Dungeons and Dragons – Races Revised
So, one thing that has bugged me about D&D is the handling of races, specifically we have half-races but the default seems to be “Half Human” and half something else, what if I want to be a Half Orc-Half Elf?
As part of last nights purchase of DMSGuild’s Black Lives Matter bundle I came upon Grazilaxx’s Guide to Ancestry which manages races slightly differently.
So lets cover how the Guide to Ancestry works, I won’t give you everything (it’s a simple work, and I suggest you buy it as part of the bundle, it’s a steal) but I’ll show you how it works, and why (and how) it can give me a theoretical half-dwarf/half-dragonborn.
To start with, we detach the racial Ability Score Improvement, instead moving that to either class, or background, this means your Strength heavy races will no longer be the optimal choice for a Melee class.
“But Silent!” I hear you cry “A half-orc must surely be stronger than a human?” To which I reply this:
Your stats are rolled, you’re always going to make your strongest stat the one your class relies upon, that bonus from race makes such little sense in the framing of the game, roll perfect on your Strength of 18, add a 2 due to racial heritage and you’re fundeamentally now as strong as a hill giant.
In what world does it make sense that a Hill Giant and a Half-Orc can have comparable strength? The system isn’t nuanced enough for the power disparity between a Strength of 20, and 21, so we can sort of ignore the numbers in favour of the fun, right?
By moving the ASI to either class or background, we can now have a Halfling who has spent their life training and can defeat your Half-Orc who spent their lives studying the arcane arts.
Next up, racial features, such as Darkvision, or Halfling Luck, are separated into major (a feature that applies to the entire race) and minor features (subrace).
They’re moved to a very simple point-buy like system, I won’t explain this one but it is so easy I explained it to my players in a single line and they understood it fine.
The minor features are also moved from a subrace, to a.. well, region of origin, so instead of just being a Drow, it’s Elves from the Underdark Region, Shadar-Kai? Shadowfell Region, this means skin colour and physical attributes are not the main thing we focus on (kind of like it, you might disagree).
So how does this allow us to go Half-Dwarf/Half-Dragonborn?
Simple, when buying racial features, you can now draw from both pools, when buying my major features I can take from both races, and the same for minor racial features.
This can give me a character who has spent their life on the surface, and has (for their major features) Dwarven Resilience (advantage against poison) and a breath weapon, sacrificing Darkvision that doesn’t make sense for the character itself.
For minor features, we can take Tamer from the Dwarven heritage, and the Dragonborn’s Imposing Figure.
Then as a description we’ve got a Dwarf covered in dragon scales, who has spent their life on the surface with animals, sounds like a druid to me, eh?
There are a few other rules they add, to try and make sure your character doesn’t feel underwhelming but I’m hoping you get the idea with what I say so far.
Ultimately, this is a flexible system that means your races are not all one size fits all, it stops you from worrying if you’re taking a sub-optimal route in your character build.
Going forward, I will be using this system for anything longer than a single session, heck it’s pretty much all I imagined in a reworked racial system.
Go buy it, while the BLM bundle is up go buy that, and have fun.
Also, fuck racial alignment.