D&D 5E The Fate of the Smol

Horwath

Hero
Well, being small should be a global disadvantage with some circumstantial benefits.

Unfortunately, circumstantial seems at 1st glance worse than codified global mechanics.

Not being able to use Heavy weapons, speed lower by 5ft(we should keep that) and include carry capacity reduction to 10lb per STR point for small characters.

Now for advantages: armor is half the weight as is most size appropriate gear, you have an option to have size smaller mount, cover bonus of +2 for medium character might count as +5 for small character, more places to hide, stealth might gain advantage or negate disadvantage(depending on the area, but again this is DM based rule), not having attack/AC penalties in smaller confined spaces,
 

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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.
If you use any published rules, you're letting "someone to tell you how to play the game." The books are literally filled with things that say what you can and cannot do in the game. These are called rules. And publishing a game requires having some design principles. I am merely iterating what I feel are good design principles for a game like D&D. And ultimately if you don't want anyone to tell you what to do, you got to write your own game. And I have done that in the past. It just is a lot of work, and these days I have no time nor energy for such, so I merely hope that publishers keep producing games I like.
 


If you use any published rules, you're letting "someone to tell you how to play the game." The books are literally filled with things that say what you can and cannot do in the game. These are called rules. And publishing a game requires having some design principles. I am merely iterating what I feel are good design principles for a game like D&D. And ultimately if you don't want anyone to tell you what to do, you got to write your own game. And I have done that in the past. It just is a lot of work, and these days I have no time nor energy for such, so I merely hope that publishers keep producing games I like.
You're not wrong, but...
A huge chunk of the modern 5e audience has no personal attachment to a number of these limitations. They didn't start with TSR-era A/D&D where halflings kept up did some sneaking and sniping and people made jokes about how if the spit hit the spam they didn't have to outrun the monsters, just the halfling. They didn't start in the 3e era where you chose human or half-orc for barbarian and halfling for rogue or maybe wizard (and of course played whichever specially made elf subrace got you the bonus in the class prime requisite). Instead they started in an era with a Mos Eisley cantina of creature options (with a lot more non-IRL-human skin tones) and a number of cultural influences (Warhammer, Warcraft, hundreds of manga I haven't read, etc.) that suggest that maybe minotaurs should be good wizards or orcs are more druidic than barbarian -- and tieflings should be played whenever you want to play one, not when it lines up with a specific class in terms of playability.

Bringing this back to halflings, this means that, while actual rules for being a different size are perfectly reasonable, one that shuts down an entire form of play (big-hitter warrior) probably are going to be a thing of the past. The trick would be (and to be clear I'm not saying they way WotC looks like it will be trending is the right implementation of this) to give size S actual benefits and hindrances, but not cut off entire race-class combinations from realistically being played.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
And ultimately if you don't want anyone to tell you what to do, you got to write your own game. And I have done that in the past. It just is a lot of work, and these days I have no time nor energy for such
If you've already written your own game in the past that gives you what you want, why aren't you playing that instead?
 

Hussar

Legend
If you use any published rules, you're letting "someone to tell you how to play the game." The books are literally filled with things that say what you can and cannot do in the game. These are called rules. And publishing a game requires having some design principles. I am merely iterating what I feel are good design principles for a game like D&D. And ultimately if you don't want anyone to tell you what to do, you got to write your own game. And I have done that in the past. It just is a lot of work, and these days I have no time nor energy for such, so I merely hope that publishers keep producing games I like.
There's a pretty large excluded middle here though. Of course, having classes and whatnot tells you how to play the game. But, we can have extremely limited, restrictive classes like we saw in 1e AD&D, or we can have very broad, wide open classes like we get in other editions. That doesn't make 1e superior, just different.

So, again, we're back to why do you get to force your preferences on other tables? If we were playing together, you could simply ask me, talk to me, try to convince me why your version of halflings would make the game more fun. I could agree or not, as the case may be. But, instead, in the past, the rules let your bludgeon other people with your preferences, and anyone who didn't agree had to pretty much shut up.

