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

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Neither has to adapt and no one is forcing people with incompatible preferences to play together.
But why is the DM making a big deal about something they demonstrably don’t care about?

Presumably, the player and the DM want to play with each other. In your premise, the player wants to play a triton, but the DM’s setting only has sea elves. The DM’s only stated reason for not wanting tritons is that he finds sea elves and tritons fill the same niche.

So why not replace the sea elves with tritons? Why is any change to the setting considered “irreconciliable differences”?

Fun fact: the term “irreconcilable differences”comes from matrimonial law, where it was one of the grounds for divorce before “no fault divorce” was implemented. “Irreconcilable differences” was limited to reasons that were well, irreconcilable, not “I want to go to Hawaii on vacation” and “he wants to go to Colorado”.
 

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DMs are typically resistant to other people’s ideas because they’re constructed in isolation of the world rather than to fit in and be part of what already exists.
Hhehe… I read “DMs are typically resistant to other people’s ideas because their setting is constructed in isolation of their players rather than try to fit in” which I think is closer to the mark.
 

But why is the DM making a big deal about something they demonstrably don’t care about?

Presumably, the player and the DM want to play with each other. In your premise, the player wants to play a triton, but the DM’s setting only has sea elves. The DM’s only stated reason for not wanting tritons is that he finds sea elves and tritons fill the same niche.

So why not replace the sea elves with tritons? Why is any change to the setting considered “irreconciliable differences”?

Fun fact: the term “irreconcilable differences”comes from matrimonial law, where it was one of the grounds for divorce before “no fault divorce” was implemented. “Irreconcilable differences” was limited to reasons that were well, irreconcilable, not “I want to go to Hawaii on vacation” and “he wants to go to Colorado”.
I didn't say the GM doesn't care about it. If the GM does not want to replace sea elves with tritons, presumably they have already considered their role in the setting. For example their relationship with other elves might be relevant.
 

Yeah, I truly don't mean this in a negative way, but while I can see Triton and Merfolk overlapping, considering either of them to be the same fictional concept as Sea Elves or Water Genasi is...well, I just don't get it, personally.
Exactly! Clearly to @Crimson Longinus they are interchangeable, but to me, there are clear reasons why someone might want to play a Triton rather than a sea elf or a water genasi.
 

Because you want non-humans to be diverse like humans instead of being weirdly fladerised and thematically narrow.
I reject the notion that having a diverse palette implies they are always "weirdly flanderized and thematically narrow."

Particularly because it's literally not possible for most groups to have more than half a dozen different races in them anyway. You're not going to get that in-depth an analysis of more than a handful, no matter what.
 

Loxodons are a bit more iffy due to their animal-heads, which may not fit the setting. Take Conans Tower of the Elephant for instance - Yag-kosha, the Elephant headed alien is a unique being in the world, though it is the last survivor of what would probably be celestials (aardlings?), some DMs might want to preserve the uniqueness of Yag-Kosha or Ganesha rather than having a community of them ignored in some corner of their world
Sure, and that would be extremely easy to explain to a player who asked to play a Loxodon.
 

Hussar

Legend
I didn't say the GM doesn't care about it. If the GM does not want to replace sea elves with tritons, presumably they have already considered their role in the setting. For example their relationship with other elves might be relevant.
Which, fair enough. So, since the DM cannot or will not replace one with another because that would change the dynamic, then obviously these two things are not so similar - thus the whole argument for not including them because they overlap the same niche sort of falls apart.

And, frankly, I've yet to see a single fantasy world so thoroughly developed that it cannot incorporate new races.

Now, I get the problem with players who create these characters without taking the campaign into consideration at all. Fair enough. I personally strongly dislike it when players don't make an issue out of their character's race - regardless of what that race is. The whole, "Umm, since when was your character an elf?" question that comes up repeatedly with such players drives me to distraction.

But, if the player is making an earnest attempt - I'm all for it. You want to play a flying miniature elephant paladin? Go for it. Impress me. Show me what you can do.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I really don't see why it wouldn't be valid approach for tabletop RPGs
I didn't say it isn't valid.
I said few people do it.
People who want small race lists typically want small subclass and culture lists.

