D&D 5E Empowering Races

Yes, it is. For some a feature, others a bug.


Yes, it does. It shapes the cultures that Wood Elves form as well as worldbuilding in general.

Otherwise, they're all just humans. And if that's what you want, that's fine. But I find it lacking.

[ @Thunderfoot, stop doing that. :D This is the second time this week I've replied to an old thread... ]
[ Well, okay, it's not that old. Nevermind... ;) ]
LOL!!!!!!! Suck it up buttercup. 😉 Look I took an extended leave from the site, I'm making up for lost time. LMAO
 

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I think it's more how "elf-y" the bonus is: in this case, you don't get a bonus to perception for being an elf, you get a bonus proficiency for being an elf. So unless the player forgot to factor proficiency bonus into their base perception roll (rare but it happens) - it's not a elf-based bonus. It's jus the basic mod they have to perception checks. It's unlikely that's you'd remind a player during a session that they have a +2 dex for being an elf, because that would be buried in the underlying math of the checks it applies to.

Contrast that to Mas of the Wild, which is a bonus they can only get by being a wood elf and flow directly from their subrace choice... and is rather elf-y in flavor. That's a more evocative benefit.
I understand what you're saying, and it makes a lot of sense, however the intent was grant races bonuses based on their upbringing. And this is why crunch /> fluff. Fluff text may be useless as far a rules but it sets a tone. A middling DM should be able to use fluff to set a basic mood so that when players use abilities its more than roll dice add x to y, even though in practice, that's exactly what it is. A great DM will frame it so that even a newbie player will come up with some theatrics as to why the result based on those crunchy mathematics equals a racial modifier. Seasoned DMs and players together can write a scene that would shame JJ Abrams.

Does it always work that way, no. Not even a little, but that was the intention. The next question in the discussion is...how do we back to this magical place?
 

ECMO3

Hero
Drows in 1st edition had
Infravision up to 120' (this stayed in 5ed)
Magic Resistance of 50% +2%/level. This meant that a 10th level drow had a 68% to not even have to save against magic.
+2 to save against all magic that would pass the first check. And magic resistance was against 11th, so a wizard of 5th would see the previous drow resistance rise up by 6x5% or 30%! Making that drow magic resistant at 98% vs that character...

They all could cast at 1st level: Dancing light, faerie fire and Darkness.
Those of 4th level or higher would add: Detect Magic, Know alignment, Levitate.
And all females (rarely encountered) would be able to cast: Clairvoyance, Detect Lie, Suggestion and Dispel Magic regardless of class and levels.
Crazy isn't it?
You forgot dual wielding. In 1E characters could only wield a dagger or handaxe as an offhand weapon and if they did they were at -4 to hit with the offhand weapon and -2 to hit with the main hand weapon.

Drow could wield 2 weapons with no penalties. So 2 broadswords or 2 flails or whatever.

The darkvision (infravision) too was not just longer range but worked differently. Infravision of the normal variety only allowed limited vision to 60 feet. Most DMs applied a -2 attack penalty if you used it. As such you could use it for sneaking but it was not real good for fighting. Infravision of the 120 foot variety was superior (and also possessed by Goblins and Orcs). The 120 foot variety worked like normal vision in complete darkness.

I will add though that the magic resistance did not apply to PC drow (although the save bonus and everything else did)
 

You forgot dual wielding. In 1E characters could only wield a dagger or handaxe as an offhand weapon and if they did they were at -4 to hit with the offhand weapon and -2 to hit with the main hand weapon.

Drow could wield 2 weapons with no penalties. So 2 broadswords or 2 flails or whatever.
And Drit'zt was unintentionally born...
Also the Drow were always intentioned as an adversarial race, by the time 2e came along so many people wanted to play them you just knew they had to be nerfed to fit.

As a monstrous race they were great, low hp, high AC with poisons, magic and great saves, surprise bonuses, dual-wielding. Fit right between Bugbear and Trolls in the scale-up to greatness and unlike the goblin races, they could hang around until very high levels and be a pain in your butt. Oh, and who can forget all that swag armor and weapons that turned to ash when you left the dungeon? lol
 

You forgot dual wielding. In 1E characters could only wield a dagger or handaxe as an offhand weapon and if they did they were at -4 to hit with the offhand weapon and -2 to hit with the main hand weapon.

