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Human characters are boring right? Here’s a few ways Humans are special

Humans are coming

Are Human characters boring?

If you’re a RPer you likely make characters all the time. It’s fun to make an alien character, or a non-Human fantasy character. But Humans can also be pretty special. I saw this on Tumblr recently:

It’s funny how science fiction universes so often treat humans as a boring, default everyman species or even the weakest and dumbest.

I want to see a sci fi universe where we’re actually considered one of the more hideous and terrifying species.

How do we know our saliva and skin oils wouldn’t be ultra-corrosive to most other sapient races? What if we actually have the strongest vocal chords and can paralyze or kill the inhabitants of other worlds just by screaming at them? What if most sentient life in the universe turns out to be vegetable-like and lives in fear of us rare “animal” races who can move so quickly and chew shit up with our teeth?

Like that old story “They’re made of meat”, only we’re scarier.

Humans are pretty interersting

I found these comments on TVTropes (which is a great website!) discussing how Humans are pretty special, it’s all about context. Maybe remember this if you’re roleplaying an alien who’s not familliar with Humans.

The fact that we can eat such a wide variety of things and not die or get sick. Carnivores have to eat or scavenge meat, or else they (whether individuals or species) will die off. Sure, they’re frequently stronger and faster than us, but if you take away their main source of food, they either have to adapt ridiculously fast or they’ll die off. If you take away our main source of food, we just grumble and find something else to eat.

Humans do have a number of advantages even among Terrestrial life. Our endurance, shock resistance, and ability to recover from injury is absurdly high compared to almost any other animal. We often use the phrase “healthy as a horse” to connote heartiness – but compared to a human, a horse is as fragile as spun glass. There’s mounting evidence that our primitive ancestors would hunt large prey simply by following it at a walking pace, without sleep or rest, until it died of exhaustion; it’s called pursuit predation. Basically, we’re the Terminator.

Now extrapolate that to a galaxy in which most sapient life did not evolve from hyper-specialised pursuit predators:

Our strength and speed is nothing to write home about, but we don’t need to overpower or outrun you. We just need to outlast you – and by any other species’ standards, we just plain don’t get tired. Where a simple broken leg will cause most species to go into shock and die, we can recover from virtually any injury that’s not immediately fatal. Even traumatic dismemberment isn’t necessarily a career-ending injury for a human. We heal from injuries with extreme rapidity, recovering in weeks from wounds that would take others months or years to heal. The results aren’t pretty – humans have hyperactive scar tissue, among our other survival-oriented traits – but they’re highly functional. Speaking of scarring, look at our medical science. We developed surgery centuries before developing even the most rudimentary anesthetics or life support. In extermis, humans have been known to perform surgery on themselves – and survive. Thanks to our extreme heartiness, we regard as routine medical procedures what most other species would regard as inventive forms of murder. We even perform radical surgery on ourselves for purely cosmetic reasons. In essence, we’d be Space Orcs.

Our jaws have too many TEETH in them, so we developed a way to WELD METAL TO OUR TEETH and FORCE THE BONES IN OUR JAW to restructure over the course of years to fit them back into shape, and then we continue to wear metal in out mouths to keep them in place.We formed cohabitative relationships with tiny mammals and insects we keep at bay from bothering us by death, often using little analog traps.

And by god, we will eat anything.

In times of plenty, humans can take in many more kCal of energy than they need, and store it on their own bodies to save it for later. Even the most sedentary or unconditioned human can survive for a while without food, thanks to this adaptation, though humans do need water.

Humans come in many physical morphs and phenotypes, though most of them are bipedal and laterally symmetrical, which makes their physical capabilities far more variable than many animal species.

Lightweight individuals may be able to live on far less sustenance than larger specimens, and may exhibit superior climbing or stealth abilities.

Others may be endurance runners, though sprinters capable of impressive acceleration in a bipedal species exist.

Still others may have extensive protective soft tissue and fat reserves, capable of enduring extreme temperature and environmental fluctuations.

There are more color and keratin-configuration morphs than are able to be classified: suitable for any climate and ultraviolet light risk level in their planet’s usual orbital range.

Humans may also reach fairly impressive sizes, capable of feats of dexterous physical strength well-expected in the harsh and varied environment of Sol III (or ‘Earth’).

Physical mutations are extremely common, resulting in individuals with not only variant physical capabilities but variant mental states and social needs. Do not assume loner variants are less capable than pack-running individuals, or aberrant or seemingly-crippled individuals are any less capable.

Humans are capable of bonding and forming social groups despite any physical or mental variance, forming mutually beneficial gangs that need not follow any ‘optimal’ structure. Unlike many species on their planet, reproduction is not an essential drive in forming these gangs; humans are driven to gather and survive even without the need or instinct to prolong the human species. Some forms of strong human bonding do not include sexual reproduction at all, or are sexual in nature but are not reproductive. All humans, if psychologically suitable, are capable of caring for children even if they did not produce them.

Humans traditionally engage in restrictive social codes, absolutist religions (though they may divorce absolutism from their spirituality and segregate it from their science and reasoning potentials) and other forms of social control because it is impossible for any one group to control any other group due to their variance without enforcing a taboo. They oppress each other due to a survival-coaxed need for authoritarian power structures during their early development as sapient species on a planet with forbidding terrain, poisonous plant life, dangerous animal species, and unforgiving climates. They are warlike and have experienced hatred and suffering throughout their development, at the hands of their own species far before other sapient life forms were made known to them.

As a balancing mechanism for their culturally imprinted memories of hatred and war, humans also are some of the most emphatic sapient in the galaxy and are capable of forming emotional connections with non-human, non-sapient, or even completely fictional individuals. While they are warlike, their penchant for philanthropy and self-sacrifice is legendary.

Yeah, Human beings are pretty interesting.

  • threnody

    I personally tend to default to playing human as my main (of course as GM I play a variety), but I love the sweaty, smelly, arrogance and naivety that is the human condition. It’s limitations and foibles, and you can account for just about any behaviour in it.

    • I love Humans too, but I’ve seen many roleplayers get far too excited wanting to play something better than human, super human or just alien. Maybe it’s a desire to be different? Maybe it’s too tempting to be a Mary Sue?
      I don’t mind it, I love creativity and diversity, but I don’t like it when Humans are treated as the “boring default” option when actually we’re pretty interesting.

  • Miguel Sousa

    There was an animated movie, where the humans were considered as aliens, called Planet 51. Great movie, and different perspective.

  • Silent Hunter

    There’s a great ‘Doctor Who’ quote about humanity: “Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It’s only a few
    million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk.
    Puny, defenceless bipeds. They’ve survived flood, famine and plague.
    They’ve survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out
    among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity.
    They’re indomitable. Indomitable”.

  • Johnny

    We authors can only really write humans. Even writing an alien or a hybridized species, we humanize them. Can any of us imagine, and then communicate effectively, the thoughts and behavior of a species that has evolved on a completely alien world? Probably. : ) there are some very good writers here.

    And in response to Silent Hunter’s Dr. Who quote: You’re damned right we are!

    Hey, it’s easy to feel superior when there’s no competition. ; )

    • I think that’s the challenge!

      • Jaxx

        Personally I think you could add a bit of humanity in any alien species as long as it works with the alien culture they abide by. This way all species can be saints and jerks alike.

        • Yeah I think making them relatable is important. If they’re too weird nobody will be able to relate to them!