Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Demi-Humans of Agartha

Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings are such a traditional element in Fantasy RPGs that they're included in Dungeon Crawl Classics.
Unfortunately, they are so rooted in Tolkien and Celtic-Germanic-Scandinavian folklore that they dampen a lot of the weird fantasy Clark Ashton Smith/Jack Vance vibe that both DCC and my campaign strive to emulate.
What they are now:
These are just too cliché and bucolic. They're not weird fantasy. So here is my vision for how demi-humans should act and appear in my DCC campaign.

In Tolkien/D&D, Dwarves are bearded hammer-wielding Cornish miners.

In Agartha, Dwarves are stunted twisted Rumpelstiltskins, gruesome albino creatures of the earth with long arms and thick leathery skin. My platonic ideal dwarf would have no hair or beard but that's going too far against player expectation, so the braided hair and beards reluctantly stay.

In short, the dwarves in my DCC campaign look like the Ugnaughts from Empire Strikes Back. Short, ugly, hairy, industrious, leathery, with little tusks. I thought about the Trolls from the film Troll, but they were too creepy looking. Ugnaughts were just right.

In Tolkien/D&D, Elves are beautiful hippie nature Vulcans.

Agarthic Elves should be alien otherworldly creatures from another plane (Elfland). They are strangers to our world, for all intents and purposes they are visitors from another planet. More like the Elves from Hellboy 2.

In Tolkien/D&D, Halflings are short fat bucolic furry-footed burrowers.

Agarthic Halflings should be backwards hillbilly pygmies who live in underground warrens. In short, like the Nelwyn from Willow.