D&D General Are the Races of D&D races of Human or seperate Species according to lore?


Kinder reader Inflection wanted
I don't think think it should be this way. It can. It certainly wouldn't be wrong to. But when I think about it, how does having a more consistent world in this sense make the game more enjoyable for the people at the table unless certain people at the table are having their characters try to breed with other PCs and NPCs.

I've yet to run a game like that. I've got to use too much of my brain power to figure out if my players stupid ideas succeed or fail, or what how to map their insane idea onto a die roll to worry about the metaphysical like this.

Actually not knowing these answers could possibly lead to more interesting scenarios. Perhaps it's some researcher's quest to discover these mysteries. Perhaps he's doomed to never know.

Still it could just be that humans and dragons can interbreed with most humanoids, and most humanoids can breed with humans and dragons, but apart from that species are not compatible? Because human gods are freaky and dragons don't give flying flumph for conventions, even divine ones?

I can't say you are wrong, however I would say having set rules can be just as freeing or even more so than having none. Which is why we play with rule books to begin with. It prevents argument, sets standards, and means not having to come up with a rule judgement on the spot which might not the best choice. If you want to play homebrew... go ahead, but is it not the point of picking a setting and playing within it to have set rule, places, and expectations of character interactions base on that setting lore. So I don't dismiss the value of homebrew and playing to your whim, but I do value a fleshed out setting or I would not use them.

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Expert Long Rester
I can't say you are wrong, however I would say having set rules can be just as freeing or even more so than having none. Which is why we play with rule books to begin with. It prevents argument, sets standards, and means not having to come up with a rule judgement on the spot which might not the best choice. If you want to play homebrew... go ahead, but is it not the point of picking a setting and playing within it to have set rule, places, and expectations of character interactions base on that setting lore. So I don't dismiss the value of homebrew and playing to your whim, but I do value a fleshed out setting or I would not use them.

Sure. The crux is what rules facilitate fun at the table, impeded it, or neither. For me this is so firmly entrenched in the neither category that it is next to "Do female Dragonborn have breasts?"


Kinder reader Inflection wanted
Perhaps you should pay a bit more attention to who Umbran his and the views he has posted on these forums before making such claims

I regretted posting the first line as soon as I hit "post reply", It undermines my otherwise reasonable post with and emotional context. That said, A post in direct opposition to a thread with no constructive substance an dismissive to the premise is never appropriate. I am judging the post on its merit as you are judging mine. I don't care if the has never stepped over the line before stepped over it now. The constant posts dismissing the subject of a thread without being part of a conversation are really frustrating. @BookBarbarian responded to my reply with well written and valid point of consideration without being dismissive and belittling. That post was valid way to question the need for the information with support on why, @Umbran's post was a degradation of the thread and belittlement of people in what amounts to a peroneal attack, based on implication added and staying within language which doesn't get them ban. I responded with answer that address their implications both for the use of genetics (which was not the conversation) and the assertion that anyone on the D&D forums doesn't understand this is fantasy. I believe asking someone, even a Staff member to stay respectful and on topic is reasonable. IF my first two sentences were me stepping over the line... I apologize... and by the fact I regret those lines as soon as I posted them I suspect that is the case. I did not however tell @Umbran not to post, but "If you actually have something constructive to say on the subject, the please post that with out the dismissive comments about the subject of the thread." so if they want to do as @BookBarbarian and make a point in the same line without dismissing and belittling people on the forum go for it.

Why? And more importantly, which world are you talking about? Others have tried to point out to you from the beginning of this thread that their is no one answer to these questions. D&D is NOT a single mythology. It is not a single world, it has no unified answer to history or why's.

Others have actually (like PsyzhranV2) answered my questions and well with various setting answers, which is what I am here to find. That is not only the why but the title subject of the thread... If your not here to talk about the titled subject of the thread... I don't know why you would even read or post... it makes no since. Instead of derailing the thread, perhaps send my a PM and explain it to me.

Do you want to know about half-orc in the Forgotten Realms? Greyhawk, Dark Sun, Birthright?... Their are dozens of official D&D settings that have been published, each with its own legends and history and mythology. Each one has its own take on the questions you are asking. Why do you continue to assume their is only one answer?

I do not, I am looking for multiple answers and have gotten multiple answers. Forgotten realms especially. I didn't know. I know more because I asked and with names to look up I was able to up information I previously had no idea on. That's awesome. That's I why I posted.

