Complete Races

Complete Control: Character Design for the Uninhibited began the process of taking game design out of the hands of game designers while putting it back into the hands of the individual players where it belongs. As powerful as that work is, it did not touch on races and racial design. Complete Races is written from the perspective of recognizing that a tool is needed to give Game Masters the ability to create playable races or sub-races. With the tools contained within this work, Game Masters should have a much easier time generating races that are in reasonable balance with each other. Furthermore, Complete Races will also allow Game Masters to scale the power of the existing races (published or homebrewed) so that a better equilibrium can be achieved. With this work, Game Masters will have the ultimate say in the amount of power contained within each race. No knowledge or use of Complete Control is necessary to use this work.

Racial Points and Rules for Pricing Racial Abilities

In a gaming system where Game Masters can make the power of the races within their world more fluid, there is a need for a genetic currency standard in order to get a feeling of balance within the races. Just as a character’s experience points (XP) roughly determines the power of any particular character, races in this system are given racial points (RP) that can be spent as currency. The game master can set a certain level of power for their particular game and the races can be modified and adjusted to fit the expected level of racial power.

The guidelines for determining the power of a given race are simple. Game Masters that want to run a game where almost all of a character’s power comes from the character’s class and abilities rather than the character’s race should consider running games where the races are designed with 7 RPs or less. Game masters who desire to run games where the characters get most of their power from their class abilities but do gain a few uniquely powerful benefits from their race should consider races that are designed with up to 10 RPs or less. Game Masters who want to create races that have considerable racial power regardless of the amount of power gained from class abilities could consider designing races with as many as 15 RPs or more.

As with all elements of a role-playing game, the level of power granted to a race is not just the sum total of the power of the individual racial traits, but also in how well those traits synergize with each other. In other words, it is possible to create an 8 RP race that in certain situations is more powerful than a 10 RP race, particularly if the 8 RP race has racial abilities that synergize especially well with each other. Yet even in this case the 8 RP race will seldom be more versatile than then 10 RP race.

Table 1 gives broad generalizations as to how racial abilities should be priced. The rules that follow are merely guidelines and exceptions certainly can exist. However, using the following rules should allow Game Masters the ability to design new races and modify existing ones according to their expectations of power.

When designing races, certain limitations should be followed. Good race design should not contain more than two abilities that serve as limitations to the character. Races should have a few abilities that synergize well together as well as a few abilities that while conceptually related do not officially interact with each other. A race should be designed so that it has a niche where it excels but that it can be productive outside its niche as well.

Examples of Existing Racial Abilities

Table 2: Existing Racial Abilities lists the racial abilities of the standard and psionic races, the races published by Dreamscarred Press in the Third Dawn Campaign Setting, as well as a few interesting abilities from several monsters that are listed as playable races. This table should aid Game Masters in approximating the power level of a homebrew racial ability or a racial ability for a race not officially supported within this work. Thus, Game Masters can approximate the power of a race from any source before adding the race into the game.

This table is given purely as an example to illustrate the rules above. It does not present all the possible traits that races can have.

Examples of Existing Template Abilities

The same rules that apply to races should also apply to templates. This is because templates are just another way of taking a race and modifying it to develop a new race based upon the desired template. Thus, applying the rules given above, Table 3: Existing Template Abilities breaks down the three open content templates of half-celestial, half-dragon, and half-fiendish (whose abilities mimic the half-celestial). Things such as ability score adjustments and template abilities that mimic racial abilities already listed in the prior chart (such as darkvision) are not included in this chart. Game Masters can simply follow the rules and patterns above with the work done in this section to extrapolate results necessary for other templates as needed.

Table 3: Existing Template Abilities

Pricing the Most Common Standard, Psionic, and Dreamscarred Press Races

Table 4: Pricing Races, below, lists a pricing for some of the more commonly used races available. This chart shows that in a standard game Humans, Elves, or Halflings are the standard in terms of power (8 RPs) among the LA +0 races. The chart also demonstrates that Drow, Duergar, Lizardfolk, Aasimar, and Tiefling deserve to have their LA, as their scores are nearly double the average of 8. The chart also shows that Dwarves, Jettur, Ophiduans, Half-Giants, Gnolls, Hobgoblins, Adonai, Gnomes, Dromites, and Chaimairan are slightly more powerful than the standard set by Humans, Elves, and Halflings and could either be powered up to a full LA +1 or powered down to be a true LA +0 (assuming the game wants to use a standard of 8 RPs per race). Below the average, it also says that Elans, Half-Elves, Xephs, Blues, Maenads, Goblins, Kobolds, Orcs, and Half-Orcs have some room to improve before even rightly being considered a full LA +0.

Determining Level Adjustments

It is possible to extrapolate a pattern from table 4 for determining appropriate LAs for both races and templates. Races deserving an LA +1 should have approximately double the expected standard (in this case, 16 RPs). Races with an LA +2 should have approximately triple the expected standard (in this case, 24 – indicating that the Drow may be a touch weak for an LA +2 race). Continuing this pattern will give expected values for increasing LAs.

