Plagues and other great diseases are important parts of history and some settings. They defy man and may even defy God in their swift and terrible punishment upon the body of society.
My issue with modifying/removing dwarves and elves is that the PC’s may want to play them.
One of the most powerful tools found in the World Building 102b article is the Worksheet. Here is a place to put the settings you might make with them.
A character who is undergoing changes of personality (like buying off mental disadvantages - flaws - or changing alignment) might confront personifications of aspects of his personality in dreams: a griffon representing the courage he needs to face a terrible foe, or a satyr standing for the lecherousness a warrior must overcome to be admitted to an order of knights who must uphold vows of chastity.