Human Viability

Hello all,

Long time lurker, first time poster. I have been running a 5th edition game for a bit now that is going to come to a close in a couple months. I currently use just the core books, with handpicked material from some of the splat books, and some modified/nerfed feats. I have been thinking of a new game after this one ends. I would like to try using the basic, featless game. My problem is this?

How do you make humans viable in a game with out feats, since the variant humans will not be used. I am of the opinion that +1 to all stats will not balance out the demi human perks. I am trying to find a way to make humans a race that is not immediately overlooked. I was thinking of letting them gain extra proficiencies. I just keep knocking my head against a wall trying to come up with a way.

Was wondering if anyone had some ideas on this. I will be using pretty much the core races from the PHB, with a few possibly from Volo's for comparison. Any help would be much appreciated and thank you for your time.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Explorer
I think the most fair thing would be just to add proficiency with 1 skill and 1 tool. I play a basic human in a campaign and it's not bad. Using +1 to all stats I was able to give myself two +3 modifiers without any negative modifiers at level 1 making for a very well rounded character. The only real noticeable downside is the lack of dark vision and not getting free Perception proficiency that the elves have. The other racial perks in the group honestly don't come up very often. I can count on one hand how many times our wood elf has hidden using natural camouflage over 9 levels of play.
 
I think the +1 to all stats is fine and don't think it really falls behind in power much. But it also depends on the players that you have. If they are more power gamer oriented, then they might skip the normal human in order to pick something that might synergize better with whatever character they want to play. But if they are on the other end of that spectrum, then they will pick whatever sounds cool/fun to them regardless of the synergies. I would assume most players probably fall somewhere in between those two points.
If your players are those that will skip humans because they aren't seen as powerful enough, then maybe adding a skill proficiency or something would be appropriate.
It might be worth it to ask your players what they are thinking of playing, and then, if no one picks a human, getting feedback from them on why they decided to pick another race. Some people just find humans boring because they're humans in real life.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Hello all,

Long time lurker, first time poster. I have been running a 5th edition game for a bit now that is going to come to a close in a couple months. I currently use just the core books, with handpicked material from some of the splat books, and some modified/nerfed feats. I have been thinking of a new game after this one ends. I would like to try using the basic, featless game. My problem is this?

How do you make humans viable in a game with out feats, since the variant humans will not be used. I am of the opinion that +1 to all stats will not balance out the demi human perks. I am trying to find a way to make humans a race that is not immediately overlooked. I was thinking of letting them gain extra proficiencies. I just keep knocking my head against a wall trying to come up with a way.

Was wondering if anyone had some ideas on this. I will be using pretty much the core races from the PHB, with a few possibly from Volo's for comparison. Any help would be much appreciated and thank you for your time.
Imo if you use point buy it can make the +1 per better.

But additionally, in practice the balance will more come from the types of threats and situations.

Dont focus overly much on darkness scenarios where the lack of darkvision shows itself. Do show a substantial human or event human-centered group of settlements.

I mean, to me, in fact every aspect of every character doesnt share equally in spotlight or even all get the focus. So, to me, human +1 guys just wind up bring characters ehere more of their spotlight and impact falls on their class and background and not so much on racial traits and edges like trance or savagery.
 
I think the +1 to all stats is fine and don't think it really falls behind in power much. But it also depends on the players that you have. If they are more power gamer oriented, then they might skip the normal human in order to pick something that might synergize better with whatever character they want to play. But if they are on the other end of that spectrum, then they will pick whatever sounds cool/fun to them regardless of the synergies. I would assume most players probably fall somewhere in between those two points.
If your players are those that will skip humans because they aren't seen as powerful enough, then maybe adding a skill proficiency or something would be appropriate.
It might be worth it to ask your players what they are thinking of playing, and then, if no one picks a human, getting feedback from them on why they decided to pick another race. Some people just find humans boring because they're humans in real life.
They are min/maxers, and i do not mean that as bad connotation. They primarily make characters for tactical combat rather than roleplay and I can work with that. That is what they enjoy, while I go more for the role play aspect. I do not punish them for that playstyle, after all if they are not having fun, why play? Even though as player/dm I prefer humano centric worlds, this new campaign will be set in the Nentir Vale with pretty much any race around. I just wanted humans to not be easily discarded because of mechanics. I am probably overthinking it, I will just do as you suggest and put it before them to hear their opinions and then make any adjustments that could be made based off that.
 

jaelis

Explorer
I think the most fair thing would be just to add proficiency with 1 skill and 1 tool.
I also think this is a fine adjustment.

