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Thread: Stereotypical Factions (long rant)

  1. #1
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    Stereotypical Factions (long rant)

    I'm posting this as a new thread so as not to single anyone out. I may very well be in the distinct minority here but I wanted to speak my mind and see what others had to say. I've repeatedly read in the various faction discussions that a take on a faction has been done to death, is cliche, is not original, etc. I really don't understand the problem here at all. This game is a MoM and D20 "spiritual successor" and to me at least that means it is in fact going to take a lot of things from MoM and/or the D20 SRD which some might argue makes it unoriginal to a large degree from a very start (I'd say that particular combination is pretty original in itself but that's just me.) Personally what attracted me to this game was it's MoM and D20 heritage so if I wanted something entirely new and original I wouldn't be looking for it in this particular game. That's not to say that it needs to be a complete clone. I expect the history of the world, names of heroes places, deities, etc. to be wholly unique. Furthermore I would like to see new and interesting mechanics that separate the factions but I for one would like to see those based on the understandings (stereotypes?) people already have about the races. When someone sees the names Elf, Dwarf, Orc, Undead, they have a certain expectation of what that means and I personally like that, they're like familiar old friends to me. I happen to like Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Undead, etc. and I make a point of looking for games that contain them. If you want a wholly original take on what an Elf is for example then why even bother naming it Elf? If you want something completely new then give it a new name because if you're calling it Elf you are creating a certain expectation and I for one would be very disappointed if I bought a game that claimed to have the races I know and love but when I started playing I realized they where completely alien concepts that just happened to have those names tacked on. Again though I'm not saying they have to be the EXACT same thing everyone has seen everywhere else before, there is some room for differentiation but I think they should at least follow the same basic theme. In my mind at least I'd like to see my old favorites but I'd like to see creative new mechanics that underscore there differences not change what they are and I'd like to see them in a brand new world with a rich new history not something completely alien, again though it's entirely possible I'm in the minority here, so what say you?

  2. #2
    Mage of the Lesser Tower Rybon's Avatar
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    Does not what you are saying go back to the Cultural differences thread that seems to die out. It really comes down to how you want to play the game. To me I am sick to death of Orcs being the Brainless, Kill everything , endless horde of creatures. I have killed them over and over and over again.

    I do understand what you are saying when certain race are done way too differently it gives the game a disconnect. I kinda of want it both ways. A good and evil orc. But as the saying goes currently there can be only one.

  3. #3
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    First let me say this post wasn't intended to be directed specifically at the Orc discussion, that said:

    I don't want "Brainless, Kill everything" orcs either. My suggestion there was based off D20 so it's not super original nor was it intended to be (as I tried to explain in the original post). The lower units in my suggestion are Goblins and Hobgoblins, neither of which have an Intelligence penalty in D20 so they are every bit as smart as humans and dwarves (in fact they are SMARTER than Wood and Wild elves who have a -2 INT penalty and may end up comprising most of the starting Elf faction.) Ogre Mages have a +4 BONUS to Intelligence making them (on average) smarter than the other races. We keep calling the faction Orcs but really it's more of a goblin faction with only a single orc unit (Orc Barbarian) but yes, that ONE unit does have an Int penalty. Regular Ogres (as opposed to Ogre Mages) also have a Int penalty but neither of these units are intended to be the faction leaders. I don't see how one could classify them as "brainless".
    Likewise the lack of money requires they conquer and subjugate other races not "kill everything". If you play them by razing opposing cities (or repopulating them only with your own) and wipeing out all opposing factions then you're going to have ZERO income, it's not really a viable strategy to be a "kill everything" orc at all in my opinion.

    When the factions were first announced they weren't even going to include a Goblin/Orc faction. When I suggested them for addition I was essentially shot down because I was told they were too much like the Humans, Elves, and Dwarves they already had and they didn't want to add another slight variation. They pointed to the Undead and how they work significantly differently from the other factions and said they wanted something different like that. The Goblin/Orc faction only even really got any real consideration when I suggested that, by working within the concept of what people expect a Goblin/Orc faction to be (instead of replacing it), you could create interesting new game mechanics (like the Undead) by doing such things as the lack of gold income/upkeep, "super settlers", and buildings based on city size. I'm not saying my ideas need to be taken but if something is going to be called a Goblin or Orc faction then I would like it to be recognizable to me (and maybe I'm alone in this) as such no matter whose ideas are taken. Likewise if I had to struggle to come up with interesting mechanics to even get the Goblin/orc faction considered I will be highly disappointed if whatever we end up with doesn't include at least some interesting new game mechanics (again, they don't have to be the specific ones I suggested though). What I don't understand is the concept that people want a new and different take on Orcs. I'm by no means against a new and different faction, my point is just that if it's new and different why call it orcs at all. Why not come up with a new and different name for the new and different faction and let the Orcs be something people will recognize as such. If recognizable orcs are too cliche and undesirable then they'll lose the polls on who to include anyway, maybe to a new and different race.

