Talk:Simplified Races (3.5e Variant Rule)

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More Races[edit]

Any requests for specific races? --Ghostwheel 13:59, July 2, 2010 (UTC)

There are about a billion sub-races of elf. Start with those?--Tavis McCricket 19:37, July 2, 2010 (UTC)
I'll request the planar ones (aasimar, tiefling, genasi), but there's no rush on them. - TarkisFlux 00:42, July 3, 2010 (UTC)
As far as the sub-races, for the most I'll simply say to use the base elf. It fits most of them well enough. That said, I'll probably add the drow at some point (5+HD SR, I'm thinking as a passive ability). I'll also add the aasimar and tiefling soon, though I'm not sure if I should make the genasi a single race (and give different specific effects depending on the flavor) or a different entry for each one.
All the planetouched have been added. Anything else? --Ghostwheel 18:11, July 4, 2010 (UTC)
Kobolds come to mind. Hobgoblins, bugbears, gnolls, yuan-ti*, xvarts, githyanki*, githzerai*, pixies, orcs, kuo-toa*, sahuagin, lizardfolk/trogdolytes (not sure I should be grouping those together). Dragonborn, perhaps, or their like. Bold denotes things I'd consider more as staples to the D&D world (excluding the product identity stuff). Merfolk and mongrelfolk are possibilities, I suppose. Not sure if shifters/weretouched/were-anything should or could be covered under this variant.
*Denotes product identity; not sure how that would affect a decision to rebuild them under this variant. -- Jota 19:21, July 4, 2010 (UTC)
I would be thrilled to see any of the following as simplified races: nymphs, dryads, hags, lizardfolk, dinosaurfolk, ettercaps, trolls/half-trolls, gargoyles, minotaurs, orges/half-ogres (although half-giants might fulfill that role already), rakshasa, and satyrs. As for non-product versions of the Yuan-ti and the Kuo-Toa, Serpentfolk (non-psionic yuan-ti) and Deep Folk (non-electric kuo-toa) might be acceptable equivalents, since those are based on public domain works (which D&D adapted for their product identity monsters in the first place). I have tried to make versions of both for my Emerald Sun campaign setting, but I am not completely content with their current incarnations, and I would like to see more potent/balanced versions. Thanks!Paleomancer (talk) 20:40, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Attribute Bonuses[edit]

Is there any way to factor those in? Rather than the standard "+2/-2", what about +2 to one variable attribute? For instance, Elves get +2 to Dexterity OR Intelligence, Half-Orcs get +2 to Strength OR Constitution, Humans get +2 to any attribute, Dwarves get +2 to Constitution OR Wisdom, etc.--Tavis McCricket 19:37, July 2, 2010 (UTC)

