Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Dark Side of Imagination

I think having a healthy imagination is a very good thing. However, it can have its drawbacks. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm playing bachelor this week while my family is out of town. While I enjoy a little peace and quiet, being in a house all alone is a bit...odd...when you're used to being in a home with three other people. The lack of laughter, crying, the TV, or just the sounds of the boys' bedtime music playing leaves me with nothing other than the creaks and groans of the floorboards. Now, I don't believe in the supernatural. The only ghosts and goblins waiting in the shadows are those found in my games and writing. However, there are times when my imagination runs away with me, and I'm currently dealing with one of those times.

My parents gave my 1 year old a giant singing reindeer for Christmas. This thing is almost taller than Grayson, and its sitting down! When we got home from my folks house after Christmas, I placed it on the futon in our basement play room. It "stares" at the stairwell leading upstairs, and it's the first thing you see when you come downstairs. It just sits there (unless you press the button on its hoof, then it sings carols) staring blankly with its beady little black eyes. I hadn't payed it much attention until today. I was getting recycling gathered to take to bins and I looked at it. It almost seemed like it was staring back at me. The thought gave me chills.

Now, it's dark out, and the thought that gnaws at the back of my mind is if that thing is monstrous? It could silently stalk me throughout the house. I'm sitting at my desk in my man-cave and that thing is right outside. I find myself glancing into the playroom half-expecting to see a shadow. Every time I walk out into the playroom, I expect to see a subtle shift in the way its sitting on the futon, or even a dramatic change in position to set me screaming like a wildman out into the night!

It's all crap though. These images are just the by-product of an over-active, and likely over-indulged, imagination. I'm not honestly scared of a partially animatronic stuffed reindeer, but my imagination won't let loose of the idea. Maybe I'll put the reindeer in my son's room so I won't have to see it...but then it could start plotting with the Elmos he got for Christmas...everyone know how evil those things are...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Post Holiday Musings

I hope you all had a great holiday season, and will have a safe and happy New Year to boot! It was a pretty good Christmas here. Now my wife and kids are halfway across the country enjoying some time with her brother and his family. So, here I sit in a quiet house with the next couple of days all to myself. In order to fill the deafening silence that now permeates the house, I've devoted some time to watch some Deep Space 9 (I'm nearly done with season 6, and therefore the series as a whole with only season 7 left to watch) and getting my copy of Descent 2nd Edition and the expansions organized (I just picked up The Trollfens expansion today). As is typical, DS9 got me thinking about my set of sci-fi rules that are in a constant state of revision and re-configuring, and organizing Descent got me thinking about another project that I've long thought about: designing a D&D inspired board game in the vein of Warhammer Quest.

I love dungeon crawling board games. Ever since I first played Hero Quest, I've been hooked. Warhammer Quest is still my all time favorite dungeon crawler. The tables that allowed the party to discover what happened to them whilst travelling to and from a dungeon, and what happens to them in town along with tables and charts of encounters in various locations made for a great time. Plus, WQ is deadly. Getting a character passed the first Battle Level is a badge of honor. Still, the game does have its flaws, the first being that is it so blasted deadly that it's hard to hold some players' interest after losing yet another BL1 character early on in a dungeon due to a random encounter with 1d3 Minotaurs! Anyway, I've got a ton of dungeon crawler board games from HQ and WQ to the D&D Board Game (and expansions) that were only released in Europe to the new D&D games, to Descent and its multiple expansions and some lesser known games like Darkworld and Dragonfire. That's not even counting the mountain of D&D minis and the unpainted minis. With all these games at my disposal, surely there would be a way to draw them all together to make one helluva dungeon crawler?

First off would be the rules. I would like leveling to high levels to be possible. Since its a board game, it needs to play fairly fast, which is oftentimes a downside to many dungeon crawler board games. There will be charts and lists to simulate random encounters. Plus, and this is the big one for me, the system should be able to handle both GM-driven and solo play.

Why solo play? For starters, it turns what can often times feel like a competitive game with one player running the monsters with the rest trying to defeat or outwit the GM's monsters and such into a cooperative encounter with all players getting to feel the danger of playing a character whose life is in constant peril. Plus, since my wife isn't big on these kind of games, and my sons are still a bit too young yet, solo play is often times the only way I can play.

I'm thinking of going with a d20-based system mixed with some of the class ideas found in Descent. This will allow for a variety of classes and allow the level of scaling that I prefer. Monsters would be the standard D&D fare, but some powers and such would have to be tweaked not only for solo/random play, but to also speed things up. Such as spell lists for monster spellcasters would have to be truncated/modified to in a set of powers. The same goes for certain powers like a vampire's bite.

Treasure would be randomized, likely using a modification of the random treasure tables I wrote up for Swords and Wizardry. Some items that have little use in the dungeon or that are hard to use in solo play will have to be left out, but by and large most items would be fine to use.

The dungeon tiles would be pulled from the various sets that I have, but I'd likely end up using WQ's since all the cards and tiles are already right there and ready to use.

Now, with all this musing, you'd think I'm starting to get something more substantial on paper, right? Wrong. I've tried working this idea for a long time now. While its something that I'd like to someday get off the ground, it's nothing more than mental calisthenics right now.

My primary focus in my writing is my sci-fi rules and setting. Work continues, and due to the quiet and alone time I'll have this week, I hope to make a lot more progress that I've been able to over the last couple of months.

So, with that, I'm going to get back to work. Until next time...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Still Kicking

Haven't been very active of late around here. There's been a lot going on both good and bad keeping me away from getting much writing done. I will have a very rare stretch of time after Christmas all to myself in which I plan to devote to making some serious progress on some of my projects. Until then, I'll leave you with this: go rent/buy Elysium. It's a great flick that's rather Mass Effecty in its tech and imagery. (Plus, it's just an all around good movie.)

Thursday, December 05, 2013

HeroQuest 25th Anniversary Kickstarter is Dead

As many of you likely know, the Kickstarter for HeroQuest 25 has been on hold for a while now due to some (surprise, surprise) legal issues. As I was going through my email this evening I get this message from Gamezone:
"Dear Backers

Last Friday we were surprised by the pause placed on our kickstarter Project of HQ25. We wrote a communiqué to you, which was also posted on our site In our letter we tried to communicate to you in the clearest fashion what was happening and as well to share with you all, our petition to kickstarter to have the project reopened. To do all of this publicly was to us the correct way for you as our backers to be informed of the situation and the most correct and transparent way to communicate with you as well, as our backers you have the right to know what was going on with this project.

We have done what you have ask for, we have waited in silence for KS’ answer. It has arrived. KS would prefer to keep the project on hold and wait for us to come to an agreement with third part.
The KS answer can be seen at this LINK (
KS’ position does not agree with as at all. The situation produced by the pause of the project has been harmful.

We do not feel that our legitimate rights over the Trademark have been protected and above all we do not wish to do business with third part under threats or duress of any sort. As a result we are proceeding to solicit KS to cancel our project on their platform.

Is this the end of HQ25? Of course not! Keep reading!
We accept the all of the respectful critics that has come our way because we learn from these things and if someone thinks differently they are free to express those opinions. What we do not accept is the disinformation y distortions that have been happening during the project's pause on KS in which we have remained silent and waited.

During these past few days our creative design crew has still been working on the development of various components, the same as always, the idea being to not lose any energy with this controversy.
The thirteen on the gallows, as we have fondly started calling the 13 professionals that are implicated in the creation of the project, have as a priority the development of this commemorative game.

We are truly more worried about you, the backers. We want thank you for the messages of support that have been rolling in. The public reaction to the news of a new edition of this classic provided undeniable and sincere joy to many. We will hold onto this as the rout to follow.

After this communiqué is sent out we will proceed to ask KS to cancel the project on their platform. After this is done we will immediately restart and continue the HQ25 project. More info Therefore the HQ25 project will return to active status. We will move from victims to survivors and conquer as we go.

We understand that KS has a larger public base than any other crowed funding platform today; we understand that moving the project to another site will mean that out backer support will decrease. However we are ready and willing to continue this campaign in a place that will offer us the correct guaranties for our trademark. We would prefer to raise fewer funds and still move forward with and produce it in time for the 25th anniversary.

We await your support and enthusiasm in this renewed crowed funding campaign.
Again, we would like to thank our backers from the bottom of our hearts, please do not regret supporting us. Let us all together get this back on track and make this dream a reality.

Gamezone Team"

So the Kickstarter is dead and will likely move to a different crowdfunding platform, so while the Kickstarter may be dead, the project will likely live on. However, those pesky Trademark issues aren't likely going to go away so it'll probably remain unlikely that we'll see distribution stateside. This whole process though has left me with the feeling that "there's something rotten in Denmark." While I'll watch HQ25 to see where it ends up, if anywhere, and I do hope that Gamezone can get in going and be able to distribute it in retail won't surprise me in the least if they hit yet another dead end. I wish Gamezone all the luck in the world with this, but I'm glad I didn't pony up any cash for it and likely won't unless it hits retail outlets. 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Slarecians: The First on Mars

Slarecians are an evil race of humanoids found in the Scarred Lands campaign setting for D&D 3 and 3.5 editions. I've long loved the mystery of these beings and how all that has been left behind by them either causes fear, kills without mercy, or sows discord. As I was starting work on my sci-fi setting, I knew that I wanted the first colonists on Mars to find that they weren't the first to set foot on the red planet. I wanted an alien race full of dark foreboding and mystery. The Slarecians are a perfect fit, and below is how I'm fitting them into my setting.

In 2036, the first Martian colony was established in a joint US and EU venture. A couple months after the establishment of Burrough's Promise, a surveying team found a strange metal arched doorway at the base of Olympus Mons. The metal was unlike anything that had ever been seen before. It was nearly impervious to harm and had an oily sheen not unlike what is seen when oil and water are combined. Completely by accident, the door was opened by one of the survey team. They retreated from the site and called in an archaeological team. Mission Control also had a security force go with the team to explore the opening. What was found was evidence that humans weren't the first species to visit and colonize Mars.

The site was dark and contained featureless walls of the same strange metal. Hallways created a maze like effect, but all seemed to eventually end in a central domed room. The central room was adorned with stone plinths and altars with strange, and as several members of the exploratory team recounted, insidious-looking runes carved into them. In the center of the chamber was a stone archway adorned with more of the wicked-looking runes. One of the researches touched a rune on one of the altars, which turned out to be control panel of some kind. The room was bathed in light from an unknown source; it seemed to come from everywhere. The runes on the central arch lit up as well. What happened next was not fully understood until after the Fraal made contact with humankind due to a total failure of the vid-comm systems each member of the team was equipped with. The bits that came through were disturbing to say the least. A number of creatures poured through the archway, which appeared to be a portal of some kind. Other than clips of screams, gunfire, and brief glances of the hunched, gaunt, humanoid monsters, nothing else was seen. Within seconds the life signs of all members flatlined. The security detail stationed at the opening to the site was ordered to cause an avalanche to block the opening since tests on the metal concluded that nothing less than a nuclear explosion would have much chance of affecting the metal.

The Olympus Mons "tomb" shocked the US and EU leaders; all of whom covered up all news of the discovery and the events that followed. It didn't take conspiracy theorists long to notice that a permanent UN military base was set up near Olympus Mons, however. Some of them even got close to what the UN was protecting/hiding. This disaster also colored perceptions of aliens by the US and EU, which is why relations with the Fraal were very cold and cautious to begin with.

It was the Fraal that provided the Earth governments with information that filled in the gaps on just what that site is. The Fraal had encountered other Slarecian ruins on other worlds in their history. What little they knew was that they were a seemingly long-dead Precursor species. All that remained of their culture was the ruins made out of what the Fraal called "Slarecian Steel". They culture, from what little they could discern was devoted to "esoteric sciences" like dimensional travel, torturous surgeries, horrific genetic testing, and psionic potential. Near as the Fraal had been able to piece together at the time was that they traveled the cosmos by way of the stone arches like the one found at the Olympus Mons site. The Fraal strongly cautioned the Earth governments to leave these sites alone. While the Fraal were also keenly interested in Slarecian research into psionics and would also like to know more about the history and culture of the species, every site, while different save for the existence of at least one stone archway and being made out of Slarecian Steel, is deadly beyond all comprehension. To this day, the Olympus Mons site has never been excavated, the defenses have only been strengthened over time.

Slarecian ruins have been found on other worlds the galaxy over, all of whom are instantly declared off-limits by any government ran by leaders with even an ounce of sanity. However, there are those that hear tales of untold riches in technology, science, or simply precious metals and jewels that tempt fate and try to explore a Slarecian site. Some of the horrors encountered are: Slarecian Ghouls, these twisted, savage beings are living creatures. Some scientists theorized that this is what became of the Slarecians, while others contest that they are likely the result of genetic testing or were specifically bred for defense. Either way, these creatures are the most commonly encountered threats in Slarecian ruins. Slarecian Gargoyles are automatons of psionically animated stone. Slarecian ruins are often adorned with statues of these winged creatures, as well as of Slarecians themselves, but only the winged statues are animated. They attack with intense savagery, but little cunning, unlike Slarecian Ghouls. One of the most insidious dangers is the Language Virus. This is a psionically spread virus that breaks down the ability of those affected to understand what anyone else is saying. So far, no cure has been found for the disease, and thanks to the ability for the virus to spread via psionic energy any who contract the disease, especially psions whose mastery of psionics only increases the transmission range, are either killed or simply left behind.

