You Don't Look Elvish:
Milieu Integration in 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
| It is quite natural for characters to perceive each other in categories of what is known to them. Thus in cross-milieu encounters, each will see something which fits his understanding. Most of the differences between classes will be quickly resolved to the familiar--some kind of fighter, some kind of wizard--and treated much the same as the general familiar version. However, races are very different. In some cases, the most comparable races are very different; sometimes there is no comparable race.
This material covers information on how to integrate characters of different races and classes from the various worlds of 1st Ed. AD&D, expanded to include a few notes from second edition materials which are easily integrated with these. Over the course of several pages, it will consider how the setting can be designed so that each milieu is adequately represented, how the races and classes from each milieu will initially view those from other settings unknown to them, and how to handle the specific problems of classes and races which require special game mechanics or are treated in a customary manner in their own world (whether respected, hated, or understood) which would not be presumed by those unfamiliar with those customs. This page discusses perceptions of races from outside the character's milieu, to explain how these races will be perceived initially by those unfamiliar with them. Other pages are linked from the bottom of this one.
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Humans are always human. Under MyWorld rules, characters may have any combination of coloring which naturally occurs without reference to milieu--that is, Black Vikings, White Orientals, Yellow-skinned Krynners, and Red-skinned Occidentals are all quite as ordinary as any other combination. However, there are subtle differences in facial structure which distinguish them, and these are accentuated by mannerisms and dress, so that any race can distinguish humans of their own miliueu from others, and can learn to distinguish each from the other. The cultural attitudes already described are most characteristic of Humans.
| The races in each milieu should be considered to begin to address how they are perceived by others.
If you include the Korobokuru, Dwarves are probably more widely recognized than any other non-human race. Occidentals and Krynns have very similar groups (although the Aghar require separate consideration), and the Duergar of the Underdark would be immediately recognized as their kin, even by them. Similarly, although the Korobokuru are more different than any of the others (most notably by their lack of hair), any Dwarf would consider them a strange variety of Dwarf, and they would regard Dwarfs their distant cousins. Only the Vikings have no direct familiarity with Dwarfs, and they've got them in some of their mythology, so they'll probably regard them with a bit of awe and wonder, although they'll also expect the dwarfs to be great fighters.
| Elves (including Drow) are elves everywhere that they exist, and will always be recognized as "some type of elf". Their attitudes toward each other are controlled by their attitudes toward such elven sub-races as are familiar to them. One important point: Krynn elves know nothing of Drow, and will tend to regard Drow as highly unusual in coloring, possibly beautiful, but no more dangerous than any other unknown elf. Orientals have no comparable race; however, most DM's consider Spirit Folk to be elf-like, and so Orientals will regard Elves as an unfamiliar form of that race. Spirit Folk are themselves unfamiliar and shrouded in mystery, so there is a bit of curiosity and awe in this attitude. Spirit Folk do not mistake Elves for their kin, but have a general attitude that all other humanoid races are pretty much the same, an attitude which extends to elves. As to Vikings, the nearest concept they have is that of the fairy Trolls, parents of the Trollborn, whom they never see; elves are likely to be regarded as magical and perhaps dangerous (certainly unpredictable) creatures. Note that Trolls are even more rare to Vikings than Spirit Folk are to Orientals.
Gnomes are less common, appearing in Occidental, Underdark (Svirfneblin), and Krynn (Tinker Gnomes) realms only. The Gnomes of each realm are sufficiently similar as to be recognized by the others. However, there will be a certain amount of cultural confusion here. Krynn Gnomes are always and only Tinkers, and no others are. Thus Krynn characters will be very confused by a Gnome who is not occupied with trying to do something elaborate with technology. At the same time, Occidental and Underdark characters will not understand the Tinker Gnomes at all, although they will probably write off one or two as isolated cases of madness. To the Viking, the Gnome will most likely be lumped with the Dwarf--after all, he's never seen either, but he's heard stories of Dwarfs. The situation for the Oriental is a lot less clear. There are a variety of possibilities for interpreting these strange little men, none of them particularly good. The Shan Sao--little men who live in isolated tribes in bamboo groves--is probably the best construction possible, although a Gnome might be mistaken for a Nat (jungle spirit), P'oh (punishing spirit), or Bakemono (goblin).
| Aghar, the Krynn Gully Dwarfs, may be treated differently. Although other Krynn Dwarfs and the other races of Krynn will know these to be true Dwarfs (even if the other Krynn Dwarfs deny it), to outsiders they seem so unlike Dwarfs as to be unrecognizable as such. Their filthy habits and complete failure of intelligence leads some to think of them as vermin. The fact that even other Dwarfs have trouble distinguishing male from female Aghar intensifies this perception. One Oriental Wu Jen firmly believed that there was a beautiful valley somewhere where a powerful wizard was creating these horrible creatures which he sent into the world declaring that valley as their home, so that no one would ever wish to go there.
