- (* = Not Yet Overhauled)
The races of the Splintering Wheel for you to choose from are provided by the PHB, by Volo's Guide to Monsters, and Unearthed Arcana at your GM's discretion - however, many of them are not thematically identical, or even similar, to what is presented in these 5th Edition publications. Below you will find a new perspective on the traditional D&D races, mingled with the unique setting of the Splintering Wheel.
The races of the Splintering Wheel are defined here according to Hofestede’s Cultural Dimensions, which includes the traits of their societal structures, and the styles of their artisans. Some races of the Wheel do not share exact mechanical duplication of their WOTC counterparts - a list of mechanical racial abilities of those differences in the Splintering Wheel can be found in the Races table. If a race is not included, mechanics will be taken as written in the book. Races included in this list do not necessarily have changes from the books, but listed races are taken as superseding the books. Each race will eventually be a page and include both its cultural and mechanical information.
The Wheel's inhabitants aren't your run-of-the-mill pointy-eared immortals and stout mountain Scots. Tolkein's influence on fantasy as a genre is far-reaching and definitive, but not the only way one can shape a fantasy. Great pains have been taken to view the traditional races of 5th Edition D&D through different lenses, affected by the desolate wasting of the Splintering Wheel's unforgiving world. Some races fit in relatively unchanged, where as others have gone through core changes, and still continue to change as the Wheel turns.
In addition, exploration of the Wheel has led races unique to the Wheel to come forth from the wastes, and many of these are available to be played; these races can be found in the Races Table. When choosing the race of your character, consider that race's culture and life in the Wheel, and how it would shape your character's upbringing. When in doubt, refresh your understanding of the differences of the Splintering Wheel races and cultures in this chapter.
The provided racial table should also be utilised in the creation of 'Half' race characters, over any provided in the books - Half-Elves are generated, and Half-Orcs have become Ogrin, detailed below. To generate a mixed race character, simply hide all columns but the two races of the parents of your character, and then roll a d4 for each row, splitting odds and evens - on an odd, take the feature of the race in the left column, and on an even, take the feature from the race in the right column. Rolling for identical features is not necessary, though it can help to know from which side of your mixed race character's family they got their footwork, or their booksmarts, or other trait from.
Power Distance: Low, Collectivist, Uncertainty Avoidance: Neutral(?) Feminine, Future/Long-term Oriented, Indulgent
Dwarves are a nomadic people whose trails are said to be written into their very bones. Their family groups are large and intermingled, and exemplify their saying, “it takes a whole caravan to raise a child”. Many of the less hospitable places along their paths have hidden towns of caves and tunnels, carved into rock faces over generations, within which to shelter. Fond of life’s simple pleasure, the echoes of their joyous music ring out from their camps on most nights, come good or ill. Their crafts are dominated by colourful paintings, bold symbolic stone-carving, and elaborate bead-work, similar to Romani and Native North American arts.
A stout folk, Dust Dwarves are recognised by their brightly painted conical tents that move along the landscape with the weather, never staying in one place much longer than a few weeks.
The wagons of the Hill Dwarves, insensitively known as Mud Dwarves, commonly make camp in and around the large settlements of other races, often for months at a time, until trade with the community dies down.
The Elves have sat at the highest and lowest points on the Wheel. From gleaming, great fortresses to churning factories, Elves and their Houses have brought immense prosperity to their long lived people, yet with long life and wealth comes abuse, hubris, and eventually inequality. Some Elves saw them all in one lifetime. High and Wood Elf crafts and architecture are dominated by elaborate designs, reminiscent of Qing Dynasty Cloisonné, Girih Mosaics and Medieval Persian Carpets; the Drow used to lean to the same designs, but have radically shifted since becoming adherents of Nodermu, crafting sparsely in bone and leather, smoked-glass and brass with minimal adornment.
Power Distance: High, Collectivist, Uncertainty Avoidance: High, Feminine, Past/Short-term Oriented, Restrained
A rigidly structured matriarchal society, centred around great Houses, built along the ancient Spice routes; the masters of the great Houses, the high elves, are the most rigidly bound by their matriarchal structure. High Elves almost never leave the region around their house’s holdings, let alone their House. It is believed that High Elves that venture from their homes are struck down by The Wasting, which is evidence of the displeasure of IA and his Wardens.
Power Distance: Low, Collectivist, Uncertainty Avoidance: Low, Feminine, Future/Long-term Oriented, Indulgent
The carpenters and tradesfolk of the Elves are less strict than their noble counterparts. Their families typically owe allegiance to a High Elf House, and go out into the world to deal with their affairs. With Wood Elves, less can be so much more, but more can be less, and more more, but less rarely ever less.
Power Distance: Low, Individual(?), Uncertainty Avoidance: Low, Feminine, Neutrally(?) Oriented, Restrained
The great architects of the Elves, the Drow reshape the undercaverns into tunnels, halls, pits and spires. Originally slaves to the High Elves, forced to construct their great houses, they escaped beneath the surface of the world. At their height, they constructed vast magnificent subterranean cities that glittered with magical light, but as the Fold of Nodermu spread through their culture, they rejected this grandiosity for its imitation of the hubris of the High Elves. They disbanded their False Cities to live simpler lives, practising their arts primarily as an expression of piety.
