Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Everyone is Human

I've played around with this idea before, and got to thinking of expanding it upon seeing Trey Causey over at Sorcerer's Skull do something similar, as well as Joe Fatula's stuff over at Signs in the Wilderness.

Reverse-engineering the Standard Fantasy Races (TM) into primates that exist in the real-world has fourfold purpose: one, stale fantasy tropes are stale and mythologizing the real world is much more fun and meaningful for me. Two, it's the easy go between of "humans only" and "lots of choice of fantasy peoples", since both are true. Third, it allows you to focus on the really weird fantasy species that can be thrown into the world to interact with. Fourth, I have a feeling it's a solid way to circumvent "let's go into the caves and just murder everyone". We have chaos-spawn for that.

Human Species

Humans - Homo sapiens sapiens - This is us.

Dwarves - Homo sapiens neanderthalensis - A bit shorter, a bit stockier, live up in the lands of ice and snow. Possibly deceptively high-pitched voices.

Elves - Homo sapiens idaltu - Immediate ancestors of humans, now fading out.

Halflings / gnomes - Homo sapiens floresiensis - The little people. Tend to come from small, remote islands.

Orcs - Homo sapiens denisova - Closely related to dwarves, significant cross-pollination between the two peoples. Live in a vast and rugged wilderness, far from civilization.

Ogres - Homo sapiens carnifex - The result of heavy arcane reagent poisoning. Gigantism, mental degradation, violent cannibalistic tendencies.

Tiefling - Homo sapiens cambionis - The result of a cubus transferring sperm between a male and female victim. Sterile, generally mutated.

Aasimar - Homo sapiens nephilli - The result of a angelic siring and miraculous birth. Sterile, generally mutated.

Other Primates

Goblins - Lemurs and tarsiers - Loud, rowdy, huge tribes, downright bizarre looking really.

Hobgoblins - Chimpanzees and bonobos - Tool usage, have figured out war and raiding parties.

Bugbears - Mandrills - Ye gods, look at those teeth.

Firbolgs - Orangutans and gorillas - Eminently chill dwellers of the inner forests.

Trolls - A hunchbacked, ape-like mass of tumors. No one knows what it used to be.

Giants - Gigantopithicus - Huge, rarely seen.


  1. Spawned from an offhand comment I made in Discord.

  2. I like it! I've used the dwarves as Neanderthals thing in an old campaign. It just makes so much sense.

    1. I'm willing to bet it's some sort of ancestral folklore memory, honestly.

  3. I really like this, although I'd be tempted to go even further and just make all the demihumans into homo sapiens with different cultures. But I'd keep the goblins as tarsiers, that's excellent.

  4. Thanks for the shout-out!

    I like the idea of elves being ancestral to humans. Does that mean elves have greater diversity than humans do? How have humans changed while elves have remained the same? (So many questions...)

    1. Elves do tend to have a bazillion subraces, so yeah, makes sense.

    2. The Elf's constitution penalty must be the game representation of a fragile genome, night susceptible to mutation. Also explains their ludicrously low birthrate.