First name the five, the free peoples:
Eldest of all, the elf-children;
Dwarf the delver, dark are his houses;
Ent the earthborn, old as mountains;
Man the mortal, master of horses;
And half-grown hobbits, the hole-dwellers."
Modern fantasy fiction, especially that set within a Standard Fantasy Setting, tends to make recurring use of specific sets of fantasy races (or species, or peoples, or whatever else a given work may call them). These, besides using consistent names and appearances, also tend to take very specific roles and places in worldbuilding.
Fantasy races typically tend to fall into a handful of in-universe categories, chiefly a collection of civilized races and a collection of barbaric monstrous ones, with the first group on the side of good (or at least on the side of the protagonists) and the second on the side of evil (or at least on the antagonists'). The civilized races typically include humans and a handful of elder races, usually dwarves and elves. These older groups will be the ones to have first created advanced civilizations, but may have reduced to a more minor presence in recent times, while humanity will be a more recent arrival. The civilized races often form The Alliance to fight the forces of evil, but there might be a conflict between the more industrialized races (such as humans and dwarves) and those closer to nature (such as elves and fairies).
The barbarians and monsters will instead form a loose collection of tribes, hordes and disorganized groups, and tend to have an antagonistic relationship with civilization. Most often, they can be found living in the wilderness or in desolate areas, until they group together under a charismatic leader or a Dark Lord and head off to wage war on the civilized peoples. This group is often the most numerous and varied, both in and out of universe, and can include a very large number of monstrous creatures. When the The Horde comes calling, it's common for almost every monstrous species in a setting to band together under its banner.
Note that a work may not necessarily call its iteration of a fantasy race the same thing it usually is, but these are still often examples by virtue of sharing a majority of the other traits associated with that race's worldbuilding.
For a work to qualify for this trope, it should feature at least three of the five "common races" (humans, elves, dwarves, orcs and goblins); but the more of them appear, the better. If only one or two of them appear, it's not an example of this trope. Instead of just listing the races, the examples should focus on the relationships between them.
Compare Monster Mash, for another typical array of fantasy creatures. Also compare Loads and Loads of Races (which can overlap with this one, as long as these standard races are included among the many others).
- Humans: The most common race in any given setting, and often the default one for narrative POV. Humans are typically a much younger race than the others (generally meaning that they haven't been civilized as long) and are not typically taken very seriously by older factions. They're also often the most mundane group, being a lot less adept at magic, attuned to the environment, or otherwise "mystical" than others. They're the most likely species to be divided into multiple nations, which will likely be based on various historical civilizations, and tend to be more widespread than other races. These nations often don't get along well with one another; out of all races, humans are the ones most likely to be on both the side of Good and Evil. Humans are often perceived as uncouth and primitive by other civilized factions — in fact, it's far from rare for other groups to perceive humanity as only marginally more tolerable than the barbarian races.
- Elves: Long-lived, pointy-eared and magical. Elves are usually portrayed as a far older civilization than humans, and will likely look down on the latter as unsophisticated children, but as long past their prime; they are usually either a Vestigial Empire or a truly Dying Race. They are usually either found in The Lost Woods, where they live In Harmony with Nature, or in shining marble cities. Different works may blend these two extremes to various degrees or split them between different elven groups, often calling the former Wood Elves and the latter High Elves. They don't get along with dwarves, usually because of some ancient rivalry or slight, and tend to look down on humans as little more than barbarians. Dark elves may be present as a distinct kind of elves, usually with black skin and white hair, who live underground in an evil or at least amoral society; dark and non-dark elves typically despise one another, and dark elves usually have no positive relationships with any other race. Elves are also more likely than any other race to get into an Interspecies Romance with humans, producing half-elves.
- Dwarves: Short, stout, bearded and fond of singing, drinking, mining and fighting. Dwarves — or "dwarfs" — are another group often portrayed as ancient and much more advanced than humanity, but diminishing and declining. Dwarves usually live in immense, richly decorated mountain holds, and are often master craftsmen and smiths. If any one race is making use of machinery and industry at a more than medieval level, it'll often be the dwarves. They don't get along with elves and like orcs even less, but tend to be on decent terms with humanity.
