This is the game subtrope of Loads and Loads of Races
, involving races you can play as. Sometimes, a Tabletop Game
or Video Game
setting just has a metric boatload of playable races — even more than the standard Five Races
. One the number of options reaches six or more, you end up with this trope.
Note that "race" here means intelligent species or subspecies — not skin colors, cultures, or factions, and certainly not racing games
. Sometimes a "race" is less a biological distinct species, and more of a mutation or modification (such as werewolves, zombies, cyborgs, vampires), but the important part here is whether they're mechanically distinct or not. If they have separate stats, separate starting zones and quests, or otherwise work differently then they count; if the difference is purely cosmetic then they don't.
The trope happens in three ways:
- You're designing an RPG (either a Video Game or Tabletop). You want more customization options. Your classes are pretty much the standard bunch, so you allow a bunch of races to be selected too. Now player options for creating a character aren't just limited to Human, Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit, and Orc. You can also play a Werewolf, a Cat Person, a Giant Monkey, a Robot, a Giant Robot Monkey, a Dwarf Giant Robot Were-Monkey, etc. These races may be further subdivided into every possible variation.
- You're designing a Strategy Game, and you want to give your player tons of faction and customization options. Throw in a bunch of sub-factions, and you have a real menagerie.
- You have a set of factions in your Strategy Game or MMORPG, and you're now doing a sequel (or, in a Tabletop Game, a new edition). What's a simple way to bring something new to the sequel or new edition? Add in more races! Alternately, you wish to have a subfaction which specializes in one aspect of your Planet of Hats; this leads to speciation of a main faction into two or more subfactions. Editing Lore is always easier than editing canon.
In this trope, a playable race is one that exists as a separate option for the player. In Strategy Games
where you pick a faction instead of making one character, the playable races are the main species of each faction — if a faction has some odd members of some other species, those don't constitute a separate playable race.
This is a medium-specific subtrope of Loads and Loads of Races
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- Cosmic Encounter is all about this, with each alien race breaking the rules in a different way. The original game had 15 races, and nine(!) expansion sets bringing the total eventually up to a whopping 75(!). One of the later publishers was planning an expansion with yet another 35(!) but went out of business before the release. The Fantasy Flight edition released two expansions, bringing the grand total to a staggering 90 alien races.
- Small World started with an already-respectable 14 races in the core set, the first three official expansions have added another 10 in total, the Underground game added another 15, and the Ghosts from a promo expansion bring the total up to 40. Some of the 'races' would normally count as humans, however; for example, Amazons, Barbarians, Gypsies and Sorcerers are all separate races. In addition, there are special abilities which are independent of races, so during a game you'll actually be looking at things like Merchant Halflings or Cursed Goblins. Or Peace-Loving Orcs, for that matter. There are 20 abilities in the core game, with 12 more from expansions and 21 from Underground, meaning you're looking at 39 * 53 = 2067 race/ability combinations just from official sources. Not counting Ghosts, because they work differently. Fans have added more, obviously.
- In Summoner Wars, you control a summoner and his group of minions as they try to crush their opponents force of the same. So what makes this game special? Try 16 different factions to choose from, including multiple sub-races of elves, orcs, dwarves and goblins, human knights, thieves and mercenaries; not to mention goatmen, the undead, and demon worshiping cultists.
Miniatures War Games
- Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000:
- 40K only has about seven main races (Humans, Space Elves, Space Orks, Killer Undead Cyborgs, Hive Mind Bug Aliens, The Greys, and crazy daemons) but each has a ton of sub-organizations, groups, and factions. For example, "humans" alone covers the Imperial Guard, several different kinds of Space Marine, the Inquisition (itself divided into Ordos Malleus, Hereticus and Xenos to deal with daemons, witches and aliens respectively), the Sisters of Battle and the Chaos Space Marines. The fluff also mentions a lot of other races, many of whom have been wiped out by the good guys.
