D&D 5E D&D Needs "Weirder"/More Unique Races

ART!

Legend
I'm a "more the merrier" type when it comes to this, so yes - give me more races! I'm a fan of player options, and between race and class, races are the easiest to understand and homebrew. As a result, it's a great area for 3rd party creators and publishers to mess around in.

The trick is in balancing racial traits with official races. Specifically, I like them balanced compared to PHB races - because there's some things that have cropped up in official races outside the PHB that I don't care for. That's gets a little complicated with the new lineage options, but it seems manageable.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Consider Wealth.

Wealth has a tendency to settle in most societies. People who own the things that other people need (Land, Water, Natural Resources) are able to leverage work for pay and generally wind up on the more lucrative side of that deal with every person they employ. These resources are typically handed down by the family, but are used almost daily, or entirely daily, by everyone (In the case of food, for example).

Now imagine an almost immortal landowner. One elf gets claim to a nice chunk of River-Valley and suddenly everyone in the region is entirely dependent on his staggering wealth from various investments and businesses over the past 400 years or so.

It'd be like Bezos' brain in a jar in 2521, owning the greater part of the solar system in a cyberpunk dystopia where Amazon bought out Earth, Mars, and the Kuiper Belt for mineral rights!
A follow on from this is more complex legal codes.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
A follow on from this is more complex legal codes.
Oh, absolutely! Gotta use a localized standing army to enforce your control on things to ensure the serfs are thoroughly broken to avoid any kind of uprising!

But consider that for -any- culture you're bringing into the world based on physiological needs. What does an Ooze Person need to survive? Water, of course, to remain hydrated, and presumably organic matter to digest and add to, or restore, both lost mass and energy. But can those things be used as incentives to force work? Unless you live in a particularly arid region, which would be inhospitable to such a life form, probably not. Which means creating a coercive system of labor doesn't work on them.

Oozelings would make -terrible- employees on the Elf's farm.

How much would oozeling existence disrupt that labor system? And how -vilified- would the Elf want those Oozelings to be, on a cultural level, due to the social impact that their lifestyle devoid of monetized labor might have on his workers?

The farther you get from "Humans with a little twist" the more extreme the social and cultural impact these races would have in a world that could stand up to the weakest touch of logic. Which is why most campaign settings are based on humans and human experiences. We expect our fantasy to have things like towns and inns, taverns and shops. Things that could not, would not, exist on a world where a large portion of the world's population have no need for such things, and the remainder have wings.

Society, and the trappings we ascribe to it, come from very humanoid limitations and how we work together as a society to overcome or minimize those limitations through group effort. As well as how those in power seek to use those limitations to coerce compliance through a variety of systems, whether legal, economic, or purely social.

So probably stick to the Anthro/Furry races rather than going -too- far afield!
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Oh, absolutely! Gotta use a localized standing army to enforce your control on things to ensure the serfs are thoroughly broken to avoid any kind of uprising!

But consider that for -any- culture you're bringing into the world based on physiological needs. What does an Ooze Person need to survive? Water, of course, to remain hydrated, and presumably organic matter to digest and add to, or restore, both lost mass and energy. But can those things be used as incentives to force work? Unless you live in a particularly arid region, which would be inhospitable to such a life form, probably not. Which means creating a coercive system of labor doesn't work on them.

Oozelings would make -terrible- employees on the Elf's farm.

How much would oozeling existence disrupt that labor system? And how -vilified- would the Elf want those Oozelings to be, on a cultural level, due to the social impact that their lifestyle devoid of monetized labor might have on his workers?

The farther you get from "Humans with a little twist" the more extreme the social and cultural impact these races would have in a world that could stand up to the weakest touch of logic. Which is why most campaign settings are based on humans and human experiences. We expect our fantasy to have things like towns and inns, taverns and shops. Things that could not, would not, exist on a world where a large portion of the world's population have no need for such things, and the remainder have wings.

Society, and the trappings we ascribe to it, come from very humanoid limitations and how we work together as a society to overcome or minimize those limitations through group effort. As well as how those in power seek to use those limitations to coerce compliance through a variety of systems, whether legal, economic, or purely social.

So probably stick to the Anthro/Furry races rather than going -too- far afield!
While these are great points, all that’s needed to keep the world looking like one made by humans is to have humans, dwarfs, halflings, etc, be the majority of people in the region of play.

As for the elf, I think that could also go the other way, with kingdoms where land ownership has a time limit, or even where elves cannot own land or can only own the land they live on, etc.

And complications like that would lead to nations and complex legal codes more early and more often across the world.

Then of course you have to decide; is the elf like a human in terms of self interest to the point of justifying oppressing others, or is an elf capable enough of the long view to see the inevitable revolution and avoid tyranny as a result, or does the elf not even want to tell other people their business of acquire more work than they can do for themselves in the first place?

