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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

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
It used to be, your race flat-out blocked you from certain classes. Want to play a dwarf wizard or an elf paladin? Nope. Denied.

If you don't want to see dwarf wizards in your game, that's the way to do it. But if a combination is allowed by the rules, it's silly to whack it with a mechanical penalty in an effort to make it unusual. PCs are unusual by definition. Either allow it or don't.
So much this! I would actually rather classes be restricted based on race than allowed but penalized. Like, I have no problem with the fact that dwarves can’t be Mages in Dragon Age. It’s justified in the lore, and if I want to play a mage I can play an elf or a human, NBD. What would suck is if dwarves could be Mages, but they were just inherently bad at it due to some mechanical penalty.
 

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NaturalZero

Adventurer
It's not optional for future races/lineages. If they were "optional" like Tasha's is for the previous races, they'd give them alternative "automatic" racial ability score bonuses, not just automatic ones.

I'm one that loves this change and like the direction D&D is heading. However, I can see why people are upset that this is becoming less optional than TCoE's is.
The claim was that they somehow broke a promise though, which is completely false, since they haven't gone back on anything. The Tasha's option applies to existing races and remains completely optional while the new races don't require that you pick up Tasha's or look at it's rules, they're just designed differently.

I can certainly SEE that some people are upset about the new direction but it doesn't mean I think it's a reasonable reaction.
 

Scribe

Hero
I would so much rather give the various races cool, unique abilities than boring ASIs.

If they want to lean in on these kinds of mechanical differences instead of ASI, by all means. I somehow doubt its going to happen though, similar to how I doubt we will see any expansion of Racial Feats.

But if a combination is allowed by the rules, it's silly to whack it with a mechanical penalty in an effort to make it unusual. PCs are unusual by definition. Either allow it or don't.

Its not silly. Its a mechanical restriction, instead of outright denial, where one can choose to work against their natural disposition, or with it.

My old version of Tiefling for example with that -2 on Cha, was always going to have to work harder with a Cha based class, to get to same level as a race without that negative modifier. There is no harm in that.

Funny @Charlaquin posting in direct contradiction to my view, different strokes for different folks. :LOL:(y)
 

These changes in D&D are disrespectful to the game, disrespectful to the history of D&D, and to all designers who worked on the earlier editions of the game.
Oh come off it.

This is people looking at how races are designed and realising "Hang on, this is kind of dumb". This is looking at something that could be imrpoved and, shock and horror, people figuring out the problems of the system and tinkering it.

'longstanding sacred cow of game isn't perfect and its slowly being changed and improved' isn't 'disrespectful'.
 

I can't speak for @Charlaquin, although we have expressed similar sentiments on this topic in the past, but for me the real problem with racial ASIs as a broad category is not that it promotes racism or whatever, but that it has an observable effect of suppressing the range of race/class combinations seen in the wild. Not that I particularly want to play an orc wizard, but if somebody else does I don't want them to have to decide between that desire and having a wizard as good as wizards of other races. To me, racial ASIs are just cruft from D&D history and don't really add any flavor; all they do is result in the same race/class combinations appearing over and over again.
And here we circle back around to the age old argument that giving everyone a trophy makes all players homogenous. An orc wizard, one of my favorite characters of all time, was great to play. Not because he had the best intelligence, but because he had a good strength, a high con, and by level 12 his intelligence didn't matter.

And that is one point - by level 12 it does not matter. At all. Not even a little.

Which leads it back to where it always begins: A rule is changed to make things easier for players. Most want to be great (or at least think their character is great) from the get go. So game designers make it easier. They do it with literally every single game mechanic out there; computer game mechanics, tabletop mechanics, even games like Risk put in an easy mode so the game didn't take too long.

The unfortunate part is some see this as losing uniqueness. Some people enjoy overcoming a hurdle every now and then, and also like the directions the hurdles take them - which often times is off the beaten path. And if you want an analogy that is it.

Make it easier means paving the entire way.
Not making it easier means there are highways, roads, and trails.

Some people prefer trails. Others like the speed of a highway.
 

