Sunrise and Smoke

Here are a few notes about the setting I've been using for 4e lately.

It would be neat if we had a common world for our episodic 4E romps, and I'd be delighted if other people ran stuff using this same loose setting. Then we could use the same characters when different people are running and develop a little.

The weirdest thing about the world is the thing that delights me most, of course, because it's a solution to one of my many pet peeves. The plethora of nonhuman races in mainstream play gets on my nerves. Their identities get muddy and pointless, and they're so common that they crowd out the humans. I dunno, it's hard to explain, but it bugs me.

But the point of 4E (to me) is romping around as part of a team of superheroic badasses, very much like the X-men or Avengers. It's all about being unique and the best at what you do. There's a shitload of classes and races (including a mess from the monster manual) and options — why work against that by saying humans only or picking out a few races and classes to define the world?Embrace the madness.

So this gave me the idea of saying that there are no humans at all — there's no normal.

One reason I like this is because it promotes the shorthand of race=personality. Need a gruff merchant? He's a dwarf. Need some natives that are probably good guys? Elf village. Largely, people look like what they are. No rules here, but the more common expectations we have, the more directly we can co-imagine.

Another plus: instant campaign theme! Where are they? Did the world used to be all humans, and an act of arrogance wiped them out leaving only their fragmented recombinations? Or are they yet to come, a synthesis of everything from orc to eladrin? Or what? I have no idea. Who cares? It's the kind of bullshit question, both fascinating and irrelevant, that can serve as a sort of rorshach blot floating through the world.

But mostly it's because of my pet peeve and its elegant solution.

One other problem: humans are a great race! Only a single +2, but to anything you want! Extra at-will? and feat? and trained skill? and weapon proficiency? and language? OK, use all those perks to make some new race: 6-limbed insect man = human ranger with heavy investment in two-weapon fighting and climb/jump skills, the armor I pay for is actually my exoskeleton, etc. Same numbers, different fluff.

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