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5E Jeremy Crawford Discusses Details on Custom Origins

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Unless you think wotc and DDB are lying about the stats, there isn’t any reason to demand more in depth analysis before being able to talk about what the stats can tell us.
There is no reason to think that a bunch of ridiculous nonsense is happening to make base human champion fighter reliably the most common choice. The simplest explanation is that people like those options, more players want simple characters than any other individual specific desired character type, and the Champion is the basic iconic fighter.
No. The simplest explanation is that since D&D Beyond's free character builder only gives you one choice, Champion, everyone who wants to play a fighter and not pay for the service is picking......................Champion. WotC and DDB are skewing the stats and then presenting them as "popular" when the reality is that there just isn't any other choice unless you want to pay $$$.
 

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EzekielRaiden

Adventurer
No. The simplest explanation is that since D&D Beyond's free character builder only gives you one choice, Champion, everyone who wants to play a fighter and not pay for the service is picking......................Champion. WotC and DDB are skewing the stats and then presenting them as "popular" when the reality is that there just isn't any other choice unless you want to pay $$$.
Yeah, I don't think this should be particularly controversial? Like...if there's a free option and a paid option, the free option is going to be used vastly more often than the paid option. It's the reason Adobe made the PDF reader free, despite certain internal groups hating that decision, because a format that isn't free doesn't get used.

Classes, subclasses, and races that are free are almost certain to be over-represented. Which is why it would be better if we actually had access to the data set itself, rather than statistics about the data set. If we could enforce "paid subscribers only," that would obviate any question of whether free players vs paid players have different behavior. But we'll never actually get that data, so we have to make do with what we can.
 

Azzy

Newtype
Yeah, I don't think this should be particularly controversial? Like...if there's a free option and a paid option, the free option is going to be used vastly more often than the paid option. It's the reason Adobe made the PDF reader free, despite certain internal groups hating that decision, because a format that isn't free doesn't get used.

Classes, subclasses, and races that are free are almost certain to be over-represented. Which is why it would be better if we actually had access to the data set itself, rather than statistics about the data set. If we could enforce "paid subscribers only," that would obviate any question of whether free players vs paid players have different behavior. But we'll never actually get that data, so we have to make do with what we can.
This was addressed in this post.
 

EzekielRaiden

Adventurer
Depending on how one feels "addressed" is defined, anyway. Even granting that the most popular subclass doesn't change, the relative position really does matter here, doesn't it? E.g. if College of Lore goes from being 2/3 of all Bards (and thus clearly well beyond anything else) to being 20% of all Bards with College of Swords being 19.5%, we wouldn't really consider it that significant that Lore remained technically first.

Not saying this is the case. Just that drawing firm conclusions that "X is really quite well-liked" from "DDB info indicates it is widely used" is not a shoe-in. Haven't even touched on the whole "old options will be more represented than new options" problem for a variety of reasons even with their efforts to only count "active" characters. (The whole "active only" isn't even necessarily helpful either, it's worth noting. It may be a useful thing to only check characters that seem to change over time, but anything that filters data may, in itself, be a bias. The perils of data collecting--you don't want to collect garbage data, but any time you throw out anything, you're necessarily ignoring an observation. Applies just as much to something like physics research as it does to surveys like this, and it's just as much of a headache there.)

We have a summary of data, not the data itself. We can't ask different questions or organize the data differently. That's not a terrible thing (often that's all that is available), but it limits the strength and reliability of the conclusions we can draw. Popularity is also not a great indicator for quality among TTRPG fans. 3e and its descendants remain highly popular, despite the known (and arguably unfixable) issues with its design--including serious stinkers like its take on Fighters or Monks. (And, IIRC, Fighter was still the most popular class! Despite being terrible!)

Popularity measures a lot of things, and when you have your choice of "get the thing closest to what you want, or get nothing at all," something can be popular while being not as well-received as an alternative would be if it existed. Consumers didn't figure out that a full third of Americans actually wanted "extra chunky" spaghetti sauce--Dr. Howard Moskowitz did, through research. Catering to those people who truly wanted extra chunky sauce transformed Prego, which had been badly lagging behind Ragu, into the top spaghetti sauce brand, and introduced the world to the idea of horizontal segmentation. Social desirability bias doesn't help either--e.g. many people buy and make coffee they actually hate because it is socially desirable to drink a "dark, rich, hearty roast," when most people like weak coffee that hasn't been roasted all that much. Consider how many people have been told, over the years, that they should make a Fighter because it's the simplest thing to play, and thus the thing newbies should get started with. That's going to massively inflate the popularity of the simplest possible Fighter, not because it is necessarily better-designed, but because a social norm has been enforced.

