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I am making a continent for a RPG that I am planning to run. I am currently running one on a different continent in the same world. That world has Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halfings and a handful of other less common / well known races. I wanted to make this other continent feel substantially different in flavour from the first one, so to accomplish this, I selected a different collection of races: weird elf like creatures that are very pale with pure black eyes, Minotaurs, Vedalken (tall, blue skinned humanoids, who are slightly amphibious, and highly intelligent), and Changelings (shapeshifters).

After choosing those, I was wondering. Would it break immersion in the world, and make the world feel much less relatable if I refrained from including humans, as well as anything that more than vaguely resembles a human?

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    If you’re working on an RPG, I would encourage you to actually look at other RPG’s that do not have humans in them or only have them as a bit of historical exposition. HC SVNT DRACONES 2.0 comes to mind as an example of the second case (mostly because I play it myself), and despite humans being extinct and only indirectly having any influence on the setting, it has a compelling backstory and lots of good lore that still allows for very immersive stories. – Austin Hemmelgarn Jan 19 at 14:43
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    Watching the news lately, I don't even think Earth seems grounded and realistic. – John Smith Jan 20 at 3:28
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I wouldn't say you have to. There are lots of settings out there that have no humans at all and very substantial fanbases. Redwall, Silverwing, Happy Feet, Watership Down, Animal Farm, and Warrior Cats come to mind. Transformers fans infamously groan in disappointment whenever there is a human onscreen. There is a whole genre of fiction that involves an exclusively non-human cast: xenofiction. The biggest thing I would point out is that if you have species that are all alien physically, be sure one is relatable mentally. They don't have to be humans in all but name, but they should at least have emotions that are similar enough that the audience can relate to them.

For example, the hobbits in Lord of the Rings aren't strictly human, but their desires and the way they see the world is relatable enough that they come off as more relatable to modern audiences than the cultures of Rohan or Gondor. Or to use another example, a species may not be human, but their desires and fears: desire to succeed, desire for companionship and respect, fear of failure, fear of death, etc., need to be understandable enough that the author can emphasize with them. For example Optimus Prime. He comes from a species that doesn't eat, doesn't age, doesn't biologically reproduce, and naturally transform into trucks and planes, yet his desire to protect those he cares about and his weariness and self-doubt with regards to waging a perpetual civil war make him relatable and sympathetic.

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    "He comes from a species that ... doesn't biologically reproduce" Transformers reproduction is... complicated. They've got multiple different reproductive methods, some of which are sexual in nature, and some of which are asexual but biological. tfwiki.net/wiki/Reproduction – nick012000 Jan 19 at 8:45
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    animal farm has humans in it, they're just absent for most of the middle of the book. Notably they appear at the end as part of Orwell's thesis statement that despite the Bolshevik revolution driving out the old aristocracy, Stalin's bureaucracy had produced a new upper class indistinct from those abroad – Tristan Jan 19 at 14:33
  • Warrior Cats does technically have humans, and sometimes they play a fairly major role, but I get your point – TheDragonOfFlame Jan 19 at 17:55
  • @nick012000 True, but the broader point is reproduction as we know it: raising children, family units, etc. are completely alien to Transformers. There are cases of sibling transformers and romantic relationships, but they're rare. – user2352714 Jan 19 at 18:54
  • @Tristan This is correct, and Animal Farm isn't the best example. Still, the animals are the primary sympathetic figures throughout the novel, and humans are mostly faceless villains. – user2352714 Jan 19 at 18:56
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There is nothing stopping you having a continent devoid of Humans as a species. Earth has its own landmasses where humans do not live but a variety of other species do, the Arctic and Antarctic. There is a reason why humans do not readily live on these landmasses, its freezing cold and you can't grow food.

If your players are taking their existing characters to visit this new continent or if you make mention that the continents are on the same world, then have a reason why humans, who have a natural inclination for exploration, are not present on this continent. Depending on your setting it could be, a magical barrier, very dangerous seas, religious ban by the Clergy, something in the environment that makes it unlivable for humans etc.

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  • The original continent is surrounded by a magical maelstrom – TheDragonOfFlame Jan 19 at 17:45
  • And will your player be taking their existing characters to this new land? If they are the first explorers from their continent to this new one then absolutely you can have no humans or any familiar species from their home continent. – Matt Bartlett Jan 20 at 11:44
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Real-life has plenty of examples where species are not on all continents. Humans have barely had any presence in Antarctica for 200 years out of human existence. Humans did not have a presence in other places for large periods of time as well. And of course, this is even more prevalent for less dominant species. Unless the humans are the dominant species to the extent we are or are technically savvy enough to have satellites, then I don't find it immersion breaking that they aren't EVERYWHERE. To this day, there are enormous tundras in Russia that have no human inhabitants, just animals.

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