Well, I managed to get the thing off the ground, and it looks like it just might work out.
But I also think that from time to time I’ll have to make an effort to still produce an ordinary blog entry, or else I might lose everyone not actually running in the campaign.
It would be difficult at this time for any such entry to not mention the current events, or to avoid making comments about. Yes, we might all overdose if this becomes the only topic of conversation, but I can’t resist making a few comments.
I was talking to my daughter about a few circumstances of the campaign, expressing my surprise that out of five characters, four chose to be humans. I can’t remember how long its been since humans outnumbered demi-humans in a party…but my daughter simply shrugged her shoulders and said, “That’s a 3rd edition thing.”
She has had experience with 3rd edition that I haven’t had, since I’ve never played it and she did, all through high school. Apparently, 3rd punished the crap out of non-human players in some effort to balance the game, so that it became impractical to play elves and dwarves. Now, I know nothing about it, that’s just what I’m told.
I more or less came to the conclusion years ago that elves, dwarves and so on had benefits which Gygax chose to balance by allowing humans unlimited levels and denying these to demi-humans. It was obvious early on that this was going to create a great deal of discontent—although I had little experience with it, as my campaigns tended to create players who would struggle hard to get to be tenth or eleventh level, then lose interest. That might have been because it usually took three years of steady running to get to be name level—mine is not an easy world. But I liked that every session was not about experience and my players seemed to appreciate each level all the more for having to actually earn them.
But getting back to the human/demi-human thing. Part of what I did to balance out the game was simply to apply a part of my world towards the difficulties of being a dwarf or a gnome in a predominantly human world. Since virtually every government in civilized Europe or Asia was monopolized by humans, who vastly outnumbered demi-humans, an elven character could expect to be treated with mistrust, antipathy or outright hatred, depending on what part of the world they were. After all, a human, two dwarves and an elf enter the Islamic court in Damascus…which do you think the Sultan will be inclined to lend an ear to?
This never stopped my players from choosing to play elves or dwarves. My offline campaign has only four humans among the twelve principal characters and henchmen (run by five players), and despite the occasional racist reactions they receive, they’re generally happy to be the race they are. After all, parties tend to be insular from the world itself; they learn to trust each other, not NPCs, so that a pervasive us-vs.-them attitude reflects in every action and interaction they take.
I haven’t ever played out a scene where a group of bigoted humans abused or harassed a player on account of their race. Rather, I have most of my humans take a fairly sullen and passive stance. “We don’t bother ‘dem, and dey don’t bother us” is the general rule.
But lately I have instituted the format where humans have slightly more hit points, which has seemed to work. As a result, I have relaxed, somewhat, the discord I once employed.
As I said, I can’t guess what 3rd edition did. I’ve looked through the 3rd edition books, but not at the character descriptions, as a few paragraphs of each seemed to give them an unnaturally high amount of power at a low level. And I can’t recall ever reading anything about demi-humans. So I suppose I shall have to find a source and see.
One last word about the blog itself. I recognize that the prevailing attitude will be that posting into the campaign as a kibitzer will seem inappropriate and annoying. I feel myself that the occasional interjection couldn’t hurt—and that if it actually was inappropriate, it could be deleted as necessary. But these players too are exposing themselves and their playing methods to the general public, and it wouldn’t hurt to give them a word or two of praise when it’s deserved. You are, after all, their peers…and I’m sure they’d like your insight on what they’ve done or how it might affect your own playing styles in the future.
All I ask is that you don’t tell them to do this, or that. Everything else ought to be out and on the table.