So...yeah. We can see that X subclass is popular. It's hard to conclude too much from that. Maybe it's popular because Fighters are just generally popular. Maybe it's popular because half of people make one as a side-character or build one to introduce newbies to the game. Maybe it's popular because it is truly, deeply loved for every single detail of its design. Maybe it's popular because it's the closest thing to what people actually want but can't articulate because they don't know the thing they want, having never seen it "live" before. Trying to reason, even inductively, from "X is widely used on DDB" to "X has good design" is dodgy at best.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
When it comes to champion fighters, I wouldn't be all that surprised if they're the single most common subclass. There are times when I just want to play a BDF and champion fits the bill. I don't need to remember anything special, I can just turn off my brain for a while and have fun.

If I want to play a more complex fighter then all other subclasses are open and have roughly equal appeal for different reasons. So it's a decision point - simple or complex. If I want simple there's one choice. If I want complex then not only am I tempted by all other subclasses but also completely different classes or multi-classing.
 


Kind of wiry, with a big nose and glasses.

Seriously, though, we were talking about strength, not wisdom. Races with wisdom bonuses have the mental "body" for it.

You miss the point though.

Let us say that being tall is part of the body type of strength. Well, I can be tall and broad, and have a mind set up for intelligence and wisdom. Being big and tall ends up pushing out being intelligent or wise. But, being intelligent, wise or charismatic does not require any specific body type.

Any "body" can house any "mind" and yet because of Balance, DnD sets these in opposition to each other. And going forward with "I am tall, and broad, and heavy, therefore I have strength" ignores that part of it. There is nothing inherently wrong with a Wise Goliath. Nothing about their body precludes wisdom. They only lack it because of balance, you can't give bonuses to everything (unless you are a flexible race I suppose).

And this is what I am pushing back on. Trying to define being tall with strength just fails. It is what the designers did, but that leads to the situation where the bigger and more ripped your physical body, the stupider and dimmer you are portrayed as. So, I much prefer to think of it as being related to the class archetypes, rather than body types, because those are also true, and lead to fewer problems.

Yep. All very healthy or hardy or sturdy races. Con makes perfect sense.

So, Dragonborn are not healthy, hardy or sturdy? How about Firbolgs? I mean, a Firbolg is a big person, they live in the woods, traveling around a lot, living off the land. Sure sounds like they should be hardy. Why did they not get Con but the city-dwelling scientists and inventors like the Rock Gnomes did?

Not the only way, but stats are the easiest way to play against type You can also play against the RP type, like a LG Tiefling for example.

As has been noted by BOTH sides, stats are a very poor representation all by themselves. I'd rather have a new subrace, complete with both stats and abilities, than just stats.

A fair point on the them being a poor representation.

And, I agree that you can RP against type, so if stats are only the easiest way, why are they the ones everyone is focusing on? Why am I getting told that it will be impossible to play against type, when the truth is it will just be less possible to use the easiest method of playing against type?

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+1 Int represents the general average of a race being slightly brighter than other races. It does not indicate any sort of arcane tradition.
The fact that high elves have both a strong arcane tradition and a +1 Int bonus does not require every other +1 Int race to also have an equally strong arcane tradition.

Okay, but two things.

1) The poster I was responding to specifically called it out as being a result of traditions and culture.

2) Saying that Int is because of genetically superior intellect (even if only slightly) is a reallly dangerous and murky claim that I do not think we really want to make in our game. It leads to bad places.

Do you believe that a being's mental capabilities are reflected in their body in the same way that physical capabilities like strength might be reflected in a muscular or athletic build?

No, exactly the opposite.

So, why are we saying that Strength is being used to show mass, when it also would therefore by the nessecity of balance mean that they must be less intelligent? I mean take these two points together "Muscle Mass and Height correlate to strength" and "Intelligence is a genetic, inheritable trait" and you have suddenly created a system where a large person with broad-shoulders is necessarily less intelligent than a person born with a slimmer build.

We start making trends that were meant for showing favoritism in class choice (high elves were meant to be wizards) and making it a genetic determination (elves are now born smarter than other races who are born with stronger bodies)

This is not how things work. We know this is not how things work, and the last time claims like that were made seriously in the world, bad stuff happened. So, we do not want to stake the claim of DnD on that ground.

Why would Con be reflected in a single specific body type? Or is this one of those "what exactly to hit points represent" discussions?

