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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Guest 6801328

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Ok, so there are people out there on Twitter or wherever claiming this is about bio-essentialism. (Although, my impression is that most of the stuff you linked is more about issues like the portrayal of orcs...which I agree with...not racial ASIs.) But there have also been people saying for years that racial ASIs are simply bad game design, which is also the argument I see on these forums.

So I think it's a little disingenuous, and relies on a very selective use of evidence, to claim that racial ASIs are being dropped because of the bioessentialism argument.
 

G

Guest 6801328

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Didn't you know? Squeezing an extra 5% out of a build is how you win D&D!
I'm the first to claim it's about perception more than actual numbers, but even so it's not really 5%. Upthread I showed how a +1 to Strength gives a fighter 17% increased damage, and that number actually can go to almost twice that (1H weapon vs. high AC).

And what strict DPR analyses don't model well is the impact of killing an enemy this round vs. next round.
 

you jest but the longer you stay alive the better the game can get and having a good game is how you win.

This is a really weirdly interesting point that's leading me on a total tangent.

Of all the things in all the RPGs I've seen, the one stat that most consistently seems to lead to players actually having fun, is "Don't Die-ness". Whatever that stat or combination of stats is in any given game. It's mostly CON in 5E, but also class, AC, saves, and so on. PCs who don't get downed a lot, don't die or nearly die, who keep surviving and keep doing stuff tend to be the same ones people discuss most fondly, when I think about it.

In combat-oriented RPGs, note - totally false in RPGs where combat is rare.

Don't-Die-ness is a complex thing for sure, too, and in some games different approaches can create it. Like in 2E, a mid-to-high level Wizard could have huge Don't-Die-ness despite having poor AC and HP, because they could have so many magical defenses and ways avoid getting dead.

But seriously in combat-oriented RPGs, those PCs who managed to consistently avoid getting dropped or disabled are the same ones who people seem to like most and have the best stories about. I mean part of that is obvious. A PC who dies early on isn't going to generate as many stories (typically), but I think there's a bit more than just that, like even if they don't die, a PC who often ends up unable to act, or absorbing a huge amount of party resources to keep up is rarely as much fun as one who is constantly acting, and not needing to get the other players to keep healing and defending them and so on. Not sure it has much applicability to this topic mind.
 


Ok, so there are people out there on Twitter or wherever claiming this is about bio-essentialism.
It's the best place to keep up with specific RPG creators and studios, and also keep up with developments in the hobby in general, but especially for games outside D&D. This forum is super slow and limited in scope by comparison.
So I think it's a little disingenuous, and relies on a very selective use of evidence, to claim that racial ASIs are being dropped because of the bioessentialism argument.
There's a middle ground between "WotC is dropping ASIs entirely because of political correctness" (because let's be honest, they aren't) and "racial ASIs and bioessentialism have absolutely nothing to do with each other".

I do agree it's also just bad design though.
 

TrickyDUK2

Explorer
So your players never play humans or half-elves, because assigning ASIs vs. having them assigned for you is the difference between "opening the book and playing" and....not?
Humans are +1 to everything, no choice there.

Half-elves are the exception (and I don't have any half-elf characters in my current campaign), but they still have some limitation. And I would look at half-elves like wizards - I always say that wizards are a great class, but you do need to put a bit more effort in to play them. So, it's not black & white, but it does create something else that I may need to think about.

I just think this should be optional until a new edition comes out. I guess we will have to wait and see when the first new official (non-UA) race arrives and whether that makes clear what to do about existing races if you are not using Tasha's. If it states that this new approach is now considered core/default (and by extension, Tasha's is no longer just an option), then I think that is a poor way to change something (it would assume that everyone is going to buy the new book) to know of this change.

I am going to bow out now though. My first post in this thread said I wasn't a 5e fan, but I have been running it as I liked a particular adventure for 5e. I have already told my group that I don't intend to run 5e again (unless there is a super cool (IMO) adventure to run). I can see how this is a polarised debate and while I genuinely enjoy discussing all games in general, I feel I am being a little disingenuous by making such a strong stance on this, when I will most likely never really be effected by it.
 


It's the best place to keep up with specific RPG creators and studios, and also keep up with developments in the hobby in general, but especially for games outside D&D. This forum is super slow and limited in scope by comparison.

There's a middle ground between "WotC is dropping ASIs entirely because of political correctness" (because let's be honest, they aren't) and "racial ASIs and bioessentialism have absolutely nothing to do with each other".

I do agree it's also just bad design though.
Re: Twitter, not to derail, but really? Do you follow specific sites or just individuals?

I'm not some kind of "Twitter expert", but I visit it regularly and read it a lot, and I follow a ton of RPG creators and studios and I almost never see anything actually come up in a way that's useful unless I think to go directly to someone's page - which I usually don't for months - and even then half the time they're the kind of Twitter person who makes 30 re-Tweets or "personal life" posts for every game-related post, which means you need to dig like hell to find anything. Like, do I need to have Twitter constantly notifying me on my phone or something?

What I've found more useful with specific games/creators is Discord, generally, but YMMV.

I agree re: middle ground, but my personal perception is that this is a change that has been long-wanted for mechanical/design reasons, and that all that really happened here is that the timeline advanced. I think that's actually why the situation is still causing frustration - because these moves were in many ways more about outdated mechanics and lore, they're not really addressing some of the deeper or more nuanced concerns out there. In fact, I doubt WotC as a whole even comprehend some of the more nuanced concerns. I'm surprised anyone thought they did, to be honest. I expected half-arsed, and we got maybe a 1/3rd arsed.
 

You know what's funny though?

The vast majority of people I see who make statements like this tend to have pretty tightly optimized characters, sometimes even ones relying on elaborate mechanical knowledge. They always seem to be arguing not on behalf of themselves, but some imagined, or once-glimpsed unicorn of a player, who gallops gloriously through their game, tossing their gorgeous mane, and declaring how much they love their un-optimized character. Or more rarely, referring back to some PC they enjoyed when they were 14 who got killed three rooms into his second dungeon.
I freely admit to doing some after the fact optimization. However, the last time I actually gamed as a player, I was a forest gnome OoA Paladin. I thought it would be a fun concept, despite not being an optimal combo.
 

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