- Warhammer Fantasy has no less than 14 (German Humans, French/British Humans, Chaos Humans, Dwarves, chaos dwarves, High Elves, Dark Elves, wood elves, ratmen, lizardmen (available in newt, monitor lizard, and crocodile), goatmen, ogres, vampires, mummies, goblins and orcs).
- Blood Bowl has 23 different types of team, including 3 kinds of human (standard, Norse, and Amazon), 4 kinds of elf (dark, wood, wealthy high and poor high), 4 kinds of chaos (standard, dwarf, chaos pact and Nurgle), 4 kinds of undead (standard, necromancer, vampire, and mummy), 2 kinds of lizardmen (slann and saurus/skink teams), plus regular dwarfs, halflings, orks, goblins, ogres, skaven, and the "mixed bag" underworld team (skaven and goblins). This makes for about 11 distinct species that form their own teams.
- The video game adaptation went on to add the Khorne team, for a total of 5 kinds of chaos.
Tabletop Roleplaying Games
- Some settings of Dungeons & Dragons. Also, mainline Dungeons & Dragons, if you add enough splatbooks. Or your DM allows the use of intelligent races found in the Monster Manuals. In 3.5 alone, there were 135 official races - but many of them were repeats or overlapping each other (probably a third of those were elves).
- For sheer diversity, Forgotten Realms stands out, with dozens of races and subraces scattered across the setting.
- Then there's Planescape and Spelljammer, which by their very nature as bridges between settings allow for practically any race or subrace to be played and then some (Planescape had such options as intelligent squirrels native to Yggdrasil), more to emphasize the dazzling effect. Planescape also has Planetouched, which are hybrids between any playable regular species and nearly any kind of planar creature (elementals, demons, devils, angels, slaadi, etc.), allowing basically infinite variety.
- Eberron, too, has a lot of races. Plus the setting literally says that everything that has a place in Dungeons and Dragons has a place in Eberron, which at least theoretically means every splatbook is valid.
- In D&D 4th Edition, with the release of the Second Player Handbook, plus other official material (in Dragon magazine and other sourcebooks) there are nearly 20 playable player-character races! And more coming! This doesn't include the 'monsters as PCs' option, which adds even more. Most of the races are revisions of races from 3.5. As of summer 2010, the list of published (in an actual book that can be bought) and supported (race specific options are provided for character customization) PC races is: Human, Dragonborn, Dwarf, Eladrin, Elf, Half-Elf, Halfling, Tiefling, Deva, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Shifter (which come in Longtooth and Razorclaw varieties), Githzerai, Minotaur, Shardmind, Wilden, Changeling, Drow, Genasi, Kalashtar, Warforged, Mul, and Thri-Kreen. Shadar-Kai, Revenants, and Gnolls have received support in online publications. Bladelings have appeared in a published book but received no support. Several monster races have published stats, but aren't supported or intended for PC use.
- The Basic/Expert/etc D&D system practically lived off of this trope, offering supplements and gazetteers for PC savage humanoids, fairy creatures, undersea races, aerial beings, lycanthrope strains, ancient species from the Hollow World, furries from Red Steel, and weird exotic critters from the Princess Ark saga. And that's before you crack open the Immortals boxed set.
- D&D Next (essentially 5.0, currently in Beta testing) has only the basic races thus far - it is an Obvious Beta, after all.
- Pathfinder (unsurprisingly, being based on D&D) has about 30 playable races, starting with the core 7 races and moving on to more exotic races like Tengu and Grippli, who are amazonian frog people. The Advanced Race Guide details a total of 37 races, starting with the "core" races: dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, halflings, and humans. It then continues on to the "featured" races: aasimars, catfolk, dhampirs, drow, fetchlings, goblins, hobgoblins, ifrits, kobolds, orcs, oreads, ratfolk, sylphs, tengus, tieflings, and undines. Finally, it details the "uncommon" races, who receive the least support: the changelings, duergar, gillmen, gripplis, kitsune, merfolk, nagaji, samsarans, strix, sulis, svirfneblin, vanaras, vishkanyas, and waylangs. In addition, the Inner Sea Bestiary introduces five more races: the android, ghoran, lashunta, monkey goblin, and syrinx. The fourth bestiary further includes the gathlain, kasatha, trox, wyrood, and wyvaran, bringing the grand total up to 47.
