Who came first?

When you look at the very oldest ruins and the most ancient - optionally advanced/decadent - races behind the depths of any fantasy setting, typically one of these three turns out to be behind it:

>Elves came first. Soon after dwarves and a bunch of other standard fantasy races followed. Occasionally dragons may have been the oldest, but usually it's elves. Men are the young upstart race: none of their greatest victories or fuck-ups can compare to those that came before.
>Men came first. Humankind is the baseline, the monkey that got smart, out of whom the others - elves, dwarves, orcs - split into their own thing, usually helped on by some ancient wizards with no sense of right or wrong. The current kingdoms and nations are just the latest in a very long chain of rises and falls.
>Horrors from beyond the stars came first. When the universe was young they came and propagated and likely fucked around with the undeveloped primordial slime that would once become the modern races. To look upon their ruins is to go mad. Worst case scenario, they still sleep there, slumbering. That is no dead which can eternal lie...

Which of these three do you prefer? Which one does your own homebrew setting, or your favorite published one, go with?

>Which of these three do you prefer?

I came last because I can keep my balls in check.

Seriously, though? Dwarves. Just make 'em like Neandertals, robust as fuck and hunting giants for food and material with spears and arrows.

>Which of these three do you prefer?
The third. I'm a sucker for horrors from beyond the stars.

>Which one does your own homebrew setting, or your favorite published one, go with?
My setting: Dragons came first, fuck all y'all niggas.

Favorite published setting: The progenitor races (avians, shapechangers, serpents, and the fey; sarrukh best race) came first, then dragons and giants happened, then elves happened, then finally everyone else sorta happened. It's actually a little complicated, as the Realms so often is.

I like to go the Aztec route, and build cultural features onto each other in a stacking contest. The deeper you go, you realize Culture A found the remains of Culture B and built on top of it, taking some things and forgetting others. THEN you go fucking deeper, and B found the ruins of Culture Cthulu, and then you go deeper.

Then you realize that the amount of civilizations and the ebb and flow of species dominance has been going on for possibly billions of years, and that you are just a single speck in the Ocean Snow.

Ooze people. They left barely any trace before disappearing. After them - nobody really knows. Probably wood elves, but their civilization fell apart before they met humans. The regular elves came much later as conquerors.


>Aztec route

Why? It's literally how the whole world history works.

Only without all the elves or Cthulhus.


>I came last because I can keep my balls in check.

I prefer cyclopses, fomorians and arimaspi.

Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Orcs, Gnomes, Halflings, Fishmen and Dragons were created at approximately the same time, each by a progenitor deity that I don't have a name/title for yet. Primordials? Titans? Creators? The Elves were created slightly first, but everyone thinks "Our race came first, and for a while everything was great, until we ran into THOSE DICKBAGS over there!"

One of the progenitor deities went a little nuts and instead of making one race, made centuars, minotuars, catfolk, and basically all the half-animal-half-humanoid races. Eventually the other progenitors stepped in to get her to stop spamming the world with this crap and she had to be put down.

The guy who made the elves decided they weren't edgy enough and made dark elves. The elves got butthurt and imagined the first gods. The other remaining progenitors called him a quitter and a cheater and votekicked him from the game.

The other races heard about this whole "god" idea and thought it was pretty cool, so they made up their own gods. The collective faith of a hundred million sentients willed the gods into existence.

The gods, desiring more worshipers so they they could grow stronger, created the humans. The reason why all the other races look "Like humans, except they have..." is because the gods deliberately made a race that was a generic mix of all the other races but with the most defining characteristics shaved off.

dragons came first, then elves, and now humans are becoming big
it's classic and for a good reason

I do like a sort of lavos/cthulhu thing where some aberration landed on the planet eons ago and still slumbers, occasionally waking and caushing serious shit

Otherwordly horror > Ancient man > Elven ruins.

They are always first, then some comet hit and they all died.

Giants came first

There's something to be said for man conquering nature from nothing. Civilization being formed out of savagery and mostly naked men and women fighting monsters and beasts. The world may be ancient, but mankind is not and fights with youthful vigor.

It should be noted that in Tolkien, Elves basically just take the place of the Hyperborians. The first race to civilize, that, for whatever reason, collapses.

My personal preference is that all humanoid races like humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, etc. are all subspecies of Homo sapiens and that all the hybrid races like minotaurs, centaurs, naga or whatever are product of magical or divine fuckery by gods or people trying to give their tribe a leg up in the hostile world.

I don't like the idea of creator deities, but I do like the idea of powerful creatures coming along late in the evolution cycle and declaring themselves gods and declaring themselves creators and fucking about with the mortals.

