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. https://dnd.wizards.com/articles/unearthed-arcana/gothic-lineages Perhaps the bigger news is this declaration on how race is to be handled in future D&D books as it joins...

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.

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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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Hurin70

Adventurer
Bro I’m a socialist progressive who wears “see a Nazi, punch a Nazi” shirts because I’m not blind to the threat of neo-fascist white supremacist movements in the US, and I’d rather my metaphorical bar close for good than ever for a single day become a Nazi bar.

So, in short, no. It’s not just resistance to political correctness. I have vanishingly little respect or patience for anti-PC mentalities.
Similarly, I'm a Liberal (there is actually a Liberal party in Canada) who even votes NDP (far left) if that's the only viable option to Conservative. In the USA I'd be called a progressive liberal (or insane socialist if you watch Fox News).

It's really not about that.
 

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Why are people so concerned about how WOTC does it? Don't you all know about DM EMPOWERMENT?!? You're free to to do whatever you want with race! Isn't that the whole point of 5E?
 

Hurin70

Adventurer
Wait...what does that mean? What's all the "legwork to re-impose ASIs"? Why not just put the ASIs in places that feel appropriately "realistic" to you?
You have to do it for every race and variant-- how many are there now for 5e? You also have to try to balance them now, both against each other and against whatever will be used to balance races now (feats it looks like). And tournament/Adventurer's league play will not follow those rules either. So that's actually a lot harder than would be the case if they just left them in.

If Wizards left in racial ASIs, by contrast, all you'd have to do is ignore them in order to play as you want.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Nice try. Please keep going? ;)
Look through those feats and tell me if most of them don't help one class more than another. I can think of four off the top of my head, but all the rest lean one way or another.
And you know that is my point. Only so many knobs. So many dials. And some of those help rogues, others help wizards, and others help fighters.

Don't get me wrong, it would be cool for it to work. I just don't see it.

And here is the problem with any rebuttal I keep coming up with while playing devil's advocate: if suddenly those that lean one way can be thought of as beneficial to an opposite class, well then, you just proved that there is strong merit to not always picking the best ASI.

Oh, I don't disagree about the feats. They are (mostly) designed to benefit certain character types, to allow players to focus their characters in specific ways. That's their purpose. So pointing out that feats aren't uniformly beneficial across classes isn't news.

I'm talking about racial abilities, not feats.

So, sure, I'll keep going:

Fey Ancestry
Keen Senses
Trance
Darkvision
Menacing
Lucky
Brave
Halfling Nimbleness
Cantrip
Gnome Cunning
Hellish Resistance
Infernal Legacy
Stonecunning
Dwarven Toughness
Breath Weapon
Damage Resistance (Dragonborn)

Sure, you and I can both come up with places where these aren't universally useful (e.g., a Paladin doesn't need a halfling's Brave ability). But in most cases the delta between highest and lowest utility is much, much smaller...and, perhaps more importantly, much hard to quantify...than the delta between, say, a Wizard getting +1 on Strength checks and saving throws and some increased jumping/carrying limits, and a Fighter getting those benefits plus a double-digit percentage increase to all his damage.
 
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G

Guest 6801328

Guest
You have to do it for every race and variant-- how many are there now for 5e? You also have to try to balance them now, both against each other and against whatever will be used to balance races now (feats it looks like). And tournament/Adventurer's league play will not follow those rules either. So that's actually a lot harder than would be the case if they just left them in.

If Wizards left in racial ASIs, by contrast, all you'd have to do is ignore them in order to play as you want.

I really don't understand. if the argument is that these races have distinctive features (e.g., a Goliath's strength) and that the absence of ASIs fails to reinforce those archetypes, doesn't that mean that the archetypes are obvious? How hard can it be to think, "Orcs. Strong. I guess I'll put my +2 ASI into Strength."

And if a race is sufficiently vague that you don't know what those associations are, then it simply doesn't matter.

What I'm hearing is, on the one hand, "These aspects of the races are so vital to their description that it doesn't make sense to not have an ASI" and, on the other hand, "I would have to research what the race is supposed to be like in order to know which ASI made the most sense."

What am I missing here?
 

Hurin70

Adventurer
I really don't understand. if the argument is that these races have distinctive features (e.g., a Goliath's strength) and that the absence of ASIs fails to reinforce those archetypes, doesn't that mean that the archetypes are obvious? How hard can it be to think, "Orcs. Strong. I guess I'll put my +2 ASI into Strength."

And if a race is sufficiently vague that you don't know what those associations are, then it simply doesn't matter.

What I'm hearing is, on the one hand, "These aspects of the races are so vital to their description that it doesn't make sense to not have an ASI" and, on the other hand, "I would have to research what the race is supposed to be like in order to know which ASI made the most sense."

