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View Full Version : D&D 3.x Other Birthright: Bringing the Sidhelien to other realms in 3.0 (P.E.A.C.H)



Sarethus
2019-07-01, 05:24 AM
Hi all,

Could you please evaluate the below race in terms of balance issues? I am trying to keep it at ECL 0 but some of the qualities while minor are a bit difficult to evaluate when combined.

Sidhelien (Elf) -

• Ability : -2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma.
• Size : Medium
• Speed : 30 feet.
• Immunity(1) : To magic sleep spells and a +2 racial saving throw bonus against Enchantment spells & effects.
• Immunity(2) : To normal disease and +2 racial saving throw bonus against magical disease spells & effects.
• Senses(1) : Low-light Vision.
• Senses(2) : +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks. Do NOT gain the automatic search check within 5’ that standard Player’s Handbook elves receive.
• Weapons : Proficient with longsword, shortbow, longbow, composite longbow, and composite shortbow.
• Sleep : Elves do not require sleep (but can do an elven version if they desire it). Instead they need to only rest (light activities such as keeping watch) for the same amount of time as a human sleeps (eight hours).
• Timeless : Immortal (in regards to aging). Do not suffer penalties from aging (still receive bonuses) (Fluff:- Can be killed but otherwise can live forever).
• Nature Stride : May move in natural terrain without leaving any tracks as per the Pass Without Trace Spell and with their normal movement rate and without suffering any damage or penalty.
• Automatic Language : Sidhelien. Bonus Languages : As per Campaign.
• Favored Class : Choose any one arcane spellcasting class (Bard, Sorcerer, Wizard).
• Alignment Restriction : Must follow a non-lawful alignment.
• Infamous Reputation (Alien Mein) ** : Sidhelien receive a -4 racial penalty to Diplomacy and Gather Information and a +4 racial bonus to Intimidate.
• Soulless(1) ** : Cannot be raised by Raise Dead or Resurrection, only by a Wish or Miracle same as Outsiders.
• Soulless(2) ** : Cannot be a member of classes which channel Divine power such as clerics, druids or paladins. May become a non-spellcasting variant of a ranger.


The experienced ones among you might recognise this race as a conversion of the elves in the 2E Campaign Setting "Birhtright". I've always prefered this version of elves over others as they seem more "Tolken-isque" then the ones in the PHB. Immortal, Not needing to sleep, moving without trace etc. I've used them in 3.5 Birghtright games but want to use them in other settings (being a planar traveller or something) so was concerned about balance issues. (Let me put it this way: In Birthright Halflings could basically Detect Evil/Undead/Magic at will and use Dimension Door or Shadow Walk three times a week.)

Race Details & Changes From Normal Elves :

Bonuses :

- They have an unbalanced ability bonus (3x +2 attributes and 2x -2 attributes) but according to the DMG on page 173, a Strength pentalty is worth a bonus to Intelligence AND Charisma while Dexterity and Constitution are given equal weight.
- They are immune to normal disease and slightly resistant to magical disease. My personal experience in games is that normal disease was never a problem for characters so I don't think the immunity is an big advantage. The resistance to magical disease might be but I don't know how much to weigh the +2 bonus.
- They do not gain the automatic search check that normal elves receive. My personal experience... this is not a big penalty at all (or an advantage for that matter).
- Not requiring sleep: In all honesty I do not know exactly how to weigh this. While Sidhelien do not need to sleep or trance they do require rest for the full eight hours a human does (not four hours), on the other hand how often does this come up in games?
- Immortality, this is almost pure fluff as I have never seen any character / campaign last long enough for age penalties / bonuses without a timeskip where we also prepere their replacment characters.
- Nature Stride, this is perhaps the most obvious and biggest boost. The Sidhelien get what is effectively a 1st level spell and also the ability to ignore terrain penalties in natural environments but is it worth a level adjustment?

Penalties :

- As per the Birhtright setting, Sidhelien are fairly chaotic and cannot be lawful at all.
- Again as per the Birhtright setting, Sidhelien cannot be members of divine classes and practically never worshipe dieties (They are all faithless...).
- Infamous Reputation : This came from 3.0 BRCS (a fan-made conversion of 2E Birthright) as a way to give penalties to the Sidhelien race. In 3.0 BRCS, this was justified as the Sidhelien had waged war against practically every humanoid race. As I intend to use a character of this race in other settings I was going to change the justification to Sidhelien being a bit in-human that despite being humanoid there was just something in the way they moved, spoke and behaved that was a bit alien that struck people as intimidating because they otherwise looked nornmal.
- Ressurect like Outsiders, partly to simulate Tolkein and partly to reflect certain revelations that came in one of the last splat books for Birthright. This is a penalty if your group handles character death strictly.


