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I don't know if "sentient races" describes what I'm wanting to say, it probably doesn't.

Let me explain, sometimes during my sessions I'm like: "And then, all humanity united to fight against the old demon lords... (in off-game: I mean, not just humans, dragonborns, elves, dwarfs... EVERYONE... You guys get it, right?)"

"Everyone" also isn't quite right, as there are many evil races that wouldn't normaly cooperate in such cases. A simple filter for this would be oficial playable races that are (mostly) neutral or good aligned, so excluding races such as orcs and goblins.

I'm looking for a term that saves me the job of having to explain myself, if there even is one.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by SevenSidedDie Jul 23 '18 at 18:29

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What are your criteria for a race to be included in "Everyone"? \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Apr 20 '18 at 21:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ So are you trying to separate humanoids and/or monstrous humanoids from the playable races? Or are you trying to include all the intelligent good-aligned races, like the goodly lycanthrope types and dragons and such? \$\endgroup\$ – TheVagrantDog Apr 20 '18 at 22:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Beings" or "people" would answer the question in the title, but your sentence specifying "neutral or good" races excludes many beings/people. \$\endgroup\$ – gmarmstrong Apr 21 '18 at 4:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you mean "sentient" or "sapient"? Owlbears are sentient, but Werebears are sapient. There's a difference. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jacobs Apr 21 '18 at 11:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I’ve closed this as “primarily opinion-based” due to the evidence of the answers over time. Not a one gives a citation to support that their suggestion is the term for this in the RPG community or materials, which is what the question is asking. This has become a collection of “here is what I think a good term would be” or “this is what I think you could use” — which is to say, a collection of pure opinions. The current answers are more than sufficient evidence that “answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions”. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 23 '18 at 18:34
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"Free Peoples of the World" or "all Free Folk" is the Tolkienesque way of phrasing this, and wouldn't be inappropriate for an NPC to say in character. Those phrases are from The Fellowship of the Ring (the book and the film, respectively).

"Humans and Demihumans" would be an accurate way of phrasing this in a 2nd edition game, though probably only out of character, and most people will want to avoid it due to the implications of calling a race "demihuman".

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    \$\begingroup\$ Second edition's "demihuman" was contrasted with the term "humanoid," which referred to the various "not-nice" sapient creatures, such as lizardmen, orcs, orgres, gnolls, and such. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Apr 21 '18 at 0:40
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For out-of-character contexts, "All the playable races" seems like it works fine. The audience understands and since it is out of character there is no need to fluff it up.

For in-character contexts the answer will vary with whoever is speaking.

  • A colonially minded character might say "All the civilized races"
  • A generic-good character could say "Free peoples of the world" (from J.Foster's answer)
  • A neutral character could say "All the non-evil races" or "All the good races" (since evil is a concrete, quantifiable attribute in DnD-Land)
  • A slightly less accurate but more natural way to say it is "All the inhabitants of the world" (in-character speech doesn't need to be 100% accurate since the characters themselves aren't always 100% accurate)
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You have some fine answers already, but I'll add this: if you're trying to contrast the "sentient" races as opposed to demon lords, you could use "mortal races." "The mortal races united to overthrow the demon lords."

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"Sentient" may be better avoided because the way it's often used in SFF contexts ("human-level intelligence") is very different to its dictionary definition (anything capable of sensing, e.g. most animals).

Probably the simplest option here is "all the civilised races".

If you have the time, fleshing out the setting might offer other answers. In Tolkien/D&D-esque fantasy, it's often taken for granted that the Nice Races enjoy similar legal protections to humans and the Nasty Races do not. If you bump into an orc along the highway, you're free to kill him and take his stuff; if you do the same to a dwarf, you're a murderer.

So, is that how the law works in your setting? If so, how is the distinction defined, and what's the history of that law? Answering those questions may help suggest in-world terminology: "All the peoples under the Eastern King's protection", "all those races whose blood flows red" (if that's how the law determines who's okay), etc. etc. J. Foster gave a Tolkien-specific example: the "Free Peoples" are those who don't have a history of enslavement by Mordor.