  4. #4
    I think this will be very interesting to see how it all comes down and adds as a whole regarding the upcoming races that will be in or left out.This is going to be a tough balancing between staying true to some degree with good old Master of Magic and including new and creative ideas,which is of course what the devs want to do as well.
    At this point its toally unclear what the devs get out of the kickstarter campaign or what stretch goals can be reached and how the game will sell for upcoming dlcs/expansion.In other words: no one can tell how many races we will see in the end.

    I think it would be pretty interesting to look at the olds races from mom and see which races people really did like and which can be safely left out.You would then have an overall number of "important" races and could probably better anticipate how many completely new races could safely make it in.Based on these numbers,some decisions about creatively changing existing old school races to something slightly different,could probably be made easier.

    Now,just for reference,Mom did include a whole bunch of races:14

    High Elves
    High Men
    Dark Elves

    It looks like Elves,High Men,Dwarves,Orcs and Draconians will be in eventually.
    About the rest i have the following thoughts:

    -Trolls can be left out and make it into Orcs
    -Beastmen i did like in Mom but can be switched to a Minotaurs race
    -Dark Elves have been my favorite race,i want them in
    -Gnolls...i always forgot these were in mom.Never played them once.Didnt like them.Can be left out.
    -Lizardmen have the nice water walking thing...but might be merged with draconians somehow.Have to be in at least in some way imo
    -Halflings,not my favorite.But i guess some people did like them.Should be in,at least in some way.
    -Barbarians,interesting race in mom,but not very important.After all u can just make subcultures of existing races barbarian like or barbaric orcs.
    -Nomads,same,just a subculture of Humans/Highmen.I liked them in Mom,but i feel they could be left out
    -Klackons,i think they have been poorly made in mom,lots of room to make a more creative insectoid hive mind race in Wom.I did like them a lot in Master of Orion 2 though

    To sum it up,my ranking of the mom races that should make it in the game would go like this:
    (High Men,Orcs,Draconians,Elves,Dwarves have been left out)
    1.Dark Elves
    2.Beastmen as Minotaurs
    3.Klackonlike insectoid race would add flavour
    (4).Halfings and Lizardmen have to be in at least in some way
    (5.) trolls should merge with orcs

    The rest can be left out or might make appearances as subcultures.
    Thats already 3 more mom races i want in,which makes it a total of 9 races..and thats even before looking at some of the great ideas for new races.
    Some tough decisions...
    Last edited by Mardagg; 04-08-2013 at 10:55 PM.

  5. #5
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    Essentially MoM's army list has the same base units with a few special units. This boils down like this:

    Barbarians - Berzerkers
    Gnolls - Wolf Riders
    Halflings - Slingers
    High Elves - Longbowmen, Elven Lords, Pegasai riders
    High Men - Paladins
    Klackons - Stag Beetle
    Lizardmen - Javelineers, Dragon Turtles
    Nomads - Rangers, Horsebowmen, Griffons
    Orcs - Wyvern Riders
    Beastman - Centaurs, Manticores, Minotaurs
    Dark Elf - Nightblades, Warlocks, Nightmares
    Draconians - Air Ship, Doom Drakes
    Dwarves - Hammerhands, Golem, Steam Cannon
    Trolls - War Trolls, War Mammoths

