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Midgard Notebook: Thoughts on the Midgard Races

Midgard Notebook: Thoughts on the Midgard Races

The Midgard Races

The revised edition of the Midgard Campaign Setting is coming along nicely, and it’s time to talk about what’s new and what’s changed. This article is part of an occasional series on the process of refining and sharpening the setting to address its development since its first hardcover compilation.

One of the earliest decisions made in the rewrites was to revisit the core race mix. The 2012 edition of the Midgard hardcover features humans, dragonkin, dwarves, elves and elfmarked, gearforged, kobolds, and minotaurs as the 7 primary PC races, and certainly, those are all races with deep roots in Midgard play and lore. Centaurs, gnolls, gnomes, goblins, halflings, tengu/huginn and tieflings were listed as “minor races.”

However, over time and in play, the balance has shifted, especially with the introduction of the Southlands as a more prominent region. We even considered adding jinnborn and lizardfolk to the options, but in the end, they just are too specific to fit very comfortably outside their homelands. At the same time, other quite prominent races might just not be needed all over the setting; for instance, the gearforged are played by an enthusiastic minority, but really, they’re linked almost entirely to Zobeck and the Seven Cities. At the same time, the shadow fey, the bearfolk, and the trollkin have arrived and all fill interesting niches based on adventures and story events. Where does this leave us?

At the moment, it leaves us with the gearforged shifting into a position as an important secondary race and with a new mix of 7 primaries: humans, dwarves, elfmarked, kobolds, minotaurs, ravenfolk, and trollkin are getting the main focus of attention in the revised edition as they represent the widest-ranging, most played, and most generally heroic races across the width and breadth of the setting. They are the most Midgard-y, if you will. They also lend themselves to a wide range of archetypes and play styles.

That doesn’t mean the minor races are forgotten by any means, just that they are less geographically dispersed, and I’ve been thinking of them as the “regional races” or “regional flavor” races. These 10 regional races are the bearfolk of the Northlands, centaurs from the Rothenian Plains, dhampirs and darakhul from the Blood Kingdom, dragonkin from the Dragon Empire, dust goblins from the West, gearforged from the Crossroads, gnolls from the Southlands and Plains, plus the Niemheim gnomes and the shadow fey from the Shadow Realm—all also worthy races. However, I think you’ll admit they are heavily identified with particular Midgard regions rather than wandering all over the setting. Rather than trying to make them too generic, we’re doubling down on them as exemplars of a particular part of the setting.

Halflings and tieflings are (for now) quite minor races indeed in Midgard; we don’t see any reason to provide a large chunk of Midgard-specific variants for them, though they obviously have lots of fans and remain totally playable in the setting as one-off characters. Lizard folk, jinnborn, lamia, tosculi, and other Southlands-centric races also fall into this category of playable but not requiring further expansion right away.

So there you have it, a high-level overview of some of the current design thinking behind our new player-centric races. I expect some cheers of joy and some gnashing of teeth as is always the way when a setting gets an update. Even knowing that, I hope you like this peek into the thought process going into the design. A poll is available below to see what you are playing or hoping to play in the revised Midgard Campaign Setting!


[poll id=”14″]

20 thoughts on “Midgard Notebook: Thoughts on the Midgard Races”

  1. Hi Wolfgang!

    Thanks for this update into your thought process. It’s always interesting!

    1- I voted Human. BUT, and this is sooo subjective, in decreasing order, here are my choices because of my ongoing campaigns of the moment. :)

    Ravenfolk, Gearforged, Kobold, Shadow Fey and Elfmarked. And yes, the list goes on.

    2- A question, to which I assume you’ll fill us in soon, if so, I can wait. :)
    (And I’ve been eagerly waiting for more Kickstarting goodness from you…)
    Since, I have the Midgard CS already, just how different will this update be?

    And if this has been answered elsewhere, sorry, my online presence is more limited than it use to be.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. Thanks for your vote! And yeah, I tend to play humans most often too.

