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D&D 5E TCOE: Is reskinning your origin allowed by RAW?

Does origin customization RAW let you reskin existing races (keeping stats the same)?

  • Yes, unless your DM says otherwise, you can do this by RAW.

  • Yes, but only for races of the same size, uness your DM says otherwise.

  • No, this is a form of homebrew, house rule, or DM ruling, not RAW.


Results are only viewable after voting.
Exactly what it says on the tin. Do the customizable origin rules allow players to choose the aesthetic appearance and cultural details of their character, completely independent of the mechanics involved? (Possible exception for different sizes, since I recognize that's more difficult to square.)

So, for example, if someone wanted to play an elf mechanically, but look like a tiefling aesthetically, do the rules as written in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything support such a thing? Or perhaps looking like a dragonborn, but having the statistics of a half-orc or half-elf or something.

Again, just to be completely clear, I am asking if the rules-as-written specifically permit a situation like "I'm playing an earth genasi mechanically, but thematically my character is a dwarf." Obviously, if your DM is on board, you can do whatever the heck you like, and if your DM vetoes it, the point is moot. I'm just curious what people think about this, since the rules text seems open to either answer.
 

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Larnievc

Explorer
I wouldn’t have a problem with it. It’s just a name change. Pretty much what was going on with Carrot from disk world. He was a dwarf.
 


6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Strictly RAW, "customizing your origin" allows you to:

Float your ASIs
Choose what languages you know (racial language is not required, nor is common)
Swap Proficiencies
*Personality (technically, you always had complete freedom of personality--it is your PC after all)

All the other racial traits (e.g. Fey Ancestry for Elf, Lucky for Halfling) remain. With TCoE, those racial traits (along with age, etc.) are now what really is defining a race. So, no, you cannot look like a dragonborn, but be an half-orc or half-elf.

Cosmetically, I suppose a short, stout human might be mistaken for a dwarf, etc. but that is just cosmetic, and "looking" like a dragonborn while being an half-orc would require quite a story to justify why you look so different from the norm of your race (half-orc).

As a DM, to this extent I am "ok" with it (I don't like it, but I wouldn't prevent a player from using it).

What I will not permit is Custom Lineage--horrible idea.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The rules text doesn't address the question as far as I can see. It covers changing various properties of your chosen race, and provides a simple system for creating a completely custom origin, but says nothing about using the mechanics of one race while playing another.
This.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
I wouldn’t have a problem with it. It’s just a name change. Pretty much what was going on with Carrot from disk world. He was a dwarf.
I have to disagree: he was a human adopted by dwarves.

He won't live as long, have the same Dwarven Resilience, etc. IMO which most table attribute to biology if this concept was brought to D&D.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
If we're talking just customizing how your character looks while maintaining your identity as a specific race... you can do whatever the heck you want.

You can invent being "cursed" in your background to now look like a different race if you want. You can have a mixed-race ancestor that has produced you looking like one race while having the stats of another. Heck... I believe in Hoard of the Dragon Queen there is a background Bond that new PCs can select that says you are actually a dragon that has been stuck in humanoid form:

10. You have a secret. You once were a gold dragon who served Bahamut. You were too proud and vain, to the point that Bahamut decided to teach you a lesson. You have been trapped in a weak, humanoid body, with your memories of your former life but a dim shadow. You remember only one thing with perfect clarity: Bahamut’s command to go into the world and prove your devotion to the cause of good. If you prove worthy, on your death you will return to his side in your true form.

I mean if the game itself allows you to basically state for your character you are really a dragon... you can pretty much say whatever you want about yourself. So long as the mechanics are run as-is.
 

Larnievc

Explorer
I have to disagree: he was a human adopted by dwarves.

He won't live as long, have the same Dwarven Resilience, etc. IMO which most table attribute to biology if this concept was brought to D&D.
Yeah but you would not unbalance the game if you had dwarf stats for Carrot is the point I meant to make. The only real difference is that he would be a really tall character with dwarf stats.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Yeah but you would not unbalance the game if you had dwarf stats for Carrot is the point I meant to make. The only real difference is that he would be a really tall character with dwarf stats.
So, just make a really tall dwarf then. 🤷‍♂️

No, it wouldn't unbalance the game, but then you might as well throw races out the window and just let players pick from a list of traits and let them make whatever they want. That's fine if you want to do that, but frankly I don't and wouldn't play in a group that does--we just wouldn't work.
 

