View Full Version : Race Revision

2007-02-06, 03:21 PM
Is it just me, or do humans, dwarves, and halflings blatantly outpower elves, gnomes, and, especially, half orcs and half elves?

Don't get me wrong. Coming in from 2nd edition, humans, dwarves, and halflings desperately needed a power boost. I love how they did them. I never used to play humans, now they're probably my most common race.

And therein lay the problem.

I'm an elf fan, through and through. And I rarely play elves any more unless I'm exploiting subraces. I just can't get around the human's extra feat. When you have a lot of supplements, there are so many great feats and so few slots to put them in. Even when you also use the UA flaws variant.

Well, that's just one of my issues. So, I am testing out a revised race rule. This optional rule is designed for the player races; I am not going to promise it works out well with monstrous races. In general, characters become a little more powerful, if only because they have better excuses to wield exotic weapons and more racial abilities. And an extra feat. I wouldn't necessarily say that they would count as LA +1 races, but I wouldn't necessarily say they don't, either.

I did emphasize certain aspects of some races. Half elves and half orcs, in particular, no longer get the worst of both worlds (sorry, but they did). I tried to design them following the theory of a synthesis between their parent races, not an amalgram (as with half elves) or dilution (as with half orcs). Gnomes, also, I wanted to expand some; I went back to their 2e ability scores, and added more to their craftsmanship and technological skills. They're more than welcome to study illusions, but they can do other things too.

Oh, and I also retooled aging a bit, just because I see it a bit differently than D&D does. So I put that in here too.

Race Basics:

Automatic Class Skills: Each race has a selection of skills favored by the race. A character can choose any three of these skills as automatic class skills. The character always treats such skills as class skills. Additionally, the first time the character gets such a skill as a class skill from a class, it gets a +2 racial bonus on checks with that skill. This bonus increases by +1 per full five levels that the character has that skill as a normal class skill. For example, an elf with Hide as a class skill is a 3rd level fighter/4th level ranger/6th level rogue. Hide is always a class skill for it, even for its three fighter levels. When it gets its first level of ranger, it gets a +2 racial bonus on Hide checks. Thereafter, at Rgr4/Rog1 (having had Hide as a class skill for five levels) it gets a +1 bonus. At Rgr4/Rog6 (another five levels with Hide normally as a class skill) it gets another +1 bonus.

Bonus Feats: Each race receives a bonus feat at first level. However, each race has a certain theme of feats that it can choose from. The character must fulfill all of the feat’s prerequisites.

Favored Classes: Each race has three possible favored classes; a character may choose any one of these.

Weapon Simplicity: Each race has certain weapons that it favors. It treats these weapons as one category of proficiency easier to master than normal. If the weapon is normally a simple weapon, the character instead receives a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls with the weapon. As a point of balance, I am assigning two “groups” of weapons per race, based on the following groups:
Great blades (includes all two handed sword-like weapons).
Large blades (includes all one handed sword-like weapons).
Small blades (includes light sword-like weapons, as well as the rapier. Also includes dagger-like weapons).
Thrown Weapons (includes slings).
Clubs (includes flails, maces, staves, and similar weapons).
Spears (includes lances and other polearms).
Rope Weapons (includes the whip, spiked chain, net, and similar weapons).
Note that rapiers count in both the large blades and small blades groups.

Racial Enemy: Most races have natural or historical enemies. They get a +1 bonus on attack rolls against these foes. Each race gets two specific races as favored enemies. They cannot select types, as with a ranger's favored enemy. For example, vampires are a possible racial enemy, but Undead are not.

Special Abilities: Each race possesses three additional special abilities (some abilities might be single significant capabilities, or multiple less useful powers).

The Races:


Ability Score Adjustments: None.

Automatic Class Skills: Humans may choose any three skills as automatic class skills (see the diversity ability below).

Bonus Feats: Humans may choose any feat that it fulfills the prerequisites for as a bonus feat (see the diversity ability below).

