Digging Into Infinity – Part 3: New Dungeon-ville Racial Heritages

I’ve been exploring running a game of relationship drama set in my core group’s fantasy universe. I hope it’ll allow us a more intimate appreciation for the social structures in a new era that the group’s epic level 4e DnD heroes have helped to inaugurate.

For that, I aim to use the best game for running super-powered drama: Smallville RPG by Margaret Weis Productions. For the most part, it will run perfectly straight out of the box, but one key tweak it needs to bridge the gap from DC college-aged superheroes and friends to Tolkien-esque high fantasy adventurers is a compelling way to interact with some classic fantasy races. Instead of Kryptonian, Kandorian, Atlantean, and Cybernetic heritages, lets see some good old dwarves, elves, halflings, and half-orcs.

So without further ado, here are the racial Heritage Distinctions I plan to use in our game. Some of these not only feature connected Abilities, like most Smallville Heritages, but also connected Distinctions: Half-orcs, for instance, have an easier time growing into Distinctions like Savage, Impulsive, Guilty, and Weapons Master, than, say, Dwarves do, especially the more they embrace and epitomize their half-orc heritage (the higher they raise their heritage die rating).

If the embedded document below doesn’t work, here’s the snazzy pdf: Dungeon-ville Races. Also a plaintext version of the same is below.

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What do you think? Which elements look fun to play out in-game? What would lead you to terrific conflicts between leads? What would you do differently? Which cultural features would you emphasize that we’ve missed? Would you want to offer a heritage for Human? If so, what cultural features would you focus on? Should more heritages feature Limits?

Which other heritages or fantasy-flavored Distinctions and Abilities would you like to see? I plan to expand this into a rich campaign tool, so your suggestions are valuable.

Dungeon-ville Racial Heritages

Dwarf

d4: Earn a PP and Exacerbate your Angry or Insecure Stress when you take offence at what you perceive to be a slight to dwarves or dwarven culture, however genuine the insult.
d8: Spend a PP to Recover your Exhausted Stress or any Stress resulting from drinking alcohol.
d12: Spend a PP and Gain a d8 Useful Detail relating to dwarven culture.
Connected Distinctions: Wealthy, Family Reputation, Gearhead, Soldier, Noble, Weapons Master (Hammers and Axes)
Connected Abilities: Super-strength
Limits:

Elf

d4: Exacerbate your Injured or Exhausted Stress to Boost a connected Distinction.
d8: Earn a Plot Point when you witness any depredation of nature and either Exacerbate your Angry or Exhausted Stress OR Choose to value nature over people.
d12: Add a d10 to Trouble to Use a special effect from a connected Ability.
Connected Distinctions: Athletic, Agile, Observant, Sneaky, Marksman
Connected Abilities: Animal Control, Plant Control, Insect Control
Limits: Nature Sensitivity

Eladrin (Night/Winter)

d4: Earn a Plot Point when you either Choose to disregard urgent or mortal affairs due to your long life or fey origin, OR when you Choose to jealously compete with someone, despite the inconvenience or folly of such passion.
d8: Add a d10 to Trouble to Use an SFX from a connected ability you do not have.
d12: Spend a Plot Point to Boost a connected Ability or Distinction.
Connected Distinctions: Faerie Lore, Genius, Impulsive, Backhanded, Manipulative, Attractive, Noble, Vicious
Connected Abilities: Teleportation, Shapeshifting, Comprehension, Mind Control, Energy Aura (Cold/Shadow), Cryokinetics, Paralysis, Shadow Control
Limits: Cold Iron, Binding Agreements, Pride, Wagers, Fire

Eladrin (Day/Summer)

d4: Earn a Plot Point and Exacerbate your Angry or Afraid stress when interacting with someone with whom you (or your family) have lasting enmity or a long-standing feud or when you declare new lasting enmity or a feud
d8: Add a d10 to Trouble to Use an SFX from a connected ability you do not have.
d12: Spend a Plot Point to Boost a connected Ability or Distinction you have.
Connected Distinctions: Faerie Lore, Genius, Impulsive, Backhanded, Manipulative, Attractive, Noble, Vicious
Connected Abilities: Teleportation, Shapeshifting, Comprehension, Mind Control, Energy Aura (Fire/Radiance), Light Control, Blast (Fire, Heat, or Radiance)
Limits: Cold Iron, Binding Agreements, Pride, Lust, Cold

