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First things first: english is my second language, so I apologize in advance for every mistake.

In a game of mine (D&D 5e) I've created a world, Eos, with a sentient race for each god. There are N gods, and I've managed to link each classical race to each power.

Just for reference, the other races are: humans (goddess of solidarity), hoflin (halfling, god of freedom), dwarves (god of wit), orcs (goddess of earth), "tiefling" (god of fire and shadows), elves (goddess of magic), wylde (god/goddess of the moon and the sun). There are several sub-races and also several cultures. The influence of each god on its "children" is more physical than cultural.

And then there are the pahilam, the race created by the goddess of war and violence. And I'm stuck. I think that they are a bit dull. They look like humans with red skin and red-purple hair. Their bodies are much stronger and tough and they can easily use their bare hands as lethal weapons. Their skin is hard to pierce. They are quick, and they can also survive for several days without eating or drinking. And that's it. From a mechanical side, they are a good race: they can do what a low level monk can do, and they are toughter than most of the other races. From a cultural point of view they are mainly part of a large empire, but there are also other factions. I've already outlined their rules and traditions.

My real problem concerns their "fluff". So the orcs has their tusks, and a complex honor system; the elves can adapt to every habitat, slowly changing their bodies; the wylde are twins that can create physical body doubles; the hoflins are mildly psychic, etc.

But the pahilam are mostly strong humans with red skin. What can I do to make them more unique? I'm stuck.

EDIT To be clear, I don't want others to work this for me. I'm sorry if this is not clear in my question, but I'm looking for something that could be of inspiration for this race. Their main culture is set, and I've got no problem with that. It was easy. What I don't know is how to make them unique lorewise. For example, in D&D kobolds are well known for traps, cowardice and small size; drow are generally evil (I know, I know), troglobes with a penchant for spiders; and so on.

I'm looking for some advice on how to make a race more interesting and less boring.

EDIT II Thank you everyone for your answers. I need to rewrite the question to be more clear. It's hard because in my head I know what I'm talking about, but I can't pull out the worlds in english. I'll think about a way to be more clear and on point.

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    $\begingroup$ Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    May 17 at 14:38
  • $\begingroup$ Uniqueness isn't a fact of your world. It's a meta-fact that only exists in relation to other worlds. We're not really here to brainstorm and generate ideas for you either. You can make them unique in any way you want. Such open ended questions that are entirely subject to the discretion of the worldbuilder are not a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 17 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ Well yes I don't want you to work for me! I'll edit the question to be more clear. $\endgroup$ May 17 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ Advice by it's nature is subjective and opinion based, similarly "more interesting" and "less boring" are also subjective and opinion based. Questions that are primarily based in opinions and worldbuilder discretion are not a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 17 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ If you want a space to receive feedback while you work on questions before asking them on the main site we have the sandbox which is designed for that exact purpose. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 17 at 16:01

12 Answers 12

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Ancient Grome

enter image description here

She is the god of war. Not the god of battle. War is about logistics. War is about discipline.

The Pahlim have ancient Greece/Rome inspired fluff. They have the largest and most technologically developed civilization in the world. They have large cities, extensive trade routes, sharply defined borders, well-drilled army battalions, marble arches, aqueducts, and a senate full of pompous officials.

They have the best technology. They have concrete. They have uniform stone blocks for their buildings. They have a uniform measurement system. They are the only civilization in the world that produces paper in bulk. However they are bad at magic.

Usually the role of Lawful Neutral civilization falls to the Dwarfs. But I see your world does not have dwarfs so the spot is open.

Their culture revolves around following the law, creating order and society, doing right by your inferiors, obeying your superiors, and maintaining one's own reputation.

The Pahlim might or might not have slaves, depending on if they are the goodies or the baddies. Since they are lawful they have strict regulations for how slaves are treated. How much food and rest they get and how you may punish them.

Like the Orcs they have a sense of honour. Unlike the Orcs their honour does not come from single glorious acts. Their honour comes from keeping your word and contributing to society. You are not supposed to distinguish yourself since no one individual is greater than the society as a whole. Their heroes are not famous warriors. Their heroes are shrewd politicians and generals. These guys make wise decisions within the scope of the law.

