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

Status
Not open for further replies.
I think @Vaalingrade ‘s point, which is a reasonable one, is that the definition of “verisimilitude” isn’t consistent.

The people who raise “verisimilitude” arguments to sideline fighters or to argue that 20 different races is unrealistic, never raise it when it comes to the existence of dragons (let alone their being able to fly), or the fact that most settings have underground dungeons.
It has been raised though. In my own setting, dragons are part elemental, thus their ability to fly is magical. Prior to that, I had dragons that were more pterodactyl in nature, bird bones and all. A super light, yet durable skin is what helped with their AC. My underground dungeons used to be limited, and included things for ventilation and a somewhat believable ecosystem. Now, there aren't any dungeons, just mines and caves.

I have seen many other DMs make similar setting choices, all in the name of verisimilitude.

I feel like one of the reasons people like certain fantasy books are the logical underpinnings of the world. Are worlds with no logical underpinning fun? Of course. I love them too. But, to say because you use the word for X, yet ignore Y, does not invalidate the X. I think that is what is often missing from these discussions.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Well, to go back to your example (merfolk vs. Tritons vs. Sea elves vs. Water genasi), just because the DM views them as interchangeable, doesn’t mean the player does. So why does the player have to adapt if he cares but the DM doesn’t?
Sorry to interject, but can you just agree with @Crimson Longinus that there are levels to this. If I worked on a setting for several years, and finally came to a place where I feel comfortable bringing it to players, in part, because it is fully fleshed out - why on earth would the very first choice of a player be to change this? It seems rude, or at best, ignorant?
Now, on the other hand, most campaigns don't have a world as fleshed out as this. And in those cases, yes, the DM should accommodate. It doesn't matter what they want to be because the geopolitical/resource/cultural/racial/geographical ideas have not been set into motion. This means open season for player choices.
I would add that each of these campaigns runs very differently. The former being a story based on character connections to the world and how their choices impact those connections. The latter being a story based on character motives and their connection to the plot. Of course, it is hazy and there is cross-pollination. But if I had to summarize, this has been my experience.
 
Last edited:

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Sorry to interject, but can you just agree with @Crimson Longinus that there are levels to this. If I worked on a setting for several years, and finally came to a place where I feel comfortable bringing it to players, in part, because it is fully fleshed out - why on earth would the very first choice of a player be to change this? It seems rude, or at best, ignorant?

I think both sides of the debate are in agreement. I don't see anybody disagreeing that it's within the rights of the author of the setting to say what fits inside (be it the GM or a setting designer -- there are no tinker gnome in Lyonesse, but maybe some kind of fae would fit?) and that the GM should be clear about it if he intends to put forth restrictions on players. I think the point that is being discussed is when the GM hasn't put a lot of thoughts about it and naysay "for the sake of naysaying" or fail to communicate why a player option is denied. Maybe there is a disagreement on whether the answer "because it doesn't fit my aesthetic choices for this campaign world" is acceptable, but I'd say then, it's a case of GM and players agreeing that each other's style isn't for them, much like a GM and players would agree not to play together if the GM was proposing a campaign around a theme that doesn't interest the players.

Bad experience stems from mismatched expectations, like a GM naysaying without explanation or being all passive agressive about players marring his setting with their stupid half-loxodon, half-gnome of draconian descent when a player simply asks whether he can play a goliath, or like the players trying to get the most bizarre option without ever inquiring about the setting (for optimization reasons, perhaps) and being infuriated about any restriction even being suggested. I think 99.9% of situations fall in the reasonsable middle.

It is probably something that is best sorted when discussing on what game to run (or "session 0" as the fancy name goes).
 
Last edited:

At one point I allowed anything, but after some bad experiences decided that to have a short list of allowed races. Honestly, it's incredibly rare that race really matters to PCs when it comes to the game.
I think this point could really be expanded upon. ☝️

For many players, race matters to their character's backstory and for boons that synergize with class. That's it.

Until...

That player actually plays that race in a setting where it matters. Then suddenly the world opens up and they can feel its impact on their character, for good or bad. They can also feel the impact of other races, again, for good or bad. It is literally the DM using a tool for storytelling. Most players I have seen this happen to are surprised at its impact on their character arc and appreciate it.

But it is not for everyone and not for many campaign styles. But it is one of the most powerful tools a DM has for worldbuilding.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
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.

OneD&D is even pondering getting rid of dwarves and halfling subraces because they are so similar and have only ignorable cultural differences.


But the thing is the species actaully aren't that physically distinct.
No they are physically distinct. DMs just don't enforce it. And fans try to cut those rules out

And that's why many players turn to extreme races. Ones where the world and DM have to acknowledge the difference.
 

