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

Lyxen

Great Old One
If the choice is between species and lineage, for the technical term, I want species.

For the last time, I hope, these are NOT the same thing, never will be the same thing, it's not a question to choose between one and the other. Obviously, species refers to any creature, and there has never been any plan for that to change. And that term will survive because lineage and ancestry would be STUPID to refer to Mind Flayers, or Catoblepas. These are clearly (different) species and because that word does not cause any problem, there is no reason to change it.

The question is ONLY about the current "races" in the game, because of the (annoyingly) negative connotation of that word. The first thing that WotC did, which is clever, is to say that "race" will only ever be used for player characters, which makes sense because at least some of the current races can interbreed. It also avoids the problem of calling all orcs and drows a race, since they have a number of characteristics that offend some people. Note, however, that, as monsters and NPCs, they are species (although it's not technically correct in the biological acception of the word since they can interbreed with other "races", so they are technically not a different species).

But since races only refer to player characters, and WotC was wary about that word, they tinkered with "lineage" (I think Pathfinder uses "ancestry") because PCs are supposed to be exceptional and they could have any parents and ancestors that they want, allowing them to be as mixed as they want and use whatever stats that they want in combination with racial powers of their choice.

Personally, I find this clever from WotC in the sense that it should dilute the "race" problem since people can play anything they want without discrimination, so politically it's a good mood, which by the way seems to have placated most of the people out there who hate the use of the "race" word.

Another good move was to keep it as an option, because honestly, it is clearly power creep and it brings nothing in term of roleplay, it is, technically, purely a powergamer tool since you could, even before that, decide that your character had almost any ancestry that he wanted, as long as you accepted the ASI of the main race that you related to along with its powers.

Which is why I reiterate that, for me, people insisting on floating ASIs are just doing it purely for power, when it has been demonstrated that PCs not using them are perfectly viable. And this is compounded by the fact that people who use it, as far as I've seen in the discussion, don't even bother to explain how their "lineage" got them different ASIs than the standard racial ones, the only justification is that it goes well with their class. Pure powergaming, not an ounce of roleplaying or storytelling there.

Now, contrary to what @Yaarel thinks, Fizban is indeed a significant step, but a significant step BACK, since they totally dropped the use of the lineage word and went back to race (and this after TWBtWL which was already the same, but less significant as it was only an adventure rather than a sourcebook). My take on this is that they are testing the waters, and doing it on races that are not controversial at all, since the outcry seems to have died.

And since Fizban is raising no new outcry (indeed, some people still see it as a step forward towards the elimination of "race" despite all evidence to the contrary), I'm willing to bet that WotC will no longer implement "lineage" moving forward. We will be back to races, although I agree that the new races published don't have fixed ASIs, oply floating ones.

We will see what happens when the next iteration of the game is released in 2 years time, but if you could please stop trying to prove that lineage and species have anything to do with each other, it would be great...
 

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Yaarel

Mind Mage
"Species" isn't vague enough - it has a specific meaning that doesn't apply to a considerable number of PC options.

Vague, with no real meaning outside of the game, is ideal.
A "species" assumes the ability to reproduce others of its kind.

On the other hand, there are methods of reproduction that are asexual, and so on.

If a computer can self-replicate, by building an other computer, it becomes a candidate as a species.



If a D&D warforged can self-replicate by building a warforged golem and then imbuing it with consciousness, then it is a "species".

If every dragonborn was created directly by an individual dragon who transmuted a dragon egg. That would still be a species because of its replicability.

The method of reproduction matters less when defining a species.

Undead comprise replicable species: vampire, zombie, etcetera.



A ghost is more complicated, because it is the mind of a dead human. A ghost seems less whole and feels different from an embodied living human. So, the transformation may merit a separate species. (Norse culture considers humanity and ghosts to be different kinds of nature beings.) Possibly the mind of a human splits up after death into different species, the ghost descending into the Shadowfell, the higher self ascending to the Celestials, and the physical identity transforming and reincarnating. A resurrection needs to regroup all of these aspects of mind and body.
 
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A "species" assumes the ability to reproduce others of its kind.

On the other hand, there are methods of reproduction that are asexual, and so on.

If a computer can self-replicate, by building an other computer, it becomes a candidate as a species.



If a D&D warforged can self-replicate by building a warforged golem and then imbuing it with consciousness, then it is a "species".

If every dragonborn was created directly by an individual dragon who transmuted a dragon egg. That would still be a species because of its replicability.

The method of reproduction matters less when defining a species.

Undead comprise replicable species: vampire, zombie, etcetera.



A ghost is more complicated, because it is the mind of a dead human. A ghost seems less whole and feels different from an embodied living human. So, the transformation may merit a separate species. (Norse culture considers humanity and ghosts to be different kinds of nature beings.) Possibly the mind of a human splits up after death into different species, the ghost descending into the Shadowfell, the higher self ascending to the Celestials, and the physical identity transforming and reincarnating. A resurrection needs to regroup all of these aspects of mind and body.
A half elf (explicitly) does not reproduce a half elf (unless your are in Eberron). A Reborn does not reproduce a Reborn.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
A half elf (explicitly) does not reproduce a half elf (unless your are in Eberron). A Reborn does not reproduce a Reborn.
I prefer to have multi-species mechanic, analogous to multiclass.

But technically, two half-elves can (and do) reproduce an other half-elf.

If I recall correctly, Forgotten Realms has communities that have been all half-elves for centuries.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
No, as per core rules, half elves always have elven or human children. Apart from Eberron, where half elves always have half elven children.
Can you supply a text reference?



Even the 5e Players Handbook states this about FR setting cultures:

"Half elves are sometimes numerous enough to from small communities of their own. They enjoy the company of other half elves."

Presumably, these half-elf communities include having half-elf children.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Can you supply a text reference?



Even the 5e Players Handbook states this about FR setting cultures:

"Half elves are sometimes numerous enough to from small communities of their own. They enjoy the company of other half elves."

Presumably, these half-elf communities include having half-elf children.
Half-Elf punnet squares, right?

That's been a thing for decades.

Chance of offspring from 2 Half-Elves: 50% Half-Elf, 25% Elf, 25% Human
Chance of offspring, Half-Elf+Elf: 50% Half-Elf, 50% Elf
Chance of offspring, Half-Elf+Human: 50% Half-Elf, 50% Human

Don't get me started on what lineage Arwen is (let alone sublineages when you take into account Grey Elf, High Elf, Deep Elf, etc).
She's just a Half-Elf.

Arwen was the child of a Half-Elf and has the same CHOICE as her Half-Elven father. This is a choice not granted to other Half-Elven like the First Prince of Dol Amroth - it's a choice explicitly granted to Eärendil, Elwing, Elrond, Elros, Arwen, Elladan, and Elrohir. And it's for Arwen, Elladan, and Elrohir only because their father Elrond chose the Elven path. Elros chose a mortal life and thus forsook the option to be immortal like his kin. So it's really just a choice given to these immortal elves who happen to be descendants of two lineages of Half-Elven unions whether to become mortal as humans or not, akin to how Mandos granted Lúthien and Beren a second chance at life, but at the cost of Lúthien's mortality. This is a choice offered for Eärendil's and Elwing's faithfulness and servitude to the the forces of good, much like how Eärendil's father Tuor was considered and Elf by all for his faithfulness to Ulmo.
 
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