|In my day ...|
Let's take some average adventurers from the "core" races as starting adventurers and treat each of them as an action/adventure hero from a movie or book published in the year they were "born", using 2012 as our current year.
Then, we'll look at some major event from world history and see how much these characters and their parents and grandparents experienced.
Our team of first level adventurers might look something like this ...
That's a pretty divergent group. The half-orc and humans are the young punks of the group - Gen Y, who never lived without a computer or cell phone. The halfling and half-elf are products of the '80s and '90s - Gen X. All in all, those four a pretty close to one another and probably speak the same language - after all, culture doesn't change so quickly in the faux-Medieval settings embraced by most fantasy games.The dwarf, on the other hand, is going to be a bit less modern in his sensibilities. From the perspective of the human and half-orc, the gnome is practically from another century, and the Victorian elf is a relic in his manners and language. And these are all first level characters (which does bring up a problem of the whole "different life spans" thing in the game, which we'll happily ignore for the purpose of this article).
Imagine the life experiences they have to draw upon, these characters. Imagine how their manners and mores will clash. They're all first level, but the dwarf and gnome have to regard the others as young punks, and the elf has to feel a bit superior to them all.
Side Note - This makes me picture elves as a bunch of Doctor Who's ... wearing all sorts of odd fashions and using odd phrases because they remember when they were hip and still see them that way.
Another way to think of it ... The human and half-orc are 4th edition D&D, the halfling and half-elf 3rd edition, the dwarf grew up on Moldvay/Cook, the gnome played wargames and the elf plays pinochle.
What They Know
Most of us have a good grip on the history we've lived through, and have heard the stories from our parents and grandparents about the history they've lived through. We might have also heard a few tidbits second hand about things our grandparent's grandparents lived through. When you bring super long lifespans into the mix, this opens up a vast amount of historical knowledge to the average party.
|Click to increase size; numbers represent the generations|
In other words, "Who needs to hire a sage when you have an elf around?"
Thinking about the way these generations overlap brings up interesting prospects for a first level party. The elf, for example, may have known the humans great-great grandfather, and might easily be the father of the half-elf, who is the issue of a wild May Day fling of the human's grandmother.