Playing the Races in 4E

2008 July 7
by Stupid Ranger

I think there’s a lot of good in 4E, but there is no denying there’s a lot of change. One of the first areas in the PHB where we can see that change is in the races. There’s the introduction of several new classes, as well as changes to the existing, familiar classes.


Definitely different. The Dragonborn race is one of the new races in 4E, which by now is not news to you. Dante recently likened them to Klingons, which really isn’t too far off the mark. One of the things that struck me is that their sense of honor is so strong that they treat their adversaries with courtesy and respect. There’s something very poetic about that level of nobility, and that will make a great character trait to highlight as a player.


Familiar but slightly changed. I felt that the description focused a great deal on the Dwarven affinity to stone, more than I remember from the previous edition. But what hasn’t changed the Dwarven loyalty; a friend is a friend, and it is an honor to fight beside a friend, no matter how dire the situation. This gives you a great character progression to follow. In the beginning, you’re merely acquaintences; as you adventure together, you discover the worth of your comrades and are proud to fight with them.


Because I don’t think it was necessary for the Eladrin/Elf split, I’ve decided that it’s just easier to think of the Eladrin as an entirely new race. All that aside, perhaps one of the best descriptors of the Eladrin is “detached.” They are very much separate from the rest of the world around them. The “detached” persona is nothing new to me as a player, having recently played Ari along similar lines (because with Batloaf around, it was just easier and gave Ari reasonably deniability when he did crazy things). I would warn that this can be very difficult to overcome as you adventure; if you are playing an Eladrin, I would recommend softening your aloof nature as you spend more time with your comrades.


Elves in 4E sound a lot like tree-hugging hippies, but I say this as kindly as possible, knowing that I’m planning to play one soon. They are very closely tied to the woodlands and are very passionate in that the emotions they feel, they feel deeply. Try playing your Elf with particular attention to the emotion reactions they might feel; this is a significant part of their personality.


Not much really changed with the Half-Elves, but I think we see a lonely side to their existance in this edition. Not quite fitting in with the Humans, not quite fitting in with the Elves, Half-Elves enjoy surrounding themselves with friends, possible to alleviate some of the loneliness they feel from not really belonging anywhere. Your Half-Elf will likely be open-minded to newcomers she meets, eager to learn something new from her new-found friend.

We’ll take a look at the rest of the races in the next installment!

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Ben Overmyer permalink
    July 8, 2008

    In light of how the 4E races are characterized, I am reminded VERY strongly of how the half-elf and elf characters in the Tomb of Horrors novel were portrayed.

    If you want reference story material for those two 4E races, pick up that book from the library or Amazon and read through it.

  2. Ben Pop permalink
    July 8, 2008

    I like that, “tree-hugging hippies”. This is how I’ve always imagined elves, though.

    How would you do the accent of a Dragonborn? I think it would be fun to do a heavy Jamaican accent, emphasizing a basso profundo voice.

    Speaking of accents, given that Dwarven culture is largely based on Norse culture, why do people roleplay them with Scottish accents? That has never made sense to me.

    Your description of the half-elf makes me think of myself. :-\

  3. Stupid Ranger permalink
    July 9, 2008

    @ Ben O – Thanks for the reference material!

    @ Ben P – There’s nothing wrong with being a Half-Elf!

    I “hear” the Dragonborn with thick German or Russian accents, but I think the Jamaican accent would definitely give it some flavor!

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