Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PC Races of Ara - Updated

Much has happened since I last issued a definitive statement of the extant PC races in the Lands of Ara. Most notably:

1. There have been some recent developments concerning Arandish Ogres that came up as a result of my revisiting the original Crimson Blades of Ara rulebook chapter-by-chapter, and

2. Goblinoid Games' Advanced Edition Companion was published, thereby making certain racial types (gnomes, half-orcs) more readily accessible for Labyrinth Lord play.

Therefore I offer this updated and amended description of all the available PC Races on Ara, as well as brief mention of a significant NPC race. The information presented here replaces and supersedes this previous post on extant Arandish races.

The Nine Arandish PC Races
All of the PC races listed in the Labyrinth Lord rulebook and the Advanced Edition Companion exist in Ara, INCLUDING Halflings (this contradicts my original post on Ara's races) but EXCLUDING Elves and Half-Elves (as PCs anyway). In Ara, halflings are somewhat rare; far more common are the rat-like humanoids called Rodians, who can be played as race-as-class or have up to four "advanced" class options available to them: Rodian Duellist, Rodian Rogue, Rodian Illusionist, and Rodian Invoker (see this post for details). Furthermore, Ara sustains Goblins as PCs as well as Arandish Ogres as PCs.

Hence the complete list of Arandish PC Races includes: Human, Dwarf, Rodian, Halfling, Goblin, Ogre, Half-Ogre, Gnome, and Half-Orc.

Brief descriptions of the origins and geographical distribution of Arandish races -- where they differ from or add to descriptions given in LL or the AEC -- follow.

In Ara, humans predominate. They are found literally everywhere on Ara, and are all (except the Southern strain called Mizarians) thought to be descendants of the ancient humans of the area now known as Noffel.

Arandish dwarves are magically modified humans created and employed as laborers (especially miners) in the long-since-passed Old War between Telengard and Achelon. Tending to prefer underground habitation, dwarves are fairly abundant in present-day Ara, especially in the east and northeast where most of the largest mountains are found (just as rodians—see below—tend to be found in the south and southwest, near the Bay of Noffel and major seaports). Dwarves have been doing business with and living amongst humans in Ara for a long time; dwarves are well accepted in human culture, live in most major Arandish cities, and are the second-most numerous race in Ara.

Rodians are small, ratlike humanoids who constitute the third most numerous race in the Lands of Ara. For those who prefer race-as-class, Rodians may be treated as functionally identical to halflings – that is, with all the same basic abilities and Level Progression Table as Labyrinth Lord halflings. However, in my own campaigns I permit Rodians four different class options -- Duellist, Rogue, Illusionist, and Invoker -- detailed here.

Rodians (sometimes called Suhlians, after their home island) are seafaring folk who demonstrate a distinct tendency toward sea piracy and con-artistry. They tend to be quite dexterous, and get a bonus of +1 to initiative rolls when alone or in a party composed only of rodians. They have keen coordination that grants them +1 on any missile attacks. Because they are so small, rodians have a lower armor class (-2) when attacked by creatures greater than human sized.

Rodians are excellent utilizers of urban camouflage and can hide in shadows or behind other forms of cover when in cities or underground labyrinths on a roll of 1-2 on 1d6, though they must also be silent and motionless.

Arandish Ogres and Half-Ogres
Ogres are once-human creatures who were magically transformed by Telengardian magicians into powerful fighting monsters during the Old War between Telengard and Achelon. After that disastrous war ended, these mutants found that they had very little place in human society, and most of them retreated to the mountainous and wooded areas around Telengard and northern Delzar. Ogres (especially those who have lived in the wild) tend to be feared by humans, primarily due to their great physical size and often horrible appearance.  Ogrish characters cannot practice magical arts, and are predisposed toward severe near-sightedness (that is, the inability to see at distances). For more information on Ogrish PCs, see this post.

Also note that, due to ckutalik's excellent writeup of Half-Ogres as PCs, that race is now available in Ara.

NPC Race: Elves
Elves (sometimes referred to as Aldorians) should almost never be PCs in Ara. They are extremely reclusive, living in near-perfect isolation in the Northwestern forests, and do not usually see any reason to fraternize with other races. Referees wishing to stat up Aldorian elves for NPC use should use elf23's Fey class instead of standard Labyrinth Lord Elves.

Note: A comprehensive current list of Arandish PC classes will be given in a separate post.


  1. Great stuff. I have just updated my demi-human races but they are more generic and lack the history of Ara.

  2. @Jovial: Well, I have the advantage of having actively gamed in Ara more or less steadily for fifteen years now, so I owe much of its "seasoned" feel to my prior collaborator Dave Miller and to all the great players I've gamed with over the years. It seems to me that you are just GENERATING your campaign setting for the first time, so of course your ideas may feel a bit more "generic" at first. But your ideas rock. I especially LOVE your take on elves and dwarves, and your descriptive subtitles for the races are terrific throughout. E.g., "Creatures that are hard to kill" perfectly sums up halflings, IMO.

    @other readers: check out Jovial's killer post on demi-human races:

  3. Rodians? That must cause some confusion.