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    Default Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Iím thinking of writing up the back story of a sci-fi, and I was wondering what role humans would play in it. These are the 2 ideas Iím considering currently:

    1. The first intelligent race, humans mastered space flight eons ago and explored other planets, helping developing species on some and mining resources on others. They have long since ascended, but the technology they left behind is valuable to every race. Earth's existence is far from certain, but if it was found it would contain technology centuries if not millennia beyond anything currently known.

    2. The perfect soldier race created by the (insert advanced non-human race), humans serve as the army patrolling the controlled territories and leading invasions against the nationís enemies. As mercenaries humans are amongst the most sought.

    Is either idea too clichť/lame? Which do you prefer? Do you have any alternative ideas?
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    It really depends a lot on what else is going on in that galaxy. What other alien races are around, what technologies everyne has access to, what kind of themes should be part of the campaign, and so on.
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    As said, it depends on what else in the setting has been decided upon. If the first thing you're deciding upon is what humans are/were.... Well, they can be anything but they're going to have fairly heavy expectations to conform to the realms of the explainable.
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Humans are pretty awful soldiers, so you might need to go inventor route. Or you could go with humans as the merchant race; we don't rule or fight, we trade due to our lack of mono-culture. If you go that way you should be setting up human colonies in trade ports where they work together to get the best prices (Armenian or Venetian style).
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    #1 is quite intriguing, though the "precursor" shtick has been played over quite a few times (but then again, what isn't?).

    #2 has the dubious advantage of having humans as a playable race, I assume.


    I should go with #1, if only because when I first saw the question in the title, my immediate answer was "extinct".

    Oh, and humans are indexed.

    [Edit]:
    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Humans are pretty awful soldiers
    Says who?
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    If there's one thing humanity has completely mastered, then it's destroying everything we ever wanted to. If humans decide it has to go, we make it go!
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    [Edit]:Says who?
    Reality. And I said soldiers, not warriors. If your looking for actually useful soldiers your better off with a hive mind or with mindless order following drones you can crank out in the trillions. Humans take 16 years to reach the size and stamina of a good fighter; 16 years of resource drain and no output. And their population keeps going up even out of war time.

    If you wanted a true soldier race they would be insect or reptilian, with a 3 to 5 year maturity rate and neuter soldiers. The females lay thousands of eggs when needed, but only a few a year in peace time. The Neuter population is allowed/forced to die down in peace time to reduce costs, and a small group is maintained for the sole purpose of training the new recruits in case of a war (also another small group to react to unexpected threats). If you make it so the soldiers can learn but don't need to personally innovate, but the overlords/mating members are humanlike in innovation you get soldiers who don't need oversized brains and so are resistant to starvation (relatively).

    For warriors (difference being individual versus soldiers who are cogs in a war machine) the perfect race would be the opposite; freakishly long life spans and low but constant birthrate. Each individual would be an Ayn Rand clone, with a self devotion to perfection.

    Humans split the middle, and if the rest of the universe is extremely peace loving we might be seen as a warrior race, but we honestly suck at it. Our inventions outstripe our tactics by decades (American Civil War, WWI, etc) and as a planet we are famous for losing in the face of small groups that are even slightly more innovative in tactics, because in general armies cannot react in the face of new tactics. Case in point; Japan invaded the Soviet Union in the 1930's and was trounced by Soviet tank tactics. The Japanese withdrew and then made no effort at all in altering their ground tactics to match the improved technology. There were no major efforts in either inventing their own heavy tanks based on soviet ones, or in adapting to them. And this from a self-described warrior culture.
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Humans split the middle, and if the rest of the universe is extremely peace loving we might be seen as a warrior race, but we honestly suck at it. Our inventions outstripe our tactics by decades (American Civil War, WWI, etc) and as a planet we are famous for losing in the face of small groups that are even slightly more innovative in tactics, because in general armies cannot react in the face of new tactics.
    While I'm not in complete agreement with you, I just realized that the way this is phrased means one things.

    Humans will be like Space Pirates from Metroid. I don't know if this is awesome or not.

