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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default No Humans Allowed

    Has anyone tried running a setting where there aren't any humans, or any races that are shifted to substitute for humans? I'm not talking about worlds where you don't have humans as a race and so elves or dwarves or something becomes the norm, I'm talking about a world inhabited by peoples and races that are dramatically different than humans on several levels without a new 'middle of the road' race to take their place.

    For example, a world where the available races are Thri-Kreen, Gnolls, Gith, Mind Flayers, and Androids with Chainsaws For Hands.

    Does this work, or does this aspect of the world make it difficult to make characters and adventures in?
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    I've thought about that sort of thing before, but never had the chance to try it.

    The main problem I see is that unless the races are somewhat flanderized then at least one will eventually become the human stand in for everyone regardless of how it was originally intended, but the more flanderized the NPCs behave the more constrained the options for them and their personalities become. In your example list I would expect Gith to eventually shift in group perceptions to be the new human analogue because they're in many ways the most similar and that colours how people think.

    EDIT: Also, a lot of the time NPC races become shaped by in session jokes and shift into things that are fundmentally comedy humans. Gnolls frequently become dog people in people's perceptions for example, and then they're basically just goofy humans.
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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    I've done this, but the standard is less odd D&D races and more anthropomorphic animals, in the style of some mythology or Aesop's Fables.

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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    Not done it, but I've considered it. A bigger supporter of the opposite though.

    I did once consider a 'talking animals' (everybody got hands, but could dash on all fours for a speed boost) setting, although that very much had a human analogue. Rats were presented as community builders and being significantly more sociable than everybody else, to the point of getting a Charisma bonus (very much focused on small rodents, so I could have cats as dragons and similar things). Mice ended up as less civilised elf/halfling analogues, never got around to making stats for other species, because I got tired of being told that rats shouldn't be the 'main characters' of the setting, apparently a lot of people don't find them adorable. But I had rough plans for bats and small rabbits (a tough guy race), might try updating the setting to 5e and pitching it to my new group once the current game finishes.
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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    Nope. But I've played a bunch where Humans are either all bad guys, or the biggest bad guys around. This is a particularly common trope in post-apocalyptic games. For example Gamma World, After the Bomb and Rifts. In which playing mutants in general, mutant animals, and D-bees is the norm for the vast majority of games I've played in them. Playing a human is on par with playing a Drow or Duergar in D&D.
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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    Not quite like what the OP is looking for, but I've had two scenarios with a campaign being focused around nonhumans: one with elves, and one with dwarves.

    The Elf-Campaign (or ElfQuest as we dubbed it) was set in Dragonlance, and was focused on rebuilding the Elven civilization after all the wars and stuff. I felt it had stronger connection between the PCs besides just being fellow adventurers, as we were all invested in bringing prosperity to our home and people. Eventually one player brought in a human ("because they're mechanically superior"), which did had both negative and positive effect: the negative being that it disrupted the feeling of camraderie when we were all elves, the positive that it allowed us all to have chance roleplaying out the scenario where the human was the odd one out in all respects and he had to work twice as hard to get the same recognition as the elves in the party. At the end of the campaign, all the elves were awarded with lands and titles and riches... the human was made "honorary elf".

    The Dwarf-campaign (dubbed DwarfQuest, no surprise I guess ) was a homebrew-setting and was a lot more focused on exploring the GM's world as our characters came from a small tribe that knew little of the world outside of their own little territory. It had a lot of elements from the ElfQuest-comic to give some unique traits and mechanics to our dwarves, and it was rather exciting to approach the world in a very fresh look on things and not even having the OOC knowledge of the world. The campaign has been on hiatus for a while, but I hope the GM will pick it up again. Apart from suffering from pacing in the story from the GM's side of things, I do enjoy it all very much. I don't think there are any humans in this world, as all all the humanoid-races we've encountered have either been goblinoids or gnomes. Then again, the entire setting is taking place underground (somekind of Underdark, I guess?), so that could also explain the lack of other types of races like humans, elves, and halflings, who all lack the ability to see in darkness.
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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    It's tricky.

    The big problem is most players will play their character ''as human'' no matter what ''race'' it says on the character's sheet. Most players want to play ''themselves'' as the character, not something ''alien''.

    So it's hard to ''get'' into another race....as everyone will just want to do human things. All the Mind Flayers go to a bar and have some drinks and look for an adventure hook. And Billy has his Mind Flayer character play darts with it's tentacles! Yuck, yuck!

    Though when you can get good role players it's amazing.

