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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We can make our characters more the way we want to make them
when we have floating ASIs.
I have asked several times: Show me a character with their traits that you can't make using racial ASIs.

You can't. So this theory that it gives you more control is not real. (I am not saying you are lying. I am saying you are not looking at the numbers closely.) Make a character with floating ASIs that racial ASIs can't make. The only ones that exist are ones where there is a 16. A +3. An extra +1. Those are the only ones you can't make.
I did exactly what you said. I put the 16 in a non-primary attribute--remember, I created a wizard, not a bard, paladin, sorcerer, or warlock--and here you are, moving the goalposts to claim any attribute. But fine:
  • Floating ASIs (Con +1, Cha +2): Str 8, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 14
No, you made a character. I don't care if you have a 16 or not. The point is you CANNOT make a character with floating ASIs that can't be made with racial ASIs (Except for a 16 in some stats).
Look at what you created. You can do that exact same thing with point buy and racial ASIs.
Now they're a bit less of a ditz and not quite as good at talking to people. Or:
  • Floating ASIs (Con +1, Cha +2): Str 10, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 15, Wis 10, Cha 14
Still a ditz, not quite as personable, but are able to carry a backpack chock full of college textbooks.
Here, you can produce the exact same thing with point buy and racial ASIs.

I'll say it one more time - the only thing you can't produce with point buy and racial ASIs is a 16 in selected traits.
In any case, look ma, no 16s!
I have never asked nor said anything about building a character that didn't have 16s. Of course, anyone can do it. I am stating the only reason to have floating ASIs (which is the entire topic of our discussion) is to have a 16 in the trait you want. Not because it offers more creativity. It doesn't, unless you want that 16.
How do you differentiate between half-orcs and minotaurs? You don't find their racial traits to "reach the level of uniqueness" you want, but they both have the same +2 Strength, +1 Con.

(Also: you guess? I've only been shouting this for pages upon pages now.)
Remember when I talked about seeing all the knobs on a board? Seeing the big picture? This is why. The half-orc and minotaur have no difference with their racial ASIs. But that is not the only thing that separates them. There are other racial traits. Remember how I discussed there are only so many variables to adjust? This is why.
Nope. As I have pointed out numerous times, there are many reasons to want to move the +2 around. I made three different standard stat arrays to show it.
So please. I have to ask. Now you are only using standard array? You understand standard array is just a group created by point buy. So you, who insist this entire thing is about player freedom and the ability to create the character you want - can and choose to only use standard array - the most limiting way to create a character in the game?
And let's say that it is just about getting a stat of 17 at first level. So what? Is that wrong? Are you claiming that players who want to be effective in their chosen class are bad roleplayers? Is their fun sp wrong, so anathema to you that you would forbid everyone from being able to be freer in their chargen?
No one has said that. Certainly not me. That is why I support an optional rule for floating ASIs.

The reason I bring it up is this:
Once a person accepts that it really is about starting with a +3 bonus instead of a +2, it will help them understand that it is important to their game, but not necessarily others. In essence, it will help them understand both sides.

I accept both sides. I accept Chaos's experiences at his table. He and I have discussed it in numerous threads. I think even over a year ago. I could not fathom it. But, he truly needs that +3. If he (or other players at the table) don't have it, they lose out on part of the game. His side of needing that +3 is so valid, it is painful. I also accept the other side that wants a difference between their races, and believe ASIs are an important way to do that. They don't need all PCs to start with a +3. Their experiences tell them it doesn't matter. Both sides are valid.

You will not accept the 16. You say it is about a player being able to make a character the way they want them. All that does is murky up the water of the other side's reasoning and not allow you to see to the bottom. Because again, anything you create with a floating ASI, I can create with a point buy and racial ASI - except for a 16.
 
