Wednesday, August 10, 2016

S&W WhiteBox House Rules (3): Races

This is the third in a series of posts detailing the house rules I use for Swords & Wizardy: WhiteBox. Today we deal with races. Cheers!

To be honest, I flip-flopped over how much campaign-specific information to present in this post. In the end I decided that more is probably better, for context. My apologies if it's a bit boring in that regard.

So, on we go with today's blathering racial kitchen sink post. :-)

Race Class Restrictions & Level Limits: As mentioned in the last post, I cap class level progression at 10. I have also banished demihuman racial level limits and class restrictions to the outer planes, so to speak. Any race may be any class and progress all the way to level 10.
Racial Features: I have adjusted the traits of each race from the WhiteBox rules to reflect the feel and flavor of the Wastelands of Kreth campaign setting. Most notably, humans have been "boosted" significantly, both to reflect their dominant role in the campaign and to compensate for the lack of demihuman racial level limits. So far, I think about 80% of PCs in the Wastelands have been humans. :-)


The dwarves are cunning delvers of the deeps, tough as the mountains, and slayers of dragonauts and serpents. Short and stout, the dwarves have skin tones ranging from ruddy tan to sooty black, and their bushy hair varies from white to brown to black, and all shades in between. Some dwarves shave their heads for a menacing effect, particularly if they have battle scars upon them. Dwarven eyes may be the color of any gemstone, and burn with an inner fire of a thousand ancient forges. Dwarves take pride in growing great beards, often lavishly styling and decorating them. “The better your beard, the better dwarf you are” is hammered into the dwarven psyche from birth. 
Size: Medium. Dwarves range between four and five feet tall, and weigh between 120 and 220 pounds. To randomly determine height, roll 2d6 and add 48 inches; to randomly determine weight, roll 2d6 x 10 and add 100 pounds.
Languages: Dwarvish plus one other.
Names: (Male) Asymet, Brunod, Cadyron, Nurnas, Rozar, Zoculas; (female) Arucyn, Bazra, Gulasyn, Nurnec, Synca, Zocma; (family) Azmetar, Cynoton, Gosmod, Hulac-Maz, Mutaron, Zunytar.
Classes: Dwarves may be clerics, fighters, or wizards.
Dwarf Cunning: Dwarves have a two-thirds chance (1-4 on a d6) to detect metal and stonework traps, pitfalls, secret doors, shifting passages, and other unusual contraptions and constructions while underground. At any time, dwarves can approximate their depth underground to within 10 feet.
Tough as the Mountains: Dwarves gain a +2 bonus on saving throws to resist poison, exhaustion, and system shock.
Serpent Hatred: Dwarves believe that all serpents are descended from Ruzuclon the evil dragonaut of Deepearth. They gain a +1 bonus to attacks against dragons and serpentine creatures—including snakes, snake-folk, salamanders, and the like. Dwarves also defend well against Large-size (or larger) dragons and serpentine creatures, gaining a +4 AC bonus against their attacks.


  • Enslaved by horrific creatures from Deepearth during the Dark Years. Toiled building machines of war and doom.
  • Homelands are in the Peaks of Insanity; largest and most powerful citadel is Dag-Mazac, ruled by Prime Articron Galzar. 
  • Isolationist culture by nature; slowly opening up via trade and political relations with other races.
  • Worship Synculon the Articulator and the Mechanoid Construct; rituals are complex and precise, symbolism elaborate and geometric.
  • An evil dwarven subrace, the duergar, live in Deepearth. These vicious, stealthy slave traders raid the surface world for captives, and then sell their prey to other Deepearth races like mindeaters and drow elves.

