Addressing Race: Dancing Lights Press isn’t the first publisher to address this, nor do I expect we’ll be the last. Even though we’re utilizing “legacy fantasy” concepts from the D20 System, we’re ditching the term race. It’s just kludgy and problematic for all sorts of reasons and on multiple levels. The reason for the change should go without saying. Glossing over issues of basic dignity, it’s not particularly elegant design.
My decision was to just call the element “Background”. The Hippogryph Codex offers up humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, and ogres. Honestly, those are there because people will expect them to exist within the system in some form. If you want to add new species, the systems for doing so are clear, simple, and most importantly, included. The thing about Background as an element, though, is that it can be so much more. Addressing race is the beginning, not the end, and honestly not even the point.
If we use Tolkien’s Middle Earth as an example, humans could have Dúnedain, Gondorian, or Rohirrim as their Background. Each would have a separate list of suggested Skills, Feats, and Background Abilities. Dwarves of different houses would have the same, due to differences in culture, climate, and economy. Backgrounds for Elves could include the Quendi, the Taleri, the Laiquendi, the Sindar, and the Nandor, all of whom have their own histories, traditions, and even languages or dialects.
Stretching it to the real world, a Background as a Victorian Londoner is going to be different than a Victorian Glaswegian or resident of Cardiff, or a person of that era from New York, Hong Kong, or Delhi. There is so much more potential there. Sticking to what the legacy system did, and the way that it did it, negates the point of creating a new system. If we can’t find ways to be better, then what is the point of doing it at all?
About Dancing Lights Press
Dancing Lights Press publishes creative aids and story games that embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation. The spotlight belongs on the creativity of the players as they converse and collaborate on plot, worldbuilding, and character development. Roleplaying is an activity, not a book. Our titles are merely part of the delivery system.