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D&D 5E (Tasha's) Decoupling racial abilities--cautionary tale

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
There is speculation if the decoupling section of TCoE might go to something like a point system, where you racial abilities are decoupled, and you can mix or match which features you want. Maybe something like if you want darkvision it's 2 points, or resistance to charm for 1 point, etc.

On the surface that seems like a really great way to customize your PC, but there's a cautionary tale here.

AD&D 2e Player's Options. When that came out, it basically did that for races and classes. And was received poorly by the community as a whole, largely because it created min/max nightmares.

I'm not saying TCoE will do that, but I hope they saw what happened with PO and paid attention to lessons learned.
 

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They've distanced themselves from the PO style by repeatedly saying the new system will be "straightforward" and "simple". Which nothing involving points-valuing races and their abilities could ever be suggested to be.

So I think you can forget "points" or any kind, or anything related to them right now. Anyone speculating on a points system is really not processing what "straightforward" means when you're discussing a book aimed at millions or tens of millions of people, most of them not serious nerds/optimizers.

More likely it'll be something more direct - like each race will have certain stuff that's fixed, and certain stuff that can be swapped out for other stuff on a limited list.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
There is speculation if the decoupling section of TCoE might go to something like a point system, where you racial abilities are decoupled, and you can mix or match which features you want. Maybe something like if you want darkvision it's 2 points, or resistance to charm for 1 point, etc.

On the surface that seems like a really great way to customize your PC, but there's a cautionary tale here.

AD&D 2e Player's Options. When that came out, it basically did that for races and classes. And was received poorly by the community as a whole, largely because it created min/max nightmares.

I'm not saying TCoE will do that, but I hope they saw what happened with PO and paid attention to lessons learned.
True, but then again, game balance was not as strived for back then as it has been in the last decade or so. So I'd like to think the designers will be a bit more rigorous in making sure things don't get out of hand.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
There is no doubt how min-maxers are going to exploit a point-based system, but they are already the same players who pick a race only for the ability score bonus.

IMHO it is enough that the ability score bonus is capped at +2 (so no spending twice the points to get a +4 anywhere), then point-based or fixed benefits per race is not going to make a major difference.

I am not sure it will be a point-based system anyway, it might be a pool-based system instead i.e. "pick one of these options, then pick one of these other options".
 

ardoughter

Hero
Supporter
I am expecting something along the lines of here is a list of traits pick so many for each race, or choices from balanced lists. Like High Elf chose one of Elven Weapon prof or Elven magic (2 extra cantrips) or something like that.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I'm still not convinced that this is a change for the better. I've said it before, but having a dwarf having different mechanical bonuses than a human is anti-racist. Humans in D&D are all the same - in other words, discrimination between humans based on "race" is bogus (not to mention deeply wrong).

If there were real races on earth (as opposed to our socially constructed ones) - they would be actually different - like elves and goblin and dwarves are.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Prediction time!

1) Races will not have any innate bonuses, all races will have +1 to 2 stats of their choice.

2) Each Race will have its features divided into some kind of fixed/major/minor category. Fixed is stuff that's essential to the race, like a Loxodon trunk, or Lizardman scales, or Changeling Shapeshift, or Warforged Constructed Resilience.

3) Major and Minor features will be swappable between races. Extra +1s to various stats will be major or minor features.

4) This section of the book will be pretty big, like 20-25 pages.
 
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Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Prediction time!

1) Races will not have any innate bonuses, all races will have +1 to 2 stats of their choice.

2) Each Race will have its features divided into some kind of fixed/major/minor category. Fixed is stuff that's essential to the race, like a Loxodon trunk, or Lizardman scales, or Changeling Shapeshift, or Warforged Constructed Resilience.

3) Major and Minor features will be swappable between races. Extra +1s to various stats will be major or minor features.
4) This section of the book will be pretty big, like 20-25 pages.

That's pretty much how I see it as well. Also, I wonder if they are eliminating the racial requirements for certain feats.

Imagine a world, if you will, where any race you choose could have savage attacks, elven accuracy feat, and reckless attacks ;)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
What they’ve described so far is a system for customizing racial benefits, and a “fill-in-the-blanks” system for creating a unique origin from scratch. Neither of those sound like a point system to me, which would frankly feel out of place in 5e anyway. Rather, I expect there will be a list of traits you can swap out your racial traits for. A bit like the variant Tieflings and variant half-elves from SCAG. I expect the “fill in the blanks” system will be a simple step-by-step process, with a number of options to choose from at each step, e.g. pick your vision: 60 ft. Darkvision, 120 ft. Darkvision and sunlight sensitivity, or no Darkvision one of the following features (list like 3-5 ribbons).
 