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You are ignoring the entire point. I used standard array and no feats to simplify it. Removing variables to show the point.
Chaos, you used standard array. Again, there are so many variables people use after level four it is impossible to compare. But, your numbers do pan out. Absolutely.
I have said this numerous times. This is about character creation. And again, I am not against floating ASIs, I just don't think they are needed. Just remove them and increase point buy. Skip the extra step.
The fact that you are apologizing now, after this is the fourth time I've brought this up? Maybe I'm letting my personal life get to me, but that doesn't feel true and honest to me.
It is honest. It was my lack of clarity and my assumption you just understood that when I say: If we remove racial ASIs, let's walk down the road of racial feats to make them different. I just assumed you knew I was discussing anything - literally anything that could mechanically make them different. I listed three for the halfling that could easily fall under racial traits. Sorry there was a misunderstanding.
Granted, I'm in a bad spot in my personal life, with lots of BS and betrayals going on, so that could entirely be me, but I've brought this up repeatedly to you and it seems you missed it every other time.
I am very sorry to hear that and certainly don't mean to add to it.
And, as I said, I'm leery about adding more traits. I'd like to, there are some cool ideas I've seen, but I am worried about increasing the power level of the races. I think doing so would have to be carefully thought out. For example, I saw an ability for Elven characters which would allow them to make a reaction 5ft move when attacked or targeted by a spell, potentially getting them out of the way of the attack. That is cool, but a reaction "cancel melee attacks" is immensely powerful and would probably be inappropriate outside of very high level characters.
I agree with. I am hesitant too. And that elven ability is way out of whack. That seems very powerful. I remember there was a Lair Assault dungeon for 4e (these were impossible dungeons created by WotC, and you played them just to see how far you could get) that had bandits that had this ability. If I remember correctly, we all died in the first room. ;)
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Reductio ad absurdum.
No. Because by denying a PC a +2 in the stat of their choice, you're denying it across the board.

1st level gnomes can have Int as low as 10 in point-buy, and as low as 5 by rolling. A smart dwarf can certainly start out smarter than that gnome.

Can the smartest 1st level dwarf be as smart as the smartest 1st level gnome? No. Not according to the 5e PHB.
Which is unacceptable. It's a stupid, pointless restriction made by people who have since changed their mind, and enforced by people who mindlessly adhere to archaic rules.

Of course, individual tables might not want to be restricted by the mere rules of the game. But, for me, letting the PCs start with +2 in a random stat (as opposed to +2 in a stat that the rules say they get) is no different than letting them start with a Blessing. Or an Artifact.
Except it's neither of those things, because it's a stat bonus that can be placed anywhere and that doesn't actually take away from the flavor of the race at all.

Sometimes concepts change, but more likely the game mechanics that represent a race's concept get tweaked.
Like they've done with each edition, and like they're doing now, since floating ASIs are the new rule.

The rules are the edict, not me.
The rules say roll 4d6, drop the lowest, six times, with stat array being a useful quickbuild option... and point buy being nothing more than a variant, posted afterwards. So since the rules are the edict, guess you're rolling from now on, right? Ooh, sorry, you might just end up with halflings have 18s in Strength then.

Wait, you ignore the rules about 4d6 in favor of a variant? Huh, well then I guess the edict is up to you after all.

It's really funny that you prefer point buy, which specifically is designed to let you, quote, "build a character with a set of ability scores you choose individually" and yet are opposed to other people choosing their scores by deciding where to put the +2.

And the principle of racial bonuses applies no matter how ability scores are initially generated. They are different stages of character creation. Your proposal seeks to take racial bonuses out of the game completely and replace them with bonuses that have no relation to race or any other part of character creation.
Yup. Racial bonuses are stupid and inconsistently used.

Example: the loxodon are elephant-folk and who average 7' 6". They are literally the tallest race, taller than goliaths by nearly half a foot, and are outweighed only by the centaurs. And they don't get a bonus to Strength. Not even a +1. Con +2, Wis +1. Loxodons get Powerful Build, yes, but no Strength bonus. In fact, they're the only canon race with Powerful Build that doesn't get a Strength bonus.

