D&D (2024) Elves without racism [+]

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
By itself a simple +2 can't define a species. Same as just one minor ability like skill/weapon prof or a language doesn't define one.

But over time, one by one, each of these is being removed or moved elsewhere, and over time this does start eroding the differences between species when nothing is brought in to replace them.

So every defining feature is deleted one by one, each of those features isn't very defining alone. But then once half of them are gone, many of the species start to look homogenous. And then people start pushing to merge or delete those species.

And yeah, languages and tool profs probably should be under background and not species. And the way 5e is set up makes a +2 or -2 build defining to the point it's basically needed for a working build. So I'm happy for those to go.

But they should have been replaced with things. More actual written abilities and features which actually change how the species play a lot more than the current species traits.

Otherwise, over time when more and more features are stripped away and moved elsewhere, those asking for species to be purely cosmetic will gain traction, and then it will happen.
i was really trying to stay out of commenting in this thread as it just seemed to be the same argument rehashed from the previous two threads but i wanted to comment something about this specifically, i completely understand the point of the argument about how 'ASI don't make your species unique' and honestly agree, i think species strengths should be built into a species funadamental abilities but the point Frozen is making here is also very much true and reminds me of a post i saw a good while ago and it went something like this:
"due to not being created by a god humans have by far the most diverse number of cultures, values and communities, unlike other species who tend towards certain archetypes and monocultures"
[everyone ignores that in roleplay and lets any species have any culture and personality]

"their freely placed ASI represents how humans don't have any predefined strengths or specialties like other species but their strength lies in their people's diversity of strengths"
[gives all the species floating ASI so they can all be strong at anything]

"Vuman's feat exists to display human versatility and their ability to pick up all types of skills, producing masters and experts of any type"
[gives everyone a level 1 feat and many GMs softban Vuman as they're already getting a feat and having 2 would be OP]

[why don't my humans feel unique anymore!?]

...
---
with floating ASIs we actually got variety in character creation,
also i don't really think that floating ASI really increased versatility in character creation, all those combinations were possible beforehand it just moved the metrics by which optimisation was measured from species ASI to their abilities, but the i think point being made that you were replying to is that the variety in character creation came at the expense of the variety of the species themselves, all of them becomming slightly more indefined so that they can all equally fit into any and every mould that people want to shape them into.
 

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Yaarel

He Mage
Removing the ability improvement from all species, makes each species more interesting.

For example, the Playtest Human is the first time I want to play a Human character in D&D. I no longer feel like I am getting cheated out of an ability improvement.

The Human is flavorful. When the crutch of the optimizational "math porn" is removed from all of the species, the designers are forced to think more clearly about what makes one species different from an other species. The result is a more flavorful set of capabilities for each species. In the case of the Human, the Resourceful trait feels flavorful. When I think about Human flavor, I think about how the reallife human compares to other animals. Being aggressive and goal-oriented, forming knowledge groups with relevant skill sets, being tool users, being social animals − the Resourceful trait with its free Advantage to any d20 test matches all of these reallife human flavors. Humans have a spiritual streak, and the Inspiration hints at that too. The Advantage is powerful because the Human can add it when it is important for a test to succeed. The extra skill proficiency is almost a ribbon, but appropriate enough. (I would make it "skill or tool" proficiency, but ok.) Then the free feat! A Human can do any Human thing well. As player, I can build many different kinds of character concepts.

The flavor of every species spices up. For the Elf too. Sorry, but the earlier D&D Elf being "skinny" was unsatisfying as an adventure character concept. And for an entire species − what was that? Re the Elf of earlier editions. I hated the Dexterity straightjacket. It caused many design problems. First the abilities themselves are imbalanced compared to each other, even broken. Dexterity is by far the most powerful ability and impossible to ignore. There was no choice but to be a dexterous Elf. The dexterous Elf feels off. When Norwegians think about elves, using a bow and being "nimble" are irrelevant. Phrases like "elf spear" or "elf sword", in the sense of a luckily accurate weapon, show the longbow is the wrong weapon. The elves never fight with weapons anyway. They always fight by using magic, and sometimes carry the shamanic volva rod as part of their magic. Elves are known for being "multi knowledgeable", meaning good at every kind of magic. The Norwegian understanding of elf is a cultural perception thing. But even for the D&D game, the Dexterity is invariably wrong for the Elf concept. Where the Elves were supposed to be automatically culturally trained with a Longsword, they sucked at it because of the Dexterity straightjacket. And the Elf is supposed to be all about beauty, art, music, song, and poetry, but sucked at being a Bard because of the Dexterity straightjacket. And the D&D Elf is supposed to have Wizard as a "favored" class, but actually sucked at it or was at best mediocre because of the Dexterity straightjacket. As much as I love the mythological concept of the elf, playing a D&D Elf was always painful − because of that self-contradicting, design-concept-sabotaging, Dexterity straightjacket. I feel physical relief to see Dexterity gone. My arms can move more freely now!

When the designers can no longer resort to math porn for the Elf species concept, what do they come up with? What makes the Elf species feel different from other species? The Elf has affinity with magic and spellcasting cultures. Yes. Exactly. For the first time ever, the Playtest Elf actually makes the Elf good at the flavor that it is supposed to be good at.

And if a certain player likes using the Elf for a longbow plus a high Dexterity, the player can still do that. Because background is the place to do that. Win-win.

The Human and the Elf come with so many different kinds of character concepts. With the 2024 versions, the Human has flavor and is versatile in a flavorful mechanical way − without Fear Of Missing Out. The Elf can finally be good at all of the different kinds of flavors that the D&D Elves are supposed to be good at.
 
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Yaarel

He Mage
There might need to be a Mythal for the flavor of "fate".

"Fey" (from feie, faie, fata) literally means a "fate". The concept of foretelling the future develops the concept of speaking words to change the future, whence magical words that alter reality. There is a direct correlation between fate and magic. The medieval term "fairie" (faie-rie) when in the sense of "the activity of the fey", means "magic". The Norse elf, the French feie (fée), and various kinds of British faerie, all personify both magic and fate.

Fate in it sense of luckiness is an important aspect of elf flavor.

Among the Norse, elves and dwarves are both "fates" (nornir), and there appears to be a distinction between elven luckiness versus dwarven unluckiness. (The nornir are feminines, but masculines are also known for determining fates. In D&D the concept is gender-neutral for any character.) The elves generally personify a fate of "success" (frami), that is lucky, high status and influential. This is partly why they themselves as examples of good fates appear charming and wealthy. The dwarves are more likely to inflict curses, and personify a fate of futility, that is unlucky with little impact. Ironically, it can be good luck to inflict bad luck on enemies, thus in this sense, the dwarves are known for excellent weapons that undermine any defenses. Similarly the British ælf blending Norse alfr, Celtic sidhe, and French feie, relates to fate and luck.

For a D&D Elf character expressing fate flavor, it is probably sufficient to choose the Lucky feat for the Mythal. Yet ideally, there would be two feats. A Luck Mythal that only grants Advantage to oneself but also to ones allies, and a separate Unluck Mythal that inflicts Disadvantage on ones enemies. If an Elf gains the Lucky feat, the Elf varies it, able to choose to spend a Luck Point on an ally instead of oneself.


The Elf design focuses on the mechanics of an individual Elf. The individual Elf is a member of a diverse community, yet comprising a culture where certain characteristics can trend. Thus elven communities differ from each other. Some elven communities have many "fates" that grant luck, especially those with close ties to the Fey plane. In other communities, "fates" are rare.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
I added a Fatespeaker Mythal relating to the elven fates and their tropes of success and luck. It compares to the Lucky feat while its points can be spent for an ally.


Re the Sun Mythal. Its Skyey flight seems balanced enough for level 1, as a "level 0" feat. The flight is less practicable for combat by using the Action rather than the Move, and its distance is slow.

Yet any flight requires caution during the lowest tier, and requires monitoring to ensure balance. If in practice it seems to imbalance, it can instead make a solid level-4 feat, that additionally grants a +1 ability score improvement. At level 4, the limited flight is a nonissue.

If a player takes the Sun Mythal and then the Skyborne Mythal as a level-8 feat that grants a proper Fly Speed using the Move, the Sun Mythal can remain useful because its buoyancy of a Hover that makes falling impossible remains valuable at higher tiers.


In the context of the Elf species, magic and innate spellcasting are a central trait. Elves spellcast like Humans speak a language. I am comfortable with an emphasis on magic, because as far as I know, (all?) reallife cultures have some kind of concept reminiscent of magic. So it is possible to express magical concepts in genuinely multicultural ways. The variegated Elf communities can each draw inspiration from anywhere.

Witch and Light from the Witchlight adventure are Elves from a Shadar-kai community. Note the diversity of bodytype and complexion.
witchlight-standard-1271257-banner-1-854698449.jpg

The archetype of Elf includes beauty − there are many ways to be beautiful.


The traits of Mythal and Innate Spellcaster can represent every Elf of the D&D traditions, while keeping the species design as simple as possible. If there are other prominent Elven traits, new Mythals or spells can become available in the future. Minimizing bloat is also helpful. An economy of design is ideal.
 
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Yaarel

He Mage
With the global violence going on today,

D&D traditions but decisively end all mechanics of ethnic stereotypes, and all narratives of ethnic hate.

Every form of racism must be unambiguously absent from the core rules of D&D.
 

Horwath

Legend
With the global violence going on today,

D&D traditions but decisively end all mechanics of ethnic stereotypes, and all narratives of ethnic hate.

Every form of racism must be unambiguously absent from the core rules of D&D.
And this is connected how?

I could name 3 books that are one of the top causes of global violence(I wont because I will not drag this into politics), but they are most certainly NOT; PHB, DMG and MM.
 

Mephista

Adventurer
Otherwise, over time when more and more features are stripped away and moved elsewhere, those asking for species to be purely cosmetic will gain traction, and then it will happen.
Stupid idea but.... maybe that's not the worst thing to happen.

I played a game of Fabula Ultima recently and it had no race selection. I could pick up a starting Quirk that let me have wings, mess around with resistances, be cursed, or start with an old, broken artifact. There's a couple different ways to start off as an angel, a dragon-person, one of the fae. There's a quirk for going robot/golem.

Maybe we'd be better off with less races/species/lineages/etc, and let everyone figure out their own genetics through level 1 feats instead. Why shouldn't Powerful Build, Small Sized Nimbleness, claws, wings or innate magics just be a bunch of feats you can pick up?
 

Stupid idea but.... maybe that's not the worst thing to happen.

I played a game of Fabula Ultima recently and it had no race selection. I could pick up a starting Quirk that let me have wings, mess around with resistances, be cursed, or start with an old, broken artifact. There's a couple different ways to start off as an angel, a dragon-person, one of the fae. There's a quirk for going robot/golem.

Maybe we'd be better off with less races/species/lineages/etc, and let everyone figure out their own genetics through level 1 feats instead. Why shouldn't Powerful Build, Small Sized Nimbleness, claws, wings or innate magics just be a bunch of feats you can pick up?
You could make that argument for classes too. Rather than forcing one particular set of features, allow characters to pick their features one by one and figure out their own build. In fact there are numerous classless systems.

You could remove different species and it would work perfectly fine, but then there would then be demand for another system with pre-set elves and dwarves and orcs. Just like how if you removed classes it would still work, but then there would be demand for a game with classes.
 

Mephista

Adventurer
You could make that argument for classes too. Rather than forcing one particular set of features, allow characters to pick their features one by one and figure out their own build. In fact there are numerous classless systems.

You could remove different species and it would work perfectly fine, but then there would then be demand for another system with pre-set elves and dwarves and orcs. Just like how if you removed classes it would still work, but then there would be demand for a game with classes.
Classes are important because they help create a more balanced game without the need for white tower, system-mastery based gaming. That creates a level of buy in and investments that you don't get with just looking over several feats.

Classes grow with level, species do not. We already have level 1 feats being offered. Removal of species doesn't really have an effect on the gameplay experience. Removal of classes very much would.

There are numerous games that have toyed with going classless, and with going species-less. In general, the modern trend is to keep the former, but do away with the latter. The two are not equivalent, there's no way to pretend they are.

Classes make the game easier to deal with from a mechanical perspective for developers, DMs and new players alike. They provide clear archetypes and class fantasies. Species (or whatever the local word is) does not offer mechanical ease, and the closest thing they have to an associated trope / fantasy is a relationship to a specific class. It doesn't help when monsters like dragons or devils can be best represented by the right subclass as well.

Wanting to keep species because "That's the way its always been done" is a thing, but its not like there's any real advantage to it other than vibes.
 

Classes grow with level, species do not.
Many species are getting features which appear once you reach a certain level, or have uses equal to proficiency bonus. This keeps these features relevant as you level.

The reason I like separate species is that it helps to create interesting settings and worlds. Unique species all with their own features and traits which set them apart offer ways to make the world richer and provides storytelling opportunities.

I wouldn't even be opposed to a create a species as the default option, so long as each setting book came with a set of species and traits (built using that same system) which they then used as player options and for building their own setting.

An 'eberron setting guide' should absolutely have a choice of the species in that setting rather than an 'everyone can be anything' system. While I don't really think it's that vital that the PHB needs fixed species.

I just know full well that if it was implemented, WotC would force every setting from then on to have build-a-bear species and consistent species would never be an option again beyond homebrew.
 

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