I much, much prefer a lighter touch by the game. You want restrictive rules? Fantastic. I do too, sometimes. I would LOVE to see the game support a much lower magic level, for example. But, I also realize that unless I can convince the players of this, it's just not going to happen.

5e is really not the right edition for restrictive rules.
 

You're not wrong, but...
A huge chunk of the modern 5e audience has no personal attachment to a number of these limitations. They didn't start with TSR-era A/D&D where halflings kept up did some sneaking and sniping and people made jokes about how if the spit hit the spam they didn't have to outrun the monsters, just the halfling. They didn't start in the 3e era where you chose human or half-orc for barbarian and halfling for rogue or maybe wizard (and of course played whichever specially made elf subrace got you the bonus in the class prime requisite). Instead they started in an era with a Mos Eisley cantina of creature options (with a lot more non-IRL-human skin tones) and a number of cultural influences (Warhammer, Warcraft, hundreds of manga I haven't read, etc.) that suggest that maybe minotaurs should be good wizards or orcs are more druidic than barbarian -- and tieflings should be played whenever you want to play one, not when it lines up with a specific class in terms of playability.

Bringing this back to halflings, this means that, while actual rules for being a different size are perfectly reasonable, one that shuts down an entire form of play (big-hitter warrior) probably are going to be a thing of the past. The trick would be (and to be clear I'm not saying they way WotC looks like it will be trending is the right implementation of this) to give size S actual benefits and hindrances, but not cut off entire race-class combinations from realistically being played.
I fully get the desire to be able to effectively play any species as any class, I just feel the species should still play differently. And yes, some sort of flaw and benefit for the size would be ideal. Three feet and eight feet tall people playing exactly the same just seems like a total failure of the rules system though.
 
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If you've already written your own game in the past that gives you what you want, why aren't you playing that instead?
Different games are written for different purposes. I don't believe that there can be some 'perfect game' that gives me everything I want for every purpose. And these were simple games, written ages ago for different me for different use. I don't think I'd be satisfied with these systems any longer, and creating a game of the scope and amount of crunch D&D has is a massive endeavour.
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I fully get the desire to be able to effectively play any species as any class, I just feel the species should still play differently. And yeas, some sort of flaw and benefit for the size would be ideal. Three feet and eight feet tall people playing exactly the same just seems like a total failure of the rules system though.
So long as you have a 20-point swing from the d20 and only like a 6-point swing from STR mods ranging from -1 to +5... any kind of rule that affects Strength scores based upon race size is going to be purely for show. You're never going to get any sort of true verisimilitude from those rules.

A STR 8 halfling can still hit DCs of 19 while a STR 20 goliath can still rolls Nat 1s. So there will ALWAYS be places where the 3 foot character outshines the 8 foot character in uses of Strength. Not as often... but still completely possible and likely over time. So for me... the fact that this "verisimilitude-breaking" event can still happen... even with these rules for any STR mins and maxes in place based on size... says that it is completely folly to think any game mechanic is going to solve the problem. It ain't. It never will, so long as the d20 is used as the randomizer in the rules. So I just stop caring about it. It can't be solved with the d20 system, so why get worked up about it if I insist on using the d20 system?

You want a true rule system that almost never has a 3 foot halfling out-strength an 8 foot goliath? Use one whose die roll is a d2 + mod. Then the mod bonus can assure you of the goliath always winning STR contests over the halfling.
 

There's a pretty large excluded middle here though. Of course, having classes and whatnot tells you how to play the game. But, we can have extremely limited, restrictive classes like we saw in 1e AD&D, or we can have very broad, wide open classes like we get in other editions. That doesn't make 1e superior, just different.

