- After unleashing one too many buried evils, the dwarves said “bugger this” and moved as far away from the Underdark as possible. Their entire civilisation now occupies a swarm of small space stations in high Earth orbit. 90% of them work in material science and telecommunications.
- Gnome society has become steadily more obsessed with concealment and illusions until, in the present day, most gnomes use illusory disguises full-time to masquerade as members of other races. Almost everyone knows at least one gnome; almost no-one is aware of it.
- Though halflings have a reputation as drugged-out savants, the truth of the matter is that their pharmacological science is incredibly advanced, particularly in the area of cognitive and empathic performance enhancement. At any given time, your average halfling is under the influence of a complex brew of brain-boosting drugs (which only work for halflings); there are fewer side effects than you’d think.
- Orcish culture’s preoccupation with violent spectacle has evolved into an unstoppable entertainment industry. The largest orcish nation is also the global centre of production for big-budget summer blockbusters; orcish martial arts musicals are particularly popular among other races. Most orcs at least casually practice some sort of performance art, though some resent the expectation that they should.
- Elves are hardcore gamers. All of them. It’s the cornerstone of their civilisation. Elvish video games tend to be unfathomably abstruse, unimaginably difficult, or both; being into “elf games” is regarded as a mark of refinement, though in truth most non-elves don’t really understand them.
Do you mind if I shamelessly rip this off? ‘Cause I really wanna shamelessly rip this off.
Knock yourself out. I do games about fairies – I’m never going to use any of this stuff myself.
I love the idea that younger elves love video games, but the older ones remember prefer the old fashioned games. These are not chess or Go, but are more like stupidly complex Euro boardgames or complex trading card games like Magic but worse.
There’s a bit of that, yeah, though most old-timers were totally on board with the transition to electronic media. Elves don’t have the same relationship with physical artefacts that humans do. The real intergenerational pissing contest these days is about whether speed-running is a legitimate art form, or just screwing around.
(It’s exacerbated by the fact that speed-running as an organised practice actually originated among humans, so a lot of older elves regard it with suspicion on that basis alone.)
Elf streamer: Hey, this is Valuriagod420 with another any percent speed run of The Doom of Karum Dul Run. I know Entmaster beat my previous time but I’m gonna get it back. This game is mine!
[Several minutes later]
Streamer: OK so we are still looking good to hit the 38 minute and 23 second mark right on schedule. Now here we can slip past a lot of dudes by back rolling into this corner 12 times and then using an orcish…
Elf Dad (from upstairs): Are you speed running down there! I told you no son of the Everleaf house will partake in any of that nonsense! If you’re not in a 1v1 comp match by the time I get down there, then goddesses help me I’ll throw you out into the dark hallow to face the 5 trials by YOURSELF!
Since the notes seem to be stuck on the gaming thing, let’s expand on that:
- The dwarven obsession with dating sims is proverbial. The orbital colonies are both the largest consumers of dating sims – dwarf-made or otherwise – and among the most prolific producers, playing host to several major publishers and a thriving indie scene. Dwarven dating sims typically feature complex crafting and engineering subgames alongside relationship-building gameplay; the two sides often share the same basic mechanics, thus framing relationship-building as a process of literal social engineering.
- Gnomish games, conversely, usually aren’t simulating anything at all, being purely abstract puzzle-solving affairs with a heavy emphasis on spatial manipulation and pattern matching. When gnomish gamers get into more mainstream titles, they tend not to recognise a distinction between “playing” and “breaking”; a gameplay video put together by a gnome is more likely to be a glitch exhibition or a thirty-five-minute lecture on the finer points of terrain collision detection than it is to be a demonstration of the game being played as intended.
- It’s perhaps unsurprising that halflings are often drawn to twitch games. Indeed, one of the latest controversies in competitive gaming revolves around whether halfling nootropics ought to be banned as performance-enhancing drugs. Critics point out that human gamers routinely compete while juiced up on caffeine; responses have ranged from insisting that it’s different (though one can quite agree how) to proposals to ban caffeine from competitive gaming as well. The latter have historically been poorly received.
- Some might expect orcish video games to be plotless gore-fests. Those who do badly misunderstand orcish culture’s relationship with violence. Sure, it all comes down to ass-kicking in the end, but first the protagonist and the final boss are going to have a ten-minute conversation about their feelings in order to properly contextualise it. One of the most popular orcish video games in recent years concerns a young hero who achieves enlightenment and saves a lost kingdom by coming to the realisation that all communication is violence.
Honestly my favorite part of this is the idea of Orcish culture evolving into the entertainment capital of the world. I picture that centuries ago there was some Dark Lord type or another who was overthrown not by a rag-tag band of adventurers of the more classically heroic races but by the orcs themselves, who were tired of being exploited and slaughtered meaninglessly, who then looked at one another when the rubble settled and wondered, collectively, “What now?”
And then apparently deciding that the answer to this was channeling a history of nonstop violence into art, sports and theater.
Orcs killed their gods, then wrote a musical about it.
(This is also a big part of the reason that most orcish polities are at least moderate socialists. “No gods, no masters” carries a lot more punch when you can physically point to the decapitated skull of your former chief deity on display in your legislative assembly’s foyer.)
So you’re telling me that orcs have a culture that channels violent aggression into art and that they’re socialists? I think I have a new favorite race.