- Orcs: Big, green and warlike folk. Orcs (sometimes spelled "orks") are usually played in one of two ways: the original model has them as primitive, Always Chaotic Evil raiders, despoilers and barbarians, and often a considerable danger to other races and civilizations. More recent works tend to show them in a more positive light, often as Proud Warrior Race Guys with a sophisticated culture of their own that have been forced to the fringes of civilization. In both cases, however, they relate poorly to the other races — in the first case they exist chiefly as a threat for all other groups to unite against; in the second, they tend to be on a social and cultural back foot, and to experience various degrees of discrimination from humans, elves and dwarves.
- Goblins: Small, green and with big ears. Goblins are typically portrayed as essentially smaller and more tech-savvy orcs, and often tend to be strongly associated with them — physical similarities aside, it's common to see goblins hanging around orcs, allying with orcs, or otherwise follow the larger green humanoids' lead to varying degrees. Besides that, they usually have issues with dwarves or are portrayed as foils to them, as they're among the likeliest races to be portrayed as technologically advanced. Hobgoblins sometimes appear as a race similar to goblins, but somewhat larger and more orc-like.
- Beast Men: Various sorts of humanoid animals and zoomorphic humanoids. They're usually closer to nature than other races. Beyond that, they tend to either be some variety of Noble Savage or barbaric raiders, but rarely have a structured civilization comparable to other races'. Cat Folk and minotaurs are among the most common versions; cat people are usually on the side of the heroes even if not strictly civilized, while minotaurs are usually aggressive barbarians.
- Centaurs: Horse-bodied humanoids, sometimes resembling other ungulates. They tend to live away from two-legged peoples' civilization, usually as Barbarian Tribes in the wilderness. They're usually a neutral faction, rarely involving themselves with bigger wars and alliances, but may be part of barbaric or nature-aligned factions.
- Fairies, Nymphs, and Nature Spirits: These may or may not all be the same thing. Dwellers and protectors of the wild places of the world, their personalities can range from benevolent to being The Fair Folk. They're usually on poor terms with groups who advance civilization or despoil the wilderness, especially humans, dwarves and orcs, but may have a better relationship with more nature-friendly groups such as elves or hobbits.
- Giants: The biggest lot around, with their specific size varying wildly. They may sometimes be based on more mystical fairytale giants. Very often, however, they're relegated to being big brutish Smash Mooks long on strength and short on brains. Ogres sometimes appear as a distinct race from giants, typically even less intelligent and more brutish. One-eyed and two-headed variants also appear, typically referred to as "cyclops" and "ettin".
- Gnomes: Small humanoid creatures, sharing traits with both dwarves and fairies; typically more magical than the former but uglier and less graceful than the latter. They also typically dwell in wild places, though in some settings they are very technologically advanced. They're often the Good Counterpart of goblins in settings where both races coexist.
- Hobbits: Also known as "halflings". A small people who live in pastoral country and like simple pleasures. They're rarely a particularly powerful or influential faction, but depending on the context may be portrayed as having a down-to-earth, folksy wisdom other races lack.
- Lizard Folk: Reptilian humanoids, usually leaning more towards reptilian than humanoid. They're typically found in swamps and jungles, but may sometimes inhabit deserts. They're usually either barbaric savages in the wilderness or an ancient, glorious empire that predated all other civilizations. It's not uncommon for these two portrayals to overlap, with the modern savages being the degenerate descendants of the ancient empire.
- Treants: A specific kind of Plant Person, resembling humanoid trees. They are typically forest guardians who keep to themselves and defend the wilderness from intruders, but they might be on good terms or even associate with races that are closer to nature, such as elves, fairies or forest gnomes.
- Trolls: Most fantasy settings have creatures named "trolls" — but the creatures bearing that name vary very much between settings. Often they are hulking brutes similar to giants and ogres, but other times they are small creatures resembling goblins or gnomes. They might be good or evil, hairy or bald, wise or stupid. Often they are associated with stones (sometimes having the ability to turn into stone themselves).
- Demons: Ancient, Always Chaotic Evil beings, often possessing dark magic. In appearance, they might be humanoid, animalistic or strange and incomprehensible. If they join The Horde, they are either the leaders (the Dark Lord himself is often a demon of some kind), or at least Elite Mooks. They often have offspring with humanoids, leading to half-demons who still wield some of their parents' infernal magic.
