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Who (or What) Are
Races in MMOs
Character races have been a part
of role playing games ever since the first pen and paper RPG, Dungeons
and Dragons. In D&D the races were largely drawn from Tolkien,
although with some modification. There were elves, dwarves, half-orcs,
and halflings (originally called hobbits until the Tolkien estate
forced them to change it). Other pen and paper role playing games
followed suit in giving players a choice of what race to play.
It was then quite natural that with the introduction of MMORPGs that
character races would be a part of them. And the influence of both
D&D and Tolkien could be seen in those MMOs. EverQuest had several
character races to choose from, including several varieties of elves,
the dwarves, and even barbarians.
Of course, the character races in MMOs are usually drawn from folklore
and mythology. Elves and dwarves did not originate with Tolkien. In
German mythology the elves were beings below the gods, but worshipped
nonetheless. Also from German mythology, dwarves were beings who were
short in stature, but skilled in working metal. While they weren't
worshipped like the elves, they were still beings more powerful than
mere mortals. Other character races seen in many MMOs (ogres, giants,
et al) are also drawn from mythology, folklore, and fairy tales.
href="http://vanguard.tentonhammer.com/modules.php?set_albumName=album04&id=Thestran_human_diversity&op=modload&name=Gallery&file=index&include=view_photo.php"> alt="Thestran humans"
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hspace="4" vspace="2">Like other MMOs, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
has its share of character races. There are different varieties of
elves (high elves, dark elves, wood elves, and so on); the dwarves,
halflings, orcs, and goblins. It also has its share of character races
that won't be found in other MMOs. Even in these cases, however, they
are often based on mythology and folklore. The Raki are a fox-like
people on the continent of Kojan. I can't help but be reminded of the
foxes of Japanese folklore. The Vulmane, a character race found on the
continent of Thestra, are a wolf like people, bringing to mind the
werewolves found in the legends of many peoples. Vanguard also has a
variety of different humans that one can play.
Indeed, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes has many character races available to
players. Of course, the question is whether players actually need many,
many character races to choose from. While I have not been playing MMOs
that long, I have had a good deal of experience with pen and paper role
playing games. And it always seemed to me that some character races
were much more popular than others. In the group I played D&D with,
elves and dwarves were always the most popular races to play besides
humans. Indeed, I probably played more elves than humans. On the other
hand, there was only one player in my group who played halflings on a
regular basis (in fact, his penchant for halflings became a bit of a
running joke with our group). I don't recall anyone playing a gnome or
half orc in any of our D&D games.
Just as various character races were unpopular with my D&D group, I
would imagine various character races would not be quite as popular in
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. While I have no doubt that the dwarves and
various types of elves will be popular, I have to ponder how popular
gnomes, goblins, or the Raki will be. It seems to me that href="http://vanguard.tentonhammer.com/modules.php?set_albumName=album04&id=Orc_diversity&op=modload&name=Gallery&file=index&include=view_photo.php"> alt="Orcs"
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hspace="4" vspace="2"> the same thing will happen that did with my
old D&D group. Some character races will be so popular that players
will meet with them regularly. I doubt there are too many MMO players
who have not met elves or dwarves in a game--if they haven't, then they
must not be playing a fantasy oriented MMO. On the other hand, there
will also be character races that one will meet with very rarely. Right
now I think it is too soon to say what those races might be in Vanguard.
Even though there will inevitably be character races that will not be
as popular as some of the others. Even though there will probably be
some character races that people almost never play, I must say that I
do favor MMORPGs having many character races. In that respect, I think
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes is making the right choice. It has several
character races which one can choose from.
Ultimately, to me it comes down to a matter of choice. To go back to
the example of my old D&D group, most of us never played halflings,
but there was that one fellow who did. He preferred playing halflings
to any other race, including humans. Who is to say that in Vanguard:
Saga of Heroes that there will not be players who will develop a
preference for the Vulmane or Thestran barbarians? To me anything in an
MMO that allows a player to play precisely the character he or she
wants is a good thing. That just doesn't mean choices in classes, but
choices in character races as well.
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