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 are female dwarves who, against every more of their culture, leave their children with their male mate and run off to seek adventure.
Elves are extremely rare; there are six small, tightly-knit tribes which dwell in the Kingdom’s forests. For game purposes, these six tribes are identical; the differences between them are slight, and important only to the elves themselves (the Ruskovoi tribe might use arrows fletched with crimson feathers, for instance, while the Dramaki tribe uses arrows fletched in grey). They receive a +2 bonus to Dexterity, a +2 bonus to Charisma, and a -1 penalty to Constitution, and a loss of one hit point per hit die; this penalty cannot bring a hit die’s total to less than 1, of course. If the elf has a particularly high Constitution, the highest hit point bonus he may receive, after deducting his racial penalty, is 1 hit point her hit die. Elves are not specifically frail, but they are slight of build, and vulnerable to the diseases which plague the lands outside their tribal holdings. They’re particularly fast, as well, with a movement rate twice that of humans; and they are immune to magical influences of the mind (i.e., charm spells — but not the enchantment school, or illusions, or charm effects caused by more powerful spells such as wish. No saving throw is required.) They receive a +1 to hit bonus with bows, on which they must spend their first weapon proficiency. None of the other racial abilities from the Player’s Handbook apply.