D&D 5th Edition 5e Hybrid Races: Let's Make Them Actual Hybrids

Poll: What do you think of this proposed system?

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    5e Hybrid Races: Let's Make Them Actual Hybrids

    Thinking about core races and supplemental races for 5e / D&DN, I've been thinking that it might not be a bad idea to change the way hybrid races are handled in D&D. If you think about it, the way hybrid races work in D&D - particularly 4e but also the previous editions - doesn't make much sense. They're not really people with one foot in two worlds, generally speaking, even though that's generally the lore surrounding them. Rather, they're just another race, as different in some cases from their parent races as they are from any other race.

    Take half-elves in 4e, for example. Rather than being a mix of elven grace and wisdom with human adaptability, half-elves are durable and charismatic, features that are typical/average of neither parent race, with only a nod to humans' versatility with their ability to take a power from another class besides their own. Half-orcs also stand out as pretty unusual, since they have none of humans' versatility and basically just come off as "orcs light."

    Even in 3e, though, there was the general feeling that hybrids were a race unto themselves, rather than a blend of two different races, since each half-elf or half-orc had the same racial stats as every other half-elf or half-orc, with none of the variety you'd expect from breeding. It stands to reason that not every half-elf would have pointed ears and enhanced senses nor would they all have human-dominant characteristics. It'd be a mix, varying from person to person.

    Until 4e, I kind of just assumed this was the way to go about things, but 4e's hybrid class system gave me another thought: why not make hybrid race function in a way similar to 4e's hybrid classes? From what I'm given to understand, most people find this system an extremely easy-to-use and flexible method of blending classes and so it seems like a natural way to allow hybrid races with a degree of flexibility that just making them into another race doesn't allow.

    The Basics

    Using the 4e hybrid class system as a model, let's come up with some basic rules:

    1. Ability Scores: You have two ability score bonuses derived from your two parent races. You can choose any two of the available bonuses, but only two. You cannot stack these scores.
    2. Height , Weight, and Size: You can choose to be any height, weight, or size that is over the range of your two parent races.
    3. Speed: You are the speed of your slowest parent race.
    4. Vision: If both of your parent races have darkvision, you have darkvision. If one has darkvision and one has low-light vision, you have low-light vision. If any one of your parent races has normal vision, you have normal vision.
    5. Languages: You can speak any two languages that your parent races can speak, but only two.
    6. Skills: Choose any two skills bonuses of your parent races to determine your racial skill bonus. Alternatively, you can choose to be trained in one of these skills. You cannot stack these skill bonuses.
    7. Powers: Choose one of the racial powers available to your parent races as your racial power.
    8. Origin: Your planar origin can be the same as either one of your parent races.
    9. Other Features: Choose two other racial features from your parent races as the remaining features for your race.
    10. Feats, Powers, Classes, etc.: Hybrid races would qualify for all the post-creation feats, powers, classes, etc. available normally only to members of their parent races.


    Model in Action: Half-Elves

    Let's take a look at half-elves as a case example, using 4e rules as a model (even though 5e will likely have different stats for elves and humans). For the sake of argument we'll be using the versions out of the original PHB, so nothing from Essentials or using FR's sub-races here.

    In 4e, elves have:

    Height: 5'4" - 6'
    Weight: 130-170 lbs

    +2 Dex, +2 Wis
    Size: M
    Speed: 7 squares
    Vision: Low-light

    Language: Common, Elven
    Skill Bonuses: +2 Nature, +2 Perception
    Elven Weapon Proficiency (longbow and shortbow)
    Fey Origin
    Group Awareness (bonus to party's overall Perception)
    Wild Step (ignoring difficult terrain when shifting)
    Elven Accuracy power

    And humans have:

    Height: 5'6"-6'2"
    Weight: 135-270 lbs

    +2 to any one ability
    Size: M
    Speed: 6 squares
    Vision: Normal

    Languages: Common, one other
    Bonus at-will power from character's class
    Natural Origin
    Bonus Feat
    Bonus Skill
    Human Defense Bonus: +1 Fort, +1 Ref, +1 Will

    Using the step by step process outlinedbove, we can create the following half-elf:

    1. Ability Scores: Elves get +2 Wis, +2 Dex and humans get +2 any. Effectively, this means the choices available to our hypothetical half-elf are +2 any and +2 Wis or +2 Dex.
    2. Height, Weight, and Size: Humans and elves are both medium sized, so our half-elf is too. Height could be anywhere between 5'4" and 6'2". Weight could be anywhere between 130 and 270 lbs.
    3. Speed: Elves move 7 squares per turn but humans can only move up to 6, so our half-elf has a speed of 6.
    4. Vision: Elves have low-light vision but humans have normal vision, so our half-elf has normal vision.
    5. Languages: Elves can speak Common and Elven and humans can speak Common, plus one other language. Our half-elf would presumably speak Common and Elven, therefore, but not necessarily. In theory, s/he could speak Common and another language or Elven and another language.
    6. Skills: Elves have +2 Nature and +2 Perception and humans get training in one extra skill. We'll translate this into +2 Nature, +2 Perception, and +2 any or, alternatively, bonus training in any skill.
    7. Powers: Elves get the elven accuracy power and humans get a bonus at-will from their class. Our half-elf could take any one of those three.
    8. Origin: Elves are fey and humans are natural creatures. So half-elves can be either fey or natural in origin.
    9. Other Features: The remaining racial features available are elven weapon proficiency, group awareness, and wild step for elves and bonus feat or human defense bonuses for humans. Our half elf could therefore choose two of these features.
    10. Feats, Powers, Classes, etc.: Our half-elf could qualify for any feats, powers, or classes that had elf or human as a prerequisite. So our half-elf could take the action surge feat for humans, for example.


