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I think people are holding the ability score system too close to heart. Once upon a time it represented a mostly static part of the character, but with the release of 3.0 that undamentally changed. ASIs became a common part of your progression.

Ability Scores also stopped making sense with respects to the lore established in earlier editions when we had non-linear scaling. I'd hardly consider 20 the peak of hunan performance when all it does is make you a flat 25% better at doing task X, like attacking with a weapon or remembering something.

As of the last 22 years or so, Ability Scores in dnd are just a game mechanic for stat progression. Needlessly limiting certain races in certain classes was annoying back in 2e and we don’t need it now. Biological traits can and should be represented as abilities like the orcs' Powerful Build, not a limitation of what classes you’re allowed to start with a good stat set for.

If you want to make all your elves have a +2 dex, the game lets you either by choosing a +dex background or making / modifying one. You haven't lost anything for your character. You’re just trying to dictate that the base rules for everyones characters have to follow your preferences.

Everytime a topic like this comes up, I think people should ask themselves a couple of questions.
1) Did I lose the ability to make the character I want?
2) Should my preferences have to affect everyones games by being in the base rules?

And bonus question:
3) Does my obsession with having humanoid races (usually heavily inspired by real world people) follow exact physical and mental attribute say anything about my own biases?

Quick cheat sheet for most RPGs:
1) No, you can still make your elf rogue or orc barbarian.
2) No, don’t be so selfish.
3) Seems likely.


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"can and should" is a personal opinion that not everyone shares. Should my preferences have to affect everyone's game by being in the base rules, can be level at each side of this debate, so it's not really helpful, especially if something else you say might be construed as a personal attack.

The irony about ability score increases in 3e and 5e is that you'd think with bounded accuracy what doesn't work in 3e actually might in 5e, a +5 modification in 3e is just one of half a dozen modifiers you're putting in, but 5e was designed around tamping down that kind of power creep, I hope the designers tried to work around it more with the revision.

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Your preference means some race/class combinations are objectively better than others, while mine makes it easier to play whatever race/class combination one wants to. These are not the same.

Mine is objectively better, as it does not mechanically punish someone for trying something outside the stereotype. I don't care what you consider "elvish" or "realistic" or whatnot, I care about the mechanics.

The fact that you still get to make all your elves +2 dex characters also invalidates all arguments I've seen in favor of fixed bonuses, since you still get to follow that restriction without even needing to homebrew anything, if you want to. So you are completely covered under these rules.

The basic rules should cater to everyone's characters, not just yours. The system has been better at covering everyone in Tasha's and now One D&D, so it is better. There are no arguments to the contrary that doesn’t boil down to "everyone must cater to my preferences", so I hold those arguments as invalid and not worth serious consideration.



If you feel targetted by 3), maybe you should engage in some self reflection about why you care so much about putting hunanoid races into neatly defined boxes so badly. I'm not suggesting that as a joke, it really cones across as more than a little weird.


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Don't call something objectively better when you're just talking about what you consider a better game. Making game mechanics race agnostic doesn't necessarily make the game better, it makes your munchkin easier to build. Have you considered just playing a storytelling game without any written rules, what about the game mechanics is it that you feel having racial statistics takes away from you?

I'm going to go out on a limb here...*creak* and say....*crack* that most DM's don't use the published material as written very long into their Dm'ing career...*snap* *Abe's Oddyssee fall*

But having a baseline to work from gives you the ability to improvise later on. I would say that every D&D setting operates off the baseline like this, but it's important to learn those basic rules in order to break them.

You haven't said anything really to engage with my argument, hopefully we can move on from your insinuations to something a little more productive, but if you just want to call me a racist that's fine too.

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I completely agree re: #3.

Constraining all members of fictional races to certain biological archetypes has big 1930s eugenics energy. *Race X are always stupid but strong. Race Y are always nimble. Race Z are always smart.*

I'm glad we seem to be moving away from that. There's a lot of role play potential to be had in Orc Sorcerers and Drow Life Clerics. And it makes much more sense for Backgrounds and Classes to go hand in hand, like Criminal-Rogues and Sage-Wizards. So what if that criminal rogue is a High Elf or the Sage Wizard is a goblin? Those are the kind of combinations that make for good storytelling. If you can't compass those possibilities, then it's your imagination that is lacking, not the system.

