Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Playing Around with Non-Standard Races

So, I was thinking and I'm curious if my taste lines up with anyone else among my readers. Here's a list of some alternate/non-standard races I'd personally be interested in playing in a vanilla/standard D&D campaign. I'm curious whether you'd personally want to play any of them, and what other races I haven't listed you'd be interested in playing.

Races I know I'd be interested in playing:
  • Centaurs (provided that there wouldn't be issues of fitting into dungeons, at least most of the time)
  • Insect-Men/Phraints/Formians (provided they had feelings)
  • Some type of bird-man
  • Young, low-level but intelligent dragons (I would especially enjoy taking a dragon from first level all the way through an end-game)
  • Mushroom Men/Shrooms/Myconids
  • Leprechauns or some other probably non-flying fey of that size
 Races I might be interested in if the concept was fleshed out some more:
  • Lizard-Men/Saurigs/Thracians
  • Ent/Dryad
  • Giant (probably in a wilderness phase of a campaign)
Do any of these strike you as something you'd like to play? What else would you like to play?

Another interesting question: a good while back, Noisms posted this article about how non-human races should have something about their psychology or culture different from human psychologies and cultures. In the article, Noisms links to a list of elements of psychology and culture that are universal to humans and suggests that a few of these should be changed for non-human races. I think this is a handy way to let players know a way to play their non-human PCs; it takes the responsibility for policing it away from the referee and players tend to take kernels of ideas like this and run with them in fun and unexpected ways.

Which of these human universals would you take away from some of these races to make them more interesting?


  1. It is always a challenge to play races that are radically different in some distinct fashion from human. Centaurs and giants are probably pretty understandable but have a very different set of physical limitations and strength.

    But how will insect/plant/lizard people perceive the world? Do they have ties to (hive/plants/race) that operate in a biological way? How do you reflect that in play?

    An interesting selection. I have played lizard folk before but I cannot say that I felt they ended up being alien. I think they at least managed slightly different though. Which, at the time, was good enough.

  2. An interesting variation on some of these might be humans that have been trapped (polymorphed, reincarnated, whatever) in another form. This gets around the "alien mind" problem and let's you enjoy playing something more monstrous. It might be particularly fun with something like a small dragon, especially if the PC starts off trying to find a way to get their original form back, but might end up becoming more and more like the new form.

  3. Mycanoids and lizardfolk could be quite fun. That said Im always a sucker for weird ideas, as my Pathfinder Feral Kobold barbarian is a great example (its personality is based on the warhound from Dragon Age: Origins and my dog)

    The biggest issue is making them different in action and personality without making them a cartoonish freakshow

  4. In my variant world Ramallon (Jupiter size hollow world with earth gravity)I have always allowed variant player characters. The players are as follows;
    a Forest Minotaur Barbarian (Started under D&D 1)
    a Brownie Assasin
    a Black Phraint Warrior
    a Red Phraint Psychic Warrior
    a Myyrrhn Archer ( Melnebonean Hawkman )
    a Jaka Ranger ( Talislantian )
    a Thief reincarnated as a large Racoon.
    An Inteligent sword controlling a Gumbo wielder from the Ring of Gumbos.
    a Sindaran Dual Encephalon Wild Mage / Psion ( Talislantian )

  5. You know, there is an Old School (2E) source that would work well with most old school systems: The Complete Humanoids Handbook. If you want an instect man, check out Thri Kreen of Athas. I hope this helps a bit. Both are pretty good resources. As far as the dragon goes, there is "A Council of Wyrms" but that was intended strictly for a dragon only campaign.

    By the way, I don't think that I'm quite a "Grognardling" however, I am a younger grognard. I cut my teeth on 1e/2e and Rules cyclopedia between the late 80's and early 90's while still in elemntary school.

  6. www.gamersandgrognards.blogspot.com if you are interested.