When this trope is in play, humans either are or think they are the superior sentients -much as white supremacists, afrocentrists or any other racist group see theirs as the superior race.
Game and Story Use
- Expect discrimination against sentient nonhumans such as AIs and extraterrestrials and possibly an empire of humans out to subjugate nonhumans, who are portrayed as savage monsters by the imperial propaganda machine. This could be applied in a sci-fi or fantasy setting and work just as well.
- The above idea assumes that this meme is supported by a major power. It could just as easily be supported by fringe groups and/or terrorists disgusted by mainstream society's having been "corrupted" by alien influence.
- Eventually there might be a reaction against this - aliens and robots and whoever else the humans have persecuted unite against their oppressors and form a counterpoint to humanocentrism: Antihumanism - the idea that nonhumans should unite and overthrow humanity, thus gaining the freedom and prosperity that had so long been denied to them.
- All of this assumes that humans are the villains for having this viewpoint. Thee aliens might really be monsters, and though the humans aren't angels exactly, they are the lesser of multiple evils.
- This is an underlying assumption in most sci-fi (probably due to audience bias) - however great other species are, it will (nearly) always be the humans getting stuff done. If an alien species is noticably superior to humanity they will either be villains or are due to be shown the error of their ways. Or both.
- This is the norm in fantasy settings - other species (such as elves and dwarves) might be built on more points, but they are dying out and orcs and what have you are only fit to be killed: humans, therefore, are to inherit the campaign world. Given that the overwhelming majority of players are likely to be human, this will probably go unnoticed.
- Old School Basic D&D shovelled this on - humans were the only species that didn't have a hard-coded upper limit on level…
- …and then AD&D did something really wierd because humans "the uber flexible all rounder species" were the only ones who couldn't study more than one class at once.
- Tolkien had a lot to do with this, I suspect; he set Lord of the Rings during the Waning Age of Elves and the Rising Age of Men.
- But there's another reason to do it this way besides tradition. If elves are so much better than humans, then why aren't humans subservient to elves?
- Maybe they should be; that might make an interesting, if atypical, fantasy campaign setting. Have humans be regarded as barbarians on the edge of a more sophisticated dominant Elvish civilization, as Tolkien describes in The Silmarillion.
- But there's an eminently practical meta-game reason why D&D capped the levels on non-human races. If elves are so über-cool and can do more stuff than humans, then who's going to want to play a human? The racial limits were a purely arbitrary means to handicap the player races to keep humans from being overshadowed by the other fantasy races.
- Granted. Absolutely. But it still played hob with the congruent reality of the setting and had no in game explanation … part of drama (of any kind) is surely never letting the audience see the wires. The stuff we take for granted (yes, dragons shouldn't be able to fly, but it's magic!) is sort of like your black clothed stage hands scuttling about - it's when someone wanders in half dressed from the wings, looks at the audience, mutters "oh fuck" and disappears again that it had better either be meta-farce or never repeated.