Who is "they"? And why should they explain anything to you?
I am asking for replies from anyone interesting in sharing their knowledge on a subject of which I have none. I have gotten that. (Along with some people who just came to "stur the pot" when I was just looking for some idea of where to start and better understanding of the worlds attached to D&D. )

Do you know that their are hundreds if not thousands of people who have authored official content for D&D? That their is no single source of truth, no sage or authority who can say "This is how it always is". Numerous people have defined, officially, the origins of the different species in D&D. Each has done it with their own views, and often in different ways for different settings.

And, why should any of them have taken the time to answer these questions? Because you find them valuable? The lore is what it is. IT is often incomplete, jumbled, contradictory and nonsensical. Discuss your views, but demand some sort of official answer for something like this? That's, well, I won't say what I think that is other than useless.

I demanded nothing, I just asked. The very first answer was amazing and well written and there have been good answers since. I am not really "discussing views" I am trying to find want is. If there "is not" sure, move on because there apparently their are some good setting answers.

Yea, that's probably not the right attitude to address one of the forum moderators, even when they are posting as just member. Heck, it's certainly not a productive attitude to address anyone on the forums with.

Condesinding coments are not exceptable no mater who you are.

"In general - it is a fantasy world." ...Okay why say this... in what way does anyone here think D&D is real? This is a sarcastic, "this is not the real word stupid" kind of start. Their is no other way to read this since their is not reason for anyone to believe this is new information. As such its a statement on the mind set of the recipient.

"It does not strongly hold to real-world genetics. " … Sure, no one mentioned genetics before now. This is about which "races" can mix and which can not, which is a thing in D&D because we do no have unlimited hybridization.

"Trying to describe fantasy creatures using real-world science will ruin your fantasy." Again, everyone gets its fantasy, no one is trying to use real world science, however, all D&D worlds work on rules... there are and have been many books and of those there are a large number of setting and back ground books describing the exact kind of things I am asking about. Talking about fantasy setting rules is not new to D&D or any other fantasy settings. Tolken wrote quite a lot about them, just for an example.

Its common for people to discus "the rules of the realms" both in respect to D&D as a whole and as individual settings and there is nothing wrong with being curious to no more. Moderator or not, and actually more so if a moderator who should know better, its not ok to belittle people or conversations based on the curiosity of knowing more about the gaming world and the different rules it has with interaction.

/ sigh. I don't intend to rely to anymore comments regarding this, I don't want to go off subject. I cam here to talk about the rules and lore that DO EXIST and learn more about the game I love. If that's not your goal … please … I am asking I mean this as politely and respectfully as I can.... please... just post on something you do care to stay on topic about on the appropriate thread. … I am sorry for the interruption and really hope people aren't hurt or upset about this and we can all just go on talking about the things we love and want to know more about, or disuccs openions on threads dedicated to opinions.
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Dire Bare

first let me say I am not trying to get political here. I am really just interested in world building and understanding the backgrounds of the "races" and lore the authors created.

While this is true, as a work of fiction with authors who created it, there can be set rules per setting that are not really up for negotiation. I actually prefer them as separate species instead of races for the very purpose of avoiding racism trope narrative. If they are not races, its not racism and somethings really are true about their differences that are more than just perceived. Dwarf's having a +2 constitution racial bonus for example is simple then a matter of how they were made just like trolls can regenerate unless burned with fire. Having magical reasons for hybrids then makes since. While "sub-races" options do mean the Duergar and Drow being heated by their own race does mean racism is still part of the world, Elves and Dwarves debating which is the superior creature is like use in the real world comparing dogs and cats. The superiority is a questionable unending debate largely based on personal preference, but some dogs and cats get along while others fight. This changes preferences of the other species to an outsiders view, which to my mind uncomplicates the game. As a game, complication is not something I am looking for.

At the same time, having each and independent spices living with their own restrains and reality of their being and even having their own pantheon of deities is an interesting mechanic for story telling where separation persists while at the same time they are able to come together in amazing unity. Then you get a Tiefling, lol. Which really complicates that back up.

The idea that Dwarves are a race of living constructs feeds into their desire to build with stone and forge thigs of their own as in a way even making a hammer could be like forging life for them, Elves were created a finished product that lives a really long time as such there perceived arrogance it not so much "racism" but kind of how a cat looks at the world and pride in advantages of their craftsmanship not something they did to earn it, and Orcs are mortal avatars of Gruumsh One-Eye rage makes them raging as barbarians or resisting rage to remain calm a task that other species don't understand. Forgotten realms makes each truly interesting and unique while at the same time unites them very often onto cohesive groups getting along.

