D&D 5E Everyone Should Play Custom Lineage by Default

To be fair, your custom lineage is an elf because you say it is, not because of any mechanical reason.
The mechanics let me say it is an Elf though.

Mechanically I am allowed to say my lineage is descended from Elven parents, and I resemble an Elf (the rest of my kin).

Unless we're saying 'Glorifindel, the 5'8" fair haired and pointy eared person born to elves, raised by Dwarves and who resembles an Elf' is not, in fact, an Elf.

Which to me, seems like a rather inane, pointless and artificial line to draw.
 

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The mechanics let me say it is an Elf though.

Mechanically I am allowed to say my lineage is descended from Elven parents, and I resemble an Elf (the rest of my kin).

Unless we're saying 'Glorifindel, the 5'8" fair haired and pointy eared person born to elves, raised by Dwarves and who resembles an Elf' is not, in fact, an Elf.

Which to me, seems like a rather inane, pointless and artificial line to draw.
Of course you're allowed to say you're an elf. And your DM may very well treat you like an elf in game, and no one has to say any different. By my interpretation, however, letting you be considered an elf mechanically (as in, for rules in the game that interact with elves specifically) would be a house rule, and not just something the player should assume. If I was the DM in that situation, I would ask why that character wants to have the legendary accuracy of the elves without any of the other traits associated with them. If I liked the answer, I'd allow it, and it would be a house rule.
 

Remathilis

Legend
The mechanics let me say it is an Elf though.

Mechanically I am allowed to say my lineage is descended from Elven parents, and I resemble an Elf (the rest of my kin).

Unless we're saying 'Glorifindel, the 5'8" fair haired and pointy eared person born to elves, raised by Dwarves and who resembles an Elf' is not, in fact, an Elf.

Which to me, seems like a rather inane, pointless and artificial line to draw.

Let me give two characters. Let me know what you think.

An elf was blessed by an angel over a thousand years ago. His son was an elf, but his granddaughter is mechanically an aasimar who looks like an elf, born of elven parents, raised in an elven community, etc. She faces down a ghoul and is struck. Is she paralyzed because she's an aasimar or not because she's an "elf"?

A human has dwarfism (like Tyrion Lannister). He's human, but statically uses the halfling racial traits. Can he take the Second Chance, Bountiful Luck, and Prodigy feats?

Neither of these are "custom lineages" but both are a race which are mechanically one thing and narratively another. Does doing so entitle you to the benefits one, both, or neither?
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
Neither of these are "custom lineages" but both are a race which are mechanically one thing and narratively another. Does doing so entitle you to the benefits one, both, or neither?
The correct answer is pretty simple: just figure it out yourself. This discussion makes no sense without a context of an actual game and actual group.
 

The correct answer is pretty simple: just figure it out yourself. This discussion makes no sense without a context of an actual game and actual group.
I agree. It's up to the DM and the group. This is just a discussion of what the actual rule is, not what people would do in the game.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Let me give two characters. Let me know what you think.

An elf was blessed by an angel over a thousand years ago. His son was an elf, but his granddaughter is mechanically an aasimar who looks like an elf, born of elven parents, raised in an elven community, etc. She faces down a ghoul and is struck. Is she paralyzed because she's an aasimar or not because she's an "elf"?

A human has dwarfism (like Tyrion Lannister). He's human, but statically uses the halfling racial traits. Can he take the Second Chance, Bountiful Luck, and Prodigy feats?

Neither of these are "custom lineages" but both are a race which are mechanically one thing and narratively another. Does doing so entitle you to the benefits one, both, or neither?
My personal ruling (I don't know that the RAW would be, and don't find it interesting to speculate) would be yes to both.

Basically, I don't see the racial feats and their availability as being a balance point between the various races; I simply see them as another way to mechanically reinforce narrative. So letting a mechanical aasimar but narrative elf take the elven feats only reinforces the narrative. Likewise, a human who seems to have a lot of the capabilities that are normally intrinsic to halflings only furthers that narrative by giving them more capabilities in the same vein.
 

Remathilis

Legend
My personal ruling (I don't know that the RAW would be, and don't find it interesting to speculate) would be yes to both.

Basically, I don't see the racial feats and their availability as being a balance point between the various races; I simply see them as another way to mechanically reinforce narrative. So letting a mechanical aasimar but narrative elf take the elven feats only reinforces the narrative. Likewise, a human who seems to have a lot of the capabilities that are normally intrinsic to halflings only furthers that narrative by giving them more capabilities in the same vein.
Careful, I asked two different things.

Can an elfsimar get an unlisted racial ability (in this case, immunity to ghoul paralysis) by virtue of his backstory?

Can a humanling get choose from both races?

