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D&D 5E Unearthed Arcana: Gothic Lineages & New Race/Culture Distinction

The latest Unearthed Arcana contains the Dhampir, Reborn, and Hexblood races. The Dhampir is a half-vampire; the Hexblood is a character which has made a pact with a hag; and the Reborn is somebody brought back to life.

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 5.46.36 PM.png



Perhaps the bigger news is this declaration on how race is to be handled in future D&D books as it joins other games by stating that:

"...the race options in this article and in future D&D books lack the Ability Score Increase trait, the Language trait, the Alignment trait, and any other trait that is purely cultural. Racial traits henceforth reflect only the physical or magical realities of being a player character who’s a member of a particular lineage. Such traits include things like darkvision, a breath weapon (as in the dragonborn), or innate magical ability (as in the forest gnome). Such traits don’t include cultural characteristics, like language or training with a weapon or a tool, and the traits also don’t include an alignment suggestion, since alignment is a choice for each individual, not a characteristic shared by a lineage."
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Are you literally saying that just because two barbarians have one stat in common, then the fact that there's a good chance that all of their other five stats, their archetype, background, choice of weapon, Personality, Ideal, Bond, and Flaw, and personal history, are all entirely different... that's too similar for you? Even when it's extremely unlikely that there will be both a halfling barbarian and a half-orc barbarian in the same party? Even when there are plenty of other races that get a +2 Strength bonus? Even when there are plenty of parties that roll for stats?
Sorry, I don't understand. We are talking about the difference between RACES, not classes. And more specifically, we are talking about the MECHANICAL differences between RACES, not classes. RACIAL MECHANICS - it is what our entire debate is about. How do you make the RACES different from one another?
Archetype, background, weapons, personality, flaw, ideal, bond - have nothing to do with it.
In fact, you are proving my point. There are so few things that separate the races mechanically, that removing ASIs make them, not a little more similar, but a lot more similar.
I'm sorry, but that's got to be the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a while. Seriously, would you disallow having two barbarians of the same race in a single party because they'd be too similar?
I have to ask, why do you keep asking about what I would do at a table I play or DM at? I have made it abundantly clear that, with D&D, I allow pretty much anything. I think it is a mess as far as lore goes, so there is no reason to try and reign it in. I embrace it for what it is - a cluster of fun fantasy. Want to play a group with five barbarians? Sure. Want your barbarians to be a yuan-ti, halfling, human, gnome and orc? Sure, go ahead. Want to use this optional rule WotC published? Sure, go ahead.
That said, it is a disservice to DMs everywhere that have tailored and crafted their worlds to match the PHB to change the rules to a clunky half-thought errata rule that could have just as well stayed optional or never come to fruition and been a table-ruling.
 
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Read that part I bolded and underlined. Actually, don't bother, I'll repost it.

These stat blocks can be used to represent both human and nonhuman NPCs

These statblocks, as written, can be used to represent a human, an elf, a dragonborn, a flumph, ect. That is explicitly stated, it is 100% clear.

Yes, then you can customize and homebrew the statblock to add racial traits and racial attributes (which by the way, why don't you like talking about racial traits? It seems to be ASIs or Racial feats or nothing. Racial Traits are still a thing) but that is not the default. It is not required. It is not the intent.
The reason I posted this is not because a DM can't use the stats to represent both human and nonhuman, it is because they specifically state that you can modify these with racial ASIs. That means that racial ASIs are not only used for PCs. Not used for PCs means they are also generally applied - like to all halflings and all gnomes and all half-orcs.
So the logic follows that when they wrote this, they were using ASIs to be attribute bonuses for the race, not just the PCs. And then, later, they changed their mind.

As for racial traits, I have brought it up a half dozen times. Here is what I think of them:
1. I love them. I wish there were more.
2. I love how they make the races unique - separate from one another.
3. If I have a grudge against them, it is that if you remove ASIs as one way to differentiate the races, then racial feats must bear the bulk of the work. And I have not seen enough neutral diversity in them; most begin to lean class specific. And if they write more, but they are class specific, then we are at an ASI crossroads again.

I have asked for people to create lists of new ones, but inevitably what happens is they become very class specific. That's because there are only so many things on a character sheet that allow mechanics to be altered. That was one of the reasons ASIs were so clutch in differentiating the races (not that the logic behind the ASIs couldn't be shattered with a pebble). They were clutch because one ASI could alter many things: to hit, skill bonuses, HP, and AC. Basically all the rolling in the game.

