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By Bill Slavicsek
Players who decide to create humanoid characters should have good role-playing as their ultimate goal. Avoid choosing a humanoid character type by its benefits, hindrances, or how powerful it can become. Strange humanoid beliefs, uncivilized habits, the reactions of others, and the clash of human and humanoid cultures are a few of the many hooks upon which a humanoid personality can be hung. Humanoids are best viewed as unusual personas through which character and story development can take place.

Suggestions to help players create humanoid characters that are well-rounded and fun to play, with an eye toward keeping any "unfair" advantages in check. Further, some of these suggestions can be used by the Dungeon Master to restore campaign balance if a character gets off track.

It is up to the players and the DM to make them work in the context of a particular race of humanoids in a particular campaign setting. Examples are provided, but space limitations make covering every possible combination impossible.

Life as a Humanoid
For the majority of humanoids, life is lived in a clan or tribe. These tribes are made up of loosely-related families which are led by chiefs. The chiefs are normally the strongest and most able fighters of the group, though some tribes turn to elders and thinkers for leadership. Life in the tribes is hard. The wilderness does not give up sustenance easily, and tribesmen must constantly work to survive. This work could be hunting, gathering, fishing, craftworking, scavenging, mining, farming, raiding, plundering, or some combination of these, depending on the tribal race, alignment, and nature.

In most cases, a humanoid tribe will be less civilized, less advanced, and less established than its human or demihuman counterpart.

Lawful tribes prefer stability and order. They organize themselves in all endeavors, setting up rules to cover all aspects of life and society. For these tribes to function, there must be an obvious and unchanging chain of leader-ship. In lawful evil tribes, there are severe laws and harsh punishments. These are not established to provide justice, but to preserve the stability of the tribe.

Good tribes cherish life. They are more concerned with finding ways to make their tribes prosper than in competing for social positions (at least in openly hostile ways). Life is more positive among these tribes, though not necessarily easier.

On the evil side, might makes right and fear keeps the masses in line. Change is still sudden and frequent, but it tends to be violent and deadly in nature. Many evil humanoids are nomads, though some do set up semi-permanent settlements when they find a location that fills their survival needs and greedy habits, Once settled, they quickly deplete the location of the resources that attracted them. They treat the land and its bounties as they treat each other — with little respect and as something to be exploited. When a region no longer suits their needs (due to their own overindulgences and uncaring practices), these humanoids move on in search of new spoils and plunder.

Chaotics share a frivolous or capricious nature. Change is often welcome, or and even sought out on a daily basis. Few activities are organized beyond the minimum level necessary to accomplish a given task. Some chaotic cultures seem to find even this level of organization difficult; disagreements and in-fighting often result.

On the good side, chaotics like to manage their own affairs. They may bow to a single leader, but prefer to do as they please so long as they stay within broad behavioral guidelines. Even though they love independence and despise rules, many chaotic and good humanoids come to love nature and respect its bounties. Many form such dose ties with their environments as to become caretakers of a sort. Nature may be used, but never abused.

In a chaotic evil tribe, life is even more of a struggle. Not only must tribe members battle the elements, nature and other tribes, they often fight among themselves for positions of leadership and the pick of loot. Life is cheap among them, for killing is usually the easiest method of advancement up a tribe's social and political ladder. This may also be true in other evil and neutral communities, but such violence is usually less random.


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