BillionSix wrote:Actually, I chose elves for that reason. To me, elves in a lot of games are just another race. They are woodsy, they have pointy ears, they live a long time. As a Lord of the Rings fan, I think that elves should have an otherworldly quality to them. Not be unbeatable or super-powerful. I'm not trying to Mary Sue them, but they are the ones that get spells just for being elves. They are intrinsically magical, and I like the idea of their reproduction being a little odd. Plus, it explains why their long lifespan doesn't cause them to cover the earth, by limiting their population.
The problem (at least to my mind) isn't about making them unbeatable or super-powerful. It's about giving them an even more "special" background than before. Giving them extra otherworldliness - particularly magical/supernatural otherworldliness - just exacerbates the "Elves are so special" aspect. If anything I'd want to downplay the high-magic mysticalness of the elves, and make them more mundane than you'd expect rather than less.
One thing that has occurred to me though - having talked about using cultures similar to real-world ones...
Why not make the elven culture a faux-Japanese shogunate? Rather than having clerics, they can revere the elements and nature spirits; and their fighting styles and weapons would emphasise speed and grace rather than the emphasis on power that western fighting styles use.
And halflings? I disagree with you as to the idea of giving them weirdness. To me, they are almost aggressively non-weird. They are the quiet, normal ones. Let's be honest, if not for copyright reasons, they'd be Hobbits. You don't make Frodo and Sam cooler by giving them magic powers. They are cool because they are normal Hobbits who go out and do brave things.
That's exactly why I do
think they should get this particular brand of weirdness. On the one hand, it doesn't change the appeal of playing a normal halfling; because other than the ruler the rest of the halflings are all "normal". On the other hand it gives the race a bit more cultural depth than making them the generic just-plain-simple-folk.
I see the halflings and dwarves as being very non-magical by their very nature, so their reproduction wouldn't have too much strangeness to it.
I'm leaning towards proper Viking dwarves (with a large sea-faring fleet, and proper Nordic culture with moots and skalds so forth - not just the "angry beard on legs" cliché). Again, it is familiar enough to give the players a big handle on the culture to start from.
I do agree with you that 1,001 is far too few. I would say maybe 10,001. I don't see them having a massive nation or even large cities. A few forest based towns, plus a few wanderers. Remember medieval populations were much smaller. Even human nations wouldn't have the crowds we have now.
Don't forget that we're not talking about a real-world medieval population - we're talking about a fantasy population with magic and Immortal aid and so forth. Also don't forget that it's a big old setting. We're looking at a whole planet (which is just one of thousands), not just a continent. To give a real world example, a "few forest based towns" would be fine on a map of Britain, or maybe even on a map of Western Europe, but on a map of the world it would just vanish. With that few halflings (or elves) in the whole world
they may as well not exist, unless every adventure is contrived to take place within a few hundred miles of their homeland.
Here's an interesting thought. Imagine how the elves reacted when the human clerics came along and started resurrecting their elven friends. I can imagine elves running around flailing their arms screaming "Balance of nature! Balance of nature!"
How would Raise Dead affect things?
That is an interesting thought - one key element of the Dark Dungeons rules that might need to be incorporated in the setting is that there is something different about elves, dwarves and halflings. Other humanoids can become shamans or sorcerers, and they can't. But on the other hand, they can be raised and other humanoids can't.
Clearly there's something about a demi-human's soul that's different
from the other humanoid races.
In fact, it might be an idea to start from the top as it were, and look at the metaphysics of the setting before zooming in and talking about specific cultures...