Many Slarecian ruins are destroyed by orbital barrages when discovered, so those that wish to try and profit from such sites typically have to work fast. There are credits to be made plundering Slarecian ruins even in spite of the dangers. Slarecian items are powerful in the hands of a psion and go for high prices on the Black Market (the sale of such items is banned by most stellar nations). Some psions have found chambers that when the correct rune is activated, allows them to expand their psionic potential with relative ease. Even Concord scientists would love to study the Portal Arches found at every Slarecian ruin site. The possibility of being able to unlock dimensional travel is hard to resist.

It is the possibility of dimensional travel that leads many to believe that the Slarecians are still out there somewhere, but only the insane would ever want to meet one.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Article that Changed it All

Like many sci-fi fans, I take great interest in astronomy and the goings on of the world's various space agencies. Thanks to a link on the Stars Without Number Facebook Page (here is the link), I'm changing a key element of not only my sci-fi setting, but also the rules that I'm working on. Essentially, NASA could very well be on their way to creating a "warp drive." The current work is based on a paper written in 1994 by physicist Miguel Alcubierre. By creating a bubble in space/time behind a starcraft and a space/time sink in front of the craft, a starship can be propelled through space fast faster than the speed of light, but since the space around the starcraft is unchanged it is not breaking the speed of light itself and therefore not meeting with a very messy end. The idea was scrapped as unfeasible due to the mass energy needed to subject enough force on space/time would be equal to that found in Jupiter. However, further research shows that with some tweaks to the Alcubierre Drive, the mass energy needed may only be around 1600 pounds of mass energy.

If this research yields practical results in testing, this means that we could travel the 4.3 light years to Alpha Centauri in weeks rather than entire generations living and dying on the journey. Day trips to Mars (or anywhere else in the solar system for that matter) would become feasible. We could easily harvest resources from the asteroids, moons, and planets throughout the solar system and beyond. Seeing how quick new technology can develop (as stated in the article, we went from only being able to generate 5 Watts of power via nuclear fission to 4 Megawatts in a year), if the practical tests yield the desired results, we could be traversing the stars before we know it. Just thinking of the economic, political, sociological, and even theological (should we happen to find proof that life exists elsewhere in the galaxy, that is) ramifications begins to blow my mind. Sure, this tech is all theoretical now, but the very idea that such travel is at least mathematically possible is exciting in the extreme.

If the Alcubierre Drive becomes reality, it's just another in a long line of technological advances that have been predicted by Star Trek (at least in some small way). Those shows continually show that they were ahead of their time.

What does all of this mean to my setting and system? Well, I'm scrapping the idea of Drillspace and the Elder Relays. Warp Drives are now the principle means of transportation throughout the galaxy. I may still use Relays, but they will be an invention of the current species roaming the galaxy other than some unknown ancient species. This means I need to go back and re-write some aspects of the setting background, since the Elder Relays were an integral part of the setting. Plus, the removing of the limitations of travel via Drillspace will have significant ramifications on the setting as well. That's not to say that I won't have limits to what speeds an Alcubierre Drive can attain, but space travel will be a lot more straight-forward, safer, and simpler.

We truly do live in an exciting age!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The HeroQuest Kickstarter is Live!

Check it out here. It's already funded (no surprise there). Supposedly, the only way you can get one Stateside is to go through the Kickstarter or take your chances on either the secondary market or buying a copy and having it shipped from Spain (ouch). If you want the base set, it'll set you back $89, which really isn't that bad for a dungeon crawler. However, if you want the game and all the unlocked extras: $150. Now, shipping is estimated to be $50.

I want this. I want this really bad, but no matter how much I love HQ...I just don't think I can plunk down $200 bucks for it when I have an original with most of the expansions sitting on my shelf. Here's to hoping I hit the lottery in the next 31 days...

The Silence is Deafening

I've been pretty quiet on here of late. I've devoted my sparse free time to working on my organization project and other house projects to get ready for the cold winter weather. I have done a little bit of work on on my SWN/Alternity rules and I think I'm about ready to playtest some options that I'm considering as far as how Armor will work (make you harder to hit vs reducing damage). Once those are tested and I decide which way I want to go, the lion's share of the "heavy lifting" on the system will be complete. I can thing FINALLY devote time to setting details.

However, there has been an idea brewing in the back of my mind. While I was cataloging the D&D 4th Edition part of my collection I got to looking through the rules again. I like 4th Edition...well, I like aspects of the rules. I'll never run it again as is because it felt lifeless and not really a roleplaying game. As a tactical game, it's pretty good. Combat takes far too long, but I've got some ideas on how to cut that down. Taking a cue from the great D&D board games: Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, and Legend of Drizzt, I think 4E could be made into a decent Warhammer Quest styled dungeon crawler boardgame. I'm just in the brainstorming part of the process right now, but I'm toying around with the idea of taking the base idea of how the board games build a dungeon and how the creature AI works and applying it to the fuller 4E rules. There are things that will need to be simplified and things like HP totals will need to be reigned in. Characters will level up as in 4E and the monsters will be in line with how they are written in 4E rules.

Like I said, this idea is still very much in its infancy, but I do think that the 4E rules would make a much better board game than they ever did as a full RPG for me.'s not like I really need ANOTHER project to add to the pile...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Be Still My Beating Heart!

I have long wished for a new edition of classic dungeon crawling board game, Hero Quest. It's the game that really got me on the road that lead me to D&D and roleplaying games in general. Now, it appears that a new edition is coming to Kickstarter on November 22. While this makes me, as Deeter would say, "as happy as a little girl" I shudder to think what this is going to cost. My hope is that this will eventually see release on the open market and not just be available to backers since, well, the great money-sink that is Christmas is right around the corner and the budget just can't fit something like this into it. Still, a new edition to the grand-daddy of all dungeon exploration board games is coming back, and that is seriously exciting news (at least to me)!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Organization Madness

I haven't been too active on the blogosphere lately. I've been working (when I can) on my SWN/Alternity/D20 Future mash-up, but time has been short on that front lately. Hopefully, after this weekend, I'll be able to devote more time to getting those rules finished up and then dive into writing setting details and performing conversions. However, I've started another undertaking that's chewed up way more of my scant free time...yes, I am a glutton for punishment.

I've begun to re-organize and catalog my gaming material. Like many gamers, I tend to buy a lot of gaming material, way more than I'd ever use even if I spent every weekend rolling bones. Then I've also scoured the internet and saved a ton of material that I find interesting from fans the world over. I've organized things fairly well, but I'm finding I've got duplicate files in various folders and sometimes I just can't find what I'm looking for because I filed it away in an incorrect folder accidentally or my thoughts on what the book really was has changed over time. All of this has lead me to the conclusion that's it's high time I catalog my collection.

The catalog is a simple spreadsheet listing Title, System, Genre, Product Type (Adventure, Core Rules, Races, Characters, Bestiaries, etc.), Product Line (general D&D, specific settings, etc...), and Notes on the file/book (if needed). Most of my collection is in pdf's these days. They are just more convenient to having a dead tree copy sitting at my desk...for the most part. When at play, I tend to print a lot of stuff, so I guess I'm not really saving that many trees. I just like being able to carry my collection around with me on my laptop or a flash drive. Plus, it saves precious shelf space in my cramped and cluttered man cave. I've spent more than I care to think about at, though that has slowed down since I've become a father. Anyway, this process of cataloging has also turned into a process of rediscovery of things that I downloaded on a whim and I'm looking back through, which makes it more fun and also more time consuming. I'm making all sorts of notes to go with many of the files about cool monsters to convert to this system or that and other thoughts to help remind myself why I should take another look at a product.

The other part of this Organization Madness is changing how I have things organized. Now, I have things broken down by system by and large. D6 material under the D6 folder, D20 under the D20 folder, and so on. However, I'm going to move things into a specific lines and then by genre, so all my sci-fi stuff will be under the Sci-Fi folder and all the Fastasy lines will be grouped under Fantasy. I've gotten to the point in my gaming "career" that I have my favorite systems that I use for specific genres. Marvel Super Heroes for anything supers, Swords & Wizardry for D&D style gaming, SWN/Alternity for sci-fi and so on. Since I'm so conversion happy, I'm to the point where I'd like everything organized by the genre. I haven't actually started on that aspect of the Great Organization Project, but it's definitely something I'm leaning towards.

Cataloging my gaming material has got me wondering, how much more stuff do I really need? My wishlist at RPGNow is still hovering around 400 items ranging from super-villains to bestiaries to rules that sounded interesting, but I just could justify spending the money on at the time. Every now and then I'll go through and buy around $20 worth of smaller items just to knock it back and to add more fodder to the conversion fire, which in reality I'll read through the file and then likely not look at it again for a long time. For me, I think the issue is that I'm a collector at heart. Well, that and I like to be exposed to new takes on aliens, races, classes, settings. Still, when do you say enough is enough? Due to my buying habits lately, I've hit that point due to necessity. However, I still add items to my wishlist and I still check ENWorld for news about new material coming out, so I'm still interested in possibly picking up more stuff in the future. It's a sickness!

Anyway, that's enough of my sleep-deprived ramblings. Hopefully, I'll get the organization and cataloging done soon and I can focus fully on my sci-fi home system. The same old routine: far too many irons in the fire...

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Happy N7 Day!

For all you Mass Effect fans out there, I hope you have a great N7 day! Sadly, I won't be able to partake in any festivities until later on tonight, but I'll be pushing back against Reaper, Collector, Geth, and Cerberus forces as soon as I can!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Swords & Wizardry Complete FOR FREE FOREVER!!!!

Tenkar's Tavern has set up a Dropbox link to the pdf version of the Swords & Wizardry Complete rulebook. This is now free because Frog God's current Kickstarter got enough backers, so as a thank you they have made the rules freely available as long as there is an internet! Click on the link above and get a copy of what I think is the finest fantasy RPG ruleset on the market today!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Character Death in Comics

FAIR WARNING: There will be Spoilers below dealing with the Batman and Captain America histories. So if you're waaaaaay behind in your reading of those titles and don't want to have anything ruined, you'd best just skip this post.

I mentioned in my last post (and in my post about how I plan to use Batman in my MSH setting) that I'm not a fan of DC's decision to bring Jason Todd back from the dead and that I found Marvel's handling of the Winter Solider to be much better, yet still annoying. I wanted to touch on that some more.

My first real superhero comic was Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. It was the issue in which Supergirl dies in Superman's arms after the might of the heroes of the DCU storm the Anti-Monitor's fortress. Up until that point the closest I came to superhero comics was He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I was still reading a lot of Disney comics back then also. I knew about Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, the Hulk and alot of other heroes thanks to Saturday morning cartoons, but I never asked mom or dad or grandma to buy me an issue until I saw that iconic cover.

I took one look at that cover and thought "Wow! I've gotta read that!" It still stands as my all time favorite single issue. I read it and re-read it over and over. Even though I was hopping into the middle of an important storyline in the DCU (at that time) and didn't have a clue who most of the characters were, I didn't care. Supergirl's sacrifice. Her dying in her cousin's arms. The memorials held by the other heroes on the various other Earths. It damn near brought the 8 year old me to tears. That issue set me on the path to a lifetime love of comics. A death story did that.

Cut to three years later and what I consider to be two of the best Batman storylines ever were released: The Killing Joke and A Death in the Family. The Killing Joke featured the paralyzation of Barbara Gordon, AKA Batgirl at the time, and set her down the road to becoming Oracle, an overall better character than she ever was as Batgirl. However, in A Death in the Family, Jason Todd is brutally murdered by the Joker. His death dealt a far worse blow to Batman than any cleverly conceived deathtrap ever could. He was overcome with guilt at the loss of a boy that was not just a comrade, but in many ways a son to the Dark Knight. It made an otherwise lackluster character into a cornerstone of the Batman mythos.

Then in 2005, DC just had to bring him back from the dead. Now there's a new guy in town who is nearly as good as Batman and Nightwing, only he's willing to use guns and kill the bad guys! In one fell swoop they erased the weight and meaning of Jason Todd's death. A death that still carried weight nearly 20 years after it happened. Especially in the DCU with their near constant retconning and rebooting of the universe, that was a big deal.