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On Earth we have one race, in fantasy we have many. I understand that because of this parallel people get cagey about the subject, but unlike on earth, there are different races in D&D...I don't know what else to say.

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tl;dr: Races in D&D (essentially different species/aliens) should be distinct.

Another important question to ask is "How does the presence (or lack of) racial ASIs affect worldbuilding and race-feel?" Removing racial ASIs serves to homogenize all the classes, bringing them closer to "humans with some special powers" than distinct races (read as "species" or "aliens") with entirely different physical and mental characteristics and ways of interacting with the world.

You (@TomReneth) touch on this with your comment on how "biological traits should be represented as abilities: e.g., all orcs should have Powerful Build," but by extension, this has to be true for all races in order to make up for the disappearance of racial ASIs. And a big issue is that WotC is not, in my opinion, adding sufficient/distinct enough traits to races.

E.g.,
  • Ardlings have flight, spells, and DR, none of which really distinguish them physically or mentally from humans with a few special powers. E.g., Cat legacy Ardlings are incredibly similar to Elephant legacy Ardlings - both can shove, attack, jump, stealth, etc equally well - which just feels wrong/boring.
  • Dragonborn have their limited use breath weapon and DR. Again, this is very similar to humans with some extra powers.
  • Dwarves have Toughness and resistance to poisons. This is good; they are as a race, physically more hardy than humans
  • Elves get the Fey Ancestry and Perception proficiency (plus spells, ugh). This is okay...good that elves in general are more perceptive than humans/other races, but perception proficiency is so easy to pick up that in practice this will have little compared to other player races. Expertise would be better imo.
  • Gnomes...get advantage on mental STs. This is...okay. Still pretty close to humans, but more resistant to mental effects. It feels too reactive to really be a defining Gnome trait.
  • Halflings get Nimbleness, Brave, and Naturally Stealthy. Distinct physical traits and skills their race excels at. Good.
  • Orcs get Powerful Build and Relentless Endurance. Good. (although it feels silly that Powerful Build doesn't affect things like shove and grapple)
  • Tieflings get resistance to a damage type and a spell, which is boring. Basically humans with magic.


I worry that WotC will continue the trend of Ardlings and Tieflings, where the major difference between races (and between subraces) is whether they get darkvision, DR to one damage type, and what spells they get at 1st, 3rd, and 5th level. That will make for an incredibly boring world and put even more work on the DM to come up with any distinctions in races - culture, values, physical differences, etc.

*All of the above is subjective, obviously.

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Dnd has a simple goal when it comes to building characters; let us play who and what we want to play. Not restricting stat bonuses to races makes it easier to do that than having race restricted bonuses, since we are not punishing people mechanically for picking the "wrong" option.

So, yes, we can determine that the system in Tasha's and One D&D is objectively better. It's not hard to do with such a simple goal.

What makes me (and apparently others) wonder about peoples biases is that they argue against the ruleset giving us more freedom based on their personal preferences when those preferences can still be expressed in the system. You want all elves to have +2 dex, you can give all your elves +2 dex in these rules. You have literally lost nothing except, as Eagle so succinctly pointed out, a 1930s eugenics energy.



Of course, that fantasy races are often inspired by real world groups definitely makes this worse. Did you know that Tolkien's orcs were heavily inspired by what he saw as the worst traits of mongols? He wrote it in one of his many letters. Knowing that and how much Tolkien inspired modern fantasy, saying orcs and half-orcs have to be big, strong and dumb gives some really bad vibes.


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@mrfuji3

That is a completely separate discussion. Personally, I think the differences should be on the minor side and mostly flavor, because i care more about giving players freedom than making sure x race is better in y class.

Maybe give each race a selection of feats they can choose at lvl 1? Some overlapping with other races, like toughness, some unique to them. Would certainly help in getting away from race x->class y thinking.


