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.

    Thoughts?
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    Arctic
    Aquatic: Live on the ocean
    Coastal
    Desert
    Grasslands (Prairie, Savannah)
    Hills
    Forest
    Jungle
    Marsh/Swamp
    Mountains
    Underground

    Nomad, Desert
    Nomad, Grasslands
    Nomad, River

    Rural ('Civilized' farmers and herders)
    Urban


    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. #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. #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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  5. #5
    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. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Carlsen View Post
    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.
    This.

    Subraces of humans gets into certain real world issues that can best be defined as "marketing nightmares."

    It's already bad enough that the good elves all have white skin and live above ground (y'know, where there's sun and stuff) and the bad elves all have black skin and live underground (where, y'know, there's no good reason to have dark skin because it doesn't protect you from the sun). D&D has had to live with that particular little piece of genius for 20 years (I think some of the way they push Drizzt so hard is because he takes the drow away from being 'designated bad guys... all with black skin').

    We do not want to open that can of worms. Do it with backgrounds, do it with feats, do it with optional cultural bonuses, but do not do it with 'subraces.' Goes south very quick.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Olgar Shiverstone View Post
    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.
    I'm not a fan of human subraces either.

    I totally agree with your last sentence.

    That said, I am not against mechanical distinctions for subraces, even humans.

    What would really be great to see disappear is ability score modifiers used to differentiate subraces.

    I want races to be differentiated by ability score modifiers relative to humans, which means humans should get no bonus or penalties. Dwarves being genetically tougher (Con bonus), Elves genetically nimbler (Dex bonus) and some other race genetically smarter (Int bonus) and so on.

    And I want subraces to be differentiated on purely cultural levels, e.g. skill bonuses representing training that all members of the culture automatically receive as part of their education. Hit Points / Hid Dice increase is also fine here, as a representation of tougher physical exercise resulting from lifestyle.

    But I'd prefer bare (average) ability scores to be just defined by genetics, although also I wouldn't want them to increase by level by the way.
    Last edited by Li Shenron; Friday, 28th September, 2012 at 12:59 PM.
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    Subraces, no. Definitely not. Forget the idea.

    Cultures, yes. A good thing. They don't have to be more specific than Civilised (city based), Barbarian (village based), Nomad (mobile) and Primitive (technologically backward). And that should open up different backgrounds, or at least different parts of a background. A civilised Noble should understand how to behave at court, how to manage lands, perhaps have some academic skill. A barbarian Jarl can speak inspiringly, bargain with foreigners, and act as a judge. And nomad Chiefs and primitive Leaders have their own particular set of skills.

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