So why do I make sure a big deal about DC bringing back Jason Todd, but not with Marvel bringing back Bucky? Both were rather goofy characters. Jason Todd was introduced to Batman readers when he was boosting the tires of the Batmobile for crying out loud! Bucky was a rather lame sidekick in a time when just about every hero was facing certain danger with a young boy at his side...yes, that also deserves a "for crying out loud" as well. In all honesty, I really think it has a lot of do with not having much of a connection at all with the original Bucky. I knew who he was through references in modern Captain America books, but the original was hokey, like a lot of comics back in that day. Ed Brubaker, who returned Bucky to life, wrote a great storyline to reintroduce Bucky into the Marvel Universe and updated his "death" from 1940's sensibilities to something more modern. None of the weight of Bucky's loss was destroyed. It actually added something to the Captain America mythos rather than just adding another angsty anti-hero to the rosters.

Bringing characters back to life has always annoyed me a bit. It can be done right and can further a storyline without diminishing the hero's initial sacrifice, but oftentimes it just feels lazy and that the writers have run out of ideas. Jean Grey of the X-Men has died and been reborn more times than a soap opera starlet, but it at least makes some sense thanks to her connection to the Phoenix Force. These near-constant deaths have left their mark on the flame-haired mutant, and have actually added to the character. Character deaths should mean something. The Death of Superman was a great moment, but they brought him back before the body could even get cold. Sure, he's a cornerstone of the DCU and one of major pop icons of the last century, so there wasn't any way that DC was going to leave Kal-El dead, but he was barely dead long enough for the tears to dry off of Lois' blouse before returning. It took what was, what should have been, a high-water mark for DC and tarnished it for the blatant money grab that it so obviously was. 

I've ran many super-hero campaigns over the years, and I've seen my share of character death. Most were ignoble deaths due to stupidity or simple bad luck, but some were great moments in my gaming history. I'd never dream of returning one of those heroes back from the dead...well, I shouldn't say never, but I'd never return a hero as an angsty anti-hero unless he already was an angsty anti-hero that is...It would take what was a great moment, one of those rare times when a game had the right combination of players that were fully invested in their characters and the story and their great roleplaying, and then flush it all away because I couldn't find some other comic book cliche to exploit for that night's adventure.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Captain America and Some Random Comic-Related Thoughts

I finally got around to watching the preview for Captain America: Winter Soldier. I'm really looking forward to it now (not that I wasn't before, but even more so now). I was never a big fan of Cap back when I read comics religiously. His solo title in the 80's and even much of the 90's felt so hokey, too boy scout like. It was like Cap took Superman's "aw shucks" and patriotism and turned it to 11. Even going back and re-reading some of the comics from that time those feelings are still conveyed, but I like them a lot better now. Back when I was reading comics as a kid, I leaned more towards the grittier books or books where the characters were outsiders. Punisher and the X-Men drew me in a lot more than Cap. Even with Cap leading the Avengers, I liked him more, but he still felt far too "Pollyanna-like" for me. So when the first Captain America movie came out, I went into it thinking that would likely be OK but it would fail to satisfy. However, while Captain America is still very patriotic the Pollyanna is wiped away. Now, I won't get into the sometimes jarring CGI to make Chris Evans into a frail-looking weakling in his pre-transformation form, but I thought the movie was well done other than that. Cap felt more human, more real, and overall more inspirational than he ever felt to that 8-16 year-old me that was heavily reading comics.

Cap's transformation in my mind was further expanded by The Avengers. Steve Rogers really felt like a man out of time, a guy still reeling from losing everything he had known and being thrust into a situation of global proportions alongside literal gods. I had my doubts that they could pull off Cap being a leader, but they did a great job of it and showed what I always wanted to see out of Cap: a born leader and a man that, while flawed, exhibits the qualities that we want to see in ourselves.

Granted, I'm being a little harsh on the comics. It's hard to keep the core of a character on display issue after issue for decades without the message overshadowing telling wildly divergent stories. To do so would make the core message a ham-fisted sledgehammer that would only serve to drive readers away. Movies, with their smaller time set and greater focus, can to that so much better (though many movies fail to deliver or end up being ham-fisted in their own way). Thanks to Captain America and Avengers, I'm more of a fan of Captain America than I've ever been before.

That all brings me to Winter Soldier. Now, most of us that read comics know who the Winter Soldier is. However, unless they do some serious retconning or outright ignoring what happened in the first movie, I don't see how they can mimic that in the movie. (By the way, Marvel's handling of the Winter Soldier, while still somewhat annoying, was way better handled than DC's bringing back Jason Todd, who in my not overly humble opinion, should have stayed dead with a capital D, but I digress.) Still, even possibly losing that emotional element, this promises to be another great Marvel movie.

Why is it that Hollywood can do such great stuff with Marvel properties (X3, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the two FF movies, and Daredevil aside), but nothing can seem to be done with DC properties that aren't Batman-related? (Really, until the last three Batman movies all but two of those have been absolute stinkers.) DC has some great IP, so surely a good movie can be found there? I haven't seen Man of Steel yet, but the reviews have been so mixed that I don't know what to expect. Green Lantern could have been good if they would have stuck to an origin story for the first movie and built up to fighting Parallax in a more natural progression instead of mashing two movies into one.

I once read somewhere on the net the big difference between Marvel and DC that I think plays into why DC movies tend to, well, suck (that aren't animated, seriously DC animated movies have been quite good). Bascially, this user said (and I'm paraphrasing here): in the Marvel Universe it's men pretending to be gods and in the DCU its gods pretending to be men. That's a big difference. Even in the case of characters like Thor, who is literally a god, he is a very human and flawed being and therefore more connectible and believeable. Superman is a god in every sense. He tries hard to blend in with humanity, but he just so good, so pure, so much better in every imaginable way that it's tough to write a storyline that doesn't end up being too cliched. I've heard that Man of Steel tried to up the angst, and it's been a regular complaint about the movie because it's so far off the mark for the character. (I guess I'll find out for myself once it hits Redbox.) It's almost like the writers for DC's movies can't wrap their head around how to make a movie revolving around characters with so much power that will still be interesting and connectible.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Phantom Hits

This post is about some behind the scenes stuff, so bear with me. I had over 500 hits on this blog the other day, and over 400 the day before. After the initial "WOW!" factor wore off, I checked my stats to see just where in the hell these hits are coming from and found some really questionable traffic sources. I've seen a few of these before and after a cursory search found that I shouldn't check out those links. Now, this is something that Blogger users have been wanting Google to fix for a long time now. It was just surprising that my little blog was blitzed all of a sudden.

Well, now, I'm seeing a much more believable level of hits from sources that make sense. I don't know what happened, whether those spam sites were shut down or Google blocked them, but I have a much better idea of just how much my ramblings are garnering.

So whatever the case may be, if Google blocked those obvious spam sites that were artifically inflating my blogger ego or whatever, I'm happy to see it.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Gamer Profile

So this has been going around recently, so here's mine:

My RPG Profile

I'm currently running (at home): Nothing

Tabletop RPGs I'm currently playing (at home) include: Nothing

I'm currently running (online): Nothing

Tabletop RPGs I'm currently playing (online) include: Nothing

I would especially like to play/run: Swords & Wizardry, Stars Without Number, Alternity, My own house system, Marvel Super Heroes

...but would also try: FATE, Star Wars Edge of the Empire, Numenera

I live in: Kansas City, MO home of the world's best BBQ

2 or 3 well-known RPG products other people made that I like:  Rogue Space, Mutant Future, Blood & Treasure

2 or 3 novels I like: I tend to read more series than just one-off novels: Stephen King's Dark Tower series (The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass, Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower), Chris Claremont and George Lucas' Shadow War series (Shadow Moon, Shadow Dawn, and Shadow Star), and Bernard Cornwell's retelling of the Arthurian legends (The Winter King, Enemy of God, and Excalibur)

2 or 3 movies I like: Empire Strikes Back, Blade Runner, Big Trouble in Little China

Best place to find me on-line: Google+, my blog

I will read almost anything on tabletop RPGs if it's: old school or sci-fi

I really do not want to hear about: storytelling games or politics (though I have strong opinions if the door is opened)

I think dead orc babies are ( circle one: funny / problematic / ....well, ok, it's complicated because....): Problematic. They aren't worth any XP, so it's a waste of time slaughtering them.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Reaper Bones II

The Kickstarter for Reaper Bones II is in its final day. I missed the chance the first time around and it looks like I'm going to again this time as well unless I get an instant infusion of a large sum of cash. Since that's not likely to happen by late tonight I'll just have to sit back and watch others unbox their new figs later on next year.

You know, I'm OK with that.

It's been a couple years since I last dragged out my tackle boxes of pre-painted minis for use. Yeah, a couple years. It's been over 5 years since I last painted a fig, and I've got a vast army of unpainted and terribly expensive metal figures sitting on shelves in my man-cave. Why on Earth would I want to add hundreds more to the collection that may never see the glory of even a "tabletop worthy" paint job? Coolness factor I guess. There are some really great minis in the Bones II Kickstarter. That said, I've got hundreds of minis ranging from D&D to Star Wars to Heroclix to Reaper to Rackham to Games Workshop and on and on and on. Other than generic sci-fi figs, I've got my bases pretty well covered. In a pinch, I can always print out cardstock stand-ins for anything that I don't have covered.

Still, I'm sure there will be this nagging feeling of regret when the kickstarter ends, and another round of intense envy upon hearing people getting in their orders. At the end of the day though, I'm covered, and that's money that I can use on things that my boys can have fun with now as opposed to a few years from now (if they follow their dear ol' dad into the gaming hobby that is).

Maybe next time, Reaper, maybe next time.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

House System Table of Contents

I'm knee deep in getting my house system (a hack of SWN, Alternity, and D20 Future) written up. As I was working on the Character Creation chapter I figured it would be a good idea to develop an outline of how I think everything should be organized. The main rulebook is going to be (hopefully) more of a toolbox with not much setting material. I just want to get the nuts and bolts finalized before I start adding on the paint and polish. Without further to do, here's my first draft of the Table of Contents for my House System:

1. Introduction
2. Character Creation

  • Overview of Character Creation
  • Ability Score Generation
3. Species
  • Standard Species
  • Hybrid Species
  • Player Generated Species
4. Skills
5. Perks & Flaws
6. Attributes
7. Equipment & Services
  • Weapons
  • Armor
  • General Gear
  • Basic Services
  • Medical Services
8. Systems
  • Combat
  • Character Movement
  • Vehicle Movement
  • Space Tavel
  • Space Combat
  • Skills
  • Environmental Effects
9. Psionics
10. Mutations
11. Cybernetics
12. Robots
  • Robot Creation
  • Robot Examples
  • Robots as PC's
13. Vehicles
  • Land
  • Air
  • Sea
  • Space
  • Mechs
  • Space Stations
  • Vehicle Creation
  • Vehicle Examples
14. Experience & Achievement 
15. GM Resources
  • Planet Generation
  • System Generation
  • Sector Generation
  • Alien Generation (Sentient and Non-Sentient)
  • Factions
  • Society Generation
16. Xenobestiary

The various examples will likely only be a few in each category. (So these rules won't sport all 60 base species available when I finally get a chance to actually play a game in the Galactic Concord setting.) Just enough to show off various techniques for creating aliens, vehicles, starships, and so on. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hybrid Races

I've been working on the Character Creation chapter of my "house system" and I've gotten to the point where I want to make a decision about whether or not beings from different species can mate and therefore determine if I need to write any rules to govern such beings without having to write a million and one hybrid races individually. In the case of the Asari, the answer is a resounding "yes", but they don't necessarily need to mate in conventional sense to produce offspring and all young born from mating with an Asari are Asari in most every discernible way. Star Trek gives many examples of different species that can produce offspring: Humans and Betazoids, Humans and Klingons, Bajorans and Cardassians, and so on. Such pairings are also found in other series like Farscape (although Humans and Sebaceans are so similar genetically that it doesn't stretch the imagination too far) and Star Wars. Plus, since this setting is very much in the space opera vein as opposed to trying for a more hard sci-fi angle, it's not too far out of the norm to draw upon fantasy ideas like the half-elf, half-giant, and the like.

I'm inclined to allow such beings as supported in the setting, and I think I have a decent idea of a relatively easy way to handle these beings. However, there would have to be limits like only near-human species would be genetically compatible enough for such pairings. So there wouldn't be any Dralasite/Vulcans running around. Species that are decidedly more insectoid (Verpine), animalistic (Wookiee), or just weird (Founders, Dhamrin) simply wouldn't be allowed except as some GM plot device. After all, who am I to say that some Gene-Splicer couldn't create some sort of hoary abomination to unleash upon an unsuspecting galaxy?) I'm thinking of adding in a section to the species details that states whether or not they are genetically compatible with other species, much like what I'm doing to state whether or not a species can have psionic abilities, has a sufficiently malleable genetic structure for mutations, or has a physiology incompatible for cybernetics. Sex isn't typically something that I cover in my games (the times that the "brown-chicken, brown-cow" has occurred, it's all happened "off camera") and it's a subject that can make some people squeamish for a variety of reasons, so I'd like to handle the issue as gently as possible without tip-toeing around it like I'm writing for a pre-pubescent audience that giggles as the merest mention of anything slightly adult in nature. I'm not sure if I'll end up adding such an entry to the background information for each species, but in light of possibly (well, very likely) adding of the hybrid races rules it makes sense. 

