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D&D General Downplaying Humanity

Professor Murder

Adventurer
In most Fantasy setting, humans take center stage. They are usually the most culturally diverse, have the largest number of distinct nations, and are typically depicted as having high populations.

But what about campaigns you have constructed where that is not the case?

I'd love to hear about settings where humans are there, but are not the majority (50%+) of the civilizations in your setting. Or games where there is a human mono culture, with other species, such as Elves, Orc or even say Mind Flayers make up the other major cultures in the setting on equal or even greater footing.
 

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DND_Reborn

I don't debate opinions.
In most Fantasy setting, humans take center stage. They are usually the most culturally diverse, have the largest number of distinct nations, and are typically depicted as having high populations.

But what about campaigns you have constructed where that is not the case?

I'd love to hear about settings where humans are there, but are not the majority (50%+) of the civilizations in your setting. Or games where there is a human mono culture, with other species, such as Elves, Orc or even say Mind Flayers make up the other major cultures in the setting on equal or even greater footing.
I ran a Spears of Darkness campaign in college back in the mid 90's where 90% of the human population vanished overnight as the world was shrouded in dark clouds that nearly blotted out the sun.

The effect was catastrophic of course. Because humans had been the vast majority of the world, evil humanoid races and monsters were suddenly not as outnumbered as before and ran rampant. The goal of the campaign was two-fold, stop the darkness so the world had light again and discover what happened to most of the humans and try to restore them to the world.

It lasted about 18 months, running from levels 1 - 15 in AD&D 1E. Lots of fun (of course, it was college as well LOL). When I moved on to grad school, I tried running it with another group and they eventually gave up (it was, in many ways, a very depressing world under those conditions and I REALLY played up that aspect!).

I've thought of converting it to 5E and maybe publishing it, but with Frostmaiden being released, the "world of no sun" seemed ill-timed and already done. :(
 

Zsong

Explorer
I ran a game where the dwarves and gnomes started exploring the surface world after a nuclear Holocaust on earth. Humanity was destroyed. There was a nuclear winter. Dwarves and gnomes were resistant to radiation damage (note ad&d where gnomes and dwarves has resistance to poison and magic). Humanity had been gone for decades. We had fun exploring ruins of cities that weren’t directly hit with a nuclear warhead. Washington DC was completely barren. Nothing left on the surface. But they explore the underground complex of the pentagon. There were know human survivors whatsoever. Those that weren’t hit with a nuclear weapon died of starvation. I’m sure some preppers would disagree with me on this. The fairies from otherworld were starting to migrate back to earth also. Lots of fun.
 

I played a setting where the drow had conquered the surface. There were humans but they were enslaved, along with the other races. Drow were the main race.

I've run a game that was entirely centered around humans. Other races only existed in the feywild. It was kind of an Irish-myth game.

I also ran another game where everyone was human except for Orc horseman that lived in the plains. But orcs were, essentially, cursed humans. Their culture was a human one while their physical features were orcish. There was a way for the PCs to help them remove the curse. In which case, the whole setting would be human.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
In most Fantasy setting, humans take center stage. They are usually the most culturally diverse, have the largest number of distinct nations, and are typically depicted as having high populations.

But what about campaigns you have constructed where that is not the case?

I'd love to hear about settings where humans are there, but are not the majority (50%+) of the civilizations in your setting. Or games where there is a human mono culture, with other species, such as Elves, Orc or even say Mind Flayers make up the other major cultures in the setting on equal or even greater footing.
I ran a couple campaigns set in droaam, aside from some cyran refugees setup around an orcish village on thewestern border the population is almost entirely montrous races. You can read about droaam in some of the recent eberron books (exoloring eberron, rising from the last war, etc). but here is a map of the major regions of droaam
1607881867766.png

Pretty much every monstrous race is different in eberron than in FR but thise regions aren't fr style monocultures so much as the dominant race & local feudal/warlord put in charge of that territory by the DoSK who rule droaam itself. Queen of stone is a novel set largely in droaam that is notable because it dives pretty deep into a few areas of how a society of monsters functions and how "people" who happen to be monsters are not human making for some great help.
 