- Dire Beasts: Larger, more powerful variants of mundane animals, typically befitting the Animal Stereotypes about their species. Sometimes they are non-sapient animals, but often they are have some kind of sapience, and may even be spirits in animal form. Dire wolves (often called "wargs" or "worgs") and Giant Spiders are especially common. They often serve as exotic mounts for the various humanoid races (humans will typically ride regular horses) — wolves for the orcs and goblins, giant goats for the dwarves, deer or big cats for the elves, giant lizards or dinosaurs for the lizardfolk, and so forth. This may lead into Medieval Prehistory, as Ice Age megafauna such as mammoths, saber-toothed cats and dire wolves are often used in this capacity.
- Dragons: Giant, winged, firebreathing reptiles. Fantasy dragons are usually based on western portrayals, but may borrow any number of elements from Eastern ones as well. They're almost always absurdly powerful and dangerous creatures, with a great love for gold and a great deal of arrogance. Traditional portrayals have them as ravening monsters or just plain evil; modern works often depict them as more talkative or at least morally neutral, but often still very detached from human morality and concerns. Occasionally, more benevolent dragons will form a bond with individual mortals, even allowing to ride them.
- Elementals: Creatures based on the Elements of Nature — usually, but not exclusively, the four classical ones. Earth elementals tend to be strong and sturdy, air elementals are swift and agile, fire elementals are aggressive and destructive, and water elementals are often gentle with healing powers, but all four can be forces to be reckoned with. They are typically neutral and independent, but both good and evil magic-users can tame them and make them do their bidding.
- Undead: Most fantasy settings have some form of living dead, should they be ghosts, ghouls, vampires, or zombies. The undead are more of an alternate type of being rather than a separate and distinct race; they could've been human or nonhuman when they were alive (including any one of the aforementioned races/species listed above). They are typically seen as being inherently evil and unnatural, but may sometimes actually be benevolent instead. If they are part of The Horde, even the other barbaric races, like the orcs and goblins, will fear and mistrust them.
- Goblin Slayer: As the series takes place in a Standard Fantasy Setting, the races are pretty much what you'd expect there. The Human race is, of course, the "standard" race of the setting. The Dwarf race are characterized by their physical strength and resilience. The Elf race are characterized by their affinity for magic. The Lizardman race are the most exotic of all the races, a race of humanoid reptiles normally portrayed as enemy mooks in most versions of this setting. There are also the Rhea; a race of small, child-like humanoids, and the Padfoot; a race of partially animal humanoids. And of course, as the title suggests, the primary enemies are goblins, with an ogre, a troll, a dragon, a dark elf and several types of undead also appearing.
- Bright takes the standard fantasy races and puts them in a modern Urban Fantasy setting, with a lot of Fantastic Racism. Humans are the most mundane and most numerous ones, and have within-species racism, such as Americans disliking Mexicans. Elves are the snobbish elite who look down on the other races, whereas orcs are mostly lower class and form urban gangs. Orcs also get the most hate from other races due to being the mooks of The Dark Lord back when the world was a Standard Fantasy Setting (despite the fact that the Dark Lord was an elf and the hero who defeated him was an orc). Fairies are common, non-sapient pests; a human killing one is seen as a disturbing act, but not a crime. There are references to "the nine races", suggesting that other stock fantasy races also exist.
- The Death Gate Cycle: Humans are the most overtly mundane race in the setting, elves are long-lived, magical and aloof, and dwarves are stout, strong, like living underground and are good with machinery. There are also dragons, which depending on the specific kind are either ravening animals or powerful, intelligent beings who remain aloof from the humanoid civilizations.
- Discworld: Humans, dwarfs and trolls — the latter being humanoid Rock Monsters — are the most common sapient species on the Disc. Humans are the most widespread and culturally diverse, with dwarfs and trolls either living in their own communities in the mountains or as minorities in human cities. There are also a variety of fairy beings, such as gnomes and the pictsies, who mostly live in the wilderness away from civilization, and the elves, who are more along the lines of The Fair Folk and live outside of the Disc itself, only entering it periodically to raid.
