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Skip Navigation LinksHigh Fantasy HERO>Content>Campaign Guidelines>Race Package Design
Race Package Deals
Using Race Package Deals Package Deal Costs Race Options Altered Characteristics Maxima
Any GM's or Players that have developed their own Race Packages can send them in for inclusion on the website. Submissions selected will be posted and credited to the submitter. Send such Race Packages to the above e-Mail address.
Most Fantasy Settings contain one or more non-human "races"; in fact some settings even lack human analogues entirely. In a Fantasy context, these variant Races are most notable in how they are different than humans, and typically have one or more exotic or remarkable abilities that make them interesting or notable in some way.
The most common Fantasy Races are Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits/Halflings, thanks largely to the influence of J.R.R Tolkein on Fantasy fiction in general. Most other Fantasy Role-playing games stick pretty close to the classic Fantasy Races, with a more exotic Half-Giant or "furry" Race here and there for good measure. However the number of variant Races possible are only limited by imagination, and one of the areas where the HERO System can really excel for a GM with a world building bent is the ease with which any sort of "race" can be created.
Either way, whether opting for prosaic Elves and Dwarves or developing some strange new creation, "race" is most easily defined in the HERO System using a construct called a Package Deal.
Package Deals (or simply Packages as some prefer) are handy organizational aides in the HERO System; they simply exist to allow various things which should be associated with one another to be grouped into a tidy collection. Packages normally have no mechanical impact and don't effect the cost of Characters, although in the case of Race Packages I make an exception to this general rule (see below for details).
Package Deals can be used to define any thing from a Race, a Profession, a Culture, or common Power set, a Template, or any other sort of grouping of abilities you can think of. Just slap some abilities, perhaps some Disadvantages, and a description together, give it a name, and you're done.
Campaign Guidellines
Race Package Deal Links
Dwarf Packages Elf Packages
Small Folk Packages Human Stock Packages
Lizardman Packages Humanoid Packages
Utility to make Alternate NCM Templates for HERO Designer v3
The intention of the Race Package Deals is to provide consistent Packages that capture the archetypical attributes of given Fantasy Races but within a tight point range. GM's may vary widely in their approach to this. The Race Packages provided in this website can be used as is, modified, or ignored as preferred by an individual GM. Good Package design is more of an art than a science after all; there's always more than one "right" way to do it.
Players should check with their GM's before choosing a Race Package Deal to determine what Race Package Deals are acceptable for their GM's campaign.
The cost or Race Packages is a very important consideration when determining how many points to make available to starting Characters, and the relative expense of Race Packages vs. points available creates a powerful dynamic tension during Character Creation.
If Race Packages consume a lot of Points on average then Race selection will be an extremely important consideration and further the capabilities of Characters will be strongly determined by their Race.
On the other hand if Race Packages consume a negligible amount of Points then a player's choice of Race for their Character is more of a flavor decision since it has little net impact on the Character's starting capabilities.
Another option is to have a majority of Race Packages of reasonable cost relative to starting Points, but some Races with extreme abilities beyond what is normally attainable by other Characters to have substantial Point costs. This creates an interesting dynamic where Characters using the lower Point Race Packages have more diversity and flexibility, but a few Characters using the higher Point Race Packages have a collection of impressive abilities that makes their selection of Race notable. This provides outlets for many types of players and works well enough in most cases.
My preferred method of handling Race Packages is to subtract the Total Disadvantage Value of the Disadvantages and Characteristic Penalties in the Package from the cost of the abilities in the Package.
Among other things this allows Race Package Deals to be purchased for their final Total Cost, which makes it very easy to snap Race Packages onto other Packages in a Modular fashion.
Additionally, since the Race Disadvantages from a Character's Race Package don't count vs. their Disadvantage Maximum, a Character's diversity isn't determined by their Race. In other words, by the official method of buy Race Package Deals, the Disadvantages in a Race Package Deal count towards a Character's Disadvantage Total, leaving them with fewer "personal" Disadvantages than Characters from Races with fewer Disadvantages stemming from their Race.
