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.

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."
 

log in or register to remove this ad

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Just an observation. This isnt even about 'perfection'. I dont think anyone is arguing there is a perfect answer, I'm just communicating what I personally was doing as I played around with making a party of 4.

I'm pretty sure you are aware of what my personal argument is, so picking out 'my side' seems counter productive anyway.

Sorry, but I can't keep track of who says exactly what, just which side of the debate people fall on, and what the general arguments are. Maybe I should have said, "Funny that earlier the don't-let-perfect-be-the-enemy-of-the-good argument was being used against the anti-ASI people, and now I'm seeing an argument about why mechanical balancing of racials will never be perfect so why bother."

But I disagree (obviously) with your assessment. I strongly believe that if you're choosing between a variety of situational benefits (let's say Darkvision, Relentless Endurance, and Halfling Luck) then you're more likely to see variation in selection, even if an argument could be made that one is strictly better, than if any of those things are weighed against "Permanent +1 to all of your primary rolls."

Of course, that's just what I would do, so I'm extrapolating.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I'd like to add to this by noting that there are going to be, in general, maybe 4-6 player characters in an entire world. Maybe more if there are PC deaths or you keep playing in the same setting with a new party and don't "reboot it" between campaign.

Which literally means that there likely will be no more than one, maybe two halflings, out of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of halflings in any given world, that is stronger than minotaurs.

And in many (most?) cases that number will be zero.
 


Scribe

Legend
But I disagree (obviously) with your assessment. I strongly believe that if you're choosing between a variety of situational benefits (let's say Darkvision, Relentless Endurance, and Halfling Luck) then you're more likely to see variation in selection, even if an argument could be made that one is strictly better, than if any of those things are weighed against "Permanent +1 to all of your primary rolls."

Depending on how situational, low impact, or watered down they make these race defining rules going forward (if they indeed update them at all) yes, there could be more variation in terms of appearances between player characters.

They almost certainly will be less meaningful than even a +1 to a stat.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
- What if a dhampire bites a theriantrope? Bitting may be very risky from a hygienic point of view, it is like eating a sewer rat.

Can dhampires breed? What if anybody says vrylokas are dhampires' children? Should a dhampire bard worry about unwated pregnancies (or STDs)?

If dhampires are undead, can they get sick, or transmit contagious diseases? what if a louse, (female) mosquito or other bloodsucker parasite drinks dhampire's blood?
Dhampirs have no particular resistance or immunity to disease, so those dhamphir bards should make sure condoms are being used.

Also by RAW, therianthropy is a curse, not a disease. So if a dhampir drinks a werewolf's blood, it shouldn't contract werewolf lycanthropy. Maybe a stomach ache, but the dhampir's full moon nights should still be free for it. It also means there's no chance of a were-vaccine.

OTOH, if you're fond of the idea of therianthropy as being more like a disease, or a curse that's transmitted like a disease, go for it. Drinking a werewolf's blood would require a save to avoid contracting the curse, as would not using a condom.
 

I just woke up and haven't completely gathered my thoughts (only here because phone addiction ahahahahahaha) so I'll just comment this: the topic of microaggressions might be helpful here. There are things that might seem completely innocuous to an able-bodied neurotypical cishet white man, but which strike the wrong chord with somebody who's disabled, neurodivergent, PoC, gay, trans, a woman or a non-binary person, or any combination thereof due to their differing life experiences on account of their socioeconomic privilege. The way race has traditionally been represented in western fantasy, D&D included, seems to be one of these things.

EDIT: I'll also say that all this criticism isn't some conspiracy to bring down D&D/WotC/Hasbro, though there certainly are things to criticize about their business practices. This is all coming from a place of love, from wanting D&D, and the TTRPG hobby as a whole, to improve and to become more welcoming to all.

I have found the representation of races in D&D to be highly problematic at least since the third edition and I am very sympathetic to the issue. Nevertheless, I have come to the conclusion that if depicting biological essentialism is inherently problematic, then fantasy races simply cannot exist. And perhaps they shouldn't?

