Day 2 - 30 Day D&D Challenge 2013: The Amazing Race

Time is running out. Awesome cover art by Ciruelo Cabral, for Micheal A Stackpole's Fortress Draconis
Behold the 2nd post of the 30 Day Challenge. I heard about this through The Other Side Blog. Cred for the origonal idea goes to  Polar Bear Dreams and Stranger Things.

2. Favorite playable race

My favorite race is human, easily.

I have seen that many of my contemporaries agree that human is best for them, and I applaud their good taste. But while some enjoy humans for versatility, and others for the extra feat or faster XP in 3rd edition D&D, I play human because I like one of their more negative traits.

That trait is Desperation.

In most settings, we have Tolkien derivative humanoid creatures. I love those derivatives: elves, dwarves and Halflings populate my own homebrew. In my homebrew, and in most of the D&D settings that I know of, these creatures have good traits and bad traits. There is one trait that seems common to non-humans though: they live for hundreds of years.

Elves are especially blessed with longevity. In my world, elves live about 2000 years. My elves have mature, bodies equivalent to a 20 year-old human from the time they are 20 till they are about 1700. From 1700 to 1900, they go from fit bodies to the bodies of most healthy human retirees; those elves are able to complain about creaky joints and other pains but still able to pursue work and hobbies. They are truly old for about 100 or so years. In other worlds however, it is implied that elves never die naturally, and that they may live forever.

Humans are not so lucky. In our time, with all of our medicine and sanitation, humans live 60-100 years. Humans in the monster/plague/war filled fantasy worlds of D&D may live to be 80, if they are lucky enough to be nobles.

A short life span puts human adventures in a unique position. If they are the willing type of adventurer, the one who has trained to be a rogue or mage for the chance to delve a dungeon and do something great, then they have a limited number of chances to be successful and a short amount time to make it big. So they may be more inclined to take risks than, say, a band of elven adventures who could take their time building their riches and train much longer for their chance at glory. When the clock is ticking, humans can become pesky, slimy, stubborn, stoic, ambivalent, irreverent, terse, shrewd, cunning or insane to get ahead.

Dozens of potential dramatic situations magically appear when you consider the human situation in most fantasy settings. For example, we might see a human peasant woman, perhaps one of the most marginalized types of people in the medieval world, suddenly take up adventuring because it’s the only way to survive or be noticed (and the opposition against he would be frighteningly numerous).

Humans are great adapters too. I have thought a lot about fantasy worlds, and I always wondered why huge spans of time, thousands of years, could pass without any great technology manifesting itself. One idea I had is that the long lived races, especially elves, rise to power and stay there for thousands of year. Nobody likes change: elves are no exception (except a few...), so why would any elven leaders be open to new inventions? Elves have a tendency to stagnate society, at least in my world.

Humans, however, may be able to proudly wear the stereotype of rabble rouser, because they only have so much time to shine. That dynamic impatience is why I love playing the human.

P.S. Ain't it neat that I actually found a picture of a female knight that had armor on?

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