Note: pretty much any terminology that allows for a division into "good guy races" and "bad guy races" is likely to have some problematic associations in RL history, and "civilised" is not an exception. Historically, people have often defined "civilised" to include cultures that look like their own, and exclude those who they want to exploit or eradicate. It's very likely that a fantasy setting will abuse language in the same sort of way.

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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, Traveller seems more-or-less to have evaded this trap; the 'standard' term for races with human-level cognitive facility is sophont instead. I've also seen sapient used. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Zeitlin Apr 21 '18 at 12:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JeffZeitlin "Sophont" dates back to science fiction from before even Traveller. First used by Poul Anderson in 1966 and was coined by his wife, Karen. May not necessarily be the best code for the asker, as the demons are sophont too. \$\endgroup\$ – Draco18s Apr 21 '18 at 23:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Draco18s - You are absolutely correct about demons being sophont, and I agree that it would not work for the querent's needs, any more than 'sentient' would, and for exactly the same reasons. My comment was directed at this respondent's highlighting of SFF's misuse of 'sentient', and agreeing ghat it should be avoided - but pointing out that the extremely common misuse is not universal. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Zeitlin Apr 22 '18 at 12:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JeffZeitlin Oh sure, just commenting on the origin of the term "sophont" as it's a great word. \$\endgroup\$ – Draco18s Apr 22 '18 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ See here for the problems with "civilized", but overall good points. \$\endgroup\$ – lly Jul 23 '18 at 15:32
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"Everyone" also isn't quite right, as there are many evil races that wouldn't normal[l]y cooperate in such cases. A simple filter for this would be of[f]icial playable races that are (mostly) neutral or good aligned, so excluding races such as orcs and goblins.

Well, "sentient", "mortal", and "raman" have nothing to do with morality; "civilized" and "society" only concern morality under their 19th-century imperialist senses (at which point you're treading water around "Are we the baddies?"); and "free peoples" and "free folk" work in context if you're contrasting it with a slave or fascist state but better suit situations like Mr Martin's, where anarchic badlands are being contrasted with kingdoms and hierarchical leadership of any sort.

"The Good Races" may catch in an American or German throat, but this is a world where alignment is real to the point of being physically detectable.

The Good

Collective adj. The good people, collectively.

is a fine way to refer to those who are not selfish or evil. (Here is one example in the wild.) Similarly, you could go with "the Good Peoples of the Realm/Plane/Multiverse/whathaveyou".

If you want to pick the nit that PC races can and often are selfish or evil as individuals, you could do something silly like calling them "the Good-Capable", "the Possibly Good", &c. or something religious like "the Savable", "the Redeemable", &c. or something bitter and Po-Mo like "the Notionally Good", "the So-called Good", &c.

Really, though, you're defining the boundary between the people you consider people and those you consider monsters. If you don't just want to go classic "Us" versus "Them", just use the base words

The People,

"the Folk", &c. You could object that such terms are too broad. They aren't. Any race your LG paladin can slay on sight—whose children your LG paladin could slay on sight—with alignment impunity isn't considered an actual race of people in your game, but some kind of varmint, pollution, pestilence, &c. to be removed for the actual decent folk of your world.

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excluding races such as orcs and goblins

civilized : having advanced moral development; polite and well-mannered.

All the civilized races.


everyone

civilization : the society, culture, and way of life of a particular area.

All of civilization / Every civilization on the planet.


You don't have to be civilized to be a part of a civilization. In dire straights such as these, not only will the civilized band together; every civilization in the entire world will put aside their differences.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Assuming there's established trade routes that exclude those you want excluded, another good word would be society. \$\endgroup\$ – Mazura Apr 21 '18 at 19:54
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I think there is no academic definition because no serious research paper deals with fictional universes. However, you can borrow a term from some fictional research; for example Raman from the Letter to the Framlings by Demosthenes.

The loose definition is that we can communicate and cooperate with raman species but not with varelse species.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I would expect the Demon Lords to be Raman as well. And probably those "evil races" helping them. Being evil doesn't stop the possibility of communication or co-operation. \$\endgroup\$ – Jontia Apr 22 '18 at 15:53

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