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

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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
IME that is because they are unusual so you need a backstory reason why they are among the more typical races in the world--otherwise it makes no sense for them to be there. 🤷‍♂️

If they were part of the status quo, I doubt people would develop strong backstories for them, either. Otherwise, it is more likely just player dependent I would think?
Why?

IME people who pick traditional or typical races tend to develop their PCs history and personality as the world interacts with them. If the DM doesn't offer a world primer or the setting isn't published, thePC of common races start of as stereotypes of their race/class/background and grow from there.

Why can't a player of an atypical race PC do the same and make up a character as they go?
Why must the dragonborn, hippoman, or rockface justify their existence, but the human, dwarf and elf don't?

Which goes back to my point that people are more likely to RP a traditional race flat than an exotic one.
 

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Why?

IME people who pick traditional or typical races tend to develop their PCs history and personality as the world interacts with them. If the DM doesn't offer a world primer or the setting isn't published, thePC of common races start of as stereotypes of their race/class/background and grow from there.

Why can't a player of an atypical race PC do the same and make up a character as they go?
Why must the dragonborn, hippoman, or rockface justify their existence, but the human, dwarf and elf don't?

Which goes back to my point that people are more likely to RP a traditional race flat than an exotic one.
I don't think anyone in here is saying they can't. What they are saying is that it has to match the setting. There needs to be some type of logic. And part of that logic is how the setting interacts with the PC. So they can justify their existence, but if it makes every time they walk into a town or city a bizarre sideshow of adulation or fascination or consternation then it just gets old and takes away from the other players.

So a DM that is using FR, say Ten Towns, can do one of two things: ignore it or have the setting react. These are people that are sacrificing (at least one town) other humanoids to appease the god. You don't think they would logically turn to the strange outcast that is half elephant?
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I didn't know that.
I know it's famous for the tortoises, can vaguely point to it on the globe, & assume I can Google anything else about it if ever needed. (prior to Google I'd have defaulted to books) :)

I think they're the only penguins in the northern hemisphere.
There's a cold current that runs up the side of western South America.

Been looking at the Nazca lines and Atacama desert for some D&D ideas.

And the bird world idea I mentioned earlier. Penguins are mafia types a'la Madagascar movies.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Yet I have never seen these exotic races played as anything other than human in behavior. Not one cat person that I've seen played has gone chasing an arrow that missed him or hacked up a hair ball for example. Why play a cat person if you are just going to play a human anyway?
There are other cat behaviors a cat person might emulate. Also, cat people are people as well as cats. One of the most interesting thing about playing anthropomorphic animal characters is working out what elements of the animal’s behavior might translate over to such a species, and in what ways it might express itself.
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I don't think anyone in here is saying they can't. What they are saying is that it has to match the setting. There needs to be some type of logic. And part of that logic is how the setting interacts with the PC. So they can justify their existence, but if it makes every time they walk into a town or city a bizarre sideshow of adulation or fascination or consternation then it just gets old and takes away from the other players.
Then that begs the question
If the race doesn't match the setting, why is it allowed?
Why is the townfolk of every town in a kitchen sink setting so shocked by a frogman? Wouldn't they know of frogmen? Or wouldn't rumors of a lone frogman adventurer reach them?

To me, it's better to ban the race than include them halfway.

So a DM that is using FR, say Ten Towns, can do one of two things: ignore it or have the setting react. These are people that are sacrificing (at least one town) other humanoids to appease the god. You don't think they would logically turn to the strange outcast that is half elephant?
I for one as a normal villager would not be attempting to anger then move close to the giant elephant man.
But that's one of many reasons why I don't DM FR.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
There are other cat behaviors a cat person might emulate. Also, cat people are people as well as cats. One of the most interesting thing about playing anthropomorphic animal characters is working out what elements of the animal’s behavior might translate over to such a species, and in what ways it might express itself.
Absolutely. My point is that I see ZERO elements of the animal's behavior get translated over. I see cat human, dragon human, etc. I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn't strike me as more interesting than elf human, dwarf human, etc.

