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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.

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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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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Chaosmancer

Legend
When you get time, would you mind explaining this a little more? Thanks.

As I understand what he is saying, a small race (gnome, halfling, kobold, goblin, Dhampir, ect) would have their strength cap lowered to 18. So a Barbarian halfling would have their strength limited to 18 as a max, but at 20th level, they get a +4 that breaks the cap, so they would have a 22.
 

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Scribe

Hero
When you get time, would you mind explaining this a little more? Thanks.

As I understand what he is saying, a small race (gnome, halfling, kobold, goblin, Dhampir, ect) would have their strength cap lowered to 18. So a Barbarian halfling would have their strength limited to 18 as a max, but at 20th level, they get a +4 that breaks the cap, so they would have a 22.

Correct! The rest of the system breaks down as follows (PHB only, except for Tiefling...because of my issues with Tiefling.)

New ASI Distribution Rules - ASI cannot be increased by more than 2 in any single Attribute at Creation. Standard Array.
Primary Attribute - The Attribute that a lineage can increase beyond 20 through ASI or Feats to a max of 22.
Small (Rule Update) - Str cannot be increased via ASI or Feats beyond 18.
Alignment - No Default.
Language - Cultural Updates.

Dragonborn​

ASI: +1 Str, +1 Cha
Primary Attribute: Str

Dwarf​

ASI: +1 Str (Mountain), +1 Con, +1 Wis (Hill)
Primary Attribute: Con

Elf​

ASI: +1 Dex, +1 Cha (Drow), +1 Wis (Wood), +1 Int (High)
Primary Attribute: Dex

Gnome​

ASI: +1 Int, +1 Dex (Forest), +1 Con (Rock)
Primary Attribute: Int
Small (Hard to Hit Additional Text): +1 AC when being attacked by any creature larger than you.

Half-Elf​

ASI: +1 Dex, +1 Cha (Drow) +1 Wis (Wood), +1 Int (High)
Primary Attribute: Cha
Special Rule (Human Adaptation): +1 ASI in any Attribute

Half-Orc​

ASI: +1 Str, +1 Con
Primary Attribute: Str

Halfling​

ASI: +1 Dex, +1 Cha (Lightfoot), +1 Con (Stout)
Primary Attribute: Dex
Small (Hard to Hit Additional Text): +1 AC when being attacked by any creature larger than you.

Human​

ASI: +1 in any 2 Attributes.
Primary Attribute: NONE (You are a human!)
Skilled: You Gain Proficiency in any one skill.
Feat: You gain one Feat of your choice.

Tiefling (Note: Additional Options as I personally refuse to accept the 4e Tiefling)​

ASI: +1 Cha, +1 Int (Asmodeus/Infernal), +1 Dex (Feral), +1 Con (Abyssal)
Primary Attribute: Cha OR Dex

ABYSSAL REF: http://media.wizards.com/2015/downloads/dnd/07_UA_That_Old_Black_Magic.pdf

Additional ASI Granted Via​

Background Selection Details Here! (There is nothing here.)
Class Selection Details Here! (There is nothing here.)

Example:​

I select my Lineage as Tiefling.
I choose to use the Feral (aka Original) Variant, and select +1 Dex, and my Primary Attribute is also Dex.
I choose my Background, of which most provide +1 ASI of either 2 or up to 3 options in alignment with what that Background does. Lets say this one gives me +1 Cha (Criminal Background: Deception (Cha) or Stealth (Dex)).
I choose my Class: Rogue which gives me an additional +1 Dex, +1 Con, or +1 Cha, I select Dex.

So my ASI is +2 Dex, +1 Cha, because of my Lineage, Background, and Class choices.

Not perfect, but it works for me so far. @Mind of tempest is that what you are meaning?
 
