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Gnomes do really bad really good
Posted By Matthew J. Neagley On October 14, 2009 @ 1:23 am In GMing Advice | 15 Comments
There’s a trend I’ve seen in rpgs towards using small enemies at low power stages of campaigns and then dropping them during high power stages of campaigns. This trend is stronger in certain genres and playstyles, but it’s pretty normal in most cases. That makes sense. Small enemies aren’t generally physically imposing and they’re usually portrayed as having high pitched voices or Napoleon Complexes, so it’s easy to not take them seriously.
What that misses is that small foes have plenty of reasons to be feared. Small races are usually masters of stealth, which makes them good at ambushes, sabotage, poisoning, theft, traps, and sneak attacks.
Because of this stealthy nature, small races are also good spies, which makes them dangerously well informed. Small races are usually underestimated, ignored, or assumed to be good spirited. Much like historical ninjas, this gives them an advantage at infiltration and information gathering.
Further, small races often have a history of not being taken seriously or even taken advantage of by other races, leading to tight-knit communities with hidden oppositional attitudes toward their larger neighbors. On a personal level, this phenomenon can cause many members of smaller races to be ruthless and unscrupulous when dealing with those of larger stature.
Don’t be fooled. Small foes are dangerous, cunning, sneaky, determined, and deadly, and they deserve a starring role in your next game.
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