PDA

View Full Version : Should Fantasy Humans be Extinct?



Talakeal
2016-01-17, 07:27 PM
An IC discussion occurred during my last gaming session.


In my setting humans were one of many intelligent races, more successful than most but not so prosperous as some. Then the gods shared certain secrets with humanity, including metal working, alchemy, magic, and medicine, elevating them above the other species, who were for the most part still stuck in the stone age.

As a result of their leg up, humans are now the dominant race in the world, the other races never really recovered from the head start to civilization humans receives. Now the gods of the wild races have entrusted certain individuals (the villains) with knocking humanity down a peg so the other species have a chance to catch up.

The players tried to insist that the villains give up, because humans are inherently inferior to most other races, and that we need social or technological advantages over the other races to simply keep up, and said that if the villains removed humans advantage they will merely drive them to extinction. The villain was unmoved, their motivation was not to restore balance but merely to advance the other races so they didn't really care what became of humanity, and that was that.

But I asked the players after the session if they actually agreed with that argument OOC or where just trying to make an argument to convince the NPC, and they said yes, that without artificial advantages over the other races humans simply can't keep up.


Which got me thinking, I can see their point, even if I don't fully agree, but if true, doesn't that make almost every other fantasy setting inherently flawed? If humans are incapable of keeping up with elves, and dwarves, and orcs, and giants, and ogres, and mind flayers, without some sort of artificially introduced advantage, then wouldn't every setting without such an advantage (most of them) result in the eventual extinction of humanity? Why doesn't this happen? What do you think about the matter?

Arbane
2016-01-17, 07:42 PM
Which got me thinking, I can see their point, even if I don't fully agree, but if true, doesn't that make almost every other fantasy setting inherently flawed? If humans are incapable of keeping up with elves, and dwarves, and orcs, and giants, and ogres, and mind flayers, without some sort of artificially introduced advantage, then wouldn't every setting without such an advantage (most of them) result in the eventual extinction of humanity? Why doesn't this happen? What do you think about the matter?

Some fantasy settings don't have a menagerie of intelligent races.
The ones that do, humanity generally has SOMETHING going for it - divine sponsorship, technology, magic talent, freakish luck, high birth rate, ability to digest starches...
(Fun Fact: In Pathfinder's Golarion setting, humanity got their head-start thanks to Aboleths manipulating them behind the scenes.)

johnbragg
2016-01-17, 07:44 PM
It helps versimilitude if there's SOME explanation for why squishy, non-SLA-slinging non-Elfy-Sue non-horde-breeding humans are a dominant player in the setting.

My personal choice is agriculture. Other creatures are mostly oriented towards a hunter-gathery sort of existence, which limits the populations that can be supported. Until humans figure out how to encourage the plant-fertility gods to work overtime and grow things on purpose, turning woodland (and swamp, grassland etc) into farmland.

I reinforce that with the idea that, in an inversion of Thatcherism, not only does society exist but society is magic. Fast-breeding lawful nonevil creatures are good at creating large societies and imbuing those societies with the ability to survive. (This can have crunch effects, if you are using numbers to determine large events. A LE hobgoblin kingdom is going to have an edge over a NE orc horde, beyond terrain advantages and such.)

Deaxsa
2016-01-17, 07:46 PM
First of all, just because you're the top dog does not mean it is in your interest to murder the rest of the pack. Second of all, why are the players under the impression that humans are weaker? I'm not sure what setting or house rules your using, but nothing that you stated you had told your players gave me that impression. Also, humans are generally seen as the "jack-of all trades" species, in the middle in every aspect. Which is far from bad. Third, it's a flawed argument anyways, since the people they're trying to convince May or may not have even the first reason to care about the humans they're wrenching from he top spot. The villains probably have more complex motivation (hopefully) than simply "restore balance". (And, it's a wierd way to restore balance -- kinda like feeding steroids to every athlete so no athlete can have an unfair advantage.) fourth, and this really goes into the lore, but why were humans given these extras in he first place? And how come other species could not adapt the tech? It seems to me that those stuck in the Stone Age are there for cultural or mental reasons, and changing either of those things would require redefining the species that lag behind.

Nifft
2016-01-17, 07:46 PM
A fantasy setting with more than one intelligent tool-using species seems rather unlikely, given what we know of early humans and our relationship with other near-human species, other large predators, and other edible animals in general.

If you're going for a "realistic" basis for biological evolution of many different species, IMHO the best route is to have them all evolve on separate planets, which each got destroyed by $BAD_THING and the current planet is a refugee escape zone which has escaped the notice of $BAD_THING for $REASON (and of course $REASON is set to expire before the PCs hit level 20).

There are other routes -- like, you could say that humans live in the places that no other races want to live, since other races are more specifically adapted to one terrain type or another. Or, you could say that humans are new and vigorous, while the older races are dying out due to ennui and despair and lack of elf viagra or whatever. The PCs are the exception, of course: one the very few young elves who exists, and who ventured out into the world, or similar.

veti
2016-01-17, 08:37 PM
In order for different species to coexist in the same territory, they need to be filling different ecological niches.

Elves plus dwarves plus humans is no problem. They're a tree-hugging race that's only comfortable in the wild, a boring race that's only comfortable underground, and an agricultural race that likes nice open country. No conflict there.

Introduce halflings, and the division starts to break down, because they like much the same sort of country as humans. The only way this can work is if they have an agreement to share out the land between them, which both sides respect. And frankly, the only way that's ever going to be realistic is if the world as a whole is underpopulated, and has plenty of open land that's not currently being exploited by anyone. (As per Tolkien's Middle-earth.) As the populations grow, pressure on the land will increase until eventually those races will end up at war. (Which will resolve the issue for a few generations.)

In most D&D-based settings, "the woods" are left pretty much to the elves (and other fae races, who don't conflict because... their birth rates are ridiculously low? - not sure, but that seems likeliest to me). It's really the dwarves who have most to worry about, because their "underground" niche is under enormous pressure - from goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, kobolds, gnomes, drow, you name it - many of whom breed faster than dwarves, and should thus be able to crush them within a millennium or so.

Feddlefew
2016-01-17, 09:40 PM
I usually explain it by having humans are the Ur-race for most intelligent huminiods, and their civilizations just kind of retroactively appear in places where there aren't any other huminoids. It neatly solves the two major problems I seen in high fantasy settings: 1) why are humans so annoyingly average and "adaptable" and 2) why other fantasy races are basically humans with a few exaggerated traits.

druid91
2016-01-17, 10:25 PM
In my mind, the thing with humans is they're the golden mean.


Goblinoids and such are savage, chaotic, unpredictable, short lived and quick breeding.

Elves, Dwarves, and their ilk are stiff, stodgy, and bogged down in millenia of tradition.

Humans are short lived and chaotic enough to be adaptable, but still longsighted enough to establish a lasting presence. They might not be good at any one particular thing. But there are humans that are good at pretty much any task you can name.

In short, Humans are just awesome.

goto124
2016-01-17, 11:23 PM
I usually explain it by having humans are the Ur-race for most intelligent huminiods, and their civilizations just kind of retroactively appear in places where there aren't any other huminoids. It neatly solves the two major problems I seen in high fantasy settings: 1) why are humans so annoyingly average and "adaptable" and 2) why other fantasy races are basically humans with a few exaggerated traits.

So, the other races are variant humans? :smalltongue:

Feddlefew
2016-01-17, 11:32 PM
So, the other races are variant humans? :smalltongue:

Humans are the Canis lupus to the other humaniods' Canis lupus familiaris. There's a reason why humans don't have a patron deity in any of my campaign settings. :smallwink:

Hiro Protagonest
2016-01-18, 01:51 AM
The flesh is weak, but we have a solid healing factor. We lack nightvision, but our eyes will pick out all signs of our prey. We can be outsped, but you'll just die tired. We can sneak and ambush better than any orc, armed with finely crafted bows and armor. We can brute-force goblins into submission. We can keep throwing bodies at elves and dwarves until their skirmishers are rooted out and their defensive lines broken. Actually wiping out humanity requires a bunch of other races to stop fighting each other and turn on us, and the only reason I could think of for that is if we've suddenly become a major threat with a huge empire, in which case we might not be defeated anyway.

Storm_Of_Snow
2016-01-18, 04:30 AM
It helps versimilitude if there's SOME explanation for why squishy, non-SLA-slinging non-Elfy-Sue non-horde-breeding humans are a dominant player in the setting.

I go with shorter times between generations than Elves and Dwarves, more socially organised than Orcs and Goblins, pragmatic enough to negotiate with other races when necessary.

Anonymouswizard
2016-01-18, 05:08 AM
I usually explain it by having humans are the Ur-race for most intelligent huminiods, and their civilizations just kind of retroactively appear in places where there aren't any other huminoids. It neatly solves the two major problems I seen in high fantasy settings: 1) why are humans so annoyingly average and "adaptable" and 2) why other fantasy races are basically humans with a few exaggerated traits.

I do this, I also have humans suffer from a comparative lack of genetic defects and diseases, so humans are just more stable.

Idea: maybe the Empire always featured in default D&D settings breed humanoids races in the same way the Victorians breed dogs? This has been your daily helping of squick, thank you.

Gastronomie
2016-01-18, 05:13 AM
Most animals adapt to a particular environment.
Real-world humans can be currently found all across the globe because instead of adapting to their environments, they alter the environment in their favor. That's what makes them powerful. Elves and dwarves live only in particular climates (prolly due to tradition, I dunno). There's no problem there.

The halfling problem has already been mentioned, but since halfings are smaller (weaker in fights), have a peaceful tendency (unlikely to even get into aforementioned fights), and have a longer lifespan (meaning their birth rate is prolly a tad lower), it's probably not much of a problem.

In the manga "Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro", the main protagonist Neuro, a particular super-powerful entity, states that humans are splendid and powerful because of their "ambitiousness" and "malevolence" - both of which Neuro believes come from their short life-spans. I don't think that elves, having 700-year-long life spans, would ever try to become "ambitious".

Seeing as how that one big dwarven city in the Neverwinter setting was eventually raided by orcs and destroyed, I suppose dwarves would one day go extinct, like veti already mentioned.

IMO, a bigger problem is whether sorcerer bloodlines eventually dominate mankind or not.

hymer
2016-01-18, 05:24 AM
I don't usually give the players absolute knowledge of why things are as they are. It'd bore the stuffing out of them, for one thing, but I don't think there's any consensus in my average campaign world about how these things came to be the way they are. I doubt there's even consensus on the way things were, or even are.
There will be plenty of theories of why a certain culture is currently dominant, and some of them more outrageous than others, but they will be theories, and incomplete ones at that. Some of the many, many factors can be reliably guessed at (and many or most of the standard ones have been mentioned above), and that usually satisfies any curious minds.

Marlowe
2016-01-18, 05:47 AM
Strange thread. "My players have come to a highly questionable if not patently absurd conclusion that appears to run contrary to almost every piece of fluff, to say nothing of mechanics, ever written. I use this conclusion to call into question literally everything else rather than simply shrug and realise my players have some odd ideas."

Honestly, if your players jointly decided dragons were vegetarian pacifists with no natural weapons and that their contrary depiction in game fluff, mechanical details, and in legend were the result of a complicated web of deception would you use this conclusion as evidence that all the books were wrong?

GloatingSwine
2016-01-18, 06:16 AM
It helps versimilitude if there's SOME explanation for why squishy, non-SLA-slinging non-Elfy-Sue non-horde-breeding humans are a dominant player in the setting.


Humans are horde-breeding. In the kind of period that most fantasy settings represent, humans would be squirting them out all over the place. Sure we might a longer gestational period than, eg, goblins but a human's fertile period is twice as long as a goblin's entire lifespan. (And that shorter lifespan means that gobbos have less capacity to learn, refine through practice, and communicate meaning stunted cultural and scientific advancement.)

That's exacerbated by the fact that we're all about agriculture. Agriculture is the great unlocker of horde breeding potential because it increases the food supply exponentially over previous methods (and also gives all those excess workers something to do, and is self reinforcing because more people = more labour done = more food grown).

Why are humans dominant? Because we figured out how to really population explode first and by the time anyone else caught on there were just too many of us.

Esprit15
2016-01-18, 06:50 AM
In one setting I made, I actually played the devil's advocate here: humans, due to our love of beating one another up, never were able to expand too much, and became relegated to one corner of the world while the elves, dwarves, orcs, and even halflings were all able to carve out good sized bits of land before deciding "Hm... that land looks promising, too." Part of it was geography and history, since the humans in that setting basically originated in a hilly area that was bordered by ocean, desert, and elves (who were technologically/magically superior). At that point, they were left with a small bit of crappy land. Nobody ever masters farming because the land is poor for that, and the elves don't see much reason to trade. Most people who are exceptional leave and never return, while the few that do have to contend with one another in trying to unite the humans under one banner and carving out a more proper place to call home, while being bordered by a culturally, technologically, and even population-wise superior race, who would not be keen to give up any land.

That said, even in awful circumstances like that, I point out that humans still cling on, because there is a reason that they get that extra skill point, and that bonus feat: we will live anywhere, and we do what it takes to live. We may not even advance that much as far as technology goes, but we love to find new places that we honestly should not live, and make them home. Maybe it means a nomadic lifestyle, maybe it means accepting that conditions are harsh, but we grow like a damned weed that even the most powerful herbicides can't completely wipe out.

johnbragg
2016-01-18, 07:09 AM
Just in czase anyone hasn't seen this.......
Humans as space orcs (http://imgur.com/gallery/XpThccW)

Storm_Of_Snow
2016-01-18, 07:49 AM
Elves and dwarves live only in particular climates (prolly due to tradition, I dunno). There's no problem there.

Elves possibly not (aside from Tolkien sticking them in big forests, even Elrond and what would be classed as High Elves), but Dwarves as miners would tend to put their main settlements on top of the richest ore seams, and thus, they may well be limited in their population by the amount of space they can mine out safely (although there's nothing to say they can't build above ground) and then get fresh air and water to.

Kami2awa
2016-01-18, 07:54 AM
Well from a gamist point of view, humans with full caster levels even the odds quite a lot - in theory they can do almost anything the monsters can do, and probably more besides.

From a fantasy POV, there are a lot of good-aligned species in the world, some of which are very powerful indeed - in theory, they are going to want to prevent the destruction of humans (at least, good-aligned humans... and the evil guys have evil species to preserve humanity as livesto- I mean, protect their mutual interests).

From a biological point of view, species only compete if they are occupying the same niche. A wolf is clearly "superior" to a fox, and they often live in the same environments, but the wolves don't wipe out the foxes because they are usually not in direct competition for a single niche in the ecosystem.

neonchameleon
2016-01-18, 08:12 AM
Which got me thinking, I can see their point, even if I don't fully agree, but if true, doesn't that make almost every other fantasy setting inherently flawed? If humans are incapable of keeping up with elves, and dwarves, and orcs, and giants, and ogres, and mind flayers, without some sort of artificially introduced advantage, then wouldn't every setting without such an advantage (most of them) result in the eventual extinction of humanity? Why doesn't this happen? What do you think about the matter?

First, the thing to remember is that real world humans are goddamn orcs. We're a race that invented surgery before anaesthetics and sometimes performs surgery on ourselves, that eats capascin for fun, that boxes until knocking each other out for fun, and are worse yet pursuit predators. You run away and we keep coming until you drop dead. Oh, and our bite is toxic. (For further on this theme (http://weknowmemes.com/2014/03/humans-are-scary/)).

In this world humans are terrifying even without tools.

Humans vs Elves? Battles get won by elves. Wars by humans. Humans are replacable like orcs with a birth rate of a dozen humans for one mother in 20 years being plausible - the main chance the elves have of coming out on top is to marry the human aristocracy and to become the 1%. (Humans vs dwarves is much the same). A 10:1 kill ratio by the elves is still a loss to the elves. And elves are slow learners.

Humans vs ogres? This is a little one sided in favour of the humans. Ogres are a threat to a family - but you need a lot of ogres to threaten even a small town. And the collective noun for ogres is a brawl.

Humans vs orcs? The orcs, unlike elves or dwarves, can just about outbreed the humans. And on a one vs one basis the orcs are stronger - but orcs are almost always warriors not soldiers. Pitched battles the humans win almost every time - and have more magic backing us. Plus generally elves backing us; elves can negotiate and reason with humans much better than orcs. Human vs orc (or more probably human vs goblin) is the fight to dominate most worlds. And in that fight humans have a lot of allies.

In short humans vs almost any humanoid race the humans win. It's the weird stuff like illithids, dragons, and slimes where we have the problem. In those cases we don't know what's keeping the illithids in check.

Earthwalker
2016-01-18, 08:14 AM
In my current pathfinder game humans don't exist.
Not that the other races wipped them out, just they bred themselves out of existance.

In the game world you can not find a single human that hasnt got some kind of other creature blood in thier heritage. So we have plenty of half humans mixed with all kinds of other races.

It was just based on asking me and my players to set some "Rules" for the campaign world in session 0 and coming up with justification.

One player said no humans and so we came up with an explanation.

Feddlefew
2016-01-18, 08:41 AM
In my current pathfinder game humans don't exist.
Not that the other races wipped them out, just they bred themselves out of existance.

In the game world you can not find a single human that hasn't got some kind of other creature blood in their heritage. So we have plenty of half humans mixed with all kinds of other races.

It was just based on asking me and my players to set some "Rules" for the campaign world in session 0 and coming up with justification.

One player said no humans and so we came up with an explanation.

This brings up a good point, actually.

In the group I usually play with, the general agreement was that, since humans are so genetically diverse compared to other races, hybrids lines quickly get absorbed into the general population*, and sometimes resurface as odd bonus feats or something. But that only works if the human population is large to begin with, and assumes that hybrids only happen on rare occasions.

*Except half elves, most of whom have half elf parents, grand parents, and great grand parents. So they're kind of their own separate race at this point.

neonchameleon
2016-01-18, 10:25 AM
Let me just get back to Elves. And why they need to be Mary Sues or they are screwed.

First there's the matter of how long it takes them to grow. The average age of a first level elf Fighter is somewhere between 120 and 150 years depending on edition. For a human it's around 16. Not only can humans replace losses so much faster than elves, the elves clearly learn incredibly slowly.

Then let's look at maximum ages. Two different models - and the elves lose both times.

First the Tolkienesque ages. Let's say that elves live about a thousand years - and age obviously leads to respect. Let's now say that the elven leaders are about 750 as elves are normally a gerentocracy. And let's look at their military leaders. The elven leaders were grunt fighters 600 years ago, meaning that they would have been learning their trade as fighters at about the time of Agincourt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Agincourt) (almost exactly 600 years ago) - and the elven military leaders then would have started their career before the first military use of gunpowder in battle (919 AD). A modern soldier who learned in the trenches of WW1 would be a borderline liability - and a WW1 soldier would have very different doctrines to a Napoleonic soldier 100 years before that and their "Stand in a square to stave off cavalry" (again smart based on the tech). 600 years in military terms means that almost everything the elven leaders know about warfare is obsolete.

Second the D&D 3.X ages. Other than adulthood and death from old age each elven age band is five times greater than a human's (http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/advancedRaceGuide/ageHeightWeight.html). Which means that the attrition rate from accidents bites hard. And despite the even disproportionate amount of time it takes an Elf to learn (110 to reach adulthood vs 16) they are productive for a lower proportion of their life.

Elves lose hard on the age issues. And I don't think that even the Orcs and Goblins have a significant breeding advantage based on the Pathfinder numbers. (The 2e Monstrous Manual has orcs having a pregnancy length of 10 months for 2-3 kids and they are adult in 12 years rather than 15, so orcs slightly outbreed humans but it's the same order of magnitude, meaning that resources matter more than ability to have enough kids).

DigoDragon
2016-01-18, 10:27 AM
In the Elder Scrolls series, the dwarves were a very advanced race, with magic and technology unheard of by the other races. Then at some point they messed with the heart of a god and *Poof!* they disappeared without a trace. All that remains are their empty underground cities. Adapting that concept for humans sounds like a nifty campaign idea.

mikeejimbo
2016-01-18, 10:32 AM
One explanation I always found interesting was the one that humans are the hybrid.

Ettina
2016-01-18, 10:58 AM
What people seem to forget is that for the majority of human history, we weren't the only humaoid species on this earth.

Anatomically modern humans (AMH) appeared roughly around 200,000 years ago. At that time, we actually coexisted with probably four other hominid species - Neanderthals, Denisovans, homo erectus and homo floresciensis. At first we were on separate continents, but around 50,000 years ago, AMHs started expanding out of Africa into Europe and Asia, and right away encountered other hominids.