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Originally Posted by TomReneth
@mrfuji3

That is a completely separate discussion. Personally, I think the differences should be on the minor side and mostly flavor, because i care more about giving players freedom than making sure x race is better in y class.

Maybe give each race a selection of feats they can choose at lvl 1? Some overlapping with other races, like toughness, some unique to them. Would certainly help in getting away from race x->class y thinking.
It's not completely separate. ASIs relate to the default characteristics of races in one's game-world, which affects how NPCs act and how players relate to the different races. Are elves more naturally nimble but less hardy and strong than humans? Such a distinction might mean that elves, as a whole, are very wary about entering a human's (or an orc's) melee range because they know they could be easily hurt. It also allows a player to play against their race: putting most of my elf's stats into strength or con (or another example: being a very smart orc).

Without ASIs and/or sufficiently distinct racial abilities, you lose some of this characterization. The DM can of course assert that e.g., orcs in their world are dumb and gnomes are smart, but I want officially published D&D books to have racial distinctions by default. A DM can then optionally remove and/or change those racial traits.

Racial feats could be fine in addition, as long as they are distinct and not just "you get access to this spell." But I do think that there should be a certain base level of ~unique differences in D&D races.

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Originally Posted by TomReneth
Dnd has a simple goal when it comes to building characters; let us play who and what we want to play.
Can you give me a source for this assertion? It's not really my expectation.

I also don't mind having negative modifiers, I don't mind stat limitations, I don't mind permanent ability damage or death saving throws. I think the game used to expect your character to take two steps forward and one step back, but they've gradually taken the steps back out of the game but forgotten to also nerf your steps forward.

For it to be objectively better, then I would find it more enjoyable, I don't, so what now? You'll get nowhere by substituting in "objectivity" for an argument, it'll just become circular logic, it is better because it is better.

If you want to read more about fantasy race as allegory check out Racist Tropes on Drow STOP IT though it was locked for a reason, some of it was still interesting

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Originally Posted by mrfuji3
Originally Posted by TomReneth
@mrfuji3

That is a completely separate discussion. Personally, I think the differences should be on the minor side and mostly flavor, because i care more about giving players freedom than making sure x race is better in y class.

Maybe give each race a selection of feats they can choose at lvl 1? Some overlapping with other races, like toughness, some unique to them. Would certainly help in getting away from race x->class y thinking.
It's not completely separate. ASIs relate to the default characteristics of races in one's game-world, which affects how NPCs act and how players relate to the different races. Are elves more naturally nimble but less hardy and strong than humans? Such a distinction might mean that elves, as a whole, are very wary about entering a human's (or an orc's) melee range because they know they could be easily hurt. It also allows a player to play against their race: putting most of my elf's stats into strength or con (or another example: being a very smart orc).

Without ASIs and/or sufficiently distinct racial abilities, you lose some of this characterization. The DM can of course assert that e.g., orcs in their world are dumb and gnomes are smart, but I want officially published D&D books to have racial distinctions by default. A DM can then optionally remove and/or change those racial traits.

Racial feats could be fine in addition, as long as they are distinct and not just "you get access to this spell." But I do think that there should be a certain base level of ~unique differences in D&D races.

"Playing against race" is really a more polite euphemism for playing a gimped character though. It might be interesting, but I really don't think that is enough justification for making some races worse at some classes / playstyles. Player freedom simply has to trumph in this consideration, as far as I am concerned. Racial flavor, as far as I am concerned, should be just that; flavor. Not mechanical advantages or disadvantages.


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If we could make a system that gave different mechanics to every race for every check they made, that would be incredible, orcs get +4 when lifting objects, halflings get advantage when locating pork pies by smell, but without covering the world in leather we cover our feet and those situates are consolidated into the Ability score system, so that every situation undefined by the rules doesn't need to be dealt with individually

There were plenty of race-locked feats in 3e too, I didn't particularly care for those, but we'll see where One D&D goes.

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Sounds like an awful system and, no, the ability score system didn't adress that. It just reduced player freedom needlessly.


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Awful how? It's what you like about the One D&D system, isn't it? And how does the ability score system not address ability checks for each race?

