5E Reimagining racial ability scores

delph

Explorer
Hi, I found this post on DnD Beyond and found it interesting. I do not agree with everything, but it's much more like my ideas than as it is now.

I prefer option 3. And maybe add racial maxes - halflings can have str and con max 18, half orc than dex,... to have some balancing.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Yep, all this kind of stuff has been done over numerous times by many people, myself included. I like an option where you get +1 race, +1 class, and +1 background, or remove any one of those and just make a +1 any.

I agree also with the idea of racial limitations on scores. No way should a halfling or gnome have the potential to be as strong as a human, half-orc, dragonborn, etc. I like the idea of reducing humans to baseline 18 max again, and adjust others around that (max 20 dex for elves, max 20 str for half-orcs, max 16 str for gnomes, etc.)
 
I am toying with a concept for a homebrew compendium where I treat Backgrounds as Races, but Races have Racial Feat choices and instead of modifying the stat, you modify the max stats.

For example, a Half-Orc's Strength is based on his Background as a Gladiator BUT his Half-Orc race gives him 22 as maximum Strength.

On the Racial Feats I am inspired by PF2. You choose one Racial feat at L1, and another at L3~5 (maybe L5 since entry in 2nd tier of play) but that's where it ends.
 

delph

Explorer
I am toying with a concept for a homebrew compendium where I treat Backgrounds as Races, but Races have Racial Feat choices and instead of modifying the stat, you modify the max stats.

For example, a Half-Orc's Strength is based on his Background as a Gladiator BUT his Half-Orc race gives him 22 as maximum Strength.

On the Racial Feats I am inspired by PF2. You choose one Racial feat at L1, and another at L3~5 (maybe L5 since entry in 2nd tier of play) but that's where it ends.
Racial featsor racial traits are interesting without ASI and it could be done in the other way. I like your idea. But it have to have enough choices to prevent "every half orc warrior will have gladiator backgroud"
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
I recently did a game where I let players put their racial adjustments wherever they wanted. It did not change the game much beyond I saw my first high elf sorcerer and half-orc war cleric. And finally a gnome fighter.

My brother played a gnome fighter back in 2E that had a 18/92 strength. He couldn’t resist doing it again.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
I don't like a whole lot of Pathfinder 2, but I do like how their ability scores work. Races give 2 +2s, and often a floating +2 and a set -2. Background gives a set +2 and another floating +2. Class gives a +2. Then you get 4 more +2s (you can never stack them when you get them from the same source). Most concentrated, you could start with an 18 if all the stars aligned.

I like ability penalties for races. I also like higher caps for non-humans.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I’d never play with racial ability score limits, tbh. PCs can be exceptional, so even if I imagine halflings as somehow incapable of becoming as strong as humans can in general, I wouldn’t ever apply that to PCs.

OTOH, I’d be fine with simply adding a floating +2 to the game at level 1.
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
I’d never play with racial ability score limits, tbh. PCs can be exceptional, so even if I imagine halflings as somehow incapable of becoming as strong as humans can in general, I wouldn’t ever apply that to PCs.

OTOH, I’d be fine with simply adding a floating +2 to the game at level 1.

That’s one thing I personally really don’t like about modern role playing games. And wish there was more limitations. I don’t like humans overhead pressing 800 pounds. It ruins the immersion for me.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
Personally, I like the idea of divesting ability score bonuses away from races, since it encourages people to create characters that are less common in the current system. I like the idea of fighter gnomes and elven barbarians and goliath wizards. I don't know that I would want to see racial caps on ability scores though. For one, it creates the same pressures to pick race/class combos that currently exist. Secondly, unless you play in grittier or more "grounded" games, the player characters should be superior to others of their kind. Average gnomes would be far weaker than half-orcs, and elves far more graceful than goliaths. But I don't think those same standards and expectations should apply to the literal heroes of the story. But that's just my take and how my table rolls.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
Just spitballing here:

Scrap bonuses but limit how players assign ability scores. E.g.: for hill dwarves Constitution must be at least third-highest at character creation and Wisdom can't be lowest.

Or just floor them. E.g.: hill dwarf Constitution must be at least 13 and Wisdom must be at least 10.

Probably the former is better for rolled scores and the latter for point but.

This effectively changes the "dwarves are tough" archetype from a bonus to a restriction. Not a big restriction, because you still end up with an array that a human could have received, so it shouldn't be considered a negative to be balanced against. (I.e., if humans' only feature is that they don't have any such restrictions, that's not gonna fly.) But it also lets players put their highest score in Dexterity and play a rogue without feeling like they have to go elf or halfling, and still ensures that dwarf rogues are gonna be, on average, pretty tough rogues.
 

Coroc

Explorer
The only beef I have with standard 5e is that mountain dwarves get +2 str, they should not have better possible starting str than humans and only get +1. (For halforcs +2 str is ok though imho).

I (being a fan of the 3e bonus-malus attribute system) have accepted, that for 5e with its bound accuracy it is better to have this abstract attribute system in that a Halfling can as well as an halforc acquire 20 str .