"Small race list but large culutre list" is just the hardest path for little reward unless you have to program it aka video games

In any case, I watched some Pirates of Dark Water as it was recommended in this thread. It has cool weird fantasy setting, I really like those. Though it doesn't seem to have nearly the amount of diversity implied here. Most non-D&D fantasy settings don't. They might have dozen species at most, and that's a lot. Over sixty is unheard of, even that famous Star Wars cantina doesn't have even near that amount. I like settings that feel really weird and alien, but still seem to make internal sense. Throwing in everything various D&D writers dreamed up over the decades in one setting is unlikely result this sort of internal coherence.

My point is it is easier to have dozens of interesting races than dozens of interesting subraces. A few interesting races and subraces is easiest but it is harder to fill up a whole D&D style world with that.

This is why most official D&D setting have tons of races. This is why strategy games (Warhammer, Warcraft, Might&Magic) have tons of races.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
I personnally don't build worlds out of the blue, I build campaign-specific background named "worlds". I have no problem as a GM to make stringent restriction on what the players options are (in this campaign, the bad guy will be the king of X, so no, you can't be a nobleman from X up to this campaign is centered on a family of X. So you must all be X, outside of ONE favourite employee that wouldn't be part of the family but be considered nearly as such). So I totally understand why GM wouldn't want to accomodate anything the players can come up with, unless it has nearly no revelance to the story being told.

If it is a "you have all met in a tavern" campaign, then it is much easier to accomodate a triton (I came from.... that other continent on the map where we won't be going in this campaign, and I know that your waters are full of sahuagin around here".)
 
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Which, fair enough. So, since the DM cannot or will not replace one with another because that would change the dynamic, then obviously these two things are not so similar - thus the whole argument for not including them because they overlap the same niche sort of falls apart.
They're similar, but that doesn't mean they're identical. But I like thematical clarity, and I wouldn't include several species with strongly overlapping niches and themes. I think aquatic species works better if these are not several, same with species of big strong honourable people or species of small cunning tricksters etc.

And, frankly, I've yet to see a single fantasy world so thoroughly developed that it cannot incorporate new races.
"Can" is different than "should." The question is whether the world is improved by such inclusion and are the themes of existing species diluted.

Now, I get the problem with players who create these characters without taking the campaign into consideration at all. Fair enough. I personally strongly dislike it when players don't make an issue out of their character's race - regardless of what that race is. The whole, "Umm, since when was your character an elf?" question that comes up repeatedly with such players drives me to distraction.

But, if the player is making an earnest attempt - I'm all for it. You want to play a flying miniature elephant paladin? Go for it. Impress me. Show me what you can do.
That often is a symptom of the species not being rooted in the setting in the first place. If the GM doesn't care about the species' place in the world why should the player? With more limited palette such connections are easier to provide.
 

See, I feel your stance is, "if the player wants something, just give it to them". I don't think its fair to the DM to just do whatever the player wants.
My stance has always been:
  • if something doesn’t work explain why;
  • be open-minded; and
  • try to come to an agreement like a normal person.

@Tonguez provides a very good example with Loxodons.

I see two main issues:
  • DM who are too proprietary of their setting and resent changing anything about their setting to accommodate players;
  • oversimplifying the “can I play this race?” argument as if either the DM must always accede to the pkayer’s request or the player must always bend to the DM’s will.

Here’s an example. DM is running Curse of Strahd, limits it to say, 5 races. Player wants to play a gnome, which isn’t on the list.

Maybe the DM didn’t want to include gnomes because he finds the a bit too light-hearted and silly for a serious campaign with mature themes. If the player commits to a serious concept for the gnome (maybe a druid attached to the land, which is resonant with some of the themes of CoS), then maybe the DM allows the gnome.

On the other hand, if the player only wanted the gnome for the woodland creature aspect, maybe the player compromises and plays the DM’s homebrew leshy class instead.
 


Nice to know you can brush off someone wanting to have a living, logical and consistent setting with several variations on ‘does it matter?’ And ignoring the actual point that all those questions were leading up to, the player doesn’t consider the world when they make what they want they just make it.

A player just wanting to crowbar in an entire settlement to a constructed world to facilitate their character seems akin to someone taking a marker to someone else’s painting because ‘well I thought it would look better with a tree there’
Please consider the imagery you are using there. It is “your setting”. Players suggesting lore or races are “taking a marker to your painting”.