Half-elf

d4: Exacerbate your Insecure or Afraid Stress and Earn a Plot Point when you doubt your place in society.
d8: Add a d6 to Trouble to Gain a d8 Useful Detail rising from being a part of both human and elven cultures (knowledge, connections, objects, etc).
d12: Spend a Plot Point to Reroll a roll including one of your Connected Distinctions.
Connected Distinctions: Likable, Shoulder to Cry On, Cosmopolitan, Smartass, Connected, Backhanded, Shameless Flirt
Connected Abilities:
Limits:

Halfling

d4: Earn a Plot Point when your small stature causes you problems.
d8: Add a d6 to Trouble to Gain a d8 Relationship with someone you have just met.
d12: Spend a Plot Point to Recover your Afraid or Insecure Stress.
Connected Distinctions: Smartass, Fixer, Sneaky, Fast Talker, Daring, Big-hearted, Clever, Scoundrel, Shameless Flirt, Fifth Wheel
Connected Abilities: Luck
Limits:

Half-orc

d4: Earn a PP when you Choose to inconveniently give in to the worst of your orcish nature or confirm social stigma toward your race.
d8: Spend a PP to Shift your Injured or Exhausted Stress to Angry.
d12: Exacerbate your Angry Stress to Increase your Injured or Afraid Stress pool.
Connected Distinctions: Athletic, Criminal, Scoundrel, Guilty, Impulsive, Not Born Yesterday, Savage, Soldier, Viscious, Weapons Master
Connected Abilities: Chi Mastery, Invulnerability, Super-strength
Limits: Bloodlust

The following two heritages are from the Eberron Campaign Setting.

Shifter

d4: Earn a Plot Point when your appearance, habits, or mannerisms earn you unwanted attention, suspicion, or prejudice.
d8: Shift your Injured or Exhausted stress to Angry when you Choose to blame a non-shifter for your problems or the plights of your race
d12: Add a d10 to Trouble OR Exacerbate your Injured or Exhausted stress up to a d10 or d12 and Use a Special Effect from a connected Ability you do not have.
Connected Distinctions: Agile, Athletic, Criminal, Marksman, Martial Artist, Not Born Yesterday, Pariah, Savage
Connected Abilities: Animal Mimicry, Claws, Regeneration, Super-speed, Super-senses, Wall-climbing
Limits: Overpowered Senses, Social Stigma, Base Appetites

Warforged

d4: Earn a Plot Point and Give your opponent a d8 when you misunderstand emotions and other finer aspects of non-warforged cultures (Art, beauty, love, reproduction, aging, family, jealousy, hope, etc).
d8: Earn a Plot Point and Exacerbate your Insecure or Afraid stress when you cause collateral damage (physical or social) to something or someone you care about OR when you and sulk about your place in society.
d12: Add a d10 to Trouble to Gain a connected Distinction or Ability you don’t have for the remainder of the scene. Distinctions begin at d8 and Abilities at d6.
Connected Distinctions: Wealthy, Family(Race) Reputation, Gearhead, Soldier, Pariah, Not Born Yesterday, Weapons Master, Guilty
Connected Abilities: Blast, Invulnerability, Regeneration (Repair), Super-strength
Limits: Chassis (Your body can host integrated gear), Huge, Heavy, Wood and Stone, Gear (Disconnected limbs, components, etc)

About Adam

I'm a husband, father, explorer of the inexhaustible, and synergy cultivator. Starting with D&D, my explorations into role-playing and game design have brought me to savor mining diverse systems, initially Cortex Plus, then PbtA, ORE, Forged in the Dark, and now anything I can get my hands on.