Homo erectus died out about 70,000 years ago. Neanderthals died out somewhere around 40,000 years ago, and Denisovans are too newly discovered to know, but were certainly around 41,000 years ago. Homo floresciensis lasted the longest, and may have died out as recently as 12,000 years ago.

So, for the first 160,000 to 188,000 years, we were not the only humanoid on our planet. This is the majority of human history. And yes, all the other humanoids died out, but if circumstances had been a little bit different, they might not have. (Neanderthals, for example, seem to have suffered worse from climate change than from competition with AMHs. If the woodlands they liked to hunt in hadn't been replaced by open plains better suited to AMH hunting styles, they might still be here today.)

So, considering that, I don't find the idea of having so many different surviving humanoid species all that implausible - especially given that these species differ even more in ecological niche than the different hominids did.

Nifft
2016-01-18, 11:01 AM
What people seem to forget is that for the majority of human history, we weren't the only humaoid species on this earth.
I discussed this in post #5 of this thread, so I wonder which people you seem to think forgot about it?

Anyway, to repeat: look at what happened to all those people.

They all got Human'd.

JAL_1138
2016-01-18, 11:33 AM
Humans will wreck. Your. S#%&.

We breed faster than anything but Orcs, and we're smarter than they are and almost as physically strong. We're cooperative. We can extract valuable resources from anything anywhere. We can't see in the dark, so we set things on fire and use that to help. We'll live anywhere that isn't underwater, whether in the woods, the mountains, the tundra, the desert, on islands, or the grasslands; we don't care. If the place catches on fire, we'll leave and come back when the lava cools down enough. Try to take away our technology and we'll bang rocks together and break sticks and set things on fire 'till we've got enough of it again to rebuild. Send a plague at us and we'll outlast it and it won't be long at all before our numbers are a lot higher than they used to be before it. If there's not enough water where we want to live, we'll dig for it or distill seawater or redirect a river. We'll turn useless grasses into unrecognizeable high-yield crops. We'll turn our most-dreaded predators into little living dolls to sit on our laps. We'll turn the most dangerous aggresive herbivores around into a new more docile species to get milk, leather, and meat from. We'll hunt species of giant megafauna to extinction before we even invent iron. We'll deliberately flavor our food with plant compounds that evolved over millions of years for the sole purpose of preventing things from eating them. We poison ourselves for recreational purposes. We do things that could kill us like jumping off cliffs for fun. When in danger, our bodies flood us with mind-altering chemicals that dull pain, heighten our senses, and increase aggression. We don't give a single solitary f&@%.



Actually, setting fire to things is a pretty good trick of ours.

Halflings are sneaky, but that doesn't help much if we burn their fields and salt the earth. You can't hide from fire and hunger, or stab them in the back.

Elves? We'll burn the forest down, and clearcut anything that we don't burn. Since they don't farm, at least not on a large scale in fields, they'll starve.

Dwarves? We'll pile up the brush from tearing the forest up outside their mines and use basic thermodynamics to suffocate them.

Orcs? Unorganized, tribal brutes that depend as much on raiding agricultural societies as on hunting-and-gathering? We'll scorch the earth as we retreat and starve them out.

Anyway, we give no [email protected]%s, breed like rabbits, and we're at least middlin' at just about everything.

The Glyphstone
2016-01-18, 11:42 AM
Humans will wreck. Your. S#%&.

We breed faster than anything but Orcs, and we're smarter than they are and almost as physically strong. We're cooperative. We can extract valuable resources from anything anywhere. We can't see in the dark, so we set things on fire and use that to help. We'll live anywhere that isn't underwater, whether in the woods, the mountains, the tundra, the desert, on islands, or the grasslands; we don't care. If the place catches on fire, we'll leave and come back when the lava cools down enough. Try to take away our technology and we'll bang tocks together and break sticks and set things on fire 'till we've got enough of it again to rebuild. Send a plague at us and we'll outlast it and it won't be long at all before our numbers are a lot higher than they used to be before it. If there's not enough water where we want to live, we'll dig for it or distill seawater or redirect a river. We'll turn useless grasses into unrecognizeable high-yield crops. We'll turn our most-dreaded predators into little living dolls to sit on our laps. We'll turn the most dangerous aggresive herbivores around into a new more docile species to get milk, leather, and meat from. We'll hunt species of giant megafauna to extinction before we even invent iron. We'll deliberately flavor our food with plant compounds that evolved over millions of years for the sole purpose of preventing things from eating them. We poison ourselves for recreational purposes. We do things that could kill us like jumping off cliffs for fun. When in danger, our bodies flood us with mind-altering chemicals that dull pain, heighten our senses, and increase aggression. We don't give a single solitary f&@%.



Actually, setting fire to things is a pretty good trick of ours.

Halflings are sneaky, but that doesn't help much if we burn their fields and salt the earth. You can't hide from fire and hunger, or stab them in the back.

Elves? We'll burn the forest down, and clearcut anything that we don't burn. Since they don't farm, at least not on a large scale in fields, they'll starve.

Dwarves? We'll pile up the brush from tearing the forest up outside their mines and use basic thermodynamics to suffocate them.

Orcs? Unorganized, tribal brutes that depend as much on raiding agricultural societies as on hunting-and-gathering? We'll scorch the earth as we retreat and starve them out.

Anyway, we give no [email protected]%s, breed like rabbits, and we're at least middlin' at just about everything.

This. Humans aren't the bottom of the food chain, lack of magical powers or not. Humans are freaking biological Terminators.

Takewo
2016-01-18, 11:44 AM
First the Tolkienesque ages. Let's say that elves live about a thousand years - and age obviously leads to respect. Let's now say that the elven leaders are about 750 as elves are normally a gerentocracy. And let's look at their military leaders. The elven leaders were grunt fighters 600 years ago, meaning that they would have been learning their trade as fighters at about the time of Agincourt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Agincourt) (almost exactly 600 years ago) - and the elven military leaders then would have started their career before the first military use of gunpowder in battle (919 AD). A modern soldier who learned in the trenches of WW1 would be a borderline liability - and a WW1 soldier would have very different doctrines to a Napoleonic soldier 100 years before that and their "Stand in a square to stave off cavalry" (again smart based on the tech). 600 years in military terms means that almost everything the elven leaders know about warfare is obsolete.

Except for the fact that most of D&D worlds don't use modern military technology or tactics. In fact, the most spread treatise on strategy of the middle ages was written somewhere between 5th and 7th century. The very battle that you mention, Agincourt, is arguably the most important improvement in strategy during the middle ages, and all that they did was keep unmounted knights next to the archers. Military tactics did basically not evolve during high and early middle ages.

Besides, most of medieval fantasy worlds are technologically stagnant anyway. In a place with no technological improvement there is little place for tactics improvement. So, if anything, age should give elvish armies an advantage.

johnbragg
2016-01-18, 12:17 PM
This. Humans aren't the bottom of the food chain, lack of magical powers or not. Humans are freaking biological Terminators.

Note also that, from the introductions, LOTR is set in our past. Which implies that, barring a few hobbits staying well out of sight in the countryside, the elves and dwarves and hobbits and treants--and orcs, frankly--who didn't fade away across the water got genocided.

hymer
2016-01-18, 12:52 PM
Note also that, from the introductions, LOTR is set in our past. Which implies that, barring a few hobbits staying well out of sight in the countryside, the elves and dwarves and hobbits and treants--and orcs, frankly--who didn't fade away across the water got genocided.

If we insist on talking about this (and why wouldn't we, it's one of my favourite subjects), let's at least be pedantic about it:
Orcs are still with us. Tolkien once said we were all Orcs during the WW1. Orc is a state of mind more than a race, it would seem. Anyway, several theories on Orcish origins have been brought up (and most also discarded) by the professor, including one where Orcish progenitors are basically humans under Morgoth's influence. As such, Orcs are likely to still be around genetically speaking, much like Neanderthals make up part of modern human genes.
And there are still bound to be Avari Elves around, because they age slowly enough to not need to worry about dying of old age before the world does. But by now, their bodies have faded to the point where we can't sense them any more.
Sauron is likewise still around, in a formless, powerless state, if Gandalf is to be believed.
And, of course, Hobbits (as you note) and Ents might still be out there somewhere (a sufficiently 'treeish' Ent in a primordial forest could go completely unnoticed until the day someone tries to fell him; he might have protected status by now). Hobbits have also been stated to be an offshoot of Men, and so may be more 'evolved' or 're-absorbed' than 'extinct'.
Lastly, let's also point out that total genocide is just one way for a species to become extinct. There isn't always someone to blame.

neonchameleon
2016-01-18, 12:58 PM
Except for the fact that most of D&D worlds don't use modern military technology or tactics. In fact, the most spread treatise on strategy of the middle ages was written somewhere between 5th and 7th century.

Are you thinking of The Art of War in the 5th Century or Di re miltari probably in the 4th (with the oldest surviving copy to the 5th)? Both of which should be subtitled "Warfare for inbred nobles who can't tell a spearpoint from a dagger"?


The very battle that you mention, Agincourt, is arguably the most important improvement in strategy during the middle ages, and all that they did was keep unmounted knights next to the archers.

Only arguable in a room full of academics or bored undergraduates. We've everything from viking rades revolutionising the role of the sea in warfare and with logistics to Edward II in the late 13th Century (i.e. at the end of the High Middle Ages conquering Wales by building castles all over it. And that's in Britain alone.


Military tactics did basically not evolve during high and early middle ages.

Pure mythology. We've the stirrup coming in in the late 7th Century AD - and that itself revolutionised cavalry tactics (couched lances are much nastier than overhand lances). This produced the European heavy cavalry that enabled the Crusades to start so successfully (and they were generally defeated by a strategy of not engaging them). We're up armouring throughout, replacing scale with chain and starting to get to plate. Outside Britain we've got the rise of the crossbow which radically transforms the effectiveness of militia - and inside Britain we've the Longbow. Castle design was continually changing and we've the trebuchet appearing at the end of the high middle ages.

And logistics changes a lot, dictating what can be fielded. The windmill and the horse collar are both huge, as is three field crop rotation. Feudalism does interesting things of course. And that's just off the top of my head.

There were many reasons the shieldwalls of the Vikings weren't seen at Crecy. It's not my period, but anyone who thinks that there wasn't vast changes in military tactics and strategy in the middle ages pre-gunpowder doesn't know the period at all (I'm far from an expert).


Besides, most of medieval fantasy worlds are technologically stagnant anyway. In a place with no technological improvement there is little place for tactics improvement. So, if anything, age should give elvish armies an advantage.

The unrealistic technological stagnation is, I agree, an issue

JAL_1138
2016-01-18, 01:12 PM
Hell, cannons are pre-Renaissance, developing and getting widespread use in the late Middle Ages in Europe and the Middle East, and somewhat earlier in China. Chinese and Mongol armies had handheld guns in the High Middle Ages before that, and medieval Europeans were well-aware of this fact (and occasionally had to contend with it on the battlefield).

EDIT: Also, for the Early and High Middle Ages, they saw (in no particular order), the development of heavy armor, longswords, polearms (more advanced than previous ones, anyway), heavy cavalry, the crossbow, mounted infantry, better ship construction, gunpowder bombs, siege warfare, sappers/combat-engineers, windmills, watermills, navigation by astrolabe, magnetic compasses...

Milodiah
2016-01-18, 01:14 PM
The main reason I've seen humans as a dominant race is because it seems as though we're much more keen on the idea of nation-building. You see dwarves live in city-states that correspond to the mountain they're sitting in, elves live in forest retreats that rarely surpass Native American tribes in terms of size, orcs that start infighting practically the moment their members no longer live within line of sight of each other, etc. etc.

You see a lot of pretty powerful looking small citystates that GMs usually lump together as allies 'because they're all [race]", but...you don't often see stable continent-spanning empires that aren't human-built. At most you'll see the goblinoid races all forced into cooperation by some overlord, but that lasts as long as he does.

Hiro Protagonest
2016-01-18, 01:46 PM
You see a lot of pretty powerful looking small citystates that GMs usually lump together as allies 'because they're all [race]", but...you don't often see stable continent-spanning empires that aren't human-built. At most you'll see the goblinoid races all forced into cooperation by some overlord, but that lasts as long as he does.

Yeah, pretty much our only D&D rivals are hobgoblins and dragons.

Takewo
2016-01-18, 02:24 PM
Are you thinking of The Art of War in the 5th Century or Di re miltari probably in the 4th (with the oldest surviving copy to the 5th)? Both of which should be subtitled "Warfare for inbred nobles who can't tell a spearpoint from a dagger"?



Only arguable in a room full of academics or bored undergraduates. We've everything from viking rades revolutionising the role of the sea in warfare and with logistics to Edward II in the late 13th Century (i.e. at the end of the High Middle Ages conquering Wales by building castles all over it. And that's in Britain alone.



Pure mythology. We've the stirrup coming in in the late 7th Century AD - and that itself revolutionised cavalry tactics (couched lances are much nastier than overhand lances). This produced the European heavy cavalry that enabled the Crusades to start so successfully (and they were generally defeated by a strategy of not engaging them). We're up armouring throughout, replacing scale with chain and starting to get to plate. Outside Britain we've got the rise of the crossbow which radically transforms the effectiveness of militia - and inside Britain we've the Longbow. Castle design was continually changing and we've the trebuchet appearing at the end of the high middle ages.

And logistics changes a lot, dictating what can be fielded. The windmill and the horse collar are both huge, as is three field crop rotation. Feudalism does interesting things of course. And that's just off the top of my head.

There were many reasons the shieldwalls of the Vikings weren't seen at Crecy. It's not my period, but anyone who thinks that there wasn't vast changes in military tactics and strategy in the middle ages pre-gunpowder doesn't know the period at all (I'm far from an expert).

I have probably spoken too hastily, I must admit.

However, to my knowledge, from Charlemagne to the end of the high middle ages pretty much all battle strategy was based on throwing a bunch of mounted men at the enemy. Of course there were exceptions and other tactics, but some say that's one of the reasons why Harold lost in Hastings.

A different issue are sieges, castle construction and siege weaponry. But, again, this doesn't change the idea of a siege or a castle, just they have fancier weapons and defences.

And, anyway, most of the innovations were due technological improvements, so it's not very likely that a technologically stagnant world would see much innovation in strategy.

Milodiah
2016-01-18, 02:31 PM
Not to mention the unimaginable differences that widespread and powerful magic should make in military tactics/strategy at all levels, especially fortification and sieges.

Usually people choose not to imagine them, and I don't blame them. I've been trying to write up something that addresses the issue, but it is damn hard, especially since I'm trying to reconcile it as closely as possible to the stereotypical 'castles and armies' tropes we see in all medieval fantasy games.

Anonymouswizard
2016-01-18, 02:34 PM
For why dwarves don't wipe us out, bare in mind these two things:
-Dwarves like to live underground
-It's hard to have decent agricultural sites underground.

Therefore, while dwarves have relatively high tech they have trouble feeding themselves without a lot of people having to work in food production. Eventually humans come along farming, and dwarves trade manufacturing for food.

Marlowe
2016-01-18, 02:40 PM
You could, with the same invidious reductionism and greater accuracy, define all modern military tactics and strategy as "throwing a lot of lead at the enemy". It doesn't mean they're aren't substantial complexities involved or that warfare on the Gran Chaco in the 1930s didn't involve a somewhat different approach than on the Golan in 1973.

In any event, an army in the D&D world undergoes the equivalent of a major technology change every time some of the wizards go up a spell level.

Comment about Hastings is a REAL non sequitur, given the general absence of cavalry from British and Scandinavian armies of the period. Are you suggesting that for six hundred years these countries never learned to fight a battle?

Takewo
2016-01-18, 02:53 PM
You could, with the same invidious reductionism and greater accuracy, define all modern military tactics and strategy as "throwing a lot of lead at the enemy". It doesn't mean they're aren't substantial complexities involved or that warfare on the Gran Chaco in the 1930s didn't involve a somewhat different approach than on the Golan in 1973.

In any event, an army in the D&D world undergoes the equivalent of a major technology change every time some of the wizards go up a spell level.

Comment about Hastings is a REAL non sequitur, given the general absence of cavalry from British and Scandinavian armies of the period. Are you suggesting that for six hundred years these countries never learned to fight a battle?

Concerning your last paragraph, no, I'm not. To the contrary, I'm acknowledging that not all the armies used cavalry as their foundation and thus, implying that reality is more complex than I can picture. It can't be a real non sequitur because it's not even an argument.

Concerning the new spell level = technology improvement, that seems to assume that's never been a 20 level spell caster in the world.

Concerning the modern world tactics, really? I don't even know what bombs are made of, but I'm pretty sure it's not lead. However, I have no idea whatsoever about modern-day military tactics, so I'll refrain myself from saying any further.

Marlowe
2016-01-18, 03:06 PM
I'll just note it's interesting that you seem to consider Agincourt a revolutionary battle when the tactics at that battle were exactly the same as at Crecy, Poitiers. Homildon Hill and Halidon. All substantially (even decades) earlier. Agincourt happened the way it did because it came after a long period of the French avoiding open battle with the English, and a new generation of French knights had grown up who had simply forgotten how the English fight.

Also odd you don't seem to consider the Swiss victories as anything significant, although they influenced European tactics far more than anything involving longbows.

Segev
2016-01-18, 03:19 PM
In D&D, at least, humans are typically portrayed as being the facilitators, negotiators, and the tolerant ones that can get on everybody's, if not good side, at least "invited to speak cordially" side. We're close enough in temperament to orcs to "get" them and negotiate through a combination of carrot and stick. We're handsome/pretty enough - if only barely - to not be repulsive to elves, and we are WILLING to learn their niceties. We can appreciate dwarven grudges and traditions, and respect them at least while visiting them. Our pride is in our adaptability, but we live long enough and are smart enough TO adapt both individually and culturally.

The only race that doesn't make sense as being similarly positioned are halflings; most depictions of them use almost the same language, but with a little more emphasis on "fitting in" than humans get. There is no good reason for the usual lack-of-home halflings are portrayed as having; they just seem to be toss-ins that the writers rarely came up with a real culture for. And then stepped all over the human schtick but deprived of the human cities as a "place of their own."

It would almost make more sense for humans and halflings to be treated as indistinguishable, culturally, and human and Halfling cities being one and the same. Maybe even going the orcs & goblins route: halflings are to humans what goblins are to orcs. They share a society, with a lot of similarities, and the size differences lead to some natural cultural extensions.

GnomishPride
2016-01-18, 06:52 PM
The real problem is that most fantasy races have a superficial culture and history outside of specific settings. It's easy to argue for you humans because you have a solid background to work off of. Fantasy races have basically nothing (again, outside of specific settings), so you have no idea what their history was like. As invented races, they don't have any particular advantages that could have set them above or below humans on a long time scale (that is, their racial differences have not been tested against humans over 200,000 years).

Ettina
2016-01-18, 07:09 PM
I discussed this in post #5 of this thread, so I wonder which people you seem to think forgot about it?

Anyway, to repeat: look at what happened to all those people.

They all got Human'd.

Actually, the evidence really isn't all that convincing on that respect. Our presence may have put pressure on their survival, but there were other factors that had nothing to do with us. (Such as climate change destroying the main habitat of the Neanderthals.) I really don't think it was just because we were there that those other hominids died out.

Walnut
2016-01-18, 07:42 PM
I think the answer depends a lot on whether you're playing a middle-ages Europe fantasy or a middle earth fantasy type.

In a LOTR world there is plenty of space between settlements to expand into, and none of the races seem very expansionist (when evil forces aren't meddling).

Western Europe was much more densely populated, and humans turned a lot of land to agriculture. Such a world makes more sense with elves being pushed into the more inaccessible parts of the forest .

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on imaginary cultures.

Nifft
2016-01-18, 08:43 PM
Actually, the evidence really isn't all that convincing on that respect. Our presence may have put pressure on their survival, but there were other factors that had nothing to do with us. (Such as climate change destroying the main habitat of the Neanderthals.) I really don't think it was just because we were there that those other hominids died out.

Mmm. Maybe.

But the dates do line up.

Similarly, an awful lot of large mammals stop appearing in the fossil record right around when humans show up.

I'm not saying that's evidence that each and every specific species was human'd to extinction, but golly, that's a pattern which is probably somehow significant in most of those cases.

Raimun
2016-01-18, 09:20 PM
I wouldn't say humans are that weak.

Let's look at Pathfinder. In that game, it is generally agreed that a human character can excel in any class (with flexible advantages of floating +2 to a Stat, extra Feat and Skill-point/level), be it Fighter, Cleric, Rogue, Wizard, Commoner or anything else.

