Level Up (A5E) Were the Planetouched a design trap?

xiphumor

Adventurer
It seems to me that although it was lore-appropriate, making the Planetouched into a single heritage distinguished by gifts significantly limited the creative potential available to players and designers. Here’s my case:

1. It’s impossible to mechanically represent heritage from multiple planes. Imagine the story possibilities with mixed Aasimar-Tiefling heritage! That’s not currently possible to represent going by RAW.

2. There will inevitably be a Plane of Fire planetouched, and they will be nearly identical to Tieflings. Fire resistance is an obvious must-have for a Fire Planetouched, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for making interesting new character options that are noticeably different from what Tieflings already provide.

3. Making Tieflings and Aasimar sub-races removes the possibility of doing what O5e had a lot of fun with, which was making lots of variants on the theme of angels and demons rather than generically heavenly/hellish.

4. Immortal Legacy and Darkvision are fine traits, but they don’t seem particularly appropriate for all of the planes. In addition, it makes the planes all seem somewhat uniform compared to each other when they should feel radically different, especially those that are dedicated to exact opposites of each other.

I love A5e and have the utmost respect and admiration for the design team, but I think they’ve written themselves into a bit of a corner here. There may be some possible solutions though. One option is to have a category of heritages which come directly from the planes rather than merely influenced by them which are more diverse (perhaps called “Denizens”). Another is to restrict the Planetouched to the moral planes and leave the field open for other planar-heritages. A third is to just backtrack a bit like O5e did with Tieflings when they added sub-races, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

I’d love to hear counter-arguments about the advantages of how things are at present, but I want it to be clear that I’m not writing to complain. I’m writing because I want to see A5e flourish and explode with creative potential, and I think that this point currently stands in the way of that happening as fully as possible.
 

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It doesn't bother me much because I tend not to think of outer-planer creatures as genetic beings following some rule of heredity, but as metaphysical "alignment elementals". So a being with equal parts Archon and Devil ancestry would either "cancel out" into a completely mortal being, or synergize into something akin to a Modron-touched.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
1. It’s impossible to mechanically represent heritage from multiple planes. Imagine the story possibilities with mixed Aasimar-Tiefling heritage! That’s not currently possible to represent going by RAW.

As an aside, one possible "solution" showed up as a "unique thing" in a 13th Age game that's just starting - they're the child of a half-orc and a half-elf, and just got the human parts from each!
 

W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
In addition, it makes the planes all seem somewhat uniform compared to each other when they should feel radically different, especially those that are dedicated to exact opposites of each other.
this is 100% my biggest problem with the planetouched heritage concept. if you really look at aasimar and tieflings mechanically, what's actually different about them? well, aasimar get discount lay on hands and guidance instead of leveled spells and produce flame, and they're resistant to different types of damage. and i guess aasimar learn celestial, but...who cares?
and then the paragon gifts are just "hey, you wanna be immune to your resistance or do you wanna ignore other people's resistance (and treat immunity as resistance) to it?" not to mention that first one isn't going to scale well with new gift options for the planetouched since it specifies what it does for each gift instead of either separating it out like the assault ones do or just saying "your resistance from your gift becomes immunity" or something. they're just boring and seem very samey compared to each other.
 



noodohs

Explorer
I think it's also worth mentioning that mixed heritages are an option presented in the AG, so as long as the GM approves, there's nothing to stop you from mixing and matching to make a more thematically-appropriate heritage that's still technically within RAW.
 

Larnievc

Adventurer
It seems to me that although it was lore-appropriate, making the Planetouched into a single heritage distinguished by gifts significantly limited the creative potential available to players and designers. Here’s my case:

1. It’s impossible to mechanically represent heritage from multiple planes. Imagine the story possibilities with mixed Aasimar-Tiefling heritage! That’s not currently possible to represent going by RAW.

2. There will inevitably be a Plane of Fire planetouched, and they will be nearly identical to Tieflings. Fire resistance is an obvious must-have for a Fire Planetouched, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for making interesting new character options that are noticeably different from what Tieflings already provide.

3. Making Tieflings and Aasimar sub-races removes the possibility of doing what O5e had a lot of fun with, which was making lots of variants on the theme of angels and demons rather than generically heavenly/hellish.

4. Immortal Legacy and Darkvision are fine traits, but they don’t seem particularly appropriate for all of the planes. In addition, it makes the planes all seem somewhat uniform compared to each other when they should feel radically different, especially those that are dedicated to exact opposites of each other.

I love A5e and have the utmost respect and admiration for the design team, but I think they’ve written themselves into a bit of a corner here. There may be some possible solutions though. One option is to have a category of heritages which come directly from the planes rather than merely influenced by them which are more diverse (perhaps called “Denizens”). Another is to restrict the Planetouched to the moral planes and leave the field open for other planar-heritages. A third is to just backtrack a bit like O5e did with Tieflings when they added sub-races, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

I’d love to hear counter-arguments about the advantages of how things are at present, but I want it to be clear that I’m not writing to complain. I’m writing because I want to see A5e flourish and explode with creative potential, and I think that this point currently stands in the way of that happening as fully as possible.
How does it stifle creativity? Create the guy you want and say that they don’t have fancy wild powers due to <insert background here>. Make it part of the guy’s arc.

Unless it’s the wild powers you’re after and the fluff is window dressing it won’t matter.
 
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xiphumor

Adventurer
How does it stifle creativity? Create the guy you want and say that they don’t have fancy wild powers due to <insert background here>. Make it part of the guy’s arc.

