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

ART!

Legend
It many settings, a dragonborn not knowing Draconic could be totally normal, or at least totally understandable - unless dragonborn (and other races?) learn their "racial" language via some kind of magic or hivemind.
 

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Scribe

Hero
It many settings, a dragonborn not knowing Draconic could be totally normal, or at least totally understandable - unless dragonborn (and other races?) learn their "racial" language via some kind of magic or hivemind.
I know, its to make it all as generic and non-setting specific as possible, I get it.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Sorry, but if some people are allowed to push some ideas into the community,

There is no "pushing" here. There is a thread of conversation - you can join in, or not. Joining in with the message of "your conversation is annoying" is kind of like walking up to someone else in a restaurant and telling them, "you ordered disgusting food".

If you don't like the debate, nobody is making you take part. If this one annoys you, you are more than free to find another one.

I don't see why I should restrain from telling them that these ideas can also irritate other members of said community.

If you don't see, please allow me to put up a signpost:

Threadcrapping is a thing. While constructive disagreement can help folks work though points of contention, when you fail to be constructive, there can be a problem.

If you want to completely ignore the friendly advice of someone who breaks out the red text when folks go too far, that's your own look out.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I mean, this is an improvement?
I think it is an improvement. For example, format allows the gith lineage to make githyanki and githzerai very different from each other. It allows the wood elf and the astral elf to be very different from each other.

An annoying problem with the old subrace format is, it forces each subrace to use a specific amount of design space, no more, no less. This artificial constraint forces design decisions that abandon things that a subrace should do, and default features that a subrace shouldnt do.

The new format allows each race concept to work as a holistic race concept.
 

Scribe

Hero
I think it is an improvement. For example, format allows the gith lineage to make githyanki and githzerai very different from each other. It allows the wood elf and the astral elf to be very different from each other.

Do you actually think they will be?

Are Gem Dragonborn 'very different' from Chromatic Dragonborn?

2 or 3 rules. Thats it.

I mean lets crack open MToF.

First, we remove what is no longer distinct. Remember we cannot assume culture, setting, location anymore.

ASI
Alignment
Age
Size
Speed
Language


Then we get

Githyanki
Decadent Mastery (Locational, this could easily be gone)
Martial Prodigy (Cultural, this is gone probably)
Githyanki Psionics - Maybe we get to keep this.

Githzerai
Mental Discipline (Cultural, why assume all learn from monastic masters...)
Githzerai Psionics - Maybe we get to keep this.

Thats your templated, 'non setting' generic Gith. 2 slightly different psionic spell lists.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I know, its to make it all as generic and non-setting specific as possible, I get it.
Setting-agnostic seems true for race design.

But the opposite seems true for the monster statblock design.

Statblocks can be setting specific. Like "udadrow arachnomancer" − which might exist in Forgotten Realms but might not in Eberron.



By extension, it seems possible to have nonplayer statblocks like:

Arachnomancer
Lolth faction, typically udadrow, typically Neutral Evil

Blade of Ilneval
Gruumpsh faction, typically orc, typically Chaotic Evil

And so on.

Some factions are more about a city, region, or cause, and less about a lineage.



At this point, it might be more helpful to call them "encounter statblocks", because this statblock isnt about an entire (monster) race, but rather about a particular individual, that an adventurer encounters.
 

Scribe

Hero
Yeah I'm not really concerned about stat blocks, those are going to be adventure dependent, or derived from the needs of building encounters.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Yeah I'm not really concerned about stat blocks, those are going to be adventure dependent, or derived from the needs of building encounters.

Yeah. Statblocks are completely adventure dependent.

But statblocks are what populate the Monster Manual.

There are no Evil orcs in the Players Handbook.

There can be factions that are "typically Evil" in the Monster Manual.



Simply adding "faction" to the statblock format, is flavorful for an adventure setting. There can be orc factions that are "typically Evil". But these factions might include ogres and humans too. It also reminds the DM that most orcs arent members of the specific faction.
 

Scribe

Hero
Simply adding "faction" to the statblock format, is flavorful for an adventure setting. There can be orc factions that are "typically Evil". But these factions might include ogres and humans too. It also reminds the reader that most orcs arent members of the specific faction.
I dont believe that would align well with the setting agnostic approach they seem to be leaning into.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I dont believe that would align well with the setting agnostic approach they seem to be leaning into.
In Witchlight, the "bullywug knight" is cultural and setting specific.

It seems impossible to remove setting from monster statblocks.

It makes more sense to embrace statblocks as a DM setting-building tool.




At least when it comes to humanlike sapient creatures, listing a faction when relevant helps clarify the difference between the statblock of certain individuals versus an entire race.
 