I wonder if there’s a particular way in which their gods are ‘traditionally’ depicted in performance. Depending on the genre of the work I could see them as anything from aloof and inimical to bombastically awful to bumbling and self-important.
(Headcanon: one of the more influential early works had the chief of the gods portrayed by an actor standing on a high platform out of the view of the audience, with lighting above and behind him in such a way that he appears as a shadow cast on the backdrop, looming over the heroine of the piece.)
And bringing it back around to video games, orcish CRPGs often depict the gods as controlling and abusive parental figures. There’s a popular meme where you describe an orcish CRPG as “the one where you kill God at the end”. The joke is that’s all of them.
I can’t believe Square-enix is actually run by orcs
This world’s equivalent of Square-Enix is a collaboration between orcish and dwarven game developers, initially conceived of as an overture of cultural reconciliation. Opinions regarding the outcome are… mixed.
Anyway, we’ve done elves and orcs – let’s do dwarves!
- The reasons why the bulk of the dwarven population now lives in orbital habitats – or “habs”, as they’re colloquially known – are complex, ranging from resource exhaustion in ancestral delves to political tension with human neighbours, and only partly involve the increasing incidence of demons of shadow and flame from before the dawn of time. “We did it to get away from all the damn balrogs” lies somewhere between an oversimplification and a private joke.
- (Incidentally, many dwarves will seriously side-eye any non-dwarf who brings up the balrog thing, even in jest, owing to the fact that dwarven greed being responsible for unleashing evil upon a previously pristine world is a once-popular racist canard. Elves in particular receive very little benefit of the doubt.)
- One surprising factor behind the move, however, is biological: dwarven resistance to magic and poison also applies to cosmic rays. Most habs have no radiation shielding whatsoever, which enormously simplifies their construction compared to general-purpose space stations, at the cost of rendering them unsuitable for long-term residence by non-dwarves. This suits most dwarves just fine.
- The move to orbit didn’t mean an end to mining: captured comets and asteroids are towed into high orbit for processing by specialised resource extraction habs. Bringing the whole asteroid home is much more convenient than trying to process it on-site, and unmanaged de-orbiting events almost never happen.
- (Just don’t ask a dwarf about about what happened to their former terrestrial capital – it’s a touchy subject.)
- Also, it turns out that about one in twenty asteroids contains unhatched space-demon eggs. This is widely regarded as proof of the dwarven cultural conviction that the universe is out to get them. (Thanks to @perfectly-ultimate-great-shoofle for this one!)
- Apart from resource extraction, dwarven habs play many other roles, from solar power collection to telecommunications to zero-G manufacturing to research and development. Most habs are small enough – a few hundred residents at most – that they’re effectively single-function, and all dwarves hailing from habs with the same function are considered to be members of the same clan, even if their respective orbits are nowhere near each other.
- Dwarven gamers who live on telecommunications habs enjoy fantastic ping, and are justly reviled for it by their terrestrial opponents.
WEEEEEEEEEE’ER DWAARVES IN SPAAACE
Halflings tho. What if they are the one who make music and advertisements? They know a lot about every races minds, so they can make super emotional music that makes you really sad or happy and stuff. And the advertisments are super convincing. Most halfings that do advertise are rich and are hard to hire.
Sure, let’s talk about halflings.
- Halflings have few independent nations, with most integrated into human communities. Their living arrangements are often quite different, though. It’s a matter of debate whether it’s cultural or biological, but whatever the reason, most halflings prefer to have housemates. Lots of housemates.
- Their small size makes it easier than you might think: a human one-bedroom apartment, suitably refurbished, can comfortably accommodate 4-6 halflings, and a single-family dwelling can house well over a dozen.
- Members of a given household are typically unrelated, and membership can be very fluid; some halflings regularly cycle between households, while closely aligned households may frequently trade members. In spite of this, friction is rare, thanks in large part to the judicious use of empathy-enhancing drugs to promote rapid group bonding.
- The halfling penchant for doing things in groups extends to romantic pursuits. When two compatible households meet, double dates are not uncommon; nor are triple dates, quadruple dates, and occasionally duodecuple dates. A successful match may result in swapping members, though if they’re very well-aligned and suitable housing can be found, they may simple merge into a single, larger household instead.
- Such romances are not always restricted to tidy pair-bonds; at least as often, they result in non-Euclidean polyamorous tangles that make perfect sense to halflings and are utterly incomprehensible to everyone else. This contributes in no small part to the halfling stereotype as a bunch of free-loving stoners, even among those who should know better.
- The offspring of a household are expected to get together with their friends and strike out to found their own households once they come of age; halflings regard this practice as essential to preventing households from becoming too insular. They still keep in touch with their natal households via social media, though; a typical halfling’s contact list may require more than three spatial dimensions to adequately model.
- None of this is to say that halfling introverts don’t exist, of course. Household-dwelling halflings are generally non-judgmental toward halflings who live alone, but there’s a definite expectation for them to be wildly eccentric. Many solitary halflings gleefully take advantage of the social latitude this expectation affords them.
- Halfling gaming parties are a sight to behold. A party game that only supports eight simultaneous players is scarcely worthy of the name; the latest generation of party fighters routinely support 32-player free-for-alls. It’s a matter of some conjecture whether it’s the brain-boosting drugs or simply long practice that allows halflings to keep track of what’s going on, because certainly nobody else can!
#story ideas I will never write #long post #there is probably some warning tag I should put on this but I am not sure what