Play how you want of course but I like forgotten realms and enjoy it in part because it is separate and together. Its not one thing all the time. Right now I am in a campaign where I am dwarf in an otherwise all elf/half-elf party and we are in Hillsfar and only human town that hates out siders, but we were just with fairies and Elves that did not care. So while the differences create conflict in some places in the world, they only add unique flavor in others. Its a pretty great melting pot.

Oh, I don't think you were getting political, if anything, I was. But I'm a firm believer that everything is political, although I try to respect the forum rules best I can.

In my view, whether you view the fantasy races as "races" or species, I don't think that changes racism within the fantasy world. In fact, I think various fantasy cultures having racism problems can add to the storytelling if you group is mature enough to handle it. The racism I worry about is the one embedded in the game that perpetuates racist tropes in the player's minds, not the characters. I'm not saying D&D breeds racism in any way, but when you describe an entire "race" as evil, barbaric, horrible . . . . or even beautiful, graceful, and superior, that is a racist mode of thought even if we're only talking about make-believe elves and orcses. I really enjoy some of the later D&D works that portray the races, both "goodly" and "evil" as more 3-dimensional. Eberron's treatment of orcs is a favorite of mine.

Dire Bare

they should have a consistent world. If all races can inter breed where are the half-Gnome half-orcs? They introduce that some races can hybridize so they should state why, when, and which ones.

Actually, in the wild and woolly lands of OGL D&D, this exists. Heck, it may even exist within official D&D somewhere. I remember a 3rd-party OGL book from I think Green Ronin (3E era) that was basically a book all about half-breeds of every sort, up to and including the ridiculous. I remember half-illithids . . . which were bizarre, creepy, and nonsensical (to me).


Kinder reader Inflection wanted
@ClaytonCross, you can't have a rule for everything. And until now I've never seen anyone interested in a rule for cross-breeding.

So no one has ever played a hybrid race at your character or fought a NPC that was? No half-elves, Half-orces, asimar, or tieflings? Because if you have then you have already been using cross-breading rules you just were not thinking of it in that context.

Sure. The crux is what rules facilitate fun at the table, impeded it, or neither. For me this is so firmly entrenched in the neither category that it is next to "Do female Dragonborn have breasts?"

Thanks for a little understand, I wasn't going to post again on this, but your actually being very civil and constructive. Also, technically we are still talking about hybrid race rules. The level we choose to micro rules is up to each table but I prefer to stick to the rules of a setting both as a player and as GM. This means if there is a release rule anyone can use it as long as they can sight it. If there is a Hybrid race like half-elves in forgotten realms and they want to use it. no problem. At the same time I had a GM that ran a homebrew campaign and no hybrid races were allowed. The question is then, if Hybrids are allowed and a player wants to be a Demon Turtle (for example) using just one race for from the book for stats as "dominant" is that a door we open? Well for me the answer is "we are playing forgotten realms, so is this thing in forgotten realms?" If a player wants to know if Dragon Born have breasts, the question is first are the cross bread from a race that has them or were they created as race? Then do they lay eggs?

Based on being created as a separate race ether as slaves or by accident from drops of blood form Io.

In 5e dragonborn come from eggs, PHB pg 34: (with is a D&D general source)
"Age. Young dragonborn grow quickly. They walk hours after hatching"

.... So I get that you don't care. I heard you. That's fine. The point of this thread is that the knowledge of where they come from and how they are born provide me with a reasonably good standing in saying they do not, if a GM or player seeks an answer to this within the forgotten realms setting. The Hybridization comes in here in that it could be possible for a human dragon hybrid to gain unnecessary traits from the human half. Knowing they are not hybrids and that they lay eggs makes is easy to say the to not have breasts because they do not breastfeed.

So as these to quotes correlate, I don't need a rule for everything but choosing to know the rules others consider unimportant allows me to make batter and constant judgement calls as GM and to play better within the setting my GM is using by understanding it.

That is why I am asking about hybrid races and it is possible for example that some answers like "DragonBorn come from eggs" is standard across D&D or setting dependent and its not bad to want some idea of what those rules are.

Since you want to know about dragonborn...

