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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I guess I just...don't understand something very fundamental to other people's view of the game and of stories.

In the CoS thread, someone talked about how their run of CoS was aided by the players leaning in to the theme of despair and gothic/slavic horror by...not playing certain races. To me, the statement reads exactly as reasonable and comprehensible as, "my players helped by only eating spicy food on wednesdays." I just can't fathom how a tabaxi would every possibly change the tone of the story in literally any way.

Like, I ask players to keep their character personalities, alignments, goals, and attitudes toward cooperation with a group of trusted allies, within the themes and goals of the campaign, but...a tabaxi can have any personality, alignment, goals, or attitude toward cooperation and trust.

What am I missing? Is there some sort of emotional shorthand by association that everyone else here has for each race that I just don't have? Like, you see a tabaxi or a tortle or a grung or a gnoll or whatever and just, see something that is outside the text yet fully real for you, that I just don't see?
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
In a custom campaign setting a few years ago, one player wanted to play a tiefling...really, really, really wanted to play one. But tieflings didn't exist in my game world, and I was very clear about that from the beginning. There was only one other plane, the Feywild...there were no such things as angels, demons, or devils, and there never was. (I suspect that was why the player wanted to push so hard for tieflings in the first place...he saw they weren't allowed, and that made him want it. Some players live to frustrate the DM.)

So as a compromise, I allowed him to play a wood elf that had all of the abilities of a tiefling instead of elf. Basically, he got to play a tiefling in every way except flavor: we would never use the word "tiefling," there wouldn't be any references to demonic/devilish heritage, hellish rebuke was renamed to something like fiery rebuke, etc. He could even look like a goat-person with hooves and horns and whatever if he wanted, but it would be more Feylike than fiendish. Think satyr or Pan, instead of imps and Asmodeus.

He agreed to the changes, only to abandon it a half-hour later and roll up a dwarf instead. --sigh-- Ah well.
 

Simple, some campaign are like the Mos Esley cantina in Star wars. Any race can and is accepted and will not make the story suffer for it. Other campaigns are humano centric (such as CoS). I had a campaign centered on elves where only elves could be played. The campaign was in first edition and all characters were elves (obviously) but the campaign spawned 1500 years! The players had saved Vecna from certain death only to see him destroy the Grey Elven city states one by one a few hundred years later. It was a very historically centered campaign designed to make my players understand how elves are thinking and reacting. I did the same with a dwarven campaign (which was shorter in terms of time passed but longer in the actual play time). Bringing a human to these campaign would not have worked. As decades would pass between adventures.

So, some campaign requires certain race(s) to work well for immersion and others do not require anything or have no need to restrict player's choice. CoS lends naturally toward a humano centric campaign. It can be done with any races, but it just does not feel right when played with anything but humans.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I just can't wrap my head around how human-only is a campaign idea. Or even a significant part of a campaign idea. It just...doesn't compute, to me.
Some campaigns require a sort of alterity between PCs and everything else. Horror stories for example, are commonly based on the "otherness" of whatever threatens the protagonists, if the norm is to already have others than humans in the group, part of the alterity effect is gone. Similarly for fantasy-historical campaign, where the plot is based on discovering the supernatural for the first time. Rokugan is instead an example of a published setting where the PCs are grounded on a culture which sees everything non-human and non-animal essentially monstrous.

For me there is also some more practical issue that has to do with wanting to emphasize fundamental differences when roleplaying non-human creatures. Like, an Elf is not just a bunch of bonuses with a funny accent, it's a completely different creature that lives and thinks in a different way... Of course most players simply roleplay everything as a bunch of bonuses with a funny accent, so when I get tired of Scottish dwarves I might just say let's all be humans, and pick whatever bunch of bonuses you want from the book and your favourite accent.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
I guess I just disagree that race is ever a strong axis. The aarakokra example, what is the point of it being only aarakokra? I can't figure that part out. How does a given race define that setting? A storm-wracked world I get, but...is the point to only have flying creatures survive? What about aquatic creatures? Surely there are fish?

If flying isn't the point, then why would there being multiple races matter?
Only sentient creatures. Not only creatures.
 





S'mon

Legend
I guess I just...don't understand something very fundamental to other people's view of the game and of stories.

In the CoS thread, someone talked about how their run of CoS was aided by the players leaning in to the theme of despair and gothic/slavic horror by...not playing certain races. To me, the statement reads exactly as reasonable and comprehensible as, "my players helped by only eating spicy food on wednesdays." I just can't fathom how a tabaxi would every possibly change the tone of the story in literally any way.

Like, I ask players to keep their character personalities, alignments, goals, and attitudes toward cooperation with a group of trusted allies, within the themes and goals of the campaign, but...a tabaxi can have any personality, alignment, goals, or attitude toward cooperation and trust.

What am I missing? Is there some sort of emotional shorthand by association that everyone else here has for each race that I just don't have? Like, you see a tabaxi or a tortle or a grung or a gnoll or whatever and just, see something that is outside the text yet fully real for you, that I just don't see?
A six foot tall humanoid cat walks into a bar.

Does not the beginning of a tail of dramatic horror make.

I did not mean to write 'tail'.

You see how it goes.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Nitpicking isn’t ever a meaningful reply.
Well, that was not my intent. You might re-read what you wrote. Like the Earth, the imagined world has one sentient race. They fly. Were there another sentient race, that would have all kinds of Implications. Equally if one just somehow arrived from elsewhere.

