September 24, 2010

Iconic Races

There are races that are closely defined with certain settings. When a person sees them on the cover of a RPG book they immediately think of the setting or system. This is a good thing for the publisher since it makes the potential consumer think of the setting and the memories inherent with them. There is a familiar comfortability with this. It can be a selling point all on its own.

There has been a lot of talk about integrating races into other settings. For all that, I still think certain races will forever remain tied to certain settings. For me the following races bring to mind a specific settings when I see them on a book…

Warforged- Eberron
Troll with cyberwear- Shadowrun
Drow- Forgotten Realms
Mul- Dark Sun
Vampire- Ravenloft

Are iconic races needed to help bolster a game setting? I don’t think a new race is needed to push a setting but I think it certainly helps. Would Birthright (a setting I absolutely love) or Al-Qadim have been bigger if they had their own iconic races? Will the Shadar-Kai become an iconic race (a race I believe deserves it)?

What races did I miss that immediately remind you of a setting or system?


seaofstarsrpg said...

I will toss these into the mix:

Thrall, big guy with a big weapon and multicolored tattoos - Talislanta

T'skrang, swashbuckling lizardfolk - Earthdawn

Philo Pharynx said...

Actually kalashtar are Eberron for me, but we played a game with several kalashtar of related lines (and we didn't work that out beforehand). The trick to becoming Iconic is that people need to be able to deeply understand the race and culture. I don't think your average person has that kind of intimacy with shadar-kai.