D&D General Worldbuilding Assumptions: On the Origin of Species

What is your preferred explanation for the origin of species in D&D/fantasy RPG settings?

  • Most species were directly created by divine and/or magical means.

    Votes: 17 28.8%
  • Most species arose through evolutionary processes.

    Votes: 9 15.3%
  • Most species setting arose in some other way.

    Votes: 3 5.1%
  • I prefer keeping species' origins ambiguous.

    Votes: 18 30.5%
  • I prefer not worrying about species' origins.

    Votes: 12 20.3%

log in or register to remove this ad


Victoria Rules
Regardless of whether a species was very first made by divine means, magical means, or whatever else; unless that species' creation is very recent then both evolution and natural selection have since had time to get involved in the process. The Owlbears we see in the setting today, for example, could very well be a significantly-evolved and changed form of what was originally created by mistake sometime in the distant past.

So, my vote is evolution.


A suffusion of yellow
I want two votes as I use Divine Evolutionary processes in that various Kinds (species) were created then evolved then sometimes were uplifted or altered by magic (elemental/fey/divine) means.

As to owlbears imc they’re a naturally occurring flightless form of Gryphon and both are evolved from Deinonychus


Depends on the setting, but in most they have one or more creation myths that point to unambiguously divine origin. Whether those myths are true or not, that's another question.

(In at least one case, I have some species with contradictory creation myths. And, actually, both of those are true.)


Dusty Dragon
I usually keep it vaguely defined, but I do have one race I went into pretty thorough detail.

The Yoon-Suin campaign setting has many strengths, and one of them is that it leaves the individual DM a lot of room to create their own version of Yoon-suin. The origin of slugmen wasn't explained, but it became an important part of the lore of my game.

the detailed version is at the link below, but tl'dr, the slugmen were created by a archmage as servants and assistants. This archmage and his allies were in conflict with krakens, keeping them from going upriver to find the "divine source". The wizard eventually passed away, but entrusted his slugmen servants with the anti-kraken mission. This was thousands of years ago.

But unlike say, the owlbear, the slugmen remain an artificial race. They don't breed true. Untreated, their eggs hatch into mere slugs. But the Wizard taught the slugmen how to alchemically treat their eggs so they hatch into slugmen. An important part of their trade policy is obtaining those ingredients and obfuscating why they need those ingredients.



The simplified version is that the ancestries result from the ancient protean dream-folk settling into their forms as the world stabilized. That said, magical mutation isn’t an uncommon occurrence, so any species can appear even if it doesn’t have a breeding population.


I don't really go into detail, but if people found out about some of the ancient lore of my setting they'd find out some of the following. It doesn't include all the races.

Original Races
  1. Humanity is one of the oldest races of the world, perhaps the first of the common player races.
During the early mythic age with the war of the elements
  1. Genasi were made by the Primordials by infusing humans with elemental forces.
  2. Stealing from Dragonlance, Dragonborn were born from the eggs of dragons through the power of the dragon elders.
    1. Kobolds were also created by the Dragon Elders.
  3. Giants and giant-kin were created by the ancient titans.
After the arrival of the gods during the late mythic age
  1. Dwarves were created by the Soul-Forger.
  2. Elves were brought to the world from the Feywild by the Stag-King (I haven't thought much further about how they came to be).
  3. Beastmen (goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, ogres, gnolls, and trolls) were created by the Destroyer.

Remove ads