log in or register to remove this ad

 

General The Importance of Page 33

The Glen

Adventurer
I was converting the Mystara setting to 5th and I got people asking me to shoehorn in Tieflings, Dragonborn, Drow, Half-Orcs, Half-Elves, and other races that were not found in the original setting. It is a fairly unique setting that had its own races not found outside of Mystara. I was trying to explain to people that the non-canon races were staying out, I wasn't going to add them just because the Forgotten Realms had them. Then I found the one line in the PHB that explained it better than I ever could.

"The Dragonborn and the rest of the races in this chapter are uncommon. They don't exist in every world of D&D, and even where they are found, they are less widespread than dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans."

What you leave out of a setting is just as important as what you leave in. Dragonlance famously ditched halflings for Kender and was drow and orc free (with a few continuity errors). Birthright also ditched orcs. Dark Sun committed genocide on a scale none of the other settings can even dream of matching. Ravenloft retconned out its drow (for licensing reasons). These omissions didn't lower the quality of any of the settings.

Strategic removal of races can make for some fantastic settings. For the MTG crowd, Llorwyn had no humans, and Innistrad had nothing but humans. If you only allow elves, nagpa, halflings and aranea you get Dark Crystal. Tieflings, goblins, humans, and dwarves give you Legend. Lupin, goblins, sidhe, and whatever those fire guys were makeup Labyrinth. If you take humans, orcs, Cirque du Soleil lesbian hippie amazons and no talent for film making whatsoever, and you get Dungeon Siege: In the Name of the King. You don't have to add everything to every setting, sometimes less is much more.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

jgsugden

Legend
I'd just say this: There is no obligation to include any particular race, but if a player in you game wants to play a particular race, it is a service to the player to be able to accommodate them. Players often have odd concepts for PCs, and if DMs are too restrictive in their setting, the PCs never get a chance to hit the table.
 

ZeshinX

Explorer
I'd just say this: There is no obligation to include any particular race, but if a player in you game wants to play a particular race, it is a service to the player to be able to accommodate them. Players often have odd concepts for PCs, and if DMs are too restrictive in their setting, the PCs never get a chance to hit the table.
Pretty much describes the case for my group (I DM). I run my games in the Forgotten Realms (primarily, though we played in Golarion during the 4e era). I usually run it in the setting's "current year" for whichever edition we're playing, but it's not entirely the "as written" Realms. In my Realms, the Spellplague never happened. So there was no geographic upheavals, and no parts of Abeir came to Toril.

So, one player, who enjoyed 4e and played in games of D&D 4e with another group (in addition to our PF games) loooooves him the dragonborn. He always enjoyed anthropomorphized races, and the dragonborn were the cherry on his sundae.

There are no dragonborn in my Realms, since what originally brought them to (at least canonically) Toril never occurred. I was not a fan of the dragonborn strictly because I was not a fan of 4e and did not want them present in my game. However, this player absolutely loved the option. So, I worked with him so he could play a dragonborn character in my Realms setting where no dragonborn exist...we made his particular character a draconian from Krynn (same 5e dragonborn stats et al, we just called him a draconian and he was from Krynn). He walked through a portal on Krynn, and POOF, he found himself on Toril. The trip through the portal messed up his memories, so he has no idea where on Krynn he encountered this portal, why he stepped through it, or any particular memories about his life on Krynn, or even where this side of the portal is/was (though he does posses some very vague memories and feelings...but he feels they could also be lingering effects of his trip through the portal).

So, not only did he get to play his dragonborn, I was also able to satisfy my particular feelings about it...and we had some absolutely wonderful narrative options for him to explore (i.e. possibly regaining his memories over time, reactions from people throughout Faerun who have never seen someone like him, and so on).

Always options. :)
 

FaerieGodfather

Aberrant Druid
Supporter
It's funny that almost everyone seems to frame this in terms of restricting playable character kith to whatever was in the Player's Handbook for 3.X (or 2e if you don't like half-orcs) or occasionally for Dark Sun enthusiasts to ban Gnomish rapier-wielding Paladins. The OP here is talking about banning Half-Elves and Half-Orcs (and Gnomes again) because they didn't exist in Classic D&D.

But it goes the other way, too.

It doesn't matter how "common" the PHB says a kith is-- in the DM's setting, it's exactly as common as the DM says it is. The only Player's Handbook kith that exist in my Shroompunk setting are Humans, with all of the others being mashups of supplemental PC kith and playable monsters. The setup of the setting might theoretically allow you to play a Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, or Gnome from a distant World... but by default the answer is "No." If I wanted to exclude Humans, I could have excluded Humans, too.
 

Players don't want to play "a particular race"; they want to play whatever it is you are not including.

