D&D 5E Jeremy Crawford Discusses Details on Custom Origins

Chaosmancer

Legend
Well...it seems pretty obvious that the stat bonuses are a pretty big part of how the distinct characteristics of the race are represented - now it was never a good way to do that. And to 5e's credit it at least realised that something additional is needed, which is why races get quite a lot of additional features. (13th Age is bad at this - it gives stat bonuses that are made meaningless by class and an encounter power that doesn't always do much at all to emphasise the idea of an elf, or a half elf - thankfully it has backgrounds so they can take up a lot of the slack). So taking it away has to make some kind of difference there, especially if you're not replacing it with anything else.

This is part of the issue. How do you represent the huge size difference between a Goliath and a Halfling? There seem to be three ways: the Goliath gets powerful build, the halfling is small, and the Goliath gets a strength bonus.

Now none of this is remotely realistic; concessions are made to playability (otherwise we'd get the ridiculously overpowerd 2e Dark Sun giants or something like that). The rules represent the difference rather than simulate it. However, if you take away one of those points of distinction you do weaken the representation.

So there's the issue, the +2 weakness is such a weak distinction that it shouldn't matter if you effectively take it away - but it's weak by design and neccessity - and while weak it's still doing a job.


Except... it isn't doing that job. It looks like that is it's job when you compare halflings and Goliaths, who have a height difference of (6'4" to 2'9") 3 ft and 7 inches minimum... but Mountain Dwarves also have a +2 strength and have a height of 4'2" which is only a foot and five, less than half the difference.

Firbolgs are equally as tall as Goliaths, but only get a +1 to strength, and the 5 ft tall Tabaxi (nearly foot taller than the dwarf, but also more than a foot shorter than the Goliath and Firbolg) gets no bonus to strength, just like the halfling whom is still two feet and three inches shorter than the Tabaxi.


So, if part of the job of Strength is to show height.... it fails completely. The same difference of +2 can represent anywhere from nearly four feet of height difference, to four inches. That is a difference of 1200% for that range. Which gets large enough that I suspect it was never intended to be a filling that role.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Nope, not only dex, but also intelligence. And... Who plays the non Vhumans? Very rare. But humans are adaptive if you go this way. Good everywhere, master of none. (HO GOD! NON VHUMANS ARE ALL BARDS!!!!!! Time to burn my books...)

Double checks my post

So... I mentioned intelligence. In fact, other than the throw-away line about Dex, that was all I was talking about.

I also never said if it was Vhuman or Non-Vhuman... so I have no idea why you decided to focus on that.

And, you seem to have missed the point entirely.

High Elves are often depicted as the best wizards and magic-users in the world, with the strongest tradition of arcane learning and study, they are masters of it. They get a +1 Int.

Humans are depicted as adapatable, they can go in any direction, they don't really have that strong tradition of magic. They also get +1 INT.

Hobgoblins were not often depicted this way, they are never really considered some of the Premier Arcane Casters of the world.... they also get a +1 to Int.

If +1 INT is meant to represent a "Strong Tradition" then... humans, Hobgoblins, Gith, Warforged, Changelings, Tieflings, Fire Genasi... I mean, there is a big list here for +1 INT. All of them are well established and traditionally known for their study of Arcane Magic?

Exactly my point. You want to play against tradition? Go ahead and play with what life gave you. You want to be strength base paladin high elf? Go ahead. Put highest score in strength and so on. But you still get a cantrip, one 1st level wizard spell to use and a nice bonus in dexterity and intel. Now that is playing against type. And yes, we had one of these too. With twelve players, it is not hard to see a lot of unusual character types/concepts.

No, you said these stats came from traditions within those races. That isn't working with what life gives you. That is following tradition.

And, I could totally have rolled stats, and rolled an 17 or 16 for Strength, and made my Int and Dex dump stats. How is this different from simply taking the +1 from Int and moving it to Strength? How is one playing against type, but the other not if the end result was the same?

Are we trying to say that there are actual traditional numerical values, so that an Elf with a 16 Strength and 10 Dex is non-traditional but one with a 16 Dex and 10 strength is completely traditional? What if they were both 12's am I traditional or non-traditional?

(Also, side tangent, per RAW High Elves do not get a 1st level spell. Only the cantrip)

Just as I said above. Plus, the elves from Athas are not necessarily PHB Elves. It depends on the setting too. I would expect Qualinesty to be different from the Kagonesti and the Dimernesti of Dragon lance. Some of these elves could be paladins even in 1st edition! The setting overrule the PHB. I fail to see what you don't see there.