So is it balanced for ECL 0?

I know it's on the high end for ECL 0 (and definitely better then normal elves but I don't see normal elves being that popular for their abilities. They are more popular for being elves) that being said if you really think they need further penalties are needed then could you please consider the following :-

1) Breaking Nature Stride into two abilities and delaying them to 3rd (No Terrain Penalty) and 5th level (Pass without trace) of whichever clase the Sidhelien PC takes?

2) Benificial Divine Spells cast on you function suffer a penalty of 2 Caster level. *If this lowers the caster level below the minimum required for the spell, the spell fails to affect the character.* This does not apply towards Druid spells (due to nature connection).

If the above are not suitable, then any ideas would be welcome.

Mark Hall
2019-07-01, 07:36 AM
Drop the ability to gain bonuses due to age; if you include that, everyone will be a venerable-but-not-really elf, since it has zero cost and is a bunch of free things.

I would also drop the automatic weapon proficiency. BR elves do not have any particular skill with weapons ("Cerilian elves have no special attack bonuses." on page 7).

Drop the Charisma bonus. The DMG is wrong and 2 decades of play have shown that. You're giving them bonuses to Intelligence and Charisma, making them powerful wizards, bards, and sorcerers. And I'd also give them ONLY sorcerer as their favored class.. a choice of 3 is a big boon, and Cerilian lore holds that elven blood is magical... make wizards a human thing, leveraging the know-how of magicians and divine blood.

Remove the skill bonuses; there's no indication that elven senses are particularly good, aside from their low light vision.

Remove the bonus to save v. magical disease.

Sarethus
2019-07-02, 02:56 AM
Thanks for the feedback Mark :smile:

Sorry for the late reply. I had this all typed up on my PC last night and then stuff happened and now have to type on my Laptop hours later.

Regarding your points:-

1) Age : My fault, I should have explained this earlier I suppose. In our table's games if you try to take advantage of age like that you would have to explain why your decades / centuries old character is at Level 1. One DM / player took this somewhat seriously and we all rolled with it in all our games. Elves and Dwarfs for example have their starting ages lowered to 40 and 25 respectively so it does not seem like they spent decades without learning anything. So in all honesty age progression is a bit more of a fluff / npc advantage.

2) Weapon Proficiency : Don't mind the loss here, it does go a bit against 3.5 interpretation but PC's would pick it up from their class for the most part. I would replace it with racial weapon familiarity at least.

3) Charisma Bonus : This is where I disagree a bit. Having both Str & Con penalties does lock elves into spell casting classes and I do think Con penalty is big penalty by itself. (Practically every class handbook or race evaluation I've read points towards the Con penalty being a big problem and the elves being a subpar race) feel Elves should have a choice here in Birthright as Arcane Magic Use (including wizardry) basically came from them. Normal Humans could not cast it.

4) Listen/Perception/Spot Skill Bonus : No objection to removing it but a question? If we are directly converting 2E elves then do you think they should get a +2 bonus Hide and Move Silently?

5) Magical Disease : The bonus here was due to a logic problem between the Half-elves and Sidhe. Sidhe get immunity to magical diseases but half-elves get the bonus versus all diseases. That did not make sense in my view so the Sidhe got the bonus versus magical disease rather then taking it away from the Half-elves. That being said I don't really have a problem removing it.


One thing I felt when reading your post is that you were making a strict conversion of 2E Birthright Elves? I do not mind it as such and framed my responses to feedback with the same measurement (direct conversion of 2E) but I would like to ask you :

a) Is your feedback taking into account the penalties that I posted like the infamous reputation and ressurection penalty or the class restrictions?

b) How would you evaluate the Sidhelien race as I originally posted with the base elf race and/or the suggested penalties that I gave such as delaying the nature stride ability or the penalty to beneficial spells from divine casters?

Mark Hall
2019-07-02, 08:35 AM
a) Is your feedback taking into account the penalties that I posted like the infamous reputation and ressurection penalty or the class restrictions?

b) How would you evaluate the Sidhelien race as I originally posted with the base elf race and/or the suggested penalties that I gave such as delaying the nature stride ability or the penalty to beneficial spells from divine casters?

a) Yes. I don't personally consider the resurrection penalty to be that steep, and the class restrictions don't affect any individual character. Their Infamous reputation is either frequently irrelevant or overcome with training, in time... and mitigated by their Charisma bonus.

b) I don't feel Nature's Stride winds up being as big of a benefit, except in cases where the elf is alone or with other elves.

nonsi
2019-07-02, 12:08 PM
Drop the Charisma bonus. The DMG is wrong and 2 decades of play have shown that. You're giving them bonuses to Intelligence and Charisma, making them powerful wizards, bards, and sorcerers. And I'd also give them ONLY sorcerer as their favored class.