One type of adventure you can have in Ancient Grome is political intrigue.

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    $\begingroup$ Hey if someone downvoted me I was not finished writing the answer yet and have added more stuff. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 17 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, their main culture is an hybrid between ancient India and the mongol empire. But I have dwarves in my world, I've put them in the list of races. They are the usual stubborn and xenophobe race. $\endgroup$ May 17 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ @FilippoOliveri I thought you were asking for ideas on Pahlim culture to make them different from the other races. If you have already decided their culture then I don't understand what you are asking for. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 17 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ You are not helping the OP by answering the question when yourself admit it's unclear. Now the OP has to edit the question in a way that clarifies it AND does not invalidate your answer. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    May 17 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Demigan It would be interesting if the slaves have a higher quality of life in the Empire than outside. They have better medicine, and don't have to worry about starving to death. Doubly so if they are legally protected. The downside of course is you cannot leave. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 20 at 12:52
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How to Create a Race from a High Concept

Start off with the high concept. You've done this part already, it is war. The next step is to ask yourself what qualities represent those who are built for this high concept. Don't just name one, but name all of the qualities you can think of.

Next, start thinking of powers that could represent those qualities. An ideal power will represent not just one, but several of those qualities.

For example, a god of war is about more than just violence: they could be about control, protection, tactics, organization, etc. So, instead of just giving them the obvious power of strength, figure out what powers could represent these other qualities.

Once you have multiple possible powers for each race, you want to filter through them for cases where there is overlap to make sure you're races are not being assigned the same powers to ensure each is unique. So, if one power fits 2 or 3 races well, then choosing the Next Best Fits may be better just to add diversity to your system.

Lastly, once you have powers assigned to each race, you need to refine them such that they are balanced. Sometimes you have a power that is useful for so many things, that you need to limit when it can be used, or nerf its power, or vise versa, you may have powers that are so niche, that you may need to expand on it, or even give a race more than one power to balance it out.

Possible powers could include:

Domination: the ability to control others through supernatural intimidation or mind control giving Pahilam war chiefs the ability to raise armies out of any population. The represents the control and organization aspects of war.

Foresight/Danger Sense: The ability to intuitively make good tactical choices by predicting what they need to do/not do for a better strategical advantage. This represents the protection and tactics aspects of war.

Synergy: War is won by soldiers, not heroes. Pahilam may simply become overall tougher when working in cooperation with others so, some kind of party buff based power system would work. This could represent the might, protection, tactics, and organization aspects of war making this an especially representative power for your Pahilam. However, since your humans represent the divine aspect of "solidarity", you may find that Synergy is a better power for humans, and choose a slightly worse fit in favor of diversity. Or you could limit how the two races synergize so that maybe Pahilam get synergy buffs that are specifically useful to combat, whereas humans may get synergy buffs that are more specific to out-of-combat or mental challenges.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is actually the only answer so far that truly addresses the actual question of HOW, rather than the incorrectly inferred question of WHAT. Well done. +1 $\endgroup$
    – Harthag
    May 17 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ One of the options would be a shared biology/life force with nearby Pahilam. So the people at the front will get tired, but the Pahilam behind them will share their force to keep them strong and fresh. Or if someone is wounded they can share their life force to keep them alive for medical care. After a battle they can quickly help their fellows regenerate. You could even have people take on specific tasks, like a fat Pahilam who shares the fat in his system to magically feed the wounded and sick who arent able to. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    May 20 at 10:57
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Teracotta Warriors

enter image description here

The reason the Pahlim are so strong and tough is they are not made of meat like the other races. They are constructed for war out of river clay.

That is why they are so tough. It is also why they are red. It is also why they have different hair colors. The hair does not grow, it is attached to the head as a decoration. In battle they style their hair into different colored crests to denote rank. Like this:

enter image description here

The Pahlim do not have organs. If you chop off an arm it hurts, and they cannot use that arm anymore. But they will not bleed to death.

The Pahlim do not give birth. They construct new ones of themselves. The Pahlim do not have children. They are "born" as adults.