- Inheritance Cycle: Alagaësia is home to humans, who are the primary point-of-view race and divided among a number of nations and cultures; elves, ancient and immortal forest-dwellers who wield powerful magic, isolate themselves from the outside world and don't generally have a very high opinion of humanity; and dwarves, a proud and clannish people who live in richly decorated holds beneath the mountains. These three groups form a loose alliance united against an evil human empire and the urgals, a barbaric people who are essentially orcs with horns and live in isolated wildernesses (however, like a lot of more recent depictions they're not always chaotic evil, switching to the good guys' side after learning the Big Bad manipulated them into fighting his battles for him). There are also the dragons, powerful but often animalistic beings who by the books' time are all but extinct. Like many dragons in modern fantasy, they're dangerous but also very intelligent, speaking with telepathy and sometimes bonding to elves or humans who become their riders.
- Tolkien's Legendarium: As one of the Trope Codifiers, Arda is home to humans, elves, dwarves and hobbits as "the Free Peoples", and to the Always Chaotic Evil orcs and monstrous, ogre-like trolls as the primary Mooks of the Dark Lord. Goblins, unlike in later works, are another name for orcs. There are also a few human nations (like the Haradrim and the Easterlings) who joined the Dark Lord. Other creatures are ents and giant eagles on the side of good, and wargs, dragons, the demonic balrogs and giant spiders (which are the spawn of the Eldritch Abomination Ungoliant) on the side of evil. There are at least also two types of undead: the Ringwraiths were mortal kings who have been corrupted and now serve the Dark Lord, whereas the Army of the Dead are oathbreakers who seek to fulfill their oath by aiding the True King of Gondor.
- Villains by Necessity: The book, as a parody of much High Fantasy, features these. Humans make up the majority, as ever. There's only one elf left, Mizzamir, since his people moved to another world. However, their portrayal (the wise, all good, often woods dwelling long-lived or immortal folk) sticks with the usual. Arcie has most of the usual hobbit or halfling characteristics, though his people are still humans, simply smaller ones from the north (with Scottish accents), being a short, hairy and mischievous man. He is a thief and a black sheep, as the others are said to be honest, more down to earth folks. In fairness though, Tolkien stated hobbits were just pigmy humans too originally. Kaylana is basically just a dark elf, though her species' origin is never given explicitly. There is also a good dragon, who's vegetarian regarding humans, can talk and has human-level intelligence. More unusually is Robin the centaur. He's a nervous and shy fellow, but his species are said to be more like the original legends (wild horse folk) while his people are the only civilized ones. There are also mentions of orcs, trolls and other standard fantasy "evil" races, plus a couple new ones in one Test which don't differ much, though most are gone due to the Light's victory, with heroes having killed most others afterward. On a minor note, the wilderkin somewhat subvert this as they're not standard (although the one that we see the most is a bit like a hobbit), as short, somewhat hairy woods-dwelling folk who are fierce and territorial in their own homeland (hunting with fox dogs).
- The War Gods has technologically skilled dwarfs who used to rely on Magitek but have recently begun industrializing, mystical and immortal elves who retreated into seclusion after the fall of their empire, widespread humans who can have children with any other race, sneaky halflings nobody else trusts, and the Proud Warrior Race of the hradani fox-people.
- The Witcher: Humans are the most common race in the world, having the largest number of nations and often dominating the others through sheer numbers, despite having been one of the most recent groups to develop civilization and having only entered the world relatively recently to begin with. Dwarves are known for their strength, battle prowess and mechanical skill, and are one of the oldest civilizations in the setting. Elves are the most magically inclined and technologically advanced race, but their empires fell long ago and they've been in decline ever since. Dragons are intelligent but reclusive beings, and often hunted by the humanoid races.
- Norse Mythology is the Ur-Example of this, being the main inspiration for Tolkien's Legendarium. Humans are the natives of Midgard, one of the Nine Realms, and are pretty much regular humans. Elves are divided between "light elves" and "dark elves". The former are natives to Ljusalfheim (or simply Alfheim), and are beautiful, magical beings, though not particularly benevolent. The latter, from Svartalfheim, may or may not be the same as "dwarves", depending on the myth. They are dark-haired, pale-skinned, they dwell in the darkness (often underground) and are talented craftsmen. Dwarves, when distinct from dark elves, are said to be born from the body of the giant Ymir, and are portrayed as the underground-dwelling miners and jewel-crafters familiar from modern fantasy. There are also the ice giants of Niflheim, the fire giants of Muspelheim and the "regular" giants of Jotunheim. Trolls also originate from Norse mythology, typically pictured as roughly man-sized, hairy, swarthy and ugly beings who dwell in the mysterious forest. They sometimes kidnap human children and replace them with their own offspring, then make the human changelings work for them.
