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How common are non-Human PCs in your games?

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Posted (edited)

Star Wars is and has aways been a franchise with a sense of humor. Even the otherwise dark Rogue One has a sarcastic droid sidekick. I don't fault anyone for wanting to play the comic relief. The trick for the player is to only let their Jawa or Ewok get up to their antics when tonally appropriate. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies are actually good guidelines for this, I think. Groot and Rocket are both "joke characters" from an RPG standpoint, but they also deliver some of those movies biggest emotional moments.

As with anything, I'd err on the side of communicating with a problem player rather than banning "little" species. If their antics are getting out of hand, talk to them. Work with them. Learning to roleplay takes time.

Edited by SavageBob

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7 hours ago, SavageBob said:

Star Wars is and has aways been a franchise with a sense of humor. Even the otherwise dark Rogue One has a sarcastic droid sidekick. I don't fault anyone for wanting to play the comic relief. The trick for the player is to only let their Jawa or Ewok get up to their antics when tonally appropriate. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies are actually good guidelines for this, I think. Groot and Rocket are both "joke characters" from an RPG standpoint, but they also deliver some of those movies biggest emotional moments.

As with anything, I'd err on the side of communicating with a problem player rather than banning "little" species. If their antics are getting out of hand, talk to them. Work with them. Learning to roleplay takes time.

I agree with you @SavageBob and I think the Guardians of the Galaxy movies are a great example of what a disciplined storyteller and cast can do with comedy relief. I feel that they rarely overuse the humor, which is impressive since there is so much of it. The Deadpool movies, while fun to watch, are not something I would enjoy in a game version because the characters have no consequences and they are just there to make fun of everything. Also I'm sure most people have seen bad movies that are ham-handed with the schlock and humor and end up having it completely invalidate whatever serious content they hoped initially to present. 

Those characters in GotG are able to deliver the emotional moments because the characters are perceived as being capable of being affected by the full range of emotional experience, not just a funny looking comedy device. A player character essentially being a "Taserface" will certainly bring laughs but when that character is in a scene where they are doing something capable or serious it is diluted because Taserface did it. I still laugh at that part of the movie just referencing it :)

If you want proof that this isn't easy to do just look at The Last Jedi. The humor in the movie is often out of place or diminishes the effect of serious scenes. Luke tossing that lightsaber after that emotionally charged scene at the end of The Force Awakens blows the scene apart, it wastes all of the effort that was put into making that moment meaningful to the audience so that someone could make a joke.

Comedy relief and light moments are absolutely necessary, I would not say that they aren't, but I feel that comedic elements are so potent that you are essentially handling story explosives. See Ep.1 for an example of how too much slapstick and foolish behavior in a character can drown out the rest of the movie. People remember that movie for Jar Jar, not for the other elements that it had in it. 

I also agree with what you said about learning to roleplay taking time. And if you play in kind of a casual game where it really is about social fun and not taking stuff seriously, then all of my comments are not directed toward that experience and don't apply. But I have found that a serious approach takes someone minding the content store, and making sure that the players are open to feedback and can deal with this sort of thing without taking it as an insult. 

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Donovan Morningfire said:

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."

She did indeed.  And, as probably the most well-versed in the MarcyVerse, I can provide the statistics on the species ratio in that world.  She's had over two-dozen or more characters, and the vast majority are humans.  The ratio, as far as I'm aware so far, is as follows:

Human - 21
Chagrian - 1
Chiss - 1
Droid - 2
Mirialan - 1
Togruta - 2
Twi'lek - 1
Zabrak - 1

There are up to six more characters that I haven't seen or can't remember, but that gives you an idea of the species ratio (as well of the kinds of species) that become heroes in the MarcyVerse :) .  Basically, two out of every three characters are human.

