Tela: The racial templates

tela

#1

Here are the racial templates I came up with, posted because Sharrukin expressed an interest in them.

Dwarves (inhabitants of caves and mines; zoological models naked mole rats and starnosed moles)

Male dwarf (-30 points)

Attribute Modifiers: ST -5 [-50]
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: Basic Move -2 [-10]
Advantages: Arm ST +1 (Two arms) [5]; Eidetic Memory (Aspected, spatial, -20%) [4]; Extended Lifespan 1 [2]; High Manual Dexterity +1 [5]; Night Vision 4 [4]; Sensitive Touch [10]; Versatile [5]
Quirks: Careful [-1], Chauvinistic [-1], Congenial [-1], Humble [-1], Serious [-1]

Female dwarf (-29 points)

Attribute Modifiers: ST -5 [-50]
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: Basic Move -2 [-10]
Advantages: Arm ST +1 (Two arms) [5]; Eidetic Memory (Aspected, spatial, -20%) [4]; Extended Lifespan 1 [2]; High Manual Dexterity +1 [5]; Night Vision 4 [4]; Sensitive Touch [10]; Social Regard (Respected) 1 [5]
Quirks: Careful [-1], Chauvinistic [-1], Congenial [-1], Serious [-1]

Worker dwarf (-70 points)

Attribute Modifiers: ST -7 [-70]
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: Basic Move -2 [-10]
Advantages: Arm ST +1 (Two arms) [5]; Eidetic Memory (Aspected, spatial, -20%) [4]; Extended Lifespan 1 [2]; High Manual Dexterity +1 [5]; Night Vision 4 [4]; Sensitive Touch [10]; Versatile [5]
Disadvantages: Chummy [-5], Selfless (12) [-5], Social Stigma (Valuable Property) [-10]
Quirks: Attentive [-1], Careful [-1], Chauvinistic [-1], Neutered or Sexless [-1], Serious [-1]

Elves (inhabitants of jungles and woodlands; zoological model gibbons):

Elf (64 points)

Attribute Modifiers: DX +1 [20]; IQ +1 [20]
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: Will -1 [-5]
Advantages: Acute Vision 1 [2], Attractive [4], Extended Lifespan 2 [4], Extra Arms (Two; Foot Manipulators, -30%; Short, -50%) [4], Longevity [2], Perfect Balance [15], Plant Empathy [5], Super Climbing 1 [3]
Perks: Androgynous [1], Sanitized Metabolism [1]
Disadvantages: Hidebound [-5]
Quirks: Chauvinistic [-1], Instinctively monogamous [-1], Playful [-1], Proud [-1], Responsive [-1]

Ghouls (inhabitants of deserts and urban peripheries; zoological model hyenas):

Ghoul (-30)

Attribute Modifiers: ST -3 [-30]; IQ -1 [-20]
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: Per +1 [5]; Basic Move -1 [-5]
Advantages: Combat Reflexes [15], Fearlessness 1 [2], Nictitating Membrane 1 [1], Night Vision 3 [3], Parabolic Hearing 1 [4], Reduced Consumption 2 (Cast-Iron Stomach, -50%) [2], Sharp Teeth [1], Silence 2 [10], Temperature Tolerance 1 (Hotter) [1]
Disadvantages: Social Stigma (Minority Group) [-10], Unattractive [-4]
Quirks: Alcohol Intolerance [-1], Distractible [-1], Nosy [-1], Playful [-1], Proud [-1]

Ghoul woman (-30)

Attribute Modifiers: ST -3 [-30]; IQ -1 [-20]
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: Per +1 [5]; Basic Move -1 [-5]
Advantages: Combat Reflexes [15], Fearlessness 2 [4], Nictitating Membrane 1 [1], Night Vision 3 [3], Parabolic Hearing 1 [4], Reduced Consumption 2 (Cast-Iron Stomach, -50%) [2], Sharp Teeth [1], Silence 2 [10], Temperature Tolerance 1 (Hotter) [1]
Perks: Musk [1], Reproductive Control (Reabsorption) [1]
Disadvantages: Selfish (12) [-5], Social Stigma (Minority Group) [-10], Unattractive [-4]
Quirks: Alcohol Intolerance [-1], Distractible [-1], Nosy [-1], Playful [-1]

