D&D 5E D&D Q&A: 09/27/2013

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
If it's legit to bring in an sf angle to the question, here is a link to a discussion about what (potentially) makes humanity unique among species. It's an interesting approach, and "dogged determinism" is not something I would have isolated previously.

It reminds me of the quote from the Doctor, in "Christmas Invasion": "I gave them [an alien species] the wrong warning. I should have told them to run, as fast as they can. Run and hide, because the monsters are coming - the human race."

I'm all for terrifying, predating humans. But I want to believe it.
 

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FreeTheSlaves

Adventurer
I don't think all Humans get a +1 bonus, far from it. Just like in the race description they're modelling the rare Human who can stand toe to toe with a relatively less exceptional member of an otherwise more elite race.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Human evolutions that made us awesome in the Real World:

  • Ranged Combat: "Oh those are nice claws you have there, and powerful trunks, and big horns, and I'm just going to stay over here and throw sharp things at you really hard. With about a dozen of my buddies."
  • Imagining the Future: "When the crocodile kills a hippo, there's a lot left over, and then next month, the crocodile doesn't have anything to eat. I've got an idea: when I kill a hippo I'm going to KEEP IT ALL, so that in a month, I can still eat this same hippo."
  • Recording the Past: "So, my grandfather tells the story of how when he was a kid, his grandfather taught him how to remove poison from a snakebite. Because of that, I fear no snakebite today."
  • Altruism and Kinship: "If you're going to attack me, tiger, you better finish the job because if I escape, and I survive, I will be nursed back to health by all my family and friends, and we will come looking for you, and your children, and your children's children, and we will tell stories about your wickedness, and all of your kind will be wiped off the face of this planet forever. Who will nurse you back to health when you flee from the spears of me and all my sons and daughters, oh great and powerful tiger?"
  • Empathy and Domestication: "I don't have great smell -- I can't track you over shifting sands or through deep water. I'll loose the trail. But I have made an ally with these dogs, and THEY can smell you, and together, we will all eat of your flesh tonight."
  • Education and Curiosity: "I wonder what this tastes like? What happens when I keep this fruit in this bucket for five years? How is fire formed, and how can I use that to make my life easier?"
  • Hyper-omnivory: "If it grows or scurries or even if it doesn't, we are going to put it in our mouths and see if we can't make it into parts of us."

Part of the thing with that is that we expect all fantasy races to have these abilities that have made humans unusual in the real world -- humans invented the idea of shooting things at prey and each other in the real world, but what's a fantasy elf without a bow? Humans are social to an extreme rarely seen in the natural world, but what's a fantasy orc without a horde?

I'm okay with humans being the Mario. It's a necessary role and makes them all-around useful in every kind of game or campaign, while allowing the more fantastic races to stand out.

As an alternative, I've occasionally gone with humans as The Face. We're the sexy ones. Dwarves are gruff, elves are aloof, halflings are shy, but humans...stupid sexy humans....we talk with anyone, domesticate anything, mate first and ask questions later, and aren't afraid to say "hi!" and find common ground with whatever squamous horror just shlick'd through the portal from beyond the stars. In that kind of game, a CHA bonus makes some sense.

But really that's just two versions of possibility. Customization is our friend, here!
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
[*] Altruism and Kinship: "If you're going to attack me, tiger, you better finish the job because if I escape, and I survive, I will be nursed back to health by all my family and friends, and we will come looking for you, and your children, and your children's children, and we will tell stories about your wickedness, and all of your kind will be wiped off the face of this planet forever. Who will nurse you back to health when you flee from the spears of me and all my sons and daughters, oh great and powerful tiger?"

Great list. I need to call out the most counter-intuitive example of altruism I have ever seen. Simply hilarious. Who knew altruism looked so much like grudge-brearing and revenge?:D
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Great list. I need to call out the most counter-intuitive example of altruism I have ever seen. Simply hilarious. Who knew altruism looked so much like grudge-brearing and revenge?:D

Hehehe. Puts me in mind of an unusual antihero: "Love. Friendship. Togetherness. With these, I will crush you and all you hold dear!" (cue cheering of millions)
 

FreeTheSlaves

Adventurer
I think the biggest benefits humanity enjoys in the implied default fantasy setting is possessing a civilized culture (as detailed above), while also being both a fast growing and populous people.

Humans beat Elves & Dwarves by making good the losses faster.
Humans beat Orcs & Hobgoblins by being more culturally advanced.
 