Individual GM's may not agree with this as it is a specific deviation from the Hero System Rules; in that case a few options exist to accommodate that approach and still use the material on this web site, the easiest of which is to increase a Character's Maximum Disadvantages limit sufficiently to allow their Race Package Deal's Disadvantages on top of the Character's personal Disadvantages.
EXAMPLE: If making a High Elf Character, that Character pays 15 Real Points for the High Elf Race Package rather than the Cost of the abilities in the Package (50 Character Points), and does not include the Disadvantages (35 Disadvantage Points) as part of his Personal Disadvantages. In fact, if brevity is desired, the entire Package can be listed as a single line Entry, "HIGH ELF: 15 Points", on the Character Sheet.
NOTE: This is method of handling Race Package Disadvantages is easily handled in HERO Designer by simply adding the Race Disadvantage total value to the maximum Disadvantage total for the campaign on the points tab when making Characters of that Race.
Locked Packages
If using the "Total Cost" approach, Race Packages are considered Locked, meaning that they are not alterable by players.
As explained in more detail below under Race Options, Race Package Deals can be configurable by Pick Lists and "x points worth of y sort of ability" type options (like this Human Race Package Deal), and they can be extended by specific Race Options if any are provided, but they cannot be altered by removing or swapping out listed abilities.
A player that wants to make a Character of a given Race must take the good with the bad, so to speak.
Cost Considerations
It is recommend that Race Packages be internally consistent within the same Race and that the point value of starting Packages should be weighed heavily against the starting point level of the campaign.
If using the "Total Cost" approach recommended by this web site, no Race Package can have a Total Cost less than 0. Further Races that are meant to be commonly playable at 125 starting points should generally be kept to around 15 Total Cost or less.
It the "Total Cost" approach is not taken, then most Race Packages should generally have abilities with a combined cost of 20% or less than the starting point total, and total Disadvantages of less than 25% of the Maximum Disadvantage limit unless Race is intended to be a major defining aspect of a Characters.
Rarity Control
The price ranges of Race Packages can serve as a form of rarity control as well. Races that are more common should be cheaper to play if possible, and Races that are intended to be rarer should be more expensive; this can be easily accomplished by adding highly specialized abilities that are interesting and distinctive, but usable in narrow circumstances and not overpowering when taken in a normal game context to "rarer' Packages.
Because Race Package Deals are "locked", players cannot (and should not be allowed to) tinker with the Race Packages, this technique results in a discouraging factor that will cause many players to avoid higher priced Race Packages in favor of the cheaper Race Package Deals which "coincidentally" correspond to more common Races.
In the interests of interacting with the Profession Package Deals provide on this website, which are each priced at 55 points, a Race Package intended to be playable at 125 points should cost no more than 70 total points.
EXAMPLE: The 70 Total Cost Firbolg Package demonstrates an outer range Package Deal which is playable at 125 starting points, but at a steep opportunity cost. Firbolg should be rare if allowed at all, and the cost alone will discourage many players from wanting to play one.
Points vs Diversity Correlation
As a conceptual note, Races represented with Packages that have a low Total Cost will be more diverse individually, where as Races with Packages having a higher Total Cost will tend to be more similar and archetypical. This is because Characters that spend fewer points on their Race will have more points to spend electively.
Accordingly most of the stock Race Packages provided on this web site for generic Humans, Half-Elves, and Half-Orcs cost around 5 or fewer points. Characters created with those Package will be somewhat more diverse than the stock "demi-human" Races Packages that cost around 15 points each, and all of them will be more diverse than some of the more exotic Race Packages that cost 30+ points.
GM's can alter Race Package Deals as they like, but as noted previously the intention is for players to not be able to alter Race Packages outside of any Option Lists or Pick Lists presented within the Packages themselves. Pick Lists within a Package are always selectable by players, but abilities from Option Lists might require GM approval. This section discusses the idea of Race Options Lists in more depth.
