Lightfoot: +Dex, +Cha, −Str
Stout: +Dex, +Con, −Str
D&D Next currently presents two Halfling subraces. The Stout, is apparently also called the Stoutheart referring to courageous Charisma. The Stout corresponds closely to the Hobbit of Tolkien. Tolkien also called the Hobbit a “Halfling”. Tolkien invented the term “Hobbit”, deriving it an Old English reconstruction holbytla, meaning hole-digger, but treating it as if developing into Middle English hobbit. Nevertheless, despite protest, Tolkien seems to coin this name under the influence of the name “Hob”, in the sense of a house spirit, here generally referred to by the term gnome. Interestingly, unlike nature spirits, Tolkien explains the Hobbit as a species of Human, a “variant” and separate evolutionary “branch”. Coincidentally, there is a reallife hominid of small size named Homo floriensis, but nicknamed the Hobbit after Tolkien. In this sense, in D&D terms, the Hobbit is part of the Human family, albeit a separate race.
The Lightfoot corresponds closely to the 4e Halfling, stealthy and daring, which itself continues the tradition of the Kender, but without its kleptomaniacal behavior. Interestingly, the 4e Halfling were nomadic river dwellers.
High: +Cha, +Int, −Str
Wood: +Cha, +Dex, −Int (alternatively +Cha, +Dex, −Int)
Half-Elf: +Cha, +Any
Female: +Dex, +Wis, −Con (As Bestiary, for D&D tradition as Cleric, no +Cha?)
Male: +Dex, +Int, −Con (for D&D tradition as Wizard or Rogue)
Half-Drow: +Dex, +Any
The High-Elf continues the tradition of the Gray-Elf, including the 2e Tulani-Eladrin and the 4e Eladrin-Elf, as a race of high-Intelligence low-Strength wizards. They resemble the “bright elves” (Ljos-alf-ar) or Alfar, who exhibit “high” celestial flavor of daylight sky. The High Elf appears as a tall beautiful Human. The skin is usually the “milk white” of the solar corona or pale moon, but can vary from from the dusky blues of twilight to the red light of dawn. Sky-blue eyes (solid irises, without pupils or whites), sun-gold or cloud-white hair, or so on. In addition to a Feystep thru the mindscape, this luminous Elf can radiate a close-range aura of dim light (with options for bright light), instead of darkvision or shadowvision.
A subrace name for the Wood-Elf might be Vaettir, a Norse word for nature spirits, sometimes more specifically called Landvaettir, “the nature spirits of the land”. These personify the life and prophetic fate of forest nature spirits. Eyes are leaf-green, skin is earthtones and greens, hair is typically earthtone or greens, but sometimes the yellows and reds of autumn leaves or even the bright colors of flowers. Sometimes they even exhibit the characteristics of forest animals, such as the pointed ears like wolves, catlike pupils, rarely glossy black fur, or even a tail. Shadowvision is perfect.
The Drow is officially a Dexterity race. In addition, the class features continues the Wisdom for female Clerics. Unfortunately, the Halfling is already a Dexterity race, but it seems possible to differentiate the Drow from the Halfling by the subrace abilities.
Also see the Immortal/Outsider Eladrin subraces. 5e will probably return to the “classic Eladrin” as an Immortal/Outsider race. Since there are so many Elf subraces in the D&D tradition, Eladrin subraces can continue other elfish archetypes. For example, the Noviere-Eladrin already continues the tradition of the Aquatic Elf, and here the extraordinary Strength matches the folklore about aquatic spirits, whose surprising Strength personifies the dangerous watery undertow.
Mountain: +Con, +Wis, −Dex
Hill: +Con, +Str, −Cha
Duergar: +Con, +Dex, −Cha
Dvergr: +Int, +Wis, −Cha
The 4e Hill-Dwarf takes up the tradition of the 3e Deep-Dwarf as the “standard” typical subrace. Here the name “Dvergr” represents the archetypal Dwarf of Norse mythology. These dwarves are Humansize, pale, with black hair, famous for their powerful creations of magic items, their intelligence, their luck, and their deep subterranean realm. This archetype probably deserves a Cha penalty, being generally disliked, pushed around, and seemingly easily manipulated - despite being needed and powerful.
