D&D General Humans are Blind


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Mammals aren’t the only living things on the planet. Human day vision and colour vision is inferior to many bird species.
I guess humans have a nice adaptable sense of vision. Night vision is not bad either, if you allow it to adapt (which quite noone does these days, as it takes about half an hour for full adaption).

For D&D: humans have a free feat, which means that the human species is more adaptable than any other species. Yes, the dwarven or elven or orc package is more powerful in general, but every orc has the same abilities. Humans, even though they are weaker individually, can cover a lot more ground in a group. The free feat makes them better at their field of speciality. Even the best human may not compete with the fighting capabilities of an orc, but they have better mages to make up for it.

For vision: if it would be a problem, their free feat could be
  • skulker
  • observant
  • alert
Which all make them good guards at night.
 

Aldarc

Legend
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These gifs are even funnier if you know the plot point of this classic bit in Farscape revolves around, which ties into this thread discussion above.
My eyes are better than 20/20, and they're BLUE!
Yeah, so John Crichton (as seen above) is only able to save the day because he discovers that humans have horribly inferior eye-sight compared to all of his fellow alien crewmates, so he is less susceptible to the maddening influence of the lights that the antagonist is generating. But Crichton takes this ocular inferiority personally.
 
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James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
I guess humans have a nice adaptable sense of vision. Night vision is not bad either, if you allow it to adapt (which quite noone does these days, as it takes about half an hour for full adaption).

For D&D: humans have a free feat, which means that the human species is more adaptable than any other species. Yes, the dwarven or elven or orc package is more powerful in general, but every orc has the same abilities. Humans, even though they are weaker individually, can cover a lot more ground in a group. The free feat makes them better at their field of speciality. Even the best human may not compete with the fighting capabilities of an orc, but they have better mages to make up for it.

For vision: if it would be a problem, their free feat could be
  • skulker
  • observant
  • alert
Which all make them good guards at night.
Well, Variant Humans that is.
 


By the book, darkvision is equal to having proficiency in a skill.
If you have that additional skill there are no evolutionary advantage for your kinds.
By the Phb all ancestry have been made equal!
 

Clint_L

Legend
This is quite real-worldish. Compared to most real species human senses are lousy. They replace them with technology and a symbiotic relationship with another species (dogs). It turned out to be an effective survival strategy.
This is a commonly held myth. Humans have very a strong set of sense perceptions. Sure, if you compare any single aspect of a human sense one on one to the best in the animal kingdom (say, a human's long range vision to an eagles'), you can find stronger exceptions. Usually. But that's not because our sense is weak, but because that animal is an extreme specialist.

Consider touch. The human sense of touch, especially in our hands, is absolutely extraordinary. We sense details and manipulate objects far beyond the capacity of almost any other species. An S tier sense.

Vision. About a quarter of our massive brain is dealing with processing visual data, all the time. We see colour far better than most mammals, we have exceptional depth perception, we sense movement better than most other species, and we are unusually well equipped to see well at a distance while also being able to perceive extreme detail close up. We have extraordinary pattern recognition (which is why we can see through camouflage that an eagle would be visually baffled by). It's true that we can't, say, see into the ultra-violet like many non-mammalian species, but we don't really need to, and all of those species have plenty of weaknesses in their vision. Human vision is S tier in the animal kingdom.

Hearing. Human have a fairly typical range of hearing compared to other animals. Some animals excel more towards extreme low frequencies (elephants) or high frequencies (bats); we are more a middle of the road kind of animal. Elephants and bats are deaf to most of what we can hear, just as we are to most of what they can hear. Where humans excel is at auditory sorting; our brains are exceptional at making sense of auditory patterns within noisy environments, such as a crowded room. Overall, humans are outstanding hearers. We're A tier hearers.

Taste. Compared to a lot of mammals, our sense of taste is incredible! Humans have far more taste receptors than most animals do, and can distinguish far more flavours and combinations of flavours. Your beloved dog can taste a fraction of what you can. We aren't on the same scale as some animals who basically navigate the world through tase, but as far as typical animals go, we're A tier tasters.

Smell. We're not great, but we're a lot better than most folks think. The reason we think humans are terrible at smelling is probably because we compare ourselves to dogs. Smell is everything to a dog; it's like vision is for us. Though even there it's not cut and dry; humans are more sensitive to certain scents, ones that really matter to us, than even dogs are (for example, dogs are less sensitive to a lot of fruit smells - makes sense; they don't eat fruit). Humans are C-B tier smellers.

Then there's tons of other senses, like temperature (thermoreception): We are S+ tier when it comes to sensing and regulating our body temperature. It's why we're also top tier distance runners. Balance (equilibrioception) - humans are very good. Time, the location of our body parts, direction, movement, and so on. The human umveldt is very impressive in the animal kingdom, which makes sense because we have a ginormously strong brain that can track and process lots more sense perception data than any other animal.

So no, humans do not have lousy senses compared to most real species. It's the opposite. We probably have, as a package, the best sense perceptions in the animal kingdom because we have giant brains, and the brain is where sense perceptions are unpacked and experienced. Most animals are much more narrowly specialized in their sense perceptions and have a tiny umveldt compared to us.

However, In D&D terms, there are a ton of other sapient species with big ol' brains, some of who seem to have senses that we lack, on top of the ones that are standard in humans. So their umveldt would be even bigger.
 
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Clint_L

Legend
Follow-up: I think a lot of us think that humans have weak senses because we compare ourselves to the extreme outliers at particular abilities. But sense perceptions don't work like that; they are evolved to help species survive in specialized environments and are typically very limited beyond that.

Like, sure a bat can hear well enough to hunt prey in a completely dark room, or a blue whale can make out very low frequencies across vast distances, but ask either of them to perceive and sort the astonishing range and nuance of auditory signals that your brain does every time you have a conversation in a busy location. They would be completely deaf to it.

An eagle could make out the letters of a street sign a kilometre away, no problem. But could their brain recognize and sort the pattern? And so on.

In D&D, the big outlier sense is darkvision, which is typically some form of being able to see into infrared. Presumably, species that developed such a sense would have evolved in very dark environments, and it would be reasonable to suppose that they would, for example, be less able to perceive colour. They might also be less well adapted to dealing with bright light.
 

Ok granted, since nobody knows when our ancestors discovered how to make fires, but I think it's fair to say that it probably predates large settlements by quite a bit. And it's also fair to say that D&D worlds have a lot scarier nocturnal predators, and a lot more sophonts running around than our world does, all fighting for the same resources. Most of whom developed superior visual traits.

Which makes it even harder to figure out how humans didn't die out before they even established cities, or end up in some place like Mystara's Hollow World, preserved forever as a species that didn't quite make it.
We're pretty sure fire is older than homo sapiens, as is the building of simple structures, the oldest of which I believe is 1.3 MYA. The only way to explain humans in a fantasy world is to just say that humans are damn better at <killing, adventuring, hunting> than other races.

It's an underdog story, which is why it resonates. I mean, humans as we know them evolved on a plain with all kinds of predatory fauna. The fact that we conquered Earth is only because we figured out how stuff works and made tool after tradition after tool to manipulate it towards our benefit. We've been working at this across species, across evolution, so the thing that predates humans in Fantasy worlds should contribute to it as well.
 


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