I don’t necessarily mind the way humans so often play the generic middle-ground “adaptable” role in most games, with dwarves and elves and halflings being similar to them but more of this, that or the other. It makes sense, we are looking at humanity from within humanity, so we consider it the norm and even though we see huge variety within our own kind we wonder what other races would be like and specifically how they would be different from us. I find it really interesting, though, to apply that same lens when examining our own traits. What would some other race see as different when they looked at us? This is my attempt to try and create a version of humans that treats us the same way as other races in 5e, showing off our particular strengths, gained from a long evolutionary history.
Available on Dungeon Masters’ Guild: Variant Humans on DMsGuild.com
PDF: Variant Humans
Mira took a swig of water from her canteen as she looked out over the herd from atop Shidow, her mount and lifelong friend. The drive this year had been a hard one. The weather was sour and the cattle restless. The other drovers complained at camp, but they would never admit to tiring before the beasts. It was a point of pride. The sound of an alarm in the cattle driver’s creole cut through the air and Mira shook off her thoughts. A branch, fallen from a tree, had scared several beasts out and away from the main herd at a start. She read the situation in a glance and made eye contact with two other drivers. Without a word they pulled around, one falling into place to hold the line, the other moving with her as one to begin the pursuit.
Humans are a race of social explorers. Their ambition and wanderlust have led them to inhabit all kinds of spaces across the world. Those who do not travel and bring their people to new lands instead seek new heights of knowledge, insight, wealth or power. This drive also pushes humans to adaptation and experimentation; language, lifestyle and personal beliefs are all open to change. Though they live shorter lives than other common races, they make up for this in their tirelessness in pursuit of their goals.
People of the Plains
Humans’ exploratory nature sees them comfortably inhabit every kind of landscape, but they thrive on the open plains their race grew up on. The flat landscapes made it easy to hunt and scavenge for sparse prizes and the clear air nurtured the communication and cunning that eventually lead to the great human civilizations of today.
Humans have inherently strong senses of empathy, which underpin their interactions with all beings. Though this can be repressed or damaged by ambition or trauma, even the most hardened human will struggle not to “catch” a contagious yawn or sense of panic. This knack for feeling the experience of others often earns humans a reputation as being manipulative or gullible or both.
Innovative And Adaptable
The human drive to reach new heights in all fields has crafted in them a sense of versatility and experimentation. Humans are skilled lateral thinkers and are at home using tools and situations in unexpected ways to achieve new results.
Your human character has a number of traits borne into them by their ancestry.
Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 2.
Age. Humans reach adulthood in their late teens and live less than a century.
Alignment. Humans do not tend towards any particular alignment as a group. The interplay of their ambition and empathy sees all alignments represented among them.
Size. Humans vary wildly in size and shape from under five feet to well over six feet tall. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 35 ft.
Languages. You speak common and one other language of your choice.
Empathy. You are proficient in the Persuasion and Insight skills.
Innovation. You have proficiency with the vehicle type, tool or instrument of your choice.
Cultural Heritage. Humans are greatly affected by the culture in which they are raised. Choose one of the three cultural heritages below.
As a Clansfolk, you come from a culture of strong social bonds and collective work. Clansfolk are the most commonly urban humans, often building and gravitating towards towns and cities with their sense of fraternity and their love of bartering and trade. They are also the most deadly warriors amongst humans, working together as one brutal machine of death.
Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
Pack Hunter. When you make an attack against a creature, you may use a bonus action to grant an ally advantage on their next attack against that creature. You must complete a short or long rest before you can use this feature again.
As a Herdsfolk, your culture instills in you a strong bond with the creatures that you interact with daily. Many Herdsfolk are agricultural, building lives in tune with the landscape and their flocks, yet others live in the wilds, a harsher existence based on a mutual respect between man and beast capable of mutual destruction. Herdsfolk lead slower lives than other humans, often seeking out a deeper understanding of their place in the world. They are more thoughtful and intuitive and can often read their herds, companions, and homes without a second thought.
Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Domestic Hunter. Whenever you make a Wisdom (Animal Handling) check related to beasts that belong to you, you are considered proficient in the Animal Handling skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus. You may start with one beast that has a challenge rating of 1/4 or lower as equipment in addition to the equipment granted by your class and background. To make a beast perform tricks or act in combat requires an Animal Handling check.
As a Trailfolk, exploration is in your bones. Trailfolk are travelers and nomads. If they have a fixed home, they do not spend much time there as their wanderlust calls them too quickly to the horizon. They are hardy and can cross vast distances as they migrate, trade, and explore, rarely tiring and always quick to return to the road.
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
Resilient Traveler. You have advantage on saves to avoid exhaustion.
Endurance Hunter. You can navigate, track, and travel while taking a short rest and still gain its full benefits.