First off, apologies for this being late. Without getting too personal, my time was eaten up by a move, an illness, and a death in the family. Things ought to be smoother from here on out.
And now: the basic crunchies of the Thrice-Tenth Kingdom. Sure, you don’t necessarily know the setting well enough to play yet — but if you can’t wait till the next column for further elaboration, you can fill in most of the blanks by checking out a book on Russian myth.
I highly recommend eliminating all PC races other than human; the TTK setting simply doesn’t harmonize well with a Forgotten Realms-like plethora of races. However, if you or your players just hates the idea of restricting character creation to that extent, use this compromise: humans, dwarves, and elves, as follows.
Humans are precisely as they appear in the Player’s Handbook.
Dwarves dwell in caverns and grottos in, around, and below the hills which surround the forests. They have the same racial abilities as the standard dwarves in the Player’s Handbook, except: ignore the language notes, and use +1 Strength, +1 Constitution, -2 Charisma for ability modifiers. Dwarves tend towards crankiness, and are loners by nature; their settlements are loose groupings at best, and every dwarf does his best to remain self-sufficient. Typically, a male dwarf does not live with his mate, who raises his children; indeed, marriage, while it exists, is a rare institution among dwarfkind. Some of the most legendary dwarven heroes …