Dungeons and Dragons Character Races: Humans
This is going to be a shorter article I think. Humans in Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy in general are going to be a little bit more basic because they can be anything and there isn’t some defining trait.
They don’t love an extremely long time like Elves, they don’t live underground like Dwarves, Humans are just like humans in the real world. Very diverse, very able to adapt, and able to be any class pretty easily. Humans are the odd race in that they don’t get a +2 to any of the main six stats, but they get a plus one to all of them. Getting an even stat bump across the board means that you can be equally as good as being a wizard as a barbarian at the start. But that’s the big thing with humans, or the variant human, which gets +1 to two stats and then a feat (an extra ability), which can also help you create any type of character you want to be more effective from the start.
But enough about the mechanical reasons, let’s talk some about role playing a human. Again, they are pretty straight forward, but diverse. You have to decide on things like if you are from the city or a village or the country when playing a human to see how you might interact with the world, or are you wealthy or poor, or something along those lines. You don’t have those racial traits like Dwarves and Elves that are going to give you a basis for your role play, you have to figure that out as a player.
For that reason, it’s pretty easy to have fairly boring human characters. You don’t have that specific thing to latch onto and if you don’t put the effort into your backstory, you’re going to run into issues knowing how to role play your character besides being generic human adventurer #201348. So lean into some aspect that makes your backstory and traits unique for growing up. What sets you apart from the humans you might run into in a town miles away? What world view do you have from where you grew up? Does the outdoors and wild seem too open? Do the city streets seem too confining? None of this is unique to a human even, Elves or Dwarves can have the same experience, but it’s the experiences that you’re going to have to lean into for really playing a human.
So what are some backstories for a human?
Growing up on the farm, I really wanted to find more in the world. I was the second child and I knew I wasn’t going to inherit the farm. When my parents passed away it would go to my older sibling. My parents main hope was to marry me to someone who would be getting a farm of their own. I eventually convinced my parents to let me apprentice in town and get a skill that I needed. I heard stories of the world there, and I wanted to know more about it and see more of it. There were so many amazing tales, wonderful places of power and awe that I could only hear about and had never seen, and I wanted to see them. So I left with a group that came through town and made it to the city where there were supposed to be white spires reaching into the heavens. The real world is disappointing, people lie, but I know that some of those stories must have had truth in them, and I want to find it.
Class: Any Martial/Half Caster Class
Alignment: Neutral Good, Chaotic Good
Background: Guild Artisan
The city is a mean place to grow up when you’re poor. You basically make a living by stealing, begging, or charity of some temple. But I found another way, I met a man at a cross roads who offered to become my patron and a good hot meal. That seemed like a great deal at the time, turns out that he had more plans for me. He started having me do some shady jobs for him once in a while, but it wasn’t too bad. Eventually life changed for me, and I was able to set-up a little shop on the corner where I told people’s fortunes. Sure, it might have been a hustle, but compared to most others who had their little shops, I was more accurate. I had almost forgotten about the deal I made when the man came back to visit my shop and asked me if I liked my success. I said that I did, and he said that in turn for more success I was going to need to do him a favor.
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral/Chaotic Good
Note: This is a backstory that really screams Warlock, but I think it could be interesting to have the “deal” be less binding, but something more of a deity sending an emissary to this person because they need them eventually and giving them cleric powers.
The Neverending War, that’s what they’ll call it. And it might not actually ever end, not with the demons seemingly uncountable coming through a tear in dimensions from the abyss. Life is fleeting, even with our short life spans, the war makes it even shorter. Fight for five years and gain your freedom to do whatever you want. Less than half of us last that long. The government gives us money to live, but most of us still need to work to really make a life for ourselves. Some can settle down and start a smithy, farm a field, build furniture, but that isn’t for me. I’m just out of the army now, one of the few of my friends who survived. I know there are demons who are getting passed us into the real world. I want to find a group who can help me stop them.
Alignment: Lawful Good/Lawful Neutral
You can see how these are pretty generic backstories that would probably work for almost any race. But I tried to add in a few more human elements to them.
What do you think about those backstories? Is there some trait that you think is really human that I missed?
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