I started playing D&D around early November of 1978.
I started designing my first dungeon about a week later.
I started designing my first RPG around December 1978. (And by "design", I mean, basically copied the randomly incoherent version of D&D we were playing (Holmes Basic+ 1e PHB +1e MM +Greyhawk,Blackmoor, EW), changed a few attribute names, and added rayguns and horta. So, basically, I was presaging Palladium. But I digress.)
The point of this ramble is that the instant I take an interest in something, I want to make it my own. I learned to read and started to write. I read comic books and wanted to draw them. I discovered computers and learned to program them. I was on an early OGL mailing list, and we got, a few weeks before the "official" release, a WORD doc for the D&D 3e PHB, and I ran a game in it that weekend, and in that game was an original monster or two — without any idea how to make a monster in 3e, I just looked at the sample stat blocks and tweaked numbers until it "felt right". (Thus, I presaged 4e monster design. But I digress again.)
I am also of the general belief that the only way to learn to swim is to jump into the deep end. Thus, despite having only purchased the excellent FantasyCraft game at this year’s GenCon, and despite not having actually, y’know, played it yet, I am publically posting, for general ridicule and derision, my first tweaks, enhancements, extensions, and so on. My reasoning is simple — I’m on a business trip, I can’t pack all my 4e books but I can pack FantasyCraft, so, there you go.
Anyway, on to the actual topic of this article. One of FantasyCraft’s coolest features is the way in which racial variants and sub-races are handled. The included selection is pretty good — amazing, in fact, with the ability to play everything from golems to giants to dragons at first level, with easy flexibility — be a fire-tainted human or a hellspawned elf with just one feat expenditure! (ECL? Wuzzat?) However, there’s always room for more, and this article will toss in a few new Species Feats for your consideration.
Horde Of The Twisted Legions
Many orcs were forced into the service of mad and evil wizards, often with names which were unknown, unpronounceable, or both. Generations of being bred in the vicinity of dark magics changed these orcs, giving them gifts which astounded and terrified their fellows. Their mage-tainted blood runs in your veins.
Prerequisite: Orc, level 1 only.
Benefit: Intelligence rises by 2, and Mage is an iconic class for you. However, your error range with Spellcasting checks can never be less than 1.
Design Notes: I like the idea of the orc slaves of the Generic Evil Wizard picking up an innate "gift" for casting, and this looks balanced with the other species traits. It also makes it easier to build primary caster types for orcs, which can include shamans and others who rely heavily on spells. The error range limit is a nice way to model the fact that, no matter what, you’re still an orc and magic can never be completely understood by you…
Born To The Man-Tunnels
Not every goblin tags along with the orcs! A fair number have taken up residence in the vast sewer and catacomb complexes that lie under any human city of any size, and these folk have learned to be canny and quick. They are sometimes called Sewer Goblins.
Prerequisite: Goblin, level 1 only.
Benefit: Burglar is an iconic class for you. In addition, you gain +2 to Dex.
The hot deserts have given rise to race of strong, hardy, lizard folk renowned as great mercenaries.
Prerequisite: Saurian, Level 1 ony.
Benefit: Your Strength increases by 1, your thick hide increases by 1, and you gain a +2 bonus on Survival and Tactics checks. You gain lumbering.
Design Notes: The "Jungle Clutch" entry implies Saurians are supposed to gain Thick Hide, but I don’t see it it in the book. Assuming that’s an error, this makes your hide thicker. If Jungle Clutch is in error, change this to "Gain thick hide 3". This "clutch" was inspired by Arduin’s "desert Saurigs" and the classic Gorn.
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