Scribe

Hero
'longstanding sacred cow of game isn't perfect and its slowly being changed and improved'
Do you know how simple it would be to satisfy both groups?

Why do I need to lose the system that 5e came with and was reinforcing over and over and over, when the option exists to allow for both?

I disagree that this was even a problem to be solved. It wasnt! Dont like the restrictions? Tasha's is RIGHT THERE, or as we all know, its your table so change it!

Now I, or someone else, needs to do the work with any new release (or in the new edition which absolutely will drop race restriction ASI, I'll bet on it) and do the work Wizards was doing.

This isnt about some idiotic culture war PC garbage.

This is about a system that was in play throughout this edition, being changed in the middle of it, because some people didnt like that their preference was an 'option'.

If Tasha's had glowing reviews across the board and there wasn't disappointment (looks yourselves!) in the reviews about the 'half hearted' update to Race ASI, there is no way the UA makes this call out, and I wouldnt be looking at @AcererakTriple6 to bail me out. :LOL:
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Ability Scores are not cultural. They are inherent traits that are supposed to represent the character's race natural, raw, inborn nature.

Decoupling racial ability score mods from the race itself is one way of stripping away from what truly defines the race as that race.

It also negates what defined humans in the game, which was humans innate versatility.

Now, instead of many different races... We just have a bunch of variant humans.

Other games have done this inclusion of Culture a lot better. HARP and Against the Darkmaster, derived from Rolemaster, have Races still being Races while also using Culture as Culture to represent upbringing and it's done masterfully.

These changes in D&D are disrespectful to the game, disrespectful to the history of D&D, and to all designers who worked on the earlier editions of the game.

People claim that 4e wasn't D&D. 4e never made changes to the game for political reasons. Sure they focused 4e in a different, more tactical way, but it was more D&D than what 5e is turning into.

5e is not D&D anymore.

Wow what an objective opinion :cautious:...
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
This is people looking at how races are designed and realising "Hang on, this is kind of dumb". This is looking at something that could be imrpoved and, shock and horror, people figuring out the problems of the system and tinkering it.
Even if we grant that this change is an improvement, I think it's worth noting that what aspects of the game are considered definitional (i.e. the parts of D&D that give it its identity, unique from other tabletop RPGs) aren't necessarily going to be the same as the parts of the game that we consider to be good or bad. You can find a particular aspect of the game to be clunky or archaic and still not want it to disappear or even be changed (very much), because it removes an element of the game that makes it the game you love. (And of course, the good, the bad, and the definitional will be different for everybody.)

I remember being at WotC's Gen Con seminar for the formal announcement of Fourth Edition in 2007. They told everyone that the new edition would do away with Vancian spellcasting, and to my complete shock the room erupted in wild applause. When the game came out next summer, sure enough, that was what we got. Needless to say, it didn't last very long, and was one of several reasons why a lot of people said that 4E, for all its mechanical slickness, "didn't feel like D&D anymore."
 
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YES. This, exactly. Fixed stat mods punish unusual or offbeat class/race combos by making them mechanically less effective. And that's pretty much all that they do. They were always a bad mechanic.
Hmmm...
I'm gonna try to explain a different side.
Fixing a stat mod is already done, it just happens at a later level for some. Do you feel that hindered by a +1 difference? (5%?) This doesn't even consider the racial feats that come into play by playing offbeat race/class combos. Want a wizard that gets knocked to zero and then pops up again to cast one last fireball? Hire the half-orc wizard. Want a barbarian that can run 80', 120 with a sprint, by third level? Hire the wood elf barbarian. Want a sorcerer with massive amounts of hit points? Hire the hill dwarf sorcerer.

To say it from another angle, do you automatically insist that your character, at level four, bump their primary? Would it be wrong of game designers to let a wizard reach level 12 without having a 20 intelligence? That is essentially the argument being made. The fact that it is level one versus level twelve means very little. A level is a level. It comes with perks. It also comes with hardships.

