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5E Humans, am I missing something? And what's up with half-elf skill bonus?

dm4hire

Explorer
I've looked over the races section and even with the optional rules for humans they don't seem to line up with the other races. What is the benefit to playing human?

Also where is the half-elf getting their second bonus skill? So where are they getting those skills? It almost seems like the design team just threw some stuff together and called it good. If the optional rules for human were not optional I could understand where they get one of those skills, but not the second skill.
 

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transtemporal

Explorer
I've looked over the races section and even with the optional rules for humans they don't seem to line up with the other races. What is the benefit to playing human?
They get +6 stat points or +2 stat points, a skill and a FEAT at first level. They had to pump up the other races a bit in the release to make them competitive with human!
 

Bonus feat is huge. That and bonus skill and still raise two of your stats by +1 each? That's at least as good as the other races, and better than some.

D'oh! Way of Shadow'd!
 

Paraxis

Explorer
Humans are probably the top tier race using either version, depending on ability score generation and how often darkness comes into play may change this a bit.

Half elves get the stuff they do because they are separate from both elves and humans, they are individuals. Growing up half-elf you apparently need to be highly skilled to get by in life.
 

dm4hire

Explorer
The human bonus skill and feat come into play only if the DM allows it, thus the optional ruling. +1 to all the stats compared to what the other races get is weak. At best that only helps if you are rolling your stats because the point buy would end you with nothing but 9s in your weakest ability/abilities. Being able to bump all your random rolls is pretty good.

If there was a penalty for not being human, like class restrictions or a penalty on XP gain then I would say okay, they are offset so that makes it understandable. I don't see the stat bonuses as an advantage to being human. The optional rules definitely put humans in line with the rest of the races, but still think they are lacking. Maybe an additional skill which would then justify why a half-elf has that characteristic. A mixed race should have aspects from the parent race, but the half-elf seems to have better human traits than humans.
 

Paraxis

Explorer
Humans can use point buy and and the +1 to all to get 16,16,14,10,10,10 which is pretty damn good stats. Two 16's for your primary and secondary and a 14 to put into Con, or if the character wears medium armor 14 Dex.

With the system the way it is you don't want any 8's or 9's the penalty isn't just worth it.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
The variant human gets 4 fewer ability points, in return for 1 skill and 1 feat. During advancement, a feat is worth 2 ability points and a skill is worth 1/3 of a feat (the Skilled feat). So it looks to me like the variant human is getting ripped off to the tune of 1 1/3 ability points.
 

Paraxis

Explorer
The variant human gets 4 fewer ability points, in return for 1 skill and 1 feat. During advancement, a feat is worth 2 ability points and a skill is worth 1/3 of a feat (the Skilled feat). So it looks to me like the variant human is getting ripped off to the tune of 1 1/3 ability points.
Ability points in non primary ability scores are not the same as one in primary abilities so it works out.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I'm not sure I agree. Ability modifiers are a lot more important in 5e, because they all function as saves and bounded accuracy means a poor score won't get overshadowed by level-based bonuses. It's harder to compensate for a "dump stat."
 


Quartz

Adventurer
I don't think the OP is missing much. A +2 in a stat is much more powerful than two +1s. Using the standard array, a non-human can start off with two 16s; a human cannot. Using point buy, to get two 16s a non-human has to buy a 15 and a 14; a human has to buy two 15s. Plus non-humans get cool abilities like resistances, darkvision, etc.

In another thread I suggested this: humans get a floating +2 and a floating +1, to be applied to separate stats, plus they get Resilient in a third stat (+1 to stat and proficient save), plus 2 skills. This, I feel, puts humans on a par with the other races. They still lack anything particularly cool.
 

Mandragola

First Post
+1 to all stats really isn't as big a thing as all that, I find. The net effect is often just to raise one secondary stat from a 10 to a 12. It won't affect primaries, compared to a race that is a good fit for a particular class - such as for example a mountain dwarf fighter.

This is because raising a stat from a 9-10, or from 11-12 only costs one stat point anyway, but raising them at high stats costs double. So if the mountain dwarf starts with 14s in strength and con, he only pays 14 points to get his 2 stats at 16. He has plenty more to splash around. A dwarf fighter might end up something like: S16, D8, C16, I12, W14, Ch10 - or he could start with S17 if planning on going for heavy armour master at level 4. A human has to pay 18 points for his 2 16s so, while he gets more points to splash around, he is starting from a 4 point defecit when buying stats. A human fighter with +1 to all stats ends up something like S16, D9, C16, I12, W14, Ch10. So the difference is... Dex 9 instead of 8.

