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Racial ability score adjustments

So I want to make a new subrace of goliaths who maintain the traditions of an ancient and erudite civilization. In keeping with the pattern for subraces, they keep the same primary score bonus (+2 Str) but have a different secondary bonus. The thing is, I kind of want them to excel as both wizards and bards. Looking at the half-elf, a bonus array of +2 Str, +1 Int, +1 Cha is apparently sometimes justifiable, and looking at the mountain dwarf, you can sometimes have extra bonuses even when other subraces of your race don't. Do we have any idea about the rhyme or reason behind these divergences from the normal +2/+1 pattern? I want to do do this, but I'm worried about power creep if I make a habit of it.
 

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Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
In the end, a single +1 isn't going to make a difference. I would say either pick bard or wizard, create a subrace for each, or just choose Int or Cha. Bards could always use higher Int, and Cha can be good for a wizard, especially and enchanter or illusionist.

Of course, on the other end it's not game breaking to grant both bonuses. But that needs to be placed in the context of the other mechanics that this subrace will have. Personally, I think the ability bonuses are the least interesting thing about a race. It's the other abilities that spark imagination and builds.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Just like mountain dwarves don't get Dwarven Toughness, I think if you're going to give your subrace an extra ASI you should remove something comparable, like Stone's Endurance, and replace it with something weaker.
 

GlassJaw

Hero
You could also offer a choice: +2 Str and +1 to either Int or Cha.

I've considered doing that for Dragonborn; letting the player choose +2 to Str or Con.

Most of the racial modifiers are for fluff only. You could honestly let the player choose their boosts from whatever stats they wanted and it wouldn't be game-breaking. 5E is nice that way.
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
Most of the racial modifiers are for fluff only. You could honestly let the player choose their boosts from whatever stats they wanted and it wouldn't be game-breaking. 5E is nice that way.

Racial mods are fairly insignificant in any edition.

Letting players take +X, +Y, -Z in older editions just means they get to play the race they want, with the stats they want.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
I think it's fair to give them Str +2, Int +1, Cha +1 because those ability scores usually do not work super well in concert with one another. The big exception is Paladin which works great with Str +2, Cha +1 (and in this case the Int +1 would be a nice little side bonus). You can also use these stats for some interesting Warlock and Sorcerer builds, and maybe Wizard or Eldritch Knight, but none of those classes are as MAD as the Paladin so it's less of a big deal.

However, given that you want this subrace to be more Wizardy/Bardy and not as much Paladiny, I'd probably go with Str +2 and Int +1. Remove Stone's Endurance and Natural Athlete, and give them proficiency in History, and some arcane ability -- something that interacts well with Bard and Wizard. I don't have any great ideas right now; maybe a free cantrip or extra ritual spells or something. What are the traditions of the ancient and erudite civilization?
 


However, given that you want this subrace to be more Wizardy/Bardy and not as much Paladiny, I'd probably go with Str +2 and Int +1. Remove Stone's Endurance and Natural Athlete, and give them proficiency in History, and some arcane ability -- something that interacts well with Bard and Wizard. I don't have any great ideas right now; maybe a free cantrip or extra ritual spells or something. What are the traditions of the ancient and erudite civilization?
Yeah, you're thinking the same way I am. History proficiency and some sort of super-memorization feature along the lines of the Keen Mind feat. An idea I'm trying with is to make theirs an illiterate oral tradition, hence the memorization. (The corollary of this is having to write an oral wizard subclass somehow, but that's beyond the scope of this thread.)
 

Mercule

Adventurer
Based on the Goliath lore, I think Bard makes a ton more sense than Wizard, especially if they're the keepers of the race's lore -- screams for Loremaster. So, a +1 charisma would drive things in that direction. Maybe some do go for Wizard, but it's more that they mistake knowledge for lore -- at least that's what their Bardic peers would say, which sounds like a reasonable sort of tribalism that you might see.

I, personally, don't like multiple choice stat bonuses. That's humans' schtick. Also, non-human stat bonuses are to drive pretty tight racial archetypes, so they should, you know, drive those archetypes. Pick one and run with it.
 

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