... now with 35% more arrogance!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


I had a post scheduled for today, but it involved some mechanics that I'm not entirely happy with now and would like to look them over again, so I withdrew it. In its place, here's a little issue that I've thought about recently: the term and concept of "demi-humans".

I hate the term, first of all. Honestly, I don't see why you can't call everything that looks human "humanoid" (shaped like a human.) It's an arbitrary word, but because it "means" something ("Half-Human",) people try to turn assumptions about that meaning into actual rules, and then argue with people who don't share those assumptions at all. And so, there was a big forum whine about some RPG product adding "Pygmies" as a kind of demi-human. "OH NO! You are saying real-world pygmies are not fully human!" Hell, I have no idea if that's what the person who wrote up pygmies as demi-humans intended, but I'm willing to assume that, since "demi-human" does not refer to any kind of real concept, maybe the only intended meaning was that pygmies have level limits, unlike other humans? Maybe they had to pick between defining pygmies as a race or as a class, and picked the option that stank the least?

"Human" vs. "Demi-Human" vs. "Humanoid" is a setting distinction. Any GM could make arbitrary lists and call them "Apples", "Bananas", "Oranges", "Pears", and so on, and say "Apples can be resurrected, while Bananas can't, but are acceptable in most Apple societies, and Oranges aren't although they are still considered 'people' for Charm Person purposes. Pears require Charm Monster." It's not saying anything about the real world, nor is it saying anything about other people's settings. Using the term "Demi-Human", unfortunately, suggests to some people a whole other agenda.


  1. In french, this get even more trichy with the word "halfling" wich translates sometimes as "demi-homme".

  2. "Using the term "Demi-Human", unfortunately, suggests to some people a whole other agenda."

    I've gone out of my way not to game with those people.