Wednesday, August 15, 2018

OSR Commentary - Classic Dungeons & Dragons Player Character Races With A Mythological Twist

I take a far more mythological progression with the iconic Dungeons & Dragons fantasy races in my home campaigns. There are far more to them then meets the eye & its actually a form of rebellion on my part against the usual Dungeons & Dragons expectations. When dealing with many of the OSR worlds this approach has been far more rewarding by allowing the players to have more of a hand in their characters.

Let's start with humanity is the single greatest occult resource for the supernatural & occult world. The abundance of the human race means that its going to be widely available for millions of years to come. But its also the race that provides the greatest number of heroes. This could be form of occult natural selection or simply that this race provides its own supernatural immune system in the package of adventurers. The sheer variety of humanity provides an endless supply of food & amusement for the occult powers. But it also on occasion provides their death as well. 
Neither the Dwarves nor the Elves seen in Dungeons & Dragons are the true powers or royals of those semi divine breeds. The Dwarves of my own home campaigns are taken straight from Germanic & Norse mythologies & their pivotal to humanity's future;
:The modern English noun dwarf descends from the Old English dweorg. It has a variety of cognates in other Germanic languages, including Old Norse dvergr and Old High German twerg. According to Vladimir Orel, the English noun and its cognates ultimately descend from Proto-Germanic *đwerȝaz.[2]
Beyond the Proto-Germanic reconstruction, the etymology of the word dwarf is highly contested. Scholars have proposed theories about the origins of the being by way of historical linguistics and comparative mythology, including that dwarfs may have originated as nature spirits, as beings associated with death, or as a mixture of concepts. Competing etymologies include a basis in the Indo-European root *dheur- (meaning 'damage'), the Indo-European root *dhreugh (whence, for example, modern English dream and German Trug 'deception'), and comparisons have been made with Sanskrit dhvaras (a type of "demonic being")"
The Dwarven peoples that we see in various settings are in fact the Dweorg, races created by the Dwarven 'gods' eons ago to survive the harsh conditions of various planes & worlds for mining, & other worldly activities.

Elves or huldra ("hidden being") are in fact humanoids bred to be the slave race of wizards & gods from the magical rich chaos laden realm of Fairyland. These beings have for millions of years been used as labor, military, work force, etc. in our world. Many ancient other dimensional gateways still exist under mounds & other historical sites of occult importance. Elven gods & powers are some of the most evil & dangerous beings that players can run across. Humanity once worshiped these beings but rebelled in ancient times before the Biblical flood.

Half Elves were a latter development for magically deleted environments & for use as traders with humanity often where valuable resources  & occult sites of power are still found. These beings look very human but display a wide variety of mythological racial traits that sets them apart. These beings often have individual tribal or racial identities depending upon the region or country they are found in.

The half orc has a deep & abiding connection to Orcus & the classic Underworld of Greco Roman mythology. The half orc is a product of war & chaos due to the influx of the Orc warmachine from from the Underworld. The Underworld is the passage of warfare between the gods of Hell & humanity. The half orc is a product of its background of violence & hatred but many rise beyond it. These beings are rare but not unheard of throughout Europe & the known world. Orcs, goblins, & ogres are far too common it would seem.

"Old English glossaries record the word orc corresponding with Latin Orcus (deity of the Underworld), and synonymous with þyrs/ðyrs "ogre" (cognate to Old Norse: þurs), as well as "hell devil". The Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal defines ork in the very closely related Old Dutch language as a verslindend monster ("devouring monster"),[3] and points at a possible origin in the Old Dutch nork "petulant, crabbed, evil person".[4]
The Latin: Orcus is glossed as "Old English: Orc, þyrs, oððe hel-deofol"[a] as given in the first Cleopatra Glossary (10th century), and on this entry Thomas Wright wrote, "Orcus was the name for Pluto, the god of the infernal regions, hence we can easily understand the explanation of hel-deofol. Orc, in Anglo-Saxon, like thyrs, means a spectre, or goblin."

With a bit of mythological adjustment a dungeon master can mold the classic Dungeons & Dragons player character  races to suit their players & their own needs for a campaign. The DYI nature of Dungeons & Dragons allows the dungeon master to take full advantage of the blank spots left in early editions of the; grand game.' Old & tired races that players have seen a million times can take on a far more 'Weird Tales' aspect with a bit of research & time.

Ten Reasons Why A Mythological
Twist Works For PC Racial Classes 
  1. Each of the PC races mentioned in this blog post have some strange connection with Alchemy & this can easily be exploited by the dungeon master for all kinds of harrowing mayhem. 
  2. The classic Greco Roman depiction of Hades & his connection with the creation of the orc  race is never used in adventures. 
  3. Elven gods are dangerous & the Elven races connection to its Fairyland origins points to a far more alien view point then we traditionally see in Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. 
  4. Dwarves have often been the lynch  pins in the affairs of the gods & should be exploited often. 
  5. Half Elves are the perfect stand ins for many 'lost world' races in campaigns. They can be exceedingly rare. 
  6. Don't count out humanity for being the perfect ancient plot device for old school adventures. 
  7. Don't be afraid to make up stuff as needed to bridge gap your home campaigns when it comes to the cracks in mythology. 
  8. The Underworld is a dungeon master's friend & a crack in the Earth is the perfect excuse for a PC to simply show up in an adventure. 
  9. Screw with player expectations! While many gamers are familiar with the classic Dungeons & Dragons books. They often are not that well versed in the actual mythological  origins of their favorite monsters leaving plenty of room for dungeon master customization. 
  10. Use mythology to breath new life into classic old school adventures using mythological resources. Play the unexpected and don't be afraid to exploit it for the game.

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