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Seattle, Washington, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Phoenix Humans

Oddly enough, humans have been written about in many stories throughout human history.

This might seem to make humans easy to write about - but in fact I find it is the opposite.  Humans in the real world have been every archetype, belonged to every culture, and accomplished everything that we have ever known.  Unless you're a scientologist, but I figure that's a discussion for a sci-fi RPG.

Four arms, four legs.  Is that a Scientology Human?

With many races, I have tried to create active capabilities.  With Humans, many of the abilities are more passive - this is on purpose.  Humans have the unique metagame feature of being the simplest to play, if that's what a player desires most.

Mortal Humans

Humans are adaptable, but corruptible.  Still, the best of them have a soul of such strength that stories are sung about them for millennia.


Mortal Humans have a maximum Faith of 25.  All other attributes have the standard maximum of 20.

(Humans receive both of these)

Once per day, you can reroll any roll.  You must take the new result, for it is your destiny.  A "roll" is defined as a complete set of dice involved in one resolution - i.e., you can't reroll 1 die on a 3d6 roll, you would need to reroll all three dice.

Open to Culture
Gain a bonus Culture feature (three, instead of the normal 2).

(Being raised in a Human culture allows selection of two of these abilities)

Gain a bonus specialty of your choice.

City Slicker
You are more comfortable and relaxed in cities, thus your natural healing is doubled when within civilization.  This does not include ruins.

You hail from a environment that gets very cold – mountains, polar tundra, or glaciers, for instance.  Gain Elements(Cold) Defense +5.  You cannot also take Superheated.

Gain proficiency in all martial weapons.

Gain the Lockpicking and Trapfinding specialties.

You hail from a environment that gets very hot – equatorial deserts, volcanic slopes, or dry valleys, for instance.  Gain Elements(Heat) Defense +5.  You cannot also take Frigid.

There will be additional Human culture choices - like Nomadic - but this is enough to get a feeling on how Humans will play.


  1. One suggestion: If a human player takes Fridge and gains the bonus for being in an area they are accustomed, then they should conversely take a negative for being in area whose climate is the opposite. In other words, someone born and raised in a desert area would struggle an an area that gets more than its share of clod wether and snow and vice versa.

    1. An interesting idea - the question is, will players still consider a mixed benefit/penalty an equivalent choice to the choices that offer no penalty?

      What if it is +5/-2?

    2. A +5/-2 may be preferred by most players instead of a +5/-5, though as a fan of role playing vs. hack-n-slash, I always loved in the AD&D Player's Options the ability to take things that hindered the player. It makes it more realistic and fun to role play.

    3. Keep in mind the game philosophy, by adding in negatives you may change the whole design of the game, if you have not considered it previously.

      I like seeing +bonuses and not -bonuses, no reason the GM can't accept someone voluntarily asking for a -. That however may affect gameplay if it's too balanced.

    4. The system supports it fine - I think the questions are:

      1) Does a penalty to cold for hot climate folks make sense story wise (is it associated?)

      2) Does a slight negative (like -2) discourage most players from taking it? An ability that never gets picked isn't useful.

      3) Is it fun?

      So what does everyone think?

  2. 1) It makes total logical sense. If I have lived in Greenland my whole life, I am going to struggle in the Sahara and vice versa.

    2) It might for some as some people, but those are the power players that want to max all stats without having an weaknesses. IMO that makes all the players too powerful and therefore no real challenge in the game.

    3) IMO it makes it more fun, but I am role player. I like the challenge of having to deal with negatives. If I have a dwarf, I should not be able to climb and run across trees like a jaguar in combat. I need to use the skills I have and learn to work around my weaknesses. Everyone has weaknesses.

    1. 1) I'm not convinced that is the case, I've lived in both desert and snow and once I had the right clothes coped fine in both cases.

      2) Game design can take this into account. I remember some designer commented that a dark sun design decision was to have all bonuses.

      The comment was that negatives detract from the game, and the game was designed so they ended up having the same mechanical effect on game play.

      I believe it doesn't matter where you put the 0 point as long as the game accounts for it.

      ie a -2 to +5 is the same as a 0 to +7 if designed right. The +7 sounds beefier though.

      3) I agree with this one, balance bonuses vs weaknesses and how it affects the character not being good at everything.

      Using the tree example the elf character could just have a 0 to tree climbing whilst the dwarf character has a -5 for the same mechanical effect.

      This is one where I think play testing and reviewing how people actually use the game would help decide.

      I think plus/bonuses sound more fun than negatives.

    2. Regarding #2: The 0/+7 is mathematically equivalent but not a design equivalent. For a 0/+7 to replace a -2/+5, all other races would have to receive a +2. The reason this might not be a good idea is complication - now every race has to describe every base defense and that has to be kept track of.

      It isn't impossible but I wanted to point that out for your consideration.

  3. 1) I have traveld and been in both, as well. Thatis how I realized that with my Nordic hertitage, the sun of the desert seem to enjoy buring my pasty skin all too much. Therefore, I struggle in the desert climate. However, I tend to enjoy the cold and flourish there. Could that also be from my Nordic hertitage?

    Perhaps a skill called "adaptable" or "nomadic" could be introcuded that could be used to negate any negative effect when traveling between extreme differing climates.

    2)I understand the 7 point difference, but it should also be understood that a -2 for one player vs another player without that negative means one player has an advantage.

    Here is a real life ssenario: I was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia. If you put me in those forests, I will flourish. Someone unfamiliar with this land will not because they don't know the land, the animals, survival techniques, the dangers, or might tresspass onto another's prvate proerty and get shot. I also have military (Army) survival, field sanitation, and combat lifesaver training.

    So, how do you translate that into game mechanics?

    I would argue that I should get a +5. Others from not so far areas such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Kentucky might not be as proficient in my area, but are familiar with forests and foothills. So, I would argue that they would not have too much trouble. So, they get no bonus, but no negative either. However, if you put an Eskimo into these hills they won't survive a week if forced to live off the land. They should get negatives meaning us forest dwellers (both the Kentucy rebel and myself) would have a leg up on that Eskimo in this terrain even though I get a +5 and the Kentucy redneck breaks even.

    Conversely, I might not do well living as the Eskimo would. I should have a negative if there where they will have expertise (+5) over that dominion.

    3) My only arguement here is that an elf running across a tree would be easy for the elf, but no so much for the human, and very difficult for the dwarf. So, again there should be a way to translate that into proficiency.

    The elf should have the advantage over any other in running through the trees. Gove them a +5 for expertise.

    The human might be able to get through trees, but not as nimbly as the elf, so they get no bonus. They are simply average proficiency. The dwarf, however, should have a difficult time and might fall and break something. So, the dwarf should have a -2. That means the elf in the forest has the best advantage as it should be. The human also has an advantage over the dwarf in the forest setting. In a towm, the human would have the best advantage. In the dungeons and caves, the dwarf, etc.

    1. I now feel obligated to add "west virginian trespassing rules" as a specialty.

      Question, though, regarding #2 - would you be worse off in Eskimo land than any other non-Eskimo? I.e., does being a west virginian expert penalize you differently than an aborigine or a saharan or an italian?


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