Wednesday, August 25, 2021

More Demi-Human Thoughts

 I've spent my free time this week working up Dokkaebi (Korean goblin), Koropokuru (Ainu dwarf), Shenseng (Pan-Asian spirit folk) and Vanara (Indian monkey-men) as classes for TSR-East. 

Mostly I'm satisfied. The koropokuru is mostly a fighter variant, but has a few special abilities, similar to the way the dwarf and halfling classes do in normal Classic D&D. Shenseng are spellcasters, but may be clerical or magical depending on spirit type (forest, mountain, river, or desert). Vanara are just a variant of my new (Flying Swordsmen inspired) Martial Artist class, with some unique martial arts abilities. I think these are all playable and fill niches in the game. 

The dokkaebi class, however, I'm not so keen on. I started out making it another fighter variant, but since Nate is playing a dokkaebi shaman, and in legends they have magical powers, I gave them spell-like abilities instead of most Fighter abilities. While this may fill a niche (slightly better at fighting than a Cleric...but not a lot, and able to fill some Cleric duties but not a lot), the Forest and River Shenseng also fill this niche, although a bit more clerical than fightery. 

Since the dokkaebi is the class with redundant purpose and novel mechanics that haven't been tried before (by me), I'm thinking to revise or scrap it. 

I could go with just three demi-humans. But I would like something definitely Korean in origin. I've been living here 13 years, am going to be living here a lot longer, might as well give Korean legends and myths some love. The problem is, Korea doesn't have a lot of original mythical creatures, and most of the ones it has probably aren't appropriate for PCs in an RPG of dungeon delving and treasure accumulation. 

So, make the dokkaebi class more like the Fighter? Or find something that might fill in a pseudo Thief slot? The koropokuru class has a bit of Rangery ability, with better surprise, hearing, dwarf-style trap detection, and infravision, so they can make good scouts in dungeons or wilderness. 

If I want a more thief/ninja type demi-human, though, there aren't a lot of good candidates with Korean flavor. Bears and tigers are important in Korean mythology, but anthropomorphized bears and tigers seem like variant fighters to me, so I might as well stick with the Dokkaebi. Or maybe I should stop thinking about Nate's character (I won't be switching my West Marches game to these rules) and make the Dokkaebi more of a bruiser and less of a support caster type.


  1. I'm not familiar with dokkaebi, but a quick google search reveals a lot of reference to a magical trickster/prankster archtype. So something in the montebank, illusionist/thief sphere. More oriented towards people than items, to differentiate it from the koropokuru.

    1. That could work. There are definitely plenty of stories where dokkaebi pull pranks (similar to many yokai stories in Japan). I think my conception of them is a bit biased by the story of Heungbu and Nolbu. Heungbu is good but poor, his brother Nolbu is bad but rich. But in the end, Nolbu gets his comeuppance at the hands of dokkaebi who punish him for his greed. So in my mind, dokkaebi are like the spirit police. Plus, they tend to have invisibility caps and magic great clubs that can create food and objects like the powers of djinni and efreeti in D&D. Maybe I should work on that angle...