So I put the question to you, loyal reader of this rather haphazard blog, would such rules be a turn-off to a game even with the knowledge that the campaign is decidedly sci-fantasy (and even possibly a bit "gonzo" in spots) or would it still feel alright and keeping in the spirit even if the idea of different species mating and creating offspring is scientifically ridiculous? 

There are also other species in the galaxy that can mate with other species similar to the Asari parthenogenesis or by means of genetic manipulation. The Satyrix (of Iron Kingdom fame) can mate with humans and other near-humans thanks to changes made to their genetic make-up to make up for the fact that they simply do not bear enough males in their society. The Valkyria (from the Savage Worlds setting, Slipstream) can mate with certain other species as well that are similar enough to their own genetic make-up. Therefore, there are instances beyond the Asari where other such beings can mate with others, but in each case the offspring is almost always the same as the mother. 

Anyway, that's what I was working on at the moment and decided that I'd write about it. Any thoughts?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

SWN/Alternity/D20 Future Hack Update

Well, it's back to work for me and I didn't get to post nearly as much as I hoped. However, I haven't been totally unproductive. I've got a lot written and I think I've got some solutions to issues that have cropped up with making changes to the skill systems. I should be able to be to a playtestable state here pretty soon.

I was home during my time off with my 1-year old son, so I spent most of my time trying to keep him out of everything. During the quite times, I sat down with Jeff Rovin's "Aliens, Robots, and Spaceships" making notes for items that would make a good fit for the setting. I've got a lot to work on just from that book once I get the system to where I want it. I've also been making notes on an updated timeline for the setting. I want to get the dates nailed down for the major events in galactic history so that the background info is nice and coherent. As things progress, I'll be posting more of these updated setting details.

Friday, October 11, 2013

SWN/Alternity/D20 Future Hack: Character Creation Overview

This is still very much a work in progress, so things will likely change several times before I feel like it's truly ready for full-on play.

Character Creation Process
1. Generate Ability Scores: Roll 3d6 six times and apply those scores to the six ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma). This can either be done in order or by rolling the six scores and then assigning them to the desired stats to fit the player's vision for the character (this is, of course, up to the GM).

2. Select a Species: Choose one of the species available for play (if the campaign allows more than just humans, that is). Apply any ability score modifiers listed for the species, and make a note of the species' six free broad skills and any other special rules that may exist for that species.

3. Select a Class: Choose one of the classes available for play (Combat Specialist, Diplomat, Freelancer, or Technical Operative, Psions are also available for campaigns that allow the use of Psionic skills). Either roll for starting Hit Points, or apply the maximum (depending on which option the GM prefers for the campaign) to the HP total. Make a note of the class' Base Attack Bonus, Initiative bonus, Saving Throw bonuses, and Special Ability.

4. Determine Cybernetics and/or Mutations: If the campaign is making use of Cybernetics and/or Mutations and if those options are available for starting heroes, determine these options now and make a note of them and their effects on the character sheet. Characters that start play with cybernetics wave the cost in credits, but must still pay the skill point cost to ensure that their bodies are properly prepared for the installation of cybergear (see the Cybernetics section in the Equipment chapter for more information).

5. Purchase Skills: Starting characters have a number of skill points to spend on their starting Broad and Specialty skills based on their Intelligence score. Free Broad Skills listed for each species are considered automatic, so no cost is applied to those Broad Skills (though any Specialty skills will need to be purchased as normal). Specialty skills are capped at Rank 3 for starting characters. Make sure that if the character's species is one that allows a bonus to skill points or Broad Skill selections that you factor those into your purchase plan for the character. Also, make sure you note which skills are considered class skills for your character based on his class. Class skills cost one less skill point than the listed cost. Note that not all skill points need to be spent during character creation and can be saved for later.

6. Select Perks and Flaws: Starting characters may purchase (with Skill Points) up to three perks and select up to three flaws.

7. Select Attributes: Select one motivation, one moral attitude, and up to two personal traits for your character. These attributes help to define your character's personality.

8. Purchase Equipment: Each class has a number of credits (either generated randomly or by a preset number up to the GM) that they can spend on starting personal equipment.

9. Finish the Character Sheet: Make a note of the character's weapons and/or armor stats. Figure up the character's Defense Score and Attack Bonuses for their purchased weapons/attack forms. Make a note of the character's Psionic Energy Points, if playing a Psion or Diplomat/Psion. Name the character, and get ready for adventure!

There you have it, the Character Creation Process for my "Frankenstein's Monster" of an RPG system. A few things that I want to point out: the system of advancement for characters is the Alternity system. Characters will gain 1-3 points per adventure with a possible 1-2 bonus points depending on GM fiat based on in-game performance (clever play, great roleplaying, etc...). Once the character has accumulated enough Achievement Points, he/she can then spend those points on skills or bank them for later. Upon reaching an Achievement level, the character rolls for additional hit points, and may see an increase in one or more Saving Throw Bonuses.

There are three Saving Throw categories: Fortitude, Reflex, and Willpower.

Attacks are rolled against the target's Defense Score, which is 10 + Dexterity Modifier + Armor Modifier. If an attack rolls is equal to or higher than the target's Defense, damage is rolled. If the target is wearing armor, the Armor Score is subtracted from the damage before it is subtracted from the character's HP total.

Purchasing skill ranks conveys a +1 bonus to a skill roll using that skill. Broad Skills do not convey a bonus, but instead allow the character to use their Ability Score modifier on a general skill roll. For weapons and martial arts skills, ability score modifiers are always applied, but having a Broad Skill allows the character to use his Base Attack Bonus to modify the attack roll. Therefore, a character using a blaster pistol who does not have the Ranged Weapons Modern broad skill would only be able to apply his Dexterity bonus to the roll.

Most everything else will essentially stay as written in SWN except where it needs to be tweaked to be brought in line with the skill system.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

SWN Hack Thoughts

I started looking back over what I've done with hacking up SWN to better fit what I want out of a sci-fi system. I'm thinking of switching gears to make the "house system" more in line with Alternity. I'm thinking of using the Broad/Specialized skill structure and cost per skill level as Alternity as well as the level benefits. This also means that character creation would likely end up being more point-based and may also see the inclusion of Perks and Disadvantages. Since the underlying system will still use SWN/OSR mechanics (although I use Ascending AC), I'll still need to work out some of the finer details, but I fully expect to keep things like Cybernetics and mutations pretty much as they are lined out in SWN and Other Dust.

One other change I'm considering is applying Alternity's Low Impact/High Impact/Energy damage resistance models. That means that a character's agility would be the primary thing keeping them from getting hurt with armor lessening damage. I've always liked that idea better than armor making a character harder to hit, but I've typically balked at using armor that way since it's more bookkeeping. It's something that I'm batting around and may likely change back as I test the changes.

I don't know that I'll ever be truly happy with the house system or find a system that fills most of my want list from a sci-fi system, but I hope to get the character creation and monster creation systems down in the near future so I can start in on statting out species and creatures and get down to the really fun part of world building for me, which is fleshing out the galaxy and overall setting details.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Some Things to Check Out

First off is Reaper is having another massive Kickstarter campaign. Check it out HERE if you haven't already. Really, as quickly as this KS is drawing in cash, I doubt that many of you haven't checked it out. I've been hearing that they hit their initial funding goal in 2-3 minutes and crashed (or at least wreaked havoc on) Amazon's servers! Amazing! Much like the last Reaper Bones KS, I'm not taking part and it's killing me. I just can't justify spending on it...unless I hit the lottery tonight, and then it's backing time! In all seriousness, if you are in need of a ton of figures at an amazing price, this is the project to back.

The second thing I would like to draw your attention to is The Vaults of Pandius has put out the first issue of a new online magazine devoted to the world of Mystara called "Threshold". You can download the issue HERE (link goes directly to the pdf). This first issue covers the Karameikos region in the Known World. I've only had a chance to glance through the first issue, but I'm loving what I'm seeing and I hope that this mag continues on for a good long while.

(Semi) Regular Transmissions to Resume

Thanks to the government shutdown, I'm going to be a stay-at-home-dad for the time being (unless a new employment opportunity opens up, that is) and so I'll be able to devote some more time to the blog than I've been able to of late. I'm not sure yet what I'll cover, but since I've been in a sci-fi kick of late (once again) I'll probably focus my efforts there.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Core Races

As I slowly make headway on my campaign for my SWN hack, I realize that I should eventually tackle what races I'll allow. As is common in many of my "kitchen sink" settings, I tend to allow a very wide array of character races for the players to choose from and the same will be here as well. However, unlike in many instances of running sci-fi games where I have a monster tome of races detailed for the system that I slap down on the table before the players with just marginal details outlined, I'm going to go with a more modest approach this time around. Since the campaign material is written largely from the point of view that they players will start out in Galactic Concord space and will be members of one of the various member species, I'm going to keep the races limited to those cultures that are members of the Galactic Concord. Plus, since this setting is a homage to my favorite sci-fi/fantasy settings, I'll further limit the choices.  While this still makes for a long list, it's nowhere near the total amount of species that I would consider playable.

Here's what I have so far:
Humans (various cultures like Terran, Martian, Corellian, etc...)

From Mass Effect: Asari, Salarians, Turians Edit: Drell, Hanar, Volus, Elcor

From Star Trek: Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites, Caitians, Bajorans, Edosians, Bolians, Betazoid, Deltans, Saurians, Napeans, Trills, and Talaxians

From Babylon 5: Narns, Centauri, and Minbari

From Farscape: Delvians, Ilanics, and Luxans

From Warhammer 40K: Eldar

From D&D: Dwarims (Dwarves), Gnorri (Gnomes)

From Star Wars: Wookiees, Cerean, Bothan, Rodian, Biths, Caamasi, Chagrians, Twi'leks, Duros, Ithorians, Kel Dors, Miraluka, Mon Calamari, Nautolans, Nosaurians, Quarrens, Sullustans, Zabraks, Shistavenens, and Zeltrons.

From Alternity: Fraal, Aleerins, Weren, T'sa, and Shesheyans

From D20 Modern: Moreaus

Finally, there are a selection of droids to choose from and mutations that can be applied to many species.

So 56 races that are considered "core" for the setting (not counting droids and mutants). I still need to get details written up for many of the species, but this at least allows me to focus myself. More species will be added as I go along and detail out the galaxy. It's a huge galaxy, and plenty of room for all sorts of creatures!

A quick edit, I forgot about 4 Mass Effect races that I'm going to allow.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


By the beard of Odin its been over a month this time since I've posted diddly-squat! Plus, its been even longer since I've posted anything of any real substance on any of my projects. Well, on the former, the wait continues because I haven't written much lately. I've picked up some inspirational books and I'm making my notes, but not much beyond that. I scored a copy of the old sci-fi poster book
"Wanted: 22 Criminals by the Intergalactic Security Bureau" in fairly good condition for cheap. Plus, I also found a copy of the old "Worlds of the Federation" guidebook detailing all sorts of aliens and their worlds from Star Trek. Some of the material in WotF has been invalidated, but it's still a great source for inspiration for space opera games.

I'm also still compiling my great Monster Codex for S&W. Not sure what my count is up to now, but it's gotta be getting close to the 2000 mark. Plus, I've picked up a few more monster books to add to the conversion pile. (What can I say? I'm a monster junkie!)

On the video game front, I'm playing around with mods for Torchlight II. I think I've about got my favorite mods re-packed correctly so that the loot system isn't fouled up and that it doesn't crash the game...just about... I finally started playing Max Payne 3. It's a great game, but the sight of an older, slightly overweight Max has taken some getting used to. Still, Rock Star has once again made a great game with that sweet spot combination of great gameplay and an excellent story. I've also just picked up Dragon's Crown. I'm not overly keen on the art style, but it's a great fantasy beat-em-up in the vein of D&D Mystara and the Tower of Doom and Castle Crashers. I readily recommend it. I still have yet to play Borderlands 2, Assassin's Creed Revelations and AC3, and Prototype 2, all of which are waiting impatiently on the shelf.