If you are willing, I am more than open of going down the racial feat path with you. Let's see if we can turn the mechanical knob so to speak using racial feats. Here are a few off the top of my head for a halfing that is relatively neutral is:

Duck!
Your short stature is a boon when fighting medium or large creatures. You may use the Dodge action as a bonus action once per short rest.
Crouching Cover
When you squat your body is so small it makes its own cover. Once per short rest, you may use a free action at the end of your turn to squat and gain Half-Cover from ranged attacks.
Disarming Smile
Your sleight frame puts most people at ease. Once per day, you may use this to gain advantage on any persuasion or deception roll. This same advantage cannot be applied to the same person/creature twice and is negated if the creature has been threatened or harmed.

To me, those epitomize the halflings body and say: "Hey, if you are a halfling, you most likely have this because you are so small." There will always be exceptions to the rule, like Darksun halflings and disarming smile. But, that is why, IMO, you need to start with baselines if you are discussing races. But, even with those, I notice Disarming Smile lends towards the bard class and Crouching Cover lends itself to someone that tries to stay in ranged combat. Hence, neutral racial traits are difficult to make neutral.
 

There's one thing in the PC and NPC discussion of D&D that is never outright said

The Adventurer Death and Retirement Funnel.

Technically, there are PC adventurers with normal state and look like normal members of their race.
The issue is that they are killed, maimed, or retired before they live Tier 1 play. Many don't make it to to Tier 1 play and leave in Tier 0. Most normies don't cut the mustard.

PCs have higher and stranger stat arrays because they are special and this lets them survive and continue.

What 3e, 4e, and 5e, did is just said make the weird special PC at the start instead of having 2-5 dead or retired normal PC come before them.
I took an arrow to the knee. ;)
 

Faolyn

Hero
Yes, the DM can do whatever they want with character races. Was there a point at which I argued otherwise? (Once again, I think you're mixing me up with other folks.)

I'm only speaking to how PC vs. NPC ASIs were treated by default under the core rules of 5E at the beginning, and how it doesn't match what they say about PC and NPC ASIs now. That has no bearing on anyone's home campaign, and never did.
This whole sub-sub-topic started trying to show that PCs and NPCs are treated differently, and that therefore a floating ASI for a PC has no bearing on how their species is treated.
 

I have suggested some times to use the Pathfinder 2 system, optional racial feats and to choose Attribute Score Increase, +A, +B or +A+B-C. This allows more flexibility to avoid typecasting but also to become too homogeneus. Other option are to add variant subraces, for example a orc bloodline what is better for shamans than for fighters, or the blue, a goblin subrace with psionic powers.
 

Faolyn

Hero
Sorry, I don't understand. We are talking about the difference between RACES, not classes. And more specifically, we are talking about the MECHANICAL differences between RACES, not classes. RACIAL MECHANICS - it is what our entire debate is about. How do you make the RACES different from one another?
Archetype, background, weapons, personality, flaw, ideal, bond - have nothing to do with it.
In fact, you are proving my point. There are so few things that separate the races mechanically, that removing ASIs make them, not a little more similar, but a lot more similar.
You are saying that a halfling barbarian with a Strength of 17 is too similar to a half-orc barbarian with a Strength of 17, even though every likely single other aspect of their character sheet is going to be different.

The races, as I've repeatedly said, are already quite different from each other, to the point that if there were no ASIs at all they'd still be entirely different.

One species is Small and has a move of 25 feet, and has Brave, Lucky, Halfling Nimbleness, and one of Stout Resiliance or Naturally Stealthy (or other subrace traits).

The other species is Medium and has a move of 30 feet, and has Darkvision, Menacing, Relentless Endurance, and Savage Attacks.

They also have their lifespan and languages, for a total of ten traits--eleven if you count racial alignment tendencies, which I feel can go die in dragonfire. Other species have a similar total number of traits.

I have to assume that your copy of the PHB only includes the ASIs and nothing else, because you seem to think that where they put their ASI is the only thing that differentiates halflings from half-orcs. Hang on to that book, though. Misprints are sometimes worth a lot.

If you started a game where everyone was a 0th-level farmer, those racial traits would make everyone extremely different. As it is, people aren't starting as 0th-level farmers; they're starting in a class at1st level or higher, which means they also have a ton of other mechanical differences.

