View Full Version : Dramatically Different Handling of Races in 4E

2009-02-05, 03:22 PM
I love how classes are handled in 4E. I wish races were handled the same way.

I like the powers in 4E. It be cool if, instead of gaining a single encounter power, each race had a full writeup of powers from 1-30 and the option to substitute class powers for race powers.

I like how each class in 4E is constructed with 'builds' in mind. I wish races in 4E were also given build options. For example, instead of having Elf, Eladrin, and Drow as separate races, you could have something like...

Elven Origins
Choose one of the following at level 1:

Wood Elf
You gain a +2 bonus to Wisdom and a +2 bonus to ranged attacks.
You gain a +2 bonus to Intelligence and proficiency with swords.
You gain a +2 bonus to Charisma and you can wield weapons as though they had the off-hand property.

In the same way that players could gain multiclass feats, players could also take half-race feats. Instead of having half-elf as a race in itself, you could simply take the half-elf feat chain in addition to your primary race. You could easily also have a half-dwarf feat, a half-infernal feat, etc.

Due to issues with page count, this would all require fewer classes and races in the PHB, except that the races would actually entail multiple races from previous editions, and the races would also absorb classes (the elf class would be the ranger class, basically). Furthermore, half-race feats would give you a very large number of combinations which would take multiple books in previous editions.
For classes, I would put in only Fighter, Rogue, Wizard, and Cleric, and...
for races, I would put in only Human, Elf, Dwarf, and Dragonborn.

Your thoughts?

2009-02-05, 03:46 PM
I think it's a viable idea. It would certainly be a cooler take on races than the rather bland "stat bump, stat bump, encounter" which is pretty much all that distinguishes them mechanically right now.

One thing you wouldn't want to do is "disappear" the core classes into the races. if Elf replaced Ranger it'd leave a lot of upset players (including myself, who loves wilderness tracker/hunter type humans) and the "half-race" feats wouldn't satisfy us on mechanical or fluff grounds. Plus it'd be basically a step back to original D&D where elf and dwarf are classes and can't do anything else.

But, that's easily fixed. Your basic idea of having racial levels that can be taken instead of class levels is great. You could easily stat out special powers that are unique, rather than stealing from the core classes.

One of the really cool potential uses of such a system would be a more "high powered" variant where each character gains a racial level and a class level whenever they level up. Holy crap would that be cool. Similar to 3.x's Gestalt variant, but a little more rooted in the fluff of the D&D world and it would make the characters more unique since two wizards of two different races would be drastically different.

One thing you might need to look at is starting the races with a weaker Encounter power at level 1. The racial encounter powers were designed to start off useful and stay useful for 30 levels, so if you're adding racial powers all the way through 30 levels it might be abit much. The ones that you currently get as a "starting package" might be more appropriate for level 5-10, with some more basic things at level 1 and some more epic things later on.

If you stat these out, please post! I'd love to see them.

2009-02-05, 03:59 PM
I see what you mean.
I think that the races could include some influence from the classes, like the Elf could have elements that are similar to the Ranger, the Swordmage, and the Arcane Archer, but there would still be a separate Ranger class in something like Martial Power.

2009-02-05, 04:51 PM
Okay, I'm totally going to do this.

First, I must brainstorm the basic features of the races.

You can choose between a striker build and a leader build.
For the striker build, you have powers that allow you to teleport and infuse both your melee and ranged weapons with elemental power.
For the leader build you have powers that heal and buff allies whenever you hit an enemy with a ranged attack.

You can choose between a leader build and a controller build.
For the leader build, you can shout dwarven warcries and sing ballads of Valhalla to bolster allies.
For the controller build, your powers allow you to tap into the power of the ground to create zones of rough terrain around you.

You can choose between a striker build and a controller build.
For the controller build, can spit breath attacks with a variety of elements to damage and impede groups of enemies.
For the striker build, you use your tail, claws, and bites for big damage along with temporary burrowing, swimming, climbing, and flying for added mobility.