Option Lists are included for some Races in the material provided herein. Their primary purpose is to illustrate additional abilities that some, but not all, members of a particular Race might have. However, depending on your GM's vision of how a particular Race should be depicted they may or may not allow all abilities on Race Option lists. Seek your GM's input when selecting abilities from Race Option Lists.
Players that wish to expand their Character's Race Package by taking one or more abilities from these lists must decide to do so during initial Character Design.
Nature vs. Nurture
Because the depiction of the various "demi-human" groups varies somewhat from setting to setting and in fictional sources, some of the ancillary abilities sometimes attributed to the various common Fantasy Races were placed in Option Lists rather than in the Race Packages directly.
Additionally abilities that seemed more like  "trained" or "learned" skills rather than innate attributes of a Race were also placed into the Option Lists.
Essentially, many of the Options provided allow the Race Package Deals for some Races to be expanded to also serve as de facto Cultural or Background Package Deals.
For instance, in some settings perhaps all members of a Race have these abilities innately, but in other settings or GM's games they must be learned as part of a Character's background, leading to variation among members of the same Race depending upon their training, or perhaps distinct bloodlines within the Race.
Portrait Of A Hill Dwarf
Take the Hill Dwarf Race Package as an example. The default version is priced at 10 Real Cost, with a number of the Dwarven Underground abilities shifted into the Dwarven Option List rather than taken as part of the Hill Dwarf Package, as these abilities may be learned rather than innate depending upon perspective.
In some campaigns the GM might agree with this assessment and allow individual Hill Dwarf Characters to purchase abilities from the Option List where appropriate for their backgrounds.
Other GM's may prefer that these abilities be considered innate and therefore included in the Hill Dwarf Race Package and modify the Race Package accordingly. This wont necessarily have a major impact on cost scaling either if the "Total Cost" method of Race Package use is in effect as other Disadvantages or penalties could be applied to keep the Package's cost manageable. An example of this is shown below.
Hill Dwarves
Hill Dwarves typically live either above ground in highland villages, or in Dwarven holdfasts near the surface, typically farming and/or maintaining livestock for sustenance. This kind of Dwarf is less common than Mountain Dwarves in most settings, but more often encountered because their steadings are not as remote or difficult to find. Hill Dwarves are typically taller and lither than their Mountain kin, and less dour in outlook.
NOTE: This variant of Hill Dwarves have innate Underground senses and abilities.
Cost Ability
5 Strong: +5 STR
6 Durable: +3 CON
6 Durable: +3 BODY
4 Stubborn +2 EGO
5 Doughty: Power Defense: 5
15 Magic Resistance: Damage Reduction 25% Resistant; Only vs Magic (-1)
7 Poison Resistance: Immunity to Poisons, Activation 14- (-1/2)
5 Infravision: Infrared Perception
6 Stalwart: +5 Mental Defense, +5 Power Defense,  +5 PRE; Only to Resist Fear (-2)
2 Keen Senses: +1 PER with Normal Hearing and Normal Touch
1 Longevity: LS: 200 Years
1 Longevity: Double to LS: 400 Years
3 Racial Enmity: +1 All Combat, vs. Orc-kin Only (-2)
3 Racial Enmity: +1 All Combat, vs. Giant-kin Only (-2)
4 Find the Path: Detect Way Out, Discriminatory, Underground Only (-1)
1 Walk the Path: Bump of Direction, Underground Only (-1)
6 Stoneworker: KS: Stonework; PS: Mason
8 Stone-eyes: Detect Concealed Stone\Rock Features, Discriminatory
4 Underground Senses: Detect Depth & Slope Information, Discriminatory, Underground Only (-1)
Value Disadvantages
-20 Normal Characteristic Maxima
-5 Distinctive Feature: Dwarf (Concealable w/ Magic, Noticed, Not Distinctive in Some Cultures)
-5 Physical Limitation: Short but Heavy (4 ft - 5 ft; 250 to 400 lbs)
-5 Psychological Limitation: Insular and Gruff (Uncommon, Moderate)
-2 Slow: -1" Running
-1 Dense Flesh: -1" Swimming
-1 Cumbersome: -1" Leaping
-9 Thick-limbed: -3 DEX
-2 Ruminating: -2 INT
-2 Rough-hewn: -4 COM
-10 Psychological Limitation: Racial Enmity: Orc-kin (Uncommon, Strong)
-10 Psychological Limitation: Racial Enmity: Giant-kin (Uncommon, Strong)
-10 Psychological Limitation: Gold lust & Greed (Common, Moderate)


Total Cost of Package
In the Race Packages provided herein it is intended that Characteristic adjustments in the Race Package Deals be applied after Normal Characteristic Maxima is determined. This is true of both bonuses and penalties. In this fashion an effective Altered Characteristic Maxima is achieved.
