Talk me down: Exotic Race Antipathy


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

my experience with my group is that players pick their races before they pick their classes. They are much more interested in trying out nontraditional races than new classes.

My current RotR game is all non core.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I find that the more exotic races give me more room to be creative in a space I am comfortable with. I am one of those people that if you as a child told me to draw a picture I'd stare at you blankly, but tell me to draw you a picture of a house and Im using up crayons like no ones business.

The exotic races give me a sort of sandbox to play in when creating my character where as a human for instance is too much like a blank slate for me. Of my 3 active one is a wayang, one is a changeling and one is human. My wayang witch is among my all time favorite characters. I have drawn inspiration from some of it's abilities and some of the flavor presented in the ARG (this game is not set in golarion) and created a whole culture that drives my character. I couldnt do that with humans or a culture actively involved in the campaign, or that is very fleshed out in the setting. I can do that with the more exotic and less common races (working with my dm ofcourse).

I tend to draw a lot of inspiration for my characters from their mechanics, it helps me get that initial push. Humans dont give me anything interesting there, and the rest of the core races are sort of done to death. When I pick up an exotic race that hasnt seen much or any use at my table before though, I have some room to play and something to start with.


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I currently run a Kingmaker game that has not a single human in the party.

And you know what? It's INCREDIBLE. Every new situation keeps me on my toes because they try unconventional things. They forge alliances with unlikely allies, negotiate in good faith with "monsters"...

It's the best time I've had GMing in years because they are not like "A monster! Let's kill it and take it's treasure!" Instead it's a careful weighing of if it can be negotiated with, what benefit is their to be had, are they justified in killing it....

Monster Kingdom FTW.


I've never DM'd before, but I'll admit I have a fondness for exotic races. As many people have said before, sometimes you just want to be something else. When I play video games, I generally just try to be myself in a fantastic setting. But if I have the flexibility of something like pathfinder? Definitly gonna try something exotic.

I've been having fun creating a series of demi-humans based on the notion that humans will breed with ANYTHING. The race builder paizo made can be abused, but at the same time it's an incredible tool to create reasonably cool races.

An example: In this game I'm playing, I created a partial construct. Functionally, he has NONE of the big construct advantages. I gave him clockwork eyes, and gave him cool sight boosts (Darkvision, low-light). I gave him the lightbringer trait (allows light cast at will) to give him an excuse to have his eyes light up whenever his emotions flare up.

In a world with demons, sentient plants/constructs/animals, and many other weirdnesses, any race can eventually be justified. Unless it's an all-human campaign (which can be done just as well), just mess around. Worse comes to worse, if they want to play an exotic race that doesnt fit, create them their own ( based on conceptual expectations, not mechanics of course). The race builder is an incredible tool:
http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advancedRaceGuide/raceBuilder.html

BTW, big props to skeletal steve, what you (or your players) are doing sounds awesome. I havent played RPGs for long, but the prevailing attitude seems to be kill now, ask questions later. From the players AND the GM. This one GM has said too often "no, you cant get past unless you kill them" or "well, if you dont kill them, they'll try to kill you" (and this wasnt monsters, this was people). Still, I've got plenty of time ahead of me to get to something like that.


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Matthew Downie wrote:


Come to think of it, Aragorn was 87, but still youthful due to his unusual racial background. So that makes Boromir the only 'normal' one, and look what happens to him.

Both were Dunedain; men of Westernesse. They both had Elvish blood essentially. Aragorn probably had a bloodline that was closer to the half elfin, Boromir less so. The elvish connection and the proximity of their ancestral island to the uttermost west (Heaven) is where they took their superior attributes from. The Dunedain were taller, stronger, swifter and (probably) more inclined to magic than ordinary men. Hence Aragorn's age, iirc Bormir was about 40. Bormir's father was a contemporary of Aragorn and knew Aragorn when he served Gondor under an assumed name.


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One of the misconceptions is that by playing an exotic race, someone's being "lazy." I admit to being heartily shocked by this attitude when I first ran into it.

What I see as harmful here are the preconceptions--such as some of those suggested by the OP, steve, moonwhisper, and mplindustries. Some of these are harmful, and I hope that by communicating, we can come to a better understanding. I'll also posit that this attitude exists on both "sides." I know, because I also play exotic characters from time to time, and enjoy doing so.

So let's address a few of them. I'll jump into some stereotypes here, because I hope by jumping onto them, we can also clear them out.

So assume we've two groups:

People who play exotic races:
- For the challenge
- For something different and for that exotic/crazy feel of being in a fantasy setting (also known as: Dude, I'm a DRAGON!!)
- Fetish (the easiest example is 'furry')
- Separation, or that is--by playing something more exotic, it's easier to step into an alternate world
- Room for creativity

People who don't, or who only play 'slightly altered' races (such as elves, halflings):
- For the inherit variation provided in most settings for a single race
- Being themselves but in a more heroic setting
- Fetish (oh, yes...the player who spends most of his time at the table drawing his female PC and giggling, oops! I drew her boobs too big!, or the female one who plays the sexy, demure half-elf and her boy-harem...ugh ugh ugh.)
- Room for creativity

We could possibly make a third group--that is, those who never, ever stray beyond a human character. I might propose what we're looking at here is more of a continuum of interest and comfort level. That is, just inherit, human differences.

As a bonus, something that might surprise us are some of the reasons I've heard people from both groups give. That is...

People who play exotic races: that OTHER GROUP plays humans because they're lazy!!!

People who don't: that OTHER GROUP play nonhumans because they're lazy!!!

There. Crazy, no?


Some players and GMs are not comfortable with other player and GM choices.

Those players and GMs need to realize they cannot dictate others' choices.

Including the choice not to be comfortable with others' choices.

re: the OP:

Regardless of how the OP wants or does not want to be seen, the OP has described certain personal opinions that make me believe the OP already has his/her mind made up and seeks legitimization. To that I say - you don't need to look to anyone else for legitimization; you have the perfect right to your own opinions. If you want to tell others that you're not going to accept exotic races, that's your right. If others are going to complain or criticize that practice, that is their right.


