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Critique my House Rules

Einlanzer0

Explorer
Please do not waste your energy trying to convince me that any of my concepts are bad, because everyone has their own. I'm simply concerned with corrective balance.

Races
In addition to normal racial bonuses, all small races receive -4 Str and Con, +2 Dex (I know this is a hard sell, but I simply do not like the idea that small races are not disadvantaged in straightforward skirmishes with larger creatures, and should be pushed into playing to their strengths rather than being interchangeable with medium sized races)
All small races can move through spaces with larger creatures, whether hostile or not, and always have advantage on hide checks vs larger races
Halfling Nimbleness imposes disdvantage to opportunity attacks made against them by larger creatures
Gnomes have Fey Ancestry as elves do


Classes
Clerics have an optional variant, the Theologian (I won't post all the deets here, but essentially they sacrifice weapon/armor proficiency for expanded spellcasting)
Rangers use the UA variant (see PDF)
Fighters have a replacement 20th level ability - Veteran Warrior - all weapon attacks gain extra 1d4 damage. Once per turn, you can impose disadvantage on any attack that targets your AC, Str, Dex, or Con


Attributes/Skills
Intelligence and Wisdom have slightly remixed skill lineups
Intelligence - Arcana, Culture, Mechanics, Medicine. Note: Investigation is baked into the individual knowledge skills. Most uses of Investigation in the standard rules fall under Mechanics, but they might apply to the other skills.
Wisdom - Composure, Insight, Nurturing, Perception, Survival. Note: Nurturing includes both animal handling and long-term care of any form. Composure is a new skill used mostly in social interactions and to stave off madness/horror


All three of the mental attributes play somewhat expanded roles to help put them on par with the physical attributes in general usefulness:
Intelligence is used to determine Tactical Points, which are useful for all characters.
Wisdom checks (both as saving throws and skill uses) are easily the most common in the game, which puts Wisdom on par with Constitution as a supporting stat
Charisma is now used as part of the Inspiration mechanic, and will also play some role in factions and piety


Other Mechanics
Falling Damage varies based on factors like ground type, weight, and HD. DM reserves the right to adjudicate on a situation-by-situation basis.
Alternate Encumbrance rule is used. Only 1/2 of the weight of any body armor is applied to encumbrance, since the weight is evenly distributed across the body.
Items sized for small races have 2/3 the listed weight, which means small races should be able to carry about the same amount of gear as medium races even with lower strength.
Inspiriation grants d6 bonus die instead of automatic advantage/disadvantage. Only the DM can award inspiration, however, when Inspiration is used by any player, allies within 30ft can roll d20 + original player's Cha mod at DC 15. On success, they become inspired. Inspiration is still binary. It can be saved, but can only be gained once per day by any individual player.
Hero Points are reflavored into Tactical Points. Characters have 2+int mod TP, which recover at 1/2 per day, like HD. TP grants advantage/disadvantage to any one d20 roll and can be spent as a bonus action or reaction
 

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Corwin

First Post
This is one of the things I love most about 5e. Ifs malleability and that you can make it your own very easily without worrying too much about breaking it. I don't see anything here that's a deal-breaker or makes the game fundamentally unplayable. In fact, I really like some of your ideas. So if you and your players enjoy these changes, that's awesome. More power to you guys.
 

Satyrn

First Post
it all seems fine to me - with the one obvious exception - and of course I can't comment on your cleric variant without any details (and I really can't be bothered thinking about a 20th level feature).


One comment: Have you considered making tbe Tactical points equal to Proficiency Bonus +Int mod? Oh, I'm guessing that the advantage granted can be to the character spending the point, or to someone else. I think it would be more interesting if the character spending the point grants advantage to someone else only - but in addition, can bestow disadvantage, too.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
it all seems fine to me - with the one obvious exception - and of course I can't comment on your cleric variant without any details (and I really can't be bothered thinking about a 20th level feature).


One comment: Have you considered making tbe Tactical points equal to Proficiency Bonus +Int mod? Oh, I'm guessing that the advantage granted can be to the character spending the point, or to someone else. I think it would be more interesting if the character spending the point grants advantage to someone else only - but in addition, can bestow disadvantage, too.