Okay, hold onto that thought that the PHB Elf might be different than the elves from specific settings.

We could have more printed versions of the elf, with other stat combos.

OR

We could use the Tasha's rules to move those stats around.

I mean, if the Athasian Elves are swift, but con artists, then maybe they get a +2 Dex and +1 Cha. And Maybe the Kagonesti have a +2 Con and +1 Wisdom. I can now represent multiple different types of elves, with a single rule, instead of needing to wait for them to release new stat lives that say it.

So, your "strong tradition" of elves getting a +2 Dex could easily be subverted by simply moving to a different setting. A setting we can now represent via Tasha's rules without having to get official products that tell us "this elf has different ASIs"

Nope. You fail (again) to understand. Playing against type because the system forces you to is not the same thing as willingly gimping your character. There is a whole level of difference that you do not seem (or want) to understand here. Choosing to play a dwarven wizard when you know that your bonuses normally push you toward fighting classes is rewarding. Doing it when there is not costs associated with that choice is just pointless and almost downright stupid. Playing against type, to prove that you can do it is good. Willingly gimping your character by making poor choices voluntarily is exactly a stupid thing to do.

Why do mountain climbers take the hardest mountain? Because it is hard. But if the same hard mountain has an easy path, it is not the same. Saying I played a dwarven wizard before Tasha will not bear the same accomplishment when played after. The first one will be way more rewarding as the second.

Then you have some very specific hang ups and I cannot help you.

There is an easy path up Everest. Well trod with heated tents along the way. Climbing everest without those things and that path is still an accomplishment.

Heck, I can travel over a hundred miles in my car, and all I have to worry about is stiffness and boredom. It is easy. I'd still be impressed if someone walked a hundred miles.

If choosing your race because the bonuses don't match up is admirable, but choosing not to match up your bonuses when you could isn't... then you guys have trapped yourselves in some sort of strange contest. I can't understand why having a 14 INT as a Dwarven Wizard now is admirable and rewarding, pushing the envelope, but if you had the option to instead make a choice, and chose to play a 14 INT Dwarven Wizard instead of a 16 INT Dwarven wizard.. it is suddenly meaningless and stupid. You've ended up in the exact same place.

And, to take this a step further. I have often been blasted by people because I don't want to play a Dwarven Wizard, because I can't get a 16 INT by going that route. I see it as... how did you phrase it again? "Willingly gimping your character by making poor choices voluntarily is exactly a stupid thing to do."

And yet, I've been told that a "really clever player" with "proper mastery of the game" can have "just as much fun and fulfillment" by doing so. In fact, you just said it was rewarding to do so.

I guess choice is only choice if it is the type of choice you don't like.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Chaosmancer

Legend
And this is where we differ. IT would be a GREAT character to make as warlock/shadow sorcerer.
But check Hex Blade
ST: 8, Dex: 13 (15), Con: 14 (15), Intel: 12, Wis: 10, Cha: 15
Level 4 ASI: Con 16, Cha 16.
Level 8 ASI: Cha 18
Level 12: Medium Armor Master Dex at 16
You lost a +1 to hit/dmg. A cooperative DM will manage to give you a magical sword of the +2 type to compensate (or not, but I would). A +1 is not that of a big deal. If you rise as high as 16th you'll have a 20 charisma, but so many good stories to tell on how you overcame the problems you had with different solutions than an optimal build. As soon as level 4 you'll get more HP and will just be a bit behind in attack. Again, a DM that wants to help you create such a character and build a good story with you would help you with an early magical item to help you out, where an optimal build might not see such an item before level 6 or 7. At level 12, the Medium armored master will boost your AC by two and will help you. Yes it will have mean a lower AC in the meanwhile, but again, a DM to help you might bring a nice magical breast plate in your way?

Yes you will say that it is entirely dependent on the DM. But unless the DM is adversarial, you should not be afraid to build such a character.
Players and DMs are there to build a story. I would not let a player down with such an interesting character, especially if the back story is good.

I am a ruthless DM that do not hesitate to TPK when players make blatant mistakes. Combats are highly tactical and enemies do not make mistakes very often. Yet, when a player brings me such a character, I do not hesitate to nudge things his way a little bit (and never at the cost of the other players' fun). You see, I would even insist that your patron be the Raven Queen and not a nameless sword or whatever. Your Queen in the Shadow fell could sent you on a mission for her and on the way, put things for you to discover to better further her plans and make sure you could fulfill your part of the contract with her.