We live in the world where there is only one sapient species, the humans (other great apes and cetaceans might disagree with that statement though.) In a fantasy world this is not the case. If we see fantasy races as analogous to human ethnicities, depicting any non-cosmetic biological group-wide differences is highly problematic. However, if we do not do that, then differnt sapiens species cannot truly exist, as very definition of differnt species relies exactly on such differences. Halflings, ogres, aarakochas and sahuagins are not just differnt human ethnicities, they are differnt species, some of which are much larger than others, some of which can fly and some of which can breathe under water. But then we come to the thermian argument, if the bio-essential language reminds people of similar language incorrectly used of real life ethnic groups does it really matter that this language is actually correctly applied within the confines of the fiction? To a lot of people probably not. But then again if we cannot say that differnt fantasy species are actually biologically differnt from each other then they cannot exist... 🤷‍♀️

I think people should stop to think what actually is the purpose of having these different races in the first place.
 
Last edited:

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I have found the representation of races in D&D to be highly problematic at least since the third edition and I am very sympathetic to the issue. Nevertheless, I have come to the conclusion that if depicting biological essentialism is inherently problematic, then fantasy races simply cannot exist. And perhaps they shouldn't?

We live in the world where there is only one sapient species, the humans (other great apes and cetaceans might disagree with that statement though.) In a fantasy world this is not the case. If we see fantasy races as analogous to human ethnicities, depicting any non-cosmetic biological group-wide differences is highly problematic. However, if we do not do that, then differnt sapiens species cannot truly exist, as very definition of differnt species relies exactly on such differences. Halflings, ogres, aarakochas and sahuagins are not just differnt human ethnicities, they are differnt species, some if which are much larger than others, some of which can fly and some which can breathe under water. But then we come to the thermian argument, if the bio-essential language reminds people of similar language incorrectly used of real life ethnic groups does it really matter that this language is actually correctly applied within the confines of the fiction? To a lot of people probably not. But then again if we cannot say that differnt fantasy species are actually biologically differnt from each other then they cannot exist... 🤷‍♀️

I think people should stop to think what actually is a purpose of having these differnt races in the first place.
Question: do you find the 3 lineages presented in this UA to be indistinguishable? Because if we compare them to the opposite extreme, e.g. 3 hypothetical races that differ only in ASIs, I would say these are much more interesting and differentiated.

And to the obvious response of “why not both!?!?” I would say: “Because if descriptive abilities better accomplish the purported goal, why dilute that with a problematic mechanic?”

“Tradition” is not, for me, sufficient.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Depending on how situational, low impact, or watered down they make these race defining rules going forward (if they indeed update them at all) yes, there could be more variation in terms of appearances between player characters.

They almost certainly will be less meaningful than even a +1 to a stat.
Could you explain what you mean by “watered down” in this case? I would say “Less mechanically impactful, but more flavorful and distinctive when used.” Both of which, IMO, are good things.
 


Scribe

Legend
@Crimson Longinus I think thats a wider topic and one that if we logically try and walk down probably could come to a similar conclusion. The Thermian Argument mention had me looking it up and I found an interesting video that describes it, but (for me, I, my own view) I want differences between the races to a far wider degree than most seem willing to accept. Not wrong/right, or making any judgment, I've been pretty consistent in just saying I want an official option, considering I've had one for the life of the edition (and most prior ones) to this point.

Could you explain what you mean by “watered down” in this case? I would say “Less mechanically impactful, but more flavorful and distinctive when used.” Both of which, IMO, are good things.

Imagine if stats where inflated. Instead of a cap of 20, we had a cap of 100 and you can reliably hit that value at level 12 or whatever arbitrary 'not yet finished the campaign' level, at that point, is a +1 stat as meaningful as it is today?

Thats what I mean by watered down.

"Less mechanically impactful but more flavour" is not watered down, but is a nice narrative hook for race distinction, if not a mechanical one, which is what I'm after.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top