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    $\begingroup$ This is what I'm looking for! Something like that! Now, this is a really cool idea but my sentient races are all organic... meat and bones and stuff because reasons (divine lore). But the idea is good and this is what I'm looking for: what could characterize a race created by the goddess of war? $\endgroup$ May 17 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ @FilippoOliveri Perhaps they were originally living statues like the above. But when the goddess gave them free will she also made them organic. So they now have blood and guts, and need to eat and sleep and breath. But their flesh is still tough like clay. tough. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 17 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ Ohh this is quite good. They were created, and now are living beings. This could be a good base for what I'm looking for. Sorry that I can't upvote you, I'm too new to this forum. $\endgroup$ May 17 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ @FilippoOliveri You should be able to upvote now. $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    May 18 at 12:01
  • $\begingroup$ As an alternative to making them a type of Golems you could use types of cloth to build them. They would be as tough and flexible as the material they are made out off and be build out of layers. Rich ones use silks, poor use coarse wool and leathers. Some might have access to spidersilks or synthetics like Kevlar-like materials (naturally their tech in cloth and thread would have advanced further). This is also a useful trait for a warlike race: you are wounded? We'll sew on a new arm or leg. You can even adapt the muscle size and capabilities on their task, giving control over food they need $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    May 20 at 11:06
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Gender Predominance:

You have a race honoring a goddess, centered on war. I agree that war is about logistics, but you want this to be biological. So let's do something unique.

Your race are all born female (honoring and in the image of the goddess). By legend, they may claim their whole species is descended from her. They are capable of giving birth parthenogenically, so even one individual can repopulate if needed. It also means that with almost every individual being female, the population can VERY rapidly expand or replace losses. After all, just about everyone can give birth.

Extremely successful warriors are given the honor of becoming "consorts to the goddess." HOW this happens can be up to you - an actual divine blessing, game level, or some kind of vote among warriors. Like some species of fish, they can undergo a developmental change known as sequential hermaphroditism and turn into males. They can then engage in sexual reproduction, spreading their "strong warrior" genes throughout the population.

If you make them quick to develop into adulthood, their potential to build large armies extremely quickly would be frightening.

A little bit reptile?

Parthenogenesis is found in lizards, so this works even better if your race has reptilian qualities. If, for example, they are tough because of scales, or do more damage because of claws. It's not uncommon for reptiles to be able to alter their metabolism to tolerate deprivation. In that case, I'd have them lay eggs, leaving their offspring to gestate in military academies back home, seen over by the elderly and maimed. Producing new warriors then becomes an almost industrial process like the training programs of ancient Sparta. You might then want them a bit more equatorial, though, as they might slow down in cold weather (a built-in weakness?).

You might want to look at Neith, an early Egyptian goddess of war, for inspiration. She could give birth parthenogenically, suckled crocodiles, and sometimes appeared as a snake in her role of protecting dead warriors.

For the violence part, Tiamat (the Mesopotamian Goddess, not the 5-headed dragon, although they are related) was a goddess of creation and chaos, who gave birth to the dragons to create an army with which to fight the gods after they killed her mate. Her body was used to make the world, so she can symbolically be a goddess of parthenogenic birth and death as well. In that case, your warriors might consider themselves the kindred of dragons.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm not too keen on these matters. What if they are all males until someone undergoes the change (sequential hermaphroditism) and becomes a female? This will greately reduce their numeber, I think. $\endgroup$ May 17 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ @FilippoOliveri It's your world! I suggest all starting as females to maximize capacity to produce warriors. If you have few females, then those who become female will need to reproduce a lot to make enough warriors to staff an army. Perhaps always having triplets (to honor the triple goddess the Morrigan (Babd/Nemain/Macha). The advantage of mostly males is the males are essentially disposable (99% of them can die and it doesn't affect reproductive capacity, since only females give birth). $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    May 17 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ I'd lean into this aaaaaall the way: they're genderless and (usually) reproduce asexually with spores. When they decide it's time to start fighting, a few sneak into enemy territory, find a warm cave and explode into a mist of spores. 1d6 weeks later, 1d10+3 pahilam emerge, fully armoured. They inherently know their language and have basic knowledge. They reach adulthood in a couple of days. Did I mention that the offspring keep 1d4+2 directives from their parent? Each directive is five words. When war starts, the enemy territory is seeded with guerillas. But do they understand the directives? $\endgroup$
    – Erigami
    May 18 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Erigami Call me a biology sucker, but I love something that would actually make biological sense without magic. You can actually have a sentient warrior race that does exactly what is in this question (especially if they are akin to lizard men and lay eggs). $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    May 18 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ About the eggs... these could be cool, especially because the pahilam are pretty human-like. So a human who lay eggs could be shocking and weird without being too monstrous. Laying eggs could be a way for the strong female to give birth without the difficulties and dangers of mammalian pregnancies. A warrior queen could lay several eggs and then could go to war without problems. There is a caveat: if the pahilam are human-like the eggs would be quite small. So their newborns would be smaller and even weaker than human newborns. $\endgroup$ May 20 at 7:23
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Borrow the Tengu

