How Do You Incorporate D&D Races & Classes Into Campaign Settings?

Zardnaar

Legend
Think I'll let PCs play almost anything they want but some are banned for mechanical reasons mostly flying critters.

But whatever those races the PCs pick will likely be major races in world with the rest (outside the phb) basically not existing.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
I do whatever I can to justify excluding wizards & sorcerers, first.

Then I look at the setting and theme and work on excluding the obvious choice. For instance, in a game that will involve heavy wilderness exploration/trekking, I drop out rangers and whatever background negates challenges in the wilderness.

For races I tend to stick to the PH but cut or add according to theme. My Ravenloft games, for example, have humans, halflings, and dwarves only for playable races. But my home brew world allows any races at all. Except gnome.
1. What about bards, eldritch knights and arcane tricksters then?

2. Makes sense if the wilderness survival is a thing which is a major challenge in the setting which is obsolete by a ranger just rolling some nature check or taking the kind of wilderness as his favorite terrain.
That is one thing, why I would not allow rangers in a DS scenario easily, the other is how to include them into divine elemental casting somehow which is also not trivial if you want to do this true.

3. Very good decision of those three dwarves are the ones looking most odd to several of Ravenlofts natives, without being seen as monsters.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
1. What about bards, eldritch knights and arcane tricksters then?

2. Makes sense if the wilderness survival is a thing which is a major challenge in the setting which is obsolete by a ranger just rolling some nature check or taking the kind of wilderness as his favorite terrain.
That is one thing, why I would not allow rangers in a DS scenario easily, the other is how to include them into divine elemental casting somehow which is also not trivial if you want to do this true.

3. Very good decision of those three dwarves are the ones looking most odd to several of Ravenlofts natives, without being seen as monsters.
2E did have nwp that could mitigate DS.

Survival checks would just be higher, DC15-25 or even 30.
 

Big J Money

Adventurer
I wasn't keen on the write-up for Bards in 5E basic rules, and one of my players wanted to make a bard, so I updated it a bit:

Names of Power
Bardic spells aren’t at all like spells studied and cast by wizards, nor the power granted to holy zealots by their patron deities. No, bards are all born under the sign of, well, the first bard; and this makes them special. And sometimes unwelcome.

Millenia ago, Bards and Druids were together the greatest sages and teachers in the early civilized world. Druids knowing the sacred magic of the World’s Spirit, and Bards understanding its Infernal Power. Humans respected and feared the Druids and the Bards, but over time fear won as religious Imperial might took over the kingdoms.

Since then, the role of the Bard has changed. No longer masters and teachers, Bards have learned to become performers and entertainers; down-playing the intuition and power they can summon and increasing their worth and value in the eyes of their peers. In the most religious or ordered of locales, Bards are still seen as a nuisance and source of trouble, but in most places they are valued for the skills and gifts they bring in the way of art and spectacle.

Unlike a Druid, it’s not possible for one to become a Bard; it must be inborn, and breeding has no part of it, as far as anyone knows. Ones born under the sign of first Bard with the forgotten name possess the ability to call on the various names of the World’s Power. This is no easy task, however, and a Bard can only suffer channeling the names of such great power so much before they must rest. Because of this, and because of Bards’ elusive and mercurial nature, even most Wizards and Clerics have never seen a Bard actually speak a Name of Power; many doubt they can.

Bards also use this power in more subtle and controlled ways to fortify their entertaining arts with magic, or call on more pedestrain names of reliable household magics; much like the cantrips of Wizards.

All bardic names use a Verbal component only. These words uttered into being by Bards are only understood by other Bards, and even then only by those who know the same names. Bardic names can never be countered nor dispelled except by another Bard more strongly wielding the same name (compared roll). Bards cannot cast rituals.

List of Names rumored to be known by the (1st level) Ever-Captivating Half-Elf, Baptiste:

Household Names
Name of Whispers
Name of Mockery

1st Level Names of Power
Name of Ruin
Name of Friendship
Name of Language
Name of Revelry
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Like for several several others, it depends.

If I’m running straight from prepublished material, I tend not to eliminate anything.

The more I homebrew, the more I tinker. Some campaigns I designed contained no published races besides humans, and had several modifications to certain classes.
 

Big J Money

Adventurer
Skimming through this thread gave me idea.

I own the 4X video game Stellaris, although I haven't played it much. In that game, you create an alien species. You define that species at the beginning with some scales for things like Xenophobia versus Xenophilia (Xenoism?), etc.

It might be interesting to take each of these scales and apply them (perhaps even randomly via a table) to the different people groups, human and non-human, of a campaign. From these profiles, and proximity to each other on a map, you could draw lines and define the relationships and conflicts between them.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Sometimes I wait until the players have chosen their races, other times I will restrict races, it might be as simple as using the PHB races only. In the past I have used the races that weren't chosen as the threat to peace, Dragonborn in one campaign were a hostile empire that had recently been fended off by an alliance of humans, elves, and dwarves. In another campaign, I just asked for no monster races like goblins and orcs since I wanted them to be kept as the bad guys in the campaign.

I haven't really restricted classes yet. I do have an idea for a campaign with no wizards or clerics due to the primitive nature of the campaign, arcane magic hasn't been formalised yet so no wizards and religion is the old religion so the shamans of the tribe are made up of druids instead of clerics. There were probably other class restrictions as well I was going to put into it as well.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Skimming through this thread gave me idea.

I own the 4X video game Stellaris, although I haven't played it much. In that game, you create an alien species. You define that species at the beginning with some scales for things like Xenophobia versus Xenophilia (Xenoism?), etc.

