I’ve always wanted to play a character in Dungeons and Dragons who could fly. None of the base races that come with the Rulebooks have the ability to fly – if you want a flying character, you have to get supplementary material and adjust your levels, and it becomes such an inconvenient mess that you might as well just play a character who can jump really high.
I wanted to make flying characters accessible but not overpowered, and it wasn’t hard to decide on “Angels” and “Fairies” as the two flying races to include.
Angels came from a simple idea – an all-Good race. In Dungeons and Dragons, you choose an “alignment” to describe your character.
There are two scales – Good to Evil, and Chaotic to Lawful, and you choose where your character sits on both. A Chaotic-Good character, for instance, would steal from the rich to give to the poor, while a Lawful Evil creature might be true and loyal to his evil overlord, and gleefully carry out his orders to torture you to death. (there’s also a “neutral” option on both scales)
Throughout fantasy history, there have been examples of “All evil” races (the Orcs in Lord of the Rings are the most obvious example, but there are countless others). A lot of All-That-Is came from me flipping tropes on their head, and so the idea of an all-Good race didn't take long to reach, and since I’d already decided to include Angels in All-That-Is, the choice was obvious.
Originally, they were going to simply be a race of Good people, then I changed them to overly religious zealots, then a race of fastidious rule-keepers, and finally I combined various elements of the three – the Angelic people are ruled by a strictly organised Lawful-Good Church, which can be a bit over-zealous at times, but the average Angel citizen is just trying to get on with their life and do the right thing.
It’s a right of passage for every young Angel who wishes to join the Church to go out and see the world as an adventurer for a while*. Other travelers are sent by the church to do good around the world, and some (particularly the Chaotic-Good Angels) don’t enjoy the Church’s strict rules and leave the Angel homeland to seek their fortune elsewhere.
*inspired, of course, by the missions of the Church of Latter-Day Saints.
Angels are large and strong, but the entire race suffers a weakness to water. Submersion in water will kill an Angel, and even having a bucket thrown on them can be fatal. They are unaffected by ice or steam, however, so most Angels carry an enchanted amulet with them that will either boil or freeze the first batch of water that comes too close to their body.
This was obviously inspired by the Wizard of Oz, but the more I played with it, the more I liked it. It nicely counters the huge advantage of being able to fly – it’s a substantial-but-manageable weakness, and anyone choosing to play an Angel in the inevitable All-That-Is RPG will have to weigh up the advantages of flight against having to be constantly on their guard from water - especially considering the world is mostly ocean.
Angels are able to fly quite speedily...as long as gravity is on their side and they're travelling in a single direction. Flying upwards is quite slow, and changing direction is fairly cumbersome.
Angels have grey skin, and typically dress in fairly showy (but white) robes. They have a naturally faded look, and unless they're specifically dressed colorfully, tend to look slightly washed out when compared to other races.
I was raised on Enid Blyton books, so fairies were the other obvious choice for a flying race.
The Dungeons and Dragons races are all an extremely similar size – half-orcs are slightly larger, halflings (and gnomes and dwarves) are slightly shorter, but if you line all the races up and swing an axe, you’re almost always going to either miss or hit all of them.
As you can see from the beautifully-crafted image above, I decided to switch things up a bit with the All-That-Is races. Enter: Fairies. They’re one-quarter the size of Humans (one-sixth the size of Angels) and unlike Angels, they excel at moving against gravity or abruptly changing directions.
They're just really, really tiny.
A Fairy's strength is reduced relative to their size (no ant-strength here), but what they lose in size and strength, they more than make up for in intelligence and magical ability.
Fairy skin comes in various different colours, depending on the colour of the food that they’ve eaten all their life. The colour of the food in the Fairy Homeland, in turn, depends on where it was grown*, so a Fairy’s skin colour largely depends on the region that they were raised in.
*Except for some cities which have food brought in from all over the country. This can create either Fairies with patchy rainbow skin or a rather dull brown, depending on the quality of the food.
Angel wings are big and feathery, pretty much how you’re imagining them right now, while the wings of Fairies come in a variety of different styles – huge butterfly wings, small dragonfly wings, a couple of other non-typical designs.
Fairies don't really have an in-built reason to become a traveller. Sometimes Fairies just feel like going off and having adventures.
I wanted a race to counter the all-Good Angels, but all-Evil races are:
I really liked the idea of a demon race, though. When I think “demon”, I don’t think tall and domineering with the red muscular chest, and the glowing black eyes. I think small and mischievous – more like the Gremlin from that old Looney Tunes cartoon.
Demons in All-That-Is are an all-Chaotic race. They’re small and knobbly (think Dobby) and have a reddish-brown, crinkled skin. I haven’t decided whether they should have tiny horns and/or a tail yet; I'll see what my artist comes up with. Demons stand at about half the height of a Human and have disproportionately large heads, and smaller, pointed teeth. They have huge eyes, long noses, pointed ears, and long, thin fingers.
Demons probably suffer from the most racial prejudice of all the races on All-That-Is. They’re not outlawed from entering other countries, but they’re pretty widely disliked.
Possibly as a consequence of their international lack of popularity, Demons are extremely personable, good at making people trust them (another reason that people are so often warned not to) and just generally quite likeable. They’re your best friend, right until they stab you in the back. (this is, of course, a racial stereotype – a number of Demons work particularly hard to be trustworthy, sometimes just to prove that they’re not all like that, sometimes just because they are trustworthy.)
They don’t like the term “Demon”, preferring to be referred to as “Underlings”. (this came out of an old, system where every letter of the alphabet was used to uniquely describe something about your character - Demon/Dwarf gave me troubles, as did Ogre/Orc. This system has long sice been abandoned, but I liked the name “Underlings” and so I kept the idea of Demons having a different name for their race.
The last “invented” race in All-That-Is (the other five are fairly standard fantasy fare). Ogres stand twice as tall as a human (like Fairies, Ogres came from a desire for more varied sizes in All-That-Is), are almost twice as strong, and about one-tenth as intelligent. Big and stupid are the two most commonly used words to describe these creatures. Tough, but…well, stupid.
Ogres have soft-but-tough skin and tend to either grow their hair quite long or shave it off and keep it perfectly shaved. The species come in four main flavours – those with two eyes, like all the other races, those with two eyes stacked vertically, those with three eyes, arranged in a pyramid formation (two on the bottom, one on the top), and those with a single eye in the middle of their forehead.
Each All-That-Is country is split into different factions of sorts - states, regions, tribes, city-states...Angels, for instance, have distinct areas for Chaotic-Good, Neutral-Good and Lawful-Good. They're not at war with each other or anything like that, but these are still three distinct groups within their homeland. Ogres are the only ones who show it so obviously.
These four different Ogre-clans are constantly at some form of tribal warfare with each other – when they encounter each other outside the Land of Ogres they don’t leap straight into battle, but they’re more uneasy around Ogres of a different clan than they are around another race. Ogres are the only race that are legally sold as slaves in all the countries of All-That-Is, even their own homeland.
An intelligent Ogre (roughly the equivalent of a slightly stupid Human) is a rare thing and generally outcast from Ogre society. Intelligent Ogres make up the vast majority of Ogre adventurers.
Fantasy city by David Revoy, licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.