- The six realms of Buddhism: humans, animals (which includes Nagas (lizard/snake people) and yakshas (dwarves/goblins) among others), prettas (undead), asuras (giants), devas (elves) and maras (demons).
- The Dark Eye: The primary races in the setting are humans (widespread and culturally dominant, and split between multiple cultures, nations and ethnicities), elves (hunter-gatherers In Harmony with Nature, highly magical, and descended from an ancient, fallen empire), dwarves (sturdy mountain-dwellers descended from another fallen empire, but with a few highly iconoclastic factions), orcs (hairy barbarians who began as a purely evil adventure fodder but were later developed into a more honorable, albeit still barbaric and hostile, culture), and goblins (small, clever and weak, but dangerous in numbers, and often bossed around by the orcs). There are also bestial dragons, nymphs and fairies, powerful but pacifistic trolls, and assorted fantasy monsters.
- Dungeons & Dragons: The core playable races have historically been generic and diverse humans, mystical and forest-dwelling elves, half-elves torn between two worlds, gruff and honorable dwarves who live in mountain holds, halflings usually found in human lands, and gnomes who live in tune with nature. The game later came to include more varied races, such as half-orcs, dragonborn, tieflings (humanoids of demonic origin), aasimar (humanoids of angelic origin), genasi (humanoids of elemental origin) and various Beast Men, Bird People and Lizard Folk, who tend to be much less culturally dominant than the central races. The evil races have traditionally included the goblinoids (goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears) and the orcs, who are bitter enemies, alongside a variety of brutish giants, ogres and trolls. Treants, dragons, demons and loads of other standard fantasy creatures exist as non-playable monsters.
- Magic: The Gathering: The primary races associated with the five colors of Mana, which are well-represented in almost every world, are the civilized but fractious humans for White, the forest-dwelling and mystical elves for Green, the chaotic and aggressive but none-too-bright goblins for Red, various forms of The Undead for Black, and reclusive and sorcerous merfolk for Blue. Other recurring races include dwarves, Red/White mountain-dwellers skilled with crafts and fierce in war; Red/Black orcs, usually found as raiders, warriors and barbarians; powerful, ferocious and destructive dragons; and wise and ancient treefolk whom only the elves have regular contact with. Alliances and enmities change from setting to setting, but tend to fall along color lines — most factions get along with ones aligned with the same color or allied ones, but are opposed to ones from enemy colors (humans and elves are usually opposed to the undead, for instance).
- Pathfinder largely inherits the pattern developed in D&D, with humans who rule most nations and civilizations, reclusive dwarves and elves who remain in scattered holdouts of their ancient, fallen empires, halflings and fey gnomes who live in other races' lands, and half-elves and half-orcs often left as outcasts. Monster races include the goblins, hobgoblins and orcs, whose long histories of war against the other races have left them distrusted and despised, but have begun to attempt to integrate better in global politics while forming closer ties with each other, as well as ancient and powerful dragons, reclusive treants and fey who distrust anyone intruding in their forests, and a variety of Snake People and Lizard Folk whose empires were ancient before any warm-blooded nation arose.
- Shadowrun: The new metahuman breeds formed from humanity with the return of magic are, besides humanity itself, dwarves (short and stout, and good with technology), elves (long-lived, magical and reclusive, and often disdainful of other metahumans), and orks and trolls usually scorned and discriminated against by others, forcing them onto the fringes of society, but who tend to get along well with each other as a result. There are also variants of the main metahuman breeds, such as gnomes, nymphs, and giants; the ancient, powerful and arrogant dragons; and a number of less prominent species derived from Awakened animals, such as centaurs.