Dausuul

Legend
They've distanced themselves from the PO style by repeatedly saying the new system will be "straightforward" and "simple". Which nothing involving points-valuing races and their abilities could ever be suggested to be.
Agreed. I expect it'll be something like, "Here are a bunch of Lineage traits. Pick three. Add +2 to one stat and +1 to another stat. All done. Pick a class, grab your ten-foot pole, and head for the dungeon."

There will still be plenty of room for munchkinry--munchkinry is the Jell-O of role-playing games, there's always room--but I can't imagine them trying to do a full-fledged point system here.
 




amethal

Adventurer
I'm not saying TCoE will do that, but I hope they saw what happened with PO and paid attention to lessons learned.
PO had no interest in balance. Hopefully WotC does, so they have no need to learn that lesson.

I seem to remember designing a Githyanki character which gained extra points (to spend on combat abilities) due to being unable to lie. I was only a teenager at the time, but even then I knew that was not acceptable for a character that was actually going to be played (rather than a thought experiment).
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester
It doesn't matter whether it's points or pools.

The point is that WotC already designs lineages and classes and subclasses by looking at like vs like features for balance. Spells, feats, ability score modifiers, and proficiencies are basic benchmarks that can be weighed against one another, while ribbons are essentially tax-free.

They're giving us some sort of build-a-bear lineage system, and that means that the features have weight, they're not just equally replaceable. You can hide the weights by pooling types of abilities together, but if you're saying "If you choose Darkvision, you don't get x bonus feature" then it's point buy, just with a friendly face on it.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
PO had no interest in balance. Hopefully WotC does, so they have no need to learn that lesson.

I seem to remember designing a Githyanki character which gained extra points (to spend on combat abilities) due to being unable to lie. I was only a teenager at the time, but even then I knew that was not acceptable for a character that was actually going to be played (rather than a thought experiment).

I had a paladin of Ilmatr who couldn't wear armor, but got d12 for hit points and spells earlier. My theme was that he always felt like he had to suffer pain in the place of others (hence the no armor), but had the ability to withstand the pain (the increased hit die and earlier cure spells)
 

I hope everything isn't up for grabs when designing a lineage, but more along the lines of "culture" vs "ancestry", where cultural features are swappable/blank-fillable, but ancestry isn't. Similar to a couple of supplements on the DMs Guild.

I mean, only dragonborn should have dragon breath weapons. But a High Elf might not learn any elven weapons, or skip learning a cantrip, or not even learn Elvish, in favor of some other cultural features from another lineage. But they'd always have Darkvision and Fey Ancestry, as they're physically (or magically) inherent traits.

While Attribute Increases could fall under either, I'm almost certain they're just going to open that up to adding +2, +1 where you like. Which is fine. I think it opens up a lot of interesting choices, as players will no longer have to worry about selecting a "sub-optimal" race/class combination. They can play the character they envision without feeling they've shorted themselves somehow.
 

I am not really fond of customizing your race. I like packages that give defined abilities so you have something to rely on. Elves are just built lighter than humans and more dextrous. You can already use every race for every class.

On the other hand, I really liked that in the playtest DnDnext there was an iteration where classes gave +1 to their main stat. So I would not mind if being an elf would only come with +1 dexterity.
I could also live with elven weappn training not being an inherent ability because it is more cultural than a biological thing.

So my hope will be that every race only gains one single defining ability and cultural things can be swapped.
A dwarf might be resistant to poison by nature while the gnome may retain magical immunity. An elf will have perception and sleep immunity by default etc. Elven weapon training and such can be swapped for something else.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
It doesn't matter whether it's points or pools.

The point is that WotC already designs lineages and classes and subclasses by looking at like vs like features for balance. Spells, feats, ability score modifiers, and proficiencies are basic benchmarks that can be weighed against one another, while ribbons are essentially tax-free.

They're giving us some sort of build-a-bear lineage system, and that means that the features have weight, they're not just equally replaceable. You can hide the weights by pooling types of abilities together, but if you're saying "If you choose Darkvision, you don't get x bonus feature" then it's point buy, just with a friendly face on it.

that was my first thought as well. But it’s really not as open ended as point buy. Not being able to trade multiple minor abilities for 1 major ability or vice versa helps reign in some of the min/max.
 

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