Favored Classes: Humans may choose any class as a favored class (see the diversity ability below).

Weapon Simplicity: Humans may choose any two groups of weapons as favored weapons (see the diversity ability below).

Racial Enemy: A human can choose any two races as favored enemies. Most humans select foes that are particularly dangerous in their homeland. For example, humans living near an ogre-ridden mountain might select ogres as a Racial Enemy.

Special Abilities:

Diversity: Humans come from a wide variety of cultures. Most of their standard racial abilities are not restricted by list.

Learned: Humans receive one additional skill point per level.

Synergistic Feat: Humans have a much greater drive than many longer-lived races, and often forge ahead to master new things. At first level, a human may choose any feat that it fulfills the prerequisites for as a synergistic feat. The human receives no benefit from the feat, but it counts as if having the feat for the purpose of fulfilling prerequisites. The character may choose the synergistic feat as a normal feat later if it wishes, but it does not get to replace its synergistic feat. For example, a human who takes mobility as a synergistic feat can qualify for spring attack, but it doesn't gain the normal benefits of mobility--namely, a +4 bonus to AC against attacks of opportunity provoked by moving.


Ability Score Adjustments: +2 Dex, -2 Con.

Automatic Class Skills: Choose three from the following list: Balance, Concentration, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Perform, Search, Spot, Knowledge (Arcana, Nature), Spellcraft, Tumble.

Bonus Feats: An elf’s bonus feat can be any feat that affects archery or magic, any feat the relies on skill or dexterity in combat, or any feat that affects skills based on Dexterity, Intelligence, or Charisma.

Favored Classes: An elf can choose Druid, Ranger, or Wizard as its favored class.

Weapon Simplicity: Large blades and bows.

Racial Enemy: Orcs, dark elves.

Special Abilities:

Elven Eyes: Make a search check to detect secret doors when passing within five feet. Also grants low light vision.

Strong Will: Immune to magical sleep effects, +2 on Will saves against enchantments. Elves require only four hours of meditation and four hours of rest per night, and are immune to effects that require the target to be sleeping.

Swordsmaster: An elf who selects the weapon finesse feat can apply its benefit to any large blade. All elves automatically count as having weapon finesse for purposes of using a rapier. At the DM’s option, other rapier-like weapons can also qualify for this bonus.

Half Elves:

Ability Score Adjustments: +2 Cha, -2 Wis. Half elves are predisposed towards their elven parent’s flightiness and their human parent’s short-sightedness, but also combine human passion with elven beauty.

Automatic Class Skills: Choose three from the following list: Diplomacy, Bluff, Gather Information, Perform, Listen, Disguise, Handle Animal, Search, Sense Motive, Spot, Survival.

Bonus Feats: A half elf’s bonus feats can be any feat that affects magic or archery, any feat that relies on skill or dexterity in combat, or any feat that improves skills or specific class abilities.

Favored Classes: A half elf can choose Bard, Ranger, or Sorcerer as its favored class.

Weapon Simplicity: Small Blades and Bows.

Racial Enemy: Humans, elves. Half elves don’t necessarily see their parent races as enemies (although there are plenty of outcast half elves who do), but they understand their weaknesses.

Special Abilities:

Heritage: A half elf may choose any one special ability from either the human or elf lists as its heritage ability. If it chooses diversity, it uses the human rules for its automatic class skills, bonus feats, favored classes, weapon simplicity, and Racial Enemy.

Of Two Worlds: In any given situation, a half elf can count as either a humanoid (elf) or humanoid (human), whichever is most beneficial to it. For example, if it needs to use a magic item that only an elf can activate, it counts as an elf. But if it gets attacked by a ranger with elves as a favored enemy, it can count as a human. Additionally, a half elf ignores the -2 penalty on Disguise checks for disguising itself as a different race when disguising itself as a human or elf.

Acuity: Half elves may sometimes lack wisdom, but they possess keen senses. A half elf can substitute its Charisma modifier for its Wisdom modifier for Spot and Listen checks. On character creation, it may also choose to subsitute Charisma for Wisdom for Sense Motive or Survival checks; once it makes this choice it cannot be changed.


