Wizards' Handbook by Dictum Mortuum (3.5e Optimized Character Build)/Races

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  • Feats: While wizards receive a fair amount of bonus feats, most builds are feat intensive. Also if you are going to prestige, your feat selection will be a lot more strict. For example consider an archmage, a usual choice as a prestige for wizards, which requires 3 feats that aren't exactly helpful. So if your new class doesn't provide bonus feats, consider to offset your strict selection a bit by selecting a race that helps.
  • Attributes: Be extremely careful here. Choose races that don't give penalties to your key attributes: intelligence and constitution. A wizard can survive a hit in nearly every other attribute, but not make the mistake of reducing those two, because you may regret it, even from the start of the campaign. On the other side, when looking for races that provide bonuses to your attributes, choose those that boost constitution and intelligence. Bonuses to dexterity are always nice and wizards can benefit from some charisma.
  • Type: This is important to wizards more than one may think. This is because of two powerful spells, alter self and polymorph. Not the first priority, but types other than humanoid (such as construct, dragon or outsider) are welcome.
  • Level Adjustment: Even if these races seem attractive, don't ever, ever take level adjustment beyond one or two points and that's the case only if you are allowed to buy it off. Wizards are powerful because of their spells. If they don't have access or get late access to them, it won't make you happy. The penalties will be vast late game and because you actually will be very fragile , early in the campaign you will be a nuisance and liability to your team. Taking level adjustment will make you BAB, skills, spellcasting, saves bad.
  • Skills: Not important to wizards. Bonuses to skills are respected, but don't choose races based on that. You'll already have a nice amount of skills per level from your main casting stat, more than enough to cover your needs.
  • Favored Class: There are many races that list wizard as their favored class. Don't let that fool you. A race with favored class (wizard) means that traditionally, members of this race are involved with the certain class. However that doesn't actually mean that they are good for it. For example, elves as presented in the PHB are a bad option for wizards.
  • Size: A small wizard is actually better in several aspects from medium ones. Being small gets you a mild AC and attack bonus, which is great for touch attacks. Also they receive some bonus to the hide skill and generally small races receive bonuses to move silently, too. However, note, that you become more vulnerable to grapple/pin attempts, trip attacks, disarm bull rush, overrun attempts and your speed generally is lower than that of medium sized default speed (30ft).
  • Languages: You are going to have a whole lot starting languages. Standard wizard languages are elven and draconic, as a lot of arcane-related texts are written in these. Choose carefully your rest and make sure that you and your party share a common obscure language if you need to communicate without others understanding.
  • Movement Modes: Speed is not all that important to wizards, because they do have speed boosters or spells that allow tactical movement. So it shouldn't matter a lot in your selection. However alternate movement modes are respected, such as a climb or fly speed. Never get a particular race for the bonus alternative modes though. They are easily duplicated with low level spells.
  • Weapon Proficiencies: Wizards have a very strict selection of weapon proficiencies. Races that expand this are welcome, but shouldn't be the main reason you chose it. Weapon proficiencies are not above attributes for example. Choose wisely.

List of Races with a Basic Description[edit]

This is a list with most of the no or low level adjustment races that are often used for wizards.