Sure, some creatures do a better job at a certain class (Orc Barbarians, Elven Wizards, Tiefling Magi, Half-Elven Summoners, etc.) but they are average or even ill suited for other pursuits. Meanwhile, humans as a people as whole have all the bases covered. Orc Barbarians might be 95%+ of the time more smashy and tough than Human Barbarians but Orc Wizards, Clerics, Rogues and farmers/craftsmen/professionals are a far cry from their Human counterparts... and Human Barbarians can still give their Orc counterparts a run for their money, because they are not actually bad (or even average) at being Barbarians... just not number one. This model applies to other creatures and their traditional specialities as well.

Mr Beer
2016-01-18, 09:37 PM
However, to my knowledge, from Charlemagne to the end of the high middle ages pretty much all battle strategy was based on throwing a bunch of mounted men at the enemy.

Yeah for that 500 year period everyone was too stupid to use so-called 'thinking' on the battlefield. Lucky us modern humans have evolved beyond such primitiveness.

veti
2016-01-19, 02:16 AM
I'm not saying that's evidence that each and every specific species was human'd to extinction, but golly, that's a pattern which is probably somehow significant in most of those cases.

Very true.

However, I think we should reiterate that "human'd to extinction" doesn't imply some sort of genocidal effort on the part of the humans. It doesn't even require hunting. While it's true that many animals have been hunted to extinction, many others have died out simply through humans not caring much about them. Humans hunted the giant moa, but they mostly ignored the Haast's eagle - the fact that the eagle, also, preyed on the moa was just its tough luck.

A given patch of land can only support so much life. If it's fully occupied by humans, then the only other animals there will be those that can coexist with humans - either by being domesticated (like farm animals), intermingling and interbreeding (like neanderthals), or simply occupying a distinct ecological niche (like rabbits, or rats). Anything else? - gotta find somewhere else to live and range and raise its young.

A couple of hundred years ago, you could have found pumas just about anywhere in the greater Los Angeles area. Not so often now.

Kami2awa
2016-01-19, 03:01 AM
There is another factor that stops humans in D&D being wiped out.

It's you guys! Or rather, the player characters and adventurers in general.

Humans in D&D are practically always under threat from superior forces. Orc hordes, monsters, dragons, undead apocalypses, and so on. But every time, the PCs are there to save the day and maintain the status quo. Saving the human race is exactly what heroes are for!

Apricot
2016-01-19, 04:24 AM
The premise that the players seem to have here is odd. It establishes that humans simply are weaker than other fantasy-world sapients, and uses that to show that humans must necessarily be wiped out. If the premise is true, then the conclusion does necessarily follow. However, in most systems I've seen, humans do tend to have racial advantages such that they're a reasonable choice of character, with a core goal of game design being balance between races. There are some forms of heredity which are superior, like being a dragon, but those are generally offset through the individuals showing the traits of lone predators and being unsuited to the advantages of society. In most (not all) worlds, humans are perfectly equal to other races, and can maintain their position accordingly. Worlds where they are not are interesting, because it's strange to see a dying race and even stranger to be it.

I suppose their assertion that humans need an advantage in order to not go extinct is true, but that doesn't preclude the possibility that being human is the advantage. Other people have remarked on human general competence, which is a perfectly reasonable bit of vanity considering we're all human. Alternatives are possible, but it's not wrong to have humans be the default chassis, as it were.

Cazero
2016-01-19, 06:16 AM
In D&D, at least, humans are typically portrayed as being the facilitators, negotiators, and the tolerant ones that can get on everybody's, if not good side, at least "invited to speak cordially" side.

I hate it when a game fluff does that. This kind of abilities don't make any sense species-wide. It's the sort of individual quality required for the specific individuals that are tasked with the job of doing diplomacy. Saying "all humans have it" is beyond absurd, saying that everyone having it helps them somehow is even worse.

veti
2016-01-19, 06:30 AM
The premise that the players seem to have here is odd. It establishes that humans simply are weaker than other fantasy-world sapients, and uses that to show that humans must necessarily be wiped out. If the premise is true, then the conclusion does necessarily follow.

Actually, I don't think it does. A human can easily crush a hundred cockroaches. But if there's a nuclear holocaust, you know who's gonna be eating whose remains?

Strength, size, speed, power - none of these things is a synonym for "fitness to survive". That's quite a different property. Humans might be vastly weaker than elves, dwarves and orcs, but still better fitted to survive, by dint of (say) being better at agriculture.

PersonMan
2016-01-19, 06:48 AM
I hate it when a game fluff does that. This kind of abilities don't make any sense species-wide. It's the sort of individual quality required for the specific individuals that are tasked with the job of doing diplomacy. Saying "all humans have it" is beyond absurd, saying that everyone having it helps them somehow is even worse.

I think the idea is that there are mindsets that are biologically or culturally 'built in' to each race. Dwarves are all stubborn and gruff - a dwarven pushover is still annoying to convince of anything by human standards. Elves just can't get them; even elven diplomats have trouble because of the massive differences in mindset. Then there are humans, who are as a whole stubborn enough to remind elves of dwarves, but diplomatic enough to not be impossible to deal with. Rather than spent decades or centuries getting an elf to adjust to dwarven behavior, the elves just have humans be their go-between.

Imagine an alien race that is all but impossible to communicate with and has absurdly strict protocols on every part of interaction with others. Breaking these rules completely sours the conversation and enough of that could lead to war. Now imagine a culture that happens to have a language similar to theirs who also have a cultural focus on etiquette. Their nobles don't just learn how to behave in their courts, they learn how to glance at a conversation and understand how they can join it without being rude. Anyone coming out of this culture (apart from those who don't fit in at all) will have an inherent advantage in dealing with these aliens, because the gap between the two is far smaller.

Keltest
2016-01-19, 07:29 AM
I think the idea is that there are mindsets that are biologically or culturally 'built in' to each race. Dwarves are all stubborn and gruff - a dwarven pushover is still annoying to convince of anything by human standards. Elves just can't get them; even elven diplomats have trouble because of the massive differences in mindset. Then there are humans, who are as a whole stubborn enough to remind elves of dwarves, but diplomatic enough to not be impossible to deal with. Rather than spent decades or centuries getting an elf to adjust to dwarven behavior, the elves just have humans be their go-between.

Imagine an alien race that is all but impossible to communicate with and has absurdly strict protocols on every part of interaction with others. Breaking these rules completely sours the conversation and enough of that could lead to war. Now imagine a culture that happens to have a language similar to theirs who also have a cultural focus on etiquette. Their nobles don't just learn how to behave in their courts, they learn how to glance at a conversation and understand how they can join it without being rude. Anyone coming out of this culture (apart from those who don't fit in at all) will have an inherent advantage in dealing with these aliens, because the gap between the two is far smaller.

On top of that, Humans as a species are often portrayed as being less fatalistic than the "older" races. When the elves seem on the verge of losing at something, they shrug, sigh, and let it happen. The dwarves plan to go down fighting, but still go down. Humans don't like those options. They run away to fight another day. They try entirely unprecedented things to see if they work. Sometimes, they cross lines. They simply don't believe in totally giving up. So when an earthquake takes down a part of the city, that city is going to be rebuilt as the most earthquake proof city in the darn continent, because no way are we going to let some silly massive geological event tell us what to do or where to live.

JAL_1138
2016-01-19, 08:00 AM
The scary thing about humans is that we don't stop or go away. There's nothing you can do to wipe us out without destroying the world. You just can't get rid of us. We will always survive as long as the world isn't flat-out ruined.

Hell, even then, we do pretty decently if you freeze most of the world on us with an ice age. We give no f***s. Now, you might possibly wreck us and greatly reduce our numbers and technological level for a little while (a very little while, as the elves see things; one elf lifetime, maybe)...but we'll be back. As long as the planet is habitable--and we'll live all kinds of places where nobody in their right mind should--we'll be around in some form or fashion.

Oh...and we can do anything you can do.

The thing about the whole "jack of all trades, master of none" thing is that that's not really what we are. That implies someone's skills are so unfocused they can't really excel. That's not us. We're almost as good as anybody else is at their specialty, at pretty much anything and everything, and we don't have their weaknesses either. We have some of the best arcane casters, the best priests, the best fighters, the best thieves, the best diplomats, the best construction, the best manufacturing, and the best agriculture. All in the same race--and it's a race that reproduces quickly, matures quickly, and will live in places worse than Hell if it has to.

Humans are terrifying.

neonchameleon
2016-01-19, 09:56 AM
I have probably spoken too hastily, I must admit.

However, to my knowledge, from Charlemagne to the end of the high middle ages pretty much all battle strategy was based on throwing a bunch of mounted men at the enemy.

Okay.

The late early middle ages to the end of the high middle ages were the high point of the mounted shock trooper - this is because of the invention of the stirrup. Without the stirrup cavalry had to use their lances overhand, basing their effectiveness on the strength of the rider. With the stirrup you can couch the lance and instead of the strength of the rider behind it you have the mass, strength, and momentum of the horse behind it. And because you are couching the lance you can make it longer as you can use a counterbalance more effectively than you would for downward overhand strokes.

And because of this the heavy horse through most of the middle ages was devastating. Horses have always beaten foot skirmishers. But the fundamental feature of European warfare through most of the middle ages was that cavalry charges wrecked the place.

There were five basic defences against cavalry charges. The first was to use your own bigger and heavier knights, of course - which created an armour-race and a lot of horse breeding programs. The second was to shoot the horses before they arrived (see Agincourt, Crecy, Poitiers, and the English in general, and even the steadily advancing crossbow). The third was to create a wall of sharpened steel on long poles that horses wouldn't charge (see the Swiss, halberds, pike blocks, English billmen). The fourth was, if you had the ground to give, not standing and fighting. But instead wearing those heavy horses with even heavier armour to exhaustion chasing you down (as in the Crusades - most of Europe didn't have the space needed for this). And the fifth was to retreat behind solid walls - horses might have been able to crush infantry, but not to crush walls.

And of those five, the only one that didn't massively change over the course of the middle ages was not staying to fight.


A different issue are sieges, castle construction and siege weaponry. But, again, this doesn't change the idea of a siege or a castle, just they have fancier weapons and defences.

Indeed. A medieval castle was just like Tobruk


And, anyway, most of the innovations were due technological improvements, so it's not very likely that a technologically stagnant world would see much innovation in strategy.

In short if you hypothesise a world where everyone is unrealistically stupid (there has been no actual period in history without technological improvements) elves might look better.


I suppose their assertion that humans need an advantage in order to not go extinct is true, but that doesn't preclude the possibility that being human is the advantage. Other people have remarked on human general competence, which is a perfectly reasonable bit of vanity considering we're all human. Alternatives are possible, but it's not wrong to have humans be the default chassis, as it were.

The human advantages over other sapient species with opposable thumbs should probably come from pursuit predation. Humans as predators will walk all day after their prey until the target animal drops dead and we'll pursue it into its own territory. That's drive, persistance, stamina, and flexibility.

Jay R
2016-01-19, 10:35 AM
First of all, sentience and multiple races change the game. Any third race is a balance point for two races who are traditional enemies. If the elves decided to wipe out humans, that's enough reason for the dwarves to defend them, and vice versa - just to prevent the other side from taking over the humans' lands and wealth.

Extend that to all other races, and you have a huge multi-race competition in which any race about to be wiped out will get help from their current attackers' traditional enemies.

Besides, what other race has as big a farming culture? I sort of assume that the lowly human farmer is the center of world trade - feeding the dwarven miners, the elven forest-dwellers, the underground gnomes, etc.

Apricot
2016-01-19, 10:40 AM
Actually, I don't think it does. A human can easily crush a hundred cockroaches. But if there's a nuclear holocaust, you know who's gonna be eating whose remains?

Strength, size, speed, power - none of these things is a synonym for "fitness to survive". That's quite a different property. Humans might be vastly weaker than elves, dwarves and orcs, but still better fitted to survive, by dint of (say) being better at agriculture.

You're right; I worded that poorly. "Weakness" was meant to convey the general sense, in terms of abject inferiority at the whole business of being a still-extant sentient race.

johnbragg
2016-01-19, 11:01 AM
I think the bigger issue isn't humans vs other 1 HD humanoids, it's how large, complex civilizations grow and survive in the context of high-HD, high-CR threats.

The biggest question mark here is dragons--they'd be a serious threat to civilizations even just based on their melee stats (HD, AC, DR, attacks, flight including massive hunting territories). Then factor in that they're intelligent (ranging from reasonably to incredibly) and have spellcasting abilities and SLAs. IF they're reproducing at some reasonable rate, that should be an apocalyptic threat to humanoid societies--any grouping of people becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet. Terrain isn't an issue, as you've got a chromatic dragon type for pretty much any terrain.

The real reason that those miliaristic, highly-trained hobgoblin hordes of horsemen don't Genghis Khan the entire continent isn't humans, it's that forming a sizable horde is an invitation to local and not-so-local dragons to come in and chow down. (Dragons will start fighting over the prey as soon as more than one show up, but not sure that helps).

This applies to some degree to the entire range of CR 6-10 monsters--if these beasties really are out there in the sizable numbers required to support a population of adventurer-predators, how exactly are the peasants in the fields living long enough to plant and harvest crops?

Apricot
2016-01-19, 11:06 AM
Okay.
The human advantages over other sapient species with opposable thumbs should probably come from pursuit predation. Humans as predators will walk all day after their prey until the target animal drops dead and we'll pursue it into its own territory. That's drive, persistance, stamina, and flexibility.

That's the line that many people have been expressing. In the Earth-based sense, this is entirely true - we have very good evidence that this is our genetic heredity, and it is outstandingly clear that humans are very, very good at running for long times. However, I'm not certain that it holds up quite so well in all settings.

The problem is primarily in comparing other species to humans. In essence, what is needed is a baseline: what is considered "normal" so that excellence is possible? In most systems, humans are the norm, which makes sense. We know what humans are like, even if we've never met elves or dwarves. So, let's say the baseline is just the numerical average of all races in respect to certain parameters. Simple. But then how do we determine what the other races are good at? All of them look a damn lot like humans; what good reason do we have of saying that they didn't develop the same advantages of persistence hunting? The issue in any setting, especially in fantasy where magic takes the place of most things, is that creating a thorough and believable evolutionary history is difficult.

The base assumption here is that there was a period in history where human development was shaped by a reliance on persistence hunting. On Earth, this is described by Darwinian biological evolution. This isn't necessarily present when you consider other worlds, however. Take a setting where humans were created by the gods and immediately organized into civilization: there is no point in that history where humans would have been performing persistence hunting. Thus, the advantages could not have come from persistence hunting. Instead, we have to look at pure biology. So, what advantages does a human's body naturally give in comparison to the body of other sentient species?

Again, the problem here is that all the major races are very humanoid. The only real changes are size and occasionally stockiness. But they all have the runner's build, more or less. Some are lither, like elves, some are stockier, like dwarves, but they're all modifications to the human model. And therein lies the problem of trying to differentiate humans as anything other than the mean: all the other fantasy races are just adjustments to the human model. As humans, we started with humans as our base, and all the other races are just adjustments to that. This is why humans are always the "generalists." To change this and make humans special, there need to be no other extremely humanoid races. The others have to actually be something different, more like lizardfolk or kobolds than orcs and gnomes.

Segev
2016-01-19, 11:49 AM
I've put together, a few times, some thoughts on ways to make the non-human humanoids ALIEN without being unrecognizable as their archetypes.

For instance, elves have a reputation for being both aloof, arrogant, cold intellects with an ancient perspective, and for being carefree, whimsical, live-in-the-moment lovers of nature. I explain this in the same way I explain their apparent learning deficiency (that they take so long to reach adulthood, but learn at the same rate as everyone else once adventuring): they don't sleep, and this prevents them from learning until they learn to meditate. Their meditation process allows them to take the short-term memories they've developed over a day or more and align them, categorize them, and file them with longer-term memories. Elves don't get tired; they get flighty as the "now" overwhelms their perceptions and minds. Right after meditation, they've got it all organized and are very logical (though not Vulcan-like), with easy access to ancient memories as they pertain to current events, and a near-timeless perspective. As the day proceeds, they get more and more caught up in the moment, less able to correlate present things with distant memories.

Orcs, meanwhile, are an odd biological beast; they truly can efficiently use over-consumed resources, such that concentrating them on one orc is more efficient in terms of how much work and power you get back out of them than it is to spread it out. Thus, taking and forcing "lesser" orcs to serve you makes your whole tribe stronger because YOU are that much stronger than any group of individual orcs would be with the same resources. There's a limit to this, but it's much, much further up the wealth-chain than it is for any other race. So unlike for humans, where that's an inefficient distribution of resources, it makes a lot more sense to have a despotic, power-hungry core leader. Orcs thrive more easily in the more barbaric cultural phase than do any other race, as for them, that really does maximize their resource production.

HeadAcheron
2016-01-19, 12:28 PM
There are half-human half-elves and half-human half-orcs in the SRD, but no half-elf half-orcs.

There are half-human half-giants, but no half-giant half-elves or half-giant half-orcs.

Clearly the average human has a stronger reproductive drive than the average of anybody else :smallwink:

... Except for fiends, celestials, and dragons.

Keltest
2016-01-19, 12:55 PM
There are half-human half-elves and half-human half-orcs in the SRD, but no half-elf half-orcs.

There are half-human half-giants, but no half-giant half-elves or half-giant half-orcs.

Clearly the average human has a stronger reproductive drive than the average of anybody else :smallwink:

... Except for fiends, celestials, and dragons.

Maybe when you mix with giants or orcs, the difference between human and elf on the other half is negligible?

There may or may not be a half-giant-half-orc somewhere though.

Feddlefew
2016-01-19, 01:12 PM
There are half-human half-elves and half-human half-orcs in the SRD, but no half-elf half-orcs.

There are half-human half-giants, but no half-giant half-elves or half-giant half-orcs.

Clearly the average human has a stronger reproductive drive than the average of anybody else :smallwink:

... Except for fiends, celestials, and dragons.

The abundance of human hybrids only tells us that humans are more genetically comparable with the other races than the other races are with eachother. Although it's arguable that 5e Gnome-Dwarf and Halfling-Dwarf hybrids exist (as Rock Gnomes and Stout Halflings, respectively), but that just means that those three races are closely related to each other.

Segev
2016-01-19, 02:19 PM
Clearly, "human" is just this fantasy world's term for "Descended from James Tiberius Kirk." Who visited the major kingdoms of this feudal-era world thousands of years ago, and mysteriously left pregnant elven, orcish, and giant princesses (and numerous maidens) behind.

nedz
2016-01-19, 08:25 PM
I'm going to ignore the medieval warfare derail and stick on the rails.

I once tried creating a setting with no humans only I found verisimilitude was difficult. The reason we have humans in games is because we can relate to them effortlessly — the human-centric world is just a lot easier to sell.

As to why there are so many races: in a fantasy setting this has to be gods, and what works for the hobbits works for the humans, and the elves and everyone else.

Now I did also once have another setting where all of the non-humans, and monsters, were created by wizards. This worked well since even if a race were to become extinct - they can be re-created. Also, it explains the differing versions of these species - they were different versions of the same modifications. If the timescales for these processes are long enough this solves the multiple sentient races problem.

There are lots of ways around this problem - which you choose depends upon your setting's flavour.

Mandor
2016-01-19, 09:31 PM
*snip*

If humans are incapable of keeping up with elves, and dwarves, and orcs, and giants, and ogres, and mind flayers, without some sort of artificially introduced advantage, then wouldn't every setting without such an advantage (most of them) result in the eventual extinction of humanity? Why doesn't this happen? What do you think about the matter?

*snip*

Don't overlook birth rates and war. It's not nice, and it's not something Dudley Do-Right the Paladin might approve of, but humans have (generally speaking) a *much* higher birth rate than elves or dwarves or giants or illithids in every roleplaying game I've ever seen. Orcs/Ogres not so much but they tend to war with everyone around them nonstop, and with each other, and kill each other over minor disagreements, which keeps them in check more.

Humans can live peacefully for a good long time, then if they feel some other nation is eclipsing them, invent a pretext to simply overrun them and stomp their cities into the dust. Maybe the humans lose 10x the population that the elves or dwarves do, but if humans have large enough families and relatively fast paced generations, while the average elven family has maybe 3 kids in 1000 years, and the average dwarven family has 2 kids in 500 years... they can't sustain the losses that humanity can sustain.

It might also explain why in many fantasy settings, elves and dwarves are rather distrustful of humans. Even if TODAY's humans have lived peacefully for decades, they might remember the humans of 600 years ago who cost them so much.

chm1084
2016-01-19, 11:11 PM
I think the bigger issue isn't humans vs other 1 HD humanoids, it's how large, complex civilizations grow and survive in the context of high-HD, high-CR threats.