So, again, we're back to why do you get to force your preferences on other tables? If we were playing together, you could simply ask me, talk to me, try to convince me why your version of halflings would make the game more fun. I could agree or not, as the case may be. But, instead, in the past, the rules let your bludgeon other people with your preferences, and anyone who didn't agree had to pretty much shut up.

I much, much prefer a lighter touch by the game. You want restrictive rules? Fantastic. I do too, sometimes. I would LOVE to see the game support a much lower magic level, for example. But, I also realize that unless I can convince the players of this, it's just not going to happen.

People can of course agree between themselves on anything. But it doesn't mean the rules shouldn't have some basic structure. Why do rules restrict what classes can take what spells, cannot the players just agree about it amongst themselves?

If the rules for splats fail to offer mechanical representation for those splats, then the splats are not needed. And I certainly have no need to pay someone to tell me 'do whatever'. I can 'do whatever' for free. If I pay for rules for halflings, I want the rules in some way attempt to model them being hella small!

And me expressing my preference for game design that has some structure on a public message board is not forcing anything on you.

5e is really not the right edition for restrictive rules.
D&D is not a right game for non-restrictive rules. If you want freeform character creation, there are a ton of games that do that. No splats for species, no classes, just some sort of point buy to get what you want, with freedom to mix and match things.
 

CreamCloud0

Adventurer
If all races were designed with both options for fixed ASI with negatives but higher positives(say +3, +2, -2) against all positives but lesser floating ASI(+2,+1) i wonder which would get more play?

I don’t mind floating ASI but my preference is fixed due to what they were designed to represent, or at least a note of which ASI bonuses would be ‘default’ for a race
 

I fully get the desire to be able to effectively play any species as any class, I just feel the species should still play differently. And yeas, some sort of flaw and benefit for the size would be ideal. Three feet and eight feet tall people playing exactly the same just seems like a total failure of the rules system though.
Oh, sure, but how I think is the main question. I definitely think that, in play, the 3' tall character should have to jump of find a step stool to reach the high shelves. Other than that, I'm really not sure. I definitely like getting rid of the inherent Str-penalties (if you want a halfling with a lower strength than a half-orc, you build/assign rolls for a halfling with a lower strength than a half-orc), and I think that might carry through to lifting and carrying*. Long weapons, well, as several of the 'online Youtube weapons 'experts*'' have made episodes about, spears and polearms are honestly some of the better weapons for shorter combatants**. Speed is an obvious choice (although, again, if speed were an attribute you assigned build points to, I'd prefer it be a 'if you want your shorter character to cover less ground, you assign them a lower stat, not make it inherent to the race' situation). That one, however, at least historically, has always been a penalty for the party more than anything else. As in, 'sorry guys, you only cover half as much ground today, as you have no horses and one of you chose a dwarf/gnome/halfling.' Thus I can really see why they are getting rid of it. This kinda leaves me grasping at straws for exactly what the right benefits/penalties ought to be. It really might be best if it is super-situational on both sides (ex. penalty reaching high shelves/ladder rungs too far apart offset by being able to crawl into narrower confines and hide in/behind smaller things.
*although I rather did like 3e's 'your armor and rations weigh less, but you carry less' quirk, even if it ended up being mostly extra fiddliness.
**some more qualified than others
***they were talking about shorter men and women, but I think it applies here even more so.
 