Power Distance: Low, Collectivist, Uncertainty Avoidance: Low, Feminine, Future/Long-term Oriented, Indulgent
Bundled in heavy hessian robes, few people have seen the face of a gnome. This is because of a strongly held taboo against visible skin, held among the Gnomes. Their skills and craftsmanship are often full of sharp angles and mechanical embellishment. If it has a plate of steel bolted to it for no reason, or 'repairs' that cross the line of 'unnecessary' into 'ostentatiously junker', it’s probably Gnomish. If it has no baling twine, fencing wire, zip ties or silver tape, it probably hasn't been graced by Gnomish hands.
Power Distance: Low, Collectivist(?), Uncertainty Avoidance: High, Masculine, Past/Short-term Oriented, Restrained
Known for the grand masonry of their massive coliseum fortress cities built atop towering mesas. Huge, ghostly white Goliaths have earned a fearsome reputation in the fairy tales of other races, due to the brutality of the ritual combat that dominates the social order and culture of their civilisation. Goliaths greet each other with an open palm on the chest and a slight bow, then compare weapons. They tend to curse in a combination of Common, Goliath, and Goliath-specific sign language.
|⫩||Fucking dickhead. / Fuck everything you stand for.|
|⫤ → ⫦||You absolute foul creatures, may you bleed slowly and all of your kin, past and future, be cursed. I spit on you, and on your graves. May your lives be painful and ugly, and may your weapons be dull no matter how much you sharpen them. May you gain no honour, may you live a life of sorrow, may you lose every fight. Also, go fuck yourself.|
|\ → /||Greetings!|
Be that the forests of the Wheel have suffered into obscurity, these Gnomes are known far and wide as Wild Gnomes. These creatures are rarely seen amongst the trappings of civilisation, only wandering out of the desert, often alone, to trade for scant essential supplies. Experts on the matter have confirmed that some do travel in small wandering tribes, but those strictly avoid civilisation, only sending individuals into towns instead.
Tame Gnomes gather in warrens in abandoned spaces around cities and towns such as empty storehouses, back alleys and dry sewers. Often they are employed for repetitive, delicate or menial tasks, sometimes unnecessarily in the belief that if they aren’t kept occupied they will turn to mischief and crime.
Power Distance: High, Collectivist, Uncertainty Avoidance: High, Feminine, Future/Long-term Oriented, Restrained
Halflings build huge suburban sprawls around bountiful clear water sources, notable for their canal-lined streets providing water to the large gardens and fields grown between buildings. They invest heavily in their social strata and civic organisations. Titles are highly prised and respected from Mayor to book club secretary.
Stout Halflings are industrialists who build large communal factories, mills and breweries. The foremen of these institutions are often important community members.
Lightfoot Halflings tend the gardens and fields that criss-cross the Halfling sprawls. They are considered brash and gossipy by Stouts, who think that Lightfoots use petty politics to gain status instead of hard work.
Power Distance: High, Collectivist, Uncertainty Avoidance: High, Masculine, Future/Long-term Oriented, Indulgent
Masters of tools, invention and teamwork, Humans use regular communal expressions of faith to power their indomitable march towards industry and agriculture. Their admiration for the skilled and well mannered Drow has lead to their cities filled with networks of subterranean rooms, beneath simple heavily reinforced surface structures. Only the largest human cities contain buildings with multiple above-ground storeys. Humans are known for their bold, minimalist art styles, often using large sweeping brush strokes, and simple shapes in bold colours in expert spatial arrangements.
The Gant were a culture of human traders who largely lived nomadic lifestyles. Often, they would begin to settle in another race's settlement, subsuming it. They would never found their own cities or towns. They are long gone, but a number of statues of them - apparently made by Gant hands - were found in races.
Power Distance: High, Collectivist, Uncertainty Avoidance: Low, Masculine, Past/Short-term Oriented, Indulgent
The sturdy Ogrin are industrious labourers who build small dense towering cities of baked wattle and daub, criss-crossed with wooden walkways and narrow streets. The high walls of these cities are filled with the scents of hearty food and drink, as Ogrin life is seen as a trade of labour for earthly pleasures. Simple work and cuisine alike.
Power Distance: High, Individual, Uncertainty Avoidance: High, Masculine, Past/Short-term Oriented, Restrained
Often found in positions of significant power and influence, Saurians rarely construct their own communities, preferring to insert themselves into the societies of other races. Their work is fine and subtle in all fields, yet when they do express flourishes, they are powerful, and filled with sharply-honed raw colour and emotion.
Power Distance: Low(?), Individual, Uncertainty Avoidance: High, Masculine, Future/Long-term Oriented, Restrained
Believed to be abandoned by The Wardens, Tieflings are often the subject of pity amongst other races, who see their “deformities” as the manifestation of the wrath of IA. They are, however, fiercely self-sufficient, and will often sabotage charity directed towards them. Their work is sturdy and smooth, often imbued with curls and waves, carved into silver and hardwoods.