EXAMPLE: The stock package given for Hairfoot Halflings grants a +1 Speed, +2 DEX, -5 STR, -2 BODY, -2 INT, -5 PRE  as part of the Race Package Deal. If a Hairfoot Halfling Character purchases +10 DEX and +10 STR outside of their Package they do not encounter Characteristic Maxima having neither DEX or STR above 20.
After NCM is determined the Race Characteristic modifiers are applied, resulting in an adjusted DEX of 22 and an adjusted STR of 15.  
If the Halfling wanted a final adjusted STR of 20 after the Race Penalty is applied, the Halfling must buy his base STR up to 25 paying the doubling penalty for 21 to 25 strength; after the -5 STR adjustment from the Hairfoot Halfling Race Package Deal is applied the Halfling has an adjusted STR of 20.
NOTE: This is a variation from the recommended method of handling Characteristic Bonuses in 5th Edition Fantasy HERO.
The Alternate NCM Template File Maker for HERO Designer v3 is provided to assist users of the software to create a file with the necessary content to instruct HERO Designer that a Character has base and max Characteristics different than the assumed norms.
Instructions are provided on the tools use. It's really quite easy to do, and only takes a few minutes. However, if you experience difficulties using it email Killer Shrike with any questions and you will be given reasonably timely assistance (within a day or two typically).
Characteristic bonuses from all other (non-Race) Package Deals do count against Characteristic Maxima. This may require such a Package to be refactored if a Character is already at or near their Characteristic Maxima when they take the non-Race Package. In all cases where possible take the number of Character points spent on the Characteristic in the Package Deal, and buy that many points worth of Characteristic at the increased price.
It is perfectly acceptable to not use the method of handling Race Packages offered by this site. A GM could opt for a standard Fantasy HERO implementation of Race Packages, use the Race Packages from Fantasy HERO for 5th Edition, The Turakian Age, or some other source.
The remaining material contained by this site is still generally usable even in this scenario, though some assumptions regarding starting point totals and the pricing of other Packages might need to be examined on a case by case basis.
More unusually a GM might decide to not use Race Packages at all. My personal recommendation is to reconsider this position, but theoretically this is doable. In my experience without some kind of consistent definition of what constitutes a particular Race, odd inconsistencies arise during play.
Also, for some players, Characters can seem to lose a good deal of the flavor of being members of various Races in such an environment. Since there is no real definition of what it means to be a member of a particular Race there also tends to be a very large skew between individual player's interpretations of what a Race is composed of mechanically.
As far as eschewing Race Package Deals altogether and using the material on this web site is concerned, there is a strong assumption that Race Packages will be used and in many ways the Race Package concept forms the foundation of the stackable Package material. Most tellingly, a good deal of material references or implies or proceeds on the assumption that every Character must have one and only one Race Package Deal when they are created.
Thus some of the material might need to be reevaluated on a case by case basis from the perspective of a campaign with no Race Packages whatsoever.

HERO System 5th Edition Changes To Package Deals
The following is just an open discourse on the subject of the Race Packages presented on this site and can be ignored by most readers.
