Limitations are sometimes frustrating but I believe are a necessary evil. If we are given too much free reign in the creation process continuity becomes far more difficult. I am not one to hold the creative process down at all but there needs to be a compromise between all creators as to the who, what, and where’s of the campaign. I am of course talking about exotic races and classes that may not fit into the beginning of a story such as this. A Deva for instance may be part of the world but unless the group as a whole can come to an agreement on how that character became part of the group you may be hard pressed to find one at such a basic starting point. As such I have a short list of For Sure’s and an even shorter list of those Hard Pressed options that can and will be discussed as a group. The standard 8 races are given a brief overview in the Dungeonmaster’s Guide as to their connection with Fallcrest and the surrounding areas. I have repeated these here and also included the five new races from the Players Handbook 2 with ideas for their connections as well. Two races from the Monster Manual also appear as extremely limited options followed by final thoughts on how the group might find itself together at the start of the campaign.
Races Dragonborn No Dragonborn are native to Fallcrest, but travelers occasionally pass through and take up work for a time, especially as bodyguards or caravan guards. The Halfmoon halflings, House Azaer, and the importer Naerumar have work available for a capable adventurer.
Dwarf A fair number of dwarves live in Fallcrest, so a dwarf character could easily be a native of the city-perhaps a relative of Teldorthan Irontooth. If not, the nearest dwarven homeland is Hammerfast, a week’s travel distant. Merchants and crafters from Hammerfast travel to Fallcrest to trade or work, lodging in one of the local inns for a few weeks.
Eladrin Eladrin are not often seen in Fallcrest. Some of the old manors in the Moon Hills and the nearby parts of the Vale were once homes of well-off eladrin families; a PC eladrin might hold the title to an abandoned estate a mile or two out of town, which provides a good reason to call on Lord Markelhay.
Elf Elves are also scarce in Fallcrest, but a small number reside in and around the town. Ressilmae Starlight of the temple of Sehanine might be a relative or an old friend of an elf character. Elves from outside Fallcrest might belong to the Woodsinger clan from the Harkenwold Forest.
Half Elf A small number of half-elves reside in Fallcrest or the vicinity. Most are well-off farmers or herders living in the Moon Hills near the town; the rest are expert artisans-jewelers, tailors or woodworkers. A half-elf PC could be a child or relative of a Fallcrest family.
Halfling Halflings are the most numerous people in Fallcrest aside from humans, and they come from all walks of life. A Fallcrest native might be related to the Halfmoon family, the Ostermans of the Silver Unicorn, or the Thistletons of Fallcrest Stables. Halflings descended from the traders who pass through Fallcrest can be members of the Swiftwater Clan.
Human Most of Fallcrest’s people are human. Characters with rural backgrounds likely grew up on the farms nearby in the Moon Hills. Those with an urban upbringing might be the child of well-off landowners such as the Kamroths, or ruffians and sellswords who had a hard childhood in Lowtown.
Tiefling Two tiefling families and a few individuals live and thrive in Fallcrest, including the Azaers and the Naerumars.
Players Handbook 2 Races These races do not include the same kind of descriptions as the original 8 so here is what I have come up with as far as connections to Fallcrest and the Nentir Vale starting areas.
Deva Beings of untold lifetimes, these humanoids have a flavor all their own. One or two devas have possibly been encountered in or around Fallcrest since being rebuilt but only a few residents would have been around long enough to have enjoyed such a sight. Perhaps a PC deva was recently reborn into the Vale and found its way to Fallcrest in order to seek out help for the journey to enlightenment. Possible still the character may be one of those who experienced the war and now take it upon themselves to watch over Fallcrest and its native peoples.
Gnome Tricksters and travelers many gnome find their way through the Vale. As a race that tends more towards unobtrusiveness they quickly move on from location to location, rarely overstaying their own comfort levels. However, a PC character might fall in with a group in order to stray from that type of lifestyle as feelings of inadequacy and curiosity begin to fill its heart. Even more likely, with such long lifespans, a gnome character may have been a nearby resident of the Dawnforge Mountains and escaped some horrible captivity to the lowlands seeking aid or refuge.
Goliath These mountainous people have been known to roam the Dawnforge Mountains as experienced hunters and gatherers not venturing far from their own tribal areas cut out of the rock face. Dealings with the dwarves of the area are common but they make no effort to keep relations regular, preferring to live as independently as they can. Very few goliath make their into the lowlands unless absolutely necessary, whether for trade of some kind or by force from some of the more dangerous of mountainous creatures. In either case this race has its place in the Vale and a PC character could use either motivation to become a part of an adventuring group.
