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D&D 5E PC races that a DM has specifically excluded from their campaign and why


I'm running a Mystara play-by-post of my expansion to the Basic Set's Castle Mistamere adventure, mostly limited to just the 5e Basic Rules. Four classes, four races. though I've allowed the Human Variant, mainly because I'm not at all fond of "+1 TO ALL OF THE SCORES!" rule for human PCs.

The most annoying part thus far has been that D&D Beyond's "use only the Basic Rules options" needs curating, since it doesn't even stick to just the Basic Rules. (I'm looking at you Elemental Evil and Ravenloft rule-y bits that crept into the character builder)

Needless to say, there's been a lot of "That? What's that doing in there? No we're not using that" in the character generation/session zero thread.

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Elder Thing
Most campaigns I run are human only. I like to keep nonhumans mysterious and otherworldly, and that's hard to do when you have "human with pointy ears," "short human with a beard," etc. All the fun house options devalue the fantasy IMO.

These days, if someone were to insist on playing, say, an elf, I'd rework it as a human warped by magic or some such. And I haven't used racial ability score modifiers in a D&D game since I bought the D&D Rules Cyclopedia back in the 90s and discovered you can make a perfectly distinct and interesting character without them.

Funny how much less often people want to engage in their heavy roleplaying concepts of nonhumans when the ability score bonuses from such options disappear.
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In most of my campaigns I have significant restrictions & changes. I never allow monstrous races, and seldom allow underdark races. Extremely odd races such as aarakocra, triton, tabaxi, etc, are discouraged, since they tend to distract from the game in social situations and seldom fit the style of campaign. I've heavily modified half-orc, assimar, tiefling, dragonborn, and genasi to make them more subtle variations of their parent race (which needn't be human).


Proud Grognard
Almost all of my campaigns have curated PC race selections (and other options or limitations) that help drive everything toward the vision of the theme and flavor we're going for. It's pretty rare that I run a kitchen sink game and generally that's only when I expect more PCs per player than usual.
This 110%

To actually respond to the thread question: Most of my DMs have actually been super positive and accommodating, 'cause I'm a huge dragonborn fanboy. Usually I only sign up for a game of more limited options if it's something I was wanting to begin with, so it's not generally a problem for me as a player.

As a DM, I favor letting players play more or less what they want, and then use that as part of the seed for growing a game. Player wants a tiefling? Awesome, let's dig into your family's legacy. Oh, you're a half-elf? What happened to bring the blood of elves and men together in you (or your ancestors, if half-elves are 4e style where they're a distinct ethnic group)? Etc.

Funny how much less often people want to engage in their heavy roleplaying concepts of nonhumans when then ability score bonuses from such options disappear.
Hey, if humans ain't got any more bonuses than non-humans, I'm perfectly happy to keep playing my dragon-dudes. And if they're "perfectly distinct and interesting," I'd assume there's something much better than a meager +N bonus going on anyway!


Disallowed for as long as I can remember: half-anythings because their origins have often been depicted in ways that I personally find unpleasant.

For horror-fantasy, it’s human-only PCs to underscore the otherness of everything else.

For most other situations, I don’t ban but might require a player give a good explanation for a species choice before allowing.


Several people have chimed in on the flying PC thing. I have to ask, why? I've got two fliers in my current group, and I've had flying PC's in groups since the 2e days (a rather unfortunate aaracockra that kept losing it's feathers to fireballs :D ) and it's never been a problem. It really hasn't. I suppose an entire group of fliers might be an issue, but, I've never seen that. A flying PC doesn't really impact the game that much.

Heck, I'm doing Candlekeep right now and there's the option of becoming a Were-raven in the adventures. Come to think of it, when I played Ravenloft a few years back, my character chose to become a were-raven too. It was a really cool addition but, it didn't really radically alter the game at all.

Blue Orange

I've banned tabaxi after I've seen a third character based on big floppa or bingus.

So nobody ever tried to play a tortle monk? You could have a party of them multiclassing: artificer, noble, bard specializing in vicious mockery, bard specializing in partying.

