Musing on Bioforms


When we give Bioforms significant Stat boosts, we encourage the player to pick a specific class for that bioform. It comes down to role playing versus roll playing, but it really draws people into specific class race combos because otherwise the bonus is wasted. As a result, a lot of interesting character combinations never get explored. Even in 5E, I forced myself to randomly roll race and classes so I wouldn’t intentional munchkin my characters.

Anyone know of a way around this?


Decouple stat boosts from BioForms – 5e has shifted to this w/ generic +2 / +1 stat bumps assigned as desired.

If you move the stat boost to Type or make the based points 8 rather than 6. You can then give each BioForm a fun ability you’d be alright


Have every task determined by a combination of two stats based on the description of the action, not the category of action. Then, a bonus to one stat has no guaranteed outcome, but does inform how that character tries to do things.


I think the real issue are the class score requirements, if you want to be able to cast good, hit good, or monkey skill good your points must be at the right spot, else the bonus is wasted.

My suggestion is to remove modifier bonus entirely and grant 18 or 20 attribute scores to one or two attributes with the class picked.


An alternative to suggestions in this thread is to remove bioform stat bonuses altogether, and replacing them with thematic TAGS, both mechanical and flavorful.

In Warpshell, reptoids have heat vision and they can climb on walls and ceilings. These are useful, flavorful and set reptoids apart from anyone else. You can create one or multiple TAGS for each bioform this way.

As a mechanical example, smallfolk can reroll one failed attempt or check, once per encounter.

Giant brutes can carry three times their size and add double ultimate effort when they crit. This has both mechanical and flavor TAGS.

Think about a bioform and try to find what makes it unique and give it the necessary TAGS.


I’ve always thought racial stat bonuses are dumb, so I second any idea to make that aspect of character creation less restraining. My favourite take right now is similar to what @Khan proposes, but more narrative focused.

In Rogue 2e your character has 2 “Aces” that are basically TAGs that you can activate at any point to have a “automatic success” on a related action, and after that they go in cooldown.

So, for example, if one of my aces is “a connection with the natural world”, maybe I can use it to pacify the Owlbear before he attacks us. This is a very fiction-first thingie.

I’ve also made a lot of custom mechanics for custom ancestries while hacking icrpg, like goblins actually being a group of goblins (if you die, a fairly similar goblin with a similar name replaces you).


Another common move right now is to split race into one’s biological inheritance and one’s cultural inheritance.

As an example, you are a halfling, who gets all the benefits of being small, but your culture is that of elves, and thus you have the sword and archery training typically associated with elves, but as a halfling.


That’s basically what hankerin did with the Dwarf wizard player in their OSE campaign. He wanted a dwarf but only humans can be wizards so he made a human wizard raised by dwarves! With the beard and all! Love that.


In OSE, Dwarf and Elf is the class as well as the bioforms. Hankerin wanted to act like a dwarf, but be a wizard. So he thought through it.

We as humans have No Experience thinking like another bioform, our endocrine incentive structure is different.
Just observing house cats, dogs, fish and birds…not getting into herd animal behavior. Motivation of food, play, sex and safety is very individualized. You might have 3 cats. And one cat is a problem animal, peeing in terrible places, aggressive randomly, terribly loving randomly….suddenly tragedy strikes and your most level headed cat passes away, and the other two cats including your problem cat change their personalities. They are both now perfect cats (as perfect as cats get).

We get a clue why, but not something solid. We figure some type of bullying behavior was occurring, but we never witnessed it.

Now think of a society with language and laws, that are influenced by things we can’t fathom.

We are playing with tropes of concepts, @Khan has the best solution to this, tags are the best way. Low light vision, massive, unnoticed, all add to a concept that distinguishes while not adding too much.

But what makes humans different?
With a point buy system it’s easier. Elf package costs 1 stat point and one effort point, troll package costs 3 effort points, Dwarf costs 1 effort point…

For a one shot, no problem, however as you advance everything seems the same.

Understanding the goal of your differences, does a better job to incentivize your players, than personality types…those they can play without mechanics.

Playing a Troll, who gets a free recovery roll each turn, low light vision, d8 effort for melee/ Strength and double ultimate when using claws…incentivizes a certain style of combat. However, loving hats, hat making, hat makers, hat accessories makes the character unique.

If the concept doesn’t make sense with the world, don’t include it. But if it does, enjoy that you have a Diverse bioform in the group that might be interesting to one of your players.

Adding personality tags per bioform, or a couple of personality tables per bioform, might add more insight.

Troll personality tags.

  1. Never Harm the young (even if being attacked by them)
  2. Eat any you kill.
  3. Avoid direct sunlight.
  4. Obedience to leadership (or you must challenge them if they go astray)
  5. Weapons are cowardly.
  6. Music must be protected.

Now, you can have an additional tag off of these!
Assume 6 was rolled.
Music must be protected

  1. Always protect musicians.
  2. When music is played, take sentry duty.
  3. Never harm any musician.
  4. Destruction of a musical instrument, requires a blood price.
  5. All songs are words of the Devine, we might not understand it’s true meaning, but it must be followed.
  6. All of the above, but if a musician betrays the music, they must pay the last blood price, even if it costs you everything.

Adding great power but also big restrictions to a character, changes how we think of them. Think of the anguish of having to kill a musician, when they are the highest of esteemed people. How do you feel, after the destruction of the most holy, by your own hand? How would such a Troll feel about a music box, and it’s creator?

2 of 36 traits can really focus a player, in having an inclination of non-human motivations.

Dwarves with Honor Vs Profit Vs Clan…placing those 3 on a scale of primary motivations. Changes how we understand Dwarves. Always with as much honor as possible, never secret, always honest…
Profit is a mesure of mastery of one’s self…never spend a penny more than needed, but don’t be too afraid of a giant pay day!!!
Clan, is what everything is for, if you don’t promote the clan, all other efforts are meaningless.