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 world where, instead of aging in years, the people age in knowledge. So, instead of dying once a general age was reached, they die once they achieve a certain amount of knowledge. A man could live forever if he never learned anything, or could die after reading a few choice books. Of course, the knowledge of the land would be regulated, like medical drugs.