Wanna explain that one? Why is it logical to you that, going by racial ASIs, a halfling can't be as strong as an orc but can be as strong as a much larger elephant-folk?

A logical reason, please. After all, you can't just decide that this particular instance is dumb and should be changed without allowing for other racial ASIs to be changed as well for other reasons.

So yeah. ASIs should be so the player can customize their character, not so one race can have a pointless meta-advantage over another.

Such a halfling is that strong because of where the ability scores were assigned at that stage of character creation (which represents the individual not the race). They are not that strong because they are a halfling!
EXACTLY! That one particular halfling has a 16 Strength. Not halflings, as a race. That one guy, over there, the one with the muscles--he's one strong halfling dude.

Nobody has said all halflings are strong. I certainly haven't. I don't even like halflings as a species. What I've said is that there should be an option for someone who wants to make a really strong halfling.

What's really funny is that all the "strong" races get Powerful Build, and halflings and the other small races don't, and small races take a penalty if they try to use Heavy Weapons. So the strong races are already stronger than halflings no matter their Strength. And what's extra funny is beyond that, Dex and Strength give the exact same attack and damage bonuses, so a halfling with Dex 16 and a short sword is going to inflict exactly as much damage as an orc with Strength 16 and a short sword.

What this means is that every one of your arguments about Strength versus Dexterity either already has an answer or is already moot.

But they are not changing the core race concepts from what they were into races that are physiologically equal. They are not changing the concept,
In several of them they did. Compare 2e, 3e, and 5e firbolgs, for one. Compare 1e and 5e gnomes. I wrote up a huge list of how races changed, sometimes dramatically, over the editions.

they are refusing to acknowledge physiological differences in species because they are afraid of cancel culture in the real world, and then ret-conning a half-baked idea that elephants are only stronger than mice because of their culture!
Nobody has actually done this. Nobody. Stop with the stupid strawmen. It's seriously pathetic.

And you might want to check yourself, because in the real world, the only people who talk about "cancel culture" like that are the people who gleefully try to "cancel" others and then whine when their own bad actions are called out.
 

JEB

Legend
This is the most frustrating thing about this, you are acting like the fact they provided and option to match those two sets of abilities means that they assumed all members of the same race had the same abilities. And, even if you are right. Even if I concede this point. That assumption was left behind YEARS ago. So who cares?
If that's your way of saying we can finally agree to disagree, I'm all for it!

But here is the problem with that argument. If they updated the baseline, why didn't they apply that new baseline to the creatures in that book or in future books?
My personal guess? An extension of that PHB + 1 philosophy. They assume any given player/DM is using the core rules, plus whatever new book is in question. One side effect is that developments in later books won't necessarily be reflected; this, as previously discussed, is also probably why so many reprints in some books.

I said Eladrin PCs don't match Eladrin NPCs. You defended by saying in 2e that was the case. Not sure why that matters for 5e, but you seemed to think it was a defense, and you brought up 2e.
The point there was, there's a history of different types of eladrin not having the same statistics that goes back well before 5E. So a difference between PC and NPC eladrin in 5E isn't necessarily reflective of anything as far as design philosophy.

Then what was the point of saying that you could decide that they are subraces when they aren't, and trying to use that to disprove the idea that a race with multiple subraces could have floating ASIs? I don't get what you are trying to achieve.
Again, I only brought up that you could arguably see the dragonborn colors as subraces. You then tried to pivot that into the argument about subraces justifying the entire race having floating ASIs, to which I pushed back. You may also remember that I mentioned half-elf subraces as a thing; I was just being pedantic and thorough, not trying to "gotcha".

Or

They presented an option to allow customizing with PC options on NPCs, referencing the only PC options they had, the races in the PHB.

Then they kept NPCs and PCs different through the years, which is fairly consistent with the evidence.

