|Rosita the Riveter|
I've really run into issues portraying races in my setting. I know I want to have Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs, but at the same time, I can't really figure out a way to do it that isn't problematic as all hell, at least using the Pathfinder race mechanics. My setting takes place in what is clearly meant to be the mid to late 20th Century in the United States, and race relations are a major political issue. To put it succinctly, taking the Pathfinder race system where races have inherent bonuses or penalties to intelligence, or wisdom, or strength, or what have you reads so wrong in a setting where the Civil Rights Movement is in full swing. You're basically providing a hardcore mechanical justification for scientific racism at the same time you're having a setting that says scientific racism is bad. I think I found the solution to this, but I want to cover something else first.
I've also had issues fitting fantasy races into non-European cultures, though I think I solved that well enough. I've been wanting to treat Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs as forms of Human for years now, and I came upon the idea that different regions have different divine pantheons, and the act of splitting Humanity into multiple distinct races, and then assigning specific roles or hats to those races, was only practiced by one pantheon, the quasi-European one. So, Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs are only a European phenomenon. Now, I run on the logic that the gods can be right a$%+**&s, and are very often wrong or self centered in their behavior, so this practice isn't going to be portrayed as a good idea. It will, however, later be used to try and justify scientific racism, because the Europeans are going try and say their racial specialization makes them better at doing stuff. It isn't, though, and that'll be reflected in the fact that racial choice doesn't actually confer mechanical benefits. Essentially, my Pathfinder race system won't reflect racial choice at all. You'd say your character is an Elf, and that would say a lot about the environment you grew up in and cultural attitudes, but you won't gain any ability score modifiers or special abilities or bonuses as a result of being an Elf.
Onto what I intend to do with Pathfinder's mechanical race system, since I wouldn't be modelling race. Being a more modern setting, adventuring is well and truly dead. The government takes care of monster hunting, evil mages, lichs, demons, giant hordes of undead, and various other threats directly, rather than hire a bunch of vigilantes and murderhobos to do it. The player characters are therefore government agents, and because they're specialized assets, they are rather more capable than normal people. The government doesn't just send anyone to fight powerful magical threats, after all, and the government is well willing to work with certain categories of monster or magical beast if they can be reasoned with. That's where the Pathfinder race system comes in. Instead of modelling what race you were born into, it models what is special enough about your character that the government became interested in recruiting them.
Maybe you're a Werewolf (or Were-othercreature). That could be a "race". Or specific types of vampire (I treat vampire as a broad category that just means "intelligent humanoid blood drinker", not a specific creature with a given Bestiary entry and predictable powers and weaknesses, so I could create some sort of playable vampire. Same applies to Werewolves, actually.). Or maybe you can derive magical enhancements to your body through tattooing intricate designs on your skin (most people would get sick from that kind of magic, but not you). Maybe you're a Tiefling, and have some inherent magic as a result. Maybe you belong to the Hengeyokai or Skinwalker, animal shapeshifters who lack the brutal power of werewolves, but have magic powers to make up for it. Maybe you're just a prodigy at witchcraft. Maybe you're so good at controlling your own ki and have trained so bloody hard in martial arts that you eventually gained magic powers. That's 7 races right there, but I think we can do more. Many more. That's where this thread comes in. I'd love to hear ideas for what other "races" I could implement that fit this theme of the characters being special in some way. I'd especially like some ideas that an otherwise normal person could be inflicted with later in life.
Also, I'm wondering if this idea sounds as good to you guys as it does to me.
|Wicked Woodpecker of the West|
Now I'm not really sure about this idea.
Because first you want to flat out differences between various folk to promote equality and fight scientific racism, even though differences between those basic races are small and assuming Pharasma is rolling 3d6 in raw for basic NPC's - 95% of human, orcs, elves and dwarves will fit into the same box with only some being really exemplars of turbo-Intelligence or really low Charisma. Which is let's say really weak base for scientific racism... way weaker than their theories in RL.
And even then problem with SR is not that they can note statistical differences between various groups - but because they want to persecute people base on it - obviously if orcs are -2 Int and Elves +2 Int there will be bit more elven wizards. Problem is when 16 Int Orc cannot study wizardry because of... medium results of Orc schooltest were too low.
There is a problem on a moral level.
But then with eliminating any biological diversity among our multi-species crowd... you want to make playable races only... well rare magical mutations, undead, spirits and stuff. Which sounds like it's based on their inherent, biological (well maybe not in vampires case) advances and privileges.
Now wouldn't it be thematically more coherent if you yeah can be member of usual species of United States of Golarion, who trained well in Pathfinder Grand Lodge academia and earned it like from basics...
And then most of talents you said - can be achieved not by races by more by you know class advancement.
Witch, Varisian sorcerer, Shifter, Monk and stuff.
If you wanna really make it more Avengers Initiative... just make much less PC classes among NPC's - when there is 1 shifter, 3 shamans, 2 witches and 4 monks on 100 000 commoners then result will be achieved as well. And it would be easier I suppose to just use class mechanic which is in place.
Starfinder is the correct bsis for 20th century humans. They were brought up with an awareness of science and technology that limits them to 6th level spells, but lets them have computers and cell phones. Many elves, gnomes, and dwarves have retreated to communes in nature or demiplanes, allowing them to take Pathfinder classes.
Spacefinder races, including humans, will be trying to eliminate bigotry and superstition, to push forward evolution. Some humans have intentionally been abducted and raised in the higher technological environment, like Gary 7.
Starfinder Elves will have similar stats but their magical stats will be replaced with technical savvy. Many will be Mystics or Technomancers. The ominous suit and fedora of men in black is really a hat of disguise and armor with the chameleon quality.
Rituals are good for applying magic tattoos and such.