D&D General Flipping Race And Background Altogether

Reynard

Legend
NOTE: This can apply to any edition of D&D with a few changes in specific me habits, but let's assume most folks are going to be thi king of in term of 5E.

I have been getting caught up on Netflix's The Witcher today and while it includes elves and dwarves, it shows that how a character grew up was far more important than their race from an imagined mechanical perspective (although race matters culturally and socially). This got me to thinking about how that would translate and I landed on the idea that we should flip Race and Background from mechanical perspective.

Currently Background gives some gear and a proficiency or two and a broadly defined, probably rarely used boon. That is what one's racial background should provide.

Background on the other hand should include your Ability Score mods (you worked your whole life as a soldier? +2 strength) and proficiency and special abilities related to skills. Things like dark vision probably need to stay with race for simulation purposes, but in my perfect world we would eliminate non human PCs entirely.

Thoughts?
 

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Oofta

Legend
Don't we pretty much already have that with Xanathar's? A dwarf raised by elves was given training in bows from the time they were a toddler but never used a hammer in a fight. They don't know dwarven from pig Latin but speak elvish fluently.

Or am I just missing something?
 

Davies

Legend
Currently Background gives some gear and a proficiency or two and a broadly defined, probably rarely used boon. That is what one's racial background should provide.

Background on the other hand should include your Ability Score mods (you worked your whole life as a soldier? +2 strength) and proficiency and special abilities related to skills. Things like dark vision probably need to stay with race for simulation purposes, but in my perfect world we would eliminate non human PCs entirely.

Level Up doesn't go quite as far as this, but it goes part of the way in this direction.
 

MGibster

Legend
Background on the other hand should include your Ability Score mods (you worked your whole life as a soldier? +2 strength) and proficiency and special abilities related to skills. Things like dark vision probably need to stay with race for simulation purposes, but in my perfect world we would eliminate non human PCs entirely.
Sure. It doesn't quite explain how a 3 ft. 40 pound halfling is just as a strong as an 7 foot 250 pound Goliath but it's a start I guess.
 


Lyxen

Great Old One
I have been getting caught up on Netflix's The Witcher today and while it includes elves and dwarves, it shows that how a character grew up was far more important than their race from an imagined mechanical perspective (although race matters culturally and socially).

If you create or emulate a world where at least some humanoid races have very little difference from humans, being basically "funny hats" (and thankfully the Witcher has many more qualities than this, by the way), then yes you can go that way, and yes, as some have pointed out, this is basically where Tasha is leading 5e.

On the other hand, if your prefer a fantasy world where other race options for the PCs are well differentiated in particular with strong powers and different characteristics, you can stop using the options of Tasha and stay with the original game or even reinforce the races as defined.

YOu can do whatever you want in the game, it's just that, for me, the Witcher - again despite its many qualities - describes a very specific world, one where magic is globally passing away, not a high magic setting like most of the D&D worlds.
 

The simplest thing would be to just combine race and background.

Eg. Elven hunter, Elven battledance, Dwarven runesmith, Halfling riverfolk, Human soldier etc.

This basically helps communicate where the different groups generally fit into the setting and what they're like. Something that risks being lost.

Like backgrounds now, make it clear that you don't have to use these but can recombine to make your own.
This way the combined backgrounds actually make it clear what a human who was raised by elves and recieved elven battledancer should be. You already have both halves of the equation - you just need to pull them out of their existing spaces and put them together.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
If you create or emulate a world where at least some humanoid races have very little difference from humans, being basically "funny hats" (and thankfully the Witcher has many more qualities than this, by the way), then yes you can go that way, and yes, as some have pointed out, this is basically where Tasha is leading 5e.

On the other hand, if your prefer a fantasy world where other race options for the PCs are well differentiated in particular with strong powers and different characteristics, you can stop using the options of Tasha and stay with the original game or even reinforce the races as defined.

YOu can do whatever you want in the game, it's just that, for me, the Witcher - again despite its many qualities - describes a very specific world, one where magic is globally passing away, not a high magic setting like most of the D&D worlds.
Apparently, people like reading and watching low-magic fantasy, but don't like playing it.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Apparently, people like reading and watching low-magic fantasy, but don't like playing it.

It's really not that, I like lower-magic fantasy too, it's just that I don't think that D&D is the right system for it. Especially the later editions don't start with zeroes, but they are clearly designed for heroes in a high-fantasy world where there is a lot of magic. When we have a lot more time on our hands (might come again when we/I retire in a few years), our groups might go back to exploring different worlds and game systems. We will probably start Runequest again for a lower fantasy setting, although our exploration into Glorantha have quite often drifted into way higher fantasy with Heroquest. But Runequest is brilliant for low fantasy settings for example.
 

High/low fantasy and low/high magic are different things.
Runequest is low fantasy but high magic ( every PC casts spells).

DND has very predictable magic so is a terrible model for many TV shows.

I like the idea of race+background being a starter template .....so Dwarf Exile has non typical dwarf things.
You could squeeze say 60 of these in a PHB in 60 or 120 pages
 

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