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I've seen one person on these boards (can't remember who) post that he/she allows the same number of races in each campaign he/she runs, just varying what races are available.

This gives the campaign some stability, gives the DM a few hints in world design, and lets the players pick which races they want to play. If one of your players wants to be a catfolk, you put catfolk into your world as a major race. Otherwise, they might not exist at all, or live in a distant land, etc. I think it's a good model for those reasons; of course, some players might demand to be the ONLY catfolk in the land of the campaign, and that's a different matter entirely. Still can be done, though.

I think even party of freaks can be worked with, but the stories will run a little differently based on that.


Personally, I'm right up there with you when it comes to limiting "special" or "strange" races. For the same reason why I never allow my players to play horrifically overt tieflings (also known as "oh god why weren't you smothered at birth; they're Planetouched, not Plane-seized). I'd rather them play a character, rather than a race or a class.

I still allow them, but only after the players have made me confident that this isn't just a "LOOK AT HOW NEAT THIS IS" thing. Mainly because of one silly billy who thought it'd be hilarious to make a series of Tengu pun characters. It was actually pretty funny to watch him break out of prison screaming "THE GROOSE IS LOOSE!" though - but that was when I drew the line.


Mister Fluffykins wrote:
It was actually pretty funny to watch him break out of prison screaming "THE GROOSE IS LOOSE!" though - but that was when I drew the line.

that's actually funny.


humans are too much of a blank slate for me as well

but the core races have so many steriotypes everyone enforces

i play a male dwarven feng shui master (dwarven druid) clad in leafweave hide with a pet jaguar, who drinks milk, likes scaly women, and doesn't drink alchohol because his poison immunity leaves him unable to get drunk. but he likes the potent flavor of milk, and he has a handaxe for chopping trees.

everybody freaks out because he is not a proper dwarf, and not your traditional tree hugger either.

he speaks to the earth to divine places for construction and mining, he doesn't protect trees, and he even eats meat.

he is a geomancer, not your traditional hippie, he eats in moderation, and uses every part of what he kills, in some way. and he even recycles used items looted from corpses.

trees, no, i speak to the earth as a whole, not just trees, kobolds clad in sailor seifuku with visible horizontal stripes, "hell yeah!"

and yeah, we did have a kobold geisha who wore all that, the sailor schoolgirl uniform, the striped socks and such, all of it. she was the dwarf's consort.

he clearly wasn't another axebeard, hell, he spoke with a fake hollywood German accent, not a Scottish one and his common was sprinkled with a bit of German.


Here's what I did in a campaign.

I took an old race, found a new race and 'paired' them up.

Examples:

Dwarf/Ratfolk: Both have a good time in a subterranean home and have a high focus on family/clan first. Ratfolk tend to be the artisans and designers while the dwarves tend to provide the folk wisdom and solid foundation. Both have traits the other value. Primary geography, mountains, hills, and valleys. Dwarves changed to +2 Con, -2 Dex, +2 Wis

Elf/Lizardfolk: Occupy the topical regions. I did change the elf stats to +2 Dex -2 Con +2 Cha. Lizardfolk are +2 Str, -2 Int +2 Wis. While both tend to be long lived their environment means it's generally easier to not make huge buildings (though there are some, and those that exist tend to have more relevance because of their rarity) and they don't spread too much as they generally live close to the coast/marsh/tropical forest regions.

Halflings/Gnolls: Halflings are -2 Str +2 Dex +2 Int, Gnolls are +2 Dex -2 Wis +2 Int. These are the nomads of the campaign. Look for the monster orphanage thread we did on the boards for more on my Gnolls.

Human/Catfolk/Orc: Typically temperate zones.

These were the races available for the campaign. It only increases by two but by tying them into something that I'm use to I help immediately set a vibe for what the race is in my campaign and how they fit into the parts people are already familiar with.

Typically I reduce it down to three things for a race:

Culture, geographical location, race they commonly ally with.


My only issue with exotic races is whether I can fit them into my campaign world. Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's very hard, depending on the world I've created for the campaign. I never use premade campaign worlds, so this can be an issue for me.

So long as I can work the race into my world in some way, I have little trouble with players choosing them, provided the race is statted out already and reasonably balanced and hopefully playtested.

Aside from fitting them in, I am mostly resistant to players who want to play monsters as PCs, because they are rarely balanced, barely (if at all) playtested, and hardly ever appropriate for a game that starts at level 1.

Dark Archive

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In games like GURPS, where every race had to pay for their advantages out of a pool of points that went towards their entire character, race was almost always a no-brainer, because you generally would rather buy the advantages you want, and not get stuck paying for the stuff you didn't want that came with the racial template. (There were exceptions, obviously. Some racial abilities couldn't be purchased by just any old human without an 'unusual background' tax, and since races often came with their own built in disadvantages, you could sneak past limits and restrictions on the number of disadvantages by taking a race that had a few you didn't mind anyway...)

Thanks to the free bonus human feat introduced in 3.0, there's a significant 'opportunity cost' to playing a non-human now. I find tons of races fascinating, and then look at all of the cluttery junk that comes with 'dwarf' or 'gnome,' at least half of which will *never* be relevant, and then think 'is this worth a feat?'

Nine times out of ten, the answer is 'no.'

Only clearly high-tier races, like Aasimar or Suli or Drow or, Iomedae forfend, Drow Nobles, lean to 'yes.'

mplindustries wrote:
The point is, the vast, vast majority of people are choosing weird races for their mechanics. I have literally never seen a Human in AD&D, for example, because they got absolutely nothing racially except a higher max level cap which everyone ignored anyway.

Clearly they did not recognize the awesomeness of a human dual-class fighter -> magic-user compared to an elven multiclass fighter / magic-user. Cleric -> fighters were also quite rocking.

Plus the 2nd edition Legends & Lore book introduced some laughably unbalanced human multiclass options anyway, like human clerics of Isis being able to be multiclass wizards.