I don't know why you'd want to. Mental boosts are worth more than physical boosts, any sort of boost / penalty tends to diminish consideration of races for classes outside those that are benefited by their boosts, and the boosts are worth substantially more under a scaling cost point buy system. They just don't do anything particularly good and have several minor problems. - TarkisFlux 20:25, July 2, 2010 (UTC)
Any reason apart from affecting the DCs of spells traditionally that mental boosts are worth more than physical boosts? And Tavis, any good counterarguments on why/how ability boosts would be be a good thing without necessarily shoehorning races into specific character classes? --Ghostwheel 22:30, July 2, 2010 (UTC)
That's the big one, though it's also that a +1 to save DC is just bigger than a +1 to AC or attack or HP because of how the systems scale. - TarkisFlux 22:58, July 2, 2010 (UTC)
@Tarkis- I dislike changing races because classes are imbalanced. I suggested a variable bonus to compliment class consideration, rather than harm it. This may adversely impact a point buy system, but should the method of character creation govern whether or not a class or race is balanced in gameplay? As it stands, the current change reflects a homogenizing of the races, which I dislike. Not to say that the current races are better or that these are bad, but the simplified races seem bland to me.
@Ghostwheel- By chosing (to a limited extent) where your bonus goes, it gives you more options. An elf that picks Dex vs Int has more options than one that gets Dex and loses Con. A player might actually play a Dwarf cleric or paladin (which alledgely exist already) if he got +2 Wis, rather than -2 Cha. As it stands, people will still likely pick the same races for the same rolls. Furthermore, some of the abilities (Elvish Precision, Powerful Build) already encourage people to play certain class/race combinations. Just saying.--Tavis McCricket 23:01, July 2, 2010 (UTC)
So why not just increase the point buy instead of letting all players have an extra +2 to put anywhere? Is there any real difference between the two, apart from allowing you to break the 18 cap at first level? (And should it even be allowed to be broken? Don't primarily only SAD classes break it, and they're usually much more powerful than other classes anyway?) And sure, some of the abilities nudge people towards a certain concept, but I don't think they completely decide it--you could easily play a half-orc wizard, and not be much worse than someone playing an grey elf one, while in the usual races virtually no one would ever play a half-orc wizard, or even a half-elf one if they could be a grey elf. So while there's some nudging, I don't think it's quite as restrictive and shoehorning as the "usual" race rules are. What do you think? --Ghostwheel 23:25, July 2, 2010 (UTC)
Some points:
  • "I dislike changing races because classes are imbalanced." I don't actually see why you'd want to ignore races just because classes were imbalanced. If anything, the imbalance of classes is a reason to modify races. If you can't effectively use a race in a powerful class and are instead stuck to the weaker classes because of racial abilities or lack thereof, then the race itself will be valued poorly in high power games. The imbalance of classes looks to be a reason to avoid building races into class straightjackets, and since the standard setup does that it appears to be a reason to change it.
  • Point buy is intended to be balanced, and it is less so with no-cost modifiers that you put on top of your existing scores purchased with scaling costs. If costs were linear this wouldn't be an issue actually, but in the normal point buy system this gives you a variable number of bonus points.
  • I don't see this as a homogenization, as they don't have a lot of shared abilities. It's probably a standardization, in that they all get the same number of the same types of things. And I'll give you that this page is bland because it's so consistent and rules dense, but also because it's lacking fluff text entirely. The mechanics themselves are fine, and if this was stuck at the bottom of a regular racial writeup that helped explain why they got the abilites they got I imagine it would be much less bland.
I didn't say the problems with attribute mods were big ones, just that they were there and they didn't add anything to the game. I don't know how a race getting +2 to physical stat or +2 to mental stat is anymore flavorful than the stuff that Ghost already has here. It seems like passive number shuffling that doesn't actually add any options to the race or impact their tactics in a fight, just what classes they're going to take.
If you want some numbers that different races get to add to different things, why not a variable skill bonus instead? +2 to 3 skills from some racial list or something? - TarkisFlux 23:30, July 2, 2010 (UTC)
@Tarkis- Like I said (or was trying to say), variable bonuses are a step towards freeing races from class restrictions, while allowing races to retain bonuses that set them apart. That being said, if Ghost elected to include them, I'd hope it would be in addition to what he already has down rather than replacing it. As for the "blandness" of the rules, I wasn't refering to lack of fluff but to the content of the rules themselves. A dwarf is always a dwarf, not once per encounter (part of the reason I would like attribute bonus included). As for variable skill bonuses, that's not a bad prize. I had thought of suggesting it, but was going to wait for this debate to simmer down before adding more to the pot.
Are your thoughts of race balance based purely on high power games? If so, we'll likely never reach an agreement, beacuse we don't have balance points for races, and we should. We're trying to force a static system onto a fluid framework.
@Ghostwheel- These rules certainly encourage more class/race diversity that the current ones, no arguement here. As for point buy, I actually don't use it. 4d6 rolled seven times, drop the lowest. That's just me though. If you're creating these rules specifically to be used with point buy, increasing it certainly isn't a bad idea, but the suggestion wasn't simply to make PCs more powerful (and thusly I can't say if I agree of disagree). I do, however, find it acceptable to allow someone to exceed a score of 18 at first level (by virtue of a racial modifier mind you).
Everything I'm trying to suggest is an addition to what Ghost has already laid out. I'm not suggesting he remove things, merely add them. My heart isn't really in a long drawn out debate like I entertain with Storm for that very reason. I like what is there already, I just want there to be more.--Tavis McCricket 00:09, July 3, 2010 (UTC)
We shouldn't have balance points for races, because they should all be roughly equal (within their LA / ECL bracket) to make them equally viable choices in a game. Racial bonuses do set them apart, but they diminish the ability of a race to be an equally viable choice in all classes, and thus in all game types. I don't think it's worth it for differentiation purposes, not where there's ability or whatever differentiation to take it's place. I'd actually be really happy with racial stat maximums though, and getting some differentiation in that way, but that's not on the table here and probably shouldn't be.
I guess we'll just disagree on the blandness of the rules though. I rather like them, though I think they're a bit austere. A dwarf in this is always a dwarf in this, and once per encounter he can call on that dwarfness to do stuff. If he wasn't a dwarf he wouldn't have access to it, and the access is what makes him dwarfish. The access is always there, even if the ability has been used. I wouldn't turn down an additional passive ability for each race though, just to increase individual feel a bit more. And they could maybe use some level based advancement, but it's not especially important to me. - TarkisFlux 00:40, July 3, 2010 (UTC)
As I said on the intro, you/the DM can add all the misc bits if you want to--though I'm not sure how often the elf immunity to ghoul paralysis comes up... And the current abilities of most of the races were hard enough to come up with--do you want to come up with one more passive one for every race? :-P --Ghostwheel 04:45, July 3, 2010 (UTC)
I was wondering if you had thought about incorporating these simplified race's abilities into the Original Race rebuilding? I think that would be fairly awesome to be able to pick some of these instead of something like Bonus Feat. Not sure how many slots each would be worth though. 05:08, September 8, 2010 (UTC)
Not particularly--I see them as two separate variants, and while one can use both I suppose, I feel as though the races would be a little too powerful if one did so. These days I prefer just using this one, since it makes people equal and leads to less optimization. --Ghostwheel

Drow Utility[edit]

So, I'm a drow. I create darkness in my square and the squares adjacent to me. I then move thirty feet away. Does the darkness effect move with me? Quilliard 20:38, August 17, 2010 (UTC)

Negative. Stays where you created it. --Ghostwheel 22:32, August 17, 2010 (UTC)
A rarer piece of knowledge regarding drow: they have horrible flatulence. --Andrew Arnott (talk, email) 23:13, August 17, 2010 (UTC)


The races are supposed to be more-or-less balanced, but in a recent game I started running 4/5 players chose to become human. This leads me to think that humans are overpowered in this variant, which means that they need to be nerfed. Any thoughts on this matter? And how should they be nerfed? Two ideas that came to mind is to choose a feat at first level and to get it until the end of your next turn with a move action, and the other is getting a variable feat once per encounter and that it lasts for 3 rounds.