Oh, sure, but how I think is the main question. I definitely think that, in play, the 3' tall character should have to jump of find a step stool to reach the high shelves. Other than that, I'm really not sure. I definitely like getting rid of the inherent Str-penalties (if you want a halfling with a lower strength than a half-orc, you build/assign rolls for a halfling with a lower strength than a half-orc), and I think that might carry through to lifting and carrying*. Long weapons, well, as several of the 'online Youtube weapons 'experts*'' have made episodes about, spears and polearms are honestly some of the better weapons for shorter combatants**. Speed is an obvious choice (although, again, if speed were an attribute you assigned build points to, I'd prefer it be a 'if you want your shorter character to cover less ground, you assign them a lower stat, not make it inherent to the race' situation). That one, however, at least historically, has always been a penalty for the party more than anything else. As in, 'sorry guys, you only cover half as much ground today, as you have no horses and one of you chose a dwarf/gnome/halfling.' Thus I can really see why they are getting rid of it. This kinda leaves me grasping at straws for exactly what the right benefits/penalties ought to be. It really might be best if it is super-situational on both sides (ex. penalty reaching high shelves/ladder rungs too far apart offset by being able to crawl into narrower confines and hide in/behind smaller things.
*although I rather did like 3e's 'your armor and rations weigh less, but you carry less' quirk, even if it ended up being mostly extra fiddliness.
**some more qualified than others
***they were talking about shorter men and women, but I think it applies here even more so.
I simply don't agree with "if you feel species X should be better/worse at a thing, just assign the individual character a better/worse number at the thing." Again, splats need to mechanically define things or they have no reason to exist. The game don't just say "Any class can take any spell, if you don't want wizard to be able to cast healing magic, just don't take healing spells for your wizard."

But I agree that representing these things well is hard, especially if you want to keep all species equally viable for all classes. I feel there is a fundamental design flaw with ability scores and how they're tied to classes. Granted, the strength is least of the issue, as you can actually function well without it, even as a melee combatant, except as a barbarian.

As for long weapons being good for short combatants, it is true that to certain degree it is good to compensate the reach. But it simply seems absurd that a halfling would be physically able to wield a great sword twice their size.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
If all races were designed with both options for fixed ASI with negatives but higher positives(say +3, +2, -2) against all positives but lesser floating ASI(+2,+1) i wonder which would get more play?
That really depends on how many DMs wake up and choose violence in terms of whether their players' fun is less important than ~their verisimilitude~.
 

I simply don't agree with "if you feel species X should be better/worse at a thing, just assign the individual character a better/worse number at the thing." Again, splats need to mechanically define things or they have no reason to exist. The game don't just say "Any class can take any spell, if you don't want wizard to be able to cast healing magic, just don't take healing spells for your wizard."
It could be a personal background issue. I started with BX/BECMI where races didn't have stat bonuses or penalties (although they did have speed and polearm issues), and later went to the AD&Ds where halflings pretty much had to find gauntlets of ogre power before they could credibly play fighters. Also had a female gamer that wanted to play a Red Sonja/Wonder Woman type character and ran into the AD&D Str rules and the boys going 'it's just realistic that you can't play a good woman fighter, why don't you play a cleric?' So I'm relatively suspicious of 'it just makes sense' stuff. Regardless, I think that a Strength 20 represents being able to do certain things. If you don't think a halfling should be able to do those things, I think the reasonable solution is to not play a 20 strength halfling, and worldbuilding-wise not have a lot of 20 strength halflings wandering around (but the player who wants to play a 20 strength halfling, and has fullfilled whatever game-price-paid necessary to get it, that's the super-outlier halfling, and I'm not sure they need any special side-penalty for wanting to do so.

As to splats needing to mechanically define things and wizards not casting healing spells, I don't see how they are relevant. Things are allowed to have boundaries. I'm saying I do not see a strength limit (or penalty at character creation) is a boundary that adds to the game. At least not in the new paradigm where most gamers don't want to restrict certain races to certain subsets of playable roles. Class role boundaries are a separate category of boundaries and, for the most part (healing magic in particular seems to be spreading out like spilled oil), is still being considered a primary set of limitations within which an individual character can work (barbarians limited to str-weapons and rogues to dex-ones being good examples).