From another angle, are class hit points not fair either? I mean, shouldn't the players start out on equal footing? And by level 12, don't even get me started on the difference between a high con barbarian and a high elf wizard. I mean, even at level 20 the high elf wizard will have fewer hit points than the level 12 high con barbarian.

Now if you just want to min/max then this rule is great. Go for it. But I am just trying to present an opposing viewpoint.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
And here we circle back around to the age old argument that giving everyone a trophy makes all players homogenous.

Uhhh....what?

An orc wizard, one of my favorite characters of all time, was great to play. Not because he had the best intelligence, but because he had a good strength, a high con, and by level 12 his intelligence didn't matter.

And that is one point - by level 12 it does not matter. At all. Not even a little.

Which leads it back to where it always begins: A rule is changed to make things easier for players. Most want to be great (or at least think their character is great) from the get go. So game designers make it easier. They do it with literally every single game mechanic out there; computer game mechanics, tabletop mechanics, even games like Risk put in an easy mode so the game didn't take too long.

The unfortunate part is some see this as losing uniqueness. Some people enjoy overcoming a hurdle every now and then, and also like the directions the hurdles take them - which often times is off the beaten path. And if you want an analogy that is it.

Make it easier means paving the entire way.
Not making it easier means there are highways, roads, and trails.

Some people prefer trails. Others like the speed of a highway.

The funny thing is, with ASIs you can put wherever you want you can still....are you sitting down?...you can still play an orc wizard with low Intelligence.

OMG.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Hmmm...
I'm gonna try to explain a different side.
Fixing a stat mod is already done, it just happens at a later level for some. Do you feel that hindered by a +1 difference? (5%?)
Yes.
This doesn't even consider the racial feats that come into play by playing offbeat race/class combos. Want a wizard that gets knocked to zero and then pops up again to cast one last fireball? Hire the half-orc wizard. Want a barbarian that can run 80', 120 with a sprint, by third level? Hire the wood elf barbarian. Want a sorcerer with massive amounts of hit points? Hire the hill dwarf sorcerer.
Those are all cool, interesting differences. 5% accuracy is not cool or interesting.
To say it from another angle, do you automatically insist that your character, at level four, bump their primary?
Sometimes I’ll take a Feat at 4th level instead, but that’s a choice I make voluntarily, not one forced on me as an inevitable consequence of my race choice.
Would it be wrong of game designers to let a wizard reach level 12 without having a 20 intelligence?
Not at all. The problem isn’t that some characters don’t get to 20 in their primary score before level 12, it’s that characters of some races can and characters of other races can’t, and in the mean time, the latter characters are stuck being a step behind the former.
That is essentially the argument being made. The fact that it is level one versus level twelve means very little. A level is a level. It comes with perks. It also comes with hardships.
Except most games never even get to level 12. Hypothetically being able to catch up to the rest of the party a month after the campaign has ended doesn’t make up for having been behind during the entire actual campaign. Even if the campaign does make it all the way to level 20, catching up more than half way through doesn’t make up for having been behind the other half.
From another angle, are class hit points not fair either? I mean, shouldn't the players start out on equal footing? And by level 12, don't even get me started on the difference between a high con barbarian and a high elf wizard. I mean, even at level 20 the high elf wizard will have fewer hit points than the level 12 high con barbarian.
All characters of the same class get the same hit points, so this analogy doesn’t work.
Now if you just want to min/max then this rule is great. Go for it. But I am just trying to present an opposing viewpoint.
Great. Thanks for sharing.
 
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Yes. And it is also an easy trap for older fans to get wrapped up in every change they don't happen to like, and treat it like it is some essential game element. It is a very human trap - overall, we don't react to change very well.



Thing is, I don't expect +2 Str is really an important part of the game's identity.

I agree. However, having character options which are tangibly different is. The "races" have established identities which are part of the overall game's identity.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I agree. However, having character options which are tangibly different is. The "races" have established identities which are part of the overall game's identity.
I don’t think anyone is trying to take that away. I’m pretty sure everyone on the anti-ASI side would agree that we like races having distinct identities, we just think ASIs are the least interesting (not to mention least effective) way to achieve that, and mostly only serve to make certain race/class combos less appealing. Most, if not all of us, would be in favor of more unique racial features in place of ASIs.
 