It might be interesting to take each of these scales and apply them (perhaps even randomly via a table) to the different people groups, human and non-human, of a campaign. From these profiles, and proximity to each other on a map, you could draw lines and define the relationships and conflicts between them.
It's just basically point buy races. Kind of been done before in 2E.

In Stellaris terms a strong race might be +1strength, very strong +2. A significant drawback like the Drow for example gets an extra point.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Sometimes I wait until the players have chosen their races, other times I will restrict races, it might be as simple as using the PHB races only. In the past I have used the races that weren't chosen as the threat to peace, Dragonborn in one campaign were a hostile empire that had recently been fended off by an alliance of humans, elves, and dwarves. In another campaign, I just asked for no monster races like goblins and orcs since I wanted them to be kept as the bad guys in the campaign.

I haven't really restricted classes yet. I do have an idea for a campaign with no wizards or clerics due to the primitive nature of the campaign, arcane magic hasn't been formalised yet so no wizards and religion is the old religion so the shamans of the tribe are made up of druids instead of clerics. There were probably other class restrictions as well I was going to put into it as well.
Makes sense. As long as players but in no problem.
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
The world I'm puttering away at is the Broken World. It is a post-apocalyptic world shattered into island and continent sized shards floating in a sea of air by a final war that the Gods lost.

In it, there are sanctuaries left over from before the last war. They open up occasionally. Any unplanned race/class combinations can "spawn" from a newly opened sanctuary; and, I can connect a party of PCs with strange race/class mixes by having a sanctuary with pretty much those people in it.

This doesn't break the assumed politics/geography of the existing world, because they are literally brand new on the scene. It also provides a fish-out-of-water experience for players being introduced to the setting, so they can learn as their characters do.

This is just a specific implementation of "leaving blank spots" for the player's ideas to fill in, so we can retrofit new stories into the world. They want to create an arabian-esque whirling dirvish goliath noble? Sure, there is room for that.
 

Tallifer

Adventurer
Players have to adventure in my world, so I at least give them say in their class, background and race. Whatever they want, I try to accommodate. As for the NPCs and monsters, I run in a multiverse, so anything could show up from anywhere.

Lion veteran.jpg
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
But why wizards and sorcerers and not semicasters? I did not get your reason to (try to) exclude them?
Usually, I run games with themes or a feel. To build that feel into the game, I put in a lot of conflicts, opportunities, and challenges. Wizards and Sorcerer’s spell lists have too many spells that sidestep those obstacles. The result is, instead of reinforcing the feel of the campaign, the party just waggles its fingers and moves on.

Instead of revising the spell list every game, I just drop those two classes.

Sometimes, it’s not just those two though. I’ve excluded clerics and paladins from Ravenloft/Horror campaigns, for example. And, depending on the setting, will allow either Fighter OR Barbarian (but not both). I also cut certain subclasses.

The players still have plenty of options. But since we’ve all agreed on the type of game we want to play ahead of time, they’re cool excluding stuff that plays hard against the tone and setting.

Side story - my kids’ group did character creation as part of the game itself. A royal wedding was attacked and they were commoners caught in the audience. I used their decisions (what they did in the battle and who they saved) to determine what was available to them as classes and stuff. They let the prince die but saved his squire (an old samurai) so the only heavy they could pick was fighter with subclass samurai. They let the priest die but saved the princess, so they couldn’t pick cleric as a class but saving the princess gave them some other in-game benefits (among the populace). They helped a goblin (disguised as a gnome) into the wedding to play music and so they got Bard (subclass college of valor, reflavored as a goblin skald) as their caster class.

Anyway, no wizards or sorcerers.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
Usually, I run games with themes or a feel. To build that feel into the game, I put in a lot of conflicts, opportunities, and challenges. Wizards and Sorcerer’s spell lists have too many spells that sidestep those obstacles. The result is, instead of reinforcing the feel of the campaign, the party just waggles its fingers and moves on.

Instead of revising the spell list every game, I just drop those two classes.

Sometimes, it’s not just those two though. I’ve excluded clerics and paladins from Ravenloft/Horror campaigns, for example. And, depending on the setting, will allow either Fighter OR Barbarian (but not both). I also cut certain subclasses.

The players still have plenty of options. But since we’ve all agreed on the type of game we want to play ahead of time, they’re cool excluding stuff that plays hard against the tone and setting.

Side story - my kids’ group did character creation as part of the game itself. A royal wedding was attacked and they were commoners caught in the audience. I used their decisions (what they did in the battle and who they saved) to determine what was available to them as classes and stuff. They let the prince die but saved his squire (an old samurai) so the only heavy they could pick was fighter with subclass samurai. They let the priest die but saved the princess, so they couldn’t pick cleric as a class but saving the princess gave them some other in-game benefits (among the populace). They helped a goblin (disguised as a gnome) into the wedding to play music and so they got Bard (subclass college of valor, reflavored as a goblin skald) as their caster class.

Anyway, no wizards or sorcerers.
I tend to heavily restrict options to get a certain feel in my campaigns also.
E.g. I allow (PC) barbarians only when the tech level is <1300 equivalent. When every fighter runs around in sophisticated plate armor, they will not be bested by naked wildlings.
In ravenloft I allow clerics but not paladins.
I disallow classes/subclasses/spells which got easy ways to go around a settings core challenges (monk and barbarian in Darksun come to mind)
I disallow sorcerers in campaigns where there are established magic schools DL would be an example or where they just have no fundamental lore e.g. Greyhawk Darksun. So of the big official campaign worlds where I would allow sorcerers only ravenloft comes to mind (where they fit explixcitely good imho) FR (because they do not contradict much there and its a kitchen sink these days anyway) and maybe planescape also.

So you got some very nice ideas, not like I would do it exactly like that but finally someone who is not afraid of the "less is more in some cases" - approach that I also use.
 

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