Of course, now I want to play a cat person who hacks up a hairball while talking to the King. :ROFLMAO:
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Wow, this thread is humming along! Let's see...

Possibly, but I don't run published settings, nor do I have many preconceived ideas about the campaign world.
I don't run many published settings either (and frankly often throw the setting out and just use the actual "adventure" if any), but I do have more of a developed homebrew world I run most of my games in. If you treat each session zero as its own unique setting, that works well then but I generally don't.

Why?

IME people who pick traditional or typical races tend to develop their PCs history and personality as the world interacts with them. If the DM doesn't offer a world primer or the setting isn't published, thePC of common races start of as stereotypes of their race/class/background and grow from there.

Why can't a player of an atypical race PC do the same and make up a character as they go?
Why must the dragonborn, hippoman, or rockface justify their existence, but the human, dwarf and elf don't?

Which goes back to my point that people are more likely to RP a traditional race flat than an exotic one.
For established races that are more typical, it is simple enough to say, "My character is from [blank] and so and so," as where an "exotic" race requires more effort to place them in the current setting for the adventure. Since my established world is mostly with the common races, playing an unusual race is usually permitted, but I need a reason why you're there. That being said, certain races are much more likely to be present in a region depending on the race, even unusual ones.

Then that begs the question
If the race doesn't match the setting, why is it allowed?
Why is the townfolk of every town in a kitchen sink setting so shocked by a frogman? Wouldn't they know of frogmen? Or wouldn't rumors of a lone frogman adventurer reach them?

To me, it's better to ban the race than include them halfway.
Because banning them entirely is against the "fun" of the player, so I try to be accommodating unless I feel it is a game balance issue (like the Warforged). 90% of the time, working with the player, we can come up with a reason for them to be there--BUT I make sure they understand they ARE unusual and will be reacted to accordingly (curiosity, mistrust, interest, or whatever depending on the reaction roll and the PC's actions).

The frogmen people might have been heard of, or maybe not, maybe a local sage will take interest and want to encourage the frogman to stay and tell about his people? Or maybe the locals will fear the frogman because some curse or illness has come to the region and they are seeking a scapegoat? When the frogman and his friends save the locals, the PCs become heroes and word of the frogman spreads. Who knows... the story will unfold.

FWIW the most extreme example is the "stranger in a strange land" scenario--where the unusual race is literally alien to the setting and somehow was transported there and is trying to make due until they find a way home.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Absolutely. My point is that I see ZERO elements of the animal's behavior get translated over. I see cat human, dragon human, etc. I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn't strike me as more interesting than elf human, dwarf human, etc.
My experience is quite different. I’ve played in a game with a Tabaxi who was obsessed with trying to eat my character, who was technically a changeling but was imitating a Kenku at the time. He would get distracted by small, fast-moving objects or animals. He was aloof. I have a Vulpin character I play in a Humblewood campaign (currently on hiatus) whose personality and mannerisms are inspired both by actual fox behavior and by European fox folklore. I have a gnoll character concept on hold to play in the next campaign after the Humblewood one who has many elements of her behavior and backstory based on extensive research on hyenas. My partner has a ratfolk character who comes from a huge family, is very skittish, loves collecting interesting objects, and keeps a supply of licorice root specifically to gnaw on to keep his front teeth from growing too long.

If you haven’t seen animal behaviors in anthropomorphic animal characters, either you or the people you’re playing with probably don’t know enough about the animals you’re anthropomorphizing. Try playing with some furries some time if you want to see anthro characters who integrate real animal behaviors into their characters in thoughtful and interesting ways.
Of course, now I want to play a cat person who hacks up a hairball while talking to the King. :ROFLMAO:
That would be hilarious.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Of course, now I want to play a cat person who hacks up a hairball while talking to the King.
It wasn't a King, but our Tabaxi Monk hacked up one in front of the head of a monastery the PCs were visiting. Does that count? :D

(FWIW, it was a "fumbled" Charisma check--he got nervous and cough cough cough ---hack (splat) right on the flagstone floor.)