I hadn't, really. It's worth thinking about. I intended to keep the scaling to a minimum on it, with all the other options characters acquire as they gain levels, but I want to prevent it from being too front-loaded also.

I guess it makes sense for me to provide a bit more detail on the Theologian. The changes are fairly small. They have d6 HD, no weapon or armor proficiencies. They have a few more spells on their list of cleric spells, which I'm still finalizing. They always gain bonus cantrip and potent spellcasting in place of bonus proficiencies, regardless of domain choice. Lastly, they have the following new features starting at 1st level:

Epiphany - Once per day during a short rest, you may swap out one prepared cleric spell for another. Upon doing so, you also regain a spent spell slot of a level that the new spell can be cast at. The maximum level of the spell/slot is your maximum spell level -1.

Cloistered Learning - Theologians can apply both their Wisdom and their Intelligence modifier to any skill check made in relation to knowledge of religion, divine secrets or discerning a deity's motives.
 
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Einlanzer0

Explorer
If they still pick domains, what happens at 8th level when the domains give a weapon damage bonus?

Only some domains grant Weapon damage bonus. Others grant potent spellcasting. They always gain potent spellcasting in place of weapon damage bonus. I'm sure there are additional tweaks I'll need to make for some individual domains, but I'm trying to cover all the broad strucks with the base features themselves.

edit: there's a chance I'll redesign them to remove the domain choice and grant other features instead. part of the reason I didn't provide all the details in the original post is because I'm still fleshing them out.
 

Satyrn

First Post
They always gain potent spellcasting in place of weapon damage bonus.
Oh. I see now you said that above. I only remember seeing one domain providing potent spellcasting, and I forgot what it was called, so I didn't click to it.

Anyway, your broad description of the Theolgian sounds cool and it looks like it's coming along fine.

(I still totally wouldn't play it, but because I like melee so it ain't for me.)
 

aco175

Legend
I may only give a -2 to small characters Con instead of -4. Being small doesn't have to mean being fragile and sickly. The -4 on Str is harsh for players who want to play certain classes without feeling like that are being forced into something, but the new halflings are portrayed not only half as tall, but also half as thick and half as wide, so an additional penalty is warranted.
 

Croesus

Adventurer
Please do not waste your energy trying to convince me that any of my concepts are bad, because everyone has their own. I'm simply concerned with corrective balance.

Races
In addition to normal racial bonuses, all small races receive -4 Str and Con, +2 Dex (I know this is a hard sell, but I simply do not like the idea that small races are not disadvantaged in straightforward skirmishes with larger creatures, and should be pushed into playing to their strengths rather than being interchangeable with medium sized races)

I can understand the malus to Strength, but Con? Just because something is small, that doesn't mean it's fragile. Also, 5E uses hit points in place of high AC and/or large save bonuses to keep characters alive (bounded accuracy and all that). Reducing their hit points by 2 per level is a pretty serious drawback. I'd suggest dropping the malus to Con.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Fighters have a replacement 20th level ability - Veteran Warrior - all weapon attacks gain extra 1d4 damage. Once per turn, you can impose disadvantage on any attack that targets your AC, Str, Dex, or Con
This is the only bit that stuck out to me. I haven't played at 20th level before, but this options seems strictly inferior to getting the 4th attack. More options to hit will always result in higher overall damage than a slight increase to the damage dealt on a successful hit.

Imposing disadvantage on an enemy's attack is cool, but even combined with the slight damage boost I'm not sure it's an even trade with the 4th attack.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
I can understand the malus to Strength, but Con? Just because something is small, that doesn't mean it's fragile. Also, 5E uses hit points in place of high AC and/or large save bonuses to keep characters alive (bounded accuracy and all that). Reducing their hit points by 2 per level is a pretty serious drawback. I'd suggest dropping the malus to Con.

Strength and Constitution are generally both scaled along with increased size at roughly the same level. Being smaller actually does mean they're more fragile, including things like succumbing to poison more easily. There are probably a handful of exceptions that are str- or con- based checks where being small would have no effect or would even be a benefit, but they are most definitely the exception and not the norm. Regardless, I'll be keeping an eye out for it and will probably bake into features.

