Playing against your race


Something I’ve noticed is that when someone is interested in being/writing about a certain fantasy or sci-fi race, and you tell that the race is good at “A” and bad at “B”, the very first request people tend to make is to be that race and do “B”. This doesn’t just concern classes or skills either. If you give a man a race that holds certain traditions sacred, there is a good chance that the character he creates will be the one exception who actively defies those traditions. I have no interest in badmouthing the people who do this. After all, I can’t say that I’m entirely innocent of it myself, but it still tends to baffle me how many people try to play against the race they choose. It confuses me even more when people do it with completely original races where it would seem to me like there is little yet to deconstruct.

The reason I’m talking about this is because I want to understand why people do it so that I can avoid having people feel as if they need to play against their race in my own work. Do you think that people do it because of a desire to make themselves feel “special”, or because it serves as a sort of rebellion against the overused tropes of an all warrior or all evil race? Maybe it is because we are trying to make a unique story that other people haven’t made? That is usually my reason when I do this.

Also, do you have any ideas on how you think people can avoid having people play against race, or do you think that isn’t something that should warrant attention.

I’m interested in hearing opinions from the people who have played against their race, the people who have made/making world were they believe people will do this, and the people who have just seen other people doing it.

I probably don’t have to say this in this forum, but please take care not to insult others. I want to hear honest opinions, but I don’t want a flamewar.


When here you have the main play against race or faction or main mentality. It is not as bad as you portrait us like we insulting author work or something all your post is really insulting like calling us stupid people who spoil rules.

1-Why i do that and dont follow all the author desires.?

I roleplay, i want to make alive the author universe and make it somewhat mine put my heart into the world. Of course i have to follow basic rules like dwarf cant do mage. Rules make world consistent and make races unique and differents.

But i have to have my room so i maybe could want to be a poet dwarf or a orc alchemist . Going against stereotypes add a conflict with npcs , make game interesting and add social issues and racial that are deep and great.

Imagine a dwarf poet that wants to enter in the elven dance and bard academy that never has a dwarf inside. Could he being well treated? Or suffer bulling. The other dwarves would accept his choice . Could his hard work make him good in performance even with the bad stats his race originally has.

That is what make an universe fully alive if you want your race members being a clon copy paste of the others is up to you but certainly is a pity. Tolkien showed it with Lord of rings and The hobbit. Even a simply hobbit know to eat and hate aventures could safe The middle earth . Following your the race has to be that way Sauron would have won lol


Well, I don’t claim to speak for everyone, but whenever I do that, it is because I like playing characters that don’t fit with the usual stereotypes expected. In games where violence is always an option, I try to talk my way towards a solution instead of shooting or punching. Characters that defy the expectation are memorable.


Well, nobody is going to take the time to request that they can do “A”. They sensibly assume that will be featured. Quite likely most people play their Orcs as barbarians, and their Halflings as rouges. It is probably the optimal route. But if your goal isn’t only winning, it’s not a very interesting route.


@poison_mara: I’m sorry if you feel it is insulting Mara, but I have to include the opinions of those who might disagree with your own even if I may agree with you. I know that there are people who DO feel as if people who do this pervert the worlds they create, and I want to hear their side just as much as I want to hear yours.

@Shawnheatherly: So is it the stereotypes that the characters within the world have that you try to go against, or the stereotypes of that medium? Would you be more likely to play a race straight if you felt it already defied common stereotypes and cliches?


My thoughts:

I don’t mind if someone wants to do something different, but there’s a line between “But there are dwarven poets, too, right?” and “I know that (race) are described like this, but I want to do something as far removed from this as possible.”

For example, to use one of the most notorious anti"stereotype" things, the good hearted drow exile (preferably one who fights with two swords because of course he does.).

That’s not just wanting to play something different from the norm, but still recognizable as coming from a given background. That to me comes off as saying that you don’t accept the setting creator’s characterization of his creation, and want to substitute your own just to be special and cool (which carries with it the implication that you can’t be special and cool if the norm is doing something a certain way).

So my advice for what it’s worth is that the things that you think are viable should be made options, and the things you think are inappropriate shouldn’t - and if some players want to do stuff on the latter list, that’s their loss.

How broadly you define the former is up to you (I don’t think there’s a good safe general statement on how far this should go in all cases) - but I think especially in this medium (choicescript), the creator has the right to say that playing a _____ is not an option, like how Sabres of Infinity doesn’t let you play a female and/or a commoner.

The PC there is more narrowly defined than most games need to be, but I think it’s reasonable to say that someone too radically distinct from the “norm” (whatever that norm is) for what you are doing would have too different an experience to fit within the same story, and is thus not an option here.


if im bad at something I want to get better at it so I don’t have a real weakness and I would be balanced.


Elfwine puts it better than I did. I’m not wanting to make a character so different from his race that he isn’t really one of them anymore. For ever hundred sword masters, there has got to be one or two magicians.


I have mixed feelings on that last sentence. I think that unless its important that there aren’t magicians, say, yes. But I don’t think that “why not?” to “no dwarven wizards” is necessarily right either.

But it should be defined setting by setting, rather than merely about playing against type in general - if “most dwarves are warriors” is merely because all young dwarves are taught a little about weaponcraft, that’s one thing, but dwarves just don’t have any ability to use magic, that’s another - and the latter is by no means a given.