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I'm very much not interested in a Star Wars argument, but against my better judgment I feel the need to comment here anyway, so I'll say this (which I hope shouldn't prove too controversial): a lot of what went awry with the Sequel trilogy came down to the studio not having a clear vision of what they actually wanted to do with the movies, instead writing by the seat of their pants. If there was a more robust story outline from the outset, if the directors and producers better communicated with each other, and if the studio stuck to their guns rather than collapsing at the first sign of fan backlash, we might have gotten a more coherent series of films than... whatever it was we got.

I somewhat agree (though I somewhat see the fan backlash as being valid response in that particular example).

I think that's something which D&D can learn from, as it sometimes seems as though there's a lack of clear vision.

I've said elsewhere that I believe designing a ttrpg could benefit from having a "setting bible" like that of many television shows.
 

I don’t think anyone is trying to take that away. I’m pretty sure everyone on the anti-ASI side would agree that we like races having distinct identities, we just think ASIs are the least interesting way to achieve that, and mostly only serve to make certain race/class combos less appealing. Most, of nor all of us, would be in favor of more unique racial features in place of ASIs.

I've supported that as well (even in this very thread). (I also support similar changes in how magic items are handled)

However, there are also some who appear to have the position that any species being bigger/faster/different ruins their ability to enjoy the game.

Assuming that my understanding of that said position is accurate, I am interesting in hearing how that is reconciled with maintaining the identity associated with D&D races.

If my understanding of that said position is not accurate, I am interesting in learning more about the position, so that I may better comprehend how others see the game and the component parts of the game.
 

Remathilis

Legend
However, if WOTC really does want to move forward maybe the should consider whether it's time to develop a new campaign world for real.

Unfortunately, Wizards is in the unenvious position that most people believe D&D is a generic fantasy simulator and howl and wail whenever a default setting influences the core rules. Check out how many people (wrongly) say the 5e PHB is Forgotten Realms inspired, or who hated the Nerath setting of 4e rewriting the lore.

Other settings can have a default setting, like Pathfinder has Golarion. But not D&D; people will scream bloody murder if any setting (new or old) becomes a default. The only two options D&D has is Straddle the line using the multiverse as the metasetting or utterly remove all setting elements and be a fairly bland SRD/rule compendium rules reference.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I've supported that as well (even in this very thread). (I also support similar changes in how magic items are handled)

However, there are also some who appear to have the position that any species being bigger/faster/different ruins their ability to enjoy the game.

Assuming that my understanding of that said position is accurate, I am interesting in hearing how that is reconciled with maintaining the identity associated with D&D races.

If my understanding of that said position is not accurate, I am interesting in learning more about the position, so that I may better comprehend how others see the game and the component parts of the game.
I can only speak for myself of course, but my perception is that your understanding of that position is not accurate. Certainly it isn’t a position I hold. If anyone does, I hope they speak up.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Unfortunately, Wizards is in the unenvious position that most people believe D&D is a generic fantasy simulator and howl and wail whenever a default setting influences the core rules. Check out how many people (wrongly) say the 5e PHB is Forgotten Realms inspired, or who hated the Nerath setting of 4e rewriting the lore.

Other settings can have a default setting, like Pathfinder has Golarion. But not D&D; people will scream bloody murder if any setting (new or old) becomes a default. The only two options D&D has is Straddle the line using the multiverse as the metasetting or utterly remove all setting elements and be a fairly bland SRD/rule compendium rules reference.
I don’t know if this is really the majority stance any more. It’s hard to overstate the influx of new players 5e has brought in, who don’t have the same baggage that the folks who shunned 4e did.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I don’t know if this is really the majority stance any more. It’s hard to overstate the influx of new players 5e has brought in, who don’t have the same baggage that the folks who shunned 4e did.
I imagine it's not us grognards who are buying up Wildemont, Ravnica and Theros guides. Apparently, their is an appetite for settings. If there wasn't, we'd probably have seen more Forgotten Realms expansion.
 

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