I understand that it's a fairly significant drawback, and that's kind of the point. Keep in mind, though, that the +1 AC they'll get from the Dex bonus is nothing to shake a stick at. Moreover, it's fairly easy to build a character in such a way that you maximize strengths and mitigate the penalties. But, obviously, it's not my goal to simply make smaller races gimpy and unplayable, which is why I added a couple of new racial features for both halflings and gnomes. I suspect the halfling one is more generally powerful and useful than the gnome one, so I may end up expanding or adding more for the gnome.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Moreover, it's fairly easy to build a character in such a way that you maximize strengths and mitigate the penalties. But, obviously, it's not my goal to simply make smaller races gimpy and unplayable, which is why I added a couple of new racial features for both halflings and gnomes. I suspect the halfling one is more generally powerful and useful than the gnome one, so I may end up expanding or adding more for the gnome.

You can definitely work around the Strength penalty, but not the Constitution penalty. Con is an important stat for every character, pretty much without exception.

Personally, I don't think that the modifications you've made to the small races balance out. The racial abilities are useful but overall minor, in no way equivalent to a -4 Con penalty. Without the Con penalty, I think it would be roughly balanced.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
You can definitely work around the Strength penalty, but not the Constitution penalty. Con is an important stat for every character, pretty much without exception.

Personally, I don't think that the modifications you've made to the small races balance out. The racial abilities are useful but overall minor, in no way equivalent to a -4 Con penalty. Without the Con penalty, I think it would be roughly balanced.

I don't, because without the Con penalty there's basically no penalty at all (since, as you said, you can work around the Str penalty) and I'm just overpowering them with +2 dex and some extra survivability boons that are in no way insignificant.

It's also worth mentioning that part of these houserules are designed to rebalance the usefulness of the different attributes, so that you get really good stuff from the mental scores that makes them more competitive with stats like Con anyway.

Now, I will accept the prospective argument that the feature updates are not enough to compensate for the -4 con, in which case I'd like to hear suggestions for other features that are flavorful and balanced.
 
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Croesus

Adventurer
Now, I will accept the prospective argument that the feature updates are not enough to compensate for the -4 con, in which case I'd like to hear suggestions for other features that are flavorful and balanced.

Well, -4 Con means -2 hp per level and -2 Con saves vs. a Medium race. The Tough feat would make up for the loss of hit points (but not the -2 to Con saves), so perhaps you should offer the small races a free feat at 1st level. If you don't use feats, then something comparable, though I'm not sure what - depends on what role you want small races to have in your game.

Then again, you may not feel the Con malus is a big deal, in which case I suggest trying it. If it's not an issue in actual play, great. If it is, then modify or remove it. Testing with an NPC is a good way to do so without putting a player's character at risk.
 

ccs

41st lv DM
1) What do your actual players think of your changes?
You've stated that you basically don't care if any of us think your ideas are bad, but do you care what the 3-6 or so real people sitting around your table think on the matter?

2) What method of stat generation do you propose to use? This is important.
Because if you say PB? Then weather you want to hear it or not, your Str/Con penalties for small races are incredibly bad & need further thought. Not only can't you're players get high stats in those scores, they have to pay premiums just for a mighty +0 modifier (14 pts total if opting for 10s, 18! pts for 11s). And the player of one of these races virtually HAS to invest in these two scores- because if they don't? Then they get to play with Str/Cons of 4....

But wait! It gets WORSE!
How?
Because with this virtually mandatory 14-18 pt premium you've decided to inflict on your small-race player you've reduced their effective PB total to 9-13 pts! All because the player is merely trying to achieve a +0 mod on str/con :(
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
Yeah, -4 to Str and Con is too nasty. You want to weaken the small races, not cripple them. I think you can rein in those numbers to retain the "feel" you are going for without impacting the game math quite so much.

