Am I the only one who hates the whatever-folk naming scheme?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Well, there is a good reason for these names: They are easy to grasp. Imagine a (rather) new player looking at race names like Ghonji, Zho'op, Rhrrdc and Xylz. While these names are distinct and there may be a good reason races are called this way, at the beginning these names cause stress. Player feel obligated to understand them but they cant at the moment, so they feel overwhelmed. The stress stops when they understand 'Ah, these are normal humans, these are evil humans, these are cat people, these are aliens', given they didn't give up at this point. Let's face it, Pathfinder HAS a steep learning curve which frightens off many people. So why force this stress upon people? Because of 'realism', because a veteran would enjoy creative names more, because of felt discrimination? Probably.

I propose dualism. Call all races by both an easy, humancentric term (e.g. halflings) and a political correct one with a background story (e.g. luckbonds).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Kalindlara wrote:
Joe Hex: As it turns out, that's precisely what they're doing with catfolk. :)

Off the top of my head, Troglodyte and Skum also have their own race name.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Correct: Xulgaths and ulat-kini, respectively. :)


Atarlost wrote:
Gilfalas wrote:
Memory may be betraying me but I think the Halfling names for themselves from Tolkein was Kuduk whilst the other races called them halflings or hobbits.

Close. They called themselves Kuduk. Other races called them halfling (in elvish) or Kud-Dukan or if they had business dealings with them, Kuduk. Hobbit is a product of the translation convention Tolkien used, being "modernized" from holbytla (old english translating Kud Dukan, which I think might be proto-Adunaic). They would have called themselves hobbits if proto-Adunaic were old English. Or maybe I'm mixing my mannish and the proto-Rohirrim shared linguistic roots with the people of Haleth rather than that of Beor and Hador that became Adunaic.

TL;DR If you think anything in Tolkuen's languages is relatively simple and comprehensible you're probably wrong. And I am way too much of a geek.

KingmanHighborn wrote:
Mighty Squash wrote:
The lazy naming all around is a bit bothersome, but I think I may be more bothered by catfolk existing at all (especially as a player race) than by their name in particular.

I could say the same thing about humans too, lazy name, and more infectious in a world then the bubonic plague.

That said Catfolk have just as much a right to exist in a world as elves and dwarves. And especially humans.

No, they really don't. They're a lazy anthropomorphism. Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, and the various oriental and Indian races have a mythological basis. If anthropomorphic cats and rats had a mythological basis Paizo would have used the mythological terms like they did for the Indian races that many people don't recognize.

Halflings and Orcs at least predate D&D and halflings can be justified by runaway sexual selection.

It's okay to have modern anthropomorphic races, but they're hardly in the "you can't have a wide market fantasy game without them" territory that humans and elves fall in, nor do they come with the respectability of Asian mythologies.

Larry Niven wrote about Kzin in the 60s, thus predating the 70s Dungeons and Dragons.

Liberty's Edge

In the setting I'm working on, catfolk refer to themselves (and are referred to) as neko. "Catfolk" is a racial slur to them, the equivalent of using Better leave that word out, just to be on the safe side... in real life. (Of course, why a fantastical world about people on floating islands in an open sky uses a Japanese word to describe them is a mystery for another time.)

Then again, what humans in this setting call dwarves, elves, and halflings, I'm content to give them the name "dorf," "elowaan," and "halfling." This is more endemic of "I liked Dwarf Fortress, I liked Starflight, and I'm lazy, in that order."


Vod Canockers wrote:
Larry Niven wrote about Kzin in the 60s, thus predating the 70s Dungeons and Dragons.

He even wrote them into the Animated Star Trek series.


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Wow, this is a weird conversation. People almost get to the right place, but then completely veer off the rails:

Mighty Squash said:

Quote:
The lazy naming all around is a bit bothersome, but I think I may be more bothered by catfolk existing at all (especially as a player race) than by their name in particular.

KingmanHighborn responded:

Quote:

I could say the same thing about humans too, lazy name, and more infectious in a world then the bubonic plague.

That said Catfolk have just as much a right to exist in a world as elves and dwarves. And especially humans.

I'm not exactly sure what bothers Mighty Squash about cat folk existing, but it's in keeping with being annoyed at laziness. If you're trying to be imaginative, saying, "Hey, it's just like if something had half the characteristics of you...and half the characteristics of something different, but with which you are terribly familiar because it's part of your everyday life!

yeah, not super imaginative.