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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    Well here's the thing:

    you have to put real thought an effort into making sure they are alien.

    these are races that have to be fundamentally different from the very dawn of their biology. often I find you have to figure out what the logical biological problems of that race would be and how their society, culture and so on has to compensate for the shortcomings that humans would not possess to get a sapient race that works, you can't gloss over it.

    for example, a true hivemind species evolving on their own would basically be a single person in many bodies who has never known another sapient mind. They'd have no concept of war, politics, economics, trade, love, hate, money, language, a vast amount of things we take as basic and granted, simply because they have never known a single other actual person to talk to. all they'd have is their ability to grow enough bodies, infinite patience and an endless curiosity for the world around them to experiment and see what works and what doesn't work. Their success depends entirely on the hivemind's imagination with the tools they can make- it'd be like playing Sims or dwarf fortress, but without any chance of the workers going off to do something else, they'd be simply in complete control. there'd be no need to speak, because all thoughts would be one person's thoughts across multiple bodies. assuming they develop weapons at all, they'd use them for hunting and pretty much nothing else. if they discover robotics, they might make an AI we would consider a dangerous singularity causing god, simply to see what another being like it thinks- with a chance that the hivemind might be able to match any AI they create.

    of course one wonders what the limits are on the hivemind- how far can a single body be from the rest before it splits off? if it tries to colonize another planet will that group be too far away to keep connected and split to become its own person? how will the two hive minds react to each other now that they're separate and can make their own decisions?

    how will they react to beings who are sapient but with no hivemind at all? they very thought is something that wouldn't cross their mind since they are only being they know of. the only mind they know of.

    and thus any PC, any body that manages to split off from such an alien mind- well their entire story becomes about strange it is to be an individual all of sudden and exploring a world of individuals when you don't have any conception of all the things that make a world of individuals functions, but probably a lot of self-gleaned knowledge and internal virtues earned through long experimentation and work. question is, does the PC eventually start being human by the fact that they learn to think human-like through not being a hiveminder?

    but lets take a different tact: at what point, does a human PC STOP being human? say they get transhuman upgrades, they no longer need to eat or to sleep, or to breathe or drink. they fly around on their own power, they gain a perfect recall of any memory they want, they stop aging, they connect to the internet with their mind, their body becomes hard as steel and super-strong, they figure out how to simulate genetic variance with nanorobots and reproduce asexually without fear of cloning, they copy their mind into some other body so that they can do two jobs at the same time, they put a super-hard eye on the back of their mind, they add extra arms onto themselves, at what point do they stop being a human upgraded and start being someone that was once human but no longer? how outside human experience do we have to go before we're not experiencing something that is "human" anymore?
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    Palladium had a variant book "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness" - while half the book covered a TMNT campaign (so lots of humans), as I understand it the other half of the book was for a post-apocalypse campaign where everyone played some form of mutant animal...
    So, pretty much any campaign set there would qualify, alas I never actually played in one.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    In general, with truly alien aliens - meaning not just humans in funny suits or modified humans or distant fruit of the hominid branch of the tree of life - the general rule is, if you're a good author and a good world-builder you can satisfactorily present one species in a novel or series and maybe provide a cursory outsider-looking-in point of view at a few others. And that's with using humans as a baseline and the functional assumption that the majority of the POV characters will be humans or at least something that can be fit into the human cultural spectrum plus a couple of quirks.

    The idea of developing a wholly non-human fantasy kitchen sink where all the races are truly alien beings like Thri-Kreen (which in Dark Sun are your singular alien species) all merged together at the level of your standard D&D setting is pretty much an impossibility. It won't work. No such setting exists anywhere.
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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    My setting is focused on monstrous races. I didn't go as far as to eliminate humans and other PHB races altogether, but they're few and far off in their own decaying nations. Meanwhile I have sprawling civilizations of lizardfolk, minotaurs, bird people, snek people, goblinoids, centaurs and other mythological creatures, giants, gnolls, kobolds, dragonborn and other dragonkin, loads of aquatic races and even various extraplanar creatures.
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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    There are no humans at all in Puppetland. All PCs and NPCs are puppets.

    Gamma World was mostly mutants: it had pure-strain humans, but they were rare. Metamorphosis Alpha is probably similar: easy enough to remove humans altogether.

    There are several horror rpgs where you play various kinds of supernatural creature and only act in the afterlife/dream realm/whatever: humans might exist but you never interact with them.

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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    Mechanical dream tried this. (It also took place in a world where almost everyone needed a specific fruit every day to live, and sometimes dreams bled into reality)

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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    Oh, and things like Mouse Guard, Furry Pirates, Bunnies & Burrows, The Warren, IronClaw/JadeClaw, that D20 game which is basically Tron... There are plenty of games where non-human characters are central or even mandatory, I suppose, but if you're looking for a published setting without human beings or any similar "default" option, I'm not sure there's really been one (anthro games don't count, IMHO).

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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    It's tricky.

    The big problem is most players will play their character ''as human'' no matter what ''race'' it says on the character's sheet. Most players want to play ''themselves'' as the character, not something ''alien''.