The elves are a slender and graceful people with skin tones varying from pale white to deep olive-tan. A radiant glow surrounds elves, shimmering as they move, hinting at their mystical other-worldliness. Their scintillating, perfectly coiffed hair ranges from pure white to jet black—you never quite catch an elf tucking away a brush out of the corner of your eye. Hypnotic elven eyes sparkle like glistening pools of deep intellect and wisdom, and their teeth shine brightly like kissable full moons. However, the elves’ natural stoic demeanor belies their martial prowess, for when roused elves fight fiercely and without quarter, and their elegant martial arts are the envy of all warriors.
Size: Medium. Elves range between five and six and one-half feet tall, and weigh between 100 and 200 pounds. To randomly determine height, roll 3d6 and add 60 inches; to randomly determine weight, roll 2d6 x 10 and add 80 pounds.
Languages: Elvish plus two others.
Names: (Male) Alostar, Celimbar, Findalas, Luminar, Nerethon, Sindulas; (female) Ariana, Demaria, Galarel, Linuilas, Nirvania, Suriel; (family) Alorfinas, Cuindirath, Hadoran, Melethior, Palandirath, Telestar.
Classes: Elves may be clerics, fighters, or wizards.
Mystic Origin: Elves have a mystical connection to the “Other Realm.” Elves are not paralyzed by the attacks of ghouls and they have a five-in-six chance (1-5 on a d6) to completely resist Sleep and Charm Person spells. Furthermore, elves have the natural ability to open a Dimensional Portal once per day (as the spell, and yes I completely cribbed this from the eladrin because it fits), but they may only teleport themselves and their personal gear a maximum of 30 feet. This ability does not need to be prepared or memorized each day, but it is still considered a spell.
Mystic Sight: Elves possess mystical sight that allows them to see twice as far as other races (although they cannot see in darkness), as well as grants them a two-thirds chance to detect secret doors (1-4 on a d6) when they actively look for them, and a one-third (1-2 on a d6) chance when merely passing within 10 feet of them.


  • Loose nomadic society; rarely establish any enclaves greater than several dozen inhabitants. Prefer caves, treetops, or hidden places for their settlements.
  • Esoteric mystics devoted to science, magic, enlightenment, and expanding their knowledge of all things in the Cosmos—a philosophy called The Path of Infinite Understanding, or Torvath Tru.
  • During the Dark Years, elves discovered several ancient sites allowing them temporary travel to the demi-plane of Dar’Adra to avoid enslavement and destruction by the forces of evil.
  • An evil elven subrace known as the drow live in Deepearth. The depraved society of the drow sanctions murder and assassination to gain power, and the extermination of all surface races except for use as slaves.

Half-orcs are a brutish and cunning people with flesh hues ranging from granite grey to rusty-black, and dark bloodstone eyes that smolder with savage aggression. They typically grow long manes of coarse black hair, but some go bald with elaborate tattoos on their heads, faces, and necks. Despite their savage and fearsome reputation, half-orcs possess an often surprisingly guileful and tenacious determination, as if each day could be their last, and the passing night brings with it a chance for them to live yet again.
Size: Medium. Half-orcs range from five and one-half to well over seven feet tall, and weigh between 140 and 340 pounds. To randomly determine height, roll 5d6 and add 60 inches; to randomly determine weight, roll 4d6 x 10 and add 100 pounds.
Languages: Orcish or Common.
Names: (Male) Broz, Dujak, Hurx, Mojuk, Stomok, Varjaz; (female) Bijra, Domji, Durna, Hejet, Maxra, Pazra; (family) Darjaz, Fundak, Hazmax, Nujata, Tuvoz, Wojok.
Classes: Half-orcs may be clerics, fighters, or wizards.
Bred by Sorcery: Half-orcs gain a +1 bonus to saving throws against spells and magical effects. A half-orc wizard loses the benefit of this racial trait.
Fearsome: When acting in a threatening or intimidating manner, half-orcs use their Charisma modifier as either a bonus or penalty on monster and NPC reaction rolls, as best suits the situation.
Tenacious: Half-orcs gain +1 hit point per level (regardless of their Constitution score), and gain a +2 bonus to saving throws to resist exhaustion and system shock.


