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D&D General No More "Humans in Funny Hats": Racial Mechanics Should Determine Racial Cultures

Thunderfoot

Adventurer
Time to be unpopular.... So..
Waaaay back in AD&D, when you rolled 3d6 in order for Str Int Wis Dex Con and Cha, there were these tables that told you what you could or couldn't play based on what you rolled and the race and sex of what that character could be. (ie a 5 STR meant you were a magic-user....period, end of discussion) And each race had certain perks/disadvantages beyond the racial abilities that others did not..classes, multi-classes and level limits. The wildly varying XP tables meant classes advanced at different rates and non- humans usually at far slower rates if they were multi-classed and slightly faster if single classed.

All this pissed off people who said it was not fair and was unbalanced, until you realize that a 6th level human fighter with 18 00 Str swinging a two-handed sword could do a max of 22 dam on a swing and a 6th level magic-user could cast a fire ball that did 6d6 dam. (which at the time was open ended meaning each level thereafter they added another d6 ad infintium). Elves could have the elusive triple multi-class Ftr/MU/Thf but were capped at 7/11/Un assuming they had 18 Str and 18 Int otherwise they were limited in levels further.

All this was explained as why humans were so diverse and prevalent, they specialized due to their short life spans and the long time to advance in levels. As gamers began to push the PC rules of everyone is equal, it became clear that everyone was exactly the same. While 1st ed made everything cookie cutter via creation method, later editions made everything cookie cutter be making everything exactly the same and with no limitations.

Neither is perfect, neither is right, but there was some gold in that simplistic older approach. It made humans different. They couldn't multi-class. They could dual-class but the penalties and time weren't really worth it. Other races had cool abilities and access to multiple roles, but they had a glass ceiling due to the broad spectrum approach. When 3rd stripped all of those away for the one rule/one way system it made things easier, but created the fast leveling Swiss Army knife, race does not matter, character. It's only gotten worse since then.

Fluff text and abilties are now the only difference between an elf and a human and until hard limits that make "unfair" differences between them are reinstated, this problem will never go away. And I'm sure that will never happen. Too many people want to be 'unique but fair', but that, my friends, is impossible, both IRL and in game. Truth isn't always pretty, but it's always the truth. Okay. Flaming arrows away.
 

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Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Time to be unpopular.... So..
Waaaay back in AD&D, when you rolled 3d6 in order for Str Int Wis Dex Con and Cha, there were these tables that told you what you could or couldn't play based on what you rolled and the race and sex of what that character could be. (ie a 5 STR meant you were a magic-user....period, end of discussion) And each race had certain perks/disadvantages beyond the racial abilities that others did not..classes, multi-classes and level limits. The wildly varying XP tables meant classes advanced at different rates and non- humans usually at far slower rates if they were multi-classed and slightly faster if single classed.

All this pissed off people who said it was not fair and was unbalanced, until you realize that a 6th level human fighter with 18 00 Str swinging a two-handed sword could do a max of 22 dam on a swing and a 6th level magic-user could cast a fire ball that did 6d6 dam. (which at the time was open ended meaning each level thereafter they added another d6 ad infintium). Elves could have the elusive triple multi-class Ftr/MU/Thf but were capped at 7/11/Un assuming they had 18 Str and 18 Int otherwise they were limited in levels further.

All this was explained as why humans were so diverse and prevalent, they specialized due to their short life spans and the long time to advance in levels. As gamers began to push the PC rules of everyone is equal, it became clear that everyone was exactly the same. While 1st ed made everything cookie cutter via creation method, later editions made everything cookie cutter be making everything exactly the same and with no limitations.

Neither is perfect, neither is right, but there was some gold in that simplistic older approach. It made humans different. They couldn't multi-class. They could dual-class but the penalties and time weren't really worth it. Other races had cool abilities and access to multiple roles, but they had a glass ceiling due to the broad spectrum approach. When 3rd stripped all of those away for the one rule/one way system it made things easier, but created the fast leveling Swiss Army knife, race does not matter, character. It's only gotten worse since then.

Fluff text and abilties are now the only difference between an elf and a human and until hard limits that make "unfair" differences between them are reinstated, this problem will never go away. And I'm sure that will never happen. Too many people want to be 'unique but fair', but that, my friends, is impossible, both IRL and in game. Truth isn't always pretty, but it's always the truth. Okay. Flaming arrows away.
I ways found it jarring that the 800 year old characters stopped gaining levels when the 24 year old human passed them by.

You would think it would be backwards and the long lived classes would be the dual (but really why just 2) class and the short lived would cram everything I to one lifetime.
 

Thunderfoot

Adventurer
I ways found it jarring that the 800 year old characters stopped gaining levels when the 24 year old human passed them by.

