The Water Margin
The burnt world has seen genocide and life-changing magics, all of which have left their scars upon the people of Athas. The character races of the savage world reflect the harsh realities of their environment.
The races included in this document are available for PCs.
Table: Race Ability Score Adjustments and Favored Classes
|Aarakocra||+4 Dexterity, -2 Strength, -2 Constitution||Cleric or ranger|
|Dwarf||+4 Constitution, +2 Strength, -2 Dexterity, -4 Charisma||Cleric or fighter|
|Elf||+4 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom, -4 Constitution||Ranger or rogue|
|Half-Elf||+2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution||Any|
|Half-Giant||+8 Strength, +4 Constitution, -4 Intelligence, -4 Wisdom, -4 Charisma||Fighter or gladiator|
|Halfling||+4 Dexterity, +4 Wisdom, -2 Constitution, -2 Charisma, -4 Strength||Barbarian or druid|
|Mul||+4 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Intelligence, -4 Charisma||Fighter or gladiator|
|Pterran||+2 Strength, +2 Wisdom, -2 Dexterity, -2 Charisma||Barbarian or druid|
|Thri-kreen||+4 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, -2 Intelligence, -4 Charisma||Druid or ranger|
Note that psion is automatically a favored class for all character races.
Player’s Handbook Character Races
- Dwarf: Dwarves are short and extremely stocky, and are completely hairless. Dwarves are excellent craftsmen but renowned for their incredible stubbornness.
- Elf: Elves are very tall and limber, and travel the wastes by running. Elven tribes survive by guile and con artistry practiced against untrusted outsiders.
- Half-Elf: Half-elves share the light build of their elvish parentage but have the greater endurance of their human heritage. Half-elves are untrusted by humans and elves alike and must often strike out on their own to survive.
- Halfling: Halflings live in small communities of savage cannibal tribes. Halflings reside predominantly on the Forest Ridge, far from human lands, but some are curious enough to travel to other places, or are unlucky enough to be captured as slaves.
- Human: Humans on Athas exhibit a wide range of cosmetic differences, which vary from individual to individual. Almost all humans have a wild psionic talent and are quite cunning and resilient.
Additional PC Races
- Aarakocra: Aarakocra soar over the Tablelands on thermal drafts caught under their feathered wings, and survive in small communities in the Ringing Mountains. They occasionally deign to trade with humans, but in general do not trust the land-bound races.
- Half-Giant: Half-giants are the result of ancient magical experiments that now breed true. Half-giants have formidable size and strength, which can be a liability as they are easily persuaded and changeable in nature.
- Mul: Muls are the sterile offspring of humans and dwarfs, bred into slavery for their hardiness and strength. Muls have the hairlessness and stamina of their dwarf parentage with the height and determination of their human heritage.
- Pterran: Pterrans reside in hot flats and geyser-filled badlands. Their strong connection to their lands insures that their small tribes are not often bothered by humanoids, who do not wish to tangle with pterran druids and clerics.
- Thri-kreen: The insectoid kreen come from great hives on a vast savannah far from the Tablelands, but some clutches have migrated to the deserts near the city-states in search of new hunting. Thri-kreen have many advantages over soft and lazy humanoids, but their alien mindset makes it difficult for them to fit in with the city-states.
- Yuan-Ti Pureblood: The serpent cultists have long been thought exterminated, but some clutches of the snake-blooded still reside in hidden creches near the city-states.
Level Adjustment and the Races of Athas
The character races of Athas are somewhat more powerful than characters in other campaign settings. Ability scores are generally higher, and almost everyone has a psionic talent. Due to the destabilizing effects of level adjustment, though — especially the fact that level adjustment can reduce the effective hit dice of characters, making them extremely fragile in a dangerous setting — level adjustments are not used.
Characters are assumed to have roughly the same appropriate power level due to the difficulty of securing useful tools, items, and resources. A fighter who gains a small bonus to attack rolls due to a wild talent is likewise handicapped by using weapons of inferior quality. At higher levels, as characters overcome these limitations, the small bonuses provided by these additional powers do not unduly overbalance the challenges that the characters will face.
Most character races have special abilities that improve with levels. These improvements allow the character to develop race features in a useful fashion that does not provide an overpowering bonus for the party’s level. The aarakocra, for instance, has the very useful ability to fly, but this ability is limited in duration until the character gains a high level, by which time most characters will have at least some means to fly via psionics, magic, or items.