- Exalted has, at the most basic, six playable species: humans, ghosts, Dragon Kings, Alchemicals (robo-golem Exalted with human souls), The Fair Folk, and Jadeborn (underground dwarf-elf-rock dudes). But "humans" come in a huge variety, including entire populations of Beastmen (Petting Zoo People and Funny Animals), God-Bloods (various Half Human Hybrids), mutants, and ordinary mortals, plus the Exalted themselves. Exalted include the Dragon-Blooded (a subrace that try not to breed with mortals when they can get each other), while the other Exalted (Solars, Lunars, Sidereals, Abyssals, Green Sun Princes) are born mortal but become demigods when they're Blessed with Suck/Cursed with Awesome, and gradually stop associating with mere mortals. All of the above have separate game mechanics, and all but the mutants, God-Bloods, Beastmen, and squishy mortals have their own proprietary type of magic. There're also oodles of not-intended-to-be-playable species of demons, elementals, spirits, Akuma, and other guys (that some people play anyway).
- Dungeon Fantasy has... Cat-folk, Coleopterans, Corpse-Eaters, Dark Ones, Dwarves, Seven Kinds of Elf, Fauns, Leprechauns, Nymphs, Pixies, Gargoyles, Gnomes, Goblins, Half-Orcs, Hobgoblins, Orcs, Seven Half-Spirit Races, Halflings, Humans, Minotaurs, Ogres, Half Ogres, Dragon-Blooded, Lizard Men, Trolls and Wildmen. A total of 40 racial templates introduced in one supplement. However, none of them are fleshed out races due to the "blank slate" nature of GURPS in general.
- GURPS: Space has an entire chapter devoted to helping the GM create alien species across a broad range of environments, body types, and other features, meaning that the possibilities are limited only by the fall of the dice or the GM's imagination.
- Rifts can't even bother to count them all. A good half-dozen or so are released per Sourcebook (on average), which range from Standard Fantasy Races (Elves, Dwarves, Dragons etc...), to a good score of Beast Man-types, living robots, aliens, and more. The game even allows you to play as a Humpback Whale, if you desire. And that's the ones the game deigns to point out. Nearly every book will also note that many other races exist in such tiny numbers (usually less than a percent of any given state) that they don't necessarily count as a demographic, and lumped under the general term "D-Bees" (from "Dimensional Beings").
Just as an example, the book D-Bees of North America is specifically designed to be nothing but playable alien races. Out of the 86 races in this book, 50 of them are expanded versions of popular races from other books. Yeah, 50 races from various books are considered a random sampling for this game.
- Every role-playing game set in the Star Wars universe has ended up allowing players access to dozens if not literally hundreds of races.
- Talislanta has several dozen bizarre species to choose from, and even its "human"-analogs aren't necessarily what you'd call normal. Plus, no elves.
- In the Old World of Darkness, we have playable vampires, werewolves (plus 11 other shapeshifter races), humans with magic powers (mages, sorcerers, mediums, shih, Imbued, etc.), changelings (faeries trapped in human bodies), wraiths, demons, mummies, kuei-jin (vampire-zombie-ghosts), ghouls, kinfolk (humans with shapeshifter ancestry), hsien (small gods trapped in human bodies), fomori (and drones, gorgons, and kami) (people possessed by spirits), zombies... oh, and regular humans, if you're feeling squishy.
All of these "splats" have their own subdivisions into playable types, though in most cases those are factions or cultures rather than races. But Werewolf: The Apocalypse lets you play not just werewolves, but also werehyenas, werespiders, wereravens, werebears, werefoxes, werecrocodiles, weresnakes, werecoyotes, wererats, weresharks, and nine types of werecats (tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, cougars, lynxes, jaguars, fae cats, and shadowcats). Each of these Changing-Breeds is a separate "species," with separate stats and magical Gifts.