In the FR setting;
were a race of draconic creatures native to Abeir, Toril's long-sundered twin. During the Spellplague, dragonborn were transplanted from Abeir to Toril
And the origins of the species;
Some legends of Abeir told that Io, the first and greatest of the dragon gods, created the dragonborn as servants for the first dragons.
or another view;
The Platinum Cadre posited an alternative theory in their efforts to spread the worship of Bahamut, that the dragonborn were the ancient creations of the Platinum Dragon.

Now, in the DragonLance setting, dragonborn are generally considered to the draconian race and they have a different origin story;
Created in order to fill the ranks of the dragonarmies of the Dark Queen Takhisis, the generals of the dragonarmies generally used draconians as shock troops. They are not natural creatures of Krynn. They were created from the eggs of metallic dragons using dark magic called the corruption ritual.

So let's go to other races.... well, at least in the earlier versions of the DragonLance setting, their were no half-elves or half-orcs, so no inter-species or inter-racial concerns there.

Now, in Greyhawk, half-elves and half-orcs exist, but other than saying that they are the offspring of human/elf or human/orc parents, nothing else is said. But of course as others pointed out, early sources indicate that with orcs breed with anything the result is almost always an orc. So maybe orcs are just bastards and mongrols, but again, it was never important enough for anyone to say much more than that.

So, again you said you are interested in all of this for world building, but are you rebuilding FR or some other setting? Are you building something new of your own? Then are you just looking for ideas? Because any answer you come up with is acceptable. Their is no single solutions. And finally, don't worry about it that much.

Honestly, decades ago I thought as you did, that to competently build a world, I had to have every detail worked out (though I admit I never worried about the offspring of inter-species intercourse). But you don't. And I will strongly emphasize that if you are going to this level of detail for your players, you are absolutely wasting your time. If you are doing it for your own edification, fine. But your players will not care. They won't. If you make a plot line or story interaction based around this, they will simple accept whatever you layout, whether it is "true" or not.

aramis erak

Coming at this from a rationalist perspective, and looking at current taxonomic vs genetics...
Most interspecies breeding only works within genus, viably, rarely within subfamiliy, with sterile within subfamily or family.

Given the multiple D&D half-breeds... it's pretty clear they are all Family Hominidae, subfamily Homininae, quite possibly all genus Homo.

It's why, when I do break down and run D&D, I disallow half-races... except when magic is used to enable it. Which makes the half-orcs even more painful a reminder - rape on multiple levels.

aramis erak

@ClaytonCross, you can't have a rule for everything. And until now I've never seen anyone interested in a rule for cross-breeding.
Given that they exist in some non-skeevy games, and in several very skeevy ones...
Non-skeevy: Rolemaster. A whole raft of useful spells for nursmaids and midwives, too.
BECMI D&D allows half-elves and even quarter-elves... so there is implied mechanic... half or more count as elves; under half as humans.
I know a couple other games I've read have had rules for it, too... but I cannot recall which. (ISTR Jorune.)

Skeevey: FATAL.

If there's a literary element, there's someone out there who wants to read it, watch it, or roleplay it. Even socially unacceptable things.


So let's go to other races.... well, at least in the earlier versions of the DragonLance setting, their were no half-elves or half-orcs, so no inter-species or inter-racial concerns there.

Half-elves were a core element of Dragonlance from the first novel and the first module. Tanis Half-Elven is pretty much the protagonist leader of the series. :)

Orcs do not seem to exist in Krynn so no half-orcs, but there are still half-ogres as well.


It's why, when I do break down and run D&D, I disallow half-races... except when magic is used to enable it.

I did this for a few campaigns, mechanically half races were the same but narratively they were subspecies of the non-human half so I had "gray orcs" instead of half-orcs and they fit alongside normal green orcs and various variants from monster books like black orcs.

Narratively I also allowed origins of mechanical halves to be stuff like a ritual that infused the mystical essence of dragon power or an outsider into a mortal or their bloodline.


Old myths & tales have tons of interbreeding between gods, humans, fey-folk, spirits, dwarves, trolls etc etc. The general approach is that these are all created separately, by the gods (etc), but can all interbreed.

In my version of Primeval Thule the Elves are actually human-descended time travellers from a distant future Mars. But that kind of Modernist approach is much better in swords & sorcery than as a general default.


