Author Topic: Are humans really a fantasy race?  (Read 5974 times)

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Offline Voron79

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Are humans really a fantasy race?
« on: November 14, 2008, 04:14:35 PM »
In every RPG I ever played I like humans the most. They are the best to identify myself with. However, when playing in a party with elves, dwarfs and gnomes I kind of feel like I am the most strange of them all, but basically I'm the most standard!

Humans are the most basic and simple creatures in fantasy stories. In most fantasyworlds humans are more then 50% of the complete population. There stats are always the most standard, they aren't especially good or bad at anything. The most strange thing is that all the fantasy stuff gets compared with Tolkien's Middle Earth because they al have elves & orc's. But what about humans?

So my question, does somebody knows a RPG/fantasy world where humans are actually something special, and not something boring for people like me who can't really chose between all the other races?
Or what are your opinion of the fantasy style human race?

avisarr

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Re: Are humans really a fantasy race?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2008, 01:22:13 AM »
I've never actually read Talislanta (or whatever it's called) but the ads in Dragon Magazine for that game implied that the races were REALLY unique. And there were no elves. I also got the impression that there were no humans.

In any case, humans being the main race is pretty standard. No doubt because it's easiest for us to relate to humankind. All other races are compared to humans. But I see no reason why you couldn't have a world where races are a very tiny minority, or an enslaved race or not even present. I'm sure someone has done it.

avisarr

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Re: Are humans really a fantasy race?
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2008, 06:41:12 PM »
I agree...

and for the record, Khoras has : Alakubu, Anquarans, Aukarians, Bathyns, Chaddamarians, Corvenians, Easterners, Myrians, Northerners, Omarin, Padashani and the Tomarin... not to mention the Sea Gypsies, the Sayune and the wonderful, fun loving Mytharians who will make a drinking goblet from your skull.  ;)

I haven't included game stats for them, but it would be easy for a game master to write such stats up.

Offline tanis

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Re: Are humans really a fantasy race?
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2008, 03:15:00 AM »
I have to say this is a great question. And I really like Bart's point. We only divide by race or maybe by national origin nowadays, but originally, you were english, or french, or norse (viking) [all of which would be germanic], or a hun, or mongol, slav, slovak. greek, dorian, czech, arabic, egyptian, caananite, turk, kazakh, uzbek, ukraine, lienz cossack, etc. this is a longer list, but it's the same idea. these were all tribes of people with different cultural and physiological makeups. some settled an area to the point that the people became a nation, and some went even further, with the nation becoming a political state, but they all began as a people, a tribe, a separate kind of human, more or less like a subclass of homo sapien sapien, or cro-magnon man which is what we are.

Of course I'm also intrigued about the idea of humans who have no great physiological differences standing out as special for something other than mediocrity. I would probably go with something like they are smarter, or are better with some aspect of invention. maybe humans are the best toolmakers. or philosophers/thinkers. or they make the best peddlers and merchants. the best drivers and sailors. maybe they are the most skilled fighters (not the strongest, but the best with tactics and strategy, and/or the best with physical use of the weapons). the list could go on.

Regardless, the idea is that just because humans don't get bonuses on their abilities, such as str, dex, con, and so on if we are talking in terms of dnd, should we let that prevent them from having any outstanding features? If they have balanced, mediocre stats, give them a skill that no one else has. Or by the same token change the core dynamics of the game. if humans can't be the strongest, smartest, sturdiest, dextrous, wisest, or any of the things that are based on physical traits and developments because somebody has those traits, and they can't have a predisposition towards magic, the only non-natural, nonphysical gameplay dynamic, because the elves have that, create a separate force of nature which is nonphysical, which can compete with magic. preferably something which does not overlap or mimic magic's purpose in the scheme of gameplay dynamics. one example could be that humans have an innate ability to manipulate time, or maybe they can tamper with the fabric of reality, changing what is real and distorting what can and can't be done/exist/occur you get my drift.

While I would personally still go with the concept of sub-subspecies of humans, I would probably add some aspect of the second and third choices to give a little more oomph to the race.

This all comes together to make the standard being stand out. Now humans can still be the mediocre race they are and benefit from not being something else. The fact that adding a new game dynamic wouldn't affect the fact that humans would still be "standard" and would still suffer from ability mediocrity really adds to my liking of that third option, at least philosophically, because it works well with the other two to make a balanced change to the paradigm of humans in fantasy rpgs, and it also satisfies my wish to keep humans standard and mediocre, without dooming them to reduced potential as a powerful, useful character.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: Are humans really a fantasy race?
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2016, 10:11:11 AM »
I have to admit, I don't like the idea of having players select from multiple "races", since
a) it tends to end up making those races a mainly tactical choice and rather exchangable as characters - unless you do have very good roleplayers in a group.
b) it assumes some common language, currency, value system and so on...which I do not necessarily want to assume as standard ropleplying background.

