Understanding the Human Race
The human race of a woman being bashful to find a mate.

In the reckonings of most worlds, humans are the youngest of the common races, late to arrive on the world scene and short-lived in comparison to dwarves, elves, and dragons. Perhaps it is because of their shorter lives that they strive to achieve as much as they can in the years they are given. Or maybe they feel they have something to prove to the elder races, and that’s why they build their mighty empires on the foundation of conquest and trade. Whatever drives them, humans are the innovators, the achievers, and the pioneers of the worlds.

With their penchant for migration and conquest, 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. Human skin shades range from nearly black to very pale, and hair colors from black to blond (curly, kinky, or straight); males might sport facial hair that is sparse or thick. A lot of humans have a dash of nonhuman blood, revealing hints of elf, orc, or other lineages. Humans reach adulthood in their late teens and rarely live even a single century.

Humans are the most adaptable and ambitious people among the common races. They have widely varying tastes, morals, and customs in the many different lands where they have settled. When they settle, though, they stay: they build cities to last for the ages, and great kingdoms that can persist for long centuries. An individual human might have a relatively short life span, but a human nation or culture preserves traditions with origins far beyond the reach of any single human’s memory. They live fully in the present-making them well suited to the adventuring life-but also plan for the future, striving to leave a lasting legacy. Individually and as a group, humans are adaptable opportunists, and they stay alert to changing political and social dynamics.

Where a single elf or dwarf might take on the responsibility of guarding a special location or a powerful secret, humans found sacred orders and institutions for such purposes. While dwarf clans and halfling elders pass on the ancient traditions to each new generation, human temples, governments, libraries, and codes of law fix their traditions in the bedrock of history. Humans dream of immortality, but (except for those few who seek undeath or divine ascension to escape death’s clutches) they achieve it by ensuring that they will be remembered when they are gone.

Although some humans can be xenophobic, in general their societies are inclusive. Human lands welcome large numbers of nonhumans compared to the proportion of humans who live in nonhuman lands.

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 champion causes rather than territories or groups.

Having so much more variety than other cultures, humans as a whole have no typical names. Some human parents give their children names from other languages, such as Dwarvish or Elvish (pronounced more or less correctly), but most parents give names that are linked to their region’s culture or to the naming traditions of their ancestors.

The material culture and physical characteristics of humans can change wildly from region to region. In the Forgotten Realms, for example, the clothing, architecture, cuisine, music, and literature are different in the northwestern lands of the Silver Marches than in distant Turmish or Impiltur to the east-and even more distinctive in far-off Kara-Tur. Human physical characteristics, though, vary according to the ancient migrations of the earliest humans, so that the humans of the Silver Marches have every possible variation of coloration and features.

In the Forgotten Realms, nine human ethnic groups are widely recognized, though over a dozen others are found in more localized areas of Faerun. These groups, and the typical names of their members, can be used as inspiration no matter which world your human is in.

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