You would think it would be backwards and the long lived classes would be the dual (but really why just 2) class and the short lived would cram everything I to one lifetime.
Part of the XP mechanic made that work but was often ignored by DMs and Players alike, and the fluff text rounded it out. Elves being the biggest gripe most players used for instance, didn't start their adventuring careers until the ripe old age of 150-175. Assuming that the character was a tri-class all XP would be divided by three with remainders dropped or applied to the Thief class since it had unlimited levels. According to the Elf entry amd several Dragon articles (which at the time were considered near canonical) elves had family duties that took them away from adventuring later in life so their adventuring careers were more in line of 160 - 600, a long time to be sure but while a 6th level human fighter would have 35,001 XP a similar elf tri-class would be (with point drops added) roughly 4/4/5 assuming both were advancing at max due to XP bonuses for abilities. It doesn't seem like much but that little difference made up a big difference when next level the human would be gaining multiple attacks per round and the elf would not.
Also, the dual class only was due to he humans short life spans, with only a fee years to devote, you either specialized or became a really poor-man's multi-class. Was it fair, no? Was it quasi-realistic? Yes. What made the difference between classes may have seemed arbitrary but it was built into the mechanics. You want options you play a demi-human, you want progression, you play a human. Players also ignored the racial suggestions of how to play the races. Elves were graceful, thoughtful and slow to act, the long age meant that brash and rushed decisions were never a good idea. I mean if you have the chance of living to 1500 years old taking up a profession that could significantly shorten your life span was already a big deal, making stupid decisions to shorten it even further was just stupid. Want an example, read the death of Haldir or better yet watch the section if the movie closely. That 'oh S*!+, I'm dying' moment when he realizes his life is literally sliding through his fingers.
 
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Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Part of the XP mechanic made that work but was often ignored by DMs and Players alike, and the fluff text rounded it out. Elves being the biggest gripe most players used for instance, didn't start their adventuring careers until the ripe old age of 150-175. Assuming that the character was a tri-class all XP would be divided by three with remainders dropped or applied to the Thief class since it had unlimited levels. According to the Elf entry amd several Dragon articles (which at the time were considered near canonical) elves had family duties that took them away from adventuring later in life so their adventuring careers were more in line of 160 - 600, a long time to be sure but while a 6th level human fighter would have 35,001 XP a similar elf tri-class would be (with point drops added) roughly 4/4/5 assuming both were advancing at max due to XP bonuses for abilities. It doesn't seem like much but that little difference made up a big difference when next level the human would be gaining multiple attacks per round and the elf would not.
Also, the dual class only was due to he humans short life spans, with only a fee years to devote, you either specialized or became a really poor-man's multi-class. Was it fair, no? Was it quasi-realistic? Yes. What made the difference between classes may have seemed arbitrary but it was built into the mechanics. You want options you play a demi-human, you want progression, you play a human. Players also ignored the racial suggestions of how to play the races. Elves were graceful, thoughtful and slow to act, the long age meant that brash and rushed decisions were never a good idea. I mean if you have the chance of living to 1500 years old taking up a profession that could significantly shorten your life span was already a big deal, making stupid decisions to shorten it even further was just stupid. Want an example, read the death of Haldir or better yet watch the section if the movie closely. That 'oh S*!+, I'm dying' moment when he realizes his life is literally sliding through his fingers.
Most of this is arguing the mechanics, I'm just mentioning how they reflect in the fluff.

The guy that has a lot of time in his hands learns one thi g at a time until they become as proficient at it as they want to be, then they move on to something else.

The gal that only has a short time And wants to learn multiple things would have to learn them all at once or have no time to do so.

Once again, not discussing the rules reasoning, just the goofy way it interacts with the fluff.
 

HammerMan

Legend
I ways found it jarring that the 800 year old characters stopped gaining levels when the 24 year old human passed them by.

You would think it would be backwards and the long lived classes would be the dual (but really why just 2) class and the short lived would cram everything I to one lifetime.
we always reversed the multi class duel class thing...

Humans are short lived, they try to cram everything in. They multiclass
Demi humans are long lived, they get board with one thing and switch to another. They duel class

now by the end of 2e we just let anyone do anything, but we started with elves taking 1 class going to level limit then switch to another
 

Thunderfoot

Adventurer
we always reversed the multi class duel class thing...

Humans are short lived, they try to cram everything in. They multiclass
Demi humans are long lived, they get board with one thing and switch to another. They duel class

now by the end of 2e we just let anyone do anything, but we started with elves taking 1 class going to level limit then switch to another
And thus, thay's how 3e was born.... A lot of folks used this as an optional rule.
 

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