Thoughts? --Ghostwheel 03:02, October 9, 2010 (UTC)

Everyone else has a limited combat shtick, so that's probably the right track. I have no idea how long fights last in your games, but 3 rounds of "this feat I really want right now" sounds on the long end of duration for something so customizable. It also sounds like something I'd take over most of your races 1/encounter fixed abilities. Maybe the ability to use 1 [fighter] or similar combat feat for 1 minute 1/day would work better, since they'd be trading flexibility for frequency and not be worried about running out of time once they activated it. - TarkisFlux 04:05, October 9, 2010 (UTC)
Hrmm, what if it was for 1-2 rounds? Most combats take 4-8 (usually 6-8) rounds, but if even that sounds better than most others races' abilities I might tone it down further. And allowing fighter feats would still give characters a martial maneuver 1/encounter or the like. --Ghostwheel 04:55, October 9, 2010 (UTC)
I think that sounds better than any of the other racial combat things you have down. Those are situationaly useful. This is useful in any situation where my knowledge of feats (which has to be admittedly large) allows me to find one. I see this being used more than the other ones, and being more useful than them at the same time since it's customized to circumstances. Hence the 1/day suggestion.
You could also just give them a non-reselectable bonus feat at 1st and be done with it. It doesn't have the same limited thing as the others, but it just allows them to be slightly more combat powerful, in the same way that the options provided in the other races allow them to be slightly more powerful. I'm not sure if any of your players are using the reselect aspect though, so this might not actually resolve your issue. - TarkisFlux 05:54, October 9, 2010 (UTC)
I don't see them reselecting either, so that's not really the problem here. It's just that a permanent bonus feat seems to be stronger than any other race on the page :-/ --Ghostwheel 06:00, October 9, 2010 (UTC)
I think it's weaker actually (especially out the gate, less so as you level), but it's better if you need feats for a particular build, or just want to hit your build shtick sooner. So I don't think it's really a power issue, just a "standard operating procedure" issue. It's also easier to work into a build than a new, and possibly counter-synergistic, option, but that doesn't make it stronger than adding another option. Given what you seem to want, I think you need to just make it a specific ability. - TarkisFlux 17:33, October 9, 2010 (UTC)
So you think that humans are good as-is, and people only picked them because they're not used to the new rules? *headtilt* --Ghostwheel 01:00, October 10, 2010 (UTC)
That they're more used to "get an early feat for my build requirements" than "incorporate new encounter ability into strategy" is what I'm suggesting. It moves up your shtick acquisition by a couple of levels, which people seem to want. If you're looking for a particular build as soon as you can get it, the feat is going to look more appealing even though it's very likely less powerful. - TarkisFlux 16:44, October 10, 2010 (UTC)
I am kind of confused about the human's bonus feat. In the beginning of the page it says "Humans get only a single bonus feat at level one, rather than two." First off, regular SRD humans only get one bonus feat at level one, unless you consider the automatic level one feat that all races get to be a bonus feat, which then it makes slightly more sense (the automatic level one feat can be reassigned at the beginning of the day). Am I missing something? The Dire Reverend 11:38, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Fix'd --Ghostwheel 16:46, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

Idea to combine with race rebuilding[edit]

Make each race get 5 points to spend on abilities. They must spend at least 1 point on each type. Abilities cost 3 (really good ability), 2 (good ability), or 1 (average ability) point. So, using some examples from the page here:

  • Elf - Elvish Precision 2, Keen Senses 2, Agile Grace 1
  • Gnome - Infuse Energy 3, Small 1, At Hand 1
  • Half-Orc - Burning Rage 2, Furious Charge 1, Two Worlds in One 2

Something like that. That might also help balance out templates (halflings might have to give up a better ability than "small" to become a daywalker -- they might be disallowed from trading small because it is worth less than Vampiric Toughness). --Andrew Arnott (talk, email) 18:50, October 9, 2010 (UTC)

Could be, though I think that adds too much complexity for what I'm shooting for... --Ghostwheel 01:00, October 10, 2010 (UTC)


