More Human than Human

More Human than Human

I will be the first to admit I am no fan of demi-humans (except perhaps the much maligned half-orc).  I think it is unfair the bonus abilities demi-humans receive on top of the option to multi-class.  The major restriction placed on demi’s to counter these abilities is level limits. And while there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth for those who play demi-humans, in truth very few of the campaigns (only 2) in which I was involved as a player or a DM for the last 25 years have ever hit those upper limits.  This has led, in my experience, to a large number of players choosing non humans in a human centric world.  Sometimes it is for their bonus abilities, but a lot of the time it is for the multi-class option. 

It also always bothered me that humans, the most varied and versatile of all races. A race that can live, build, and reproduce in pretty much any environment under almost any condition. Is the one race that could not be versatile when in came to classes.  Yes there is the dual class process, but it is slow, clunky, painful, and difficult to achieve.  In fact I have always felt such an undertaking is more suited to demi-humans than humans with the long lifespan lending to taking a break from one class to learn an entirely new one.  While multi-classing fits right in with the multi-tasking human race.

So as a result I have done two things.

 1. I give human characters a bonus at the time of creation.

 The bonus for human characters is rather simple. A human character may add a 1 to any stat and must then subtract 1 from another stat excluding charisma.  This mimics the +/- that all the demi-human races (outside of half-elf) get, but takes into account the variety of being human.  While this doesn’t mimic the abilities such as infravision or immunities other races receive it does add something for making the choice of being a human character.  It also sticks to the humans have variety as a race since it is not always the same stat receiving the bonus.

 It is the next change however that has the biggest impact.

 2. I allow humans to multi-class.

That’s right, I allow humans to function in two classes at the same time in an almost identical fashion as demi-humans.  With many of my players wanting a character with more variety, this led them to selecting a multi-class demi-human. So it seemed giving human characters the same option would give players a more likely chance of choosing the primary race (at least in my campaign). I still allow dual classing as per the PHB rules, although I now extend that to demi-humans as well.

Now when doing this I did not want to give humans a huge advantage, and I wanted the multi-classing to be very similar to a demi-humans so there were a few things I kept in mind. 

 There needed to be level limits.

While a single class human has no limits I felt if I were to allow the introduction of multi-classing it needed to be implemented for those with more than one class.  It made sense to me, after all if the character is not devoting all their time to a single pursuit they will never reach the levels of expertise as someone who does.  This also kept it in line with the multi-classing concept of demi-humans, besides it has always been my opinion the reason level limits were introduced was to limit the power of the multi-classed rather than try and make up for racial abilities.

 One class should be unlimited

Again as with the same concept of demi-humans there should be one class not affected by limits, this way the option to multi-class and still advance no matter how long you play is an option.

 There should be some minor restrictions.

There should be some restrictions on the multi-classed human that demi-humans do not have, and it should be based on the class combinations and prime requisite.

 Include lots of variety

Again going back to the versatility of the human race, this should be reflected in class choices, the humans should outshine demi-humans in this department.

Keeping all this in mind I came up with the following multi-classing rules for humans.

 Allowed class combinations *

*- Humans must have at least a 13 in the prime requisite for each class in a combination.

A few notes on the class combinations. 

You will notice fighter/cleric is absent from the list, this was done on purpose as the paladin (a human only class) serves as a de facto fighter/cleric and I did not want to impede on that classes niche as a holy warrior.

You will also see there are no druid combinations. It is my opinion that the druid class does not lend itself to multi-classing.  A druid’s role is so defined and specific I just don’t see it as being part of a combination.  I also do not use Unearthed Arcana, as such in my campaign only humans can be druids and there are no multi-class druids at all.  If you do use Unearthed Arcana and allow druid multi-classing I would say extend any druid demi-human available class combinations to humans as well.

You will see no monk class combinations.  As above I do not feel this is a class that should be shared with another, a monk’s specific behavior and requirements doesn’t lend to sharing with a second class.

There are no three class combinations.  This was also done on purpose, I feel being effective in two classes is certainly achievable, however adding a third simply becomes to taxing.

You will not see the cavalier, barbarian, or acrobat classes listed.  Again I do not use the Unearthed Arcana (I don’t even own a copy anymore) so I did not include any of those classes.  As above if you allow multi-classing using these classes to demi-humans, then allow those same combinations for humans as well.