It is going to be so hard to come up with powers for humans, since we are so baseline and whatnot. However, I'm thinking, based on Action Surge, that maybe humans could get neat stuff that triggers whenever action points are used.
You can choose between a defender build and a striker build.
For the defender build, you get a lot of temporary HP and self-defense buffs to help you tank.
For the striker build, you get a lot of movement based powers that allow you to shift before or after attacking, whenever one of your attacks misses, whenever you spend an action point or a second-wind, etc.

What do you think?

2009-02-05, 05:24 PM
It's an interesting idea. And while I think it is probably a bit complicated to work well with 4e, it could make an interesting game/alt on it's own, where the races are effectively your class.

I agree with Another_Poet that half-race feats aren't an appealing idea, and that if you're going to keep half-races, they should be a full race in their own right (or pure fluff with no mechanical benefit. Personally, I've never really understood half-races).

Interesting on the brainstorming. My initial comments are

That you should let the human choose any role, in keeping with their jack-or-all-trades approach.
Why are Dwarves Controllers? they are classically, by nearly every source that uses them, Defenders in every sense.
Elves are a hard one to choose, depending on which of the myriad sub-races you're focusing on, but I think they would more commonly be Strikers or Controllers (If you're keeping in mind that Wizard is a controller).
The problem that seems to come up with letting them choose only two options is with some of the less defined races, like tieflings or halflings. It's much harder to assign them two different roles and have proper reasons why it's those two and not the other two.

Mando Knight
2009-02-05, 08:27 PM
I would actually give the Dragonborn Defender rather than Controller: yes, their breath weapons can be used for crowd control, but their MM counterparts are Soldiers (except for the one Skirmisher), like the Paladin and Fighter templates in the DMG.

2009-02-05, 09:14 PM
I'm going to stand by my idea to make Dragonborn controllers... but break the conventions of the role and make them beefy controllers. Make them good at crowd control, but force them to wade into the middle of the crowd in order to do so. It doesn't line up with the MM... but screw it. :P
As for the Dwarf as controllers thing... I just wanted to see what you guys would say.
I see Tieflings as strikers, myself. Halflings? That's a tough one.

I think I'm going to focus them all on one role though... for balance reasons.

Dwarf = Defender
They use a lot of self-healing and self-buffs to serve as better tanks.
Elf = Striker
They use teleportation and illusions for hit-and-run tactics and charge their weapons with magical power for increased damage.
Dragonborn = beefy Controllers
They wade into the middle of crowds and shoot bursts and blasts.
Humans = jack-of-all-trades
Humans dabble a bit in all of the roles.
For purposes of symmetry, I'd really like to be Leaders... but not healers so much... more like they would interact with the features of other roles to bring out the best in everybody. Stuff like...

Militant Altruism Human Attack 1
At-Will. Weapon
Immediate Interrupt
Trigger: A marked enemy makes an attack that doesn't include the creature that marked it.
Effect: You can make a basic attack as a free action against that enemy. The creature that marked it may spend a healing surge.

2009-02-06, 12:39 AM
You might want to take a glance at the (O)D&D Rules Cyclopedia if you can get your hands on it. (I believe it's available in PDF form for $5 or so, well worth it.) Or the older boxed sets.

What you're doing sounds very similar to the OD&D frame of reference.

2009-02-06, 10:30 PM
Thanks Ninetail!
I just downloaded the pdf, and theres some pretty interesting stuff in there.
It's strange to me that men were the only race that could become clerics back then, but then again clerics were not the dedicated healers that we normally think of today, but in fact a jack-of-all-trades class much like the humans. There might be some inspiration there.

For now though, I want to see what you guys think of these two dwarf powers:

Forge Strike Dwarf Attack 1
Encounter. Fire, Weapon
Standard Action
Target: One creature
Attack: Constitution vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + Consitution modifier fire damage.
Effect: You gain resist 10 fire until the end of your next turn.
Leader: If your class has the Leader role, you may have target ally within 10 squares gain resist 10 fire until the end of your next turn.

Azer Scar Dwarf Attack 1
Encounter. Fire
Standard Action
Close burst 1
Special: If your class has the Controller role, this power has Close burst 2 instead.
Target: Each creature in burst.
Attack: Constitution vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d6 + Constitution modifier fire damage.
Effect: Each giant in burst becomes marked.