If we assume that Strength and Dexterity are represented by body type, why not Con? All three are the physical stats. If we can point to a picture and say "because of their body, they should have these physical stats" then that applies to Con as much as it does to Strength.

In fact, some of the races with the tallest heights, heaviest masses, and bonuses to strength also have con mods.... except when they are the short, slight, non-strength people who have con mods.

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Technically they are Fey of the Shadowfell.

I am aware of what they are now, but I remember that in 4e they used to be descendants of humans who got caught in the Shadowfell.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You miss the point though.

Let us say that being tall is part of the body type of strength. Well, I can be tall and broad, and have a mind set up for intelligence and wisdom. Being big and tall ends up pushing out being intelligent or wise. But, being intelligent, wise or charismatic does not require any specific body type.

Any "body" can house any "mind" and yet because of Balance, DnD sets these in opposition to each other. And going forward with "I am tall, and broad, and heavy, therefore I have strength" ignores that part of it. There is nothing inherently wrong with a Wise Goliath. Nothing about their body precludes wisdom. They only lack it because of balance, you can't give bonuses to everything (unless you are a flexible race I suppose).

And this is what I am pushing back on. Trying to define being tall with strength just fails. It is what the designers did, but that leads to the situation where the bigger and more ripped your physical body, the stupider and dimmer you are portrayed as. So, I much prefer to think of it as being related to the class archetypes, rather than body types, because those are also true, and lead to fewer problems.
I think you misunderstood my second sentence there. I wasn't talking about an actual physical form. I was talking about mental aptitude(mental "body"). There is nothing inherently wrong with a wise Goliath, which is why Goliaths can be given a fairly high wisdom if you want to put/buy a high score there.

I also don't agree that D&D sets physical and mental against each other. Hill Dwarf: +2 con, +1 wis, Human: any phys/ment combo you want, Dragonborn: +2 str, +1 cha, Warforged: +2 str, +1 choice, Fallen Aasimar: +2 cha, +1 str, Firbolg: +2 wis, +1 str, Kenku: +2 dex, +1 wis, Lizardfolk: +2 con, + 1 wis, Tabaxi: +2 dex, +1 cha and Triton: +1 str, +1 con, +1 cha.

It seems clear that they don't balance one against the other.
So, Dragonborn are not healthy, hardy or sturdy? How about Firbolgs? I mean, a Firbolg is a big person, they live in the woods, traveling around a lot, living off the land. Sure sounds like they should be hardy. Why did they not get Con but the city-dwelling scientists and inventors like the Rock Gnomes did?
Not enough to get a con bonus. You want a healthy Dragonborn, assign a high con.
And, I agree that you can RP against type, so if stats are only the easiest way, why are they the ones everyone is focusing on? Why am I getting told that it will be impossible to play against type, when the truth is it will just be less possible to use the easiest method of playing against type?
Have you met humanity? We pretty much always go with and focus on the easiest way. ;)
 

I think you misunderstood my second sentence there. I wasn't talking about an actual physical form. I was talking about mental aptitude(mental "body"). There is nothing inherently wrong with a wise Goliath, which is why Goliaths can be given a fairly high wisdom if you want to put/buy a high score there.

I also don't agree that D&D sets physical and mental against each other. Hill Dwarf: +2 con, +1 wis, Human: any phys/ment combo you want, Dragonborn: +2 str, +1 cha, Warforged: +2 str, +1 choice, Fallen Aasimar: +2 cha, +1 str, Firbolg: +2 wis, +1 str, Kenku: +2 dex, +1 wis, Lizardfolk: +2 con, + 1 wis, Tabaxi: +2 dex, +1 cha and Triton: +1 str, +1 con, +1 cha.

It seems clear that they don't balance one against the other.

But, now we are shifting. To have a wise Goliath, you need to put your high scores into that, Goliaths are "naturally" unwise though.

And, you missed my point entirely with the physical and mental being put against each other. Let us take Dwarves for a second.

Hill Dwarves, like you said, have a +2 Con and a +1 Wisdom. But they do not have a +2 Strength like Mountain Dwarves. Why? Hill Dwarves have the same strength as Halflings and Elves, but they are built mostly the same as Mountain Dwarves (two inches and 15 lbs is the difference), they have much the same culture of mining, forging, and weapon skills. Yet, Hill Dwarves are as weak as Halflings, Elves and Gnomes, while Mountain Dwarves are as strong as Goliaths, Orcs, and other large massive creatures.