Tovec

Explorer
Human evolutions that made us awesome in the Real World:

  • Ranged Combat: "Oh those are nice claws you have there, and powerful trunks, and big horns, and I'm just going to stay over here and throw sharp things at you really hard. With about a dozen of my buddies."
  • Imagining the Future: "When the crocodile kills a hippo, there's a lot left over, and then next month, the crocodile doesn't have anything to eat. I've got an idea: when I kill a hippo I'm going to KEEP IT ALL, so that in a month, I can still eat this same hippo."
  • Recording the Past: "So, my grandfather tells the story of how when he was a kid, his grandfather taught him how to remove poison from a snakebite. Because of that, I fear no snakebite today."
  • Altruism and Kinship: "If you're going to attack me, tiger, you better finish the job because if I escape, and I survive, I will be nursed back to health by all my family and friends, and we will come looking for you, and your children, and your children's children, and we will tell stories about your wickedness, and all of your kind will be wiped off the face of this planet forever. Who will nurse you back to health when you flee from the spears of me and all my sons and daughters, oh great and powerful tiger?"
  • Empathy and Domestication: "I don't have great smell -- I can't track you over shifting sands or through deep water. I'll loose the trail. But I have made an ally with these dogs, and THEY can smell you, and together, we will all eat of your flesh tonight."
  • Education and Curiosity: "I wonder what this tastes like? What happens when I keep this fruit in this bucket for five years? How is fire formed, and how can I use that to make my life easier?"
  • Hyper-omnivory: "If it grows or scurries or even if it doesn't, we are going to put it in our mouths and see if we can't make it into parts of us."
While I love this list, and the ideas presented in that link (thanks Kobold Stew) I think they have a major flaw assuming the other races are humanoid. Elves, dwarves, kobolds, whatever; aren't cheetahs or elephants or hippos. They aren't dumb bestial animals. They are people with scales, pointy ears, long bears, whatever.

How many of these qualities apply to "intelligent species"? How many require an int score over 2? Can dolphins have these but still be animals? Those have answers when talking about humans versus animals of our world. But compared to intelligent species, or aliens for example, it starts to fall flat. If you have a civilization you have "grow things in a bucket" and fire. You likely have domestication so you can keep your food in one place, or for vegetarians so you can keep your food safe against predators.

So, either we need to make the other races more alien, more extreme and different while lacking qualities that make people people. Or we need to define some other "essential" quality of humans. I think this more or less defines it, or at least has defined it in a lot of Scifi I've read:

As an alternative, I've occasionally gone with humans as The Face. We're the sexy ones. Dwarves are gruff, elves are aloof, halflings are shy, but humans...stupid sexy humans....we talk with anyone, domesticate anything, mate first and ask questions later, and aren't afraid to say "hi!" and find common ground with whatever squamous horror just shlick'd through the portal from beyond the stars. In that kind of game, a CHA bonus makes some sense.
I think it is right in saying we'll screw everything. That is why there are half-elves and half-orcs and half-giants and half-dragon and half-trolls. But so few half-elf-half-dwarves (or whatever). I don't think it necessarily leads to +2 CHA (though I'm not directly opposed to that) but I think the PF solution of +2 anywhere you want it works best. It isn't that we're sexy, its that we're curious and will do anything.
 

I don't think all Humans get a +1 bonus, far from it. Just like in the race description they're modelling the rare Human who can stand toe to toe with a relatively less exceptional member of an otherwise more elite race.
It's a nonsense argument. Any 'above average' bonuses that accrue from being a PC come from the initial Ability rolls (Roll 4, discard the worst) or points distribution. Non-Human PCs are above average on the same basis. The baseline Human stats, nominally, apply to all humans -which is why the universal +1 bonus is so absurd.
 

FreeTheSlaves

Adventurer
I get you don't like the +1 implementation, but "absurd" and "nonsense" points more to emotional dislike.

Reading the Human entry, I do not think the +1 applies to all Humans.

Individually, Humans are not the most superior beings. They shouldn't have any significant racial powers. PC stat generation has nothing to do with it if all characters use the same method. For game reasons an adventuring Human needs to be a cut well above their average to be roughly on par with the otherwise superior demi-humans. How this is modelled is open to interpretation, but other suggestions I have heard so far basically bog down in complexity.

For me I'd accept something that models Humans' ability to be both culturally advanced, a relatively more prolific race, and a default standard that other races are measured by.

The +1 plays upon the greater numbers and diversity or the race producing exceptional members more often than the less numerous demi-Human races. That's one approach.

I'd personally like the racial feature to model the swiftness of generations, i.e. raising families. Basically I'd give Humans a bonus in the downtime rules for generating heirs, aka decent replacement characters for in a high mortality game. But I admit this approach wouldn't suit most campaigns.
 

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