These were the stories of a restless people who long ago took to the seas and rivers in longboats, first to pillage and terrorize, then to settle. Yet there was an energy, a love of adventure, that sang from every page. Long into the night Liriel read, lighting candle after precious candle.
She’d never given much thought to humans, but these stories fascinated her. In these yellowed pages were tales of bold heroes, strange and fierce animals, mighty primitive gods, and a magic that was part and fabric of that distant land.
In the reckonings of most worlds, humans are the youngest of the common races, late to arrive on the world scene and short-lived in comparison to dwarves, elves, and dragons. Perhaps it is because of their shorter lives that they strive to achieve as much as they can in the years they are given. Or maybe they feel they have something to prove to the elder races, and that’s why they build their mighty empires on the foundation of conquest and trade. Whatever drives them, humans are the innovators, the achievers, and the pioneers of the worlds.
A Broad Spectrum
With their penchant for migration and conquest, humans are more physically diverse than other common races. There is no typical human. An individual can stand from 5 feet to a little over 6 feet tall and weigh from 125 to 250 pounds. Human skin shades range from nearly black to very pale, and hair colors from black to blond (curly, kinky, or straight); males might sport facial hair that is sparse or thick. A lot of humans have a dash of nonhuman blood, revealing hints of elf, orc, or other lineages. Humans reach adulthood in their late teens and rarely live even a single century.
Variety in All Things
Humans are the most adaptable and ambitious people among the common races. They have widely varying tastes, morals, and customs in the many different lands where they have settled. When they settle, though, they stay: they build cities to last for the ages, and great kingdoms that can persist for long centuries. An individual human might have a relatively short life span, but a human nation or culture preserves traditions with origins far beyond the reach of any single human’s memory. They live fully in the present—making them well suited to the adventuring life—but also plan for the future, striving to leave a lasting legacy. Individually and as a group, humans are adaptable opportunists, and they stay alert to changing political and social dynamics.
EVERYONE'S SECOND-BEST FRIENDS
Just as readily as they mix with each other, humans mingle with members of other races. They get along with almost everyone, though they might not be close to many. Humans serve as ambassadors, diplomats, magistrates, merchants, and functionaries of all kinds.
Dwarves. “They’re stout folk, stalwart friends, and true to their word. Their greed for gold is their downfall, though.”
Elves. “It’s best not to wander into elven woods. They don’t like intruders, and you’ll as likely be bewitched as peppered with arrows. Still, if an elf can get past that damned racial pride and actually treat you like an equal, you can learn a lot from them.”
Halflings. “It’s hard to beat a meal in a halfling home, as long as you don’t crack your head on the ceiling—good food and good stories in front of a nice, warm fire. If halflings had a shred of ambition, they might really amount to something.”
Where a single elf or dwarf might take on the responsibility of guarding a special location or a powerful secret, humans found sacred orders and institutions for such purposes. While dwarf clans and halfling elders pass on the ancient traditions to each new generation, human temples, governments, libraries, and codes of law fix their traditions in the bedrock of history. Humans dream of immortality, but (except for those few who seek undeath or divine ascension to escape death’s clutches) they achieve it by ensuring that they will be remembered when they are gone.
Although some humans can be xenophobic, in general their societies are inclusive. Human lands welcome large numbers of nonhumans compared to the proportion of humans who live in nonhuman lands.
Exemplars of Ambition
Humans who seek adventure are the most daring and ambitious members of a daring and ambitious race. They seek to earn glory in the eyes of their fellows by amassing power, wealth, and fame. More than other people, humans champion causes rather than territories or groups.
Human Names and Ethnicities
Having so much more variety than other cultures, humans as a whole have no typical names. Some human parents give their children names from other languages, such as Dwarvish or Elvish (pronounced more or less correctly), but most parents give names that are linked to their region’s culture or to the naming traditions of their ancestors.
The material culture and physical characteristics of humans can change wildly from region to region. In the Forgotten Realms, for example, the clothing, architecture, cuisine, music, and literature are different in the northwestern lands of the Silver Marches than in distant Turmish or Impiltur to the east—and even more distinctive in far-off Kara-Tur. Human physical characteristics, though, vary according to the ancient migrations of the earliest humans, so that the humans of the Silver Marches have every possible variation of coloration and features.
In the Forgotten Realms, nine human ethnic groups are widely recognized, though over a dozen others are found in more localized areas of Faerûn. These groups, and the typical names of their members, can be used as inspiration no matter which world your human is in.
Shorter and slighter in build than most other humans, Calishites have dusky brown skin, hair, and eyes. They’re found primarily in southwest Faerûn.
