Thursday, 29 October 2009

Token Non-Humans and how Basic D&D got it right

In most fantasy and scifi TV shows and movies, the band of heroes who are the protagonists tend to be almost all human. In fact, it's rare that there is more than one non-human (or at least visibly non-human) individual in the main cast. I'm not complaining about this, mind you. I know why this is: it's either to highlight the what we consider to be human traits, often because they lack them, or it's often to give the character a set of powers or behavioral traits that wouldn't be believable or acceptable in a human character.

Aaand my point is?

Well, in most RPGs, this isn't the case. If there is more than one race available to play, the party tends to end up a hodge-podge of every available species. That's wonderful for multiculturalism, but it doesn't stick with the source material.

Except for old-school, basic D&D. Where Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling are classes. With this set-up, you're guaranteed that most of the party will be human, and there is unlikely to be more than two member of a non-human race in the group. Also, due to the fact that each class (except maybe Dwarf) had its own special shtick that the humans couldn't replicate, it made them a little bit more than "just another fighter with pointy ears".

I have no idea what to do with their observation, but I felt the need to observe it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, and this is quite true. I introduced an elf and a dwarf in the blog as they were in the game, and then a giant bat took them down after a bunch of very awkward swings from the dwarf and the elf player getting so worked up he forgot he could cast spells, even after I dropped a couple of hints.