Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ecce Homo

When's the last time you played a non-human character in an RPG?

And by non-human, I mean just that, be it a dwarf, elf, vampire, or a gelatinous cube. I can probably count the number of times I've played a non-human character in a tabletop RPG on one hand, maybe both. And by human, I mean... well, human (let's not get into semantics of defining what it means to be "human.").

My first character was a dwarf fighter. After that I played a lot of humans. Sometimes I'll play a half-elf for multiclassing benefits, like the fighter/wizard/thief I played for an AD&D 1e campaign about 10 years or, or the bard/druid who burned down an entire forest last summer in Pathfinder's Rise of the Runelords adventure path. It was an accident, but he lost his druid levels. I, of course, did try playing Vampire: The Masquerade.

Non-humans just don't interest me enough to run them as characters. I'm very humanocentric. I want to see what humans can do in a story, without all the powers and special abilities that other races often have. I have that outlook no in RPGs, but also elsewhere.

Yes, Drizzt Do'Urden is a neat character, but he's more like an elf trying to be human.

Yes, I enjoyed Gary Gygax's first two Gord the Rogue novels The Saga of Old City, and The Artifact of Evil but the later books lost me when he started having demons regularly talk to each other.

Halo was great. Halo 2 was great until I had to play the Covenant... why? The story was set up where I was defending Earth against aliens, and now designers want me to play the aliens?

In Warhammer, I play The Empire. If I ever play 40k, I'd probably be the Imperial Guard, having to lug hundreds of miniatures around.

I dunno, maybe someday I'll branch out. Part of my problem, though, is that I've watched plenty of gamers play non-humans, but they really just played "humans with funny hats."

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Do you prefer humans over non-humans? Why? Do their special abilities make a difference? Or do you  just like the roleplaying prospects?

4 comments:

  1. When I first read the post, I thought 'well I hardly ever play non-humans'. That might have been true at one time, but my last two characters have been dwarves. And my most memorable character recently was a halfling barbarian/bard (the worlds first combat mime).

    I really don't consider race a primary factor in choosing the character to play, for me it starts as character concept (usually). The halfling's was that he had been an enforcer for the local Hobbit Thieves Guild. That one worked out. The first dwarf was necromancer named Arhno Gravedigger; having gotten his name from accidentally digging UP into the graveyard. That concept turned out to be too humorous for the character and I never really enjoyed playing it. (Knowing that, the DM, in true DM fashion, kept the character alive through a series of improbable events.) This comment is long enough, I posted some further thoughts over at Alesmiter.

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  2. A halfling barbarian/bard combat mime? Did he really stay silent while berserk? If so, that's actually kinda frightening.

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  3. Much to some of my players chagrin you have made me a believer in this school of thought.

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  4. I hardly ever play a human--I do that every day in real life =) The whole point of a fantasy RPG is *fantasy*, and so I immediately go for non-humans. They have built-in background right from the get-go. A little bit of the attraction is the racial abilities, but I'm not a min-maxer/power-gamer type. Playing a human is a bit like ordering a so-called "cheese pizza". A "cheese pizza" is actually a pizza with no tasty, interesting toppings. How boring is that?

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