One final note, I've just watched the new Star Trek movie: Into Darkness. Other than JJ Abram's love of lens flares becoming a severe neurosis, I loved it. Yes, it's an action flick by and large and the show was far more cerebral, but the characters feel right and Benedict Cumberbatch made a great Khan. What I hope this movie does is finally get some TV execs (or even Netflix or Hulu) to put together a smart and hopeful space opera show back on TV. It would be great if that show were Star Trek, but I'd take a new franchise as well at this point. That said, I really hope there is a new Star Trek series on the horizon. We need shows like that to keep kids interested in dreaming about the stars. Plus, the ST universe's hopeful feel is something I think we could use on TV again. Something that runs counter to the dark, depressing, dystopian series that seem to be all that's on TV anymore. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against post-apocalyptic and/or zombie invasion shows, but it would be nice to see a series that takes place in a world where many species can work for the common good. Where we have conquered hunger, disease, and (for the most part) war. The ST universe is hardly utopian, as there are always threats on the horizon be it Romulans, Klingons, Borg, or insidious mind-controlling worms invading Starfleet, but those threats always seem to be able to be met with words, logic, and reason as opposed to going in guns blazing and leaving only a trail of smoking corpses. It would be nice to see a return to diplomacy and peaceful exploration. I get it, art imitates life. That's why so many shows revolve around mankind losing everything or clawing to survive against impossible odds as that's what it feels like so much nowadays with high unemployment, constant war, and the forces seeming to work against the regular folk from all angles. That's all the more reason to have a show that thinks we can and will have a brighter future ahead of us.

Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox now. I do hope to get a chance (or at least force myself) to get some writing done and in a state where I'm not embarrassed to post it sometime soon. I'm back in sci-fi mode for the time being, but since I'm still reading the Song of Fire and Ice series, I change gears back into fantasy fairly regularly. Until next time!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Frog God Games G+ Giveaway

Just a quick update here. Frog God Games is having a giveaway to celebrate the 1000th member to the Swords & Wizardry Discussion group over on G+. In the giveaway, once the group reaches 1000 members, FGG will giveaway 1 free hardback book of the winner's choice, shipping paid by FGG. They will also draw 3 additional winners at random from the members on this community to receive a pdf of their choice, free! So if you haven't checked out the group, now is the perfect time to do so! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Whoa! It's been a month!

I can't believe that it's been pretty much a month since my last post. I've been busy with work and family, but not that busy!  Anyway, here are some random posts about what I've been up to and have picked up of late.

First off, I broke down and bought the Beginner Set for Fantasy Flight Games' new Edge of the Empire RPG. I've so far balked at picking up the Core Rules because $60 is really steep for me to plunk down these days. Still, after reading through the rules and playing a couple scenarios, I have to say I like the rules and the more narrative slant that they have. I'm not crazy about the special dice, but they don't feel clunky and as "in the way" as they do in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I will likely end up picking up the Core Rules even though I would much rather have more of a catch-all set of rules rather than having to play in the Rise of the Empire era, especially if each core rulebook ends up being $60.

I'm still working on my second volume of monsters for my hack of the S&W rules with no real end in sight, especially with new monster books being released all the time.

I've picked up/been given a few new boardgames and expansions lately. First off is the Game of Thrones card game. I haven't played the game yet, but the rules seem fairly easy to understand. I'm looking forward to trying it out. I also picked up the companion set to the Star Trek TNG card game for cheap from Half Price Books. It can be played on it's own and can be added to the other two ST card games. I will be playing through this one this weekend. If it's good, I'll be looking at picking up the other two sets. I also picked up The Coast and Hero Set 2 for A Touch of Evil, the Timber Peak expansion for Last Night on Earth, and the Labyrinth of Ruin expansion for Descent 2E. Lots of games to play and very little time to play them sadly.

On the sci-fi front, work continues on my SWN campaign. I've been slowly adding systems and species to the setting. I hope to get more information posted about these updates sometime soon. I still find myself looking at Rogue Space to run the setting just because it's so easy and compact to run. Still, I'll likely wait to see what comes out of the new edition of Rogue Space that's being worked on at the moment. If there is intgrated support to cybernetics and a better system for designing starships, I'll be all over it. (Mutations would be sweet as well! Hint, hint.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Current State of Things...

Jeesh, it's been over a week since my last post. I keep promising more details about my S&W campaign, but time just isn't on my side these days. Between being busy at work (lots of boofungus going on there, which is spurring a pretty frantic job hunt), and the typical crazy summer schedule of things to do with the kids at home I'm left with no time to myself to do much of anything other than sleep. If things progress along a couple fronts, I hope to have more free time soon, which will allow me to start churning out updates like crazy...well, comparitively.

About the only gaming I've been able to do of late is a little Skyrim on the PS3. I waited for the Legendary Edition to come out so I wouldn't have to bother with purchasing DCL seperately. While no CRPG matches the experience of gaming with friends gathered around a table, Skyrim is a pretty damn good game. I've been enjoying it emmensely, even if I've only be able to log a couple hours in it.

I was going to continue on the video game front with the whole PS4 vs XBox One debate, but seriously, it's been done to death. I'm in the PS4 camp primarily because I'm already an entrenched PSN user, but I'm not writing off the XB1 yet. At any rate, I'm waiting on picking up any next gen system. I learned my lesson with 3 RROD'd XBox 360's and one YLOD'd PS3. Let the early adopters ferret out the hardware issues and I'll swoop in when the systems are cheaper and in a much more stable state.

Friday, June 07, 2013

I Want to Like You, I Really Do. But....

My gamer ADD isn't solely video game based. I bounce around from RPG system to RPG system, but unlike video games, where I may walk away from a game I enjoyed and never come back, I tend to have my old stand-bys that I keep coming home to. Still, I like to buy and try out a lot of different games. Who knows when I'll find a system that just blows me away? I may be attracted to a game by message board buzz/word of mouth, cool artwork, excellent setting details, or interesting stated design goals. Sometimes I hit paydirt, like when I dediced to pick up Savage Worlds on a whim, but most of the time I have a little fun either reading or (too rarely) playing a game before it's relegated to the shelf or harddrive. Occasionally, there are the games that I'm disgusted that I wasted time and/or money on, but thankfully those are rare.

Today, I'm going to look some systems that I really, really want to like, but the thought of trying to play them makes me cringe. These are games that I find bits of to be brilliant, but the whole package just isn't palpable to me. In most cases, I still buy product for the system just to rob for setting fluff and conversion fodder for "better" systems.

Exalted: This is going to be a common theme for many of these games listed: "I love the setting, but dislike/hate the rules." I love the setting. I really think it's some of White Wolf's best work to date. I'm not even a fan of anime, but I dig the artwork. It just oozes style and really conveys what the setting is all about: high drama in a mythical psuedo-Oriental world where people with lots of power battle. The production values are through the roof. However, the rules leave me feeling cold, and that's both 1st and 2nd edition (though I do have to admit that I haven't played the 2E rules yet, just read them and the breakdown of differences on message boards and such). I don't hate the rules for Exalted, but I dislike them enough that I really won't play Exalted unless the Storyteller knows the system backwards and forwards, otherwise the game moves with a snail's pace. That's just not right for a game who's genre involves people that can leap through trees and combat is a blur of weapon flashes and lightning-fast kicks and punches. To me, Exalted is like a movie where the previews make you think you're going in to see a comedy and it ends up being a melodrama.

Anima: This is another anime-inspired RPG and another game where everything is just gorgeous. The GAIA setting is interesting in the sense that it's feels like a what Tolkien-like setting would look like when looked through the lens of being developed as a Japanese role-playing video game. It looks and feels so reminiscent of Final Fantasy, which (until FF 12) was one of my favorite series of CRPG's. Where Anima falls apart for me is rules. They are very Rolemaster-like (I believe I recall seeing somewhere that Anima is based, at least in part, on the Rolemaster rules) with lots of charts and calculations. The explanations in the rules aren't the best either. Now that might be due to inconsistencies in the translation (Anima was a Spanish RPG originally), but if that's the case (and not me just being dense...which is entirely possible) then that's a failure on whoever did the translation. This may just be the old man in me, but the system is just too complex. I don't want to spend a ton of time and need the help of a spreadsheet to build a character or monsters. So my pretty Anima books sit on the shelf, every now and then being referenced for an idea to carry over to Swords & Wizardry. I've never had a chance to play Anima. Sadly, my group balks at it everytime they try to make a character. It's a fairly long process and it immediately turns off most of the group. Maybe someday I'll get the chance to find out what combat is really like, but if it's anything like Rolemaster like it appears to be, I won't end up being a fan.

HERO: I've played a good bit of HERO system (mostly in the Champions setting) over the years. They've built a great setting and really for all the complaints of needing a slide rule to play the game the mechanics aren't that bad once you get into them. That said, the system is still where HERO fails me. There are much better systems for supers that does what HERO does far simpler. I still pick up setting books for HERO games, though. They are great resources for use with other systems, no matter the genre.

Rifts/Palladium: Out of all of the games on this list, I hate the Palladium system. It's inconsistent, needlessly complex, and sadly will never likely receive the major overhaul that it so desperately needs. That said, I have had a lot of fun playing both Rifts and Palladium Fantasy over the year, though definitely in spite of the system. Rifts, for me, is really the perfect setting being a mix of post apocalyptic, supers, fantasy, and sci-fi. It's a smorgasbord of crazy wahoo insanity that just flat love. For as wacky as the setting is, Kevin Siembeida makes it work. Now, don't look too close as the population figures or how ley lines and such work and are laid out because there's some pretty big holes in the logic wall, but that said KS puts it all together in a way that feels right. Sadly, it's bolted to a system that was a wreck when it was built. The same goes for Palladium Fantasy. The setting is great and is one that I have used for D&D several times over the years. The Palladium system works better for Fantasy than it does for Rifts, in my opinion, but there are still systems that do what it does simpler, faster, and cleaner. In spite of my hatred of the rules, I have a large collection of Palladium material that I continually use to convert to systems that are simply much, much better.

I'm sure there are a few other games that fit my critera of wanting to love, but just can't. These are the main ones mostly due to the amount of time and money I've spent (and in the case of Rifts and HERO, still spend money/time) on them.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Goings on

I've been pretty quiet this week for a variety of reasons all tied to work and home. However, I haven't been totally ignoring my projects.

First off, I'm up to 1680 creatures for my S&W monster collection. At this rate, I'll be ready to close the door on Monster Codex 2 and move on to collection monsters for Monster Codex 3. (I'm trying to keep page counts down to keep the books in a manageable size.) I've also picked up a new new monster books off of RPGNow to add to the conversion pile!

I've got a lot of notes on my S&W setting. I hope to start posting setting material dealing with the "Core Nations" of the world (mostly those covered in the D&D Gazetteer series) shortly, likely starting with the Grand Duchy of Karameikos.

After a lot of hem-hawing around, I picked up Barebones Fantasy and the Flesh and Blood sourcebook. I'm not usually big on percentile-based systems, but I like what I've seen so far from Barebones Fantasy. The use of classes as skills is an interesting twist. I haven't made it through the entire core rulebook yet, and therefore haven't started a character and tried out some quick fights. I hope to get around to that tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

RIP Jack Vance

I just found out today, like many it seems, that Jack Vance passed away Sunday. His Dying Earth stories are classics (even if I, personally, never really cared for them) and were highly influential not only to D&D, but to sci-fi and fantasy writers, which in turn influenced a vast array of tabletop games, video games, TV, and movies. So while I may not be the biggest Jack Vance fan on the planet, I'm still thankful for work and the indelible mark he's left on so many things that I enjoy. Rest in peace, Mr. Vance, and thank you.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Veil: Races

Before I get into the races of The Veil setting, there is a rule that needs to be covered. All non-human races, with the exception of half-elves, half-giants, and half-orcs raised by human parents are considered Awakened, so they see the world as it really is. Some may not realize what they are seeing, but even races like the Blessed and the Spawn know they see things differently than their friends and family.

Atlantis, which now sits at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, right in the center of the Bermuda Triangle, was home to the birthplace of modern magic.  Due to events largely lost to the sands of time, a cataclysm occurred that sank Atlantis and her residents.  Those unfortunate enough to still be on the island as it sank were magically transformed into the Atlanteans we know today. 
Atlanteans still look much like humans, but their skin color is tinged with blues or greens.  They have gills on the sides of their necks and their fingers and toes are webbed.  Their eyes are large and typically some shade of blue or green.  They tend to wear very little clothing as it impedes their swimming.
Atlanteans are rarely encountered away from their watery homes.  While they can breathe air while on land, many wear expensive and uncomfortable magical water suits when having to spend extended periods away from the ocean. 
Atlanteans once had a very magical culture, but the cataclysm and their transformation has stripped magic from the species almost entirely.  Only .01% of each generation is born with the Sight.  Even then, if an Atlantean wishes to learn magic, he must go to one of the magic colleges on the land to do so as Atlantis no longer is home to a magic school.  Therefore, it is exceedingly rare to find an Atlantean wizard. 
Atlanteans now have a culture that is technologically based.  Many of their innovations are devoted to keeping their underwater civilization safe from humans and legend seekers. 

