Playing any UD race
Things to remember
Setting Integrity, or server health, is a collection of socio-structural unwritten rules that keep the setting being essentially what it is, while still allowing players to retain their own narrative freedoms, with very few actual restrictions. The essence of Setting Integrity is restraint - being able, mechanically or otherwise, to pursue an activity, but choosing not to do so because it would result damaging.
For example, you may be tempted to play an evil character that wants to set Cordor on fire. There is nothing wrong with pursuing this plot, but just walking up to Cordor and killing all the NPCs and PCs without proper RP and DM supervision is not permitted.
Or in the case of a slave who is 10 levels above his master. Mechanically, said slave would easily be able to win a PvP, but exercising restraint to play your role as a slave is an act of maintaining the server health.
Or a druid of Malar that wants to capture a halfling. Simply walking up to any halfling and initiating PvP is against the rules. But playing an interesting encounter that can lead to PvP, while still allowing an out, is good sportsmanship.
In all those cases, it is the responsibility of the players to come up with justifications and reasonings for why their characters wouldn't do something when they are mechanically permitted to act. Following the previous examples;
- "Ah, I would see Cordor burn... but alas! Ah! The guard is onto me, I cannot get anywhere close to the city without their blasted mages calling me out and foiling my plans!"
- "My master is weak! He should be the one with the collar... but if I say that, he will snap his fingers and I will be locked in the pits without food and water again."
- "This halfling... ngh, no, no good. Scrawny, limbs of pastry, it looks sick. Flee, turn now, you are useless to me."
The moment when you make a monster character, you are signing up a contract that says that you are aware that you are playing a monster, and you will be mindful of the air that your character emanates. This is essential, because when you are playing a monster your actions don't just define your character, they define the atmosphere, what the "darkness" and evil may truly be in the island of Arelith.
This does not mean that every kobold will automatically be LE, use a crossbow and only speak from a selection of 3 different dialogue choices from "yip" "hooman, kill!" and "ayieeeeeeeeeagh". It means that as a monster you are expected to retain some the traits that define your race as a monster; your racial culture, the dark environment of your background, and the intrinsic instinct that is your racial alignment tendency. And more importantly: a level of mistrust or dislike for the denizens of the surface.
Your character is not an NPC taken straight out from one of the lore books, and you do not have to be a paragon of your culture and do exactly as it says. What matters is that you don't compromise the 'feel' of the setting, and find your own space and direction for your character to grow without it stop being what it is at its core: A creature of the dark.
It may be necessary to note that this is not a double standard - just as much as monsters are expected to retain a bitterness distaste for the surface, surface characters are expected to immediately regard monster characters with a level of fear, wariness, or general mistrust. Only a character that has truly broken from the rules of civilized society, an outcast, may mingle amongst monsters freely.
Outcast is a Background available for non-good humans and half-orcs, and they share a very similar contract to Monster characters.
When you commit to playing one of these characters, you have to be mindful of one very simple thing:
Something that you have done, or has happened to you in the past, has generated a great level of notoriety, and you have become a pariah to civilized society. Your only hope to find stable social connections is amongst monsters and miscreants that have done things far worse than you, or simply do not care. The fact is that you are one of them. Your deeds may be forgiven by some few individuals, but never forgotten, true or imagined, your reputation is beyond repair.
Playing an outcast is not a "poor me" story. Very much like Warlocks, there is a willingness in your actions of something in your backstory that has led you to the spot where you are now. Either eager or reluctant, you are an outcast. The people in the surface cities stare at you and whisper your name, you think you may have seen a poster with your face recently, there are bounty hunters searching for "the one that got away".
You are free to represent this however you like. It may be in good form to write a snip, a hint in your character description that signals them as an outcast, so other characters may identify them easily and use that to hook into the RP. A notorious scar, a criminal branding, an intense aura of discomfort, it's a fantasy setting, and you are perfectly welcomed to use whatever creative tool is at your disposal to further interesting roleplay.
If you are just looking for evil or morally questionable character with no infamy, then Outcast is not the background for your character.
The neutral monster
Neutral monsters are not as odd as they may seem. In fact, if you've been playing for long, perhaps you've realized that most of the characters tend to fall into some degree of neutrality in one ambit or another. For monsters, it is not different.
Neutrality is a state of impartiality. It can come as a cynical apathy, or an opinion that hasn't formed yet. A neutral monster may have grown to just stop caring about deliberately hating everything in its life, or very rarely, may just not have experienced something that could induce a negative feeling about the surface, drow (or other drow), humans, thieves, slavery, etc.
In such case, neutral monsters stand at odds with the rest of the Underdark, since they may not share their heated hatred for the surface. They may still work in the Underdark and even actively partake in raids or somewhat evil activities, but their focus and reasons may be different.
The problem that may come with the neutral monster is presented when they have to deal with surfacers. In the surface, monsters are actively hunted, seen as threats to be eradicated. They are beings that are feared and reviled, and they are meant to be. So if the monster abandons, even temporarily, the Underdark, consider that both the monster and the surfacer have as many reasons to fear and hate each other, regardless of their individual backgrounds and feelings.
