D&D 5E The Fate of the Smol

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
It's been awhile since I made a thread on here, as opposed to answering someone else's posts (actually, as near as I can tell, none of my old threads exist anymore- no great loss), so be gentle.

After watching Treantmonk's video about the race changes in Monsters of the Multiverse, something nagged at me. Many races now have a Small-size option. But no benefit is given to those races, since, for the most part, Small is a disadvantage. One can argue a Small character can find cover or a hiding spot more easily, and squeeze into narrower places (or use smaller creatures as mounts), but these seem pretty situational with regards to being forced to use smaller weapons without Disadvantage.

I know this debate is old hat, and some people don't see a problem with it. That's not what this thread is for, really.

What I'm curious about is, since WotC seems to think Small and Medium sizes area about equal, does this mean that A), they value the above benefits higher than I do? I played a Halfling Fighter until 13th level in AL and I honestly never found it to be anything other than an hindrance. Or B), they are planning to give Small races an actual advantage in material going forwards (such as the 2024 PHB)?

I'm curious to hear the communities thoughts, and if you feel there will be a change, what form do you suppose that will take?

I don't think weapon damage will be changed- some have argued that Small races do more damage than their size would indicate already (using Enlarge/Reduce as evidence). Also, no Small races have a Strength penalty (at least, not anymore...) so it's obvious that, pound for pound, Halflings way stronger than Humans.

Do you think they will adjust weights for Small equipment? Make Small equipment cheaper to buy?

I also highly doubt we'll see a return to the +1 to hit/+1 to AC of 3e, since those benefits would be worth way more to certain characters than doing 2d6 with a greatsword. I don't expect any kind of numerical advantage, if anything changes at all. But I do expect something, if for no other reason than how ability score bonuses have been reworked so any Race can be a member of any Class with equal competence- it's hard to quantify "Hey, you can have a +2 Strength Fairy" with "Small Races take a hit to weapon damage, so don't do that if this affects you in any way!"
 

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CreamCloud0

Adventurer
I think small races should have some sort of bonus to light weapons, in contrast to the disadvantage they have with heavy(?) weapons, I’d suggest some sort of advantage on stealth checks but that seems a little too much of a generalisation that wouldn’t necessarily be true for all small races
 


Stormonu

Legend
WotC seems to be on a trend of removing any sort of disadvantage, from alignment restrictions, size differences, negative ability modifiers and the like. All of it seems to stem from a believe that restrictions do nothing but restrict play, rather than make an attempt at simulation or cost/benefit. Everything is becoming “have your cake and eat it too.”

It is not a sentiment I agree on.
 

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
so it's obvious that, pound for pound, Halflings way stronger than Humans.

Do you think they will adjust weights for Small equipment? Make Small equipment cheaper to buy?
I think they will do absolutely nothing, no matter how much it might detract from verisimilitude, even if a 20 Strength, 40-pound halfling can dead-lift 300 pounds over his head, comparable to me, if our proportions were extended to my size, doing a dead-lift of 1500 pounds over my head.

It's a shame, though, on size meaning something. The AD&D halfling companion book introduced us to mythology, bedtime stories, and lore that unified halfling cultures with pride for being smaller than most races. Their stories are replete with examples of how being smaller saved the day and how being bigger was a hindrance. It might feel even more special if that means something, but beyond what they've already got, I just don't see it.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
You're probably right that not much will happen, but it just struck me as odd to give Small-size options to a bunch of races, as if they felt size had no functional difference.
 

Hussar

Legend
i would say that that's why you get small size as an option to a bunch of races - it has no functional difference. The difference is purely cosmetic. Which, frankly, is probably as good a reason as any. As soon as you start with the advantages/disadvantages route to size, it becomes largely a optimizers thing. Play a small race for this bonus and because of the way you're making your character, the disadvantages are so minimized as to be trivial.

Now, you play a halfling barbarian and it's mechanically identical to a goliath barbarian. Any differences are purely the choice of the player. You want your halfling to be weaker? Go for it. Nothing stopping you. Don't put your highest stat in strength and don't put any bonuses there either. Poof, weaker halfling.

The biggest problem I see is that people want to control how other people make their characters. The fact that the player, and not the game or the DM is forcing them to play their character in a way that appeals to the game designers or the DM is somehow a bad thing.
 




Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Small characters can move through spaces of Large creatures. That's a benefit that is weighed against the two handed and versatile weapon issues.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Possibility that 3.5 did that. I know in 3.0/3.5 small races got an AC bonus against Larger creatures and what not IIRC.
Yeah, Small in 3e was +1 AC, +1 attack, +4 Hide

Then 3.5 came in with Small weapon sizes, which required you to step your dice down by a dice type or suffer s -4 The Designers Want to Punish You For Doing This penalty EVERYTHNG in 3e had because 3.5 was about ruining everything in 3e (alchemy, spontaneous metamagic, buffing dwarves) for no reason.

