Generic, “adaptable” Humans in TTRPG settings, is a sign that the writer of same doesn’t actually understand how diverse groups in the world work

36 thoughts on “Generic, “adaptable” Humans in TTRPG settings, is a sign that the writer of same doesn’t actually understand how diverse groups in the world work

  1. Odin S. says:

    I feel like some of the people arguing against the current state of humans didn’t read the full entry for humans in 5e PHB, or are under the assumption that your +2 stat HAS TO BE your highest. Gnomes CAN be dumb if you decide to dump INT, but you don’t usually see that because if your game uses the mechanics at all, it’s usually not a great idea to dump your +2, but I could see the appeal of the challenge.

    Humans are (typically) supposed to be the most common race, hence their unspecified diversity. The idea is that either they’re just average at everything while other races are usually better at certain things, or that you have specific racial ABIs because of your culture, which should probably be talked about with your DM during character creation and/or session zero. Personally, I see no problem in tailoring this to your class, because why play a wizard that has +2 in DEX rather than INT. As long as that’s kept as the consistent norm for that culture, of course.

    Side note: I’ve only been playing RPGs for about 2 years at this point, but still I know why humans are what some people see as a “jack of all trades.” I’m not bragging about my knowledge, I’m just saying this is basic stuff if you read the lore.

  2. Vektor says:

    I think, above all, people are forgetting the fact that these are FANTASY settings we’re talking about here. Who are you to say what mix of races there are or aren’t? Just cool out a little bit. Geezus. If you can’t mod your own game, then don’t play. It’s clearly not the game for you.

    • v2blast says:

      Two things: The author already says in his thread that he does “mod” his own game.

      And secondly, the ability to make your own thing does not make official content immune to criticism. Nor does the fact that it’s “fantasy”. These things don’t exist in a vacuum.

  3. Rowen Epp says:

    1. The difference between human subraces is insignificant compared to the differences between actual fantasy races. If you wish to demonstrate that difference as a player, do so with your skill and ability choices.

    2. We’re all humans in real life. Assigning D&D attributes to human minorities is at best insensitive and at worst abject racism. Don’t be that guy. Let orcs be dumb and elves be fast, don’t presume to explain to me or anyone else why (thinly disguised fantasy version of real life racial group) would be dumber or less charming then (other thinly disguised fantasy version of real life racial group).

    3. This page is called “Sage Advice D&D
    Questions on Dungeons & Dragons answered by designers”. The original post does not answer a question, nor does it offer advice of any sort. I can only assume I was baited in to being angry enough to actually comment. Well played, writer. well played.

  4. tideoftime says:

    Much of the discussion (both by the OP in the SA/twitter posts, as well as in the numerous posts in the “sub”-responses) seems to be crossing wires in terms of perspective/applied definitions. While I understand the underlying point the OP (“Rabbit”) is trying to make, I believe there is an applied-context misunderstanding going on. It isn’t that (Variant) Humans can’t/don’t have ethnic/cultural influences that can be used to define them more specifically but rather that the ability for the player to *choose* what extra language, arrangement of stat bonuses, proficiency and Feat (which can provide even more detail relative to ethnic/cultural background) allows for the applied diversity in that regard. Similarly-yet-conversely, the various races (particularly the long-lived ones like Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, Firbolgs and similar) are *more*, not *less*, likely to have a more “unified” ethnic/cultural background (even when living in various places) because they *aren’t* “like humans” — even with their specific indicated “flavors”, their lifespans make interacting with humans (and other “short-lived” races) *not* how it would be in real life among the diverse cultures of the human world as we know it.

    A side note, metaphysically speaking, that also often gets overlooked by many is that part of the reason why Humans in the game/setting(s) are the “adaptable/diverse” people that they are is because their “uniqueness” is that they *aren’t* as defined/delineated as the other races are (usually be the gods/divine forces at work in a given setting). They are designed to meld/adapt in ways that the other races aren’t as good at (though, in the balance, the other races are better at their defining elements that a human would/could normally be). It’s one of the oft-overlooked reasons that it’s *Humans* who are the “half-X” element in cross-racial interbreeding vs the *other* races interbreeding so. (Though not explicitly limited in 5E relative to some previous editions, it is long established that, for example, an Orc and an Elf could never readily interbreed… though humans readily can do so, along with other races they can often “half-breed” with, and historically it was Humans who were the half element for other cross-species, regardless of circumstantial factors also involved, such as with Tieflings, Aasimars and similar.)

    It’s only lazy writing on the author’s part if s/he does so as a default without additional consideration on specific characterization and development of the the various characters involved in the settings/narratives. Otherwise, it’s “okay” to have humans be as they are in the books and the other races be as they are — it’s actually a much more credible situation given the inherent factors involved. (Now, if all the demihuman races *were*, in fact, just “humans with long ears/extra-crazy beards/et al”, then it would just be Humans(tm) with the ethnic/cultural diversity we have in real life today… but that *isn’t* the case, readily, and the specifics involved are generally on-point as-written….)

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