Blessed, or the “angel-born” as they are also called, are beings that have been touched by the Seraphim (or Devas or some other "angelic" being), either by direct descent or by being spiritually touched by some being from the Heavens.  Blessed are often seen as paragons of righteousness and virtue, often to the point of being narrow-minded and condescending.  Since they are born to human mothers, they do not have any culture of their own, just their innate accentuated sense of right and wrong. 
Blessed look like humans that have an almost luminous quality to them.  Their flesh is unmarked by any defect or scar (in fact only wounds given to them by some demonic force can mar their flesh), their eyes are typical a very light and clear color (blue being the most common), and when agitated they almost seem to glow.  They are also typically beautiful specimens of their race, nearly paragon-like in their beauty. 
Blessed are confident to a fault.  They are sure of themselves and their decisions to the point of arrogance.  Most ally themselves with virtuous causes, but some have been blinded by strong leaders into doing evil in the name of some noble cause.  Many rise to ranks of leaders of their groups and have a knack for inspiring those around them.  They are kind and caring to those around them that are their allies or even strangers (most of the time), but to their enemies they are unrelenting and merciless.
Blessed can be anything just like other veiled races, but many gravitate towards groups of religious faith, particularly religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  They are the only veiled race that is accepted by Awakened Islamic fundamentalists, being seen as though they have been touched by Allah to carry out his wrath on the unbelievers.  However, some do become wizards (gravitating towards becoming Aurors) and several are members of the Wardens as well.  There are also some that simply become policemen, firefighters, and bodyguards.  The desire to protect is an innate feeling for most blessed.  There are some, however, that spurn their heavenly origins and turn towards the dark.  These beings are more vicious and wicked than most other practitioners of the dark arts.

Blessed often have children, but the divine spark is often not passed directly from generation to generation. A family may go 5 or more generations without seeing another blessed, if they ever see another. No one truly understands why a child is born as a blessed, but many mages suspect that angelic beings may be meddling in the Real to make it happen. A blessed that fathers (or carries in the case of blessed women) a child with another race, that child has no chance of becoming a blessed. The offspring will be a normal half-elf/giant/orc/veela/whatever.


Bugbears, like many other veiled races, have been on Earth for nearly as long as humans.  In the ancient past, they hunted and warred against humans, but were eventually driven away where they became the stuff of legend.  They now live in the seedier parts of both the Muggle and Wizarding world.
Bugbears are tall, broad shouldered, humanoids with yellowish flesh and thick, coarse hair covering their bodies.  Their eyes are greenish-white with red pupils, and they have broad ears.  Their mouths are filled with sharp teeth. Their noses are bear-like and combined with their hairy bodies, it’s easy to see where they get their name. 
Bugbears are largely driven by their stomachs and their wallets.  They are constantly on the prowl, taking whatever they want and damn the consequences.  They are typically hired muscle; with very few having either the ability to lead or even the intelligence to be anything more than a flunky; although, occasionally there are enterprising bugbears that will become bounty hunters (typically hunting down rogue mages for money) or even bodyguards. 
Unlike many veiled races, bugbears don’t seem to have much in the way of magical talent.  There are a rare few from each generation that will be trained as wizards, but even then they are usually trained in secret by dark wizards. 

Dark Elf
Dark Elves are descended from the elves that sided with Queen Mab when she attempted to take over all of the Faerie Realm.  After the Fae was sundered into the Green and the Withering, the dark elves served Mab willingly.  However, over the centuries, many have displeased her and to escape her wrath, they gave up their immortality to live on Earth. 
Like their common cousins, dark elves are lithe and beautiful.  However, their skin is ebon black; a parting curse from Oberon that their flesh reflect the darkness in their hearts, and their hair is naturally stark white (though many dye it various colors).  Dark Elf eyes are also strange colors like violet, lavender, orange and yellow. 
Dark elves may have given up their immortality to live on Earth, but most are not interested in living alongside other races unless they can be dominated.  Dark elves are an untrustworthy lot, who seek financial, political, and magical power to better their place in this world.  That is not to say that all dark elves are vile, power-hungry beings, but many are.  Their reputation is such that dark elves seeking to enter into many wizarding schools, but go through a thorough vetting process to make sure there are no outsider worshippers (dark elves have a history of dealing with the Demon Queen, Llolth) or dark wizards in their families even back a couple generations. 

Dhampyrs are children partially sired by a vampire.  This can only happen in a couple ways as vampires are unable to procreate in the traditional sense.  The first is the child was conceived by a vampire before he had completely become one of the undead.  The second way is for the mother to ingest a vampire’s blood while pregnant, or in the rarest of cases be in the process of being turned while giving birth.  These children are born more than human.  They can sense when a vampire is near (type of vampire doesn’t matter), and tend to be stronger than normal, but they are uncomfortable in the sunlight.
Dhampyrs, out of all of the veiled races, have the best chance of living a life where the wizarding world never affects them.  They could live someplace where they will never encounter a vampire, and they may never think twice about how their skin burns and blisters easily when in the sunlight.  However, many become entrenched in the wizarding world at an early age.  Some grow up with their vampire sire as a part of their lives (especially if the vampire is the dhampyr’s parent(s)), or (most likely) they were born and raised in an area that is inhabited by vampires. 
Just because they can see the world for how it is, doesn’t mean that they have the Sight.  Dhampyrs are no more likely to be wizards than normal humans.  That said, many dhampyrs grow up to despise their sires and train to become Warden that deal with vampires that break the Covenant with the Council of Magi.  Some dhampyr become obsessed with vampires, and seek out their sires to become willing pawns in exchange for the full power of being a true vampire.  

Dragons have been mating with humans since the dawn of magic.  While dragonfolk are somewhat more common, there are those in the world that look human, but carry a touch of the draconic in their blood.  These beings are born with abilities beyond those of the rest of their human kin, but still nothing close to that of their dragon ancestors. 
Dragonbloods look like humans of very noble stature.  Other than that, there is often little that distinguishes a dragonblood from the rest of humanity.  However, they are some that carry some physical trait that does set them apart if one knows what to look for like: faintly scaly skin, serpentine eyes, or fingernails as strong as claws. 
Most dragonbloods begin to figure out that they are different around the onset of puberty.  Most are born to wizarding families, and they are usually seen as a blessing.  However, those born to Muggle families may have to endure the feeling of being outcasts and the fear and hatred that goes along with it (especially if they have features that are more difficult to cover up), not to mention that since they see the world as it truly is some of the things they talk about (did you see that monster, daddy?) can lead to them feeling weird or even have them committed in the worst cases.  There is an organization that has recently popped up that offers aid, counseling, and information to dragonbloods called the Order of the High Drake.  Some wizards fear them, seeing this organization as a shadowy front for some dragon that wishes to gather those touched with draconic blood to rise against the wizarding world and beyond.  However, there is little evidence to support this claim.  

Of all the veiled races that call Earth home, the dragonfolk may just be the most alien.  They have long been part of the wizarding world, many acting as liaisons between dragons and wizards, while others have become powerful wizards in their own right.  They are a rare sight in world, preferring largely to keep to themselves.
Dragonfolk stand as stand as a human with the look of a dragon given humanoid form.  Their bodies are covered in thick scales and most have leathery wings sprouting from their backs.  Their heads are like those of dragons, with long snouts, sharp teeth, and reptilian eyes.  The coloration and fine details depend on their race.  Dragonfolk have races that correspond with several of the dragon varieties found in the world. 
Arcane Dragonfolk are among the least populous of dragonfolk, but they are more commonly encountered in the wizarding world as they are almost all wizards.  Their scales are very fine and dark purple or black in color.  Arcane symbols seem to dance beneath their scales.  They are wingless, but can still fly and they do not have a breath weapon.  Their bodies are smaller than other dragonfolk, standing only about five and a half feet tall with lithe forms. They are innately magical and can dispel magics with a thought. They are largely scholars and collectors that spend their long lives learning new spells or searching for magical artifacts. 
Flame Dragonfolk are the most common variety found in the world.  Their scales are red in color and they have large leathery wings. They are a bit standoffish and prefer to keep to their own devices by and large, living in remote mountain ranges. 
Ice Dragonfolk are rare sights in the world.  They tend to be strict and cruel creatures that want little to do with the rest of the world (even with Ice Dragons).  Their scales range in color from dark blue to bluish-white.  They are winged and breathe ice instead of fire.  They live in arctic regions far from other races. 
Mountain Dragonfolk are the largest of the dragonfolk races.  They are solidly built and stand a little over 6 feet tall.  Their scales are earthy brown to gray in color and have a stone-like look to them. They are winged. They breathe streams of rock instead of fire. They are slow and methodical creatures that prefer to be left alone, but can become loyal friends and allies. 
Sand Dragonfolk are wingless and flightless and have sandy brown scales.  They can burrow through earth quickly and have a love of magic items, though few become wizards.  Those that have a breath weapon breathe blasts of sand instead of fire. There are several sand dragonfolk in the employ of goblin banks and exploratory companies interested in the locating and acquisition of lost treasures. 
Sea Dragonfolk are amphibious and live in citadels under the sea.  Their scales are blue to blue-green in color.  There are wingless and flightless, but their fingers and toes are webbed.  They are, as can be expected, excellent swimmers.  They breathe streams of hot steam rather than fire.  They are an emotional species being rude or even violent one day, and kind and generous the next. 
Swamp Dragonfolk make their homes in largely in the Bayous of Louisiana, deep in the swamp where man rarely goes (they can be found in marshes and swamp throughout the world, but not in the numbers found in Louisiana). Their scales are dirty green in color and they have large, leathery wings.  They breathe a stream of toxic fumes rather than fire, and some have the ability to breathe air (as a weapon) or to blend in almost perfectly with their surroundings.  They are a reclusive race, rarely having little to do with even their own kind and are highly territorial.
Viper Dragonfolk are wingless and flightless beings with dark green scales.  Their mouths only have four fangs and their bites are venomous.  They breathe streams of poison rather than fire.  Viper dragonfolk can be found in forests and jungles the world over.  They are cunning and territorial, but are the least intelligent of the dragonfolk races.

Dwarves hail from the mountains of Europe, primarily the Swiss Alps.  They live deep in the mountains in vast cities dug out of the rock.  While they have no magic, they can carve runes that have their own power and are still among the finest makers of magic items in the world. 
Dwarves are short and stout.  They stand typically no taller than four and a half feet tall with broad, powerful frames.  They tend to have ruddy complexions and hair that ranges from black to strawberry blonde in color.  Both males and females can grow thick, lustrous beards, but many dwarves, especially younger generations prefer to stay clean shaven to as to better blend in with humanity. 
Dwarves once had a vast empire deep beneath the Earth, but that was long ago when the old gods still walked the Earth.  Today, most dwarves either live among humans or in one of their three surviving cities.  Their race is in its twilight.  Each generation is less populous than the last, a fact that makes many old dwarves (they can live to be 200 on average with some living close to 300 years old) sad and makes them look fondly back upon the history of their ancestors. 
Many dwarves are a dour and sullen lot.  There is nothing done by the races of the Earth that a dwarf can’t do better.  This arrogance belies the sadness that many dwarves have thanks to their people being one that is slowly dying out, so they talk and talk and talk about dwarven ingenuity and craftsmanship and generally try to cast their race in the best light as possible.  That said, they are loyal and fierce allies.  Friends are like family to a dwarf, and there is nothing that one won’t do for those he cares for…even if he does complain the entire time. 
Dwarves were and still are fine craftsmen.  They can imbue the power of the earth in the rune they carve into items they make both for themselves and for the Council of Magi.  Dwarves make the armor and weaponry that forces like The Wardens use to carry out their duties.  While they don’t make war like in their ancient history, many dwarves have also signed up to fight among the Wardens. 

Elves are among the longest lived races on Earth.  They were once counted among the faeries, but they were cast out for trying to stay neutral in during Queen Mab’s War that split the Faerie into two realms.  No longer immortal, they live among humans and strive to make this world a better place. 
Elves are a beautiful people (in fact, many elves are super-models).  They stand around 5 foot 8 on average with lithe, graceful bodies.  They almond shaped eyes and angular features give them an otherworldly look. Their large, pointed ears swoop back from their heads.  Their hair and eye color has a very wide range, but soft, earthy colors are the most common.  Elves can live up to 500 years old, and some rare few have lived far longer.
When Queen Mab made her bloody bid to kill Oberon and take the Faerie for herself, the elves brokered for peace and calm, but did nothing else to try and stop Mab.  When Oberon finally overcame his sister and the Withering was created, his first act was to cast out those that did not rise up against Mab.  The elves were offered a place in the Withering, an offer than some took (see the Dark Elves), but the majority of the elves decided to lose their immortality and leave the Faerie. 
Upon first becoming residents of the Real, they lived deep in dark forests and were greatly fearful of humans and the other creatures they encountered.  As man drove further into the forests, the elves decided to turn to the burgeoning Council of Magi and offered their magical services in exchange for a safe place to call home.  Now, elves live all over the world.  Many are artists, singers, models and actors, but most still live among the cloistered wizarding communities found throughout the world, but most commonly in France.  In fact, it was the elven Archmage, Valandriel that established the wizard school of Beauxbatons in Paris. 
Elves are often criticized for being flighty and for not taking much of anything seriously.  This is true for many, but there are many elves that are serious to a fault, focused intensely on a singular goal.  No elf does anything half-heartedly.  If they set their minds on painting, they are not happy until their painting is a true masterpiece, for example.  Many elf wizards work for the Department of Mysteries trying to solve the great and enduring riddles and mysteries of the wizarding world. 

