26 November, 2014

Worldbuilding 101 - Part 18: Racial Appearances

(Quick one today because I'm running late...)

One of the things I’ve learnt from years (actually decades) of LARPing is that people who get involved in this sort of thing love to dress up. Costuming is a part of it (and we looked at the various cultural costumes in this world in the last post), but so is make-up and quite often prosthetics and latex masks. In order to know what type of make-up would be used to portray our characters, we need to get a few racial trait descriptions. It probably makes best sense to connect these to the genetic traits linked with each race. Since we’re playing the game in a live context with regular humans portraying the roles, it also makes sense for the baseline racial appearance to be simply human.

Nullans
(No special abilities) Therefore they look like regular humans.

Dhampyrs
(Nightvision/Light sensitivity) Black Eyes
(Unnatural Strength/Hunger) Prominent Fangs
(Unliving) Skin starts to degrade, either becoming pale, desiccated or in some cases rotten.

Faeblood
(Empathy/Emotional sensitivity) Has oversized eyes or ears.
(Intuition/Fatebound) Unnatural pigmentation somewhere: either hair, skin or eyes.
(Dreamer) Has the appearance of a humanoid mythical being (elf, dwarf, dryad, etc.)

Wyldkin
(Animal Ken/Bestial Urges) Some subtle animalistic characteristic: slitted eyes, pointed ears, horn stubs, excess hair/fur, or fangs.  
(Fear/Savage) The characters eyes glow when they are emotional
(Lesser Lycathrope) Subtle animalistic traits become more pronounced, looks like a hybrid between animal and human.

Avatars
(Healing/Dependency) The character looks older and weaker when alone, but younger and more vital when in the presence of crowds.  
(Aura/Faithbound) There is something otherworldly about the character that people can’t put their finger on.
(Demigod) St Elmo’s Fire crackles around the character when they are emotionally charged.

Incarnates
(Sense Magic/Magic susceptible) Glows in the presence of magic
(Superstitions) Skin has an elemental appearance to it (faintly metallic, rocky, wet/slippery, burnt, leafy, etc.)
(Totem) There is something distinctly inhuman about the character (wings, a tail, a tail instead of legs, extra arms, etc.) this inhuman feature has no beneficial function unless bought separately as a skill. Not animalistic in the way of Wyldkin, these features are distinctly unnatural.

Purebloods
Purebloods look no different from Nullans, they look like any other human, in all the range of skin, hair and eye colors that might entail.


Combining the racial traits and cultural traits gives us the general appearance of each character in our world. Specific characters will deviate slightly from these norms especially with regard to skin/hair/eye colours, and I’ve made sure not to stereotype any of the groups according to body mass or height, and certainly not by gender. This way, anyone could theoretically play anything. 
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