Even allowing any race to be any class, at the end, we still had parties of mostly humans and the occasional elf or halfling.

When we went 'exotic,' we went exotic. Spelljammer pretty much was anything goes anyway. (I was partial to Xixchil.) But we had the occasional 'monster game' with PCs including a wemic, a centaur, a half-ogre, a full ogre, a half-ogre-magi, more aquatic elves and half-aquatic elves than I can shake a stick at, and my piece de resistance, a gnomish were-giant-space-hamster clockwork mage.

Coming from comic books and superhero RPGs, where your 'party' might include a were-tyrannosaurus rex, an artificially intelligent hive mind of insect-sized flying robots, a floating ball of light that may or may not be an angel and a monocellular shapeshifting alien with his own flying saucer, I'm probably less bothered by the 'cantina' than most.

The setting is crawling with sentient species, like gnolls and orcs and lizardfolk and merpeople. What's more 'realistic,' that the humans and 'prettier humanoids' would all huddle together and pretend the others don't exist, or that they'd find ways to coldly exploit them and undercut each other by trading with 'those guys?' :)


I'll admit, I am one of those players that really enjoys playing the 'exotic' races. Part of it is because it gives me the chance to delve into a new race's background in the setting and try and come up with a unique reason to have that character in the campaign. But at the same time, I will also admit to picking a race for optimization. For example I am having a great time playing a Sylph Wizard(Archetype:Wind Listener)-Specialization:Air that will be eventually picking up Magaambyan Arcanist. Oh! And she has a trait training her in Diplomacy (in a 25pt game I dropped Wisdom instead of Charisma for the fun of it) and a fairly devout follower of Desna. She is probably by far the most fun I've ever had playing a Wizard.

But at the same time, I just made a Paladin for a party where we are introducing some children to the game by carefully approaching Dragon's Demand, I took a careful look and honestly Human was a very strong choice for the class and is what I've ended up taking. Mostly for optimization reasons to be honest. With the much needed extra feat, and even the skill point to be honest.

There are always going to be multiple reasons why players want to be certain races, whether it is optimization or to be an odd-ball or for role-playing reasons. Basically the GM & myself always work closely together during race selection and take it one race at a time.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's possible this is my childhood background in anime speaking, but I've always thought an eclectic band of freaks roaming the earth fighting evil all while confusing and scaring the hell out of passersby is a hilarious concept. And I do, after a while, get tired of everyone always going human. It feels...well...boring. Oh, look, another human barbarian. Another human wizard. Look at all that blending in they're doing. Sigh.

I don't know. Perhaps I'm just not a very subtle person, but to me, nothing screams "adventurer" and therefore "someone who is not of the common mold" like someone who DOESN'T blend in well with a crowd. These are rare individuals who often wander outside the boundaries of social convention. For me, it's easier to imagine this phenomenon if the players, in their very being, are rare and unusual, such as by having exotic race choices. For me, it adds color and variety.

As for optimization, I have two groups. One is so new to the game that I doubt half of them even know how to optimize, much less juggle races to their fullest effect. The other group has been in the game long that they could break it to pieces if they put in even a little effort...but they don't, since they don't like the play-style. When one of them goes up to me and asks to play an aasimar, there's little in my mind that screams to tell me that it's just for the overpowered racial bonuses. I trust them to put forth valid and interesting reasons there. In any case, I still prefer having people play a wide variety of things. I stare at humans all day long. Imagining that and thinking around it requires all the imaginative energy it takes to eat a candy bar. Give me a group of weirdoes any day so I can try and figure out how the world reacts.


Exotic races seem like an easy (read: lazy) way to inject some creativity into an otherwise bland character. I'd prefer to see players take the more challenging path of creating a good backstory and personality than rely on gimmicks like horns and wings to make their character special.

After all, there are literally thousands of ways to portray a human character--as demonstrated in pretty much the entire history of human literature. Anyone who says "humans are boring" just isn't trying. And all too often, their 'original' concept is a cheap knockoff of an anime or video-game character anyway, so there's STILL no creativity involved.

From the "Pathfinder Lexicon" thread:

Special Snowflake: A unique, well-made, and interesting character that isn’t. See CHARACTER STORY, SNOWFLAKE SYNDROME.

Snowflake Syndrome: The desperate and eternally unmet desire to make your Drizzt clone stand out from all the other Drizzt clones by calling him “Drazzt” and giving him a pet leopard instead of a panther. See CHARACTER STORY.

Character Story: A deeply fascinating—-no, riveting-—bit of vital personal history which you feel obligated to share, even with those who were there at the time. Character stories may cause severe to acute boredom, blurred vision, drowsiness, numbness in the limbs, and a sense that both GAME TIME and REAL TIME have crawled to a standstill. None of these phenomena have ever been reported by the person telling the character story. (For a similar but non-PF-related phenomenon, consult any fisherman.)


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Calybos1 wrote:

Exotic races seem like an easy (read: lazy) way to inject some creativity into an otherwise bland character. I'd prefer to see players take the more challenging path of creating a good backstory and personality than rely on gimmicks like horns and wings to make their character special.

After all, there are literally thousands of ways to portray a human character--as demonstrated in pretty much the entire history of human literature. Anyone who says "humans are boring" just isn't trying. And all too often, their 'original' concept is a cheap knockoff of an anime or video-game character anyway, so there's STILL no creativity involved.

From the "Pathfinder Lexicon" thread:

Special Snowflake: A unique, well-made, and interesting character that isn’t. See CHARACTER STORY, SNOWFLAKE SYNDROME.

Snowflake Syndrome: The desperate and eternally unmet desire to make your Drizzt clone stand out from all the other Drizzt clones by calling him “Drazzt” and giving him a pet leopard instead of a panther. See CHARACTER STORY.

