Heroes Tempered by Nature
From within verdant forests, among nomadic caravans, or atop soaring cliffsides, courageous adventurers arise from the people known as the races of the wild: elves, halflings, and raptorans. Living in harmony with the natural world, these noble individuals embark on grand adventures that become fireside tales for generations to come.
This supplement for the D&D game provides detailed information on the psychology, society, culture, behavior, religion, folklore, and other aspects of the races of the wild, including raptorans - a new race presented here. In addition to new humanoids and monster races playable as characters, Races of the Wild also provides new prestige classes, feats, spells, magic items, equipment, and guidelines for crafting adventures and campaigns within the communities of these tenacious folk.
Races of the Wild (2005) is a 192-page supplemental sourcebook for 3.5 D&D, written by longtime author and designer Skip Williams. The book focuses on the elves and the halflings, introduces a new winged race called the raptorans, and gives rules for using catfolk, centaurs, gnolls, and a plant-based fey creature known as the killoren as player characters.
Rules and Customs. Like other books in the "Races" series, Races of the Wild is a highly focused book with a good mix of flavor and new rules. If you're looking for rules on half-orc barbarians, you're probably in the wrong place, but playing an elf, a halfling, or some other nature-oriented race? You're probably in good shape.
Here you'll find plenty of new rules: new uses for skills, 8 prestige classes, 30 or so new feats, and racial substitution levels (a favorite new rule of mine) to make your hero more race-focused. There are new weapons and armor, new magic items (such as hawkfeather armor), 9 new spells, and 3 new psionic powers. With the raptoran, items definitely have a focus on both flying and surviving a fall from great heights, and there's a common theme of survival in the wilderness.
Rules for introducing new races, such as catfolk or centaurs, are exactly as long and detailed as they need to be. They aren't a focus of the book, perhaps a surprise considering the endearing popularity of races like centaurs, but the new races make them eminently playable.
In comparison to the abundance of rules elsewhere, the focused chapters on elves, halfling, and raptorans are filled with flavor. All aspects of racial life are explored: psychology, culture, tradition, religion, history, folklore, and even economy. There are examples of typical racial settlements, such as "Windingwater" for the elves. These chapters make a fantastic resource for a player who wants to know more about her character's race. As Skip Williams outlines in his design goals: "One new twist on elves is self-sufficiency and nonspecialization. The long elven lifespan gives them plenty of time for learning to do things for themselves. Halflings lead something of a double life. Their wandering lifestyle obliges them to seem open and welcome to strangers, but they have secrets they keep to themselves."
The final book chapter focuses on running, creating, and expanding wilderness campaigns. This chapter is a great source for DMs; it discusses demographics, communities, holidays, allied creatures, and provides sample NPCs for use in a wilderness adventure.
Raptorans: Not Dinosaurs. Perhaps the name is a mistake, even though raptors are traditionally birds of prey. Raptorans are basically winged elves, a race that in previous editions have been called "Winged Folk." They aren't one of those races that have ended up catching on in the D&D gestalt, but they're a perfectly playable race. I suspect they'd instantly stand out early on in most campaigns, as the advantage of a flying PC is undeniable at low- to mid-levels.
Focus and Finesse. This is a supplement that does exactly what it sets out to do. It's a solid, useful resource for players and DMs who are focused on wilderness-based characters. The book is filled with lovely little details (such as the halfling Earned Name Generator) and lots of thoughtful, creative bits of world-building. If you're playing one of the races it covers, or have any interest in doing so, you'll find it well worthwhile.
About the Creators. Skip Williams is one of the people who influenced and developed the original Dungeons & Dragons game and is the former "Sage" of Dragon Magazine's "Sage Advice" column. Joining TSR in 1976 and departing Wizards of the Coast in 2002, Williams masterminded the design and development of the 3rd edition Monster Manual.
About the Product Historian
History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.