Another alternative is to use the variant human stats but say the feat has to be the Prodigy feat from XGTE. That is pretty reasonable too.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
You could enforce the multiclass stat score restriction, but not for humans.

Or:

Human Ingenuity: the first time a human multiclasses, he/she gets +1 to one stat in the multiclass restriction for the new class.

Does all this mean humans will multiclass? A lot of them will, but that gives them a little more mechanical identity than just being the baseline.
 

Satyrn

Visitor
I liked a suggestion I saw on EnWorld a little while back: Give the humans a second background.

My memory is a light fuzzy on the details, but I think it would work well if the background cane with everything but the 2 skill proficiencies. So humans would get a couple tool/language proficiencies and a pretty little ribbon feature that cements them more into the setting.
 

aco175

Adventurer
I do not play with feats and half the players choose human each time. I'm not sure they need more
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Using Point Buy, the standard Human bonuses in a "mix-maxy" sort of way will result in a PC that will have one higher bonus in the 4th best ability score over a demihuman (assuming the demihuman selects a class that aligns to their bonuses.)

The arguable "best" Point Buy spread for a standard Human is 15, 15, 13, 11, 9, 8... with a similar matching spread for the demihuman of 15, 14, 14, 10, 10, 8. Thus after bonuses (six +1s vs a +2/+1) you end up with:

Human: +3, +3, +2, +1, +0, -1
Demihuman: +3, +3, +2, +0, +0, -1

The Human can also assign their two +3s to max any class they wish to play... whereas the Demihuman has to follow their bonuses to max out with two 16s in their primary class ability scores. So the numbers are virtually the same... but the Human has more class options.

If you want to get a better chance of more Humans, make only those two point buy spreads available and do not allow anyone to buy a 17 at chargen (because otherwise folks will take demihumans and put the +2 in the 15 slot in order to get to 18 at 4th level.) Whether you think this is enough for your players, I don't know.
 

Ashrym

Adventurer
Hello all,

Long time lurker, first time poster. I have been running a 5th edition game for a bit now that is going to come to a close in a couple months. I currently use just the core books, with handpicked material from some of the splat books, and some modified/nerfed feats. I have been thinking of a new game after this one ends. I would like to try using the basic, featless game. My problem is this?

How do you make humans viable in a game with out feats, since the variant humans will not be used. I am of the opinion that +1 to all stats will not balance out the demi human perks. I am trying to find a way to make humans a race that is not immediately overlooked. I was thinking of letting them gain extra proficiencies. I just keep knocking my head against a wall trying to come up with a way.

Was wondering if anyone had some ideas on this. I will be using pretty much the core races from the PHB, with a few possibly from Volo's for comparison. Any help would be much appreciated and thank you for your time.

As others have mentioned, standard humans work well with point buy. Don't discount them yet, lol.

If you still want something, allow variant humans with the stipulation it's the only way to get a feat and make the feat list very limited. Or even only prodigy as mentioned.
 
I want to thank everyone for their suggestions. With careful consideration, I have decided to just roll with it as is. There are some good suggestions above, that I will keep in mind, in case my players have anything negative to say about it. I was planning on using the die roll method (4d6, drop lowest) for abilities, point buy may be the way to go. Thank you all for the help and advice, it is much appreciated.
 

Radaceus

Visitor
one could give the human +5 to ability scores divided as they choose, with no more than 2 points attributed to any one score.

this is less than the 6 points divided equally, but mitigates a third +2 potential. So possible of three abilities getting +1 and one gets +2; or two abilities get +2, and one gets +1. The downside is the even spread only boosts five ability scores
 
Humans can also be balanced in setting. Maybe everywhere openly accepts humans but some places doesn't accept dwarves, some not accepting of elves etc. They can also be balanced with magic items.

