My 6 Favorite Fantasy Races
Hey everybody! Do you ever get several months into a seemingly never-ending global pandemic, where you work from home every single day and life and work and fun all blend together in yet another seemingly never-ending cacophony of horrible drudgery? No? Me neither! So here’s a quickie list I slapped together just last night because I couldn’t really feel anything this week. Let’s talk about fantasy races!
I heard a couple weeks ago that the people behind Dungeons & Dragons are going to get rid of the idea of inherently “evil” races, so that makes this list somewhat topical. I hope. And if not, whatever, this is fun stuff to talk about. But the thing about me is that I never played Dungeons & Dragons to begin with, and I never read J.R.R. Tolkien. So my thoughts on fantasy races come from a mish-mash of video games like Warcraft, the Lord of the Rings movies and maybe some Harry Potter thrown in for no particular reason? I’m also hoping this makes for a more interesting list than some academic study of fantasy races and their deeper themes and meanings. I just like’em cause they’re cool in that game I played!
I shoulda paid scalper prices for that Nintendo Switch…
Ordinary, base-lines humans have always been an option in fantasy-based gaming and fiction…and more often than not, I always pick a human character when I role-play. It sounds boring, and it probably is, but when I role-play a character in a video game, I like to get nice and detailed about who this person is and how they interact with the world. And I have a lot of fun with the idea of an ordinary human thrust into a world of magic and mysticism, joining forces with the fantasy races instead of being one. Plus, I’ve just never liked elves or dwarves for some reason. Humans are a good go-to.
I think the only thing that will get me to come back to World of Warcraft at this point is playable ogres. I’m several expansions behind, and I used to love the game, but ogres are the last brass ring I’m holding out for. I just like the idea of playing as those big doofuses, taking this normally villainous monster role and making them the hero. That’s really about it.
I love a good panda joke. I’m talking specifically about the World of Warcraft pandaren, though I know that panda-people have been around elsewhere for ages. They started as a joke, then got a character in Warcraft 3, and then finally became a playable race in one of the biggest and best expansions! I think that was the last time I was truly engaged with the game.
I dig centaurs because they’re a lot of human but with this weird extra bit added on. I want to see some different types of centaurs in fiction. We usually only get the gruff male barbarian figure. There should be and could be different types of centaurs for different types of stories. This is also a race I wish was added to World of Warcraft, just because it would be weird and different.
I never knew gnolls were a thing until World of Warcraft and now I think they’re really neat! Lots of fantasy races are just humanoid animals, as if Ninja Turtles characters were turned into entire races. And hyenas are a nifty choice for a humanoid animal. They’re a run-of-the-mill race in WoW and always fun to go up against with their familiar laughter and low res polygon models. Allow me to alter my statement from earlier: I would definitely go back to WoW if I could play as a gnoll.
I love orcs! They’re my go-to choice for any fantasy setting or game, if I can get them. There was just something about their storyline in the early Warcraft games that won me over. They weren’t outright evil, they had their own lives, histories, stories, heroes, hopes and dreams. They were big, badass, hulking green monster men, and it was really cool. They just go cooler in WoW and made me a fan for life. Orcs are usually evil, but Warcraft proved that these “inherently” evil races could still have their noble origins.