Voadam

Legend
I ran a Wildwood Oathbound setting Play By Post game here. I had the home base be a village of Dovers (think noble German Shepard dog men), with communities of elves and goblins nearby, and rumors of nomadic gnolls as episodic threats.

The fantastic (originally 3.0, now Pathfinder 1e) setting is like Ravenloft in that it explicitly draws in stuff from other worlds as part of the setup so you have a great thematic in-world appropriate reason to have the D&D multispecies cantina and plethora of monster types encountered. In my game the only humans were PCs, and I allowed a lot of options for PCs to go wild with races.

It was a lot of fun and I was very happy with how the different species elements worked out.
 
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Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Putting together a Viking-themed campaign where the province of men clings around the shore of a fjord, Yetis dominate the mountain slopes and peaks, and Frost Giants rule the seas. There used to be a dragonborn empire of magical power (Netheril / Atlantis). The PCs' epic task is to destroy the magic artifact that the "mad mage™" frost giant wants to use to cast Fimbulwinter and trigger an ice age.
 

J-H

Adventurer
The campaign I'm starting this Saturday has no humans aside from 1-2 in the party, who are coming over from another continent.
If you're in a RL group in Texas that just defeated Dracula, don't read this.

Dominant races on the continent:
Scorpionfolk in nomadic tribes, with necromancy as their preferred form of magic.
Aztec-ish Aaracokra, worshipping a version of the Aztec pantheon. These are the bad guys. They have nearly no metal (would you be a blacksmith if you were covered in feathers?) but have flying ships and military dominance.
Tribal Aaracokra, a remnant of those who didn't accept the new gods.
Yuan-Ti, living in hiding in the jungles as spies and saboteurs. The big cities the Aztec-ish Aa are living in used to be theirs, but their god was overthrown and destroyed. They have a demographic problem, as only 10% of their live births have been male since their deity was killed.
Giants and goliaths, up in the mountains. Strong enough to mostly ignore the bad guys, cautious enough to not go to war.
Fey, including Satyrs (playable).
Tritons, mostly off-map, but some serve as Warlocks and servants for an on-map elder Aboleth who controls some territory.
Tortles, who live along the beach and survive mostly because they can swim away from aerial attacks.
A single tribe of primitive halflings that the party probably won't ever even find.

There are a few drow who made their way up from the underdark, but less than 2 dozen total in a ~8,000 square mile area.
Any new PCs will have to pick from whatever species the party has encountered. Scorpionfolk are Large and not a playable race.

So no humans, nearly no elves, no half-elves, and no dwarves, tieflings, Aasimar, or dragonborn.
 

Not D&D, but my queerplatonic partner and I have been telling stories (it's like the roleplaying part of D&D, in some ways) for years, and while we definitely have humans and some characters, the majority of our characters are not human, or at least not fully. Elves, dragons, and made-up races.
 

zarionofarabel

Adventurer
Mouse Guard! So, not D&D. Super fun couple of short campaigns though, and who doesn't like cute little mouse knights? Mean people, that's who! Of course, one of the central aspects of the game is how the mice are acting against their mouse nature because they are acting the way a human would, so, humans in funny hats that are fighting their anthropomorphic circumstances.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Ran a goblinoid campaign where the PCs played orcs, goblins and the like trying to keep their tribe alive and improve their lot in life. While some of the adventures were intertribal conflicts for the most part humans were the enemy - trying to wipe the tribes out. The most fearsome enemy were elves - they were exceptionally rare, and favored sniping with bows but even up close they were one-men armies.
 

I have created a world where humans are the outsiders. They came from a continent that was unified under a God-King, given a united theocratic culture. When a band of explorers found another continent, they called it the mythic land, as it was filled will all kinds of exotic creatures that worshiped a plethora of strange gods (i.e. everything in D&D). Settlers eventually came, but they are just one of many regions, rather than a dominate one. Many of the native races distrust humans, as they fear being conquered and displaced.
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
In one of my world Humans are newly arrived colonist starting to spread across islands which are already inhabited by giants, sahuagin, Ogres, Merrow, goblins, beastmen (Bugbears), lizardmen, yuanti, aakaarokaa, sidhe and spirits.

