Before starting to pick your race and class, you should have thought what kind of character you want to play and what strength and weaknesses he/she might have. Since there are things like ability modifiers, building a balanced character is important right from the beginning of the game unless you want your character to progress as seriously flawed. For instance, a fighting character with a negative strength modifier will find it hard to develop in-game since that is one of his primary abilities.
In RPG’s, some races are usually more apt at one area or skill, therefore you can choose the race in relation to what class you might play, i.e. an orc who’s a barbarian or an elf who’s a wizard. Modifiers also change for every race, although no race gets an intelligence modifier in Neverwinter. Here are the in-game races:
Humans have no particular inclination as to what class they choose. They are equally as good fighters as they are wizards, therefore the human race would count as a good starting point for new players. Humans initially get no stats adjustment but gain a free feat at first level.
Halflings are usually quite small, strength not being their focus. Being small naturally means they can move quicker and are more nimble than stocky characters which also means they are not very good at melee fighting or hand-to-hand. The Halfling race has a +2 dexterity and a -2 strength modifier (negative modifier). This basically means they make good thieves and rogues, also being handy with throwing weapons (i.e. bullets, knives etc…).
Elves are quite often the noblest of races in many pen-and-paper campaigns, as in ‘Forgotten Realms’ or ‘Dragonlance’. Elves have slim bodies, are quite agile and are natural archers. They also have immunity to many forms of enchantments and have a natural sense of orientation being at one with nature. The best class for an elf would be a wizard, although the negative constitution modifier would make you think otherwise. The Elven race has a +2 dexterity and -2 constitution modifier.
Dwarves are usually quite short and stocky, and are not easily distracted especially during hand-to-hand combat. They favour axes and two-handed swords, and are immune to many forms of magic casting. Strength and a healthy constitution are crucial to a dwarf and therefore they make fighters or barbarians with great destructive powers. A dwarf has a +2 Constitution and a -2 Charisma modifier.
Gnomes are quite a complex race, since they are related to dwarves but do not have the same strength and are more tolerant with other races. Gnomes generally favour the arts and are highly skilled magicians, particularly illusionists. Their weapon of choice is a light bow or dagger, but they often do not enter close combat. In some instances Gnomes make good bards, although they do not have a charisma modifier. Gnomes have a +2 Constitution and a -2 Strength modifier.
The half-orc has partly inherited human characteristics, although with custom races you can choose to just play an orc. The half-orc is a very limited race when choosing a class since he has two negative modifiers. Although you do see orc-wizards around, it’s not recommended if you are just starting out. An half-orc has natural abilities to hunt at night time or in darkness, and has unearthly (or untorillic) endurance to physical damage. The half-orc favours large and heavy weapons such as the long sword or great axe and can wear most forms of armour plates. The half-orc has a +2 strength a -2 Intelligence a -2 charisma modifier.
That gives you an idea of the various races present in-game, what their primary stats are and what they are best suited to. As you become a better player you can of course choose to ignore the basics of character creation, and create a character which purposely has weaknesses in some areas, as a bit of a challenge particularly for multiplayer games.
In the next guide, or part 2, we’ll begin look at character classes and making the best of what you’ve chosen to play.