What am I missing here?
There are at least 103 races and variants currently in the game. Do you want to create a chart of ASIs (usually two) for 103 races and variants?

And more importantly, do you want to try to balance those, both with the other ASIs and with racial feats?

That's what you're missing.

Can I do it? Sure, probably, but only after hours of work. But if they just leave racial ASI's in and give people the option of ignoring them, then we can both play the way we want and neither of us has to do any work at all.

So the choice is:
--Leave racial ASIs in and everyone can play how they want with no effort.
--Remove racial ASIs and you can play how you want, but I've got hours of work to do before I can play the way I want.
 
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Oh, I don't disagree about the feats. They are (mostly) designed to benefit certain character types, to allow players to focus their characters in specific ways. That's their purpose. So pointing out that feats aren't uniformly beneficial across classes isn't news.

I'm talking about racial abilities, not feats.

So, sure, I'll keep going:

Fey Ancestry
Keen Senses
Trance
Darkvision
Menacing
Lucky
Brave
Halfling Nimbleness
Cantrip
Gnome Cunning
Hellish Resistance
Infernal Legacy
Stonecunning
Dwarven Toughness
Breath Weapon
Damage Resistance (Dragonborn)

Sure, you and I can both come up with places where these aren't universally useful (e.g., a Paladin doesn't need a halfling's Brave ability). But in most cases the delta between highest and lowest utility is much, much smaller...and, perhaps more importantly, much hard to quantify...than the delta between, say, a Wizard getting +1 on Strength checks and saving throws and some increased jumping/carrying limits, and a Fighter getting those benefits plus a double-digit percentage increase to all his damage.
And like I said in my next post, make sure they indicate race and an attribute. That is the argument here. Everyone for the racial ASI wants it to stay because they find their is no way to accurately reflect the race's strength or intelligence without ASI. The floating ASI keeps saying it can be done. No problem. Here is what I said:
This is all cool. The idea is great. So let's do an example. Can you please give me one example of strength for half-orc, goliath, dwarf, dragonborn and bugbear. They should represent the race, I think we all agree on this. And represent strength.
This is where I keep running into the roadblocks built inside my head. I see where some of these can be applied. And it makes me happy. But I cannot see where others are applied. And more importantly, I can only see then turning so many dials, twisting so many knobs, until all they do is make one race a better barbarian or better wizard than another. And then the entire thing starts all over again.

Can they obfuscate it on a more clever level? Sure. But that should not be the point. To hide the best condition from 3/4 of the players versus 1/3 the players. The point should be to make one better at combat, but make another better at other intangibles, and then make another better at being more well rounded, and then make another at being better at something no one even imagined.

That is the pillar (game) of character creation, floating ASIs, from my viewpoint right now (because I lack examples of the things requested above), are one of the only ways to accomplish this. (I hope it isn't. But until there is evidence of feats that shows an attribute and race that suddenly doesn't favor one class or another, it is hard for me to see.)

Now, if we wanted to just do open feats, open skills, etc, it could work. But, in my vision, then you lose quite a bit of what D&D is - a class/race based game.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
This is all cool. The idea is great. So let's do an example. Can you please give me one example of strength for half-orc, goliath, dwarf, dragonborn and bugbear. They should represent the race, I think we all agree on this. And represent strength.

Ok, coming back to this.

I'll point out the obvious: that each of those races currently gets +2 to strength, which doesn't differentiate between those races at all. So in theory a single non-ASI ability that represents "strength" should be sufficient to cover all of them.

But that's boring. I think it's more fun to come up with different abilities, so that each race actually plays a bit differently. However, I'm not going to worry about pairing them 1:1 with the races.

Note that I'm not trying to make these equally useful or powerful. They might even be ribbons. If we assume that these are in addition to floating ASIs then they don't have to be a fair replacement for the +2 ASI, nor do they have to be equivalent. The goal is merely to express "Strength" in mechanics.

Ok, ideas (my personal favorites are in bold)
  • Increased encumbrance cap and/or decreased penalty for going over the cap
  • Throw Rock ability
  • Increased jumping distance
  • Resistance to being knocked down and/or moved against your will
  • Bonus when using Strength to Intimidate
  • Advantage when making a Strength check to break a grapple or other restraint.
  • When making a Strength check to move or lift an inanimate object, you may add +5 to the roll. You may do this as many times as your proficiency bonus, and you regain all uses on a long rest.
  • If you move 15' or more in a straight line before using the Shove action, you have advantage on the contested check. If successful you can choose to either move the target 10', or move it 5' and knock it prone. (Not ideal because it's clearly better for characters who already have high Str.)
  • Proficiency in Strength saving throws, if you don't have it already. (Not ideal because it's useless for classes that already do have that proficiency.

The last two make me think that you could choose from a list upon character creation, to get the one that fits your class best.
 

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