Rock: +Int, +Con, −Str
Forest: +Int, +Dex, +Int, +Wis, −Str
House: +Int, +Str, −Con
Svirfneblin: +Int, +Dex, −Cha
Leprechaun: +Int, +Cha, −Str
The House-Gnome is a nature spirit that accompanies Human activity. Typically, the spirit personifies the land where Humans have build a house, but also elsewhere Humans build, such as a mining shaft in a mountain, or even a ship. Usually, the house spirit lives just below ground somewhere in the land, often under the house or the barn. The spirit tends to be helpful, making sure the property is running smoothly, even profitably, but can become mischievious and even dangerous, if disrespected or accidentally injured. The house spirit is usually invisible, but appears small, standing about knee-high to a Human. Despite the size, the spirit is superhumanly strong. The house spirit appears to derive from Celtic folk belief, and appears across Late Medieval Europe, whose analogues include the Irish Leprechaun, German Kobold, Scandinavian Tomte also nicknamed Nisse (a diminutive of the name Nils), Scottish Brownie, and so on. The tiny “garden gnome” with the red hat and full white beard corresponds especially the Dutch Kabouter, which seems to influence much of the modern concept of gnomes, especially in pop culture. In earlier folklore, the house spirit usually appears as a young human tottler, but later came to also be viewed as a small elder, perhaps with even smaller children.
Pixie: +Dex, +Cha, −Str
Nixie: +Cha, +Str, −Con
The Nixie (also called Nykr, Nøkk, Nix, Neck, or Nocker) is a water spirit of waters, especially the rapid freshwater rivers, ranging from benevolent to malevolent. They are of humansize, but individuals shapeshift between specific alternate forms. Most males are solitary appearing as a Human of great beauty and musical talent. Usually nude, but sometimes in finest clothing, at least partially wet. Some Nixie take the form of a “Kelpie”, namely a majestic horse of watery color - white, black, or green - physicalizing the ride of a dangerous undertow. Others take the form of a serpent, a monstrous merfolk form, even a floating item, or so on. Females, especially, appear as beautiful merfolk, Human from the waist up and a fish tail from the waist down, breathing air and water. Nixies of either gender might step out of the water fully formed, sometimes with “slit ears” forming subtle gills on each side of the neck, to live as Humans or Elves, especially if falling in love with one, but need to immerse in water, ideally daily, or else become dispondent. Alternatively, a Nixie might enchant a lover to breath water to dwell under the waves. Nixies are famous for their exquisite voices and mastery of instruments, whose music animates and controls waters, and similarly charms and compels Humans and other creatures. Their musical skills.
Altho wingless originally, and continuing to appear as such on occasion, by the 1800s Victorian Era, Celtic British folklore came to refer to the Pixie as an invisible tiny sprite with insect wings. Despite similarity with the British “fairy” of similar appearance - and sometimes using the words fairy and pixie synonymously - the two are traditionally two separate species. They inhabit the moors - the highland wilderness of treeless rolling hills and roiling fogs - and associate with healing and romance. They are endearingly childlike harmlessly mischievious and often friendly. Altho wild and playing with wildlife, they like humans. The 4e tradition emphasizes their Charisma, with options for Cha-Dex or Cha-Int, but the 3e tradition emphasizes their Dexterity, especially quick darting flights and stealth. Namely, Dex-Cha or Dex-Int. Their Strength takes the penalty due to their tiny size, followed by a human-like Constitution. Like the Celtic Sidhe, and thereby the French and British Fae, the Pixies live underground, just below the surface, in notable rock formations, such as mounds, monolithic stones, caves, and so on.
Naiad: +Wis, +Cha, −Con
Satyr: +Wis, +Cha, −Str
Dryad: +Wis, +Cha, −Str
Hamadryad: +Wis, +Int, −Con
Maenad: +Wis, +Cha, −Int
The Greek Nymphe is a nature spirit, this Greek name especially referring to feminine spirits.
Naiad is “the” Nymph, the central archetype of the race and the progenitor of the other Nymph subraces. She is a female of stunning beauty the spirit that personifies the lifegiving freshwater of a specific spring, stream, or river tributary. The male Naiad is rarely called such, but is the spirit that personifies a specific main river. The Naiad tends toward frolic, playfulness, and sexual freedom, but sometimes becomes possessive of a lover. The Naiad also associates with divination.
