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D&D 5E A Lineage and Its Variants: The New Race Format Going Forward

"Race" in D&D has never meant "species" - half orc and half elf are not, by any scientific definition, a species. Indeed, their existence implies humans, orcs and elves all belong to the same species.

5e linages, as presented in VGR, are even less a species. You can have a reborn who is basically a golem, or undead, or the result of a raise dead spell gone wrong. You can have dhampirs who feed on psychic energy, or spinal fluid. If a linage is anything, it's a theme. The character's genetic heritage is being made a purely cosmetic choice.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
"Race" in D&D has never meant "species" - half orc and half elf are not, by any scientific definition, a species. Indeed, their existence implies humans, orcs and elves all belong to the same species.

Or, perhaps more usefully, their existence suggests that our concept of "species" does not hold in the fictional magical world.

The character's genetic heritage is being made a purely cosmetic choice.

Indeed, I would recommend dispensing with the idea that "genetics" or "genes" are things in the magical world. Gregor Mendel would tear is hair out trying to figure out how traits are passed in the Forgotten Realms. I mean, your magical world doesn't have to have chemistry in the same way ours does, much less have DNA and genes for passing traits along.

Your character is a big bag of humors. Alchemy works. Embrace it.
 

HammerMan

Legend
intresting idea... build a third choice in (5th/10th depending on how you count) Heritage/race background and culture.

SO my elf heritage with the sage background can have the eladrin culture.
 

Helpful NPC Thom

Adventurer
Trying to make sense of these changes from an in-game perspective is futile. The purpose of the changes is two-fold: it sidesteps potential controversy because of the discontent over fixed racial ability score adjustments, and it allows race-and-class combinations that would otherwise be discouraged by prior game design.

It's like asking why a fighter can't learn magic without a feat, multiclassing, or picking an archetype that grants spellcasting abilities. Because that's how the mechanics work. For those discomfited by these alterations, I offer an easy solution: fixed ability score adjustments.

When determining your character’s ability scores, increase one of those scores by 2 and increase a different score by 1, or increase three different scores by 1. Follow this rule regardless of the method you use to determine the scores, such as rolling or point buy.

Elves, for example, get the following choices:
  • +2 Dexterity, +1 Charisma or Wisdom.
  • +1 Dexterity, +1 Charisma, +1 Wisdom.
  • +2 Wisdom, +1 Dexterity or Charisma.
Customize according to your desires.
 



Ligers are not fertile. If lions and tigers could produce fertile offspring they would be the same species, rather than just very closely related species.
Are half elves and half orcs fertile? Perhaps they're not, which explains why they're relatively rare and world is not filled with 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, etc elves and orcs. Also the fertility definition of species is a simplification for school children. In reality it is far more nuanced than that. For example see ring species. Also, some mules are actually fertile.
 

Elves, for example, get the following choices:
  • +2 Dexterity, +1 Charisma or Wisdom.
  • +1 Dexterity, +1 Charisma, +1 Wisdom.
  • +2 Wisdom, +1 Dexterity or Charisma.
Customize according to your desires.
This is somewhat similar to how I did this in my home game. There are no ASIs and all ability scores are bough with the same pool of points, but races have favoured abilities that allow them to buy a higher starting score than would otherwise be possible. This has the benefit that it is not actually super imbalanced if the races don't have the same number of favoured abilities, as they still get the same number of ability points.
 



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