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Different Differences

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For most games the difference in race is used as a end all segregator between people. I have been thinking a little bit lately about different ways to diversify the people in the games we play.

The thought struck me while visiting a temple and I noticed that nobody had any facial hair, obviously they could shave it, but there were no mustaches or beards whatsoever. Usually you would see a couple in the states no matter where you go.

What if a certain army or elite detail only allowed those that could grow a full beard. Those that were otherwise qualified but were not given the ability to grow a nice full beard (I personally can only grow a goatee and that only after months, even then it is a sparse embarrassing little thing) so they are not able to "protect the throne" or whatever. This would keep elves out, but allow most other races regardless.

How about height. While going through shrine entrances they have the large wooden overhang to denote it. A group could choice professions by their height or something, or they must be a certain height to qualify for a job. What if there were a series of arches starting at a large size and slowly decreased. To become a defender you would have to be tall enough to not be able to walk through the third arch. To be a personal defender you need to be tall enough to not fig under the second arch. Stuff like that.

These aren't the greatest ideas but just wondering if anybody else has some different ideas to make a more unique culture.

That's a very interesting concept. What would our games be like if races and cultures were distinguished by heighth or facial hair. Also, maybe intelligence could be a distinguishing factor. You would have a society of super-smart wimps, and another of dumb-as-dirt warriors (as that is what seems to happen in creatures.)

In Europe, there are 217 distinct recognized ethnic/ regional groups- between geographic, lingual, and religious variations and combinations there of. China, with its huge population and cultural homoginy has something like 60.  The US is said to have 29 large groups, and 820 smaller ethnic/ cultural groups. (The numbers may be off some, but I remember them from a credible source).  You tend to marry people in the same geographic area (duh), as well as the same religious and identified groups.  This tends to create a variation between these people and those around them.

Think about it. can you recognize people for their ethnic or regional grouping by appearance or accent or other action? How many groups can you recognize?

Yet in your average fantasy games, with a continent larger than Europe, you might have one (all humans are one continuous cultural and social mass) or even three (one for each human society). Even if these societies are antagonistic, they seem much the same. The only variations you get are the non humans, who seem much like humans in alien suits.  All the species are fairly the same, culturally speaking.    

Most people can't seem to handle a realistic level of diversity, especially when they are making the game world.  Most fiction does not do it, but then again... it does not need to, to tell its story in a limited geographic space and time.  One of the few fantasy books that comes close is Jordan's Wheel of Time.  Each region has its own meta-culture, or cultural themes, and each country has its own unique culture. the Northern cultures all have their distinctive knots and garb (from their ancient tribal herritages). The Southerners, far away from the dark lands, have become self absorbed and europeanesk.  Mercedes Lacky's Valdemar tales have a great deal of cultural diversity implied, and occasionally seen.  So we know it can be done, yet why don't people play it out?

You don't have to be an alien to be an alien.  Take someone from 1300 Northern Europe and drop them in Japan or China of the time.  A fur covered alien might be better received.  Cultural and Lingual differences are enough to make people mutually un-understandable.  

You don't have to be another species to be different.  Think about the differences between the Nordic Countires, and Greece in terms of appearance of the population.  North Africa in comparison to more southern regions.  You can notice the differences.  

There are game examples:

In Kerren, there is a little genetic diversity in the group. They all came from the same region of Terra. There are some regional appearances and ideals (Westerners, Southers, Pointers), but they are similar cultural and social groups, but there are regional differences in cuisine, accent, and dress (based on weather).  

In my fantasy world, I have a group on Sixthland, the Lyrans.  They are olive skinned, large almond shaped eyes, long of limb and digit, graceful, strong. There ships traverse seas humans can not cross. They have artifacts that Humans do not have.  The Humans think they are a subtype of Elventi (there general superiority, nature affinity, and magikal technology), while the Elventi think they are Humanti (round ears, shorter than Elventi lifespan-but longer than Thirdland and Secondland humans, and they use technology).  Many people on the world think they are a different race.  They are an ethnic group of Humanti, blessed in terms of geography and history.  

Do you see how difference can not be so different but make the people seem of a different species.

I have been doing these sub-races since I first started gaming. It's no news to me.

Give us an example of the sub-races then instead of alluding to them.

I have had sub races as well, but I want to think along other lines as well. Perhaps the more subtle or unusual.

Big toes are said to give strength in battle so all those are thought of as brave.

Moles on the face are places to store extra memory so they are smarter then others.

Long fingers make good fishermen.

Wierd out of the ordinary stuff to stereotype people with.

Looking for odd ones we can play with.


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