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

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If you take the world of the Dark Crystal, for example . . . not a human in sight! Not even any Tolkienesque elves or dwarves! The gelflings and podlings aren't too far away that though, and certainly are the point-of-view characters for the audience.

Running a D&D game where humans aren't any more common than a myriad of other races, perhaps even less so, sounds like it could be a lot of fun! Count me in as pro-cantina!
(y)
True story: My friend and I were at a party in California (many years ago). In walked a girl and we could not stop staring. My wife asked if I knew her. I said yes, but it was impossible. My friend just stared and stared and stared, and in between stares, he would look at me with huge eyes that asked: Is that possible?
I swear to you. 100% truth. She looked identical (no surgeries) to the gelfling girl (Kira?). Identical. My wife thought I was staring because it looked like she had a slight defect. But, I was, in a weird way, star struck. It was so profound, that we eventually went and talked to her, and asked for her picture (after showing her a picture of the character).
So if you are in Cali, be on the lookout for a gelfling. They exist, and it is fascinating.
 

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billd91

Hobbit on Quest
But, that's the point. You're banning netrunners because of actual issues - they wind up playing a different game than the rest of the group. Totally understandable. Even the no-corporates that you point to aren't an issue of you don't like corporate characters, but, because you are worried about balance issues. Fair enough. Nothing you've said actually addresses what I said.
Except that I specified that I don't like running netrunner-type stuff. If I liked it, if it were my preference, I'd do it. See how it relates? Same with corporates - I can run a game with them in the group if I wanted to, no problem. It's not about balance - you're not paying attention to my statements - you're assuming something else that I did NOT say. I'm saying I don't prefer them so I prefer to leave them out.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
I meant exactly what I said. Everyone here who's complaining that elves and dwarves are boring and lazy and chained to the corpse of a dead writer simply don't get to complain when, five or ten years from now, tieflings and dragonborn are staid and dull and overplayed and solely the province of hidebound traditionalists. At that point, nobody will like them because they're new and fresh; they'll lump them in with old and boring.

Enjoy the New Car Smell while it's fresh, because it won't last.
"New"

Tabaxi, drow, duergar, svirfneblin have been around since 1e (all but tabaxi being playable). Tieflings, aasimar, and genasi have been around since 2e. Dragonborn, changelings, shifters, warforged, shadarkai, and kalashtar have been around since 3.5. Goliath have been around since 4e(?). Other than the M:TG and AI races, there isn't a whole lotta new here. 1e's Unearthed Arcana opened the door, 2e swung it wide open, and it's stayed that way ever since.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
What were we talking about? Centaur anatomy?

I hate the phrasing that D&D is "chained to the corpse of Tolkien" . . . it's as pejorative and demeaning to certain tastes as "cantina" style campaigns is to others. Can't we express our preferences without demeaning the preferences of others?

While D&D, of course, has several important and formative influences, its world-building and cosmology relies heavily on Tolkien, as does a LOT of modern fantasy (novels, comics, video games, etc). AND THAT'S OKAY. The core demihuman races of D&D, largely derived from Tolkien, are an important part of the D&D genre . . . and many of us LOVE THEM. If WotC ever put out a D&D edition without these races front and center . . . it's not D&D anymore.

Now, if you personally find elves, dwarves, and hobbits halflings a bit stale . . . that's cool. Adding in more fun and interesting races to supplement or even replace the demihuman races in your campaign is awesome stuff. If your adventuring parties rarely sport any pink-smooth-skins (pointy ears or no) in favor of all manner of animal-people and other strangeness, more power to you.

Fantasy is a broad genre, and while D&D itself has its core assumptions . . . it can be easily shaped to model all sorts of fantasy stories. All human worlds, Tolkienesque worlds, the Mos Eisley Cantina . . . it's all good. Can we stop pooping on what other people like?

Oops, sorry. I forgot it's the internet. And someone on the internet is wrong and I MUST STOP THEM.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
I wish these DMs would be more vocal about the stuff they do, then. 'Cause it sure doesn't feel like they're more than a rounding error at this point.

