There are five playable races in Thedas. For greater details on them and their cultures please read the more in depth lore.
They are the most numerous, yet also the most contentious of all the intelligent races of Thedas. Only four times have they ever united beneath a single banner, the last being centuries ago. The monotheistic faith of the Chantry plays a major role in human society.
Humanoid race, elves typically stand four inches shorter than their human companions and have a slender, lithe build and pointed ears. Often referred to by humans as 'knife ears' as a racial slur. Elves are divided into two groups, Alienage Elves and Dalish Elves.
These are one of the main humanoid races of the Dragon Age setting and are a race in decline, once boasting an underground kingdom spanning much of Thedas, but devastated during the First Blight and still losing both lives and territory to the darkspawn every day. In the dwarven language, they refer to themselves as the dwarva. Dwarves have an innate resistance to magic, preventing them from becoming mages.
A large humanoid race hailing from the island nations of Par Vollen and Seheron in northern Thedas. They have bronze-hued skin, white hair, pointed ears, and vivid eyes with colors like violet, red, or yellow. Kossith are considered physically more robust than humans. Qunari mages are enslaved and are called Saarebas. The Qunari language is also something important and unique to this race.
This includes the darkspawn, mixed blood (elf blooded for instance) and in rare cases NPCing of golems and Fade denizens (staff only). The Darkspawn are a race of mostly-humanoid tainted creatures that dwell in the Deep Roads.
The darkspawn are perhaps the greatest single threat to all of Thedas; they are bloodthirsty, exceptionally numerous and willing to indiscriminately kill or corrupt all in their path. Hurlocks are the human equivalent of darkspawn (born to broodmothers who were human), genlocks the dwarven (dwarf broodmothers), emissaries are mages (as with magic in all races these are random, the ability manifesting at the same rate as non Darkspawn), ogres the Qunari version (qunari broodmothers), and Shrieks the elven version (elf broodmothers). The Disciples are an advanced form of darkspawn, capable of speech, free will and tactical warfare.
Playability, Non-playable character types
This is covered in the "Character Restrictions" document, which can be found in the Handbook.
In more depth . . .
Biology Thedas humans are no different than the humans we know. The only living species of homo genus...Ok biology aside, we all know how it is. The average mass of an adult human 120–140 lbs for females and 168–183 lbs for males. Average height is between 5 to 6 feet with females being shorter than males.
Natural eye coloration are such: brown, blue, green, grey and hazel. All these colors may range from light to dark.
Note : Humans don't have other pigment. Albino can have red eyes but it is just lack of any pigment, so any lilac, gold etc... should be explained maybe by some other race in the bloodline.
Human hair color ranges from light blond to dark, nearly blue black. There is also red coloration or any mixes of these two colors so it is very flexible. In albino hair can be white but there are also other features of this disorder present. Dark skin and white hair just doesn't occur in nature.
Human skin color is also easy. Nothing we wouldn't meet in real life, may be pale with blue hue, peach, bronze, dark brown etc...But remember if your character lives in a cold climate like Ferelden they won't have a nice golden tan. Not even outdoors. Human skin needs sunlight and a lot of it to get stable shade of tan aside from very dark one. Shape shifting may change those trait for a short time.
Lifespan Humans biologically can live up to 120. All proven studies show it is the case as it is a limit up to human cells can grow. Any human beyond this age would have to excess his life by magical means which is uncommon.
Keep in mind DA is medieval setting so humans here mature quicker because on average they live for a shorter span - for example, a boy of 16 may be consider a young adult whereas someone in his 40's would be consider late middle aged, close to elderly. So realistically any people beyond the age of sixty years of age would either be particularly rich and can therefore afford heat and decent enough food or their life is extended through magic, which then brings in other parts of your character like skills, history and so on. Please remember that magic is not infinite in this universe so there are still limits to consider in this case.
All other races will be talked about in relevance to humans.
Biology Elves were once a proud race of pointy eared immortals or at least this is what some believe. Today they are shorter than humans and are in fact humanoids with slender build. The bridge of their nose tends to be long compared to humans and so their face often appears to be flat. Their height comes to a few inches shorter than humans, so please take that into consideration when making an elf. A 5'10 is huge, like 6'4 for a human. Average comes in between 5'4"-5'6 for males and 5'1"-5'3" for females.
Their hair color is similar to human, although we are not sure if they can have pure white hair but seeing as Fenris does we assume they can. Still a bit more freedom than with humans but violet, pink or green will not pass.
Their eyesight, especially in the dark is considerably better than those of humans as was stated in "Stolen Throne".
Elves have greater affinity to magic than other races and much easier time to control it. Their connection to the Fade is more natural as if it was more a racial trait than a supernatural gift like in humans. It is rumored all elves had such talent back in the days, though it is not a case now.
Curious fact - elves do not grow facial hair, unlike other species. However, Elf-blooded people will.
Lifespan Elves life span is not much longer than humans but they grow older slower, which may confirmed they were once immortal but due to contact with humans, most likely a disease factor - it shortened. On average their life span may even be couple of decades older and it happens with many Dalish. City elves are poor which means starvation and poor living condition which takes away any advantage their life span could give. The long life span also influences fertility which is covered in 'Additional Info' chapter.
Elves were once immortal but now their life span reflects those of humans.