And if you legitimately had a group with two members of the same class and who had identical game mechanics and the same archetype and background, you'd still have very different characters because of their racial traits, written backstory, and, hopefully, the way they were roleplayed.

I have to ask, why do you keep asking about what I would do at a table I play or DM at?
Because you keep saying that it's too similar. I can only assume that it's too similar for you, since I can see a world of difference between halflings and half-orcs. I can also see a world of difference between halflings and kobolds, who are also Small humanoids with +2 Dex, and between half-orcs, githyanki, and bugbears, who are all Medium humanoids with +2 Strength.

That said, it is a disservice to DMs everywhere that have tailored and crafted their worlds to match the PHB to change the rules to a clunky half-thought errata rule that could have just as well stayed optional or never come to fruition and been a table-ruling.
I started my current campaign solely because a new person who was temporarily in the area who wanted to learn how to play (in the Before Times, one player's family hosted students for a semester each year and they finally got one who was interested in D&D instead of smiling and backing away slowly when invited to play). Because of this brand-new player--and because none of the current games were really appropriate for new players--I built a setting around only what was in the PH, plus full orcs, minus dragonborn. I'm not going to claim it's the most in-depth world ever, but my players liked it enough to want to continue it even years after the new person moved on (and fortunately, the new person seems to have retained his interest in D&D).

The rule in Tasha's and this UA is not going to throw my game off at all. Nor is it clunky. It's an intuitive change that will allow the players, should they choose to make a new PC, to make whatever character they want, only with a bit more efficiency.
 

Lineage: PHB : DMG
Half-Orc: 2 Str, 1 Con: 2 Str, 1 Con
Dwarf: 2 Con, 2 Str or 1 Wisdom: 2 Str/Wis, 2 Con
Elf: 2 Dex, 1 Int/Wis: 2 Dex, 1 Int/Wis
Halfling: 2 Dex, 1 Con/Cha: 2 Dex, 1 Con/Cha
Dragonborn: 2 Str, 1 Cha: 2 Str, 1 Cha
Gnome: 2 Int, 1 Dex/Con: 2 Int, 2 (!!) Dex/Con
Half-Elf: 2 Cha, 1 Float: 2 Cha, 1 Int/Dex (remind you of any other lineage?)
Tiefling: 2 Cha, 1 Int: 2 Cha, 1 Int

Now you look over that, and you want to tell me there isnt an obvious link? Like say...oh...ASI being tied to the lineage?

Its beyond belief to think otherwise.

Did things get adjusted for some of the other lineages based on later works? Well yes. But Looking at oh I dont know maybe the root example over this whole thread?

Halfings? Dex, and Con/Cha.
Half-Orc? Str, and Con.

Why is this even questioned? Its obvious that there was an absolutely intentional, explicit, tie between ASI at the lineage level. Without question.

Okay, let us accept that they didn't mess up more than two player races out of 8 (not counting Drow and Deep Gnome for a second, which would technically make it 3 out of 10, which is still a 33% accuracy error)

Let's read the rest of the Half-orc, shall we?

Relentless Endurance, Prof Intimidation, Darkvision, language. Note what is missing? No Savage attacks.
Look at Dwarf, they included Dwarven Resilience and Stonecunning, forgot to include Weapon Training and Tool Prof

Not to mention they don't list any of the subrace things, and when they do have a direct subrace with the Drow, not only do they forget the drow's weapon training, but they also forget that Drow are still elves and get trance and perception as a skill. Can't be that they just thought you would refer to elf either, because they did include Fey Ancestry.

Oh, and since when do half-elves get +1 Dex and +1 Int instead of floating scores? Sure, that is very similiar to the high elf, but we can also clearly say that it is not what is in the PHB. Though, hey, it seems they did in an obscure corner of a DM only book give a suggested stat.

Then outside of the PHB:

Deep Gnome is wrong
Aarcrokra is wrong
Goblin is Wrong
Hobgoblin is wrong
Kenku is wrong
Kobold is wrong
Lizardfolk is wrong
Orc is Wrong


So, let me summarize this chart that people keep trying to use to show that all racial traits from PCs are applied to NPC statblocks by default

Out of 25 races on the chart, 7 of them have no printed version (Bullywug, Gnoll, Grimlock, Kuo-Toa, Merfolk, Skeleton, Zombie and Troglodyte.) Out of these 7 we can also say that if there ever is an official printed version, they would be completely different. Because many of them have negatives that would never be applied to PCs (Playing a Bullywug is simply taking negative scores) or have no bonuses, which is innaccurate to even humans.