Or you could have a friendly gnoll that has a currency named after it as a joke. Much gold, so adventure, such ancestry...

Funny how much less often people want to engage in their heavy roleplaying concepts of nonhumans when then ability score bonuses from such options disappear.
Funny how despite being possibly mechanically the weakest race in the game dragonborn have made it all the way up to third in the popularity tables. And despite only getting slightly more and IMO significantly less than elves or dwarves tieflings are fourth.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I usually allow/deny races based on setting - if I'm running Dark Sun it will have a specific list.

Though in Session 0 for one of the campaigns I am running currently the players suggested that Dwarves had been genocided. Not for any dislike of dwarves, but as a unique flavor of the world. (And no one had picked a dwarf to play.)


Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I always run my campaigns in the same homebrew world, and limit races because I don't really care for kitchen sink campaigns personally. There's just something ... off ... about having a couple dozen intelligent humanoid races running around unless it's not an earth-like world. If I had a Ringworld with landmass of a thousand earths, or a plane-hopping multiverse it would make more sense.

So my races are pretty standard human, dwarf, elf (high or wood), halfling, gnome, half-orc, half-elf. I know how they integrate into the wider world, their gods, cultural and historical details. If I had more races I wouldn't know what to do with them or where they fit into the world. I give people the option to ask for another race if they feel strongly enough, but with the exception of a Deva in my 4E campaign (who passed as human and had a unique story) no one has ever asked.

I don't have an issue with other races per se, but as a DM I want my world to be consistent and make sense; if it doesn't make sense to me I can't sell it to my players.


Jewel of the North
Depends on the setting:

Faerun: PHB's Common ancestries and only one player can choose to play an Uncommon ancestry (gnome/half-orc/half-elf/Genasi/Nimblewright) and 1 can play a Monstrous ancestry (Goblinoids/Kobolds). No Tieflings or Dragonborn. No Drows. If you want to play someone of fiendish, celestial, aberrant or dragon descent, play a warlock or sorcerer and we'll craft a special background for you, using the Far Wanderer background.

Nentir Vale: PHB's Common Ancestries and Uncommon Ancestries + Tiefling and Dragonborn + Wilden and Shardmind + Goliath. No Genasi or Monstruous ancestry in this one. Eladrin (high elves) use the Firbolg Stats, Gnomes are only the Forest one + Fey ancestry.


I tend to run campaigns without such restrictions. Virtually all of my campaigns start in an area with a lot of diversity.

In my first 5e campaign it was because they were all survivors of a magical cataclysm living in the only village known to have survived. In another, they were exiles from a war of the "civilized" races vs the "monsters", where the "civilized" folks won. In my most recent campaign they were the descendents of those who'd followed a prophet deep into the wilderness long ago. And in my next campaign they're starting on the outskirts of what amounts to the multiverse's garbage dump (imagine Sigil, if Sigil were a dump with no way out).

That said, I wouldn't have any qualms about restricting choices if it suited the campaign. I've played in campaigns that did so (such as a goblin campaign where everyone played variant goblins) and it was fine.


My 5E GREYHAWK campaign's playable races excluded dragonborn, drow and tiefling, mainly because they weren't part of core original races. The half-elf and half-orc allowed but viewed with distrust.

I've actually never played in a campaign that restricts player races.

In my own campaigns, I tend to build a campaign world based on the characters the players create. In my Strahd-adjacent game, the starting characters included a tortle and a tiefling, so they became the people of my Barovia-like world. When the tortle died and the same player brought in a gnome, we worked together on how gnomes could be a part of the campaign world.

Personally, I enjoy the challenge and creativity of saying "yes" and then changing the campaign world to match the characters.


I don't ban races. That implies a "blacklist" model where you're allowed to play anything you want unless I have specifically banned it.

My campaigns use a "whitelist" model: There is a curated list of races and you can play stuff on that list. (About fifty percent of the time, that list contains "human" and nothing else.) If you really want to play something not on the list, let me know and we can talk about it.

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