log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E What is the appeal of the weird fantasy races?

Status
Not open for further replies.
I'll admit I'm an old school D&D player/DM. I've never discounted a player idea in osr or 5e, but I still wonder. Turtle people (tortles) flying people (aarokara), dragon people (dragonborn)... and so on.

Why do people chose these races?

To me, elves and dwarves have a human element. But Turtle people, and cat people and demon people and dragon people seem like the new normal. Do people who play D&D now, feel more comfortable with role-playing animalistic type characters than before?

It is kind of off-putting when your player party is a bunch of bird people, elephant people, demon people, cat people... and so on. I mean are humans even relevant in D&D anymore?

Is it a role-playing thing, or just a ability bonus power-up thing?

is the normal for D&D 5e is ampthormorophic / furry role-playing? I don't think I've ever ran a group that had a single human in it.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Well, when trying to run a human centric campaign. You have players playing anamorphic ostrich bards and dragon men and turtle people. I have to put limits down on what is appropriate for my game.

But players expect to be able to play turtle people and cat people and elephant people. So I have to cut down access to those races. But I probably assume that these races have special abilities or powers or skills that make them superior. So I guess the problem is with WoTC and with D&D 5E.

Players always want an edge... and playing a bird person or turtle person, or dragon person, or cat person, or elephant person gives them an edge over 'boring' human.

The game encourages a typical D&D party to be something from an escaped circus troupe because mathematically they make weirdo amphomorphic races superior to any other races.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The more traditional fantasy races - elves, dwarves, halflings, etc. are kind of played out. People have seen a million different interpretations of them in a million different fantasy settings, and generally don’t get excited by them any more. Even subversions of their common depictions are kind of ho-hum these days. On the other hand, more exotic fantasy races are still unexplored territory (well... less explored territory), which makes them more exciting for a lot of players. If you come to the table with an aloof elf archer or a grumpy dwarf with a big axe, everyone knows exactly what to expect. But if you’re some kind of crazy elemental or anthro or something, that can feel a bit more unexpected, more special.

People do definitely still play humans though. They’re the most commonly played race according to D&D Beyond data.
 


Rikka66

Explorer
Well, when trying to run a human centric campaign. You have players playing anamorphic ostrich bards and dragon men and turtle people. I have to put limits down on what is appropriate for my game.

But players expect to be able to play turtle people and cat people and elephant people. So I have to cut down access to those races. But I probably assume that these races have special abilities or powers or skills that make them superior. So I guess the problem is with WoTC and with D&D 5E.

Players always want an edge... and playing a bird person or turtle person, or dragon person, or cat person, or elephant person gives them an edge over 'boring' human.

The game encourages a typical D&D party to be something from an escaped circus troupe because mathematically they make weirdo amphomorphic races superior to any other races.

Variant human and half-elf are two of the strongest races. This isn't a power gamer thing.
 

NaturalZero

Adventurer
Dwarves and elves are human characters with beards or pointed ears. I play a human in real life, so if I'm playing a fantasy game with magic, alternate dimensions, dragons, etc, just playing a bearded human or pointy-eared human is like making effort to travel to the bar for a drink and ordering water.

Also, there are 134,245,324 novels, RPGs, video games, movies, comics, etc that use the same old elves and dwarves over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over. No other franchise has blue dragonborn with the iconic mono-horn and webbed ears. No other franchise has warforged that look exactly like an eberron warforged.

But players expect to be able to play turtle people and cat people and elephant people. So I have to cut down access to those races. But I probably assume that these races have special abilities or powers or skills that make them superior. So I guess the problem is with WoTC and with D&D 5E.

Players always want an edge... and playing a bird person or turtle person, or dragon person, or cat person, or elephant person gives them an edge over 'boring' human.

The game encourages a typical D&D party to be something from an escaped circus troupe because mathematically they make weirdo amphomorphic races superior to any other races.
You have it completely backwards. Variant humans, half-elves, and mountain dwarves are the go-to optimizer choices. On the other hand, dragonborn are recognized as the most underpowered race in the game.

Just look at the threads complaining about imbalance in the new Tasha book. Generic old mountain dwarf is considered the most overpowered option in 5e now.
 
Last edited:

opacitizen

Explorer
In my opinion some (let me emphasize that: not everyone, just some) people pick weird races because they (these players) simply can't or don't feel like designing a proper, interesting background and personality (traits, motivation, and so on) for their player characters, and hope that the weirdness of their race will prove a good substitute for all that.

Mind you, an interesting background does not equal a thousand pages of boring drivel. And remember, playing elves and dwarves used to be weird choices too. Elf and dwarf both (used to) imply and carry a strong personality and background.

