Orientation: Picking a Race

2007 October 22
by Stupid Ranger

As you get accustomed to D&D as a way of life, you’ll find yourself creating many characters. And each time you start again, you’ll have to pick your race and class. We’ll explore your class options next time; today, we’re taking a look at your race options.

As detailed in Chapter 2 of the PHB, these are the 7 standard races:

1. Humans – no mysteries here. Humans are humans, with the same general characteristics you already know and love. They are considered very adaptable in the D&D realm, and as such, they gain 4 additional skill points and a bonus feat at first level. (Don’t worry, we’ll go over skills and feats in another Orientation session).

2. Dwarves – stone-working, ale-drinking, war-loving dwarves. Dwarves are shorter than humans, averaging 4 to 4-1/2 feet in height, but that doesn’t make them weak… oh, no. These guys and gals are hardy folk that can take a lot of damage; they have a +2 to their CON, but they have a -2 to their CHA; they’re not the most attractive of races, but then, they don’t have to be.

3. Elves – beautiful, and usually a little distant from others, these elves are not Santa’s helpers. They are often denizens of forested regions, living nearly as long as the trees around them. Elves are graceful, and as such, have +2 to their DEX, but, they are not the sturdiest of races, as reflected by the -2 to their CON.

4. Gnomes – thinkers and innovators, gnomes are inquisitive inventors with great senses of humor and an odd penchant for collecting names. Gnomes are shorter than humans, elves and dwarves, averaging 3 to 3-1/2 feet in height. Gnomes are hardy folk, like dwarves, and have the same +2 to CON; being smaller in stature, though, they have a -2 to STR.

5. Half-Elves – children from the marriages of humans and elves, half-elves live between these two races, not as adaptable as humans, not as graceful as elves. They don’t gain any bonuses to stats, but they don’t lose any either.

6. Half-Orcs – you may have guessed, half-orcs are the result of humans and orcs. Half-orcs are tall, short-tempered and not always personable, but they are strong. The have a +2 to STR, but a -2 to INT and -2 to CHA.

7. Halflings – mischievous and clever, halflings are curious and love adding to their collections, whatever those collections may be. Slightly shorter than gnomes, averaging around 3 feet in height, halflings are nevertheless very nimble; they have a +2 to their DEX, but a -2 to their STR.

As I’ve mentioned, many of these races have modifiers to their stats. After rolling your d6’s to determine your stats, as briefly mentioned in the previous Orientation session, you apply the modifiers for the race you’ve selected. But don’t worry about all that right now; we’ll review the steps for rolling up a character later, and I’ll remind you about these modifiers then.

Now, there are other benefits and drawbacks to each of these races, and they are all outlined in Chapter 2 of the PHB. I recommend now that you’ve had a bit of an overview, grab your (friend’s) copy and get a feel for the personalities and quirks, as well as the other racial traits, for each of these races.

Next time, we’ll start exploring the classes.

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