Does the elf see you as a person, or part of a person, with the person being your family line?
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
While these are great points, all that’s needed to keep the world looking like one made by humans is to have humans, dwarfs, halflings, etc, be the majority of people in the region of play.

As for the elf, I think that could also go the other way, with kingdoms where land ownership has a time limit, or even where elves cannot own land or can only own the land they live on, etc.

And complications like that would lead to nations and complex legal codes more early and more often across the world.

Then of course you have to decide; is the elf like a human in terms of self interest to the point of justifying oppressing others, or is an elf capable enough of the long view to see the inevitable revolution and avoid tyranny as a result, or does the elf not even want to tell other people their business of acquire more work than they can do for themselves in the first place?

Does the elf see you as a person, or part of a person, with the person being your family line?
It's an interesting philosophical question with an incredibly simple answer:

Humans aren't self-interested to the point of justifying oppressing others. Well... Not globally. Not as a species.

However certain social structures are -incredibly- attractive to humans who -are- self-interested to that degree. Specifically because that position gives them the authority to do largely as they will with the implicit guarantee that those who are abused cannot or will not speak out against them. Especially when you include the standing army ready to enforce that person's will. Combine that with the authority to manipulate systems against the abused and voila! A recipe for horror, repeated ad infinitum.

While any given elf likely has a longer view of life, they would still have varying degrees of self-interest, cruelty, compassion, and altruism. Those who were selfish and cruel would still seek, in large numbers, those positions which gave them relative impunity to act out on their cruel desires.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It's an interesting philosophical question with an incredibly simple answer:

Humans aren't self-interested to the point of justifying oppressing others. Well... Not globally. Not as a species.

However certain social structures are -incredibly- attractive to humans who -are- self-interested to that degree. Specifically because that position gives them the authority to do largely as they will with the implicit guarantee that those who are abused cannot or will not speak out against them. Especially when you include the standing army ready to enforce that person's will. Combine that with the authority to manipulate systems against the abused and voila! A recipe for horror, repeated ad infinitum.

While any given elf likely has a longer view of life, they would still have varying degrees of self-interest, cruelty, compassion, and altruism. Those who were selfish and cruel would still seek, in large numbers, those positions which gave them relative impunity to act out on their cruel desires.
But that’s an assumption based on the assumption that all sentients are basically the same as humans. Elves recall past lives, don’t sleep, and live to the better part of a millennia. Why assume they have the same spread of motivations and biases?

And even if they do, the inevitable revolt (and it is inevitable) is more likely to be violent under a real tyrant. Add to that the fact that the elf can’t really selfishly ignore the fact that they will be the one with their head in a noose, and the fact that a new generation of ruler helps the masses get past the cruelty of the last ruler, and a long lived ruler would need to be more careful, and more generous and equitable, in order to avoid murder by pitchfork.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
But that’s an assumption based on the assumption that all sentients are basically the same as humans. Elves recall past lives, don’t sleep, and live to the better part of a millennia. Why assume they have the same spread of motivations and biases?

And even if they do, the inevitable revolt (and it is inevitable) is more likely to be violent under a real tyrant. Add to that the fact that the elf can’t really selfishly ignore the fact that they will be the one with their head in a noose, and the fact that a new generation of ruler helps the masses get past the cruelty of the last ruler, and a long lived ruler would need to be more careful, and more generous and equitable, in order to avoid murder by pitchfork.
Because if they don't have a humanlike spread of personality traits they'd be too alien for us to understand.

It's an assumption, for sure... but it's an assumption we can "Verify", inasmuch as one can verify the 'available personality traits' of a fictitious entity, by looking at all the backgrounds.

Whether you're a human, a dwarf, an elf, a halfling, or a Yuan-ti, you wind up with the same spread of personality traits and flaws as any other person with the same background.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Because if they don't have a humanlike spread of personality traits they'd be too alien for us to understand.

It's an assumption, for sure... but it's an assumption we can "Verify", inasmuch as one can verify the 'available personality traits' of a fictitious entity, by looking at all the backgrounds.

Whether you're a human, a dwarf, an elf, a halfling, or a Yuan-ti, you wind up with the same spread of personality traits and flaws as any other person with the same background.
I think there is a rather large range between elves being the same as humans and elves being too alien to understand.

I can play a character who has a hard time understanding why anyone would want to burden themselves with massive wealth, because they use some of their cognitive bandwidth remembering that they own a thing, and can’t really tune that out, so ownership is tiring. That’s very different from a human, but I can grok it enough to play the character.

If elves aren’t inclined to want to tell other people their business, that is something that exists amongst humans, and it certainly doesn’t preclude elves from taking any background.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I think there is a rather large range between elves being the same as humans and elves being too alien to understand.

