In my previous article, I talked about the pitfalls we fall into when creating character concepts, or more specifically how we overcomplicate the process. That got me to thinking about another side of it. Why are we adding to the game? What’s our endgame? Are we adding to the story, or introducing a mechanic? Or, are we just tacking something on?
When I created my own mechanics and classes for using modern firearms, I did so with the intent of providing my solution for balancing modern firearms, so they could still be used in a traditional Dungeons & Dragons setting. Was my solution perfect? Likely not, but I think it’s a good start. The point still stands, though, that I wasn’t just doing it for no reason. I saw a problem that required a solution instead of a solution looking for a problem.
The same goes for the Half-Aasimar I created for Star-Lord. Being half celestial is a main component of his character. Unlike the other Guardians where I could find a template to build off of and make some tweaks here and there, Star-Lord required a significant change, which is why I created the Half-Aasimar. I also justified it because it’s somewhat of a natural extension of Half-Elfs and Half-Orcs.
Half-Aasimar (Aasimar, Human)
- Ability Score Bonus: Charisma +1, other Ability Score of your choice +1.
- Celestial Resistance: You have resistance to necrotic damage and radiant damage.
- Light Bearer: You know the light cantrip. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for it.
- Feat: You gain one feat of your choice.
- Languages: Common and Celestial.
When I developed the Half-Aasimar for Star-Lord, I did it based on his character specifically because I designed it for him. I designed it to reflect him as a person. In the future, I will likely completely redesign the Half-Aasimar because I feel like the needs of the race are different when they’re not tied to a specific character.
Conversely, be cognizant of when it’s time to design some non-existing game element. If you have to be careful to not just create things when the needs don’t exist, you also have be willing to fill the voids that exist, especially for your own world.
In my world, for an example, the Aasimar, Tieflings, and Dragonborn are the oldest races, with the Aasimar and the Tieflings being the two most influential kingdoms. Even though they’re the decedents of the angels and devils that waged war over the fate of the prime material plane, they’ve long since evolved, socially and biologically, beyond the feud. However, the prime continent is still geographically split along those original good vs. evil lines, which is why their kingdoms put their alliance above everything else. As a result of this, there’s a void I need to fill. Namely, I need to link the two kingdoms. The best way is to do it as we used to a long time ago, which is a joining of noble families, often with the product of a child. That means that I have to create a new race that is half Aasimar and half Tiefling. Not all of them have to be noble, of course, since any joining of an Aasimar and a Tiefling would result in the same race, but the race comes out of the needs of the world I’m compiling for my campaigns.
Don’t stop at mechanics, either. I found the available deities lists to be unsatisfactory after I started paying attention to them for one of my players. I created this deities list to fit several requirements. To start, I was able to balance gender, alignment, and domains. It also gave me more free reign to have options for publishing in the future, if I were to choose to. I may never attempt to, but it’s better to build it right at the beginning than try to fix it later.
In the same regard, I’m also developing a parallel plane of existence to the prime material plane in an effort to circumvent the Underdark, which is cast in eternal twilight, much like in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. As a result, I’m going to need to create more races and appropriate others, like turning Darklings into twilight descendants of Halflings.
So, when putting together something new, think about what it adds to the hobby. Having a whole class devoted to being a samurai isn’t really necessary, especially since most of that can be covered by other classes, backgrounds, and role play, because there’s nothing new there, but a Blue Mage adds entirely new functionality to the game. Otherwise, all we’re doing as creators is to add to an already overcrowded pile.