EDIT: I'll add that IF you play the unusual races as "not human" it makes it fun (but I wouldn't want to play these races all the time).

Our Tabaxi Monk also has a phobia of water-- to the point where he wouldn't swim across a river to help the rest of us. He also got distracted by an arrow that he missile deflected-- he started playing with the feathers.

Our Tortle Monk, despite having the best walking speed in the group, acts and speaks like he is SO SLOOOOOWWWWWWWWW all the time. Once he also went into his shell and rolled down some stairs into a group of thugs, then erupted out of it the next round and kicked their butts.

My Aarakocra Monk has proficiency in Jewelers' Tools and often gets excited when we find shiny gem stones, etc., asking the others to let him take stones for his collection before other treasures-- even magical items. He cleans and polishes them and values them for the beauty, not their gp worth.

So, you can go as strange as you want, but I agree if you are playing anything other than human, try to portray that race as you view them instead of just a human in a mask.
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Because banning them entirely is against the "fun" of the player, so I try to be accommodating unless I feel it is a game balance issue (like the Warforged). 90% of the time, working with the player, we can come up with a reason for them to be there--BUT I make sure they understand they ARE unusual and will be reacted to accordingly (curiosity, mistrust, interest, or whatever depending on the reaction roll and the PC's actions).

The frogmen people might have been heard of, or maybe not, maybe a local sage will take interest and want to encourage the frogman to stay and tell about his people? Or maybe the locals will fear the frogman because some curse or illness has come to the region and they are seeking a scapegoat? When the frogman and his friends save the locals, the PCs become heroes and word of the frogman spreads. Who knows... the story will unfold.

My point is why allow a race but not fully incorporate it into your world as the other races.

What I am seeing is DMs allowing a race into their setting to be "nice" then being "upset" that the race has no history, connections, and effects on the setting which ruins the tone. A whole nation of walking talking elephants should have an effect on the setting. Even in the distant places that still have regular communication to the outside would.

But I am a born and raised New Yorker. Strange things bother me a lot less. :cool:
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
My experience is quite different. I’ve played in a game with a Tabaxi who was obsessed with trying to eat my character, who was technically a changeling but was imitating a Kenku at the time. He would get distracted by small, fast-moving objects or animals. He was aloof.
My tabaxi had a pounce die check and a hairball meter. And used Cat alignment.

His alignment was AJ: Aristocratic Jerk.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
My point is why allow a race but not fully incorporate it into your world as the other races.

What I am seeing is DMs allowing a race into their setting to be "nice" then being "upset" that the race has no history, connections, and effects on the setting which ruins the tone. A whole nation of walking talking elephants should have an effect on the setting. Even in the distant places that still have regular communication to the outside would.

But I am a born and raised New Yorker. Strange things bother me a lot less. :cool:
I can see it. I have a list of the "default yes" peoples on the world my campaigns are set on--they're peoples that I have a history for, and I've worked out how and where they fit in. There are some peoples not on that list that I could be talked into allowing as a PC, but not into writing the peoples into the world; since the planar boundaries of the world are porous, I can be persuaded to have them come from elsewhere, but I probably need to know and trust the player to handle playing such an out-of-place character as a character, and not to be trying to choose for maximum build efficiency.
 

My point is why allow a race but not fully incorporate it into your world as the other races.

What I am seeing is DMs allowing a race into their setting to be "nice" then being "upset" that the race has no history, connections, and effects on the setting which ruins the tone. A whole nation of walking talking elephants should have an effect on the setting. Even in the distant places that still have regular communication to the outside would.
Yep. Either do it properly or not at all. And just because the game uses D&D as the rule system the players shouldn't automatically assume that everything that has rules in some D&D book will exist in the setting.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
My point is why allow a race but not fully incorporate it into your world as the other races.

What I am seeing is DMs allowing a race into their setting to be "nice" then being "upset" that the race has no history, connections, and effects on the setting which ruins the tone. A whole nation of walking talking elephants should have an effect on the setting. Even in the distant places that still have regular communication to the outside would.