Think about it this way: Most surfacers gain their first levels slaughtering kobolds, goblins and other things of the sort. They have shown little to no reservation killing in cold blood creatures that are seen as "monsters". And your own monster should know this.
Note: This neither means that you should PvP any monster character that you see. In fact, that's strictly against the Be Nice rule. Any PvP must have interactive roleplaying before happening. At the same time, try to think in an interesting interaction, from both the monster, and the surfacer side of the roleplay. "Leave or Die" rarely leads to any good and interesting story.
The good monster
Good monsters require a normal reward to be created.
That said, good monsters are very strange elements. Aberrational by being contrary, if not polar to their very natures. In most cases, they are not happy individuals, and they live lives of perpetual conflict against their own homes, and their own races.
Most good monsters learn to keep their thoughts well tucked in their minds and rarely, if ever, confess to anybody the way they feel about the world and what they do. They tend to work subtly, because if they are ever identified as good creatures, they would, and should be exiled and cast out by their own races. For a monster, that is nearly a death sentence since there is little place in the Surface where a good monster can go, as they would find no better treatment from the surfacers.
After all, for the surfacer, the only good monster is a dead monster.
While there are many ways to play a good monster, it is absolutely a tough branch of roleplay that should be exercised with utmost caution. A good monster character may, and most likely will be bullied and tormented by all kinds of character, good and evil, humane and monstrous. Should you commit to the idea of playing a good monster, you should be aware that this is a creature that was never meant to be, and expect the worst at every turn. A masochistic personality or a great level of experience and narrative control may be required to make the most of it without making your gametime a form of torture. You have been warned.
Prancing about too close to a city full of people who hate you is suicidal, and the DMs will be happy to prove that point.
From DM Watchtower:
- "Oh, and it doesn't matter if you're invisible or disguised - a monster who was raised in the Underdark, a place where surfacers are both feared and reviled, would not take the risk of entering a settlement full of folks who want him dead, regardless of the protections he's put up for himself. Unless both your Intelligence and Wisdom score rate below 4 or 5, your character would know better."
This requires a bit of suspension of disbelief from part of the players. It may be common to ask "why my level 30 ranger with 100 of stealth cannot just prance around Cordor? I can practically solo most epic bosses alone, a city doesn't scare me", and you would be right. However, this falls to the nature of server health, and is up to the players to perpetuate a feeling of unease and justify to themselves, and other characters, why they would not, and maybe could not just walk into Cordor and murder all the PCs and NPCs there.
Inspecting can recognize your race
Even when you are covered in clothes from head to toe and quiet, Inspecting is a valid and legal way to recognize your race. It could be the way you behave, the way you smell, your accent, your clothing and many other things.
-disguise is the way to make your race or identity hidden. Only that way you can claim your Drow to be an Elf and get away with it.
Kill on Sight (KOS)
- Kill on sight is not a server rule. In fact, the mere idea of it is against the rules since all PvP has to be interactively roleplayed. "Kill on sight" is an IC concept, and it has to be roleplayed as such whilst retaining the courtesy of allowing a possible escape out of the situation and scenario that may be presented.
"Here's the thing: when you play a monster race, expect to be treated as a monster race. Every civilized town for RP purposes can be considered to have a number of residents. If you got an ooc warning about hanging around a populated surface town if you are an underdarker, thank your lucky stars because the IC interaction would be: "look, a monster, everyone kill it." and then having the entire local militia attack until you all died. In fact, if you're playing a monster race, we're permitting it based on the understanding that you will react in just this way...avoiding towns upon fear of death.
Goblins, Kobolds, Drow, Orogs, etc, are considered a "Monster Race". Part of the RP of being allowed (note the very careful phrasing) to continue to play a monster race is rping as if you are a monster, an unwelcome member in traditional surface society. If you can't do that, there's absolutely no rule that says I can't delete your character for bastardizing the role play of the entire server. In fact, ask around, I will do it without hesitation or remorse if I feel as if in any way your rp is corrupting the vision of RP for the server.
Bottom line is, it's ok to agree to disagree on the principle, just so there is an understanding that if/when we catch it, the consequences will be severe. Up to and including permanent removal of the character and/or player permanently, in extreme or repetitive instances"
-Jjjerm, previous server owner
"We've never outright deleted characters. We're not heartless, we're human and understanding."
"Jjjerm made that post for very good reasons, and I quoted it because, however harsh you may find the wording, I very much stand by it.
Now if you want my own, slightly friendlier wording, you can find it in this announcement.
I'm generally very happy to engage with players, and yes, I take a softer approach. It was, after all, myself that asked for the kill scripts to be removed. This was because I have faith in our players to RP these situations, rather than suffer blanket restrictions - but that is as far as it goes.
I've been seeing this debate pop up for over 10 years, and so when I see yet another monster race character insist that they're the exception I get riled.
I've played here long enough to remember the days of kobolds in Cordor, the days when many wizards had their own goblin pets, and I recall, very well, just how terrible that was.
These races were moved to the Underdark, and the policy was created. YET time and again there were still players who felt that their RP alone justified them ignoring it, and so, to save the DMs ongoing headaches, the 'kill scripts' were introduced.