Character Story: A deeply fascinating—-no, riveting-—bit of vital personal history which you feel obligated to share, even with those who were there at the time. Character stories may cause severe to acute boredom, blurred vision, drowsiness, numbness in the limbs, and a sense that both GAME TIME and REAL TIME have crawled to a standstill. None of these phenomena have ever been reported by the person telling the character story. (For a similar but non-PF-related phenomenon, consult any fisherman.)

You forgot to mention that this is in fact your opinion, and not a fact.

There are posts above that prove exactly why thís claim of yours is not factual.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This is all exceptionally interesting feedback. My GM is starting a new campaign. Neither of us has played in over ten years and he's put together a group of the two of us and people with no RPG experience at all. He's designed a low-magic, human-centric world. There are elves (and might be dwarves), but that was as far as he'd gotten.

Before I knew that, I'd decided that I wanted to play a gnome. We talked about it and we came up with a compromise that has actually made the campaign world far more interesting.

In case anyone actually wants to read about the world:

Campaign Spoiler:

Humans basically control most of the world's landmass and have a highly antagonistic relationship with all the other races. The Elves have a homeland and it is the only place in the campaign not controlled by humans and where non-humans are not persecuted (aside from mostly wilderness areas). Non-humans visiting human settlements should expect to be met with outright hostility.

He hasn't given all the details yet, but apparently there used to be more magic in the world and isn't anymore. It's unclear why this is, but the humans blame the non-humans for this. Before this loss of magic, there was a lot more communion between the races, but the humans blamed the non-humans for the loss of magic. The Elves (and possibly the dwarves) had a homeland that they could retreat to and defend it.

The gnomes lacked any such protection. Today, most of them are enslaved and those few that are free live highly supervised lives in the elven homeland. The elves have granted their sylvan brethren a place to live, but it's not a situation that either race is particularly enthused about.

My character gets to be the son of gnome parents that fled to the Elfland rather early. His parents were from a part of the world where people and gnomes intermarried and so the people are often shorter than normal humans and the gnomes are often taller than normal gnomes. When the magic disappeared, the gnomese in this intermarried society were among the first to be persecuted and are now enslaved and brutalized more terribly than anywhere else in the campaign.

My character is ashamed that he grew up with "freedom" while most of his people are enslaved. So, he's traveled back into human lands under the guise of a midget (I'd say "dwarf" in real life, but on this board people would think I meant the dwarf race!). He's a bard, so plays the court jester type (think custard pies in the pants) to the world while secretly working behind the scenes to start up/connect with a Gnomish Underground Railroad and eventually to set up some sort of resistance or path for peace between the races.

The point of this rather long exposition is that the addition of another race went a long way towards defining both the campaign world and my backstory. There's no reason that non-human races can't be helpful, so long as they are worked into the campaign world in an interesting way.

Silver Crusade

Icyshadow wrote:
Calybos1 wrote:

Exotic races seem like an easy (read: lazy) way to inject some creativity into an otherwise bland character. I'd prefer to see players take the more challenging path of creating a good backstory and personality than rely on gimmicks like horns and wings to make their character special.

After all, there are literally thousands of ways to portray a human character--as demonstrated in pretty much the entire history of human literature. Anyone who says "humans are boring" just isn't trying. And all too often, their 'original' concept is a cheap knockoff of an anime or video-game character anyway, so there's STILL no creativity involved.

From the "Pathfinder Lexicon" thread:

Special Snowflake: A unique, well-made, and interesting character that isn’t. See CHARACTER STORY, SNOWFLAKE SYNDROME.

Snowflake Syndrome: The desperate and eternally unmet desire to make your Drizzt clone stand out from all the other Drizzt clones by calling him “Drazzt” and giving him a pet leopard instead of a panther. See CHARACTER STORY.

Character Story: A deeply fascinating—-no, riveting-—bit of vital personal history which you feel obligated to share, even with those who were there at the time. Character stories may cause severe to acute boredom, blurred vision, drowsiness, numbness in the limbs, and a sense that both GAME TIME and REAL TIME have crawled to a standstill. None of these phenomena have ever been reported by the person telling the character story. (For a similar but non-PF-related phenomenon, consult any fisherman.)

You forgot to mention that this is in fact your opinion, and not a fact.

There are posts above that prove exactly why thís claim of yours is not factual.

While it may be an opinion, Calybos' spiel is a rather common viewpoint that shouldn't just be disregarded. A character's storyline and background should provide an interesting engine and structure by which he/she makes decisions and behaves. It shouldn't be a means by which one forces their fellow table-top players into a captive audience while he/she pelts them with exposition. Pardon my hyperbolese.

As for talking down the OP, instead of finding excuses not to field exotic races, use this as an opportunity to really flesh out what a world or campaign setting would react to the sight of such a being/creature. For example, in the Shore to Sea module:

Spoiler:
I had such a fun time making it painfully apparent that a player's Tengu Rogue was a *TENGU* rogue. Considering that the town of Gillmen were not only suspicious of outsiders, but incredibly back-water in their world-views, on top of never having seen a Tengu before, they were quick to correlate their current troubles with her sudden appearance, despite having saved the old man out at sea from the giant crabs. If it weren't for the gillman druid in our party to act as a buffer, it would have been a rather fruitless adventure for the rogue to even take part in.

If a player encompasses his/her character around the race they chose, provide opportunities to allow him to enjoy (or fear) the choice he made. As a DM, you have complete control as to how an environment acts and reacts to certain elements. While a certain race may not exist in a current campaign setting, perhaps this can be an interesting plot device to inject another element into your world.


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Calybos1 wrote:
Exotic races seem like an easy (read: lazy) way to inject some creativity into an otherwise bland character. I'd prefer to see players take the more challenging path of creating a good backstory and personality than rely on gimmicks like horns and wings to make their character special.

Yes, because obviously it's impossible to do both. /sarcasm.

This 'special snowflake' crap needs to stop. It's insulting, condescending, and frankly, a full-of-crap concept that elitist snots use to snub other players for their BADWRONGFUN of playing the character they want.