The biggest question mark here is dragons--they'd be a serious threat to civilizations even just based on their melee stats (HD, AC, DR, attacks, flight including massive hunting territories). Then factor in that they're intelligent (ranging from reasonably to incredibly) and have spellcasting abilities and SLAs. IF they're reproducing at some reasonable rate, that should be an apocalyptic threat to humanoid societies--any grouping of people becomes an all-you-can-eat buffet.

I think that dragons and humans just wouldn't be able to coexist at all. As soon as any human society learns of such a thread it would spend all its resources to make sure that dragons are wiped out completely.

So, either the dragons are able to prevent any developement of human societies or they will soon have a war which only one species can survive.

Storm_Of_Snow
2016-01-20, 04:21 AM
I think that dragons and humans just wouldn't be able to coexist at all. As soon as any human society learns of such a thread it would spend all its resources to make sure that dragons are wiped out completely.

So, either the dragons are able to prevent any developement of human societies or they will soon have a war which only one species can survive.
Except they've also got to deal with Orcs, Goblins, Kobolds, Lizardmen, Drow, floaty-eye-things that aren't public domain, squid-faced-psychic-brain-eating-things that also aren't public domain, other human nations, things from other planes and a lot more besides, plus natural disasters, diseases and so on. "All humanities resources" might just about extend to some fool who thinks he knows the secret chink in a dragon's scales where a banana-nut muffin can penetrate and has a deal for a months cart hire to get the dragon's hoard back to the nearest settlement if he survives, otherwise they'd be staying out of their territories until they can build up enough strength, protecting themselves if they are in their territory and, if the dragon's intelligent, coming to some kind of deal with a view to breaking it later.

Not that the Dragon won't break it if they feel like it too, of course.

PersonMan
2016-01-20, 08:18 AM
I don't get the 'Dragons are powerful and smart, how do humans live?' idea.

As a powerful being, versed in magic, with incredible intelligence who loves gold and lives absurdly long, why go short-term? Sure, to a troll the idea of 'eat them!' may sound good, but eventually a dragon would think 'or I can just become their ruler, mold their culture to worship me and my descendents, getting rid of annoying insects attacking me / stealing from me and acquiring a wonderful source of constant gold income'. Over the course of a few hundred years (hell, 50 can do just fine and that's nothing to a dragon) the region goes from 'small villages of humans bordered by other, stronger groups' to 'The Dragon Empire and the nearby groups who pay tribute and the ruins of those who didn't'.

Daedroth
2016-01-20, 09:02 AM
I don't get the 'Dragons are powerful and smart, how do humans live?' idea.

As a powerful being, versed in magic, with incredible intelligence who loves gold and lives absurdly long, why go short-term? Sure, to a troll the idea of 'eat them!' may sound good, but eventually a dragon would think 'or I can just become their ruler, mold their culture to worship me and my descendents, getting rid of annoying insects attacking me / stealing from me and acquiring a wonderful source of constant gold income'. Over the course of a few hundred years (hell, 50 can do just fine and that's nothing to a dragon) the region goes from 'small villages of humans bordered by other, stronger groups' to 'The Dragon Empire and the nearby groups who pay tribute and the ruins of those who didn't'.


I did that in my own homebrew settings, humans live in a dragon nation formed by city-states protected and ruled by dragons.

Jay R
2016-01-20, 09:15 AM
I'm not convinced that completely wiping out a sentient race is all that easy - or worthwhile. I know why the 10,000 elves might want to wipe out the 10,000 orcs nearby, but once they're down to less than 1,000 orcs, or they've all fled to another land, they simply don't represent a current threat

In the history of the only world we've seen, many races (different meaning) have wanted to destroy another races, and it virtually never works. People have been enslaved, reduced in numbers, pushed off ancestral lands, any number of horrible things - but pretty much every race that existed 5,000 years ago exists today.

[I'm aware that we can't get into the details of historical conquests and slaughter, but mentioning the bare historical fact should be OK.]

johnbragg
2016-01-20, 10:29 AM
I'm not convinced that completely wiping out a sentient race is all that easy - or worthwhile. I know why the 10,000 elves might want to wipe out the 10,000 orcs nearby, but once they're down to less than 1,000 orcs, or they've all fled to another land, they simply don't represent a current threat

In the history of the only world we've seen, many races (different meaning) have wanted to destroy another races, and it virtually never works. People have been enslaved, reduced in numbers, pushed off ancestral lands, any number of horrible things - but pretty much every race that existed 5,000 years ago exists today.

[I'm aware that we can't get into the details of historical conquests and slaughter, but mentioning the bare historical fact should be OK.]

True, but the question is also "why aren't humans one of those races on the edge of extinction, shoved aside by more powerful beasties" Dragon kingdoms, either currently or historically, are a good answer for that. Then again, "the gods say so" is a logically complete answer, if inelegant.

Segev
2016-01-20, 10:46 AM
There's a broad line between "on the edge of extinction" and "not a thriving mega-power."

Perhaps humans have what are, to them, mighty kingdoms, but those kingdoms are only a tiny part of a much wider, more wealthy world. Humans stay out of "the dark lands" (which are really just foreign lands ruled by these almighty races and which are not friendly to humans who try to do more than very, very cautiously visit), and may have little idea how much bigger the rest of the world is. But they're okay in their enclave, which nobody else cares much about because "they're just humans" and it's not really a big area. Other fantasy races adventure in these lands because it's nice to be the big fish in the small pond for a while; it's like going on Safari with native companions.

illyahr
2016-01-20, 11:10 AM
I think it's a combination of two things: adaptability and survivability.

Sure, the dragon-run human kingdom could be a thing, but this wouldn't last very long with most other races. Orcs would wipe themselves out or draw too much attention from everyone, dwarves are too stubborn to submit, and elves are too engrossed in their own culture. A good dragon may be viewed as an honored elder, but they wouldn't let them be in charge. Humans would not only accept such a rule, they would adapt to benefit as much as possible from such an arrangement.

No matter what the human race is confronted with, it quickly learns to use its enemies' tactics against them. They may not be the best at it, but they will be able to hold their own. Add to that the fact that humans can figure out how to live almost anywhere, even in completely inhospitable places, and they can survive most any disaster and rise to the challenge.

I like to use the Mass Effect series as an example. Humans have only been capable of space flight for less than 100 years. Urdnot Wrex, one of your party members, was alive before humans invented gunpowder, and Krogan are the "youngest" space-faring race other than humans.

Krogan are tougher so humans learned to make better armor and shields. Turians are better warriors so humans learned their tactics and became a better military. Salarians are smarter so humans poured resources into science and technology. Asari are better biotics so humans adapted biotics into their own studies and now have several counted as among the most powerful in the galaxy. The other sentient races are shocked and alarmed at the human race's rapid progress in, what appears to them, the time it takes most of their children to learn to live on their own.

Jay R
2016-01-20, 12:54 PM
True, but the question is also "why aren't humans one of those races on the edge of extinction, shoved aside by more powerful beasties" Dragon kingdoms, either currently or historically, are a good answer for that. Then again, "the gods say so" is a logically complete answer, if inelegant.

Well, my answer, an ordinary, common, simple boring answer is this: Yes, humans are routinely attacked, crushed, shoved aside. But also, humans farm.

The large number of ruins and artifacts from earlier ages is proof that great empires crumble. Warlords conquer, Kings rule, Patriarchs purge, and raiders raid. And then they are gone.

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Humans have the most farmers. They are surrounded by enemies with more power, and more abilities. And the humans grow food. They suffer raids, and they grow food.

From The Magnificent Seven:

Village Boy 2: We're ashamed to live here. Our fathers are cowards.

O'Reilly: Don't you ever say that again about your fathers, because they are not cowards. You think I am brave because I carry a gun; well, your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility, for you, your brothers, your sisters, and your mothers. And this responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. It bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground. And there's nobody says they have to do this. They do it because they love you, and because they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee anything will ever come of it. This is bravery. That's why I never even started anything like that... that's why I never will.
Elves have more great wizards, Orcs more great Barbarians. Dwarves create more Fighters, and Halflings more Rogues. But they have never rivaled humans in the greatest class at all - the one that sees the humans through all the centuries.

The old man in The Magnificent Seven said, "Only the farmers have won. They remain forever. They are like the land itself. You helped rid them of Calvera, the way a strong wind helps rid them of locusts. You're like the wind - blowing over the land and... passing on. Vaya con dios. "

The most important class of Humans, the one that ensures they will never be destroyed, is Commoner.

The Samurai Kambei Shimada was the leader of the adventuring party in Seven Samurai. His final line was, "The farmers have won. Not us."

johnbragg
2016-01-20, 01:14 PM
Well, my answer, an ordinary, common, simple boring answer is this: Yes, humans are routinely attacked, crushed, shoved aside. But also, humans farm.

The large number of ruins and artifacts from earlier ages is proof that great empires crumble. Warlords conquer, Kings rule, Patriarchs purge, and raiders raid. And then they are gone.

....and in those ruins, scratching in the dirt with hoe and rake, are peasants. Well done sir.

The survivors and refugees could take to hunting, but the elves will outhunt them. They could escape to the plains and take to horseback, unless the setting has humanoids more adapted to horsemanship.


Humans have the most farmers. They are surrounded by enemies with more power, and more abilities. And the humans grow food. They suffer raids, and they grow food.

The most important class of Humans, the one that ensures they will never be destroyed, is Commoner.

The Samurai Kambei Shimada was the leader of the adventuring party in Seven Samurai. His final line was, "The farmers have won. Not us."

Hmm. I tend to houserule (if they players ever ask) that Commoners automatically retrain as Experts when they level up. Handle Animal, Knowledge-Nature, Knowledge-Local, Profession: Farming, Ride, Use Rope are all things I expect veteran farmers to have maxxed out at 2nd level. (I also run E6-style demographics for the general population, whether or not we're running E6.)

Segev
2016-01-20, 01:38 PM
I am now amused by the notion of a feat that represents this about commoners.

And Yet Endures
You are the salt of the earth, and though the tides of great history wash over and seem to drown you, you yet endure.
Prerequisite: Human Commoner 1, or Commoner 3+
Benefit: Whenever anything happens that would kill you, you may roll a d20. If you roll your Commoner level or lower, you survive by some quirk of fate, and will be back in a stable position within 1d12-(commoner level) months.

TeChameleon
2016-01-21, 01:17 AM
I actually took this idea and ran with it as the core of a Nanowrimo thing I did a few years ago, although I threw some dimensionally-dispalced superheroes into the mix as well. Long story short, the fantasy humans were very nearly extinct, because they had vastly less magical ability than the elves, weren't anywhere near as durable as the dwarves, were tiny and squishy compared to the oni/ogres, and so on and so forth. That and because their closest neighbors were elves, who in this setting were kind of homicidal jerks (and also parasitic plants that had been magically mutated by feeding on dryad trees...) who hunted humans for... well, even the elves probably would have been hard pressed to explain why. Some dim understanding that they might theoretically be competition for resources. That and mining and quarrying were kind of out of the question, since 'digging too deep' basically meant hitting bedrock, and past that point, you were in dwarven territory (or goblin, kobold, whatever), and clearing forest meant that the dryads or the flower fae were pissed with you and turning you into bugs or just squashing you like one... it really wasn't a fun setting to live in for humans >.>

Of course, then superheroes (and a modern superhero-setting town) turn up, and things go kind of sideways for pretty much everyone, so... yeah.

Kami2awa
2016-01-21, 03:24 AM
The differences between the major D&D races are not as huge as people on this thread are making out. At most, they get a +/-1 or +/-2 to a few attributes. That's not even enough, in many cases, to change the ability modifier. Then they have a set of abilities that are quite specialised (The power to detect a secret door? That's hardly going to bring down human civilisation.)

There are still plenty of humans tougher than the average dwarf or quicker than the average elf, and they don't have the associated penalties.

Coidzor
2016-01-21, 06:27 AM
Dragons always seemed more parasitic than predator when it comes to humanoid civilizations.

They don't lay waste to cities for food, but to A. Take over the ruins to live in ala Smaug, B. Create a buffer zone around their territory, and/or C. Acquire swag.

If they want food, they can just steal the cattle which is tastier and more filling than a human and which the humans continually replace as long as they're not ruined by the loss in any one area, whereas if they eat an entire town, no one's gonna come back so they have to look again for a town to eat.


Mmm. Maybe.

But the dates do line up.

Similarly, an awful lot of large mammals stop appearing in the fossil record right around when humans show up.

I'm not saying that's evidence that each and every specific species was human'd to extinction, but golly, that's a pattern which is probably somehow significant in most of those cases.

Probably more Neanderthals were boinked and brought into our gene pool than killed by us, at least from what I recall.

That's where Europeans came from, after all, AMH interbreeding with neaderthals.

Which I supposed is a different kind of human'd.

Aspiration
2016-01-21, 08:08 AM
One explanation I always found interesting was the one that humans are the hybrid.

This. I don't expect it to ever be relevant in my campaign, but my personal interpretation is that humans and halflings are just very common sorts of true-breeding mongrelfolk. And that there's no real difference between the two besides size and culture. This also backs up why neither go extinct besides stubbornness/luck, and why there are so damn many humans, and why they apparently have the ability and often enough inclination to breed with just about anything.

Leaving origin out of it, humans wouldn't go extinct for the same reason hobgoblins wouldn't - being really good at being just barely humane enough to tolerate and work with, having discipline and organized civilizations, and still raiding and pillaging and enslaving and warring and generally taking everything that looks worth breaking skulls for.

JAL_1138
2016-01-21, 09:10 AM
Let the dragons come. Fire, thunder, poison, acid, ice--we will survive, somehow. We always do. What are the halflings without their fields, the dwarves without their mountains, the elves without their forests? But humans thrive anywhere. We will wander the deserts and the tundras, we will cling to the mountainsides, we will shelter in the forests, we will sail the seas. And we will survive. Tear down our monuments and fortresses--we will build new and greater ones in time. Salt the fields; we will find new lands and till them. Freeze the world and when the glaciers recede we will settle beside the lakes and in the valleys they leave behind. Burn the land and when the lava cools we will plant wheat and grapes in the rich soil it becomes. We will endure. We will outlast. We may be driven from our homes and into the wastelands and the wilderness, but we will not be broken. A human does not live long, but humanity is immortal.

gtwucla
2016-01-21, 10:52 AM
What I've done before, elves-humans (and others) can't conceive. The exchange is there's no half races (though that doesn't negate any biomancy/splicing options). If you look at human history most (if not all) vanished cultures aren't simply wiped out, they're breed out and assimilated or they add to the conquering culture. It's one thing for elves and such to be 'better' or more 'efficient,' it's another to wipe them off of the face of the earth, so it leaves a lot of possibilities, like humans adapting to extreme environments.

VoxRationis
2016-01-21, 01:29 PM
Fundamentally, humans do well in fantasy settings because it's easiest for human authors to come up with human-centric stories, as well as to develop interesting cultural diversity among humans (to say nothing of stories like The Lord of the Rings, where the tragic fading of fantastic elements is a theme, and thus the success of humans is required).
Then, when people ask why this works in-universe, they come up with post facto explanations like "Humans are amazing pursuit predators!" (forgetting that the anatomical features which allow this apply equally well to elves or orcs, and that such a lifestyle is outcompeted by pastoralism and agriculturalism among human societies), "Humans have overwhelming numbers," (forgetting that equally-intelligent fantasy creatures often have higher reproductive rates), and "Humans are adaptable" (forgetting that 90% of this adaptability comes from tool use, which all the other races have to an equal, or even greater, extent than humans, and furthermore that the supposed habitat specialization of other races tends to be a cultural convention rather than anything else; e.g., elves are associated with forests, but aren't particularly adapted to them on a biological level, and could live just as well in other locales). None of these are particularly convincing when examined on a deeper-than-surface level.

tomandtish
2016-01-22, 01:25 PM
Others have said it, but Terry Brooks sums it up in Elfstones of Shannara:

The Druid paused. “It was something they could have foreseen, had they paid closer attention to the differences between themselves and humankind. Two differences were of particular importance. The Elves and their brethren did not procreate rapidly; humans did. The Elves, for example, were one of the more populous faerie people, yet their longer life spans resulted in fewer births. Many of the other faerie creatures gave birth only once every several hundred years. But humans had frequent multiple births within the family unit, and their population grew quickly. In the beginning, the creatures of magic far outnumbered the humans. Within a thousand years time, that situation reversed itself dramatically. Thereafter the human population expanded steadily, while the faerie population began to diminish — but I’ll get to that in a moment.

“The second difference between the Elves and their brethren and humankind had to do with the ability to adapt, or lack thereof. The Elves were creatures of the forestland; they seldom left the shelter of their woods. It was the same with most of the others. Each resided within a particular geographic area, a carefully bounded terrain. It had always been so. Some lived within the forests, some within the rivers and seas, some within the mountains, some within the plainlands. They had adapted their way of life to the terrain that served as their homeland; they could not and would not live anywhere else. But humans were more adaptable; they lived everywhere. The forests, the rivers, the mountains, the plains — they claimed it all. Thus their expansion as their population grew came naturally, easily. They adapted to any change in environment. The Elves and their brethren resisted all change.”

Segev
2016-01-23, 09:55 AM
Others have said it, but Terry Brooks sums it up in Elfstones of Shannara:

The Druid paused. “It was something they could have foreseen, had they paid closer attention to the differences between themselves and humankind. Two differences were of particular importance. The Elves and their brethren did not procreate rapidly; humans did. The Elves, for example, were one of the more populous faerie people, yet their longer life spans resulted in fewer births. Many of the other faerie creatures gave birth only once every several hundred years. But humans had frequent multiple births within the family unit, and their population grew quickly. In the beginning, the creatures of magic far outnumbered the humans. Within a thousand years time, that situation reversed itself dramatically. Thereafter the human population expanded steadily, while the faerie population began to diminish — but I’ll get to that in a moment.

“The second difference between the Elves and their brethren and humankind had to do with the ability to adapt, or lack thereof. The Elves were creatures of the forestland; they seldom left the shelter of their woods. It was the same with most of the others. Each resided within a particular geographic area, a carefully bounded terrain. It had always been so. Some lived within the forests, some within the rivers and seas, some within the mountains, some within the plainlands. They had adapted their way of life to the terrain that served as their homeland; they could not and would not live anywhere else. But humans were more adaptable; they lived everywhere. The forests, the rivers, the mountains, the plains — they claimed it all. Thus their expansion as their population grew came naturally, easily. They adapted to any change in environment. The Elves and their brethren resisted all change.”
What should worry humans in settings where this is their primary advantage is that orcs and goblins breed faster still and show no less ability to adapt.

Keltest
2016-01-23, 10:51 AM
What should worry humans in settings where this is their primary advantage is that orcs and goblins breed faster still and show no less ability to adapt.

Indeed, and if they ever got themselves organized beyond an immediate tribal level and stopped killing each other as fast as they breed, they would be legitimately dangerous. Fortunately orcs are so conflict-inclined that they are a self-solving problem 95% of the time.

Segev
2016-01-23, 10:56 AM
Indeed, and if they ever got themselves organized beyond an immediate tribal level and stopped killing each other as fast as they breed, they would be legitimately dangerous. Fortunately orcs are so conflict-inclined that they are a self-solving problem 95% of the time.

Funny, the elves remember saying that about another unrefined, fast-breeding race that is stronger but shorter-lived and much more barbaric than they. :smallwink:

GloatingSwine
2016-01-23, 10:59 AM
What should worry humans in settings where this is their primary advantage is that orcs and goblins breed faster still and show no less ability to adapt.

Most of the idea of Orcs/Gobbos as fast breeding is based on people with a modern perspective on human birth rates.

Back in the dirt times, when most fantasy settings emulate, we were squatting them out by the dozen.

GreyBlack
2016-01-23, 11:01 AM
In my homebrew world, there are 9 races, of which humanity was nearly wiped out due to their lack of advantage. However, the God who created them also made them to be extremely adaptable, with the advantage to be able to interbreed with other species. As such, this allowed them to, essentially, assimilate some of the best traits of the other races into their own genetic structure, making them overall extremely powerful. Combine this with a relatively rapid breeding rate comparative to other races (in lore, only the Goblins breed more rapidly), and humans are an extremely powerful race who can adapt and adjust far better than any other race.

Segev
2016-01-23, 11:03 AM
In my homebrew world, there are 9 races, of which humanity was nearly wiped out due to their lack of advantage. However, the God who created them also made them to be extremely adaptable, with the advantage to be able to interbreed with other species. As such, this allowed them to, essentially, assimilate some of the best traits of the other races into their own genetic structure, making them overall extremely powerful. Combine this with a relatively rapid breeding rate comparative to other races (in lore, only the Goblins breed more rapidly), and humans are an extremely powerful race who can adapt and adjust far better than any other race.

