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Ent
2009-01-04, 01:23 AM
As a player or DM, do you prefer stereotypical racial borders (Elves are in the woods, Dwarves are under the mountains), or more mixed populations in cities, countries, etc?

thegurullamen
2009-01-04, 01:37 AM
Depends on the age the setting's in. Your typical segregation ain't gonna fly in a pre-industrial world (which is how I tend to gear high magic games.) Ancient games on the other hand are all about barely explored areas with little if any racial mixing.

The in-betweens are all a matter of history. Were the various races and kingdoms constantly at war with one another? If so, yes boundaries, mixes rare and stigmatized. If the races had alliances that held up over long periods of time, half-breeds are more common and have their own place in society.

For the record, I've never seen D&D's elves as belonging to the forests. They don't do anything in there. If anything, they're more of a plains-dwelling race. Unlike the dwarves, who were built for stone and mountains. Orcs can go anywhere, but I like how Eberron put them in the swamps and made them settle down. (Kind of hard to form raiding parties in wetlands, and with an over-abundance of rice, why bother?) Gnomes are harder. Either give them a small sliver of out-of-the-way real estate, get rid of them, or make them the resident badasses by giving them the longest standing empire and a host of magical backstory. Aside from that, they're really hard to incorporate anywhere. Halflings and humans are the easiest to make by far as they're so....bland that you can flavor them however you want.

Grail
2009-01-04, 02:37 AM
If I'm homebrewing a setting, then it's generally moot, as I more often than not homebrew non-human races out of the game. The times when I don't homebrew them out, I homebrew my own races, but I tend to have Elves in the woods still if I've got them or something similar.

kamikasei
2009-01-04, 02:52 AM
I generally go with the idea of races having particular types of homes (which may be specific locations/nations or just things like "an area in a forest warded and centered on a mythal", such areas being scattered throughout the land) but some level of mixing in most places.

E.g.: elves live mostly in the ancestral elven homelands, but also in enclaves scattered throughout the forests of the world. Dwarves live mostly in three great mountains far from one another, but have holdings all over the world too. Gnomes have no ancestral home, living in what amount to hobbit-hole towns wherever such dwellings would fit in, but do have one great city made their own. Humans and halflings are more recent arrivals; humans are spread all over the place and halflings are mixed in with them.

Some races would be more unified than others: Elves the most, humans the least. Different races/cultures are more or less cosmopolitan than one another: you will find almost no other races past the outskirts of the elven homelands, while dwarven halls have only the centermost areas barred to outsiders, and human cities are almost totally open. Any race has members mixed in with others to the extent the host permitted. A few locations may be truly mixed settlements - a human/elf/half-elf city in the forest, a dwarf/human mining town, a completely mixed trading port.

Basically, it all follows from the idea that the races originated separately, and would have developed their civilizations separately in specific places, and then mixed over millennia.

Ganurath
2009-01-04, 03:27 AM
People who live in the forests or swamps generally want to be hidden, and those in mountains or deserts want to be isolated. Races native to those environments like elves and dwarves will probably have very singular demographics. By contrast, those living in hills, plains, or coastal regions are probably more open to others, and may have more mixed interactions.

Satyr
2009-01-04, 05:43 AM
People who live in the forests or swamps generally want to be hidden, and those in mountains or deserts want to be isolated.

No. People living in harsh and frugal areas were normally driven there by someone who was stronger and took their land or did not have the strength to claim a more fertile grounds in the first place.

When I write settings, there ar normally people migrating, many different cultural influences, subjugated and enslaved people, and some people who live in diaspora. Elves come in two tastes: arrogant and decadent Melniboneans in large and mostly empty cities or tribal half-nomadic hunter-gatherers in the deeper wild (I normally include both in a setting), Dwarves are often either strongly assimiliated into human culture, but also a good candidate for the diaspora people (I really love the picture of nomadic dwarves riding on Triceratopses through a desert), Gnomes are almost always assimilated into human, dwarven and/or Elven culture with little to no own customs left,the Goblinoid people take the role of subjugated pawns, elite mercenaries and idealised warrior-culture, often all at once, Orcs works best as the counterpart to Elves: when the Elves are primitive hunters, the Orcs have established a large empire; if the Elves are highly civiliced, the Orcs gain the role of the spiritual indiginous people.
I don't use Halflings if I'm not forced to. They are better of when they are replaced through Goblins.

Satyr
2009-01-04, 05:46 AM
People who live in the forests or swamps generally want to be hidden, and those in mountains or deserts want to be isolated.

No. People living in harsh and frugal areas were normally driven there by someone who was stronger and took their land or did not have the strength to claim a more fertile grounds in the first place.

When I write settings, there ar normally people migrating, many different cultural influences, subjugated and enslaved people, and some people who live in diaspora. In addition, I like to break up the standardised clichés and participate the role of the different species more freely, especially without any moral superiority or inferiority of any species. For me, that's a clear sign of a bad world-builder and can easily contaminate an otherwise original setting.

Mark Hall
2009-01-04, 05:34 PM
I tend to mix... you'll mostly find elves in the woods, but that doesn't mean they don't mix in cities, as well.

Limos
2009-01-04, 05:48 PM
I don't DM much really, but when I do I don't use Elves, Dwarves or Gnomes.

I hate longlived races. **** your 300 year old wizard. I make my players use Humans, Orcs, Goblins, Kobolds and the like.