Many of the Race Packages provided on this site were migrated from HERO System 4th Edition Packages. Several changes were made in then HERO System 5th Edition which impacted the methodology used in their original design under 4th Edition rules.
All of the older Race Package Deals from earlier iterations of this web site have been updated to be HERO System 5th Edition compliant (except as regards Distinctive Features, see below). The primary changes were the removal of the 4th Edition altered Characteristic Maxima and Package Bonuses, and the removal of Shrinking Always On, Density Increase Always On, and Growth Always On in exchange for Physical Limitations for Races of unusual size.
  1. Package Deals no longer give Package Bonuses.
  2. Normal Characteristic Maxima is no longer modified in the same fashion as in 4th Edition.
  3. Characters that are permanently shorter, taller or heavier no longer use Shrinking, Growth, or Density Increase with the Always On Limitation; instead they buy the positive aspects of such states as Powers/Skills/etc and take a Physical Limitation to indicate their size and/or mass.
  4. Further, Fantasy HERO 5e discourages the inclusion of learned abilities as part of Race Package Deals, preferring to only include actual inherent qualities specific to a Race in a Race Package Deal.
  5. Fantasy HERO 5e also discourages the use of Distinctive Features in Race Package Deals based solely on being a member of that Race (i.e. DF: Elf is no longer officially  recommended).
NOTE: I agree with points 1 thru 4, but disagree with and thus ignore point 5.

The following is just an open discourse on the subject of the Race Packages presented on this site and can be ignored by most readers.
Because in Fantasy campaigns where many different distinct Races are running around, what Race someone is distinctive, and has a measurable game effect that is interacted with by other game effects. It serves to partially identify members of a particular Race and recognition of a person's Race can have disadvantaging consequences. Some people will single others out due to their Race. Further some abilities will specifically target a particular Race, ranging from Spell Effects to Detects, to abilities only vs. Race X, and other Disadvantages such as "Hates members of Race X".
Yet, how does someone qualify as a member of a particular Race mechanically? How do other abilities interact and "hook" into members of a certain Race? In my games, Distinctive Features is how.
Yes it could be based on other things. Yes I could use Social Limitations instead. Yes I could just hand wave it away. But I don't see the need to do so when Distinctive Features continues to serve that purpose just as it did under previous editions. Some Races experiences this to a greater degree than others, in some cases quite extremely, and some other Races can blend in or are accepted in some cultures more easily than others. Distinctive Features models all of this quite well.
So, I say if it ain't broke don't fix it, and your mileage may vary.
I'm often asked why I include Race Package Deals for Humans; most players find that odd, assuming that Humans are the default.
The answer is simple: consistency. I don't like exceptions and inconsistencies, so I try to remove them when possible. I don't see any rationale for Humans to receive special treatment, consideration, or handling. Humanity is a Race and thus should be treated like every other Race in my opinion.
Also, since I put NCM and DF: Race into Race Packages and use them to defray the cost of the Package, if Humans didn't have a Package it broke the model.
That leads to the next frequent question...why do I prefer to subtract the Disadvantages from Race Packages from the costs of the Package? This is a complicated subject, but basically from a design standpoint I encountered several logical inconsistencies with treating Race Packages in the normal fashion.
The most significant and bothersome inconsistency was the fact that Characters from Races with a lot of Disadvantages were required to take fewer Disadvantages from outside their Race to hit the Disadvantage maximum.
So for instance in a 75+75 scenario with normal Package math, Character A takes a Race Package with 35 points of Disadvantages and Character B takes a Race Package with 50 points of Disadvantages. According to the normal Package handling, Character A needs 40 more points of Disadvantages to hit their 75 point Disadvantage Max, while Character B only needs 25 more points.
What's up with that? Is Character B somehow less unique of a person than Character A because he's part of a race with more Disadvantages? That doesn't make any sense to me.