    For the new edition of MCS, it’s definitely something that I’m excited about, because it advances the timeline (slightly) and it really expands the material (we’re hoping to add whole chapters). It’s not *required* for anyone, but it develops the setting in interesting ways, such as refining player rules material into separate volumes for PFRPG and 5E. Plus I hope to tempt people with a new map of Zobeck, new world and regional maps, new NPCs and plots, plus lore for things that were only hinted at in the prior edition of the setting.

    Think of it like the various editions of the Realms or Greyhawk. Each iteration of the setting has its charms, and each streamlines some elements and deepens others.

    1. Wolfgang

      From your comment “such as refining player rules material into separate volumes for PFRPG and 5E” does this mean a system free version of the setting? I ask as I’m using 13th Age and tend to rely on the setting for the just that, the background information.


      1. Yes, the setting book will be largely system free. I say “largely” because some DM-only material will be provided in the Appendices. There’s also some wild talk about including the Midgard Icons in an appendix, but that will ultimately come down to page count.

  3. I’m not able to vote on the survey (not sure if it’s my browser, or something else?) My personal favorite are Jinnborn. My DM (aka, my husband) let’s me take off the desert dependent trait, and then they’re playable anywhere. I love that you can really easily customize and make different characters just by changing the tribe’s patron or the PC’s siraati. My favorite 5E race is Genasi, so I guess I just have a thing for elemental influenced PCs?

    I’m looking forward to this!

  4. I’m putting darakhul because ghouls. ;) Although I play a lot of humans and I am taking a huginn out for a spin. But I prefer the small PDF darakhul to the ARC darakhul.

    I think the tiefling presence in Nuria Natal and the aasimar presence in Ishadia put those two at more than minor races, at least on par with minotaurs and ravenfolk.

  5. I’ve often thought of the Dragonkin as the most Midgardy race due to their large geopolitical effect compared to draconic races in other settings. Great article! I personally voted Shadowfey because I have yet to play one but plan to next chance I get to be a player in the setting.

  6. Thanks Wolfgang!

    Re: ”It’s not *required* for anyone”.

    Bwah! ha! ha!
    How you don’t know us OCD gamers…
    Keeping my eyes open for more info!

  7. Wolfgang, I went with the gnome. I’ve always been a gnome fan. However, the Dhampir, Humans of the Southlands, Gearforged of Zobeck and Jinnborn are all close seconds. I’ll definitely buy the new revised and updated Midgard. Can’t wait to run it with the Southlands in the near future!

  8. I haven’t played Midgard as a setting however it is a major influence on my own setting, I love all the races as a DM and will continue to eagerly look forward to the new work for 5e!
    Awesomesauce as always!

  9. I will echo Marc Radle here, cos this one caught my attention too.
    ”Sorry … what did you mean by “Do you really want to micromanage the campaign setting” ?”

    Just curious. (This being the internet, no I am not angry or whatever.) Curious to hear what Lutz has to say.

  10. I voted “Dhampir”. I’m not playing in Midgard, but I’m running a Midgard game. If I were playing, I would love to try on Dhampir Vampire Hunter.

  11. Great to see the Lamia hanging in there!

    I wrote the original Pathfinder version, and I REALLY got into the Lamia history, culture and religion :)

  12. I voted kobold, has been my favorite race since the early days of 5e, and it’s nice to see a campaign setting where they are an actual “main” race, like I been asking wizards to do for 10 years. I just discovered this recently (I haven’t been to kobold quarterly in a very long time and just now discovered that it became kobold press) so I’m hype to see what this setting is about.

    1. James, you know there will be! Paizo developer Amanda Hamon Kunz is leading the charge on an entire BOOK of PFRPG material, aimed at compiling and expanding all the player-focused material for Midgard.

      Minotaurs are definitely in that volume, and I believe they also get some updates in the setting book (Capleon and Roshgazi material, IIRC).

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