Rating dislikes this article and rated it 1 of 4.
The reason listed does not sufficiently justify the rating, and the rater has not responded to a request for additional information.
I actually dislike this. I don't feel that this mechanic of 4th edition really fits in 3.5 as a whole. I vouch for Quey on this one.
A few things; first, as it currently stands, the rating guidelines state that we don't allow IPs to rate. That may change post-discussion, but for now it stands.
Secondly, you've got a terrible reason. Why is it like 4e? Is it because of the bonus to skills? Is it because the bonus to ability scores? Might it be the way it pigeonholes races into specific classes in order to not shoot themselves in the leg?
See? It's NOTHING like 4e. "It sounds like 4e" isn't even a good reason--give ACTUAL reasons rather than just referencing something that isn't even relevant. The only way it's like 4e at all is because it gives combat-relevant abilities that fit the flavor of the race, which makes your race more identifiable and actually feel like it matters more flavorfully. Which is a good thing, as opposed to the way 3.5 does it, where a fighter who's a dwarf vs. a fighter who's a half-orc are almost completely the same if they pick the same feats and are indistinguishable except for flavor differences. Which isn't a good thing. --Ghostwheel (talk) 16:46, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
I added that text to the Rating Articles page based on a consensus that I apparently imagined. Although nobody has reverted it, it should, in recognition of its state of flux, probably not be enforced until after the discussion.
Now, given that this user is free to rate at all, they are free to rate on whatever criteria they wish as long as they can justify those criteria as being characterized by the article's merits (prioritizing those merits however they wish) rather than pure preference. So if this reminds them of 4e and they downrate it because they do not like 4e, that is not a valid rating. If they perceive some real incompatibility between this rule and 3.5e, that is a valid rating. We should assume good faith pending discussion and give them a chance to explain their thoughts more fully, and not consider nullifying the rating until they are given that chance.
Furthermore, the OldRating=NewVersion tag is meant to be used when changes have been made which address the concerns of the rating. Since the concerns are not clear, and they have not been given a chance to clarify them, we should not yet make any assumptions. I have reinstated the rating and hope that discussion from here will be able to clarify the issue of what it is this user dislikes about the article. Give at least a couple days to respond before you assume that the reasons are not valid and nix the rating. Even if this rating does not stand in the end, the user's thoughts should still be heard, right? Don't stress it overly much. It's not going to bump the article out of CommFave before you get a chance to do anything about it. --DanielDraco (talk) 17:23, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Stop that Ghost. It's not a valid use of the tag because you haven't made any substantial changes to address it (and sort of can't without additional details, but that's a different issue). If you think the rating is inappropriate you can make your case and an admin can pull it. If you think the rating doesn't fit the normal removal categories but falls into one that we should have, you can make that case on the ratings page instead and get it removed that way.
And while you're certainly not pidgeonholing in the same way 4e did, I see encounter refresh combat powers and think 4e (or 4e like homebrew, or Legend). So yes, this is better than 4e races, but it includes some 4e like mechanics and I'm not sure the IP is as far off base as you think. - Tarkisflux Talk 22:51, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
He IMed me asking for permission to null the rating. It has been two days since this user has had any activity -- and they had daily activity prior to that -- but I told him simply that I was not going to get in the way of him doing so at this point. I didn't outright tell him he could do it because we don't actually have a process for contesting ratings that might violate our guidelines (though I did say that if he were going do it, he should use that tag because we don't have any other way to null ratings). It seems reasonable that if a rating leaves room for improvement (i.e., any but 4/4) it should specify what should be improved; it is unfair for an article to be permanently saddled with an unfavorable rating just because that rating is too vague to let the author know whether its concerns have been addressed and the rater never responds to a call for clarification. But I was going to begin this discussion about how to patch that hole in our system after the one about anonymous ratings came to a close. In the meantime, I was going to just let this go until this anonymous user responds and gives more detail on the perceived issues. --DanielDraco (talk) 23:05, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
I'd prefer to let this stand for now and just start the second discussion already. It seems unlikely to be remembered and un-blocked after that discussion is completed. More attention on the project page and a second topic may mean that it draws to a close more quickly rather than languishing while we wait for people to weigh in. - Tarkisflux Talk 23:19, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
RatedFavor.png RiverOffers favors this article and rated it 4 of 4!
simplifying it and keeping the heart of what they are. I say YES!
RatedFavor.png BackHandOfFate favors this article and rated it 4 of 4!
While I am usually the type to relish in the details of a character build, I favor this article because it is an attempt to make D&D less time consuming to start up. I respect the attempt to get the game further away from number crunching while not leaving any one race without its merits. The variant rule could, in my view, use some fine tuning. However, as is, I could see myself having a fun time using these races.
Quey dislikes this article and rated it 1 of 4.
This rating refers to a substantially different version of the article, or concerns mentioned in it have already been addressed.
I don't really agree with the reasoning for this variant. Of course certain creatures are going to be less likely to be a great fighter or powerful caster, but so what? Is the game supposed to be an egalitarian wonderland? This may fit better in a 4th or 5th game, but I would not use it in a 3.5 game. It mechanically works okay, but I don't see it as fitting into the system as is.
So what? So you'll never see an orcish wizard or a halfling barbarian who isn't using specific cheese to ignore the penalties they take if the person is concerned about what they can bring to a party or not be outperformed by everyone else. Even worse than that, it shafts the people who don't understand how much it hurts their character to big something as suboptimal as a -2 (or even -4 for an orcish wizard) to their primary stat and who only want to play something that doesn't fit the mold.
So... you support punishing people who want to play something that's not in the teensy tiny little mold that WotC defines? Life isn't fair. That's why games should be, and everyone should have an equal starting point. Or else you should roll a d6 at the start of each chess game to see how many extra rooks you start with. --Ghostwheel (talk) 08:05, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
