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    Default Really stupid races (early hominids)

    So I'm trying to homebrew the various early hominid races from human evolution. What I have so far for Intelligence modifiers is:

    • Homo sapiens: +0 (wise man)
    • Homo neanderthalensis: +0 (neanderthal man)
    • Homo erectus: -2 (upright man)
    • Homo habilis: -4 (handy man)
    • Australopithecus: -6 (gracile australopithecus)
    • Paranthropus: -6 (robust australopithecus)
    • Older species are assumed to be animal Intelligence only.


    I'm a little concerned that such severe Intelligence penalties may create a race that is essentially unplayable.

    Second, does anyone have a list of official game stats for various near-human races in D&D, such as apes, neanderthals (Frostburn?), and so on?

    I'm not interested so much in creating a "balanced" race. Given the fact that these races are for the most part extinct, it seems obvious that they should be inferior to humans. Starting from homo erectus on down, the LA should be -1 or more. By playable, I'm more interested in whether a non-arcane caster class would be a meaningful character to play, or would the required level of stupidity in player decisions (nb. Wisdom is unlikely to suffer any meaningful penalty) would make any attempt to role-play them believability also make them destined for the grave.
    Last edited by Ashtagon; 2011-06-27 at 01:34 PM.

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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    there is a Homo neanderthalensis race, i saw it once, i dont remeber were.
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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    It's in Frostburn.
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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    Unfortunately, I only remember the neanderthal race from frostburn, of which you seem aware of already.

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    Last edited by Pokonic; 2011-06-27 at 01:40 PM.

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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    If using -LA, make sure to give them substantial across-the-board mental ability penalties, or they'll just take the casting class with the lowest penalty and use the extra level to great advantage.

    If they don't justify that much, consider giving them an extra bonus feat or the like rather than a full -LA.

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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yitzi View Post
    If using -LA, make sure to give them substantial across-the-board mental ability penalties, or they'll just take the casting class with the lowest penalty and use the extra level to great advantage.

    If they don't justify that much, consider giving them an extra bonus feat or the like rather than a full -LA.
    I was about to say this myself. Negative LA is a VERY dangerous concept, and if you want these to be at all usable, you need to be very very cautious with negative LA. I'd likely give them LA +0 and good physical stats and/or special abilities to compensate for being functionally mentally retarded, simply because negative LA is too dangerous to risk. LA -2 means that, at level 1, a human has one level and a homo habilis has THREE. Even with a -4 Int, it doesn't really matter, since "Wargh Smash!" doesn't require a lot of thought, and with three levels to back it up, they're going to ruin any attempt at party balance you could ever have hoped for. I know you're not shooting for balance, but negative LA is just so dangerous, I feel compelled to mention it.

    Out of kinda random curiosity, why do you need these stats? Just a fun project, or are you working on something? Additionally, will magic be present in any game in which these races will be present? If so, make sure you do something about Ray of Stupidity.

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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yitzi View Post
    If using -LA, make sure to give them substantial across-the-board mental ability penalties, or they'll just take the casting class with the lowest penalty and use the extra level to great advantage.

    If they don't justify that much, consider giving them an extra bonus feat or the like rather than a full -LA.
    I'm not too concerned about balancing arcane vs. divine caster classes. In any campaign where these will be used, the setting will be inherently low-magic anyway. I'm thinking either no magic at all, or a requirement that no more than half the class levels taken be in any caster class. Another possibility is that caster levels (complete with spell progression) are gained by spending a feat.

    ETA: It seems negative level adjustment as a game concept doesn't make sense anyway, since it isn't defined in teh rules. Scratch that bit, and just assume homo erectuys and earlier races are just plain weaksauce.
    Last edited by Ashtagon; 2011-06-27 at 02:00 PM.

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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    I always have difficulty placing neanderthals; there's a lot of debate as to whether they produced anything you could consider art, with imagination being treated as if it were intellect in anthropology circles...

    I would have assumed they were smaller, dumber and tougher, though that's only a guess based on BBC documentaries...
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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mulletmanalive View Post
    I would have assumed they were smaller, dumber and tougher, though that's only a guess based on BBC documentaries...
    From what I've learned of them, they were basically just different, not lesser. Shorter than the average Sapiens (though comparatively equal to some current-day countries), but they were smart. They just couldn't keep up technologically, for which Sapiens had a knack.

    It was basically more like Homo Sapiens had Artificer as Favored Class and Neanderthals had Ranger.
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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    Quote Originally Posted by Morph Bark View Post
    It was basically more like Homo Sapiens had Artificer as Favored Class and Neanderthals had Ranger.
    Yep, the Neanderthals never had a chance...
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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    Some ideas I'm toying with:

    * Paranthropus: Natural bite attack
    * Habilis and earlier: Slow Learner: Pay an extra skill point per rank spent in any Intelligence or Charisma based skill (this may be too extreme - it is in effect a penalty that accumulates as you gain levels - perhaps just have skill check penalties)
    * Habilis, australopithecus: Slight build: Carrying capacity as Small creature, -2 on combat maneuver (bull rush etc) checks
    * Habilis and earlier: +2 on Climb checks.

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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    Though given the resultant Con bonus and no good reason for any other penalty, Int might fit best, at least taking the lack of imagination into play.

    They had bigger brain pans and denser bones that modern humans but i can't think what else to put a lack of tech under, considering Craft is an Int skill...
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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    I'm inclined to give no modifiers to Wisdom across the board. The SRD ape has a Wisdom bonus, but its reasonable to assume that the various pre-human races lost that somewhere along the line. Possibly allow that bonus back to paranthropus and australopithecus, but I think bonuses to Perception checks would work better, and avoid the super-primitive priest anomaly that might result.

