The Grim Hollow setting is home to a handful of unique races that populate the world of Etharis. The wechselkind, ogresh, and others provide evocative roleplaying opportunities in addition to exciting new mechanical character builds. Today, we’ll explore each of these new races and which of them is best suited to the playstyle of your next player-character. While many of the common races of 5th Edition, such as humans, dwarves, or elves can also be found in Etharis, those featured in Grim Hollow: The Players Guide are especially suited to the dark fantasy tales told within the realm.
Trapped forever in the body of a humanoid doll, the wechselkind are created by faerie magic to replace stolen mortal children. While their minds age, their bodies never do. Sadly, they are often shunned by the families whose child they replaced. Once discovered, their lives often become one of hardship and exile.
Play a Wechselkind if you like…
Depending on the age of your wechselkind character, the themes and experience of their life could be very different. A recently made wechselkind that has been cast out by their mortal family is still childlike. If you enjoy an innocent character experiencing and trying to deal with the hardships of the world, playing a wechselkind might be for you.
Another engaging option could be to play a very old wechselkind who has decided to come out of hiding and make their stamp on the world. Wechselkind doll bodies never age, but their minds do so your character might have time to read extensively and learn about the world making a good bard or wizard. With their immunity to disease, some wechselkind are attracted to medical fields given that they can enter plague-stricken areas without fear. You might be a 500-year-old doctor trapped in the body of a child who has only recently decided to leave the medical institute where their adoptive parent once worked to treat patients in the field for the first time. Wechselkind can be found in any realm where fey are common, the Charneault Kingdom most of all.
Wechselkind make good…
Wechselkind have an unusual mix of traits that don’t scream a particular class, but there are several that might make good fits. With a bonus to Constitution and Charisma, the ability to cast disguise self, and proficiency in Acrobatics, a wechselkind is probably best suited to being a bard or charismatic rogue. Being frequently overlooked as a child, able to squeeze into small spaces, and generally likable, wechselkind make great infiltrators. Plus, they are resistant to the poison needles and darts often used in traps that are meant to keep thieves at bay. For a roguish or bardic wechselkind, the nimble physique feat pairs well by allowing you to squeeze through Tiny openings and Dodge as a bonus action.
Thematically, a Plague Doctor wizard has lots of role-playing potential for a wechselkind, despite not being as mechanically optimized. The weaver of maledictions feat and its use of effigy dolls also creates an evocative image of a wechselkind and becomes mechanically powerful if you choose to be a Misfortune Bringer rogue.
The laneshi are a race of amphibious, marine humanoids that live deep beneath the waves in an orderly caste-based society. Its members are either part of the mythic caste that oversees all things related to the not living, from funerals to construction, or are a member of the warrior caste that focuses on the living, such as warfare or farming.
Play a Laneshi if you like…
Laneshi are great characters for any 5e campaign that has a focus on the sea or coasts, given their swim speed, ability to breathe air and water, and darkvision. Most laneshi are not very familiar with societies on land, so you would get the chance to explore Etharis as a newcomer alongside your character.
Given their connections to trade and the sea, the Augustine Trading Company might be a faction likely to encounter and adopt one of the laneshi. However, their ability to speak with animals is not limited to aquatic life and can be useful anywhere where fauna can be found.
The laneshi caste system also makes for engaging roleplay, differentiated by the two subrace options of the mystic caste or warrior caste, and serves to highlight the unique laneshi culture.
Laneshi make good…
Laneshi have bonuses to Strength and Wisdom. Members of the warrior caste gain the ability to Disengage as a bonus action and proficiency in Animal Handling, making for powerful paladin or ranger builds that might take advantage of a mount, especially when combined with the ability to speak with animals. This subrace could also be combined with a tactically minded fighter to move around the battlefield while delivering commands.
Laneshi from the mythic caste make extremely powerful spellcasters. Their stats favor cleric or druid, and their duality of spirit and laneshi magic traits make them even more durable and versatile. The lightning caster feat pairs well with the laneshi’s free necromancy cantrips which are otherwise generally single target effects. If you are not concerned with optimizing stats, the College of Requiems bard is thematically very appropriate.
Sizable humanoids with a talent for social interaction, ogresh are rare and not usually encountered together. While young, they are seized with a great wanderlust which explains why they might take up adventuring. As they age, they eventually settle down in a chosen place that becomes their permanent home.
Play an Ogresh if you like…
The ogresh are big but sociable. This race caters well to the friendly brute stereotype with their ample social benefits and their powerful build trait. As befitting their reputation, ogresh equally make for helpful sages or wise oracles. While still young, they enjoy traveling and that makes adventuring very likely.
On the other hand, if your 5e campaign is centered around a specific location, you might consider playing an older ogresh that has settled into a region. Your motivations have shifted from discovering the next exciting place to protecting the home you have chosen. Since ogresh travel widely, they might be from any realm or nation. Given their size and knowledge, the far traveling Company of Free Swords would likely welcome one of the ogresh looking to join their brotherhood.