Men (inhabitants of plains; zoological model horses):

Men (14 points)

Attribute Modifiers: ST +1 [10]
Advantages: Animal Empathy [5]
Quirks: Proud [-1]

Women (-10)

Attribute Modifiers: ST -1 [-10]
Advantages: Animal Empathy [5]
Disadvantages: Social Stigma (Second-Class Citizen) [-5]

Nixies (inhabitants of rivers and swamplands; zoological models beavers and otters):

Nixie (-20 points)

Attribute Modifiers: ST -3 [-30]
Advantages: Amphibious [10]; Breath-Holding 1 [2]; Nictitating Membrane 1 [1], Temperature Tolerance 2 (colder) [2]
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: Basic Move -1 [-5]
Perks: Honest Face [1]
Quirks: Broad-Minded [-1]

Selkies (inhabitants of beaches and islands; zoological model sea lions):

Selkie man (36 points)

Attribute Modifiers: ST +1 [10]
Advantages: Amphibious [10], Breath-Holding 2 [4], Nictitating Membrane 1 [1], Resistant to Decompression Sickness +3 [1], Slippery 1 [2], Temperature Tolerance 2 (colder) [2], Voice [10]
Perks: Fur [1], Penetrating Voice [1]
Disadvantages: Overweight [-1]
Quirks: Alcohol Intolerance [-1], Attentive [-1], Playful [-1], Proud [-1], Responsive [-1]

Selkie woman (15 points)

Attribute Modifiers: ST -1 [-10]
Advantages: Amphibious [10], Breath-Holding 1 [2], Nictitating Membrane 1 [1], Resistant to Decompression Sickness +3 [1], Slippery 1 [2], Temperature Tolerance 2 (colder) [2], Voice [10]
Perks: Fur [1], Penetrating Voice [1]
Disadvantages: Overweight [-1]
Quirks: Alcohol Intolerance [-1], Congenial [-1], Playful [-1], Responsive [-1]

Trolls (inhabitants of mountains and artic habitats; zoological model bears):

Troll (30 points)

Attribute Modifiers: ST +4 [40]; IQ -1 [-20]
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: Will +1 [5]; Per +1 [5]
Advantages: Damage Resistance 2 (Tough Skin, -40%) [6]; Eidetic Memory [5]; Extended Lifespan 1 [2]; Fearlessness 1 [2]; Metabolism Control 2 (Hibernation, -60%) [4]; Protected Vision [5]; Social Regard 1 (Feared) [5]; Temperature Tolerance 2 (colder) [2]
Disadvantages: Berserk (12) [-10]; Callous [-5]; Dyslexic [-10]; Hidebound [-5]
Quirks: Overweight [-1]

Trollwife (60 points)

Attribute Modifiers: ST +4 [40]; IQ +1 [20]
Advantages: Damage Resistance 2 (Tough Skin, -40%) [6]; Eidetic Memory [5]; Extended Lifespan 1 [2]; Fearlessness 1 [2]; Longevity [2]; Metabolism Control 2 (Hibernation, -60%) [4]; Protected Vision [5]; Social Regard 1 (Feared) [5]; Temperature Tolerance 2 (colder) [2]
Disadvantages: Berserk (12) [-10]; Callous [-5]; Dyslexic [-10]; Hidebound [-5]
Quirks: Overweight [-1]; Proud [-1]; Uncongenial [-1]


#2

Huh! Very interesting - I like the way you’re fitting each “race” into its own ecological niche and modeling them on certain kinds of animal behavior. Almost a naturalistic approach to fantasy world design, as opposed to the usual mythopoeic approach (e.g., Tolkien).

