On Losing Race
I just think you're stupid for wanting to play that.
There are no literary pretensions to role-playing games - they are most importantly games focused around sitting in a room spending time with people you like.
So if playing a cat person or dragon person is what makes you happy, I should be ok with that.
I should point out that I do not run games of the modern mindset of the 'my precious encounter' theory of game design. The characters are pieces in the sense that they are avatars for your interaction in the world, but not pieces as literal pieces on a game board where the entire focus of the evening is on tactical play. Though that can be awesome fun, and the issue I'm talking about is pretty much a non-issue for miniatures games and 4e/3e tactical style play.
For games that include some verisimilitude it does in fact become an issue. What is the fascination with non-humans as player characters?
They are, by definition of being non-human, universally less interesting as characters.
What is the fascination with playing a non-human race? Is it the desire to do something different? If so why do the same thing over and over again? (That thing being playing a weird-non human race)
Is it the power and the bonuses? I would gladly let any human just take whatever bizarre racial package bonuses you are talking about and try to explain it away (making for a much more interesting human).
I don't like having to say no to players and their fun. If what makes them happy is playing a weird animal person, then more power to them, (in fact I had to use 'weird animal person' there because any example I gave would apply to some current or past player who reads this blog). But what is being communicated to me is "I plan on playing a very uninteresting character".
Clearly the solution is to play a system that restricts such things such as Labyrinth Lord or Lamentations of the Flame Princess, though even in the Labyrinth Lord game, one of my players asked for a different kind of elf.
I have been giving this a lot of thought lately, because it is my openness to player choice that has caused me such difficulties in creating a coherent setting. Part of this could be addressed I think by being able to create that coherent setting and allowing people to play someone 'from the Spanish place' or 'the french place'.