As soon as you exclude monks, the player who has played five fighters and paladins will suddenly want to play a monk. No underdark races in your game? The person who always plays humans now wants to play a deep gnome. You are disallowing death domain clerics? Guess what the new player wants.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Players don't want to play "a particular race"; they want to play whatever it is you are not including.

As soon as you exclude monks, the player who has played five fighters and paladins will suddenly want to play a monk. No underdark races in your game? The person who always plays humans now wants to play a deep gnome. You are disallowing death domain clerics? Guess what the new player wants.
I don't think that's true all the time.

... but it certainly is true some of the time.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I can understand limiting races for a certain setting or for a certain feel.

On the other hand, if a player can come up with a good character concept they want to try, I'll give it a shot.

On the DM's side of the table, I've thrown in NPCs from other worlds or one-offs for the PCs to encounter. I feel it would be unfair if I did that, but the players couldn't.

The first I can remember was Xoltz, a warforged that appeared in Greyhawk. The players found him as a hollow bronze shell on a sacrificial altar atop a Amelio step pyramid. Ages ago, the shell was animated for a short time as a construct by inserting still-beating human hearts into the body. The PCs had a battle with a dragon atop the pyramid, and upon defeating it, cut out its heart and put it into the bronze shell. It awakened the shell as a servant to the party, but the dragon's heart made it a living thing. Later, after a character death, one of the players took over playing Xoltz.

The second recently was Jin, an eberron Changling bard (bar dancer) - again, in Greyhawk. I used her to replace an untrustworthy NPC from the adventure I was running. Initially, she only joined the party with the intent to eventually betray them. However, the charismatic tiefling in the group won her over, and she forsook her old masters. Unfortunately, she was killed by a water weird before she could be used as a PC character in the next session.
 

Ath-kethin

Adventurer
I'd just say this: There is no obligation to include any particular race, but if a player in you game wants to play a particular race, it is a service to the player to be able to accommodate them. Players often have odd concepts for PCs, and if DMs are too restrictive in their setting, the PCs never get a chance to hit the table.
If I'm running a Dragonlance game and the player insists on running an orc, they're at the wrong table or they're trolling. There are other games/tables/groups they could join.

Why would a person come to a campaign setting defined by its selection of character options and insist on playing something that isn't one of them?

It's a disservice to a group to a) insist on playing something that doesn't fit the campaign at all or b) allow a player to do so.

I'm not gonna tell anyone how to play; if you want orcs and regular halflings and the gold standard in your Dragonlance game, go to town. But if a DM/group wants to play Setting X and Setting X lacks dragonborn or goblins or even elves, I don't see why that group should allow someone to play one of those things just cause the player has an idea or concept in mind for it.
 
Last edited:

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
The setting is part of the pitch, and that includes what races and whatnot are allowed. If you dont like the pitch, don't play in the game. I don't think anyone should feel obliged to allow X just because a player has a concept they like. If that concept doesnt work for the setting, just save it for another time. The setting should demand at least as much respect as player desires.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I think half-orcs and half-elves would be an easy add, they may not be common in Mystara but they could probably exist.

Tieflings could sub in for diaboli, rather than drow, players might be better directed toward shadow elves. Dragonborn are the most problematic for Mystara or at least I can't think of a region where they would exist, a players of one might be a singular creation of some Alphatian wizard.

Really though, I think players should buy into the setting and look at those options before asking about playing something outside the setting.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
I'd just say this: There is no obligation to include any particular race, but if a player in you game wants to play a particular race, it is a service to the player to be able to accommodate them. Players often have odd concepts for PCs, and if DMs are too restrictive in their setting, the PCs never get a chance to hit the table.
I think this is a sliding scale. In some groups, world creation is a shared job. In others, the DM is an author of a world that players explore. Both approaches have merit. When I am in the latter mode, I would not compromise the fiction by bringing in a race just because a player wanted it.

One might as well have complained that Le Guin failed to include ones favourite race - halflings, say - in EarthSea. A DM's sense for their world, including restrictions, can have value to players. Just perhaps not that of serving their every whim!
 

shesheyan

Explorer
It all comes down to the pre-campaign discussion. I pitch a concept, the players tell me if they like it. If they do, then they abide by the limits of the concept. If there is too much grumbling I find a new concept based on the comments.

I will say I'm glad Game of Thrones was published and on tv. It is now much easier to convince players to play in a non-LOTR fantasy game. In my current game there are only humans. All other humanoid races (good and evil) simply don't exist, even in myths.
 

pukunui

Hero
This is why I find a session 0 vital. It’s important that everyone get on the same page right from the start. The DM can pitch their ideas, players can put in their ideas, and so on.

If the DM has a specific idea for a campaign, the players should buy in and respect the boundaries provided. If the DM is willing to make exceptions, that’s fine, as long as it’s all handled respectfully. If the player is doing it to be contrary or make trouble, that’s not cool.