If you're going to look at it from a pure character statistics standpoint of a player making a character, you simply choose the best race for the class, hands down. If you're going for roleplaying, then it doesn't really matter if race and class don't mesh perfectly. Those are the extremes. I know many people who really go for the optimizing, and a few people who eschew maximum power for interesting roleplaying. But I'm not exactly sure what the big problem is. Are there a lot of people wanting to play a half-orc wizard (who, by the way, get only -2 Int) only to be discouraged by the 5% higher chance that enemies will make their save? I'd hardly call it a punishment, no, not at all. It's a tradeoff. There are many possibilities there, roleplaying wise and for powergaming. But it's not like one blindly goes choosing a race and class combination and then get frustrated and calls the game unfair when the human barbarian does more damage than one's own halfling barbarian (heck, he even gets +2 AC).
I can say I don't really have this problem. I would argue that every base class is viable in every base race. That said, you must accept that not every Cleric is going to be the same, and there are many different ways to make them playable. There's a wide spectrum of options. I am currently playing a monk who (gasp!) didn't take Stunning Fist as a bonus feat. I'm doing wonderfully. My friend made a rogue who dumped Dex. And guess what? It worked out great. And not only are these two characters not only great for roleplaying, they actually performing on par with everyone else, perhaps better than some! That's saying a lot, because we have a couple of those min/maxin', Monkey Grippin', feats and flawsin' power gamers in our group.
Yeah, it isn't fair, but it's only not fair in that, unless you're REALLY unfamiliar game, you're suffering 10% loss at most. And just to be clear, every PLAYER has EXACTLY the same starting point: a blank character sheet. The choices they make are their own, and they live with the consequences. The perceived loss of equality means so many more gains in flavor and mechanics. It doesn't make any sense to have gnomes that are, on average, just as strong as half-orcs.
Just know that D&D has come a long way. It isn't WotC who decided that races are actually different. If you look way back, you'll find that some races had level caps on some classes, or couldn't play some classes at all! I find that interesting too, as it has implications for the world. Some races just didn't produce powerful casters, so what does their civilization do? Players can figure something out. They always do.--Quey (talk) 09:32, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
Going to use quote so I can address each thing.
If you're going to look at it from a pure character statistics standpoint of a player making a character, you simply choose the best race for the class, hands down.
Yes. People do this most of the time. 95% of fighters in general D&D either have a bonus to Constitution, Strength, or get an extra feat (or similar special ability). 95% of wizards do not have a penalty to Intelligence (since many people aren't familiar with the gray elf I won't say that they are played often, but you don't see people with penalties to their main scores). This variant fixes, that, allowing people to play whatever they want without feeling pressured to choose the "best" race. This allows people who are normally optimizers to roleplay what they want more. How is this a bad thing again?
If you're going for roleplaying, then it doesn't really matter if race and class don't mesh perfectly.
This would be true were D&D a game that focused on story rather than game mechanics. Instead, 90% of the PHB is geared towards combat and how different character options change the way you overcome challenges. Thus, "roleplayers" who decide to take crap options because they're "roleplaying" not only shoot themselves in the foot, but shaft themselves and their party. When the DM plans an encounter, he generally expects people to contribute to an encounter. If someone isn't contributing, there is a higher likelihood of A. people dying, which generally isn't good for the story, and B. for the player who's not contributing to feel as though they're worthless in the major parts that game mechanics focus on (combat and overcoming encounters), and C. for players who enjoy character optimization to be labeled as "munchkins" and "powergamers" who don't "really roleplay" and are just in it to "win the game". (See Stormwind Fallacy if you want more information on why this is a stupid line of thought.)
My point is, if you want to roleplay and want not to have to think about optimizing and power, then D&D probably is not the right system for you since it puts so much of its focus on combat and overcoming challenges. See Don't Rest Your Head, FATE, and Riddle of Steel for RPGs that better fit that game paradigm.
But I'm not exactly sure what the big problem is.
The big problem is that being worse mechanically than many other characters in the party can lead to bad feelings amongst players unless it is stated beforehand and understood that you won't contribute much in combat and that your build probably isn't very viable compared to that of other players and that the DM should adjust encounters accordingly. The problem is that people expect the designers to know everything and write everything perfectly, and that Toughness is just as viable as Shock Trooper, Robilar's Gambit, Combat Brute, Power Attack, and the like. But this obviously isn't the case, and then those people feel confused and angry when their character sucks because Bill took those better feats and is a dirty powergaming munchkin.
Are there a lot of people wanting to play a half-orc wizard (who, by the way, get only -2 Int) only to be discouraged by the 5% higher chance that enemies will make their save? I'd hardly call it a punishment, no, not at all. It's a tradeoff.
Orcs specifically? Maybe not. But what about centaur wizards, orcish wizards, aasimar wizards, drow wizards, goblin wizards, goliath wizards, and more? Not only do poor ability adjustments hurt people who want to play those as wizards, but also LA and racial HD are killers to character power most of the time, especially on casters. This variant allows you to play any of the above and be just as viable as that elvish who paraded his 20 Intelligence at level one in your face. See above why being worse because of a flavor choice is a bad thing.
Incidentally, your same argument could be made for why wizards should be inherently more powerful than fighters--after all, flavorfully, wizards can move mountains and light whole towns on fire. Why shouldn't they be more powerful than fighters? This actually says, "You should suck because of what you wanted to play" to the fighter, which is mean, cruel, and overall malicious. Why should the fighter suck just because he wanted to be a fighter? Why shouldn't the fighter get nice things? What do you have against the fighter that makes you want to screw them over so hard that they feel intensely small in the pants every time the wizard casts a spell to remind them of how worthless they are? See more here. (No, seriously, read that link. It's got good stuff.)
But it's not like one blindly goes choosing a race and class combination and then get frustrated and calls the game unfair when the human barbarian does more damage than one's own halfling barbarian