Biology Dwarves are short, stocky people. Even the skinniest dwarf is heavier than en elf and most humans. They have heavy features with thick nasal bones and jawline. Their height doesn't exceed 52 whilst the average is from around 3'6" to roughly 4'6". From what we saw we can assume their hair and eye colors are like those of humans.
One of the most notable traits of this kind is lyrium resistance. It may be due to centuries of exposure to it as surface dwarves may start to lose it. Because of this, dwarves are not mages. Never. We had never seen a dwarven mage thought they may have some connection to the Fade and maybe even dream. Still, no mages. It also has its advantage as they have high resistance to magic.
Whether half-dwarves inherit this resistance or can be mages we don't really know but for now it will not be allowed so as to avoid Sandal-esque situations.
Lifespan To make things easier, we are going with humans lifespan, unless there is a canon source to disprove it.
Biology Kossith are a race of tall humanoids with heavy built, but their most prominent characteristics are horns and eyes in vivid colors. Their faces have heavy features with prominent noses and small eyes.
Forehead is thicker than those of humans, elves or even dwarves as it is also a support for horns. Curious is that there is a genetic defect that kossith is born without them. They are considered to be special by the Qunari.
Their height ranges between 6'7 and 7'8' for males and between 6'0 to 7'0 for females.
Natural eye coloration are: pink, violet, mauve, golden/yellow, red.
Note: We don't know if they have human eye coloration, most likely it is extremely rare, please remember that when making one!
Their hair color ranges from white to pale blonde but is never dark from what we have seen, thus we take this as standard. They grow facial hair like humans.
They have higher resistance to poisons, for example - saar quamek, most likely because of their mass and body built. Yep, tougher than humans in many respects.
Lifespan To make things easier, we are going with humans lifespan, unless there is a canon source to disprove it.
CoT's Elf-Blooded is an AU version of the series. Do not rely on canon knowledge since it is contradictory and we have established our own rules.
Humans and elves can freely interbreed and have done it through generations. Generally there are no such things as half elves in Thedas, they are called elf-blooded (because most of human traits is visible they do not show 50% of elvhen traits, hence why half-elf term is incorrect). Elf DNA adopts itself to human one (or any other most likely) giving phenotypically (meaning: looking like roughly) more a human looking child. Elven blooded have in majority of cases height of humans, their build and are consider more human than elven. That said, their elven parentage can be still spotted with slightly pointed ears and minor changes in facial structure and bone structure. They can have their elven parents eye coloration, since it is still a child of two races. For the purpose of this board we let more traits to mingle between races, including keen eyesight. There are cases were elf traits can be more prominent making such individual to stand out in the crowd.
Eye coloration: human, elf or anything in between
Skin tone: human, elf or anything in between
Hair: human, elf or anything in between
Elf-blooded are not humans, they may look roughly like humans with not many traits to give them away but still their genetic make up comes from an elvhen parent, even if it doesn't show. Sometimes traits are not visible to make one to stand out, like keen eyesight or good aging.
Rare occurrence since dwarves are not very prolific even within boundaries of their own race. Such halfbreed with humans is something in between human and dwarf when it comes to size. To dwarves look a bit too human and to humans a bit too dwarfish though it would be easier for such creature to pass for a short human than tall dwarf.
Eye coloration: human, dwarf or anything in between
Skin tone: human, dwarf or anything in between
Hair: human, dwarf or anything in between
We don't have much information about those or how it works. Developers, when asked about it, didn't give straightforward answer. Not a no, but still we have no hard information. We know it is possible for a kossith to engage with another race, though. For a purpose of this AU board we allow it and assume kossith traits are dominant considering looks such as height, overall biology, eye/hair coloration and skeletal structure. Although you have freedom with certain traits like horns, nails, teeth, ears, etc... keep in mind something in between humans and kossith won't be a human.
Eye coloration: kossith or human (rare, we assume kossith dominance)
Skin tone: more of a kossith as we assume dominance of their pigment
Hair: As a multifactorial trait hair can range from kossith shade of white to human dark, although leaning toward kossith parent
These things are very rare. Qunari do not cross breed races so all such children are born to Tal'Vashoth/nonQunari kossith, unless you have a very good reason why a father/mother was a Qunari...
Humans and kossith are the most virile races though most of the kossith reproduce under strict laws so this fact may not be well known. Elves are less fertile, not as low and problematic like with dwarves but still low, which adds to their problems. Elves will rarely more than two but most often only one child, some of them with humans which doesn't help the population. Rarely two, lucky ones three, especially males but on a whole, they do not have the capability of breeding a human would have.
Many dwarves won't have children at all which is a great tragedy of this kind. From all the races, they seem to have the slowest birthrate.
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND! If a human woman has a child with a kossith or a dwarf woman with a human, there is a high chance of her demise during labor. These are two different species most likely we are talking about, even if among the same genus. It bounds to get mothers in troubles. Child as well to be honest.
Information is taken from canon sources but also some gaps are filled by the staff's creativity to use on this AU board. For example we don't know exactly how big dwarves can grow, but we try to set a limit. If you spot any information that contradicts canon and have a proof in the form of lead writer post or an interview where it is stated exact information (like 'No, elves can be taller than 6 feet' or 'kossith horns are hollow') please PM the staff about it and we shall edit accordingly