    That said, it really depends on what you're shooting for. If the rest of the universe is packed with various tough guy warrior archetypes, humans probably should end up on the tech end of things for the sake of irrelevancy. If you're going the warrior end of things, just play up stuff like adrenaline or last stands as why humans are viable for use in fighting things. I remember reading some short story once where the chemical compounds for adrenaline were basically an illegal combat stimulant with a penchant for addiction and insanity. I loved one particular line when an alien technobabbles the long list of various side effects and adds in 'and now humans. They naturally produce a batch of it and shoot in through their systems when you spook them by walking around the corner too fast. Don't mess with them.'
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    I'd say that having humans be the ascended ancient ones or The warrior-race are rather rare occurences in Sci-fi. Both could work, the only thing I suggest avoiding is using humanity as the jack-of-all-trades race. That's such a cliche by now.

    Tvtyrant: Yes, you're right. There are certain things in nature that at a glance have better soldier/warrior capabilities than humans. But that doesn't mean humanity can't be the best warriors.
    We could make up for it in sheer skill and ruthlessness. Being so unimaginably more effective at modern warfare and so cruel that the other species are just boggled. Massed artillery (or nukes) on the waves and waves of hive drones, causing millions of deaths in mere minutes. Using asteroids to render the proud warrior race's planets to molten slag, cutting that constant supply of new manpower short.

    Also... we have one thing no other species on the planet have: Sweat glands. The most effective organic coolant system in the world. We don't outrun our prey... we catch up once it's too tired to move. It also lets us remain effective in any climate.

    I'd also argue against super-hives on two points: Bio-matter and cellular growthrate. For a organism to be the same size as a human, it also needs the same amount of material. So a super-hive of trillions is actually demanding just as much resources as trillions of humans would.
    Secondly, given that eukaryote cells are fairly complex, and sentient species especially so, chances are even hive-beings of comparative size and a semblance of intelligence would take a comparative similar amount of time to fully mature (physically).

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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Reality.
    Really? And to whom are you comparing humans?
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Really? And to whom are you comparing humans?
    I have to agree with Greenish, here. Humans may seem like a poor soldier race, but that's because we see things like the Krogan from Mass Effect. If one assumes that the dominant species are something long-lived with a similarly long development period (or even long-lived with a low birthrate; doesn't matter that you're mature in 10 years if you're only going to have 3 children over the course of the next thousand), then humans become a much more attractive option... again, depending on what you want us for.

    Consider Ben Bova's Orion. Humans were created as soldiers because we were tough, but still sorta fragile... strip us of our technology, and we're meat popsicles. The idea in that one was that humans would be used to wipe out the Neanderthals, then die out ourselves... but we were too clever (and had a bit of help), and overcame the hindrances of our environment.

    In that scenario, you have humans as the ideal soldier race... but the gene-engineers weren't perfect. We were the ideal soldier race because of our adeptness with technology, a high sustainable birthrate, and our susceptibility to a wide variety of environmental hazards once technological support was removed. Heck, that last feature may have been one of the things that worked on humans... stick them on a backwater planet, either to isolate them and keep them away from the rest of the galaxy, or let us grow our own genetic mutations and farm us at need.

    It's not a tack often taken in sci-fi, but it can work.
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    I'm assuming "hard science" sci-fi.
    In a sci-fi setting it's unlikely that there'd be actual soldiers or small fighter vessels. Instead it'd be an arms race of whoever can build the biggest most powerful and advanced space ship.

    Also, cybernetics should have advanced a fair bit. Most people would probably be cyborgs (by this point in time it'd be fairly cheap), and be able to directly interface with all of the ships components. A single super-pilot would drive the ship, no matter how large and advanced.

    Ships would probably be nothing like the ones in Startrek or Starwars, cryogenic sleep would be used on passengers, and only the pilot would be awake. The pilot's mind would probably be more like a Battlestar Galactica Cylon pilot's mind, rather than a normal person, since its mind is expanded to encompass all of the ships functions.