Calishite Names: (Male) Aseir, Bardeid, Haseid, Khemed, Mehmen, Sudeiman, Zasheir; (female) Atala, Ceidil, Hama, Jasmal, Meilil, Seipora, Yasheira, Zasheida; (surnames) Basha, Dumein, Jassan, Khalid, Mostana, Pashar, Rein
Chondathans are slender, tawny-skinned folk with brown hair that ranges from almost blond to almost black. Most are tall and have green or brown eyes, but these traits are hardly universal. Humans of Chondathan descent dominate the central lands of Faerûn, around the Inner Sea.
Chondathan Names: (Male) Darvin, Dorn, Evendur, Gorstag, Grim, Helm, Malark, Morn, Randal, Stedd; (female) Arveene, Esvele, Jhessail, Kerri, Lureene, Miri, Rowan, Shandri, Tessele; (surnames) Amblecrown, Buckman, Dundragon, Evenwood, Greycastle, Tallstag
Found primarily in the northwest of Faerûn, Damarans are of moderate height and build, with skin hues ranging from tawny to fair. Their hair is usually brown or black, and their eye color varies widely, though brown is most common.
Damaran Names: (Male) Bor, Fodel, Glar, Grigor, Igan, Ivor, Kosef, Mival, Orel, Pavel, Sergor; (female) Alethra, Kara, Katernin, Mara, Natali, Olma, Tana, Zora; (surnames) Bersk, Chernin, Dotsk, Kulenov, Marsk, Nemetsk, Shemov, Starag
Illuskans are tall, fair-skinned folk with blue or steely gray eyes. Most have raven-black hair, but those who inhabit the extreme northwest have blond, red, or light brown hair.
Illuskan Names: (Male) Ander, Blath, Bran, Frath, Geth, Lander, Luth, Malcer, Stor, Taman, Urth; (female) Amafrey, Betha, Cefrey, Kethra, Mara, Olga, Silifrey, Westra; (surnames) Brightwood, Helder, Hornraven, Lackman, Stormwind, Windrivver
Dominant in the eastern and southeastern shores of the Inner Sea, the Mulan are generally tall, slim, and amber-skinned, with eyes of hazel or brown. Their hair ranges from black to dark brown, but in the lands where the Mulan are most prominent, nobles and many other Mulan shave off all their hair.
Mulan Names: (Male) Aoth, Bareris, Ehput-Ki, Kethoth, Mumed, Ramas, So-Kehur, Thazar-De, Urhur; (female) Arizima, Chathi, Nephis, Nulara, Murithi, Sefris, Thola, Umara, Zolis; (surnames) Ankhalab, Anskuld, Fezim, Hahpet, Nathandem, Sepret, Uuthrakt
Most often found east of the Inner Sea and often intermingled with the Mulan, Rashemis tend to be short, stout, and muscular. They usually have dusky skin, dark eyes, and thick black hair.
Rashemi Names: (Male) Borivik, Faurgar, Jandar, Kanithar, Madislak, Ralmevik, Shaumar, Vladislak; (female) Fyevarra, Hulmarra, Immith, Imzel, Navarra, Shevarra, Tammith, Yuldra; (surnames) Chergoba, Dyernina, Iltazyara, Murnyethara, Stayanoga, Ulmokina
The Shou are the most numerous and powerful ethnic group in Kara-Tur, far to the east of Faerûn. They are yellowish-bronze in hue, with black hair and dark eyes. Shou surnames are usually presented before the given name.
Shou Names: (Male) An, Chen, Chi, Fai, Jiang, Jun, Lian, Long, Meng, On, Shan, Shui, Wen; (female) Bai, Chao, Jia, Lei, Mei, Qiao, Shui, Tai; (surnames) Chien, Huang, Kao, Kung, Lao, Ling, Mei, Pin, Shin, Sum, Tan, Wan
Widespread along the entire Sword Coast at the western edge of Faerûn, Tethyrians are of medium build and height, with dusky skin that tends to grow fairer the farther north they dwell. Their hair and eye color varies widely, but brown hair and blue eyes are the most common. Tethyrians primarily use Chondathan names.
Native to the southern shore of the Inner Sea, the Turami people are generally tall and muscular, with dark mahogany skin, curly black hair, and dark eyes.
Turami Names: (Male) Anton, Diero, Marcon, Pieron, Rimardo, Romero, Salazar, Umbero; (female) Balama, Dona, Faila, Jalana, Luisa, Marta, Quara, Selise, Vonda; (surnames) Agosto, Astorio, Calabra, Domine, Falone, Marivaldi, Pisacar, Ramondo
Human TraitsIt’s hard to make generalizations about humans, but your human character has these traits.