The Half-Orc is unique to the Occidental/Underdark realms. However, they are among the races which look human--and indeed, they look human all the time. Thus they will only be doubted if they do something inhuman (display infravision) or reveal their Orcish lineage directly. Although Occidentals and Underdarkers tend to distrust Half-Orcs, it is not so for the other milieus as such. Vikings to whom the matter is explained will probably make the analogy to their own Trollborn--not that Half-Orcs are Trollborn, but that they are humans with the blood of an ancestor who is not which gives them strength and abilities. Oriental and Krynn characters are not likely to be so open to this. The idea that a member of their party or other acquaintance appears human but is descended from a monster would be very disconcerting, and there would probably be at least a slight and temporary reduction in trust if that information were revealed. Further, if a Krynn character who is not an Irda were to become aware that a party member who appeared human also had infravision, he could easily conclude that such a person was an Irda, shape-changed to human form. Irda are generally distrusted by other Krynners.
| The Halflings, or Hobbits as some old-timers call them, present a different set of confusions. Krynn characters are bound to mistake them for Kender, which are entirely different and not at all related but similar in size and build--and thus Occidental and Underdark characters will make the mistake in reverse. This is not a minor confusion. All Krynn characters know that the Kender are Handlers, that they pick up things and keep them and lose them because they have no significant concept of ownership; thus the Kender are excused for their curious pilfering of party possessions. None of the other milieus have anything comparable, and so the Kender is likely to be handed his head the first time he breaches protocol in this way. Although it is less of a problem, it will be a significant culture shock to the Krynns to realize that the hobbit really is a thief--or in the other case, that he has no talent at thievery at all. For the Viking, meanwhile, these creatures look entirely the same, and offer no point of reference in his own world. At best, he'll guess them to be another kind of Dwarf (not far off for the Kender), although they don't fit his image of the mythical fighters. The Oriental will have even more trouble, as he will be hard pressed to decide whether these are diminuitive relatives of the Korobukuru (making them Dwarfs of a sort), or one of the creatures for which Gnomes are likely to be mistaken--and least likely the Shan Sao, which are described as shorter than Gnomes, certainly shorter than halflings.
It has already been mentioned that Orientals who are not Spirit Folk will mistake Elves for Spirit Folk; the same is true in reverse--those who are not Oriental will probably conclude that the Spirit Folk is some kind of Elf. As with the Elves, the Vikings will probably associate these creatures with the unseen Trolls of his own realm, regarding them with some awe. Elves will not mistake Spirit Folk for Elves; however, neither will they consider these to be men, and so will assume them to be some category of demihuman or humanoid unknown to the elves, and respond accordingly (which for some is to question, others to snub, and still others to attack).
| Half-Elves are familiar to the Occidental, Underdark, and Krynn characters, but not to the others. However, much as with Elves, the Orientals (other than Spirit Folk) will regard them Spirit Folk, and the Vikings will consider them kin of Trolls (again, not a bad thing in Viking thought). If the diverse parentage is explained, the Oriental will find it surprising and unsettling, but will conclude that Humans and Spirit Folk can produce mixed offspring (he might consider this inappropriate), and the Viking will consider this to be a type of Trollborn unfamiliar to him--worthy of respect and a bit of fear. As to the Drow Half-Elf, Occidentals will maintain their suspicion of the offspring of a Drow, but the other cultures will not regard these as distinct from other Half-Elves.
With the Krynn Minotaur it is easy to confuse the issues. This creature does not look like the monster with which it shares a name; Occidentals told that they were meeting a minotaur would expect something entirely different. The Krynn Minotaur looks very like a man, but that he is rather brutish (he has a kine face, of sorts) and sports a pair of horns. These are usually portrayed steer-like, protruding sideways from the front of the skull. Even with all this, the character's head looks more like a man's than like a bull's, and no one would make that mistake. Thus, they will make another. Of course, the fact that the Minotaur isn't that monster doesn't mean he won't be taken as some monster. Krynns, who know what the creature is, are at best leary of it, as they have the evil and violent reputation of their kind. But Occidentals, Underdarkers, and Vikings are most likely to panic, seeing a completely unfamiliar humanoid monster. Orientals, on the other hand, know exactly what this is: it is a variety of Oni, a corporeal spirit which is roughly humanoid with one or two horns and other varied features. As known Oni are lawful neutral or lawful evil, the lawful Oriental will typically approach them with caution but not exactly fear, willing to deal with these as long as he can maintain his guard. It is again different for Wu Jen. These wild wizards have contact with the Oni, and speak their language. Even an apprentice Wu Jen would realize that the creature before him is not that, and would react more as the Occidentals: it's a monster, I just don't know what kind.
