cataclysm, or auto-banished (equivalent to "change or die" for other races). Not sure how to treat Undead, Dragon, Fey, and Construct types, though.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Chatted on this last night with some old players and one proposed that each of the seven 3.0 races did a plus/minus (She only played 3.0) and was pounded by most everyone. I tossed in that she had a point and became the new pariah. While being pummeled by several present, I got one to pull up the races from my game and lay them out by stats. Once done, she pointed out that of the 30 plus I allowed in 3.5, there were 4-6 with bonuses to each ability score with a minus, to almost every other ability. Elves got multiple bonuses and a couple were net minuses, but I also had multiple 'duplicates'. I only missed 4 of a possible 30 combinations and those were in my 'working' file. As everyone there had played in my 3.0 and 3.5 games, with over a dozen races among them, the conversation turned to 'slot filling' while I was reloading at the dessert bar. Most settled into the view that there should be a basic race for each slot and a couple of mechanical and flavor variants. Sorry, I didn't get the list of slots. Heck, I disagree that several even exist outside deranged minds!

As we began losing people, I mulled the various 'Dragonic' races I allow and realized that each was a sliver of the 'Dragonic' concept. An armored race of semi-dwarves, magic lizard-gnomes, bat-kobolds, etc., I had most themes covered. I also saw that each of the really developed ones were enough different mechanically and in their fluffiness that none of my players had ever confused them.

My Elves, Humans, etc., all get their variables primarily from fluff and follow on abilities. Most sub-races are cultural rather than stat differentiated, and I torqued up a number feats into worthwhile background feats. A Great Forest Elf is almost mechanically the same as one from the Grey Vold, but the background feats give massive changes of options, from Ranger and Hunter abilities to summoning lists and Druid archetypes. I had 3 Elves from these two origins in the last group I ran, and they really got into a friendly competition (think Gimli any Legolus) that really contributed to the comraderie of the game. Heck, I missed several sneaky jabs and jokes amongst those players about cultural foibles and such that pumped Coke through noses, minute plus delays and people rolling on the floor. Great role play and I missed it!

The takeaway would be that you shouldn't have seventy different Elves with no real differences to speak of, nor races with the Star Trek habit of 'humans with different make up'. The table's consensus was that players want real differences in what they play, so that they CAN role play! I cry that of the people at the table, only three are even able to play in the coming campaign.

To Kazaan: I love your solution to the whole question!

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