KingmanHighborn starts to really get it though: having humans and elves and dwarves is not **less** lazy than having catfolk. I mean, seriously, what could be more lazy than,

Quote:

GameDesigner1: We've got this whole universe with entirely different rules, that are so strange to us we would call them magic! What kind of cool creature would inhabit such a place?

GameDesigner2: Ooh, ooh! I have a cool idea! What if there were intelligent creatures that could think in symbols and express those symbol-ideas using either or both of sound-symbols and visual symbols? They could give birth to live young and - get this! - be bipedal! If we wanted to go all out with the creativity, we could put their sense organs on a specialized limb we could call a "head" at the top of the bipedal body, so that in it's normal walking position it would be as far from the ground as possible. Wow, it would be totally freaky just trying to figure out how to create rules for the perception skill with such a strange positioning of sense-organs, but we could do it? What sorts of senses should we give it?

GameDesigner1: Well, I was thinking we could give it one or two chemical senses - maybe one for sensing airborne chemical sense and another for chemically sensing ingested substances? Then we could give a sense that detects fluid vibrations from about 20 or 30 cycles a minute to about 15,000 to 25,000 cycles per minute. Maybe some sort of electro-magnetic wave based sense as well?

GameDesigner2: Oh, I like it, that's wicked original. What do you think we should call these things?

GameDesigner1: What do you think of ...humans??

The point, of course, is that if you think "Catfolk" is boringly unoriginal, why aren't you even more annoyed at the inclusion of orcs, elves, halflings, and, especially, humans?

Some people here seem to think "Catfolk" is lazy thinking, but "elves" is somehow...not. And humans being in a world of magic is completely overlooked as an issue by too many.

So kudos to KingmanHighborn for at least attempting to make that point.

Then, what happens?

Atarlost sees that people are annoyed at the lazy lack of creativity implied in "Catfolk" and adds this in reference to KingmanHighborn highborn's statement on Catfolk's "right to exist" in the face of people insisting Catfolk are a "lazy" game design choice:

Quote:
No, they really don't. They're a lazy anthropomorphism.

Okay, so Atarlost is on board, right? Lazy = bad, and cat folk are a lazy game design choice, thus their inclusion is condemnable.

I think I've got it.

But just for clarity, Atarlost continues:

Quote:
Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, and the various oriental and Indian races have a mythological basis. If anthropomorphic cats and rats had a mythological basis Paizo would have used the mythological terms like they did for the Indian races that many people don't recognize.

Umm, now I'm a bit confused. They're a lazy anthropomorphism ...that I grant. KingmanHighborn was saying that as well. But "Elves... have a mythological basis," is just another way of saying, "Elves have been used in lots of stories and other creative endeavors. No one attempting game design had to come up with them."

And, sure, Atarlost is correct about that. Elves do have a mythological history. They've been included in stories and games before. How does this make the case that Catfolk, being a lazy design choice, don't "deserve" to be in games as much as elves?

How can this really be read as anything other than, "Catfolk suck because lazy. But elves? Even more super-lazy, because you don't have to create nothin. Not even from such uninspired choices as JustLikeMe, but with cool abilities that I see everyday in a common domesticated animal I might even have been looking at while trying to come up with game design ideas. Nope, you just read the work of people whose highly derivative stories about elves were written 200 years ago, long before even more derivative stories came out. No imagining which abilities are appropriate to add to the humanoid form - it's already been done for you! Super, extra lazy! Therefore, the Catfolk, who are merely lazy design choices and not super-extra-lazy design choices do in fact, as aforementioned, suck."

but Atarlost isn't done:

Quote:
Halflings and Orcs at least predate D&D and halflings can be justified by runaway sexual selection.

Runaway sexual selection leads to luck bonuses? Who knew?

And, um, "they predate D&D and/or are logical outcomes of well-known processes operating on things we can see exist because they is us" isn't exactly making the case that they are any less lazy than Catfolk.

At least Atarlost is almost done, maybe we will finally see the point in all this verbiage arguing condemn-Catfolk-for-being-a-lazy-design-choice, but-don't-condemn-Paladins-or-Elves-or-Longswords-as-lazy-design-choices:
It's okay to have modern anthropomorphic races, but they're hardly in the "you can't have a wide market fantasy game without them" territory that humans and elves fall in, nor do they come with the respectability of Asian mythologies.

Ah. Humans and elves are so overused that you literally can't have a wide-market fantasy game without them.

Catfolk aren't.