  • A warrior race created during the Dark Years by evil powers that bred the most savage orcs and devious humans. 
  • Formed numerous tribes following the Dark Years; inhabit contentious lands in the Hills of Zim-Zalabazul and the Mountains of Flame and Shadow. Tribal wars frequent, territories change constantly.
  • Worship Saduj the Soul Redeemer; religious rituals include starvation, flagellation, and other self-punishments. The Ways to Redemption are meant to cleanse the soul of evil thoughts and influences.
  • Ruled by strict tribal theocracies—the shamans of Saduj judge all tribal matters and assign positions of authority and power. Cronyism, bribery, intimidation, and assassination are common practices.
  • Some half-orcs deny Saduj. Instead they worship one or more of the Panjari, the New Gods of humanity. Krakor the Warlord and the Lords of Elemental Chaos (particularly Magmazoth the Flamelord) being common amongst these renegades.

Humanity dominates the Wastelands of Kreth. Human cultures and languages vary greatly, as do their physical features and religious practices. Despite this diversity, all humans share three important qualities which help them survive and prosper more successfully than any other race—adaptability, resourcefulness, and an unshakeable spirit of determination.
Size: Medium. Humans typically range between five and six and one-half feet tall, and weigh between 120 and 220 pounds. To randomly determine height, roll 3d6 and add 60 inches; to randomly determine weight, roll 2d6 x 10 and add 100 pounds.
Languages: Noted in the culture descriptions.
Names: Noted in the culture descriptions.
Classes: Humans may be clerics, fighters, or wizards.
Adaptability: Humans increase a single attribute score by +1.
Resourcefulness: Humans may re-roll any single die roll once per day.
Unshakeable Spirit: Humans gain +1 to all saving throws.
Diverse Cultures: Choose one of eight cultures—Cal-vooli, Damarsun, Druqara, Mercatian, Mordai-sul, Nirothan, Qaarni, or Vragnak.

Cal-vooli tend to be shorter and stockier than other humans are (adjust random rolls appropriately), and their skin hues range from deep yellow to orange-red. Cal-vooli natural hair color varies from midnight blue to black, but they often decorate it elaborately with dyes, head-dresses, and jewelry to indicate social rank. Cal-vooli eyes are often a sparkling copper, silver, or gold color.
Languages: Vool plus one other (usually Common).
Names: (Male) Anule, Cadero, Jedaar, Monbo, Peccin, Tooman, Vidgro; (female) Aluava, Cynara, Eminoa, Laana, Moriisa, Nuana, Peotra; (family) Binshu, Glipla, Lavool, Momad, Piiri, Quinta, Zabb.


  • Gypsy-like people that travel in caravans, no true homeland.
  • Mercantile society, known as the “merchants of the Wastelands.”
  • No central government. Family or caravan leaders the only recognized authorities; people are free to live, travel, and work where desired.
  • Priests, or anamiste, akin to “fortune telling financial advisors” and held in high respect; often very wealthy.
  • Spirituality revolves around Fate, Luck and the Signs of Fortune. Everyone has a Fated Path to their Destiny, but you can direct your Path with your actions.

DAMARSUN (Common Human)
Damarsun physical features vary widely—from short to tall, stocky to lanky, pale skin to dark, and they may possess virtually any hair and eye colors. 
Languages: Common plus one other.
Names: (Male) Aderos, Bron, Edmar, Girus, Mederan, Perun, Rondar, Stanos, Turm, Wuntar; (female) Adela, Casdra, Danira, Hariel, Lura, Mosha, Raneta, Suriel, Tamra, Ulana; (family) Alostar, Dunosra, Gederos, Melintar, Numus, Paladar, Rodaran, Sonus, Umaros, Zedrian.


  • Cultural melting pot—damarsun have homogenized the physical, linguistic, spiritual, and social traits of many human cultures into their own.
  • Youngest human “culture,” but also the most driven and vigorous; more of a self-identifying nation of diversity than a culture of geographic or religious commonality.
  • Practical, gregarious, cosmopolitan people; primarily inhabit the cities and towns of the Wastelands.
  • If you want to play a “generic” human character, this is the culture to choose.  

Druqara average between six and seven feet tall (adjust random rolls appropriately), have dark red skin, and their eyes range from pearl-white to rosy-pink. All druqara bear the Darkbrand—an evil symbol “branded” into their foreheads by foul breeding during the Dark Years.
Languages: Druqari plus one other (usually Common).
Names: (Male) Chorn, Domak, Kurn, Moqrak, Rakan, Tog; (female) Anuki, Chibar, Golgra, Klar, Paqul, Tomra; (family) Aqraka, Dogru, Ghorlu, Mokraka, Rughru, Vukraka.