Half orc With the Nentir Vale suffering from the assault of the Bloodspears during the Bloodspear War nearly a century ago many half-orcs began to appear. Forming small nomadic tribes to best keep watch over each other this particular race of people found no real place to call home until Fallcrest began the process of rebuilding itself after the war. Using their dual heritage, both strong and intelligent half-orcs began to emerge as beneficial patrons of Hightown and Lowtown equally. Some however still wander the Vale in search of a place to make their own and a PC character may find themselves in Fallcrest as part of a multi-generation family of half-orc or perhaps seeking a place to call home for themselves.
Shifter These primal people have been know to roam the countryside as hunters and tribesmen. Not much for civilization, shifters seek more to coexist with the natural world than to reclaim it with cities and structure. However, some shifters find their talents to be best utilized by those less experienced with the wilds and will sometimes sell their services as guides and protectors as well as hunters and gatherers to some of the more civilized of the races. A PC shifter could be an experienced hunter staying close to Fallcrest in order to sell their services or they may seek out companions in order to protect what family and friends they may have.
Monster Manual Races These races have yet to appear in any sort of supplement but I feel like their addition to the options you have to choose from gives a real nice flare for creativity. Dopplegangers and warforged are the two additions and below are brief descriptions and possible connections to the starting areas.
Doppleganger Shape-changing humanoids, this distinct race has the ability to change its physical form to resemble nearly any and all other races. As such, dopplegangers are extremely rare and incredibly versatile as PC options. No two pc’s can be dopplegangers. How and why a doppleganger would be in Fallcrest as part of the group can no doubt be as varied as the figure itself. Perhaps the character fell in love with one of the local races and decided to live among them appearing as one of their own. Maybe they saw potential for reward as a resourceful member of an adventuring group. Whatever the motivation these masters of variety give the player endless possibilities.
Warforged Metallic and timeless these arcane creations were once abundant, used as guardians and warriors during much of the high time before the fall of Nerath. Now scarce and ancient this once heralded race can only be found as relics or artifacts of a all but forgotten magical age. As with dopplegangers no two pc’s can be a warforged. The rarity of such a race allows for a PC to be one of a kind and may find themselves as part of a group trying to rebuild what life still runs through its arcane persona. More likely still is that the group itself has come across this oldest of beings and has taken it in in order to give it some kind of purpose and friendship. As one of the last known of its kind a warforged most likely seeks out others to fill some sort of longing to belong once again.
Final Thoughts Now that you have some general guidelines to work with as you create your heroes I would like to make some suggestions as to the connections your characters share as the campaign begins. Keep in mind that this creative process is shared by all and comments or ideas are highly encouraged. I simply have too many ideas as my world comes together to not share and, good or bad, they give you something to consider. You may think of something to add or subtract from any of these jumping off points so please share those ideas. Here goes nothing!
Religion The group may worship the same deity and have come together in its name to champion in this world.
The group may have all been a part of the same tribe, revering the natural world and have taken up arms in order to protect all that it has given you.
Birth The rare chance that all of the characters were born under the same sign or perhaps on the same day such as the first day of spring. With this inherent unspoken connection the group has bonded and formed to utilize such a strong otherworldly bond.
Family All members of the group are members of the same family or clan. Perhaps brothers and sisters sharing the same upbringing but not necessarily be a part of the same race. One or more characters could share a bond as orphans raised with the others in kind.
Necessity A common occurrence is that groups form in order to benefit from complimenting strengths. The group may have come together in order to survive some kind of hardship or peril.
Shared Desire Everyone in the group simply feels that the adventuring life is what they were called to do and forming a strong and successful group is in everyone’s best interest in order to showcase their talents.
The members are all attempting to accomplish the same end. Perhaps finding a certain location, person or artifact that they share some connection with.
Perhaps all members of the group share the same hatred of a specific group like goblins or demons. Coming together to rid the world of this common enemy creates a strong bond.
These are just some of the things you as a group can consider for a connection that brings everyone to the table. The backgrounds given in the PHB2 are great ways to flesh out your character and perhaps find a common element that the group can share. Expand on these and we may even come together with something even more epic and entertaining.