night_druid wrote:The various D&D races (those we keep, and whatever races we create) did not evolve naturally on the world, or were created there. Most, if not all, came from elsewhere, via portals, sky ships, what have you. In a way, the whole world has become a cosmic melting pot of hundreds of races & critters from across the cosmos. It has taken on the nickname "the Piazza" or somesuch thing (although this may not need to be the official name).
I like this idea* and not just because the Spelljammer fan in me wants to create a "homeworld" for every race. I also love it because these different places (that are away from the "default" world) can have different physical (and magical and/or spiritual) laws that can be used to explain why their native creatures are radically different from creatures on the normal world.* = Apart from calling this "Piazza World" - I think maybe you could have a "Piazza" that had a similar role to Sigil - or something like that - but the world shouldn't be focused on that to the extent that the Forgotten Realms is named after what it isn't.
Take elves (and their immortallity) for example. As one of many non-immortal races, that seems a little odd, but "build" them on a plane, planet or dimension where everything
is immortal and elves are just a bog standard humanoid race. You could even sell them as the "alternate humans" from a parallel world (if you wanted to).
Now if you pick up a race of immortal elves and then dump them onto a planet where they are the only (or one of the only) races that is immortal, you give them a new and interesting twist. They take on the curse of having to watch everything around them die. A lot of fantasy sells us elves who are aloof. Well, if you had to watch 3 dozen non-elven friends wither and die, and that just was not normal for you, maybe you
would disconnect from the world and pay more attention to things that can live for hundreds of years (like trees).
Moving on, you can spin this further for an elven subrace like the drow. If you take another branch of your immortal elves and have them visit another planet, plane, dimension or whatever, you can have them get transformed by some god/godess, or a disease. Or you could have them land on a planet with a "deathsun" that burns the spirit out of people and turns them evil. If you backtrack that sort of thing to another planet, you can use that to explain how their is not a drow-like subrace for every other race.