    Also, keep in mind that the law of accelerating returns combined with the fact that races don't develop simultaneously would dictate that all races would be on each level of the Kardashev scale. So if there is any race above humans they'd be so far above and beyond humans might not even know of their existence.
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    I really like Mass Effect's take on us - humans are Johnny-Come-Lately but highly adaptable - fits our portrayal in sources like Races of Destiny to a tee.

    Stargate takes that to a bit of an extreme, where almost all of our technology is practically useless compared to that of the aliens (Asgard, Goa'uld.) Star Trek is too Planet of Hats-y for my personal taste.

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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    I'm assuming "hard science" sci-fi.
    In a sci-fi setting it's unlikely that there'd be actual soldiers or small fighter vessels. Instead it'd be an arms race of whoever can build the biggest most powerful and advanced space ship.

    Also, keep in mind that the law of accelerating returns combined with the fact that races don't develop simultaneously would dictate that all races would be on each level of the Kardashev scale. So if there is any race above humans they'd be so far above and beyond humans might not even know of their existence.
    It really all stands and falls with faster than light travel and communication. Statistically there are probably hundreds or thousands of species at a similar technological level as humans, but finding and reaching them is the hard part.
    Species without the technological ability to meking themselves "heard" would be almost undetectable, so it would make sense that almost all known species have advanced at least to a certain level of physics and technology.
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    I should go with #1, if only because when I first saw the question in the title, my immediate answer was "extinct".
    Yes! My first thought, too.

    If you are willing to have them ascended (and therefore probably out of the picture, except for their legacy), then why not kill them all off.

    Think of your player's reaction when you are fighting the big bad race.

    DM: "They slaughtered the [Insert Name here] from [Insert planet here], the Dorkulans from Alpha Beta Prime, the [...]"

    Player: "Why is he telling us this?"

    DM: "[...] and the Humans from Earth."

    Player: .... "THOSE ---"

    Slightly exaggerated, but that gives them a reason to hate them (out of character, at least).

    Even better, have them initiate first contact with renaissance-era Earth, get to know the people, and have a good time, then WHAM, the BBR wipes them out in a planetary bombardment.

    Or even better, a race of robots did it.
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    humans actually reproduce very quickly for animals of are longevity and intelligence. Are females can produce multiple births before the first group has reached adult hood. Part of the reason humans take so long to develop is because were smart most any species would have the same problem. Humans also have excellent endurance. and the final most important factor is if the world is filled with clumsy 80 pound weaklings who are afraid of blood than humans start to look a lot more dangerous.

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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    You could base them on one of the human factions in alastair reynolds revelation space seires :) (which by the way, is great).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faction...velation_Space

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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Well, let's see. Our bones are made of metal, and not just any metal, either, metal that gets stronger each time you break small pieces of it (we can get tough enough this way to collide with a brick wall at 35 miles an hour and only sustain a light bruise); we see in color, and have among the best endurance of any land animal. One of our original hunting tactics was to simply start walking at our food and just keep going until it couldn't run away anymore (in fact, this is still done in some regions of Africa). It'd be funny if we got into space and everyone else is living on planets with less than 1G and humans are the toughest, most adaptable life form out there.

    We also do a couple of things no other animal (on Earth) does: first, we emit pheromones and have body language that turns animals into our slaves, often without us trying to (see cats; all joking about "lol cats own yu" aside, we domesticated cats on accident). Second, our young learn to point without having to be taught. This ties into our last unique thing, which is culture. No other animal on Earth has culture (specifically, our capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols).

    Humans are pretty awesome.

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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Canadians, at least the ones from the Solar System. Fragmented culturally, resource rich, low population, and most of our tech comes from elsewhere.
    That was the idea I had for what I called 'The United Solar Territories'. I even made a flag.
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    A curiosity, a sapient and highly civilized species that nonetheless is incapable of leaving the small sphere of its own solar system.