  • Humans PHB: Bonus feat, skill points and any favored class. As with everything else, humans make for very good wizards.
  • Dwarfs PHB: Not the best wizards out there, but it does boost your defensive skills. Especially nice is the stability and constitution bonus. Also darkvision and the other various abilities are respected. Note that dwarfs are sub-optimal for wizards, but they are referenced here because some prestige classes are race specific.
  • Elves PHB: Elves as presented in the player's handbook are a viability to wizards. The only real bonus is the weapon proficiencies, for which you shouldn't really care about. Constitution loss is a pain, considering that you will start with 5 or so hit points. However, it must be noted that elves have access to elf paragon UA which boosts your intelligence by +2. Since most elves gain weapon proficiencies, are able to qualify eventually for the abjurant champion CM prestige class at the expense of just a feat.
  • Gnomes PHB: Bonus to constitution and spell power with illusion spells. Small size and even some spell-like abilities.
  • Halflings PHB: Small size, bonus to dexterity and some great saving throw bonuses.
  • Gray Elves MM: They get the same bonuses as normal elves, but take also a strength hit and a intelligence bonus. If you make them dragonborn you'll be having -2 strength +2 intelligence.
  • Artic Elves UA: Penalty to strength instead of constitution and bonus to dexterity. Not the best, but handy if you want to fulfill race requirements.
  • Desert Elves UA: As above.
  • Fire Elves UA: Making this into a dragonborn, you make the stats modifiers +2 intelligence -2 charisma. Also removes the penalties/bonuses for being of fire heritage.
  • Illumians RoD: The illumian race favors basicaly multiclass characters. The obvious reason to get this race is for the sigils it offers. The best luminous sigils for wizards are probably Naen and Krau. Krau is only useful in the case you acquire a prestige class that sacrifices one or two levels from your casting progression. That way you get back you lost caster levels, without having to spend feats on practiced spellcaster CA for example. Naen is pretty straightforward, as most of your skills will be keyed off intelligence. An interesting possibility is Hoon, which helps both constitution (concentration) and wisdom (listen, spot) checks and skill checks. Also they are considered human, so that may help with some feats and classes.
  • Sharakim RoD: This receives a bonus to intelligence and a worthless bonus to strength. It hurts dexterity, which isn't that nice and charisma, which may be useful occasionally. The rest of his abilities are too crappy to deserve a +1 level adjustment, and they are easily duplicated with spells.
  • Tieflings RoD: This is very nice and features a lot of the bonuses a wizard can acquire due to his race selection. The only problem is the +1 level adjustment, but if retraining is allowed in your campaign, this problem can easily be waived. The attribute bonuses are ok, but lesser charisma may be problematic sometimes. One of the greatest bonuses of this race is its type. Outsider (native) means that even though you need to eat and sleep, you are not affected by a wide range of spells that target humanoids and that alter self and polymorph spells provide more benefits to you.
  • Chaos Gnome RoS: The attribute bonuses are great, to nearly every stat you'll need in your career. It has some nice bonuses, included the thematically synergistic spell power and luck of chaos. The level adjustment can be a problem though. Last but not least, being a gnome opens up entry to one of the greatest wizard prestige classes, Swadowcraft Mage.
  • Dream Dwarfs RoS: The penalty to dexterity can hurt certain builds, but the tradeoff is ok. This gets the standard dwarf bonuses (stability, constitution bonus) but also possess the Dream Sight ability, which is not that great, and spell power with divination spells and earth descriptor spells, only when in contact with the ground. All of these bonuses come at no level adjustment.
  • Whisper Gnomes RoS: This is a great race. The attributes are ok, base land is 30ft even though they are small and receives huge bonuses to move silently/hide checks, making them ideal for sneaky wizard builds (Unseen Seer CM, Arcane Trickster DMG). Also opens up gnome specific prestige classes.
  • Dragonborn of Bahamut RotD: Dragonborn is a template that can be added to other races. What is good about this one is that it raises your constitution, while reducing your dexterity. This is a great template, since many races that give bonuses to intelligence (such as sun elves) incur a penalty to constitution. This will help offset the differences, while getting some cool dragon features. You can select between a constitution based breath weapon (which is great feature because it doesn't require attack roll and it can be augmented by metabreath spells), sharpened senses or wings. Your type changes to humanoid (dragonborn), but it states that "For all effects related to race, a dragonborn is considered a dragon and a member of her original race".
  • Kobold RotD: What makes kobolds great wizards, despite the huge penalties in their attributes, is a single feat: Dragonwrought RotD. This effectively changes their type to dragon. Dragonwrought kobolds have been used to abuse various mechanics, from early epic feats acquisition to ability bonuses due to age. Since dragonwrought kobolds are true dragons, they can use great alter self forms, too.
  • Snow Elves Frostburn: They get bonus to dexterity but incur a penalty in charisma, which is better than constitution. Not the best race for wizards out there, but they are playable.
  • Aventi Stormwrack: Aventis are amphibious humans that are haven't got anything important. They are just mentioned because of the water spell power they possess.
  • Amphibious Creature Stormwrack: The amphibious template gives you a swim speed and the ability to breathe air equally well as air. All these come only at the cost of reduced dexterity. This may prove useful to campaigns close to large bodies of water, or underwater ones.
  • Sun Elves FRCS: Bonus to intelligence, but penalty to constitution. This is a common choice for wizards, and while it is better than the PHB elves, the constitution penalty hurts. I wouldn't recommend these at all. There are so many ways to raise your difficulty class and gain extra spells, that at higher levels, the intelligence bonus won't even matter. A nice thought is using dragonborn RotD so that you move the constitution penalty to your dexterity, while retaining your intelligence bonus. The elven benefits are not that great to wizards and you are still considered an elf for various effects.
  • Strongheart Halflings FRCS: Small size, bonus feats and all the standard halfling bonuses, except for the bonus to all saves. This rivals humans PHB for the best wizard race.
  • Ghostwise Halflings FRCS: Their ability to communicate telepathically is a great way for enchanters to give orders to their minions. Again they retain all the standard halfling bonuses, but lose the +1 bonus to all saves.
  • Air Genasi FRCS: As with tieflingsRoD they are outsiders, which helps alter self and similar spells, they get bonuses to stats that help wizards (although they lose 2 points of wisdom compared to tieflings). An interesting ability is breathless, but i don't think it will come into play much, not to mention that you have a lot of spells that duplicate it. Overall they are a nice race, but unfortunately tieflings overshadow them. The +1 level adjustment makes them less attracting.
  • Fire Genasi FRCS: As above, but the stats aren't that bad. The scaling +1 saves/5 levels for fire effects will come probably more into play. However, overall they are less powerful than their air counterparts.
  • Lesser Planetouched PGtF: Located at page 191 of the book, you can choose to be a "lesser" version of a planetouched. Effectively you become humanoid with the planetouched subtype. This means that you are affected by spells that target outsiders or humanoids. Also since you are no longer an outsider, you can't take some cool alter self forms. That said, this is ok, but level adjustment buyoff is strictly better. The main advantage tieflings RoD for example besides some cool attribute modifiers, is their outsider type.
  • Deep Imaskari Und: An underdark race that gives a bonus to intelligence and a penalty to strength. Also it has an ability that lets you recall a 1st level spell, which is great for low level characters. Unfortunately it's no elf to benefit from the various features they provide.
  • Krinth CoR: Bonuses to constitution, darkvision, bonuses to saves and you cannot be shaken, blocking most fear stacking effects.
  • Changelings ECS: Not actually a great race for wizards, but they open up access to powerful substitution levels and the recaster RoE prestige class. Do not underestimate their minor change shape ability, as it can save lives at low levels and help disguises later.
  • Warforged ECS: This is a great race for wizards. Makes you immune to lots of things, boosts your constitution and the penalties are to attributes you don't need. You also gain light fortification. The most important part is that you can heal yourself with the repair damage series of spells. The downside is that you have a 5% arcane spell failure from your composite plating and that you are vulnerable to effects that target both living creatures and constructs. However since you can enhance your armor, that is not much of a problem.

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