- The New World of Darkness has, thus far, humans, vampires, werewolves, mages, Prometheans (Frankenstein's monsters), changelings, Sin-Eaters and their associated Geists, Immortals, Psychics, Thaumaturges (essentially weak mages), various Changing-Breeds, Mummies, with Demons soon coming and (if you take fan-line games) Geniuses, Princesses and Leviathans.
- Shadowrun has 5 metatypes: Human, Orks, Trolls, Elves and Dwarves. But each race has around 6 meta-variants, who can look nothing like the base race. Then there's the Synthetic Intelligences, the Drakes, the Changelings, the Ghouls, Vampires and other infected critters... There's the Non-human sentients too like Nagas, Centaurs, wendigos....
- Ironclaw has 39 base races of anthropomorphic animals. In fact to save space they're relegated to half a page each and a couple paragraphs of description followed by a list of skills they have bonuses to and traits they get for free.
Tabletop Strategy Games
- Star Fleet Battles features a bunch of distinct fleets, including, in the basic edition, ships for The Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans* , the Kzinti, the Tolians, and Orion Pirates; expansions include Andorians, Lyrans, Hydrans, WYNs, and the ISC. And all that is for the "Alpha Sector" setting. There are also "Omega Sector" (20 new factions), "Magellanic Cloud" (5 new factions) and "the Early Years" (5 new factions) settings.
- Twilight Imperium started out with six "great races" (including humans) scrambling to rebuild the long extinct Lazax Imperium they were once part of; expansions for the game's 1st edition added four more races that had risen to a similar level of power in the interim. The current 3rd edition included all ten races from the get-go, then a new expansion was published which introduced four brand-new races, for a total of fourteen; probably the largest number of playable races in a tabletop strategy game, with the possible exception of Star Fleet Battles.
Other Tabletop Games
Multi-type Video Game Franchises
- Final Fantasy series:
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance had Five Races, but Final Fantasy Tactics A2 added two more. One of the new ones replaced one of the old ones, and Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings added in more, with some Underground Monkey on the side.
- The later Ivalice games (Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 seem to be going in having a race for each of the 12 zodiac signs. Final Fantasy XII alone has Humes, Viera, Bangaa, Moogles, Seeqs, Nu Mou, Baknamy, Garif, Helgas, Rebe, Urutan-Yensa and the god-like Occuria - though, only the first two were playable. Revenant Wings adds the Aegyl and Feol Viera offshoot, while Tactics A2 includes the winged Gria.
- Warcraft: Orcs and Humans started with playable human and orc civilizations. Warcraft III added undead and night elves. World of Warcraft has 13 playable races as of the Mists of Pandaria expansion: the four already mentioned, plus playable tauren, dwarves, gnomes, trolls, draenei, blood elves, worgen, goblins, and pandaren. The world also has a great number of non-playable species as well (gods, various demons races, ogres, dragons, dryads, keepers of the grove, ancients, gnolls, murlocs, etc.)
- The Warlords series, and its spinoff Warlords Battlecry. WBC1 had nine races (Human, Dwarf, Undead, Barbarian, Minotaur, Orc, High Elf, Wood Elf, Dark Elf), arranged on a chart whose columns were "civilized", "barbaric", and "magical" and whose rows were "good", "neutral", and "evil". WBC2 added three new races, which can be unofficially sorted into a new "chaotic" column: Fey, Dark Dwarves, and Daemons. WBC3 almost completely abandoned the theme, splitting Humans into Empire and Knights and adding Ssrathi (Mayincatec Snake People), Swarm, and Plaguelords. By the end of the series, that's a grand total of 16 almost completely unique factions drawn from 11 races (of which there are three kinds of human, three kinds of elf, and two kinds of dwarf), with hardly a shared unit or building to be found.
4 X Games
- Master of Magic has 14 playable races, ranging from Dwarves and High Elves to Snake People and Lizard Folk.