We are the swarm! Hail the Overmind!

shadow_archmagi
2016-01-23, 11:25 AM
In my setting, humans have two things going for them:

First, as mentioned above, humans are the Ur Race. The other humanoids are modified humans.

Second, humans don't require magic as part of their diet. The modifications of other races costs energy, and that has to come from somewhere. Dwarves tend to burrow deep into the earth and cluster around pockets of crystallized mana, or magma veins full of the raw life of the earth. Elves tend to lead nomadic existences, following ley lines and the seasonal flow of energy from one region to another.

The Always Evil races like Orcs and Ogres thrive on Corruption, the black mana generated by evil acts. They hang out in the scarred wasteland that was once the capital of a great empire before the reprecussions of institutionalized blood magic and slavery caught up with it. When the armies of darkness march forth, they crave that mineral, so they stop to pillage and burn because that's their salt lick.

Marlowe
2016-01-23, 05:25 PM
Funny, the elves remember saying that about another unrefined, fast-breeding race that is stronger but shorter-lived and much more barbaric than they. :smallwink:

Elves have a long history of being hopelessly wrong about nearly everything.

Mephit
2016-01-23, 06:01 PM
Funny, the elves remember saying that about another unrefined, fast-breeding race that is stronger but shorter-lived and much more barbaric than they. :smallwink:

Yeah, fun idea, going to nab that for a setting/campaign idea where humans are confronted with the same problem they posed to the eder races ages ago,

hymer
2016-01-24, 10:15 AM
Most of the idea of Orcs/Gobbos as fast breeding is based on people with a modern perspective on human birth rates.

Back in the dirt times, when most fantasy settings emulate, we were squatting them out by the dozen.

Isn't it implied that orcs and gobbos reach sexual maturity faster, though? That would up their birth rate considerably. Regardless of that, whether and to which degree humans practice any forms of restraint on family size is hardly universal across fantasy worlds.

Nifft
2016-01-24, 10:22 AM
Isn't it implied that orcs and gobbos reach sexual maturity faster, though?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_youngest_birth_mothers

Humans can apparently breed at a disturbingly young age.

5ColouredWalker
2016-01-24, 10:51 AM
One quick thing to point out, in DnD canon, Elves are adults physically by 20, they're however mentally teenagers until almost 100, and spend that time learning every skill. An Elf wants to build a house, he learns to be a carpenter and a X and a Y and a Z and then builds it himself over a decade or so using those skills.
In DnD played to lore, the only level 1 elves are the same age as level 1 humans, a 100 year old elf adventurer might be level 1 in a PC class, but will have several levels of expert behind them.


*Checks youngest mother list*
5?
5!?

I'ma just go and drink until I forget that number.

VoxRationis
2016-01-24, 11:11 AM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_youngest_birth_mothers

Humans can apparently breed at a disturbingly young age.

Those are outliers, though, and have complications and dangers even beyond those of normal pregnancies. They couldn't happen quite that young as a matter of course. And even so, since the aging time and generational time of goblins is shorter, the outlier goblins would be breeding even younger.

GloatingSwine
2016-01-24, 11:30 AM
Those are outliers, though, and have complications and dangers even beyond those of normal pregnancies. They couldn't happen quite that young as a matter of course. And even so, since the aging time and generational time of goblins is shorter, the outlier goblins would be breeding even younger.

On the other hand, a very short period of maturation has its own downsides. Reduced duration of brain plasticity meaning that goblins can learn less as goblings and so preserve less technique, culture and technology between generations.

There won't be enough more of them to overcome that, because humans are also horde breeding but also advancing and learning better due to longer childhoods.

VoxRationis
2016-01-24, 11:41 AM
There won't be enough more of them to overcome that, because humans are also horde breeding but also advancing and learning better due to longer childhoods.

Horde breeding is a relative term, and relative to everything but elves, humans are not horde breeders. Humans in fact are about the epitome of a K-selected species in terms of reproductive strategy. Single-infant births, decades-long maturation process (even shorter definitions of adulthood are 50% longer than those of our closest relatives IRL), extremely vulnerable infants which require immense amounts of care, high emphasis in social learning in order to ensure correct development... Humans are only "horde breeding" in fantasy worlds because elves and dwarves have fantastic lifespans.

Alex12
2016-01-24, 10:01 PM
One thing humans have is that they pop out demihuman hybrid throwbacks with much greater frequency than any other races. Mary Dirtfarmer's great great great great great grandfather was an archon, and everyone else in the family line back that far has been human? Well, Mary's fourth son Bob is an Aasimar. Or an Ifrit. Or a Sylph. She's got all sorts of extraplanar genetics mixed in there, and they just pop up basically at random. Not often, but enough to matter on the large scale.

goto124
2016-01-24, 10:50 PM
An Elf wants to build a house, he learns to be a carpenter and a X and a Y and a Z and then builds it himself over a decade or so using those skills.
In DnD played to lore, the only level 1 elves are the same age as level 1 humans, a 100 year old elf adventurer might be level 1 in a PC class, but will have several levels of expert behind them.

I've always thought elves had a really hard time picking up skills and learning anything, otherwise a 100-year-old elf should have far more than one level in a PC class compared to a 20-year-old human.

Tvtyrant
2016-01-25, 01:31 AM
In my current setting humans created all dragons, magical beasts, aberrations, humanoids, and monstrous humanoids in existence. They had previously achieved tremendous power and success, but their inventions turned the planet into an increasingly hostile and barren place. The biggest issue humanity faces is Stirges, which have a population of hundreds of billions and kill most children before they reach adulthood.

Mankind, as a result, is declining in the face of the world they created and will soon be gone.

Knaight
2016-01-25, 01:57 AM
Coming back to the general idea of fantasy species being eradicated, it's worth observing that we have a case where there's an intelligent species (humans) threatened by something that has killed huge numbers of them (pick any one of a number of diseases here), who have the capacity to eradicate them completely (vaccination programs, which does limit the disease list a bit), and yet don't. The sorts of nasty diseases that got vaccinated are pretty much all significant threats, and every last one of them is at levels way lower than were common during their heyday. It's just that once they got that low, people started neglecting them, and finishing the job wasn't collectively decided to be worth it, with one noticeable exception.

The exact same thing applies to other threats. Dragons were mentioned, and while if there were enough they absolutely could be dangerous and people absolutely would aggressively deal with them, it's not really worth dealing with a scant handful left over in isolated places. A lot of the other fantasy monsters fit the same mold in D&D style fantasy. People tend to respond more to their current threats, and once things have been pushed below that threshold, there are other priorities.

JoeJ
2016-01-25, 02:40 AM
I think the question is backwards. Why aren't all the races except humans extinct? Dwarves and elves breed so slowly there's no way that should be able to compete with the superior numbers of humans. Orcs and the goblin races live mostly underground. Despite their high reproductive rates, they would be seriously limited in resources, so again humans should have greatly superior numbers (and get along with each other better, as well). Dragons have both problems; they breed slowly and they require huge amounts of food. They're powerful individually, but individually is the only way they ever operate, and they're not more powerful than high-level adventurers, who usually work in teams.

As portrayed in D&D, at least, any race that threatens humanity should be either extinct or on the way to extinction.

goto124
2016-01-25, 03:00 AM
Gods and magic, duh.

Storm_Of_Snow
2016-01-25, 08:18 AM
One quick thing to point out, in DnD canon, Elves are adults physically by 20, they're however mentally teenagers until almost 100, and spend that time learning every skill. An Elf wants to build a house, he learns to be a carpenter and a X and a Y and a Z and then builds it himself over a decade or so using those skills.
In DnD played to lore, the only level 1 elves are the same age as level 1 humans, a 100 year old elf adventurer might be level 1 in a PC class, but will have several levels of expert behind them.

Agreed - they could well have spent years being a part of their society, doing everything from growing crops to writing poetry. And combat skills could be well trained, every blade stroke or arrow shot honed by years of practise, but without actually being involved in proper live combat against an opponent who's trying to kill them, they're not really any better than any other first level adventurer - they just do it with more style and flair, but either get caught out by tricks that anyone who's been involved in a couple of back alley fights wouldn't fall for, or their combat style is easily predictable because they're not yet experienced enough to know that they need to improvise and not necessarily do move A, move B and move C in sequence.

Whether they become an adventurer because of wanderlust, tradition, on the orders of someone in charge or whatever other reason is up to whoever's playing them.

For Dwarves, I think there was an old White Dwarf article for WFRP that said Dwarves don't leave their holds or join their military until they've brought at least two children to adulthood, thus ensuring their families/ clans/ holds continued survival. I also like Terry Pratchett's idea that when two Dwarves get married, they symbolically "buy" their spouse from their in-laws by giving them a large sum of money equivalent to the cost of bringing them up - although their parents give them expensive wedding gifts that pretty much matches that value.

So along those lines, they may not go adventuring until they've earned enough to buy themselves, the money for which would ensure their parents and/or offspring will be well cared for if circumstances mean they'll never return home.


I think the question is backwards. Why aren't all the races except humans extinct? Dwarves and elves breed so slowly there's no way that should be able to compete with the superior numbers of humans.

Relations between the races are good enough for each race to specialise in certain areas and trade with each other for things they either don't produce or can't produce to the same level of quality, and most humans aren't xenophobic enough to want to exterminate them just because they're not human.



Orcs and the goblin races live mostly underground. Despite their high reproductive rates, they would be seriously limited in resources, so again humans should have greatly superior numbers (and get along with each other better, as well).

Why would they be limited in resources? The SRD gives the environments for both as Temperate Plains, and there's nothing saying they can't mine (1st edition even gives Goblins bonuses when mining), forge weapons, grow crops and so on.

And even if they are limited, if they attack a human settlement or trading caravan, they'll probably outnumber the guards, and once they're down, there's very few who'd stand a chance in combat with them, giving them all the resources and more than likely a good number of slaves too.



Dragons have both problems; they breed slowly and they require huge amounts of food. They're powerful individually, but individually is the only way they ever operate, and they're not more powerful than high-level adventurers, who usually work in teams.

As portrayed in D&D, at least, any race that threatens humanity should be either extinct or on the way to extinction.

Teams of high level adventurers you say? Well, how many of those are there in the world? Probably less than there are Dragons. :smallwink:

Segev
2016-01-25, 12:25 PM
On the other hand, a very short period of maturation has its own downsides. Reduced duration of brain plasticity meaning that goblins can learn less as goblings and so preserve less technique, culture and technology between generations.

There won't be enough more of them to overcome that, because humans are also horde breeding but also advancing and learning better due to longer childhoods.

Could be that the problem is overcome by having the brain never lose its plasticity. In the Shadow series by Orson Scott Card, the concept of a genetic mutation which causes the child to never stop growing, but never have the accelerated growth phases, and to always have the hyperplasticity of a very young child is explored. The most unrealistic aspect, to me, is how fast it learns initially and doesn't lose a lot, but it's still something that, combined with non-human genetics and a touch of fantasy-world magic, could work.

Goblins never reach "maturity" so much as they just keep growing. They breed like rabbits even as little things, learn fast, and many die off before they even reach human-size. Those that survive that are often mistaken for a different race entirely: hobgoblins. And those that survive to get to near-giant size are trolls. Trolls don't live long as their bodies just can't keep up; they're not MEANT to be giants, so, unlike ogres, can't survive the ever-increasing size for long.

CharonsHelper
2016-01-25, 01:05 PM
I've always thought elves had a really hard time picking up skills and learning anything, otherwise a 100-year-old elf should have far more than one level in a PC class compared to a 20-year-old human.

I don't think that it's ever really explained very well. I've always done 2 things in my worlds.

1. While the average human professional trooper is a level 1-3 warrior, the average elf/dwarf professional trooper is a level 3-5 PC class. (Of course - humans have plenty of PC class outliers.)

2. Don't have expert levels give HD/saves etc. after level 1. Why in the world should an awesome tailor be able to beat up low level adventurers!?

CharonsHelper
2016-01-25, 01:09 PM
Indeed, and if they ever got themselves organized beyond an immediate tribal level and stopped killing each other as fast as they breed, they would be legitimately dangerous. Fortunately orcs are so conflict-inclined that they are a self-solving problem 95% of the time.

That's stated very obviously in Warhammer. When a warchief comes around who CAN gather a bunch of orcs and/or goblins to their banner (combination of charisma and bashing anyone who disagrees... mostly bashing), they lead a massive Waagh which devastates the other races. Fortunately, if that warchief is killed, the orcs/goblins quickly fall back to infighting.

Edit: A Waagh is an orc/goblin campaign of destruction and pillaging.

JoeJ
2016-01-25, 02:13 PM
Why would they be limited in resources? The SRD gives the environments for both as Temperate Plains, and there's nothing saying they can't mine (1st edition even gives Goblins bonuses when mining), forge weapons, grow crops and so on.

Because they live in places that are poor in resources. Underground, badlands, places that the other races don't want.


And even if they are limited, if they attack a human settlement or trading caravan, they'll probably outnumber the guards, and once they're down, there's very few who'd stand a chance in combat with them, giving them all the resources and more than likely a good number of slaves too.

The thing is, they almost certainly won't outnumber the humans except at a very small settlement. They simply can't support large populations. Resources gained by raiding are extremely limited, and slaves are worse than useless in that kind of situation because they eat more than they can produce.


Teams of high level adventurers you say? Well, how many of those are there in the world? Probably less than there are Dragons. :smallwink:

If the FR is any indication, high level adventurers outnumber dragons many times over. And that's exactly what would be expected comparing an settled, agricultural society to a massive carnivore.

VoxRationis
2016-01-25, 04:55 PM
I don't think that it's ever really explained very well. I've always done 2 things in my worlds.

1. While the average human professional trooper is a level 1-3 warrior, the average elf/dwarf professional trooper is a level 3-5 PC class. (Of course - humans have plenty of PC class outliers.)

2. Don't have expert levels give HD/saves etc. after level 1. Why in the world should an awesome tailor be able to beat up low level adventurers!?

I've done the first one of those in my worlds—but the second is a good idea. I should do that in the future.

@JoeJ: Now, since we're in the general "Roleplaying Games" thread, we don't have specific dragons to work with, but the dragons in D&D are listed as reproducing much faster than humans in a military sense (each pair of dragons can produce at least one clutch a year, and each wyrmling is the worth of several human soldiers in combat, at least, almost immediately after hatching). A mated pair of dragons who put their minds to fighting humans in a military-against-military sense would be devastating, especially if they used the guerilla tactics having incredible flight speed enables. Food concerns are alleviated by the prevalence of cooked meat in areas dragons have recently attacked.
Of course, the dragons in D&D are somewhat ludicrous on the face of things. I'm not sure how other systems handle them, though, so I can't speak to them.

Tvtyrant
2016-01-25, 05:19 PM
I think the question is backwards. Why aren't all the races except humans extinct? Dwarves and elves breed so slowly there's no way that should be able to compete with the superior numbers of humans. Orcs and the goblin races live mostly underground. Despite their high reproductive rates, they would be seriously limited in resources, so again humans should have greatly superior numbers (and get along with each other better, as well). Dragons have both problems; they breed slowly and they require huge amounts of food. They're powerful individually, but individually is the only way they ever operate, and they're not more powerful than high-level adventurers, who usually work in teams.

As portrayed in D&D, at least, any race that threatens humanity should be either extinct or on the way to extinction.

Hilarious though this is, it is completely backwards. Humanity beats Elves and Dwarves because inferior intelligence is made up by birthrate, but the equally intelligent but even faster breeding Orcs and especially Goblins lose because of geographical positions? How did they lose out enough to be stuck in those positions in the first place if they have inherent advantages over mankind? Why did dragons allow Homo Erectus to survive and not wipe it out at the primitive tribes period?

D&D doesn't do evolution in most back stories for a reason.

CharonsHelper
2016-01-25, 05:40 PM
Why did dragons allow Homo Erectus to survive and not wipe it out at the primitive tribes period?

I did read an urban fantasy series once where the psychotic killer fantasy race wanted to go back in time twenty thousand years or so back to tell their ancestors (maybe just earlier selves - the psychotic race lived a really long time) to keep humanity under thumb. They'd let humans breed because they thought they were fun to hunt/enslave, and the humans had just gotten out of hand.

JoeJ
2016-01-25, 05:46 PM
Hilarious though this is, it is completely backwards. Humanity beats Elves and Dwarves because inferior intelligence is made up by birthrate, but the equally intelligent but even faster breeding Orcs and especially Goblins lose because of geographical positions?

Humans don't have inferior intelligence, just superior numbers. Compared to orcs they have superior intelligence and superior numbers both.


How did they lose out enough to be stuck in those positions in the first place if they have inherent advantages over mankind?

Presumably they've been there since the creation. They have no inherent advantage over humans. In fact, being adapted to live underground, where humans rarely go, is probably the only reason they aren't extinct.


Why did dragons allow Homo Erectus to survive and not wipe it out at the primitive tribes period?

What is this "Homo Erectus" of which you speak, and which of the gods created it?

VoxRationis
2016-01-25, 06:32 PM
Humans don't have inferior intelligence, just superior numbers. Compared to orcs they have superior intelligence and superior numbers both.
In many systems/stories, humans do have inferior intelligence to elves and/or dwarves, and in many others, even if individual intelligences are the same, humans don't apply it as well as elves and dwarves in a technological sense. In much the same way, goblins, if not goblins and orcs, are often (though admittedly less often) of intelligence equal to humans, as well as having superior numbers.



Presumably they've been there since the creation. They have no inherent advantage over humans. In fact, being adapted to live underground, where humans rarely go, is probably the only reason they aren't extinct.
Someone just gave you at least one source where goblins were native to temperate plains, the same sorts of environments that make for good agricultural sites for human civilization. The goblins don't all live underground. Also, "the goblins are underground because they lose out to humans, and they lose out to humans because they're underground" is circular reasoning, at least without a good reason besides setting-specific divine fiat to give them an initial reason to be underground.

Tvtyrant
2016-01-25, 06:44 PM
Humans don't have inferior intelligence, just superior numbers. Compared to orcs they have superior intelligence and superior numbers both.



Presumably they've been there since the creation. They have no inherent advantage over humans. In fact, being adapted to live underground, where humans rarely go, is probably the only reason they aren't extinct.



What is this "Homo Erectus" of which you speak, and which of the gods created it?
D&D goblins have the same base intelligence as humans, and are more populace. Most settings the Orcs also outnumber mankind, and both species are equally capable of gaining class levels. The other baseline setting is LotR, where mankind is in fact going extinct until recied by an angel and some tiny people, so I do not know where you are getting your assertions from.

Neither goblins nor Orcs are made for underground in D&D, and in LotR they are explicitly defeating mankind before being defeated by other species.

Exactly. No evolutionary advantages go to humans what so ever, and they are explicitly weaker and less populace in most settings without any advantages in intelligence. Any argument for inherent advantages over Dwarves and Elves by humans are weaknesses against better species, namely Orcs and Goblins. It is not human qualities but fiat that keeps mankind alive in most fantasy.

AMFV
2016-01-25, 07:05 PM
D&D goblins have the same base intelligence as humans, and are more populace. Most settings the Orcs also outnumber mankind, and both species are equally capable of gaining class levels. The other baseline setting is LotR, where mankind is in fact going extinct until recied by an angel and some tiny people, so I do not know where you are getting your assertions from.

Neither goblins nor Orcs are made for underground in D&D, and in LotR they are explicitly defeating mankind before being defeated by other species.

Exactly. No evolutionary advantages go to humans what so ever, and they are explicitly weaker and less populace in most settings without any advantages in intelligence. Any argument for inherent advantages over Dwarves and Elves by humans are weaknesses against better species, namely Orcs and Goblins. It is not human qualities but fiat that keeps mankind alive in most fantasy.

Hardly true. The Goblins didn't outnumber humans in any setting I'm familiar with. They breed faster, but have more infighting, and more problems. The only example I can think of in classical fantasy fiction where the Orcs outnumber (one group of) the humans is Tolkein, and that's a result of an evil forced breeding program. In W40K you have another example, but it's also explained why the Boyz don't just conquer everything. Most settings the Orcs tend to be large hordes that outnumber the settlements they raid, but they're a tiny fraction of the world, whereas the humans cover most of it.