So I guess the point is,

Quote:
Wow, humans and elves and magic spells and longswords all super-duper-suck because SO BEEN THERE DONE THAT, but I can't condemn them because genre. But I'll take this pent up rage about being unable to complain about choices truly lacking any imagination at all and apply it to things that have enough imagination to be new to the genre...but not enough to blow my mind with newness. Because, why not complain about imagination that's got some tether to the real world when what really is depressing a person is that other things are even more tethered?

Sorry, Atarlost, I can't go there with you.

The idea that we would end up with lactating hairy-but-not-too-hairy bipeds who mumble incantations to manifest effects without physical cause is soooooo lazy that there's a whole genre for it. I'm not going to condemn someone for including lactating hairy bipeds that are substantially more hairy than the other bipeds because, look, they can jump farther in comparison to their body size than I can and that is a trait of this hairy thing over in the corner of my apartment!

The creativity isn't in humans or elves or Catfolk. None of them are creative.

The creativity is in designing them all in such a way - pointy ears or not, long-jumping or not - that thousands of people can close their eyes after rolling a 14 on a d20 and visualize just what that hairy-verbal-symbol-user accomplished.


Beautifully said.


@CripDyke:
Lose the misattributed quotes.

The point is that you can't market an RPG that doesn't have elves and dwarves and humans and hope to reach the bulk of the market. Even the major cyberpunk game includes elves and dwarves.

The mythological races bring something to the game. There is a vast weight of lore associated with them.

Talking cats bring nothing and aren't necessary. There are already three or four mandatory races. Then there's the traditional grab at the japanophiles, which needs to have tengu and kitsune. If you want more than pseudo-Europe and pseudo-Japan there's Arabia and India at appropriate technological levels. Arabia brings Djinns, but they don't have to be a player race. India brings various races the same way Japan does.

Someone put an enormous amount of work into elves. It wasn't the game developer, but the work has been done and the weight of lore shows. Tolkien spent most of a lifetime on the modern concept of elves and he had as his starting point a tradition going back millenia and the compositions and refinements of uncounted nameless bards. You don't get that with a new race. You get maybe three guys for less than a day each: a writer, an editor, and an illustrator.

Compare the theoretical Ratfolk of Golarion to the collected legendarium of Kitsune stories and consider how much of RoG would be crunch rather than fluff and it's depressing. If a gamer wants to play a Kitsune chances are he's familiar with some of that legendarium. If he wants to play a ratfolk what's his inspiration? Secret of Nimh has rat or mouse shaped humans. That rat that hangs out with the ninja turtles is a rat shaped human.

It takes years to produce the sort of worldbuilding you get in mythology and then, since it hasn't passed into white knowledge, you have to have the GM and players actually read it. So you get lazy anthropomorphism. Yes, you also get dwarves with Scottish accents, but someone only needs to care enough to go to wikipedia to do better. You won't find your new made up race there so you'll just get fuzzy humans or humans with forehead ridges.


Annnnnd again you miss the mark. I'm sure the person putting effort into creating the catfolk and ratfolk races did a lot of work here at Paizo. But now you really want to talk lack of mythology? Or even established examples. As far as ratfolk go, even though Golarion's version have a much wider range of alignment possibilities, the most famous example is the Skaven.

As far as catfolk go, if you are wanting mythology, hello Egypt? Bast, Sehkmet, Mehit, Mafdet? Hell it was a pretty much accepted thing to the Egyptians that beings with human bodies and animal features existed, and those four are solid examples (In fact Osiriani is where I'd originate the Catfolk race in Golarion if I had a say.)

Japanese culture had the nekomata.

And for what Tolkein did for elves you aren't even going to give a nod towards authors like Niven for his Kzinti? Elder Scrolls is a video game sure but it's built a MASSIVE mythology and the Khajit and Argonians are deeply important to the world.

And then there is my beloved Kilrathi.

Star Trek is official with the Caitians.


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Set wrote:

Random memory from a college era AD&D game.

GM's character is an elf named 'Elrod' (Elrond, minus one letter).
Player 1 "Elrod? Does that mean something?"
Player 2 "He's an archer. El Rod. It's elvish for 'the shaft.'"

Shaft!!!!

Shaft! Isaac Hayes 1971:

Who's the black private di*k
That's a sex machine to all the chicks?
(Shaft!)
You're damn right

Who is the man
That would risk his neck for his brother man?
(Shaft!)
Can ya dig it?

Who's the cat that won't cop out
When there's danger all about
(Shaft!)
Right on

You see this cat Shaft is a bad mother--
(Shut your mouth)
But I'm talkin' about Shaft
(Then we can dig it)

He's a complicated man
But no one understands him but his woman
(John Shaft)

Looks like I am making a new character.


