D&D General How many mechanical features does a race need to feel "right"?

Picking a race could be more interesting if such a decision actually had more influence on the player's choices and options beyond character creation. For example:

Players choose their own traits and abilities based on the race they have selected. This would eliminate the need for defined sub-races to telling us how one elf culture may be different from another elf culture, yet there is still no difference between elves of the same sub-culture.

One of the things I really liked about Pathfinder were the options that allowed you to swap the standard features and traits for something else. Players could substitute specific racial abilities rather than accepting the standard package that applied to all elves, or dwarves, etc. Maybe your elf wizard never used a bow and sword because she focused more of her time on arcane studies, or something else entirely.

And perhaps if there were advanced traits that only your race had access or capability to learn, but only once they reached a certain level. Or your abilities actually improved as you got more powerful. Does your character not grow in other ways besides what their class gives them? Why not make your decisions matter more than only at the character conception?
My last campaign I wrote a whole character creation book that essentially separated racial bonuses into two categories: things that are included because of biology (darkvision, size, etc) and things that included because of culture (weapon preferences, racial dislikes, etc) Kept the first group and then DRASTICALLY altered the second group into a large a la carte list to cover regional groups, continental groups, etc.

It means a lot a of extra work prior to the game beginning, it means a lot of time saved when moral, ethical and situational conflicts become character shaping questions.

Best example: Elvish druids amd Dwarven Clerics.... swords and axes are kind of useless in most iterations for these two race/class combos... But would it really be so far-fetched to add quarterstaff for the elves or hammer for the dwarves? I said, nope and altered my list. Also axes left the dwarf list altogether (those that remember my treatise on why Dwarves should be Slavic not Scottish probably remember this). So, like any RAW change, ultimately, it really isn't...
 

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