But that leaves us 18 entries. Out of those 11 of them are not accurate to the ASIs in their published versions. Sure, maybe the designers changed their minds, but since they never released an errata for the DMG covering this, I'm going forward with this being wrong to the true version of the race.

Which leaves us 7 entries that are at least ASI accurate... and two of those don't have the proper racial traits (Drow and Half-Orc)

Meaning, if we ignore the existence of Sub-Races and just allow elf, gnome and halfling to slide, this chart has 5 accurate depictions to the player side of the game.

5/25 = 20% accuracy. And if you include a desire for sub-races within this chart, then they only got two of them right. Tiefling and Dragonborn.

And, sure, you could say that little asterisk means that all of those PHB versions are fine, because you have to go look in the book... but that raises the question of why they bothered to put them in this chart like this in the first place, instead of just saying "go use the PHB". In fact, it kind of indicates that for NPCs, they were expecting to have differences between the two versions.
 

I never said you can't use the default NPC statblock to represent members of nonhuman races. As you quoted from the Monster Manual, it outright says this. But it's also plain that the default NPC statblock doesn't include racial traits; you have to add those yourself. And when 5E launched, racial traits included ASIs.

Again, I doubt they'd do this now. In fact, I take this as a strong indicator that a formal edition upgrade is in the early stages, so they can create a version of 5E (or a 6E) that doesn't have default ASI at its core.

(Though even then, they should still include quick builds for races, just like they do for classes.)

Okay, but then which is it?

Can you depict a race without those Traits? Or do you absolutely need those Traits to depict that race?

Because now we have people arguing it both ways. That of course you can depict them without the Racial traits and ASIs, but that if you take away racial ASIs all of the NPCs are fundamentally changed as a race because those Racial ASIs helped depict them as they adjusted all of those blocks.

But if you didn't need to adjust the blocks, then their depiction hasn't actually changed.

I'm fuzzy on what your objection is at this point, but... the DMG is part of the core rules, and represented Wizards' approach as of 2014. Volo's is not core, but may represent an evolution in their thinking as of 2016 - though it doesn't necessarily indicate that they'd embraced PCs and NPCs being different as far as ASIs, only that they had a rethink about those races' traits.

But you just said you don't need to use the racial traits and ASIs to depict a race.

And this is the circle. People point to the fact that this chart exists, and therefore PC ASIs must be applied to all NPCs of the same race. Then we point out that those ASIs don't match the PC ASIs, and that NPCs are not required to have those traits anyways, it was just a suggestion. Then the other side says that the fact that they don't match doesn't indicate that NPCs and PCs can be different, only that the designers redesigned every single race that had been released from the DMG version.

Which, since they didn't redesign the Monster Manual, again actually leads credence to the fact that NPCs and PCs are treated differently. Because in every metric we can measure, they are different.

And the existence of races that did have partial floating ASIs isn't an argument against recommended defaults for all races. I'll concede that if you have some kind of hyper-adaptable, formless race, then arguing that they literally don't have typical members is fair. (If still unhelpful for casual players.) But suggesting that a race like the lupin or the thri-kreen would never have typical members, such that you couldn't recommend defaults, is a stretch. If Wizards were to make that argument, it would sound like an excuse.

Or just a way to avoid a dozen subraces. I mean, let us not forget "Elf" here.

Elves get +2 Dex, then they could have a +1 to wisdom, intelligence, charisma or Constitution. That is literally any stat except strength, and if the Grugarch had been printed, they would have had +1 strength.

So, what is the typical "elf" in that world? +2 Dex and 1 stat of your choice.

Now take a race like the Kreen where these Tohr-Kreen

1613844816340.png


are the same race as these Thri-Kreen

1613844849182.png


And it gets easy to see how they might say that there is no "typical kreen" since they can vary so vastly.
 


The reason I posted this is not because a DM can't use the stats to represent both human and nonhuman, it is because they specifically state that you can modify these with racial ASIs. That means that racial ASIs are not only used for PCs. Not used for PCs means they are also generally applied - like to all halflings and all gnomes and all half-orcs.
So the logic follows that when they wrote this, they were using ASIs to be attribute bonuses for the race, not just the PCs. And then, later, they changed their mind.