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Zhayne wrote:
Rynjin wrote:


You also occasionally run into the issue of "Dwarves are vikings who live underground. All Dwarves have beards. You're doing it wrong if you don't do that." and "Elves are pretty boys who shoot bows. Why aren't you shooting a bow and why does your Elf have low Charisma?".

Oh holy crap yes.

Whenever a GM or a fellow player tells me how to roleplay my character, I instantly want to slap them in such a way that Moe Howard would be in awe of it. No, my dwarf does NOT attack goblins on sight. No, my elf is NOT a snooty arrogant schmuck. No, my halfling does NOT overeat. And so on and so forth.

Just putting my "Me too!" on this one.

And my halfling is a *drunk* not a fat slob!!


I found that after the newness of being able to play any race is gone most of the people i play with choose human. I got the impression when dm insists on /core only/ its either a cost thing (totaly reasonble) or a control thing. In the game pool we have where i live the players currently playing with the local dm who insists on this are chaffing under it.

But really its a game with dragons and magic. Nothing wrong 2ith 3xot8c as the norm.


Zorajit Zorajit wrote:
I don't want to stuffily insist on boring characters.

First please seperate "boring character" from "normal race" in your mind. By this it is obvious you are yourself prejudiced against "normal" races and lends a sort of hypocrisy to what you are saying. If you yourself think humans and the like are boring then why think less of your players for doing the same? Unless... you play them for the very reasons you decry and automatically think your players are doing the same.

Let me elaborate, race is the least interesting part of your character regardless of which one you choose. You can build as interesting a person as you want to and make it any number of races including your boring humans. So if being a human is just as interesting as being a half-undead minotaur, then why play the weird races? Why? Because lets face it you are very correct in the reasons people play weird races. Special Snowflakes, Mechanical Advantages, and Easy Stereotypes are are the reasons people play exotic races. Indeed I may be a tad cynical when I say Mechanical Advantage is by far the leading reason among those three even. SO should GMs ban weird races from their tables? No not at all. I use it as an excuse to challenge the player to become a better role player. Although I have never enforced it, I tell my players if they want something exotic they better come up with a truly compelling background and personality to play with it. Some of my optimizers have become better role players under my restrictions and that makes me feel better about allowing them the extra bonuses those races give.

Contributor

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PsychoticWarrior wrote:

Just putting my "Me too!" on this one.

And my halfling is a *drunk* not a fat slob!!

My halfling oracle is a womanizer. D:


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Aranna wrote:
Zorajit Zorajit wrote:
I don't want to stuffily insist on boring characters.

First please seperate "boring character" from "normal race" in your mind. By this it is obvious you are yourself prejudiced against "normal" races and lends a sort of hypocrisy to what you are saying. If you yourself think humans and the like are boring then why think less of your players for doing the same? Unless... you play them for the very reasons you decry and automatically think your players are doing the same.

Let me elaborate, race is the least interesting part of your character regardless of which one you choose. You can build as interesting a person as you want to and make it any number of races including your boring humans. So if being a human is just as interesting as being a half-undead minotaur, then why play the weird races? Why? Because lets face it you are very correct in the reasons people play weird races. Special Snowflakes, Mechanical Advantages, and Easy Stereotypes are are the reasons people play exotic races. Indeed I may be a tad cynical when I say Mechanical Advantage is by far the leading reason among those three even. SO should GMs ban weird races from their tables? No not at all. I use it as an excuse to challenge the player to become a better role player. Although I have never enforced it, I tell my players if they want something exotic they better come up with a truly compelling background and personality to play with it. Some of my optimizers have become better role players under my restrictions and that makes me feel better about allowing them the extra bonuses those races give.

Except for you know, all the people who don't play exotic races for the reasons you list above (i.e. pretty much the people I play with)

Also why do people immediately go for the extreme stereotype when bashing people who want to play uncommon races? A Tengu is not a half undead minotaur.


The best solution I've found to allow players a unique and creative exotic race while curbing rule abuses is this:

My players write up a paragraph or two about the race. What their strengths and weaknesses are, where they live, what their society is like, what they look like, etc. Then I as the GM fill in the crunchy rule bits that reflect that. They get to be the cool race with the cool bits that they want and I get to control how much those cool bits affect the in game rules.


There are today literally hundreds of different races in the game. When making a campaign, is there anything wrong with never repeating race for NPCs? Would it feel strange to you to play in such a world, and if so, why?


There is no "exotic" character tics you can't play and play as a human from a role-playing perspective. All alien races or fantastical races from literature and film have a identifiable human trait side to them so the reader or viewer can relate to them. It's the make-up/prosthetics, SFX, or descriptions that make them exotic. They are human entertainment and must be relatable because as far as I know humans are the only ones enjoying our entertainment.

Therefore, a desire to play an "exotic" race must either be motivated by a human desire to "stand out" and be "unique" among a gaming group, or to optimize. Because from a role-playing perspective, all can be achieved with human.


MMCJawa wrote:


Also why do people immediately go for the extreme stereotype when bashing people who want to play uncommon races? A Tengu is not a half undead minotaur.

Because people love the Slippery Slope fallacy? Maybe because they realize they have no stance and are relying on hyperbole as a form of compensation?

The Exchange

It's hardly convincing to claim that the other side of a debate has absolutely no basis for their position, and then accuse them of being unreasonable.

As far as the actual topic: Thematically speaking, I favor as many races as "fit" the setting. As I've said on other, related threads, I wouldn't allow a nonhuman if I were attempting to recreate the 'Hyborian Age' setting of Conan - although what was said upthread about using different racial mechanics to reflect national rather than species-differences has given me pause for thought. A setting such as the Star Wars universe, on the other hand, seems an ideal place for exotic races to be allowed ad infinitum. (After all, a party of five Humans in that setting is no better or worse off, story-wise, than a party of five Jawas...)


MMCJawa wrote:

Except for you know, all the people who don't play exotic races for the reasons you list above (i.e. pretty much the people I play with)

Also why do people immediately go for the extreme stereotype when bashing people who want to play uncommon races? A Tengu is not a half undead minotaur.