- The Fall from Heaven mod for Civ IV has over a dozen civilizations, each with its own unique gameplay mechanics, units, mana and buildings.
- Galactic Civilizations 2: you've got your humans, Altarians, Drath, Torians, Thalans, Krynn, Arceans, Korx, Yor, Drengin, Korath (technically a Drengin splinter faction), and Iconians, plus any player-created races. This is to say nothing of minor races like the Snathi, or the Dread Lords, who are essentially a random extinction event in the making.
Action Adventure Games
- Legend of Mana boasts sprites, humans, the jewel-hearted Jumi, dragoons, faeries, flowerlings, dudbears, sirens, mermaids, sproutlings, elves, succubi, chobin hoods, tomato men, sahagin, goblins, narcissos, mad mallards, the enchanted golems, several sapient animals including rabbits, cats, penguins, monkeys, as well as a sprawling assortment of bizarre anthropomorphic objects and mythic beings such as a vampire, basilisk, and a centaur.
- Star Control, given that each race was allowed only one ship, had to fall into this to have more than a small number of ships. (14 in the first, and more were introduced in both 2 and 3.)
- Lightning Legend: Daigo no Daibouken, taking place in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Japan, holds several races represented by several player characters and NPCs: Humans (Daigo, Mayu, Forelock, Adolf, Mirona); Monsters, with at least two sub-categories: Junma / Pure-Monster ( The father of Daigo's mother), and Seima / Holy-Monster (Rankerk); Fairies, with at least one sub-category, the Yukijin / Snow People (Yuki and her father Hiroo); the elf-like Reijin / Beauty Ones (Misa, Risa, and Guren); the big furball rabbit-like Mukumuku (Mokomoko and his family); the Henshin / Transformation race (Disguiser); and the Puppeteer Parasite Hat race (the hat monster controlling Naughty Nou).
- In Lusternia there are twenty playable races, ranging from tiny, airborne fair folk to hulking, nine foot tall yeti-men. There are many more mortal races that are unplayable due to logistical issues, such as the centaur (Dummied Out due to the challenge of handling a six-limbed race) and gnomes (scrapped for being too similar to dwarves).
- Otherspace features two dozen playable races, ranging from different Human Subspecies all the way to Starfish Aliens.
- Retro Mud featured eighty-three playable races at last count, including thumb-sized faeries, whale-men, beholders and a variety of dragons.
- Some Roguelike games get into this:
- Dungeon Crawl has 24 races at the moment, with great variation. In addition to the common humans, elves and dwarves, Crawl has a few quite exotic ones, such as spriggans, centaurs, mummies, merfolk, demonspawn and demigods.
- The original Angband has six basic playable races (Human, Elf, Hobbit, Gnome, Dwarf and Kobold), as well as several half-breeds and variants (Half-Elf, Half-Orc, Half-Troll, Dunedan, High-Elf).
The variant Z Angband lets you play as an Amberite, Barbarian, Beastman, Cyclops, Dark-Elf, Draconian, Dwarf, Elf, Ghoul, Gnome, Golem, High-Elf, Hobbit, Human, Imp, Klackon, Kobold, Mindflayer, Nibelung, Skeleton, Spectre, Sprite, Vampire, Yeek, or Zombie, or as one of about a half-a-dozen Half-breed types.
The variant Entroband has thirty-seven playable races and twenty-seven classes.
- Slash EM, a variant of NetHack, doubles the original's number of playable races to ten, adding Doppelganger, Drow, Hobbit, Lycanthrope, and Vampire to the original set of Human, Elf, Dwarf, Gnome and Orc.
- Star Ocean is a solid example here, owing to its influence from Star Trek — most admittedly human-looking enough, but: Humans, Fellpool, Featherfolk, Expelian, Tetrageniot, Nedian, Klausian, Velbaysian, Elicoorian, and Menodix (though some are simply Human Aliens, others have differences that are noted either in the story, in gameplay, or in the plot). And that's just sampling from the PC rosters of the first three—there's far more of them represented among the NPCs and discussed in the Encyclopedia in later games. (to name a few, Felinefolk, Ur-Felinefolk, Vanguardian, Rezerbian, Vendeeni, and so on...)