As for racial traits, I have brought it up a half dozen times. Here is what I think of them:
1. I love them. I wish there were more.
2. I love how they make the races unique - separate from one another.
3. If I have a grudge against them, it is that if you remove ASIs as one way to differentiate the races, then racial feats must bear the bulk of the work. And I have not seen enough neutral diversity in them; most begin to lean class specific. And if they write more, but they are class specific, then we are at an ASI crossroads again.

I have asked for people to create lists of new ones, but inevitably what happens is they become very class specific. That's because there are only so many things on a character sheet that allow mechanics to be altered. That was one of the reasons ASIs were so clutch in differentiating the races (not that the logic behind the ASIs couldn't be shattered with a pebble). They were clutch because one ASI could alter many things: to hit, skill bonuses, HP, and AC. Basically all the rolling in the game.

If you are willing, I am more than open of going down the racial feat path with you. Let's see if we can turn the mechanical knob so to speak using racial feats. Here are a few off the top of my head for a halfing that is relatively neutral is:

Duck!
Your short stature is a boon when fighting medium or large creatures. You may use the Dodge action as a bonus action once per short rest.
Crouching Cover
When you squat your body is so small it makes its own cover. Once per short rest, you may use a free action at the end of your turn to squat and gain Half-Cover from ranged attacks.
Disarming Smile
Your sleight frame puts most people at ease. Once per day, you may use this to gain advantage on any persuasion or deception roll. This same advantage cannot be applied to the same person/creature twice and is negated if the creature has been threatened or harmed.

To me, those epitomize the halflings body and say: "Hey, if you are a halfling, you most likely have this because you are so small." There will always be exceptions to the rule, like Darksun halflings and disarming smile. But, that is why, IMO, you need to start with baselines if you are discussing races. But, even with those, I notice Disarming Smile lends towards the bard class and Crouching Cover lends itself to someone that tries to stay in ranged combat. Hence, neutral racial traits are difficult to make neutral.

If you "can" modify them, then you don't have to. Meaning that you do not have to apply PC elf abilities to an Elf to make them an elf. So, how can you sit there and argue that you don't have to apply racial ASIs to an NPC for them to be an NPC of that race, but then also say that you must apply Racial ASIs to every member of the race? You are talking out of both sides of your mouth.

And again, you want to focus on Racial Feats. Why? Literally, you are the only one who keeps trying to have this discussion, and you somehow also feel like taking away ASIs means taking away all racial traits.

What makes a Lightfoot halfling different than a Forest Gnome?

One has Lucky, Brave, Halfling Nimbleness, and Naturally Stealthy. The Other has Gnome Cunning, Natural Illusionist, and Beast Speech.

Those aren't feats. Those aren't ASI. And yet, they do a pretty good job of differentiating between the two races. In fact, they do a better job at differentiating between the races. Here, I'll show you. Just to be fair I'll let you know that I am not using any ASIs from Subraces, this is pure top level. Because, well, if I used subrace ASIs this would be even more ridiculous.


Race A has +2 Strength and +1 Con
Race B has +2 Strength and +1 Con

What races are they?

How about Race C has +2 Dex and Race D has +2 Dex?

Here, this is an uncommon one, how about Race E has +2 Cha and +1 Int, and then Race F has +2 Cha and +1 Int?


Now, let me give you some completely different sets.

Race #1 has Hidden Step and Race #2 has Severed from Dreams.

Race #3 has Long-Limbed while Race #4 has Shifting

Race #5 has Mirthful Leaps while Race #6 has Shapechanger

Notice how much easier it is to tell exactly which races I'm talking about from the numbers, instead of the lettered group? Traits are far far far more useful than ASIs. Heck, even if I pick two completely different sets, you can tell who they are far easier from a single trait that from their ASIs.

+2 Con, +1 Wisdom vs +2 Int +1Cha

or

Call to the Wave vs Breath Weapon
 

So @Chaosmancer I'm not sure I follow.

Do you believe that the intention was, at 5e release, for ASI to be tied to lineage?

I'm talking PHB, DMG, MM, the core 3.

Do you mean all High Elves even NPCs had +2 Dex and +1 Int?

No, I do not believe that was the intent. There are so many points where that falls apart, because they treated NPCs very different than players.

