They have cold, piercing, colorful, cat-like eyes...many follow a nocturnal lifestyle...With their large ears, they can hear even the faintest footsteps of a mole...One of their unique features is that their eyes are enveloped by a protective clear film, which makes their eyes resemble a Crystal Ball...They are proud of their hawk-like eyesight, and excel in archery...Developing bat-like ears, they can sense the enemy's movement by the rustling of clothes...
Nowadays such things are usually flavortext, but it wasn't always this way.
Characteristics, sometimes specific to your race or sometimes dictated by your stats, used to have an effect on your character in ways that were completely external to battle. A racial example is in Everquest; Dark Elves had better vision than Humans, so a player playing a Dark Elf could see better during the nighttime and in caves better than a player playing a Human. A stat example is in Ultima Online; where everything had a weight that corresponded to what it was made of, and Strength would determine how much weight you could bear.
So how would you feel if players playing Shaders could hear better? If they could hear a slight base growl of a mob creeping up behind them that players playing another race were restricted from hearing? If Foresters could see farther? If Highlanders could carry more items? Or if Moonkeepers could see in the dark?
Would you resent the difference and feel as though you were being left out or forced play a specific race? Or would you consider it an interestingly immersive bonus because it doesn't affect battle directly?
Edited, Mar 31st 2010 8:25pm by Zemzelette