I'm designing a world for an play by post AD&D campaign (mostly using OSRIC) and I've decided that while I like the idea of demihumans I'd prefer something different to the standard Elves and Dwarves and so on. So I'm looking for replacements.
Since the region I've done most work on is based on Medieval Italy I decided on introducing Fauns as a PC race - Chaotic Good hedonistic, romantic types not known for their intellects but sure footed as... well mountain goats (so they have an Int penalty and a Dexterity bonus). They are semi-civilised and have a much wilder, Chaotic Neutral NPC counterpart race in the Satyrs.
I'm happy with them, but having trouble coming up with more races. Any suggestions?
Cynocephali, cool choice! For a name I'll think I'll go with the Wulver. I'm thinking a gentle giant type like a humanoid Irish Wolfhound so Strength bonus at least and maybe a penalty to Charisma - they aren't gruff exactly, but they are shy and quiet for all their strength.
Fauns are a natural race but I can see Wulvers as sorcerous hybrids who rebelled against the evil Wizard who enslaved them centuries ago.
You could also try anthropomorphic animals. Not furries mind, more along the lines of Khajiit and Argonians in the elder scrolls series of games. They aren't exactly prominent in western folklore, though they are in others, such as Hindu Scripture (heck, one of their more popular gods is a monkey-man). There's no limit of variety there, and some make good substitutes for the cliche fantasy races (agile and perceptive cat-people make good substitutes for elves, functionality-wise, and small monkey people can stand in for halflings, i would give them trickster personalities).
One idea I toyed around with for a while was replacing the standard three fantasy races (humans, dwarves, and elves) with hybrids of the three (human-elf hybrids, human-dwarf hybrids, and dwarf-elf hybrids). Though the only one of those three that was interesting was the dwarf-elf hybrids. Since obviously I dont have much to go on from other rpgs, I based them mostly off of the Dwemer from the elder scrolls. I envisioned them as being a hardy race (like dwarves) who also valued intellect and skill (one thing both dwarves and elves have in common is skills, though dwarves aren't exactly perceived as skillful, they pretty much are since in most settings dwarven armor and weapons are considered to be higher quality than everyone else's). In short, they are a hard-working race who value skill and craftsmanship. As for what kind of skills, there is no limit. Everything from furniture-making, to smithing, to magic, to combat, as long as its considered hard to learn or of practical value. I have no idea how you can translate that into an OSRIC game, since to my knowledge skills aren't covered.
I've often toyed with the idea of a race of awakened octopuses. They have excellent camouflage, dexterous arms with suction cups, and can fit through any space larger than a beak. They're the perfect rogues.
Another of my favorite rogue type races is the kenku. I really like the way they look and I'd take them over halflings anytime.
You could also try anthropomorphic animals. Not furries mind, more along the lines of Khajiit and Argonians in the elder scrolls series of games. They aren't exactly prominent in western folklore, though they are in others, such as Hindu Scripture (heck, one of their more popular gods is a monkey-man).
Talking of Monkey men, the Bandar Log could be pretty interesting.
“Not a promise, not an oath, or a malediction or a curse,” I said, sounding calm, probably inaudible in the midst of the screaming. “Inevitable. Wasn’t that how she put it? I told them. Warned them.”
-Taylor Hebert. Yes, I'm a proud Skittle.
Adding in non-humanoids can a be a bit of a problem, since then armor and clothing would clearly be race-specific. Okay, it doesn't make much sense that a halfling, half-orc, and dwarf can all wear the exact same set of plate armor (outside of practicality, if the DM was giving out halfing-sized armor, then the half-orc and human players couldnt make mush use of it, itd be like the DM was giving armor to only specific players, which he technically would be doing), but how on earth could an octopus or a spider fit into it? Even a centaur poses problems since obviously they can't wear ordinary pants, or shoes for that matter (not to mention a centaur wearing boots would just look goofy). It might make sense in a dark-sun-like setting, where a lot of the typical DnD equipment is rare if it exists at all.
Well, I'd suggest a simple fluff fix for that one. Harpies all look female to non-harpies, but in fact they have males as well. The only real difference between the two (apart from internal physiology) is the size of the breasts, males have much smaller ones, although still more prominent than males of most other races. The idea that all harpies are female has come from the other races' inability to easily distinguish the differences between harpy genders.
To accentuate this, you could have male harpies develop large colourful crest feathers across the top of their heads during mating season, so for a couple of months in the year, the difference between the genders is obvious, but only during mating. These feathers fall out once coupling takes place, and do not return until the following spring when the cycle begins anew.
All I ask is a tall ship, and a star to sail her by.