The mechanics and math behind it simply require this approach, so every attempt to fit in principles of former editions, be it giving a lower and higher starting attribute, be it putting the limits to e.g. Halfling max str 18 therefore dex 22, are quite pointless.
 

oreofox

Explorer
Personally, I like the idea of divesting ability score bonuses away from races, since it encourages people to create characters that are less common in the current system. I like the idea of fighter gnomes and elven barbarians and goliath wizards. I don't know that I would want to see racial caps on ability scores though. For one, it creates the same pressures to pick race/class combos that currently exist. Secondly, unless you play in grittier or more "grounded" games, the player characters should be superior to others of their kind. Average gnomes would be far weaker than half-orcs, and elves far more graceful than goliaths. But I don't think those same standards and expectations should apply to the literal heroes of the story. But that's just my take and how my table rolls.
I mentioned doing something similar, because I didn't like every single rogue being a halfling, or elf archers, half-orc barbarians, etc. I got flack by someone saying "the PCs will just pick the racial traits (stuff like stonecunning, gnome spell resistance, elf extra cantrip, etc) instead of what gives them the best +2".

My games, I removed the +2 from races, placing them onto the classes when chosen at level 1. Races give a +1 to a score of a player's choice. You want to play a dwarf cleric or halfling rogue? Go for it. You can make that goliath rogue and be just as "viable" as that halfling rogue, since they'd both get +2 to Dexterity (or Intelligence, since classes give a +2 to one of two scores, typically a saving throw proficiency).

As for score caps, I reduced everything for everyone to 18. I am not a fan of giving races variable stat caps (20 dex for halflings, 20 con for dwarves, 16 str for gnomes), as that just goes back to having the races give a +2 to a specific ability score and all you'd see is halfling rogues* and tiefling warlocks, again.

*Darn you dnd4vr! But thanks for catching the mistake.
 
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dnd4vr

Adventurer
{snip}

As for score caps, I reduced everything for everyone to 18. I am not a fan of giving races variable stat caps (20 dex for halflings, 20 con for dwarves, 16 str for gnomes), as that just goes back to having the races give a +2 to a specific ability score and all you'd see is halfling gnomes and tiefling warlocks, again.
Whatever limits you use, I definitely do NOT want to run into one of these!!! :eek:
 

Coroc

Explorer
I mentioned doing something similar, because I didn't like every single rogue being a halfling, or elf archers, half-orc barbarians, etc. I got flack by someone saying "the PCs will just pick the racial traits (stuff like stonecunning, gnome spell resistance, elf extra cantrip, etc) instead of what gives them the best +2".

My games, I removed the +2 from races, placing them onto the classes when chosen at level 1. Races give a +1 to a score of a player's choice. You want to play a dwarf cleric or halfling rogue? Go for it. You can make that goliath rogue and be just as "viable" as that halfling rogue, since they'd both get +2 to Dexterity (or Intelligence, since classes give a +2 to one of two scores, typically a saving throw proficiency).

As for score caps, I reduced everything for everyone to 18. I am not a fan of giving races variable stat caps (20 dex for halflings, 20 con for dwarves, 16 str for gnomes), as that just goes back to having the races give a +2 to a specific ability score and all you'd see is halfling rogues* and tiefling warlocks, again.

*Darn you dnd4vr! But thanks for catching the mistake.
Well then it also comes down to personal taste, I like archetypes. Heck, even the class system is a kind of archetyping. My players mostly prefer to play humans anyway. I would love them to do some Halfling rogu dwarven warrior elf wizard human cleric party once in a while, but they do not do it :p
And tiefling warlock harmonizes good as well as human warlock, but elf? if you do not have fairy queen in your setting as a potential patron then an elf warlock sounds pretty awkward to me.
A dwarven warlock / wizard / sorcerer? Ugh, play the game like you want to so do I, it does not and will not exist at my table except maybe if I dm Eberron, there I might allow it, because it is part of the design.
 

delph

Explorer
I mentioned doing something similar, because I didn't like every single rogue being a halfling, or elf archers, half-orc barbarians, etc. I got flack by someone saying "the PCs will just pick the racial traits (stuff like stonecunning, gnome spell resistance, elf extra cantrip, etc) instead of what gives them the best +2".

My games, I removed the +2 from races, placing them onto the classes when chosen at level 1. Races give a +1 to a score of a player's choice. You want to play a dwarf cleric or halfling rogue? Go for it. You can make that goliath rogue and be just as "viable" as that halfling rogue, since they'd both get +2 to Dexterity (or Intelligence, since classes give a +2 to one of two scores, typically a saving throw proficiency).

As for score caps, I reduced everything for everyone to 18. I am not a fan of giving races variable stat caps (20 dex for halflings, 20 con for dwarves, 16 str for gnomes), as that just goes back to having the races give a +2 to a specific ability score and all you'd see is halfling rogues* and tiefling warlocks, again.

*Darn you dnd4vr! But thanks for catching the mistake.
Thatswhy I said I'd like idea of ability score improvment by Class. You will take +2 (or +3) and every one class will have described where you can put it. As save throws or skills...

and story behind it coudbe "you was trained in this abilities by training this class" and it will have some good impact to some "not logical" multiclass... As I read many times "take 1 lvl something to get this and this and then continue in this class. So every one take race good for "second class"
 

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