Thursday, December 14, 2017

Human-as-class

So I took part in an interesting thread on the DCC G+ group today.  It's one of those perennial OSR discussions about "race-as-class," which is all fine and dandy, but Von Ether half-jokingly raised the idea of "human-as-class"...and that gave me a bunch of ideas.

Basically, humans tend to be the individualistic and practical explorers in a lot of sci-fi...you know, Space Americans. Other races are assigned these far more specialized and homogenized cultures that represent only small facets of our lifestyle. I'm talking about lazy Star Trek tropes like the eternally-warlike Klingons and coldly rational Vulcans.


Watch out for Space Americans, man

The same is often true of various demi-human races in fantasy settings, to an extent.  So not only are these mythological entities scrubbed clean of mystery by allowing players to run them, but they are further constrained by unimaginative stereotypes.  Dwarves are grumpy, greedy, industrious and proud.  Elves are elegant and aloof, often advanced but in decline. These lazy cliches have had all the life stamped out of them since Tolkien.

But what if humans were the strange and threatening aliens who belong to a heavily-stereotyped culture?  I proposed two possibilities in the thread: humans-as-orcs and humans-as-elves.


Humans-as-Orcs

To reiterate what I said there: In both cases, the assumption is that human PCs are outliers, and one or more non-human races were considered "default."  With humans-as-orcs, humans represent the crude and violent chaos gnawing at the fringes of civilization.  This is set during the "end of the First Age" that occurs in the timeline of so many settings; basically the terminus of an age of inhuman empires.


Great costume, but it looks like it needs to come with a drool cup
(Do I sound harsh?  Honestly, I think she looks really cool.)

So the "default" race would be something like elves, serpentmen, dragonkind or something like that.  The game is set during the end of this age, although this impending doom is probably not obvious and may well not occur in the scope of a campaign.

In this setting, the human-as-orc class I have in mind would be something called a Ghost Warrior, a kind of shamanistic "primitive paladin."  Ghost Warriors would be the only humans that you'd encounter outside the howling wilderness.  Perhaps they are the only men who can speak the tongue of the Ophidian Empire.

In any case, these Humans would essentially be Warriors who give up some of their combat prowess in return for minor magical powers.  Each power would be bound by a tattoo administered by one of the Druids, human shamans who can speak to the spirits of the land and the dead.


Humans-as-Elves

For humans-as-elves class, I'm envisioning the campaign being set towards the decline of human civilization.  Human beings are the advanced and decadent people who are dying out in the wake of their own apocalypse.  Other races could be uplifted animals and robots, and monsters would be mutants.  Yes, this is post-apocalyptic, although the nature of the apocalypse could be supernatural, technological, or something in between.


Mid-bounce, or hovering?

I'm envisioning these Humans as being extremely unsuited to normal combat.  They wouldn't progress in attack modifiers, and I'm even thinking that the hit points for this class would be fixed at level one; perhaps equal to the Human's Stamina!

To compensate for these weaknesses, I'm thinking that these humans could have three advantages.  First, they are super-healthy, healing 1 HP per hour and getting a bonus to saves against poison and disease.  Second, they have access to advanced artifacts, and roll once per level to randomly determine which one they get.

Finally, Humans would have psychic powers.  I'm thinking the player chooses a handful of powers from a set of a dozen or two basic talents.  Each level, the Human gets to add an improvement to each ability from a list of upgrades.  Each ability costs one hit point per round to use.


Wrapping up

Anyway, that's what I have for now.  I might try to codify these for DCC; they work as possible alternate Elf or Orc classes for certain kinds of settings.

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