Tvtyrant
2016-01-25, 07:15 PM
Hardly true. The Goblins didn't outnumber humans in any setting I'm familiar with. They breed faster, but have more infighting, and more problems. The only example I can think of in classical fantasy fiction where the Orcs outnumber (one group of) the humans is Tolkein, and that's a result of an evil forced breeding program. In W40K you have another example, but it's also explained why the Boyz don't just conquer everything. Most settings the Orcs tend to be large hordes that outnumber the settlements they raid, but they're a tiny fraction of the world, whereas the humans cover most of it.
Yes, my point exactly. The worlds all use fiat to keep the goblins and orcs stuffed into the corner, but there is no plausible explanation given for how mankind managed to get the majority of the world without being smarter or able to populate as quickly.

Especially in Forgotten Realms, where the Orcs explicitly outnumbered mankind in the past but lost most of the world through the efforts of unfailing heroes. And that despite the fact that Orcs have the same capacity to make civilizations and level up individually. For the argument that mankind should have wiped out the other species to be valid, they would have needed to actually have an advantage over them. But they don't, and every argument for it applies better to some other species.

AMFV
2016-01-25, 07:20 PM
Yes, my point exactly. The worlds all use fiat to keep the goblins and orcs stuffed into the corner, but there is no plausible explanation given for how mankind managed to get the majority of the world without being smarter or able to populate as quickly.

Especially in Forgotten Realms, where the Orcs explicitly outnumbered mankind in the past but lost most of the world through the efforts of unfailing heroes. And that despite the fact that Orcs have the same capacity to make civilizations and level up individually. For the argument that mankind should have wiped out the other species to be valid, they would have needed to actually have an advantage over them. But they don't, and every argument for it applies better to some other species.

In 3.5 Orcs have a limitation to all of the magic stats, which means that their tech is 10% lower than human equivalents. Which could easily explain that loss.

braveheart
2016-01-25, 07:35 PM
Humans survive and have not been killed off because of the outlier. Humans may on average be less intelligent than elves, but the smartest a humans will be on par with them, though less specifically experienced. And the same goes for most other races, combine with that the human labido, for half (whatever the bard slept with last night) and humans are forming blood bonds with most of their neighbors (except for the occasional protective father). The human race is average in most fantasy worlds and as such they are able to be a lesser for to almost every race long enough for them to start thinking humans are friends.

The elves and Dwarves wouldn't wipe out humans, because they're busy killing off orcs and goblins, who breed faster, are more agressive, and are less similar to themselves.

Tvtyrant
2016-01-25, 07:40 PM
In 3.5 Orcs have a limitation to all of the magic stats, which means that their tech is 10% lower than human equivalents. Which could easily explain that loss.

I'm totally fine with that explanation, except that it works as well for Elves and Dwaves against humans. If stats are a bigger deal than population than the elder races are clearly not going to be beaten by humans, so JoeJ's argument that mankind would wipe out everything else still fails.

Hiro Protagonest
2016-01-25, 07:47 PM
If stats are a bigger deal than population than the elder races are clearly not going to be beaten by humans, so JoeJ's argument that mankind would wipe out everything else still fails.

Okay, we're talking about 3.5's stats. Have you SEEN 3.5's stats for humans?! And in 4e, they're not worse than other races.

VoxRationis
2016-01-25, 07:48 PM
Humans survive and have not been killed off because of the outlier. Humans may on average be less intelligent than elves, but the smartest a humans will be on par with them, though less specifically experienced.

That doesn't even make sense. If only the best and brightest of your species are on par with the average of another, you have a statistically significant disadvantage and are probably on the way to being outcompeted. The best a species could hope for in that scenario is for those who are not the best and brightest to be killed off quickly, enabling rapid evolutionary shift.

Ultimately, humans dominate in fantasy literature because the earliest examples of it were set in our world or in settings which were ultimately in the process of becoming our world, and later people copied it. Then everyone justifies it with a species-wide version of "'MURICA!"-style self-congratulation.

AMFV
2016-01-25, 07:55 PM
We're also ignoring how effective and important luck and chance are to natural selection. I would argue that luck and chance are more important in a general case than even evolutionary fitness.

Keltest
2016-01-25, 08:52 PM
Yes, my point exactly. The worlds all use fiat to keep the goblins and orcs stuffed into the corner, but there is no plausible explanation given for how mankind managed to get the majority of the world without being smarter or able to populate as quickly.

Especially in Forgotten Realms, where the Orcs explicitly outnumbered mankind in the past but lost most of the world through the efforts of unfailing heroes. And that despite the fact that Orcs have the same capacity to make civilizations and level up individually. For the argument that mankind should have wiped out the other species to be valid, they would have needed to actually have an advantage over them. But they don't, and every argument for it applies better to some other species.

What youre failing to take into account is that nobody likes the orcs. Not even the orcs like the orcs. Stat wise they are capable of making civilizations, but their culture simply doesn't allow for them to organize on that scale for any significant length of time.

Talakeal
2016-01-25, 09:48 PM
The goblins don't all live underground. Also, "the goblins are underground because they lose out to humans, and they lose out to humans because they're underground" is circular reasoning, at least without a good reason besides setting-specific divine fiat to give them an initial reason to be underground.

While I agree that it is a circular argument and sort of setting specific element could have caused it to happen, it need not be divine fiat or any sort of extraordinary circumstance. One species could have simply evolved or discovered a key technology earlier, or one of the other species could have been nearly wiped out by any sort of ecological disaster, anything from a plague to a catastrophe or slow climate change in the regions one species favors. Once one species has an advantage over the others they will either go extinct or find some way to survive on the outskirts of other races territories.

braveheart
2016-01-26, 02:06 AM
That doesn't even make sense. If only the best and brightest of your species are on par with the average of another, you have a statistically significant disadvantage and are probably on the way to being outcompeted. The best a species could hope for in that scenario is for those who are not the best and brightest to be killed off quickly, enabling rapid evolutionary shift.

Ultimately, humans dominate in fantasy literature because the earliest examples of it were set in our world or in settings which were ultimately in the process of becoming our world, and later people copied it. Then everyone justifies it with a species-wide version of "'MURICA!"-style self-congratulation.

I phrased that poorly, what I meant was that our best match their best, in most cases

5ColouredWalker
2016-01-26, 09:12 PM
I phrased that poorly, what I meant was that our best match their best, in most cases

Thing is, they shouldn't.

Our best are aged wizards/sorcerers. The Elve's best can literally have hundreds of years experience on them, and a +2 to the most important stat for being one. Any setting that says the best man is equal to the best elf/dwarf/etc has some explaining to do, or doesn't give their elves/dwarves/etc long life.

Sam113097
2016-01-26, 11:18 PM
I always assumed that humans filled the niches left alone by most other species. One thing that I don't think has been brought up is humans as a seafaring race. For most of recorded history, and probably beyond that, humans have been sailing across the world, in everything from hide canoes to longboats. In a typical fantasy setting, there aren't really races that specialize in seafaring. The elves are from the forest, and the dwarves mine the mountains, but no species is a master of the sea. Who's to say that humans didn't spread out across the seas, establishing civilizations both varied and widespread.

Mechalich
2016-01-27, 02:01 AM
In terms of D&D settings, all such settings, with the exception of Eberron, are ultimately based off 1e rules. In 1e rules, humans are superior simply because their level cap is higher than the level cap of other races and goblinoid races can't gain class-levels at all.

The history of the Forgotten Realms, for example, does not match the implications of 3.X mechanics. This should not surprise any of us, since it was designed using a ménage of 1e and 2e AD&D mechanics (with certain rules relaxed to allow for weird stuff like Netheril and 40th level elven wizards) and a whole bunch of houserules by Ed Greenwood.

And if we're making a purist argument about dominance and extermination using 3.X rules, then we have to face reality that, fairly early on in the mystical evolution of the world it beings an inexorable evolution into some sort of Tippyverse-esque magic-dominated weirdspace and it all comes down to whichever race, depending on starting circumstances more than anything inherent to their abilities, produces a cadre of high-level wizards first.

On the other hand, if the argument is simply that the highest intelligence race wins forever, then that argument is simple: Ethergaunts exterminate everything else in the multiverse. I have a rather more lengthy version of that argument here (http://www.oocities.org/ripvanwormer/ethergaunts.html) for anyone who cares.

Fable Wright
2016-01-27, 04:45 AM
On the other hand, if the argument is simply that the highest intelligence race wins forever, then that argument is simple: Ethergaunts exterminate everything else in the multiverse. I have a rather more lengthy version of that argument here (http://www.oocities.org/ripvanwormer/ethergaunts.html) for anyone who cares.

Huh. How do the Ethergaunts deal with Aboleths? They're both intelligent, immortal, asexually reproducing races that hate the gods and use mind control powers. Curiously it was not mentioned in your treatise.

Fizban
2016-01-27, 09:21 AM
Should Fantasy Humans be Extinct? Generally speaking yes, as should all the other playable races. I dunno about Ethergaunt intelligence, but it's not the highest int score that matters so much as it is the free stats and lack of penalties. Lizardfolk for example get 2HD and +4 natural armor free just for existing: if they didn't have an int penalty justifying their forced tribal only fluff, they'd have just as much justification for tech level as any other PC race, with the added bonus of every single commoner in their species being able to wreck a human warrior in a fight. The usual justification for why this wouldn't matter is that their level adjustment reduces the levels of their best spellcasters, but unless you actually start going to Tippyverse levels on your magic abuse, there just aren't enough casters to actually matter that way. I've been saying this in all sorts of threads recently, and it continues to apply: go read the town generation rules in the DMG and see just how few casters there are supposed to be. Each side will have the same number of casters at max level, the die ranges are large enough that luck is a factor, and there are definitive break points where the spells that can actually affect a war happen where it doesn't matter if you've got +1-3 levels because the next war spell isn't available unless you've got +4. PC classed casters don't even register on a populational scal while, 1st level Adepts are approximately 0.5% total. 91% of your population is Commoners and 5% is Warriors: when you go to war your armies are going to be either tiny, made up of commoner conscripts, or both, and any race with natural hit dice automatically crushes one without.

That's not even counting dragons. A human has a longer fertile period than a goblin? A dragon has a fertile period longer than an elf's maximum age, and compensates for having 2-3 times the gestational period of a human by laying multiple eggs per clutch. You want to talk casters? A dragon can start getting free spellcasting early as age 16 depending on color. You want intelligence, tactics, social structure? Genetic memory, zero child-rearing required. And of course each is born with multiple hit dice, flight, and no-miss area attacks. The only reason dragons (or some other monster with even better documented ecological info and stats) don't own the world is because their fluff says they don't.

So the answer is that humans are the dominant race because they're the only ones that have actually chosen to become dominant (as multiple others have said). All other races and intelligent creatures must necessarily have halted or slowed their societal and technological advances, thus giving humans such a massive advantage in numbers that they can field sufficient bodies to overwhelm any opposition with 2:1, 4:1, or even 10:1 numbers to overcome racial hit dice and abilities. Humans are not uniquely suited to breeding hordes and filling up cities everywhere, but since all other races are apparently disinclined to do so they win by default. Goblins and Kobolds must be afflicted with disorders that prevent them from unifying, Elves and Dwarves have a massive fear of change, and Dragons suffer a crippling addiction to staring at shiny things and napping. You could say that Humans just go there first, but most campaign settings have ridiculously long historical records with Elves and Dwarves having cities before humans so that can't be it. Humans are special because the writers have decided that non-humans don't want to be special, most likely because they're supposed to not act like humans.

Segev
2016-01-27, 12:48 PM
The typical portrayal of dragons has them be supremely arrogant, to the point that a lot of drudge work that goes into civilization would be "beneath them." I doubt you'd find them so much as acting as herders to maintain a food supply; that, if they were going to try to domesticate creatures, would be the task of lesser races they let give them tribute.

So the limit on dragon population is probably food supply. They eat a LOT, so a large number of them would devastate an ecosystem and kill them off due to starvation. This leads naturally to another aspect commonly depicted in dragons: territoriality. They claim HUGE sections of land as "theirs," individually. And they do. not. share. Not with other dragons. So at best, a patchwork of dragon-claimed territories would dictate a maximum draconic population.

You might still wind up with a dragon-ruled world, with the "lesser races" working beneath them, but even then, that involves a lot of bureaucratic decision-making. Dragons seem to prefer to be regal and revered without too much non-violent effort; allowing the lesser races to do whatever it is they want to do, make whatever silly claims about who owns what part of the Dragon's territory as their steward ship, seems sensible. So long as the lesser beings provide tribute and respect, and heed the dragon's commands.

In essence, arrogance and pride are the dragons' great weakness. They're powerful enough that they survive well as a species despite this, but it is truly crippling and leads to them destroying rivals and keeping their numbers down that way, as well as to being easier prey to large, organized groups of "lesser" races that they allow to form out of sheer arrogance and laziness.

CharonsHelper
2016-01-27, 04:29 PM
In essence, arrogance and pride are the dragons' great weakness. They're powerful enough that they survive well as a species despite this, but it is truly crippling and leads to them destroying rivals and keeping their numbers down that way, as well as to being easier prey to large, organized groups of "lesser" races that they allow to form out of sheer arrogance and laziness.

Yes - much of the arguments are based upon the false assumption that individuals' actions always be for the benefit of their species as a whole. Generally, individuals' actions are for the benefit of individuals. (not necessarily themselves - but just other people that they personally like)

In the dragons' case - it's nearly always themselves.

Hiro Protagonest
2016-01-27, 04:41 PM
The typical portrayal of dragons has them be supremely arrogant, to the point that a lot of drudge work that goes into civilization would be "beneath them." I doubt you'd find them so much as acting as herders to maintain a food supply; that, if they were going to try to domesticate creatures, would be the task of lesser races they let give them tribute.

So the limit on dragon population is probably food supply. They eat a LOT, so a large number of them would devastate an ecosystem and kill them off due to starvation. This leads naturally to another aspect commonly depicted in dragons: territoriality. They claim HUGE sections of land as "theirs," individually. And they do. not. share. Not with other dragons. So at best, a patchwork of dragon-claimed territories would dictate a maximum draconic population.

You might still wind up with a dragon-ruled world, with the "lesser races" working beneath them, but even then, that involves a lot of bureaucratic decision-making. Dragons seem to prefer to be regal and revered without too much non-violent effort; allowing the lesser races to do whatever it is they want to do, make whatever silly claims about who owns what part of the Dragon's territory as their steward ship, seems sensible. So long as the lesser beings provide tribute and respect, and heed the dragon's commands.

In essence, arrogance and pride are the dragons' great weakness. They're powerful enough that they survive well as a species despite this, but it is truly crippling and leads to them destroying rivals and keeping their numbers down that way, as well as to being easier prey to large, organized groups of "lesser" races that they allow to form out of sheer arrogance and laziness.

I always liked the concept of Arkhosia. 4th Edition's dragon empire, where dragons were rulers and dragonborn were first-class citizens. Rival of Bael'Turath(?), a once-human empire that made pacts with devils (and that's where 4e Tieflings come from). They destroyed each other.

Jay R
2016-01-27, 04:46 PM
Dragons won't eliminate the human race for the same reason that humans won't eliminate cows.

Fizban
2016-01-28, 03:32 AM
So the limit on dragon population is probably food supply. They eat a LOT, so a large number of them would devastate an ecosystem and kill them off due to starvation. This leads naturally to another aspect commonly depicted in dragons: territoriality. They claim HUGE sections of land as "theirs," individually. And they do. not. share. Not with other dragons. So at best, a patchwork of dragon-claimed territories would dictate a maximum draconic population. . .
In essence, arrogance and pride are the dragons' great weakness. They're powerful enough that they survive well as a species despite this, but it is truly crippling and leads to them destroying rivals and keeping their numbers down that way, as well as to being easier prey to large, organized groups of "lesser" races that they allow to form out of sheer arrogance and laziness.
Draconomicon: "A dragon can literally eat dirt or rock and survive." But otherwise yeah, weather it's staring at shinies or arrogance and territorialism it's the same result, dragons and other races fail to dominate due to ingrained instincts and tendencies that prevent them from doing so, rather than any physilogical or game mechanic reason. When looked at from those latter perspectives with the assumption that any intelligent species can function in the same social structures as humans, it's patently ridiculous that humans would dominate. I don't actually think it's wrong that other species are restrained by their instincts, it makes fine sense, but once you realize it any sort of argument is pretty moot. It's a bit of fun examining just how screwed humans would be and finding out how big their societal+technological advantages need to be in order to to compensate, and in the end the only acceptable explanation is that the other species are uninterested enough that humans have at minimum reached that point.

Yes - much of the arguments are based upon the false assumption that individuals' actions always be for the benefit of their species as a whole. Generally, individuals' actions are for the benefit of individuals. (not necessarily themselves - but just other people that they personally like)

In the dragons' case - it's nearly always themselves.
This is where you'd make the case that creatures with innate abilities don't feel the need to innovate or gather in groups. A dragon is superior to most humanoids simply by existing, which is the source of their bias against forming large groups: they don't need to form groups in order to survive, so they don't. The title question is usually asked assuming that all intelligent species are capable of forming groups and driving technology like humans, which if it were true would mean humans go extinct.

It might be an interesting exercise trying to figure out what would need to happen to force dragons to start forming cities in order to survive. Presumably it would either be some change in other wildlife that puts them down at the bottom (wiping out humans and co. in the process), or it would be the advance of humans to the point that dragons start losing territory and their natural advantages are negated by inexpensive technology, forcing them to congregate and increase their numbers to avoid being driven to extinction.

Zombimode
2016-01-28, 07:02 AM
No evolutionary advantages go to humans what so ever, and they are explicitly weaker and less populace in most settings without any advantages in intelligence.

What are those "most settings" you speak about?

It is not true for any D&D 3.5 setting.

It is not true for Tamriel.

It is not true for Star Treck, Star Wars, Babylon 5 and Mass Effect.

In most fantasy settings I know, humans combine excellent organizational skills, good craftsmanship in pretty much all areas, high apptitude for magic, adaptability and a crushing military might (through numbers, leadership and technology).

Middle Earth is actually one of the few settings where humans are explicitly weaker then other races.

illyahr
2016-01-28, 11:54 AM
In most fantasy settings I know, humans combine excellent organizational skills, good craftsmanship in pretty much all areas, high apptitude for magic, adaptability and a crushing military might (through numbers, leadership and technology).

This is what I believe to be the greatest strength of humans. While other races may be better at some of these than humans, only humans are at least fairly capable in all of them.

Jayngfet
2016-01-29, 05:31 AM
obvious logical issues ahoy:

You try being an elf day to day. Hauling grain and timber and metal isn't actually super easy when you have physical penalties and you can do it less. An elven laborer will take longer to do the same job if it's not fancy elven craftswork. An elven soldier will be able to carry their gear a shorter distance on foot. Penalties are extreme when applied to day to day stuff adventurers never have to do. A dexterity bonus is nice, but you can't finesse logs from the woods to the mill. I mean yeah an animal can be trained to help but you try breeding a large number of labor beasts in the woods. There's a reason agriculture happens in fields and hills.

Same applies to the dwarf. They're slower and stubbier. If anything chases them it will catch them. No dwarven army can mount a hasty retreat. No dwarven citizens can escape a non dwarven attacker. Meaning if you catch a dwarf in a situation they don't already control or if things begin to go badly for them, it will always go badly. No closing distance to ranged attackers in time, no getting to fortifications, nothing.

Halflings and gnomes are just plain too small, the same thing essentially applies to them. No heavy lifting, difficult marches, difficult migrations.

ect. ect. In the game of evolution finesse will, ninety nine times out of a hundred, not count for a much as strength and endurance. Leopards can coexist with lions, but lions will control the majority of the savannah and take largest prey, while leopards will confine themselves to the corners. Which applies to Leopards and Tigers. Or leopards and basically any cat bigger than them. And it applies to anything smaller than a leopard and the leopard itself.

Humans are on earth right now for the simple reason that despite dozens of co-evolved species, humans were the best at doing what was needed to survive. What's needed to survive isn't being cool and sparkly, it's getting enough food for the winter not to starve, and getting it home in time to keep it safe.

5ColouredWalker
2016-01-29, 07:12 AM
Counterpoints, primarily in regards to Dwarves, with minor points on Elves and Gnomes:


Dwarves are generally shown not to be slowed as much by loads in everything I've seen due to their toughness/etc, in DnD this is even represented by Dwarves not being slowed when burdened.

A human army on the march [Not on the field of battle, things like bedrolls, tents and food tend to be left behind in battle] tends to carry enough to get to medium load status in the form of armor etc, and human hunters bringing back a corpse, unless really strong, would be slowed down to Dwarven speeds. Given Dwarven endurance, they can normally march longer than Humans can. [In DnD, this is only an hour, but in some stories etc, they can march for days straight at marching pace, as opposed to a nomal human army only marching a day. At the hunter gatherer level, this would likewise extend if the same hunting practices were used.].

