D&D General Do you like LOTS of races/ancestries/whatever? If so, why?

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Hussar

Legend
No, it isn't. While certainly you might have people from dozens of cultures in London, for example, all those people COMBINED were less than 5-10% of the entire city's population.
Again, no. this is a complete misreading of history.

You do realize that England got invaded like a million times right? By all sorts of groups. And those groups didn't leave, nor did they exterminate the existing population. And that's just invaders - like the Scandinavians, what would become the French, the Germans, and any number of other groups. We know for a fact that the Romans brought legionnaires from Africa. You figure that in the, what, five centuries or so of Roman rule, none of those people stayed? Never married into the families?

Isn't there like a whole TV show on now where people start delving into their DNA history? And discovering all sorts of variations that they didn't know about?

People were pretty darn tolerant of the people who spent money in their shops and brought trade goods.
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
.

Good grief, I live in Japan, one of the most homogeneous populations in the world. Yet, they had two major peoples - Japanese and Ainu co-existing (relatively) peacefully until the 19th century. Genocide is a largely modern thing simply because before, people simply lacked the ability to actually wipe out other populations. Millennia of trade in the real world between pretty much everyone..
Japans an interesting case in that they did show respect to the autochthonous Ainu, who were markedly different in appearance and culture while at the same time marginalising the Eta/Burakumin who despite being physically indistinguishable from Japanese were stigmatised as inferior and even ‘non-human’. Eta worked in unclean jobs like butchery, tanning, executioners and undertakers and were forced to live outside Tokyo in small ’discriminated communities .

it would be like a fantasy human nation that honours Dwarves as autocthones but forces unclean humans to live in rural hamlets.

for the purposes of this discussion its an example of humans being irrationally prejudiced, in the face of which racial difference is harsldy a factor in determining how people might tolerate each other
 

Hussar

Legend
I have to admit, I absolutely love how these conversations go.

A. Why do you like pineapple on your pizza?
B. Well, I love this, that and the other thing about pineapple on my pizza.
C. I hate pineapple on my pizza and my reasoning is based on logic, so, therefore pineapple on pizza is terrible.
B. But, I was asked why I like pineapple on pizza. No one asked you why you don't like it.
A: No, C is right. Pineapple on pizza is just bad.
B. Uhhh,
 

Hussar

Legend
Japans an interesting case in that they did show respect to the autochthonous Ainu, who were markedly different in appearance and culture while at the same time marginalising the Eta/Burakumin who despite being physically indistinguishable from Japanese were stigmatised as inferior and even ‘non-human’. Eta worked in unclean jobs like butchery, tanning, executioners and undertakers and were forced to live outside Tokyo in small ’discriminated communities .

it would be like a fantasy human nation that honours Dwarves as autocthones but forces unclean humans to live in rural hamlets.

for the purposes of this discussion its an example of humans being irrationally prejudiced, in the face of which racial difference is harsldy a factor in determining how people might tolerate each other
But, my point is, it wasn't until fairly recently that anything like genocide occured. These peoples lived more or less side by side for a thousand years first. Sure, there were problems. No one says it has to be pretty when you have mixed populations. But, the idea that any mixed population will always result in genocide - a point that has been argued repeatedly in this thread - or that no groups will ever mix, is just ridiculous.
 

Reynard

Legend
One of the more interesting (IMO) discussions to emerge in this thread is the one that boils down to the difference between the players' character choices being the foundations of the world building, versus players coming into an existing world and building characters that fit it.

Broadly and generally speaking I am team."whatever." I mean, s GM, I prefer 6 races over 60,but I don't actually care too much what those 6 are. In addition, I don't do deep world building and prefer an improvisational approach to the game. So if the party ends up a little weird, I'll do my best to roll with it.

That said, I totally understand the world builder preference too.you can't build anything resembling a decent world in the week between session 0 and session 1. World builder GMs often put years or decades into their creations. And while it is possible some unexpected request on behalf of a player will add something of value to the overall world, it's not a guarantee. So I can see the very real reason behind "For the last time,no, you can't play a mushroom man."

