Fantasy Workshop: Races & Cultures 101

  • IT'S IWAKU'S FEAR FESTIVAL TIME! Join us all month long for all kinds of spooky content across the site! But if you REALLY want to put the fear of Iwaku into the bones of the roleplay world, fight hard this month to vote EVERY DAY in the top sites!
    Top RP Sites


Original poster
Have you ever wanted to create an original race for your fantasy roleplay that doesn't stick to your traditional World of Warcraft style "Pick Humans, Orcs or Elves"? Well here's the guide you should use to break down the steps and be able to create a custom race to be proud of.

This is something every creator should focus on. The basis of your character race is very important as it can set it apart immediately from any trope-tastic, typically vanilla option. Using tropes isn't always bad, but I digress. Your race should have a motif or a focus, whether that be something like an element (fire, darkness, light, water, earth) or how they function as living beings as a whole (dryads being plants, contstructs being made animated from materials such as stone and steel).

Races should have cultures. Culture gives custom races a backbone of detail that can allow other players to create new and interesting reactions to your character through a secondary reaction to their culture. However, culture is a wide-arcing topic, and there are multiple cultures you can base your character's on, such as the following:
-Democratic: Your race believes in the power of the vote, and the power of free choice.

-Nomadic: Your race does not believe that one place can be home, so they travel across the land so that the whole world may be their home.
-Anarchistic: Your race does not believe in political structure, and that politics should be brought down.
-Monotheistic: Your race believes in one deity and one deity alone.
-Polytheistic: Your race believes in many deities who are all varied and different.

As with most fantasy settings and worlds, magic can be key within many racial cultures, whether it be that the race has it's own form of latent magic, or they are natural attuned to it.
Furthermore, another level of depth that could be added to that of your custom race's culture is that of Legends. There are multiple subsets of the word legend that could be used.
A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.​

Myths allow an air of the supernatural to permeate your races culture, to give them added depth and allow other players to possible interweave their own character cultures' with the one you have created. Myths regard the supernatural, or the topic of theism, most often.​
the traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth.​

Folkloric tales are word of mouth, legends spread from kin to kin, ally to ally, brother to brother, and often refer more personally to the community of the culture/ race and are of a more earthly state, such as connoting meaning to the stars, and even the storyworld itself.

Having tales and stories within the culture of your race adds a form of reality and breadth, and allows players to become more attached to the race, as well as the creator themselves.
However, there are still a few other things that can be thought about to fully flesh out your playable race.


How does your race's culture handle combat? Do they use rudimentary weaponry, such as spears, bows and axes, or do they craft their own warmachines, swords and armour? Do they use magic as their go to method for combat? Or do they prefer to talk their issues out with their enemies?
What resources does your culture have access to in order to create their weaponry, if applicable? Does your race have access to steel mines, iron mines, or even vast forests for logging purposes?
If the race has a combat force, what is it and how large is it? Is it a mercenary force? A militia, or an army?

And finally, in regards to combat, who are the race's allies? How is the race supported by their allies? What happened to the race that they acquired animosity from another culture?

I hope this guide has been detailed enough that you'll be able to fully detail a races culture for a custom race within your roleplays!​
  • Useful
  • Like
Reactions: Hana and Kagayours