M. Jared Swenson Productions

This blog chronicles my projects, developments, and all things related to tabletop gaming. I will try to avoid rants and reviews. Mostly games I'm developing, and progresses from my campaigns.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mass Effect - Alternity Rulebook: Update 2 - Races

I had a lot of thought and deliberation about which races to include in the rulebook as playable characters. I finally settled on an even 8 that I thought would be good for PCs.

They are separated by Citadel Races, and Non-Citadel Races, and there is a reason for this, I will explain.

One of the goals with this project is to immerse players in the Mass Effect universe, as apposed to making a PnP version of the video game. I want to add an effect of realism to it that gives players consequences based on their choices. Race being a big one. The Citadel races are safe choices in the Mass Effect galaxy, they are the standard. They are widely known and 'mostly' trusted. A race welcome in the Citadel is welcomed most anywhere.

Non-Citadel races are another story. These are those who are generally mistrusted by most people, and have a lot of shady past and history. I understand as much as anyone the appeal of being a Krogan, or a tech-savvy Quarian, but there may be consequences to that choice. For example, going into the Citadel may need a special clearance or passport, or cannot go in unless constantly accompanied by C-Sec. They will be a challenging character to play, but their challenge may be what they are. That is one of the ugly things about Mass Effect, it has racism to the extreme, I want players to feel that. Of course on the other end of the spectrum, a Batarian will feel much much more welcome in Omega than a Human or Salarian.
These were the guys that didn't make the cut. And I could list several reasons for each. But the bottom line is difficulty for the GM to work with that player.
Elcor: Imagine playing a cow with a human brain. ALL the physicality of a cow, including speech, movement, dexterity, muscle range, etc. But the intelligence of a human. Imagine dealing with that as a player or GM.
Hanar: Like the Elcor description, imagine a jellyfish with intelligence.
Volus: There's a reason these guys tend to avoid combat. I'm not one for making all gaming sessions a constant combat grind-fest, but by simply being a Volus, there is a huge liability. By their very description, the pressure suit necessary for survival outside their home planet is essentially fragile. As soon as there is a crack in the suit, their body splits open, and they die. You could have a heavily armored Volus, but as soon as any damage gets past that armor, you die.
Geth: While playing a character like Legion could be awesome, there are many complications of creating a robot character. They cannot be treated or built exactly like an organic character. It breaks from the uniqueness of being a robotic character.
Vorcha: Arguments could be made to making them work, but they just work so much better as a monster race.
Yahg: Again, monster race.

Maybe some of these could still work in a later book (like robot character rules for making a Geth), but in the core basic book project, the stable 8 will do fine.


  1. This is the same take I went with, with the exception of making council-races (aside from human) off limits altogether. It's a shame on those cut races, though the reasoning is sound, it would still be fun to see what players could do with a Volus or even a Hanar.

    1. That's interesting that you would drop council races. I saw your choices of Krogan, Batarian, and Quarian. You must be doing a verge-theme of ME. Like the players are out in the lawless edges of space. I still look forward to it.

      And i agree, it would be an interesting challenge to have characters play Volus or Hanar, but it's not really feasable for standard roleplay, unless you are doing Blasto the RPG.

      Playing Elcor does appeal to me somewhat, as a GM i would ask the player to talk like and elcor if he chose to play one.

      "Badassly: I'm getting too old for this shit."