This applies to published worlds, too. Sure, the Realms and Eberron are kitchen sink (in different ways) and a GM would be hard pressed to justify "no tabaxi". But if I were running Dragonlance I would absolutely be on board with, "your choices are human, (half)elf, dwarf and kender." (Yes, I know I left gnomes off and I meant to.)
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
That's... not logic.
It is logic. If you actually bothered to read my posts upthread, you would understand that.

Again, no. this is a complete misreading of history.
You should check your history if you think that.

You do realize that England got invaded like a million times right? By all sorts of groups. And those groups didn't leave, nor did they exterminate the existing population. And that's just invaders - like the Scandinavians, what would become the French, the Germans, and any number of other groups. We know for a fact that the Romans brought legionnaires from Africa. You figure that in the, what, five centuries or so of Roman rule, none of those people stayed? Never married into the families?
LOL a million times? Way to exaggerate. :D

Yeah, all sorts of groups invaded, and a lot of them DID leave. After pillaging and killing and taking slaves back with them. The same thing has happened over and over all through history. And entire populations of people were wiped out.

Sure, some of them stayed. So what? They still represent a minority of the people they stayed with.

People were pretty darn tolerant of the people who spent money in their shops and brought trade goods.
Right, and they were pretty darn tolerant of invaders who slaughtered entire villages... :rolleyes:

I have to admit, I absolutely love how these conversations go.

A. Why do you like pineapple on your pizza?
B. Well, I love this, that and the other thing about pineapple on my pizza.
C. I hate pineapple on my pizza and my reasoning is based on logic, so, therefore pineapple on pizza is terrible.
B. But, I was asked why I like pineapple on pizza. No one asked you why you don't like it.
A: No, C is right. Pineapple on pizza is just bad.
B. Uhhh,
I have to admit how I love when people chime into the middle of discussions without actually knowing what they are talking about. For example, your quote above, implying someone like myself is saying having lots of race is "just bad". I (for one) never said it was bad if OTHER people like it, but I know it isn't for me.

The first question in the OP was: Does that thought appeal to you? Which I answered.

And a lot of people have said "no" and expressed their reasons why. You might not agree with their logic, but it is still logic. It's not like I'm just saying "this is horrible" and haven't been offering my reasons when people have asked.

For example, one of my logical reasons is:

A lot of races makes each one feel less unique. The pool (so to say) becomes over saturated. What was once special and unique is now common and bland. "Hey, look fellas, another Leonin! That is like, what, the third one this week, right?"

Another problem with having too many races in your game world is player indecision. Should I play X or Y, maybe Z, oh, I just can't decide! Or examining all the races purely on mechanical preferences instead of making any attempt to cultivate their PC based on the choice of race, because this leads to the "humans in funny masks" issue.

It is the same reason having an abundance of magic, spellcasters, etc. in the game makes magic less "magical" and interesting because it is everywhere.

Anyway, read through the thread, plenty have people have stated an answer to the OP's first question and for some it is "just the way they like it" while for others it is (even if also) because it causes issues with their game they want to avoid.

But, my point is, it wasn't until fairly recently that anything like genocide occured.
Aha, right, here are some examples not quite "fairly recently":

