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Concise Locket

How common are non-Human PCs in your games?

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I'm brainstorming a campaign and I've been thumbing through the various career books in my SWRPG library. When I come to the playable species sections, I find myself reading the entries and thinking, "These are great! Too bad none of my players will ever want to play any of these."

I'm probably revealing too much of the psychology of my play group but I've noticed that players often drift to either Human (or it's Corellian/Mandalorian alternatives) or one of the "sexier" aliens: Chiss, Twi'lek, or Falleen. Of the six campaigns I've run, I can't recall a single oddball alien like a Gand or Iktochi, let alone a stock Star Wars character like a Wookiee. The last time I was actually a player in a Star Wars game (Saga Edition, I think), I wanted to play an Ewok but my GM (who sucked) wanted to do a "hard space warriors being hard in space" campaign and wouldn't let me. 

I'm starting to pay more credence to the theory that most (not all, but most) players want to play themselves but smarter and better looking.

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In my 1st game of 4 players we had 3 of the 4 players were aliens.  Since it was and age of Rebellion campaign the players found it harder when interacting with the Empire.  In both of my current games every one picked humans, even though I told them we were playing in outer rim and wild space so the Empire wouldn't have a big presence.

I one of my players doesn't like aliens since doesn't know kuch of start wars lore.  The others like The extra skills that human get and benefit with blending in.  I even offered to let them have human stats but visually be a different race and had no takers. 

 

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Humans are the least common characters in my groups.

Game 1: Bothan, Clawdite, Sluishii (SP), Human, Twilek

Game 2: Jawa, Gotal, Droid, Human, Togruta, Weequay

 

In the online game I am playing in, I  am playing an Ardennian and we have a Drall and two Humans

Edited by Varlie

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35 minutes ago, Concise Locket said:

..The last time I was actually a player in a Star Wars game (Saga Edition, I think), I wanted to play an Ewok but my GM (who sucked) wanted to do a "hard space warriors being hard in space" campaign and wouldn't let me. 

It sounds like the GM needs to release some of his preconceived notions on random species.  I understand how Ewoks were shown in the movie but, however primitive, they can be good warriors.

The Jawa in my Old Republic game is an Armorer. Soresu Defender, Protector.  He has 16 wounds and 8 soak and with the lightsaber, custom Cortosis Weave Armor, and  Parry hardly ever takes a wound.  He deals decent damage but he's not the strongest damage dealer in the group.  He is by all definitions a Tank character that happens to be a Jawa.

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In the game I ran for several years before my son was born ( then another player took over as gm ignand started another campaign) we had 3 humans (1 female), a duros marshal/sharpshooter named Thad Bane (you've likely heard of his infamous uncle), a twi'lek pilot, 2 droids mechanic/doctor & gadgeteer/ sharpshooter, a later gank marauder/doctor, we also had a sidekick npc gamorean bodyguard named Kevin Bacon that one of the human PC's players frequently controlled and a human replica droid sidekick npc that merged with the ship's ai ala Rommie from gene roddenberry's starship andromeda 

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Same here.  My group consists of 4 humans, 2 chiss, and a faleen; and one of the chiss would have probably been a human but she wanted to be the other chiss player's twin sister.  Two former PCs were an umbaran and... another near-human I can't remember the name of... the ones that learn about people by fighting them. 

As to the whys; one of the human players specifically wanted to be an ex-stormtrooper, one wanted to be a mandalorian, and one specifically based his character on an another character who happened to be human.  The fourth perhaps just understood that the galaxy was dominated by humans and didn't want to miss out on potential 'social interactions' with NPCs.  Idunno. 

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I've seen a mix, but, yeah, the Humans and near-Humans have dominated. Often when I get an oddball species, it's from a min-maxer who wants a dump stat. I see lots of folks talk about playing Drall on these boards, and I can't think that it's because they're necessarily compelling for story reasons.

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In the game I'm currently in, we got one human, one clone, and two aliens (sullustan and besalisk). 

I'm playing the human, and I'm definetly of the same cloth as your players; I would not play most star wars species, and stick almost exclusively to humans and a few of the more human-like aliens.

 

The reason for why I do this, is plain and simply that the vast majority of star wars aliens are absolutely fugly. Not even the cool kind, just absolute garbage looking species. So while I do not play anything to be a cooler or better version than me, I do play specific species to have a cool looking character, and as such most star wars species are unsuitable for use.

