D&D General My Problem(s) With Halflings, and How To Create Engaging/Interesting Fantasy Races

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You can't really evalutate the pre-Tashas races without considering what classes they were designed to be 'Iconic' choices for. That's why Half-Orcs can be considered a success in the same terms. They were less popular than halflings overall, but the most popular choice for Barbarains. Given that they were designed to be Barbarians that would seem like a success.

Now certainly, this method of designing races can and has been questioned (and abandoned), and I don't like it much myself, but it prevails in the periods for which data is available.
Where's your evidence they were "designed to be barbarians" - they have the most synergy with fighters. Relentless Endurance actively clashes with Relentless Rage and Savage Attacks has the most synergy with the Champion fighter. Half orcs are fifth on the fighter.

Even if they were designed for the barbarian (IMO terrible design) in 2017 they simply weren't the most popular race for barbarians. They were admittedly a close second... to the goliath. A non-PHB race. If that's your metric (I don't think it was the designers') then the half-orc must be considered a failure, losing what was supposed to be its niche to a non-PHB race.

The half-orc also performs terribly outside its niche according to the 2017 data, losing to every single non-small PHB race in all classes except barbarian and fighter, beating the halfing at paladin, and beating the gnome at ranger and monk. Oh, and only being mid-pack for fighters.

So the half orc is not only a one-trick pony it's not even as good at that one trick as a non-PHB class. I've been saying throughout this thread that the half-orc is the race most likely to be ditched for a race that does its thematic strengths better; either the full orc or the goliath.
 

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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I'm disappointed that warlords still haven't made any headway in 5e. And, my absolute favorite class, the 3e binder, got murdered behind the barn years ago. But, well, there's not much I can really do about it is there?
I believe the accepted way to handle this in the 5E era is to assemble every thin piece of evidence you can point to that warlords and binders will be coming back any day now, loudly predict it happening any time someone at WotC clears their throat and angrily throw around recriminations when it doesn't happen.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Oh, I don't think they would have ever been a default race, but I also don't think if you sat down at the table in Lake Geneva and said "this is Romeo, my faun swashbuckler" that anyone would have been thrown for a loop like they would have been with, say, tieflings or dragonborn.
You could very well be right. I don't really know how people of the time, except humano-centric Gygax himself, would have thought of such a monstrous race.
 

Halflings are not the least popular race in the PHB - that would be gnomes.

As gnomes are my favorite race this honestly bums me out to the point that I often end up playing gnomes even after considering a different race just to give them some love. Forest gnomes appeal to me as fey-adjacent (the Fade Away and Fey Touched feats are nice for them), and the svirfneblin have interesting lore in the form of being the more serious, gallows-humor gnome variety (plus Svirfneblin magic is amazing, especially on an Abjurer). I think I might make my next character some kind of svirfneblin assassin or gloom stalker.

Halflings honestly don't do much for me. I want to like them, but they don't have the cool magic-tinged angle the forest and deep gnomes have. I do at least have a halfling wererat NPC in my current campaign whose Bravery trait I've decided partially counteracts the skittishness that wererat lycanthropy usually enourages.
 

Where's your evidence they were "designed to be barbarians" - they have the most synergy with fighters. Relentless Endurance actively clashes with Relentless Rage and Savage Attacks has the most synergy with the Champion fighter. Half orcs are fifth on the fighter.

Even if they were designed for the barbarian (IMO terrible design) in 2017 they simply weren't the most popular race for barbarians. They were admittedly a close second... to the goliath. A non-PHB race. If that's your metric (I don't think it was the designers') then the half-orc must be considered a failure, losing what was supposed to be its niche to a non-PHB race.
Hmmm. I missed that Goliaths were slightly ahead. I'm actually pleased by that. As for why they are meant to be Barbarians, fluff and history. WotC have always seen the Half-Orc as the iconic Barbarian (it's boring - but that's how it is). I don't think they're good design. But the point is that if WotC mean for them to be Barbarians, then I don't think it's a failure if they're only popular for that class.

A tedious design paradigm yes. But not exactly a failure.

The half-orc also performs terribly outside its niche according to the 2017 data, losing to every single non-small PHB race in all classes except barbarian and fighter, beating the halfing at paladin, and beating the gnome at ranger and monk. Oh, and only being mid-pack for fighters.
Yes. But the point is that, at the point that WotC did that they obviously didn't care. After all they've done it with every edition of D&D since 2000 and former WotC designers even did the same thing with 13th Age. For some reason this seems to be intended.