Genocide Examples​

  • Native Americans in North America. From the time that Christopher Columbus first reached what would become the Americas, attempts were made at wiping out the indigenous people (often known as Native Americans, American Indians, or Amerindians). The vast majority of these were killed as a result of the diseases that Europeans brought. Although the Europeans were immune to these diseases, the Native Americans were not, causing as many as 100 million of them to die from sickness. Disease was used as a biological weapon against them, and throughout the 1700s and 1800s, the United States continued warring with the remaining natives.
  • The Haiti Massacre. In an attempt to rid Haiti of its white population, Jean-Jacques Dessalines led a massacre between February and April of 1804, resulting in the deaths of up to 5,000 French Creoles of all ages and genders. According to Dessalines, the massacre was an attempt to preserve the nation. By 1805, only non-whites were legally allowed to own land or be considered citizens of Haiti.
  • The Dzungar Massacre. The Dzungar were a nomadic empire that was at war with the Qing Dynasty in China in the 17th and 18th centuries. A campaign from the Qing government was aimed at the complete destruction of the people group, with 40% being killed by smallpox, 30% by massacre, and many of the remaining people fleeing the country to escape death. The result of the campaign was the collapse of the Dzungar state and the near-eradication of its people.
  • Ethnic Cleansing of Circassia. Circassia, an area along coast of the Black Sea in Russia, was seen by the Tsarist Empire as a strategic necessity. For a century, Russia waged war against the Circassians, with more than 90% of the nation being annihilated or deported. According to some historians, this was the largest genocide of the 19th century, with up to 1.5 million Circassians being killed and the rest deported.
  • The Holodomor. The Soviet Union was responsible for campaigns against many people groups during its existence. The Holodomor was an intentional famine caused by the Soviet government confiscating the whole harvest of 1933 in the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and elsewhere, leaving the peasantry with no food to feed themselves. As many as ten million people starved to death across the Soviet Union as a result, the majority of them in Ukraine.
  • The Holocaust. In one of the world's most infamous instances of genocide, the Holocaust was the attempt by the Nazi government to exterminate Europe's Jewish population. Concentration and mass extermination camps either worked Jews to death or gassed them, with approximately 6 million being killed. During the same period, Germany also attempted to exterminate other ethic groups, including Slavs, the Romani, and even the mentally handicapped. Estimates suggest that more than 16 million people were exterminated by the Nazi government before World War II came to an end in 1945.
Now, "genocide" is a relatively modern term. But wiping out and decimating regions was done by many ancient cultures (such as Rome vs. Carthage).

These peoples lived more or less side by side for a thousand years first
Aha, and had numerous wars, conflicts, and invasions between many of them...

But, the idea that any mixed population will always result in genocide - a point that has been argued repeatedly in this thread - or that no groups will ever mix, is just ridiculous.
Sure, if anyone was arguing those things... I haven't been reading everyone's posts, so I don't know who might be doing that!

I've personally stated that having 60+ races in a world would likely lead to most of them being destroyed (due to competition for resources, etc.), but never anything about "mixed populations" wiping one or another out. I've certainly never claimed "no groups will ever mix". But there certainly has been cultures in real life that have been very homogeneous and even xenophobic to a large degree.

Maybe you're reading more into people's comments than what is actually there???
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
One of the more interesting (IMO) discussions to emerge in this thread is the one that boils down to the difference between the players' character choices being the foundations of the world building, versus players coming into an existing world and building characters that fit it.
Yep, that is probably the best thing to take away from all this. :)
 

Hussar

Legend
snip

Yeah, all sorts of groups invaded, and a lot of them DID leave. After pillaging and killing and taking slaves back with them. The same thing has happened over and over all through history. And entire populations of people were wiped out.

Sure, some of them stayed. So what? They still represent a minority of the people they stayed with.
But, that's the point. No one is claiming that mixed populations in D&D have to represent majorities. The fact that you HAVE mixed populations throughout history in nearly every corner of the world shows that your point about there couldn't possibly be large enough numbers of mixed races (in the D&D sense) in one area as historically "accurate" is just not even close.

Entire populations of people being wiped out is a VERY modern thing. I'll delve into that more down below.
/snip

Aha, right, here are some examples not quite "fairly recently":

