Of Magic and the Machine
The Playable Races
The following races are playable in this game. Any prohibited races are listed at the bottom of the page.
Stoic and hardy, Dwarves are much like their counterparts in the Player’s Handbook (PHB). They are usually tough, strong, and loyal. They’re also consistently crafty and industrious, with a knack for building things and inventing things. They hail from the various mountain halls of the north, where many of their kingdoms have endured for centuries.
Alignment: Dwarves tend to be Lawful Good Technocrats. Many engineering, inventing, and exploration guilds are located in Dwarven lands. The priesthood of Moradin remains viable and part of Dwarven society, but magic is slowly waning in their halls.
Elves are much like the graceful, ancient race in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, or like some of the older D&D resources. In this universe, Elves are literally immortal – they will not die naturally, though they will seem to grow more mature over the eons. They can get sick or be killed, however. They are considered “Fey”, meaning that they take all the benefits and weaknesses of being a fey creature (such as a weakness to Cold Iron). Elves have a strong affinity to magic, however; many of the oldest magic societies and religions can be traced to the Fey, and hence the Elves, and it is possible that Elves had a hand in the initial shaping of the world. If they didn’t, they may be the descendants of those who did.
Alignment: Elves tend to be Chaotic Good Magisters. They actively succor many magical and religious organizations that have fled from more technocratic lands.
Fey Ancestry: In addition to all the normal features of this particular trait, Elves also gain Vulnerability to weapons made of Cold Iron.
Magic: The rare technocratic elf does not have access to any spells provided by his or her race.
Halflings are small nomads and wanderers, passing through Kingdom to Kingdom in caravans of all sorts and sizes. They are physically very similar to the halflings presented in the PHB. They have a bad reputation in some lands, where the inhabitants see them as nothing more than simple thieves, but in truth halflings are just struck with a sense of permanent wanderlust that causes them to pick up and move constantly. They are usually very loyal to their caravans, which equate to an extended family, and will usually do whatever is needed to help their caravans survive. Other than this, they enjoy simple lives and simple pleasures, and are pretty easy to get along with.
Alignment: Halflings can be of any alignment, and they tend towards the Uncommitted in the Magic-Machine axis. They are rarely pious nor idealistic, preferring to do whatever is most apt to aid their caravans’ success in a variety of situations.
The progeny of an elf and a human is called a half-elf (by human society) or a half-human (by elven society). They are physically very similar to the half-elves in the PHB. They are considered Feykin, so they can use certain things that the Fey can use, and they don’t suffer all of the penalties that Fey normally encounter. They do not live forever, as their elven parents do, lasting about a millenia. Many Half-Elves are ancient even now. In the current world, there is a lot of conflict over Half-Elves, as many Elves are allied to the powers of Magic and many humans allied to that of the Machine, with their children caught in the middle. Some half-elves attempt to avoid the conflict, others attempt to mend the divisions, while still others hold one or both sides in contempt and actively work against them.
Alignment: Half-Elves can be of any alignment, including anywhere on the Magic-Machine axis. They can inherit many technocratic ideals from their human parent, or some of the more mystical elements of their elven parent, or can even eschew both and remain uncommitted.
Uruks are, on the whole, accepted in most places , due to some fundamental changes in their society making them more palatable to other civilized peoples. As a result, there are some Uruk-Human pairings, and the Orcish deity “Mehket” actively encourages miscegenation between the Uruks and other races. They look like very stout humans, with a pair of tusks jutting from their lower jaws. The most idyllic of them look almost like half-elves or elves, with the only differences being their darkened, greenish skin and their tusks. Despite being tolerated in many places, this does not mean they are well-liked or accepted; most people (Dwarves especially) still view Uruks, and Half-Uruks with them, as monsters and beasts. As for their personalities, their Uruk blood tends to make them spiritualistic, passionate, emotive, and individualistic, more so than most full-blooded humans.
The Mark of Gruumsh: Half-Uruks do not hear the call of Gruumsh, and those Uruks that worship Mehket (or any other deity) don’t hear his call either. This equates to the vast majority of Uruks and their kin. However, all Uruks (and their kin) are extremely passionate and emotive.
Alignment: Half-Uruks tend to be Chaotic, and also tend to be Magisters. They are good or evil in variable amounts, however.
These are the most wildly variable race in the world. Humans can look like, and act like, anyone in reality. In this universe, however, humans have a sort of over-arching culture that is very Classical Mediterranean in concept, though the ethnic focus is different depending on the Kingdom (Doric in one place, Egyptian in another, Byzantine in another, Gallic in yet another, Latin in yet another, so on).
Alignment: Humans can be of any alignment, though they tend towards Technocrats in the Magic-Machine axis. Most human nations have committed to technocratic policies, and the majority of the technology produced in the world, and the science so discovered, is done so in human lands. Magic and belief still play a role in some areas, though it is disappearing year after year.
Human Variant Rule: The Human Variant rule is required, not optional. Humans begin play with 1 added to any two Ability Scores, 1 Feat, and 1 Extra Skill Proficiency. They do not begin with the normal starting Ability Score modifications (1 added to all Ability Scores).
Gnomes are much like the ones listed in the PHB. They unlike those in the handbook, however, they are considered Fey just as Elves are, and can live for hundreds of years. Their main difference from the Elves is that, while the Elves are graceful and ancient, the Gnomes are mischievous and tricky. They enjoy causing pranks and doing things just for fun. They tend to have a strong connection with magic, just as Elves do. Their lands are very dry and arid, and so their architecture tends to favor Moorish and Hispanic influences.
Alignment: Gnomes tend to be Neutral Good Magisters. Like Elves, they have many magical orders, especially for illusionists and bardic magics, and succor numerous mystical organizations.
Fey Ancestry: In addition to all the normal features of this particular trait, Gnomes also gain Vulnerability to weapons made of Cold Iron.
Magic: The rare technocratic gnome does not have access to any spells provided by his or her race.
Drow Elves, Dragonborn, and Tieflings are not available for this campaign setting. These races exist, but are extremely rare. They are not representative of the types of characters that a player should be able to experience. Tieflings, in particular, are viewed with extreme distrust and suspicion, and in technocratic lands, they are often attacked on sight. These races should be reserved for NPCs, instead of for the player characters.
Uruks, on the other hand, are very common in the game and can be found in most cities. There are unfortunately no rules on how to make a pure-blooded Uruk character within the core 5th Edition rulebooks, but if a DM wishes to create those rules, Uruks should be allowed as a playable race.