Roleplaying Basics – Races for Roleplaying Games

The Orcs are gathered for plundering. The Dwarves mine and craft. The Humans squabble and the Elves pay them all no attention.

When you start rolling up a new player character, one of the most important things to consider is the race your character will be. There’s a huge choice and many variations, each with their own cultural differences. You’ll find that for each race there will be a set of racial bonuses that come with them. Humans for example tend to be quite mediocre with the actual racial bonuses but much more versatile and adaptable and have access to more professions than others.

There are also race restrictions. This can be down to the GM’s game and style. Some games have settings where certain characters would struggle to survive as an adventurer out in the world. Playing a Uruk-Hai Orc in the Third Age of Middle Earth would be challenge! The Professions and access to various skills varies massively depending on your racial choice. Halflings for example would be more suited to stealth professions as their racial bonuses apply more in this field than elsewhere.

Culture is also very important when rolling up a character. As well as choosing the specific race, racial subgroups vary considerably. In Dungeons and Dragons, the Drow who are also elves, worship the Dark Gods and despise their surface dwelling counterparts. Cimmerians in Conan live in the northern wildlands of Hyboria. They worship the stormy God Crom who rarely intervenes with the mortal races. The Stygians living in the south of Hyboria are ruled by sorcerer kings. They are known for dark worship of the serpent god Set. Part of this worship is  human sacrifices to invoke the serpent god’s power. Both are Human races in the world of Conan and make for a very different play-style reflected by their cultural differences.

There are variations across the different role playing games and ultimately you have to consider game balance whilst giving players the tools to create a character they wish to play and have fun with.