Notice the contradiction in your proposal (the two bolded parts).
Also, Int and Cha don't really synergize. It would be wrong in my view to shewhorn a race so badly. Elves are supposed to be very scholarly. No reason to push them away from taking the Wizard class.

nonsi
2019-07-02, 12:10 PM
a) Yes. I don't personally consider the resurrection penalty to be that steep

Being able to revive at 9th level vs. being able to revive at 17th is a huge difference. Characters tend to die - that's a given in D&D.

Mark Hall
2019-07-02, 12:38 PM
Notice the contradiction in your proposal (the two bolded parts).
Also, Int and Cha don't really synergize. It would be wrong in my view to shewhorn a race so badly. Elves are supposed to be very scholarly. No reason to push them away from taking the Wizard class.

There's no contradiction; the favored class mechanic in 3.0 and 3.5 is the same, and only impacts multiclass characters; it provides no benefit to single-classed characters. If they are single classed wizards, they are no better than other wizards of the same Intelligence... and with an intelligence bonus, they are better than other wizards with the same point value assigned to intelligence.

Limiting them to sorcerer is a thematic choice (i.e. "elves have magic in their blood"), and one that reduces their overall power (by reducing their effective flexibility). They are still just as effective as bards and wizards... but are less able to multiclass freely.

And, as for "characters tend to die", well, the OP was already worried about their strength. If that's a huge disadvantage, then it counterbalances the advantage a bit, doesn't it? If you play in games where resurrection is less common or available, it's far less of an advantage.

Caelestion
2019-07-02, 06:52 PM
Revive Outsider is a 6th-level spell from Manual of the Planes. Failing that, if you must have them immune to Raise Dead (which is thematic, at least), don't also have them immune to Resurrection.

Besides, implicitly saying that someone can play a presumed over-powered race providing that they don't die is not a fair balancing factor. If they live, they're too powerful and if they die, they've all but permanently lost their character.

Sarethus
2019-07-04, 05:17 AM
Revive Outsider is a 6th-level spell from Manual of the Planes. Failing that, if you must have them immune to Raise Dead (which is thematic, at least), don't also have them immune to Resurrection.

Besides, implicitly saying that someone can play a presumed over-powered race providing that they don't die is not a fair balancing factor. If they live, they're too powerful and if they die, they've all but permanently lost their character.

Actually I was un-aware of that spell. So will have to consider it a bit. My thinking was less that a character does die or not die but the cost of ressurecting them. For example if a character and their fellows died but enough of their companions lived to gather the bodies, return to town and request a raise dead from whatever church there is and the Sidhelien player still really wanted to play that character then I would not forbid the character from being ressurected but attach a price to that ressurrection.

Miracle / Wish spells are expensive you know :smallwink: .

A geas to be paid (maybe by the party, certainly by the character), loss of money or magic items or maybe the ressurection can only be performed by an evil church etc. To put it simply there should be a price to be paid by the character equal to a Miracle / Wish spell and even a price further then that as they should not be able to access that magic at their level.



There's no contradiction; the favored class mechanic in 3.0 and 3.5 is the same, and only impacts multiclass characters; it provides no benefit to single-classed characters. If they are single classed wizards, they are no better than other wizards of the same Intelligence... and with an intelligence bonus, they are better than other wizards with the same point value assigned to intelligence.

Limiting them to sorcerer is a thematic choice (i.e. "elves have magic in their blood"), and one that reduces their overall power (by reducing their effective flexibility). They are still just as effective as bards and wizards... but are less able to multiclass freely.

And, as for "characters tend to die", well, the OP was already worried about their strength. If that's a huge disadvantage, then it counterbalances the advantage a bit, doesn't it? If you play in games where resurrection is less common or available, it's far less of an advantage.

I think limiting them to sorceror would be a bit of against type as presented in Birthright.

Side-Note (For Non-Birthright readers) : In Birthright (2E) only elves or half-elves could become wizards freely. Other races such as humans could only become true Wizards by being 'blooded' being lucky to have inherited a bit of the power of gods who had died in a major battle a 1000 years ago from their bloodline. However Elves could not use Divine Magic at ALL. Not even druid magic.

VERY few elves (think less then a 100) worshipped a diety and even then they could not become clerics or druids (Druids in Birthright had to worship a diety).

That's partly what I've tried to reflect that in this conversion. Elves are masters of all forms of Arcane magic and have stat boosts to both Cha and Int to reflect this as well as being able to choose their favoured class between the core arcane classes. In consequence they suffer from both constitution and strength penalties making them poor front line fighters and they still cannot use divine magic.