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Originally Posted by TomReneth
"Playing against race" is really a more polite euphemism for playing a gimped character though. It might be interesting, but I really don't think that is enough justification for making some races worse at some classes / playstyles. Player freedom simply has to trumph in this consideration, as far as I am concerned. Racial flavor, as far as I am concerned, should be just that; flavor. Not mechanical advantages or disadvantages.
You're allowed to want that for your game and have that opinion about playing a gimped character. Not everyone does though.

Originally Posted by Sozz
If we could make a system that gave different mechanics to every race for every check they made, that would be incredible, orcs get +4 when lifting objects, halflings get advantage when locating pork pies by smell, but without covering the world in leather we cover our feet and those situates are consolidated into the Ability score system, so that every situation undefined by the rules doesn't need to be dealt with individually.
A simpler system could be giving bonuses to generic ability checks (and maybe STs?).

Orcs get +2 to all strength checks and saving throws (not attack rolls, except maybe those relating to shove/being shoved).
Elves get a +2 to all dexterity checks and perception checks, and +2 to STs against charmed.
Halflings get +2 to all dexterity checks and their nimble traits.
Gnomes get a +2 to intelligence checks and +2 on mental STs (again, doesn't add to a wizard's spell bonus/DC)
Etc (The "+2" could be modified with "+PB", "expertise", "Advantage" or any other value.)

This way, every race-class combo remains roughly equal in power for attack/spell purposes, but there are still distinct differences.

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Originally Posted by mrfuji3
Originally Posted by TomReneth
"Playing against race" is really a more polite euphemism for playing a gimped character though. It might be interesting, but I really don't think that is enough justification for making some races worse at some classes / playstyles. Player freedom simply has to trumph in this consideration, as far as I am concerned. Racial flavor, as far as I am concerned, should be just that; flavor. Not mechanical advantages or disadvantages.
You're allowed to want that for your game and have that opinion about playing a gimped character. Not everyone does though.

And this is what I don't get. You are free to implement whatever restrictions on your characters you want in the system in Tasha's and One D&D. No one is stopping you from making all your elves +2 dex or whatnot. You can still play a gimpled character if you want to. Now the rules just doesn't make us homebrew a way around it for those who don't want to be gimpled for selecting a race/class combo outside of the stereotype. You haven't lost the ability to "play against race".


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And every other character that exists in the world? The rules aren't there just for you, they dictate everything in the world.

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Originally Posted by mrfuji3
A simpler system could be giving bonuses to generic ability checks (and maybe STs?).

Orcs get +2 to all strength checks and saving throws (not attack rolls, except maybe those relating to shove/being shoved).
Elves get a +2 to all dexterity checks and perception checks, and +2 to STs against charmed.
Halflings get +2 to all dexterity checks and their nimble traits.
Gnomes get a +2 to intelligence checks and +2 on mental STs (again, doesn't add to a wizard's spell bonus/DC)
Etc (The "+2" could be modified with "+PB", "expertise", "Advantage" or any other value.)

This way, every race-class combo remains roughly equal in power for attack/spell purposes, but there are still distinct differences.

And, like I mentioned earlier, unlike in earlier editions, a +2 can be pretty meaningful throughout a character's life, I can dig it.

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Originally Posted by Sozz
And every other character that exists in the world? The rules aren't there just for you, they dictate everything in the world.

You mean besides the fact thet they use their own NPC statblocks that follow different rules to players? No need to change what they are about.

A practical example: A Veteran is built with having a +5 to hit in melee, +3 yo hit ranged, 17 AC (splintmail) and 58 hp. As a CR 3 creature, its proficiency bonus is +2. Athletics +5, Perception +2. 9D8 hit dice as a medium creature.
Can dual wield a longsword + shortsword with its multiattack feature. 1d8+3 and 1d6+3 dmg respectively. 1d10+1 dmg with a heavy crossbow.
A common enough humanoid melee eneny.
That means:
+3 modifier from str
+1 modifier from dex
+2 modifier from con
+0 modifier from wis

Do these stats change if the veteran is human? An elf? Or orc? Probably not, because they are considered Medium Humanoid (Any Race), Any Alignment.


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