Drow could wield 2 weapons with no penalties. So 2 broadswords or 2 flails or whatever.

The darkvision (infravision) too was not just longer range but worked differently. Infravision of the normal variety only allowed limited vision to 60 feet. Most DMs applied a -2 attack penalty if you used it. As such you could use it for sneaking but it was not real good for fighting. Infravision of the 120 foot variety was superior (and also possessed by Goblins and Orcs). The 120 foot variety worked like normal vision in complete darkness.

I will add though that the magic resistance did not apply to PC drow (although the save bonus and everything else did)
The dual weilding stuff was truly implemented in the UA. In the FF most drow soldiers were using bucklers (and even the lowliest drow would have a +1!) For an added two AC for one attack or a normal shield for two attacks. With a base AC of 4 it would bring the base soldier to an AC of 2 (18 in 5ed) making them hard to hit.

The one or two attack people round is what confused a lot of DMs. Only nobles would carry daggers in off hands (2nd paragraph of 34 in the FF.) This led to the myth that all drows would fight with two weapons and UA just gave what people. The fact that in the Q series, some of the drows would fight with two weapons only reinforced this.

And yes it was a cool move. 😎 Sometimes it reinforced the players' expectations and brings a nice sense of dread. A lot of DMs cursed the UA for the power spiked it brought.
 

The dual weilding stuff was truly implemented in the UA. In the FF most drow soldiers were using bucklers (and even the lowliest drow would have a +1!) For an added two AC for one attack or a normal shield for two attacks. With a base AC of 4 it would bring the base soldier to an AC of 2 (18 in 5ed) making them hard to hit.

The one or two attack people round is what confused a lot of DMs. Only nobles would carry daggers in off hands (2nd paragraph of 34 in the FF.) This led to the myth that all drows would fight with two weapons and UA just gave what people. The fact that in the Q series, some of the drows would fight with two weapons only reinforced this.

And yes it was a cool move. 😎 Sometimes it reinforced the players' expectations and brings a nice sense of dread. A lot of DMs cursed the UA for the power spiked it brought.
Yeah, the FF. and the Shrine of Kuo-toa mods really set it off. But evidently it was all (FF and the mods) based on the campaigns ran by Gary when he went to the UK to grow the brand. So UA was just the next step, since that was mostly the Gary trying to increase brand recognition book. (Classes from the cartoon, races from the demos, etc.) I wonder how much of it was just give the people what they ask for, vice concerted and thorough implementation. Either way, we have them now amd people love them.
 

Yeah, the FF. and the Shrine of Kuo-toa mods really set it off. But evidently it was all (FF and the mods) based on the campaigns ran by Gary when he went to the UK to grow the brand. So UA was just the next step, since that was mostly the Gary trying to increase brand recognition book. (Classes from the cartoon, races from the demos, etc.) I wonder how much of it was just give the people what they ask for, vice concerted and thorough implementation. Either way, we have them now amd people love them.
100% agree with you. I strongly suspect that many things in the UA were simply not tested at all. So many stuff in that book was simply OP that it bugged me to no end. The spells, magic items and the new demi-human level limits were not bad but they needed quite a rework to be manageable.
 



CreamCloud0

Adventurer
One of the things races really need to be more significant is more proficiencies, or rather for them to not exist in the same space as class/background bonuses, you have proficiency in acrobatics from both race and class? Congratulations you now have expertise, already have expertise? Triple proficiency? Natural advantage maybe? I dunno but something so that the bonuses are additive rather than mutually exclusive.

Picked a dwarf with a class that already gets med/heavy armour? Then get a flat +2 in addition to the regular AC score it provides, same thing with racial weapons but with To-Hit

Got Elven longbow training but your DEX score was (somehow) your dump stat? For the purpose of using longbows your DEX mod is considered to be 1/2 proficiency bonus!

