In some circles players literally fall in love, or loathe, with their character and develop a symbiotic relationship with their alter ego. In other cases characters are as disposable as tissue and looked upon as not “if” they are going to die, but “when” they are going to die. A lot of that can depend on the Dungeon Master (DM) but sometimes the players can push the issue too, “Oh you want to be a murder hobo? We can fix that. You’re dead.” Sometimes the DM is just pushing for Total Party Wipes (TPW) to prove how hard core they are. Generally speaking though most DMs are more concerned about player engagement to the narrative the DM is trying to tell. Regardless of which style of play you take part in character creation is an important part of the experience.
Wizards of the Coast and the team behind 5th edition D&D recognize just how important character creation is. They dedicated almost 170 pages out of the 316 page Player’s Handbook to character creation. The rest of the PHB is mostly a big book of spells for the casters. There is some miscellaneous information on deities and some cultural information but most of the book is about how to create a character and giving the player options to choose from to make the character they want to play. Also included are even some tables that allow players to randomize certain aspects of their character’s background so the player doesn’t get stuck in a rut and end up making the same character over and over again.
The PHB has nine races that players can choose from to create their characters. Most, but not all, of those races have sub races. Subraces are typically the same in the general aspects but do have a few minor differences that mostly amount to flavor choices and do not create any significant impact on gameplay. Sword Coast Legends pares the list of nine races down to five races. You can choose to play as a Human, Elf, Half-Elf, Dwarf, or Halfling. The other races the PHB has to choose from but were left out of SCL are the Tiefling, which has demonic blood in their heritage; the Dragonborn, which has you guessed it, dragon blood in their heritage; the Half-Orc, yep, orc; or the Gnome.
I understand that the development team had to concern themselves with the triple constraint in project management. They wanted to keep the scope down to contain their costs and in doing so they elected to give the players the five most vanilla races possible. The worst part is that within 30 minutes of playing the game you run into a Tiefling. So it’s not like Tieflings aren’t in the game you just can’t play as one! It reeks of something being held back for a possible DLC later. I don’t expect the development team to have been able to add in all of the races or even the newest races that were fleshed out for 5e with the Elemental Evil story line from earlier this year. For those keeping track at home they were the Genasi, Aarakocra, Goliath and Deep Gnome aka the Svirfneblin, but they could have added some variety to the race choice.
Of the five playable races the majority of them do have sub races. The Elf can choose between the Wood Elf, Sun Elf, and Moon Elf.
These are not subraces from the PHB so the developers did deviate a little from the source material which in general is okay. Players thankfully cannot choose to be Drow. That is a limitation I welcome. It wouldn’t make sense for your character to be a dark elf in this campaign but there is no reason you couldn’t be a Tiefling with how common they have become in the Forgotten Realms. Upon further examination there were a lot of inconsistencies with the subraces between what they have available to choose in the game and what is available in the book.
Halflings can be either Lightfoot or Strongheart in game which align with Lightfoot or Stout in the PHB. Lightfoot even takes the exact verbiage from the Players Handbook and uses it in the character creation screen on SCL. It describes the Lightfoot Halfling as being able to, “easily hide from notice, even using other people as cover. You’re inclined to be affable and get along well with others.” But the ability score modifiers are completely different. They do maintain the same racial ability though. The Strongheart variant of the Halfling is a word for word copy of the Stout from the book.
The name and ability score modifiers are the only thing that has changed while the racial modification is the same.
Edits: It was pointed out to us that the removed/strikethrough text was incorrect. Fixed!