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Firbolgs - A PC Race From VOLO'S GUIDE TO MONSTERS


pukunui

Legend
WotC has just posted another preview from Volo's Guide to Monsters, this time the write-up for firbolgs. Get it here! This is an example of one of the monsters-as-PC-races to be found in the book. Be sure to also check out Polygon's six-page preview, the fire giant dreadnoughts, the "lore on giants" preview, and the preface.


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flametitan

Explorer
I knew they weren't going to diverge from the medium/small paradigm that they've previously set.

It looks like they'll do what they did with goliaths, and simply use powerful build to emulate the large size while still being medium.
 

One_Shots

First Post
Why put in a race that diverges so significantly from the original other than to pander to nostalgia? Why not create new races or utilise the plethora of other available options if they want to fill a book?

Firbolg have been 10 ft. tall since 1e and in every other edition. They've always been of a large size and, in fact, one of their special abilities has always been to shrink down a size. It's really just absurd to shoehorn them into a medium build so that they'll be a playable race.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
The art took me by surprise, as it looks nothing like the firbolg from 2E, which is the only one I'm familiar with. Luckily, I have no attachment to the firbolg's previous incarnations, and I actually think this looks pretty good.

Interesting wording on Hidden Step, though. It makes you invisible "...until you attack, make a damage roll, or force someone to make a saving throw." This is different from all other invisibility effects. I wonder why.
 

flametitan

Explorer
Interesting wording on Hidden Step, though. It makes you invisible "...until you attack, make a damage roll, or force someone to make a saving throw." This is different from all other invisibility effects. I wonder why.

I'm guessing it's to allow for spells that don't cause you to deal damage to be cast without breaking your invisibility? More of a "Nature will hide you unless you act with harmful intent" invisibility than a "You will be hidden until you do something that will cause you to be noticed" invisibility.

Why put in a race that diverges so significantly from the original other than to pander to nostalgia? Why not create new races or utilise the plethora of other available options if they want to fill a book?

Firbolg have been 10 ft. tall since 1e and in every other edition. They've always been of a large size and, in fact, one of their special abilities has always been to shrink down a size. It's really just absurd to shoehorn them into a medium build so that they'll be a playable race.

I think it's fine. It allows for firbolgs to actually fit in with the standard adventuring party. Even if you have a magical ability to become medium, I assume it was only temporary. There's currently no explicit bonus to being large (All that exist are currently seemingly only something monsters are made with, rather than an innate "being large" bonus.) So all you're doing with large size is limiting what adventures a firbolg can partake in. And *if* the extra damage dice *is* an inherent bonus to being large, then it's probably too much for a racial ability (not to mention it'd probably skew the race towards fighter, when wotc clearly wants Druid.)

Basically it's to bring it in line with more the expectations of a regular adventuring party while still trying to appeal to the audience that would want a firbolg in the first place.
 

One_Shots

First Post
It allows for firbolgs to actually fit in with the standard adventuring party.
So why have it as a playable race at all then? There are hundreds of other races they could've chosen to make playable. There was no burning need to have firbolgs be a playable race. But to make them one, they had to so radically alter them from their well known and established lineage that they no longer resemble the original which makes the entire exercise pointless other than to play upon nostalgia. They could've simply called it some other thing and made it an entirely new race if they were that keen on introducing another goliath-like race.
 


flametitan

Explorer
And people laughed when I suggested Firbolgs would fit in better as a player race as compared to Goliaths.

It helps that the Firbolg was given a unique identity beyond "Tall human," even if it did divert from the original lore, while the Goliath was stuck for the most part with the "Tall competitive people."
 

vecna00

Adventurer
I had just stumbled upon this and came here to see if it was posted.

I'm not too upset at the change, but I am curious as to what their actual design decision is on it, speculation aside.
 

Interesting. A bit of a departure from depictions in earlier editions. Much more nature oriented...seems they're playing up the fey aspect based on the Celtic origins of the race.