To be fair, where humans come out well is if you want a lot of 14s. So if what you want is a good all-rounder with no weak abilities then a human works pretty well... Just not incredibly well. You'e probably talking about 2 stats being 14s, but in exchange for not having a secondary stat as a 16.

However feats do change things, a lot. You can make a human archer with starting dex 16 and sharpshooter, or a melee guy who begins with S16 and heavy armour master. Feats that boost stats are seriously nice as first-level buys for humans because they actually give them the potential for a stat of 17, or more likely mean you only have to "buy" your way to 14 strength before adding +1 racial bonus and +1 for the feat. Crucially, you've got your feat and your primary stat at +3, so you can keep at the best possible pluses to hit and damage.

I'm looking at making a human paladin of Ilmater and heavy armour master seems perfect for someone who is used to taking punishment. I can have starting stats of S16, D8, C14, I10, W10, Ch16 and begin with the feat. I think that's really quite good, both as a very useful ability in-game and as a characterful thing that will make my paladin different from other ones. Compared to the human with +1 to all stats it only loses out by making a 12 into a 10 somewhere. A mountain dwarf, dragonborn or half-orc paladin could start with S17 and take the feat at level 4, so they'd still be at the best possible hit and damage modifiers as well, but I think the feat is at its most useful at low level.

The advantage is arguably even bigger for humans with feats that don't give any stats. You get to start a bladelock with warcaster, or an archer with sharpshooter, and still have your primary stat at 16. Anyone else who takes the feat at level 4 falls behind you on their +to hit and damage. They catch up at level 12, but that's waaaay down the line, and you've been able to play with the feat for all that time.

The extra skill is also really handy, and all the more so because it's not linked to your class or background. So you can give your paladin perception or your druid stealth, or whatever.

Overall I think the feat option marks a tipping point as to whether humans are the least powerful race, or the most powerful. That does depend quite a bit on the class you're picking and the feats though. A wizard or cleric probably wouldn't be changed all that much by a feat, so you might be better off with one of the races that gives you other interesting benefits.

Everyone suffers by taking the standard array instead of buying stats - apart from the half elf and a variant-rule human. It gives you a 15, 14 and 13 and you kind of need to boost both the 15 and 13. That makes it impossible to start with 2 16s and a 14, though you can have a 16 and two 14s or two 16s and a 13 - which you'd never do with points buy. My variant rule paladin would probably end up with wisdom raised to 12 but cha reduced to 14. That wouldn't be too bad.
 


KarinsDad

First Post
I don't think the OP is missing much. A +2 in a stat is much more powerful than two +1s. Using the standard array, a non-human can start off with two 16s; a human cannot. Using point buy, to get two 16s a non-human has to buy a 15 and a 14; a human has to buy two 15s. Plus non-humans get cool abilities like resistances, darkvision, etc.
No, the OP is missing a lot.

In our game, the one variant human is a Fighter with the Heavy Armor Master feat. He fights forever against a mob of lower level foes since he rarely takes any significant damage. He is a beast compared to any other race fighter possible.

The non-variant human is a Wizard with 16 Int, 14 Con, 14 Dex, and 14 Wis. He has +2 to all three major saves plus is very good at a variety of skills automatically plus good at concentration checks. Sure, at high levels, those +2s won't mean as much, but they mean quite a bit at low level (and at high level, he'll be a high level wizard, his saves won't matter as much).

Darkvision is overrated. See as per dim light. This means that someone can be hiding and the chances of spotting him are either Passive Perception -5 or if actively searching, Disadvantaged Perception. Either way, that's just not that impressive.
 

dm4hire

Explorer
I don't think I'm missing much at all. Others have clearly pointed out what I'm seeing. At most it allows you to create a character who is above average at low level and then trails off through the rest of the game. Playing with the optional rules definitely is more advantageous to a player and I think will be the default norm except for maybe in organized play situations.