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JEB

Hero
They offered you a way to take the only existing racial traits in the game and apply them to the NPCs.
Yes, that is correct. They didn't say in 2014, elf NPCs don't have the traits that elf PCs do, that elves in the PHB represent an archetype that doesn't reflect the race. They tell you how to create elf PCs in the PHB, using those traits... and in the MM and DMG, to make an elf NPC that reflects its race (rather than a generic NPC of "any race"), you also apply those same traits. At the beginning, there was no difference between PCs and NPCs in terms of racial traits.

In terms of design, you can't design something two different ways from the ground up, that simply doesn't work.

Now, they might offer a quick build side bar, but that isn't designing the lineage "the old way" that is offering build advice. It terms of design, there is a new way, and that is what is being supported. And any argument for not following the new design paradigm because some people don't like it ignores the fact that there are people who do like the new paradigm.
Whatever way of looking at it makes you happy, I guess. I really don't care, as long as they provide some defaults along with the floating.

What are you talking about? You apply the racial traits, just like you always did.
That's what you'd think, right? You would just apply the racial traits provided for the PC race to the NPC.

But their argument now is that the racial traits for PCs only apply to PCs, and don't reflect the race. So if I were to apply the PC racial traits to a NPC, wouldn't I now be giving that NPC traits that they're not supposed to have?
 
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Chaosmancer

Legend
Yes, that is correct. They didn't say in 2014, elf NPCs don't have the traits that elf PCs do, that elves in the PHB represent an archetype that doesn't reflect the race. They tell you how to create elf PCs in the PHB, using those traits... and in the MM and DMG, to make an elf NPC that reflects its race (rather than a generic NPC of "any race"), you also apply those same traits. At the beginning, there was no difference between PCs and NPCs in terms of racial traits.

They said "hey, if you want these generic statblocks to feel more elfy you can apply the traits you apply to your elf PC". That was it. There were no elves in the MM. Except for drow, and we can easily find discrepancies with the Drow.

1) The Elite Warrior and the Priestess have Levitate as part of their innate casting, something Drow in the PHB can't do.

2) The rules in the DMG for adding racial traits to NPCs say that adding innate spells with level requirements instead use their CR as a level. Drow are CR 1/4, so they are only level 1. Meaning they should get Dancing Lights only, yet they also have Faerie Fire and Darkness

These are minor differences, I get that, but considering the major differences just two years later, I think this shows that rather than a design principle of "there is no difference between NPC and PC members of the same race" this hints that the design you are talking about was more one of convenience.

That's what you'd think, right? You would just apply the racial traits provided for the PC race to the NPC.

But their argument now is that the racial traits for PCs only apply to PCs, and don't reflect the race. So if I were to apply the PC racial traits to a NPC, wouldn't I now be giving that NPC traits that they're not supposed to have?

Of course they aren't supposed to have them, if they were supposed to have them, they would have had them from the start and you wouldn't have to add them.

You are approaching this in a very formulaic and rigid way, trying to figure out the exact definition of what every NPC is capable of and to what degree. And that approach is clearly not what the designers have taken with this. Differences abound and more are easy to make if you want them.

Personally? I like that elves are immune to sleep magic and resistant to charm, that has led to a good origin story for them. It is innate to all my elves. The weapon training? Useful, but it is definetly a cultural thing and I'm not sold on every elf having it. Many do, but not everyone. And Tasha's allowing floating ASIs has let me officially clear a big hurdle I was homebrewing anyways, because I was dividing the elves based on their societal roles (High Elves as sages and mages, Wood Elves as Soldiers and Rangers, Dark Elves as Beast Tamers and Clerics) which is made much easier by not having to fight with ASIs that don't make sense.

And if I'm making an NPC and want them to have abilities? I really don't need WoTC to tell me precisely which abilities are allowed in which measures, because my NPC is likely either so generic I don't care, or so specific that I'd change it anyways.
 

Correct! The rest of the system breaks down as follows (PHB only, except for Tiefling...because of my issues with Tiefling.)