I'd do: -2 Str, -1 HP/level, half carrying capacity. This makes the small races noticeably weaker and frailer than the big ones -- but not enough to gimp them. And instead of +2 Dex, which is really potent, I'd give +1 to attack and AC, due to size (the 3E rationale). That's still super awesome, but no longer feels unfair to rogues of other species. Basically, I think you should attempt the minimum ability score adjustments required to represent that "size matters."
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
The rest of your house rules look pretty good.

I'm not sure why you're changing the fighter's 20th-level ability; your replacement seems fine, but very unnecessary. I'm curious also about your theologian, since it might be easy to overdo it with "expanded spellcasting." Especially since certain clerics don't have much weapon and armor proficiency to relinquish in the first place.

I'm very interested in how the recursive inspiration works out. I could imagine a high-Cha party built to pass inspiration back and forth each day.

For the tactical points, I might suggest that you can spend one to get an extra action, reaction, or bonus action (but only once per turn). When I think of "tactical" I think more about positioning, about being in the right place at the right time.
 

Personally, I don't think that the modifications you've made to the small races balance out. The racial abilities are useful but overall minor, in no way equivalent to a -4 Con penalty. Without the Con penalty, I think it would be roughly balanced.
The problem goes back to the premise, which simply isn't suited to the way that 5E is written - the OP wants small races to be worse in a straight-up melee, and 5E wants all races to be comparable in all roles.

If that Con penalty wasn't there, then small races would be -4 Strength and +2 Dex, which is a pure boost to any Dex-based character. It would actually make small races better than medium ones, for the purposes of accuracy and damage and AC. A penalty to Strength doesn't factor at all into power balance for a melee character who uses Dex.

Even if you dropped the Con penalty to -2, then that would make it a more-or-less even trade-off. Small characters would be +1 to hit and damage and AC, at the cost of -1 HP per level. Small characters are different in melee, but they are purely worse, as is the desired case here.

Honestly, I think the best solution would be to get rid of finesse weapons. With those gone, you could give small races -4 Strength and +2 Dex and it would still achieve the desired goal.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
Here's an interesting video about Halfling strength, as an aside: https://www.facebook.com/dorksofyore/videos/387210331402800/

So, the estimation is that the average halfling would have a strength of 6 to a human's 10.5 when it comes to absolute measures. This means that, yes, a -4 gives you a good approximation for what a halfling's or gnome's strength would be based around the average values. I'm honestly pretty certain I'll leave it in place. But I would also have think out how to deal with heavy, light, and finesse weapons.

Now, I am definitely considering, in light of the veracity of arguments, that Con would be more appropriate at -2 instead of -4. But I would actually worry that what I proposed giving them in terms of features would then be a little much. Maybe my intuition is just wrong, and it wouldn't, though.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
The rest of your house rules look pretty good.

I'm not sure why you're changing the fighter's 20th-level ability; your replacement seems fine, but very unnecessary. I'm curious also about your theologian, since it might be easy to overdo it with "expanded spellcasting." Especially since certain clerics don't have much weapon and armor proficiency to relinquish in the first place.

I'm very interested in how the recursive inspiration works out. I could imagine a high-Cha party built to pass inspiration back and forth each day.

For the tactical points, I might suggest that you can spend one to get an extra action, reaction, or bonus action (but only once per turn). When I think of "tactical" I think more about positioning, about being in the right place at the right time.

Yeah, that's a good suggestion regarding TP.

Regarding Veteran Warrior, it's to address two very different concerns. First, I like the idea that the fighter capstone gives them both an offensive and a defensive benefit, rather than just one or the other. I tried to make it almost exactly as valuable as the extra attack, and I believe it comes pretty close. Second, I just don't like how they get four attacks in a round while no other class gets more than two. Conceptually, it feels weird, and it's also immersion-breaking with how attacks work in 5e, especially with action surge. Three attacks with some benefits just feels more right to me than four.

For the Theologian, it's still very much a work in progress. I've gone through a few iterations and it needs significant playtesting. But, all clerics have at least medium armor and simple weapon proficiency. They also have d8 HD. Dropping all of that to rock bottom is pretty significant. Especially to AC, since I wasn't planning to give them a free Monk-style Wis-to-AC feature.
 
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