First off care to elaborate on these "other reasons" you claim? Your previous post claims they wish to "try out" each race... that is the same as Mechanical Advantage. They simply want to see how differently the mechanical advantages of one race play from another race.

Next... there are 3 tiers of races in my opinion: Core (Humans, Elves, Dwarves, ect), Humanoid (all those only slightly unusual races from Goblin to Tengu), Monsters (like the half undead Minotaur or a Blink Dog). The humanoid category you are referring to is less obviously advantageous than the monster I named once (mostly to highlight the vast range from one extreme [humans] to the other [half undead Minotaur]), BUT it is still advantageous. Some player wants to play a skill monkey focused on Dex and Int skills often looks through all the various races that offer bonuses to Dex, Int, or useful skills, that's mechanical advantage. Heck you could even do it the other way and grab a race at random and search the classes to see which one it is best suited to augment, still mechanical advantage.


Riggler wrote:

There is no "exotic" character tics you can't play and play as a human from a role-playing perspective. All alien races or fantastical races from literature and film have a identifiable human trait side to them so the reader or viewer can relate to them. It's the make-up/prosthetics, SFX, or descriptions that make them exotic. They are human entertainment and must be relatable because as far as I know humans are the only ones enjoying our entertainment.

Therefore, a desire to play an "exotic" race must either be motivated by a human desire to "stand out" and be "unique" among a gaming group, or to optimize. Because from a role-playing perspective, all can be achieved with human.

That's a rather hefty assumption and also just opinion. I am somewhat misanthropic, and that's one reason* why I do not want to play a human.

I'd rather be something I like rather than something I hate. In an RPG where elf, dwarf and aasimar are options, I'd prefer being able to choose them instead.

* = My misanthropy isn't the only reason.


Riggler wrote:

There is no "exotic" character tics you can't play and play as a human from a role-playing perspective. All alien races or fantastical races from literature and film have a identifiable human trait side to them so the reader or viewer can relate to them. It's the make-up/prosthetics, SFX, or descriptions that make them exotic. They are human entertainment and must be relatable because as far as I know humans are the only ones enjoying our entertainment.

Therefore, a desire to play an "exotic" race must either be motivated by a human desire to "stand out" and be "unique" among a gaming group, or to optimize. Because from a role-playing perspective, all can be achieved with human.

Very true.


Humans can stand out and be unique too. Does that not invalidate the main point of Riggler's claim?

Scarab Sages

+5 Toaster wrote:
The closest thing to a human my group has ever done was 1 human dragonborn back in 3.5, and they are far from powergamers. Exotic can be fun, and I am flexible enough in my settings that a players race can be swapped in for a previously existing race in the setting. In fact I haven't had humans exist in my homebrewed settings for well over a year now. One the best campaigns I ever ran happened when all my players decided they wanted to play geniekin. This led to an all genie inspired campaign where the geniekin races were simply lesser genies enslaved by the full powered ones. Open yourself up and you would be shocked at the kind of stories that can unfold.

It's good when the players are open to a themed campaign, or help to suggest one.

The way in which racial options were opened up in PF helps to facilitate this, in ways that would not have been supported before.
The players aren't forced down the well-trodden ruts of 1st and 2nd Edition; they can now all be the same race, while still covering all the roles of a well-balanced party.

Imagine a 1st/2nd Edition campaign in which everyone played halflings?
"We all have to be single-classed Thieves, or the campaign ends at 5th level."

The 'genie campaign' worked, because everyone bought into the central idea. I bet the campaign would have been far less enjoyable, if there had been even one holdout. The players would have had to constantly justify why they were dragging around an 'odd pet' such as a human.


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Icyshadow wrote:
Humans can stand out and be unique too. Does that not invalidate the main point of Riggler's claim?

No it just further highlights the biggest reason to select race... Mechanical Advantage.

How does a human stand out? By role playing... isn't that good? I would rather someone stand out by role play than by simply looking bizarre. This is why I sort of demand better role play from people who also want to look bizarre. It keeps them from the easy stereotyping.

Scarab Sages

Aranna wrote:
Some player wants to play a skill monkey focused on Dex and Int skills often looks through all the various races that offer bonuses to Dex, Int, or useful skills, that's mechanical advantage. Heck you could even do it the other way and grab a race at random and search the classes to see which one it is best suited to augment, still mechanical advantage.

While both methods are doing similar things (marrying a class and race that synergise), I am more sympathetic to the latter.

Picking a class, then dumpster-diving to find an obscure race that would give all the best stat bonuses and racial traits seems ass-backward to me, since no-one in real life could through their childhood and adolescence before 'deciding' their genetics.

But choosing a race to play, whether that be based either on listed psychology or mechanical traits the player wants to try out, then imagining how those traits would encourage the character toward a certain class or archetype...that seems more organic.


Icyshadow wrote:
Humans can stand out and be unique too. Does that not invalidate the main point of Riggler's claim?

THAT IS my main point. See Aranna's reply above.


Aranna wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:
Humans can stand out and be unique too. Does that not invalidate the main point of Riggler's claim?

No it just further highlights the biggest reason to select race... Mechanical Advantage.

How does a human stand out? By role playing... isn't that good? I would rather someone stand out by role play than by simply looking bizarre. This is why I sort of demand better role play from people who also want to look bizarre. It keeps them from the easy stereotyping.

Aren't humans considered the overall best race in the entire game by most people? If you're primarily after mechanical advantage, then a human would likely be your first choice.

Seriously, what is wrong with picking a race just because you think they're cool, for whatever reason?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Aranna wrote:

First off care to elaborate on these "other reasons" you claim? Your previous post claims they wish to "try out" each race... that is the same as Mechanical Advantage. They simply want to see how differently the mechanical advantages of one race play from another race.