This is also why I have come to always ask my players not to make characters before I have pitched the campaign. I don’t want anyone coming up with ideas that don’t fit the theme/setting/etc and being disappointed because I’ve said no.
 
Last edited:

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
I came into this thread to find out why page 33 is important. I feel cheated as the OP didn’t mention the page in his opening post at all.

I can only presume it’s a page from a Mystara book that outlines what races are available in that setting. Is that correct?
PHB33

The OP makes clear the significance of that page.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I think that the most important factor regarding this is to have interesting options available for the players.

I've played in any number of campaigns that limited the options from the PHB, but the good ones (IMO) added cool new options that were thematically geared to the campaign. When that was the case, players never sought to play something that was banned, as they were excited about trying out the new options.

However, if you have a player who dislikes the idea of playing a human (because they are a human in real life and want to be different in an FRPG) and all you offer is humans, you may have an issue. At the very least, you're not offering options that interest that participant, which IMO is less than ideal. That aspect of the campaign is not well suited to your 'audience' (I'm speaking metaphorically, as players obviously have more agency than that of an actual audience).

The wrong (IMO) implementation of additional options is when GMs design the new material to be substantially worse than the existing material. At best this becomes a false choice, at its worst a trap choice. IME it's better to aim for the new options to be on the high end of the power curve. This incentivizes the new options, which in turn root the players more deeply in the campaign world (since the new options are campaign specific).

Mystara, for example, has a wealth of unusual playable options that can replace what is banned.

In short, I don't think that there's anything wrong with limiting options per se. However, I think it is worthwhile examining your players' preferences and then considering whether there are ways to offer options that they will enjoy.
 


Azuresun

Explorer
Really though, I think players should buy into the setting and look at those options before asking about playing something outside the setting.
I know if a player asked for something that didn't exist in a setting, my fear would be that they're not interested in the setting or the sort of game I said I'd be running, and that lack of investment / desire to be the super special unique guy is going to affect the game itself. I've probably been influenced in this by an former player who just could not play anything standard, always taking a concept designed to make him the centre of attention.
 

Orius

Adventurer
The DM should have the ultimate say as to what races and classes are available in the game.

Now, Mystara is an interesting case as it was the setting for classic D&D, and those rules had fewer options in core than AD&D, plus races were their own class. Core D&D didn't even have gnome PCs, though there were rules for typical gnomes in Top Ballista. But Mystara was also a kitchen sink, so like Greyhawk and the Realms, it's pretty flexible too. Half-elves and half-orcs aren't that much of a stretch. Drow weren't in the setting, because they were an AD&D thing, Mystara had the shadow elves instead.

Tieflings are a possibility, but they should be the traditional ones, not the homogenized 4e ones. Devils weren't traditionally used in Mystara, so the 4e tiefling backstory is at best an awkward fit. Mystara does however have the 7 original demon types in the Immortal rules, as well as Demogorgon and Orcus, so the old school Planescape tieflings wouldn't be a problem, but they should be rare. They'd probably face a lot of prejudice in a place like back country Karameikos, but on the Savage Coast, they could probably be assumed to be under the Red Curse. But that would lead to its own flavor of persecution, and if they hang around long enough, they'd probably fall under the curse as well....

Dragonborn don't really fit in the Known World or other explored parts of the world, but there's still lots of unexplored territory in Brun and Davania, and Skothar has never been officially described. So I'd limit any dragonborn to those areas. Any PCs would probably be additions to a party exploring the unknown reaches of the world like the adventures on the Princess Ark, and probably shouldn't be at the start of the campaign. Or maybe dragonborn are extinct on the surface and can only be found in the Hollow World.

That's just my take on it though. I do fully agree that a DM is well within his rights to disallow nonstandard races, and in 5e, that's anything not human, elf, dwarf, or halfling. Everything else in the PHB is there for backwards compatibility.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
In short, I don't think that there's anything wrong with limiting options per se. However, I think it is worthwhile examining your players' preferences and then considering whether there are ways to offer options that they will enjoy.
I'm going with - examine my own preferences and decide if it's something I'd enjoy DMing ;)

Saying that, maybe the players are most likely to have fun when the DM is having fun.
 

FaerieGodfather

Aberrant Druid
Supporter
The setting is part of the pitch, and that includes what races and whatnot are allowed. If you dont like the pitch, don't play in the game. I don't think anyone should feel obliged to allow X just because a player has a concept they like. If that concept doesnt work for the setting, just save it for another time. The setting should demand at least as much respect as player desires.
The problem is, for a lot of people "D&D" is the only part of the pitch they hear or care about-- sometimes when the game being pitched isn't even D&D.
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top