New ASI Distribution Rules - ASI cannot be increased by more than 2 in any single Attribute at Creation. Standard Array.
Primary Attribute - The Attribute that a lineage can increase beyond 20 through ASI or Feats to a max of 22.
Small (Rule Update) - Str cannot be increased via ASI or Feats beyond 18.
Alignment - No Default.
Language - Cultural Updates.

Dragonborn​

ASI: +1 Str, +1 Cha
Primary Attribute: Str

Dwarf​

ASI: +1 Str (Mountain), +1 Con, +1 Wis (Hill)
Primary Attribute: Con

Elf​

ASI: +1 Dex, +1 Cha (Drow), +1 Wis (Wood), +1 Int (High)
Primary Attribute: Dex

Gnome​

ASI: +1 Int, +1 Dex (Forest), +1 Con (Rock)
Primary Attribute: Int
Small (Hard to Hit Additional Text): +1 AC when being attacked by any creature larger than you.

Half-Elf​

ASI: +1 Dex, +1 Cha (Drow) +1 Wis (Wood), +1 Int (High)
Primary Attribute: Cha
Special Rule (Human Adaptation): +1 ASI in any Attribute

Half-Orc​

ASI: +1 Str, +1 Con
Primary Attribute: Str

Halfling​

ASI: +1 Dex, +1 Cha (Lightfoot), +1 Con (Stout)
Primary Attribute: Dex
Small (Hard to Hit Additional Text): +1 AC when being attacked by any creature larger than you.

Human​

ASI: +1 in any 2 Attributes.
Primary Attribute: NONE (You are a human!)
Skilled: You Gain Proficiency in any one skill.
Feat: You gain one Feat of your choice.

Tiefling (Note: Additional Options as I personally refuse to accept the 4e Tiefling)​

ASI: +1 Cha, +1 Int (Asmodeus/Infernal), +1 Dex (Feral), +1 Con (Abyssal)
Primary Attribute: Cha OR Dex

ABYSSAL REF: http://media.wizards.com/2015/downloads/dnd/07_UA_That_Old_Black_Magic.pdf

Additional ASI Granted Via​

Background Selection Details Here! (There is nothing here.)
Class Selection Details Here! (There is nothing here.)

Example:​

I select my Lineage as Tiefling.
I choose to use the Feral (aka Original) Variant, and select +1 Dex, and my Primary Attribute is also Dex.
I choose my Background, of which most provide +1 ASI of either 2 or up to 3 options in alignment with what that Background does. Lets say this one gives me +1 Cha (Criminal Background: Deception (Cha) or Stealth (Dex)).
I choose my Class: Rogue which gives me an additional +1 Dex, +1 Con, or +1 Cha, I select Dex.

So my ASI is +2 Dex, +1 Cha, because of my Lineage, Background, and Class choices.

Not perfect, but it works for me so far. @Mind of tempest is that what you are meaning?
This is exactly what I was looking for in an answer. Thank you.
I get it now. Very cool. Seems like a fun system to play around in. I particularly like the hard to hit feature. I assume you have read it, but if you haven't, PF2 does a cool thing with attribute bonuses that is similar.
And also, thanks for clarifying. I thought every race was going to have, for lack of a better word, tertiary attribute, like the halfling and gnome's strength; one that could not rise above 18.
 

Scribe

Hero
This is exactly what I was looking for in an answer. Thank you.
I get it now. Very cool. Seems like a fun system to play around in. I particularly like the hard to hit feature. I assume you have read it, but if you haven't, PF2 does a cool thing with attribute bonuses that is similar.
And also, thanks for clarifying. I thought every race was going to have, for lack of a better word, tertiary attribute, like the halfling and gnome's strength; one that could not rise above 18.
I wasn't sure if it would be needed. Simple enough to add, but the issue is if it's worth the blow back when someone says 'why can't my X be smart' so I would keep it to physical attributes.
 