That is the attitude that I am pushing back against because it leaves no room for player input.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I explained before. But in simple terms.

It's is easier to make a tabaxi history, culture, and stats feel interesting and diffrent from human's than it is to make wild elf history, culture, and stats feel interesting and diffrent from wood elf, high elf, sea elf, dark elf, etc.

Ican do a lot more with a "cat-person" than "another type of elf or dwarf".

Not that it's impossible. But most DMs who go that route don't go that deep. They don't have the passion to do it. And they don't tend to want players to adjust the core of the races. So these outside subraces end up really shallow.
 

For the same reason that it is easier to have twelve different colors than it is to have twelve perfectly distinct shades of a single color?

Subtle distinctions when you're forced to bake everything from the same source dough is challenging. It's not impossible by any means--humans IRL do it--but when you can draw on physiology as an additional source of differentiation, it's useful.

I've given both eladrin and dragonborn examples. There are other examples if you go digging--for example, if you'll pardon the pun: dwarves generally live underground, or so it's implied, so they either need some kind of non-photosynthetic food source, or a way to get sunlight-equivalent light underground, or a very reliable source to harvest or trade that they can consume. That leads to interesting cultural information, which provides fodder for new cultural background.

This isn't a matter of leaning on cliches or abandoning the effort at worldbuilding. It's simply that making a dozen different clearly-distinct Wood Elf cultures is probably not going to be easy, because you're giving up simplistic (brute physiology), intermediate (cultural implications hanging off of said physiology), and complex (likely sociocultural interpretations of said physiology) worldbuilding resources.
 

Reynard

Legend
Please consider the imagery you are using there. It is “your setting”. Players suggesting lore or races are “taking a marker to your painting”.

That is the attitude that I am pushing back against because it leaves no room for player input.
Sometimes it is the GM's setting. Many GMs are intense world builders and they invite players to explore those worlds in their campaigns. They don't want player input on the nations of the south (or whatever) because then it wouldn't be their (the GM's) world any longer. That's a totally valid way to do it, and a smart one if you are the kind of GM that runs many campaigns (concurrently or serially) in your world. As long as the GM is up front about it, a player asking for some change to meet their preferences is the one acting a little out of line.
 

For the same reason that it is easier to have twelve different colors than it is to have twelve perfectly distinct shades of a single color?
But once we are at over sixty colours it starts to get pretty hard to keep them distinct, so it makes more sense to treat similar colours as part of a same group.

Subtle distinctions when you're forced to bake everything from the same source dough is challenging. It's not impossible by any means--humans IRL do it--but when you can draw on physiology as an additional source of differentiation, it's useful.

I've given both eladrin and dragonborn examples. There are other examples if you go digging--for example, if you'll pardon the pun: dwarves generally live underground, or so it's implied, so they either need some kind of non-photosynthetic food source, or a way to get sunlight-equivalent light underground, or a very reliable source to harvest or trade that they can consume. That leads to interesting cultural information, which provides fodder for new cultural background.

This isn't a matter of leaning on cliches or abandoning the effort at worldbuilding. It's simply that making a dozen different clearly-distinct Wood Elf cultures is probably not going to be easy, because you're giving up simplistic (brute physiology), intermediate (cultural implications hanging off of said physiology), and complex (likely sociocultural interpretations of said physiology) worldbuilding resources.

But the thing is the species actaully aren't that physically distinct. Like people cannot even tell halflings and gnomes apart by appearance. To me it makes more sense to have one combined halfling/gnome species that has different cultures.
 

I explained before. But in simple terms.

It's is easier to make a tabaxi history, culture, and stats feel interesting and diffrent from human's than it is to make wild elf history, culture, and stats feel interesting and diffrent from wood elf, high elf, sea elf, dark elf, etc.

Ican do a lot more with a "cat-person" than "another type of elf or dwarf".

Not that it's impossible. But most DMs who go that route don't go that deep. They don't have the passion to do it. And they don't tend to want players to adjust the core of the races. So these outside subraces end up really shallow.
Yeah. As a general rule you get three types of elves, one or maybe two types of dwarves, and one (or maybe two if you're very lucky) types of halflings, at absolute maximum.

