Converting Characters From My Favorite Childhood Show Into a Playable Race for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition
When I got the idea to write about creating a race for D&D, I literally had no clue what I was doing. I hadn’t a single idea in my mind for a race that could bring something new to the table for potential players. Luckily for me, the version of myself from ten to eleven years ago knew exactly what she wanted to create for the game.
I don’t know about you, but I grew up watching “magical girl” anime and shows like a series called Winx Club. Winx Club was basically the magical girl genre’s Italian cousin but with fairy princesses instead of Solar System themed sailor girls. More to the point, Winx Club was a huge inspiration to me as a kid and was actually my first real exposure to fantasy that was even remotely well-built. From this, I’ve always loved the build of fairies in the show, their abilities and inherent magics. Many of their abilities are very different from folklore, which is what I think makes them interesting. Thus, I begin my journey in creating a race for Dungeons & Dragons modeled after the world building for a children’s cartoon.
At the end of this article will be a link to a Google Doc file with the information someone might need to play this race in an actual game.
Resources Used in this Guide
To begin, I went looking for resources and articles that could help me. Luckily, a friend of mine had previously been creating a race of her own so it was as simple as her sharing her resources with me. You can find the three documents here, here, and here. One of those is actually the template I used to create the Google Doc file that you can find at the end of this article. Feel free to use it for your own creations.
This first step involved, at least in this case, nailing down all of the random facts and concepts that Winx Club introduced to fairy lore in its eight seasons of running. If your race is based on something from pop culture, this is going to be integral to the process of creating a race, especially if you’re trying to bring your favorite fiction to life in the game. For me, it really just took heading over to the Wikia fan pages about the show and writing down all of the essential details.
First, the characters in the show had the ability to change between a winged form and a “human” form. Of course, I have to include that in this homebrew so I’m giving this race the ability to go between those forms at their leisure. Another part of this “having different forms” thing is the exhausting list of different forms each character unlocks throughout the show. I’ll be working something like this, though not to the same extent, into the natural magical features of the race and having it advance as a character levels up. Another feature of this version of fairies from the show is that each character falling under that umbrella has a specific kind of magic that they specialize in, whether that be fire, earth, music (yes, music), or light. They each had their own spells and abilities that adhered to that specialization. As part of the race, I’ll be giving them innate magic that goes with different specializations. Naturally, because there are so many different kinds of magic, I’ll be narrowing it down to two different versions for this article but feel free to create your own at home.
After nailing down all the specifics, I started writing the flavor text for the race. To do this, I modeled the flavor text after what is typically seen in the Player’s Handbook and few other resources. Specifically, I used a combination of the pages written about Elves in the Handbook and the pages written about Firbolgs in Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Since this race is most related to Elves, the pages written about them were a good starting point and the Firbolgs have natural druidic magic and shapeshifting abilities that were integral to my own approach to this race.
As part of this step, I looked at the way certain types of flavor texts were written, specifically about the general appearance and other very specific racial features that are important. I used the description of Elven features as a jumping-off point for the description of the features for this race, adding a few modifications. The characters from the show are a very colorful and bright people, mostly because of their centrality to a children’s show, so I wanted to make that a possibility for people who potentially play this race. I also took into account the fact that some of the members of this race have relationships with elemental magics and that their appearances might reflect that. This is what went into the skin tones being able to be anything on the color spectrum. Other flavor text paragraphs were created using a similar formula, taking into account ideas and characteristics from the show and including them in the race. For instance, I had to consider how a game like Dungeons & Dragons would approach a race that has the ability to shift between two different forms. I also had to consider how to modify already existing ideas about shapeshifting in the game to fit with the characteristics of the changes in appearance the characters went through in the series.
In the third step, I began working on the racial characteristics and features that relate more closely to in-game mechanics. Like in the previous step, I used pre-existing content and formats to create the list of mechanical features for this race. I started with the basics and first decided on ability score increases, alignments, size, speed, and language. I also included Darkvision and Fey Ancestry as part of the features that most closely relate to one’s shared by Elven races. After I got those out of the way, it was time to personalize the race with some unique features that I came up with based on the characteristics of fairies in Winx Club. The Shifting Forms feature, the Innate Spellcasting feature, and the Growing Power feature are all based on abilities the characters from the show share as fairies.
As part of the Innate Spellcasting feature, I had to include different magic specializations and the many spells that fall under them. Because there are so many types, I narrowed the specializations down to Water and Fire for this article. To find out the spells that fell under those elemental categories, I used this article from the Dungeons & Dragons wiki that separates each spell into different elemental categories by level. I decided that, for the purposes of balancing, this race would only receive one spell whenever they reached the appropriate level. As such, I created tables for each level that list the possible spells that one could choose as they level up. To decide on the scale for leveling, I used the druid chart in the Player’s Handbook. There were some levels that didn’t have water-based spells that I could use in the chart so there are a couple of levels that are missing from the water specialization section.
Creating this race was insanely fun. Despite how complicated the task was, getting to combine what made me a fantasy nerd at young age with what makes me a fantasy nerd today was pretty awesome. It was also a fun way to look at how fantasy lore can be interpreted or added to through different mediums.
I would recommend creating homebrew races for D&D to the people reading. Not only can you create something new for the game, you can also create something unique that changes or flips the expectations that people have of the game itself. So, create away.
(To play as the homebrew race created for this article, you can find all of the information here.)