Having a negative giving stat may be huge, but that's why we roleplay and not rollplay. Good character design will see the players building with future advancement in mind and that sadly means spending more points than other characters to get the same point buy.

I've seen some good optional house rules presented here. A couple I've tossed around keeps the focus on ability scores to stay in tune with the book. Human characters buy abilities for two points cheaper. That would allow a human to still buy three 15s, plus a 14, 11, 10 or they could go with 14, 13, 8 as buying the 8 would give them two points back to spend.

If you use the 4d6 option players creating humans may reroll 1s once and then keep the three highest. Or for straight stat assignment go with 15, 15, 14, 13, 11, 9 and then assign their +1 to all stats.

That's assuming you want to focus on stats only. I think the optional rule is way better and only needs to be improved a little to put it on par with the rest of the races. My thought here would be to just give humans an extra background, but they may only choose the equipment from one of them and they cannot be similar backgrounds. This would fit with human nature. A person is raised by their family to be X profession and then left due to one circumstance or another and started to become Y profession only to fall into adventuring or what have you. If for some reason the backgrounds offer the same skills or weapons you do not stack and don't get to pick a replacement.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
I really like how solid the half-orc and the half-elf ended up: absent through most of the play test period, when they were introduced, they were very weak and quite flavourless. Fortunately, that changed, and both are very solid character options, I feel.

But, at the same time, both are eclipsed by the variant human. I'm fine with that -- I like humans to be the most versatile and consistently a good choice.

There's certainly no need to pump them up further --
humans get a floating +2 and a floating +1, to be applied to separate stats, plus they get Resilient in a third stat (+1 to stat and proficient save), plus 2 skills. This, I feel, puts humans on a par with the other races. They still lack anything particularly cool.
Resiliant is actually a good choice for a feat, especially if it is applied to Wisdom or Dex. The extra +1 is able to stack with the +1 humans can already get.

The basic human is great with point-buy (as has been discussed), and can hold its own through the mid-levels at least with the improved saves and ability checks. There's nothing wrong with humans as they are.
 

Kobold Stew

Adventurer
My thought here would be to just give humans an extra background, but they may only choose the equipment from one of them and they cannot be similar backgrounds. This would fit with human nature. A person is raised by their family to be X profession and then left due to one circumstance or another and started to become Y profession only to fall into adventuring or what have you. If for some reason the backgrounds offer the same skills or weapons you do not stack and don't get to pick a replacement.
I really like the idea of extra backgrounds, but I don't think it should be based on race. If it were, then it would be really hard to justify it not being another feature of the ling-lived elves, and they're strong enough already.

What I had hoped for through the play test was that rogues would get an extra background. That's they way it was at the start of the play test (the extra background was chosen between a short-list that included "thief" and "thug" iirc), but the idea is robust and (imo) is a richer way of handling the skill-monkey aspect of the rogue, which is still preset, but finds healthy competition with bards, knowledge clerics, etc.

I can see a variant rogue, though (perhaps as a DMG option), where the character
* chooses only two skills with the rogue class (not 4)
* loses Thieves' tool proficiency
* has a slower sneak attack progression (capping at 7d6, perhaps, not 10d6)
but
* gains a second background
* gain expertise in two more skills at level 13 (or somewhere like that).
 

keterys

First Post
The variant human has been the most popular race at the tables I've played and run at; it turns out people really like to have feats. Also, some people really like to have a +2 Wis and human is the only way to do it.

Enough so that I wish the system actually gave out feats on a reasonable schedule, since a lot of the human popularity is probably just perception: "Otherwise I won't be taking a feat until 12th level since my first two are going to be +2 to my primary stat" or opportunity "Well, Healer / Heavy Armor Master looks _amazing_ at low level, though maybe only okay later on. Guess I want it at 1st!"
 

dm4hire

Explorer
I really like the idea of extra backgrounds, but I don't think it should be based on race. If it were, then it would be really hard to justify it not being another feature of the ling-lived elves, and they're strong enough already.
I see it more as a human thing because the longer lived races tend to be portrayed as more focused. Their life goal is to find perfection in their calling for the elves or further the purposes of the clan as the dwarves do. Humans adventures are always portrayed more as the free spirit, still searching for what they want to do in life types, which is the reason they became adventurers. That's why I'm willing to give humans the extra background. It does fit, both literary and historically when you think about it.
 


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