Genocide Examples​

  • Native Americans in North America. From the time that Christopher Columbus first reached what would become the Americas, attempts were made at wiping out the indigenous people (often known as Native Americans, American Indians, or Amerindians). The vast majority of these were killed as a result of the diseases that Europeans brought. Although the Europeans were immune to these diseases, the Native Americans were not, causing as many as 100 million of them to die from sickness. Disease was used as a biological weapon against them, and throughout the 1700s and 1800s, the United States continued warring with the remaining natives
    • The Haiti Massacre. In an attempt to rid Haiti of its white population, Jean-Jacques Dessalines led a massacre between February and April of 1804, resulting in the deaths of up to 5,000 French Creoles of all ages and genders. According to Dessalines, the massacre was an attempt to preserve the nation. By 1805, only non-whites were legally allowed to own land or be considered citizens of Haiti.
    • The Dzungar Massacre. The Dzungar were a nomadic empire that was at war with the Qing Dynasty in China in the 17th and 18th centuries. A campaign from the Qing government was aimed at the complete destruction of the people group, with 40% being killed by smallpox, 30% by massacre, and many of the remaining people fleeing the country to escape death. The result of the campaign was the collapse of the Dzungar state and the near-eradication of its people.
    • Ethnic Cleansing of Circassia. Circassia, an area along coast of the Black Sea in Russia, was seen by the Tsarist Empire as a strategic necessity. For a century, Russia waged war against the Circassians, with more than 90% of the nation being annihilated or deported. According to some historians, this was the largest genocide of the 19th century, with up to 1.5 million Circassians being killed and the rest deported.
    • The Holodomor. The Soviet Union was responsible for campaigns against many people groups during its existence. The Holodomor was an intentional famine caused by the Soviet government confiscating the whole harvest of 1933 in the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and elsewhere, leaving the peasantry with no food to feed themselves. As many as ten million people starved to death across the Soviet Union as a result, the majority of them in Ukraine.
    • The Holocaust. In one of the world's most infamous instances of genocide, the Holocaust was the attempt by the Nazi government to exterminate Europe's Jewish population. Concentration and mass extermination camps either worked Jews to death or gassed them, with approximately 6 million being killed. During the same period, Germany also attempted to exterminate other ethic groups, including Slavs, the Romani, and even the mentally handicapped. Estimates suggest that more than 16 million people were exterminated by the Nazi government before World War II came to an end in 1945.
    • Now, "genocide" is a relatively modern term. But wiping out and decimating regions was done by many ancient cultures (such as Rome vs. Carthage).
Note, EVERY one of your examples are anachronistic to a D&D world. As in centuries after D&D's presumed setting. Your earliest one, the Americas, was largely accidental, not intentional. And, all your later examples are post industrial. So, yeah, fairly recently.

Am I saying that genocide never happened? Of course not. There are all sorts of examples. But, genocide is a relatively modern invention. You didn't slaughter the indiginous populations for several reasons - one, you needed workers to work for you, so, killing them all wasn't a good idea. Two, you probably lacked the ability to do so, even if you wanted to.

And, lastly, while you have given examples of genocide, your argument that mixed groups would lead to "most of them being destroyed" simply has no basis in actual history. Groups mixed quite successfully for centuries. Heck, ask yourself why English adds an S to the end of plurals when German doesn't. Why don't we have gendered nouns like French or German? How many words in your vocabulary are cognates that you use every single day and have existed in the language for centuries? Oh, right, that's because England and English is a mish mash of dozens of different cultures that have smooshed up against each other for centuries. Yet, there are still English people.
 

Reynard

Legend
Presuming races have to breed true, I think you end up with a lot of ghettoization of cosmopolitan cities in a high racial/species diversity D&D. In the real world you get that too but in a lot of cases people that can do interbreed and merge into the dominate culture. In fantasyland where tabaxi can only breed with tabaxi, you are going to end up with "Little Tabaxiland" more often than not. Especially assuming the non-dominant race are immigrants of some sort or another, they are likely to follow real world models and settle where others of their race/culture settle by and large.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
But, my point is, it wasn't until fairly recently that anything like genocide occured. These peoples lived more or less side by side for a thousand years first. Sure, there were problems. No one says it has to be pretty when you have mixed populations. But, the idea that any mixed population will always result in genocide - a point that has been argued repeatedly in this thread - or that no groups will ever mix, is just ridiculous.
It’s also got a very unsavory history.

Reality is, mixed populations have about as many problems are homogenous ones, and throughout history, most of the time the people you go to war with one generation, your people have traded mostly peacefully for several generations before, and will again for several generations more.


Like historical intolerance has much more often been extra taxes and raiding a town you don’t have a lot of relatives in when things get really bad. Not extermination.

The headlines are not the most common events, in other words.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
But, that's the point. No one is claiming that mixed populations in D&D have to represent majorities. The fact that you HAVE mixed populations throughout history in nearly every corner of the world shows that your point about there couldn't possibly be large enough numbers of mixed races (in the D&D sense) in one area as historically "accurate" is just not even close.