Perhaps this is true. As stated above, I really wish people who were fine with whatever is in the PHB would...like...speak up? Ever? Because the vocal people aren't those. At all. Seemingly ever.
rauses hand

While I put some limits on tmy current campaign, and will likely encourage the players to make setting-thematic characters for my next campaign (which is set in Eberrron, so there's a fertile field of racial options), when I finish creating my new home-brew setting, I want to have a place for almost every playable race in 5e (and a couple more I'm converting).
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
"New"

Tabaxi, drow, duergar, svirfneblin have been around since 1e (all but tabaxi being playable). Tieflings, aasimar, and genasi have been around since 2e. Dragonborn, changelings, shifters, warforged, shadarkai, and kalashtar have been around since 3.5. Goliath have been around since 4e(?). Other than the M:TG and AI races, there isn't a whole lotta new here. 1e's Unearthed Arcana opened the door, 2e swung it wide open, and it's stayed that way ever since.
I love that D&D lets you play all the races you list.

But, while not new to the game really, most of these races certainly fall into the uncommon to rare categories. Both in-world and in player choice. That's why they often feel new, when they aren't really. Plus, most of them haven't traditionally been presented in the core books, but in supplements.

And, um, actually . . . goliaths debuted in 3rd Edition. ;)
 

I wish these DMs would be more vocal about the stuff they do, then. 'Cause it sure doesn't feel like they're more than a rounding error at this point.
I allow every official player race in my games, as long as it fits my specific world's changes to them. I also have dozens of homebrew races and subraces that are also available. If a player wants to play something that isn't in the my homebrew or official rules (like a Thri-Kreen or Half-Ogre), I'll homebrew a race to fit their character vision (within reason, of course. No baby Tarrasque characters).
 

Azzy

KMF DM
While I like the use of stats, this tells us very little. Because we do not know the extent of these characters created. Was it a DM just clicking random? Does that count? Was it a DM making an entire gnome NPC faction? Was it Adventure League just creating random characters that people can use that just "pop in for a try?" Was it just a player playing around with the program to see where the numbers would fall?

Like I said, numbers are good, but we have no idea if half of these were even used. A better use of these numbers would be to ask them to publish the tracked numbers using conditions; meaning a character generated at first level, then levelled after one week's time (or more), then levelled again after another week's time (or more). Then we could probably be assured those are characters being played. I suspect the numbers would look vastly different if you did that.
With these being referenced as "active characters", it means that these characters are used on a regular basis (my swarmkeeper ranger, for instance, wouldn't be considered active while my assassin rogue would be). That, and the numbers likely skew towards the free options and likely the rest of the PHB (because, if someone is going to throw money at D&D Beyond, it'll likely be for the PHB). That's why, I believe, that the aasimar (variant) and eladrin (variant) from the DMG are as highly rated as they are (they're free, too).
 

Jack Daniel

Engines & Empires
Disagree. I'd MUCH rather see bad roleplaying - which can be helped with some guidance - than no roleplaying, which, IME, means that we have players that we could replace with a dice bot and no one would notice. No roleplaying is treating the game as just another tactical board game where we're there to power up our character so we can kill the next bigger monster. No thanks. I just left a group like that and I'd rather stick a screwdriver in my left ear than go through that again.

Roleplaying is a skill, like any other, and it has to be learned and practiced in order to get better. Sitting at the table with Fytor and Father Generic is not even roleplaying. I'd far rather sit down and play a board game with these people than a roleplaying game. That no-roleplay player just sucks all the air from the room and makes me hate playing.

Well it does depend on precisely what you mean by "roleplaying." In deference to the broader consensus, even though I hate it, I'll here take "roleplaying" to mean what most people mean by that phrase, i.e. treating the character as a "personality" different from the player, a fictional entity who might make decisions other than the player would make. Improvisational method-acting, in other words. Maybe talking in character, maybe describing the character's dialog in the third person, but still improvising the dialog to at least some degree.

I have no interest in that aspect of the hobby whatsoever.