But I agree that representing these things well is hard, especially if you want to keep all species equally viable for all classes. I feel there is a fundamental design flaw with ability scores and how they're tied to classes. Granted, the strength is least of the issue, as you can actually function well without it, even as a melee combatant, except as a barbarian.
I'm rather vocal about thinking that the game would work better if attributes were mostly separated from primary-class-function and mostly cover things like skills, maybe saves, carrying capacity, extra languages, henchmen rules, etc. The move to 'you really want an 18-20 in your classes' main stat as soon as possible' seems to homogenize characters more than size benefit/penalties ever could.
As for long weapons being good for short combatants, it is true that to certain degree it is good to compensate the reach. But it simply seems absurd that a halfling would be physically able to wield a great sword twice their size.
I agree. It seems absurd to me as well* . But... (I like that word, don't I?) I dipped out of video games around when they made a second nintendo system. However my understanding is that in one of the late-90s Final Fantasy games, there was a protagonist who walked around with an absolutely bonkers!-sized greatsword. He was human, and it was like 12' long. That's about what a halfling with a human greatsword would be like. It's not my fantasy, but I can see the merit to it for someone who grew up with that media (and it certainly seems less absurd to me than 3.5's spiked chain or 5e's one-handed-quarterstaff-and-shield-and-doing-back-end-attacks-with-the-polearm-master-feat).
*personally I miss 3.0's specially-sized weapons for smaller races, but I understand that also was a 'unnecessary fiddly bit' scenario

So again, I do not disagree that small size should have some benefits and penalties, but other than trivial things, everything I come up with seems like grand fiddliness, a penalty for the party over penalty for the player, restricting of race-class combos (which I do think is a reasonable goal, considering the modern games' audience), or the like.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Yeah it's hard to think of something that won't cause problems. Because some classes don't care what size you are. Being a Halfling -might- be a detriment to certain builds of Fighter, or to Barbarians, but you can also build Fighters who don't care much. And a Wizard has no real reason to care about size.

So you have to balance out benefits with the fact that what you give up for being Small, the ability to easily use Heavy weapons, is only a hindrance for some classes, and not others.

Like in 3e, why wouldn't you want to be small as a Wizard? More AC, better ability to Hide, sign me up! Hell, they even got a better attack bonus for their ray spells!

So yeah, I definitely don't want to go back to that kind of paradigm.
 

CreamCloud0

Adventurer
Yeah it's hard to think of something that won't cause problems. Because some classes don't care what size you are. Being a Halfling -might- be a detriment to certain builds of Fighter, or to Barbarians, but you can also build Fighters who don't care much. And a Wizard has no real reason to care about size.

So you have to balance out benefits with the fact that what you give up for being Small, the ability to easily use Heavy weapons, is only a hindrance for some classes, and not others.

Like in 3e, why wouldn't you want to be small as a Wizard? More AC, better ability to Hide, sign me up! Hell, they even got a better attack bonus for their ray spells!

So yeah, I definitely don't want to go back to that kind of paradigm.
Do you think instead of a spell focus if magic users had to use some sort of spellcasting ‘weapon’ that had different attribute specialties, and could come in different sizes like regular weapons it would help? It would probably be way too big of a mechanic addition just to solve the matter of small races imbalance being martial or caster
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Well one of the things I like about 5e is that nothing stops a Wizard from picking up a weapon and using it with skill (other than proficiency). Sadly, they usually have much better things to do with their time.

But yes, going back to the 4e Implement rules would be fun, and when I first read about Arcane Focuses, I thought that's what WotC was going for- then I realized no, other than a few rare magic items, it's just to take up a free hand (or both hands) when casters cast.

Which honestly I think is mostly ignored, at least at tables I've played at. Nobody really talks about their focuses, and I remember the rules for holy symbol implements, while it seems they were intended to be less finicky, still presented problems for Clerics who wanted to wield a one-handed weapon and a shield; a problem I never saw any DM enforce when I played (so I didn't really bother to when I ran 5e, since it really felt the juice wasn't worth the squeeze to do so).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
include carry capacity reduction to 10lb per STR point for small characters.

Now for advantages: armor is half the weight as is most size appropriate gear,
Seems like extra math for the sake of extra math to me. In theory this benefit and this drawback should more or less cancel each other out, so why bother?
 


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