D&D General Flipping Race And Background Altogether

MGibster

Legend
Ability scores are abstract, like hit points. Don't overthink it.
I mean, I get it:

If you're wondering how they
eat and breath
and other science facts/
la la la
Just repeat to yourself
it's just a show
I should really just relax/

But then I think of this chart and I just say no.

Size.JPG
 

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
I mean, I get it:

If you're wondering how they
eat and breath
and other science facts/
la la la
Just repeat to yourself
it's just a show
I should really just relax/

But then I think of this chart and I just say no.

View attachment 148589
It's about averages. The average NPC goliath is likely stronger than the average NPC halfling. The PCs don't have to follow those rules. So a STR 10 character, no matter their race, is just as strong as every other STR 10 character, no matter their race.

I mean, according to the game, that halfling needs 1 pound of food and one gallon of water per day to survive...same as that goliath...same as that medium-sized PC centaur. That's wild. And apparently horses, being large, only need 4 pounds of food and four gallons of water per day to live. That's uhm...wildly under what they actually need. Especially if they're doing any work. PCs in D&D, especially 5E, are the magically-enhanced superhero exceptions to whatever sense of realism we have.

The one that gets me is magically regenerating all damage after an 8-hour rest. That utterly breaks any sense of verisimilitude I have.

It's a fantasy game about throwing fireballs and riding dragons and battling giant insects and rescuing princes. So...shrug.
 


pukunui

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

Eg. Elven hunter, Elven battledance, Dwarven runesmith, Halfling riverfolk, Human soldier etc.
This is essentially how Dragon Age handles it. They call the race/background combos “origins”.

If you want to play an elf, for example, you can choose between a Dalish elf who grew up as part of a traveling clan trying to reclaim the old ways or a city elf who grew up in a ghetto-like alienage in a human city.

If you want to play a dwarf, you can play a dwarf from a noble house in the city of Orzammar, a dwarf from a lower caste, or even a dwarf who was born and raised on the surface and has no knowledge of the traditions of Orzammar. (It helps that in the Dragon Age world, the dwarven race only really has one main settlement left.)

And so on.

I quite like this approach.

It’s all very much tied in with the setting’s lore, though, so I’m not sure how well it would work in a more open-ended kitchen sink game like D&D.
 

MGibster

Legend
It's about averages. The average NPC goliath is likely stronger than the average NPC halfling. The PCs don't have to follow those rules. So a STR 10 character, no matter their race, is just as strong as every other STR 10 character, no matter their race.
I understand this but that doesn't make it any better for me. I've already acknowledged this is simply a personal preference of mine. I'm not wrong for having it and you're not wrong for having a different preference.

It's a fantasy game about throwing fireballs and riding dragons and battling giant insects and rescuing princes. So...shrug.
I think every fantasy setting needs to have some elements grounded in reality otherwise it doesn't work. Where those points need to be anchored will vary from person to person. I like zombie movies so I'm willing to suspend my disbelief and accept the premise that walking corpses are attempting to make their neighbors the main attraction of an all-you-can-eat buffet. I know other people who can't accept that premise and therefore dislike zombie movies on that basis alone. But just because I accept one absurd premise doesn't mean I have to accept all fantastical premises.

So yeah, I look at halfling that's just as strong as a goliath as stupid. Though I realize other people think that's cool. And that's okay.
 

And suddenly, without realizing it, your group started playing Fate. :)
This is where a lot of the logic is basically leading - to an approach to races that is basically Fate like.

Removing ability scores doens't entirely stop some races being better at certain classes than others. While people might think the difference is rather unimportant now, I remember when people were revelling in the freedom from racial class restrictions at the advent of 3e. "My Half-Orc can be a monk now? Awesome!" - at that point it seemed like the ability score modifiers were a minor detail.

So in ten years, it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that some version of the same debate will arise again around specific racial characteristics.

At which point the only way to go is into an abstract treatment.