"Oooh, playing a tiny halfling who foams at the mouth and bites his enemy's knees off would be so cool! That's an amazing image/concept, and I totally want to play that! ...Oh. What do you mean it's not very good? What do you mean, I'll suck far more and will help the group far less? But it's such a cool concept... Ugh. Should I sacrifice my ability to actually be awesome, or my concept? >_<"
This variant fixes that. It still makes halflings harder to hit and do slightly less damage, but doesn't screw them over like the core rules do. So yeah, having a concept that's invalidated by the rules sucks hard, and should not be advocated by anyone who thinks that players should have the freedom to choose what they play.
I can say I don't really have this problem. I would argue that every base class is viable in every base race.
What about other races that are playable straight out of the monster manual? Do tell me how viable a centaur wizard is? That and it really depends on your definition of "viable"--no, I would say that a wizard who starts with an intelligence of 14 (16 base, -2 racial) is pretty damn weak. Will go more into this later.
That said, you must accept that not every Cleric is going to be the same, and there are many different ways to make them playable.
I never said that every cleric was the same, so please don't put words into my mouth. I will say, though, that 95% of clerics are not going to have a penalty to Wisdom, and will usually try to have a bonus feat, or a bonus to Wisdom, Constitution, Charisma, and/or Strength depending on the type of cleric. This makes it so you can play ANY of the races on the article page without shooting yourself in the foot.
I am currently playing a monk who (gasp!) didn't take Stunning Fist as a bonus feat.
Ummm... dude. Sorry to tell you, but stunning fist kinda sucks. Its DC is terrible with the MAD that monks suffer from, it needs to be declared before making an attack, and it requires two successful rolls that are slanted against the monk (attack roll, slanted against due to MAD and medium BAB, DC, slanted against due to MAD). So that's cool. That said, there is a reason why the monk is put in the Low power range along with the CW Samurai and Soulknife. If you're playing a Low power game, then playing D&D out of the book probably doesn't hurt you much anyway, since encounters will rarely ever be actually challenging to characters of higher balance ranges, assuming you don't die every session. That said, for parties that actually face challenging encounters, building badly can result in a TPK when everyone is expected to pull their weight. Also see the blog I linked to before on why inherently having power is better for non-optimizers and newbies than having options be where power comes from. (Seriously, read it.)
My friend made a rogue who dumped Dex.
Is he str-based? Then he's not actually shooting himself in the foot, as he went with a stat that not only adds to his attack rolls, but also to his damage. Even in Moderate-power games, str-based rogues are very viable. So not really seeing how this is pertinent, unless you're trying to throw a red herring my way. Are you? :-/
And guess what? It worked out great. And not only are these two characters not only great for roleplaying, they actually performing on par with everyone else, perhaps better than some!
See Low-balance games. Encounters aren't dangerous compared to what high-level balance characters would normally face. (And remember the chart assumes that one monster with those stats is going to be present for every PC in the party. This is what High-level PCs can take on, and still win against without too many problems.)
That's saying a lot, because we have a couple of those min/maxin', Monkey Grippin', feats and flawsin' power gamers in our group.
...You do know that Monkey Grip is one of the worst trap feats in the game, right? Here, let me explain ... with MATH!
Let's say you monkey grip a greatsword. You go from 2d6 to 3d6 damage. This is an increase of 1d6 damage, or 3.5 on average (since (1+6)/2 is 3.5) for which you're taking a -2 penalty to attack.
Let's compare this to Power Attack with a similar two-handed weapon. You take a -2 to attack for +4 damage. So this is already higher. But more than that, you can decide not to take the penalty on the fly, allowing you to hit higher-AC opponents more, or take a bigger penalty, to do more damage to lower-AC enemies, and on top of that it works with any two-handed weapon, rather than just the oversized sword you're carrying. And that's with the best case scenario.
So... yeah, Monkey Grip sucks, man. It's a total trap feat which I'd rate Low at the highest, since there isn't a lower balance range.
Yeah, it isn't fair, but it's only not fair in that, unless you're REALLY unfamiliar game, you're suffering 10% loss at most.
Except it isn't "only 10%". For a wizard, it's also number of spells per day from bonus slots (and they need as many as they can get), number of spells at first level, and on damage spells and the like, it actually reduces the effective damage by around double that. Let me know if you disagree and I can show you the math on that.
And just to be clear, every PLAYER has EXACTLY the same starting point: a blank character sheet.
Except when it comes to concepts. See above for the player that has a TOTALLY COOL CONCEPT and is shot down because it doesn't work mechanically. This variant allows people with wacky concepts that are totally cool and unique not to feel small in the pants compared to the person who took the best possible race. Which I think you'll agree is a good thing.
The choices they make are their own, and they live with the consequences.
So... you feel it's fine to suck because you want to play a certain concept? That's harsh, man. Really.
The perceived loss of equality means so many more gains in flavor and mechanics.
Not in mechanics. Mechanically you get shafted. That's what racial penalties to prime stats mean. Flavor is variable. But what if you could play that kooky centaur wizard and not suck? This lets you do just that.
It doesn't make any sense to have gnomes that are, on average, just as strong as half-orcs.
In the world at large? I agree with you 100%. But PCs are exceptional individuals, and special. In fact, they are so special that most of the PHB is filled with classes and abilities that are specifically tailored to PCs that 99.9% of NPCs can't take or use.
Just know that D&D has come a long way. It isn't WotC who decided that races are actually different. If you look way back, you'll find that some races had level caps on some classes, or couldn't play some classes at all!
Not sure how this is pertinent... more red herrings? I'll eat em for breakfast. That said, that was dumb way back when, since it meant that even if you had an idea for this awesome orcish wizard who had grown up as a curiosity and a "pet" or was experimented on and learned wizardry, you were banned from that concept just because the rules told you that you couldn't play it. And IMO rules are there to empower a player, not crap on them.
Some races just didn't produce powerful casters, so what does their civilization do?