I found the fey focus rather interesting myself - it does make sense given the creature's mythological origins, and the race has always been the most nature-oriented of the giant types anyway.

The two-foot drop in size will take a bit of getting used to, but it's hardly a deal breaker, and, really, despite what others are saying, it's not that huge of a difference. I've seen far more radical changes over various editions than this. Maybe after centuries of shrinking themselves magically, they were cursed/blessed by some god or archfey or nature itself with a naturally smaller size?
 

pukunui

Legend
Even though they can speak Giant, the write-up indicates that they are humanoids. This leaves me wondering if they still mainly worship Hiatea or not. (I have a player who now wants to ditch his existing PC and make a firbolg druid, so I have to think about these things.)
 

Even though they can speak Giant, the write-up indicates that they are humanoids. This leaves me wondering if they still mainly worship Hiatea or not. (I have a player who now wants to ditch his existing PC and make a firbolg druid, so I have to think about these things.)

They are a sort of a humanoid-giant-fey mixture, if that makes any sense lol...

The "classes" section there just mentions "nature gods" in general. As Hiatea is a nature god, so it wouldn't seem out of place for her to be one of the main deities firbolg clerics would worship.

This has gotten me wondering, will we see some info on the various gods/pantheons of the "featured" creatures? Even if it were just charts and quick run-downs like in SCAG, it would be something nice to see...
 

pukunui

Legend
They are a sort of a humanoid-giant-fey mixture, if that makes any sense lol...
It does. However, I think if we ever see one in monster statblock form, it'll say "medium humanoid (firbolg)" at the top.

The "classes" section there just mentions "nature gods" in general. As Hiatea is a nature god, so it wouldn't seem out of place for her to be one of the main deities firbolg clerics would worship.
Yeah, I'm just thinking it would be kind of weird for them to not have their own god(s). I have to think about it for my own homebrew world. Do I want them to worship their own god(s)? If yes, should it be the giant pantheon? Or a pantheon of their own? Or should I have them worship the same pantheon as the wood elves? (In my campaign, high elves and eladrin are agnostic at best, as they believe gods to be little more than children's stories. Also, no one knows if any of the gods are real, and there are no clerics or paladins to "prove" their existence.)

This has gotten me wondering, will we see some info on the various gods/pantheons of the "featured" creatures? Even if it were just charts and quick run-downs like in SCAG, it would be something nice to see...
That would be cool.
 

The art took me by surprise, as it looks nothing like the firbolg from 2E, which is the only one I'm familiar with. Luckily, I have no attachment to the firbolg's previous incarnations, and I actually think this looks pretty good.
Honestly Firbolg looked very generic in past editions. 4E was the only one where I felt they had some flavor, even though that flavor was "White pupils, Raven-Queen worshipping Wild Hunters". Everywhere else they were just tall vikings
 

I really like this race! I've got zero attachment to the earlier incarnations, so any whinging about it being a nostalgia grab doesn't really apply. Instead, I think that these guys do a really nice job of fitting into the 'nature people' concept that we have a few variations on already (Forest Gnomes, Wood Elves, Halflings-sort-of) and yet they have their own take on it that I think stands out. The picture is really excellent actually, and I think that at least half of my enjoyment of the race comes from how nice that guy looks; I'd love to have him as a neighbour!

Stats-wise, we've clearly got a Druid-leaning race here, which is no bad thing as I don't think any other race leans that heavily towards that class. I mean, while bending expectations with a Tiefling Barbarian or whatever is fun, it is also good to have the 'easy pairings' to play around with. Tiefling Warlocks, Half-Orc Barbarians, Halfling Rogues, all of these are solid and entertaining cliches that are useful to work with. Firbolg Druids and, perhaps, Nature Paladins is a solid addition to that catalogue. The magical abilities are good fun, and match the Duergar mentality quite nicely, being powerful but not spammable. They have a fairly surprising stealth focus for such big lads.