However, it should be noted that changing the base standard will alter the likelihood that this pattern will maintain accuracy. Using a base of 10 RPs means that LA +1 races should have 20 RPs and LA +2 races should have 30 RPs. This is still reasonably accurate. However, using a base of 15 RPs would imply that LA +1 races would have 30 RPs and LA +2 races would have 45 RPs. In this case, the LA +2 race in a 15 RP standard game is equivalent to a slightly weak LA +5 race in a standard 8 RP game. The point is that as Game Masters increase their standard RPs for LA +0 races their ability to use RPs to properly determine proper LAs will diminish.

Using These Rules to Upgrade Existing Races

The most basic application of these rules is to enable GMs to alter races within their specific games. As demonstrated above, there are many races that could stand to have an upgrade to their power or their versatility. As an example of this process, the Half-Orc is often considered one of the least versatile races available in the OGL. Any improvement of the race should begin with the qualities of the Half-Orc. Using these as a base for analysis it is certainly clear that the Half-Orc could stand a bit of improvement. Of course, there are many directions that could be taken, and this work puts forth two alternative perspectives for the Half-Orc built to an 8 RP level.

Half-Orc Variant One – The Dalanesk: The Dalanesk are a specific tribe of Half-Orcs that have worked hard to take the natural tendencies of their race and extend their functionality. This nation of Half-Orcs is located among the steep cliffs of the mountains and plateaus, and they gain a +2 racial bonus to Climb and Jump checks. However, their time spent in the mountains has somewhat reduced their mobility {They can maintain this speed under medium and heavy loads}. Furthermore, they have developed the ability to sacrifice their ability to move in order to give them a temporary boost in staying power. {As a free action 1/day the character can take a -2 penalty to DEX and receive a +2 to CON. So long as they take no movement except a 5 foot-step this effect remains for up to 5 rounds. Moving more than 5 feet in any round immediately breaks the effect.} As they have perfected their defensive posturing, they have mastered techniques specifically designed to foil the attacks of Elves. Finally, their days climbing through the mountainsides has given them a need to rely less on carried weapons. They have developed the ability to use their mouth and fingernails as natural weapons, gaining a bite attack and two claw attacks.

Half-Orc Variant Two – The Purloon: The Purloon are a nation of Half-Orcs that have developed near water. They have been able to maintain their base land speed as well as their darkvision. However, their tribe’s ability to adapt to the water has brought their subtype into greater skill with swimming. They can hold their breath for as many rounds as their Constitution score. Additionally, the webbing that has developed in their feet and hands enables them to be profound swimmers, giving them a swim speed equal to 30 ft per round. Finally, all of the extra time spent in the sun and the harsh salty water has toughened their skin, giving them a natural hide (+1 Natural Armor Bonus).

Using These Rules to Create a New Race

It is one thing to use these rules to modify an existing race. It is perhaps the ultimate goal of Game Masters to be able to create their own races for their games. An example is given below which attempts to demonstrate this very process. The example below is build to an 8 RP standard.

The Treel are a short race of a typically average build. They are skilled at most things that involve learning – magic or psionics – although their fondness for academic pursuit often leaves them in poor condition to relate to members of other races. Although they don’t look physically capable for it, their frames are nimble enough – like goblins –to grant them the ability to move more quickly than one might expect. Their increased mental capacity allows them to display slightly more psionic effects than normal as well as allowing them to resist psionic assaults better than average. Finally, their studies give them a natural talent for knowing psionic disciplines and the information they might contain.

Of course, this pattern can be followed to create any race with an LA +0 and no racial hit die. For those Game Masters who are using these rules in addition to the Complete Control rules, the recommendation of this work is that wherever possible GMs design a race without racial hit die, racial skill points, etc. These rules will indicate a reasonable LA for the created race, and then the character/monster should be allowed to improve by purchasing their abilities, feats, skill ranks, and ability score improvements through the rules of that system (See p. 32 of Complete Control for dealing with races that have LAs).

For Game Masters who are not using the rules of Complete Control, a little more work may be necessary when speaking about creating races with LA +1 or greater when there is a need for racial hit die. If we look at the centaur as an example, it can be seen that the race has an LA+2 and comes with four racial hit die (4d8). Because of these racial hit die, the centaur also receives bonuses to its saving throws of +1 Fortitude, +4 Reflex, and +4 Will. The centaur receives bonus skill points of 7 x (2+INT). These four racial hit die also provide the centaur with two additional racial feats. Game Masters who are using these rules o create races with LA +1 or greater should also decide if the race will have racial hit die. If they do want them to have racial hit die, then the Game Master should also remember to award them racial attributes like feats, skill points, and save bonuses accordingly.

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