This chapter lists the races available for player characters in Escarnum.
The people you are likely to encounter here are a little different to those presented in the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. Here, bestial races have dominated the land of Alm since ancient times, meaning many of the major populations are descended from more animalistic stock than their human-like counterparts. Where other settings have dwarven craftsmen or gnomish inventors, Escarnum has the crafty kobold clans; in place of halflings, one finds the cheerful and mercantile abilen. Instead of using half-orcs or dragonborn to provide physical might, Alm relies on the hardy jotun, horse-like equitarn and bestial gnolls.
Other creatures are still present, but rather different in flavour or abilities. Other kobolds are cowardly, cave-dwelling lizardfolk, while those in Alm are draconic canines with a penchant for engineering and technology. Eladrin are descended from the soratami—insular, refined aristocrats with an oriental flavour, not wilderness-dwelling elves.
This change may be jarring at first, but remember there are vast areas of Escarnum which are yet to be explored. Traditional kobolds or elves may be just around the corner, so to speak. In other words, just because a race doesn’t have a pre-defined place in the setting, doesn’t mean there is no room for them.
Sticking to the races here will help to present Escarnum’s unique flavour, but adding your group’s favourite races from other 4th Edition D&D products is a great way to customise that flavour to your own tastes. For more about this, see the Non-Standard Races section.
Each race detailed here comes with several additional choices of background. These are designed to give you an idea of common archetypes for Escarnum characters, but they’re provided as an option only—there’s no requirement to choose these instead of those found in other sources. Indeed, there’s no reason to prevent a player from taking a race-inspired background for a character of another species, either. Use them to help you design a character who belongs in the setting, not a strait jacket!
Escarnum backgrounds differ from other backgrounds you may have seen, by offering an associated ritual in addition to other benefits. This is intended as a way to prompt groups who often ignore ritual casting. A character who chooses the associated ritual as their benefit can perform the ritual as if they had mastered it, without requiring a ritual book or ritual caster feat, though they must still pay any associated costs when the ritual is used.