Entire populations of people being wiped out is a VERY modern thing. I'll delve into that more down below.

Note, EVERY one of your examples are anachronistic to a D&D world. As in centuries after D&D's presumed setting. Your earliest one, the Americas, was largely accidental, not intentional. And, all your later examples are post industrial. So, yeah, fairly recently.

Am I saying that genocide never happened? Of course not. There are all sorts of examples. But, genocide is a relatively modern invention. You didn't slaughter the indiginous populations for several reasons - one, you needed workers to work for you, so, killing them all wasn't a good idea. Two, you probably lacked the ability to do so, even if you wanted to.

And, lastly, while you have given examples of genocide, your argument that mixed groups would lead to "most of them being destroyed" simply has no basis in actual history. Groups mixed quite successfully for centuries. Heck, ask yourself why English adds an S to the end of plurals when German doesn't. Why don't we have gendered nouns like French or German? How many words in your vocabulary are cognates that you use every single day and have existed in the language for centuries? Oh, right, that's because England and English is a mish mash of dozens of different cultures that have smooshed up against each other for centuries. Yet, there are still English people.
Or look at the English and the Irish. Oh hey the Irish are still around. 🤷‍♂️
 

Hussar

Legend
Presuming races have to breed true, I think you end up with a lot of ghettoization of cosmopolitan cities in a high racial/species diversity D&D. In the real world you get that too but in a lot of cases people that can do interbreed and merge into the dominate culture. In fantasyland where tabaxi can only breed with tabaxi, you are going to end up with "Little Tabaxiland" more often than not. Especially assuming the non-dominant race are immigrants of some sort or another, they are likely to follow real world models and settle where others of their race/culture settle by and large.
Which, again, is perfectly fine and understandable. Tension in the setting this way is a fantastic idea. Lots of stuff to mine from that sort of thing.

But, the fact that you have "Little Tabaxiland" pretty much means that there are enough of a given population within that area to actually give rise to a "neighbourhood".

What I find really funny about all this is that 99% of the time when people talk about wanting half a dozen or so PC races in the setting, it's pretty much always the Tolkien races - and they live together in more or less no problems because .... reasons. But, for some reason, the notion that half a dozen races can co-exist but a couple of dozen somehow becomes unbelievable. :erm:

Just because there are 60 (ish) PC races in 5e does not mean that you will actually see them in a given campaign. This bizarre notion of top down setting creation where you must define the entire world before play starts is just weird. Every single published setting has added races after the initial publication. Every ... single ... one. Yet, apparently, I guess that means that every single published setting is totally unbelievable and unrealistic?

Good grief, even the notion of geography doesn't really apply. You have numerous races with planar ties. Fey or whatever. Never minding the underground races as well. The amount of "livable" land in a D&D world is VASTLY larger than the real world.
 


Reynard

Legend
Which, again, is perfectly fine and understandable. Tension in the setting this way is a fantastic idea. Lots of stuff to mine from that sort of thing.
It certainly implies a lot of potential adventure ideas, which for ny money is what RPG settings should do.
But, the fact that you have "Little Tabaxiland" pretty much means that there are enough of a given population within that area to actually give rise to a "neighbourhood".
Yup.
What I find really funny about all this is that 99% of the time when people talk about wanting half a dozen or so PC races in the setting, it's pretty much always the Tolkien races - and they live together in more or less no problems because .... reasons. But, for some reason, the notion that half a dozen races can co-exist but a couple of dozen somehow becomes unbelievable. :erm:
I mean it is more work with more races and "stranger" races, so it's understandable.
This bizarre notion of top down setting creation where you must define the entire world before play starts is just weird.
I agree except with the use of the word "bizarre." I understand why some folks build their worlds in very precise detail, even if I am not inclined to do it that way myself.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Which, again, is perfectly fine and understandable. Tension in the setting this way is a fantastic idea. Lots of stuff to mine from that sort of thing.

But, the fact that you have "Little Tabaxiland" pretty much means that there are enough of a given population within that area to actually give rise to a "neighbourhood".