We have such a character (Not a Shadarkai though) Hexblade Halfling with the Raven Queen as a patron and his goal is to kill Alaster (we are playing DH and will go through DoTMM) because the Raven Queen has a quarrel with Alastair. That players is exactly like a your Shadarkai but not so different race bonuses. I added a few quirks here and there to his contract and so far, his character works quite fine even with a "low" 15 charisma. He is fighting with... a spear to better skew his enemies... Surprisingly, he took immediately Medium Armor Master at level 4... The +1 spear helps him a lot more than anticipitated as the Divine soul sorcerer is quick to use bless whenever moderate to high AC opponents appears. The artificer is also quick to put his "pet" in help mode so that the Hexblade has advantage to hit when it gets a bit rough. It is a nice coincidence that we have an Hexblade that is about just like what you wanted to create.


You know, I was going to skip this post, but man the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous this argument becomes to me.

You are essentially arguing that you chose something against type. Something you called rewarding just a few hours ago. And that is fine.... because the DM will give you magic weapons and armor to supplement your missing numbers and make sure you stay in line with the party.

What was rewarding about that? It sounds like you are going into building this character expecting that if you are sub-par, that your DM will pull you up to par, proving nothing about the build except that it needed additional help from the DM to be as viable as you wanted it to be.

I mean, what a great story to tell about overcoming your problems with different solutions than an optimal build. "See, instead of having a 16 Dex and bumping it to 18, I had a 15 Dex, and the DM gave me this sweet +2 Bow to bring me back in line. I was always proud of my dwarven rogue for finding that item, and the +2 magical studded leather armor that brought my AC up, that was really clutch for my tale of overcoming adversity. It just goes to show, you don't need to be optimized to have fun (as long as your DM isn't adversarial enough to not give you magic items to make sure your interesting character doesn't work)"
 

Except... it isn't doing that job. It looks like that is it's job when you compare halflings and Goliaths, who have a height difference of (6'4" to 2'9") 3 ft and 7 inches minimum... but Mountain Dwarves also have a +2 strength and have a height of 4'2" which is only a foot and five, less than half the difference.

Firbolgs are equally as tall as Goliaths, but only get a +1 to strength, and the 5 ft tall Tabaxi (nearly foot taller than the dwarf, but also more than a foot shorter than the Goliath and Firbolg) gets no bonus to strength, just like the halfling whom is still two feet and three inches shorter than the Tabaxi.


So, if part of the job of Strength is to show height.... it fails completely. The same difference of +2 can represent anywhere from nearly four feet of height difference, to four inches. That is a difference of 1200% for that range. Which gets large enough that I suspect it was never intended to be a filling that role.

I would have thought it was obvious that the point of Strength was to show Strength. To the extent they reflect height would be the extent that Strength goes along with height.

The four biggest races in the game are Half-Orcs, Goliaths, Dragonborn and Firbolgs, all have Strength bonuses so I'm hardly stretching here. The point seems pretty obvious.

Part of the issue of course, is bonuses serve two clear functions which can conflict. They're there to depict the physical characteristics of the race in question and to indicate which classes they're meant to be good at. So Firbolgs only get +1 to Strength because they're clearly pushed towards playing Druids; no doubt Mountain Dwarves get the bonus to Strength because they're meant to be good Fighters.

Of course you did ignore the key point I made that the bonuses are not meant to work solely on their own but in conjunction with other features, precisely because they’re pretty poor at representing distinctions.

(But if you type 'Mountain Dwarf' into google you get images like this, which is apparently what people think Dwarves look like now, so it doesn't seem all that surprising they get a +2 to Strength - clearly they've discovered Steroids somewhat ahead of the tech level of human society.)

mt.jpeg


Whereas if I type Tabaxi I get this.

male-tabaxi-scout-e1595007657821.jpg


Which one is Stronger? (Now without looking it up, I'd bet Tabaxi get at least +1 to Dex)
 
Last edited:

You know, I was going to skip this post, but man the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous this argument becomes to me.

You are essentially arguing that you chose something against type. Something you called rewarding just a few hours ago. And that is fine.... because the DM will give you magic weapons and armor to supplement your missing numbers and make sure you stay in line with the party.

What was rewarding about that? It sounds like you are going into building this character expecting that if you are sub-par, that your DM will pull you up to par, proving nothing about the build except that it needed additional help from the DM to be as viable as you wanted it to be.