  • Human tribe enslaved and bred by evil forces in the Dark Years to be the ultimate warriors. Worship Ogron the Bloodthirster; religious rituals involve pain, bloodletting, and scarification.
  • Many warriors are mercenaries and sell-swords; founded the Blood Kin mercenary brotherhood.
  • Society highly competitive and martial; strict rules of honor regulate disputes and duels. Duels often elaborate events.
  • Governed by a confederacy of elders representing important clans and families. Clan skirmishes are common.

Mercatians are a tall people with skin tones ranging from pale lavender to deep plum purple. Their hairstyles and clothing tend to be highly fashionable and darker shades are common. Their eye colors vary widely but violets and reds are prominent.
Languages: Mercatian plus one other (usually Common).
Names: (Male) Aderion, Imlozar, Lyserion, Mendelar, Udonathar, Zethran; (female) Amara, Elynia, Ilyora, Murieth, Sarina, Umeria; (family) Arama, Celerion, Endorath, Lanethor, Peltar, Unari.


  • Rigid and highly ritualized culture praises order, tradition, and fealty; they value duty to family above all else.
  • Born leaders, mercatians assume they are in charge in any situation; they think of themselves as the nobles of humanity.
  • Mercatians worship Odamaar the Lord of Light and Darkness, and his worldly prophet the God-Emperor Aristan. The God-Emperor Aristan has ruled the City-State of Kreth for over one-thousand years. Other religions are tolerated, but considered primitive, and the followers of pagan gods are little more than savages playing at spirituality.
  • Mercatians are the most prominent humans amongst the ruling elite in the Wastelands, both by heredity and force of arms and economics. If they can’t defeat you outright, they may simply buy your army out from underneath you. 

Mordai-sul have greyish to charcoal skin tones with many thin, dark veins, giving them a stone-like visage. They have mottled white, grey, and brown hair. Their eyes are often blue, grey, or black. Mordai-sul are shorter and thinner than other humans (adjust random rolls appropriately). 
Languages: Sulat plus one other (usually Common).
Names: (Male) Bhandai, Choga, Dawo, Janghu, Shado, Wainjar; (female) Bushi, Choji, Daki, Khami, Padla, Zanja; (family) Anghai-lam, Chumjari-jari, Dhaipugo, Mungaja-rala, Ranjash, Waijara.


  • Mordai-sul homelands are the great steppes and highlands bordering the Mordai Mountains.
  • Semi-nomadic society of herders and husbanders; renowned hukka riders, warriors, and parsimonious traders.
  • Ruled by oligarchy of clan leaders. Land skirmishes frequent when wild herd ranges vary due to climate.
  • Mordai-sul ghostpriests commune with spirits of their ancestors and ancient dead gods. Huge stones mark important sites.
  • Many are claustrophobic, and suspicious of cities or walled spaces.

Nirothans are ebon-skinned humans with coppery-white to silvery-purple hair. They have narrow, wide-set eyes from bright yellow to deep red. Nirothans wear elaborate clothing and jewelry indicating their social rank. 
Languages: Nirothan plus one other (usually Common).
Names: Nirothans have no individual names, known amongst their own kind only by birth rank and family name. First to sixth-born are respectively named Rateh, Kamud, Ramnas, Tumnat, Antahk, and Mohtep. Nirothans sometimes adopt or are given names by their friends and adventuring companions. (Family) Amnash, Ekhotan, Faratep, Khalra, Natarwat, Ptoresh, Shatrah, Tukamen.


  • Homeland is the Dunes of Nirotha in the Sea of Choking Dust.
  • Society rigidly hierarchical yet with minimal bureaucracy and regulation; oligarchic rule by clan and family elders; people have designated social, spiritual, and political ranks.
  • Duty and oaths to clan are highly praised by society; warriors and priests honored, while thieves and sorcerers are chaotic followers of the evil god Set-Mohtep.
  • Chief deity is Amok-Rateh, God of Ten-thousand Suns and Creator of the Cosmos. He rules a complex court of gods that navigates the cosmos in a great ship of light, which is perpetually chased in darkness by the ship of Set-Mohtep.