Picking dwarves as one of the most frequently narrowly defined races of those I like to play in traditional fantasy worlds.


I can agree with that.


I think its just we want to see what would happen if he go against the norm. what would the consequences and rewards be.


I myself sometime play against race, for a variety of reasons(sometimes more than one)

1a).it can make the character unique:
playing as an orcish mage could be fun, just because it’s wacky.

1b).if you’re roleplaying you might come up with a backstory of your own for your character:
this is especially true in games like Skyrim, that have zero depth for the main character. I once played skyrim as an Orc who wasn’t as strong because(head-canon)his father was a goblin who raped his mother,and so he was born a disgraced half-orc who wanted to prove himself, yet also resented orcish culture. This added MUCH needed characterization to the game for me.
PS. I know that Orcs and Goblins can’t mate(or at least I think they can’t)but it provided me with an interesting character.

2).when replaying a game(for the hundredth time) you might want something new:
if you’ve played a game to death, you might want a experience you haven’t tried yet, and sometimes the vanilla game doesn’t give you enough variation.

3). some people like the challenge:
people swim against the flow all the time to give themselves a trial.
A: Iron man mode(permanent death)is a beloved experience for some, even though games rarely include it as an option
B:I heard tales of people playing through Skyrim’s plot without EVER killing a person.
C: I have a friend who made a Dark Souls 2 character who EXCLUSIVELY punched his enemies

4a).sometimes people disagree with either the lore or the NPCs opinions:
I played as a law-abiding Khajiit because I thought it was ridiculous that the people of Skyrim thought they were ALL thieves.

4b).Sometimes people don’t like the idea of being forced into a role:
I played as an Imperial StormCloak in Skyrim because I believed that it should be based on the individuals beliefs and not their race.

yes I have indeed played a lot of Skyrim.

if you really want to avoid having people do this(though I don’t understand why)

1a).include quirky choices:
most people wont pick them but they WILL be appreciated.

1b).make sure to either give the player a deep backstory or a lot of choices for the backstory:
Life of a wizard did this very well as I still felt it was my own character, but I didn’t add head-canons(beyond the typical imaginative differences that happen in written word)

2).give them lots of option or even a newgame+ mode:
I’ve never met someone who didn’t like newgame+ (not yet at least)

3).this is unavoidable:
if people want to up the challenge in freaking Dark souls! then you’re out of luck

4a).try to avoid having tropes and/or cliches:
this doesn’t mean there can’t be differences between races.
A:Orcs are strong because they are born physically tougher. B:Orcs are not mages because their warriors
(see the difference?)
note even if you give a good reason for Orcs not to be Mages, e.g. it’s frowned upon in their culture, players will simply retort: "yeah it’s frowned upon, sure ,but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it.

4b).the only way to overcome this obstacle is to avoid telling the player what the logical step is for their character:
if you offer no expectations, you will never be disappointed. if you don’t tell them your expectations they may still meet them. if you tell them your expectations they may reject them/rebel simply because they don’t want “their” character to be “forced” to do something.

I hope this A:helps and B: gives you something to think about.


I do this a lot, and for me, it’s usually just because I think such and such race is really pretty, and I just so happen to not really like their normal playstyle. Like, High Elves in The Elder Scrolls series are my faves (Bosmer too), but I usually play them as archer types because that’s what I like. So I guess people will just do what they like, especially in role-playing games. Idk, I think it’s because I like big scary people but fun gentle personalities, so I’m just used to the contradiction and like to put it in my gaming experience.

Anyway, I think you can’t avoid it entirely, simply because a lot of people live in the real world where race doesn’t actually determine anything about a person except how their name sounds (and sometimes even that isn’t true), so it’s really easy to imagine someone from a proud warrior race who prefers to be a corporate secretary or something. You just can’t stop it.


High elves are Altmer not bosmer. WOOD ELVES ARE BOSMER that is what they called their new goberment Altmery dominion . Orcs are Orsimer. Sorry i am an Elder scrolls nerd. Bosmer are commonly archers and lives on walking giant trees cities and have ranger powers in Valenwood.

Altmer are well known as mages but you dont do nothing against race being archer or warrior due they have a giant army that almost destroy empire once in fact probably are many more warriors and archers in their population that fully trained mages.

Elder scrolls make very well the rupture of stereotypes they put races in entire provinces where is clear someone has to do different things . An orc nation without healers teachers or farmers with only smiths and bersekers i dont bet for the comunity survival


@poison_mara She said she likes both High Elves and Bosmer.


Ah sorry i understand she played with a high elf bosmer. I have seen people that though argonian are the kahjits. It is easy to mistake names anyway.


How does race in the sense of (to borrow from The Order of the Rose WIP racial choices) “humans, hrygen, borgen, hir’sokk and voken” even come up in the real world - at least within anything any of us have any experience as?


I’d imagine it’s because people from different regions are slightly different from each other and people love categorizing.


Obviously the Avediwhoops and the Char’Gar’Gotho’Kons aren’t directly relatable to real life, but that’s not what I was saying. I was saying that the concept of race is, even if the races in question are kooky fantasy groups. People just aren’t going to believe that an ENTIRE nation, no matter how similar they all look, is going to be completely uniform in motivation, unless the writer explicitly says that the dictator of that nation is using mind control or something.


People believe that in real life all the time though…