I mean, what a great story to tell about overcoming your problems with different solutions than an optimal build. "See, instead of having a 16 Dex and bumping it to 18, I had a 15 Dex, and the DM gave me this sweet +2 Bow to bring me back in line. I was always proud of my dwarven rogue for finding that item, and the +2 magical studded leather armor that brought my AC up, that was really clutch for my tale of overcoming adversity. It just goes to show, you don't need to be optimized to have fun (as long as your DM isn't adversarial enough to not give you magic items to make sure your interesting character doesn't work)"
How to twist meaning and intent... Never said it would be ridiculously as easy as you make it sound it would to be. That is a demeaning post, but from you, it is something that I should've expected.
Sarcasm suits you well.
 

GreenTengu

Adventurer
Part of the Tasha's rules allow for exactly that. It is weapons for other weapons or Tools ATM, but it certainly changes things up.

Well, maybe that will make such light of just how badly the thing is design that people will finally listen to what I have been saying for years.

The races should just be
  1. Dark Vision (or some extra bonus if they don't have it)
  2. Access to a basic martial weapon or armor if the class doesn't provide it (only if it seems they need to be compensated if you choose to be a spellcaster-- I think getting rid of all weapon/armor proficiencies on all races would be for the better)
  3. Proficiency in 1 Skill
  4. 1st level class ability that lets you either do that class's special thing more often or allows you to do a bit of that class's thing if you are a different class (i.e. 1 cantrip, 1 use of rage, 1 use of bardic inspiration, natural explorer in 1 additional environment, additional fighting style, expertise with a tool/skill, etc.) or +1 HP per level
  5. Resistance to a non-physical damage type or advantage on saves against one status condition or maybe a school of magic
  6. An extra language or tool proficiency
That's the package that the Elf and Dwarf get, its primarily the package that the Halfling gets-- other PHB races line up better or worse. It's really like the person who designed the first 4 races (human, elf, dwarf and halfling) quit the company right after they were designed and the rest of the staff didn't understand how they made and balanced them and have been trying and failing to get things right ever since.

And the person who wrote Volo's just had utterly the wrong concept to begin with and just drove totally off the road, directly into the ditch, got thrown from the car right before it exploded and looked back at the flaming wreck and said "This is fine. Let's send it off to the publishers."

Even their attempts to fix the Orc with "Eberron Orc" fall massively short of the mark. Because they just didn't follow the damn guide-- like no one who works on the books sat down and actually looked at the primary races and why they worked for long enough to realize there even was a guideline that they should be following.
 
Last edited:

You know, I was going to skip this post, but man the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous this argument becomes to me.

You are essentially arguing that you chose something against type. Something you called rewarding just a few hours ago. And that is fine.... because the DM will give you magic weapons and armor to supplement your missing numbers and make sure you stay in line with the party.

What was rewarding about that? It sounds like you are going into building this character expecting that if you are sub-par, that your DM will pull you up to par, proving nothing about the build except that it needed additional help from the DM to be as viable as you wanted it to be.

I mean, what a great story to tell about overcoming your problems with different solutions than an optimal build. "See, instead of having a 16 Dex and bumping it to 18, I had a 15 Dex, and the DM gave me this sweet +2 Bow to bring me back in line. I was always proud of my dwarven rogue for finding that item, and the +2 magical studded leather armor that brought my AC up, that was really clutch for my tale of overcoming adversity. It just goes to show, you don't need to be optimized to have fun (as long as your DM isn't adversarial enough to not give you magic items to make sure your interesting character doesn't work)"
I would reiterate what I said earlier, simply because the magic item to me is null and void, but the against type argument is valid.

Patterns are built based on character optimization. Some are great optimizations. Some are good. And some are poor. So when a player chooses to not follow the pattern, and take the poor route, they feel (and rightfully so) that their character is unique. That feeling, I believe, is what is being referred to.

But the other thing it does is allow for a player to explore a class's non-standard abilities and see how they go together. I gave the example of my wood elf barbarian. Terrible damage compared to any good or great barbarian. Rage was almost ineffectual, except for half damage. My HP weren't as good either. But, my speed. That was great. At sixth or seventh level I could move 120' per round and still use a standard action. Was the trade off worth it? For me, yes. But if everyone gets to pick and choose whatever they want, then all it does is let me play that same character without the negatives. So now the pattern is eliminated, and my character which was unique (at least I had never seen a wood elf barbarian like that), is no longer unique.

This ability to live with the negatives in order to explore potential positives is the summation.

I get both sides, and to discount one side seems willfully ignorant. We all have seen patterns. We all know the right combos. We all, if we teach new players, will "lend a hand" to help them make a character that isn't "worthless" compared to other players with experience. So to discount players that like exploring those negatives, and dismissing their fears that uniqueness will vanish seems the same as dismissing their playstyle. At least in my eyes.
 