tengu

https://www.deviantart.com/flying-fox/art/Tengu-113998170

Flying Fox your Tengu rocks hard!

Bird people are not Tolkien or Game of Thrones. They are a cool idea that has not quite been done to tiny bits. I like the idea that the big ones cannot fly anymore but they can jump 10 meters using their wings. Kids can still fly. When the bird people go to war, they all go to war. Watching your 6 is not enough.

The idea that the tengu might be associated with war is congruent with their role on folklore.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tengu#Martial_arts

During the 14th century, the tengu began to trouble the world outside of the Buddhist clergy, and like their ominous ancestors the tiāngǒu, the tengu became creatures associated with war.[41] Legends eventually ascribed to them great knowledge in the art of skilled combat.

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This may be something of a 'frame challenge' answer, because most other responses have associated 'war' with armies, and organized militaries. Armies exist even in peacetime. It could even be said that most organized military units exist in peacetime as a deterrent against wartime. (How effective those deterrents are is debatable, but that's beyond the scope of this answer.)

That isn't what 'war' actually is, though. War is the destruction, death, starvation, terror, and defiling of innocent bystanders. War is the extreme of violence. War is indiscriminate. Nations and their soldiers may well attempt to limit or tame, war, but in the end the bomb doesn't care whether the person caught in its blast is a soldier, a doctor, or even an infant. War consumes whatever it touches.

Think about what that means for a species created by a goddess of war and violence. Your goddess of war and violence may well be better known to people as the goddess of monsters.

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  • $\begingroup$ It is a good start but you have not tried to answer the question. You have only disagreed with other answers. What would a race sponsored by the god of brutality, destruction, death, starvation, terror, and defiling of innocent bystanders, be like in the context of the other races and gods? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    May 18 at 22:35
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Myrmidons

The Myrmidons are, at least in Ovid's telling, more about hard work and thriftiness than war. Nonetheless there is some variety in the tradition, which seems like it might have originated with some early contact between simple people and armored soldiers, just as Centaurs might have been a description of mounted soldiers.

Perhaps you can make your pahilam a social race, bred from one or a few queens in a colony, serving as comrades, fiercely territorial and warlike against their own kind and all others. They might physically resemble ants about as much as the original "The Fly" resembled his insect forebear, with hard exoskeletons, compound eyes and mandibles and such, and various advantages and disadvantages you might lay out accordingly.

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A (sort of a) hive mind

A hive mind or group mind is when multiple entities have their minds conected into one single consciousness. If we talk about war, this is very useful to organize and synchronize entire batallions. So with this in mind (pun intended) the goddess gave them the capability to achieve this.

But! althought its something everyone has, they have to develop it. Some of them (depending on certain aspects) are prone to develop a higher level of group consciousness (let's call it "groupness"). Pahliman can only be "interconnected" with other pahliman that have either similar or lower level of groupness in a way that you can feel and communicate with others on your same level, but are only able to "receive" information from pahliman with a higher groupness; this is what leads to both social and militar hierarchy: a group of soldiers is connected among themselves, and a lieutenant is connected to both one group of soldiers and other liutenants, whom on their own are connected to generals and so on and so forth.

This trait is both physical and cultural, as the pahliman have to train and work hard to increase their level of groupness, and of course pahliman with higher groupness are more respected amongst society.

