Analysis: Five Races
Two things are going on here:
- A setting with major races will generally stabilize on five. Less than five is too few, more than five is too many, either exerts pressure fiveward. Note that a setting can have any number of minor races without affecting the pattern of major races.
- The race archetypes themselves have have something like a Zipfian distribution of popularity. The Evil Counterpart split is a distraction here.
- A dose of Featureless Protagonist is involved. The Mundane or Humanoid is a placeholder, an empty bucket to be filled by the audience.
- Stout and Savage are the Proud Warrior Race, separated from each other by My Species Doth Protest Too Much.
- Fairy is the mystical Proud Scholar Race. Eldritch adds a dose of Our Monsters Are Different, often with some physical threat.
- Crafty is the scientific Proud Scholar Race. As science and technology don't fit that well in fantasy, the tension tends to be resolved there via the Mad Scientist nature.
- Fallen is the embodiment of the seductiveness of the dark side, with Evil Is Sexy and Dark Action Girl supporting wish fulfillment. High Man is good, and therefore lacks the conflict, for simpler wish fulfillment.
- Cute is simply fun to have on the screen or page.
- Proud Merchant Race is typical of the networked world that left behind notions used by fantasy, and therefore is much less common there.