World-Building, Part 8: Calling All Creatures

These creature groupings need some filling out, so let’s look at what to add.

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When we left off, I’d decided on broadening my “races” to three closely related (from the gods’ perspective) creatures each clustered on one of the deities I have, separated by size. Here are the deities I have, followed by a label for their chosen race:

  • Clarumar – “dragonkin”
  • Bel – “humankin”
  • Prudenta – “feykin”
  • Mara – “lizardkin”
  • Nothura – “goblinkin”
  • Clothamar – dvergar
  • Sangua – “beastfolk”

Other than Clothamar, all of them need some filling out, so let’s look at what to add.

Clarumar is pretty easy. The Small race is going to be filled by kobolds (though I rename to wyrds to avoid etymological similar with goblins), Medium is dragonborn, and Large are simply the bigger draconians (as in the Dragonlance creatures or like the drakonids of Warcraft). Perhaps they’re dracotaurs, with four legs and two arms? At any rate, any of these work, and I can decide when my players encounter them.

Mara is also pretty easy. Various supplements have added Small and Large lizardfolk (duskscales and blackscales, respectively), so we can label Medium-size lizardfolk as “murkscales” and finish that.

For goblins, I need to decide which three I want for this cluster. Goblins are obvious as the Small type. Hobgoblins are out (as a distinct species, at least) because orcs are basically the same thing and get to be the Medium type. For Large, I could go with bigger bugbears or ogres, but I eventually settle on trolls as the representative here. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean I’m using the troll stats directly from the Monster Manual. But it does raise interesting questions about the connection between them–does the orc’s “Relentless Endurance” feature come from a measure of regeneration that the smaller creature shares with trolls? Do trolls still have the incredible regeneration attributed to them?

Beastfolk are going to be a bit more complicated. As it is, I have lykans (gnolls) as a Medium race, centaurs as Large, and minotaurs that could probably go either Medium or Large. I could have them as more of an exception, with a Medium, Medium+, and Large race featured, but I don’t really like that solution. Humanoid animals are a fantasy trope, and “beastfolk” to me feels like it should be broader than just a few particular animals. For my Small race, then, I need a name, and I settle on “gutterkin.” The subraces for all of these beastfolk will have traits of a certain mammal; here, I’ll include rats, moles, and foxes with potential for expansion. The Medium race will have lykans as a subrace, and in a nod to the mongrelfolk of D&D I give them that name as a race. Satyrs will be a part of this grouping, which gives me a convenient place for them. The Large races will be collectively known as “taurics,” with minotaur and centaur subraces (and more if I need them, like the lion-like wemics). All of these lend themselves to further expansion if I need it, which is helpful as a DM.

The last two groups give me some trouble. “Feykin” are going to be elves and two related races, while “humankin” don’t seem to have options for the Small race. I’m fine with the feykin as halflings, elves, and “high ogres” (whatever that means, but think the irda from Dragonlance), and humans can have humans and ogres, but that leaves a gap for my Small race. I pretty much have to swap halflings into the “humankin” group, don’t I? Luckily, I have a Small magical race that feels very fey-like waiting to swap into their place: gnomes. This is bothersome, because I’ve already had Clothamar’s peoples neatly settled and arranged, and now I have to fix this, but it seems inescapable. On the other hand, I really like svirfneblin and its etymological kinship to dvergar, and gnomes are supposed to be earth spirits in traditional mythology.

It’s apparent that I’ve switched a number of names that I didn’t feel made sense from a world-building perspective, but here I find real-world examples instructive: what if gnomes can be under Prudenta and Clothamar, as slightly different Small magical creatures that people once confused for one another? If you think about Columbus meeting “Indians” in the New World, it’s the same thing here. The PHB gnomes will be more fey-like, while the svirfneblin will be deep gnomes or true gnomes and the creations of Clothamar. Apparently whichever Druskan met the fey gnomes first, he or she believed they were basically the same as the more familiar svirfneblin.

For my own purposes, I want to add and change a few names to make them feel better, but this is what I end up having.

The beastfolk of Sangua include gutterkin, mongrels, and taurics.
The dragonspawn of Clarumar include urds, draconians (dragonborn), and drakonids.
The earthkin of Clothamar include the deep gnomes (svirfneblin), dwarves (dvergar), and goliaths (riesegzver).
The feykin of Prudenta include gnomes, elves, and anakim (high ogres).
The gorgunni of Nothura include goblins, orcs, and trolls.
The raveners of Bel include halflings, humans, and ogres.
The sobehki of Mara include duskscales, murkscales, and blackscales.

I really like this. The main problem is that I don’t have stats for a number of these, but so long as my players aren’t looking to use them, that’s less important.

Next: we continue filling out the world based on these races and cultures.

Author: lpivellius

I am a gamer of all kinds. Sometimes I write about them.

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