- Warhammer: Humans are the most common species in the setting, and have the greatest cultural and nation diversity. Dwarfs are reclusive mountain-dwellers who despise the elves and orcs, but have a close alliance with humanity. Elves are divided between the usual High, Wood and Dark kindreds; the High Elves are nominally allied with humanity but view them as little better than apes, and are bitter enemies of the dwarfs due to lingering bitterness over an ancient war; the Wood Elves are intensely isolationist and only get along with forest spirits and animals, alongside whom their aggressively defend their forest home; and the Dark Elves are slavers and raiders despised by everyone else. There are also the bloodthirsty orcs and their goblin lackeys, who are in constant war with each other and everyone else, and the barbaric but more reasonable ogres of the high mountains, as well as lumbering dim-witted giants, brutish trolls who often ally with monstrous factions, immensely ancient dragons who often raid civilization for treasure, and eldritch daemons worshipped by the Chaos Hordes.
- Age of Wonders: The series features a large selection of races divided among Good, Neutral and Evil ones. The Good races include elves, dwarves and halflings, the Neutral ones two human cultures and tiger-like Cat Folk, and the Evil ones dark elves, orcs, goblins, demons and the undead.
- Divinity: Original Sin II: The humans are the usual pseudo-medieval civilization, the elves are reclusive forest-dwellers with a few unique attributes added such as their use of Blood Magic and Cannibalism Superpower, the lizards rule an ancient empire constantly at odds with the other polities, and the dwarves are, unusually, gifted seamen and magicians. There are other races in the setting, most notably imps, orcs, and demons, but they're mostly in the background.
- Dragon Age has humans, elves and dwarves. Humans are the most widespread race and divided between several nations, the elves are mostly an oppressed social underclass and the dwarves live in isolation Beneath the Earth.
- Dragon Quest X has powerful, warlike ogres, fairy-like elves, technologically skilled dwarves and — unusually — very rare humans.
- Dwarf Fortress: The civilization-building races are the dwarves (who you play as), the humans (your most common allies and trade partners), the elves (who will go to war with whoever threatens their forests), and the goblins (who will war with anyone and everyone, and are often ruled by demons). Other species in the world include a tremendous variety of barbaric animal people, thieving gnomes, and a selection of giants, cyclopes and ettins who mostly just raid other people. Dragons, hydras and similar monsters appear as rare megabeasts that occasionally attack cities and fortresses.
- The Elder Scrolls: The people of Tamriel are divided into three groups: Men, Mer (Elves), and the Beast Races. These groups, especially the Men and Mer, historically do not get along with their conflicts compromising much of Tamriellic history. The Mer are further split between the Altmer (High Elves), Bosmer (Wood Elves), Dunmer (Dark Elves), and the outcast Orsimer (Orcs). The Beast races include the Cat Folk Khajiit, often loosely allied with the Altmer, and the Lizard Folk Argonians, tribal swamp-folk used by the Dunmer as a Slave Race before biting back in the early 4th Era.
- World of Warcraft: The setting's races are divided between two factions, the Alliance — comprising the usual "civilized" races — and the Horde — comprising the usual "barbaric" ones. In the original version, the Alliance consisted of humans, dwarves, gnomes and night elves (a purple-skinned subrace of elves closely connected with nature), whereas the Horde consisted of orcs, tauren, trolls (here a tribal, Hollywood Voodoo-practicing race) and the Forsaken undead (who broke free from the Lich King's service). Expansions added the draenei (a blue-skinned, hooved, demonic-looking but noble race) and worgen (werewolves) to the Alliance and blood elves (light-skinned elves corrupted by their hunger for magic) and goblins to the Horde. Outside of these are the undead of the Scourge, the demons of the Burning Legion, and the dragons. The former two groups are evil terrors and enemies of all other beings, while the dragons are ancient keepers of the world who mostly remain aloof from the younger races' politics.
- Might and Magic and Heroes of Might and Magic: the Enroth setting (MMVI to VIII, HOMMI to HOMMIII) have... pretty much everything on the list except for gnomesnote . Because of shifting alliances, regional variation and racial diversity it is hard to summarise racial relationships — for example, while the minotaurs over in Nighon are tightly integrated and can be found rubbing shoulders with humans and others at the top, in Jadame they built a small kingdom of their own, while in the Kingdom of Enroth the ones left after Heroes II try to kill other races on sight (before and during Heroes II, they were a slave race). Generally, orcs and goblins tend to stick with more 'barbaric' societies, humans can be found pretty much everywhere, elves tend to live in more 'civilized' kingdoms and dwarves tend to live in kingdoms of their own that are closely allied to someone else.