Although the four common races of D&D (Dwarves, Elves, Halflings & Humans) are present in the World of Thornhold, as well as the more exotic races (Dragonborn, Gnomes, Half-Elves, Half-Orcs and Tieflings), they don’t exist in the same numbers as in other D&D worlds. There are also 21 other playable races in the World of Thornhold, but for brevity’s sake we will only focus on the ones listed above.
Humans are the most widespread and populous race in the World of Thornhold. They can be found everywhere, from cold Hartun to sweltering Valoria. The majority of humans, however, exist in the Republic of Sangara. Because Sangara founded Thornhold, humans comprise the largest percentage of the Lonely City’s population.
Dragonborn are the next most numerous race in the World of Thornhold. Although originating in the north, Dragonborn can be found scattered across the width and breadth of the East. Dragonborn were created by a wizard named Galentein, during the Century of Ash. Silver and Blue Dragonborn are the most common varieties. The race had a well-deserved reputation for producing warriors, but these days you’re more likely to encounter a Dragonborn bard rather than a fighter. Dragonborn exist in the Lonely City, but they do not comprise a major segment of the population.
Dwarves comprise the third largest racial demographic in the World of Thornhold. In the East, the majority of dwarves reside in the Clarentine Confederacy, living contentedly under the Iron Peace. The race is probably the most well educated, with many of its members embracing alchemy, chemistry and engineering. Dwarf miners still exist but it isn’t an occupation, or a lifestyle, most dwarves want for themselves or their children.
Elves, Gnomes, Halflings, Tieflings, Orcs, Half-Elves and Half-Orcs combined comprise the next largest segment of the population.
The Elves are a divided people, separated by ideology and belief as much as geography. Many, unable to adjust to the rapid changes in the East, fled west and fully embraced their Fey nature, joining the Court of Stars or the Court of Shadows. Of those left in the East, many have embraced the Church of the Divine Child. Smaller numbers have turned toward the Deep God of the Fisherman’s Church. Elves do not make up a majority in the Lonely City and, given the presence of the Thornwood and Darkwood, many in Thornhold view them with suspicion.
Gnomes are not a majority in Thornhold, and have a very minor presence in the East. Although many are fascinated by the technological wonders of the Iron Peace, the Clarentine Confederacy finds the race, in general, too disruptive. As a race, they are barred from traveling through the Confederacy or living within its borders. Most gnomes in the East live in the south, in Irmalind, Valoria and the Republic of Sangara.
Halflings do comprise a small majority in Thornhold, and in the East can be found living in the lands bordering the Panphillian Sea: the Clarentine Confederacy, Darja and Orsion. Their lifestyle has remained largely unchanged for centuries. Most Halflings still pursue agrarian careers, but in the Confederacy a growing number of Halflings are joining the bureaucracy that serves the Iron Peace.
Tieflings are a fairly new race in the World of Thornhold. They can trace their origin to the Traitor Empress, Elynor the Damned, who brought down the First Republic of Sangara when she seized the Imperial Throne from her husband, Benedict the First. Unfortunately, Elynor was unable to hold onto the throne. Besieged by an army, Elynor made a deal with the Devil, serving him in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. The Traitor Empress got what she wanted but her descendants bear the mark of her sin. Tieflings are reviled in the Republic and viewed with deep distrust throughout the East. Many fled west and some found a haven of sorts in the Lonely City.
The Orcs are dying. Sixty years ago, the Orc Horde attacked and looted the Cathedral of the Divine Child. They butchered the Regent of the Church who, with her dying breath, cursed the race. Since that day, Orcs cannot breed among themselves; they must find mates from other races. The Regent’s Curse shattered the Orc Horde. Some embraced the very Church that cursed them, others saw the Curse as a justification for the most vile and despicable acts. Today, the Orcs are a shattered, scattered, elderly race on the verge of extinction.
Half-Elves and Half-Orcs are almost flip sides of the same coin. Neither faction enjoys a majority in Thornhold, and the same holds true for the nations of the East.
Half-Orcs are more common than Half-Elves, and, in the East, most are the result of rape. They are most common in Valoria, which has a sizable Orc slave population, and Aldrich. Given the nature of their conception and parentage, Half-Orcs are stigmatized in the East. Many journey into the West, hoping to find a place among their Orc cousins. Half-Orcs are welcome among Orcs begrudgingly, serving as a living reminder that the pureblood race is doomed.
Half-Elves are less common than Half-Orcs, and face a stigma of a different sort. Usually begot on willing partners, either through seduction or arcane trickery, Half-Elves are often viewed as the product of sinful lust. Viewed with pity and scorn by most humans, Half-Elves are viewed with derision by their full-blooded kinsmen. Many Half-Elves spend their lives traveling, in search of a place that will accept them.
The races listed above are the most numerous in the World of Thornhold, but there are several others available to player characters including: Aarakocra, Bugbears, Bullywugs, Deep Gnomes, Drow, Duergar, Githyanki, Githzerai, Gnolls, Goblins, Grimlocks, Hobgoblins, Kenku, Kobolds, Kuo-Toa, Lizardfolk, Merfolk, Quaggoth, Sahuagin, Thri-Kreen and Troglodytes.