I think both sides of the debate are in agreement. I don't see anybody disagreeing that it's within the rights of the author of the setting to say what fits inside (be it the GM or a setting designer -- there are no tinker gnome in Lyonesse, but maybe some kind of fae would fit?) and that the GM should be clear about it if he intends to put forth restrictions on players. I think the point that is being discussed is when the GM hasn't put a lot of thoughts about it and naysay "for the sake of naysaying" or fail to communicate why a player option is denied. Maybe there is a disagreement on whether the answer "because it doesn't fit my aesthetic choices for this campaign world" is acceptable, but I'd say then, it's a case of GM and players agreeing that each other's style isn't for them, much like a GM and players would agree not to play together if the GM was proposing a campaign around a theme that doesn't interest the players.

Bad experience results in mismatched expectations, like a GM naysaying without explanation or being all passive agressive about players marring his setting with their stupid half-loxodon, half-gnome of draconian descent when a player simply asks whether he can play a goliath, or like the players trying to get the most bizarre option without ever inquiring about the setting and being infuriated about any restriction even being suggested. I think 99.9% of situations fall in the reasonsable middle.

It is probably something that is best sorted when discussing on what game to run (or "session 0" as the fancy name goes).
Totally agree. A GM that just naysays to naysay without having the rest in place should learn to accommodate.

I feel like this is what session zero is for; the DM details their setting and restrictions (if any), and the players detail their characters and backstories.
 

In the 2E/3E days I liked more races and options, Nowadays not at all. I prefer to restrict races in 5E to the standard PHB races, as a matter of fact I would prefer if dragonborn and Tiefining were optional races again. IIRC I think there were 4-5 races listed as common, the rest were considered uncommon. I never liked what started in 3E that said let the Players create whatever PC they want. I liked 1E and 2E approach that players had to meet some prerequisites to create characters with certain combos of abilities. For instance, if a player wanted to play a dragonborn but are considered uncommon, say they make up 7% of the races in the world, then there should be some roll the player should have to succeed to play that race. It would make it special and rewarding when they actually get to play or encounter one.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
That player actually plays that race in a setting where it matters. Then suddenly the world opens up and they can feel its impact on their character, for good or bad. They can also feel the impact of other races, again, for good or bad. It is literally the DM using a tool for storytelling. Most players I have seen this happen to are surprised at its impact on their character arc and appreciate it
I think this is a place where D&D has fell behind other games.

Video games, card games, and some other RPG have sped past D&D and D&D clones on the racial front. Racial biology, psychology, history, and culture are pushed to the background and diluted if not outright ignored.

But so many Dungeon masters, Designers, and World builders put so emphasis of the racial array only for them to ignore them.

It's to the point where the majority of fans can't tell you the difference between a mountain dwarf and a hill dwarf other than Mountain and Hill. Bioware Blizzard, and Games Workshop did more for dwarves, elves, and gnomes than TSR and WOTC.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
At least from the numbers available to me, human population in 1000 BC was roughly 40-50 million. Even if we assume an outsized figure at 60 million, and there would need to be 100 different races all at 60 million worldwide for us to hit the 6 billion mark.
Wikipedia says 50m to 115m, so I went with 100m.
As a general rule, the "standard" D&D setting is more or less High Middle Ages--it has schizotech imported from the middle to late Renaissance, but overall that's where it lands. The best data I have is for 1200 or 1250, which is roughly in the middle of the High Middle Ages (1000-1300), which peg world population at about 400 million people. Even if we assume 50% of those are human and 25% are some kind of elf, dwarf, or halfling, that's still 100 million people to spread out between the remainder. I count approximately 54 races (excluding variants), others count 68; let's call it 60 "non-Tolkien" races for ease of math.

100 million divided amongst 60 races is still ~1.66 million apiece. The largest cities in the world in the 1200s had approximately 1 million people. If we assume each of these 60 races has ~900,000 members of their population living in their "capital city" (which would be an enormous, bustling metropolis for this period, one engaged in substantial international trade!), that would leave ~760,000 to spread out into other cities around the world. That's more than enough for migrant populations to show up in the larger "Tolkien race"-dominated cities, and for there to be at lease loose general knowledge thereof even in less urbanized areas (again, referencing things like the African samurai warrior, "Moors" in England, the Armenian enclave in Beirut, the Jewish diaspora, etc.)
Your post comes across like it’s arguing with me, but other than the initial prehistoric population number I think we are making the same general points.
 




Incenjucar

Legend
WotC priorities tend to be on efficient mechanical content delivery and adventures, rather than the fluff side, compared to TSR. 2E remains the best fluff with most granularity and details. Oddly enough this even extends to flavor-first spells. 2E had wacky stuff like bubble bath spells. This does at least mean fewer types of elves - that got ridiculous.
 

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.
Sure they can. But consider this. DMs that do this are acting more strictly than many actually published settings.