Gnolls are a race of humanoid hyenas that have hunted in and terrorized much of central Africa since time out of memory.  They are vicious and gladly hire themselves out to warlord, bandits, slavers, and pirates.  They are a portrait of a morally corrupt culture. 
Gnolls stand around 7 feet tall with hyena-like heads and bodies that are both thickly muscled and covered in fur that’s a dirty looking blend of browns, yellows, and blacks. 
Gnolls are consummate eating machines, they are constantly hungry, but thankfully they can live on just about anything that even moderately edible.  This drives many of their decisions, and their culture is one in which they espouse the adage of “might makes right.” Gnolls feel that the weak are there to support the strong.  Much like bugbears, gnolls are rarely leaders, tending to be enforcers and mid-level agents rather than being those in charge.  Also much like Bugbears, the Sight is rare among gnolls, which is a blessing.

Gnomes are a veiled race that has also lived on Earth since time out of memory.  It is theorized that they many have once hailed from The Green due to their strong connection to magic, but if that is the truth there are no records to prove it.  They have lived among both humans and dwarves, adding dwarven crafting techniques and human ingenuity to their already impressive skill sets. 
Gnomes stand only about three and a half feet tall at the tallest.  Their skin color ranges from dark tan to woody brown, their hair tends to be dark brown to light blonde, and their eyes tend to be one of many shades of blue.  The typical gnome lifespan is 350 years. 
Gnomes are a very cheerful and inquisitive folk.  They have an optimistic view even in the darkest of times.  Among the veiled races, gnomes are the most likely to eschew magic and make use of Muggle technology.  They love figuring out how things work, whether it’s a spell or a computer. 
Gnomes are also know for be consummate pranksters.  They seem to have an innate knack for illusions and love using them to play tricks on friends, enemies, and strangers.  They also adore other magical pranks such as the various magical toys and gags sold by Zonko’s, Weasley’s, and Tompkins.  If there’s a chance that a gag will get a laugh (even if it’s only from themselves), a gnome will gladly give it a try. 

Goblins are a veiled race native to Earth.  Where once they were enemies of all other races, they are now a cornerstone of the financial system of the wizarding world.  Goblins have always had an image problem.  They have been labeled monsters, degenerates, savages, demons, and just about every other nasty name under the sun in their history.  It wasn’t until the mid 1600’s that their worth was noticed.  While they may look brutish, they are a rather intelligent and inventive race with keen minds on par with gnomes.
Goblins are a short and squat race.  Their skin color is typically a pale green, with long hooked noses, and large, bat-like ears.  Their eyes are small and typically either black or dark red in color.  Their teeth are jagged and sharp.  They are not attractive creatures to say the least.
Goblins almost universally live among wizards (in fact many goblins are wizards), though there are some that make their living among Muggles. They can be found in all walks of life, but they gravitate towards the finance and business sectors, with magical research and invention being second.  The banking system of the wizarding world, is ran largely by goblins (watched over by the Council of Magi’s Department of Trade and Finance…but even much of that Department is made up of goblins). They instituted the galleon system, and it was their idea to help fund the Council by setting up expeditions to locate lost treasure troves the world over. 
As mentioned earlier, goblins are also a very inventive race as well.  Many of the innovations in wand design and construction the last 200 years have been developed by goblins.  The Nimbus company, a flying broom manufacturer, is largely staffed by goblins who are credited with the company’s continued success. 
Goblins are a very serious race.  They are very driven and focused, taking very little time for frivolity of any kind.  This is one of the reasons that businesses like them so much.  Sure, gnomes are easier to get along with and are much more personable, but they enjoy jokes and pranks too much.  On the flip side, people don’t like actually having to converse with goblins.  Most act as though they are in too much of a hurry to talk or that the person doing the talking is too stupid to converse with.  However, when is come to talking trade, goblins can be smooth operators, always getting the best deal possible for themselves.
Goblins are just as gifted in magic as humans, and it’s not uncommon to see many magic schools with a sizable amount of goblin students. 

Half-elves are the product of a union between and elf and a human.  There have always been these beings even since the elves first gave up their immortality, but the number of half-elves has been growing more and more since the mid 1300’s when elves became members of the Council of Magi and started living alongside humans in ever greater abundance. 
Half-elves inherit their elven parent’s grace and agility, but they have none of their frailty gaining a human’s toughness.  They typically look much like attractive humans with only a small trait or two that belies their mixed heritage (strange eye or hair color, slightly pointed ears, etc…).  Half-elves can live easily as long as 100 years, but few live much beyond that. 
Half-elves often take more towards one parent or the other.  Only those that have been raised with their elven parent in the house see the world how it really is.  Otherwise, they can go their entire lives not realizing their parentage or that there even are such a thing as elves.  More half-elves out of every generation have the Sight than in humans, but far less than each generation of pure-blood elves. 
There was a day in which half-elves were the subject to racial taunts and slurs. Being a half-breed was no easier in the wizarding world than it is for humans in the muggle world born of mixed heritage. Just like racism becoming despised in the muggle world, the same is true in the wizarding world (at least in regards to half-elves).  

Giants are immense creatures standing over 20 feet tall, so a pairing between a human and a giant is exceedingly rare indeed, but it does occasionally occur.  In all cases, the mother is a giantess and the father a human.  Since giants demand size and strength from their young, and any offspring deemed too small are left to live or die of their own devices, the raising of half-giants typically falls on the human parent, though some are discovered and raised in Council orphanages as well. 
Half-giants stand around 8-10 feet tall, but sizes can range even as high as 12 feet tall.  They are all uniformly strong and hardy creatures.  Their hair is typically wild and unruly, a trait from their giant parentage. 
Half-giants have a tough time in the world.  They are typically too big to get along comfortably in human society.  They are too heavy for chairs, have to squeeze themselves through doors, and clothing is typically twice the cost of human clothing.  However, they don’t last long if they attempt to live among the primitive and savage giants.  Any that do try to do so are usually killed in short order. 
Half-giants aren’t typically born with the Sight, but some are.  They still suffer the same problems at school as they do in society though.  Their large forms often make things difficult for them.  They are typically looked down upon by other students and even the teachers.  Giants are not known for their intelligence, and even though half-giants tend to take after their human parent as far as intelligence is concerned there is still that stigma, so half-giants have to work twice as hard to prove their worth; which is made even more difficult by them constantly breaking things or knocking things over.  Plus, due to their size and strength, half-giants have to take care to keep their anger in check, which is difficult for anyone, human or half-giant, who is constantly being picked on. 

Half-Orcs are the product of a union between an orc and a human.  Sadly, where most half-elves lead happy lives loved by their parents, half-orcs are rarely as fortunate.  Most half-orcs are the product of unwilling unions, as even in this modern age many orcs are still little more than savage barbarians clinging to the last vestiges of their primitive culture.  Few half-orcs live long.  Infanticide is high among both human and orc mothers.  Human mothers dispose of their children out of anger, fear, and shame, while orc mothers rid themselves of the children for not wanting a child tainted by “weak” human blood.  Most half-orc children are raised by the Council of Magi ran orphanages.  Those that live with their parents are rarely treated well.  There are some that are born to two loving parents, but these are unfortunately the rare exception. 
Half-Orcs stand around 6 feet tall on average with ever-so-slightly stocky builds.  Their skin color is tinged slightly green.  Their hair is universally black and their eyes tend to be small and dark colored.  Their features are harsh and angular, like and orc, but their noses look more like a human’s, just slightly upturned rather than the orcs’ porcine-like noses. 
Half-orcs tend to walk through life as loners.  They can sometimes find acceptance among orcs, but they tend to be treated as weaklings, which usually means regular taunts and beatings.  For a veiled race, they have little talent with magic, so they are a rare sight in magic schools (those that do attend magic school are often tormented by their fellow students mercilessly).  What’s more is that few strive to become Wardens either, as their unhappy lives gives them little desire to stand up and fight for others.  There are exceptions to these rules, however, as several half-orcs over the centuries have strove to make the world a better place.  The assimilation of the orc tribes into civilized society is largely thanks to a group of half-orcs that wanted to help the orcs leave their dark and barbarous pasts behind in lieu of a better life. 

Veela are a race of fae that live predominantly in France.  They are strikingly beautiful creatures that often take human lovers (and even rarely marrying one of these suitors).  Their children are always girls that possess no small measure of their mothers’ beauty and grace. 
Half-Veela look human, but all are female and all possess an almost luminous beauty.  Unlike their fae mothers, half-veela aren’t as prone to wild and unpredictable moodswings, but they are still a very passionate folk by human standards. 
Half-Veela can easily pass for human, but their fae blood attracts attention.  Their beauty and grace opens doors wherever they go, and their fae blood ensure that none of them are ever Squibs. 

Halflings are a race of small people that have lived secretly alongside humans since time out of memory.  Once making their homes in secluded valleys and vales, they now live among humans, but still leading largely unassuming lives. 
Halflings stand about 4 feet tall at the tallest, with most being only about three and a half feet tall.  They have stout, plump bodies, somewhat unruly thick hair and large feet that are rather hairy on the tops.  Although they tend to be rather plump, they have a knack for being agile and quiet, and are able to slip away unnoticed easily. 
Halflings have a largely cheery disposition, but can become standoffish quickly if the subject turns towards anything too risque. They prefer to lead quiet lives, working their jobs and spending time with their family and close friends. Most halflings blanche at the thought of having a profession that could ever possibly put them in harm’s way.  The closest most halflings want to come to an adventure is a hurried commute to work. That said, they are generally an optimistic, friendly, and cordial people that are very pleasant to be around.
Halflings that train to become wizards typically tend to stick to quieter studies like herbology, potions, and occasionally charms.  Rare is the halfling that studies Dark Arts Defense more than the bas requirements.  However, even though they are the extreme minority, there are halflings that crave adventure and have become Wardens, Aurors, and explorers. 

Hobgoblins have been a thorn in the Council of Magi’s side for hundreds of years.  Where goblins found their niche in business and finance, hobgoblins found their niche in war.  The largest revolt of veiled creatures, The Seven Days War in 1734, was instigated by a hobgoblin general (and a folklore hero among hobgoblins to this day).  The fallout of that conflict nearly destroyed the Veil altogether.  They have also given their support to several of the more notorious dark wizards to rise to power throughout history. This makes the Council keep a very close eye on the comings and goings of the various hobgoblin tribes in the world. 
Hobgoblins stand around five and a half feet tall with reddish brown skin and gray to blue-gray flesh around their porcine noses and mouths.  Their eyes are dark red and beady.  Their hair and beards ranges in color from black to a dark gray. They ritualistically tattoo and brand their arms to show their allegiance to their tribe or a particular wizard. 
Hobgoblins have always felt there was no reason why they should hide what they are around muggles.  The very fact the veil is in place, is proof that their kind, and the other veiled races are no better than creatures to the wizards.  In their view, the veil serves no purpose than to ensure wizard domination as they protect their muggle brethren.  It’s an insult that hobgoblin chieftains have used time and again to whip their tribes into a frenzy. However, after time and again being beaten back, many hobgoblins are sick of hearing it.  It’s not that they like living as something they’re not, but what point is there in fighting a war when there is little chance of success?
Most hobgoblins live among tribes in secluded areas as far from humans, and especially wizards, as possible.  There are some that live among humans, but usually only on the fringes of society dealing in dark alleys and typically found in some sort of unlawful profession.  Hobgoblins respect strength and order above everything else, so an organization, like say a mafia gang, with a strong leader that takes what it wants is very appealing to a hobgoblin.  There are some that attempt to lead meaningful and peaceful lives, but hobgoblins have a really bad reputation in the wizarding world for being warmongers and overall trouble-makers, which makes any attempt to live an honest life tough as they feel constantly under watch by agents of the Department of Inter-Species Communication. 
Hobgoblins can learn to cast spells as such just as most other species, but few schools will admit them, and it is Council law that all hobgoblin students be carefully watched.  Therefore, many are trained in secret.  Most hobgoblins, however, train to be fighters and soldiers.  Even if they aren’t trying to rally forces against the Council, they are still learning to fight and wage war just as their ancestors have done throughout history. 