I do think some scaling would be good too, the dragonborn’s breath weapon increases in damage, halflings start with only on use of lucky per day but gain more at higher levels, resistance becomes immunity (becomes absorption?)

And finally, spread their traits across multiple areas, PHB dragonborn was cool but with only a breath weapon and resistance (yes im aware it got buffed later i think but my point still stands) the fact you were DB didn’t actually come into play all that often mechanically so it was even easier to forget that you were actually a DB.
 

Frozen_Heart

Adventurer
Watching DnD 5e players homebrew their way to Pathfinder 2e is always amusing.

But getting picks of progressively more powerful racial feats as you level up.... that's Pathfinder 2e. I do wish DnD 5e had something like that though.
 


jgsugden

Legend
So are you doing it like 3.5 ECL Monster classes like Savage Species?
Essentially, except my recollection is that Savage Species allowed you to play "up to" having the stats of the monster from first level, where I generally have you start to develop 'higher level' heritage abilities once you've reached a level where it is balanced, and where it will work well with the story telling. I make these and present them as options to players when they are level 1 if they are in these races.

I have also had a few options that allow a player to go from level 1 and play as a monster, but they're mostly unconverted from 3E and 4E at this point sue to lack of demand.

However, I have updated and used my dragon, awakened brown bear, and fire giant heritage classes for players to use as PCs. These do allow you to start at level 1, and then advance in capabilities until you reach a level that is appropriate. The fire giant and dragon are both 20 level progressions, and the awakened brown bear is 6, with 4 bringing you up to level to be roughly equivalent to the brown bear in the MM (once awakened - a little tougher, actually), and levels 5 to 6 being about ways the bear could further develop beyond that to function better in PC classes (level 5 gives you a second claw attack in a multiattack, the ability to walk on your hind legs at 20 feet, and the ability to use your claws like hands (disadvantage on dexterity or strength skills requiring hands). 6th level giving you an ASI (which is a good place to take a custom feat that allows you to use your awakened status as a spell focus.
 

CreamCloud0

Adventurer
One of the things races really need to be more significant is more proficiencies, or rather for them to not exist in the same space as class/background bonuses, you have proficiency in acrobatics from both race and class? Congratulations you now have expertise, already have expertise? Triple proficiency? Natural advantage maybe? I dunno but something so that the bonuses are additive rather than mutually exclusive.

Picked a dwarf with a class that already gets med/heavy armour? Then get a flat +2 in addition to the regular AC score it provides, same thing with racial weapons but with To-Hit

Got Elven longbow training but your DEX score was (somehow) your dump stat? For the purpose of using longbows your DEX mod is considered to be 1/2 proficiency bonus!

I do think some scaling would be good too, the dragonborn’s breath weapon increases in damage, halflings start with only on use of lucky per day but gain more at higher levels, resistance becomes immunity (becomes absorption?)

And finally, spread their traits across multiple areas, PHB dragonborn was cool but with only a breath weapon and resistance (yes im aware it got buffed later i think but my point still stands) the fact you were DB didn’t actually come into play all that often mechanically so it was even easier to forget that you were actually a DB.
Some follow up thoughts to my previous post, I think it would really help races stand out if you took out armour and weapons out of the primary purview of classes and moved them more to races, not to decouple them entirely from class but most classes get blanket access to simple weapons and when they do have martial access mostly it’s the whole array of weapons IIRC.

So if each class only had their own small handful of the thematic weapon proficiencies it’d be more significant that the races are giving access to others weapons outside of those few they get from class.

Similarly for armour the race sets a baseline of what a species is proficient with and the class provides a modifier to that,
Like maybe halflings and elves usually go unarmored and start with no armour, humans and half orcs get light, dwarves get medium, but then wizard class provides +0 and ranger +1 and fighter +2 armour modifiers,
Elf wizard (0+0=0) defaults to lowest armour level, light armour
Elf ranger (0+1=1) light armour
Human ranger (1+1=2) medium armour
Dwarf ranger (2+1=3) heavy armour
Human fighter (1+2=3) heavy armour
 
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