Remathilis

Legend
And this is where we differ. IT would be a GREAT character to make as warlock/shadow sorcerer.
But check Hex Blade
ST: 8, Dex: 13 (15), Con: 14 (15), Intel: 12, Wis: 10, Cha: 15
Level 4 ASI: Con 16, Cha 16.
Level 8 ASI: Cha 18
Level 12: Medium Armor Master Dex at 16
You lost a +1 to hit/dmg. A cooperative DM will manage to give you a magical sword of the +2 type to compensate (or not, but I would). A +1 is not that of a big deal. If you rise as high as 16th you'll have a 20 charisma, but so many good stories to tell on how you overcame the problems you had with different solutions than an optimal build. As soon as level 4 you'll get more HP and will just be a bit behind in attack. Again, a DM that wants to help you create such a character and build a good story with you would help you with an early magical item to help you out, where an optimal build might not see such an item before level 6 or 7. At level 12, the Medium armored master will boost your AC by two and will help you. Yes it will have mean a lower AC in the meanwhile, but again, a DM to help you might bring a nice magical breast plate in your way?

Well, here's the thing: its a one shot module for Halloween on Roll20 with 5th level PCs. Probably not leveling during the game, and we start with one uncommon magic item of our choice (plus gold to buy consumables). So yes, I could use my free item and 4th level ASI to make up the ground, but that wasn't exactly my point.

The point is you'd think shadow sorcerer would be pretty iconic for Shadar-kai, after all elves are magical and Shadar-kai are very magical with Shadowfell magic, but nope. The ability score mods don't reinforce that and instead assume the shadar-kai are best as rogues and maybe monks. Maybe it's the bad mix of scores on that race, but it makes an obvious choice into a "against type" choice.

Maybe if more races were designed like half-elf or warforged (a set+2 and floating +1) as a compromise might have worked, but we've swung from one extreme to the other.
 

Oofta

Legend
Well, here's the thing: its a one shot module for Halloween on Roll20 with 5th level PCs. Probably not leveling during the game, and we start with one uncommon magic item of our choice (plus gold to buy consumables). So yes, I could use my free item and 4th level ASI to make up the ground, but that wasn't exactly my point.

The point is you'd think shadow sorcerer would be pretty iconic for Shadar-kai, after all elves are magical and Shadar-kai are very magical with Shadowfell magic, but nope. The ability score mods don't reinforce that and instead assume the shadar-kai are best as rogues and maybe monks. Maybe it's the bad mix of scores on that race, but it makes an obvious choice into a "against type" choice.

Maybe if more races were designed like half-elf or warforged (a set+2 and floating +1) as a compromise might have worked, but we've swung from one extreme to the other.
Every image I pull up of shadar kai they are wielding blades or bows, dex based weapons. So it seems your image just doesn't match the majority opinion.

I have no interest in running a shadar kai, not sure if the benefits would outweigh the lack of a bonus or not is up to you. I simply don't see any reason that any race should be optimized for every class. It's not like you can't play your PC if you really want, just that another race might be a better choice. It's a trade-off, but there will always be trade-offs.
 

TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
Maybe if more races were designed like half-elf or warforged (a set+2 and floating +1) as a compromise might have worked, but we've swung from one extreme to the other.
Yea, I think that would have been the sweet spot. Or maybe a fixed +1 floating +2.

This is roughly the approach PF2 takes, which I think strikes the best balance between supporting player’s visions and supporting classic tropes.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You realize I am talking about stat bonuses and combining that with class, right? Are you going to tell me the data shows that most character's made don't have optimal stats in their primary attribute? (There is no difference between a 16 and 17. And if you are using point buy, 17 is as high as you can go.)

But if you just want to use data, I prefer to think like this:

How many of those champion fighters were DM's making for the newbie coming into an Adventurer's League session? How many champions were made during GenCon so players who join a table could have something to play that was easy? How many of those champions were going to be used as NPC's or hired henchman that a DM could just hand off to players? How many of those champions were the first character built by someone logging in so they can test the system? How many of those champions played past one session? How many leveled up past level 2? How about past level 4?

You see, the problem with numbers is unless you get a breakdown that one can analyze, they can't be used to prove much. I will give you, it is the only numbers we have. But they mean so little. And yet, they still do not counter my point about people making optimized characters.
Wooooow. That’s some impressive mental gymnastics.

The ddb data is backed up by wotc statements about their data, but hey, you’re obviously going to believe what you want regardless.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top