Posts belonging to Category Nonhuman characters

The Basics of Intelligent Magic Items

A common thread in fantasy plots and worlds is the intelligent magic item. Like a familiar, it is usually associated with one person, and often doesn’t have enough agency to be treated as a character in its own right. Unlike most familiars, though, an intelligent magic item can be powerful enough to make or break [...]

Interlinking Gods and Domains

Many of the gods we’re used to in Western mythology either created their domains or just took charge of them—whatever happens to the domain, the god stays constant. But a common fantasy element is the idea of gods that are mostly tied to their domains—as the domain changes, so too does the god. These can [...]

On the Creation of Gods

Yet more for RPG Blog Carnival.
Fantasy worlds and gods seem to go hand in hand; having or hinting at at least one seems to be practically the price of admission.
Now, this is fine. Except for the fact that there’s a lot more variety in the divine than most people give credit for, let alone use. [...]

Undead Week: A Rant on Perspective

Why are the undead written so similar to the living?
Their death changes nothing. They still see the same colors, feel the same walls, smell the same scents—okay, maybe the blood smells stronger, but honestly, that’s cliché. They can’t always go out in the sunlight, sure, but that’s barely a change. Hearts which no longer beat [...]

Undead Week: Introduction

Welcome to Undead Week at the Exchange of Realities!
Since my posting week (not counting Impractical Applications) ends with Halloween, I figured I’d celebrate. And what better way to hit up the spookiest time of the year than by taking a closer look at the undead?
Undeath is an interesting sort of state. Originally, it was viewed [...]

The Fleshed-Out Familiar

The familiar/companion is enough of a fantasy staple that many games incorporate it into the mechanics on principle, but it can still be very difficult to do so right. Limyaael’s covered a lot of the problems with familiars hereabouts, mostly concerning herself with the clichés that take away the individuality of the familiar like the [...]

Iron Chef World-Builder: Finished Product Sample

Continuing yesterday’s topic:  the dwarven Apology to the Abandoned Picks, an example of ways to do New and Interesting Ceremonies for an invented culture.  Enjoy!
The first ones into the Meeting Hall are, of course, the musicians. Barefoot and in pairs, they carry in the instruments from their respective access tunnels: bronze-keyed marvels, each one’s frame [...]

Iron Chef World-Builder: A Creation Process

I begin with the music. I flashed on the idea a few weeks ago, when leftbower first mentioned dwarven aesthetics in a comment here: dwarven gamelan music. I’d originally suggested it just as an exercise in “Nobody’s done this before”, because I felt that the primary dwarven art form would be auditory in nature, but [...]

Iron Chef World-Builder: Subverting Cliche

There are no new stories, they tell us. And most of us nod and try to at least put a different spin on old ones. Coming up with something new and different, or at least new and interesting, is a hobby for many of us. And then we hit the book or the table with [...]

Incorporating the Inhuman: First Causes

Once you’ve got a list of differences between your Others and humans, the next step is figuring out where they came from; sometimes the origins can tell you as much about the society as the differences themselves. For now, I’ll further explore yesterday’s examples.
Lifespan. This one’s actually a challenge; how do you figure out where [...]