Get screwed over for the most part. That said, PCs are exceptional individuals, and sometimes become gods and do other crazy stuff. The rules should not exist to shaft and crap on the players. Is that what you're advocating? That the rules exist to make PCs feel small in the pants, powerless, unable to play what they want, and useless in general? Because if that's the case, then I think you have more than enough right to dislike this, as it does the opposite, empowering players to play whatever concept they want without feeling as though they're getting screwed over. Just want to make sure I understand right, do you think that PCs should be made impotent by the rules, rather than empowered? --Ghostwheel (talk) 10:45, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
Sorry Ghost, but I must quibble with your quibble of lengthy length and stuff. I haven't rated this article due to it being mechanically sound but really not my style, and I shall now explain why people enjoy their ability scores, and other tidbits. You see, a +2 ability boost is a benefit and as we all know, unless you're playing counterculture you're probably gonna pick a race which benefits your class. However, what you fail to consider is that ability scores are not the only benefit. Indeed, other racial traits are often benefits to a class without an associated ability boost to the class. The most common and obvious one is the human bonus feat, but there are others. Consider the +1 DC on illusions for shadowcasting gnomes. Consider the benefits of small sized races for casters. Consider the benefits of dwarf movement in heavy armor for heavy armor builds. These are all benefits of a sort. Ability scores are just one of an array of benefit.
As Quey pointed out, a +2 is useful but not gamebreakingly so, not necessarily more than the other aforementioned benefits you might draw from a race. I'm probably not gonna reach you here since I know you're convinced of the power of a simple +1 on the RNG, but for some of us a +1 is pathetic. You also discount that optimization is a sliding scale... you will optimize, but only "enough". Enough varies from person to person and game to game, but optimization is not a yes or no binary thing. Sometimes, we WILL be halfling barbarians and we WILL be orc sorcerers if we think we can pull it off, if we think we're optimized enough in other areas. And there are builds tailored to these very things. Not every bard needs high Cha. Not every rogue is Dex based. Those are just the common ones.
There's a little phenomina when it comes to things like mandatory seat belt laws and other such things. When a state has manditory seat belts, reckless driving goes up. Why? It turns out the brain is wired to accept X amount of danger. If the belt is off, danger rises and they drive more careful to compensate. If the belt is on, the brain thinks its safe and hits the pedal to the metal. If they get distracted or there's noise or something else, they go cautious to compensate. This is what I mean by discounting the amount of optimization and optimizing "enough". Players optimize for X. They may reach X by picking the best race for the job, or they might pick a suboptimal race but mix and match feats and ACFs to be awesome. They will continue to optimize until they hit X. In the example halfling barbarian, I personally would make him power attack focused so that my inability to deal maximum strength all the time wouldn't be an issue. In fact, I might optimize it by picking up weapon finesse and a finessable one or two-hander, and picking the rage with the Dex boost. Again, I'm hitting like any barbarian, but using my abilities and I've got the other benefits of high Dex to boost.
Don't get me wrong. I like versatility. I made the humanblood template just for people who wanted Dwarven Sorcerers and didn't want to have to deal with Cha-poor sorcerer builds only. But there it's an option to trade the normal bonuses for no bonuses but more versatility. It's why your style chafes me, because I know you see that 20 in a stat and think "omgerd broken".
Now I think Quey wasn't referring to LA 1+ monsters in his argument, because the higher ECL you go, the more pidgeonholing you get since some of your levels have already been decided for you through LA and RHD (usually). His argument really only works on LA 0, which is fine. LA 0 is supposed to have only minor pidgeonholing so you COULD step outside the hole if you see fit, something harder to do when you already have ECL packaged in with it. I'll give you that he's using anecdotal evidence though. Quey, if you're reading this, saying "but my party uses this fine" is what I'm referring to, since it doesn't necessarily mean it actually is fine for others. (The more you knooooooooow.)
I suppose the idea situation though, if you really wanted to avoid races being bad at something, is removing penalties but keeping bonuses. Pathfinder sorta did this, all the races are overall +2. This lets you play a rogue any-race, even if elves and halflings had superior Dex behind theirs. Anyway, I didn't rate this BECAUSE it's too alien for me, but maybe you can understand the mindset of those who DO want some of these differences. We don't hate people playing outside their race, honest. -- Eiji-kun (talk) 11:22, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
I understand why people like bonuses to ability scores. I also addressed the additional benefits in my last post. That said, I think that belief is outdated, Gygaxian, tries to bring "realism" to a gamist game where it has no place, and overall hurts the game on the whole, and have been given no reasons that it doesn't when it interferes with character concepts--you know, the part people get excited about pre-game. You can say that you think that an on average 20% increase to damage is insignificant, but you can't argue that it makes no difference when playing a star elf vs. a half orc sorcerer. If you argue with math... well, at that point you may as well argue that the purple unicorn and the spaghetti monster control all of humankind. (No, that IS NOT an invitation for you to silly things up. I'm illustrating false beliefs without resorting to real religions that might offend people.)
Much of what you said is honestly irrelevant--different builds and stats required don't invalidate my argument--or if they do, I fail to understand how they invalidate it, so you'll need to explain why they do.
That said, 4e tried to remove penalties, and there according to some prominent theory-crafters that I used to follow, there you are affected even more by that -1 than in 3.5 where you could take a penalty to the stat, which seems counterintuitive to me, but there you have it... --Ghostwheel (talk) 11:53, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
I'll admit to TL;DR on this conversation. But I would like to briefly note the observation that Quey and Surgo gave non-positive reviews on bases which contradict one another: Quey is unhappy with the effort to balance all races in all roles, whereas Surgo feels that some races do indeed remain better in one role than in another. Maybe if those specializations that Surgo sees are brought to light, they will address Quey's concerns. --DanielDraco (talk)
RatedLike.png Fluffykittens likes this article and rated it 3 of 4.
Far better than the current system- unfortunately, it interacts poorly than the current system in some ways, but it solves more problems than it creates.
RatedNeutral.png Surgo is neutral on this article and rated it 2 of 4.
Not a bad take, but I don't think it really does what it promises. For example, catfolk still make the best fighting men after level 6. There's no numerical advantage, but the ability provides a benefit that's far and away better for fighting men than almost any other ability on the page would.