And, even if it were the original intent, the release of Volo's broke that so fundamentally that there isn't even a question any more. Nothing in Volo's monstrous races matches the MM or DMG. And if they had intended for them to match, then I don't think they would have made so many changes.
 


The reason I posted this is not because a DM can't use the stats to represent both human and nonhuman, it is because they specifically state that you can modify these with racial ASIs. That means that racial ASIs are not only used for PCs. Not used for PCs means they are also generally applied - like to all halflings and all gnomes and all half-orcs.
So the logic follows that when they wrote this, they were using ASIs to be attribute bonuses for the race, not just the PCs. And then, later, they changed their mind.

As for racial traits, I have brought it up a half dozen times. Here is what I think of them:
1. I love them. I wish there were more.
2. I love how they make the races unique - separate from one another.
3. If I have a grudge against them, it is that if you remove ASIs as one way to differentiate the races, then racial feats must bear the bulk of the work. And I have not seen enough neutral diversity in them; most begin to lean class specific. And if they write more, but they are class specific, then we are at an ASI crossroads again.

I have asked for people to create lists of new ones, but inevitably what happens is they become very class specific. That's because there are only so many things on a character sheet that allow mechanics to be altered. That was one of the reasons ASIs were so clutch in differentiating the races (not that the logic behind the ASIs couldn't be shattered with a pebble). They were clutch because one ASI could alter many things: to hit, skill bonuses, HP, and AC. Basically all the rolling in the game.

If you are willing, I am more than open of going down the racial feat path with you. Let's see if we can turn the mechanical knob so to speak using racial feats. Here are a few off the top of my head for a halfing that is relatively neutral is:

Duck!
Your short stature is a boon when fighting medium or large creatures. You may use the Dodge action as a bonus action once per short rest.
Crouching Cover
When you squat your body is so small it makes its own cover. Once per short rest, you may use a free action at the end of your turn to squat and gain Half-Cover from ranged attacks.
Disarming Smile
Your sleight frame puts most people at ease. Once per day, you may use this to gain advantage on any persuasion or deception roll. This same advantage cannot be applied to the same person/creature twice and is negated if the creature has been threatened or harmed.

To me, those epitomize the halflings body and say: "Hey, if you are a halfling, you most likely have this because you are so small." There will always be exceptions to the rule, like Darksun halflings and disarming smile. But, that is why, IMO, you need to start with baselines if you are discussing races. But, even with those, I notice Disarming Smile lends towards the bard class and Crouching Cover lends itself to someone that tries to stay in ranged combat. Hence, neutral racial traits are difficult to make neutral.
Can is different from Must.
to be fair, if you build an encounter using the berserker Npc template, adding ASI or not won’t change a lot. Maybe a better strength meaning +1 to hit and damage, some hit points, and then what? your party will steam roll them anyway.
I don’t think any DM have made overnight shift to fix its world to make it follow the Tasha racial rules, and note that those rule are still completly optional.
 

JEB

Adventurer
This whole sub-sub-topic started trying to show that PCs and NPCs are treated differently, and that therefore a floating ASI for a PC has no bearing on how their species is treated.
Which could always have been true for your home campaign, and is what Wizards appears to be asserting as their default philosophy now, but isn't reflected in the core 5E rules... where ASIs are part of the racial traits for NPCs as well as PCs, and the ASIs for PC races in both cases are either identical or very, very similar. In short, they changed their mind.
 

JEB

Adventurer
Okay, but then which is it?

Can you depict a race without those Traits? Or do you absolutely need those Traits to depict that race?

Because now we have people arguing it both ways. That of course you can depict them without the Racial traits and ASIs, but that if you take away racial ASIs all of the NPCs are fundamentally changed as a race because those Racial ASIs helped depict them as they adjusted all of those blocks.

But if you didn't need to adjust the blocks, then their depiction hasn't actually changed.
Yes, you can depict a NPC of a particular race without the default racial traits. But under the core rules, if you wanted a NPC to reflect racial traits, you either applied the PHB traits (Monster Manual) or the traits in the NPC Features table (DMG).