I can play a character who has a hard time understanding why anyone would want to burden themselves with massive wealth, because they use some of their cognitive bandwidth remembering that they own a thing, and can’t really tune that out, so ownership is tiring. That’s very different from a human, but I can grok it enough to play the character.

If elves aren’t inclined to want to tell other people their business, that is something that exists amongst humans, and it certainly doesn’t preclude elves from taking any background.
That would still largely be "Basically the same" as humans with some specific differences.

There are, after all, humans who explicitly seek to unburden themselves from wealth, and want in general, as it is the source of all suffering.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
That would still largely be "Basically the same" as humans with some specific differences.

There are, after all, humans who explicitly seek to unburden themselves from wealth, and want in general, as it is the source of all suffering.
What there aren’t, as far as I know, are humans who don’t have the impulse to collect in the first place.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
What there aren’t, as far as I know, are humans who don’t have the impulse to collect in the first place.
Physical needs, and all, assign value to necessities. And then that value is translated into an abstract shared across both necessities and other items, tricking the human mind into thinking most objects have inherent value beyond their utility. This abstract is then exchanged for time and effort, to which people assign different values and so on and so forth.

That's why Bonobos will exchange sexual acts for favors from other apes. They perceive orgasms and other acts as having interchangeable values.

It's also why Crows will perform complex tasks to gain a reward, but express anger if the reward isn't equal to the effort they put forth on previous iterations of the exchange. They recognize that their work is worth a certain amount or more, and will be upset if given less.

Same thing with rats and mice.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Physical needs, and all, assign value to necessities. And then that value is translated into an abstract shared across both necessities and other items, tricking the human mind into thinking most objects have inherent value beyond their utility. This abstract is then exchanged for time and effort, to which people assign different values and so on and so forth.

That's why Bonobos will exchange sexual acts for favors from other apes. They perceive orgasms and other acts as having interchangeable values.

It's also why Crows will perform complex tasks to gain a reward, but express anger if the reward isn't equal to the effort they put forth on previous iterations of the exchange. They recognize that their work is worth a certain amount or more, and will be upset if given less.

Same thing with rats and mice.
Okay.

I’m not sure what point you’re making, here.
 


Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
that basic economic activity is not unique to humans.

the question on how to make something suitably alien but still playable means messing with our traits and remixing them to make something different.
Bingo Bango! Mind of the Tempest gets the Cupie doll!

It's entirely possible that "Economic" interactions are occurring in any 'society' on Earth at any time, regardless of how rudimentary. Because such interactions are the most basic function -of- society: Reciprocity.

I do one job a -great deal- so that other people are able to do other jobs in the community, and we combine the results of our efforts to share and thus cover any failings in other members.

Currency becomes the abstraction. A way to create a central system of trade rather than working through a strict barter system. Whether your currency is gold, paper, beads, or salt.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Bingo Bango! Mind of the Tempest gets the Cupie doll!

It's entirely possible that "Economic" interactions are occurring in any 'society' on Earth at any time, regardless of how rudimentary. Because such interactions are the most basic function -of- society: Reciprocity.

I do one job a -great deal- so that other people are able to do other jobs in the community, and we combine the results of our efforts to share and thus cover any failings in other members.

Currency becomes the abstraction. A way to create a central system of trade rather than working through a strict barter system. Whether your currency is gold, paper, beads, or salt.
Okay, but I wasn’t positing a person with no understanding of economic interactions, I posited a person with no understanding of collecting more than what is needed to live, who sees possessions as a burden as their natural mindset, rather than a learned or chosen ideology.
 

Bingo Bango! Mind of the Tempest gets the Cupie doll!

It's entirely possible that "Economic" interactions are occurring in any 'society' on Earth at any time, regardless of how rudimentary. Because such interactions are the most basic function -of- society: Reciprocity.

I do one job a -great deal- so that other people are able to do other jobs in the community, and we combine the results of our efforts to share and thus cover any failings in other members.

Currency becomes the abstraction. A way to create a central system of trade rather than working through a strict barter system. Whether your currency is gold, paper, beads, or salt.
cupie doll? what is it?
 




Vael

Hero
"Need" may be a hyperbolic statement, but I do support having a wider array of PC races. I like the "Mos Eisley Cantina" vibe for a DnD party, but even in Star Wars, the most exotic protagonist were the droids and the Wookie, not all the other less humanoid species.

Previous attempts, also, haven't resonated. Killoren, Shardmind ... I think being weird or different isn't enough to create resonance and a fanbase to keep such efforts into another edition.

OTOH, Thri-kreen have. So clearly there is space, it's a matter of how you do it. I think, part of it is that such races need context. Probably what would make one succeed is if it were a feature of a new campaign setting. For example, Shardminds. As a semi-background to the Nentir Vale, which never lasted past 4e, meh. Shardminds as a core feature of a new setting that players want to use and trumpet into a future edition ... yes please.
 

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