Friday, December 9, 2016

Racial Traits: Dwarves
When dwarves figure out how to stack on top of each other, nothing can stop them
This is going to be a little mini-series on something I believe is lacking from 5th Edition D&D, and possibly older editions too.

In 5e, a character is given certain traits that define them: two personality traits, an ideal (an idea that drives your character), a bond (to an item, place, or person), and a flaw. These are based on your background, whether you worked as a sailor or served as a temple acolyte.

The human, elf and Naga all started out as freelance novelists
However, I found that these backgrounds tend to create a certain type of personality in the player, which doesn't always reflect the full nature of the character. The worst culprit, in my eyes, is the Urchin background. It's got a great flavor, and it's applicable to a lot of different class niches, but it seems like every creature raised on the streets, from dwarves to dragonborn, is equally skittish, dirty, and untrusting. And that may be fine in a large city where races intermingle, but I have trouble seeing a dragonborn (with their tight clan structure) or an elf (with their woodland community) displaying those traits.

Now, it theory it would be easy enough to simply restrict backgrounds. "There are no elven urchins, your community adopted you to a nice family so you wouldn't bring disgrace to elf-kind." And that opens up another can of worms, because if the elf wasn't adopted, where did they get their elf weapon training? The fact of the matter is that players pick backgrounds not only to get a certain flavor to their character, but also to shore up the skills, proficiencies, and starting equipment their character has. Restricting the backgrounds also feels bad from a world perspective. Are there really no dwarven sailors, no dragonborn hermits, no half-orc sages? Those unique characters should be able to adventure without losing an advantage from their background or race.

So, in the spirit of creating solutions rather than complaining about problems, I have put together a list of "Racial Traits". The traits function exactly like the background traits, and if you prefer a racial trait you simply may select it instead of the same trait in your background. I hope that this will lead to players using their race as a story and world building device, rather than just something they picked because it had the best stats for the class they wanted.

Dwarf Traits
Bout to mess up some orcs
d8 Personality Trait
1. I could talk for days about my home, my clan, or my family trade.
2. I consider myself a purveyor of the finer things in life, especially ale and gold.
3. I speak directly. No use bandying words around.
4. I treat master craftsmen and warriors with the highest respect.
5. I'd much rather take my time and do things right than rush in and muck everything up.
6. I'm a highly valued member of my clan and I carry that reputation with me wherever I go.
7. I always consider what my clan or God would do before I act.
8. I'm quick to invoke my clan name to swear oaths and curses.

d6 Ideal
1. Courage. It is only in the face of evil that a dwarf can truly forge their bravery. (Good)
2. Perseverance. My people are as eternal as the mountains, and so am I. (Lawful)
3. Justice. Evildoers must meet the fate they deserve, and if it is under my boot all the better. (Lawful)
4. Loyalty. A friend justly earned is a friend for life. (Good)
5. Stubbornness. The old ways are best, and fools ignore them at their own peril. (Lawful)
6. Perspective. I've lived much longer than humans and halflings, and my experience guides my actions. (Any)

d6 Bond
1. I am committed to serving my clan, and my actions represent their name.
2. The mountain I was born under will always have a special place in my heart.
3. My ancestors forged a great artifact that was lost to time. I hope to find it and reclaim my inheritance.
4. Just as Morodin forged the dwarves, I use my forge to craft my works and myself.
5. I learned to fight from the best warrior in my clan, and I will always respect and honor great warriors.
6. My clan has killed Orcs, Goblins, and even dragons; I am here to continue our tradition.

d6 Flaw
1. I never forgive a grudge, even among allies.
2. There's no such thing as an inappropriate time for a drink.
3. I would do anything, kill anyone, to get my hands on the treasure I seek.
4. I won't set foot on a boat or in anything bigger than a puddle. I hate the feeling of leaving the earth behind me.
5. Never trust an elf, no matter what they say with their honeyed words.
6. If you wrong me, you had better expect to face the wrath of my clan.
A dwarf for every season
Thanks for reading!

PS. I use a variation of Inspiration from the Angry GM's 11 Ways to take the Suck out of Inspiration. Each player starts the session with an inspiration point, and if they choose, they can use the point to gain advantage on an action. They can only do so if the action corresponds to one of their traits. If they don't use it, they lose it at the end of the session. I've found it helps people succeed at the things their character is all about, and it provides a system for people to engage with rather than being an extra thing I have to worry about in a session.

No comments:

Post a Comment