Eh, it isn't about the weight of lore or how long something has been around.

Some people do not like catfolk because of cat girls and rabid internet fans and/or people at conventions/college/the game store that are WAY into cats.

I seldom hear about people being terribly upset about dog folk or rat folk or bird folk or lizard folk or whatever. It's the catpeople that get the majority of the ire.

Same goes for the hatred and dislike of the 'boring' races of human, elf, dwarf, gnome and halfling. Some people are tired of those or want to be different and expect more choices.

Anyway. It isn't lore or right to exist or whatever, it is personal choice and what you have been exposed to, what you want to do, and what you don't want wandering in your game because of those events.

To circle back to what the thread is about, it'd be nice for write ups to mention racial names and more history. While the X-folk name is good for instant recognition, knowing that the elves prefer blah and the catfolk are blah is much better for immersions sake.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm kind of glad that Paizo didn't go whole hog and introduce "hufolk" as a race.


Chemlak wrote:
I'm kind of glad that Paizo didn't go whole hog and introduce "hufolk" as a race.

Could be that is just vanilla humans. At least my kind from Denmark;)

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
knightnday wrote:
To circle back to what the thread is about, it'd be nice for write ups to mention racial names and more history. While the X-folk name is good for instant recognition, knowing that the elves prefer blah and the catfolk are blah is much better for immersions sake.

My understanding is that we will see that in Inner Sea Races. We definitely will for catfolk, and hopefully will for the others as well.


In the Realms, iirc, Halflings refer to themselves as Hin.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Gisher wrote:
Vod Canockers wrote:
Larry Niven wrote about Kzin in the 60s, thus predating the 70s Dungeons and Dragons.
He even wrote them into the Animated Star Trek series.

Their one and only appearance as they were just as rapidly written out.

Liberty's Edge

Important lesson for ALL P&P roleplaying: Use what you like, change what you need, ignore the rest. Some variation of this advice is near the front cover of virtually every tabletop RPG known to man. Live by it.

Topic resolved.


In my Archmage setting, I've done a few races that use a tweak on a scientific name or just made up words for their names.

Krodanoi = orcs (though they are so divergent from the typical orc design that they might as well be their own thing)
Syldanar = elves
Myrdanar = also elves
Rhuz = dwarves
Gnostra = small cat people
Chirops = small bat people
Hivekin = insect people (this being one of the few instances of the '-kin' suffix)
A bunch of others

...and humans (who are a genetically engineered amalgam of most of the 'natural' races).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Umbral Reaver wrote:

In my Archmage setting, I've done a few races that use a tweak on a scientific name or just made up words for their names.

Krodanoi = orcs (though they are so divergent from the typical orc design that they might as well be their own thing)
Syldanar = elves
Myrdanar = also elves
Rhuz = dwarves
Gnostra = small cat people
Chirops = small bat people
Hivekin = insect people (this being one of the few instances of the '-kin' suffix)
A bunch of others

...and humans (who are a genetically engineered amalgam of most of the 'natural' races).

In Arcanis, Ellori, what Humans call elves, are a magically created servant race of the Naga and Yuan-Ti analogs. The creation specifications laid down by the Naga Sorcerer-King were, Immortality, and lack of a need to sleep. It took a few centuries, and a few spot executions of Yuan-Ti wizards to encourage the laggardly, but when they finally got it right, they created a race that was used to exterminate 13 others. It was all hunky dory until without any other races to exterminate the Naga got bored and started torturing their created servants, who rebelled and took their empire from them. Centuries later, the Ellori themselves would be evicted by treachery from the Humans whose Gods consumed those of the Ellori, save one.

Liberty's Edge

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Snorb wrote:

In the setting I'm working on, catfolk refer to themselves (and are referred to) as neko. "Catfolk" is a racial slur to them, the equivalent of using Better leave that word out, just to be on the safe side... in real life. (Of course, why a fantastical world about people on floating islands in an open sky uses a Japanese word to describe them is a mystery for another time.)

In my Steampunk setting Catfolk are called Felins, and they are generally street urchins/thieves and their racial name is the origin of the term "felony" =p.


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I don't mind the naming scheme as is. As other's have pointed out, it makes it really easy to recognize what the race is supposed to be about.

It also makes it harder to remember what race is called what when they don't do this while offering dozens of race options. e.g. I can never seem to remember which race the name wayang is associated with, and I have to look it up to remember it's those weirdo little shadow gremlin guys.

Conversely, when someone says "ratfolk", I seldom have to grab the ARG to remind me that it's those little rat guys.

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