Scribe

Hero
In Witchlight, the "bullywug knight" is cultural and setting specific.

It seems impossible to remove setting from monster statblocks.

It makes more sense to embrace statblocks as a DM setting-building tool.
While this may be true (I bought Fizban instead of Witchlight last night) how can you have a generic monster book, if its impossible to remove the setting from stat blocks?

And if its impossible for 'faceless' monsters to be setting agnostic, why is it seemingly required for player races to be divorced from setting?
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
While this may be true (I bought Fizban instead of Witchlight last night) how can you have a generic monster book, if its impossible to remove the setting from stat blocks?
Personally, I think there is no such thing as a "generic monster book". At best, it is a menu that a DM can pick-and-choose from.

The socalled "core" Monster Manual feels more like a "Forgotten Realms Bestiary". To be fair, 5e Forgotten Realms is a fusion of old FR, Greyhawk, Planescape, and even 4e World Axis cosmology.

But FR, Eberron, Dark Sun, can easily have separate Monster Manuals.

Even when a bestiary designs a statblock for the context of a specific setting, each bestiary can encourage the DM to borrow freely from the bestiaries of other settings as well.

Perhaps relocate all Celestials and Fiends from the Monster Manual, to a Planescape or similar astral setting.




And if its impossible for 'faceless' monsters to be setting agnostic, why is it seemingly required for player races to be divorced from setting?
You know why. Humans and humanlike creatures have free will can be members of any culture.

By contrast, statblocks are individuals who have already been making choices, becoming members of particular cultures, subcultures, factions, and ethical decisions.
 
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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Do you actually think they will be?

Are Gem Dragonborn 'very different' from Chromatic Dragonborn?

2 or 3 rules. Thats it.

I mean lets crack open MToF.

First, we remove what is no longer distinct. Remember we cannot assume culture, setting, location anymore.

ASI
Alignment
Age
Size
Speed
Language


Then we get

Githyanki
Decadent Mastery (Locational, this could easily be gone)
Martial Prodigy (Cultural, this is gone probably)
Githyanki Psionics - Maybe we get to keep this.

Githzerai
Mental Discipline (Cultural, why assume all learn from monastic masters...)
Githzerai Psionics - Maybe we get to keep this.

Thats your templated, 'non setting' generic Gith. 2 slightly different psionic spell lists.
The assumption that they are "removing culture" has no support. What they have done with Tasha's is allow culture-based aspects like weapon/skill training to be more flexible to match different cultures. This is very much like the PHB drow having different weapon proficiencies - a long standing part of the game, but now opening up to more settings and homebrew.

Though personally I would find it more interesting if they split culture off from race. So you could end up with a halfling trained by githzerai monastic masters, a half-elf who grew up among this elven culture vs. another who grew up among this metropolitan culture. But that requires re-balancing, I wouldn't expect that anytime soon.
 

Scribe

Hero
Personally, I think there is no such thing as a "generic monster book". At best, it is a menu that a DM can pick-and-choose from.

The socalled "core" Monster Manual feels more like a "Forgotten Realms Bestiary". To be fair, 5e Forgotten Realms is a fusion of old FR, Greyhawk, Planescape, and even 4e World Axis cosmology.

But FR, Eberron, Dark Sun, can easily have separate Monster Manuals.

Even when a bestiary designs a statblock for the context of a specific setting, each bestiary can encourage the DM to borrow freely from the bestiaries of other settings as well.

Perhaps relocate all Celestials and Fiends from the Monster Manual, to a Planescape or similar astral setting.
They COULD do that, but they wont.

There is still going to be a Monster Manual, come 5.5 right? That's going to have your 'default' stat blocks.

Now are there adventure specific stat blocks in the books which have adventures? Sure thing, and those are probably (certainly?) specific not only to the setting, but the location in which the adventure takes place.

There will still be a core 3 books, they are not going to replace the MM with the Volo's/MToF remix, that is coming soon.
 

Scribe

Hero
Though personally I would find it more interesting if they split culture off from race. So you could end up with a halfling trained by githzerai monastic masters, a half-elf who grew up among this elven culture vs. another who grew up among this metropolitan culture. But that requires re-balancing, I wouldn't expect that anytime soon.
My position on 'balance' in the game remains unmoved. That is to say, its a non-issue in Wizards eyes.

I believe that what you are looking for, is the direction they are going for better or worse.
 

Argyle King

Legend
From the perspective of "natural language," I do not believe that 'species' and 'lineage' are synonymous.

I'm aware that 'lineage' is used in reference to a species in some biology uses. So, technically, it would be correct. Whether or not it's a common or natural use of the word is debatable.