Unless it’s the wild powers you’re after and the fluff is window dressing it won’t matter.
I'm missing what you're referring to. Where are you picking up on an idea of me creating a character without certain powers?
 

xiphumor

Adventurer
I think it's also worth mentioning that mixed heritages are an option presented in the AG, so as long as the GM approves, there's nothing to stop you from mixing and matching to make a more thematically-appropriate heritage that's still technically within RAW.
Mixed heritages are created by combining the base heritage from one race with the heritage gift of another. Aasimar and Tieflings share a base heritage in A5e, so a half-Aasimar, half-Tiefling character is functionally indistinct from a full-blooded Aasimar or Tiefling (depending on which heritage gift you take). The mechanics should support the narrative, and having a functionally identical character to what you would be otherwise does not support that narrative.
 

noodohs

Explorer
Mixed heritages are created by combining the base heritage from one race with the heritage gift of another. Aasimar and Tieflings share a base heritage in A5e, so a half-Aasimar, half-Tiefling character is functionally indistinct from a full-blooded Aasimar or Tiefling (depending on which heritage gift you take). The mechanics should support the narrative, and having a functionally identical character to what you would be otherwise does not support that narrative.
In that specific case maybe (I'd argue that you could still mix the traits to have a half and half heritage with guidance cantrip and fire resistance, for example), but my point was that you can pick gifts from other heritages to make a unique character that might better support the theme you want. And as Morrus said, there's nothing saying they couldn't just offer new gift options later. O5e just removed most of those recently, so all those fun aasimar variants you love aren't even in O5e now anyway.
 

xiphumor

Adventurer
In that specific case maybe (I'd argue that you could still mix the traits to have a half and half heritage with guidance cantrip and fire resistance, for example), but my point was that you can pick gifts from other heritages to make a unique character that might better support the theme you want. And as Morrus said, there's nothing saying they couldn't just offer new gift options later. O5e just removed most of those recently, so all those fun aasimar variants you love aren't even in O5e now anyway.
Technically speaking, that would leave you without an age, size, or speed…

I’m happy to homebrew whatever, but not everyone is, and having official options that are different allows for more variations. They can offer more heritage gifts, but they’re not going to offer more base heritages under the same title, so whether we get more variant Aasimar and Tieflings or Genasi or any other race, they’ll all
officially have Immortal Blessing and Darkvision when that design space could have been used to make things more customizable.
 

noodohs

Explorer
Technically speaking, that would leave you without an age, size, or speed…
No it wouldn't. Age, size, and speed are all part of the base heritage (along with Immortal Blessing and Darkvision) and are therefore the same for aasimar and tieflings. Whether you choose aasimar or tiefling from there (or a combination of the two), those are the gifts. That's where you choose your resistances, languages, cantrips, etc. I guess I could see wanting more variety in having one that doesn't have Immortal Blessing, but it seems to fit the theme for both anyway so meh. What new gifts could do, however, is give you a fallen aasimar with necrotic resistance or an ice tiefling or something or a dedicated half-aasimar half-tiefling, which seems more like what you're asking for in the first place. Also, I could've sworn there was a genasi somewhere in LU, but I can't find it anymore and it's definitely not under the planetouched heritage now, at least, so there's no reason to believe it would be lumped in with aasimar and tiefling (even though planetouched seems like a more appropriate umbrella for genasi than aasimar and tiefling).
 

xiphumor

Adventurer
What new gifts could do, however, is give you a fallen aasimar with necrotic resistance or an ice tiefling or something or a dedicated half-aasimar half-tiefling, which seems more like what you're asking for in the first place. Also, I could've sworn there was a genasi somewhere in LU, but I can't find it anymore and it's definitely not under the planetouched heritage now, at least, so there's no reason to believe it would be lumped in with aasimar and tiefling (even though planetouched seems like a more appropriate umbrella for genasi than aasimar and tiefling).
Genasi aren’t in LU yet, but Morrus has suggested on a recent poll that they’ll be planetouched gifts. Full disclosure, I think Immortal blessing for Aasimar and Tieflings are mostly fine, but I think Genasi could be a lot more interesting if they had different gifts.
 


Micah Sweet

Legend
Genasi aren’t in LU yet, but Morrus has suggested on a recent poll that they’ll be planetouched gifts. Full disclosure, I think Immortal blessing for Aasimar and Tieflings are mostly fine, but I think Genasi could be a lot more interesting if they had different gifts.
I built genasi as a heritage gift with multiple options in my homebrew document.
 

xiphumor

Adventurer
That's not what I said. What I'm getting at is that I can't see how anyone's creativity is being stifled.
Ah. The main thing is that you cannot, by RAW, mix and match planetouched heritages with other planetouched. In the future, this means you couldn’t have something like an Earth Genasi / Aasimar or a Fire Genasi / Tiefling.
 


noodohs

Explorer
Yeah, I'll agree with you on that. Like I can see how they fall under the term "Planetouched," but they do seem different from aasimar and tiefling fundamentally. I mean I guess technically heaven and hell are just planes, so maybe it makes sense, but they seem like different sorts of planes.
 

Larnievc

Adventurer
Ah. The main thing is that you cannot, by RAW, mix and match planetouched heritages with other planetouched. In the future, this means you couldn’t have something like an Earth Genasi / Aasimar or a Fire Genasi / Tiefling.
You could. You just would not get the powers. You can still be creative, though. Nothing stops you from coming up with a great back story for how you are a mixed Genasi.
 

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