What I find really funny about all this is that 99% of the time when people talk about wanting half a dozen or so PC races in the setting, it's pretty much always the Tolkien races - and they live together in more or less no problems because .... reasons. But, for some reason, the notion that half a dozen races can co-exist but a couple of dozen somehow becomes unbelievable. :erm:

Just because there are 60 (ish) PC races in 5e does not mean that you will actually see them in a given campaign. This bizarre notion of top down setting creation where you must define the entire world before play starts is just weird. Every single published setting has added races after the initial publication. Every ... single ... one. Yet, apparently, I guess that means that every single published setting is totally unbelievable and unrealistic?

Good grief, even the notion of geography doesn't really apply. You have numerous races with planar ties. Fey or whatever. Never minding the underground races as well. The amount of "livable" land in a D&D world is VASTLY larger than the real world.
Yeah, the only thing I can think of that would make me reduce the number of races would be that so many of them live in the wilderness, which could make it feel like there is nowhere that is truly uninhabited by sentient tool using people.

But like, I just…still have wilderness.

Because there are a few million of each race worldwide at most, and I assume most settings are as big as Earth, and any given specific population of Goliaths is like 200 people, spread over at least two tribes, so there is plenty of high mountain that they don’t inhabit.
 

Hussar

Legend
I agree except with the use of the word "bizarre." I understand why some folks build their worlds in very precise detail, even if I am not inclined to do it that way myself.
Yeah, I'll cop to that. I am very, very much not a world builder and I find most world building to be tedious and boring. If it's not directly tied to the campaign, I simply don't care. And, since I'm a big believer in disposable settings where you run one campaign in one setting and the next campaign is probably in an entirely different setting, most of this discussion is very alien to my experience.

The notion of having a single setting that you keep running campaign after campaign in just holds zero appeal to me.
 

Hussar

Legend
Yeah, the only thing I can think of that would make me reduce the number of races would be that so many of them live in the wilderness, which could make it feel like there is nowhere that is truly uninhabited by sentient tool using people.

But like, I just…still have wilderness.

Because there are a few million of each race worldwide at most, and I assume most settings are as big as Earth, and any given specific population of Goliaths is like 200 people, spread over at least two tribes, so there is plenty of high mountain that they don’t inhabit.
I do think that people underestimate just how empty the world used to be pre-industrial age.

Like about 80% of the population is gone. Think about that for a second. Whatever town/city you happen to live in right now, in a D&D world, should be about 15% of it's current size. That's a LOT of empty space. My hometown in rural Canada wouldn't even exist, nor would virtually all the towns within a 100 kilometer radius. I'm from Southern Ontario. That would largely be entirely empty of people a thousand years ago. Tiny bands (by modern standards) living more or less beside rivers and that's about it.

And most of the world should look like this. The problem is, D&D fantasy worlds aren't designed like that. Everyone takes the Greyhawk/Forgotten Realms route of a more or less Industrial Age population. Good grief, the Sword coast has multiple cities of 300 000 people or more, all within a few hundred miles of each other. That's insane. Most of these cities shouldn't exist if we're actually being rigorous about it.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
I do think that people underestimate just how empty the world used to be pre-industrial age.

Like about 80% of the population is gone. Think about that for a second. Whatever town/city you happen to live in right now, in a D&D world, should be about 15% of it's current size. That's a LOT of empty space. My hometown in rural Canada wouldn't even exist, nor would virtually all the towns within a 100 kilometer radius. I'm from Southern Ontario. That would largely be entirely empty of people a thousand years ago. Tiny bands (by modern standards) living more or less beside rivers and that's about it.

And most of the world should look like this. The problem is, D&D fantasy worlds aren't designed like that. Everyone takes the Greyhawk/Forgotten Realms route of a more or less Industrial Age population. Good grief, the Sword coast has multiple cities of 300 000 people or more, all within a few hundred miles of each other. That's insane. Most of these cities shouldn't exist if we're actually being rigorous about it.
That's very true. A homebrew world with an eye toward historical population numbers would end up with far fewer people.
 

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