Mechanics Monday: Greyhawk’s Human Races in 5e

Welcome to this week’s Mechanics Monday where we take a look at a specific mechanic in the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, compare it to the 2nd Edition and see which version works best for the setting of Greyhawk.

If the 5e version is suboptimal we try to homebrew a better version of it.

Today’s Mechanic:

Today we talk about the Greyhawk’s Human Races. In the World of Greyhawk, especially in the Flanaess, are five different main races. The races are Oeridian, Suel, Flan, Baklunish and Rhennee. Two more rare races, Olman and Touv, will not be part of this post.

You can read more about the races in the World of Greyhawk campaign book or visit this Great Library of Greyhawk wiki entry.

Human races in 5th edition

Basicly, in 5th edition there are no differences in character creation between human subraces. Especially with the mixing of heritage in humans this design decision makes sense. Ultimately, labeling human races as more intelligent than others can be a troubling assertion and edges sparly over the line to racism.

But in general, there are two different methods for Humans in 5e. Normal humans gain +1 in each ability score. The Variant Human ruling gives them and increasement by 1 on two different ability scores, one skill proficiency and 1 Feat.

How it’s used to be in 2nd edition

Nevertheless, in 2nd edition the Player’s Guide by Anne Brown they distinguish between races and give them different ability stat modifiers.

  • Baklunish (+1 Wis, -1 Cha when not talking to Baklunish)
  • Flan (+1 Con, -1 Int when applied to learn new spells)
  • Oeridian (+1 Dex, -1 Wis)
  • Rhennee (+1 Str, -2 Cha when not talking to Rhennee)
  • Suel (+1 Int, -1 Cha)

What’s better?

Obviously this is in general a preference choice. I agree with the sentiment to not give any race a benefit over the other in terms of ability scores. So the 5th edition version is for sure more sensible, but there is still something we can implement to give a distinct different feel between races.

How we tweak it

We give raise one ability stat by 1 and one by 2. This is inline with typical bonuses of other subraces (e.g. wood elf). Furthermore, each subrace gets two features.

  • Languages: Ancient Baklunish, Common and one other
  • Arcane prowess. Since old times the Baklunish are good with magic. They have proficiency in Arcana. If they gain proficiency by other means, double their proficiency bonus instead.
  • Life of Trade. The Baklunish are adept traders and can haggle any price getting advantage on any Persuasion roll regarding trading. They also get advantage on any Investigation roll to appraise goods and check if they are fake.
  • Languages: Common, Old Oeridian and one other
  • Nimbleness. Oeridians are very nimble. They have proficiency in Acrobatics. If they gain proficiency by other means, double their proficiency bonus instead.
  • Adept Fighter. Oeridians are excellent combatants. They can use their bonus action to raise their bonus to hit by 1 and their reaction to raise their AC by 1. The use of the feature needs to be declared before dice are rolled.
  • Languages: Common, Flan and one other
  • Bond to Nature. The Flan are closer to nature than others. They have proficiency in Nature. If they gain proficiency by other means, double their proficiency bonus instead.
  • Horse people. Flan are adept horse riders. They make Animal Handling checks with advantage when interacting with a horse. Additionally mounting a horse is a bonus action and dismounting costs 5 ft. of movement. The horses speed is raised by 10 ft..
  • Languages: Common, Rhennee Cant and one other
  • Good hands. Working on a boat, crafting and a little bit of stealing are normal activities for Rhennee. They have proficiency in Sleight of Hand. If they gain proficiency by other means, double their proficiency bonus instead.
  • Living on a boat. Rhennee live many years of their lives on ships and are used to travelling on the sea. They will never get sick and gain advantage on all activities normal for the life on the ship. Some examples are Survival for navigation or Acrobatics to climb on a mast.
  • Languages: Common, Suloise and one other
  • Born crafters. Suel have a talent for all crafts and arts. They gain proficiency in one tool of your choice. If they have it already through other means, double their proficiency bonus instead.
  • Blood of a Suel. Suel have the magical aptitude of their ancestors gaining +1 on any saving throw against spells and they raise their own Spell DC by 1.


This solution uses the strength of human adaptability (free ability increasement choice) paired with a race feature and race skill. The goal is to avoid racism and still give a different feel to each subrace.

I hope you liked today’s episode of Mechanics Monday. If you have any feedback or own idea how to tackle this mechanic, comment down below.

For the next episode we will look at Named Spells from the mages of Greyhawk.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,


Liked it? Take a second to support Frogsama on Patreon!