This is a look at the races of Caldera. By “races,” I mean D&D races, not cultures, though I think the two go hand-in-hand and probably ought to be considered together. I’ll tackle these alphabetically from the core rulebooks, but Humans get to go first, out of order. Also, I might mention a couple races from sources outside the core rulebooks.
(See the Permitted Races Chart.)
In general, I have never felt that I needed to allow players every possible rules option into my fantasy settings. But then my friend Daniel pointed out that I wouldn’t be able to play my beloved cardinal kenku in most DMs’ worlds, and that struck a chord with me. Now I endeavor to at least accommodate the more unusual race choices, even if they’re not established cultural icons.
The native races of Caldera are humans, elves, half-elves, and dwarves. Elves include eladrin (each individual has an elf and eladrin nature that comes out at different times). Half-elves are about the same as usual. Dwarves include gnomes, which are a slave subrace.
Caldera offers a few new character races. Most notably players can choose gargoyle as a race. Gargoyles are statues come to life. They maintain a strong bond to their original neighborhood, protecting it for the rest of their life. Another new race is Mura, or ratlings. Every city has rats. Caldera’s rats are overgrown and have magically mutated into an walking, talking race.
Dragonborn, changelings, and orcs are not uncommon. They’re mutated versions of dwarves, elves, and humans, respectively. The orcs just use half-orc stats, but no one calls them half-orcs.
Players can choose most other races, but they’re unique individuals in the city. It’d be unlikely to see two devas in Caldera. Or two genasi or duergar. These individuals are considered to be magical mutations of some other race, forged in the depths of the city, and possibly considered a monster by its parents. Devas are not astral creatures in Caldera; instead of a connection to thousands of other deva, they have a connection with the living people of Caldera.
Caldera prohibits some races entirely. Kalashtar, in particular, do not fit into the city. Goliaths do not exist, but you can play a large gargoyle and be almost exactly the same as a goliath. Warforged do not exist, either, but if you want to play a living construct, play a Goliath. Half-orcs exist, but they’re called orcs. See the chart below for a list of common races listed in many of the 4E sources, and the status of each in Caldera.
Before cities brought mutating magic to the world, there were only a few sentient races in the world: humans, elves, half-elves, and dwarves.
In general, humans are aggressive and violent. They differ widely from each other, with many “subraces” mixing freely in Caldera, but they care little of such things (that is, they don’t have any kind of subracial bias). Appearance ranges across the board, with light or dark hair, light or dark skin, and any eye color possible — even within families.
Humans are currently the largest population in the city.
Characters: Use the rules for Human characters in the Player’s Handbook.
The Tarisian horse nomads that founded the city thousands of years ago were elves. Today, the race has become comfortable with city living, though ancient wild ways still run through their blood. The oldest families in Caldera are elven and they are among the most powerful. Of course, there are plenty of destitute elven families in the city, too.
Characters: When the character is created, choose either Elf or Eladrin from the Player’s Handbook. Whenever you retrain, you may switch your race to either Elf or Eladrin, losing the old racial bonuses, abilities, and powers and gaining the new ones. A switch to Elf represents the suppressed, wild nature coming to the forefront. A switch to Eladrin represents pushing that wild side back down.
Half-Elves are not a race of their own in Caldera. They’re just individuals whose mixed blood straddles the line between Elf and Human. Half-Elves do not share the Elven dual wild/civilized nature, but have their own split nature, taking on the best of Human and Elven traits.
Characters: When you create a Half-Elf character, decide if the parents are primarily Human, primarily Elf, or part of a coupling between a strong Elf family and a strong Human family. Use the rules for Half-Elf from the Player’s Handbook.
Dwarves conquered the Tarisian city and brought to it law, order, and ambition. Dwarves, in general, value hard work, persistence, and big dreams. They love to build things (physical or organizational) but they tend to be extremely practical. While all dwarves dream up big and impractical things, their culture tends to look down on dreamers who can’t accomplish things. Naturally, this creates a lot of angst for younger dwarves who haven’t learned to temper creativity with practicality.
Characters: Use the rules for Dwarf from the Player’s Handbook.