Ultimately, I don't believe the shoehorning is avoidable and would like to see some acknowledgment of it. It is better than the shoehorning provided by races with stat modifiers (we can finally have orc spellcasters now yay), but it still exists.

Also, I just can't get behind a system where you can't put a 20 in a stat to start.

I've talked to a few people, and there are a variety of opinions on which race is "the best" for the "fighting man" which makes me think that there is no best and that it's actually pretty balanced. Also, if you really want a 20 to a stat (how is that even important? Why is it so important? It does nothing but stat bloat), just give each player a +2 bonus to put into whatever stat they want. Not that hard, and doesn't shoehorn anyone. --Ghostwheel (talk) 08:30, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
RatedFavor.png DanielDraco favors this article and rated it 4 of 4!
Huh. Yeah, this is a much better way to do things. I think any races I write in the future will take this approach.

RatedFavor.png Havvy favors this article and rated it 4 of 4!
Simplifying the practical anarchy of rules that is 3.5e races in such a way that they get the meat of what makes the game fun: powers, leads to better enjoyment and less jumping through hoops to find statistical bonuses. It also removes the pitfalls of level adjustment and monstrous hit dice that came with Savage Species.

RatedFavor.png ThunderGod Cid favors this article and rated it 4 of 4!
Although I slightly contributed to this page, that doesn't take away from the merits of its premise. You get the bulk of what people want in a race without jumping through all the hoops of Level Adjustment and/or Racial Hit Dice, and races still manage to be unique and flavorful. All in all, it offers a lot of solid options; now it just needs more.

RatedFavor.png MisterSinister favors this article and rated it 4 of 4!
This is one of the best implementations of races that I have read. I'm a full subscriber to this philosophy, and believe that it's the best way to avoid shoehorning people into race-class pairs, but at the same time make it so that people playing different races feel different. While I find the ability listing a bit arbitrarily-weighted (but that's just Ghost's focus on combat and numbers talking again), the basic premise is very good.

RatedLike.png Foxwarrior likes this article and rated it 3 of 4.
For the sorts of races that WotC seems to like; that is, lots of different creatures that are basically humanoid, this variant rule distills everything that is interesting about such races down into a concise, mechanically interesting, and distinct trio of abilities, instead of the numeric nonsense that 3.5e generally uses. Such a sorting mechanism also makes it easy to design new races for campaign-specific purposes on the go. However, it's not a very nice system for making really weird races, like birds, bees, and bouncy castles.

RatedFavor.png Aarnott favors this article and rated it 4 of 4!
This allows just so many more options than the traditional race rules without being more complex. I love the fact that each race offers a unique feel, but also doesn't straightjacket towards any particular class.

Skill ranks[edit]

For the catfolk passive ability, it states that they are considered to have a number of ranks in the climb and jump skills equal to their HD + 3. Do these skill ranks qualify them for feats, prestige classes, and the like, much as normal ranks do? Paleomancer 23:59, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

Yes. --Ghostwheel 04:24, 23 February 2011 (UTC)


Only tieflings have any sort of darkvision or low light vision. Why?

Probably because it's a pretty boring ability to have as only one of three.
Given the balance of night vision in D&D normally, it would probably be more accurate to give Humans Night Blindness instead. --Foxwarrior 02:28, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
But it seems that darkvision is very important for races such as drow or dwarves, if for nothing more than flavor. Is there any way to incorporate minor abilities like that?

Bonus Damage in Combat Abilities[edit]

It seems to me that the range of effectiveness for racial bonus damage (specifically elemental bonuses versus, say, stealth attack bonuses) are pretty far divided. The genasi, for example, get elemental bonus damage when dealing damage of that element once per encounter--so that's a somewhat strenous requirement to fulfill for damage that could very well resisted or immunity'd away. The goblin, on the other hand, gets an equal amount of untyped bonus damage on every attack in the first round of combat. Especially at the higher levels, I see a strong distinction between goblin meleers and air genasi thunder mages.

I feel like the some of the damage abilities should be toned down or up, because they really don't match up well. --YouLostMe (talk) 02:06, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Alternatively, that air genasi could just use a shocking sword :-P
That said, you're not always going first, which is why the goblin gets a bigger boost while the air genasi, taking into consideration their ability and having ways to activate it, will almost always get it off in combat which is why it's slightly stronger. --Ghostwheel (talk) 07:06, 1 November 2012 (UTC)
I don't think that's balancing. At higher levels, the damage type the genasi deals (iff they use electricity attacks, only once per encounter) is one that every outsider basically has immunity to, but the damage the goblin deals doesn't allow DR or ER or anything, and comes off any kind of attack. Being able to only do that on the first round means the goblin will at be doing very potent damage 8/10 combats, while the air genasi is stuck doing piddly damage 2/10 combats. --08:35, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Base Assumptions[edit]

There appear to be some stats that you've assumed, rather than actually putting into the page. Things like creature type, size, speed, automatic/bonus languages, and (for those poor souls who use this rule) favored classes. --DanielDraco (talk) 21:46, 16 February 2013 (UTC)

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