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The Race Race

Ever play with those guys who seem to want to play the exotic races of whatever D&D world the campaign is in, and never the normal, every day ones? I have, and what makes it worse is when they have difficulty playing a human, and still insist on playing the exotic races. On top of that, a recent forum post over and Pen and Paper Games this is discussed a fair amount and it’s amazing the number of people who have moved away from core races as time has rolled on.

Now, obviously, my brand of fun isn’t the same as everyone else’s. But my question is, to the players, why? And to the DMs, why allow it?

Even with the introduction of 4th Edition, the core races have enough “cool” in them to keep someone busy for quite some time. Also, the role play is regardless of race…or at least it mostly is, so why play something odd and unusual when you can do the same thing within the framework of the core rules? Of course, by way of answering my own question, one reason to do it is that it can open up some role play opportunities. For example, playing a drow should put the player in situations where they are attacked on sight and only his/her companions can calm the crowd down that this isn’t an evil drow!

As for DMs who allow this, again I have to ask why? Obviously, homebrew worlds will have some odd races. Mine has minotaurs, so I can relate. To that world, they’re core though. However, I’ve played with tons of DMs who say “if you can find it, I’ll let you play it” and while it was cool back then, now it kind of bugs me. After all, you’ll have to have every race on your world to make this plausible, and frankly some of them might not fit with your world concept.

Now, I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s fun here, but I honestly don’t see the fun in playing an odd race. Instead, all I see are the advantages that one can seize and create uber-characters. Frankly, I’ll admit that maybe the guys I’ve played with over the years has colored my opinion, but power gamers love these races, especially with inexperienced DMs who use the “if you can find it, you can play it” rule. They can run roughshod over the DM with something that the DM is unfamiliar with.

As I now seem to have more people reading this blog than just my Mom, I’d love to hear your opinions. What races do you play, and if they aren’t core races (and please mention what edition so I can tell what’s core and what’s not 😉 ), why do you play them? I’d really like to get some serious input here, so comment away!


July 24, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,


  1. I am in total agreement with you here. As a DM I only allow the core races. Right now we are playing through Paizo Publishing’s Rise of the Runelords adventure path and are sticking solely to the core books while slowly converting to Pathfinder RPG as new updates are released. Personally I enjoy not having to constantly explain where a character’s race comes from and to me the core races are diverse enough to have plenty of fun with.

    Just because you CAN do something sometimes does not mean you SHOULD do it. Just my two cents.

    Comment by Alfred Bonnabel | July 26, 2008 | Reply

  2. Alfred,

    Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone. 😉

    I agree about the level of diversity available in the core races. I could also see allowing one or two non-core races for flavor, so long as they’re easily explained within the context of the world.

    Your last sentence really does say it all!

    Comment by Tom | July 27, 2008 | Reply

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