- Suikoden does this (usually using some kind of animal as a basis) on account of having 108 characters in EVERY game. To ensure variety, the series has Kobolds (dog people), Nei-Kobolds (cat people), Lizard people, duck people, wingers, a race of beavers, mermaids, purpoises. Some argue if the Cyndar/Sindar people are a separate race or a lost civilization. Other characters such as Jeane, Zerase, etc. have might or might not be entirely human. Every game seems to add at least one more race to the count.
- Wizardry's later SirTech-developed installments. Not as massive as some examples on this page, though: Ten playable races (of which you only meet two as NPCs), and about eight NPC races in the second and third games. Justified in that the player characters are from a different planet from the locations of the second and third games (which themselves are on different planets, and the only NPC races they share are the ones with interstellar travel).
- In contrast to its predecessor which, unmodded, only allowed you to choose among the seven core D&D races, Neverwinter Nights 2 took its race selection straight out of the 3E Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (and Storm of Zehir added a couple splat races). With both expansions, there's humans, three types of dwarves, five types of elves and two of half-elves, two types of halflings, three types of gnomes, six types of planetouched, gray orcs, and yuan-ti purebloods.
- Thunderscape allows to choose team members out of 8 civilized races: pretty standard humans, elves and dwarves; dwarfish faerkin and goreaux (the former magical, the latter technological); juraks — sort of fur-covered orcs; reptilian rapacians; and ferrans — humanoids created by uplifting various vertebrates and giving them traits of the former 5 races (in other words, furries). Additionally, a troll and a steam-powered golem NPCs may join you. Tabletop spinoff further expanded the selection.
RPG/Third Person Shooters
- The multiplayer mode of Mass Effect 3 lets you play as asari, batarians, drell, geth, humans, krogan, quarians, salarians, turians, vorcha, and volus. Various other, non-playable races are known, some only from supplemental in-game material.
- The Age of Empires series did this with the first two games of the series - the first started with 12 civilizations and the expansion brought it to 16, while the second game began with 13 civilizations and was later expanded to 18. All the races share the same basic look and technologies, but have bonuses to certain types of units and access different parts of the game's technology tree.
- Age of Wonders has 15 as of the last expansion, not counting a race that was present in the first game and didn't return for the sequel.
- Ascendancy boasts an impressive 21 races.
- Battle for Wesnoth has humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, trolls, drakes (dragon people), saurians, merfolk, and naga, in addition to things which aren't really a "race" as such, like undead. User-made content adds dozens more, and various subdivisions.
- Depending on which "era" a game of Dominions 3 takes place in, it can come with up to 24 nations almost all of which represent different races ranging from stereotypical merfolk to Lovecraftian fish-men to Rakshasa or Naga rulers of intelligent primates. Factions that are alliances of multiple races, such as Pangea's medley of Greek mythology expand the actual count even further. A great number of patches were made after its release that added even more material.
- The Galactic Civilizations series. In the original version of Galactic Civilizations 2, the races were pretty similar, only differentiated by hardcoded reactions (the Drengin and the Torians hate each other, for example) and racial bonuses. However, in the newer expansions, races got Super Abilities and, in the Twilight of the Arnor expansion, unique tech trees. Yes, a game with ~14 separate races which includes unique tech trees.
- The Master of Orion series started with ten races, and added several more in the second game. In the third game, a boatload more were added and several existing races were downgraded to non-playable.
- Space Empires offers around a dozen (or more) races as standard options, each with their hat. It's fairly simple to create and fine-tune your own, particularly to anything prior to the fifth game.
- Agarest Senki features humans, syriums, high elves, dark elves, onerthes', neocolloms, ryulents, larvas, greers, nelths, harpuias and yulishees.