Hal
2009-01-04, 06:08 PM
I've had luck incorporating such things into the story.

In the last campaign I DM'd, the mostly flat island the players were on was mostly human, but the larger cities had dwarves and elves. One city even had a dwarven mayor. This was odd, since the setting used stereotypical dwarves, but in the larger context it made sense. The dwarven nation(s) fought with the current rulers of the island at one time over a rather impressive mountain filled with gems. Most of the dwarves living on the island were either spies for the coming invasion or former soldiers from previous campaigns who were captured.

JonestheSpy
2009-01-04, 06:17 PM
As a player or DM, do you prefer stereotypical racial borders (Elves are in the woods, Dwarves are under the mountains), or more mixed populations in cities, countries, etc?

I prefer to think of them as archetypal rather than stereotypical, myself.

Harperfan7
2009-01-05, 06:20 AM
I agree with Kamikasei for the most part. I also like what 4e did with elves by splitting them into elves and eladrin. I tend to stick the races to geographical positions.

Elves - Forests (Eladrin would live in hidden cities in the Forest)
Dwarves - Mountains (Mostly In)
Gnomes - Wooded Hills (Usually between Elven and Dwarven territories)
Halflings - Rivers, Plains and Coasts
Humans - Rivers, Plains and Coasts

The more coasts, plains, and rivers touch each other, the more humans will have built there. From there they try to spread out, but most of the time are checked. Halflings live where the humans do, but are mostly nomadic.
You can find any race in any of the other races areas, but these are where you will find the highest densities of them.

Orcs and Goblins live pretty much anywhere, but rarely have power centers. They fight with all the common races.

Athaniar
2009-01-05, 01:41 PM
In my new campaign setting, the five races (elves, dwarves, kobolds, halflings, orcs) once lived in stereotypical geographic cultures, but have since abandoned this (due to a cataclysmic war) and now live in four city-states with intermixed populations instead.

Ent
2009-01-05, 03:27 PM
What are your concepts of government for running a multi-racial society?

The vastly differing lifespans alone could cause some strange laws/customs, like terms in office and interest rates.

Dervag
2009-01-05, 05:23 PM
For the record, I've never seen D&D's elves as belonging to the forests. They don't do anything in there. If anything, they're more of a plains-dwelling race.Actually, there are a number of reasons for elves to live in forests. I went into this at some length before, so I'm going to open by repeating what I said before:

The defensive advantages elves get from living in a forest aren't because of their stat block.

They come from other things. Mainly:
-A native of any given forest can move faster in that forest than anyone not native to that forest. Elves, who are native to a forest and have had hundreds of years to get accustomed to it, can outmaneuver their enemies and pick the best spots for ambushes. If the enemy comes after them with an army too big to stop, they can run away faster than that army can crash through the underbrush and follow them. Then they can start ambushing scouts and pickets, setting traps, and generally making life miserable for the invader.

-Trees provide plenty of cover and concealment. That's good for elven archers. While the trees don't let the elves fire their bows at extremely long range, they do let the elves pick locations where they can strike their enemy at relatively short archery range. You never know where an elven marksman is hiding in the forest. He may not be able to kill you from as far away as he could out on the plains. But he has a much better chance of getting into range, of avoiding detection, and of escaping to fight another day after putting an arrow through your throat. In real life, snipers are very dangerous in forests for this reason.

-Trees provide habitats for lots of species of magical creatures that are traditionally the elves' allies. Like treants and certain kinds of fairies. Those creatures will help defend the elves' homes in a war, but will be much less useful away from the forest. And if the forest is destroyed, those creatures go away, and the elves lose valuable allies.

-Forests lend themselves to hit and run tactics, which preserve the lives of the elves fighting the battle. Since elves are immortal and breed slowly, their ideal fighting style is one with a low risk of getting killed; they can't win a war of attrition. If they move out onto the plains or into the caves or something like that, they will be forced to fight wars of attrition against enemies with much greater numbers than they have.

I'm getting parts of this from (as I recall) "Races of War," which is associated with the increasingly famous Dungeonomicon. Some of it, on the other hand, is my idea.
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No. People living in harsh and frugal areas were normally driven there by someone who was stronger and took their land or did not have the strength to claim a more fertile grounds in the first place.Yes. Which is why they want to be hidden or isolated.

Historical example: Most of the membership of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (known informally as the Mormons) moved to Utah in the 1840s. Why? Utah isn't all that hospitable or pleasant a place to live. It's not the worst place in the world by any stretch of the imagination, but it isn't the French Riviera either. But the Mormons wanted a place to live that was far away from other cultures, because they practiced a religion that other cultures didn't like.

In the pattern you describe, they lacked the (numerical) strength to claim some more fertile ground for themselves. The Mormons couldn't have taken over, say, Illinois. But they could take over Utah, because there were more than enough of them to swamp any other population in the area at the time.

And so, to this day, Utah is a majority-Mormon area.
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Generally, when a population winds up in a remote area, they would probably prefer to live somewhere less isolated or hidden. But they usually made a conscious decision to move rather than butt heads with the people who are now living where they used to live. And their reasons are usually the ones Ganurath gives. They want to be hidden or isolated from their rivals/enemies.
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What are your concepts of government for running a multi-racial society?

The vastly differing lifespans alone could cause some strange laws/customs, like terms in office and interest rates.Hmm. I don't normally think about it enough.