Yeah, elves tend to live 10 times as long as humans, at least in D&D 3rd. I think it was immortal in earlier versions. Never noticed any difference in how a char is played - except from maybe a less cautious use of effects that made the character "age one year" (as did "haste" effects in 2nd Edition IIRC).
Actually I never saw much point in introducing different life expectancies alltogether, except as a (rather empty) homage to...well, I guess it all boils down to Tolkien.

Elves and dwarfes might have some ancient grudge towards each other, but rarely is this being played beyond running gags and comic relief.

This is more about "core rule systems" than about full-fledged worlds of their own as Khoras, but to me it seems somewhat pointless to introduce an array of player races to chose from, and at the same time make sure that no (combination of) choices negatively effects the ability to form a group together, interact with and within society - and finally succesfully play a given campaign.

Purely judging from my own roleplaying experience and after some RL talk to roleplaying people, I used to think that players playing a dwarf/elf/half-orc/... effectively play a human in the shape of and with the abilities of a dwarf/elf/half-orc/..., so I ended up saying that players always play humans, but maybe with a dwarf/elf/half-orc/... syndrome in modern medical terms.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2016, 10:17:22 AM by Drul Morbok »

Offline David Roomes

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Re: Are humans really a fantasy race?
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2017, 05:28:04 PM »
I think some of it comes down to role playing ability. I have, unfortunately, seen players who are only interested in the pros and cons of a specific race. Those players are min/maxers and only look at numbers. They tend not to be role players.

I've also seen players that don't really have much role player in them. They play a dwarf, but it's just a "short human".

There are some good role players out there who really do breathe life into their character. When they play a dwarf or a saurian or whatever, they play it to the hilt. They view EVERYTHING through the eyes of someone of that race. It influences every decision, every action, every response. It can work really well. But again, it requires a good player with dedication to the role.
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Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: Are humans really a fantasy race?
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2019, 09:07:59 AM »
Reading this topic once again made me remember something I posted in some other discussion:
The distinction between "evolving" versus "decaying" worlds.

In an evolving world, live as such evolved from primordial soup, first to single-celled, than to multi-celled organisms. It is kind of consensus that nowadays organisms are the most complex organisms so far - well, not all of them of course, and species extinction makes it all a bit more complex then my simplified model.
And of course this whole notion of "complexity" is purely anthropocentric....but after all, whoever claims that there once were more complex species would most likely be at odds with western science.

A decaying world was once inhibited by entities whose power is beyond even imagination of nowadays beings, and even on a cultural basis, modern societies are "standing on shoulders of giants", marvelling at architectural and other remnants that humankind (or however you call it in a fantays world) will never be able to create again.

There might be the "evolving world in a post-cataclysmic state" (that's how I'd classify Khoras within my model) but for my point, it would not be much different from the evolving world:
My theory is that "evolving" fantasy world tend to take magic as an explanation for a greater diversity of live forms. Without magic, humans might be only "intelligent" race, but due to magic, there's also orcs, dwarves, elves and the like.
And this assumption to me seems to implicitely lead to a general linguistic usage where humans are a non-fantasy race, just as gravity is considered a non-fantasy force, even if it applies to a fantasy world (so levitation would be seen as a supernatural way to overcome the natural laws of physics).



I'm not saying humans can't be a fantasy race in an evolving world. But I tend to assume that GM and players would have to spend a lot of time and thoughts on such a world, while it's rather easy to jump into a world where humans are standard. For example, a generally used term "humanoid" does not make much sense in a world where humans are not standard, at least not without some ingame explanation, and not everybody wants to go through this debate, and carefully stick to the language that arises from it.

Neither am I saying that in a decaying gameworld, humans automatically are played as a fantasy race. But I tend to say that is due to players not caring about the gameworld.
From what I know, D&D sourcebooks never mention primordial soup, or evolution and genetics as we know it. Races do have creator gods, at least some of them. But than again, (not only) the idea of half-orcs and half-elves seems to be so much based on how we understand genetics, so that even if there are creator gods, their actual effects seem to be diminished for the sake of an easy-access gameworld that does not deviate too much from assumptions that arise from an "evolving" world like ours.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2019, 09:11:00 AM by Drul Morbok »

Offline David Roomes

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Re: Are humans really a fantasy race?
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2019, 01:00:29 PM »
I would agree that Khoras is an "evolving world in a post-cataclysmic state". And I tend to view humans on Khoras as the "standard race" from which all other races are evolutionary offshoots. And in Khoras, cataclysmic magic forced the rapid evolutionary branching into other races.

That's just the way I have Khoras set up. Not right or wrong, just the way I went. Other worlds might have humans be a minority race or perhaps a displaced newcomer race or maybe no humans at all. Depends on the world...
David M. Roomes
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