And now they've made a clarifying statement, because everyone has gotten bent out of shape about them nerfing all the races into being formless blobs, which isn't the case.
Sure, you're welcome to believe that.

Though it is rather interesting that if this had been their philosophy from the beginning - the rules for PC races didn't reflect the actual race - that the first time they stated it explicitly was six years into the edition, when the treatment of race in D&D had suddenly become a big PR problem. They had all that time to mention it. They could have mentioned it in the PHB or the DMG. In Volo's. In any number of interviews or articles. But they didn't. Funny, that.
 


JEB

Legend
With the announcement of a Ravenloft book around the corner it looks like we may get to see some of this UA content sooner rather than later.
Yep, you're correct.

Create characters with lineages tied to vampires, undead, and hags, horror-themed subclasses, the Investigator background, and "Dark Gifts" that may be a double-edged sword
No wonder the poll came out for that UA so fast.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Actually, I don't have a problem with these three lineages because one concept they share is that each creature with one of these lineages was born with a conventional race, then something happened to stop them being that race and start them being one of these lineages.

They chose to represent that concept by giving them each a floating +2 and a floating +1, aaaand I'm okay with that, but they could have chosen to represent the same concept by saying that they retain the original race's set bonuses. Might be an issue with balance if they chose that though.

But the 'future problem that may never come to pass' didn't spring from my imagination, it sprang from what they actually wrote about how ALL future races will be presented with those floating bonuses. I doubt that every single future race they present will be conceptually famous for having no particular physiological differences that could be represented by set racial modifiers!

And yet they just did it three times.

And if they keep making lineages who could have been any race, but are now something else, then their design going forward makes sense. You have nothing to base your complaints upon except a fear that some new lineage is going to be designed that was a race with static ASIs. And I can't respond to "but what about if" based solely on fear of the future in anyway except to tell you that the thing you fear, is likely not going to come to pass.

It's a shame that those who wanted the other option will not be catered for in future.

Actually, it is entirely possible that they will create a sidebar that will cater to people who want to be told exactly what scores to give their character.

Again, you are just spouting future "maybes" that you are afraid of. And, also, since you have no problem with the current design of the Dhampir, Hexblood, and Reborn in this manner, why do expect to have a problem with the rest of them if they are designed in a similar way? Is it really a "shame" that people will have to pick floating ASIs for their Dhampir, just like they have to pick floating ASIs for their V. Human?

The name is irrelevant. If they called them warriors, or commoners on the grounds that the most common role for lizardmen who fight PCs is the role of warrior, it still doesn't make those statblocks rules for PCs or deny that they used the PC set racial bonuses.

If they put out a lizardfolk shaman, they would change the stats accordingly. But this would not mean that they got different set racial bonuses, it would demonstrate that they allocated their points differently.

Seriously? The name doesn't matter? Then why bother making a new statblock?

Why make this:

1614079656135.png


When if you wanted Lizardfolk warriors you already have this:

1614079679434.png


And there is not a single Lizardfolk statblock that highlights the fact that they are supposed to be a high Con race with high Wisdom. Their blocks are much closer to Orcs who are +2 str +1 Con. And yet I'm supposed to believe that they just allocated points differently to define their two most common blocks by strength instead of by con or wisdom? Every time?
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I have asked several times: Show me a character with their traits that you can't make using racial ASIs.

You can't. So this theory that it gives you more control is not real. (I am not saying you are lying. I am saying you are not looking at the numbers closely.) Make a character with floating ASIs that racial ASIs can't make. The only ones that exist are ones where there is a 16. A +3. An extra +1. Those are the only ones you can't make.

He showed you a statline, said "this is the character I want to make"

You then made a different statline, with different values and said "here is the character you wanted, made exactly the same"

So, no, he did exactly what you asked, and you refused to accept it. Just because the same numbers were still the highest doesn't mean crap, because that would be saying that (6 / 8 / 8 / 10 / 10 / 12) is an identical character to (8 / 10 /10 / 12 /12 /14)

So please. I have to ask. Now you are only using standard array? You understand standard array is just a group created by point buy. So you, who insist this entire thing is about player freedom and the ability to create the character you want - can and choose to only use standard array - the most limiting way to create a character in the game?