And why don't Mountain dwarves also get a +1 to wisdom, they have the same culture as Hill Dwarves, so why not?

Because you can't have a race with +2 Strength, +2 Con and +1 Wisdom. You can't have them give bonuses to both the physical stats and the mental ones. Getting one stat pushes out another. Get two physical stats, and you usually get no mental stats. Two Mental stats? You won't get a physical stat.

Sure, some races and sublcasses get 1 of each, but since your mind and your body are separate, it seems odd that they affect each other in this manner.

Unless, again, this is all about Archetypes and not about the genetics of the race.

Not enough to get a con bonus. You want a healthy Dragonborn, assign a high con.

So what makes a Rock Gnome healthier than a Dragonborn, but equally healthy to a Goliath?
 

But, now we are shifting. To have a wise Goliath, you need to put your high scores into that, Goliaths are "naturally" unwise though.

Not naturally unwise. Just not wiser than the norm. There is a big difference in not having a bonus and having a penalty.

And, you missed my point entirely with the physical and mental being put against each other. Let us take Dwarves for a second.

Hill Dwarves, like you said, have a +2 Con and a +1 Wisdom. But they do not have a +2 Strength like Mountain Dwarves. Why? Hill Dwarves have the same strength as Halflings and Elves, but they are built mostly the same as Mountain Dwarves (two inches and 15 lbs is the difference), they have much the same culture of mining, forging, and weapon skills. Yet, Hill Dwarves are as weak as Halflings, Elves and Gnomes, while Mountain Dwarves are as strong as Goliaths, Orcs, and other large massive creatures.

And why don't Mountain dwarves also get a +1 to wisdom, they have the same culture as Hill Dwarves, so why not?

Because the only thing they share is their race. They have different point of view and evolution path. Mountain dwarves are more haugty and warlike than the hill dwarves. Thus their respective stats bonuses.


Because you can't have a race with +2 Strength, +2 Con and +1 Wisdom. You can't have them give bonuses to both the physical stats and the mental ones. Getting one stat pushes out another. Get two physical stats, and you usually get no mental stats. Two Mental stats? You won't get a physical stat.

It would be quite a race don't you think? This is how the system had been since the beginning. I see no need to change that.

Sure, some races and sublcasses get 1 of each, but since your mind and your body are separate, it seems odd that they affect each other in this manner.

Unless, again, this is all about Archetypes and not about the genetics of the race.

A bit of both?

So what makes a Rock Gnome healthier than a Dragonborn, but equally healthy to a Goliath?
A gnome is also a magical race. Magic can explain as much if not more than genetics.
 


Scott Christian

Adventurer
If this is what they mean, then I reject it as a problem. In fact, it seems to me to be the main benefit. We will see more combinations. Increasing the likelihood of characters that you rarely see at the table is a good thing.

Unless you can tell me how getting more diverse characters in more diverse roles is a negative for the game?
100% agree with you. It will increase the likelihood of more combinations. And diversity in roles has the ability to alter lore. That is one of the worrisome contributions. I get it, lore changes as do race/class combinations. But because it does, does not prevent people from worrying where those changes will lead.
I'm not the one who started calling it gimping their character. I believe that was @Oofta in one of his responses to me. Might have been @Helldritch though. I just kept using their terminology.

But maybe they meant it was only gimping them to make the choice to move the scores.
Ok. My bad. Sorry.
See, I wasn't arguing that the patterns would go away, because I didn't see this as a argument solely about how likely a race/class combo was to show up.

I saw this as a discussion on whether or not a character could still be unique.

A dwarf wizard is currently being seen as unique. I guess this is solely because dwarves make poor wizards. You can tell me it is, how did you phrase it, "choosing to have that character focus on something other than their class's primary calling" but if your Dwarf has the choice to move their stats to wizard stats, and instead chooses to keep their traditional dwarf stats, Oofta and others have told me that is gimping their character.

Instead, they want no choice. No ability to alter the dwarf at all, so their dwarf wizard is required to have the poorer stat array... and that makes them unique. Having the stats doesn't make them unique. Being a dwarf wizard doesn't make them unique. Being unique is solely a function (in the arguments being presented) of not having a choose in those stat numbers.

And that makes no sense to me. It makes no sense to me that they want to argue for their being fewer dwarf wizards so they can keep feeling unique. It makes no sense to me that they can only feel unique by having the choice withheld from them.

Will there be more dwarf wizards in the future? Yes. I guess that is bad though, because people who play dwarf wizards won't feel special anymore for not caring about the stat arrays that they don't care about. Or, like Oofta, they can no longer make a statement and point by playing their character.
I feel what you are saying. It makes sense to me. But I also feel Oofta's side is legit as well.

