Race vs Species #OOC

It’s weird that different species of hominids are called different races in fantasy settings.

When someone says, “Gnomes are for punting”  I want to say something like, “That’s racist.”  But I don’t because I feel like it would be taking a serious real world issue and reducing it to a joke in a way I am not personally comfortable with.

Kaldorei, the night elves; Quel’dorei, the high elves; Sin’dorei, the blood elves; San’layn, the dark fallen all appear to be different races of elves, while Harpies, Naga, and Satyrs seem to be different species.

Things get way more complicated when you throw undead in the mix.  The forsaken would be humans, that have the same DNA as other humans and could even be parent/sibling of humans, but are so different as to need some other category.

I’m not sure what should or could be done about it.  It’s just something that makes me feel awkward sometimes.

I’m maybe more keenly aware of it because my family is diverse.  I have a step-son that is mixed race.  He always makes light skinned blonde haired characters.  I tried once to counter him by making a dark skinned, black haired character.  All the races in game have dark hair as an option, but I found it weird that gnomes and blood elves (both races that are mostly limited to human skin tones) don’t include any dark skin tones as humans and dwarves do.



2 thoughts on “Race

  1. Fantasy and sci-fi has its own definition of “race”. And really, it’s closer to the intended meaning of the word than how we use it on Earth. On Earth, we say “race” to say “these guys have slightly darker skin” or “have curly, red hair”, instead of “biologically distinct group of people”. And we use it that way, because we used to think black people, or even Irish, were actually biologically distinct from “whites”.

    In fantasy, different races are actually biologically distinct. And they may be different species per modern science, but fantasy rarely concerns itself with modern science. Because really, when you get too scientific with fantasy you start asking yourself all kinds of questions. What ARE harpies, really? Mammals? Birds? Monotremes? Something different entirely that would need an entire new taxonomic order? How does their reproduction work? Do they have all the parts human have? How do they breed with human or elven males? Or do they even do that?

    It’s easier to not confine yourself too much with real world biology. “Race” is simply a biologically distinct group of creatures, usually implying a way to reproduce. So by some understanding, vampires or zombies could be considered races, because they can “reproduce” – even if it is by transforming an individual that used to be something else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea, I can see that. It still makes me feel weird. I feel like fantasy needs its own term for different varieties of hominids, like demihumans. Although I admit, demihumans sounds weirdly demeaning too. I can’t imagine an elf of dwarf using it to describe themselves. Humans would also fall in to the definition of demihuman, which is also strange. Uhg, languages. They just don’t have the words for completely fictional concepts when you need them.

      I’m doing a lot of weird thinking out loud today, apparently.


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