Also, in some Fantasy implementation, some Races are just flat out better than other Races, and Characters that are part of that Race can be very advantaged. This is usually balanced out in the source material by some in-game downside that helps to keep them in check; frequently expressed as some form of a social limitation or widespread dislike of their Race, or some critical flaw or weakness all members of that Race suffer from.
That kind of thing models perfectly into the Disadvantage concept of the HERO System, but if Packages are handled the normal way it doesn't actually defray the cost of the Race, it simply eats into the Character's maximum Disadvantage limit and available points. Characters of a such a Race, which are intended to be advantaged, are instead mathematically disadvantaged.
So being a member of a Race with a lot of upsides makes a Character less flexible, skilled, and distinctive? That doesn't make sense to me either.
Along those same lines a Race might generally suffer more hindrances than benefits. Yet under the normal method of resolving Package Deals, again they eat up a big chunk of their total Disadvantage limit with their Race Package, but since they don't have many compensatory good abilities to spend points on the net effect is they actually have more Character points remaining to them to spend on personal skills and abilities, which in some ways make members of that Race better than members of Races with more innate / racial benefits.
So being a member of a Race with a lot of downsides makes a Character more flexible, skilled, and distinctive? That doesn't make sense to me either.
However, if the Disadvantages stemming from Race are handled discretely from personal Disadvantages, reducing the cost of Race Packages directly rather than counting against a Character's max Disadvantage points, then all of that oddness simply goes away.
Characters all have the same possible total of personal Disadvantages, and thus their potential for individuality is equal regardless of their Race.
Further Characters from Races that are advantaged but suffer some compensatory downside, and Characters from Races where they have some downsides but not much in the way of benefits both balance out within their Race Packages without having collateral damage carry over to the rest of the Character.
To make the Total Cost method work smoothly, I simply reduced the assumption of starting points from 75+75 to 50+75 and added the assumption of NCM for -20 points and DF: Race for at least -5 points into each Race Package Deal and called it a wash.
The math is essentially identical for Races that have no other penalties or Disadvantages. 150 points is 150 points, whether 25 of the points were included in Base Points or gained via two standard Disadvantages not counted against maximum Disadvantages that are worth 25 points.
Races that do have additional penalties and / or Disadvantages gain extra points to offset any abilities they gain from their Race, and this can reduce the cost of their Race Package to 0 Total Cost, leaving the Character with the normal 50+75 points to work with independent of whatever is in their Race Package Deal. The Disadvantages inherent to their Race do not eat into their Personal Disadvantages just to model their Race correctly and their individuality is maintained.
Races that have more benefits than drawbacks will have Race Packages with a Total Cost representing the amount of points their Race Package's Disadvantages and / or penalties didn't cover and have to pay for those points out of their 50+75, but still have the same ability to take personal Disadvantages as every other Character from less advantaged Races. Thus they both retain their individuality and any abilities gained from their Race Package are in addition to personal abilities they can buy with their remaining Character Points rather than at the expense of those abilities.
Since mathematically the end effect of the Total Cost method is the same as if a Character's Maximum Disadvantage limit was increased by adding the total cost of their Race Package's Disadvantage to it, Total Cost is actually very easy to implement in HERO Designer.
For instance, if a Race Package Deal has 50 points in Disadvantages in it, to model a Character of that Race simply bump the Max Disadvantages total from 75 to 125 in HERO Designer. Once all of the Race Package's information is added to the Character in HERO Designer (including the Disadvantages), the Character will have 75 Disadvantage Points remaining to fill with personal Disadvantages, and the 50 points from the Race Package Disadvantages will defray 50 points worth of abilities.
Note that the total Disadvantage points should not include points from penalties to Characteristics. Both Characteristic bonuses and penalties require a little more effort to handle in HERO Designer (whether you are using the Total Cost method or not).
A custom Template must be created for that Race adjusting the Characteristic mins and maxes. This requires some XML knowledge and some technical skill to do manually, but I made an Alternate NCM utility to do it instead. Just click on the link, enter in your Race, and it will create the necessary Template for use in HERO Designer for you. Instructions are provided to walk you through the process.