|Apostle of Gygax|
Many of the prior settings played around with what is or isn't a core race. Dragonlance doesn't have half-orcs, but Kender and Minotaurs (I think?) were major players. Eberron I think had most of the core, but they also had shifters, warforged, and changelings as important races.
The core races were built based on what were the major races in popular fantasy at the time (namely Tolkien and his clones). A lot of fantasy settings however are moving away from those classical races, either ditching them completely or radically rebooting them into something else. A DM might very well not want to run a setting with standard races.
Exactly, my own semi-homebrew world has eighteen core races including the standard seven. I like to have a lot of options for my players and although many are human offshoots the diversity is quite fun.
...okay. I'm trying to figure out how we went from not automatically presuming that the setting is quasi-Tolkienian, to lightsabers and playable demons.
The real reason is that despite claims/appearances to the contrary, D&D and its derivatives (such as PF) are not really setting neutral. There are a whole host of setting assumptions built into the core system, such as Vancian magic, the existence of certain iconic magic items, the core races, the core classes, alignments, etc. World-building is influenced by these assumptions, to the point where a GM has to specifically call out exceptions and omissions (see 2e Dark Sun for example).
I don't see Vancian magic as particularly setting-specific, but ehh.
In my local group this was the reason for a lot of the anti-4e backlash, because so many of the fundamental assumptions were changed/tweaked that it felt like we couldn't run games on the same worlds without drastically altering the worlds.
I had my issues with 4e. How much it upset the standard fantasy model was not on the list. Hell, as far as I'm concerned, D&D already had quite the tradition of doing just that.
So it's kind of a circle started by tradition that the core races are core: 1e had those races, so people built worlds that had those races more prominently featured, so new editions have to have those races so that people could keep using their worlds. Honestly, this book will be a step towards a more setting-neutral system as it will increase options for GMs wanting to branch away from the traditional set.
Indeed. And as far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing.