D&D (2024) Elves without racism [+]

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Classes are important because they help create a more balanced game without the need for white tower, system-mastery based gaming.
I'm pretty sure you mean "ivory tower design," and it doesn't mean what you're saying it means:

 

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Horwath

Legend
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?
1. Remove all racial/lineage features and background bonuses. Race if for looks/cosmetics. You just get Common + language of choice
2. Everyone starts with 16,16,14,12,12,10 default ability array.
3. Everyone gets four feats at 1st level.
4. Add 1st level class bonuses after.
 

DammitVictor

Trust the Fungus
Supporter
Classes grow with level, species do not.
That's how Gygax designed them when he separated Race and Class in AD&D. It's not the only way they can be designed and I've been saying all along-- well, since the advent of the OSR-- that it was a mistake, both to make species choice so irrelevant in D&D and to have even separated it from class in the first place.

Removal of species doesn't really have an effect on the gameplay experience. Removal of classes very much would.
Nonsense. Arrogant, dismissive nonsense.

For all the people demanding that we remove all of the mechanical significance from species choice... suggest that you remove non-human PCs from the game altogether and they lose their goddamned minds.

Fundamentally, this is an issue of people not wanting to play D&D-- within the confines of any "official" or even mutually agreed-upon D&D setting-- but refusing to play anything but D&D. These people cannot be catered to because they don't know what they want and they'd hate it if you gave it to them.
 

that it was a mistake, both to make species choice so irrelevant in D&D
I kind of like how pathfinder 2e has handled species. If you want you can really focus on more feats which make that species insanely impactful and unique.

Yeah I think their 'pick out of a choice of 600 different feats' is over the top, but I'd love to see species being made way more impactful than they already are.

I don't agree with limiting classes by species though.
 

Dausuul

Legend
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.
This.

As far as mechanics are concerned, the nonhumans in D&D (at least, the PHB nonhumans) have been humans in funny suits for five editions now. They got a handful of odd little tricks, and some dinky modifiers that didn't take you out of the human-normal range unless you rolled incredibly well or incredibly badly on stats, and some class and level limits that only mattered at chargen or at levels you were unlikely to ever reach. And that was it.

There was only one edition where nonhumans played really differently from humans, and that was BD&D/BECMI, where "dwarf," "elf," and "halfling" were classes with their own rules. I don't say D&D needs to go back to species-as-class, that brings its own problems, but I would like species where the impact is comparable -- where the mechanics pull you into the mindset of a being built on different biological/mystical rules from humans.

But I don't see that happening in 1D&D, and certainly not in the core books. Like it or not, there is a big market for humans in funny suits. Fixed ability mods do nothing to change this, never have; meanwhile, they impose a modest but unalterable penalty on many character concepts that would otherwise work fine.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
This.

As far as mechanics are concerned, the nonhumans in D&D (at least, the PHB nonhumans) have been humans in funny suits for five editions now. They got a handful of odd little tricks, and some dinky modifiers that didn't take you out of the human-normal range unless you rolled incredibly well or incredibly badly on stats, and some class and level limits that only mattered at chargen or at levels you were unlikely to ever reach. And that was it.

There was only one edition where nonhumans played really differently from humans, and that was BD&D/BECMI, where "dwarf," "elf," and "halfling" were classes with their own rules. I don't say D&D needs to go back to species-as-class, that brings its own problems, but I would like species where the impact is comparable -- where the mechanics pull you into the mindset of a being built on different biological/mystical rules from humans.

But I don't see that happening in 1D&D, and certainly not in the core books. Like it or not, there is a big market for humans in funny suits. Fixed ability mods do nothing to change this, never have; meanwhile, they impose a modest but unalterable penalty on many character concepts that would otherwise work fine.
while i understand the signficance to people of 'every combination should be as equally viable as any other' i really think it's undercut the potential of having actually truly distinct feeling species, like, i've mused before on the idea of 'halflings get natural 18-20 crit expansion' to represent their natural luck and to compensate for their inability to properly use heavy weapons, of which all of the most innately powerful weapon types have that property up to and including heavy crossbow and longbow if you thought you could escape that flaw by going ranged.

but people claimed and i was told that "that'll lead to crit fishing builds and make halfling optimal choice for paladin with their smites" to which i ask is that really so terrible? is that really the worst thing to possibly happen?

make species actually distinct, else what's the point of having them at all and we can all use human stats and claim the funny rubber species mask each of our characters wear is whatever.
 

Horwath

Legend
while i understand the signficance to people of 'every combination should be as equally viable as any other' i really think it's undercut the potential of having actually truly distinct feeling species, like, i've mused before on the idea of 'halflings get natural 18-20 crit expansion' to represent their natural luck and to compensate for their inability to properly use heavy weapons, of which all of the most innately powerful weapon types have that property up to and including heavy crossbow and longbow if you thought you could escape that flaw by going ranged.

but people claimed and i was told that "that'll lead to crit fishing builds and make halfling optimal choice for paladin with their smites" to which i ask is that really so terrible? is that really the worst thing to possibly happen?

make species actually distinct, else what's the point of having them at all and we can all use human stats and claim the funny rubber species mask each of our characters wear is whatever.
If halfling got real penalties for being small, then +1 crit range would be a nice balance to it.

reduce damage die of small weapons by one dice and it would be good.(also double all damage on a crit, not just dice rolls)
then average damage of 1d8+5, 5% crit vs 1d6+5, 10% crit with base 60% hit rate would be:
6,18 vs. 5,95
Not really game breaking.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
If halfling got real penalties for being small, then +1 crit range would be a nice balance to it.
do you not consider small to be a real penalty? i get it's slightly an optimisation view but functionally cutting them off from one of the most widely considered 'essential' feats (GWM's +10/-5 requires a heavy weapon to activate) for specing into martial damage in addition to not being able to use previously mentioned top rate weapons seems like a pretty big penalty to me.
reduce damage die of small weapons by one dice and it would be good.(also double all damage on a crit, not just dice rolls)
then average damage of 1d8+5, 5% crit vs 1d6+5, 10% crit with base 60% hit rate would be:
6,18 vs. 5,95
Not really game breaking.
i don't know what math you're using to calculate, may i ask what average damage 1d6+5 with 15% crit rate would be?
 

Horwath

Legend
do you not consider small to be a real penalty? i get it's slightly an optimisation view but functionally cutting them off from one of the most widely considered 'essential' feats (GWM's +10/-5 requires a heavy weapon to activate) for specing into martial damage in addition to not being able to use previously mentioned top rate weapons seems like a pretty big penalty to me.

i don't know what math you're using to calculate, may i ask what average damage 1d6+5 with 15% crit rate would be?
those -5/+10 feats are going away in 2024.
Now I hope that they add that crit doubles all damage, not just dice rolls.

for math is 60% hit rate and double all damage on a crit.

with 15% crit it would be 6,38 damage per hit.



IMO, small races do not have sufficient penalties, a broad -6 to STR score might be just right, but that is in game terms too much to compensate in other areas. Which again leads to too much optimizations.

You can either have realistic size penalties with some minor benefits, so then no one will play small races, or you can have huge benefits outside STR so every character that is not STR based will probably be small.

Both are bad for gameplay, so compromise is found in not really having any penalties or benefits for being small.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
The recent discussions seem about: what is a species, and how should D&D mechanics express it?

Generally, a roleplaying game needs both balanced versatile mechanics and compelling narratives. One without the other does less well. D&D enjoys both. D&D is at its best when playable crunch actualizes fun flavor.