Edited by Absol197

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1 hour ago, Archlyte said:

Those characters in GotG are able to deliver the emotional moments because the characters are perceived as being capable of being affected by the full range of emotional experience, not just a funny looking comedy device. A player character essentially being a "Taserface" will certainly bring laughs but when that character is in a scene where they are doing something capable or serious it is diluted because Taserface did it. I still laugh at that part of the movie just referencing it :)

This is a good point. Even comedic characters need to have believable motivations and potential sore spots that the GM can press on. Groot and Rocket love the rest of their team (even if they don't always get along with them), and that attachment is perfect for drawing out that fuller range of emotions and not just the jokes. So when someone wants to play a potentially problematic character—maybe a Jawa whose motivation is to tinker indiscriminately, or a Wookiee who only cares about bashing heads—it's incumbent on the GM to work with the player to come up with a motivation that goes beyond that level. That is, unless your table doesn't mind one-note characters like that, in which case have at it. :)

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The campaign I GM for has

1 Jawa Technician, but rarely played for comic effect.

1 Zabrak Guardian.

1 Rodian Smuggler.

1 Sullustan Soldier.

1 Weequay Sentinel.

1 Chadra-fan Colonist.

 

I know the players picked these races because it suited the role in the group so they played for min/max, which I believe this system lends itself to quite easily. We've never had human players, which has made interacting with the empire hard.

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15 hours ago, HappyDaze said:

The Guardians of the Galaxy films are the best Star Wars materials Disney has produced.

Of all the planets which my players have visited in my campaign, the one ripped off from Xandar and the one ripped off from Sakaar are among the ones they remember most fondly. 

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1 Chiss

1 Togruta

1 Droid

1 Corellian Human

1 Mandalorian Human

Both Humans are the PCs of the GMs so they either narratively disappear or go back to NPCs depending on who runs the show for the evening.

 

Maybe there could be more Non-Humans but "The knowledge of Star Wars, not too strong with this table it is." what probably lead to a bit overload with all the possible choices.

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The Group for my new Campaign has 1 Human, 1 Mirialan, 1 Chiss and 1 Zabrak. 

They're all near-human but it already enables interesting roleplay, so i'm pretty pleased with the setup.

 

My old Campaign had 5 Humans, but that was caused by it being a small Imperial Special Forces campaign ;)

 

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I've had a number of players cycle through this campaign  (as life has interrupted the game) but

 

Current PC's are

  • Mirialan
  • Twi'lek 
  • Kel Dor

Former PC's were

  • Arkanian
  • Twi'lek (Another one)
  • Human
  • a Third Twi'lek
  • Dug
  • Whiphid

 

So that's 1 Human, 3 Twi'lek, & 1 Mirialan, and an Arkanian (all very similar to humans). (6 total)

Then the other three are distinctly non-human.  (3 total).

So literally 1/3rd of the PC's have been very not human.

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On 4/28/2019 at 3:30 AM, Archlyte said:

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. 

I came back to make another post, but then felt it meaningless...it would have quelled most of this, but I'll get to it now after the fact.

I think new players of ANY game will gravitate towards the most baseline character that looks, sounds, and feels like them.  It's easier to relate to the material.  This goes for Pen and Paper RPGs, it goes for online MMORPGs, it goes for single player video games.  People tend to gravitate towards familiarity.  It's this way for more than race.  Gender, ethnicity, eye/hair color, voice, alignment, etc.  They try to mimic themselves, or their ideal self at least.  I've found in all of my groups in all games I've ever played, this changes quickly.  First character is a clone of themselves, 2nd character is a slight deviation of themselves (varying a characteristic or two), and by the third, they are doing something outside the box.  What I also find is that the people playing humans are the ones that struggle to do anything interesting with their character.  Once they start thinking about actual character depth, the races give them a good starting point to craft an in depth character.  The same could be done with a human...but with so many possibilities, why?

It's not that human characters can't be interesting.  And you are 100% correct that someone using race as a crutch is going to fail to make anything interesting.  It's just that humans are, on the surface, in star wars, boring.  They make up a plurality, but not a majority.  They make up a slight majority in the core, but a minority elsewhere.  A full group of humans would be be common place in the core, but would be alarming/suspicious in the outer rim.

Your comments about people being interesting and the creator of Star Wars knowing this is somewhat suspect.  Half the cast is non-human.  Luke, Han, Leia, Yoda, Chewy, R2, 3PO, Obi.  Continue to expand out to secondary and tertiary characters you see the same thing happen.  Look at the other aliens in the movies.  Jawas, sandpeople, the cantina, wampas, tauntauns, etc.  To say that Star Wars would have been Star Wars without the aliens, is like saying the movie would have worked as a western instead of sci-fi.  And I highly doubt it.  The sci-fi, the aliens, is what provided enough flavor to the soup to make it good.