Ability Score Adjustments: +2 Con, -2 Cha.

Automatic Class Skills: Choose three from the following list: Appraise, Concentration, Craft (Blacksmithing, Armor, Weapons, and Traps), Disable Device, Intimidate, Knowledge (Dungeoneering), Open Lock, Search.

Bonus Feats: Dwarves can choose bonus feats that affect damage power, attack rolls, armor and shield use, hit points, saving throws, or can be used on or against items or objects.

Favored Classes: A dwarf can choose Barbarian, Fighter, or Rogue as its favored class.

Weapon Simplicity: Axes and Hammers.

Racial Enemy: Orcs, giants.

Special Abilities:

Cave Dweller: Make a search check to detect unusual stonework when passing within five feet. Also grants 60’ Darkvision.

Stable Build: +4 against bull rushes, trips, and similar opposed checks. The dwarf’s build also makes it slower than the norm for a medium character (Speed 20’) but allows it to move more effectively in heavier armor (ignoring the speed reduction for such armors). Finally, the dwarf gets a +4 dodge bonus to AC against giants.

Dwarven Grit: +2 on saving throws against poison, spells, and spell-like abilities.


Ability Score Adjustments: +2 Int, -2 Wis. Gnomes are curious and intellectual, but sometimes take their experiments too far. Gnomes are small-size characters.

Automatic Class Skills: Choose three from the following list: Craft, Decipher Script, Forgery, Disable Device, Knowledge (Arcana, Architecture and Engineering, or Dungeoneering), Open Lock, Spellcraft, Use Magic Device.

Bonus Feats: A gnome’s bonus feat can be any feat that affects magic, items, or skill use.

Favored Classes: A gnome can choose Psion, Rogue, or Wizard as its favored class.

Weapon Simplicity: Picks and Hammers.

Racial Enemy: Kobolds, goblins.

Special Abilities:

Favored Science: Most gnomes study a given science excessively. And in a fantasy world, most sciences are the magical ones. Upon character creation, a gnome chooses its favored science, selecting an option from the following list:
--The gnome's favored science is a school of magic. The gnome receives a +1 bonus to save DCs and to saving throws for and against spells of a chosen school. This bonus stacks with spell focus and greater spell focus.
--The gnome's favored science is the function of magic items. It adds +2 to the save DC of any magic item it uses, and gets a +2 bonus on saving throws against magic items.
--The gnome's favored science is a mundane craft. The gnome may choose any one Craft skill and add one-half its Intelligence bonus on all DCs relevant to opposing things the gnome has crafted; a gnome who chooses Craft (Traps) for example would add the bonus on save DCs to detect, disarm, or avoid traps it created, while one who chose Craft (Alchemy) would add the bonus to the save DCs to avoid the effects of alchemical items it created. This bonus only affects DCs; it would not change a weapon's attack rolls, for example, although it would affect the DC to break the weapon.

Crafting Skill: Gnomes are known for their efficiency, always making the most out of what others would discard as garbage. They pay half the raw material cost for crafting mundane items and 90% of the raw material cost for crafting magic items (this does not affect the XP cost).

Burrow Dweller: Gnomes can speak with burrowing mammals (as with the speak with animals spell) at will. They also possess low light vision.


Ability Score Adjustments: +2 Dex, -2 Str. Halflings are small size characters.

Automatic Class Skills: Choose three of the following: Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Sleight of Hand, Swim, Tumble, Use Rope.

Bonus Feats: A halfling can choose a bonus feat that focuses on missile weapons or the use of dexterity in combat, or improves attack rolls, armor class, stealth or athletics.

Favored Classes: A halfling can choose Bard, Ranger, or Rogue as its favored class.

Weapon Simplicity: Thrown Weapons and Small Blades.

Racial Enemy: Goblins, giants.