I’ve got an on-again-off-again low-fantasy project in my own folder that’s at least somewhat similar, one in which the world’s “races” are modeled on known or putative pre-historical hominins. “Dwarves” based upon homo neanderthalensis, “halflings” on homo floresienses, “elves” a gracile subspecies descended along a different line from homo erectus, and so on. Looks as if you’re allowing for a much greater degree of variance. Are your races assumed to be mutually interfertile? I’m guessing not . . .


#3

In fact, Tolkien was a very major influence on this project, though you will note that I have (a) no tree-based ents, (b) no inherently magical races (all the races can use magic and enter the spirit world), and (c) no “evil” races (Tolkien himself had later qualms about that). I was trying to give the same feeling as the entish long lists (“Man the mortal, master of horses/Half-grown hobbits, the hole-dwellers” and so on) but, as you say, much more naturalistic.

My races are not intended to be based on specific hominid species, though I felt free to take elements from various species; my underlying idea was that animals, plants, and terrains all have spirits, and that the affinities of the hominid races to different environments shaped their evolution. I didn’t want to come up with something that might go the way of Lowellian Mars as we figured out more about the behavior of extinct hominids! My basic model is that the different races mostly don’t choose to interbreed, that those who do mostly don’t procreate, and that if they do the offspring mostly aren’t fertile—but there are exceptions to all three. One of the PCs, Hanno, is a nixie, but his paternal grandmother was probably a human woman, and he’s a bit taller and bulkier than other nixies (his player took a quirk, “Bad Posture: Slouches and hunches over [-1]”). And there are magical rituals that can enable fertility, even between partners of different races. So there is gene flow at a nonzero rate.


#4

Okay, how do I tell this program that when I type left parenthesis, lower case c, right parenthesis, I do not mean the copyright symbol; I mean a lower case c enclosed in parentheses? Apparently the person who wrote the code has never seen a run in list. At least when Word substitutes something I don’t want I can hit command-Z and revert it. . . .


#5

(c) putting a backslash before the closing parenthesis seems to work. Damned clumsy, though.

(a) at least it hides them in cases like this.


#6

And use the preview to keep an eye on what’s being done (harder with mobile devices I know).


#7

Okay, I’ll test that:

(c) no “evil” races

Okay, it works. Thanks! It still seems like unsound programming—my god, Word handles the issue better—but I’m glad to know there’s a workaround.

(I’ve never looked at this page via a mobile device, by the way, not even a tablet. My desktop remembers my login for me, and it has a decent screen width; so I reserve online writing for sitting at my desk.)


#8

A bit more on this: I’ve finally come up with a cladistic treatment of the races of Tela.

First branching: Dwarves split off from other hominids.

Second branching: On the non-dwarf branch, a large stock splits off from a medium-sized stock.

Third branchings: On the large stock, a highly mobile, smaller stock splits off from a larger stock; on the smaller stock, a gracile stock splits off from less gracile “goblins,” which later become extinct.

Fourth branchings: The really large stock splits into ogres, which later become extinct, and trolls. In the mobile stock, selkies split off from a smaller, river-dwelling stock. The gracile stock splits into elves and ghouls.

Fifth branching: The river-dwelling stock splits into small nixies, native to rivers and swamps, and larger men, native to plains.

This came to me as I was thinking through the agenda for my next session of Tapestry. It’s not necessarily the only possible sequence, but I think it works reasonably well. It has men, nixies, and selkies as monophyletic, and likewise elves and ghouls, in each case with allopatric speciation; trolls and dwarves, the robust species, are more archaic and not especially closely related, and are not a proper clade, though they retain traits that the other races have lost.

I’m not sure that the very early divergence of dwarves makes the most sense; it might work better to have them split off from the goblins, retreating underground as their surface dwelling kin are driven to extinction.