Personally, I'm not particularly attached to any one term. In any case, I believe that improved indexing and better organizational layout for D&D books and the terms contained within would go a long way toward reducing confusion.

D&D 5E seems to struggle when it comes to putting together a useful index for a book.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
As far as I can tell, the terms "lineage" and "species" mean the same thing. Probably the designers chose lineage for the D&D technical jargon, because of its flavorful connotation of medieval values about aristocratic pedigree. The connotation of species might have felt too scientific and modern for them. But they reuse the term lineage to mean species anyway.

It is worth mentioning, a lineage implies an ability to reproduce offspring. But there can be various methods of reproduction.

The dragonborn lineage came into existence by magically transforming an embryonic dragon egg. Since then the dragonborn can reproduce sexually. But they can also reproduce asexually. Fizbans gives a certain Draconic Gift, called Draconic Rebirth, that magically transforms a player character into the dragonborn lineage, thus replacing player character racial features with dragonborn racial features. Thereby, a dragonborn is reproduced asexually.
I find the use of "lineage" brilliant, because depending on context, it can be synonymous with "species", "race", "ancestry", "bloodline", "ethnicity", "family", "heritage", "kinship", as much from a genetic baggage than from a cultural heritage perspective. Basically it means "these are my forefathers", whomever they were. I liked "race" but if we're going to replace it, "lineage" is the best replacement because it's a very malleable term. And it remains medieval-ish enough not to burst my fantasy bubble.

I'm still on the fence about the whole changes about races, but I approve of the term. That's something I guess...

[edit] "Lineage" is use a lot with horses, dairy cows, and other show animals were pedigree or progenitors influence the value of the animal
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
There is still going to be a Monster Manual, come 5.5 right? That's going to have your 'default' stat blocks.

With regard to "50e" (50th Anniversary Edition), there is benefit to dividing the Monster Manual up by plane (Astral-Celestial-Fiend-Farrealms, Ethereal-Elemental-Fey-Shadow), and planet (Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Darksun, Greyhawk, Dragonlance).

Explicitly mentioning the setting of the bestiary makes the setting more flavorful.

Consider the entries in the 2014 Players Handbook that are all encounters in the Forgotten Realms setting. Certain entries can update for Forgotten Realms as something like:

Orc
Humanoid, any alignment

Eye of Gruumsh
Gruumsh faction: mainly orcs, typically Chaotic Evil

Gruumsh Warchief
Gruumsh faction: mainly orcs, typically Chaotic Evil

Manyarrows Noble
Manyarrows monarchy: mainly orcs, Spine of World Mountains, any alignment

Orog
Luthic faction: orcs, ogres, humans, and others, typically Chaotic Evil



It occurs to me, an elven faction might include both Fey and Humanoid, so faction, location, and alignment might need to separate from Size and Type.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Though personally I would find it more interesting if they split culture off from race. So you could end up with a halfling trained by githzerai monastic masters, a half-elf who grew up among this elven culture vs. another who grew up among this metropolitan culture. But that requires re-balancing, I wouldn't expect that anytime soon.
Backgrounds can define a culture. By analogy, if a Background is like a card, then a culture is like hand with four to ten cards.

Of course, any culture can include individuals of any Background, but the culture determines which Backgrounds are the most prestigious (even if only a minority has access to these prestigious Backgrounds) or socially defining.

Different orc cultures correlate with different Background assemblages.
 

Scribe

Hero
With regard to "50e" (50th Anniversary Edition), there is benefit to dividing the Monster Manual up by plane (Astral-Celestial-Fiend-Farrealms, Ethereal-Elemental-Fey-Shadow), and planet (Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Darksun, Greyhawk, Dragonlance).

Explicitly mentioning the setting of the bestiary makes the setting more flavorful.

Consider the entries in the 2014 Players Handbook that are all encounters in the Forgotten Realms setting. Certain entries can update for Forgotten Realms as something like:

Orc
Humanoid, any alignment

Eye of Gruumsh
Gruumsh faction: mainly orcs, typically Chaotic Evil

Gruumsh Warchief
Gruumsh faction: mainly orcs, typically Chaotic Evil

Manyarrows Noble
Manyarrows monarchy: mainly orcs, Spine of World Mountains, any alignment

Orog
Luthic faction: orcs, ogres, humans, and others, typically Chaotic Evil



It occurs to me, an elven faction might include both Fey and Humanoid, so faction, location, and alignment might need to separate from Size and Type.
I think you would see a lot of unnecessary duplication with this approach, much like we see in the Fizban's book for Dragonborn, but even worse as the stat blocks take up a lot of space by their nature alone.

I would agree, making it setting specific would be more flavourful, but again that runs counter to the setting agnostic approach they seem to be taking the game towards.
 

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