I wasn't sure if it would be needed. Simple enough to add, but the issue is if it's worth the blow back when someone says 'why can't my X be smart' so I would keep it to physical attributes.
I think you did it well enough to not get blowback. It's masked at the end, and not right up front. That is the benefit, I guess, of having one stat that has a higher cap.
 

Scribe

Hero
That's what I was thinking, if we are looking to keep lineages as distinct from each other as possible we need dials and levers.

Having one taking effect later on in the campaign is fine to me.

I like the concept of additional rules as well, but I would likely just lean harder into lineage specific feats.
 

JEB

Hero
They said "hey, if you want these generic statblocks to feel more elfy you can apply the traits you apply to your elf PC". That was it. There were no elves in the MM. Except for drow, and we can easily find discrepancies with the Drow.

1) The Elite Warrior and the Priestess have Levitate as part of their innate casting, something Drow in the PHB can't do.

2) The rules in the DMG for adding racial traits to NPCs say that adding innate spells with level requirements instead use their CR as a level. Drow are CR 1/4, so they are only level 1. Meaning they should get Dancing Lights only, yet they also have Faerie Fire and Darkness

These are minor differences, I get that, but considering the major differences just two years later, I think this shows that rather than a design principle of "there is no difference between NPC and PC members of the same race" this hints that the design you are talking about was more one of convenience.
Except the MM drow do match PHB drow in every other way (or at least every other way we can actually see clearly demonstrated in a NPC stat block).

As to your specific points:
1) Having extra abilities above the baseline doesn't mean there wasn't an expected baseline.

2) So this is weird. I completely thought that was how CR worked for all NPCs as well, but it doesn't actually say that for the drow in my copy, only for dragonborn and tiefling. I don't see that fixed in errata either.

But let's suppose that is the case (because it makes sense). CR 1/4 is supposed to be functionally equivalent to a level 1 PC, but so are CR 1/2 and CR 1; the whole "CR = level" mechanic is for design convenience and shouldn't be taken as more than a guideline. (In fact, it breaks down quickly if you do; a CR 2 creature is much more powerful than a level 2 character.) Besides, a CR 1/4 creature can have abilities of a higher class level, if that's balanced out by not having other things a level 1 PC has. (The MM drow don't have PC class features, for example.) In fact, when reverse-engineering monsters per the DMG guidelines, it often seems to be the case that CR X is more like "CR X+5 in offense and CR X-5 in defense".

Which is a long way to say, the CR thing doesn't really refute every other indicator about PC vs. NPC racial traits at the beginning of 5E, which is that they were intended to be treated the same.

(Incidentally, I really wish at some point they'd given us an official PC level-to-CR equivalency. You can reverse-engineer it from NPC statblocks or encounter-building budgets, and many have done this, but it would make monster design that much easier if they had.)

Of course they aren't supposed to have them, if they were supposed to have them, they would have had them from the start and you wouldn't have to add them.

You are approaching this in a very formulaic and rigid way, trying to figure out the exact definition of what every NPC is capable of and to what degree. And that approach is clearly not what the designers have taken with this. Differences abound and more are easy to make if you want them.

Personally? I like that elves are immune to sleep magic and resistant to charm, that has led to a good origin story for them. It is innate to all my elves. The weapon training? Useful, but it is definetly a cultural thing and I'm not sold on every elf having it. Many do, but not everyone. And Tasha's allowing floating ASIs has let me officially clear a big hurdle I was homebrewing anyways, because I was dividing the elves based on their societal roles (High Elves as sages and mages, Wood Elves as Soldiers and Rangers, Dark Elves as Beast Tamers and Clerics) which is made much easier by not having to fight with ASIs that don't make sense.

And if I'm making an NPC and want them to have abilities? I really don't need WoTC to tell me precisely which abilities are allowed in which measures, because my NPC is likely either so generic I don't care, or so specific that I'd change it anyways.
Of course a DM can do whatever they want when designing a NPC or a species. They're not bound by Wizards of the Coast's expectations.