    Put into a racial template, it could look something like this:

    Half-elf

    Height: 5'4"-6'2"
    Weight: 130-270 lbs

    +2 any, +2 Wis or +2 Dex
    Size: M
    Speed: 6 squares
    Vision: Normal

    Languages: Common, Elven, or any (choose two)
    Skills: +2 Nature, +2 Perception, or +2 any (choose two). Or, alternatively, you gain training in any one skill.
    Racial Power: Elven accuracy or bonus at-will class power
    Fey or Natural Origin
    Other Racial Features (choose two):
    • Bonus Feat
    • Elven Weapon Proficiency (shortbows and longbows)
    • Group Awareness (bonus to party's overall Perception)
    • Human Defense Bonuses (+1 Fort, +1 Ref, +1 Will)
    • Wild Step (ignore difficult terrain while shifting)


    Using this template, we can construct a sample character:

    Elara, female half-elf

    Height: 5'7"
    Weight: 140 lbs

    +2 Char, +2 Dex
    Size: M
    Speed: 6 squares
    Vision: Normal

    Languages: Common, Elven
    Skills: +2 Acrobatics, +2 Perception
    Racial Power: Elven accuracy
    Natural Origin
    Elven Weapon Accuracy (shortbows and longbows)
    Human Defense Bonuses (+1 Fort, +1 Ref, +1 Will)

    Advantages of this Model

    I think this model has a lot of advantages. I'll list two:

    1. It more accurately (but not perfectly) simulates how actual hybridization would work. Just as you wouldn't expect every child of two different people to be exactly the same, you wouldn't expect every member of a hybrid race to be the same. True, it doesn't take into account things like dominant and recessive alleles or infertility, but who really wants to bother with all that?
    2. It gives players who want to play a hybrid what I think most really want: to play a blend of features from each race. Hybrid races in most cases do not represent this sincerely, instead representing an abstract third race that sometimes doesn't feel like either parent race.
    3. EDIT: As pointed out by others, this would allow for racial combinations that aren't normally covered. Some of these, like half-dwarf / half-halfling likely aren't in high demand, but others, dwelfs, half-drow, or half-golems (half-warforged) could satisfy a lot of players.


    Anyhow, I'm open to suggestions, comments, or criticism: what do you folks thing?
    Last edited by Nivenus; Sunday, 22nd January, 2012 at 05:43 AM. Reason: adding another benefit mentioned by posters below (and which I'd thought of but forgotten to mention)

  2. #2
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)



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    Since there's not an "Eh" vote, I am abstaining.

    But this feels like "a fix looking for a problem"; I've never seen anyone complain about this until now, nor do I feel compelled for it to "simulate hybridization".

    Also using this method I could make a PixieForged. Which hurts my head.
    Last edited by Rechan; Sunday, 22nd January, 2012 at 03:55 AM.

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    Bring on the dwelf!

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    Magsman (Lvl 14)

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    It's not a workable system unless you keep races as boring as possible, and ignores a lot of fun possibilities you can have with hybrids that work in unique ways - your system could never create a liger. If your system was applied to races as complex as 2E, 3E, or 4E races, you would have horrible broken issues all over the place, and a lot of nasty loopholes that would be hard to anticipate

    If you had 2 races, you now have 3 races.
    If you had 3 races, you now have 6 races.
    If you had 4 races, you now have 10 races.
    If you had 5 races, you now have 15 races.
    If you had 6 races, you now have 21 races.
    If you had 7 races, you now have 28 races.
    If you had 8 races, you now have 36 races.
    If you had 9 races, you now have 55 races.
    If you had 10 races, you now have 65 races.

    This ignores the number of options any two races might have. If every races has three significant options... D:

    Edit: Fixed my math... I think.
    Last edited by Incenjucar; Sunday, 22nd January, 2012 at 04:24 AM.

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    One thing I hope for is a hybrid race system. This is because my first character is always the same half elf (or human raised by when half elf is not available). Personally I like 4e half elves but I'd still like a good hybrid system.

    Personally I'd like each race to have a hybrid version and player just pair two together. Put the Human's free *gag* feat and easy multiclassing with an Orc's +2 Strength and darkvision to get an half-orc. A half-dwarf, half halfling would have +2 con and Dex, poison and fear resistance and small size.

    My only fear is that the hybrid system is that it might cause cherry picking for bonuses worse than usual and create parties full of hybrids.