Ace

Adventurer
The rules text doesn't address the question as far as I can see. It covers changing various properties of your chosen race, and provides a simple system for creating a completely custom origin, but says nothing about using the mechanics of one race while playing another.
Exactly. This is the right way to do this IMO as it allows cool and unique mixes that make games fun for player and GM alike, this from a DM who usually runs human only games BTW. Besides appearance has nothing to do with mechanical game balance at all. All that matters about looks is that it is OK in the game world, as long as that is met, who cares?
 



D. There is no such thing as RAW.
So...exactly what are these books filled with? They sure look like rules, that have been written down...

I mean, for goodness' sake, I included in BOTH of the "yes" answers a "unless your DM says otherwise." What more could you bloody want, man? A heartfelt speech about how central and important and all-powerful the DM is?
 


The variant rules in Tasha's say NOTHING about changing the appearance (height, weight, lifespan etc) of your character.

The only way to get a free choice of your character's cosmetics is to use the Custom Lineage optional rule, which would require permission from your DM.
 

Yeah but you would not unbalance the game if you had dwarf stats for Carrot is the point I meant to make. The only real difference is that he would be a really tall character with dwarf stats.
If I was doing Carrot I would make him a variant human with a custom feat that gave him Dwarven Combat Training, Tool Proficiency, Stonecutting and Language.
 

NaturalZero

Adventurer
As long as you're not trying to use custom origin for a free feat, then saying you're really an elf and talking Elven Accuracy, you're fine. Any reflavoring is cool up until you're trying to get only the good stuff from column A and B.
 


what exactly does "Reskinning your origin" look like, can you give an example or two?
An example stolen from a post on a different forum, long ago (or at least what I can remember of it):
"I really like the ideas behind the genasi race, but the story that makes most sense for my character is a member of dwarf nobility. Would it be okay for me to play a dwarf 'princess' of sorts, someone with special earth powers? I'm fine with only getting genasi-specific options, which we'll have to talk about to make sure things continue to make sense going forward. So, height, weight, overall appearance, all dwarf, but for everything that really matters in rules terms, an earth genasi."

For an example not using any official race for aesthetics but using an official one's mechanics:
"Man, I've just rediscovered how much I loved GW2. Could I play a gnome artificer, but look and sound like an asura from that game? They're pretty similar culturally, and both are small. It'll just be a lot easier to find artwork that looks like what I'm imagining."

Or perhaps:
"I was hoping to play a Lizardfolk monk, but I really like the stuff you've done with the Imperial culture and the dragonborn in it. Could my character be seen as a sort of 'feral' or 'jungle' variant of dragonborn, one that doesn't get a breath weapon but develops in other ways?"

Any situation where a particular aesthetic is desired, but the mechanics are consistently taken from a thing that doesn't have those aesthetics. As noted, I allow for the notion that "creature size" is something that exists on both an important-to-the-mechanics level and an important-to-the-aesthetics level, so I could totally see a DM arguing that reskinning cannot change a creature's size. So you could play a gnome with halfling stats or a goblin with kobold stats or whatever, but you couldn't play a goblin with loxodon stats or an elf with gnome stats.

Edit: My examples were chosen to illustrate that the reason for this switch could be mostly roleplay-oriented (the asura), mostly mechanics-oriented (lizardfolk), or somewhere in-between (the dwarf princess). And I 100% grant and agree with the "don't do this to grub for benefits" kind of thing. Any player using this as a pretense for squeezing the maximum mechanical benefit out of stuff is acting in bad faith.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
It is ideas like these for character concepts wherein I wonder why 'Rules As Written' even ever comes up or matters in the slightest.

If a DM doesn't go along with any of these concepts, it'd be because just don't think the refluff fits the game they are running, not that the rules "don't allow for it".
 

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