Sometimes (for some people and some groups) it works. Sometimes it doesn't.
 

Variant human and half-elf are two of the strongest races. This isn't a power gamer thing.
Well this is a good point. I don't use feats.

So if you eliminate feats, players take weirdo classes that grant them feat-like abilities, instead. So humans are rare and weirdo flying, swimming, animal PC become common. Because they need the weirdo special abilities. In the absence of feats, players need super powers.

It is a weird game to play. This whole magice is everywhere/phycics are everyhere, fend for our selves issse will never resolve.
Dwarves and elves are human characters with beards or pointed ears. I play a human in real life, so if I'm playing a fantasy game with magic, alternate dimensions, dragons, etc, just playing a bearded human or pointy-eared human is like making effort to travel to the bar for a drink and ordering water.

Also, there are 134,245,324 novels, RPGs, video games, movies, comics, etc that use the same old elves and dwarves over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over. No other franchise has blue dragonborn with the iconic mono-horn and webbed ears. No other franchise has warforged that look exactly like an eberron warforged.


You have it completely backwards. Variant humans, half-elves, and mountain dwarves are the go-to optimizer choices. On the other hand, dragonborn are recognized as the most underpowered race in the game.

Just look at the threads complaining about imbalance in the new Tasha book. Generic old mountain dwarf is considered the most overpowered option in 5e now.
No feats. So variant humans don't exist. Feats are optional and should not be considered in balancing the game.

I don't run with feats. Feats are the worst thing that has ever happened to D&D. The idea of character building has ruined the game.

Mountain Dwarf is kind of cool as a semi-melee wizard. (As it should be). Different races give strengths and weaknesses as they should. Make choice of race meaningful. The way it was supports a drawback. A mountain dwarf can be built as a potential melee wizard, but they have a limitation and a debilitation.

To remove such makes choice of race meaningless.
 

Ogre Mage

Adventurer
When I read that there is a ritual which can transform a human into a yuan-ti pureblood I had the following idea for a character:

She was captured by the yuan-ti. Because of her innate magical talent they decided to perform the ritual which transformed her into a yuan-ti pureblood. Not long after the ritual, her adventuring companions snuck into the temple and pulled off a daring rescue, barely escaping with their lives.

Her friends were horrified at her transformation but said they would try to help. Unfortunately, the post-transformation version of her was no longer the good-hearted and humorous woman they knew. She now has little ability to feel emotions, other than occasional flashes of anger and bitterness over her fate. She would mourn the loss except she seems to have lost the ability to mourn anything. That makes her even angrier. She looks in the mirror and sees a monster's face. She pushed her friends away, hating their pity and poorly concealed fear of her. Now she is looking for new adventuring companions who know nothing about her past. She is trying hard to bury what happened to her.
 

Why do people chose these races?
Its fun. Or moreso, each race has its own reasons. Reasons you roll a tortle aren't going to be the same as rolling a tiefling or anything else. And ultimately? Folks like the character they've developed and they'll latch into that.

Its a combination of playing to and mucking around with tropes. For example, a tortle. Aside from the obvious things you can go to (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), what are turtles like? They're slow and they live really old. So if you just want your character's thing to be "They are slow and old", sure, you could do that with a human, but also being a turtle wizard? Who's studied things since before your race existed and you dang whippersnappers don't appreciate the old days, back when we just had one type of elf and we liked it!

(tortles having a short lifespan is actually the dumbest D&D racial age thing).

Sure you could play an old human wizard, but you could, y'know, also play an owl wizard. Or a lizard wizard.

Maybe you want to explore other ideas in your character that you just can't do as a human because, humans are humans. But what about warforged? How does a created being handle certain ideas? Or maybe, like me, you want to tear apart a certain trope that only applies to other races. I guess, yeah, you could do that as a human but.... Would completely lose the effect.

I mean are humans even relevant in D&D anymore?
We're seeing the natural effect of human-centricism falling to the wayside alongside folks wanting to explore ideas with characters. We're all humans, and while I certainly have human characters (Like the Warchef), I also have character ideas that just.... Wouldn't work as humans so. They're other things
 

Aldarc

Legend
Well, when trying to run a human centric campaign. You have players playing anamorphic ostrich bards and dragon men and turtle people. I have to put limits down on what is appropriate for my game.

But players expect to be able to play turtle people and cat people and elephant people. So I have to cut down access to those races. But I probably assume that these races have special abilities or powers or skills that make them superior. So I guess the problem is with WoTC and with D&D 5E.

Players always want an edge... and playing a bird person or turtle person, or dragon person, or cat person, or elephant person gives them an edge over 'boring' human.

