The elven woods are home to the elves and their allies. Not many dwarves or half-orcs live there. In turn, elves, humans, halflings, and half-orcs are hard to find in underground dwarven cities. And while nonhumans may travel through the human countryside, most country folk are humans. In the big cities, however, the promise of power and profit brings together people of all the common races: humans, dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and halflings.


After you roll your ability scores and before you write them on your character sheet, choose your character's race. At the same time, you should choose a class, since race affects how well a character can do in each class. Once you know your character's race and class, assign your ability score rolls to particular abilities, alter those abilities according to race, and continue detailing your character.

You can play a character of any race and class combination, but certain races do better pursuing certain careers. Halflings, for example, can be fighters, but their small size and special features make them better as rogues.

Your character's race gives you plenty of cues as to what sort of person he or she is, how he or she feels about characters of other races, and what his or her motivations might be. Remember, however, that these descriptions apply only to the majority of each race's members. In each race, some individuals diverge from the norm, and your character could be one of these. Don't let a description of a race keep you from detailing your character as you like.


Your character's race determines some of his or her qualities.


Find your character's racial ability adjustments and apply the adjustments you see there to your character's ability scores. If these changes put your score above 18 or below 3, that's okay, except in the case of Intelligence, which does not go below 3 for characters. (If your half-orc character would have an adjusted Intelligence of 1 or 2, make it 3 instead.)


A character's favored class doesn't count against him or her when determining experience point penalties for multiclassing.


In a big city, visitors can hear all manner of languages being spoken. Dwarves haggle over gems in Dwarven, elf sages engage in learned debates in Elven, and preachers call out prayers in Celestial. The language heard most, however, is Common, a tongue shared by all who take part in the culture at large. With all these languages in use, it is easy for people to learn other languages, and adventurers often speak several tongues.

All characters know how to speak Common. A dwarf, elf, gnome, half-elf, half-orc, or halfling also speaks a racial language, as appropriate. A character who has an Intelligence bonus at 1st level speaks other languages as well, one extra language per point of Intelligence bonus as a starting character. Select your character's bonus languages (if any) from the list found in his or her race's description later in this chapter.

Literacy: Any character except a barbarian can read and write all the languages he or she speaks. (A barbarian can become literate by spending skill points, see Illiteracy.)

Class-Related Languages: Clerics, druids, and wizards can choose certain languages as bonus languages even if they're not on the lists found in the race descriptions. These class-related languages are as follows:

Cleric: Abyssal, Celestial, Infernal.

Druid: Sylvan.

Wizard: Draconic.


A Small character gets a +1 size bonus to Armor Class, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, and a +4 size bonus on Hide checks. The bonus on attacks results from the fact that it's really relative size that matters in determining attack chances. It's no harder for a halfling to hit another halfling than it is for a human to hit another human, because the attacking halfling's bonus on attack rolls counteracts the defending halfling's bonus to Armor Class. Likewise, a halfling has an easy time hitting a human, just as a human has an easy time hitting an ogre, and an ogre has an easy time hitting a giant.

A Small character's carrying capacity is three-quarters of that of a Medium character.

A Small character generally moves about two-thirds as fast as a Medium character.

A Small character must use smaller weapons than a Medium character.


Some races are significantly more powerful than the standard character races. To provide the Dungeon Master with a tool for balancing characters of these races with characters of the standard races, the powerful races have a special characteristic referred to as level adjustment. Add the level adjustment to the number of class levels your character has to determine his or her effective character level, or ECL. Some creatures have racial Hit Dice, so their starting ECL equals their level adjustment plus their racial Hit Dice.

If a race has racial Hit Dice, you can play a character of that race with no class levels as a character of a level equal to the level adjustment plus racial Hit Dice. For example, a centaur starts with an ECL of 6 (level adjustment of +2 plus 4 Hit Dice). You can play a centaur with no class levels as a 6th-level character, or a 4th-level centaur fighter as a 10th-level character.

Most humanoid races do not have any racial Hit Dice. For them, you simply add the level adjustment to your character's class level to determine their ECL. For example, a 1st-level drow in any class is equivalent to a 3rd-level character (one class level, plus a level adjustment of +2). You could play a 4th-level drow wizard as a 6th-level character, or a 10th-level drow wizard as a 12th-level character.