As I explained a hundred and fifty pages back, it's also perfectly cromulent to conceive of "roleplaying" merely as playing a role in the sense of controlling your character and using their various abilities, making the decisions that you would make if you were in that character's shoes. Not self-insertion by any stretch, because the character still isn't you, but a healthy recognition that the character is an empty avatar and a game-pawn that the player uses to interface with the imaginary milieu. No drama club, no funny voices, just playing the game as a game. Not too dissimilar to the way first-person RPG video games work, when you get right down to it.

If you want to say that that's "not even roleplaying," fine, it probably isn't according to that definition I just gave a couple paragraphs up. But it would also be positively asinine to say that that's the only valid definition of roleplaying. It's not the 90s anymore: being snooty about the method-acting style of roleplaying won't score anyone any cool points.

Regardless, I did point out at least a couple of times back in the earlier half of this thread that as a player of Dungeons & Dragons: Rules For Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures, that I'm very likely participating in an entirely different hobby than more than half the people here—only to be told by those I've been arguing with that, no, that's not actually true.

I remain unconvinced.
 
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Azzy

KMF DM
Personally if I get tired of anything it's the psuedo-medieval-European setting.

Same here. For my home-brew setting (that I won't shut up about, apparently), I'm taking far more inspiration from the civilizations of the Bronze and early Iron ages from around the globe (with a few, like my vaguely Incan-esque mountain-dwelling elves, taking inspiration from civilizations from later points in history and from fiction) and trying to avoid a one-to-one adaptation (those Incan elves will take inspiration from elsewhere—like the Air Tribe Avatar, the last Airbender, also). I like Middle Earth, I like Greyhawk, but I don't want to create a setting that emulates either.

I'd really like to find a game that does Esper Genesis, weird west/Victorian, or Eberron noire. I'd do an alternate culture (i.e. Slavic or Chin dynasty), but I'd make a hash of it. It's simply easier to run in a "standard" setting because I can paint in really broad brush strokes and there's already a lot of assumptions built in so people fill in the blanks with preconceived notions. So when I DM I stay with the tried and true because it gives me more freedom to do other cool stuff and tell interesting stories without having to fill in those blanks for people.
I'm so sorry. IMO, you should go ahead and take the plunge in trying something different that you like. Your players may be more amenable to and easier to roll with it than you think. Heck, if it fails spectacularly, you always have the tried and true to fall back on.
 


Voadam

Legend
Again, you're pointing to elements that carry actual in-play problems. No kender (for the stealing aspect), no tinker gnomes (because they can totally derail a campaign and potentially kill their own group) and no Gully Dwarves (for all sorts of very good reasons).
Could be.

Or they don't like small characters in their imaginative space.

But, imagine that the DM instead bans Knights. No Solamnic knights in the Dragonlance game because I hate horses.

Is that fine?
Of course. :)

There is lots to do and be in Dragonlance without knights. You can easily do the Dragonlance Saga as a PC party without Sturm and have it be cool. Caramon and Raistlin go back in time and do Wizard and Gladiator stuff as an adventure set involves zero knights. Elves in the Kinslayer wars would be great. Many of the original modules do not involve the Solamnic knights.

I would be fine if the reason he dislikes it is he hates horse characters in D&D so he is banning 1e cavaliers (and centaurs ;)), or the feudal class elitism inherent in knights, or the specific solamnic honor stuff, or other reasons. The reason is not that big a deal.

If they don't like it, they don't like it. I might ask why or ask about ways I might work with a problematic concept I am jazzed up about so it is not problematic for them, but in the end as a general matter I don't really want to push something they will dislike. Ideally the game includes a Venn diagram of elements that the group mutually enjoys.

I like playing a viking character concept regularly, they fit into tons of fantasy settings seamlessly as established elements and I enjoy a bunch of norse stuff. It is not the only character concept I can go with however. I can work with other people's sensibilities and would not look down on someone offering to run a game with no viking PC options because they don't like that one concept that is my favorite to play. I could see a friend telling me in a non-jerk way that they are overloaded on my vikings so they created a whole world with NO VIKINGS specifically to get a break. I would simply go with something different. I've played an Achilles based super hero, a D&D fiendish troll, a D&D 3rd party race of spiritual light, an elvish trickster beguiler, humans of defined or not defined ethnicity, and a ton of other concepts, and had fun doing so. I'm playing a Vistani turned flesh golem currently.

