Character Creation Guidelines


Core races are available for this setting.  See core books for stats.  See this packet for location geographical and cultural information.


This often isolated race has led a long and toiling racial tale.  Where once, mines and Dwarven strongholds were frequent and bountiful, eventually the mines began to dry up.  As they did the viability individual clans became less probable.  Simultaneously a strange malady struck Dwarven society.  Fertility in Dwarves began to fall, and numbers dwindled.  The clans consolidated reaching out to cousins in other mountains.  This continued until the city of Unther stood as the final stronghold.  While other tiny holds remained scattered throughout the mountains, Unther remained the pinnacle of Dwarven culture for nearly 500 years.  As numbers started to rebound Unther reached out to the nearest, abandoned stronghold.  The council of the pinnacle installed Kynon the low-king of Underhold in recognition of his efforts taking back the lower chambers.

There are two subtypes of Dwarves,

Nativist Dwarves are dwarves that have remained in the mountain.  These natives of either Unther, smaller holds, or Underhold.  These Dwarves admire heritage above all else, and are often seen as too stubborn to die.  Though they rarely express it, Nativist Dwarves often resent Integrated Dwarves for abandoning their heritage. (see Hill Dwarf description)

Integrated Dwarves hold on less tightly to their heritage, though they are still proud of their kin.  These dwarves left the isolation of their holds and integrated into greater society.  These dwarves often serve as emissaries, or traders and are often assumed to be the skilled smiths and stone masons.  (see Mountain Dwarf description)


Elves are an ancient race whose longevity allows them to look at events in a deeper perspective.  Distant, and most advanced children of the fey, Elves are often more attuned to the natural coarse events.  Perhaps for this reason the elves were most surprised at the re-emergence of the divine.  Through pride, or disbelief, elves typically refuse to acknowledge divine inspiration, recognizing it instead as corruption of nature.

There are 3 types of elves.

Elves of Taum are the inhabitants of the great Elven City of Tuam Taure, high in the canopy of the Asvarian Forest.  Because of their high aptitude for study, many find themselves in the Academy of Valant training as wizards.  More so than other elves, these elves refuse to acknowledge the existence of the divine.  In addition to the High Elf template these elves are never proficient in the Religion skill.

Rana Elves, similar to Integrated Dwarves, have traveled out of the High Forest and mingled with the other races.  These elves are far more common than their Dwarven counterparts, and are often looked to as guides, and scouts.  These elves are not quite as quick to ignore the divine and, while skeptical, are often found apologizing for their kin’s quickness to scoff. (wood elf template)

Lower Elves were once only denizens of the chaotic and dangerous lower wards.  Until recently Dark Elves were only spoken about in bedtime stories as moral lessons to children.  However, recently a guide from the North has shown many of her race the way out of the darkness, leading them instead to the warmth of the Great Ball.  Unlike other Elves these have perhaps the most acute relationship with the divine as contact still remained, though at a very minimal degree, throughout the Era of Dedolentia in the Lower Wards. (see dark elf template)


Halflings are a slight race apt to agrarian lifestyle.  Their aptitude for agriculture and culinary arts make them highly sought after in the Lanladen region.  Most halflings have long been integrated into common society alongside humans, Wood Elves, Integrated Dwarves, et cetera, though many communities of halflings are found in vast rural areas. 

There are two types of Halflings

Lithe Halflings

These Halflings are innate gardeners, and talented herbalists.  What they lack in physical presence they make up for in friendliness and cleverness.  These small folk can always expend a proficiency in the herbalists kit or a proficiency in agriculture. (see lightfoot)

Irongut Halflings’s talents arise from taking the crops of their cousins and turning them into delicious feats and potables.  These small folk can always expend a proficiency in a chef’s kit, or brewers kit. (stout halflings)

Plaguelands Halflings

These halflings are unknown to most, though those who have encountered them are quick to describe the unwavering stoicism of the Plaguelands Halflings.  With a long history of living in the dangerous wilds these small folk are skilled marksmen and have a keen aptitude for riding dogs.  Plaguelands Halflings have the following subracial traits

Wisdom score increases by 1. 

You are proficient with bows

You are proficient in Handling Animals



Humans are both present, and dominant throughout the realms.  Versatile, and ambitious, humans are instrumental in most non-isolated cities.  The variant template is available to humans.


The Dragonborn are a newly discovered race from the far-away continent they refer to as Granmoun San.  Distant ancestors of dragons themselves these folk have never encountered their powerful ancestors that were left on the mainland during the Great Sundering so long ago. 


Gnomes are often overlooked member of society.  While occasionally integrated to common cities, they more frequently inhabit isolated cities as cousins of other traditional races.

Tuare Gnomes are rare and reside on the outskirts of Halfling society half way between the Halflings of Lanladen, and the Elves of Taum Tuare.  These tiny folk are secretive and neither society truly understands their real motives.  (see Forest Gnomes)

Gnomes of the Mountain are seen as smaller cousins to Nativist Dwarf societies their ingeniousness and knack for contraptions often lead to great advancements in Dwarven life, though they just as often lead to minor calamity.  (see Rock Gnomes)


While it is true that Half-elves can result anywhere humans and elves encounter one-another, most frequently this occurs in the Valant Empire, as an Elven parent who is a student or graduate in the Academy pairs with a human (or other race) within the capital. 


