D&D 5E Small races overly disadvantaged?

SatanasOz

Explorer
Hi all,

Something that made me think about small races: Today we had a character creation session, and one of my players wanted to play a Gnome ranged fighter. Doing the math and getting ready I was surprised to realize that she got punished for her size twice.

a) being slow, shared with the dwarf
b) ban to use high damage (Heavy) weapons in a meaningful way

So my question I guess: Is there any advantage to offset the two disadvantages form being small? Are their racial abilities supposed to make up for it?

Or is this a relic form older editions? In 3e, you got the AC bonus to offset this a little. 4e just made everyone the same.

Just to make this clear, this is not a question about realism or whether halflings and gnomes should be able to wield longbows. This is just a question about the gamist side of things: Are small races punished for flavor reasons without a mechanical offset?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Paraxis

Explorer
Just to make this clear, this is not a question about realism or whether halflings and gnomes should be able to wield longbows. This is just a question about the gamist side of things: Are small races punished for flavor reasons without a mechanical offset?

Simply put YES.

There is no mechanical bonus to being small, like having a +1 to AC or anything.

The DM can use narrativist and simulationist implied bonuses to make up for this but nothing is spelled out in the game.
For example it should be easier for that gnome ranger to find cover and concealment then a medium sized character, a small shrubbery is a good hiding spot for someone 3' tall but not 6' tall.

NEXT has taken a giant leap backwards in gamist design. I don't like that aspect of it, I wish they would worry more about the math and checks and balances like this to make all race/class choices valid but they don't.
 

n00bdragon

First Post
4e just made everyone the same.

Ugh. If you must know 4e had these very same abominable rules. Short races moved 5 squares while most other races moved 6 and elves moved 7. Also short races couldn't use two handed weapons designed for medium-sized creatures (they could use smaller crappier versions of the same though).
 

Lindeloef

First Post
Ugh. If you must know 4e had these very same abominable rules. Short races moved 5 squares while most other races moved 6 and elves moved 7.

I don't have access to my books and such at this moment, but I am pretty sure that at least the Halfling has a speed of 6.
 

ccooke

Adventurer
Simply put YES.

There is no mechanical bonus to being small, like having a +1 to AC or anything.

The DM can use narrativist and simulationist implied bonuses to make up for this but nothing is spelled out in the game.
For example it should be easier for that gnome ranger to find cover and concealment then a medium sized character, a small shrubbery is a good hiding spot for someone 3' tall but not 6' tall.

NEXT has taken a giant leap backwards in gamist design. I don't like that aspect of it, I wish they would worry more about the math and checks and balances like this to make all race/class choices valid but they don't.

Halflings in 5e, at least, get the ability to move through through the space of any creature larger than they are. One of the subraces can also attempt to hide behind any creature larger.
That's quite a nice thematic benefit.

The gnomes should have something, though.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
3e has size modifiers (the smaller the better) to attack rolls, AC, hide checks...

I don't think 5e needs to go back to that. It's not overly difficult, but it's still another increase of complexity into the game.

I think, if 5e simply had different base AC for different sizes, it would be already OK. Especially since with bounded accuracy it really isn't a good idea to widen the gap on attack rolls also. Maybe smaller races could simply have base AC 9 instead of 10.
 


Paraxis

Explorer
In 4e it also seemed pointless, they didn't stop silly stretches of the imagination so I don't understand why they felt the need to put any restrictions on at all, and just let gnomes use great swords and mauls.

I played a pixie slayer once that used a pike. The size limit on pixies is the same as for halflings/gnomes thanks to the shrink item power, halflings can use pikes so can pixies. The character dumped strength and maxed out dexterity taking melee training feat. This all added up to a six inch tall warrior using a polearm with reach, charging all around the battlefield and hitting things from ten feet away.

I mean if that is allowed in the rules, why bother trying to limit things at all based on size. Just let the halfling barbarian have his executioners axe.

As to how this relates to NEXT, the whole "heavy" weapon thing is just a pointless abstraction, piled on a bunch of other things like AC and Hit Points. Just let the gnome use a longbow.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
3e has size modifiers (the smaller the better) to attack rolls, AC, hide checks..

In addition, 3e had a mechanism for modelling and comparing different racial abilities directly, though Level Adjustment (which was widely seen as broken, though it solved some really thorny design issues with elegance).

I like playing small races -- it's a fun and straightforward otherness that is easily introduced to a character. It was fun to get the attack bonus but be using small weapons. It's also a challenge to play the underdog, and I like that the game allows some races to be clear underdogs. In my view, though, small races should be punished more for being small.

I'm thinking mainly of Strength, which doesn't and shouldn't scale the way it is made to do for "game balance". Even a -2 penalty is insufficient: I'd like to see much more serious penalties (and/or a hard cap on maximum strength allowed) so that a Strength build is effectively precluded from Small races. That may sound harsh, but you know what? Such a limit would not prevent the effectiveness of characters: all classes are still viable, and only a few classes would require specialized builds. (And I'm using "specialized" to suggest something not traditional, as opposed to obscure or ultra gamist or something -- e.g. a dex based fighter.).
 
Last edited:

MJS

First Post
Hi all,

Something that made me think about small races: Today we had a character creation session, and one of my players wanted to play a Gnome ranged fighter. Doing the math and getting ready I was surprised to realize that she got punished for her size twice.

a) being slow, shared with the dwarf
b) ban to use high damage (Heavy) weapons in a meaningful way

So my question I guess: Is there any advantage to offset the two disadvantages form being small? Are their racial abilities supposed to make up for it?

Or is this a relic form older editions? In 3e, you got the AC bonus to offset this a little. 4e just made everyone the same.

Just to make this clear, this is not a question about realism or whether halflings and gnomes should be able to wield longbows. This is just a question about the gamist side of things: Are small races punished for flavor reasons without a mechanical offset?
Gnomes in 1E get:
- infravision
- defense bonus vs. giant class creatures
- special abilities in underground settings
- significant bonus to save vs. magic
- +1 vs. kobolds and goblins

they were also the only ones who could multi to illusionist
there were also odd class/level limits that no one used anyway

Check out a 1E PHB and restore some of their lost abilities, that ought to do the trick ,
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top