We asked DMs for their favorite twist on low-CR races and here are the top 8 responses.
1. Kobold Hive “The relationship between kobolds and dragons is like worker bees and a queen bee. The kobolds serve their dragon, but if the dragon dies somehow, the kobolds will treat one of their eggs to make a new one. Also, goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears are the three sexes of goblinoid. You need all three to make offspring.” -Eitan B
2. Paper Golems “In the Library of Chespin, abandoned even before the Chespin family came into power, a shelf of paper golems (that's what you call a group of paper golems, a shelf) learned to use the old paper making machine and has since turned their small group of unemployed servants into a small society complete with a king. Any good kingdom tends to have its share of villainy, and in this case it's an invading group of inklings that have claimed parts of the library. The two groups battle for territory and control throughout the library, seen only by the Librarian's pet who doesn't take sides but suffers no intruders on his part of the library.” -Michael B.
3. Chameleon Kobolds “My Kobolds are chameleon-esque, that can change their scale color at will. Depending on which type of dragon they're currently serving, they change their looks to match the color of the dragon. Come across a group of Blue Kobolds? This is now an indicator that a Blue Dragon likely lairs nearby. A draconic territory dispute resulted in said Blue Dragon being slain by a rival Red Dragon? The community of Kobolds simply change their scales to red, to now properly emulate/serve their new master. Kobold allegiances are fickle, and can change on a whim.” -Jimmy W.
4. Junkie Goblins “Every time a goblin succeeds on a saving throw, it feels a deep sense of satisfaction and doesn't need to eat or drink for a few days, maybe a week. Goblins understand this intuitively, but they can't really explain it intellectually. Nobody else experiences this, either. This is why goblins are always doing reckless crap, living near lava vents, "domesticating" basilisks, and taunting large armies of elves into open warfare. It feels great!” -Steve L.
5. Orc Gangs “In my world, and using the movie “Gangs of New York” as inspiration, a small band of orcs has been uniting the tribes under one banner. One orc chieftain named Drus “The butcher” Fullmaw had the agenda and full belief that orcs are stronger together. Their motto was that “orcs are orcs.” Their tribe was the dead rabbits and their banner was two dead rabbits hanging from their feet. The party managed to kill the butcher, and then were sent away to another realm for five years, when they get back, the many arrows tribe has picked up where the butcher left off and has nearly completed the task.” -Hernan C.
6. Historian Gnomes “Deep Gnomes in my world are actually historians. They constructed a massive city encased in a metal sphere deep underground to safely store artifacts and lore. They send out young gnomes from ages 40-100 years to learn a trade from the surface world and at 100 years they return, bringing their newfound knowledge back to their city.” -John B.
7. Eg Obe Orcs “I guess I'll go with Orcs. In my world they're not called Orcs at all, that's a common derogatory word for them (basically meaning Savages, civilized people including their own species may refer to the ones who don't live in what people typically consider 'civilization' use the term derisively, but commoners and people who live in areas near such Orcs only know that word, typically, and don't mean it rudely). They're correctly called the Eg Obe (pronounced like "egg obey", translates directly as "We and Us"). They're still broadly the same as typical fantasy Orcs, albeit not intrinsically ugly or messy. They're primarily nomadic, the first discovery of human beings was attributed to them (they used the young race as troops for quite a while). They're not actually more violent than anyone else, per se, but their culture accepted that to live in times of struggle is to know violence and a core trait of most of their cultures (including the 'civilized' ones) is thinking about Violence and its place in their lives (sort of like how humans are often concerned with the certainty of death, they don't sit around and think on it constantly but it's an intrinsic fact of reality, accept or deny it). Their various cultures around the world are otherwise fairly different. This world has something not dissimilar to the United Nations, and the Eg Obe are one of the biggest examples of a species that has huge variation as to their opinion of it. While the Pact of Hands basically claims to cover the rights of all sentient beings, it /technically/ only applies to the cultures that signed it, which represented their species by association. However, just because someone you've never met or heard of, but share tusks and a brow ridge with, signed a pact saying 'yeah we're all friends now' sure as hell doesn't mean you're going to give a damn. As such, other species are often cautious approaching the Eg Obe, as they might not consider themselves covered by the Pact of Hands at all, and may decide your bones need mincing today so their crops grow nicely tomorrow.” -Carl B.
8. Rare Dragonborn “In my world, a massive war happened centuries ago. Dragonborn being the warriors they are were on the front line. Unfortunately their numbers were heavily dwindled. There are only about 3k Dragonborn in the entire world. One of my PCs is a Dragonborn, NPCs look upon him with awe and wonder. I give him an additional + to intimidation if it is a smaller humanoid.” -Ryan W.