So yes, for dwarves attacking and retreating is more limited compared to larger races, but they tend to ignore that problem through sheer endurance, due to their stats Dwarves would be either Scavangers (Constitution and toxin resistance) or more extreme Persistance Hunters (Constitution. People walk things to death, Dwarves do it for longer but slower), and while they might get a little less food compared to humans, they're more capable of bringing food home in the same amount of time.

Meanwhile, while Gnomes are slow being Small, in stories they tend to have fey magic backing them up, or tend to be rather similar to dwarves (I.e. Tough.), and actually being small require less food than others so while they're at a disadvantage fighting big guys they likewise don't fall into the same category. Instead, Dwarves and Gnomes are shafted by psychological/ecological differences compared to people. [Dwarves are sterotypically from mountainous terrain, and are normally not very friendly, and are often cohesive only through strong honor bonds that can turn them against each other as often as bring them together, as shown through being generally lawful but not necessarily generally good. Meanwhile, Gnomes are chaotic/fey-like in tendency and as such are not as inclined towards civilization building.]

Finally, in regards to elves, they're normally far more superior to people physically than DnD presents, and in DnD they can be active for longer (Less sleep required) with the benefits that brings. Sure, they may need to rest more often than everyone else if highly active, but only needing half as long to recover as others is a huge benefit.




Edit:
It might be worth making a DnD specific version of this.

Segev
2016-01-29, 09:02 AM
Don't forget that the advantages listed above as going to humans go to orcs even more strongly. Bonuses to strength and constitution. Even with the penalties to Int and Charisma, they're not STUPID, just a little slow. Compared to elves, humans are equally slow. And dwarves are no more likable than Orcs, inherently.

5ColouredWalker
2016-01-29, 09:37 AM
Don't forget that the advantages listed above as going to humans go to orcs even more strongly. Bonuses to strength and constitution. Even with the penalties to Int and Charisma, they're not STUPID, just a little slow. Compared to elves, humans are equally slow. And dwarves are no more likable than Orcs, inherently.

Orcs are chaotic and uncharismatic. The one thing that countered the lack of Dwarven Charisma when it comes to society building [Something that hurts as much as it helps in some stories] makes orcs even less prone to making societies, something rather common in all media. Additionally, Orcs have a wisdom penalty, making them less likely to notice things that would allow them to advance, and are nocturnal [Light Sensitivity] with only short range black+white vision available during night, depending on how bright a night it is.
Orcs are also evil, something normally shown to be against building a society.

So, orcs are a little stupid, a little slow, have trouble relating through others, very individualistic and selfish, and their natural conditions are ones with poor visibility at all times. Also, in the dnd specific corner Orcs don't have Con bonuses, but also don't have dex penalties, making them simply strong. I imagine Orcs would fill an Ambush/Scavanger role, or being Persistance Hunters if one posits +0 con as actually being high based on real life, with their chosen targets being larger than Human targets, purely because they can do more damage. So where man might hunt deer by walking up to it and poking it until it runs itself to exhaustion, and Orc might do that to a Bull/Cow with equal ease. And then they'd end up left in the dust as Humanity marched on with their civilization building, leaving them to go the way of the Neanderthal.

Jayngfet
2016-01-29, 09:27 PM
Dwarves are slow. The other three are weak in at least one form.

You can claim "some stories" give gnomes magic but we're debating DND gnomes, not all gnomes across time and space. In DND most of these races have plusses and minuses, while humans have basically only plusses. They even out and excel way better on average.

5ColouredWalker
2016-01-29, 10:25 PM
Dwarves are slow. The other three are weak in at least one form.

You can claim "some stories" give gnomes magic but we're debating DND gnomes, not all gnomes across time and space. In DND most of these races have plusses and minuses, while humans have basically only plusses. They even out and excel way better on average.

This is the rp forum, not the 3.5/3.0 subforum, so we are discussing all. Also, in most stories humans have no benefits, just no negatives, invalidating that claim.

Ill make a 3.5 specific thread tonight if no one else has.

Jayngfet
2016-01-29, 10:57 PM
This is the rp forum, not the 3.5/3.0 subforum, so we are discussing all. Also, in most stories humans have no benefits, just no negatives, invalidating that claim.

Ill make a 3.5 specific thread tonight if no one else has.

The thing is in most editions where those races don't get penalties humans still get bonuses.

Which is the thing. There's no ruleset where being a human is instantly an inferior option, outside of essentially twisting things in ways that they either aren't meant to go system wise or assuming things work a way they really don't. I.E. Assuming that because elves live longer, they're obviously going to breed at the same rate as humans and somehow have access to every single resource available in the book, so they "win".

Which is the actual argument here. That somehow, without anything 'arbitrary' stopping it, humans are just so inferior they'd go extinct. Which isn't really supported by anything in the actual statistics or how evolution itself tends to play out if we think of it in a way that's not raw numbers.

It's a case of people going "elves are cool! In fact elves are the coolest! In fact, elves are so cool why would humans even be here!" and then just assuming the reality of whatever system they're playing makes it the case, as opposed to stepping back and wondering how that'd play out.

Cazero
2016-01-30, 06:07 AM
The thing is in most editions where those races don't get penalties humans still get bonuses.

Which is the thing. There's no ruleset where being a human is instantly an inferior option, outside of essentially twisting things in ways that they either aren't meant to go system wise or assuming things work a way they really don't. I.E. Assuming that because elves live longer, they're obviously going to breed at the same rate as humans and somehow have access to every single resource available in the book, so they "win".

Which is the actual argument here. That somehow, without anything 'arbitrary' stopping it, humans are just so inferior they'd go extinct. Which isn't really supported by anything in the actual statistics or how evolution itself tends to play out if we think of it in a way that's not raw numbers.

It's a case of people going "elves are cool! In fact elves are the coolest! In fact, elves are so cool why would humans even be here!" and then just assuming the reality of whatever system they're playing makes it the case, as opposed to stepping back and wondering how that'd play out.

I thought the argument was "all those plusses humans get for purely mechanical balance reason are informed ability bullcrap that everyone should have, so why aren't they extinct from ages of inferiority?"

Why do humans get bonus skillpoints? They learn faster than other races. Okaaay, that would explain why they don't have less skill points that the century old elf, but more is just ridiculous.
Why do humans get bonus feats? Because every human is special. Snowflake syndrome much?
Why do humans get plusses? Look at the plusses, you can put 'em anywhere you want ! Well, the only thing this makes is turn other races plusses into informed ability jokes (wich they aren't supposed to be). It certainly explain why humans aren't extinct, but it put into question what all that fuss about dwarven CON or orc STR is about.

5ColouredWalker
2016-01-30, 07:53 AM
The thing is in most editions where those races don't get penalties humans still get bonuses.

Which is the thing. There's no ruleset where being a human is instantly an inferior option, outside of essentially twisting things in ways that they either aren't meant to go system wise or assuming things work a way they really don't. I.E. Assuming that because elves live longer, they're obviously going to breed at the same rate as humans and somehow have access to every single resource available in the book, so they "win".

Which is the actual argument here. That somehow, without anything 'arbitrary' stopping it, humans are just so inferior they'd go extinct. Which isn't really supported by anything in the actual statistics or how evolution itself tends to play out if we think of it in a way that's not raw numbers.

It's a case of people going "elves are cool! In fact elves are the coolest! In fact, elves are so cool why would humans even be here!" and then just assuming the reality of whatever system they're playing makes it the case, as opposed to stepping back and wondering how that'd play out.

1: That's not what I was saying. I was saying there are games where humans get nothing.
2: WH40K RPGs.
3: Yes it is.

Anyhow, 3.5 Specific thread here. I may create a single large post on my thoughts race by race later tonight. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?476832-Should-Fantasy-Humans-be-Extinct-DnD-Specific&p=20364024#post20364024)

The Glyphstone
2016-01-30, 03:10 PM
1: That's not what I was saying. I was saying there are games where humans get nothing.
2: WH40K RPGs.
3: Yes it is.

Anyhow, 3.5 Specific thread here. I may create a single large post on my thoughts race by race later tonight. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?476832-Should-Fantasy-Humans-be-Extinct-DnD-Specific&p=20364024#post20364024)


The only 40K RPG where it's possible to play both a human and a non-human in the same party is Rogue Trader*, and being an alien there restricts you to a race-specific career with very little flexibility. You end up 'superior' in one particular role that is pre-defined for you, and inferior in literally everything else in the universe, particularly social situations. Not a very good example.

*I suppose there's also Black Crusade, but it even explicitly states that you'll have problems with a mixed heretic/chaos marine party, and no one in a BC warband can really be called 'human' anymore past a certain point anyways.

Clistenes
2016-01-31, 09:50 AM
Humans will wreck. Your. S#%&.

We breed faster than anything but Orcs, and we're smarter than they are and almost as physically strong. We're cooperative. We can extract valuable resources from anything anywhere. We can't see in the dark, so we set things on fire and use that to help. We'll live anywhere that isn't underwater, whether in the woods, the mountains, the tundra, the desert, on islands, or the grasslands; we don't care. If the place catches on fire, we'll leave and come back when the lava cools down enough. Try to take away our technology and we'll bang rocks together and break sticks and set things on fire 'till we've got enough of it again to rebuild. Send a plague at us and we'll outlast it and it won't be long at all before our numbers are a lot higher than they used to be before it. If there's not enough water where we want to live, we'll dig for it or distill seawater or redirect a river. We'll turn useless grasses into unrecognizeable high-yield crops. We'll turn our most-dreaded predators into little living dolls to sit on our laps. We'll turn the most dangerous aggresive herbivores around into a new more docile species to get milk, leather, and meat from. We'll hunt species of giant megafauna to extinction before we even invent iron. We'll deliberately flavor our food with plant compounds that evolved over millions of years for the sole purpose of preventing things from eating them. We poison ourselves for recreational purposes. We do things that could kill us like jumping off cliffs for fun. When in danger, our bodies flood us with mind-altering chemicals that dull pain, heighten our senses, and increase aggression. We don't give a single solitary f&@%.



Actually, setting fire to things is a pretty good trick of ours.

Halflings are sneaky, but that doesn't help much if we burn their fields and salt the earth. You can't hide from fire and hunger, or stab them in the back.

Elves? We'll burn the forest down, and clearcut anything that we don't burn. Since they don't farm, at least not on a large scale in fields, they'll starve.

Dwarves? We'll pile up the brush from tearing the forest up outside their mines and use basic thermodynamics to suffocate them.

Orcs? Unorganized, tribal brutes that depend as much on raiding agricultural societies as on hunting-and-gathering? We'll scorch the earth as we retreat and starve them out.

Anyway, we give no [email protected]%s, breed like rabbits, and we're at least middlin' at just about everything.

What about the Sahuagin (https://www.google.es/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwibl4_xo9TKAhWDMhoKHVKiA-8QFggkMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fawesometome.googlecode.com%2Ffile s%2FTome0.7rev139.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHMfIbOil4GYm5WtwUSly3Entk60Q)? :smalltongue:

But anyways, humans as portrayed in source material should have gone extinct. There is no way all those 1st level commoners could survive in a world with dragons and beholders and mindflayers and infectious undead and crazy spellcasters. Numbers wouldn't help, because all those commoners can be turned into wraiths, wights, shadows or spectres, turning humanity's numerical advantage against itself.

All humans should have PC class levels in order to survive, kinda like in Dark Sun, whose "commoners" are 4th level fighters.

I guess the only reason humans survive is that they have a lot of deities who care for them and rig the game so they win.

Keltest
2016-01-31, 11:17 AM
What about the Sahuagin (https://www.google.es/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwibl4_xo9TKAhWDMhoKHVKiA-8QFggkMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fawesometome.googlecode.com%2Ffile s%2FTome0.7rev139.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHMfIbOil4GYm5WtwUSly3Entk60Q)? :smalltongue:

But anyways, humans as portrayed in source material should have gone extinct. There is no way all those 1st level commoners could survive in a world with dragons and beholders and mindflayers and infectious undead and crazy spellcasters. Numbers wouldn't help, because all those commoners can be turned into wraiths, wights, shadows or spectres, turning humanity's numerical advantage against itself.

All humans should have PC class levels in order to survive, kinda like in Dark Sun, whose "commoners" are 4th level fighters.

I guess the only reason humans survive is that they have a lot of deities who care for them and rig the game so they win.

I think you are vastly overestimating the desire to destroy humanity possessed by most of those creatures. Even if you aren't though, predators have a vested interest in keeping their meals at or above a self-sustaining population, so Dragons and mind flayers are certainly not going to wipe out humanity, nor allow other races to do so accidentally.

Segev
2016-01-31, 11:30 AM
The "humans have no weaknesses" argument only works if you assume humans-as-baseline, and is actually somewhat circular.

I'll illustrate using 3.5, for a moment.

Let's recalibrate, assume that elves invented D&D and that they used "elf" as the baseline.

Elves would have no stat bonuses or penalties. They are medium creatures, and get immunity to sleep and bonuses against enchantment spells/effects (because they would recognize that this was, in fact, an advantage, since everything else did sleep).

Humans, then, would suffer a -2 to Dexterity, but get a +2 to Constitution. They'd also get a bonus feat, but they'd suffer a racial penalty that made them see less far in dim lighting conditions.

Dwarves would have -2 Dexterity, +4 Constitution, and -2 Charisma. They'd have Darkvision, and Stonecunning.


The fact would be here that elves would have relatively few advantages, apparently. Because they have "no weaknesses." But humans are less dexterous but hardier, but hindered by the need for brighter light.

Clistenes
2016-01-31, 01:34 PM
I think you are vastly overestimating the desire to destroy humanity possessed by most of those creatures. Even if you aren't though, predators have a vested interest in keeping their meals at or above a self-sustaining population, so Dragons and mind flayers are certainly not going to wipe out humanity, nor allow other races to do so accidentally.

Dragons tend to set themselves as tyrants when they can, so you would have Fantasy Earth divided among kingdoms with dragons as kings and humans as servants and thralls.

Minflayers enslave large numbers of people and keep them as slaves. They would create a world of mind-controlled thralls.

However, in Fantasy World as portrayed humans live more or less freely.

Segev
2016-01-31, 02:23 PM
Dragons tend to set themselves as tyrants when they can, so you would have Fantasy Earth divided among kingdoms with dragons as kings and humans as servants and thralls.

Minflayers enslave large numbers of people and keep them as slaves. They would create a world of mind-controlled thralls.

However, in Fantasy World as portrayed humans live more or less freely.

Dragons may not want that much administrative responsibility, and delegate to whatever leadership the humans put in place as long as their dictates and tributes are observed. Thus, human nations would evolve with just this knowledge that there's a dragon that they have to appease in this area.

Mind Flayers can only control so many thralls at a time; their domination powers have duration, so even at-will efforts mean taking up more and more of their own personal time the more individuals they keep enslaved. They also are only slighly more numerous than parties of adventurers of the more populous species who would destroy them if they ruled openly. (This didn't prevent me from having the dwarves in one setting be entirely enslaved to a species based on them.)

VoxRationis
2016-01-31, 02:30 PM
Dragons tend to set themselves as tyrants when they can, so you would have Fantasy Earth divided among kingdoms with dragons as kings and humans as servants and thralls.

Minflayers enslave large numbers of people and keep them as slaves. They would create a world of mind-controlled thralls.

However, in Fantasy World as portrayed humans live more or less freely.

Mind flayers in particular are inimical to the typical fantasy setting. Being urbanized, found in reasonable numbers (there are whole cities of them, and while slaves are a significant portion of the population of those cities, the mind flayers are definitely there in force), possessing mind-control abilities, and having a way of life intolerable to many (dependent on both chattel slavery and regular consumption of humans), mind flayers are a force that should by all rights start to either dominate a setting or at the very least dominate the central struggles of a campaign setting, but are often left as an afterthought. I tend to leave them out of my settings for this reason.

Keltest
2016-01-31, 02:46 PM
Mind flayers in particular are inimical to the typical fantasy setting. Being urbanized, found in reasonable numbers (there are whole cities of them, and while slaves are a significant portion of the population of those cities, the mind flayers are definitely there in force), possessing mind-control abilities, and having a way of life intolerable to many (dependent on both chattel slavery and regular consumption of humans), mind flayers are a force that should by all rights start to either dominate a setting or at the very least dominate the central struggles of a campaign setting, but are often left as an afterthought. I tend to leave them out of my settings for this reason.

Mind Flayers are typically remote enough from civilized areas that they aren't attacked simply by virtue of being unknown. In the forgotten Realms, for example, they live pretty much exclusively underground, and the only other people there are equally immoral societies.

Clistenes
2016-01-31, 03:20 PM
Dragons may not want that much administrative responsibility, and delegate to whatever leadership the humans put in place as long as their dictates and tributes are observed. Thus, human nations would evolve with just this knowledge that there's a dragon that they have to appease in this area.

Put the point is, Dragons DON'T rule the world in most settings. In most settings kings and nobles don't answer to Dragons. And by all rights, they should.


Mind Flayers can only control so many thralls at a time; their domination powers have duration, so even at-will efforts mean taking up more and more of their own personal time the more individuals they keep enslaved.

Mindflayers can breed and increase their numbers. They could pick hamlets and villages one by one, enslave a portion of the population and use the rest as food, and very soon you would have enough Mindflayers to keep dominated an entire kingdom.


They also are only slighly more numerous than parties of adventurers of the more populous species who would destroy them if they ruled openly. (This didn't prevent me from having the dwarves in one setting be entirely enslaved to a species based on them.)

That's DM fiat. The DM chooses to keep the Mindflayer communities and parties small so they don't exterminate the PCs. However, if the Mindflayers were real creatures they would use a smart strategy, gather in large numbes, increase their population and become a force that nobody could challenge.


Mind Flayers are typically remote enough from civilized areas that they aren't attacked simply by virtue of being unknown. In the forgotten Realms, for example, they live pretty much exclusively underground, and the only other people there are equally immoral societies.

Mindflayers live in remote locations only because the DM chooses it so. They could move closer to the surface, and come out at night to attack farms and hamlets (by the way, that's an awesome idea for a high-level horror campaign; the Minflayers as an unseen nocturnal horror that comes at night to your door, eats whole families and turns other people into mindless slaves that help them attack their own communities... pure horror stuff there).

As I said, humans remain relatively safe only because the DM and the designer of most setting keep the monster away from humans, most of the time for unknown reasons.

Kami2awa
2016-01-31, 03:43 PM
D&D runs off some pretty archaic scientific ideas, like the 4 elements suggested by the elemental planes. Building on this, in our world there was once a belief that NO species would ever go extinct because it would leave a gap in divine creation. The - pretty obvious - fact that if every individual of a species died, then the species would no longer exist, was not comprehended until relatively recently. Even when the bones of extinct species such as mammoths were being dug up, scholars speculated that surviving examples would be found in some far-flung corner of the Earth.

It's entirely possible that in D&D-land, that's entirely true - it's literally impossible to wipe out a species without challenging the gods themselves.

Looking at human prehistory, a better question might be: How have so many powerful predators survived the arrival of humans? In the real world, early humans caused the extinction of megafauna wherever they went.

Keltest
2016-01-31, 03:53 PM
Put the point is, Dragons DON'T rule the world in most settings. In most settings kings and nobles don't answer to Dragons. And by all rights, they should.
Dragons are asleep 95% of the time. In a kingdom that nominally answers to a local Dragon Overlord, the overlord in question is almost certainly not actually interested in ruling that kingdom beyond demanding to be well fed and supplied with a reasonable (for a dragon) amount of treasure.




Mindflayers can breed and increase their numbers. They could pick hamlets and villages one by one, enslave a portion of the population and use the rest as food, and very soon you would have enough Mindflayers to keep dominated an entire kingdom.

Don't mind flayer colonies, like, hate each other?

besides, such a Mind Flayer kingdom would very definitely be shut down long before it could get started specifically because it is a threat with the potential to run out of control very quickly.




That's DM fiat. The DM chooses to keep the Mindflayer communities and parties small so they don't exterminate the PCs. However, if the Mindflayers were real creatures they would use a smart strategy, gather in large numbes, increase their population and become a force that nobody could challenge. Youre assuming that the mind flayers want to take over the world. What would they do with it? Their goals and mindsets are very different from ours, and their ambitions lie in a decidedly different direction.




Mindflayers live in remote locations only because the DM chooses it so. They could move closer to the surface, and come out at night to attack farms and hamlets (by the way, that's an awesome idea for a high-level horror campaign; the Minflayers as an unseen nocturnal horror that comes at night to your door, eats whole families and turns other people into mindless slaves that help them attack their own communities... pure horror stuff there).