But if you were abiding by Wizards' 2014 guidelines - to add PC racial traits to a NPC to reflect the PC race - they've now created a contradiction. You're supposed to give NPCs traits that, per the 2020 guidance, they may not actually have. Officially, you don't know that all changelings can change appearance - that might only be something PCs have.

You can, of course, ignore the 2020 proclamation and stick with 2014's approach, but per Wizards, you're now doing it wrong. Alternatively, you can abide by said proclamation; but unless they also provided other official NPC builds for that character race at some point (i.e. tabaxi, goliath, grung, etc.), which you can modify to create your own NPCs, officially you have to venture into homebrew territory.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Except the MM drow do match PHB drow in every other way (or at least every other way we can actually see clearly demonstrated in a NPC stat block).

"The statblocks are 90% the same, that means they have zero differences, so you can't claim they are different"

That is what you are trying to sell me on. My point isn't that they are so wildly different that they are unreconizable, but that in the MM there was only one racial option that was presented as a monster that was also in the PHB, and it still doesn't match up 1 to 1. So to claim that the design clearly intends for them to match up 1 to 1, when the only example of that in practice did not match up... seems like stretching.

As to your specific points:
1) Having extra abilities above the baseline doesn't mean there wasn't an expected baseline.

Exceeding a baseline means that you do not match 1 to 1 with the presented options. This is like saying that a Dwarf who is immune to poison damage is identical to a dwarf who is resistant to poison damage, because both meet the same lowest common baseline.

2) So this is weird. I completely thought that was how CR worked for all NPCs as well, but it doesn't actually say that for the drow in my copy, only for dragonborn and tiefling. I don't see that fixed in errata either.

But let's suppose that is the case (because it makes sense). CR 1/4 is supposed to be functionally equivalent to a level 1 PC, but so are CR 1/2 and CR 1; the whole "CR = level" mechanic is for design convenience and shouldn't be taken as more than a guideline. (In fact, it breaks down quickly if you do; a CR 2 creature is much more powerful than a level 2 character.) Besides, a CR 1/4 creature can have abilities of a higher class level, if that's balanced out by not having other things a level 1 PC has. (The MM drow don't have PC class features, for example.) In fact, when reverse-engineering monsters per the DMG guidelines, it often seems to be the case that CR X is more like "CR X+5 in offense and CR X-5 in defense".

Which is a long way to say, the CR thing doesn't really refute every other indicator about PC vs. NPC racial traits at the beginning of 5E, which is that they were intended to be treated the same.

(Incidentally, I really wish at some point they'd given us an official PC level-to-CR equivalency. You can reverse-engineer it from NPC statblocks or encounter-building budgets, and many have done this, but it would make monster design that much easier if they had.)

The power of CR vs Level is about as relevant as the usage of Fate Points. It has nothing to do with the discussion. Saying that giving them more abilities is fine because they don't have 1st level PC abilities has nothing to do with your claim, or my claim, and is simply a distraction.

The DMG says they get the innate spellcasting feature. That gives them Dancing Lights at level 1, Faerie Fire at level 3, and Darkness at level 5. We can infer from the Tiefling that we should use CR to judge if they get those spells.

The Drow in the book is CR 1/4. In no world would that be equal to a 5th level character. And yet, they get Darkness. So, the NPC is using different rules than the PC. You can argue that it is 90% the same, but since my argument is only that it is different, you would need to prove that it is identical, not mostly the same, to prove my point incorrect.

PC and NPC abilities seem to have always been treated different except when the option was given to use the PHB abilities in homebrew.



Of course a DM can do whatever they want when designing a NPC or a species. They're not bound by Wizards of the Coast's expectations.

But if you were abiding by Wizards' 2014 guidelines - to add PC racial traits to a NPC to reflect the PC race - they've now created a contradiction. You're supposed to give NPCs traits that, per the 2020 guidance, they may not actually have. Officially, you don't know that all changelings can change appearance - that might only be something PCs have.

