True Yospeck, and well.. everyone else :P I enjoy conversations like this.. mainly cause everyone is right, for different reasons, and its such a complex topic you can argue almost any point... I didn't mean to imply people are uncreative when making games and such, I just find that story usually comes near the end when there is so much more to do.. rules, visuals, programming, and everything else.. usually stories are crafted at the end, and when most games are already crunched for time, and a story is something that cannot be tangibly defined as "finished" I find at least for computer games, it gets a basic once over, and that's that... the easiest way to do so is to copy the gist of another popular story, fiction or non-fiction, or combinations of those. as well there are plenty of exceptions, so i don't want to seem like i think everyones story in a rpg game is crap.
I also believe it does come down to storytelling, and the concept of "write what you know"... it's easy for us to picture humans, because we ARE humans, and have thousands of years of human history to draw off of... a fictional race is much harder to define, because in essence, we probably can't mentally grasp how a drastically different race would act... it's also why different races tend to be humanoid, and also tend to model themselves after some other human empire or race... its easier to base them off of something we can actually understand.... Those that do successfully define, describe, and really understand how a fictional race works is rare indeed, and very hard to do. Even things like language, like elvish or dwarvish in LOTR, is usually a lifetime effort in itself... understanding and creating truely unique language in any way but a natural cultural change is extremely astounding to me, but the same would go for a culture, especially when they don't fall into the same aspects that humans fall into...
For me, the best i can think of still ends up using what i can learn... I'd look into the society of other animals for instance, prides and colonies, alpha males, etc... it'd be interesting to attempt to create a culture based on say, a lions pride... but also expand it beyond those limits, exploring the idea of lions that are intelligent, and how their culture would naturally evolve beyond the current, fairly small prides... it's look similar, but on a larger scale, and very different... how would an army work, what kind of caste system would their be, etc... again.. something you could spend a lifetime exploring.
I just wanted to point out, that in the world i have been building (stories for kindle) Humans are more often then not the slaves of other races. However, they take slaves themselves. The Empire race is my own creation, they are about American civil war era in terms of tech, black powder guns, metal war ships and electricity. They take slaves at every turn. They have no magical talent so they have started "breeding farms" where they try to cultivate the magic gene. Breeding humans and crossing them with other races.
Originally Posted by Dornier Spy
Humans on the other hand are general fantasy type. Swords, magic and castles. I think they are the most wide spread race still though. Dwarves on the other hand unlike most fantasies are doing very well, they had their "almost extinct" moment and have since brought they population back up to happy levels.
Anyway i could go on for days talking about it. Glad to see other people have noticed these things too.
With regards to the racism question, i think in the real world its a problem to do with fear of different people. ion a fantasy world filled with orcs elves and goblins, i think mankinds natural tendencies to fear the different and unknown will pick out the elves and orcs and whatnots above the different coloured/ethnicities of humanity. though its an interesting subject in its own right
with regards to humans being the dominant race... its a cliche (though cliches arent in their nature bad... perhaps trope is a better term) and im guilty of this myself. But try look at it in a roundabout way - its like any action or horror movie. the main character is the main character because s/he is the survivor. imagine it as a true story - youre not going to adapt the tale of the first victim into a movie, youre going to base your story around the survivor, thus making him/her the main character.
imagine the races in a fantasy setting in the same way - humans are the pov races because theyre the most dominant (ie the survivors) - however that happens can be the focus of the story. If the dominant race was something other than humans, the same logic applies.
think that makes sense...
EDIT: when i read the thread title i assumed the thread was going to be about unwashed rotund bearded guys hanging out in comicbook stores...
In the Ancient World race didn't mean much. I learned about how the Roman emperors came from different cultures. All were equally evil. I think if humanity could coexist with anything with a brain the Neanderthals would still be alive. If human mythology gives any clue to reality, legends are laced with stories of how we overcame the giants and whatever existed before us. We are just best at out competing other species. Even if we coevolved with elves, dwarves and orcs, we would have wiped them out or have been wiped out before we reached the Mideval Period to duke it out in our fantasy RPGs. Dragons are the most known victims of zenophobia I know about. I think humanity in Ancient Times was better suited for a united front against whatever threat there is than the modern population we think of. In Ancient Times wars were over land, religion and resources rather than race itself like today. I really doubt that we as a species could get along and coexist with any other sentient life form. We even slaughter dolphins for no reason in various parts of the world. Humanity is born with fear and we evolved from a prey species that was eaten by the Big Cats in Africa. We are born with fear of anything new. It saved us from extinction, but it does terrible for an original story.
None of the mythical races have the all around enginuity of humans. Each race seems to be and exageration of a human quality. Dwarves are greed, Elves are grace, Orces are anger, Giants are Ego, Mermaids are Lust, Fairies are Innocence, you get the idea. They are aspects of ourselves. As a person with a learning disability, I can vouch for these sentient mythical races. They stand no chance if we can't get along with ourselvs. I really doubt we'll ever get along with another species with technology and a civilization independent of our making. It would really suck if an advanced alien race from outer space came to Earth with human values, we would really be f***ed. I get descriminated because my mind thinks differently. So this prejudice runs deep and for people born different it was never good.
A good RPG would probably have no humans and let the mythical races duke it out or tell some sort of story about their lives. I'm sure these mythical races would make a really good story of their perceived history or a totally made up history before humans existed, since mythology says these races existed before man. Was the fall of Atlantis caused by a mythical race? Come on people, lets see where this one goes.
Well, my published Kaidan setting of Japanese horror dwells in the 'humans first' racist trope, not due to lack of creativity, rather to fit the concept of a dark fantasy Asian world that somewhat fits historical feudal Japan. And it's not just against non-humans, but consider the word "gaijin" which means 'long noses' referring to westerners and meaning 'barbarous' to a degree - it is somewhat derogatory. However, the first module of my Kaidan introductory trilogy, the Curse of the Golden Spear, which feature visiting 'western' adventurers accompanying a merchant in the delivery of a 'gift' to an exotic realm - all the PCs are considered gaijin by the Kaidanese populace, and stated so multiple times in that adventure trilogy.
Like the Japanese of the feudal era, the Kaidanese are a very xenophobic people. The non-humans of Kaidan: kappa, kitsune, korobokuru, hengeyokai, and tengu hide in the wilderness, knowing that most samurai, if not most Kaidanese will kill them on sight or run away in horror. Though many such beings can shapechange into human or animal form and blend in to the crowd. With this point of view, however, non-human gaijin, can expect an especially frosty interaction with the Kaidanese.