Why do you play non-human races?


Why do you wear costumes of no-humans in Halloween?, why straight men play videogame with female characters as Lara Croft?


I don’t mean this as a challenge or criticism, but it’s odd to me that this perspective can persist in the face of so many people over years explaining how the other races can be more than that.
What is possible and what is typical are often very different. Pretty much all the playable races from Dragonlance, Ravenloft, Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, and Dark Sun were just humans. That's not a criticism because I believe inhuman characters are difficult to relate to and role play.


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Why play nonhumans (of any kind)?

Aesthetics, mechanics, exploration of otherness*, the in-campaign cultural tropes, humor, because it might bug someone else at the table, conforming to party theme, filling a gap, because it might enhance certain aspects of the campaign, because of an archetype, because it’s against an archetype...


* I also play other genders and sexual orientations in part for this reason.
Somehow, I forgot to list “because I found a cool mini” as mentioned by others.

So, because I found a cool mini.


From my experience, most people play them for the mechanics provided, usually a race-class combo looking for the “right” build. Unfortunately, I’ve rarely met the player who creates an elf/dwarf looking to explore the possibilities of role-playing one.

Not that I believe there’s anything wrong in picking your race looking for the best build. I just wish it was not such a prevalent motivation in my own gaming circle.


Darkvision, obviously. :p
That. And making fun of the human who prefers to travel by day. Really, I have seen more players chosing a race for mechanical adventage and a little colour (but not much) than for roleplay reasons. Except maybe warforged. Those attracted a lot of roleplay in my experience. But it's very difficult to enter the mindset of an alien race anyway. Even playing as someone from another culture (or from our culture from a few century ago) is difficult, so a non-human race... challenging.


One reason that hasn't been listed, I actually started running out of human names I like because I'm addicted to character building. I currently have 40+ AL legal characters, 20+ of which are tier 2. As a side note, I wish I could find a tier 2 table...


Sometimes the cool image: garden gnomes and Tolkienian elves and hobbits.

Sometimes the racial abilities because the game makes it mechanically useful to play certain races for certain archetypes.

Two things I like best about 5E are lower stat caps and bounded accuracy, so that your starting race has very little effect on your character. You can easily play a dwarven mage or a gnomish barbarian.


Because non-human races are not that far from human to start with. They all have humanlike anatomy, humanlike emotions, humanlike needs... Elves are probably the most alien (Warforge notwithstanding) with their lack of true sleep, but still they can breed with humans, so not that far.

Also, they provide handy archetypes and stereotypes to build upon or move away from. Basically, the right balance of escapism and familiarity.

Also, Darkvision as mentioned above :) Joke aside, the thought of not have to be afraid of the dark (one of humans’ most primal fear) is immensely comforting, if only on a subconscious level.
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I'm one of the "why play a human when I can be something else" crowd. Sometimes the particular race I choose is due to mechanics, sometimes because something appeals to be about the race and the character I have in mind. I'm currently playing an aasimar in season 9 of AL (Descent into Avernus) in part because the idea of playing a being with angelic ties in an adventure that delves into hell struck me as interesting.


I spend all my non-gaming time being human, I like to try something different.

But also, mechanically in almost every game, Humans are treated as the Vanilla base standard. To me this makes them a bit boring to play.

Now see, if we had a setting that treated humans as NOT just bog standard, that actually considered Humans' noteworthy traits, I might play a human.

Did you know?
-Humans are a pursuit hunter. Our ancestors hunted larger stronger faster creatures by simply following at a walking pace night and day till their prey was exhausted. Humans get +2 con, resistance to Exhaustion effects.
-Humans are the ONLY primate that can throw at a distance with accuracy? Humans get some bonus for THROWN attacks. (Double proficiency? Advantage? Double Range?)

Add in some cultures to take the place of sub-races and suddenly we have a race that's interesting and worth playing IMO.

+1 to everything and a bonus skill, or +1 to 2 things and a feat? Boring. (Note: not WEAK mind you, just not INTERESTING)