Race defines the characters species: human, elf, dwarf, gnome, half-elf, or halfling. Race can limit a character's choice of classes.
Humans are the predominant race in Faerūn, and they rule most of the significant empires and kingdoms in the Forgotten Realms. Humans may choose any class, or dual-class if they wish.
Dwarves are short stocky humanoids with ruddy cheeks, dark eyes, and dark hair. Though there are exceptions, they tend to be a dour and taciturn people. Dwarves have a natural resistance to magic and poison and possess infravision, which allows them to see warm objects in the dark. Dwarves gain a bonus to Constitution, but a penalty to Charisma.
Elves tend to be shorter and slimmer than humans with delicate features. Elves are generally looked upon as being frivolous and aloof. Elves have a natural resistance to charm and sleep magic, possess infravision, and are skilled in the use of the bow and long sword. Elves gain a bonus to Dexterity, but a penalty to Constitution.
Kin to dwarves, gnomes are noticeably smaller than their distant cousins. (Gnomes, as they proudly maintain, are also less rotund than dwarves.) Most have dark tan or brown skin, white hair, and rather large noses. Gnomes have natural resistance to magic and can see in the dark with infravision. They gain a bonus to Intelligence, but a penalty to Wisdom.
Halflings are short, generally plump people, much like small humans. Their faces are round and broad, and often quite florid. Their hair is typically curly, and the tops of their feet are covered with coarse hair. Halflings are highly resistant to poisons and magic, are naturally skilled with slings as weapons, and have a limited ability to see in the dark. They receive a bonus to Dexterity, but a penalty to Strength.
Half-elves are a mix of human and elven blood. They are handsome folk, combining the best of both races. A half-elf has the curiosity, inventiveness, and ambition of their human ancestors, and the refined senses, love of nature, and artistic tastes of their elven heritage. Half-elves have a limited resistance to Charm and Sleep spells and can see in the dark with infravision.