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Thread: Human Subraces

  1. #21
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    There shouldn't be any subraces, only cultural identities. I never really understood why all elves can use bows and longswords, all dwarves can use hammer and maces, all halfling can use slings. To me, that's more of a cultural aspect of upbringing.

    What about a human brought up by dwarves? Why can't they use axes and hammers if they want to be a cleric of moradin? To me, you should be able to make those parts of the racial traits into cultural traits. So hill dwarves can use all hammers and axes, and a human who was raised by hill dwarves can use all hammers and axes.

    So I would give humans +1 to two different stats, and the ability to choose a cultural trait.

    As an aside, giving humans a bonus background or specialty wouldn't be a good default rule because that makes those rules elements necessary to run a game with humans. So if someone didn't want to use specialties and backgrounds, it would be harder to take out because humans needs them as part of their rules.
    Last edited by Daag; Friday, 28th September, 2012 at 06:49 PM.

 

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    To be blunt, when 4e said that subraces were gone, I was quite happy. Seeing it poke its head out as 4e developed was not something I like. I want subraces to DIAF.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Carlsen View Post
    I still say that humans should have a sizable list of racial traits that they choose from. Cultures, then, can be described as preferring particular traits.
    This.

    Subraces of humans gets into certain real world issues that can best be defined as "marketing nightmares."

    It's already bad enough that the good elves all have white skin and live above ground (y'know, where there's sun and stuff) and the bad elves all have black skin and live underground (where, y'know, there's no good reason to have dark skin because it doesn't protect you from the sun). D&D has had to live with that particular little piece of genius for 20 years (I think some of the way they push Drizzt so hard is because he takes the drow away from being 'designated bad guys... all with black skin').

    We do not want to open that can of worms. Do it with backgrounds, do it with feats, do it with optional cultural bonuses, but do not do it with 'subraces.' Goes south very quick.

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    I think there could be room for human sub-races. Not ones based on culture, but sub-races based on strains of humanity touched by magic or the gods, etc.

    The Numenorean / Dunedain people in Lord of the Rings would be the perfect example. They are clearly human, but they were granted by the Valar a much longer lifespan than ordinary humans as well as greater physical and spiritual capabilities.

  • #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    Ah, so you replace racism with classism. "You see, the reason we live in cities and you live in the backwoods is because we're better suited to it than you. See, you're SUPPOSED to be poor dirt farmers. And we're SUPPOSED to be urban elites. It's in our natures!"
    Only if it's genetic and hereditary. Depending on how it's written, human subraces could be implied to be based on where the person was raised. So a human from a long line of barbarian tribes might still qualify as an "urbanite" human. And it'd be a good idea to have people on the borderlands, the rural farms that aren't quite wilds, be able to pick "wildling" or "urbanite".
    And it's not about which is better, as neither is (or, rather, they're better at different things). One side might very well say: "The reason we live in cities and you live in the backwoods is because we're better suited to it than you!" And the other side would reply "No the reason you can't live in the woods is because you're too soft. You need stone walls and cleared plains to feel safe."
    As someone who has a whole lot of relatives out in the farms of Saskatchewan, there is a very dismissive attitude towards "cityfolk".

    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    Any way you slice it, dividing the human race into "subraces" is potentially vastly problematic. Because unlike any of our fantastic species of never-existing human-esque critters, humans actually exist, and any division you put on them in the game is going to be interpreted (even unfairly) as something the designers believe about humanity to some degree.
    All people do is divide themselves. Westerner or Easterner. Canadian or America. East Coast or West. North or South. Republican or Democrat. Star Trek or Star Wars. Mac or PC. Christian or Catholic. Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America or Fundamental Baptist Fellowship of America. 3e or 4e.

    It's all we do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    You can say "dwarves are stout," and sure, what with their Con bonus, you can see that. You shouldn't be able to say the same thing about humans. Even a category of humans. The fantasy archetype of humanity is variety, possibility, potentiality, and flexibility.
    Except you can... every human is as tough as as dwarf, gaining the same bonus to Con.

    Will people get offended? Yes. But as demonstrated by this thread, many people don't even want any culture in races. And even the implication dwarves are stouter or elves are more agile is seen as this suggestion that they're being forced into certain roles, that they're only good at certain things and not others. I think many people would be happy if race was just a cosmetic thing. Which is pushing the silly end of the PC spectrum.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrowland View Post
    Adding an environmental background is a better idea (Barbarian, Cosmopolitan, Country, desert, mountain, etc)
    Which would mean that you could have a desert mountain dwarf and a mountain wood elf. And it would mean giving up actual background of a knight or bounty hunter or thief just to clarify that you're from the deserts.

