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By Bill Slavicsek

Tribal Life
All humanoid tribes share a fear of the supernatural, and anything they do not understand falls into this category. This results in superstitions which fill their days and nights, and dictate the way in which they conduct their lives. Superstitions serve to reinforce the opinion that humanoids are primitive savages, though few humans get to know them well enough to see their beliefs in practice.

Tribal life starts in earnest when humanoid children are old enough to understand and participate in the world around them. Most humanoids relegate different roles and tasks to males and females, and children are immediately immersed in the social order so that they grow to know and embrace it. They receive instruction, usually in informal settings, learning what they need to survive and prosper by observing, participating, and some training. The level of training depends on the nature, disposition and societal level of the race in question. During their early years, children spend most of their time with females and shamans. Here they learn the legends and beliefs of their tribe, as well as many of the social rules they will need in tribal life. Children begin to work as soon as they are able, at first helping with whatever domestic activities the tribe engages in and eventually moving on to their life's work.

When they near maturity, humanoids apprentice themselves to adults in order to learn the trades of the tribe. This apprenticeship can be formal, as in the case of orcs, or extremely informal where younger tribe members learn through observation and proximity as opposed to specific instruction. In cases where there is even a hint of formality, tribal shamans, witch doctors, and chiefs assign children to specific trades (hunting, raiding, mining, fighting, etc.). They make their decisions based upon their observations of the children, the needs of the tribe, the social rank of a child's parents, and by reading the signs and omens associated with a particular child.

From an early age, a humanoid's role in the tribe is set. Most prefer this arrangement, for it gives them a function and purpose. A select few desire to find their own path, and these inevitably are weeded out through violence, cast out by decree, or leave of their own accord to make their own lives. These are the outcasts, the hermits, and the adventurers. The few that find their way into human society are the ones we are most concerned with.

Social and Racial Disadvantages
Humanoids start out with disadvantages in non-humanoid societies. All but the most enlightened civilizations consider humanoids to be monsters. Centuries of competition, violence and warfare has made humans and humanoids natural enemies, striving for the same resources. Truth became legends, and legends bred fears that haunt both sides, filling their heads with truths, half-truths, and lies. But humans are more numerous, more advanced, more established. They are winning the battle of dominion over the world. For better or for worse, though there are still vast stretches of untamed wilderness, it has become a human world.

For this reason, humanoids find themselves at a disadvantage. When they leave their tribes to find their own path in the world, it inevitably crosses into human civilization. Humanoids are strangers to human civilization (or even demihuman, for that matter). They know it only as something out of tribal legends, or from the scary stories told around the evening fire, or from the skirmishes their tribe may have had with a town or village in the past. They do not know the customs. They do not know the social etiquette. They probably do not understand many of the "advanced" conveniences that dominate civilized life.

It is up to players and DMs to work together to stress a humanoid's unfamiliarity with civilization. In the same way as a DM describes newlydiscovered magical items by their appearance without giving away any details, so too must a DM describe the items and practices of civilization. From a humanoid's point of view — clothing, armor, weapons, tools, utensils — everything is strange, wondrous, frightening, and unknown. The trappings which players normally take for granted should become new and mysterious to humanoid characters.

For example, Breeka the aarakocra enters a human town for the first time. What are the strange wooden caves that humans go in and out of? Why do those humans shake hands? Or press their lips together? Or give shiny objects to (me another? And why is that human yelling because Breeka ate the pig in front of his wooden cave? Breeka, who has never before encountered a human town, finds herself surrounded by unusual trappings and strange practices which she will have to spend time getting to understand. While players can roleplay a lack of understanding concerning human social customs, it is up to the DM to keep in mind that the most obvious thing to a human or demihuman is probably a mystery to the humanoid, and to describe encounter scenes accordingly.

Beyond the social disadvantages which humanoids face when dealing with communities beyond their own, there are also racial discriminations to deal with. Because most humans and demihumans see humanoids as little more than monsters, there will be extreme prejudices directed at them. Humanoids will be watched almost constantly when they enter a human community — if they are allowed to enter at all. Many towns and cities will have laws forbidding the entry of humanoids. They will be stopped at the gates, turned away, or even attacked. Humans fear that a humanoid has come to scout out the community for attack, or seeks to cause some other type of trouble. They believe that humanoids eat humans (and some do), and who wants a monster walking on the streets of town?

Many inns have rules against serving humanoids. Shops refuse to deal with them. Local authorities stay close, watching for the least sign of trouble. They have no qualms about arresting and locking up humanoids that so much as look at a human the wrong way — and banishment or confinement are the nicest things they might do to them. Mobs form quickly in the presence of humanoids, ready to take torch and pitchfork to a monster in order to protect their loved ones. Again, it is up to the DM to enforce this disadvantage. Even the most powerful humanoid PC will be hard-pressed to find a place to rest or buy supplies in a hate-filled, fearful town. If a humanoid is allowed to operate as any normal PC as far as NPCs are concerned, then a great roleplaying challenge is lost.

Another problem facing humanoids in human communities deals with the fact that things are built in human dimensions. Doors and rooms are made to accommodate human heights and widths. Chairs and beds are made to hold human weights. Even most transportation modes, such as horses and wagons, cannot sustain large-sized humanoids. This is not a problem for the man-sized humanoids, but tiny-, small-, and large-sized humanoids must learn to live in a human-sized world.


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