Next... there are 3 tiers of races in my opinion: Core (Humans, Elves, Dwarves, ect), Humanoid (all those only slightly unusual races from Goblin to Tengu), Monsters (like the half undead Minotaur or a Blink Dog). The humanoid category you are referring to is less obviously advantageous than the monster I named once (mostly to highlight the vast range from one extreme [humans] to the other [half undead Minotaur]), BUT it is still advantageous. Some player wants to play a skill monkey focused on Dex and Int skills often looks through all the various races that offer bonuses to Dex, Int, or useful skills, that's mechanical advantage. Heck you could even do it the other way and grab a race at random and search the classes to see which one it is best suited to augment, still mechanical advantage.

Well for starters, I think allowing people to play monsters (e.g. blink dogs, etc) is a different kettle of fish than having people who want to play 0HD published races. I don't think they exist on the same continuum, as with a very few exceptions they are all pretty much balanced for play, and can work within the design constraints of most games without too much issue. Many monsters have some sort of gimmick or ability which could make them incredibly overpowered.

In my current game, I have a Nagaji Saurian Shaman druid. He opted for the race not because the Nagaji are especially optimized for the role, but because he loves the Lizard from Spiderman, and has a paleo background and keeps a bazillion herps as pets. So playing a reptilian dude seemed like a good idea

I have a Kitsune Ninja, who picked the race because her sig other had spent a lot of time in Japan, and she was heading there this summer, so was enamored with something from Japanese myth. Ninja was chosen because she likes sneaky/support characters.

Another player is playing a kobold PALADIN...which while cool in concept is if anything suboptimal. He likes paladins, and almost always plays some small race where he can use a high pitched voice and do zany things that a goblin or kobold would do. But he enjoys his character and makes us laugh, so all the more power to him.

About the only character who chose an exotic race for optimization is the Changeling Dreamweaver witch. But then again changelings are probably the least exotic of the exotic races, so not seeing a huge deal.

Sometimes people have character concepts that just don't work as well with core races. And sometimes they like to play something more unique than a human. I don't feel like that makes them power gamers or special snowflakes.


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Riggler wrote:
There is no "exotic" character tics you can't play and play as a human from a role-playing perspective. All alien races or fantastical races from literature and film have a identifiable human trait side to them so the reader or viewer can relate to them. It's the make-up/prosthetics, SFX, or descriptions that make them exotic. They are human entertainment and must be relatable because as far as I know humans are the only ones enjoying our entertainment.

...really.

Okay, so tell me, how exactly would you play a character in the vein of, say, Arwen the Elf from LotR as a human? A member of a race that will live far, far longer than any member of the race she'd need to join with if she wanted to be with her beloved. Does she abandon that love, live with her actual people, the place where she "belongs"? Or does she take the time she has with her lover from a different race, knowing full well that she's going to end up alone, watching him, and everyone else she knows and loves in generation after generation die and die and die and die while she keeps living on?

This ridiculous idea that fantastic races are replaceable by humans simply because they tend to be relatable to humans makes no sense at all. There's a reason why these kinds of fantastical beings are used in fiction in the first place, whether to explore concepts that don't fit with humans, or take other concepts to extremes that doing it with humans couldn't take them to.

Riggler wrote:
Therefore, a desire to play an "exotic" race must either be motivated by a human desire to "stand out" and be "unique" among a gaming group, or to optimize. Because from a role-playing perspective, all can be achieved with human.

So for all the gaming groups who really want to run, say for example, Paizo's all-Goblin AP, what happens to your condescending little dichotomy for their players?

Let's see, according to you, the only possible options for why they aren't playing humans "must" be either:

A) They want to play as goblins to "stand out" and be "unique" among a gaming group. They want to play an all-Goblin AP to be unique among gaming group which consists... of... only... goblins. Um, yeah.

or

B) They want to optimize. Every single player wants to optimize, and they want to play an all-Goblin AP because every single one of them thinks that Goblin is the most optimized race for the role that they want to play.

...yeah, I'm not going to go with either of those two explanations. I'm going to go with option C, that sometimes, people want to play exotic races because there is something about that particular race's experience different from what playing a normal human would give, even apart from optimization or whether they "stand out" from the group.


Arwen -- Why is this character understandable by humans? Because many humans have had a pet, that they "loved" so they can understand the outliving of some creature they loved. Abandoned love, can't be with both the one you love, having to chose to live around family or move off with your love. Very real, modern concepts. Completely human. Stretch.

Goblins -- Are you saying goblins are relatable by humans? I know other than the killing and maiming part, I would certainly put a lot of my son's classmates when he was younger into the "goblin" category. So I can relate. Sometimes you just want to play a wild 6 year-old.


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Goodness, now everyone is just butting heads on the issue. Lots of assumptions being made about people on either side.

My favorite race is the Hobgoblins, and it has nothing to do with any potential mechanical advantage, or being a "special snowflake" (which is totally condescending). I like that they are a warring race. They live there lives in a military fashion They are born into warbands and a raced with nothing but warfare in their lives. But they are different from Orcs and the like because they aren't dumb. They are intelligent. They use technology.

I find Hobgoblins interesting and I want to play them. That is really all there is to it.


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Riggler wrote:
Arwen -- Why is this character understandable by humans? Because many humans have had a pet, that they "loved" so they can understand the outliving of some creature they loved. Abandoned love, can't be with both the one you love, having to chose to live around family or move off with your love. Very real, modern concepts. Completely human. Stretch.

Seriously?

You're actually, seriously trying to tell me that if a player came to you as a GM, and said she wanted to play someone whose backstory had that whole "doomed to outlive her freaking lover" thing going on, you'd be thinking:

"Man, if that was really what she wanted to RP, she could just RP a human 'doomed' to outlive one of her pets. Because, you know, pets and lovers are basically the same thing, right? No, I know better than her what she really wants! Her real motives for picking this race must be to either optimize her build, or to stand out from the party!!!"

Riggler wrote:
Goblins -- Are you saying goblins are relatable by humans? I know other than the killing and maiming part, I would certainly put a lot of my son's classmates when he was younger into the "goblin" category. So I can relate. Sometimes you just want to play a wild 6 year-old.