    Unless there was a separate "region of origin" only for humans. Which would be almost exactly what I was proposing only with a different name.
    Is changing "subrace" for humans to "region" all it would take to make this okay?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jester Canuck
    Only if it's genetic and hereditary. Depending on how it's written, human subraces could be implied to be based on where the person was raised.
    Dude, it's called a "subrace." The word specifies a genetic, hereditary component, simply by the word. And it mechanically includes things like ability score adjustments and special abilities that are inherently part of your character. AND, it works against the archetype of humans as uniquely versatile. Your origin as a country bumpkin would be welded into your character from birth. Not cool.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jester Canuck
    And it's not about which is better, as neither is (or, rather, they're better at different things). One side might very well say: "The reason we live in cities and you live in the backwoods is because we're better suited to it than you!" And the other side would reply "No the reason you can't live in the woods is because you're too soft. You need stone walls and cleared plains to feel safe."
    I'll take missing the point for 900, Alex.

    The idea isn't that it's wrong because one is better than the other. It is wrong because it narrowly defines people. It stereotypes people. Human beings. Which is BAD, even if you're intending it to limit to only imaginary gumdrop magic land and people who never actually existed or could ever exist in a game that only some dorks on the internet play.

    It doesn't really matter what in-world explanation you use. The unfortunate Implications would be there either way. You can't avoid them. You call a game mechanic a "sub-race" and you divide humans according to it, you have a corporate entity in WotC saying, "Oh, isn't it fun to pretend that all humans are inherently dividable into little camps based on their level of wealth?"

    It's not cool. It's a bit genre-appropriate, but (and I'm sure this won't come as a shock to anyone) this genre can be insanely bigoted. D&D does not need to truck in that as a matter of default gameplay. And WotC would be well advised to steer entirely clear of it themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jester Canuck
    Except you can... every human is as tough as as dwarf, gaining the same bonus to Con.
    Right, but we're not saying a CERTAIN KIND OF PERSON is a given way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jester Canuck
    Will people get offended? Yes. But as demonstrated by this thread, many people don't even want any culture in races. And even the implication dwarves are stouter or elves are more agile is seen as this suggestion that they're being forced into certain roles, that they're only good at certain things and not others. I think many people would be happy if race was just a cosmetic thing. Which is pushing the silly end of the PC spectrum.
    It's not really a slippery slope kind of thing.

    Sub-races are inappropriate for humans.

    We can still make up all the imaginary fart sprites we want and define them as however smelly we want to define them as, because they are imaginary and so whatever.

    Not so for humans. "Rural" and "Urban" humans actually exist. And they are not defined by what they are.

    The only little wiggle room I can see here is if D&D wanted to delve into things like Neandertals or possibly with fantasic human mutants, in which case we fall into imaginary fart sprite territory again and get to define them however we want. But normal humans should not have "sub-races," because normal humans in the real world do not have "sub-races." We have differences, we have culture, we have divisions, we have wars, but we are all human beings in the end, and D&D needs to reflect that.
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  • #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    It doesn't really matter what in-world explanation you use. The unfortunate Implications would be there either way. You can't avoid them. You call a game mechanic a "sub-race" and you divide humans according to it, you have a corporate entity in WotC saying, "Oh, isn't it fun to pretend that all humans are inherently dividable into little camps based on their level of wealth?"
    No one mentioned wealth but you. The "king of the north" might still be "ruralite" while a poor guttersnipe would be an "urbanite".
    The only implication is that people living off the land, who need to cut lumber, haul water, till crops, and work to survive might, just might, be more physically fit on average than those in a city who rely on other skills.


    As I said elsewhere, we can dump the "subrace" terms for humans and call it "origins" or "region" or "heritage".

    The intent is more to make humans more mechanically interesting, to make the stat boosts of the other races more appealing, and to make humans as diverse as all the flavour says they are.
    Eventually WotC will want alternate humans in the game, be it from the shadow plane or the like. And it would be nice if there was an easy mechanical way to swap out human racial traits.
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  • #29
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    No. WotC will never want alternate humans in the game. You notice EVERY TIME they introduce something that might be an alternate human they make sure to make them a brand new race, just to avoid the unfortunate implications.

    Origin and history both work, but subraces and humans are never happening. Ever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    I don't get 5e's superman "everything you can do I can do better" take on humans: +1 to all stats, and +2 to one of your choice. However, I don't think sub-races is a wise move. Instead, if I was going for humans as the most adaptable race I might do something like:

    +1 to a stat of your choice
    A bonus background of your choice
    A bonus feat from a specialty or talent from a class
    While I agree that the +1 to all stats for humans is not what they should have (the implication being that other races are below average in all areas - but one - when considering ability scores), backgrounds and feats/specialty stuff is optional, so should not be included.

    How about taking away the straight +1 to ability scores across the board, make it so that humans get +1 to ability checks instead (in combination with the +1 to any one ability score)?
    This might not be quite good enough compared to other races, though, so they might need something else?


    As far as the topic: I think it might not be a very good idea (or really necesarry). The whole 'ruralite' and 'urbanite' stuff is basically what backgrounds are for, right?

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