Otherworldly horror arrived at the same time Humans started showing up and getting smart. The two decided to be freinds for a while until SOMETHING happened that caused the two to seperate unwillingly (Horrors likely being buried or something) and the elves managed to get civilized a bit after the old civilizations collapsed. Now, aeons later it's widely regarded among all that elves made civilization, and only a few elves know the truth and desperately work to hide the evidence. At the same time, the horrors managed to get out/wake up and are super confused as to why their old friends are afraid of them now

In my personal setting, most of the races were actually created at more or less the same time by the gods. Some are older and some are younger, but it's really by a matter of just a few days at most.

Elves still like to claim they're the first and best, though, 'cause they're pricks.

>I don't like the idea of creator deities, but I do like the idea of powerful creatures coming along late in the evolution cycle and declaring themselves gods and declaring themselves creators and fucking about with the mortals.

What's the difference, anyway?

In most of my settings these things are kept somewhat secret until later phases of the game, where the players may begin to dive into history / the secrets of the universe.

I prefer that the gods of the setting came first. Eventually mortals springed from them and some of the mortals were more inclined to create civilisation. This usually leads to elves being the first to get tribes, dwarves or men being the first to form permanent cities and agriculture.

I like to use horrors as an invasion early on in the history of the world. Perhaps they chased the gods away, perhaps they came before the gods and were chased away by the gods.

>What's the difference, anyway?
For starters, it means that most real world rules apply by default (unless specified otherwise), like chemistry, physics and genetics. I like my fantasy on the conservative side when that stuff is concerned.

There's also a power difference, creatures claiming to be gods are also fightable, eventually, as opposed to literal creator deities.

Additionally, in my own worldbuilding at least, it allows me to design the gods as real characters with their own motivations and conflicts, makes for better religions and different varying beliefs not involving gods. It also all feels more logical to me, overall.

Granted, in general I prefer to have no active or provable gods at all in the world, but if I must have gods for some reason communicate with the denizens of the setting directly or have some provable influence (like justifying the weirder races, for example), I vastly prefer them to be creatures claiming to be gods for their own purposes.

Also, I know it's a bit of a cliche, but I really enjoy gods that feed off their followers belief.

First came The Demiurge. Demiurge, although not malicious, was an incompetent fucknut and so several Satans came into existence. Demiurge didn't give a fuck, though, he had shit to build.

So he created basically spare arms for himself - immensely powerful creatures with no free will. At the same point in history, the Satans started probing the world and created spare arms for themselves.

THEN because, as previously established, Demiurge was an incompetent fucknut, both races suddenly grew sentience under accidental influence by Satans.

Immeasurable number of years and one genocide later, Elves became the supreme masters of all cosmos, while Trolls decided to give this whole "reincarnation" business a try. This reincarnation business was mildly successful - the result being every troll's stored soul fracturing in three. Trolls ceased to exist (OR DID THEY?), but three races sprang into existence - Humans, Not!Dorforcs and central asian Not!Dorforcs.

How did the last race came to existence nobody knows and prefers not to ask. They are essentially sapient cosmological computer glitches because Demiurge is... right, an incompetent fucknut.

>Mankind has a secret attachment to the abyssal horrors beyond the stars.

Could be a pretty neat twist to explain the base desires of mankind or differentiate versus the other races. Neat.

My setting goes:
Elder things
Mysterious progenitor races and dragons
Beastmen and orcs (orcs left behind by demonic incursion)
Elves and dwarves

Other more minor races scattered throughout.

Lemurians came first. After their rebellion against EL failed, their punishment was to be desintegrated so that no mortals were to be that powerful again.

The races descend from surviving fragments. The original lemurian had the best traits of giants, humans, halflings and dwarves.

My favorite homebrew setting tried to address the whole "dungeons fucking everywhere" thing by having them spontaneously generate.

Dungeons literally grow themselves, House of Leaves style, as long as no one's watching. Cracks in rocks with woodlice become troll-infested caves, which become subterranean kingdoms lorded over by balrogs or home to a dragon. Hollow trees become magical spires, become elf-cities ruled by spiders or ents.

Eventually people move in, because there's riches there and because they need the room. Monsters are killed, treasures are looted, dungeon growth stops and things start needing maintenance.

So some stickears tells you his people built all this, tell him to fuck right off. But tell him politely, because while they didn't build it, they DID conquer it.

I should have added, literally no one knows why this happens. But as long as you can farm dungeons for magical loot, no one asks too many questions.

The only god remaining in the setting (he killed the others) sees himself as a DM and he's constantly fucking with people to make his little stories.

Not the same user that you replied to, but do you equally value every aspect of that approach, or is any part of it of primary importance to you?

I'm a bit on the other end of the spectrum, and often like including gods in settings, but I usually make them less active. At the same time, I'm 100% with you in enjoying making them three dimensional characters. But I don't think that being a creator diety inherently restricts you from doing that. It forces you in a general direction, absolutely, but in a setting with multiple dieties, can't you still work with it?