D&D 5th Edition Human Subraces

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  1. #1
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    Human Subraces

    In the playtest package humans are the only race without a "subrace" despite being the most diverse and adaptive race. And, because they're less of a "hook" for the race and racial powers humans get very blank bonuses.

    What about changing that? Say, taking a page from Dragonlance and having "civilized" or "barbarian" humans. Give one a bonus to mental skills and the other a bonus to physical skills. Add new powers accordingly, such as hardiness or wilderness survival powers for one and others suggesting intelligence and decadence.

    The names are flexible. "Urban" and "nomadic" would work. As would "urbane / erudite" and "wild / rural".

    It instantly adds some distinction to humans. The suggestion of story and world building. Humans aren't all identical
    There are the savage Cimmeria and the softer south folk. There are the Northfolk and the southern people beyond the wall. The hardy barbarian tribes of the traders from Ten-Towns. There are the rough Germanic folk or the culture Romans.

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  • #2
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    I want to see sample templates
    Aquatic: Live on the ocean
    Grasslands (Prairie, Savannah)

    Nomad, Desert
    Nomad, Grasslands
    Nomad, River

    Rural ('Civilized' farmers and herders)

    However, I want to see the subraces gone and the above as things that can be applied to any race.
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  • #3
    Please no -- take the idea of human subraces, and kill it with fire.

    Different human cultures should definitely be in the game, but they don't need to be mechanically distinguished. If the human race options are done consistent with prior approaches to make humans the "versatile" race, you should have choices sufficient to adjust to what you want, without having that choice baked in. Let something in the game be non-mechanical, please.

    Humans shouldn't simultaneously be the "versatile" race and at the same time an "optimized" race based on a bunch of subraces.

    And in case you ask, I'd be fine without non-human subraces, too. Mountain dwarves and wood elves can be culturally but not mechanically distinct from hill dwarves and high elves as far as I'm concerned.
    Last edited by Olgar Shiverstone; Friday, 28th September, 2012 at 02:46 AM.
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  • #4
    Pathfinder's tried to do this, and they gave it a good go, but ever time I look at their take on the subject I find myself coming back to the bonus feat/skill. One of 3e's little bits of genius was humans; a bonus feat and skill points gives you all you'll ever need out of a race (whereas 2e humans were often a mechanically suboptimal choice). There's no need to mess with this. Stick with what works.
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    I still say that humans should have a sizable list of racial traits that they choose from. Cultures, then, can be described as preferring particular traits.

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    I don't get 5e's superman "everything you can do I can do better" take on humans: +1 to all stats, and +2 to one of your choice. However, I don't think sub-races is a wise move. Instead, if I was going for humans as the most adaptable race I might do something like:

    +1 to a stat of your choice
    A bonus background of your choice
    A bonus feat from a specialty or talent from a class

  • #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jester Canuck View Post
    In the playtest package humans are the only race without a "subrace" despite being the most diverse and adaptive race. And, because they're less of a "hook" for the race and racial powers humans get very blank bonuses.

    What about changing that? Thoughts?
    While I like the idea from a strictly game-design perspective, it could be tricky to sell in a corporate environment. Fantastic species are one thing, statting out groupings of humans differently by (sub)race is another can of worms entirely. You might get away with it if you stick to cultural differences in made-up fantasy-setting cultures - that bear /no/ slightest similarity to any RL culture...

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    Personally, I'm cool with human subtypes and I've set up a few in my own homebrew - each is slightly distinct as their "evolution" has been influenced by one of the gods of my world.

    Aegyptian - patronized by Shame, Queen of Amberos.
    Aharati - patronized by Lorius, Lord of the Winds.
    Aztec - slaves to the will of Tzuchamus.
    Dhoric - patronized by Dhorian, Overlord of Amberos.
    Ghan - patronized by Titanicus, Lord of War.
    Randese - favored of Visha, the Protectoress.
    Skierian - blood-tainted followers of The Dark One.
    Ubunti - taught by Belli, Lord of the Natural World.
    Nippon - patronized by Gosend, Master of the Self.

    and, the Afarian - which comprise the rest of mixed-blooded humanity.
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    It would make sense to do it the way you outlined it. Basing it around lifestyle (urban/woods/sea/whatever) as Greg K described rather than appearance is logical and should be inoffensive. It would probably even add some cool options.

    Unfortunately it wouldn't be worth the hassle it would cause. After seeing all the outrage over proposals for implementing even the most simple and obvious variation among humans mechanically (average male strength is higher than average female strength), I think WOTC would be crazy to put this in their books. They'd end up spending more time and resources trying to put out the firestorm than they would developing the game.
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  • #10
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    Wouldn't different Backgrounds be enough to differentiate? I like the initial idea, but I would apply those to Backgrounds, not subraces.

    Humans could get a bonus BG (but that would make 3 for a thief).

    I liked 3e & 4e bonus skills and feats.

    For 5E I reckon a bonus Specialty would be ideal. This really plays on their adaptability. Also, if the player wants more skills, they can take Jack-of-All-Trades Specialty.
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