The awesome thumbnail made by Braden for this video says it all: for just a few minutes of planning a day you can save an elf or dwarf from overused and cliched stereotypes and turn them into something new and exciting. While certain stereotypes make sense, are reassuring, or make for some good story telling shortcuts for overworked DMs who have the full life and job but still want to provide an amazing campaign, the good news is that you don’t need to spend hours upon hours to spice things up.
The steak is still good – but a few original details, unique takes on the conventional races, can add a different spice that makes them memorable in really different ways.
Make Unique Characters by Subverting DnD Stereotypes
We were proud of the great in-game examples we experienced about adding a twist to dwarves or elves in D&D 5. Why fall back to the tired examples every other DM or player uses or is familiar with when you can do it with a twist?
Aussie Dwarves Are Great
A single Google search, having Crocodile Dundee and Crocodile Hunter (RIP Steve Irwin) as background while going over notes for an upcoming session, and a willingness to make a fool out of myself with a terrible Australian accent was all it took to throw everyone in the group way off of their first session outside of the swamp where the campaign started (and unexpectedly lasted for 7 months).
This wasn’t something that turned the world upside down like making dwarves live in tree houses while elves were in the mines or anything like that, but keeping the basic features and adding an unexpected curve ball was just enough to keep the world fresh, different, and alive. The video explains in good detail.
It also suggests that accepting an honored invite as a guest to a barbie isn’t always the best move.
How Braden Made Me Hate Elves
Oh man. The situation Braden describes in the video, a creation of our friend PJ’s, this take on elves was so different and my first character, a half-elf ranger named Trajen, was not a fan. Often found in fantasy in isolated but enlightened societies. But isolation over a long period of time can also go the xenophobic route and that’s what these elves are to a tee.
This is a really interesting but fully understandable point of view for the elves and yet makes them very different from most other campaigns. This also affects the world that you’re campaigning in.
Small changes or quirks that have huge ripple effects on the party, that paint your campaign as different from other tabletop RPG runs that everyone at the table had previously enjoyed.
Take a look at the video and tell us what you think. A little bit of spice never hurt a D&D campaign and playing off of tropes everyone is expecting makes it easy!
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.