Adventures involved initial exploration, tresspassing on sacred ground, cultural misunderstanings, diplomacy dealing with the native rulers (which includes some ‘gods’) then establishing, defending and expanding a human settlement.
 


Aldarc

Legend
In Monte Cook's Diamond Throne setting, the human kingdoms were conquered by demon-dragon hybrids (dramojh). After a few centuries, giants from across the sea launch a crusade against the dramojh, right down to the last dramojh, alongside their anthromorphic jackal allies (sibeccai). Afterwards, the giants imposed themselves as the ruling stewards of the lands. Dragons who were driven west by the dramojh claim that the giants are breaking an ancient agreement. Some humans want their sovereignty back. But the ruling class of the lands are the giants, who rule from the Diamond Throne.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I did a short-lived OSR game where the elves were the predominant race. The only class available to humans was "Human", which was a fighter-type class that was also the only class with Turn Undead, as the undead were driven away by the human's short-lived, fiery mortality. They also had a high hit die and a Con bonus.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'm kind of doing that now in my home campaign unintentionally. In the previous campaign (same world) there was an apocalyptic event that devastated all races (roughly 80% reduction in human population). However, dwarves didn't take the same losses because they could huddle underground and the elves had magic to sustain them.

So now, not only have "monstrous" races taken over large swathes of the world that were under at least partial human control, but the "elder" races are picking up the pieces. A lot of the political leaders and controlling factions are lead by elves and dwarves. In addition, while it's been a century since the cataclysm started (which lasted for decades) the longer lived races were the ones that kept some semblance of control.

So the remains of the city the PCs live in, which was once human dominated, is now run by a council of elves and dwarves which has a token human on it. Tensions are rising though because humans breed faster than the elder races.

Should be interesting to see where it goes since there's only 1 human in the party.
 

I once went to an only elves party. It was set in Greyhawk before the Suel and Baklunish became empires. Humans were simple tribesmen and elves were helping them to access civilization. Adventures could be decades appart sometimes a hundred years could pass between two adventures. They saw the rise of the Suel Empire and the rise of Vecna (which they had personally saved). They saw the Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless Fire. It gave my players a unique perspective on the elven point of view and up to this day, my players play elves in a unique way that I rarely see from other players.

I did the same with Hobbits ahem... Halflings and Dwarves. The halfling campaign ended prematurely with the arrival of second edition but it show that halflings were not thieves to steal but to sneak around as their society did not value hoards of gold but valued the sharing of that gold. Halfling are not hoarders but gold spenders. And a lot is with friends, familly and even perfect strangers. It was also a reason that I never had problems with Kenders. My players understand the halfling way of life just about right. When you don't need gold to live a happy life, you do not tend to steal from companions.
 

Nitrosaur

Explorer
In my current setting, not only humans are downplayed, but almost all of the humanoid races. It's a primal world where the wild hasn't been, and can't be dominated by humanity, and humanoid settlements must negotiate with elemental, fey and primal spirits to live in harmony with nature instead of against it, and/or reach an agreement with dragons and giant clans for protection and services (for example, a clan of semi-friendly fire giants or a bronze dragon is a formidable force able to scare away almost any menace to a humanoid settlement, and both parties can provide something for the other; fire giants get crops in exange for their protection and occasional metal work, the bronze dragon gets treasure in exange for protection and good weather for the crops).

However, the situation and the setting puts humanoids and humankind in the middle of the power pyramid. They can thrive, and aren't in risk of extinction, but there are so many things avobe them and competing with them that no humanoid race, be it human, dwarf, elf or orc can really get the numbers to become the dominant species. As a result, it gives me a world primal, untamed and dominated by the wild, where the societies that rise are those of the high powered monsters (mainly dragons and giants).
 

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