In Ancient Greek lore, the Satyr appears as a Human, with a horse tail, with the legs of Human. Like the Nixie, the horselike appearance probably expresses the galloping currents of river rapids, from whose river spirit the Satyrs descend. But as a spirit of wild sex, the Satyr association with the horse also relates to ... another anatomical feature. Physically, the Satyr has pointed ears hinting at equine, a subtle flat nose, a solid physique, and wild hair. The Satyr often carries musical pipes, any other instrument, or a rod of authority, especially to preside over revelry. The Satyr often obsesses over all kinds of physical pleasures, especially the beauty of Nymph, and wine.
The appearance of the Satyr with goat legs actually comes from a hybridizing with another nature spirit, the carefree Faun (faunus) of Roman lore, whose legs and horns are those of a goat.
Notably the Greek name Dryas, plural Dryades, derives from the Greek name Drys, meaning an “oak” tree. But probably the Dryad personifies a specific forest, while the Hamadryad a specific tree. The name Maenad derives from the Greek nymph Mainad, who personifies alchohol, and by extension revelry and music.
Doppelganger: +Wis, +Cha, −Con
In 4e Doppelgangers (aka Changelings) are Primal creatures of Nature. But in folklore they are otherworldly creatures, usually associating with fey, sometimes dwarves, elves, or trolls. As mimickers, it seems the Changeling needs Wisdom so perception can track many sensorial details, and needs Charisma to convince others.
Goblin: +Dex, +Int, −Wis, −Cha
Hob: +Cha, +Int, −Wis (Note Beastiary +Cha, +Con, −Wis)
Blue: +Int, +Wis, −Str
Bugbear: +Str, +Dex, −Int
Orc: +Str, +Con, −Int, −Cha (Note Beastiary +Str, +Con, −Int, same as Ogre)
The word Goblin itself derives from French gobelin, appearing in Latin as gobelinus, probably deriving from German Kobold. The German name Kobold refers to a child-size house spirit, here referred to as a gnome, being a benevolent nature spirit who accompanies human activities, even living in the mines and ships that humans build. However the French and English use the term goblin to refer exclusively to malevolent fae, who are generally small and grotesque, and evil, and responsible for deadly mischief. In British folklore, they belong to Unseelie Court. Some goblins inhabit human homes like gnomes, but other goblins inhabit the wilderness. The goblin of folkbelief seems to be a blend of the Celtic tiny house gnome (leprechaun) and the Norse wilderness troll (which itself blends giant, dwarf, and elf), and occurs in cultures that blend Celtic and Norse influences, especially Britain and Normandy. A curious characteristic of the goblin in reallife folklore is rhyming, poems, and songs repels them, driving them away. (Compare Turn Undead!) Also, the goblin has feet with no toes, and the sight of toes disgusts them, but provokes them rather than repel them. They are known for their use of magical rituals, and for their passion of destroying the Human in amusing ways. Alternatively, goblin increase their numbers by kidnapping children (and sometimes adults) and using magical rituals to transform them into goblins, to serve as spouses, servants, and soldiers. The stories describe the permanent transformation ritual as taking a period of time, and sometimes rescues before the completion of the ritual are possible.
In British folklore, the Hob is a kind of goblin that belongs to the Seelie Court - sotospeak the court of the good fay, who are generally at peace with humans, sometimes even helpful. Famous examples of Hobs are Puck from Shakespeares Midsummers Nights Dream and Robin Goodfellow from folklore. Sometimes the name is used in stories about a house spirit, namely a Gnome such as a brownie. The Hob is also called “Hob Goblin” or “Hobgoblin” to distinguish them from the other Goblins, mostly malevolent, that belong to the Unseelie Court. The Hob is exceptionally Charismatic and Intelligent, often functioning as rulers within the Seelie Court. In D&D tradition they are known for their sound - often brilliant - military tactics. With Puck and Robin in mind the best abilities seem to be +Cha +Int −Wis, but note, the bestiary of the Second Playtest has them as +Cha +Con −Wis. The difference between the secondary +Int or +Con, is whether the Hob is especially known for their knowledgeable leadership over the armies of the court, or serve as one of the warriors in these armies.
Here, the Orc is both a goblinkin and a giantkin, partially descending from both. The Orc is strictly an invention of Tolkien with no counterpart in reallife folklore. The Old English name appearing in Beowulf, orcneas, probably means the “corpse of Orcus”, referring to the undead of the Roman spirit of the underworld. For Tolkien, the orc and the goblin are identical - two names for the same creature. Unfortunately, he misconstrued the name “hob goblin” as referring to a “large goblin”, whence the invention of the magically engineered goblin super-warrior, who seems more or less identical to the Half-Orc. Realizing the mistake in his interpretation of the hob, he renamed his creature Uruk-Hai. In any case, the Tolkien goblin and orc are the same thing. In D&D, they are two separate creatures. The D&D Orc follows the militaristic nature of the Tolkien orc-goblin, while the D&D Goblin follows more closely the malevolent fay of French and British folklore.
