Originally posted 2016-08-09 12:00:32.
Tell me my altitudinous friend, when you look at the world around you what do you see? When you step forth from this shady inn what land will lay its path before your feet? You may think it something already determined, but it be quite the contrary. At this moment outside is nothing until it be imagined by a great omnipotence. Anything at this time be possible, and I’ve walked the surface of the most deadly bodies in the heavens.
Let’s talk about worlds shall we? Well in DND they are called Campaign Settings but the idea is the same.
Before you can even start creating your character you need to find out about the world in which your game is set. There are numerous worlds the DM can set their campaign in, some are created by Dungeons and Dragons and some are made by the DM and follow their own set of rules. Some classes and races are more or less prevalent in particular worlds and sometimes they are outright banned by the DM for their own or story reasons.
Your campaign could be set in the ever popular world of the Forgotten realms where light battles dark in the expected fashion, where magic is common and powerful heroes are the norm. In this setting you will be the good heroes fighting evil villains saving towns and cities from unpleasant and sometimes deadly machinations. Common player races include Dwarves, Elves, Humans and Halflings.
It could also be set in the world of Eberron where magic and technology collide in a fantasy steampunk world with trains and airships powered by elementals captured in crystals, and with few high level heroes. Where good and evil can be turned on their head by good devils and black paladins so you never really know who you can trust. In this setting you can be a more morally ambiguous character with less than good motivations though outright evil characters are unusual. Common player characters include Warforged, Shifters, Gnomes and Half-Orcs .
Another world that has become more common is Dark Sun. Here the land is a barren desert, the life force of the vegetation sucked away by those who wield arcane magic, spawning a plethora of races that are only found in this world. Thousands of years ago the gods abandoned the world leaving no divine casting classes. In this world, because of the rugged nature of such a savage land, it is better to lean towards a neutral or chaotic alignment. Common player races include Half-Giants, Muls, Thri-Kreen, and Aarakocra.
If your DM is both experienced and a little twisted you might find yourself in Ravenloft where evil campaigns are the norm and having a sense of morality is a hindrance. Here you can indulge in the fantasy of being an evil antihero that seems to lurk within all players after a time. Common races include Calibans, Dragonborn, Githzerai, and Half-Vistani.
There are also other settings that are less fantasy and more scifi like Gamma world, a post apocalyptic earth ravaged by nuclear fallout causing crazy mutations to happen randomly to the characters but also offering a creative array of modern and future weapons to play with. In Gamma World anything is possible, from being a fungus spider to being an exploding octopus to being a swarm of gelatinous kittens. It is really wild and as you play more and more mutations are given to you. Play with the gamma world character generator here.
*Note, I only listed a handful of races for each setting, there are many more that you can play*
Here is a link to some of the more popular campaign settings out there.
The more you know of the world the better you can customize your character to fit within it. Don’t let that deter you from playing something you really want to play though. Just because black paladins aren’t common in the Forgotten Realms doesn’t mean you can’t play one. Always discuss this decision with your DM though. Sometimes you can’t play something but it’s rare. Talk to your DM, read the campaign setting if you can, most DMs want you to play the character you want and they will often work with you to fit your character in.
Be aware that playing a class or race outside of what is considered common might require you to hide your true self when in populated places to avoid drawing unwanted attention to your party. It could also offer you a great benefit depending on the situation.
I’ve traveled as a circus performer, plying my wares to the wealthy while my allies have lightened their purses, and I’ve had to wear heavy cloaks and deep cowls to hid every inch of my notable features in a bid to survive the local “culture”. Learning how and when to blend in is an important skill to keep all your bits in the proper places when travelling to foreign lands. The more you know of your surroundings the longer you will survive lofty one. Oh and if you ever have the notion to try and bluff fluency at orcish when you lack the proficiency, I’ve learned firsthand that zug zug is an insult of some kind.