Speaking of which what does everyone consider about the flaw I mentioned in my OP :

Benificial Divine Spells cast on you function suffer a penalty of 2 Caster level. *If this lowers the caster level below the minimum required for the spell, the spell fails to affect the character.* This does not apply towards Druid spells (due to nature connection).

I think it's slightly thematic but I would like your feedback into how it would affect the balance of the race.

Mark Hall
2019-07-04, 09:31 AM
I think limiting them to sorceror would be a bit of against type as presented in Birthright.


Whereas I think it is exactly what is represented in Birthright.

Birthright did not have sorcerers; it was a 2e product, so no sorcerers.

Humans had Magicians, who could manage Illusion or Divination spells, but struggled with anything else (i.e. could only cast up to 2nd level spells of those schools). Bards also had special elven spell-songs which let them cast level 3+ enchantments, but those weren't available to human Magicians (though they were to human bards).

Elves could learn and cast any kind of magic, and thus could be Mages; that ability was limited to humans with Blood scores. When you introduce sorcerers... folks with an innate ability to cast magic, you wind up reassessing the organization. To me, it makes sense that elves, with their natural ability with magic, would be sorcerers. They could have Wizards (and with an Int bonus, they'd be good at it), and bards (and, again, they'd be pretty good at it), but their natural bent would be sorcerer.

Caelestion
2019-07-04, 12:16 PM
You could simply have a measure of divine resistance - say SR 11 + level against spells and effects prompted by divine casters, but which cannot be voluntarily dropped.

Sarethus
2019-07-07, 04:07 AM
Whereas I think it is exactly what is represented in Birthright.

Birthright did not have sorcerers; it was a 2e product, so no sorcerers.

Humans had Magicians, who could manage Illusion or Divination spells, but struggled with anything else (i.e. could only cast up to 2nd level spells of those schools). Bards also had special elven spell-songs which let them cast level 3+ enchantments, but those weren't available to human Magicians (though they were to human bards).

Elves could learn and cast any kind of magic, and thus could be Mages; that ability was limited to humans with Blood scores. When you introduce sorcerers... folks with an innate ability to cast magic, you wind up reassessing the organization. To me, it makes sense that elves, with their natural ability with magic, would be sorcerers. They could have Wizards (and with an Int bonus, they'd be good at it), and bards (and, again, they'd be pretty good at it), but their natural bent would be sorcerer.

I think we both simply have two opposing views on Sidhelien. While I do agree they would be natural sorcerors, I also see them as being masters of all forms of Arcane magic partly as a result of their race splitting with the Seelie who became masters of Divine magic.

This makes up for them being unable to enter any Divine magic class and being sub-par fighters due to their stat defincies.


You could simply have a measure of divine resistance - say SR 11 + level against spells and effects prompted by divine casters, but which cannot be voluntarily dropped.

Problem with that is that it would also be a benefit versus harmful spells and might prevent belpful spells from totally working on the Sidhe character with a few bad rolls.

The flaw that I proposed would prevent the highest level of beneficial spells from working on a Sidhe character (for example a Cleric who just achieved level 11 would not be able to cast 'Heal' on a Sidhe but would have to settle for a Cure Greater Wounds spell which would still function with reduced effectiveness.)

Caelestion
2019-07-07, 05:14 AM
That's entirely the point. They hate the gods and their servants, so why would they willingly accept healing from a god-slave? In Cerilian lore (if I recall correctly), they even pioneered the bardic healing spells.

Sarethus
2019-07-12, 03:52 AM
That's entirely the point. They hate the gods and their servants, so why would they willingly accept healing from a god-slave? In Cerilian lore (if I recall correctly), they even pioneered the bardic healing spells.

The problem with that (in my view) is that same reasoning would make it difficult (if not impossible) for mixed parties (elves & humans). Second it would be both a benefit against harmful spells and at the same time make healing very unreliable/random depending on the dice gods.

The reason why I am supporting the -2 to Divine Casters levels for beneficial spells is that it has a reliable negative effect throughout the characters career. It will lower the effect of beneficial spells while also preventing the character from benefitting from divine spells appropriate to their level in the campaign, yet at the same time it can be planned around fairly reliably by the Divine Character.

Instead of the Priest thinking they have to take Spell Penetration because of the Sidhelien in their party then can cast a lower tier spell. It makes it less frustrating for the other player not necessarily for the Sidhe.

Caelestion
2019-07-12, 08:09 AM
Well, if you extend the -2 CL to all beneficial divine spells, then you've already pushed raise dead back to minimum 11th-level and miracle to 19th-level,. at which point you really have to adopt a different policy other than "only miracle will do it", as waiting until 19th-level is not meaningfully different from "not at all".