Ogresh make good…
With bonuses to Charisma, Constitution, and Wisdom, ogresh are well suited to being College of Adventurers bards or educated clerics. Both of these classes can make use of the ogresh talents for learning information, making friends, and still having some extra hit points for when combat breaks out.
While not as perfect a fit, you might also consider making a socially adept rogue to take advantage of their ability to lend a friendly ear and convince newfound friends to reveal more information than they intended. In fact, many of the ogresh racial abilities require them to converse with another creature, so knowing multiple languages through feats and backgrounds increases the likelihood of being able to benefit from them.
After the Gods’ End and descent of the Arch Seraphs, many lesser angels lost most of their power and were forced to live mortal lives. Hunted for the power of their blood, some downcast still choose to use what little remain of their celestial heritage to further the Arch Seraphs’ cause. Others are more concerned with their own survival.
Play a Downcast if you like…
Play one of the downcast if you like the idea of playing a fallen angel, either struggling to stay on their divine mission or scorning it. Given the variety in subraces, there are many options to your character’s motivations and mechanical build. Each of the four, now dead, good-aligned deities spawned their own line of angels with ingrained desires and abilities that will help guide your choices.
Playing one of the downcast also provides interesting roleplaying hooks for your 5e campaign. Daemonic creatures, evil cults, and vampires all hunt fallen angels looking to harvest the power in their divine blood. How much will you hide your light from the world? Do you stay cloaked and watch the suffering around you? Or will you shine as brightly as you can for as long as you’re able, hoping to bring some measure of good back to the dark age Etharis now suffers? The downcast are more commonly found in places with strong connections to the gods like the Bürach Empire or the Castinellan Provinces. Depending on their leanings, that also makes the Hearthkeepers or the Arcanist Inquisition factions that may embrace your character.
Downcast make good…
The downcast’s bonus to Wisdom and divine sangromancy makes them excellent healers such as clerics or druids, especially if their former master was Aurelia who grants an extra cure wounds per long rest. A downcast might also consider being a paladin, ranger, fighter, or barbarian, especially if they are Magilganti or Galtian, whose bonuses to stats and spellcasting compliment melee combatants. The downcast also make interesting sorcerers with celestial heritage and warlocks with divine pacts, particularly for the thematic synergies but also for mechanical bonuses available.
Long before humanity, and before even the elves and dwarves rose to prominence, the empire of another race ruled over Etharis. Some of its people foresaw the great calamity that would claim their kingdom and locked themselves away in stasis vaults below the Stehlenwald Mountains to sleep through the apocalypse. Awakened by the mining dwarves, the dreamers have returned to the world, evolved to use the power of dreams as if they were memories.
Play a Dreamer if you like…
Playing one of the dreamers might appeal to you if you like the idea of a character that has trouble distinguishing between dreams and memories. Your character possesses no memories of their former race and struggles to become a member of this strange new world. Dreamers’ darkvision makes them useful in dungeon delving 5e campaigns. Their dreamwalking trait helps make them flexible than other races, able to utilise skills or tool proficiencies the party needs but doesn’t possess. Dreamers are usually from the Bürach Empire since the vault where they were found is under the Stehlenwald Mountains.
Dreamers make good…
With bonuses to Intelligence and Constitution, dreamers make good wizards and magic wielding fighters. Not as optimized, but thematically interesting, would be a whimsical druid if your character has been touching the dreams of fey. A warlock bound to an ancient fey might fill a similar niche if a powerful faerie has visited you while sleeping.
The disembodied are former residents of the lost mage city of Ulmyr’s Gate that was pulled through an ethereal rift during a failed ritual at the city’s Great College. They exist between two planes and drift back and forth, looking blurred and hazy. When you choose to be one of the disembodied, you also choose an original race that determines your original appearance but offers no statistical benefits.
Play a Disembodied if you like…
Disembodied are characters caught between two worlds, always trying to fully return home to a world they can touch. Most disembodied were members of the Great College, a school for mages that put no limits on what could be researched. It is therefore likely that your character is also a wizard, sorcerer, or warlock who at least once, possessed that same disregard for the rules others impose on magic.
Another interesting possibility might be that you were a visitor to the city or were employed in some other profession in service to the Great College. Caught in the disaster through no fault of your own, how do you feel about unshackled magic now? Do you still believe in magical advancement through reckless experimentation, or has your tragedy turned you to the Arcane Inquisition and its persecution of arcane “heretics”?
Disembodied normally hail from the Bürach Empire where the city of Ulmyr’s Gate once stood. The Thaumaturge also makes a good faction for disembodied characters looking to further push the bounds of arcane possibility.
Disembodied make good…
With bonuses to Intelligence and Dexterity, the disembodied make excellent wizards and magical rogues. Their fade away and planar outcast traits make them more durable when faced with a melee foe beyond their abilities and increases their avenues of escape. Thematically they tie well to a ranger who wanders between realms. It’s easy to picture a young ranger returning with spell components gathered from the forest on the day of the disaster who later searches for portals, hoping to eventually be able to return to the physical world.