Sunday, June 28, 2015


I spend a lot of time trying to get my fantasy cities to be cosmopolitan. You know - How do elves and dwarves fit into a mainly human setting in an intelligent manner. Why? Because my players tend to play all different races and if the city the campaign was based in didn’t like non-humans, then it would be kind of crappy to play a non-human.

But how realistic is that? In many case, it is probably OK. Truth is, most of my cities do have racial biases (racism if you will). The Rhorics of Rhum don’t like elves, because they sided with the dwarves in the recent Elf-Dwarf War. Similarly, the Marils of Brinston don’t really like the dwarves because of the same reason (as in they sided with the elves). Meanwhile the Angles of Myork really don’t like the elves (because they consider the elves of the nearby Circle Forest to be rebels) and they think all dwarves are incredible blacksmiths. Yes, it is still racism if you think someone is cool just because they are a certain race.

But shouldn’t there be places or at least pockets where other races are not welcome? Yes! One way I have tried to reflect this is when halflings or dwarves intentionally build inns and taverns with 5’ ceilings. They don’t want humans and they don’t want any humans that come there to feel welcome. Not only that, but it’s pretty tough to brawl while your head keeps knocking into the chandeliers.

But how else can we do this? It is not as if it has to be as subtle as short ceilings. Signs on the door reading, “No humans allowed here” should do the trick. Or simply having a deputy stand on the road into town gesturing for anyone of the wrong race to take the side road around the town instead of the one through it. Any adventurers who feel that the deputy would be an easy kill (and he would) should have been smart enough to think before they slaughtered a member of law enforcement and should soon be fighting in the shade of all those arrow volleys coming in on them. Yes, killing a deputy is reason to have the army mobilize and rain death down upon you, especially if they think you have magic and can only counter your magic with enormous numbers.
But race is only one reason to hate an entire group of people. Some cities should be deemed “holy” and members of the wrong faith(s) should be barred from entering upon pain of death. There are still some regions in Fletnern where magic is considered evil (or at least certain types are) and anyone deemed to be a “witch” will be barred or arrested. Some small towns might be closed to anyone who is not a member of a specific tribe or other small group within a race. How exactly they tell who is or is not a member of the tribe could make for some interesting role-playing and problem solving.

The more I think about where I want to do this, the more I realize that I already have, but need to be a little more clear (even to myself) about exactly who is or is not banned from certain places. My centaurs are pretty xenophobic, and so are my orcs. It would certainly make sense if the people they barred were ready to bar them right back. Great, now I have to start thinking about the wilds of Fletnern again, when I was actually getting somewhere on the more civilized parts.

1 comment:

  1. Sadly, people tend to be hateful and prone to groupthink so xenophobia should be relatively common even in a fantasy world. The more cosmopolitan the area the less obvious it should be, but it will be there, just hidden.