A Nice Kid Like You:
Milieu Integration in 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
| Not all races are known for their adventurous spirits. Sometimes the class-based reasons for being in the frontier don't hold well for a race. So what are they doing in a place like this? |
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 character backgrounds based on race, to explain why members of certain problem races are found on the frontier. Other pages are linked from the bottom of this one.
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Humans are known to be adventurous. There is little need to create reasons for them to be here but that it is here. There will usually be class-based reasons associated with their presence on the frontier, discussed on another page. Note that Viking humans are always seeking to make a name for themselves, quite literally: a Viking earns his last name from his deeds, and so wishes for them to be great.
| The races in each milieu are listed here for convenience; not all of them present special problems.
Dwarves and Korobokuru and Duergar are seekers of wealth and beauty, and need no other motivation for their adventures.
| Elves are not so adventurous. However, they are often characterized as nomadic wanderers, and they are always seeking a place which is undisturbed and peaceful. Since other races tend to build cities in place of forests, the elves are always moving away into the wilderness. The Drow present a special case. These have almost always fled their homeland, and are usually being pursued by an assassin with orders to kill the renegade and return. Thus Drow build up various defenses--disguising their identities, collecting powerful friends, vanishing into the trackless wilderness. (One went so far as to use a girdle of femininity/masculinity to completely erase his previous identity.) Even so little variation in belief as a single place off Chaotic Evil in alignment, or worship of a demon other than Lolth, will mark the character for death. (In the alternative, a Chaotic Evil Drow Assassin who worships Lolth could have come to the surface to find and kill a refugee; however, his failure to return will ultimately mark him as the next target.)
Gnomes are somewhat like Dwarfs, although to a lesser degree. Each will develop his own motivation based on his class and situation. Svirfneblin are a bit more complicated. These dwellers of the deep underdark are not refugees, and need a background explanation of why they have come to the surface. Such motivations include the opportunity to apprentice with a particular teacher, an adherence to a faith not common in the underdark, or an overcrowded homeland. In the MyWorld campaign, there is usually a reason why the character cannot return the way he came, such as a cave-in or a migration of much more dangerous underdark creatures onto his path. This gives the character a further reason to explore underground passages, as he may be seeking a new way home. As to Tinker Gnomes, these bits of comic relief are problematic. They are motivated by their desire to understand and apply technology, and as such will be disinterested in the objectives of adventures of most other characters. However, the problem is not insurmountable. A Tinker could be working on a project or idea which is facilitated by adventuring. He could be trying to understand the real needs of adventurers so that he can come up with a device which will truly help them. He might be studying the area in which he expects his device to be used, so he knows what complexities to install to meet anticipated complications. There will be testing phases of all or parts of the machines he builds, and you have to be in the field to do field testing. In all, the Tinker can be quite as annoying on the frontier as anywhere else.
| Aghar, the Krynn Gully Dwarfs, are different from most dwarfs again. It is doubtful as to whether these creatures could identify valuable or beautiful objects as their kin. It is best to background these characters as completely lost and bewildered, but unaware that they don't have a clue where they are or how to get home. They usually think that whichever way they're going is as good a guess as to the way home as any other, so they aren't really adventuring, just seeing what happens on the way back to the valley (which is back in the Old World and far from the Frontier). Along the way, they're happy to take the credit for solving everyone's problems.
The Half-Orc has much the same attitude as his Human ancestors, eager to explore; they are also frequently motivated by wealth, not necessarily because of base greed, but often because such family as they have will be very orcish, unable to assist them in establishing a place in society, and a large amount of money will make it much easier to be accepted in human society.
| Halflings are notoriously disinterested in adventures; however, the Hobbits who pursue adventuring classes have become infected by what the others regard a madness which compels them to leave their quiet holes and do foolish things. Kender are different. They are insatiably curious, inalterably mobile, unattached either to places or to things. They are here because it was the next place to be beyond there, the last place they were, and they will soon be somewhere else, although they'll stay around here as long as there are interesting things to see and explore.
The situation with Spirit Folk is not at all easy. These creatures have a compelling reason to stay close to home: their greatest benefits are derived there. For Sea Spirit Folk, the fact that this is a coastal area does afford a good connection (although these are in some ways the weakest of the sub-races, deriving the least benefit from their home). The other sub-races are generally a long way from home, and that should make them uncomfortable. However, if the referee wishes to accommodate these, River Spirit Folk may be connected to a very large river which flows nearby, although his people live far from this part of it (usually many scores of miles upstream). It is even possible for a river to flow under a mountain, becoming subterranean for a distance, and emerging hundreds of miles away as the same river. Although it is not plausible for a river from one continent to continue on another, the frontier need not be as isolated as that--a frontier which is far north or south (or east or west) of the civilized world in a distant and unexplored coastal region of the same vast continent provides an adequate connection and sufficient isolation to make the frontier work while permitting River Spirit Folk to be present. As to the Bamboo sub-race, the referee must make a difficult choice. Either the character is cut off from his grove for years, or he is connected to a grove nearby, having grown up on the frontier area. This could make a significant difference to his view of "all these people building cities where the trees are". This can also be done for River Spirit Folk, if necessary. Note that a character who has a local origin will know about local geography to some degree.
| Half-Elves vary from realm to realm. Occidental varieties tend to mix their parental attitudes--the wandering of the elves with the adventurous spirits of the humans. The Krynn half-elves are outcasts from their own world, accepted neither as elves nor as humans and having no real identity of their own. To them, the New World offers an opportunity to build a place in which their mixed parentage doesn't matter, and they adventure because the skills they have will bring the greatest return here. The Drow Half-Elf has a similar position. As a somewhat disabled child (several of the drow disadvantages and none of the perks) of a feared evil race, each must either move to a place where such prejudices don't exist or make a name for himself to overcome them--either way, moving into the Frontier is a good start.
Every Minotaur believes that his kind is the best. Usually, they have left their homelands to prove themselves and their race to the rest of the world. It is reasonable to expect these characters to put themselves in the forefront and brag about all they do, even if they do it in a friendly and good-natured way. They are trying to collect enough good stories about their exploits to impress the home folk when they get back.
| Hengeyokai generally move with Oriental society. As long as there is some Oriental culture here, there is reason enough for Hengeyokai to be involved. Some will even be part of the retinues of significant persons--Samurai, Daimyo, wealthy merchants--commonly living as Bushi without their lords knowing their racial identity.
The Viking Trollborn has much the same attitude as his Viking Human counterpart--a desire to earn his name by great deeds, usually in battle. The frontier is always a good place to perform great and memorable deeds, and would be a draw for anyone looking for a real adventure.
| Irda have become lost. Many were separated from their homeland, and wander the world seeking the way back. On rare moments, they know which way that is; but this knowledge doesn't last long enough to get home. Thus they often wander, that they might be closer to home if they suddenly know which way it is.
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.