Friday, 6 September 2013

Humanoid Relations

What do Orc bandits do with the loot they take from merchant caravans? What are Goblins planning to buy with the 1-8 silver pieces (of legal tender in human settlements) they carry in their purse. How (and why) do all Elves learn to speak Gnoll and Hobgoblin (without speaking to any Gnolls or Hobgoblins)?

They are the LAW! (Iain McCaig, from City of Thieves)

In my fantasy games I have a habit of introducing a hefty dose of interaction between humans (and demi-humans) and the races of evil humanoids. This might well be the product of a thorough steeping of my youthful imagination in Blacksand, though little things such as the fact that Ogres seem to be a not uncommon feature of human settlements in the Old World of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and that there is an Orcish ghetto in Alfheim in Mystara's Known World has undoubtedly leaked into that stew, too.

So, what is the degree of human, demi-human, and humanoid relations in your games?    


  1. That's a very interesting question. I haven't had much of those types of interactions in the past, but since I'm in worldbuilding mode right now I think I need to give that question some more thought.


  2. I've always adopted the idea, I think from LoR as well as earlier Dragon articles, that the orcs, goblins, kobolds, bugbears, gnolls, & hobgoblins are related races. Usually in loose bands, but more than once in Moria style complexes. They also make good minions for some sort of powerful Boss. The languages of demihumans a reflection of the their environments and enemies.

    I always assume their treasure gathering is to purchase weapons, as they do no metal work of their own. I've done at least one adventure, lifted from some old western, where the bad guys are selling swords to orcs.

    It's less disturbing than the question of where elves get their metal, if they're supposedly such great smiths and yet hate dwarves so much. Ever heard of an elf mining mithril? Or a dwarf growing grain? I think they're lucky man showed up just to act as middlemen.

  3. I freely intermix all negatively aligned races in my games out of preference, mainly because I like the War of Wizards stuff in Titan that has Dark Elves as officers of Orc units, bad humans signing up to fight alongside Goblins and potent magic-users as Generals regardless of race (as well as the Blacksand stuff). The Dragonlance books (and D&D in general I suppose) run with this idea too.

    I try to do the same with the good guys but for some reason this is often what other people object to. Apparently racial purity is an inherently 'good' trait for a lot of gamers! It's a bit worrying and certainly annoying. I blame Tolkien and GW.

    1. I'd add to that the brilliant hotch-potch of baddies in the two opposing armies in the Trolltooth Wars, which I'm really looking forward to gaming with Warlord Paul.

      There's even a mixed regiment of Zharradan Marr's legionaries that includes Black Elves, Dwarves, Kobolds and if I remember correctly Cragerracks and Ghorians too. Not a bunch you'd normally expect to see fighting side by side.

      I agree that the world of Titan is a much richer one in some ways than the Old World thanks to the much greater degree of interaction of demihumans and humans - Blacksand being a case in point as you say.