D&D General Do you like LOTS of races/ancestries/whatever? If so, why?

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I'm normally a kitchen sink kind of guy, but for Dragonlance 5E, I think I'll stick with the Dragonlance standards+The Races of Ansalon race options as well.

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"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Sometimes it seems like the thing most homebrewers and 3PP alike do is create new races. Tons of them. I think 5E has an official count of what, 40, playable races? The number quickly reaches into the hundreds if you include all the 3PP content. The same thing can be seen over at paizo, and you even see folks creating tons of races for OSR style fantasy games.

My question is: does that appeal to you? Do you like a campaign world that has dozens or even hundreds of player option races? If so, why? What's the upside?

For my part, I feel like there's a point where it gets too Mos Eisley or Pirates of Dark Water. Not only does too many races kill the wonder of non-human characters, but I feel like they become mechanical shticks and themes and there's nothing otherwise distinct about the races as cultures. They are just humans with funny hats and stat bonuses.

Now, I can see the appeal of having a big pool from which to draw a few for world building. I don't want every world to look like Middle Earth, but a world that is just firbolgs, kenku, gnolls and deep gnomes might have appeal.

People like coherent settings, but people also like finding a new cool race that inspires them to try a new kind of character. The races are being sold to people who build characters much more than to DMs.


I am a world builder and a wacky one at that.

I prefer crafting settlement, histories, cultures, and societies based on the physical and mental differences a race is from humans and how these differences would form new reactions to stimuli than trying to split a race seven ways and try to make all seven interesting and not blatant copies of other things from real life or other media.

And it's 10 times easier.


During the COVID lockdowns my group started an OD&D campaign. Four playable races (which were classes). It lasted 2 years.

So when that ended and I began running 5e in a new homebrew, we leaned hard into the opposite direction.

The Arc has something called the Ikosothropos, the Twenty Peoples (it’s more like 25 - 26). That’s not counting the Antinomial People (ie playable monster races).

There’s a whole city-state of anthropomorphic animal species and the party includes turtle, rabbit, and flightless bird PCs.

It’s very much a menagerie, the cantina, virtually every JRPG. Next campaign we’ll probably rein the PC species in some, but for now it’s fun playing in the bigger garden of D&D influences.

Can I explain it? Sure. I’m a genre fiction lifer. Will I? Only if the PCs ask… or really get on my nerves :).


I prefer a curated list because I want to at least make an attempt to give them all different culture and feel. So there are a couple of playable races, along with a few non-playable races that are native to my world. There are also a couple that aren't native but only come from a different realm. All told, less than a dozen.

If I was running a planescape type game dozens of races from different worlds would make more sense. But I want to know where races come from, how they're related and interact with each other.

In order to be an ongoing race, there has to be a sustainable population. On the other hand if people want to have mechanics of a race not allowed, we can talk and sometimes work it out but as far as everyone else is concerned they're one of the standard races.

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