Also: humans are the only race that I know of that can start with 5 different stats at 14 (with point buy) and another at 11. They make great multiclassers if you go this more generalist route.
 
How do you make humans viable in a game with out feats, since the variant humans will not be used.

...

They are min/maxers, and i do not mean that as bad connotation. They primarily make characters for tactical combat rather than roleplay and I can work with that. That is what they enjoy, while I go more for the role play aspect. I do not punish them for that playstyle, after all if they are not having fun, why play? Even though as player/dm I prefer humano centric worlds, this new campaign will be set in the Nentir Vale with pretty much any race around. I just wanted humans to not be easily discarded because of mechanics. I am probably overthinking it, I will just do as you suggest and put it before them to hear their opinions and then make any adjustments that could be made based off that.

...

With careful consideration, I have decided to just roll with it as is.
I think you did the right thing. Min/maxers will just try to pick the best option mechanically. Non-variant humans are not good for min/maxers, although they are perfect for many other players. But I don't see the reason to change something in the game to do a favor for min/maxers, for the simple reason that a min/maxer's game is by definition about finding one of the best combos and pick that, and whatever you change in the available material won't change the way a min/maxer will play the game (they may pick something different, but what they pick is not even the point).

However, if you really want to force a certain narrative (e.g. all or mostly human PCs), just do that upfront i.e. rule that in your next campaign non-human races cannot be chosen as PCs. Your min/maxers might complain at first (especially if they had already a combo in mind), but one minute later they will be back to min/maxing whatever else is available to them. But the upfront way is more honest than trying to tweak things to make them more/less attractive, and more robust since you directly get what you want, while your house rules may not always have the wanted outcome and could even open up new unforseen exploits.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
IME, the human is a common option with point buy, since you can easily design a character to maximize your ability scores. Even if rolls are used, the human becomes a strong choice with 4+ odd ability scores.

One useful variant is to use the human languages from SCAG, granting Humans an additional racial language. In most human dominated locations, humans are going to speak that language primarily, but will use Common when dealing with outsiders. This means that non-humans will have a harder time eavesdropping, and communicating with poorly educated people that never learned Common.
 

Satyrn

Visitor
I want to thank everyone for their suggestions. With careful consideration, I have decided to just roll with it as is. There are some good suggestions above, that I will keep in mind, in case my players have anything negative to say about it. I was planning on using the die roll method (4d6, drop lowest) for abilities, point buy may be the way to go. Thank you all for the help and advice, it is much appreciated.
I think this is the best choice.

I've grown tired of what I call "curating" player options. I used to try making all the options more appealing, like you're considering by tweaking the standard human, but I found that ultimately it just shuffles the deck regarding what is most appealing - with one big negative side effects: I wind up making those things I prefer more appealing than the stuff my players like.

I find it freeing to just not care what the players choose, even if that means they avoid something I think ought to be in the game, like humans. Or gnomes. I really wish my players would play gnomes.
 

jaelis

Explorer
All the same, I think you can try to objectively assess how different mechanics compare. IMO gnomes are just fine balancewise, but standard humans are a bit weak. I'd say standard tieflings are weaker, and I have no problem with all the variant tiefling versions that have been published. The variant human is of course strong, but only works if you are using feats. You don't need to worry about this kind of thing, but worrying about balance isn't the same as pushing your players in a particular direction. Just the opposite, I'd have said.
 

S'mon

Legend
Human with +1 all stats is ok, but you can have variant hyman races with different stat bonuses and other abilities. Eg in my Wilderlands the Antili can dual wield rapier and dagger. The Skandiks are always proficient in swimming and sailing.
 
Solution: have exactly one feat in the game: Prodigy (from Xanthar's Guide). Variant humans can pick this feat at first level. It gives proficiency in one skill, one tool and one language, and expertise (double proficiency) in one skill. Still give players the choice of standard or variant humans.
 

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