But I am a born and raised New Yorker. Strange things bother me a lot less. :cool:
My counter-question would be why does every race have to be fully incorporated into a world? Many creatures in our world only exist in very specific regions.

My next counter-question is why assume every part of the world has any contact or knowledge of the rest of the world? In our "monk game", I outlined before there is an animal kingdom-continent which is widely known off, but far removed. Animalistic races are assumed to come from there, so are unusual but not completely strange in most areas. So while distant places might have communication to the outside world in your game, it isn't in mine. I run more medieval games where many people never travel more than a day from where they were born and raised.

Oh, and I am born and raised in New York as well, so I don't see that has much to do with it. ;) I've lived in the south east (Georgia) and the south west (Arizona) as well, plus spent nearly two years living in Europe (Ukraine). Strange things have nothing to do with how I see things. :cool:
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
My counter-question would be why does every race have to be fully incorporated into a world? Many creatures in our world only exist in very specific regions.
My counter-counter question is how did the creature of a not incorporated race get to where the adventure is?

My next counter-question is why assume every part of the world has any contact or knowledge of the rest of the world?
My counter-counter question is why a being from a nation with no contact or knowledge to this on is allowed to walk around unescorted in a late medieval setting?

Why is the only tigerman on the continent able to just walk around slaying villians?
 


BookTenTiger

Adventurer
My counter-counter question is why a being from a nation with no contact or knowledge to this on is allowed to walk around unescorted in a late medieval setting?

Why is the only tigerman on the continent able to just walk around slaying villians?
I think it's interesting that a lot of people are conflating race and culture here. The "weird races" are only weird if they are part of a different culture, and nothing but the DM is forcing that.

If the elephant-man wears the same clothes as folks on the Sword Coast, worships the same gods, and pays taxes to the same king, then that solves half your problems right there.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
My counter-counter question is how did the creature of a not incorporated race get to where the adventure is?
That is why we have to establish their backstory--how did they get there? It usually isn't hard, but explains their presence.

My counter-counter question is why a being from a nation with no contact or knowledge to this on is allowed to walk around unescorted in a late medieval setting?
Who says that individual doesn't? Remember, PCs are supposed to be unique among their kind, and often their stories explain why. Maybe the PC was captured (and escaped) or became lost, maybe it was some magical vortex or strange natural phenomenon?

So, my "counter-counter-counter question" to you is why aren't they allowed if their story supports it? ;)

Why is the only tigerman on the continent able to just walk around slaying villians?
Maybe he hides his appearance like drow, etc. often do. Maybe when the PCs go into the town, he stays outside in the wilderness watching their camp site? Who says he just walks around? OR like I said with my setting, because the idea of the animal-nation is known, maybe he is able to "just walk around" but people treat him with awe, suspicion, or something else. Maybe the town guard has him trailed to make sure he isn't up to something, or maybe the mayor invites him to dine with the town council to meet such a unique individual and learn about his culture?

My point is there are all sorts of way to make this work--without needing every race to be even remotely established in every setting.

I think I've made my point, whether you can appreciate it or not. Others have offered good explanations as well, so I'm done discussing it with you. Have a pleasant Thanksgiving and stay safe. :)
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
That is why we have to establish their backstory--how did they get there? It usually isn't hard, but explains their presence.
Well everyone should have a backstory (or no one should).

My point is that if a PC doesn't fit your world or lacks a place in it, that's 100% on you as a DM. It has nothing to do with the exotic nature of the race. The DM is in charge of running the world.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
A lot of people are talking about how monstrous races can be disruptive while the rubber forehead alien ones like elves & dwarves are traditional so somehow exempt. I run my campaigns with a very eberron-like Elves, preferably with heavy emphasis on the klingony warrior culture type stuff so FR elves & fr style "everyone knows dwarves make the best craftspeople"(no, everyone knows that's probably cannith depending on the thing) dwarves are massively disruptive to my game that sends newer players rushing down a disruptive path.
 

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