    Yes, we humans are awesome in many ways, but we are very badly suited for life between the stars. I'd like to see earthbound life treated as a "tree" of interstellar culture for a chance - of great lifespan and history, capable of recovering from immense disturbances, yet still ultimately rooted in one place, and potentially felled by one swift strike or natural disaster. Inhuman aliens capable of flying through the void on their own would stop by to bask in our shade, admiring our daily life, before going their own way to places where we may never follow them...
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Criminals, omnicidal maniacs who must NOT be allowed to infect the rest of the Universe.
    OR . . .
    Good people who actually started taking caring about their environment before it started to affect them personally.
    OR . ..
    Weirdo's, but then, so are all intelligent life to any other intelligent life. They have some unique quirks, swimming, endurance running, a fascination with flight, but are fun to be around. Just don't start a war with them, they are good at that.
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    You guys(and gals) are silly. The entire point of the discussion was in genetically creating a species of soldiers; my point is given that ability humans are a bad choice, and gave a list of better ones. Saying that I don't have a sentient species to use as comparison is silly since they are building one. Humans are bad at adapting to new tactics (see my second post for a modern example, I could add thousands to it) and they are physically weak.

    Also, persistence hunting is an unsubstantiated myth; bidpedal apes have existed for more then 6 million years and the massive extinction events started only in the last million. Our early bone dumps in Olduvai Gorge show that the first human-like biped (homo ergaster) ate primarily baby animals and rodents. Spears altered things, but it was technology that won our conquests, not our bodies.
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Quote Originally Posted by awa View Post
    Part of the reason humans take so long to develop is because were smart most any species would have the same problem.
    Not necessarily. You might have hive-minded races that only have a single individual "brain"; their brain-castes may have the long lead time, but the workers would not. You might have telepathic races that learn much of what they need through telepathic imprinting. The neanderthal in Jean Auel's "Clan of the Cave Bear" learned most everything they needed through racial memory, gaining skill with practice but initial technique through being shown once. I also recall a science fiction story where humans had mostly replaced schooling with implants that would let them access any information at a moment's notice.

    EDIT to avoid Double Posting:
    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    You guys(and gals) are silly. The entire point of the discussion was in genetically creating a species of soldiers; my point is given that ability humans are a bad choice, and gave a list of better ones. Saying that I don't have a sentient species to use as comparison is silly since they are building one. Humans are bad at adapting to new tactics (see my second post for a modern example, I could add thousands to it) and they are physically weak.
    However, that assumes two things:
    1) The gene-engineers were perfect. If the Creators are anything like their creations, they were under-budgeted and on a time limit, so they turned out their "best option".
    2) That their goal was a super-race. Some of humanity's limitations could easily be advantages to a race of gene-engineers who didn't want to have to fight their creations when the war ended.

    Also, persistence hunting is an unsubstantiated myth; bidpedal apes have existed for more then 6 million years and the massive extinction events started only in the last million. Our early bone dumps in Olduvai Gorge show that the first human-like biped (homo ergaster) ate primarily baby animals and rodents. Spears altered things, but it was technology that won our conquests, not our bodies.
    Except that it's still used today. Yes, spears changed a lot... but persistence hunting as a method of making an animal vulnerable to killing is not an unsubstantiated myth.

    (Me, I can't persistence hunt anything other than an IHOP)
    Last edited by Mark Hall; 2010-11-27 at 03:30 PM.
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Also, persistence hunting is an unsubstantiated myth
    And yet, the part of the article I linked to has us actually practicing it. Now. As an observed hunting tactic.

    Not to mention that fact that it was persistence hunting that was a contributing factor to us being nomadic. I won't downplay technology's part in it, but it wasn't the only factor.
    Last edited by hiryuu; 2010-11-27 at 03:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    My sci fi has humans as The Rich Race. Excellent traders, merchants, and survivors mixed with natural ambition has Humans with access to all the rarest materials. All new tech is funded by humans in some way and almost all small manufacturers all hae human start up money.

    The human miltary is one of the strongest but it is factured for all the normal reasons why humans don't get things done fast.

    Humans are the Dragons. Powerful, rich, and selfish.
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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    racial memory is not particularly useful because of the rate technology advances a species that relied on that would soon be left in the dust.

    hive minds and telepathy have no basis in real life so their is no reason to assume a species with those abilities exists in the first place.

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    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    The problem with humans as the warrior race is that, well, it casts all the aliens as a little bit pathetic, really.