When you enter Arelith you do so under an unwritten contract with the DM and Devs to abide by the setting they've created and give their time to working upon. You may want to play a game populated by friendly kobolds, where we take every individual on their merits, not their race, but Arelith is not that place. Such an egalitarian attitude is commendable in the real world of course, but it will not fly here.
There comes a time when rules have to be respected, and when DMs confront a character about this, it is not an invitation to start a debate, any more that discussing the statistics surrounding speed limits is an appropriate topic to raise when being pulled over by a traffic cop.
Now I don't like the kill scripts, I felt they strangled RP, conflict, and treated our players like they couldn't be trusted to roleplay their race properly. Yet if this problem returns, I will definitely either ask they are reintroduced, or remove the offending races as a playable option.
I said in the recent announcement that this was no a discussion, and I did so specifically because I didn't want to see this debate, because there is a zero chance it will lead to a policy change.
Playing a goblin or a kobold who wants to befriend and live with the humans is no less ridiculous than playing a human who wants nothing more than to be a goblin pet, or a dwarf who's dream is to go and live with the orcs.
To the above posters who mentioned duergar and svirfneblin, they are different, and are not conventional monsters. Really though, we see far less a problem with those races (I suspect because they're not as cute looking)
I'm locking this topic, not because it is toxic, but because it is serves no purpose. If you are in doubt about the validity of your individual character's RP then contact a DM in game.
And if you just can't stand the prospect of not being able to play your friendly monster concept, there are many very good NWN servers out there that will allow just that.
But Arelith is not one of them."
-Irongron, server owner.
The Definitive Drow Policy, and why
"The drow are hostile, a feared and deadly opponent...feared even more so than many other hostile opponents, because a dragon will only eat you, but a Drow might let you live...but in a way that death would be preferable. [...] I don't want you to be a wanker about it OOC, certainly, but IN CHARACTER, you have typically got to react to drow as you would an extremely dangerous hostile enemy (they are). [...] In Faerun, mothers scare their children into obedience with admonitions of "if you don't eat your vegetables, the Drow will take you away in the night!" and other such pleasantries." -Jjjerm
- Surface/Underdark relations need not necessarily be hostile, however trust should not be implicit or even assumed.
- Drow should not be kind, gentle, forgiving, or sympathetic. The Underdark is a dangerous place where survival is extremely difficult, and those Drow who put others before themselves rarely reach adulthood.
- Drow are free to visit and raid the Surface, so long as incursions are roleplayed and natural weaknesses are not ignored for convenience. (e.g. Light aversion, unfamiliarity with open space, etc...)
- "We moved away from the all-Drow-RP-must-be-hostile stance about a year ago, when Andunor was released. Now we simply require it to be realistic - so no jumping in and trusting a Drow to have your back, for example, but co-operation to mutual gain is allowed if handled well. Way back in the day there was a Drow 2nd in command of the Banites, for example, and that sort of thing is fitting. So I'm OK with [Surfacers and Underdarkers] reaching an arrangement, so long as it's not cuddly." -Mithreas
"Is this interfering with the individuals right to choose their own role play? Yes. Do I care? No. Reason? Because I am concerned with server quality more than individual rights. You may define any of my actions, and judge them, by the simple standards of "is this action being beneficial or detrimental to the server overall?". Or, as Spock said, "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few"." -Jjjerm
Tips for Drow
As Drow believe, the strong and cunning survive, and the weak are culled. Also, understand, the appearances of polite civilization are maintained to a degree, these are the internal thoughts motivating Drow. Well, female clerics, specifically in the above example guidelines.
Here's my best sum up of Drow life, a few facts to remember. HONESTLY, if you get these down, the little glitches in understanding the current player enforced and devised ranking system won't generally phase you. It's far more important to follow the intent than the letter of the law, most times.
1. As a low level drow, assume that any female that didn't arrive after you is your superior until you know differently. Every male is your servant, UNLESS he is claimed by a higher ranking female or has some type of political pull. Sometimes good to find out in advance, you don't want to make enemies aware of you until you can assume your rightful place (see point 2).
2. Every female that is your superior is standing in your rightful place, and is unfairly flaunting her wealth and power at you. She's probably doing it out of spite, you should kill her if you can get away with it. You are better than them all, but you cannot act obviously or without cunning subtlety or the Houses will tear your heart out on Lloth's altar.
3. Your friends are expendable tools for your own elevation to power. Your enemies even more so.
4. Lloth favors you, you are Her most loyal servant. All others are only pretending to gain power. One of the many paths to power is to root out these heretics, and take their stuff, in the name of Lloth. Make sure that you can't be associated with their downfall, unless it increases your position of power.
5. Stupid drow have short life spans. Be cunning, be subtle, and even though you may direct the knife that stabs in darkness, if there is a risk involved make sure that it is found in another's hand if it all goes sour. Every one of those scheming hussies who unfairly holds position/rank over you is constantly plotting your downfall, you're pretty sure of it.
Oh, and also #6, and the most important: Don't show your Drow face on the surface and not expect issues. Daylight is anathema, and as far as going into a surfacer town....just don't.