 

Besalisk is probably the most outlandish thing I'll play, but my buddy grabbed that before I remembered the species existed, so.. I ended up with human.

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In my NJO game, there's technically only 1 actual human in the group (and funnily enough, he is an older Iktochi cook that is now becoming a Jedi...), though at least one of them is near-human enough to pass for an actual human, and another is a Zabrak. The last of the group is a devaronian, definitely on the more star wars-y scale of species, but not as much as Wookiees.

 

Personally I love playing aliens, though right now my only PCs are a Mandalorian/Echani Human and a Clone, but I'm adding a Cathar to my roster early in May. My first SW character in this system was actually a Wookiee, and man, I still sometimes miss playing the grumpy clone wars vet Wookiee that was still, by his species standards, pretty much someone bearly out of his teenage years. In that group, we also only had one human (and he was a Mandalorian with Echani heritage too... actually related to the character I now play in another game) played by the only one of the players from back then I still have contact with and would play with again, because that game became a giant dumpster fire.

Edited by Silim

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Each group I've played with has had 1 human.  It works well to have at least one for when dealing with Imperials or bigots.

Current group is sullustan, wookiee, givin, and human.

Previous group was droid, twilek (male), gran, and a human.

Group before that was droid, trandoshan, wookiee (that made things interesting), and human (that belittled droids as he believed they had the rights and sentience of a kitchen appliance).  There was a lot of inter-player conflict in this group.

Humans have always been a minority in any setting or RPG we play.  What I don't understand is why anyone in SW would have a mostly human group.  At least play some of the near human species of which there are plenty.  Miralukan, Pantoran, Zeltron, Chiss, Arkanian, Sarkhai, Zabrak, Echani, Rattitaki, Keshiri, Mirialan, Etc...  There is an entire rainbow of humans with different skin color.  If you are willing to do one step further and accept a slight variance from human, there are even more choices.  It at least gives your character something half way unique about them on the surface.  Plus, it gives the GM something to play around with.  An NPC of the same race that trusts one character more, or an NPC that hates that race, or a trip to that homeworld, or an NPC that oppressed a players race, etc...

If you look at all named characters in Star Wars, Humans only make up like 40% of the total population.  And if you figure that number might be slightly skewed in order to give human movie goers characters that they can relate to,  you come to realize that a party of all humans would look **** odd unless it was Imperial loyalists.

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In my first campaign as a player we had. 2 corellians, a drall, 2 droids, a chiss and a wookiee.

2nd campaign as a player. A zabrak, a drall, 3 humans and a droid

My current campaign as gm consists of: a human, a corellian, a drall, a falleen, an aleena, and a duros. With previous appearances of a mando, a mirialan and a gran.

Next campaign that's currently in the planning stages. So far we have a clawdite, devaronian and a selonian. With 3 more to submit characters.

Overall I'd say it falls 65/35 non human to human. Most of my players look more to the concept and what works best (min maxing within reason) than What the species looks like.

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In my last campaign: Farghul, Twi'lekk, Ithorian, Drall, Chandra-Fan, Twi'lek, a droid and an invented species (because, apparently, there are not enough species in Star Wars... LOL)

We have a great cast, but the only problem was when they need to talk with Imperial authorities, the best candidate was a spy addict to exotics drugs and a Charmer, looking for business opportunities. We sure had some fun.

3 hours ago, Concise Locket said:

I'm starting to pay more credence to the theory that most (not all, but most) players want to play themselves but smarter and better looking.

This might be true, but I would argue the "most" part. You can see this in D&D as well.

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Currently Rodian, Gand, 3 humans (of various flavours and backgrounds, Ex-Imperial, Corellian, Coursantian.) and a Mustifarian.

At the start of this arc, it was the Rodian, Gand, 2 humans, a Gank, a droid, an Aqualish. and a Dathmorian Zabrak.

Needless to say we've had some pretty funky compositions, but I believe that our current crew is as most humancentric as it's got so far. It largely makes sense as up until fairly recently most of our adventures have been in the seedier regions of space (Hutt Space, outer rim,) and a lot of the characters were motivated to join the alliance because the empire was seen as this engine of human centricity. 

