An example — There is high phenotypic diversity among horses, and thus very different breeds of horses with unique traits. So yes…they can look very different even though they are all horses. But a horse is not a donkey. Sure, they can mate…but no one would ever confuse a horse and a donkey.
I think of mythical races like that. Drow elves and wood elves and whatever other elves are different horse breeds. Humans are different Donkey breeds. Etc.
But maybe different species is an unfair comparison for mythical races. Another example….dogs. Lets say all the humanoids are like dogs. Gnomes are shitzus, humans are dobermans, elves are poodles, halflings are dashunds….whatever. Are you seriously telling me those breeds look the same? They can all interbreed, they are all dogs, they all pkay together in the park. Each breed has within -breed phenotypic diversity (ie, I can pick my overweight shitzu with the spotted nose out of any crowd). But even a child can see the overall physical difference between a poodle and a doberman.
If artists are not talented enough to convey such subtlety when creating their versions of mythical races, I think they need to go back to art school. Plopping ears on a human face is very cheap and borders on a Halloween costume. Its pretty boring as far as artistic design goes. This is a fantasy world…where is the creativity?
If you want a human looking elf, play a half elf imho. But elves should be more distinct than tired trope of pointed ears.
But whatever. Mods will get us all what we want anyway. So I am not really stressed either way.