Even if we ignored, for the moment, the rather blindingly obvious fact that RPing a human 6 year-old, you actually couldn't do the sorts of things that goblins can, you'd still be completely dodging the question I asked.

I'll state it again, more succinctly: into which of your two condescending supposed possible motivations for playing exotic races do the players who want to play all-goblin parties fall?


Snorter wrote:
Aranna wrote:
Some player wants to play a skill monkey focused on Dex and Int skills often looks through all the various races that offer bonuses to Dex, Int, or useful skills, that's mechanical advantage. Heck you could even do it the other way and grab a race at random and search the classes to see which one it is best suited to augment, still mechanical advantage.

While both methods are doing similar things (marrying a class and race that synergise), I am more sympathetic to the latter.

Picking a class, then dumpster-diving to find an obscure race that would give all the best stat bonuses and racial traits seems ass-backward to me, since no-one in real life could through their childhood and adolescence before 'deciding' their genetics.

But choosing a race to play, whether that be based either on listed psychology or mechanical traits the player wants to try out, then imagining how those traits would encourage the character toward a certain class or archetype...that seems more organic.

And it isn't wrong/bad fun to choose for Mechanical Advantage. I just like role play, so I do what I can to encourage it. If this more organic version of mechanical advantage leads to better role play then by all means go with that! That is what I have been saying myself all along "I don't care about the mechanical advantage as long as you role play well."


Aranna wrote:
care to elaborate on these "other reasons" you claim?

Because being a certain race shapes your character's past, situation, and personality. On Golarion, your culture depends on your race more than your ethnicity. Let me tell you about my "special snowflake" and you can decide how wrong I am.

The drow-centric AP, Second Darkness, has a sidebar about drow being intrinsically evil. Full stop. No exceptions. I like redemption themes. While running that AP, I got to wondering how a good drow could exist, and an obvious solution was mixed blood with a good-leaning race like aasimar. An easy way out, but whatever. So I actually asked my next GM permission to play a half-drow, half aasimer. Two of the most overpowered races combined. It doesn't exist in source material (and for good reason) so I suggested a hybrid that was purposefully weaker in every way than the original races because I wasn't doing it for mechanical advantages. As part of the concept, I've also only taken racial feats so far which is very suboptimal.

There is no existing stereotype for that, and I do not wish to overshadow my fellow players and their characters by "out-specialing" them. I'm not the oddest race, and yet I don't feel outdone. These are not the reasons I chose to play a weird race.

I've told you about a weird race choice. Now, let me tell you about my character. She grew up helping her aasimar mother in the local temple. She's now old enough to understand how lucky she is her mother kept her, because half-drow come about the same way as half-orcs. She adores her mother for it, and really has her only healthy relationship with her mother.
The spell-like abilities from her race and side-effects from having opposing bloodlines made her curious about magic, which led her to pursue wizardry. She wants to "fix" herself by making herself "normal." She's seen healers all her life because of a mother who's race tends towards healing professions, and wants to heal with arcane magic. She figures if she can break the rules about wizards healing, she can break the rules with fixing herself too. She's stooped to experimenting with Infernal Healing because of this, though. Drow impulses make her moral compass a little shaky at times.
She has developed an overly large persecution complex because she thinks about herself being a freak more than anyone else does. Frankly, she's pretty toxic. She thinks she has to prove herself to fit in, whereas normal humans don't tend to draw comment. After recently being forced with into working in a group (the party), she's realizing that no one likes her and that it's her fault. This bothers her for some reason she can't quite pinpoint, so she's trying to learn Diplomacy to fix her relations with the party.

TL;DR I know you don't give a crap about my character. What I'm trying to show you is that my characters weird race isn't all she is, but it affects every part of her. Class, skills, feats, what spells she researches, interpersonal relationships, goals. It's a chain reaction that falls together into a character. I agree that a race shouldn't function as a prepacked character stereotype, but I think it can enhance roleplaying. In your opinion, is my roleplay hurt by my race choice? (Genuine question)


claymade wrote:
*snip*

I think you are missing my point. The "elf" outliving lover role can be played by a human. There's a reason humans connect with the character. And the same story COULD be told with a human. The 18 year-old PC is in love with a 65 year-old human. She has to choose what to do. And her decision may not be socially acceptable among her family. Yes, a human can play the role.

The goblins, there's a reason we think they are sometimes funny and end up doing unintentionally funny things even though they don't mean them to be. And they are often played for comedic effect. We can relate to them. They are buffoonery. It's akin to making a comedy segment out of the keystone cops. The role of goblins can be played by humans. Just change the window dressing.

The tropes, the clichés, the stereotypes -- they all exist for a reason. Because they are relatable human emotions, feelings, scenarios. They are placed in writing, literature, movies so that you can make a point but mask that you are making a point about the state of human emotion or being. But they are human relatable if they are the good guys.

At the heart of the matter is the human heart, and the rest is simply window-dressing, SFX, or a race description.


MMCJawa wrote:

Well for starters, I think allowing people to play monsters (e.g. blink dogs, etc) is a different kettle of fish than having people who want to play 0HD published races. I don't think they exist on the same continuum, as with a very few exceptions they are all pretty much balanced for play, and can work within the design constraints of most games without too much issue. Many monsters have some sort of gimmick or ability which could make them incredibly overpowered.

So of the 4 you listed two chose for appearance, one chose for method acting, and the last because he wanted to play a dreamweaver and only changelings can be them. None of them chose for role play sadly, unless you consider the Japanese stereotyping to be role play.

So to sum up: Lizard and Kitsune are easy stereotypes, Kobold guy is a snowflake, Changeling is a mechanical advantage. That does cover my three types well. And there is nothing at all wrong with choosing based on these types. Just be aware that you are doing it.


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There are campaign worlds where a crazy menagerie is appropriate and campaigns where it is not.

When the DM builds a world for a game, players should relish in the former and respect the latter.

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