A weekly podcast about roleplaying games, and the gamers who game them

13 Nov November


Shattering racial stereotypes: what is it good for, and how to do it.

2:35 What's a cliche?

Tropes are not bad.

Things are not cliched by themselves - it's the way we portray them, bring them into the game, that might make them cliche.

Stereotypes can be useful tools, by establishing expectations.

Drizzt Do'urden, the drow.

4:45 Two types of cliches

At the character level, and/or the campaign world level.

Orcs in Warhammer

7:30 Avoiding cliches

Changing one thing - and asking "what's the reason for this?"

On the personal level: Why is this person different in this way, from the rest of their race?

On the campaign level: What are the consequences that must arise out of this change? How does this sub-race behave?

9:50 Retro justification creates depth

Just avoiding a cliche isn't, really, enough. Usually, we also want to also add complexity. Consider not only what is different about this character, but also the reasons that this character decided on that change.

14:20 Sub-races and ethnic groups

Having some sub-races in your campaign encourages the players and the GM to think about the possibility that this specific character is different in some way. Whenever you encounter "a dwarf", you'll all find yourself asking "Okay, but WHICH dwarf? What's different about them?"

Eberron

Golarion

Curse of the Crimson Throne

Chelaxians

Forgotten realms human ethnic groups

19:45 Creativity through constraints

Find a picture of your desired race in it, and ask yourself, why is this happening?

23:15 Help yourself play a less cliched character

Challenge yourself, maybe a little more than what you're used to, a bit out of your comfort zone. Use a one-shot or a mini-campaign as a testing ground.

28:35 Help someone else play a less cliched character

Have them play a sub-race, and ask them to say something about it.

Introduce NPCs of cliched races, that are not cliched themselves.

33:10 Some examples

Earthdawn (The excellent Denizens books: 1st, 2nd)

Warhammer Fantasy dwarves

Mistborn (based on the book series)

Legend of the Five Rings

37:25 Summary

If you want to dig deeper: Stratified NPC Complexity

38:37: Taking the load off

Uri is angry about misusing latin phrases (online etymology)

High Realm from Exalted

I talk about creating a character in Mouse Guard

The intro and outro are taken from “Silly Fun” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com); Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

On the Shoulders of Dwarves is shared under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/)