So the half orc is not only a one-trick pony it's not even as good at that one trick as a non-PHB class. I've been saying throughout this thread that the half-orc is the race most likely to be ditched for a race that does its thematic strengths better; either the full orc or the goliath.
And I'd personally really like that. (Although Goliaths really need some work, but the potential is there). I'd honestly be perfectly happy to see Half-Orcs gone, but that's beside the point.

My point is that evaluating races on their position of overall popularity is questionable when looking at data from a design paradigm that didn't create races with the idea that they should be widely possible across a range of classes.
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
You could very well be right. I don't really know how people of the time, except humano-centric Gygax himself, would have thought of such a monstrous race.

I'm guessing not much differently than Dragonborn... If anything, are Satyr/Faun more human than something with scales?
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Satyrs have the mythology of being drunken rape monsters. Even if you tone that down a lot to just saying they like a good time, there's always going to be that unpleasant association.

Plus, all satyrs are male, unless you decide to go against the myth (which has become more common as of recent years). While I wouldn't put it past the creators to have no problem including a male-only race, that leads to other issues. One of which is, if you have all-male satyrs, then you kind of have to have all-female nymphs (perhaps using the common trope of saying they're a single species). But even if you ignore the bit about nymphs being tied to a specific tree, stretch of water, etc. (which would make adventuring difficult at best), the myths have them as being blindingly beautiful--which almost certainly would go very, very wrong in early days D&D--and eminently have-sex-with-able (consent not always included, on either side of the equation).

A lot of authors have been using other mythical sources. Like Barometz, or refering to the races as "Pans". And while, yes, Pan usually refers to the greek god, he used to be Pan-Hermes and we could make associations all day.

Also, we already have Satyrs in the game, and they very much avoided the association as far as I've ever noticed, so I don't think it would be that big of a deal. Not that I particularly want Satyrs as a seperate race. I'd much rather have a generic and modular "Beast folk" race that can cover many more concepts.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
Where's your evidence they were "designed to be barbarians" - they have the most synergy with fighters. Relentless Endurance actively clashes with Relentless Rage and Savage Attacks has the most synergy with the Champion fighter. Half orcs are fifth on the fighter.

Even if they were designed for the barbarian (IMO terrible design) in 2017 they simply weren't the most popular race for barbarians. They were admittedly a close second... to the goliath. A non-PHB race. If that's your metric (I don't think it was the designers') then the half-orc must be considered a failure, losing what was supposed to be its niche to a non-PHB race.

The half-orc also performs terribly outside its niche according to the 2017 data, losing to every single non-small PHB race in all classes except barbarian and fighter, beating the halfing at paladin, and beating the gnome at ranger and monk. Oh, and only being mid-pack for fighters.

So the half orc is not only a one-trick pony it's not even as good at that one trick as a non-PHB class. I've been saying throughout this thread that the half-orc is the race most likely to be ditched for a race that does its thematic strengths better; either the full orc or the goliath.

I have a theory about that data. Volo's guide came out late 2016. Depending on when they were polling for that 2017 data, it is no wonder that Goliath beat Half-Orc, Goliath was brand new to the game in a major release. I wouldn't be shocked to see most of the Volo races getting a big uptick. Which would also include the Full Orc

Also, since it added thirteen new races, there might have been some volatility. Did half-orcs recover in recent years? My gut says most likely.

Also, I have no idea why you think Relentless Endurance clashes with Relentless Rage. You use the endurance, then the rage. It is not only a freebie of one of your features but also giving you a late game ability by level 1. And Savage attacks also synergizes well with Reckless Attack, which also synergizes with Relentless Endurance, since you are likely taking more damage.

Finally, the data set I remember looking at earlier in this thread had a pretty standard pattern. If you weren't a human, half-elf, or elf, you performed terribly outside of the class associated with your ASI. I remember something like halflings having 1500 for rogue, but their next highest class was like 700 or less. Abysmally low. That should be changing now that Tasha's is making the rounds, and I am really curious what that does to these sort of rankings
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I'm guessing not much differently than Dragonborn... If anything, are Satyr/Faun more human than something with scales?
If you go with the idea that they're actually nature spirits, maybe. At least dragonborn are entirely flesh and blood.
 

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