The game encourages a typical D&D party to be something from an escaped circus troupe because mathematically they make weirdo amphomorphic races superior to any other races.
If I may be somewhat crass with your assessment here: "lol". Those "dragon men" are notoriously underpowered when compared to elves, dwarves, and alt humans. You keep assuming that people want an edge. But let me propose an alternative thesis: players just wanna have fun.
 


Schmoe

Adventurer
I don't think I've ever ran a group that had a single human in it.

Really!? Humans are by far the most common race in my games. At any rate, I can't speak for others, but I remember playing a thri-kreen in a Dark Sun game back in the day. The race totally evoked images of the green men of Barsoom for me, and I thought it would be fun to play an emotionless, ruthless, cannibalistic survivor for a change. I've also played a couple of gnome characters, but otherwise stick to human.
 


ModernApathy

Explorer
I DMed for years, so now that I’m getting to play a lot I tend to go with races and classes I haven’t seen used by players. (First 5E campaign we began using the Starter set, so the players were limited to core races)

These days I’m currently playing in 4 different campaigns with 2 different groups:
I added the other characters races in brackets just as an example.

Yuan-Ti Warlock (human, drow, human)
Tortle Monk (dwarf, teifling warforged)

Fire Genasi Arcana Cleric (halfling, human, lizardman)
Air Genasi Sorcerer/Rogue (elf, elf, half elf)
 

dave2008

Legend
I'll admit I'm an old school D&D player/DM. I've never discounted a player idea in osr or 5e, but I still wonder. Turtle people (tortles) flying people (aarokara), dragon people (dragonborn)... and so on.

Why do people chose these races?

To me, elves and dwarves have a human element. But Turtle people, and cat people and demon people and dragon people seem like the new normal. Do people who play D&D now, feel more comfortable with role-playing animalistic type characters than before?

It is kind of off-putting when your player party is a bunch of bird people, elephant people, demon people, cat people... and so on. I mean are humans even relevant in D&D anymore?

Is it a role-playing thing, or just a ability bonus power-up thing?

is the normal for D&D 5e is ampthormorophic / furry role-playing? I don't think I've ever ran a group that had a single human in it.
Well in reality humans appear to be the most popular race from the information we have: Is your D&D Character Rare & D&D Survey Results, so it appears your games are an outlier.

Personally, I allow players to choose any intelligent creature from the MM or PHB and I still get mostly humans and elves. And I have been doing this since the 1e in the 80s.

My current group: 3 humans, 1 elf, & 1 giant

Regarding why play non-human races. Well I had a player play a dragonborn because they really like dragons. They can't be a dragon, so playing one in an RP game is probably the closest they will get.

PS If you are the DM you can restrict races if you want, but I would let people know before they join your group. Some people may not want to play if someone is taking away so many choices. However, I have run all human adventures before in a GoT type setting / adventure. I have also run an all reptile based adventure (dragon-people, snake-people, & lizard-people) before.
 

dave2008

Legend
Well this is a good point. I don't use feats.
Historically feats don't make a difference. Humans have always been the most popular race through all editions, including 5e. Feats have been around for the majority of editions and that hasn't changed the fact the humans are the most popular race. Your experience is just different than the norm.
 

NaturalZero

Adventurer
No feats. So variant humans don't exist. Feats are optional and should not be considered in balancing the game.

I don't run with feats. Feats are the worst thing that has ever happened to D&D. The idea of character building has ruined the game.
Regardless of whether or not you use feats at your home table, humans are chosen as power gaming option in lieu of fantasy races. Regular old variant human IS the "bonus power-up" thing you're bemoaning and they're no more or less optional than the bird guy or turtle man.

Mountain Dwarf is kind of cool as a semi-melee wizard. (As it should be). Different races give strengths and weaknesses as they should. Make choice of race meaningful. The way it was supports a drawback. A mountain dwarf can be built as a potential melee wizard, but they have a limitation and a debilitation.

To remove such makes choice of race meaningless.
Mountain dwarf doesn't have any meaningful downside compared to the exotic races you have issue with. As of Tasha's, they get a pile of extra tool proficiencies, medium armor on any ranged caster, and an extra ability score point to spend at point buy. If you're rolling a fighter, you can trade the proficiencies in and get a whopping 9 (!) tool profs at level 1. Regular old mountain dwarf IS the "bonus power-up" thing that's better than turtle-man or dragon-man.

It's weird because it seems like you're decrying power-ups but then you're also saying that choice of race should be meaningful. The OP human feat and dwarf loaded with extra perks is making them meaningful powergame race options.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Fantasy is more than just Tolkien, and different people like different things. Why do some people like superhero films and others prefer gritty gangster movies while others enjoy romantic period pieces? The point is to have options for people, not proscribe one single example of the fantasy genre.
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top