NOTE: We are going to actively work towards using the correct terms for our fantasy and sci-fi species at this time. Which is to say "species". Races are sub-groups within a species that demonstrate visible differences from other members of the species - no one race of a species should be considered the 'default' for that species.
In order to make sure you are familiar with the community, its interests, needs, and have a basic understanding of what the site is looking for we have a HXP requirement for your player account. You will need to have earned 40 HXP by the time you submit the new species. This is the same minimum HXP requirement before becoming an SH.
Introducing a new species is a lot of work for Setting, so we want to be sure there is enough interest in the species to be worth that effort. You will need at least two players interested in playing the species during the play-testing phase. These players may include yourself under certain requirements (see notes on Play-testing).
For the first three months of the species's introduction, they will be receiving a lot of extra attention and coordination from the Setting Department to set consistent tone and answer questions as they come up. This is an important time to establish the species and can cause some significant Conflict of Interest for a creator who is also playing his own creation.
If you, the creator of the species, want to be the one to set the tone and answer questions during the 3 month play-testing period then you need to be able to remain impartial when you answer them. Which means you will need to wait three months until you play one yourself - but in the meantime you are officially the person who can answer questions and further develop the setting element. After play-testing is complete, the Setting department will be in charge of handling any further questions regarding the species (as it is for other species).
If you really want to play during the three month play-test instead of being the go to person for answering questions, then after the initial pitch let the Setting leads know that you will be playing in the play-test. At that point, the Setting department will be in charge of answering species related questions as the authoritative voice on the species and you'll be free to play.
The creator can not tell how a player to play their character of the species, this goes with the there is no one singular default to how the species can be. If any conflicts should arise between the creator and the testers, then the Setting leads will step in to resolve the conflict.
The creator will need to find two players that would be interested in playing a character of that species full time. This means those players can not just play those characters once or twice a month, but rather more like a couple of days a week. At least 50% activity needs to be seen in that three month span to ensure enough interaction is seen to determine of the species will fit within the theme and tone of the Setting.
The creator also may not use sessions as a means to introduce the species, this is what the play-testers are for. This is also to further ensure that the creator remains impartial during the play-testing, even if they are a play-tester themselves, and to make sure that players are truly interested in the new species itself.
It is important to keep in mind that the play-testing phase is a probationary period, the species is still not approved for general play until after it has a successful play-test.
Should the players that are play-testing loose interest, the creator will have a week to find a replacement testers. If not then the play-test will be considered a failure. Other failures may also include inability to resolve conflicts between the creator and the testers, or if at any time the species should be found to not fit within the theme and tone of the setting, or if there was not enough activity from the play-testers.
In the case of a failed play-test and Setting will work on an exit strategy for the play-tested characters in order to remove them from play.
Every new species starts with the same first step - a pitch. This pitch will cover the basic concept of the new species, any major niches they fulfill for players or in the setting, major cultures, and will include notes for any mechanical systems that the System Department may need to review to support playing the species.
Pitches will be reviewed by the Setting department and leads and any major issues highlighted during this time - we ask that pitches be sent on PM to leads or posted on the Setting Forum. Please do not drop new pitches directly into the Wiki, since that's where we will be keeping a record of the accepted material and we don't want to confuse a new player who doesn't know that the species they're looking at isn't approved yet.
If you send the pitch over PM either because you want to get an initial take on it or because you aren't able to post on the Setting forums, understand the pitch will eventually make it's way over to the forums for eventual review before going live for play testing.
Being able to put a lot of words on the page isn't nearly as useful as putting the right words on the page.
Word-count: between 1900 and 2100 words (aim for 2k)
Your target audience is the new player who hits the wiki and sees the species - this means we need something tightly written and easy to understand. Anything too short won't have the material they need - anything too long won't actually get read and that helps no one.
This word-count target also helps us make sure that one player species is not over-emphasized in comparison to another. Where one species has a wealth of information compared to others, it can give the impression that that species is the 'better' or more important. Which is not where we're going with this - so it is important that you stick within this word count.
* Species name, physical habits, anatomical description. This part will probably be really short, you should leave off any cultural aspects such as decorations or clothing. Just stick with the basics of height, weight, physical features, etc.