Or say that was the set up. A first-contact situation. I don't see that playing out the same if it's in fact the n-th contact.

Creating theme is about making choices. What is left out makes room for - casts into the foreground - what is kept in.
 
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Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
I guess I just...don't understand something very fundamental to other people's view of the game and of stories.

In the CoS thread, someone talked about how their run of CoS was aided by the players leaning in to the theme of despair and gothic/slavic horror by...not playing certain races. To me, the statement reads exactly as reasonable and comprehensible as, "my players helped by only eating spicy food on wednesdays." I just can't fathom how a tabaxi would every possibly change the tone of the story in literally any way.

Like, I ask players to keep their character personalities, alignments, goals, and attitudes toward cooperation with a group of trusted allies, within the themes and goals of the campaign, but...a tabaxi can have any personality, alignment, goals, or attitude toward cooperation and trust.

What am I missing? Is there some sort of emotional shorthand by association that everyone else here has for each race that I just don't have? Like, you see a tabaxi or a tortle or a grung or a gnoll or whatever and just, see something that is outside the text yet fully real for you, that I just don't see?
I do think that some DM's, with less-developed world-building skills, create their worlds through the exclusion of certain races and/or classes. When DM's restrict player options and cannot clearly articulate to me why they are doing so . . . . I'm probably not going to play in that campaign for long. But certain genre themes and tones ARE supported by restricting options.

Gothic Horror is an established genre, and other posters have covered it well here, it is about humans facing the monstrous, often monstrous evil masquerading as human. Can you run a Gothic Horror Fantasy campaign with a Tabaxi character? Sure you can, but it does detract somewhat from the intended tone of the campaign. Heck, I think a more strict Gothic Horror campaign would restrict players to human only . . . no elves, dwarves, etc. Ravenloft gets away with it because it is really a blend of two genres, D&D style epic fantasy and Gothic Horror . . . and really, most folks don't play elves, dwarves, and halflings as truly non-human or alien characters . . . they aren't really presented that way in the game itself anyway.

And then there are story-centric campaigns, like the all elven historical campaign mentioned above. I can totally see that kind of game being fun! Or all all wizard campaign set in a School of Magic (like the institution, not collection of spells).
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Can you run a Gothic Horror Fantasy campaign with a Tabaxi character? Sure you can, but it does detract somewhat from the intended tone of the campaign.
This is the crux of what I don’t understand.

How? How does it detract from the intended tone of the campaign? Gothic Horror doesn’t, as far as I can tell, rely at all on the people who are familiar with eachother being human. But also, if we used a Earth based gothic horror story as an example, there is an American Cowboy in Dracula! Gothic horror doesn’t require no foreigners. It literally just requires that none of the protagonists are the same type of thing as what is trying to kill them, at most.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Well, that was not my intent. You might re-read what you wrote. Like the Earth, the imagined world has one sentient race. They fly. Were there another sentient race, that would have all kinds of Implications. Equally if one just somehow arrived from elsewhere.

Or say that was the set up. A first-contact situation. I don't see that playing out the same if it's in fact the n-th contact.

Creating theme is about making choices. What is left out makes room for - casts into the foreground - what is kept in.
Literally the only example I’ve ever heard that makes any sense at all is first contact.

The question remains. The question I asked in the post you replied to while completely ignoring, which is, to reword it, “how does there being one race establish the tone?” What difference does it actually make? How is “there is only one sentient race” a tone?”
 


Hussar

Legend
Umm, since when has Mystara been a setting defined by exclusion of races. Practically every single Mystara supplement added races for the players to play. The only reason there aren't dragonborn and tieflings in Mystara is because they hadn't been written yet. It has nothing whatsoever to do with setting fidelity.
 

Azuresun

Explorer
Thinking about it, my decision to include something unusual that a player wants would depend a lot on how they present it. If they're making a good-faith effort to explain why this unique creature is here, and also to tie it into the lore of the campaign world (for example, a warforged in Theros that's an intelligent automaton of bronze, like the legend of Talos), then I'd probably allow it. If they just drop it in in a way that says they didn't pay any attention to the campaign setting pitch, then no.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I don't know that Dark Sun is defined by its exclusions. It only excluded one race in 2E - gnomes. In 4E it had all the PHB races.
I don't think that it is just the excluded PC races that defined it, but also all of the races common to other settings that simply didn't exist. Orcs and goblins, common enemies in other settings, were non-existent in Dark Sun. It may not have been the main defining point of the setting but it was definitely one of them.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Thinking about it, my decision to include something unusual that a player wants would depend a lot on how they present it. If they're making a good-faith effort to explain why this unique creature is here, and also to tie it into the lore of the campaign world (for example, a warforged in Theros that's an intelligent automaton of bronze, like the legend of Talos), then I'd probably allow it. If they just drop it in in a way that says they didn't pay any attention to the campaign setting pitch, then no.
I know you're just using this as an example, but this is one of the brilliant things about Theros, any of the races in the setting can essentially be a warforged by choosing the anvilwrought supernatural gift and turning themselves into an automaton. The supernatural gifts are some of the coolest additions to the game and I'm thinking of wholesale converting a bunch of 4e themes/2e kits into something like them.
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

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