There is nothing wrong with a group of humans, and there are always NPCs to fill the side character role that aliens and droids normally fulfill in the movies...is something that Ashoka, Chewy, 3PO, R2, BB8, Jar Jar, K2, etc would be greatly offended by.  You are ignoring half the main characters.

I'm not going to slap the pencil out of the hand of someone rolling a human.  I have no problem with it at all.  It's just with so many options, why play something so bland?  Do all the characters wear white t-shirts and blue jeans too?  Do they all have the same hair cut and color?  Is their gimmick to confuse the enemy by looking like identical copies?  I mean why not right?  It's their personality that makes their character interesting after all, not what they look like, or wear, or what weapons they use.  The near humans (and other aliens) just offer another customization point.

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Well in turn, with so many options why not play a human? 

Anecdotally, every time I get a new player or a player who is not very good at the actual Role-Playing part of the game, I know a Gand or a Rodian is coming. If it's a male player then there is also the usual prevalence of any of the sexy chromatic near humans

The characters in the movies that have the most importance and with whom the audience is supposed to relate and follow on the adventure are humans. The goals and situations of human characters are going to be instantly recognizable and understood, which means that it is suborned easier and may be role-played easier. But I don't think that playing something different is automatically more advanced. If I play an unintelligent Jawa my dialogue should be pretty easy to accomplish. Or I can play a droid and bypass the emotional components of the game if I want. It can go either way so the idea that an Alien is automatically the superior RP challenge isn't self-evident. 

I wont say that Humans are superior to Aliens as a choice, just as I won't say the opposite. Furthermore in the setting Aliens are not rare and the ones that are rare (Chiss, etc.) are never rare in PC groups.

There is also a matter of what kind of game you are talking about. If it is sort of the mainstream mark 1 mod 0 lets play the rulebook and just have fun with minis and mats then I see the allure. In a game with heavier story emphasis & characters who act out of human concerns then anchoring pieces of that game with humans is a high probability maneuver. 

Star Wars without the aliens would not be star wars, but neither would the example I gave. The movie would not have resonated with people and we would not be playing this game if it had been Aliens the Road Movie. George made Han into a human instead of an alien, probably for budget reasons but it was the right idea. It was probably one of those things where someone else told him it was a bad idea too, because George was better when he could still be checked. 

Militarily the Empire has dominated the Galaxy, even to the point where the Hutts had to acknowledge them as a threat. Whether you want to see them as a small percentage or a large percentage the Empire still accomplished what it accomplished. The aliens in the movies are there to demonstrate that its a big space society, not that humans are unremarkable as you seem to suggest.

I feel like you are not able to understand though because you described humans as being "bland." Seen plenty of boring aliens in games, and a lot of interesting humans in the same group. I don't imagine people are wearing jeans and t-shirts and looking "identical" but maybe this highlights your main point that it's all about the superficial. Sometimes more isn't better, sometimes it's just more. 

 

 

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On ‎4‎/‎29‎/‎2019 at 11:04 PM, Archlyte said:

Well in turn, with so many options why not play a human? 

Anecdotally, every time I get a new player or a player who is not very good at the actual Role-Playing part of the game, I know a Gand or a Rodian is coming. If it's a male player then there is also the usual prevalence of any of the sexy chromatic near humans

 

 

Can't speak about anyone else but it hit the nail on the head for me. I rolled up a Rodian initially because I really wasn't arsed about the system; after the previous campaign and a bunch of non-starters because of player motivated party wipes I was so burnt out with star wars in general that I was ready to give it a go for a month, then leave if I still wasn't getting my fix. Backstory was simple, his father was killed by a human bounty hunter, the empire never really bothered following up on it so he set out to kill the bounty hunter having become a career criminal.

5 years later, still playing the same character as one of the major, if unsung heroes of the alliance. Funny how that worked out.

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3 campaigns:

First (3 players): Zabrak, Mirialan, Trandoshan (replaced a nautolan).