    So it's hard to ''get'' into another race....as everyone will just want to do human things. All the Mind Flayers go to a bar and have some drinks and look for an adventure hook. And Billy has his Mind Flayer character play darts with it's tentacles! Yuck, yuck!

    Though when you can get good role players it's amazing.
    Basically this, it's difficult to be a convincing non-human, I don't see myself doing a good job of it and getting an entire table to do it seems implausible.
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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    No, I have never deliberately created a world in which several of my players can't play the PCs they want.

    Perhaps you have a set of players who actively want such a world. Great! Create it and run it for them. But for an average D&D group, this idea is going to be bad for some players, and I don't see an upside that justifies that.

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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    The game Talislanta was an interesting game. It had dozens of races, none of which were human, dwarf, elf, etc. However, it still may not be what you're looking for, as many of the races were things like "green humans who are good at sorcery", but there are several races that aren't just humans of a different color.

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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    No, I have never deliberately created a world in which several of my players can't play the PCs they want.

    Perhaps you have a set of players who actively want such a world. Great! Create it and run it for them. But for an average D&D group, this idea is going to be bad for some players, and I don't see an upside that justifies that.
    I've sat down at D&D official play tables before where there were no humans. In some cases, like late 4e official play, they were all rather extreme non-humans (Sharminds, Wilden, Gith). It would have been easier and more believable to have the adventure set in a non-human-centric world.

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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    Talislanta is probably the best solid example (No Elves was a tagline).

    After the Bomb is kind of a weird one - there are humans (who are generally the bad guys), but the various mutant animals were still highly human beasts (Funny animal, in tvtrope terminology). Not that that's an issue here. The first mutant animals were essentially raised by the dying-out humans, and generally adopted their ways. The Free Cattle were about as xenoculture as it got.

    Earth Eternal (A short-lived MMO) was very much in this vein with their elf/dwarf/humanless setting, but much of that was because by their lore humans were just another race that was cursed out of their claws and fur, and eventually wiped themselves out before the other races came back.


    I did play around with building a humanless setting. Playing to classic fantasy tropes, it's easy to cast fantasy races as being hardwired or predisposed to cultures, saving the really odd perspectives for the lizard types and beastman tribes. But I ran into an issue. Most "good" races tend to be avoidant of one another. They want to keep to their hidden vales or mines or rolling hills or whatnot. It's the "bad races" - the raiders and militants that force interaction. Unless you are setting in what we typically treat as "Days of Old" when elves and dwarves were at war, or are doing some sort of Goblin Horde refugees thing, there's not a lot of mixing without some sort of obsessive community-builders. Humans so often act as the glue in classic fantasy settings- the peoples that everyone else interacts with, and seem to be inclined towards exploring and taking without pillaging and razing. This is where it broke down.

    So I added a McGuffin Land that everyone wanted a piece of as a way to force cultural interaction. Lost civilization of dungeon-builders that left behind all sorts of cool toys, ensuring that every nation, every race wants a piece, and individual opportunists who care little for the bigger world would be willing to work together on a for-hire basis. Never got a chance to use it.

    So if you want to go Mario-free, you need to make these disparate people play together well enough that a mixed party won't disintegrate from infighting (but might be an interesting PvP setup). Changing some of the classic culture norms can help, but you will need some sort of Gathering element to build a mixed party. Like the Olympics, or a UN Summit, or the One Ring being found.
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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    I've sat down at D&D official play tables before where there were no humans. In some cases, like late 4e official play, they were all rather extreme non-humans (Sharminds, Wilden, Gith). It would have been easier and more believable to have the adventure set in a non-human-centric world.
    I have no problem with that. But I've never had a world or campaign idea that would be improved by everybody playing non-humans, or by the world being non-human, and I've always had some players who wanted to play humans.

    If some GM has a world or campaign idea that would be improved by that, and every player is willing to play a non-human, then great. I hope they have fun.

    It just seems very unlikely to me; that's all.

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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    Theres a few campaign ideas i wanted to play in the old days I never got to. In particular playing a campaign centered around the Dragonlance Dwarves founding of Thorbardin. Playing dwarves from different clans fighting off the annual human invasion and exploring the caves seemed like fun.

    But again, thats just playing a specific subculture/race in a multicultural/racial world that includes humans as enemies. And classical fantasy pre-rise of humans era so they're pretty barbaric to boot.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: No Humans Allowed

    The problem I run into is that a lot of fantasy races tend to end up as pretty much (Human +/- x.)
    "Humans but shorter" "Humans but pointier" "Humans but greedier" "Humans but with *Insert animal part*".
    Only when compared with humans do they become something different. Remove the humans, and the fantasy creatures start feeling more human.

    The only setting I can think of at the top of my head which has no humans is "Ponyfinder" Which has been described to me as "The unholy crossbreed of pathfinder and My Little Pony".
    Can't speak for how playable it is though.
    Last edited by Concrete; 2018-02-14 at 03:00 PM.

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