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If I am playing, pretty much always. Unless the GM's story demands it, I will always play an alien. Off the top of my head over many years I have played Trianni, Gigoran, Wookie, Falleen, Devaronian, Selkath and Natoulan. In the game I am currently playing in, the GM insisted that we have one character that can pass for human so I am playing a Pantoran alongside a Whipid and a Farghul.

I really enjoy taking the few tidbits of information on a species, the biological features and social notes and extrapolating out the mindset and society that species would potentially have. My personal philosophy of gaming is if I want to be a human, I can do that away from the game table.

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I never play humans (i already get forced to do that all day everyday as it is) and always choose to play an alien.

Although I retired him for a new campaign we recently started, my all-time favorite character from any version of Star Wars RPG’s is a Dug smuggler/gunslinger. Always loved the visual of him flying and shooting with his feet :)

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Edited by MonkeyInSpace

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On 4/26/2019 at 10:26 AM, Varlie said:

It sounds like the GM needs to release some of his preconceived notions on random species.  I understand how Ewoks were shown in the movie but, however primitive, they can be good warriors.

The Jawa in my Old Republic game is an Armorer. Soresu Defender, Protector.  He has 16 wounds and 8 soak and with the lightsaber, custom Cortosis Weave Armor, and  Parry hardly ever takes a wound.  He deals decent damage but he's not the strongest damage dealer in the group.  He is by all definitions a Tank character that happens to be a Jawa.

Many games have a race or species or two that will usually invite the character to be treated as comedy relief. In RuneQuest/Glorantha it's the Ducks. In D&D it's usually Goblins or Gnomes. In Star wars it's Ewoks, Jawas, & Pit Droids.

The juxtaposition between a serious situation and a diminutive, impish character can easily tip the table into jokes that relate directly to what is happening in-game. The psychological effect at work there has to constantly be suborned in order to have the pint-sized character be taken seriously as it does non-comedy things. 

Add to this that most players who choose one of these characters tend to relish acting silly or hamming up the fact that they are 2 feet tall when the bullets are not flying and initiative isn't being counted. Actually playing comedy relief. 

Also the benefits of being small are always front and center as they use it for every possible excuse of why they should be able to crawl through the sound hole on a guitar, but the weaknesses are never something they are up for, and will often be met with whining or outright anger.

Some GMs who are invested in their game on a quasi-artistic level needs to feel like the game is of the sort they want to run, so to me it just wasn't the game for the player who wanted to play an Ewok. The GM may have sucked independent of that though. 

The system doesn't punish you for playing a tiny character so of course XP and equipment will make a lilliputian work mechanically. 

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On 4/26/2019 at 1:26 PM, kmanweiss said:

Each group I've played with has had 1 human.  It works well to have at least one for when dealing with Imperials or bigots.

Current group is sullustan, wookiee, givin, and human.

Previous group was droid, twilek (male), gran, and a human.

Group before that was droid, trandoshan, wookiee (that made things interesting), and human (that belittled droids as he believed they had the rights and sentience of a kitchen appliance).  There was a lot of inter-player conflict in this group.

Humans have always been a minority in any setting or RPG we play.  What I don't understand is why anyone in SW would have a mostly human group.  At least play some of the near human species of which there are plenty.  Miralukan, Pantoran, Zeltron, Chiss, Arkanian, Sarkhai, Zabrak, Echani, Rattitaki, Keshiri, Mirialan, Etc...  There is an entire rainbow of humans with different skin color.  If you are willing to do one step further and accept a slight variance from human, there are even more choices.  It at least gives your character something half way unique about them on the surface.  Plus, it gives the GM something to play around with.  An NPC of the same race that trusts one character more, or an NPC that hates that race, or a trip to that homeworld, or an NPC that oppressed a players race, etc...

If you look at all named characters in Star Wars, Humans only make up like 40% of the total population.  And if you figure that number might be slightly skewed in order to give human movie goers characters that they can relate to,  you come to realize that a party of all humans would look **** odd unless it was Imperial loyalists.

Humans are relateable. You know how their relationships, psychology, and behaviors are supposed to function. Even with many millennia of total multiculturalism some instincts will remain and humans would tend to be around humans in intimate settings much of the time. Yes I am sure humans would be quite comfortable with the other species and all that, and the Star Wars aliens are fun as a way to make the setting feel strange.

