The Six Main Races
Humans first appeared in Wesnoth from a land far across the ocean to the West, the Green Isle. They do not possess much magic, though they can learn it, and can learn many more types of it than most others. They have no extra special abilities or aptitudes except their versatility and drive. Although often at odds with all races, they can occasionally form alliances with the less aggressive races such as elves and dwarves, and the less scrupulous among them do not shrink back from hiring orcish mercenaries, either. They have no natural enemies, although the majority of humans, like most people of all races, have an instinctive dislike of the undead. Men are shorter than the elves, but taller still than dwarves or orcs.
Many different groups of humans exist, but the majority of humans live in the country of Wesnoth. These are protected by the soldiers of the Wesnothian Army, the most organized military force in the known world. Its warriors come from the main provinces, where all men are conscripted at an early age, or from the eastern plains, where the art of horseriding and archery are taught from birth.
Bands of outlaw humans roam the wild areas of the Great Continent, stealing from unprotected villages. Most would run in fear if faced by a true army, but the more skilled of them would not be afraid to walk right into an opponent's camp, assassinate their leader, and run away.
Although the art of necromancy is outlawed in Wesnoth, some mages choose to practice it, starting them on the road to Lichdom.
Elves are the elder race. They are skilled with the bow and arrow - almost all of them carry one - and are also good with the sword. They do not use many weapons but these, although they are in command of powerful magic, and do use it when needed. Physically, Elves are quite tall, and seem even taller due to their slimness. They are peaceful beings, but will fight against any who enter their homeland unasked. They live mostly in the forests of the Southwest, although some choose to live in the harsh Northlands.
Orcs are a race of fierce, brown-skinned human-like creatures found across the wild places of the world. They came from across the sea, following the humans of the Green Isle. They are violent, quick-tempered, and belligerent, and hold an ancient hatred for the race of elves. Although orcs are disorganized and prone to infighting, warbands under a strong leader can cut bloody inroads into the boundaries where civilization meets wilderness. Most live in the Northland, away from the settled land of Wesnoth, whose people they are more often than not at war with. They are a greedy race, and often can be found fighting under the banner of a lich-lord or human, hoping to gain riches from those they defeat.
Goblins are a different breed than the orcs, smaller and weaker, but quicker. However, since they are the same species, they are considered by most the same race.
Dwarves were living on the Great Continent before Haldric arrived, but they were also immigrants, like him, coming from the East across the mountains. Dwarves are the height of human children, but are stronger than even fully grown men. They are a solitary folk, cautious and slow to anger, but once their anger is roused they are terrible fighters. Wielding many weapons with equal skill, dwarves are effective against many different races. They see in pitch darkness due to their constant work underground, and their heavy armor protects them against almost any physical attack, although magic can harm them effectively. The most skilled smiths of any in the realm, they are often hired by foreign kings to craft magical items, and the weapons and jewelry they make have been the cause of numerous wars.
As their race's name means, these are lost souls caught between this realm and next. Themselves deprived of life, they wish to likewise deprive all others of it. They are created by Necromancers, practitioners of dark magic, and are controlled by them when raised. After the necromancer controlling them dies, they remain in this world, and continue fighting for a purpose noone, perhaps not even themselves, know. Most of them are strong against physical attacks, but are weak against fire and holy assaults. Since they do not require bodily warmth to survive, cold is very ineffectual against them.
Drakes are the sons of dragons, almost the last legacy of those mighty beasts. Most of the race can fly and spit fire. When the fire in their body is extinguished so is their life. Because of this they are weak against cold, but they are good against most other attacks. However, due to their soft underbellies, "sharp, pointy weapons" have always been their weakness, a characteristic most consider very dragonlike. They are heavy and move slowly, but once they reach their enemy they are devastating. Their homeland was an island named Morogor, located between Wesnoth and the Green Isle, but it slowly sank into the sea, and now many of them are nomads, flying over the sea looking for a place to settle undisturbed.
There are other races than these six main ones. They often align with the larger races, but these alliances are usually not permanent.
These are the smaller, more crafty allies of the Drakes. They often live in swamps or other damp places.
The Merfolk live in the shallow parts of the ocean, wary of the monsters that lurk in the deep. Ordinarily they form alliances with no one, but in Asheviere's time they allied with the elves in order to defeat their captors. Mermen are powerful and quick in any watery environment, but struggle greatly to move on land.
The long time enemies of the Merfolk, and in Asheviere's time allied with orcs to finally defeat their opponents. They usually join forces with anyone willing to help them defeat the mermen.
The Ogres are wild beasts that live in the Northlands, but the Wesnothian army occasionally captures them and trains them for battle. They are extremely brutish and stupid, but possess enough intelligence to wield a weapon.
The Trolls are slightly more intelligent than Ogres, and ally with the Orcs whenever their shared homeland is in danger. However, most of the time they avoid each other.
There are many monsters that roam about the land, not obeying anyone's orders. Occasionally, but not often, those who see them survive to tell the tale, and it is only from them that the people of Wesnoth know of their existence.