Roleplaying & personality wise, I think that we're missing part of the writeup here (the fluff bit). However, from what we get here, a definite 'gentle giant' theme seems to be present, and the Fey side of things is working for me. I don't know much about Fey, certainly not in a D&D context, so I'm hoping that Volo's puts a lot of effort into expanding that side of things.

Overall, I'm really pleased with this race, and eager to both play one and see one played in my games. I had been worried that we'd get a bunch of useless savages as new races - even if Gnoll had been available, I'd probably not have been interested in having one in my game anyway - but if we get some other fun and viable races then I'll be very happy indeed.
 

ferratus

Adventurer
It seems the Firbolgs have murdered the Voadkyn and taken their flavour and abilities. The Voadkyn were always the smallest giant-kin, the "elvish" giant-kin and the ones with the most "druidic" outlook. They even took the Voadkyn's pointy ears.

I do think that this version of the Firbolg has a more consistent design, and I guess the "strong human" niche is already being filled by the Goliath. It would be nice to have a race that can enlarge itself that doesn't have the baggage of the duergar though.

But yeah, these are Voadkyn, and they seem to be a more popular version of the Voadkyn given the positive response that this design seems to be having. Everyone always seemed to hate the Voadkyn before.
 

waxtransient

First Post
The bit about saving throws could have to do with using magic items or maybe it is a nod to the Mystic class, whose abilities aren't actually spells, AFAIK.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
It seems the Firbolgs have murdered the Voadkyn and taken their flavour and abilities. The Voadkyn were always the smallest giant-kin, the "elvish" giant-kin and the ones with the most "druidic" outlook. They even took the Voadkyn's pointy ears.

It would appear so. Though I had to google "Voadkyn" to find out anything about them/had never heard of them. But right down to the size change, the disguise ability, it all sounds like a direct rip off. Granted voadkyn are just a made up thing and firbolg are part of the creation prehistory "myth-story" of Ireland. So I get it. But such a direct departure from what firbolgs were (in actual myth and D&D lore) to simply relabel a [specifically Forgotten Realms, mind you] creature is somewhat....irritating. But we will continue to be told, I am sure, that the Forgotten Realms is NOT 5e D&D's default setting. [No really! It's NOT! Listen to us! But accept and buy the brand!]

I do think that this version of the Firbolg has a more consistent design, and I guess the "strong human" niche is already being filled by the Goliath. It would be nice to have a race that can enlarge itself that doesn't have the baggage of the duergar though.

Does seem so. Maybe you'll get a Spriggan as a playable race form this book. That's kinda their thing. If they work them into more "fey gnomes with anger management issues" which they kind of originally are/were, versus anything with a directly evil alignment (which I believe they have been in editions past).

[FONT=helvetica, arial, sans-serif]
[/FONT]But yeah, these are Voadkyn, and they seem to be a more popular version of the Voadkyn given the positive response that this design seems to be having. Everyone always seemed to hate the Voadkyn before.

After reading their little D&D wiki write-up, I have to concur. Like, almost to the letter. AND even shorter than them! Voadkyn are listed with average heights of 8'10" upwards to 9'4". So, they stole all of their flavor and abilities and still docked them a foot so they could be "medium humanoids" instead of "elvish giants."

But again, taking something that was just made up for Forgotten Realms and slapping a more "real world" name on it -and then present them as that legitimate thing in a new book- might give it a bit more notice/wider appeal...from where I'm sitting, it is just a blatant -rather lazy- copying (not really a "rip off" since it's theirs anyway). But, also again, if you had not posted about them, I would have never even have heard of "voadkyn." Seems strange that given FR's prominence in 5e, the fact that this very manual is SPECIFICALLY framed as a Forgotten Realms one, with a FR character doing the "research" and presenting these new creatures, that they wouldn't have just stuck with the Forgotten Realms made-up name.

It almost feels like a "bait & switch."

Bait & switches annoy me. :mad:
 

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