Right now, I'm balancing the prep work of two games: my library 4th edition game for new teen gamers and a potential old-school sandbox game for my college friends back in Ohio. None of us have ever played anything older than AD&D 2nd Edition, so this is going to be a learning experience for everyone involved.
The campaign world that I've been working on over the past few weeks is very much inspired by Jeff Rients' Cinder, Terry Pratchett's Discworld, Indiana Jones, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser and other similarly pulpy adventure stories that don't take themselves too seriously. It's a little divergent from typical fantasy canon, but I'd like to think that it still has that 'D&D feel' to it. Just a little rougher. :)
I'm kind of using a Basic Fantasy-esque approach to races. Basically, "the Dwarf here represents a dwarven fighter-type. If you want to be a dwarven thief or a dwarven cleric, let me know and I'll whip something up for you."
Humans: As per usual. The populous movers and shakers of the world. Can be any class (Fighter, Cleric, Magic-User, Thief)
Dwarves: Kind of like the Amish, really. Hard-working, closely knit communities, whether in the fields or in the cities. Encourage their young sons and daughters to experience the world before settling down, usually in the form of adventuring. Even if they don't return with riches and glory, returning alive is what matters most. Can be fighters, clerics and thieves.
Half-Elves: The elves of my setting are capricious and alien, heavily inspired by the 'Lords and Ladies' of the titular Discworld book. As a result, half-elves are often the product of a cruel sense of humor. Born to seduced or coerced parents, they retain the strange, magical nature and the fey features of their elven side. But almost everyone has heard stories of elves kidnapping children to serve as royal handmaidens or trapping hardworking people in Faustian bargains. Many of the older generation had friends and relatives in the kingdom of Bastian, before it was swallowed up by the woods one fateful day and claimed by the elves. Half-elves have to rely on their wits to survive, from the alleys of Shrapnel to the court intrigue of the City of Games. Half-elves use the same stats as standard S&W elves; they can choose between being a combination of fighter/magic-user, thief/magic-user or just a plain magic-user. Half-elves cannot choose to be non-magical. It's in their blood.
Goblins: There are, of course, two types of goblins. Your country goblins are the stereotypical 'let's kidnap all the village's livestock!' type. They're dangerous, unpredictable and often mindnumbingly stupid. But your city goblins are clever, efficient, blue-collar type guys who've gotten a lot of undue shit over the years. Occasionally, they can be really sneaky, mostly in shady cities like Shrapnel, where they've slowly but surely taken control of the city's underground utilities and many of its essential services. Country goblins can be clerics, fighters and thieves; city goblins can be fighters, magic-users (generally with a bent towards alchemy) and thieves.
Ogres: Just like people, some ogres are nice and some ogres want to destroy your village, set it ablaze and take everything of value back to their cave where they eat whatever didn't run away screaming. Most of society tends to judge the former by the latter's behavior. Which is a shame, as many ogres are actually quite affable, if a little thick. Most people tend not to point this out when you're 8 feet tall and have hands the size of hamhocks. Ogres can be fighters. Maybe clerics if you have a reeeally good backstory.
Dopplegangers: Inspired both appearance-wise and thematically by Eberron's Changelings and the 4th Edition version, as opposed to the Grey-looking earlier versions. Dopplegangers are natural spies and sneaks. Hell, if you can change your face to suit any occasion, you would be too. But oftentimes, the business of being other people will weigh heavy on the heart. Many dopplegangers in the big cities remain in their natural, pale-white and alien form, comfortable in the knowledge that even if people fear and mistrust them, they have an identity of their own. I haven't quite worked out the class restrictions on dopplegangers, but I know that I'll have to write up new experience tables regardless. Change Shape at-will is a doozy.
More to come...