| Hengeyokai may present some of the most interesting complications of all. Although when in human form they will always be taken as men, only Orientals would understand their ability to change to the other forms. Without an explanation, this is certain to surprise even the Orientals, and to be taken by the others as some form of Lycanthropy (although the Viking might consider whether the companion had the abilities of a Berserker, this is an unlikely construction). Note that although not all lycanthropes are evil, most characters don't know which are not--and "good" does not guarantee "safe"! Even with explanation, it will be difficult to get non-Orientals to understand that this is a natural and non-threatening abilty. Of course, Orientals know the natural alignments of Hengeyokai sub-races, and will respond accordingly.
The Viking Trollborn will usually be identified as human (even by other Vikings and other Trollborn); they can keep their unusual parentage secret perpetually if desired. Those who try to explain who they are (for example, to explain their infravision) will meet a variety of reactions. Vikings themselves hold these with some degree of awe--as children of the fairy people, the Trollborn are a potent race indeed. The difficulty for Occidental, Underdark, and Krynn characters will lie in the concept of a troll--the image of mischievous fairy-kin of the Viking is replaced by one of evil disgusting ugly vicious stupid creatures whose only redeeming quality is that alchemists can use their body parts to create healing and regenerative potions. Given that the only good troll is a dead troll, the idea of a character being half human and half troll will be incomprehensible, and that character may have to do a lot of explaining to clarify that it's not that kind of troll. Orientals will regard them more like the Vikings, with a bit less awe and a bit more suspicion. Not having the troll as an integral part of the milieu, they will not understand the concept of "child of a troll" to mean anything but what the character explains; if it is explained that the troll is a type of fairy creature, the Oriental will understand this to be a mischievous spirit akin to its own Nat, and so regard the character with the suspicion due a creature with a partly supernatural origin.
| The initial reaction of any character to an Irda will be based on the current form the character has taken. Most Irda, knowing that Krynners despise and fear them, do not reveal their true form, and so will be seen as their most common shape-change form, usually a Silvanesti or Qualinesti Elf, sometimes a Krynn Human (for which, see the page Now You Look Human), rarely some other. If their true identity is discovered by a Krynn character, it is likely to result in a serious confrontation--there is little the Irda could say which the Krynner would believe. (After all, these are dangerous evil lying creatures who seek to bring death and destruction, and they must be resisted.) But this view is not shared by the other cultures. If the change is explained in advance, they will be taken as a strange humanoid race from another land. Even if the Irda reveals its true form without preparing anyone, or is seen in that form initially, reaction will generally be positive, as the beauty of these creatures is immediately appealing, and few would assume them to be evil or dangerous without a Krynner close at hand to suggest it (and even then the matter would not be settled).
Sections of this site will continue to address these areas:
The Frontier: M. J. Young suggests how to explain the presence of characters from multiple AD&D settings in one place, and provide support structures for them, based on the concept of the New World.
Now You Look Human: Some demi-human races will be perceived as human under certain circumstances; which ones, when, and by whom are all important questions, addressed here.
When Worlds Collide: Each of the standard settings in AD&D contains cultural nuances which result in attitudes and perspectives which will come into play as the player characters interact with each other and those around them.
You Don't Look Elvish: How races are perceived by those in other milieus is discussed in some detail.
A Nice Kid Like You: Some races pose particular problems related to explaining their presence in a new land. Those problems are addressed.
A Class Act: Problems and motivations of particular classes are discussed and resolved.
All In the Mind: Second Edition Psionics may be integrated into a First Edition campaign if desired, bringing the Psionicist class and the Wild Talent into play alongside Natural Psionics.
Other Signficant Pages
M. J. Young's Dungeons & Dragons Materials:
The home page of this site, collected papers from the table of a gamer who began as a DM in 1980, including resource materials, special rules, articles, and BASIC programs to smooth both play and preparation.
Character Creation for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition:
Called a life saver by more than one DM, the materials M. J. Young has developed to enable players to create characters have been posted and expanded for others. When a game is beginning or a player is joining, this site is the place to start.
Martial Arts Rules for Role Playing Games:
For Oriental characters, this site explains and expands the 1st Ed. AD&D martial arts materials, including a large and varied selection of compatible styles, and also presenting similar materials for the Multiverser game.
Multiverser Information Center:
The role playing game which truly integrates all milieus, all worlds, and all other role playing games is presented and described here. It's worth a look.
Questions may be directed to the author of these pages.