And this is the circle. People point to the fact that this chart exists, and therefore PC ASIs must be applied to all NPCs of the same race. Then we point out that those ASIs don't match the PC ASIs, and that NPCs are not required to have those traits anyways, it was just a suggestion. Then the other side says that the fact that they don't match doesn't indicate that NPCs and PCs can be different, only that the designers redesigned every single race that had been released from the DMG version.
So the fact that the dwarf and gnome NPC Features have a small difference from the PHB version - one that's still broadly consistent with the PHB, we're talking exactly the same second ASI but a difference of +1 - indicates to you that they didn't think, in the core rules, that ASIs were reflective of the character race by default? Then explain why the other PHB races are consistent with the PHB. And explain why the Monster Manual, before that, just said to refer to the PHB traits. Heck, explain why they even pointed you to sources for racial traits, if you were expected to make up whatever you wanted, or use the NPC statblock as is?

The most I can see it meaning is that they did think dwarves and gnomes should get +2 to both stats, but decided to reduce the bonus to +2/+1 for gnomes and hill dwarves in the PHB, presumably to balance them with the other PC races. (Though they thought mountain dwarves should be an exception, for some reason.) That still isn't evidence that they thought there was zero correspondence between PCs and NPCs as far as ASIs, like they claim now; only that when push came to shove, game balance outranked "accuracy". (Something like that logic could have been behind the Volo's changes, as well, though I already granted that they could have been rethinking the idea of ASIs by then.)

EDIT: It also occurs to me that +2 for both stats for dwarves in the NPC Features might have just been a matter of convenience, since otherwise they'd have to separate out the two subraces; easier to just list +2 for both, since it's not a huge difference. Doesn't explain gnomes, admittedly.

Which, since they didn't redesign the Monster Manual, again actually leads credence to the fact that NPCs and PCs are treated differently. Because in every metric we can measure, they are different.
Of course NPCs and PCs are treated differently. That's why they provided NPC statblocks. But they only provide you one way to represent racial traits for NPCs in the Monster Manual, and another that's basically the same (except for having monstrous options) in the DMG. By the core rules, you can either represent racial traits, or not. And ASIs were part of racial traits for both approaches.

Or just a way to avoid a dozen subraces. I mean, let us not forget "Elf" here.

Elves get +2 Dex, then they could have a +1 to wisdom, intelligence, charisma or Constitution. That is literally any stat except strength, and if the Grugarch had been printed, they would have had +1 strength.

So, what is the typical "elf" in that world? +2 Dex and 1 stat of your choice.
That may be true by default for "elf", but not for "high elf" or "wood elf" or "drow", where they also get a recommended ASI at the subrace level. Under the core rules, of course - your campaign can be different.

Now take a race like the Kreen where these Tohr-Kreen



are the same race as these Thri-Kreen



And it gets easy to see how they might say that there is no "typical kreen" since they can vary so vastly.
That would require them to treat kreen subraces differently than they had other subraces up to this point, where subraces also had a recommended ASI. If they use "subraces exist" as an excuse to have floating ASI for the entire species, it would be inconsistent with how they treated every character race prior to this point. But sure, they can certainly do that; I just think it would be disingenuous.
 
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I don’t completely understand that wonder on racial traits.
It makes a mechanical difference a low level, become flavor at mid level, and at high level a half orc wizard, or a gnome barbarian are almost as effective as the optimal race for any build.

It is the same for NPC. You add racial trait for a guard, it makes an interesting difference for a level 1 encounter, if you fight an arch mage you don’t care which race he is. In fact you are more concern to know if the DM alter its spell list, than add a racial trait.
 

JEB

Adventurer
Nothing in Volo's monstrous races matches the MM or DMG.
DMG vs. Volo's:
Goblin: +2 Dex on both
Kenku: +2 Dex on both
Kobold: +2 Dex on both, both also have a Str penalty (-4 in DMG, -2 in Volo's)
Orc: +2 Str, -2 Int on both (Volo's just gives them +1 Con as well)

It is true that the hobgoblin and lizardfolk are completely different, however. (Though the DMG hobgoblin has no adjustments at all, so they might have just been concerned about leaving them at a disadvantage with other PC races. Balance issues over "accuracy", again.)

Nevertheless, I don't think you can say "nothing" matches, there are points of correspondence. And it's still consistent with a rethink on the baseline ASIs, rather than a suggestion ASIs were never meant to be a baseline trait for the species. (But I do grant that a shift to "PCs are special" could be indicated by Volo's as well.)
 

Making retro analysis of monster to evaluate racial trait is like doing some research on old alchemical text in hope to find a hidden treasure.
Race made for players are balanced on the players point of view, to make balanced choice to create player characters. That’s it, and that’s all. Fine if some want to use it for world building base, but that’s not mandatory.
 