You realize that player's don't have a choice to implement point buy, right? That that power rests with the DM? And yet, the option to use the standard array instead of rolling is 100% in the player's power. That is why some of us rely on that standard array, because the other option is rolling which has a plethora of issues.


Chaos, you used standard array. Again, there are so many variables people use after level four it is impossible to compare. But, your numbers do pan out. Absolutely.

I have said this numerous times. This is about character creation. And again, I am not against floating ASIs, I just don't think they are needed. Just remove them and increase point buy. Skip the extra step.

Sure, if we remove ASIs and increase Point Buy it will accomplish the same thing. But those aren't the rules we have been given.

It is honest. It was my lack of clarity and my assumption you just understood that when I say: If we remove racial ASIs, let's walk down the road of racial feats to make them different. I just assumed you knew I was discussing anything - literally anything that could mechanically make them different. I listed three for the halfling that could easily fall under racial traits. Sorry there was a misunderstanding.

I am very sorry to hear that and certainly don't mean to add to it.

It is fine, and I'll accept your word for it.

I agree with. I am hesitant too. And that elven ability is way out of whack. That seems very powerful. I remember there was a Lair Assault dungeon for 4e (these were impossible dungeons created by WotC, and you played them just to see how far you could get) that had bandits that had this ability. If I remember correctly, we all died in the first room. ;)

I definitely agree that is tremendously powerful, but on a 15th level character, maybe less so?

And I'm really coming to like this optional space more and more. The idea of creating racial features that can come online at various level, in a similiar manner to the class Variants, seems like a fun idea to make the races more distinct over time, because a 9th or 11th level character has usually started to outgrow some of their features (depending on the feature). It also gives us space to take ones that are very nice at 1st level and bump them when they fall in pointlessness (ie Dragonborn)

But, I'm not convinced this is the thread to discuss them
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
My personal guess? An extension of that PHB + 1 philosophy. They assume any given player/DM is using the core rules, plus whatever new book is in question. One side effect is that developments in later books won't necessarily be reflected; this, as previously discussed, is also probably why so many reprints in some books.

This doesn't track.

Volo's gave us a new baseline for Hobgoblin's, different from the core books. However, the Hobgoblin monsters in Volo's did not use the new baseline provided. The Githzerai had a new baseline in Mordenkainen's, however the Githzerai monsters in Mordenkainen's did not use that new baseline.

How does PHB + 1 apply to this? Those are statblocks in the new book, they are the +1. What reason is there for them to match the PHB when they have nothing to do with the PHB?

The point there was, there's a history of different types of eladrin not having the same statistics that goes back well before 5E. So a difference between PC and NPC eladrin in 5E isn't necessarily reflective of anything as far as design philosophy.

Or the difference between NPC and PC extends back to before 5e. It seems like it would depend on what the rest of the game looks like.

Again, I only brought up that you could arguably see the dragonborn colors as subraces. You then tried to pivot that into the argument about subraces justifying the entire race having floating ASIs, to which I pushed back. You may also remember that I mentioned half-elf subraces as a thing; I was just being pedantic and thorough, not trying to "gotcha".

They are not subraces though. And, as I said, even if you think they are if you can see one statline covering all those different subraces without a problem, I don't see how doing the same exact thing with a different race would be a problem

Sure, you're welcome to believe that.

Though it is rather interesting that if this had been their philosophy from the beginning - the rules for PC races didn't reflect the actual race - that the first time they stated it explicitly was six years into the edition, when the treatment of race in D&D had suddenly become a big PR problem. They had all that time to mention it. They could have mentioned it in the PHB or the DMG. In Volo's. In any number of interviews or articles. But they didn't. Funny, that.

