By - March 14, 2012 - 9 Comments

Thoughts from a New Year, New Campaign: Have a Homogeneous Party

One of my Gaming Resolutions for 2012 was to be in a campaign that started right in January.  The goal of this ‘New Year, New Campaign’ was to try  out various concepts/ideas which would hopefully ‘level up’ our collective game.  So we moved our record keeping over to Obsidian Portal, completely re-organized the basement where we play, &  started the in game calendar to match the real world one from 2011 (since there were some extras) allowing them to sync.  Then, prompted by one of the items from my Geek Bucket List, we all agreed to make a racially homogenous party.   Of Dwarves.

Like this. Until some halfling shows up.

After having played with 6 other fellow ‘stunties’ for the past few months, here are 3 observations about this sort of setup:

1) It is much easier to get the party together. One of the tricky things about a new campaign is how the group initially forms.  I’ve had games where the DM sticks us together via a few sentences- “Well you’ve all known each other for awhile and decide one day to become adventurers.”  Or there is a Job Tree that points everyone to a certain tavern to be hired.  But if each character is from the same race either of those coincidences are much more realistic & therefore believable.  In our group, 2 of the characters are half-brothers (although there relationship is strained), another lived nearby their town, mine came to the region specifically seeking out other Dwarves, etc.  Much how immigrants/ethnic groups can conglomerate in pockets in communities, by having a homogenous party, like will attract like.  And the coming together part will naturally fall into place.

2) The party will have to be non-stereotypical. If you only have a single halfling in the band, odds are that the halfling is burglaresque.  And an Elf would likely be the ranger.  And the half-orc makes the barbarian.  This for of predestination is simply a natural outgrowth of racial modifiers with their various pluses & minuses to key ability scores.  But if everyone is a halfling, then there will be a halfling fighters/paladin or a halfling wizard/sorcerer.  With an all-halfling party, there could even be a Hairfoot barbarian.  Wild huh?  So you’d see nontraditional builds, each which would have to come with interesting backstories to explain their rarity.  Moreover this arrangement gives people an opportunity to play a character they might otherwise never run.

3) The party develops a sense of pride. One of the things that I’ve noticed in being in a 100% Dwarf company is how quickly expressions of racial pride happened.  We’d make statements boasting about the greatness of all things Dwarven as well as vice versa: i.e. the shoddiness of other races’ construction or how weak their beer was.  Or we’d purposefully speak only in Dwarven both for tactical reasons as well as to separate ourselves.  Soon even Humans were being called ‘Hurms.’  Now certainly there are negative aspects to such beliefs in racial superiority however even these can provide amazing roleplaying opportunities.  Especially when 2 homogeneous groups meet & have to work things out somehow.

Although it can be tricky to organize, having a party completely made up of a single race creates multiple interesting game-based results.  Have any experience with a homogeneous group?  Want some suggestions to make it work?  Just post a comment below.

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  1. ExtendedRest says:

    I completely agree with this and was contemplating putting a post like this together some time soon. We had a party wipe not too long ago and decided to try the same experiment making a party of all dwarves and everything you depicted here is 100% awesome.

    We even just lost a party member and are freaking out because of the strong connections between our backstories now. I’ve never had that level of connectivity in between characters. It’s kind of weirdly exhilirating. :)

    Great post. Any other bucket list ideas for running games coming up?

  2. Darkwarren says:

    As a member of this particular party the author writes about I can agree completely with his assessment and analysis. I would also add, in regards to the player’s experience, that the players also come with their own preconceptions in regards to how the race should act. This leads to greater roleplaying opportunities and makes for some interesting discussions regarding alignment and character interaction.

    For example, “All dwarves are honest and keep oaths.” may not be correct if another dwarf believes a white lie can actually serve the greater good. While these particular discussions can happen in any campaign in the racially-homogenous campaign it seems to bring this even more to the forefront. In other words, which takes primacy: lawfulness or goodness, a neutral character may still act lawfully, etc.

  3. Rambage says:

    Well, we once run a full elf party. We turned out to be a spiteful group of sexually ambigious elitist adventurers which turned down help request just because they weren’t looking fun enough.

  4. FullovStars says:

    Many, many years ago we played ‘The Awakening’ campaign by Gamemaster publications and that kind of forces you into an all dwarven party (altho you can take a gnome or hin mage for good measure) and was my first foray into a non-human, one race (ish) party…. but as noted by your Hobbit reference it’s not a new concept, Tolkien played with the idea a bit altho his dwarves were pretty much all fighters and were kind of related and didn’t have a huge amount of personality to seperate them in my opinion. I’ve also played a few all elf parties which can be fun as the wood, high and non affiliated stock of elf becomes the new racial lines….. But I agree that its often a good idea to get the party away from the stereo typical party….. try Lankhmar for instance where you have a bunch of human rogues – fighter/thieves, mage/thieves and bardic thieves……

  5. The Angry Monk says:

    What a great article! Sounds like it adds a lot of fun for your players as well. Thank you!

  6. Loonook says:

    I really just want to know where the girl in the glass casket is hidden… :).

    I actually like the concept of the homogeneous party. I got to run a 7 PC (5 person) party of halflings which we created as the 3 1/2 Samurai. It was interesting to see how players took to the role of the halfling, the prejudice and the authority one gets for being the smallest little kickers of behind in all of the Realm…

    Seeing my players really develop past their comfort zones. Some had to choose to be suboptimal (gasp!), some went with interesting back stories to explain their ways, and some even had to come to terms with the fact that halflings were actually quite fun to play as. It really was cool to see how it went, and your telling of your ideas on the Dwarf has really made me want to look into some new interpretations and perhaps go a bit further in on my ideas of dwarves and their place in my own games.

    Slainte,

    -Loonook.

  1. [... One of my Gaming Resolutions for 2012 was to be in a campaign that started right in January.  The goal of this 'New Year, New Campaign' was to try  out ...]

  2. [... One of my Gaming Resolutions for 2012 was to be in a campaign that started right in January.  The goal of this 'New Year, New Campaign' was to try  out ...]

  3. [... One of my Gaming Resolutions for 2012 was to be in a campaign that started right in January.  The goal of this 'New Year, New Campaign' was to try  out ...]

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