Humans are the most populous race on Earth.  It is for their benefit that the Veil was put in place so many millennia ago, and they are the leaders of the wizarding world as well.  They are a very wide and varied race, capable of great kindness and terrible evil. 
Humans, no matter their race, come in three varieties: Muggle, Wizard, and Squib.
Muggles are those that are born without the Sight.  They do not perceive the world as it truly is, but as they are meant to see it based on the charms and protections set up by the Council of Magi along with their strong sense of disbelief.  A Muggle can become sighted by witnessing events or creatures that shatters the charms and their ability to disbelieve. Typically, when this happens the Council will send agents to modify the Muggle’s memory and reinstate the charms, but there are times when a Muggle has seen or experienced too much for it to be safe to modify their memory.  In those instances, many Muggles go insane, but some go on to work with the Council and its agents to protect other Muggles, or to become one of the unaligned Awakened that regular muggles look upon as loony conspiracy theorists with their talk of monsters and such. 
Wizards are humans born with the Sight and can use magic.  A child born with at least one Wizard parent will have the Sight, but wizards can also be born from two Muggle parents.  While in today’s world, a wizard’s parentage means little, but there are those that feel that only pureblood wizards (those with both parents being wizards, and preferably both parents coming from long lines of wizards) should be allowed to cast magic. Wizards born form just a single wizard parent are called Half-bloods, and while grudgingly accepted by those with these “magist” views still find the idea of copulating with Muggles disgusting.   Wizard born from two Muggles are called Mudbloods, which in the wizarding world is a very offensive slur.  Those with magist views hate these wizards most of all. 
Squibs are those born with the Sight, but have no magical ability so they are essentially just Awakened.  They perceive the world as it truly is, but they can never cast anything but the simplest of spells at best.  Squibs often live with shame and pitiable stares from their fellow wizards. 

Luciferans are a race of beings whose precise origins are unknown. Their own histories claim that they are the spawn of fallen celestial beings that bred with human beings in the ancient past. Shunned by the celestials and feared by the humans, they had to fend for themselves, developing their own culture and communities. Luciferans have remained fascinated with humans, despite the latter’s fear of them. Throughout history, they have tried to assist human development in exchange for goods and services that they needed, but this help was always on an individual basis and rarely long-lasting, thanks in part to the efforts of human religions, which branded the luciferans “devils.”
As their name suggests, luciferans look like devils. They are humanoids with dark skin, horned heads, and forked tales. Their cat-like eyes and fangs complete their appearance, making them objects of fear and revulsion among most humans.
Luciferans do not get along well with most other species. They detest celestial beings of all sorts, whether good or evil in nature, seeing them as the origin of their current state. Of course, some luciferans secretly long to join these celestials and make every effort to attract their attention. The race has a love-hate relationship with humanity, at once seeing humans as nothing more than “smart animals” and as sources of infinite wonder. That dichotomy explains the sometimes-erratic behavior of luciferans when dealing with humans, as they fight conflicting impulses within their own psyches.

Lycanthropes are among the most feared creatures in the world.  These cursed souls come in two varieties: natural and created.  Both varieties can transform from their human (or veiled race form) to a hybrid form of their race and that of an animal.  The differences between the two types of lycanthropes are detailed below. 
Natural lycanthropes are those that have at least one lycanthrope parent.  The curse is always passed down to the offspring of a lycanthrope. Those that are naturally born can transform whenever they wish, but they must transform during a full moon.  However, they do not become murderous savages during their transformation (during the full moon or otherwise).  They can still spread their curse through their natural attacks in their hybrid forms, however.  Thankfully, that is easily avoided in the day and age.
Created lycanthropes are those that have contracted the curse of lycanthropy (usually by being attacked by another lycanthrope, but the curse can be contracted in other ways as well).  They involuntarily transform during the nights of the full moon each month.  During these transformations, they become murderous, not distinguishing between friend and foe. These beings must practice to be able to transform into their hybrid forms when there is not a full moon (they do not become murderous during these voluntary transformations).  There are tonics and spells that can help these poor souls control the rage during their transformations, but they are rare and difficult to brew/cast. Most created lycanthropes plan ahead to ensure they are secured from other people during nights of the full moon.
Lycanthropes of both varieties are cataloged by the Department of Fantastical Creature Control.  When one fathers or bears a child, that child’s name is also added to the watchlist.  Created lycanthropes are sent messages by both Owl Post and other means to ensure they are fully aware of the phases of the moon.  (A practice that many find annoying and even outright insulting.)  In addition, the Order of St. Mungo offers not only counseling to lycanthropes (primarily the newly cursed), but also offers voluntary cells for those who wish use them in their hospitals and asylums.  They even offer special potions that help lessen the rages, though these potions are fairly expensive. 
Lycanthropes of all stripes face great prejudices.  Few businesses are willing to hire one if only for the fact that three days out of each month, they will need to leave work early to prepare for the coming transformation.  Even natural lycanthropes are feared due to many false tales about how the curse can be spread to others.  This is why many lycanthropes band together.  Most are peaceful communes that build study cells that each member can lock themselves away in so they don’t unwillingly hurt innocent people.  On the other hand, there are some bands that revel in their rages and even spend much of their time in their hybrid forms stalking the dark places of the world.  These evil lycanthropes are hated by all, but by peaceful lycanthropes most of all. 
There are many different types of lycanthropes.  Werewolves are the most common variety, but there are others.  Each variety tends to have their own outlook on life and customs. The various varieties are detailed below.

Werejaguars are very rare lycanthropes found primarily in Central and South America.  They band together in clans that live deep in the jungle in hidden temples devoted to dark Aztec gods.  They rarely allow their numbers to grow, only offering their curse as a gift to believers of their gods.  Many werejaguars gladly stay in their hybrid forms at all time as it makes them feel closer to their deities. 

Weresharks are among the rarest varieties found in the world.  There were first discovered in 1892 on an island off the coast of South Africa, where great white sharks are found hunting sea lions in great abundance. Since that time, they have spread through world. 
Weresharks often don’t care how much they spread the curse.  If it was up to them, the curse would never spread, only because that means a meal got away.  They are ravenous and violent beings whose bloodlust, even among naturally born weresharks, puts even the most murderous werewolf to shame.  They are driven by the need to feed more than anything. 

Werewolves, as mentioned earlier, are the most common variety of lycanthrope, they are also believed to be the first lycanthrope variety to be created.  They have a well earned reputation for being cunning and vicious killers that have haunted the nightmares of children and adults alike for countless centuries.  They appear to have had their origins in what is now Germany, but spread throughout the globe.  Many European and Asian cultures have folktales that speak of werewolves. 
Werewolves have a predatory air about them, even when in their normal forms.  The revel in dark humor and enjoy making people uncomfortable.  Those that are driven by their rages look for any excuse to attack, and they practice tirelessly on becoming better on transforming when there is not a full moon. 

Note: There are other varities of lycanthrope that I haven't written up yet, but expect Werebears, Werebats, Wererats, and Weretigers to be added to the list eventually.

Ogres are a humanoid race that lives in seclusion from the rest of society (both muggle and wizard) much like the giants.  Ogres were once a force to be reckoned with in the ancient past, but low birth rates and fierce opposition from humans and wizards have led to their decline. 
Ogres stand around 9-10 feet tall with hulking, muscular builds.  They have greenish to grayish skin tones (though they tend to be more brown than anything), wide-set features, and large ears. Their hair tends to be dark colored and is usually greasy and unkempt.  Their eyes do tend to glow slightly in the dark, enhancing their generally frightening appearance.
Ogres have long been used and abused by the forces of darkness.  They are not very bright, which can make them quite pliable in the hands of someone cunning enough.  Ogres are naturally aggressive creatures, predisposed to fighting and destruction, although they are not necessarily evil.  Some ogres are well-aware of their races’ stigma, and actively fight against the stereotypes by attempting to lead peaceful lives, or baring that at least fighting for justice. 
Ogres live mostly in the wild regions of central Europe.  They fight constantly with giants, which does little good for their numbers.  Those that do live veiled among humans are exceedingly rare and often times end up in Azkaban in short order.
Ogres have little skill with magic as there are only a couple ogres out of every generation born with the Sight.  Even then, they are unlikely to find any school of worth willing to admit them for study. 

Orcs are a rare example that the brutish veiled race can live among humans and grow beyond their primitive desires.  Orcs have long lived on the fringes of human civilization, living on scraps and by the blade.  Recent efforts by a group of half-orcs determined to show orcs that there can be a better way have had some surprising success. 
Orcs are large (standing around 6 1/2 feet tall) with muscular builds. Their faces have a porcine look, with upturned noses and two small tusks that poke out of their moths and over their upper lips.  Their skin color ranges a wide range of green shades, and their eyes are typically red in color.  Their hair is wild and unkempt, but many orcs (of both genders) tend to shave their heads. 
For much of recorded history, orcs have been raiders, bandits, killers, and thieves.  Their warlike manner forced the Council to break up and scatter the orcs throughout various parts of the world, which did little other than spread banditry and violence to new parts of the globe.  Over the last twenty years, a group of half-orcs have made great strides in showing orcs that they can live peacefully among humanity.  More than ever orcs are finding a better way of life in human and wizards cities.  There are still many fears and rumors about orcs, but slowly the walls are being torn down.  This gives some in the Council hope that the same methods can be used to help integrate hobgoblins.
Orcs have a better rate for wizardry among their number than many of the "primitive" humanoid races, but still far fewer than humans, elves, halflings, and the like.  Even then, wizard schools are leery of admitting orcs mostly out fears from parents than any regulations. 

Hailing from the jungles of Asia, the Rakashans are a race of felinoids.  While Earth is their home now and has been for at least 3000 years, they were once members of a race of evil beings known as the Rakshasas, the renegade children of the goddess, Bast.  They refused to kill at the command of their Rajah, and fled to Earth to escape his demonic fury.  When they fled to Earth, they gave up their immortality and also lost the touch of the infernal that runs through the blood of Rakshasans.
Rakashans have the form of humans with the features of felines. They come in a wide variety: the bright colors of tigers, the speckled hides of leopards, and the exotic look of Siamese cats are all represented. They have sharp claws and teeth and a cruel nature when it comes to dealing with their prey. They are regarded as a rather beautiful race, with an exotic, and almost dangerous look about them.  This carries over to their veiled appearance among Muggles, with many rakashans having no trouble finding work as models and actors. 
It wasn’t until about 100 years ago that Rakashans started to live among humans in large numbers.  Since their banishment from Rakastar, they have lived secluded lives deep within the jungles.  They watched humanity from the shadows, largely staying away, but at different times have both helped and preyed upon their neighbors.  Although there have always been a few rakashans that have left their cities to live among humans (mostly to study magic), it wasn’t until Archamge Rajani Prakesh became headmaster of the Calcutta School of Magic that they started to integrate themselves fully with the rest of the wizarding world. 
Rakashans are generally an agreeable people, friendly and cordial, but they can be rather vain and arrogant.  They are the children of a goddess, after all.  They tend to carry themselves with an air of superiority that can put others off, but among those they call friends they are fiercely loyal…even if they don’t always act like it. To those they despise, they can be (and often are) vicious and brutal.  Their proclivities towards the use of torture and their treatment of prisoners, for instance, makes rakashans poor candidates for Wardens.

Snakeblooded are humans that have a serpentfolk ancestor in their family tree.  They look by and large like other humans, but there are some quirks in their appearance that can give them away when dealing with someone that is observant and knows what to look for. 
Snakeblooded humans can be found in all human races.  They generally look normal, but may have waxy or scaly skin, slitted serpentine eyes, or even forked tongues. 
The serpentfolk are ancient serpentine species that was banished from the world long, long ago by a group of some of the first Archmages.  Not all serpentfolk were driven from the Real, however, and they hid among humans and mated with them in the hopes that when the day finally arrived that their brethren were able to return to Earth, that there would be an army of humans with serpentfolk blood that would answer the call of the Anathema.  However, thousands of years have passed, and while there are still those with serpentfolk blood in their veins, and some that would heed the call of their ancestors if/when they return, the blood is so diluted that any such army would likely be ineffective. 
It is believed that the great Archmage, Salazar Slitherin, was a Snakeblood.  Indeed there are many snakebloods that can trace their lineage to Slitherin, and House Slitherin at the Hogwarts School tends to end up being the home of the few Snakebloods that come learn magic. 

Spawn are humans that have a touch of the infernal in their blood.  Most times, they have an actual demon in their family tree somewhere, but other times they have been touched by demonic forces enough to turn them into a Spawn.  Many look at them as the opposites of the Blessed, but that is a very simple view, and often is blatantly inaccurate. 
Spawn look much like regular humans, but with some quirk in their appearance that betrays their origins.  Some have a reddish tint to their skin, others exude and aura of heat, some have tails, others grow horns, or have fingers tipped with black talons.  No two tieflings look alike. 
Spawn are a marked race.  Their demonic heritage has lead many down the path of darkness becoming demonologists, consorting with Outsiders, or working in concert with dark wizards and the like.  However, in many cases, it was the prejudice they suffered at the hands of the religious and wizards alike that forced them down that path.  The forces of darkness are more than happy to welcome a Spawn where no one else will, just like they do with other social pariahs.  For most Spawn, suspicion and even violence directed at them for what they are is a way of life.  Some can and do rise above their heritage to become beacons of light, but far too many are lost and become terrible foes to all that is. 

One other race that I'm going to write up later is the Wesen, people that are able to take on monstrous aspects typically tied to various animals.

Up next: the various rules I'm using to fit the setting.