Ability Score Increase
Your ability scores each increase by 1.
Humans reach adulthood in their late teens and live less than a century.
Humans tend toward no particular alignment. The best and the worst are found among them.
Humans vary widely in height and build, from barely 5 feet to well over 6 feet tall. Regardless of your position in that range, your size is Medium.
Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
You can speak, read, and write Common and one extra language of your choice. Humans typically learn the languages of other peoples they deal with, including obscure dialects. They are fond of sprinkling their speech with words borrowed from other tongues: Orc curses, Elvish musical expressions, Dwarvish military phrases, and so on.
Mark of Handling Human
“Don’t get sentimental. A beast is a tool. Our role is to find the right tool for the task and to make sure they’re of the finest quality. Nature is our kingdom; never forget that we were born to rule it.”
The Mark of Handling gives its bearer a primal connection to beasts and the natural world, granting the power to calm and coax. This extends beyond purely natural animals; the mark allows its bearer to guide a hippogriff as easily as a horse.
House Vadalis plays an important role in daily life. Vadalis ranches produce meat, mounts, and more. Vadalis isn’t one of the most powerful houses, but its barons are generally content; they’re more interested in discovering new monstrosities than engaging in the politics of the Dragonmarked Houses.
House Vadalis breeds and trains beasts for a wide range of purposes. While they maintain vast cattle ranches and train horses and hounds, the Mark of Handling allows Vadalis to work with more exotic creatures as well. Griffons, hippogriffs, and even bullettes can be bred and trained. Vadalis also works with more intelligent beasts, such as giant owls, displacers beasts, and pegasi. Even with the Mark of Handling, this is dangerous work; there’s a lot of turnover at the bullette ranch. But these exotic creatures aren’t enough to satisfy the most innovative members of the house, and this has led to the practice of magebreeding. Using the Mark of Handling and dragonshard focus items, Vadalis has found ways to create magical creatures. Typically, this results in a superior version of a mundane creature — an animal that is stronger, faster, and smarter. But rumors claim that Vadalis has crafted monsters of its own. Some rumors even insist that Vadalis has been trying to magebreed better humans...
Ability Score Increase
Your Dexterity and Wisdom scores both increase by 1. In addition, one ability score of your choice increases by 1.
You can use the help action to aid an ally animal companion or mount within 30 feet of you, rather than 5 feet of you.
You can cast animal friendshiponce with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a short or long rest. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for this spell.
The Bigger They Are
When you cast a spell that affects only beasts, it also affects monstrosities with an Intelligence score of 3 or lower.
Mark of Making Human
“My house built the modern world. Orien may drive the lightning rail, but it’s Cannith who builds the cars and lays the stones it travels on. Cannith makes the everbright lanterns that hold the night at bay. Smith, carpenter, alchemist — the best all carry my seal.”
— Baron Merrix d’Cannith
The Mark of Making guides its bearer through any act of creation. The bearer of the mark can mend broken things with a touch, and always has a minor magic item they’ve been working on. An artificer or a wizard will get the most out of the mark, but anyone can find a use for an enchanted blade.
House Cannith dominates all forms of manufacturing, both mystical and mundane. Cannith forgeholds use streamlined forms of production to quickly produce common goods. Even independent artisans often learn their trade at Cannith academies and adhere to Cannith standards. The House of Making builds the tools the other houses rely upon, and it has always been the unspoken leader of the Twelve.
The Last War was a time of great opportunity for Cannith. Every nation wanted weapons and warforged, along with mundane arms and armor. The war raised the house up, and then tore it down. House Cannith was based in Cyre, and the Mourning destroyed the house leadership and key facilities. Now three barons jockey to fill the leadership vacuum: the alchemist Jorlanna of Fairhaven, weaponsmith Zorlan of Korth, and warforged innovator Merrix of Sharn. It remains to be seen whether one of these leaders will unite the house, or if it will shatter under the strain. If you’re an heir of House Cannith, you should decide which of these barons you serve — or if you have other ideas about the future of the house.
Ability Score Increase
Your Intelligence and Dexterity scores increase by 1. Increase either Intelligence or Dexterity by an additional 1 point.
When you make an ability check with artisan’s tools, roll 1d4 and add it to the result.
You can create a temporary magic item out of common materials. Choose a cantrip from the wizard spell list. Describe the item connected to it. As long as you possess the item, you know that cantrip. At the end of a long rest, you can replace it with a new item and select a new cantrip from the wizard spell list. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for these cantrips.
