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Author Topic: The uses of Liliput - how a weak unassuming species thrives among giants  (Read 828 times)

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Offline EchoMirage

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The 'classic' DnD/Fantasy settings often fail at giving appropriate niches to their wide diverse range of races.
Such as, where do the small folk fit in? Sure, tinkerer gnomes and thieving halflings are everywhere. But what else? What special traits and strategies could a weak, unassuming species use to thrive among the more domineering, empire-building, heroic fellows?

A few ideas to kick it off:
They may be valuable for something else than might, some unique skill.
Tiny hands make great gears and fabrics, and are better at most kinds of medicine.
They may have extra nutritious milk and be in high demand as wet nurses.
They may be fashionable as servants.
Small people make great airship crews, and need less supplies on overseas voyages.
The Small Folk may possess telepathy between each other, and serve as communications officers in the empire.
They may have another innate useful talent - imagine that each of the small folk repelled pests in a 100 meter radius? Imagine they made everyone around a little smarter, healthier, or luckier? Perhaps they are good at getting your messages to the gods, being the only race that never pissed them off?
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Offline valadaar

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Re: The uses of Liliput - how a weak unassuming species thrives among giants
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2018, 01:52:30 PM »
Many races are an exaggeration of some particular human trait.  Human's advantage is being able to good at most things, and exceptional at most too with exceptional individuals.
The non-human races should be exceptional as a matter of course in some area, and their 'exceptional' individuals would be near godlike in their domain. I.e. Feanor in lord of the rings - capable of crafting the Silmarils.
So gnomes as a matter of course can make clockwork devices which make humans gasp. 
- Coax colors and durability out of textiles.
- Craft/paint near photographic quality shapes/images with apparent effortlessness.   +Art/Engineering
- speak with various types of animals - or at least understand them. + Animal handling/husbandry
- Be able to identify most alchemical substances by smell, even those which to a human have no scent. Also applicable in prospecting.  Take a sip of a stream. "There's gold upstream, can't you taste it?"
- See and work with colors humans can't. Being able to distinguish object with better color resolution then humans could make some activities easier. Imagine if to elves, what we consider a wall of green plants is as colorful and diverse as a coral reef?  Plants that look essentially identical to us are drastically different to elves, allowing them to find the good and bad much faster. 
- The strong grip and tough hands of orcs allow them to craft gold/silver/copper jewelry as if it were putty to them.  A fire-resistant race might be able to create metal 'pottery' using their hands or at least far less equipment then humans, allowing for organic-looking metalwork.
- Small troops can be packed in tighter, allowing for greater concentration of firepower.
   
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Offline axlerowes

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Re: The uses of Liliput - how a weak unassuming species thrives among giants
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2018, 07:01:32 PM »
Frackle Rock

Offline Scrasamax

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Re: The uses of Liliput - how a weak unassuming species thrives among giants
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2018, 05:03:57 PM »
Going a little more Real World vibe

Genocide - the race was not able to co-exist with humanity, and after a prolonged period of racial violence, the other race was all but exterminated. Relics remain along with a few isolated relict populations of the other race.

Subjugation - the race exists is a subservient role to humanity as third class members of human society. They are the outcaste, pariahs, untouchables, and worse. Those who are subjugated are forced into slavery, or near slavery, and are often subjected to horrific treatment, always on the edge of human society, or the bottom.

Enclaves - the non-human races are forced into their own racial and ethnic enclaves, aka ghettoes. They are treated as second class citizens, subject to police oppression and hostility.

The Unnoticables - the race, being smaller, lives in the shadows of humanity and make great efforts to be useful and unseen, because being seen can result in their harm, or mistreatment. Like the Littles, they have undercities, warrens in the dark shadows, and so forth.

Slavery - the race is kept be humans, for their abilities, and usefulness. Uprisings and such are met with iron handed tactics. Cant have the house elves revolting.
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Offline Strolen

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Re: The uses of Liliput - how a weak unassuming species thrives among giants
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2018, 07:32:37 PM »
I will keep it real world too:

By rubbing them on clothes or skin, can remove any stain.
Tie them to a kite, good lookouts.
Flying squirrel style, can launch them from catapults for communication network. Pass longer messages than pigeons.
Chameleon. So can hide but can also sneak in most anywhere...or on anyone. Be a great partner for a thief.
Climb most anything that has any imperfections.


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Offline EchoMirage

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Re: The uses of Liliput - how a weak unassuming species thrives among giants
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2018, 05:57:12 PM »
I just had to think of halflings and gnomes in a diesel-punk setting, as tank and submarine crews, earning their place in a society during the Great War. Suddenly, they're useful as soldiers!
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