Half-orcs can be found in many environments, though they often don’t live past birth in the Valant Empire.  Most frequently pregnancies resulting in half-orcs arise though rape scenarios of male orcs and females of common races on the outskirts of noble domains, and the burden and shame is often too much for the mother to carry beyond term.  Still, half-orcs occasionally results from consensual encounters in untamed lands, such as the Westcountry, the Plaguelands, and the Division Mountains. 

Tieflings (Player’s Handbook), and Aasimars (Volo’s Guide to Monsters)

These distant children of ancient outsiders rarely travel east of the Division Mountains.  Any community of either race exclusively occurs in the Westcounty.  Occasionally, one of these race that can mask themselves effectively finds a way to integrate themselves into common society, but by in large these folk are distrusted by Eastern Cities.  Being descendant from polar opposites from other planes one might expect these races to be constantly battling, though this is often the exception.  Typically, there is an understanding between Tiefling and Aasimar who trace their lines to a wholy different world that abandoned them long ago.  The new discovery of Dragonborn offers these two races to see solidarity in a new brethren born to bear the tradition of ancestors who abandoned them so long ago.

Kobalds (Volo’s Guide to Monsters)

While Dragonborn evolved to be strong and proud, free of the dominion of their namesakes, the same cannot be said for the Kobolds that evolved in the shadow of their often tyrannical wing.  Most commonly, Kobolds live in servitude to the biggest monster around.  Typically, though not always, that is a powerful and evil dragon.  Occasionally, if their regent dragon is slayed, or somehow they manage to escape, Kobolds can set out with their own aims, and their own wills.  Still, they rarely overcome their tendency toward fear and servitude, often finding powerful friends and ways to support them.  Most enemies see Kobolds as pathetic, which is generally true, but those enemies also often make the mistake of assuming they aren’t dangerous. In addition to the entry on Kobold traits, all Kobolds are also proficient with trap-making kits.

Goblins, Bugbears, and Hobgoblins (Volo’s Guide to Monsters)

Typically these ignoble races all work as subsections in the hierarchy of Orc tribes.  Therefor they are generally located the Westcountry.  Still, tribes of these folk have been documented throughout the realms in less violent situations.  For instance, in the Plaguelands there is a record, of a tribe of Goblins that have become apt cavalry alongside a tribe of Kobolds, and Halflings, under the guidance of a mysterious mage known as The Blue Wizard.

Firbolg (Volo’s Guide to Monsters)

Firbolgs are native inhabitants of the Glass Shores.  They live deep within the forests of the region and their villages and strongholds have never been encountered by any but the residents of the Glass Shores.  Still, their willingness to avoid conflict that encourages curiosity.  Some have ventured to Commonwealth to serve as guides and traders, fewer still have travelled to the Val to learn the ways of folk so far from home.

Goliath (Volo’s Guide to Monsters)

Neither side would ever admit it, but Dwarves and Giants must have common ancestry.  The proof is in Goliaths.  These mountain folk tower over humans and are dwarfed only by the giants who they, often begrudgingly, call cousins.  Goliath have tenuous relationships with Dwarves, though their tribal lifestyle often keep them far above the common folk, high in the Division Mountains.  They encounter tribes of half-dragons far more often than villages of common folk, and it could be best for all parties if it stayed that way.  The code of honor they adhere to, and their penchant for competition, would likely would be seen as unreasonable to the common races.

Kenku (Volo’s Guide to Monsters)

These flightless birdfolk were once the servants of great beings on the Shadowfell, but long ago were abandoned.  When the Great Sundering shattered the veil between realms on the Glass Shore, the Kenku took up residence in the material plane.  For centuries these folk have been natural thieves of the Glass Shores stealing from Firbolg, Felix, and Yuan-ti alike.  Recent attempts to map the Glass Shores have found flocks of Kenku in the Northern forests of the region.

Lizardfolk (Volo’s Guide to Monsters)

The Lokinu of the Asvarian Forrest have long lived under the reign of the Elves of Taum Tuare.  Living in the midst of the path of the dead, on the forest floor, the lizardfolk have long resented the Elves that live so easily.  Still the Lokinu have honed their skill for the hunt refuse to be prey.  Recently, through grand concordance with the former High Druid of the Asvarian Forest, a peace has been brokered between surface and canopy.  This, along with the interruption of souls along the path of the dead has given the Lokinu the opportunity to pursue aims beyond mere survival.

Tabaxi (Volo’s Guide to Monsters)

The final surface race from the Glass Shore is a species of Catfolk, Tabaxi.  These natural climbers scale the canopy of the jungles, as easily as they do the mountains of the Eastern Island.  Ike the Firbolg, these catfolk are equally curious, though their motives seem to align more with acquisition of knowledge, rather than keeping the peace.  Still, they are talented, and exotic storytellers, and often barter in lore and secrets as frequently as treasure. 