I can generally have fun in a D&D game even without access to any specific element of D&D.
 

Ooh, I didn't know that. Thanks for the heads up.
Races of Stone, the dwarf/gnome race book, is where they're from. They were pretty much just Half Giants genericified with the psionics stripped off, however.

Because 3.5E is when Half Giants went medium after Half Ogre happened, y'see
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
Ooh, I didn't know that. Thanks for the heads up.
Goliaths were introduced in Races of Stone. We got killoren (later renamed wilden in 4E) and raptorans in Races of the Wild, and illumian in Races of Destiny. The goliath survived the test of time, the others really didn't. Which is a shame, I wasn't a fan of the raptorans, but I loved the other new (at the time) races.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Because 3.5E is when Half Giants went medium after Half Ogre happened, y'see
Well, it makes sense. Before 3e, being large wasn't necessarily a consistent benefit. Some weapons did a little less damage, but some of them did more - a lot more. In 3e, however, you might have had a slightly penalized attack bonus and AC/improved grapple, but you got reach and that was a pretty consistent and notable benefit.
So they worked to keep PC races down to medium or smaller.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
Suppose I'm running Cyberpunk 2020 and I don't like running extended netrunning sessions so I say "No PC netrunners". That's not really a "bad reason" since, if the players push it, I'm simply not going to run a game I find onerous. Granted, this is a bit of a loaded example since the type of play between netrunners and most other characters is very different, but it is a counterexample to your blanket statement. Some preferences can put a burden or impose complications on someone else and refusing a burden/complication because you don't like it isn't a naughty bad no-good reason.
I can, as easily, say no corporates because I don't want someone playing a character with access to corporate resources or, in the most recent edition, no lawmen because I don't want anybody with backup resources they can call on or because I find a cop-inclusive campaign to be problematic.

You keep saying that imposing preferences on someone else is a bad thing, but only characterize that as a DM's offense. That goes both ways. If I don't like elves and design a campaign world without them, don't impose your preference to play elves on me. If the game as pitched doesn't work for you, just say so and move on. We can have a frank talk about why and I'll be up front about it (as I should be) because that's a respectful approach, but players should extend the same respect and not try to wheedle and cajole the DM into relenting.
Well, netrunning CP2020 has poorly designed rules (I eventually created my own variant rules), so I don't think that anyone could blame you there. I've heard that the rules in CP RED are a lot better, but I haven't really looked into it (the hardback is out of stock and I'm not paying $30 for a PDF—when the physical book comes back in stock, you bet I'm going thrown my eb at it, choomba).

Limiting accesse to resources of corp and lawmen characters shouldn't be too difficult, though—there's always rivals, bosses, and beauracrcy to fowl things up).
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
That party song scenario sounds more like a player trying to veto NPC kender in the middle of the game when they show up, which seems a different situation. :)

A DM seems like the host having a set list and saying he did not include a specific song because he did not like it. I want to add this song you don't like at your party seems equivalent to I want to play a kender race you don't like in your game. Except instead of 3 minutes and its over it is for hours every week for months.
I would consider a host who won’t let guests add songs to the playlist to be acting poorly as a host.

As for the time element, that’s just nitpicking.
 

Hussar

Legend
Except that I specified that I don't like running netrunner-type stuff. If I liked it, if it were my preference, I'd do it. See how it relates? Same with corporates - I can run a game with them in the group if I wanted to, no problem. It's not about balance - you're not paying attention to my statements - you're assuming something else that I did NOT say. I'm saying I don't prefer them so I prefer to leave them out.
I'm not assuming anything. You specifically mentioned the issues- balance issues and play time issues as the reasons.

I don't like running extended netrunning sessions so I say "No PC netrunners".
I don't want someone playing a character with access to corporate resources
 



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