Let’s not talk about Forgotten Realms, since that’s low hanging fruit.
Matt Mercer’s Exandria? You better believe that he accommodates player’s concepts.
Dimension 20? Even more diversity.
Keith Baker’s Eberron? When 4e came out, he added dragonborn and tieflings to core.
Dark Sun? Also added dragonborn when 4e came out.

Even considering that the DM considers it “their world” and runs multiple games in it, what does it matter if one campaign within it has a small tribe of Loxodon monks that live on a mountain somewhere. That game could be non-canon to the setting.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Because they were poorly developed for 5E. 🤷‍♂️

2E had a lot more subraces and did enough to make them different.

So, like with everything "wrong" in 5E, I blame WotC. ;)
Subraces were lame in 2E too.

It's not just WOTC. TSR had lame subraces one you passed the first 2.

It's "creating stuff you don't really care about but I gotta print another book".

Like I said video games and card games tended to have better subraces because they were forced to make actually new experiences.
 

Oofta

Legend
I think both sides of the debate are in agreement. I don't see anybody disagreeing that it's within the rights of the author of the setting to say what fits inside (be it the GM or a setting designer -- there are no tinker gnome in Lyonesse, but maybe some kind of fae would fit?) and that the GM should be clear about it if he intends to put forth restrictions on players. I think the point that is being discussed is when the GM hasn't put a lot of thoughts about it and naysay "for the sake of naysaying" or fail to communicate why a player option is denied. Maybe there is a disagreement on whether the answer "because it doesn't fit my aesthetic choices for this campaign world" is acceptable, but I'd say then, it's a case of GM and players agreeing that each other's style isn't for them, much like a GM and players would agree not to play together if the GM was proposing a campaign around a theme that doesn't interest the players.

Bad experience stems from mismatched expectations, like a GM naysaying without explanation or being all passive agressive about players marring his setting with their stupid half-loxodon, half-gnome of draconian descent when a player simply asks whether he can play a goliath, or like the players trying to get the most bizarre option without ever inquiring about the setting (for optimization reasons, perhaps) and being infuriated about any restriction even being suggested. I think 99.9% of situations fall in the reasonsable middle.

It is probably something that is best sorted when discussing on what game to run (or "session 0" as the fancy name goes).

When I recruit new people I'm very clear on what I allow and how my world works. So I agree, the DM should set expectations which includes not only races allowed but any other restrictions and general campaign style and feel. For some people that's going to be a campaign pitch of "show up and we'll figure it out together" to "This is going to be a pirate themed adventure with a Tabaxi crew, Pirates of the Calico!" I don't think either approach is wrong, there's a lot of options.

Unfortunately, some people insist that any restrictions are somehow wrong. We get things like "All these selfish, hurtful, petty players, with their intentional vandalism of the poor, beleaguered GM's beautiful setting. [it continues on in the same vein]". While also complaining about how using a phrase like "Mos Eisley Cantina" as an example of multiple species that basically everyone can relate to is somehow derogatory.

Meanwhile pretty much every poster that supports curated lists seems to be more "this is what I do and why but do what makes sense to you". I just don't see much support for the "both sides do it". 🤷‍♂️
 

Sorry to interject, but can you just agree with @Crimson Longinus that there are levels to this. If I worked on a setting for several years, and finally came to a place where I feel comfortable bringing it to players, in part, because it is fully fleshed out - why on earth would the very first choice of a player be to change this? It seems rude, or at best, ignorant?
Isn’t part of presenting something like this to your players seeking constructive feedback?

If you want me to play with you in your setting, shouldn’t I have some say as well, particularly if you are expecting me to commit to a potentially multi-year campaign?
 



doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Honestly, swindling out-of-towners is xenophobic, not better than racism.
I disagree. Charging out of towners extra is a time honored tradition that is continued today by tourist trap restaurants and bars the world over.

It’s not great, but it’s nowhere near the level of charging members of a particular race more than you charge members of your own race.
And swindly people randomly, while inclusive, is still something that would be, like racism and xenophobia, be considered illegal and despicable, at least worthy of a song if the authorities don't deal with it.
Not really relevant to what I posted, but sure. IME PCs don’t care that much about dishonest business owners unless they are the ones being swindled by said business owners. Bigoted business owners, though, get messed with.
As a side note, having the guards do nothing about it was totally common in the past settings, because morally corrupt authorities were commonplace, as much as on Earth. The more the settings implies a much better general awareness of societal issues among the fantasy population, to the point that the population of fantasy settings is more advanced than us in that regard, the more it sounds strange to me that the population to tolerate those authorities as much.

(I understand it wasn't the crux of your argument, but I needed to react to the idea that it a bigoted barkeep would be worse than a xenophobic one or a scamming one).
👍👍
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top