You can spend one minute to weave a temporary enchantment into a nonmagical suit of armor or weapon. For the next hour the object becomes a magic item, gaining a +1 bonus to AC if it is armor or a +1 bonus to hit and damage if it is a weapon. Once you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
Mark of Passage Human
“We get things where they need to go. It doesn’t matter if it’s a letter, a person, or a hundred tons of steel. Whether we have to cross mountains, rivers, or the Mournland itself, Orien finds a way.”
— Bali d’Orien, veteran courier
The Mark of Passage governs motion, allowing its bearer to move with uncanny speed and precision. Running, leaping, climbing — the Mark of Passage enhances every form of movement. The bearer of the mark can even slip through space, leaping from point to point in the blink of an eye.
The House of Passage manages land transportation. The Lightning Rail is the house’s most dramatic tool, but Orien runs caravans and coaches across the length of Khorvaire. Dragonshard focus items ensure that the fastest vehicles are those driven by heirs with the Mark of Passage, but the house also licenses unmarked teamsters. The Courier’s Guild of House Orien delivers mail and packages and has a branch that handles more covert and dangerous deliveries.
Orien has dominated transportation for centuries, but now the house is facing challenges. The Mournland is a dramatic obstacle for ground transportation, and the expanding role of Lyrandar airships threatens Orien’s business. Long distance teleportation is a service only the strongest Orien heirs can provide. Now Orien, seeking to expand its use of teleportation, is working with Cannith to find ways to unlock and enhance this ultimate gift of the Mark of Making. Orien heirs may be caught up in these experiments or in the rivalry with House Lyrandar, or they may stay close to the ground and just keep moving.
Ability Score Increase
Your Dexterity score increases by 2 and one other ability score of your choice increases by 1.
Your base walking speed increases to 40 ft.
When you make a Strength (Athletics) check or any ability check to operate or maintain a land vehicle, you can roll one Intuition die, a d4, and add the number rolled to the ability check.
When you use the Dash action, difficult terrain doesn’t cost you extra movement on that turn.
As a bonus action you can teleport a distance up to your walking speed, ending in an unoccupied space that you can see. You can bring one willing creature of your size or smaller who is carrying gear up to its carrying capacity. The creature must be within 5 feet of you when you use this trait. Once you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
Mark of Sentinel Human
“Protection is my purpose. I defend the innocent from those who would do them harm. For my siblings, this is a job; for me, it’s a calling.”
The Mark of Sentinel warns and protects. It heightens senses and reflexes, allowing an heir to respond to threats with uncanny speed. It can shield its bearer from harm. Whether on the battlefield or the ballroom, someone who carries the Mark of Sentinel is prepared for danger.
House Deneith was born in Karrnath, and war flows in its veins. For centuries, the Blademarks Guild of House Deneith has governed the mercenary trade. While warriors with the Mark of Sentinel are among its most elite forces, House Deneith brokers the services of a wide range of soldiers, including Valenar warbands and the goblins of Droaam. Beyond the battlefield, the Defender’s Guild provides exceptional bodyguards for those who can afford their services. House Deneith is also renowned for its Sentinel Marshals, agents that hold the authority to pursue criminals and enforce the law across the length of Khorvaire. The Sentinel Marshals hold the honor of the house in their hands. Being a Marshal is a privilege, and it comes with high expectations.
The Dragonmarked Houses aren’t allowed to own land or hold noble titles. House Deneith has always abided by these edicts, maintaining absolute neutrality and selling its services to all sides of a conflict. However, there’s a faction that feels that Deneith should use its power for its own purposes, not just in the service of others. House Deneith is also caught in an escalating rivalry with House Tharashk, which is edging into the mercenary trade.
Ability Score Increase
Your Strength and Wisdom scores both increase by 1. In addition, one ability score of your choice increases by 1.
When you roll for Initiative or make a Wisdom (Perception) check to notice a threat, you can roll one Intuition die, a d4, and add it to the ability check.
As an action, you can designate an ally you can see as your ward. You have advantage on Wisdom (Insight) and Wisdom (Perception) checks made to spot threats to your ward. In addition, when you are within 5 feet of your ward, and that creature is the target of an attack that you can see, you can use your reaction to swap places with your ward. When you do, you become the target of the attack.
If your campaign uses the optional feat rules from the Player’s Handbook, your Dungeon Master might allow these variant traits, all of which replace the human’s Ability Score Increase trait.
Ability Score Increase
Two different ability scores of your choice increase by 1.
You gain proficiency in one skill of your choice.
You gain one feat of your choice.