Man, I hate being lawful neutral. ;)
 

Scott Christian

Adventurer
Unless you think wotc and DDB are lying about the stats, there isn’t any reason to demand more in depth analysis before being able to talk about what the stats can tell us.
There is no reason to think that a bunch of ridiculous nonsense is happening to make base human champion fighter reliably the most common choice. The simplest explanation is that people like those options, more players want simple characters than any other individual specific desired character type, and the Champion is the basic iconic fighter.

The other most popular subclasses also don’t support your claim that most players go for the most optimal combinations, not the popularity of the Ranger, etc. The most popular stuff is the stuff that is iconic.

No need to jump through hoops or anything to explain it, when there is a simple explanation right there.
There is always a why... It is the difficult question to answer. And also the hardest to collect data for.

What if the reason champion was the most common class was because it was first on the drop down menu? Would that matter? I guess, in your eyes, no. Because to you it is "ridiculous nonsense."

Fair enough. You see what you see. I see the same, but need to know the why before understanding or using it as evidence.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But, now we are shifting. To have a wise Goliath, you need to put your high scores into that, Goliaths are "naturally" unwise though.
No. That's not at all true. To be unwise would require them to have a wisdom penalty.
And, you missed my point entirely with the physical and mental being put against each other. Let us take Dwarves for a second.

Hill Dwarves, like you said, have a +2 Con and a +1 Wisdom. But they do not have a +2 Strength like Mountain Dwarves. Why? Hill Dwarves have the same strength as Halflings and Elves, but they are built mostly the same as Mountain Dwarves (two inches and 15 lbs is the difference), they have much the same culture of mining, forging, and weapon skills. Yet, Hill Dwarves are as weak as Halflings, Elves and Gnomes, while Mountain Dwarves are as strong as Goliaths, Orcs, and other large massive creatures.
They are not built like Mountain Dwarves. Mountain Dwarves are much stronger. Mountain Dwarf muscles are probably denser or something.
And why don't Mountain dwarves also get a +1 to wisdom, they have the same culture as Hill Dwarves, so why not?
They don't have the same culture. They are not Hill Dwarves. They are Mountain Dwarves.
 

In some ways, what would bother me most is the idea of a Goliath with an 8 Strength. That seems somewhat silly. Of course a Goliath with a 10 Strength is not really that much better, so it's a small difference. (Especially as I don't buy the perception I sometimes see around here that the difference between 10 and 8 is some huge gulf that is somehow bigger than the gaps between all the other numbers.)

For setting purposes I would prefer someting like Goliaths have a minimum Strength of 15. Of course in a Point Buy system that would just reinforce that they have to be Strength based Classes. I don't want that. I'm happy for them to be Wizards, I just want them to be big strong wizards.

All of which I think highlights the real problem - point buy is actually a really bad way of generating D&D characters. It only looks good in alternative to random rolling.
 

Azzy

Newtype
In some ways, what would bother me most is the idea of a Goliath with an 8 Strength. That seems somewhat silly. Of course a Goliath with a 10 Strength is not really that much better, so it's a small difference.
But why, though? It's not like there aren't any substantially physically limited or disabled humans in the real world, so why shouldn't there be the same for other races?
 

But why, though? It's not like there aren't any substantially physically limited or disabled humans in the real world, so why shouldn't there be the same for other races?
If you wanted to play a disabled Goliath and explain the Strength 8 as a disability then I wouldn't have an issue.

But I'm not sure exactly what disability would make you physically weak but not affect your movement or dexterity.

Similarly, if your Goliath had Strength 8 because they were a child then I might allow that if a child Goliath fit the game I was running.

But then I've alway been able do these things.
 

Shardstone

Adventurer
Crazy how much people care about what happens at other people's tables, and how having +1 bonus to your attacks/dmg or your spell saves to so many people is a gamebreaker.

If +1 to your damage and what not is enough to unbalance the game, then the game was never well balanced in the first place.
 

Crazy how much people care about what happens at other people's tables, and how having +1 bonus to your attacks/dmg or your spell saves to so many people is a gamebreaker.

If +1 to your damage and what not is enough to unbalance the game, then the game was never well balanced in the first place.
I don't know that anyone cares what's happening at other people's tables and conversation would be of higher quality if people would discuss honestly without throwing around righteous indignation.

People do however care about what the rules are, which is the subject of discussion.
 
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