But did 2e penalize you for being small?
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
It did. You could only use a weapon of your size in one hand, and a weapon larger than your size in two hands. So, for example, a Human (Size M) can wield a longsword (size M) in one hand, and a greatsword (size L) in two. By the same token, a Halfling (Size S) can wield a short sword (size S) in one hand, and a longsword (size M) in two.
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
For the most part, yes. 2e Halflings had some advantages that didn't involve Thievery, but it was what they were best at. For example, they had a bonus on magic saves based on their Constitution score (a trait shared, with some variations, with Dwarves and Gnomes). But 2e was a time of great niche protection, so most races were good at one or two things, and that was that. Not all races could be all classes, and not all classes could be multiclassed (though later books started to open up options in some interesting ways- Planescape's Aasimars could be Ranger/Mages, and the Complete Bard's Handbook allowed some Bard kits to multiclass, despite the fact that Kits were originally intended for single-classed characters, and Bards were not normally a multiclass option). In 2e, you generally played a race because you liked it- some were better than others, but optimization mostly took a back seat to "this is a cool idea".
 

It is indeed really unfortunate who size matters less and less. I love small species, but I dislike how the game mechanics do not really recognise the difference properly. It is definitely my biggest disbelief suspensor stressor in the species homogenisation that's going on.
 

The biggest problem I see is that people want to control how other people make their characters. The fact that the player, and not the game or the DM is forcing them to play their character in a way that appeals to the game designers or the DM is somehow a bad thing.
Then why have races and classes at all? Why you want limit my desire to play a winged halfling or plate-wearing monk? Why not just have some freeform character building system that lets you mix and match mechanics and assign any flavour you like?
 

Hussar

Legend
Then why have races and classes at all? Why you want limit my desire to play a winged halfling or plate-wearing monk? Why not just have some freeform character building system that lets you mix and match mechanics and assign any flavour you like?
Because this is D&D and folks would lose their minds if WotC even hinted at this sort of system?

But, again, I DON'T want to limit your desire to play a winged halfling. That's the point. Why are you insisting that other people MUST play halflings a specific way? If you want your halfling to be weaker, then simply make a weaker halfling. If I want a stronger (or weaker halfling) why do I need WotC's permission to do so?

IOW, play your own character. Stop worrying about how other people play their characters. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from making a 1e traditional halfling in 5e. All you have to do is cap strength at about 14, and never use the dash action. Poof, instant 1e halfling.

But, apparently that's not good enough for people. It's not good enough that you can CHOOSE to play that. Apparently the only true answer is to force all players to conform to a specific vision that caters to your preferences, and everyone else can go hang.

So, explain to me why I must play a weak halfling if I don't want to. How is it better that I'm forced to conform to your vision of the game?
 

Because this is D&D and folks would lose their minds if WotC even hinted at this sort of system?

But, again, I DON'T want to limit your desire to play a winged halfling. That's the point. Why are you insisting that other people MUST play halflings a specific way? If you want your halfling to be weaker, then simply make a weaker halfling. If I want a stronger (or weaker halfling) why do I need WotC's permission to do so?

IOW, play your own character. Stop worrying about how other people play their characters. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from making a 1e traditional halfling in 5e. All you have to do is cap strength at about 14, and never use the dash action. Poof, instant 1e halfling.

But, apparently that's not good enough for people. It's not good enough that you can CHOOSE to play that. Apparently the only true answer is to force all players to conform to a specific vision that caters to your preferences, and everyone else can go hang.

So, explain to me why I must play a weak halfling if I don't want to. How is it better that I'm forced to conform to your vision of the game?

Because a tabletop RPG is not solo activity. It is not just about your character, it is about the reality they inhabit, and the other characters are part of that. So if I don't want to play in a setting with superhalflings, you playing such affects my experience.

And more fundamentally when we get down to the game design principles, either the splats mean something, define something about the reality, or they have no reason to exist. D&D is splat based game, if I don't want the splats to limit things I will play some other game (and I often have.)
 

Hussar

Legend
Because a tabletop RPG is not solo activity. It is not just about your character, it is about the reality they inhabit, and the other characters are part of that. So if I don't want to play in a setting with superhalflings, you playing such affects my experience.

And more fundamentally when we get down to the game design principles, either the splats mean something, define something about the reality, or they have no reason to exist. D&D is splat based game, if I don't want the splats to limit things I will play some other game (and I often have.)
So, your enjoyment of the hobby requires that everyone at the table follows your preferences? Not only that, but, people who don't even play at your table must follow your preferences too?

You must absolutely hate public games.

We're just not going to agree on this. I do not have any sympathy really for people whose enjoyment of the game requires them to force others to play in a particular way. I fully endorse the design principle that leaves it up to the table to sort this kind of thing out. You want halflings to be realistic (or at least believable to you, whatever that line actually is)? Fair enough. Find a group of like minded players and have at it. Knock yourself out.

Me? I refuse to force my preferences onto other groups, particularly groups I will never actually meet. If someone wants fifteen foot tall halfings? Fantastic. Someone wants to have halflings with hairy feet? Sure, that hasn't existed in D&D for over twenty years, but, cool, go for it. Someone wants halflings to be limited to 6th level fighters? Totally great.

But, when someone wants to tell me how I should play my character? When you're not even present at my table? Yeah, not happening.
 

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