You mean they didn't mention it until it became abundantly clear there was massive confusion over it? I mean, you've been on an internet debate, how many times have you caught a fundamental misunderstanding of a basic principle of the topic mid-way and hundreds of pages later? It happens. It isn't like anyone was clamoring to know before hand.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I have asked several times: Show me a character with their traits that you can't make using racial ASIs.
I have repeatedly said, this is not our purpose with floating ASIs.

And I did show you a character with traits that couldn't be made with a racial ASI: an aarakocra wizard with a Charisma of 16. And then two other versions without stats above 15. And you ignored in favor of moving your goalposts.

No, you made a character. I don't care if you have a 16 or not. The point is you CANNOT make a character with floating ASIs that can't be made with racial ASIs (Except for a 16 in some stats).
"You can't do this thing, except that you can do it, but I'm going to claim you can't do it because 16s are baaaad! Except when I pretend that they're not so I don't have to admit I was wrong!"

Look at what you created. You can do that exact same thing with point buy and racial ASIs.
I can have an aarakocra with a 17 Charisma in point buy and racial ASIs? Show me how, oh wise one!

I'll say it one more time - the only thing you can't produce with point buy and racial ASIs is a 16 in selected traits.
Oh, that's right. You consider it bad for people to want a 16 in a stat. Even if its not a stat that's needed for their class. Because having a 16 or 17 is Having Fun Wrong, and that is something you can't allow.

Remember when I talked about seeing all the knobs on a board? Seeing the big picture? This is why. The half-orc and minotaur have no difference with their racial ASIs. But that is not the only thing that separates them. There are other racial traits. Remember how I discussed there are only so many variables to adjust? This is why.
So if we remove the racial ASIs altogether, they still have tons of stuff that make them different. Thanks for admitting that.

So please. I have to ask. Now you are only using standard array? You understand standard array is just a group created by point buy. So you, who insist this entire thing is about player freedom and the ability to create the character you want - can and choose to only use standard array - the most limiting way to create a character in the game?
Gods no. My table rolls for stats., the way Gygax and PH intend.

I've suggested both point buy and stat array, but everyone--from those of us who started D&D in the 70s and 80s and 90s to those of us who started with this edition--has declared them boring. It's fun having actual low stats as well as high ones. If you're going to have modifiers, they might as well be impressive ones. A -1 is an annoyance; a -2 or -3 is a story.

I just used stat array in my examples because it gave a standard example.

(And as I pointed out to Arial Black, point buy is a mere variant tucked in at the end.)

No one has said that. Certainly not me. That is why I support an optional rule for floating ASIs.
You have said that repeatedly. Every time you have dismissed me saying I want floating ASIs for customization by insisting on mansplaining that it's really only because I want a 16. When you say that a 15 should be "good enough," you're saying that I'm inherently wrong, that I'm a minmaxing powergamer. When you below say it's painful that Chaosmancer "needs" a +3. Do you have any idea how condescending that is?

The reason I bring it up is this:
Once a person accepts that it really is about starting with a +3 bonus instead of a +2, it will help them understand that it is important to their game, but not necessarily others. In essence, it will help them understand both sides.
Such as right here.

And I have said that you can easily put that floating +2 in your standard racial stat. Because just in case you still don't get it, the floating ASI goes anywhere you want. You think halflings should be sneaky? Put the +2 in Dex. You think orcs should be strong? Put the +2 in Strength.

But that's not good enough for you. You want what's important in your game to be important in my game as well.

I want you to have a choice. You want me to not have a choice. You want to dictate where I put my bonus, and to what level, and you condemn me for (thinking that I am) wanting something as base as a high score.

Here's a serious experiment for you. Make a halfling rogue, using your preferred stat gen (or better yet, make two halfling rogues, one with point buy and one with stat array) and a typical racial +2 to Dex. What's this character's stats? Most importantly, what's the character's highest stats?
 

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