Basically, I'm asking if you can get benefits of a second race just by saying you are a mechanically one race and narratively another?
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Careful, I asked two different things.

Can an elfsimar get an unlisted racial ability (in this case, immunity to ghoul paralysis) by virtue of his backstory?

Can a humanling get choose from both races?

Basically, I'm asking if you can get benefits of a second race just by saying you are a mechanically one race and narratively another?
Yes, and my answer was yes to both cases, for the reasons I stated.
 


I bought some Dragon magazines, in English and Spanish languange. In #341 pag 92-93 there is a class act article with the title "Martial Cultures", offering optional racial traits to can play rangers or barbarians, and even I liked those traits for gnomes, very much more practical, even for other classes.

Elves with any planetouched/outsider ancestors? The celadrins. This was a +1 level PC race in Dragon Magazine (elves with eladrin blood) I like this idea as "cousins" of the aasimars.

I defend the option to change the racial traits to can better with other classes and like this we avoid the typecasting of some PC races.

What if I want to play a shen in Kara-Tur, but I don't like those racial traits?
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Then are you really playing one?

It is like saying, "I want to play a giraffe, but don't want a long neck, four legs, two eyes, or spots on my hide. Can I still be a giraffe?"

Or, "I want to ride this giant tortoise as my steed, but it doesn't go as fast as the riding horses everyone else has. Can we bump its speed up so I can keep up. It's still a giant tortoise, though, right?"

Frankly, of course you can do what you want in your game, and using custom lineage or your own homebrew to develop custom races is fine of course, but then you are no longer the race--especially once you start changing the racial traits--they are what define a race as a race IMO.
 

nevin

Hero
The new Tasha's custom lineage is one of the strongest PC options published--pick a feat, potentially choose an Ability to start at 18, have darkvision.

Why not have it be conventional practice that players always build a custom lineage, regardless of the 'race' they want to play i.e.:
wanna play a dwarf? --> custom lineage: +2 Str, Sentinel​
wanna play an elf? --> custom lineage: +2 Dex, Elven Accuracy​
wanna play a purple eight-eyed anthropomorphic psychic badger? --> custom lineage: +2 Int, Telekinetic​
and so on​

The upside is that DMs wouldn't have to be picky about allowing other options for players who want more thematically unified mechanics. Since custom lineage is almost always gonna be mechanically better, nothing else is likely to unbalance the game.

I think this convention would ultimately allow players to play what they want without feeling like they're straightjacketed by the rules AND--because total freedom undermines creativity more than constraints do--mean that a lot of players will flavor their PC as generically human or demihuman. The freedom to go gonzo is there but most of the players most of the time won't want to.

Finally, it'd be less oppressive to worldbuilding, since there's no default assumption that the PHB races need to exist in the setting. So, say, in my setting I decide everyone is dragonborn. Players can decide to look like dragonborn, and be locals, or look like elves, and be inter-dimensional party crashers--mechanically it doesn't matter, roleplay what you want.

What do you guys think?
No. believe it or not some players like standard fantasy races. Requiring that now makes them do it your way so that you and your crowd are happy. Options are good, requirements are bad.
 


Remathilis

Legend
Then are you really playing one?

It is like saying, "I want to play a giraffe, but don't want a long neck, four legs, two eyes, or spots on my hide. Can I still be a giraffe?"

Or, "I want to ride this giant tortoise as my steed, but it doesn't go as fast as the riding horses everyone else has. Can we bump its speed up so I can keep up. It's still a giant tortoise, though, right?"

Frankly, of course you can do what you want in your game, and using custom lineage or your own homebrew to develop custom races is fine of course, but then you are no longer the race--especially once you start changing the racial traits--they are what define a race as a race IMO.
It really starts to question what DOES define a race now.

So an elf by default has +2 dex, age, alignment, M size, 30 ft speed, darkvision, keen senses, trance, fey ancestry, two languages, and a subrace. Subraces can change your speed. Tasha says we can swap the ASI's for any ones we want. Alignment as a racial trait is going the way of the dodo (see the goliath reprint in IWD). Languages and proficiencies are swappable. Then, Custom lineage-as-race comes in and says: you can pick size S or M. You can select a skill instead of darkvision, and trade trance, fey ancestry and your subrace for a feat.

The only immutable elven trait: age.
 


Right. Due this sad power gaming attitude WotC had to break the whole race mechanics because people couldn't handle not having a 16 in a stat (and even if it wasn't their character!)
Yes to this. No other player should be telling another player how they must play their character in general or how they must slot their stats specifically. If someone starts with a 14 instead of a 16 in their primary stat, is the +1 ability modifier difference really going to ruin the campaign? If so, sounds like there's bigger issues at hand for that table.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
It really starts to question what DOES define a race now.
Not at all. The same thing that always has: a list of set traits that creatures have in common, along with a biological make-up that defines you as that creature apart from others that might have similar traits.

