In Fantasy AGE, races have taken the design space that was used for backgrounds in Dragon Age. They provide a set of benefits during character creation and are one of the biggest influences on a low-level character. Like backgrounds in Dragon Age, races in Fantasy AGE offer a mix of fixed benefits and randomly determined benefits.
For fixed benefits, all of the races in Fantasy AGE offer a +1 bonus to on ability, a choice of one of two focuses, a base speed, and languages. For speed, the races use one of three options as a base speed with average races moving 10 + Dexterity yards, slow or small races moving 8 + Dexterity yards, and fast races moving 12 + Dexterity yards. Some races also offer Dark Sight.
For random benefits, a player rolls twice on a table that contains a list of abilities, focuses, and weapon groups. The tables all have the same basic layout with 3 abilities and 5 focuses. Some tables offer a weapon group in place of a focus slot. The probabilities of rolling each entry are as follows:
2: +1 Ability (2.78%)
3-4: Focus / Weapon Group (13.89%)
5: Focus / Weapon Group (11.11%)
6: Focus / Weapon Group (13.89%)
7-8: +1 Ability (30.56%)
9: Focus / Weapon Group (11.11%)
10-11: Focus / Weapon Group (13.89%)
12: +1 Ability (2.78%)
One thing that races don’t currently offer are any big, impactful abilities along the lines of racial powers from Dungeons & Dragons 4E. If you want to design such a race, you could remove some of the standard fixed benefits such as the ability boost or focus or reduce the race to a single roll on its table in order to compensate for the powerful ability. Another option is introducing a talent or specialization for the race that allows unlocking racial powers as a character advances.
As an example of designing a new race, here’s my version of a tiefling race.
Tieflings are the descendants of an ancient mingling of human and fiendish blood. They have reddish skin, horns protruding from their forehead, and fiendish tails. Their appearance often causes members of other races to shun them or assume that they have ill intentions, but tieflings are no more inherently evil than members of any other race.
Some legends claim that tieflings once controlled a vast empire, but in the present day they often live in small enclaves within the cities and towns of other races. Many prefer to dwell within large, cosmopolitan cities where they are less likely to stand out, but some have chosen to seek seclusion in rural areas.
When trying to come up with names for any roleplaying project, I like to choose a real world culture as a starting point and then tweak the names slightly. A great resource for lists of names by language is Behind the Name. For my version of tieflings, I decided to use Turkish as a starting point.
Female Names: Berka, Damla, Esin, Fera, Kiras, Sule
Male Names: Amet, Burat, Halak, Kadin, Masun, Rafat
Family Names: Agmar, Bastakar, Nesimar, Sulinar, Tulimar, Ulmakar
Playing a Tiefling
If you choose to play a tiefling, modify your character as follows:
- Add 1 to your Communication ability. For their ability bonus, I wanted to emphasize that tieflings have a certain force of personality. This could be a benefit of their fiendish heritage or just a result of needing to overcome the first impressions left by their appearance.
- Pick one of the following ability focuses: Communication (Disguise) or Strength (Intimidation). For the choice of focus, my preference is to think about it as two paths a character could take through life. For the tiefling, the decision I wanted to capture was one between trying to hide your heritage or being fiercely proud of it.
- You have Dark Sight, which allows you to see up to 20 yards in darkness without a light source. I decided to give tieflings dark sight as a result of their fiendish heritage even though they have no racial history of living underground.
- Your speed is equal to 10 + Dexterity (minus armor penalty if applicable). Tieflings are not particularly fast or slow compared to humans.
- You can speak and read the Common Tongue. I considered giving tieflings an Infernal language, but decided that doing so would indicate that they were holding on to the dark side of their ancestry by continuing to speak the language of fiends. Since I want to emphasize them not being racially evil, I’ll instead only offer them the Common Tongue.
- Roll twice on the Tiefling Benefits table for additional benefits. Roll 2d6 and add the dice together. If you get the same result twice, re-roll until you get something different.
For the random abilities, I decided that I wanted to emphasize that tieflings were tough both physically and mentally so I picked Constitution and Willpower. Since I had gone with a mental ability for the fixed bonus, I decided to make Constitution the most likely ability boost from the table. For the third ability in the table, I decided on Strength to reflect that tieflings being a bit stronger than average thanks to their fiendish bloodline.
For the random focuses, I decided on Persuasion, Self-Discipline, Stealth, Acrobatics, and Religious Lore. I think Persuasion, Self-Discipline, and Stealth all tie in to tieflings needing to either hide or overcome their ancestry. Acrobatics is a benefit of having a tail. Finally, being tied to other planes by blood sparks an interest in religion amongst many tieflings.
2: +1 Strength
3-4: Willpower (Self-Discipline)
5: Intelligence (Religious Lore)
6: Communication (Persuasion)
7-8: +1 Constitution
9: Dexterity (Stealth)
10-11: Dexterity (Acrobatics)
12: +1 Willpower
The tiefling image in this post is from the cover of The Adversary, a Forgotten Realms novel.