But there is nothing unique about a near human/rubber head/or full alien character. To their species they are just a representation of their phenotype. These characters are only "interesting" if you feel that playing a human is a denial of choices. Humans are one of the choices on the menu, are they somehow supposed to rate less than aliens when just about all of the major characters in the movies were human?

Storytellers use fantastic sentient creatures in our stories to sometimes represent aspects of people in a way that allows the story to symbolize on a wider scale: Hobbits are farmers from the English countryside, orcs are the barbarian people of another land. And sometimes they are just there to promote a feeling of weirdness, to make the point that it's not what you are used to environmentally. In the case of Trandoshans and Wookiees they are animal people who have tendencies we recognize: murderous reptilian malice, canine ferocity and loyalty.

If you can't make a human character interesting then you've failed where most authors, playwrights, and screenwriters have succeeded for thousands of years. Aliens and Elves and Centaurs are only interesting if anthropomorphized. The setting isn't realistic, so aliens are essentially just people. I don't mean that in a message of tolerance kind of way, but in a they are actually just people with a different body kind of way. People are interesting, the creator of Star Wars knew this. That's why it wasn't the adventures of Bluuuguat the Quarren as he yearned to leave his egg sac and bathe in a mucus bank before blowing up the death star.

As for the Empire, 40% is a huge number and given that whatever amount of that is the Empire it appears to be a significant plurality. For the Empire to be as successful as it is presumed to be the other species would have to be a very clear set of divided populations or very bad at combat, or both. 

I've seen a few players be able to handle a non-human character and still manage to keep the character worthy of time on screen as a main protagonist, but its rare in my experience. Most of the time it's just the player looking to throw a load of toppings on top of their PC sundae, playing with the menu choices. In this setting that affords some variety to the group that is congruent with the setting so its fine, but it's not Oh thank goodness someone is playing aliens, whew bullet dodged

There's nothing wrong with a group of humans, as there are always NPCs to fill in the side character role that aliens and droids normally fulfill in the movies. 

Edited by Archlyte

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A former poster on these boards, Maelora, made a very good point when it came to playable species, one that I've seen quite often in the 25+ years that I've been playing Star Wars RPGs.

Namely, most players are going to gravitate to those species that look like they could be the starring hero in a movie, or as she called them, the "pretties" such as Humans, Twi'leks, Togruta, Zabraks, and Chiss vs. the "uglies" such as Mon Cal, Ithorians, and Gand.  And my own experiences tend to line up with that, with it being the rare player that routinely chooses to play one of the "uglies" (i.e. species that in a film would need extensive make-up, prosthetics, and/or CGI) as opposed to one of Star Trek's numerous "rubber forehead aliens."

Bothans are in a weird sort of middle ground from my experiences, and with only a couple exceptions only showed up if there was going to be spy-type stuff happening or a strong possibility of social/political intrigue.  I've only seen a total of three Ewok PCs, and all of them were comedic relief type characters, same with the sole Gamorrean (d6) that I've seen in play.  Wookiees seem to buck the trend as Chewie's presence as a major supporting character helped make Wookiees "acceptable" as a viable player-character species, even in roles outside of being a meatwall/bruiser.  I've only ever seen two Jawa PCs, and I played one of them, and both leaned towards comedic relief due to how out of place they were in the larger galaxy.

Archlyte's also got a good point that Humans make a solid default as majority of us are pretty confident on our ability to portray a Human no matter what the setting, especially in RPGs where being a Human offers tangible and viable mechanics; AD&D 2e Humans were pretty lame, so you tended to not see many Human-centric parties unless the games were going into the high-teens for levels (and the DM actually enforced the racial level caps, which most of the DMs I knew didn't).  From D&D 3rd edition onward, Humans saw more usage in groups because they had some pretty solid benefits (3e Humans had bonus skill points and a bonus feat, the latter of which was huge, 4e had a bonus at-will power, and 5e you either get a boost to all ability scores or a bonus trained skill and a bonus feat, which is an even bigger boon in 5e).  But in those earlier D&D campaigns, the non-Humans were generally Human-looking (elves, dwarves, halflings) and frequently were played as "humans with pointy ears/huge beards/hairy feet."

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