You can, of course, ignore the 2020 proclamation and stick with 2014's approach, but per Wizards, you're now doing it wrong. Alternatively, you can abide by said proclamation; but unless they also provided other official NPC builds for that character race at some point (i.e. tabaxi, goliath, grung, etc.), which you can modify to create your own NPCs, officially you have to venture into homebrew territory.

Sure, you can keep hand-wringing over how now you don't know if by homebrewing the statblocks you are "doing it wrong". Nothing I can say can change the fact that you want to find a paradox here that cannot be resolved, "If I add player abilities am I doing the wrong thing or the right thing" go ahead and worry over that.

Me? I note that they didn't change the rules at all. That I've been able to add entire classes and feats to monsters... pretty much whenever I want. Do only PC changelings have Shapechange? Maybe. I guess I have to decide that. I decide that they do. Conflict solved and I can move on with making an NPC shapechanger.

Of course, since you need an official answer from an official source, then I can tell you that the Changeling Enemy Statblock in Eberron:Rising from the Last War does have Shapechange. Well, it has Change Appearance, which is almost the same. Oh, and instead of two proficient skills the Changeling got five proficient skills. And it got the Unsettling Visage ability that Changeling PCs no longer get.

So, shapechanger yes, more skills and an ability that PCs don't have access to, that is how you make an NPC changeling. I also glanced at the shifter and kalashtar, and surprise surprise, they were also just slightly different. The shifter was especially amusing since it's shifting feature was unlike any shifter in the book.
 

Yes, that is correct. They didn't say in 2014, elf NPCs don't have the traits that elf PCs do, that elves in the PHB represent an archetype that doesn't reflect the race. They tell you how to create elf PCs in the PHB, using those traits... and in the MM and DMG, to make an elf NPC that reflects its race (rather than a generic NPC of "any race"), you also apply those same traits. At the beginning, there was no difference between PCs and NPCs in terms of racial traits.


Whatever way of looking at it makes you happy, I guess. I really don't care, as long as they provide some defaults along with the floating.


That's what you'd think, right? You would just apply the racial traits provided for the PC race to the NPC.

But their argument now is that the racial traits for PCs only apply to PCs, and don't reflect the race. So if I were to apply the PC racial traits to a NPC, wouldn't I now be giving that NPC traits that they're not supposed to have?

I'm not sure what the foundation here is. Are you accusing WotC of hypocrisy? Of reneging? How do you know they aren't just saying, "Hey we don't like how this is working out, so we're throwing it out going forward." Regardless of your opinion on these specific race rules... why couldn't a designer do that?

We're beyond 3e at this point. We've kind of established that forcing PCs and NPCs use identical rules is more of a crutch and a PITA than anything. In 3e it gave us mechanics that were super time consuming for the DM. Now they're saying that the PC race stats are too narrow to represent the cultures, ancestries, heritages, or whatever that players or DMs apparently want to explore or portray. It feels like an extension of a lesson we have already learned. Using the same rules for PCs and NPCs feels like it's convenient and expedient, not like something that should restrict what you do. NPCs get different class-like abilities, right? Why is it so bad if they get different race abilities? And if it is bad, why do DMs get to play with Giants or Manticores or Mind Flayers? I guess I just don't understand.

It just feels like you're shouting, "They promised things wouldn't change!" and all I can think is, "They did? Whatever would they want to do that for?" The rules need to reflect the game that people want to play, so they should tend towards being reactive to those demands, not restrictive.
 



JEB

Hero
I compared the DMG racial traits to the PHB races again, and saw that there are indeed traits missing from the NPC Features in the DMG. Half-orcs, for example, get Savage Attacks in the PHB, but it's not listed under the half-orc NPC features.

So you're right, @Chaosmancer . PC and NPC traits were not identical as of the DMG. Some traits appear to be PC exclusive.