Ogre: +Str, +Con, −Int
Hag: +Wis, +Str, −Con
Cyclops: +Str, +Int, −Wis
These giants - the Fey Ogrekin - compare to the ogres of fairytales and folklore. Contrast the Elemental Giantkin.
In Greek tradition, per Homer, the three cyclopes are the children of the sky titan Ouranos and the earth titan Gaia, thus are in some sense titans (titanes) themselves. However other traditions have nymphs as mothers, thus associating the Cyclops with the Fae in the medieval folklore. While Cyclops is known for its single eye, huge size and brute strength, this is an intelligent maker of magic of magic items, including the Helmet of Invisibility of Hades, the lightning of Zeus, the trident of Poseidon, and so on. The Cyclops is especially known for massive constructions.
Witch: +Cha, +Str, −Int
Swamp: +Con, +Str, −Int
The Troll are also ogrekin.
In Scandinavian folk beilief, the word “Troll” literally means “enchanter”, witch. These Scandinavian nature spirits are Fae who dwell below the surface of the ground, relating especially to the Celtic nymph-like Sidhe, ogre-like Fomorian, and even sprite-like Leprechaun. The Troll seem a hybrid combining Jotnar stone-giants with Dvergar deep-dwarves and Álfr high elves, along with these Celtic nature spirits. Troll communites show extraordinary variation among individuals, from double the size of humans to half the size, from stunning beauty to terrifying monstrosity. While most Trolls tend to be naive, some extremely so, they still tend toward clever. Their Charisma usually achieves terrifying Intimidation, but some enchant Friendship. Shadow vision. Often brutish and burly, the Troll race is the classic Enchanter Witch, plus a dash of rage and envy.
There are many different kinds of Troll. The “Swamp Troll” is classic D&D Troll, the green, spindly, and rubbery inhabitant of swamps, famous for extreme regeneration, beastly intelligence, and appetite consuming all nearby creatures. Works well with occasional “mutant” themes, including one eye, two heads, or so on. These mutations are rare, but seem to occur when regeneration comes together wrong.
Henge: +Wis, +Cha, −Int
Oni: +Str, +Cha, −Wis
Yokai are nature spirits of Japanese lore, ranging from malevolent to mischievious. As otherworldly spirits, the Yokai resemble the Fae of French and British folk belief. The Henge or Hengeyokai is the spirit of a specific animal, whose body can shapeshift into human form, or into almost any blend of the animal and a human. The Henge resembles a Werebeast, or perhapse moreso the Selkie of Celtic lore, being a seal that can transform into a human. The Oni is the spirit of a mountain, and seems much like a kind of the Troll. The Oni is often invisible, but manifests a monstrous appearance.
Titan: +Str 25
Storm (Air): +Str 24
Cloud (Air): +Str 23
Fire (Fire): +Str 22
Frost (Water): +Str 21
Stone (Earth): +Str 20
Hill (Earth): +Str 19
Goliath (Earth): +Str, +Wis, −Dex
This giant - the Elemental Giant - compares to the giants of mythology, especially Norse Jotunns/Jotnar and Greek Titans/Titanes. Contrast the Fey Troll. Elemental Giants personify cosmic elements and cosmic features, especially skydome and landdisk, mountains, but also seas, winter blizzards, and so on. Contrast Fey Troll.
Air: +Cha +Dex −Con
Water: +Cha +Dex −Str
Fire: +Cha +Dex −Wis
Earth: +Cha +Str −Dex
Genasi are species of elementals. Altho 4e stats the Genasi as Int-Str or Int-Con, their racial flavor emphasizes existential passion, strongly suggesting Charisma, especially in the sense of willpower, expressiveness, and innate magic. Note the common species of elementals, the Elemental proper, exhibit very-low animal-like Intelligence 4, albeit with human-like Charisma and Wisdom. Thus the Genasi that exhibits human-like Intelligence plus an extraordinary Charisma make them highly distinctive among the elemental populations.
Kalashtar: +Wis +Cha −Str
Speciating from the Human, the Kalashtar embodies the psychic spirit of Dream.