As I said, humans remain relatively safe only because the DM and the designer of most setting keep the monster away from humans, most of the time for unknown reasons.

So what youre saying is that worlds with no gaming capability have no games played on them?

Much in the same way nobody tells a story about how Nothing Interesting At All Happened, nobody is going to tell a story/play in a world where The Only Intelligent Life With Any Degree Of Agency Are The Mind Flayers.

You may be right, and if you explore the vast multiverse, for every world where mind flayers are not a legitimate concern, there are two hundred and seventeen where they have taken over absolutely. But nobody cares about those other worlds because theyre boring as all heck.

Clistenes
2016-01-31, 04:33 PM
Dragons are asleep 95% of the time. In a kingdom that nominally answers to a local Dragon Overlord, the overlord in question is almost certainly not actually interested in ruling that kingdom beyond demanding to be well fed and supplied with a reasonable (for a dragon) amount of treasure.

Well, there should be more kingdoms like that. Half the countries in any setting should have their own "Dragon Tax" to keep Dragons happy


Don't mind flayer colonies, like, hate each other?.

I don't know about that... Doesn't Ilsensine remotely control all the Elder Brains? He should be able to coordinate them.


besides, such a Mind Flayer kingdom would very definitely be shut down long before it could get started specifically because it is a threat with the potential to run out of control very quickly.

Shut down by who? The humans who are being hunted are mostly 1st level commoners, and other powerful creatures would most likely not notice what was going on until it was too late.

The only way say Giants or Beholders or Licanthropes or Rakshasas would notice and move to stop the Mindflayers would be if a large community of them lived close to the Mindflayer colony, in which case they would fight and the winner would get to eat the humans.


Youre assuming that the mind flayers want to take over the world. What would they do with it? Their goals and mindsets are very different from ours, and their ambitions lie in a decidedly different direction.

Well, for a start some of them want to destroy the Sun in order to facilitate their take over. So it seems that they are interested in controlling the world. Plus they DID build an Empire that controlled a large part of the Multiverse in the past.

And anyways, they don't need to start a campaign to conquer the world. They could just eat humans, breed naturally, and one day you would have Mindflayer colonies everywhere.


So what youre saying is that worlds with no gaming capability have no games played on them?

Much in the same way nobody tells a story about how Nothing Interesting At All Happened, nobody is going to tell a story/play in a world where The Only Intelligent Life With Any Degree Of Agency Are The Mind Flayers.

You may be right, and if you explore the vast multiverse, for every world where mind flayers are not a legitimate concern, there are two hundred and seventeen where they have taken over absolutely. But nobody cares about those other worlds because theyre boring as all heck.

Nope. I'm saying that you need to give some reason those creatures don't rule the world:

-In Dragonlance many of those creatures don't exist at all, and those who exist are soldiers in a war between Good and Evil. Evil Dragons ARE trying to conquer the world for their Queen, but they do it as part of her armies.
-In Forgotten Realms you have deities meddling constantly, running the show through their specially empowered minions and their nets of powerful servants. There are so many high-level and epic-level humanoids that they can keep the monsters subdued.
-In Eberron most powerful creatures exterminated or drove each other away in a series of cataclismic wars that almost destroy the world. The only powerful faction left are Dragons, and they have decided to leave the humanoids alone and focus on study of the Draconic Prophecy. Other factions are trying to come back, and are organizing invasion plans.
-In Scarred Lands the war between Titans and Gods just ended. Most monsters were servants and soldiers of the defeated Titans, and those who remain are survivors of a divine genocide who remain hidden, licking their wounds and dreaming of releasing their masters and ruling the world again.

...etc.

VoxRationis
2016-01-31, 04:48 PM
Youre assuming that the mind flayers want to take over the world. What would they do with it? Their goals and mindsets are very different from ours, and their ambitions lie in a decidedly different direction.


Let's see: they could either:
A), have a world where their prey species are controlled, kept in confinement, and carefully managed for maximum productivity and minimum risk, and their competitor species are largely extinct;
B), have a world where their prey species regularly fights back in ways which are dangerous to entire communities of mind flayers, and powerful competing species abound, constantly threatening to kill or outcompete mind flayer communities.

Option A is self-evidently desirable, and is desirable enough on a short- and long-term scale that it's more or less been the goal of human civilization since the dawn of agriculture. Mind flayers are more than intelligent enough to see that.

Segev
2016-01-31, 10:08 PM
I've seen settings where the majority of territory WAS mind flayer controlled. However, mind flayers have a very specific food-to-reproduction tug-of-war: each new mind flayer is one human they can't eat. It does slow them a little bit. They're also pretty harsh with each other, and the elder brains don't like competition and don't like their mind flayers being out of "reach" for too long, which forms a natural radius within which they tend to stay.

The Glyphstone
2016-02-01, 12:17 AM
If I remember LoM right, Mind Flayers actually have a preference for 'natural' brains with lots of varied experiences - i.e., adventurers - since they 'taste' better, have more flavor to them. So while it might be technically advantageous for mind flayers to rule the world and keep all humanoids as cattle, that means they eat the psychic equivalent of unflavored gruel for their entire lives. It's more personally enjoyable to keep their civilizations condensed, and let the 'heroes' come to them as delicious meals on legs. Being as how their intelligence is only exceeded by their egos, they don't consider any risk to themselves or their communities enough to outweigh those tasty adventurer brains.

CharonsHelper
2016-02-01, 01:00 AM
Isn't the reproduction of mind flayers rather limited? Sure - each one can make a # of tadpoles, but they can't have the exponential population growth of most animals due to their reliance upon the Elder Brain for reproduction, so their population is pretty much capped. (I don't think they ever explained how/if new Elder Brains can be created - just that dead mind flayer brains are combined with it, and it absorbs their memories.)

CharonsHelper
2016-02-01, 01:08 AM
Put the point is, Dragons DON'T rule the world in most settings. In most settings kings and nobles don't answer to Dragons. And by all rights, they should.

Why? A mage guild with a decent stock of Melf's Acid Arrow wands (of a couple elements) and a few dozen apprentices can kill any dragon in a round or three. Actually - I figure that sort of thing is why nobles put up with mage guild shenanigans.

I figure that other non-D&D fantasy worlds to have similar ways to deal with them.

The Glyphstone
2016-02-01, 01:32 AM
Why? A mage guild with a decent stock of Melf's Acid Arrow wands (of a couple elements) and a few dozen apprentices can kill any dragon in a round or three. Actually - I figure that sort of thing is why nobles put up with mage guild shenanigans.

I figure that other non-D&D fantasy worlds to have similar ways to deal with them.

Any dragon not immune to acid damage, at least.

Cazero
2016-02-01, 01:51 AM
Why? A mage guild with a decent stock of Melf's Acid Arrow wands (of a couple elements) and a few dozen apprentices can kill any dragon in a round or three. Actually - I figure that sort of thing is why nobles put up with mage guild shenanigans.

I figure that other non-D&D fantasy worlds to have similar ways to deal with them.

Low level spellcasters using heavy logistics to cast a high number of low level low damage spells?
One scroll of protection from acid is way cheaper. Dragon wins.

Psyren
2016-02-01, 02:12 AM
Dragons are not a hivemind. They don't rule the world because they're too busy playing politics with each other. There's even a name for it - Daes Dae'mar Xorvintaal. They barely have time to pay attention to the ants, excuse me, humanoids scurrying about underfoot - and should any of them stretch himself or herself too thin trying to assert dominion over these lesser races, they'd quickly find that they had played right into a rival's claws, even one that might be as dismissive of these lesser creatures as they themselves.

This goes for non-D&D settings/systems too, like World of Darkness - Vampire has The Masquerade and Werewolf has its Tribes and Auspices that vie for dominance. Humans are not at the top of the pecking order there either, but neither do they have to worry about being wiped out, not by a long shot. In fact, in WoD most of the fantastic races need humans in order to propagate their species (one way or another.)

Yahzi
2016-02-01, 07:03 AM
I'm trying to reconcile it as closely as possible to the stereotypical 'castles and armies' tropes we see in all medieval fantasy games.
I feel like I've had some success with that, with two changes:

1) the XP curve doubles at every step, making anything over 11th lvl pretty rare.

2) XP is a tangible resource harvested from people. So commoners are the source of all power. Barons have fuedal estates and collect wheat from the farmers and XP from their corpses. Dragons and mind-flayers then feed off the concentrated XP of the barons.

It all works out pretty well.

goto124
2016-02-01, 09:28 AM
2) XP is a tangible resource harvested from people. So commoners are the source of all power. Barons have fuedal estates and collect wheat from the farmers and XP from their corpses. Dragons and mind-flayers then feed off the concentrated XP of the barons.

What did I just waste my time on? (http://i.imgur.com/23nlBFt.png)

CharonsHelper
2016-02-01, 09:59 AM
Any dragon not immune to acid damage, at least.

That's why I said "of a couple elements". It's not hard to alter a spell's element with metamagic when creating a wand. Other than greens they could use Protection from Acid, but that only absorbs 120 anyway.

Psyren
2016-02-01, 10:23 AM
What did I just waste my time on? (http://i.imgur.com/23nlBFt.png)

Shouldn't the grain be a loop leading back to more commoners?

The Glyphstone
2016-02-01, 11:18 AM
That's why I said "of a couple elements". It's not hard to alter a spell's element with metamagic when creating a wand. Other than greens they could use Protection from Acid, but that only absorbs 120 anyway.

Resist Acid would be better - Resistance 10 means every single one of those 2d4 bursts is going to be absorbed, for as long as the spell lasts, and those apprentices won't get a chance to fire twice. And most wouldn't even need scrolls, if they are Young Adult or older (barring Whites and Blacks), they can cast Resist Energy directly out of their inherent spell slots.

CharonsHelper
2016-02-01, 11:33 AM
Resist Acid would be better - Resistance 10 means every single one of those 2d4 bursts is going to be absorbed, for as long as the spell lasts, and those apprentices won't get a chance to fire twice. And most wouldn't even need scrolls, if they are Young Adult or older (barring Whites and Blacks), they can cast Resist Energy directly out of their inherent spell slots.

Well - aside from them using different elements anyway - if it's Pathfinder you're right. However, if you're playing 3.5, Energy Resistance applies only once each round, not once versus each attack. Therefore, getting Energy Resistance 10 would only block (on average) the first 2 apprentices' attacks each round, and those same attacks the next round. (while the apprentices would hit again). Pretty negligible.

The Glyphstone
2016-02-01, 12:02 PM
Well - aside from them using different elements anyway - if it's Pathfinder you're right. However, if you're playing 3.5, Energy Resistance applies only once each round, not once versus each attack. Therefore, getting Energy Resistance 10 would only block (on average) the first 2 apprentices' attacks each round, and those same attacks the next round. (while the apprentices would hit again). Pretty negligible.

That only applies to innate racial Energy Resistance in 3.5. Using the specific spell Resist Energy blocks damage from each attack, as per the spell description. This is a discrepancy because the spell claims to give Energy Resistance, but specific always trumps general.

Not to mention most of your apprentices aren't going to get a second shot, what with the dragon eating them and all. Unless you've managed to engage this dragon on an infinite featureless plane, MAA's theoretical Long range is going to be cut down immensely in most environments. Now in theory, if you bring enough apprentices, the dragon will be worn down by raw attrition, but that is a loss rate horrifically in the dragon's favor and it can still usually just run away. Dragons are not just Tarrasques with wings and breath weapons.

On second look, I checked my actual Monster Manual instead of the SRD, and it also says per attack. The SRD is simply in error.

CharonsHelper
2016-02-01, 12:12 PM
Not to mention most of your apprentices aren't going to get a second shot, what with the dragon eating them and all. Unless you've managed to engage this dragon on an infinite featureless plane, MAA's theoretical Long range is going to be cut down immensely in most environments.

If the apprentices were going after the dragon - I'd agree. However, this tactic would be used for defense of a city - where the walls are riddled with various arrow slits etc. for them to shoot out of (+8 reflex & improved evasion), and they'd see the dragon coming from far off.

Besides - the apprentices wouldn't be the only threat. For one thing - the higher level wizards should be chucking Dispel Magics at a buffed up single foe.

Leewei
2016-02-01, 12:30 PM
Evolution in a fantastic world would probably take a far different track than what we've seen in our own world. Creatures such as giants and dragons pretty much ignore the square-cube law, as well as being far too large to effectively feed themselves in most habitats.

Humans interbreed with just about anything in 4e. Half-orcs, half-elves, and Muls are all examples showing these species are biologically compatible. This strongly implies common ancestry.

Fantasy tends to be fairly literal about creation of the world, though. In most game worlds, the gods took an active role in shaping the world and it's inhabitants. A strong argument in favor of humanity's survival is that the species' patron gods continue to look out for it.

Segev
2016-02-01, 02:03 PM
Don't forget, too, that Lamarckian evolution is often very obviously in practice in fantasy settings. Change something about a creature, and that change will likely carry on to its offspring. Including things like "The Elephant's Child" tale about where they got their trunks.

The Glyphstone
2016-02-01, 04:21 PM
If the apprentices were going after the dragon - I'd agree. However, this tactic would be used for defense of a city - where the walls are riddled with various arrow slits etc. for them to shoot out of (+8 reflex & improved evasion), and they'd see the dragon coming from far off.

Besides - the apprentices wouldn't be the only threat. For one thing - the higher level wizards should be chucking Dispel Magics at a buffed up single foe.

Why would the dragon be attacking a city in the first place? We may be talking past each other, I thought your whole plan was intended to be a foolproof way for humans to exterminate dragons if they wanted to, using magical zerg tactics.

Keltest
2016-02-01, 04:31 PM
Why would the dragon be attacking a city in the first place? We may be talking past each other, I thought your whole plan was intended to be a foolproof way for humans to exterminate dragons if they wanted to, using magical zerg tactics.

It was an explanation for why dragons don't regularly go around destroying human cities single handedly.

The Glyphstone
2016-02-01, 04:50 PM
It was an explanation for why dragons don't regularly go around destroying human cities single handedly.

Ah, okay. Those dragons are stupid and deserve to get murdered by armies of apprentice wizards; cities are not worth the effort and risk to attack head-on. Though dragons that really wanted to destroy cities(not that I can see any good reason for them to do so) wouldn't attack them anyways, they would raze the villages and farms providing food to the city and let the population starve beyond the small portion that could be sustained with Create Food and Water.

CharonsHelper
2016-02-01, 04:51 PM
Why would the dragon be attacking a city in the first place? We may be talking past each other, I thought your whole plan was intended to be a foolproof way for humans to exterminate dragons if they wanted to, using magical zerg tactics.

As Keltest said - I was arguing why dragons couldn't simply take over the world, even if they wanted to. I also think it's a pretty decent explanation for why cities put up with mage guilds and might even encourage them.

CharonsHelper
2016-02-01, 04:54 PM
Ah, okay. Those dragons are stupid and deserve to get murdered by armies of apprentice wizards;

Right. I'm not saying that such things happen often for just that reason.

A dragon starting to mess with the countryside is when you send for the PCs! (Though killing the city off makes even less sense for the dragon than trying to take it over.)

VoxRationis
2016-02-01, 06:14 PM
Regarding the "apprentices v. dragon" matchup:
If the apprentices are defending a city, they can't also be within range to mutually support one another. Even optimal conditions (no defenses against the element of choice, no one being eaten) would require several rounds of concentrated fire to bring down a dragon, and there are relatively few places within the lines of fire of all the apprentices. A dragon is vastly more mobile than an apprentice wizard, even if the wall walks are big enough to ride a horse in. If the apprentices do not cluster into one mass, the dragon can easily pick them apart at the flank, and if they do cluster into one mass, they can't adequately defend a city-sized area.

CharonsHelper
2016-02-01, 06:51 PM
would require several rounds of concentrated fire to bring down a dragon, and there are relatively few places within the lines of fire of all the apprentices.

From various places in/on the city walls as they approach? It's not like giant flying dragons are inconspicuous. Acid Arrow - even at min. level has a range of nearly 2 football fields. They don't have to defend every inch of the city if they just kill the dragon.

If you have 50 level 1 apprentices with the wands (ignoring all higher level casters and all other defenses of the city) they would kill the dragon in one round of shooting, though it wouldn't die until the 2nd round.

Consider a Great Wyrm Red Dragon (basically the worst case scenario - though it'd probably have some magic defenses up going in). It has a touch AC of 0, so the apprentices would hit on a roll of 2. Plus the chance of crit. So - those 50 apprentices would average 249.375 damage each round they shoot, plus 249.375 the following round. The Great Wyrm has only 449 hp.

BootStrapTommy
2016-02-01, 07:23 PM
This. Humans aren't the bottom of the food chain, lack of magical powers or not. Humans are freaking biological Terminators. I remember reading somewhere a discussion about how humans compare to most of the animals in our world and how we have a number biological advantages that we often fail to consider.

It concluded that humans are space orcs, and that should we meet an alien race on the same technological level, we'll probably be the stuff of their nightmares...

CharonsHelper
2016-02-01, 07:41 PM
I remember reading somewhere a discussion about how humans compare to most of the animals in our world and how we have a number biological advantages that we often fail to consider.

I think that's mostly because we subconsciously compare untrained unarmed overweight middle-aged guys to animals in their prime with teeth/claws.

BootStrapTommy
2016-02-01, 07:56 PM
I think that's mostly because we subconsciously compare untrained unarmed overweight middle-aged guys to animals in their prime with teeth/claws. We are the most ruthless apex predators on our planet, we often forget that.

illyahr
2016-02-01, 09:01 PM
Well - aside from them using different elements anyway - if it's Pathfinder you're right. However, if you're playing 3.5, Energy Resistance applies only once each round, not once versus each attack. Therefore, getting Energy Resistance 10 would only block (on average) the first 2 apprentices' attacks each round, and those same attacks the next round. (while the apprentices would hit again). Pretty negligible.

Not really. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/resistEnergy.htm) It blocks damage per attack, not per round.

Talakeal
2016-02-01, 09:28 PM
Not really. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/resistEnergy.htm) It blocks damage per attack, not per round.

I,believe it was pointed out already that this is a mistake in the SRD, the books consistently say per attack rather than per round.

illyahr
2016-02-01, 09:46 PM
I,believe it was pointed out already that this is a mistake in the SRD, the books consistently say per attack rather than per round.

Wow, thought I was on the last page there. :smallbiggrin:

LarwisTheElf
2016-02-01, 10:05 PM
One thing that I think hasn't been discussed much yet is just how useful we humans are to other races. I mean seriously, if we humans are good at one thing, it's being useful.

Lets look at this from the perspective of stereotypical elves, for example.

Before humans came about, elves had to fight to orcs a lot. Orcs, who breed like rabbits compared to elves, and are physically stronger to boot. Yes elves had superior tactics and magic and whatnot, but they would eventually be overrun by sheer force of numbers. You could kill 100 orcs for every soldier you loose on the battlefield, but which side is going to feel the lose more at the end of the day? Plus in a few decades (not all that long for an elf), the orcs would be back in full force while the elves haven't had much time to replenish their own numbers.

Then one day, along come the humans. The wonderful humans who, while not as strong as orcs, breed just as fast. And are smarter. And more organized. And more civilized. And while a little rough around the edges, are willing to learn elven etiquette and try to get along with them. AND they send people to you to learn your awesome magics because they don't have as cool magic as you. AND whats this? They are willing to act as go betweens for you and other races so YOU don't have to deal with those stubborn, boorish dwarves, those thieving halflings, and those chaotic and just plain wierd gnomes? AND they don't like orcs either so they want to get rid of them too? AND they mostly settle in areas that you don't really care about (eg outside the forests). AND to top everything else off, some of them are easy on the eyes?

Why wouldn't you want to keep some of them around? It solves a lot of problems for you, even if it does create a few new ones.

In the campaign setting I'm working on atm, I take this one step further. Humans are relatively new to the world (~2500 years), and the only reason they survived was because the Elder Races (especially the elves), saw them as useful and decided to domesticate them.

Why are humans so adaptable? The elves found it difficult to get them specialized since they just died out so fast, so they worked on making them good all-rounders. Why can humans survive anywhere? In the few times the elves had to leave their precious forests, they wanted to have servants and guards that could survive the trip there and back without them having to waste their precious magics to make them comfortable (especially since they needed it for themselves).

Basically, humans are they way they are because they were bred to be that way.

Of course it ended up backfiring on them as humans are sentient beings and eventually began to ask things like "Can't we have nice things too?" and "Aren't we just as good as you?", to which the answer was, for the most part, "Haha, no." This eventually led to revolts and wars, and now (at the current time of the campaign) humans are free people with their own nations, and are just starting to enter their golden age.

Anyways, just my two cents on the matter.