After creating your character's ability scores, you must select a player character race. This is not a race in the true sense of the word: caucasian, black, asian, etc. It is actually a fantasy species for your character -- human, elf, dwarf, gnome, half-elf, or halfling. Each race is different. Each possesses special powers and has different lists of classes to choose from.
All six of the standard races are described in detail in this chapter. In many cases, broad statements are made concerning the race in general. Players are not bound by these generalities. For example, the statement that “dwarves tend to be dour and taciturn” does not mean that your character cannot be a jolly dwarf. It means that the garden-variety dwarf is dour and taciturn. If player characters were just like everyone else, they wouldn't be adventurers. Make your character unique and he will be more fun to play.
Minimum and Maximum Ability Scores
All nonhuman PC races (also called “demihuman” races) have minimum and maximum requirements for their ability scores. If you want to have a demihuman character, the character's ability scores must be within the allowable range. The minimums and maximums for each race are listed on Table 7 (the minimums are listed before the slash; the maximums are listed after the slash). Your character's sex has no effect on these minimums or maximums.
Consult Table 7 before making any racial adjustments to your character's ability scores. If the basic scores that you rolled up meet the requirements for a particular race, your character can be of that race, even if later modifications change the ability scores so they exceed the maximums or don't meet the minimums. Once you satisfy the requirements at the start, you never have to worry about them again.
Table 7 gives the minimum and maximum scores a newly created character must have to be a member of a demihuman race. Any character can be a human, if the player so desires.
Racial Ability Adjustments
If you chose to make your character a dwarf, elf, gnome, or halfling, you now have to adjust some of your character's ability scores. The adjustments are mandatory; all characters of these races receive the adjustments. Even if adjustments raise or lower your character's ability scores beyond the minimums and maximums shown on Table 7, you do not have to pick a new race. The adjustments can also raise a score to 19 or lower it to 2.
Class Restrictions and Level Limits
The human race has one special ability in the AD&D game: Humans can choose to be of any class-- warrior, wizard, priest, or rogue -- and can rise to great level in any class. The other races have fewer choices of character classes and usually are limited in the level they can attain. These restrictions reflect the natural tendencies of the races (dwarves like war and fighting and dislike magic, etc.). The limits are high enough so a demihuman can achieve power and importance in at least one class. A halfling, for example, can become the best thief in the land, but he cannot become a great fighter.
The limits also exist for play balance. The ability of humans to assume any role and reach any level is their only advantage. The demihuman races have other powers that make them entertaining to play -- particularly the ability to be multi-classed (see Glossary). These powers balance the enjoyment of play against the ability to rise in level. Ask your DM for the level limits imposed on nonhuman characters.
Racial languages for demihumans can be handled in either of two ways, depending on whether or not your DM uses the optional proficiency system. Either way, your character automatically knows his native language.
Without the proficiency system, your character starts adventuring already knowing a number of additional languages (the number depends on his Int score, see Table 4). The additional languages must be chosen from among those listed in his race's description.
If you use the proficiency system, your character receives additional languages by using proficiency slots (see Chapter 5: Proficiencies) to determine how many languages he knows when he starts adventuring (his native language does not cost a slot). Demihumans must choose these languages from among those listed in the following racial descriptions.
Human PCs generally start the game knowing only their regional language--the language they grew up speaking. The DM may decide to allow beginning PCs additional languages (up to their Int score limit or proficiency slot limit), if he feels the PCs had the opportunity to learn these as they grew up. Otherwise, human PCs may learn additional languages as they adventure.