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The question needs work but it is still good. I would recommend thinking outside their main trait (war) and asking yourself some questions like

What is their national sport or entertainment?

If your answer is something like "they don't have time for sports, they want war" or "Their sport is gladiator arenas" you will end up with a flat race. And even without making it violent you could still tie them to their war traits. Maybe chess (due to the strategic nature of war) or the Olympic sports (many are tied to war).

Following that as an example here are some questions that may help: How is their culinary? What are some of their social scandals? What was their biggest political crisis? What are some of their holidays?

Try adding a "not related to war" at the end of them. They can have holidays and scandals related to war, but to get the creativity flowing try to focus on the ones that are not related to it, because these questions won't make a race less flat because they now have sports and food, but they will shape how you see them and give you more ideas on what to add to them.

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  • $\begingroup$ Calvinball as a national sport? $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    May 20 at 0:33
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It sounds like you think gods are important, and perhaps a focus of the story. Cool.

One way to make your races less boring is to perhaps not make all of them monotheistic.

One race could be based on a single god, one could be from a group of gods working together, one could be from a (differently-sized) group of gods who don't work together.

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  • $\begingroup$ Actually each god created a race, but people in the world generally pray to all gods (or at least to almost all gods). The difference between a god and another is pretty slight, they are after all aspects of the same entity. Imagine a god with several personalities. $\endgroup$ May 20 at 7:12
  • $\begingroup$ @FilippoOliveri That doesn't discount my claim of uniformity. One race could have been created by an individual god, one by a group of gods working together, one by a group of gods who are at at odds with each other. $\endgroup$
    – McKay
    May 20 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ Ok I misunderstood your statement. There are, indeed, some races that are "mixed", but this race in particular was made only by the goddess of war. There are (now) eight gods and seven races (one god splitted in two parts after creating his children). Then there are some races corrupted or co-created by other gods/entities. $\endgroup$ May 21 at 7:09
  • $\begingroup$ I still encourage more diversity. $\endgroup$
    – McKay
    May 22 at 15:18
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Make them tragic

Make them mature very rapidly but only live for 15 years. By having such short lives, there will be less of a taboo of dying in battle as you don't risk losing another 60 years of life, just 2 years before your genetics fail.

Three ways to highlight a short life:

  1. Have their bodies (and blood) start off as pure red in color but as they get older both get more and more black blotches - and when they die of old age their bodies are completely black and withered looking. Thus the more red you are when you die (younger) the more life you have stolen from your pointless fate.

  2. Make them gifted in mental arts such as philosophy, math and architecture but they literally don't live long enough to do anything with that potential.

  3. Short lives means that a slight against a grandfather quickly becomes a slight against an ancient ancestor. Unlike long lived civilizations, you don't have time to make amends for insults you made to the short lived creatures - and so your insults get embedded into their cultural understanding of the world before you can rectify them.

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  • $\begingroup$ I would turn it around. A race that becomes 15 years old values each year even more. A race that becomes old has a longer puberty/young adolecent period where the person feels invinsible and a need to change the world by joining a military. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    May 20 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ There are tests to see if you have genetic brain diseases which will kill you by the age of 20, 25 or 30. You only get these diseases if there is a history of them in your family and the general medical advice is to not get the tests if they could return positive. There have been enough cases to show that when you tell a person they only have a few years left to live, and they believe you, they lose all interest in long term goals. They give up on higher learning, relationships and keeping fit. In films with encroaching meteors, there is a reason mobs are shown rioting and pillaging cities :p. $\endgroup$
    – Alot
    May 20 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ yes they focus on enjoying life, not killing themselves. Also the pillaging is wrong, in local apocaliptic scenario's most people tend to pull together and support one another rather than become deranged murderers and plunderers. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    May 20 at 14:29
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This race could have a kind of vampiric quality to them. They feed on some sort of metaphysical energy, lifeforce or whatever you want to call it, when they damage or kill their enemies. They heal themselves based on the amount of damage and pain they cause to their enemies.

Perhaps they could even need this energy to sustain their life. So this race has to wage war constantly or they die.

Mechanically I suppose that would mean buffs based on damage dealt.

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