Second (3 players): Human, Corellian, Pantoran.

Third (4 players): Twi'lek, Clawdite, Droid, Human (which replaced another human).

It's worth noting that the second campaign is an AoR campaign where the players were explicitly told that they'd be playing starfighter pilots.

So, 3 of 10 characters (or 4 out of 12) gives a human ratio of 25-30%.

On the other hand, only the KX-series droid and the trandoshan are drastically non-human in appearance.

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On 5/1/2019 at 6:09 PM, LordBritish said:

Can't speak about anyone else but it hit the nail on the head for me. I rolled up a Rodian initially because I really wasn't arsed about the system; after the previous campaign and a bunch of non-starters because of player motivated party wipes I was so burnt out with star wars in general that I was ready to give it a go for a month, then leave if I still wasn't getting my fix. Backstory was simple, his father was killed by a human bounty hunter, the empire never really bothered following up on it so he set out to kill the bounty hunter having become a career criminal.

5 years later, still playing the same character as one of the major, if unsung heroes of the alliance. Funny how that worked out.

Well congrats on the long campaign :) I like the back story man it's simple but effective and I think interesting. Interesting characters are really the standard in my opinion and this character could have been a human whose younger sister was eaten alive by a group of alien hired guns in the employ of the Hutts. I think I said it in my other post but I will reiterate that I feel you can have an alien character that is interesting, and you can have human characters who are interesting. I disagree that human characters are by default boring. Also, that part about new players has been my experience across game systems, not just this one. Maybe among other factors it's that a human character is a choice that signals that they want to focus on learning the system without having to play something weird, and maybe those who go right to the weird are not that invested or are just going for the flash. Either way an interesting character is interesting is great regardless of whether or not they make for a weird pic.

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I am Forever GM so I don't get to play much and player creation has resulted in two humans, a droid, a bothan, and a Wookiee.

Of the humans, one of them is not an actor, and I've spoken to him about roleplaying games and he loves to play, but he has to have a character that he can put himself into. He's not great at the improv aspect if he can't default to basing the character on himself, which I can respect. The other is a good actor, but is the kind of player that wants to recreate the movie moments more than he wants to develop his own story. Thus, his human is the daughter of a clone deserter born on Mandalor but raised on Corellia who has rebel sympathies and became a smuggler. We give him a lot of grief because he is a painfully predictable player, but we all still have fun.

I personally like playing aliens because I have to play a badly rolled human every day, I don't want to play a badly rolled human in the game too.

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Posted (edited)
41 minutes ago, evo454 said:

I am Forever GM so I don't get to play much and player creation has resulted in two humans, a droid, a bothan, and a Wookiee.

Of the humans, one of them is not an actor, and I've spoken to him about roleplaying games and he loves to play, but he has to have a character that he can put himself into. He's not great at the improv aspect if he can't default to basing the character on himself, which I can respect. The other is a good actor, but is the kind of player that wants to recreate the movie moments more than he wants to develop his own story. Thus, his human is the daughter of a clone deserter born on Mandalor but raised on Corellia who has rebel sympathies and became a smuggler. We give him a lot of grief because he is a painfully predictable player, but we all still have fun.

I personally like playing aliens because I have to play a badly rolled human every day, I don't want to play a badly rolled human in the game too.

I enjoyed reading this, I think it's a good look at a group. I think that the "I'm a human so I don't want to play a human" thing doesn't really hold water because while you may find yourself to be boring, there are indeed interesting people. It's a basic task of storytelling to make interesting characters and that is a task that is not dependent upon those characters not being human. It's not mutually exclusive though, I am not saying there are no interesting alien PCs, but my argument is that humans are not inherently boring. The player who makes a boring character perceives it as being more interesting by then tacking on an alien head, but the character is still bland. 

The alien thing is no armor against being boring. So many times I have had potted-plant players with a weird character who contributed literally nothing to the game beyond dice rolls and making the PC Group class photo look diverse. Also I have had some characters play out romantic relationships with other characters (PC and NPC) in game, and never once did I say "man this romance would be so much better if they were bugs or cephalopods."

Edited by Archlyte

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