* Primary locations they can be found on one or more continents. If they are found 'everywhere', consider what environment they may be found in (mountainous, forested, urban, etc).
* Origins. Why have we not encountered them in the past? Or why have they been so marginalized in the past that we haven't heard of them in any RP up till now?
* Primary cultures found within the species. You will need to describe more than one culture for the species. This would include examples of names and languages. This section should includes a basic society structure, governance if it applies, and family unit details. Relationships with other groups in the area of the culture is useful as well. Aim to provide enough basic information that a new player can readily create a character from the species and each given culture.
The very definition of a player character is that they have free will. In order to be a playable character this is a requirement for the species. This means the species cannot fall under the categories of "always-good" or "always-evil”. Individuals of the species must be capable of making their own choices and drawing their own conclusions about those around them. They must be capable of exercising free will.
Advantages / Disadvantages:
As tempting as it is to build in specific advantages and disadvantages to a species that is not how our System mechanics work. If a player wants to have a specific advantage they may use the species as the reasoning for taking the skill and paying for it with their XP. They do not automatically receive the benefits without a skill and would roll to use it in RP as per normal rules.
Fantasy has a very bad habit which is shared somewhat by sci-fi works. That bad habit is treating species as race. This is a sign of an underdeveloped species and in the past has bordered on stereotyping and codifying real-life racist setting elements. For example: Commonly Dwarves are treated as caricatures of the Scottish, and drow have too many parallels to stereotypes of African-Americans. Similarly, fantasy cultures based on the cultures of South and East Asia tend to blend several Asian cultures together into an unrecognizable sludge used to apply to the entire diverse region.
These things matter. These things hurt real people.
At the time these ideas were created we may not have been aware of what we were doing. We are now and we have no excuse for continuing them. Even if we are writing a species a particular way because we admire the background reference - it’s not healthy. To make sure that we avoid this, the Setting department requires at least two strong and distinct cultures within a species - this may be as simple as noting the cultural differences between different regions where the species is found.
If the origin of the species is a single point, such as a created species, we still require a non-monoculture. A species with free-will will grow over time and develop variations. If you don't have that as an option, for example the species was only recently created, then we would like to see suggestions on where the species may develop in the future to fulfill this requirement and would prefer that you advance your timeline.
Species are *not* required to all speak the same language. Speaking the same language implies the species has a singular point of origin. While this is a common fantasy trope, your writeup should assume that different cultures at least exhibit dialects.
If you are Stuck on Culture
We are going to be strict on multiple cultures and if you are new to this or focused on your one-true-form of the species it's likely you may be asked to go through a few rounds of development.
Conflicting groups that live within the same area or share the same origin story are almost certainly going to be considered political divisions not cultural divisions. Culture is not just a matter of food eaten or clothing worn or even city lived in. We need deeper differences between the groups of the species in order to be sure that we aren't getting a one-point of view on the species. Two members of the species from different cultures should have a difficult time understanding where the other is coming from unless they do some work to learn.
The cultural iceberg image above is a good starting point for this work. If the only differences in your cultures are those above the waterline and we cannot logically infer differences below the waterline from what you describe: then your pitch isn't ready. If you are having trouble designing multiple cultures, take a look at the topics below the waterline and answer some of those questions. Consider how a different answer will influence the group.
You may find yourself bumping up against the 2k word limit because you have a lot of details about a specific culture within the species or you have a wealth of anatomical information. Ideally, we need you to boil it down to the most important points. Keep in mind that our target audience is a new player with a short attention span. If he can't sit down long enough to read the information on the species, then it's not going to do anyone any good.
If you can't boil that information down to the most important points then keep it in a separate file as supplemental material. The supplemental material will not be read or considered for the pitch. As we improve the information available on the species and get all of them up to spec, then we will be able to start adding the supplemental material after the play-test is complete. So keep hold of it, just don't expect it to be immediately in play.
- Typical Height:
- Typical Build:
- Distinctive Traits:
- Where Found:
A few paragraphs.
A few paragraphs. Include all things requested for cultures above.
A few paragraphs. Include all things requested for cultures above.