(Not that I'm really objecting. I basically did this with 13th Age).
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
size-jpg.148589




Recall, the 5e races can be any reallife human height and physique, and also, a player can roll height randomly using the height chart of any race.

If one wants a Norse-esque dwarf who is human height, no problem.

It depends on the character concept that the player has in mind.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Recall, the 5e races can be any reallife human height and physique, and also, a player can roll height randomly using the height chart of any race.

No, sorry, there is no such thing in the rules, and I guarantee that such an absurdly stupid thing will not make it in the next revision.

The rules still officially say: "Though they stand well under 5 feet tall, dwarves are so broad and compact that they can weigh as much as a human standing nearly two feet taller."
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
I'm looking forward to all the 7'8" halflings.
My games tend toward an epic mood. Im unsure what the character concept is behind an 8-foot halfling. But if there is one, that is fine. Maybe the player cares about the Lucky concept, but not so much about the height concept, and so intends to reflavor the stats? Heh, "Halfling" might work as a fine humorous nickname.
 


Reynard

Legend
size-jpg.148589




Recall, the 5e races can be any reallife human height and physique, and also, a player can roll height randomly using the height chart of any race.

If one wants a Norse-esque dwarf who is human height, no problem.

It depends on the character concept that the player has in mind.
That's weird, my PHB says halflings are small.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
I think every fantasy setting needs to have some elements grounded in reality otherwise it doesn't work.
Then D&D doesn't work as there's almost nothing "grounded" about it.
But just because I accept one absurd premise doesn't mean I have to accept all fantastical premises.
It's all about willing suspension of disbelief. If you're unwilling, that's the end of that.
So yeah, I look at halfling that's just as strong as a goliath as stupid.
But you're essentializing. It's not that all halflings are just as strong as all goliaths. It's that a STR 10 halfling can hit just as hard as a STR 10 goliath. That's it. Powerful Build doubles the carrying capacity of all goliaths. So a STR 10 goliath can carry just as much as a STR 20 halfling. A STR 11 goliath can carry more than a STR 20 halfling. So, on average, goliaths are stronger than halflings. But that doesn't mean that the weakest goliath must always and forever be stronger than the strongest possible halfling. That's something I don't get.
 

Reynard

Legend
Then D&D doesn't work as there's almost nothing "grounded" about it.

It's all about willing suspension of disbelief. If you're unwilling, that's the end of that.

But you're essentializing. It's not that all halflings are just as strong as all goliaths. It's that a STR 10 halfling can hit just as hard as a STR 10 goliath. That's it. Powerful Build doubles the carrying capacity of all goliaths. So a STR 10 goliath can carry just as much as a STR 20 halfling. A STR 11 goliath can carry more than a STR 20 halfling. So, on average, goliaths are stronger than halflings. But that doesn't mean that the weakest goliath must always and forever be stronger than the strongest possible halfling. That's something I don't get.
And, again, ability scores are so abstract as to be impossible to line up with any real world equivalent. You use Strength for both swimming and lifting, so who has a higher Strength score, Michael Phelps or Hafthor Bjornson?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
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?
Yeah I prefer the current setup. Folk like Goliath can be bigger and stronger due to their traits, but a player can swap athletics for history and make a nerd that won't win an arm wrestle with a buff human. It's a good setup.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
And, again, ability scores are so abstract as to be impossible to line up with any real world equivalent.
Except where they explicitly line up with real world weights and measures. Though I agree, it's an abstract fantasy game. I'm good with that. If anything, it's too worried about being concrete and not abstract enough.
You use Strength for both swimming and lifting, so who has a higher Strength score, Michael Phelps or Hafthor Bjornson?
Raw strength score Hafthor Bjornson, by a mile. They're both trained in athletics, but Phelps clearly has expertise in swimming...or we just acknowledge he's a bad example because of his several genetic advantages that give him basically the perfect body for swimming, larger lung capacity than most, and his body produces less lactic acid, amongst other things.
 



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