Qaarni are bronze-skinned, dark-haired people with bright eyes of green, amber, and topaz. Qaarni favor light-colored clothing and head scarves to ward off the southern heat, as well as elaborate, colorful sashes. 
Languages: Qaarnas plus one other (usually Common).
Names: (Male) Aturiq, Cindar, Haqiis, Marqovan, Sentari, Vendaz; (female) Anora, Cenima, Frazira, Misina, Sinora, Zelva; (family) Baltri, Daaqur, Juzandi, Orlundaz, Qotri, Zededar.


  • The southern deserts and the port city of Qaarn are their homelands, but qaarni live everywhere and do everything.
  • Culture values polygamy and polyandry, familial prestige, wealth, and personal influence—grander is always greater. Rule … don’t be ruled.
  • Often labeled brash and cocky, qaarni gregariousness and zest for life is rarely matched; they seem to know everyone.
  • Natural explorers, many work in professions that travel often and far.
  • Qaarni cosmology is a four-spoke wheel symbolizing the world. Each spoke represents a balanced power: ambition, fate, growth, and decay.

Vragnak are a broad and strong people with bluish hued skin. Hair ranges from straw yellow to black, and their eyes vary from icy blue to dark grey. Little is commonly known of these northern "barbarians."
Languages: Vragni plus one other (usually Dwarvish).
Names: (Male) Asag, Dagash, Gulbrek, Mortak, Sathok, Tyrus, Ugengol; (female) Agrida, Avyra, Brynd, Fakriga, Markursta, Sidrug, Vundra; (family) Alvek, Brugar, Fandrir, Gugundak, Mjarnjar, Suvoklar, Ungarji.


  • Vragnak hail from the icy northlands of the Shimmering Glacier. They maintain no formal relations with southerners except the dwarves of Dag-Mazac.
  • Culture is an amalgam of warrior codes, social castes (warriors, priests, crafters, and slaves), and animist spirituality.
  • Governed by a loose clan-based confederacy; each clan controls a territory and lives in a domed village.
  • Possess a fanatical hatred of the gugnir, a race of walrus-men corrupted by the demonic Ice Hag.


There are no halflings in my Wastelands of Kreth campaign, although I have a soft spot for the little buggers. Neither are there half-elves, as a fundamental premise of the Wastelands setting is that different humanoid races cannot interbreed except by dark sorcery. And gnomes, quite frankly, belong only in the garden or in stupid travel agency commercials. Don’t even get me started. :-)

However, If there were halflings in my game, they might have traits like this…

Insert a fluffy sentence or three about how Wastelands halflings enjoy spiced pineapple wine and medium-rare yarroth (triceratops) steaks, write florid poetry about the nobility and their obscenely-masked sex-slave and cocktail parties, and consider crocodile riding for sport a fun weekend activity for the whole family.
Size: Small. Halflings range from three to four and one-half feet tall, and weigh between 60 and 110 pounds. To randomly determine height, roll 4d6 and add 32 inches; to randomly determine weight, roll 5d6 x 2 and add 50 pounds.
Languages: Halfling or Common Tongue.
Names: (Male) Bulrad, Dagfast, Jasper, Lemmy, Podogar, Talbin; (female) Betsina, Ellan, Irma, Mona, Trudina, Wanda; (family) Cinderhill, Croop, Fetlock, Larkspur, Rook, Widgeon.
Classes: Halflings may be clerics, fighters, or wizards.
Dodge Big Brutes: Due to their diminutive stature and light-footedness, halflings gain a +4 AC bonus against the attacks of ogres, trolls, and giants.
Keen Shot: Halflings gain a +1 bonus to missile attacks when using slings.
Lucky: Once per day, halflings gain a +2 bonus to any single saving throw.
Stealthy: Halflings are masters of hiding and moving about quietly. They have a five-in-six chance (1-5 on a d6) of remaining undetected outdoors or in a city in normal light, provided they have some kind of obscuring cover or shadows; underground this is reduced to a one-third chance (1-2 on a d6).