Short-lived but influential far beyond their years, humans are the most populous race on Norn. Most are the descendants of pioneers, conquerors, traders, travelers, refugees, and others on the move. As a result, human lands are home to a mix of people—physically, culturally, religiously, and politically diverse. Hardy or fine, light-skinned or dark, showy or austere, primitive or civilized, devout or impious, humans run the gamut. The terrible Du’un Empire was comprised primarily of humans, which soured general opinion toward the race for decades after its fall. Despite the Empire’s ideas of human supremacy, most of humanity still suffered greatly under the Empire’s despotic rule.
Variety in All Things
Humans are the most adaptable, flexible, and ambitious people among the common races. They have widely varying tastes, morals, customs, and habits. Others accuse them of having little respect for history, but with their relatively short life spans and constantly changing cultures, humans naturally have a shorter collective memory than dwarves, elves, or halflings. They might plan for the future, but most humans live fully in the present—which suits them well to the adventuring life. Individually and as a group, humans are adaptable opportunists, and they stay on top of changing political and social dynamics.
A Broad Spectrum
With their penchant for migration and conquest, and their brief lives, humans are more physically diverse than other common races. There is no typical human: An individual can stand from 5 feet to a little over 6 feet tall and weigh from 125 to 250 pounds, though males are usually taller and heavier than females. Human skin shades range from nearly black to very pale, and hair color from black to blond (curly, kinky, or straight); males might sport facial hair that is sparse or thick. Humans who live in eastern Grandévere tend to have darker skin than their western kin, both in part to weather and in part to ancestry. The sun beats relentlessly on the backs of the farmers in the eastern plains, giving them a tanned and swarthy complexion, but many can also trace their lineage back to the dark-skinned people of the Kurtulmak Desert.
Plenty of humans have a dash of nonhuman blood, revealing hints of elf, orc, or other lineages. Humans are capable of breeding with all kinds, but the child’s kind is always that of the mother’s. In unions that produce nonhuman children, these children do sometimes act like their human fathers; many human-elf offspring are more impetuous, adventurous and ambitious than their fully elven friends. Whether this is due to their upbringing or because of their father’s blood is a matter of much debate. When mixed-kind unions bear human offspring, these children also bear a certain similarity to their nonhuman father. Human children born of an orcish father often are more aggressive and more muscular than other humans. Regardless of lineage, humans reach adulthood at about age fifteen and rarely live even a single century.
Members of the human race are often ostentatious or unorthodox in their grooming and dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, body piercings, and the like. A recent trend among human nobility in Grandévere is for them to dye their hair bright and unnatural colors using crushed herbs and minerals to emulate the extravagant hair colors of the high elves.
Everyone’s Second-Best Friend
Just as readily as they mix with each other, humans mingle with members of other races. They get along with almost everyone, though they might not be close to many. Humans often serve as ambassadors, diplomats, magistrates, merchants, and functionaries of all kinds. In the Grandéveran duchy of Brei, many knights serve as ambassadors to other duchies or even other nearby nations, like the Dominion of Praetoria. Their high social status pairs well with their inherent adaptability.
Human lands are constantly in flux, with new ideas, social changes, innovations, and leaders constantly coming to the fore. Members of longer‐lived races find human culture exciting but a little wearying or even bewildering. Human leaders are very young compared to the political, religious, and military leadership of the more long-lived races. Even in societies where individuals are conservative traditionalists, human institutions change with the generations, adapting and evolving faster than parallel institutions among other peoples. Although some humans can be xenophobic, in general their societies are inclusive. Human lands welcome relatively large numbers of nonhumans compared to the proportion of humans who live in nonhuman lands.
Human names vary greatly. Without a unifying pantheon as a touchstone for their culture, and with such short generations, human society changes quickly. Having so much more variety than other cultures, humans have no truly typical names. Some human parents give their children names from other languages, such as Dwarvish or Elvish (pronounced more or less correctly).
Humans who seek adventure are the most daring and ambitious members of a daring and ambitious race. They seek to earn glory in the eyes of their fellows by amassing power, wealth, and fame. More than other people, humans might champion causes rather than territories or groups.
The text of this page has primarily been derived from the D&D Next playtesting packet, with some alterations, for enjoyment purposes only.