Mod Squad
Staff member
Oh, Great another person who thinks only they understand this is a fantasy game and thinks the rules of the world don't matter....

Hardly. It isn't that I think only I understand a thing, nor that I think the rules of the world don't matter.

I think the rules of our real world don't matter to the game world, is all.

Let me guess your a story GM how hand waves inventory management?

I don't worry about inventory management when the PCs are flush with cash, and are in a place where resupply is easy. If there is no difficulty getting the inventory, managing it is not interesting, and wastes valuable time at the table. My players would rather be in an exciting fight or tense negotiation or virtually anything other than counting exactly how many iron rations they have.

But, do be careful - this discussion is about the ideas, not us as people. Slapping a label on me to dismiss my point is weak, ad hominem rhetoric. It doesn't stand up well.

Look, I am not saying your wrong but forget genetics (Not once did I mention genetics, so your the only one talking about that)

The idea that one species needs to be an "offshoot" of another to interbreed comes from the real world and our genetics.

you don't expect a human to sleep with a horse and create a Centaur.

Um... Greek mythology says otherwise?

There's a couple of competing stories about the origin of centaurs. In one, Centaurus was a man (with perhaps some godly blood in there somewhere, depending on the version of the story) who mates with the Magnesian mares. So, yes, a human sleeps with horses and begets centaurs.

Alternately, the centaurs come from King Ixion seducing... a cloud. Ixion had been trying to seduce Hera, and so Zeus made a cloud look like Hera. Ixion got busy with the cloud, and they birthed Centaurus, the first centaur. This hardly makes more sense than the prior version, biologically speaking. How more centaurs happen... is kinda foggy in this version. But they happen somehow.

Oh, and the Minotaur comes from the wife of Minos, mating with a white bull.

And, to top it off, Medusa, a human cursed by the gods to have snakes for hair, upon her death gives birth to... a giant, and a winged horse. 'Cause that makes sense, too!

If that happens one time and never before or again it makes since their is an in world reason for it.

If it happens once, and never again... you don't get a population. You get an individual. The Minotaur doesn't become a race of minotaurs, because there's only one of him, and he finds it really hard to get a date.

But, in any event, mythologies often have the various races that appear have origins with the gods of the pantheon and what amounts to the various magical spirits of the world. We don't need Elves, humans, and orcs don't have to be "offshoots" of each other to interbreed. The idea that breeding comes from "offshoots" falls apart when dragon, celestial, and infernal blood get into the mix. There's no reason to think that dragons are offshoots of humans, or vice-versa, but we get dragon ancestry as a reason for magical power among humans.

The same is true with all the other races. I am not saying the should follow genetics but that they should have a consistent world.

Mostly consistent. I mean... magic, you know.

They introduce that some races can hybridize so they should state why, when, and which ones.

Generally, when, and which ones, sure. Why? Not so much. Not everything needs to be explained. It only needs to have a "why" if that is going to be a plot-relevant issue in the campaign that the PCs can interact with. I don't need to know if dragons and dragonborne are actually related unless a dragonborne PC is in line to be Queen of Dragons, or something.

Nothing about that requires real-world genetics and your condescending implication that this is a pointless exercise...

For a pointless exercise... you're putting a lot of effort into it. Next time, I suggest you ignore things that you find pointless, rather than get up in arms of them.

is a meaningless post attacking people

Dude. I didn't attack anyone. I made no statement about any real person at all. So, the tirade here... not really called for.

Please tone it down a bit. And definitely don't react like this to other posters. I can put up with this, but if you get in the face of regular posters, I won't really be able to let it pass.


Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Not to get into some of the weeds of this thread, but if it’s lore you’re looking for, Forgotten Realms has in it’s publishing history discussed and detailed Half-Dwarves

In lore, dwarves could mate with humans, gnomes, halflings, and elves, with the half-dwarf/elves being known colloquially as “dwelf/dwelves”

Since there are a bunch of outsiders not made of matter as we know it (what is the atomic weight of Lawful Good?) that have long histories of having kids with humanoids, we can probably assume that any (and probably every) humanoid in D&D-land has a little bit of "weird matter" in their DNA. Maybe not enough to give you tiefling traits or anything like that, but enough to circumvent cross-species evolutionary issues (particularly when the other humanoid also has a bit of "weird matter" in their DNA). Think of it as "junk DNA" that gets triggered into being "nonjunk" by the exposure to someone else's "junk DNA."

Epic Threats

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