    Dwarves have a Berzerker unit now as well as Orc Barbarians in the proposed Goblin/Orc faction so that ones covered.
    The proposed Goblin/Orc faction also has Wolf Riders so that covers the Gnoll faction unique unit
    I still think slingers should come in with Halflings but they are a low priority for me personally.
    High Elves I hope will stay and while Longbowmen and Elven Lords are really just tweaked basic units, Pegasai riders I believe will be in.
    High Men are in with Paladins.
    An insect based race to replace Klackons has been talked about but the details haven't solidified yet. It's almost certainly a DLC race I suspect though I would actually prefer them before Halflings.
    Lizardmen and Draconians have been proposed to be merged including the Dragon Turtles of the Lizardmen and kind of a merger of the Wyvern Riders of Orcs and the Doom Drakes into a single Wyvern unit.
    The Rangers and Horsebowmen of the Nomads have been proposed as part of a Sylvan Elf type faction.
    Dark Elves have been proposed as D20 Drow.
    The Proposed Dwarves have Golems and Rune Cannons
    Trolls I agree could be folded into the Goblin/Orc faction
    I think that covers just about everything except beastmen and griffons (although those have been suggested as paladin mounts) and I would hope they make the initial game as monsters in ruins and such if not on a faction list. To me beastmen in MoM were kind of a mish-mash of seemingly unrelated monster races which I'd like to either see as just monsters to be summoned or charmed. I'm no opposed into making a Minotaur or Centaur faction though just one for each instead of a mish-mash.

    So that leaves us with:
    High Men
    Sylvan Elf?
    High Elves
    Gnome (speampunk influence)

    Above the line I believe are already in. Below are additional ones in order of my personal preference so take it with a grain of salt. I'd like to see all of these in before entirely new races myself. You'll also note Gnome was added because this game takes D20 influence (thus the Drow for dark elves) as well and it's the one core D20 race otherwise missing... I even place it's inclusion above Halflings personally.

    Again though the idea here is to pay tribute to the core MoM and D20 races without just copying them exactly but there really seems to be a push to make something completely new and different which I freankly don't understand. Not that I'm opposed to new and different, there are 11 races on that list and in a year or two (post release) I'd like to see 20 plus with all the DLC options rofl!

  6. #6
    Mage of the Lesser Tower Rybon's Avatar
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    Hey I am not saying change everything. But here is what I see.

    High High= Typical Human really nothing that breaks the mold.
    Sylvan Elfs = Typical elf really nothing that breaks the mold.
    Dwarf= Typical Dwarf really nothing that breaks the mold. Maybe the Golem Ram, but even then it fits the race.
    Undead= Minor Change to how the City Runs and Taking the City. Pretty Typical otherwise.

    Orcs, other than the moving City Idea, is pretty typical Orc. Granted the whole moving City Idea is pretty cool and as far as I can see could be used for which ever Culture wins the vote.

    Draconian Typical Dragoniod really nothing that breaks the mold. Two pretty cool cultures were present, but it comes down to the units are pretty typical, and other than cost will play like the first three.

    The biggest problem I see is there is only one clear cut evil race undead. Depending on the Vote the Orcs could end up Noble. In the end I guess it is not a huge deal. In Civ games no one is really evil and you still attack the some, so in the end I guess it not a huge deal not to have more evil races.

    To be fair at this point there are not many people commenting on the race, typical no more than 20 people. So ideas have not taken on a concrete theme.

    I don't really see us going to far off the beaten path at this point. In the end it really comes down to what can Wasteland do. They are 8 months out from delievery if everything goes well. At this point Aaron really needs to set direction and then let us debate what we like don't like in a frame of what can and can't be done.

    I would love to see the following
    Dark Elf

  7. #7
    Archmage of the Central Tower Happerry's Avatar
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    I liked the Klackons myself.. you might be seeing an Insectoid list from me soon.

  8. #8
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    @Rybon, I want to be sure I understand what you are saying.
    Do you see "Typical XXX really nothing that breaks the mold" as a bad thing?
    If not then you are not one of the commenters I was referring to.
    If you do see it is bad then what are you expecting and why bother calling them Elves, Dwarves, etc if they are something completely new?
    Also I consider the way the undead work to be a significant change yet you call it minor. Can you give me an example of what it would take for a change to not be minor to you? Likewise I thought each of the three orc suggestions were pretty big and together very significant but you completely ignore the lack of gold and connection between population size and buildings and only note the super settlers. Again, I'd really like to know what you consider a major change. I would also like to make clear the original post was not directed at people offering new ideas. It was directed at people saying they didn't think we should use ideas because they were done before, typical, cliche, etc.