D&D is wise to gate certain mechanics by level and tier. To make somethings impossible until a later tier helps with mechanical balance. The concept of flight seems to be still in the process of sorting out. Generally, the slot-3 spell Fly for the level-5 tier seems to be the benchmark. Forms of flight that are clearly less powerful than this spell seem possible for the level-1 tier. Meanwhile permanent at-will flight seems to defer to the level-9 tier or even the level-13 tier. In my experience, every player figures out some method of at-will flight during level-9 tier. Flight is notable because the flavor of flight is central and relevant even at level 1, but the mechanics of it are powerful and there are reasons to defer to later tiers. Some species can fly. Likewise, teleporting via Misty Step seems to have gone from ok at level 1 (example the Eladrin in Monsters of the Multiverse) to unavailable until level 5 (example Playtest Elf). How to mechanize these species with powerful capabilities is tricky.

I value mechanics that are customizable and balanced − and appreciate the tension between the two. Gating powerful mechanical options by level can help sustain balance while also allowing customizability. 5e is awesome using the "feat" as a design space unit. The level-0 feat is excellent for lumping together flavorful mechanics. Species consist of three feats. More powerful feats come at higher level. In this way, a species with powerful capabilities can start with level-0 feats, then "learn" or "metamorphose" to master the more powerful ones later in life. In the Elf in this thread, there are Elf Species feats gained by a "Mythal", that player characters can acquire after reaching higher levels. This allows some of the more powerful aspects of the mythological Elf archetype to be available if a player is interested in them for ones own character concept.

Where all species traits are defacto feat choices, this opens the possibility that players can freeform invent species by selecting whichever feats they prefer. This defacto happens for any multispecies rules, where a character can waive any species feat requirement by saying some ancestor somewhere in the family is that species.

This freeform design for species reminds of me of the superhero genre, where species often lack traits, except for the narrative of superhero origin story. For example, one of the many explanations for why a particular character is good at magic, is decided to be because of descent from elves. I like mechanical customizability. I like mechanics that are versatile in a way that can actualize various narrative concepts. I am comfortable with freeform mechanics. D&D can handle this approach, especially because it can gate options by level.

That said.


A D&D is both a narrative game as well as a mechanical game. A freeform mechanical approach where everything is feats that can assemble like lego bricks, must sustain narrative coherence. The default setting is a narrative world. Characters create stories within this narrative setting.

A D&D that lacked stories about species would feel less like D&D. The stories about Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, and Halflings are part of what makes D&D part of popculture. I would add Giants and Dragons to this mix. Also Gnomes,. The devilish Tieflings also do well.

D&D is a story about species. The game has a need to think clearly about what a species is, and how to best express the narrative concepts mechanically.

It seems to me, each D&D species needs to have a "superpower" that is clearly unlike any reallife human. 4e started this approach, such as granting the 4e Eladrin a Fey Step. This nonhuman power to teleport made the Eladrin feel different from the Human and from other species choices. The Playtest for 2024 continues this approach. The Elf is all about innate magic. The Dwarf has earthy Tremor Sense. The Dragonborn breathes fire or other breathweapon. And so on.

I am glad the Playtest removes the all-too-human ability score improvements from the species design space. Likewise, learned cultural tropes relocate to the background design space. What remains is a substantial amount of design space − three feats − that can fill up with powerful mechanics that feel salient and unique to each species.

When each species has a nonhuman superpower, it helps avoid references to stereotypes about reallife human ethnicities. Meanwhile, the D&D species can feel vividly different from each other. D&D can be a great game about diverse Human and Nonhuman species of life.


Note, the D&D mechanics of feat assemblage are freeform. The default setting entangles the feats within narratives about the species who populate the fantasy world. These species are what feels like D&D. But D&D mechanics dont have to do this. D&D can also include alternative settings that lack nonhuman species. Homebrew settings can likewise repurpose the D&D mechanics for a narrative where Humans are the only sapient species. D&D has the mechanical capability to tell almost any kind of story. At the same time, these Nonhuman species are the stories that many D&D players love.
 

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