Githzerai: +Dex, +Wis, −Cha
Githyanki: +Int, +Con, −Wis
Longtooth Shifter: +Wis, +Str, −Int
Razorclaw Shifter: +Wis, +Dex, −Int
The Shifter represents the lycanthrope archetype, where Primal spirit of nature transforms the mind and body into animal form. The canine Longtooth is Strong, while the feline Razorclaw is Dexterous.
Minotaur (Bovine): +Str +Wis −Int
Gnoll (Hyena): +Str +Dex −Cha
Thri-Kreen (Preying Mantis): +Dex +Str −Cha
Kenku (Raven): +Dex +Cha −Con
Dragonborn: +Str, +Cha, −Dex
Kobold: +Dex, +Int, −Str
Here the Kobold seems both unintimidating and easily intimidated - aswell as lacking in diplomacy - thus unqualified for a Charisma bonus. Instead Intelligence kluges contraptions and traps. Traditionally, the Kobold suffers a Strength penalty, and to a lesser degree a Constitution penalty.
The name Kobold refers to a German nature spirit that accompanies Human activity, especially a gnome, usually a house spirit that personifies the land of the estate, but elsewhere too such the spirit of a mine. The French word Goblin (gobelin) is conjectured to derive from this German word.
Treant: +Str, +Int, −2 Dex
As embodiments of the Primal spirit of trees, the Treant is incredibly Strong. Here Intelligence suggests extraordinary memories of an ancient life.
Warforged: +Con, +Int, −Cha
Shardmind: +Int, +Wis, −Dex
The origin of the Warforged-Golem is Wizard invention that awakes to fight wars. Despite the artifice of it as a living statue of wood, it arguably physicalizes the Primal spirit of the Natural World. Alternatively, it could be a Fey creation weilding Arcane forces to animate objects. Even better, it is actually a Steel-Golem. A hollow suit of armor that comes to life.
Shadar-Kai: +Int, +Dex, −Wis
Their deathly habitat pulls the Shadar-kai perpetually toward oblivion, numbing their senses and awareness. Their perceptiveness of Wisdom suffers accordingly. Indeed to maintain awareness at all, their culture self-inflicts extreme pain, by a variety of customs, including jewelry with painful piercings.
Zombie: +Str +Con −Dex (but Playtest 102912: +Cha +Str −Dex)
Skeleton: +Str +Con −Cha
Revenant: +Con, +Str, −Wis
Vryloka Vampire: +Cha, +Dex, −Wis
Shade: +Int, +Cha, −Wis
Ghoul: +Cha +Con −Int (but Playtest 102912: +Dex +Str −Cha)
Deva: +Int, +Cha, −Dex
Solar: +Str, +Cha, −Con
The Angel race first appears in 2e, under the entry name Aasimon (which presumably derives from the name Ás/Æsir). The Aasimon include the subraces, Deva and Solar. 3e calls their race Angel.
The 4e Deva is wingless and enjoys a Hindu-esque flavor, reincarnating as avatars − a nod to the Sanskrit origin of this Hindu celestial. Both Angels appear as tall stunningly beautiful humans. The Deva exhibits “uncanny stillness”, while the Intelligence suggests vast memories from previous lifetimes. The Solar flexes a muscular body, spanning white eagle wings from the back, gold eyes and a commanding voice, while Strength accomplishes the victory of a warrior.
Aasimar: +Wis, +Cha, −Dex
Tiefling: +Con, +Cha, −Dex
Shiere: +Dex, +Int, −Con
Noviere: +Dex, +Str, −Con
Bralani: +Dex, +Str, −Wis
Coure: +Dex, +Cha, −Int
Also see Fey Elf for comments. The Immortal/Outsider Eladrin race continues some of the traditional Elf archetypes. Here, the Shiere-Eladrin continues the Int-Dex scholarly-and-agile warrior archetype that the 4e Eladrin sometimes represents. Likewise, the Noviere represents the Str-Dex warrior, in the tradition of the classic Wild Elf and Aquatic Elf. Similarly the Bralani-Eladrin continues the tradition of the passionate Str-Dex warrior of the 2e Bralani, who personifies dangerous forces of windswept deserts. The archetype of the tiny 2e Coure-Eladrin seems identical to the 4e Pixie. Even so, the Roguish Cha-Dex race with less Int, works well for both the 2e Coure and the humansize 4e Coure. The High-Elf continues the tradition of the Tulani-Eladrin as the Fey “faerie lord”.