Characters with a ECL modifier of +1 or higher for racial Hit Dice or level adjustment begin play with the number of experience points necessary to be a character of their ECL. For example, a 1st-level svirfneblin fighter has a level adjustment of +3 due to his race, so he is effectively a 4th-level character. He begins play with 6,000 XP and must reach 10,000 XP before he can add another class level and become a 2nd-level svirfneblin fighter. Characters with ECL modifiers of +1 or better should begin play equipped as characters of their effective character level, not their class level. In the previous example, the 1st-level svirfneblin fighter should be equipped as a 4th-level character, not a 1st-level character.

Races that begin with 1 Hit Die based on their class are treated as 1st-level characters in all respects except the number of experience points they begin with and the amount of money with which they may equip themselves. They begin play with their 1st-level feat, multiply their skill points by 4, and gain maximum hit points for their first class Hit Die. Races that begin with racial Hit Dice beyond their 1st-level class Hit Die are treated a little differently.

Racial Hit Dice

A number of the minor races, particularly nonhumanoids, begin play with some number of Hit Dice derived from their monstrous race in addition to any Hit Dice for their class levels. For example, a centaur has 4 Hit Dice as his racial base before he adds any class levels. These racial Hit Dice have the following effects:

Racial Hit Dice: A character of this race begins with the Hit Dice indicated. He receives maximum hit points for the first racial Hit Die and rolls all other Hit Dice normally. He does not gain maximum hit points for his first class Hit Die if he adds a character class.

Racial Attack Bonus: The character begins with the base attack bonus listed. He adds the attack bonus for his class levels to this number to determine his overall base attack bonus. When the total of his racial attack bonus and class-derived attack bonus reaches +6, he gains a second attack of +1, and so on.

Racial Saving Throw Bonuses: The character begins with the base Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saving throw bonuses listed. He adds the saving throw bonuses for his class levels to his racial saves to determine his total saving throw bonuses, which are then modified by the appropriate ability scores, magic items, and other conditions that modify saving throws.

Racial Skills: Depending on the creature type of the character's race, he begins with a number of racial skill points. These skill points may be spent on any skills the character likes. The character gains quadruple skill points for the first Hit Die of his race - or, in other words, the number of skill points a character gains for his racial Hit Dice equals (racial skill point allowance per Hit Die + Intelligence modifier, minimum 1) × (racial Hit Dice + 3).

Skills normally possessed by a monster of that race are treated as class skills (1 skill point purchases 1 skill rank), while all other skills are cross-class skills (2 skill points purchases 1 skill rank.) The maximum number of skill ranks allowed equals 3 + the character's racial Hit Dice + the character's class levels, or half of that number for cross-class skills. When the character adds his first class level, he does not gain the × 4 multiple for skill points at 1st level.

Racial Feats: Depending on the creature type of the character's race, he begins with a number of feats. These feats may be used however the character likes, provided he meets the prerequisites before adding any class levels. Feats requiring other feats as prerequisites are permissible, as long as the required feats are selected at the same time. Because the character gains these racial feats, he does not gain a feat when he adds his first level of a character class.

Feat and Ability Score Increases

For purposes of determining when a character with class levels and racial Hit Dice gains new feats and ability score increases and the maximum skill rank allowed, treat each racial Hit Die as 1 character level and consult Table: Experience and Level-Dependent Benefits. Simply add the character's racial Hit Dice and class levels together to determine his Total Hit Dice. Do not include any additional level adjustment.

RACES (By Subraces)

RACES (By Book)

Player's Handbook

Dungeon Masters Guide

Monster Manual

Book of Exalted Deeds

Book of Vile Darkness

Champions of Ruin

Complete Psionics


Dragon Compendium

Dragon Magic

Dragonlance Campaign Setting

Dragons of Faerûn

Drow of the Underdark

Eberron Campaign Setting

Expanded Psionics Handbook

Expedition to the Demonweb Pits

Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells


Magic of Eberron

Magic of Incarnum

Monster Manual 3

Monster Manual 4

Monster Manual 5

Oriental Adventures

Planar Handbook

Player's Guide to Faerûn

Races of Ansalon

Races of Destiny

Races of Faerûn

Races of Stone

Races of the Dragon

Races of the Wild


Secrets of Sarlona

Secrets of Xen'drik

Serpent Kingdoms

Shining South


Tome of Magic

Unapproachable East

Unearthed Arcana


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