In short, you do not have elven traits if you do not have:
an elf by default has +2 dex, age, alignment, M size, 30 ft speed, darkvision, keen senses, trance, fey ancestry, two languages, and a subrace.

You are not an elf. You are something else, a unique being. Are there others like you, which share your biological make-up and have the same traits you do? Then pick a new name for yourselves and voila a new race!

So, Tasha's says float this, customize that, blah blah blah. When you are done, guess what... you have something called HOMEBREW which is what people have been doing for decades. A lot of tables have house-ruled floating ASIs for so long it is ridiculous. So, ALL WotC has done is basically tell everyone, "Go ahead, check with your DM, and homebrew the crap out of your game." :rolleyes:

FWIW, as far as ASIs are concerned, I've been saying for a long time just get rid of them entirely. Don't float them, we don't need them, get rid of them. Represent racial traits through more meaningful concepts like instead of STR +2 give a race Powerful Build, etc.

Tasha's basically said, "Ok, let's give power gamers and option so they can play something other than variant human to get a feat at level 1 and throw in darkvision, after all, over half the races still don't have it."

Finally, yeah, I know it is all "optional", well good because 90% of it is all crap IMO. 300-ft darkvision??? Are you f'ing kidding me? On top of that, let's make it so you can give to all willing creatures within 10 feet of you for an hour! The more I read the book the more I am SO glad I didn't buy it. :)
 

cbwjm

Legend
Yes to this. No other player should be telling another player how they must play their character in general or how they must slot their stats specifically. If someone starts with a 14 instead of a 16 in their primary stat, is the +1 ability modifier difference really going to ruin the campaign? If so, sounds like there's bigger issues at hand for that table.
The game works well with a 14 in your main stat, anything over is a bonus. Below that, I think it starts to show a bit but otherwise a 14 works fine.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
Yes to this. No other player should be telling another player how they must play their character in general or how they must slot their stats specifically. If someone starts with a 14 instead of a 16 in their primary stat, is the +1 ability modifier difference really going to ruin the campaign? If so, sounds like there's bigger issues at hand for that table.
How does one player even know what the scores are for another PC?

I could have a Fighter with STR and DEX 10, and just tell the DM, "I missed. I missed again." etc. No one else needs to know what my PCs stats are.
 

Crit

Explorer
It really starts to question what DOES define a race now.

So an elf by default has +2 dex, age, alignment, M size, 30 ft speed, darkvision, keen senses, trance, fey ancestry, two languages, and a subrace. Subraces can change your speed. Tasha says we can swap the ASI's for any ones we want. Alignment as a racial trait is going the way of the dodo (see the goliath reprint in IWD). Languages and proficiencies are swappable. Then, Custom lineage-as-race comes in and says: you can pick size S or M. You can select a skill instead of darkvision, and trade trance, fey ancestry and your subrace for a feat.

The only immutable elven trait: age.
The only thing moved around right now is ASIs and alignment. I looked at a lot of the races, and to me, 90% of their identity is other things. The origins and engrained features (flight, powerful build, innate spell casting, teifling heritage, Simic Hybrid anatomy) are still the same. To me, those matter the most as well as whatever the setting says.

I don't think a Custom Lineage "Elf," depending on how the DM treats Trance + Fey Ancestry, is really the same as a normal Elf. Age is only immutable if you decide Trance and whatever else to be disposable, which has to be chosen. What it means to play each race depends on stuff like that-- I personally would put Custom Lineage forward only for non-existing races and species. Not to mention, Custom Lineage does seem to lack a lot of meat-on-the-bone compared to actually playing a regular race. I don't think these things are on their way out.

The reason ASIs and Alignment were tagged out was because there wasn't much of a reason for them to be coupled as they were. I agree with the idea of ASIs and alignment being determined by environmental factors, rather than unnecessary mention where not needed. Why list something like alignment statistics per race if it, frankly, offers so little? Should it not be a DM's prerogative to say what place or culture results in what alignments? Separately, if you had an Elf who was solely raised amongst Gnomes, why would they know Elvish and not Gnomish? I think that's better- the race alignment suggestions, I think, encourage the generalizations into existing.

Right. Due this sad power gaming attitude WotC had to break the whole race mechanics because people couldn't handle not having a 16 in a stat (and even if it wasn't their character!)
I don't agree with that. Nothing was "broken" from "power gaming." I think it's more than fair that no-one is mechanically punished or disadvantaged from race choice. Now you are free to pick whether or not you're disadvantaged, by moving around your ASIs.
 

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