  9. #9
    Mage’s Assistant
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    The thing with changing stereotypical races is that they have been seen many times and thus some people may have grown bored of them. At the same time, the power of the stereotype is that people are instantly familiar with them, so it doesn't alienate them from the game. If all the factions were new in a completely bizarre way, it may make it difficult to grasp the basic concept of the faction and how to play them, which may lead to a bad playing experience and thus a person not liking the game. The point with having somewhat/mostly stereotypical factions or races is that people will have something to grasp at them, but if you change the mold a bit, it will seem fresh and they will be like "ooh, I've never seen this before, cool." The power of novelty is great as well, but novelty for its on sake is pointless, just as a stereotype for its own sake is pointless. So if you do change a stereotype(yet use the same name), it ought to have a purpose and should spring from the stereotype itself. The end result is that the faction should be interesting in its own right, not simply because it adheres to the stereotype or goes away from it. As such, if you do use the stereotype itself, it should have a great deal of influence on the faction, not just a marginal cosmetic one. Some aspect that completely changes the way the faction works. If dwarves are just short brawny humans, its boring, but if the dwarves have a game mechanically distinct form that clearly makes playing as dwarves feel like you're playing as dwarves and that it feels different from playing as humans or elves or whatnot, then its good. What could the distinction be? Almost anything really. If all dwarven units are fast at moving in mountains, that may be enough to make them distinct, if all other races are very poor at it, since it'd naturally lead to dwarven defences being set on mountainous areas since they have a clear advantage other races lack. But it might also be a pointless distinction, if mountains are rare and don't have anything that sets them apart from plains. Who cares if all dwarves are mountaineers if there are only a few tiles of mountains in your lands and it has no effect in combat. If that is the case, then dwarves are simply humans. At the same time, if the dwarves are changed a bit from their normal stereotype, they may feel different to play with even if there is no true game mechanical distinction to them. This is why the cultural aspects are pretty important, as they work as a back-up in the worst case scenario. If your randomly generated map happens to have a low amount of mountains, the dwarves should still feel different from the other races, even if they aren't that different on the grand mechanical scope of things.

    Being a spiritual successor to MOM and d20 doesn't mean it will be a literal successor. The spirit of both MOM and d20 have little to do with the races themselves. Look at MOM orcs for example. They're everything you'd think an orc not to be. Weak in combat, but very civilized, being the only race to build every building, such as universities. The reason why they're called orcs in the game is a great mystery, and going by what you said, indeed, they should not have been called orcs. It is in a complete contradiction to what d20 orcs are, so regardless of how you portray orcs, either a MOM player or a d20 player will be baffled at how the orcs are so different than what he expected. As such I don't think the factions should specifically cater to preconceptions by MOM or d20 players. If the game is to stand, it has to stand on its own two feet, not by leaning on the giant that is MOM.

    While I do agree that it's wrong to refuse using stereotypical/cliche ideas, it's equally wrong to refuse to use ideas that are radically different. Whether something has merit should be determined by the thing itself, not by the preconceptions had on them. To me the biggest crime for a faction is that it is too similar to any other faction. This was sometimes the case in MOM, where the difference between orcs and high men was a few units as they were identical in combat stats. At other times, the difference was great, even if the units were mostly the same, since the combat stats were radically different. Lizardmen, beastmen, trolls, dark elves, draconians and the like had units that were all very unique and distinct, so they played different, even if the unit roster was technically almost identical. All of them could get spearmen, but the difference between a troll and a dark elf spearman is huge. Therefore all the factions should be chosen by their unique gameplay, whether it comes from strategic/global stuff(like different mechanics for cities, moving cities, or such) or from tactical(units that are very different from other factions). This may mean that you must change the stereotype if its too similar(thus boring gameplay wise) to the other races. Elves and humans share many similarities in the generic stereotype level(in d20 the differences are quite minimal). Yet if you base the humans on chinese culture and the elves in irish fae culture, they will be radically different, yet still recognizable as their stereotypes. If elven units are allergic to iron(as they were in irish lore), it will be a radically different gameplay mechanic and rarely used for elves in the stereotypical sense, but it is not altogether alien to the concept of an elf.

    In the end, I don't particularly care if a race is stereotypical or not, so long as its fun and different to play from the other races.

  10. #10
    Moderator Asmodai's Avatar
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    I would just like to make clear that my posts on this topic are not intended to reject new and different ideas. My primary point was directed to those who would reject ideas primarily because they were typical, cliche, etc. For those offering new ideas I welcome them, the more ideas the better! That said though I do question why bother using the old name for your new ideas, just name your new race with a new name so those of us who like the old races recognize them as such when we see them. If the old race is really so boring compared to the new race, it should lose the polls for inclusion in the game anyway.

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