Multi-Class Level Limits *

Class Level Limit
Fighter U
Thief 12
Assassin 6
Magic-User 10
Illusionist 7
Cleric 8
Ranger 7

*- I chose fighter as the human unlimited class because no one is better at making war.


  • If one of the selected classes is cleric then the character must abide by cleric weapon restrictions.
  • If one of the selected classes is magic-user of illusionist then the character will be restricted to non-bulky armor.
  • If one of the selected classes is thief or assassin then the character must abide by thief armor restrictions.

 There you have it. This may not be a fit for everyone’s campaign and that’s fine, but if you have an interest in giving human characters a little more flexibility these are the guidelines I used.  I had two players who took me up on this option and I did not find that it unbalanced the campaign in any way.  I hope this will at least get you thinking about the concept, even if you don’t use my guidelines above maybe it will help you develop your own.

The Looking Glass

I want to let everyone know I have released another module through Dragonsfoot.  HM5- Isensan’s Secret this is the final installment of the Harold the Hedge Mage saga presented in HM1 and HM2 the evil behind the troubles in the Rashtan area is revealed.

I also would like to remind everyone of the contest I posted last week, I have only had a couple of entries so far and would love some more.

I am in the process of writing a new module.  I would like you the reader to submit to me a new monster.  The winning monster will be posted in this section of a future column and will also make an appearance in the new module when it is published.

 The ground rules

  • The module is for levels 1-3 so the monster must be level appropriate.
  • The monster should be something that would be comfortable living underground.
  • It should be written up in a style similar to a Monster Manual entry (Frequency, No appearing, etc.)
  • The monster should be something new and not simply a variation of an existing monster.
  • The monster should NOT be undead.
  • Send entries in email to by September 17th

6 comments on “More Human than Human”

  1. sogboj

    Very interesting article! The thing with humans is they are the baseline around which the other races’ stats/limits are based on. So if you give humans a bonus then what is the baseline? You could make elves the baseline with no changes and then give humans a +2 strenth and -1 Int and -1 wisdom. But like you said, this is a human centric game so humans have no changes to stats or level limits.

  2. Levanon

    I actually quite like the idea of allowing a human to +1/-1. I think it works well mechanically, might help people get into some of the harder-to-qualify-for races, and thematically fits with my idea of humans being ambitious creatures who would go to great lengths to achieve something. I’m definitely going to adopt this.

    Human multi-classing I’m not so sure about… While the arguments are all solid, in my mind I’m not sure I can see humans accomplishing -that- much in the span of their lifetime. But, if my players ask about multi-classing a human, I don’t think I’d be opposed.

  3. ChrisL

    +1/-1 for humans: depending on your method of character creation, it could be moot anyway, as long as 18 max ability limits are observed. Someone else on the ‘cast, I think, mentioned about giving human races in Greyhawk (Flan, Suel, etc.) different stat adjustments. If I were starting a new campaign, I’d steal this idea.
    I’ve always considered that it’s the Demi-humans’ very nature that allows them to multiclass, and that humans just don’t have the right stuff. Dual-classing, on the other hand, almost seems to contradict this – and brings up a sticking point for me. Levanon remarks about long demi-human lives versus short human lives limiting the ability to multi-class; but in any campaign, all level progression is occurring in the same spans of time, typically game months or a few years for at least the first 4 -5 levels. It doesn’t matter if a character race lives a hundred or a thousand years – the characters are progressing in the same span of time. If advancing from level 1 to level 2 took a decade, this defense could work. It’s too bad, because I like Levanon’s point, but I can’t see it applying in this discussion. It could easily apply to an argument for removing level limits entirely, though…which is also something I won’t do in my campaign.
    I’m in such a conundrum, so I just go pretty much btb.
    Chris L/Anachronistes

  4. skytwo

    A smart idea for campaigns encouraging ‘humanocentric’ play. Limiting development in classes that openly or implicitly require the most dedication (illusionists or assassins) makes sense, or DMs could go by individual stats (limiting MU advancement by intelligence or thieving skills by dexterity).

    Another idea that could encourage players not only to play humans but to let the dice fall where they may could be to reverse the rule for XP bonuses based on stats– e.g., giving bonuses to thieves with low dexterity or clerics with a lower wisdom score. After all, those gains will be hard-won and a character stands to learn more from the effort.

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