For Elves, it's Haughty Elves, Hippie Elves, and Punk Elves (evil optional.) Dwarves are either beer-swilling physical warriors and/or laborers, or (if you get a second archetype) soft-handed, highly-educated, rich noblemen who are the ones that employ the previous type. Halflings are either English landed gentry or rough-and-tumble commonfolk (usually only one or the other, but occasionally you get both.)

Humans you usually get somewhere between three and six types, which are all real-world cultures with the serial numbers filed off. Celts, Romans, Arabs, Vikings, an amalgam of India/China/Japan, or pyramid-builders (which may be Egyptian, Aztec, Mayan, or a few other options.) Alternatively, the setting leans extra hard into nearly-explicit European analogues, and you'll get a Venice-like merchant "republic" (that is actually an empire), a very glamorized HRE, a Papal States type theocracy, the Celts again, and sometimes analogues of medieval France and/or the Umayyad Caliphate.

And yes, lots of people rely on these really quite staid stereotypes without delving into them any further. The Belgariad, for example, is practically built out of tropes like this.
 

But once we are at over sixty colours it starts to get pretty hard to keep them distinct, so it makes more sense to treat similar colours as part of a same group.
Has anyone suggested otherwise? I certainly haven't. I've explicitly said, in my counting of races in 5e, that I lump all elves together, including things like Astral elves and Eladrin, even though I think there are meaningful differences in texture for some of those (e.g. eladrin teleportation.)

But the thing is the species actaully aren't that physically distinct. Like people cannot even tell halflings and gnomes apart by appearance. To me it makes more sense to have one combined halfling/gnome species that has different cultures.
Which is something I've explicitly advocated more than once. My "hinnfolk" merge the two archetypes and make them lean more into the fey-like aspects of the two. Their nature is not based on what their parents are, but based on where they're born. Surface-born hinnfolk are either lightfoot (those associated with higher altitudes or with living in trees) or stoutheart (those associated with lower altitudes or living on plains), while those born below the surface are either cragstep (shallow caves) or ghostwise (the deep underearth.) All of them have some supernatural luck and stealth, but differ in how they relate to the world around them.

My other groupings, if you're curious (I have shared this with you previously, but that was a long time ago):
Beastfolk (e.g. minotaurs and tabaxi--their physiological variability is an innate part of their species)
Dragoborn or Scalefolk
Dwarves or Stoutfolk
Elves or Feyfolk
Forgeborn or Metalfolk
Halflings or Hinnfolk, as stated
Orcs/"Goblinoids" or Wildfolk
Planeborn or Pithfolk (they're partially made of the "pith," the stuff, of a non-prime-material plane)
Undead or Soulfolk (vampires, ghosts, revenants, skeletons.)

And of course Humans, also known as Wanderfolk. Dual-Blooded options like Half-Elf and Half-Orc would be variants of Human.

By merging these things together, I can cover a huge swathe of archetypes and ideas very quickly. The vast majority of playable D&D creatures fit into here somewhere.

As long as the GM is up front about it
That would be rather the big issue. A lot of DMs I've spoken with seem to think this approach is so blindingly obvious and universal, there's no need to even discuss it--that's just how all DMs everywhere operate, as far as they're concerned. Why discuss something when you think literally everyone always does it 100% of the time?

Hence why I put so damn much emphasis on achieving consensus and being forthright and specific.
 

Oofta

Legend
Please consider the imagery you are using there. It is “your setting”. Players suggesting lore or races are “taking a marker to your painting”.

That is the attitude that I am pushing back against because it leaves no room for player input.
Or it just leaves room for different player input. When I play, I want to discover the world the DM created. In part because I DM, but also because I've played in campaigns that were designed by committee and it was kind of a bland mess that didn't really fit together. In any case for me I have a curated list in large part because I've been running the same campaign world for a long time. I've pitched doing something completely different now and then (i.e. Esper Genesis) but my players like the world I've created. That world includes a long running history of PCs having impacts large and small on the world.

I think I have a more interesting world in part because there's been a singular vision behind it's foundations. If I spun up a new campaign every year and a new campaign setting it would be different. Yes, players contribute via their backstories now and then but primarily they contribute by what they accomplish, what they do or decide not to do, what stories we weave together. That may not be your style and that's fine.

Please consider that not everyone on both sides of the DM's screen shares your vision of how things "should" work.
 

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