How many races is too many?
By - WholesomeNerd13
I was prepared for battle when I clicked on the title of this post until I realized which we're in. *Phew!* But as to your question, I don't think that's too many at all. You haven't even made it to a full two hands yet! You got a whole world to populate, have fun with it.
/r/worldbuilding gets away with a lot of title questions that would be very upsetting elsewhere.
Sometimes the risky clicks are landmines, at other times, harmless and fun.
I have 10 human sub-races + humans + 2 artificial races
Also 7 elemental races
And 2 alien races
There is no single number of races that can be called "too many." It depends on the world and the tone you are trying to set.
The Forgotten Realms, for example, has many, many races, because it is a D&D setting that is trying to give the feel of a very fantastical world with fantastical people. Nobody would say it has too many.
The Witcher's world, comparatively, has much fewer, because it is presenting a more grounded world that is focused mostly on humans (and to an extent, elves and dwarves). It doesn't need any more than that.
Even more limited, worlds like Dark Souls and Game of Thrones more or less just have humans. These are far more gritty and grounded in their setting, and humans are the focus. Many fans would probably balk at the idea of adding more.
Essentially, you only have too many when your world feels bloated beyond the tone and feel you are trying to represent.
There are only ever too many if you feel it is becoming a detriment to the world you are building.
I have around 18, and I will likely create more.
But I specifically made this world of mine where I could add this many and as many as I want without compromising the integrity of the world. It's infinite I can always add a new land, and oh look a new people.
This is the key point I think. When adding another race doesn't make the world better in some way it's time to stop.
I'm reading the Dagger and Coin series at the moment and the premise there is that humans were engineered into \~10 distinct races by their dragon overlords for specific tasks. The trouble is that the writer makes no effort to make the different races distinct or memorable so it's very difficult to keep them all straight in my head which is to the detriment of the story.
In addition to what others have said, it also depends on what you're doing with the worldbuilding -- its a lot easier to fit multiple sapients into a novel than a short story, and visual formats like animation and comics let you just drop them into the background.
Of course, if you're worldbuilding for its own sake, then then best amount to have is as many as you want in your world.
It depends on the focus of your story. If it's not about interaction between races, I think it's best to have none, that is only one human species.
Keep in mind that race and species are two different concepts.
You made the post about races, yet you call them species. Which are they then?
They mean the same thing when you’re talking about fantastical worlds. Besides, some of them actually can produce fertile offspring (half-elves, half-orca) so they wouldn’t be different species.
Edit: Half-orcs, never seen a setting with half-orca.
They don't mean the same thing. This is just lazy usage of them. That's why it is important to know if they are species or races.
When it comes to fantasy they literally do. You can say it is inaccurate but everyone has used them interchangeably since Tolkien wrote the line “races of middle-earth”. Look at DnD and everything based on it, or the rest of the comments in this thread, the context is clear.
Because tolken made races not species. The fact that people have used some terms wrongly for long time does not mean that you have to continue so. Point being races can interbreed and species (usually) can't. No matter how much you want to fuck a goat, you can't have offspring.
Humans and orcs can interbreed in LOTR? Hobbits and humans? That’s an actual question, idk.
Regardless, my point about the context stands. It’s pedantic to point out on a random Reddit post. Literally everyone, in the plurality of languages the world over, use them interchangeably in the context of fantasy.
Race is a social construct anyway, and would almost certainly mean something different in a world with multiple highly intelligent species.
Orcs are elves, and as elves and humans can, I see why not.
Race is not a social construct. xD
Thanks for the LOTR lore.
It’s still incredibly pedantic to bring up on a random Reddit post when this is the colloquial use.
Race is a social construct, it’s a category that describes biological realities, the way we categorize those biological realities is a social construct. If you’re still confused spend 5 minutes on google, or go to 6th grade.
Well think about this: The many worlds of D&D are popular fantasy settings and they have over 40 playable races with god knows how many non-playable races. There is never too many if you enjoy having a lot.
Sometime it can be usefull to have multiple species just to highlight defferences between them so your story can go further with your main species especially their if their story or your world is very different than our. It give some learning material to your public, some contextuals cues. Species and races built thier story in relation to each others, so learn to know a species or a people by knowing how they are viewed by another, this make your world much credible and coherent.
Good luck !
Depends on the environment they live in.
I have more than 40, but the world they inhabit has enough space for it.
Imo mate that isn't a lot. I have a lot myself and am adding more by the day.
Humanoids(which contains tonnes of sub-races because they are humanoid animals.
Forest Demons(name tbd)
Ice Monsters of the Far North(name tbd)
Spirits(good and bad)
I have a lot and more are coming.
I prefer few biological race as much as possible, but top up with the number of culture, ethnicity instead.
Like Nwewah Amed, just one island smaller than England they have cultural diversity equal to Borneo in number
Do they all serve a purpose in your setting/story? Then not too many.
Do you think there are too many, and perhaps the purpose of races can be combined so races can be amalgamated? Cut down.
Don't just have a race to have a race. Have a race because it serves a purpose in the setting or story.
Dude relax. You still got a perfectly safe amount. As long as you don't go past multiverses, you're fine is what I always say. :)
My advice: Go nuts, dude. Do whatever feels like it belongs in the world. Look at D&D, as an example. SO many races and they are all parts of the world. Just make whatever feels right, and you don't have to give them all equal showtime if you don't want to!
Just a question. How much incest takes place in the one cave?
My world is a fictional galaxy, so a much larger scale, but with that being said, I probably have hundreds of alien species, plus sub races of the more common species (like humans). I’d say it depends on the size of your world, and if it feels like youre getting to a point where your world is oversaturated with different races/species.
You can add as many as you like so long as they are all unique in culture and form
i have over 50 at this time and i dont expect them to grow less.
the most important part in a story is to not over flow the reader with info. So saying
''Erwandil land of the elves'' or ''We are entering the realm of Thrak the Orc war chief'' gives context what being are there. must like a stage in play.
Your number is nearly endless the Earth counts 200 states and over 2000 nations of humans. There is no set end point but what you think is needed.
Thou id stick with no more then 4 in any given area, which would include nations with the races. people can only track 8 things at once
It really depends on what you want to do with the world; what themes and stories you want to tell.
Battlestar Galactica, with its theme of inevitable conflict and mutual annihilation has only two races, to focus the conflict down to two simple sides. Star Trek/Wars with its emphasis on a cosmopolitan universe of planet hopping adventure has hundreds of different races- just swap the facial prostheses out and go to town.
So the real question here is what do you want to do, and what number of races would help you do it?
Well if we go with sapien race, then i would have about 4 of them, their language and culture a extremely different as well as there physiology, for the setting im going with, that’s enough for me but to each world it can be different