Yes, you can depict a NPC of a particular race without the default racial traits. But under the core rules, if you wanted a NPC to reflect racial traits, you either applied the PHB traits (Monster Manual) or the traits in the NPC Features table (DMG).

"If you wanted" is the key phrase though, isn't it? That is what tells us that, well, if you want them to use it, then you can reference those stats. But, since it requires a desire to apply, then it is not the default state of those NPCs.

Yes, if you want to apply racial features, you can, but it is optional.

So the fact that the dwarf and gnome NPC Features have a small difference from the PHB version - one that's still broadly consistent with the PHB, we're talking exactly the same second ASI but a difference of +1 - indicates to you that they didn't think, in the core rules, that ASIs were reflective of the character race by default? Then explain why the other PHB races are consistent with the PHB. And explain why the Monster Manual, before that, just said to refer to the PHB traits. Heck, explain why they even pointed you to sources for racial traits, if you were expected to make up whatever you wanted, or use the NPC statblock as is?

The most I can see it meaning is that they did think dwarves and gnomes should get +2 to both stats, but decided to reduce the bonus to +2/+1 for gnomes and hill dwarves in the PHB, presumably to balance them with the other PC races. (Though they thought mountain dwarves should be an exception, for some reason.) That still isn't evidence that they thought there was zero correspondence between PCs and NPCs as far as ASIs, like they claim now; only that when push came to shove, game balance outranked "accuracy". (Something like that logic could have been behind the Volo's changes, as well, though I already granted that they could have been rethinking the idea of ASIs by then.)

EDIT: It also occurs to me that +2 for both stats for dwarves in the NPC Features might have just been a matter of convenience, since otherwise they'd have to separate out the two subraces; easier to just list +2 for both, since it's not a huge difference. Doesn't explain gnomes, admittedly.

I never said "zero correspondence"

But, let's start with the back end. If Volo's was when they "changed their mind" because nothing in the Volo's matches the DMG. Then that was back in 2016. So, five years ago. So, no matter what we want to say about anything else, do we agree that 5 years ago represents a change in the game?

And, no I'm not saying that the DMG chart alone shows that NPCs don't use the ASIs. But add in the MM showing us that we don't need to change them, the DMG no longer being accurate to pretty much anything. It really starts showing that the NPCs are treated differently.

Of course NPCs and PCs are treated differently. That's why they provided NPC statblocks. But they only provide you one way to represent racial traits for NPCs in the Monster Manual, and another that's basically the same (except for having monstrous options) in the DMG. By the core rules, you can either represent racial traits, or not. And ASIs were part of racial traits for both approaches.

Yes, but "If you want to do this, here is how" is vastly different than "Every NPC of this race must have these traits."

That may be true by default for "elf", but not for "high elf" or "wood elf" or "drow", where they also get a recommended ASI at the subrace level. Under the core rules, of course - your campaign can be different.

Yes, I know there are for high elf, wood elf, Drow, Eladrin, Shadar-Kai and Eladrin. That wasn't the point. You seem to think being a "true race" is going to lead to obvious ASI's, but if we didn't have all of these elf subraces, then "elf" would have floating ASIs.

So, yeah, note that they rarely if ever give subraces and if a race is as versatile as Elves, then it becomes a case of either making six subraces, or having a floating ASI. And since they rarely make subraces....

That would require them to treat kreen subraces differently than they had other subraces up to this point, where subraces also had a recommended ASI. If they use "subraces exist" as an excuse to have floating ASI for the entire species, it would be inconsistent with how they treated every character race prior to this point. But sure, they can certainly do that; I just think it would be disingenuous.

Disingenuous really?

There are no Subraces for:

Dragonborn
Half-Elf
Half-Orc
Leonin
Satyr
Aarckrokra
Goliath
Bugbear
Goblin
Hobgoblin
Firbolg
Kenku
Kobold
Lizardfolk
Orc
Tabaxi
Triton
Yuan-Ti
Tortle
Changeling
Kalashatar
Warforged
Centaur
Loxodon
Simic Hybrid
Minotaur
Vedalken

And, in past editions, there were subraces for these types of creatures. So, would it really be disingenuous to treat them without a subrace, when the majority of races in the game don't have subraces?
 

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