Tritons (Volo’s Guide to Monsters)

Deep below the water’s surface on the Glass Shore live a proud race of amphibious folk known as Tritons.  Often confused by sailors as mermaids, these folk are far more proud, cultured, and militant.  They use practiced discipline to wage war on the leviathans of the deep and rarely come to the surface, save the limited trade they care to engage in.  Still, the Tritons are constantly assessing potential threats, and as Commonwealth grows, trade and integration offers them an opportunity to ensure the safety of the Glass Shore.


All core classes are available for characters.  Given the goals of this campaign characters must begin as level 1 Bard, but are not limited beyond that.  Any 1st party supplemental rule set is also allowed with the exception of the Artificer class (firearms are very new to this setting, and don’t allow for magic imbuement, and grenade like items utilize an alchemy tree, are less potent, but don’t require class levels).  Third party content from DM’s guild is not available.


All 1st party backgrounds are available including Sword Coast Adventure Guide, and any found in premade adventures for 5th Edition.  Additionally, custom backgrounds are available at DM’s discretion.  If you’d like to work out a custom background reach out and we’ll work on it.


In addition to racial languages and language families, “common” is less common than you might think.  For the same reason that Undercommon and Common are different languages, Common on Val is different from Common on the Glass Shore, is different from Common in Granmoun San.  Languages evolve differently, and 1500 years is a long time for them to evolve in very different directions.  Fortunately, you’re all Bards, so it shouldn’t be that much of an obstacle. 

Variant Rules

Variant rules are available including



-Downtime (will be a focal point)

-Human Variant


Half-Elves, and Half-Orcs follow the book stat adjustments.  That said, for RP sake, and potentially for limited ability adjustments, the non-described parental race can be non-human.  Again, reach out and we’ll work it out.




Guns and explosives

Guns are available, though VERY rare, and VERY dangerous.  There are explosive risks associated with explosive new technologies.  More than likely it will come from a custom background like
“tinkerer,” or “tech savant” (I’m working on it).

House Rules


-It is my aim to make this a narrative driven campaign.  This means I am going to really embraces 5th editions focus on the rulebook being a guideline. For custom backgrounds, and homebrew tracks like grenades, firearms, and crafting, I may have to make adjustments for balance, fairness, and overall storytelling.  I’m really looking forward to the new campaign really embracing the notion of “collaborative story telling.”

-I’d prefer to limit the amount of tech at the table for a couple of reasons.  1, it can take up a lot of room at the table.  2 I think it really detracts from the narrative.  And 3, There really isn’t a need for it with 5th edition.  In a 3.5 campaign with 100+ supplements to pulls class features, spells, and equipment from digital sources are almost a must.  For 5th edition with under ten possible books to pull from (most of them you won’t anyway), I’d like to focus on books and printouts.  I think this should A, leave more space on the table for campaign specific information like maps, encounters, et cetera; B, streamline things like combat as we don’t have to wait for pages to load, batteries to charge, et cetera, and C not be all that big of a change anyway.  Most of the streams I’ve been watching utilize binder systems that work very smoothly and won’t cost too much.  

-My intent is to run some of the administrative aspects of the game like it’s halfway between D&D and a WOD LARP.  I will make downtime widely available between adventures (not necessarily between game sessions if the narrative doesn’t permit).  I will make every effort to create note cards for items.  I think this may make it easier to navigate character sheets.

-I want to set a schedule from the get-go, and I’d like to move that schedule back to Saturdays.  Sundays are a big networking day for me with LARP, and I have potential to reach out and make sales that way.  Again, in the style of LARP, I’d like to set clear dates (like the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month).  Hopefully, this will eliminate scheduling conflicts as folks can talk to their employers upfront.

-I know this seems very admin heavy.  I am trying to use it as a template for web content for Initiative. 


-First and foremost I’d like to focus on your characters creating an exciting narrative.  Part of that means characters stick around.  Please try to build characters you won’t get bored playing.  I think 5th edition does a good job at making it hard to create a weak character.  Even if that was a goal, I think you would be hard-pressed to build impotent characters.  As bards you have a lot of options to keep things interesting assuming you live to level 3. 

-Backgrounds are not just a character option.  Engaged backgrounds make characters more interesting.  To take it a step further, background narratives should explain character options.  Defend your proficiencies, skills, and kits with your background narrative.  Because we have switched to narrative threshold level advancement, I am not offering bonus experience for character narratives.  Instead I am providing the opportunity for proficiencies.  In addition to skills, proficiencies, languages, and other character traits from race, class, and background options, characters can receive up to 3 additional proficiencies by building character narratives that defend those proficiencies. 

-That being said, character advancement choices should also fit the narrative.  If you want to take the linguist feat, your languages should come from encountering them in one way or another.  If you want to cross-class with a level of fighter build toward it before you level up.  This seems restrictive, but I firmly believe that if you put time into your characters, A you’ll enjoy playing them more, B you’ll really be able to get into the head of your characters, C it will make for a more cogent narrative.

Character Creation Guidelines

The Glass Shores initiativecoffeeco Joseph_Kauzlarich