Special Abilities:

Uncanny Luck: Halflings receive a +1 luck bonus on all saving throws. Confident in their good luck, they also receive a +2 morale bonus on saves against fear.

Agile Acrobatics: Halflings may use their Dexterity modifiers rather than their Strength modifiers on Climb, Jump, and Swim checks.

Quick Step: Although halflings can’t cover as much ground as larger races, they can move quickly and surely. Halflings suffer only half the usual penalties to skill checks for faster than normal movement.

Half Orcs:

Ability Score Adjustments: +2 Strength, -2 Cha. There is no saying that any given half orc wasn’t raised with the human standard of education.

Automatic Class Skills: Choose three from the following list: Climb, Craft, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Jump, Ride, Survival, Swim.

Bonus Feats: A half orc’s bonus feat can be any that improves an offense (this need not be a physical offense).

Favored Classes: A half orc can choose Barbarian, Fighter, or Ranger as its favored class.

Weapon Simplicity: Great Blades and Axes.

Racial Enemy: Elves and dwarves.

Special Abilities:

Mixed Blood: Half orcs combine the brutality of the orcs with the intensity of the humans, and also receive the visual benefits of both races, human sight in light, and orcish in darkness. The half orc can substitute its Strength modifier for its Charisma modifier on Intimidate and Handle Animal checks. It also receives Darkvision out to 60’. Half orcs count as characters of the humanoid (orc) type.

Hot Tempered: Half orcs combine the savage fury of orcs with the passionate drive of humans. Once per day, a half orc can enter a rage in the same manner as a barbarian. A half orc barbarian gains one extra daily use of its rage ability.

Wild Swing: Another side effect of the combination of orc fury with human drive is that half orcs can press a fearsome offensive—but only at the cost of their own defense. A half orc with the power attack feat can transfer some or all of its penalty to attack rolls to its AC, if it wishes. The half orc cannot do so if using any action or ability that improves its AC at the expense of another stat (such as fighting defensively or using the combat expertise feat). A half orc without the power attack feat can function as if it had it, but it may only lower AC and its maximum is equal to half its base attack bonus.

The Aging Rule: Each race has a given number of centuries of life, which determines their aging:

Humans: 1 century.
Elves: 6 centuries.
Half Elves: 3 centuries.
Dwarves: 4 centuries.
Gnomes: 5 centuries.
Halflings: 2 centuries.
Half Orcs: 1 century.

Youth: All characters of the player races are youths for around 10-14 years. They age during this time at almost identical rates.

Adolescent: Once a character reaches adolescence, its aging begins to show. Characters remain adolescent until around age 15 + 3 per century of life. The races continue to age almost identically until age 15, at which time their physical and emotional maturity begins to slow to accommodate the time between adolescence and maturity. So past age 15, an elf would mature at about 1/6 the rate of a human.

Maturity: Generally, characters adventure while in the mature age range (you can use the normal rules for character starting ages, or you can play younger or older characters in the mature range). Mature characters age very little until their last effective century of life;that is, until an age equal to their centuries of life minus 1, times 100. Thus, an elf rarely shows signs of aging until about age 500, while a human continues to age all through maturity, since their first century of life is also their last.

Aged: An aged character follows the standard rules for middle age. The character counts as aged after 35 years have passed in its last century of life (for humans, this means age 35).

Old: An old character follows the standard rules for old age. This comes about in year 53 of the character’s last century.

Venerable: As the rules for venerable age. This comes about in year 70 of the character’s last century.

Maximum Age: Once a character reaches its 70th year in its aging century, it rolls 1d20, plus an additional 1d20 per century of life. Add that to its current age. This is its maximum age. For example, a 570 year old elf would live for 7d20 more years.

{table=head]Race|Youth|Adolescence|Maturity|Aged|Old|Venerable |Maximum Age

Half Elf|1-10|11-24|25-234|235-252|253-269|270+|270+4d20
Half Orc|1-10|11-18|19-34|35-52|53-69|70+|70+2d20