    Just compare us to other creatures on earth. You drop a baby on it's head, it's in trouble. You drop a baby gorrila on it's head, it'll bounce and crawl off somewhere.
    You need to hunt something down? Prey, illegal substances, avalanche victims? Well, a team of humans with enough technology might manage, or you could, you know. Use a dog?

    Ascended humans as the idea of choice throws up it's own problems. If they advanced to the point of being the generic projenitor race with their godlike technology and far reaching super-empires, you're not really talking about Humans anymore, but theoretical creatures descended from humans. The problem with that is that you lose any of the impact of it actually being humanity. The don't resemble us, really, so there's no identification with them.
    It would give you ground to do some interesting stuff, though. Examining the direction we could take to get to that point, socially and evolutionarily, provides some really interesting ground for working with.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Planetar

    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Here's a thought: humans make a great warrior race because we're always fighting ourselves.

    If most (or all) other races in the galaxy developed their own mono-culture before becoming space-faring, then their need for weapons of war would be non-existent. Weapons development would all but cease, as there would no longer be adequate justification for the large cost. There would only be need of weapons once they encountered another race with which irreconcilable differences occur, but since development stopped decades to centuries ago, the war would be fought with essentially out-dated weapons. Also, they might be especially squeamish about using WMD's, if they ever had any to begin with.

    Humans, on the other hand, have continued to devote massive portions of their economies to making better and better weapons technologies because of near-constant arms races between rivals. Who needs fear the soldier caste of the hive-minded insectoids when a single power-armored human wielding a minigun that fires plasma-explosive rounds can slaughter hundreds of them single handedly? And when it comes down to the wire, we will push the little red button, especially against non-human(oid)s.


    Another potential novelty: what if humans are the only race that for what ever reason, invented the concept of mercenaries?

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Devil

    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    There was an rpg supliment somewhere. ah, here's a review of it.

    Rocketship Empires 1936

    Nutshell version: Humanity was the galactic boogeyman. All the other aliens ganged up on them eventually and exiled them to earth. Another galactic empire rose to take our place, then they declined and started looking for a weapon to hold the empire together. they were desperate enough to unleash humanity on the galaxy again.

    In a funny twist, Humanity is the long-lived race out of legend. all the other sentients usually live about 30-40 years.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Greenish's Avatar

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    Feb 2010
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    Finland

    Default Re: Sci-fi setting - What should humans be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    You guys(and gals) are silly. The entire point of the discussion was in genetically creating a species of soldiers;
    Oh, I thought it was on whether Boci should use humans as a soldier race or mystical precursor race.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    my point is given that ability humans are a bad choice, and gave a list of better ones. Saying that I don't have a sentient species to use as comparison is silly since they are building one.
    You're the only one who brought up the whole "genetically tailored super soldier race".
    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Humans are bad at adapting to new tactics
    Again, bad compared to who? Your example has humans using new tactics and adapting to them. Humans don't have to be the best you can possible imagine. They only have to be better than the others, and there's no particular reason why they couldn't be, in a given work of fiction.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    they are physically weak.
    So what? It's not like they're going to mix in melee when they have starships.

    Besides, weak compared to who?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Not necessarily. You might have hive-minded races that only have a single individual "brain"; their brain-castes may have the long lead time, but the workers would not. You might have telepathic races that learn much of what they need through telepathic imprinting.
    Yeah, but when you go to the telepathy and so forth, you're dropping the "science" from "science fiction".
    Quote Originally Posted by Tiki Snakes View Post
    The problem with humans as the warrior race is that, well, it casts all the aliens as a little bit pathetic, really.

    Just compare us to other creatures on earth. You drop a baby on it's head, it's in trouble. You drop a baby gorrila on it's head, it'll bounce and crawl off somewhere.
    You need to hunt something down? Prey, illegal substances, avalanche victims? Well, a team of humans with enough technology might manage, or you could, you know. Use a dog?
    Want to wage a large scale war of annihilation or conquest. Use a human?

    Again, humans don't have to be best at every aspect of warfare ever to be comparatively better at it than other sentient races.
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