  6. #6
    Replace a hybridization system with a race-making system and there, done. You can now create a new race to replace the standard half-elf, but you can also make a new race that isn't a hybrid, or make sub-races. With assumed cherry-picking built into the race-making rules, no set of options should be better than any other set.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Number48 View Post
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    Replace a hybridization system with a race-making system and there, done. You can now create a new race to replace the standard half-elf, but you can also make a new race that isn't a hybrid, or make sub-races. With assumed cherry-picking built into the race-making rules, no set of options should be better than any other set.
    Call it the Hordeling race option.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rechan View Post
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    Since there's not an "Eh" vote, I am abstaining.

    But this feels like "a fix looking for a problem"; I've never seen anyone complain about this until now, nor do I feel compelled for it to "simulate hybridization".

    Also using this method I could make a PixieForged. Which hurts my head.
    It's not really a fix in my mind - it's an alternative approach. I don't feel that, mechanically, hybrid races as they work now are unbalanced or untenable. This just seems like a better method to me, with possible improvements.

    As for Pixieforged, that's more or less between you and your DM, though I can see how such a race could be rationalized: a miniature, flying golem, for instance, rather than a literal breeding between the two races. Or better yet, a hybrid warforged would actually be a very effective way to create half-golems (i.e., magical cyborgs) as a race, which if I recall are an option both in 4e Eberron and 3e generally through supplements.

    Quote Originally Posted by TarionzCousin View Post
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    Bring on the dwelf!
    That was another thing that I thought was a benefit of this model(though I forgot to write it down): that you'd get hybrids that weren't just half-human.

    I mean, if orcs and elves can breed with humans, it stands to reason they can breed with one another as well, rare as that may be in practice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Incenjucar View Post
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    It's not a workable system unless you keep races as boring as possible, and ignores a lot of fun possibilities you can have with hybrids that work in unique ways - your system could never create a liger. If your system was applied to races as complex as 2E, 3E, or 4E races, you would have horrible broken issues all over the place, and a lot of nasty loopholes that would be hard to anticipate
    See, while I'm sure there are loopholes I haven't accounted for I don't see why the basic idea itself isn't workable with 3e or 4e style races. Races in either edition are nowhere near as complex as classes and the hybrid class system of 4e works perfectly fine. So I don't see why races would have to be vastly oversimplified to make it work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Incenjucar View Post
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    If you had 2 races, you now have 3 races.
    If you had 3 races, you now have 6 races.
    If you had 4 races, you now have 10 races.
    If you had 5 races, you now have 15 races.
    If you had 6 races, you now have 21 races.
    If you had 7 races, you now have 28 races.
    If you had 8 races, you now have 36 races.
    If you had 9 races, you now have 55 races.
    If you had 10 races, you now have 65 races.

    This ignores the number of options any two races might have. If every races has three significant options... D:
    I see this as a feature, not a problem. Remember, these are templates, so it's not as if the hybrids all get their own spread the way regular races are. The hybrid templates would be listed in the back of chapter on races in the PHB/CR, just like hybrid templates for classes were listed as an option in the PHB3.

    So, sure, it'd add some complexity - but it would be entirely optional complexity and wouldn't really add anything that wasn't already there besides the option to combine races.

    Quote Originally Posted by Minigiant View Post
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    Personally I'd like each race to have a hybrid version and player just pair two together. Put the Human's free *gag* feat and easy multiclassing with an Orc's +2 Strength and darkvision to get an half-orc. A half-dwarf, half halfling would have +2 con and Dex, poison and fear resistance and small size.
    I admit, this might actually be better and is closer to the way 4e hybrid classes work. But that requires fairly little tweaking of the model provided.

    Quote Originally Posted by Minigiant View Post
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    My only fear is that the hybrid system is that it might cause cherry picking for bonuses worse than usual and create parties full of hybrids.
    That is, of course, a problem, though I tried to alleviate it by requiring you to take the "worse" of the two races' speeds and senses. Still, those are relatively minor stats so I suppose it's an open question where that's enough. Hopefully any issues would be worked out through playtesting.

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    Everything is optional. That's basically just the Oberoni Fallacy.

    Unless 5E is built around the idea of not supporting its own content, this gives designers the onerous task of comparing all new racial options to existing racial options to ensure that that don't create a broken hybrid option. You also risk killing designer creativity in the process.

    It's perfectly fine as a homebrew option, but it's a huge pain if you add it to the base game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Incenjucar View Post
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    Everything is optional. That's basically just the Oberoni Fallacy.
    I'm not familiar with the term, but I think this is generally accepted to be true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Incenjucar View Post
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    Unless 5E is built around the idea of not supporting its own content, this gives designers the onerous task of comparing all new racial options to existing racial options to ensure that that don't create a broken hybrid option. You also risk killing designer creativity in the process.
    Shouldn't designers do this to begin with? Races, like classes, should be balanced - at least within reason. I don't see how this is killing designer creativity anymore than hybrid classes do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Incenjucar View Post
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    It's perfectly fine as a homebrew option, but it's a huge pain if you add it to the base game.
    How is it a huge pain? I still haven't seen an explanation as to why this would be mind-bogglingly hard to implement.

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