Sandbox Brainstorming: Player Character Races
Starting wide and working more narrow at Saturday night's sandbox brainstorming session
for my Savage Worlds
SF setting, This Empire Earth
, we discussed the Terran Empire
itself and then moved on to player character races. Designing the game, I wanted the players to have a wide variety of choices, enough to please almost any taste. I had already developed a lot.
I presented what I had so far:
Gary at once expressed interest in playing an android. That tickled me as I designed the artificial intelligence "race" with Gary in mind.
Rodger loved the idea of playing a hard-boiled talking chimp who's hella smooth with the ladies.
Of course there are humans. The Empire is lousy with them. Can't swing a dead farzipple without hitting one.
Imperial humanity comes in many flavors:
- Genetically engineered;
- Bionically enhanced;
- Cybernetically modified;
- Psionic; and
- Just plain old normal.
Despite all these choices offered, I felt something missing. So I threw it out to guys. What else?
"Can I play something with four arms?" Rodger asked.
"Sure," I said.
He nodded, pleased. Then, "Wait. Are those other two arms vestigial?"
I didn't respond.
"I knew it, dick!"
Seriously, though. A four armed dude could be an alien, a mutant or a product of genetic engineering or bionics.
James offered, "Something big. Really big. Bigger than the Bigozians. Like an ogre or something."
Protoplasm was suggested and living energy, too.
"Are these things you want to play?" I asked.
"No" was the consensus, but they did say they'd make nice non-player character races.
And then it happened...
The guys created a badass-effin'-cool player character race. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Empusans...
The Empusans are a race of insects resembling large Portuguese Praying Mantis'. Very large. Like ten feet large.
The Empusans are an old race, their history ranging back more than a hundred millenia. By contrast, they are incredibly short-lived living for only ten to fifteen years before succumbing to old age.
They have no interest in pursuing longevity science as the humans have, yet they are a race of scientists. Their technology is centuries beyond what other Imperial cultures have developed. Their science, their technology is overwhelming.
More than one historian has observed that it is indeed fortunate that Empusa science has never been interested in tactical applications. It is difficult to imagine how even the mighty Imperial fleet could have withstood a war machine powered by Empusan design.
The Empusae are a peaceful people. They are not pacifists by any stretch or cowards, they simply see no point in warfare. It has been many thousands of years since war was waged on the Empusan homeworld.
In those days, the Empusae fought amongst themselves, against other genetic lines. They were bloody wars and did not stop until one line remained. Since then, they have known peace.
One shouldn't confuse their disinclination to combat as cowardice or weakness. The Empusa will fight when provided no other choice. It would just rather be doing something else.
They are meticulous record keepers, their written histories date back to the early days of the race.
In a room full of aliens, the Empusan is invariably the smartest one in attendance. As such, they tend to insufferable smugness. These damned bugs are hard to like. It doesn't help that their insectile nature is instinctually disconcerting to almost all of the other Imperial races.
The Ambriidans alone are immune to the Empusan's "creep factor."
An unsettling trait of the Empusans is there fondness for the consumption of brains Among their own, it is traditional to eat the brains of family members at their death. In doing so, memories and experiences are transferred from the deceased to the diner.
This practice also works with non-Empusans, but to a lesser extent. For instance, the brain of an alien must be consumed within moments of death - otherwise the knowledge will be lost. Also, the knowledge that is absorbed from non-Empusans is rarely complete. Often, only a few pieces of information are extracted and they are not always pertinent to the situation.
It is not unheard of for the personality of the consumed brain to temporarily overtake the Empusan.
The Imperial Navy is rumored to utilize Empusan interrogators from time-to-time.
"Anything else?" I asked, furiously jotting down the guys' thoughts.
That's it, they said.
"Is this a race you want to play?" I asked.
"Yeah," Rodger was the first to answer, "I'm gonna play one of these guys instead of the monkey."
I haven't had an opportunity to right up the stats for the Empusa. I'll do that in the next few days. Pretty cool, though, right?
This was 100% group think with very little input from me. I am amazed at what they came up with. I now feel like my PC races are complete. Or at least complete enough for now. I'm sure we'll come up with other stuff as we go along.
Badass, I must say.
Twitter + AronHead
* I have not posted details on Uplifted Chimpanzees or Oenerans, yet. Soon, my friends. Soon.
Posted by Aron Head
at 10:50 PM CST