Also, Wizards of the Coast didn't say in 2020 that all racial traits were different between PCs and NPCs. A review of the DMG, and stat blocks for members of PC races throughout 5E's lifespan, also clearly show that many traits are common to the species as a whole. So you can reasonably assume that the most iconic racial features are shared by the vast majority of members of the species. (It would be nice if they indicated which ones were actually supposed to be PC exclusive, though.)

One of the racial traits shared between PCs and NPC versions of species, at the beginning of 5E, were the race's ASIs. Whether you look at the DMG or the PHB, ASIs are the same for both PCs and NPCs on every core playable race, with only two minor deviations (NPC gnomes and hill dwarves get a +2 on the same stat where the PC version gets a +1; but those ability scores are still intended to be higher by default).

Wizards of the Coast said in 2020, however, that PC race ASIs did not apply to anyone but PCs. Not NPCs of that race, only PCs. If that was always the case, then why did the same ASIs apply to both in 2014? Is this a coincidence, that in this rare instance NPCs just happen to have similar ASIs to their PC counterparts? Or does it mean Wizards of the Coast changed their mind between 2014 and 2020? The answer seems clear to me.

(This also has the interesting implication that at the beginning of 5E, the designers actually felt that ASIs were among the most iconic traits for a race as a whole, since they deviated little if at all between PHB and DMG.)
 

JEB

Hero
I'm not sure what the foundation here is. Are you accusing WotC of hypocrisy? Of reneging? How do you know they aren't just saying, "Hey we don't like how this is working out, so we're throwing it out going forward." Regardless of your opinion on these specific race rules... why couldn't a designer do that?
Wizards is totally allowed to change their mind. But what I'm pointing to is that they never said they did, even though what they said about ASIs in 2020 doesn't match up with the original design in 2014.
 


Horwath

Hero
My ideal version would be no ability boosts from race/species/linage at character creation.

Increase point buy pool and modify ability rolls. 3×4d6D1, 3×5d6D2

But if you insist on ability boosts, have all characters have 4 boosts.

two +1 ability boost from species out of 3 possible options. Call this genetic traits.

one +1 boost from 3 options for your background, cultural trait

one +1 bonus form your class from 3 options, professional trait.

no ability can get more than +2. So you have option of +2,+2 or +2,+1,+1 or +1,+1,+1,+1.

I.E.
Lineage; High elf: +1 to two abilities out of dex, int or wis
background: Outlander: +1 to one of str, con or wis
class: fighter: +1 to one of str, dex or con
 

I still want to know how we're supposed to represent cultural traits in character creation going forward. You can't put everything into class, and expanding background to accommodate it creates two different kinds of backgrounds. Throwing it out entirely, as WotC seems to be doing, limits character concepts mechanically.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I still want to know how we're supposed to represent cultural traits in character creation going forward. You can't put everything into class, and expanding background to accommodate it creates two different kinds of backgrounds. Throwing it out entirely, as WotC seems to be doing, limits character concepts mechanically.
Cultural traits will need to be setting-dependent.

Either the setting book introduces a small mechanical benefit to the cultures that it (usually) defines anyway, or introduces a series of cultural/ethnic/geopolitical backgrounds like "Shield Dwarf weaponsmith", "Zilargo journalist", or "Greyhawk-city citizen" with features setting them apart from similar but more generic backgrounds.

[edit] I don't know if that is the direction WotC plans on taking, but it wouldn't be a particularly bad one IMO. It does create two kinds of backgrounds however. Still not sure it's a bad thing.
 
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I can see in 6e them rewriting backgrounds to accommodate this stuff, with a bunch of general ones in the PH, and campaign-specific ones in setting sourcebooks, with rules to make your own in the core. But, because they are making a pretty significant change to character creation and race/species in the middle of an edition, the cascade changes are difficult to square with what's come before. Regardless of species, I think it should matter what culture you were raised in, in a way that is reflected mechanically.
 

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