    On the basis of social organisation, complex customs, rites, and art = Charisma...

    aust: roving bands
    habilis:
    erectus: clothing, group hunting
    neanderthal: labour specialisation, animism, ethics, storytelling, true spoken language
    sapiens: us, basically.

    So...

    • H. sapiens: -
    • H. neanderthalensis: -2 Charisma
    • H. erectus: -2 Intelligence, -4 Charisma
    • H. Habilis: -4 Intelligence, -4 Charisma; slight build
    • A. afarensis: -6 Intelligence, -4 Charisma; slight build, +2 Perception skill checks
    • P. robustus: -6 Intelligence, -4 Charisma; bite attack (1d4), +2 Perception skill checks


    I capped Charisma penalties at -4, since apes have 7 Charisma, and monkeys have 5 Charisma. All pre-humans are at least as socially cohesive as common monkeys.

    The Frostburn neanderthal is pretty much a fictional exaggeration that plays up various tropes, rather than anything based on scientific evidence, so I'm ignoring it. He actually had a brain significantly bigger than modern human brains, although that may not necessarily have been more complex (complexity is as much an issue of folds rather than size, and sadly soft tissues don't survive the fossilisation process).

    Scent and low-light vision seem reasonable for the earliest hominids, but there doesn't seem to be an obvious point where they should be lost.

    I'm a bit lost for physical ability modifiers.
    Last edited by Ashtagon; 2011-06-27 at 03:23 PM.

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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    ape-like strength would indicate the non-upright ones aught to have a strength bonus.

    Neanderthals have all the halmarks of a cold adapted toughy, hence why i suggested Con.

    If you're taking Charisma to bring out art, you'll have to change the skills as art objects are made with an Intelligence skill [craft]

    The earliest forms might warrant a combo of Small size and Powerful Build, to give them an actual ape feel.
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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mulletmanalive View Post
    ape-like strength would indicate the non-upright ones aught to have a strength bonus.
    Yes, strength bonuses will definitely apply. Main question is, by how much.

    Neanderthals have all the halmarks of a cold adapted toughy, hence why i suggested Con.
    They'll get a Con bonus on account of their solid build and heavy bone structure. Given the climate of their day, a bonus in cold environments is also justified though.

    If you're taking Charisma to bring out art, you'll have to change the skills as art objects are made with an Intelligence skill [craft]
    I take art as reflecting Charisma, but not so much in the personal ability to produce art, but the societal ability to appreciate art. That doesn't depend on Intelligence so much. In any case, I also looked at a composite of many other factors in assigning those Charisma modifiers, most notably lack of societal organisation larger than the tribe, and lack of identifiable ritual or social specialisation in some pre-human societies.

    eta: BY "art", I was referring to the ability to produce art at all, not specifically the ability to produce masterworks.

    The earliest forms might warrant a combo of Small size and Powerful Build, to give them an actual ape feel.
    By strict game logic, all of them were of Medium size, although some just barely. I use slight build to cover those cases where they are just barely of the required height and are noted as having a build that is not particularly muscled (ie. approaching human norms).

    Actual powerful build is, I feel, a little overpowered under raw. In line with my slight build class feature, it would provide an equal-but-opposite bonus. Yes, that means not getting oversize weapons. That bit always felt odd to me, considering a size category means literally twice the length of weapon (and thus, eight times the weight of weapon). None of the hominid races are quite big enough to pull off powerful build believably, although a hypothetical H. gigas might.
    Last edited by Ashtagon; 2011-06-28 at 12:35 AM.

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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    You'll note that with the narrower discrepency between small and medium compared to medium and large, the game effects/ridiculousness is curbed.

    Unless slight build doesn't have any grapple/lifting penalties, i wouldn't thing that would apply to the more primate like examples as primates tend to be far stronger than humans, massively so by weight.
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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mulletmanalive View Post
    You'll note that with the narrower discrepency between small and medium compared to medium and large, the game effects/ridiculousness is curbed.

    Unless slight build doesn't have any grapple/lifting penalties, i wouldn't thing that would apply to the more primate like examples as primates tend to be far stronger than humans, massively so by weight.
    I agree that Small + (raw) powerful build is nowhere near as unbalanced as Medium + (raw) powerful build. But that doesn't change the fact that, with the notable exception of H. floriensis (which I do not plan on writing up), none of them were actually Small as D&D defines that size class.

    I'm really torn over how strong early hominids should be. The SRD ape is a Large creature with 21 Strength (Large implies a +8 size bonus to Str), while the SRD monkey is a Tiny or Small (wording is ambiguous) creature with 3 Strength (Tiny/Small implies a -4 or -8 penalty to Str). Once the size modifier is factored out, the actual Strength bonus or penalty is effectively +3 for apes and +1 for monkeys, both of which could just as easily be explained as part of the standard ability score arrays. Annoyingly, there aren't any other primates in the SRD.

    The above probably implies that early hominids should typically get a +2 Strength bonus, modified downward if they are barely in the Medium size class, and modified upwards for those noted as being extra-strong.

    So...

    • H. sapiens: -
    • H. neanderthalensis: +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma
    • H. erectus: +2 Strength, -2 Intelligence, -4 Charisma, +2 Perception skill checks
    • H. Habilis: -4 Intelligence, -4 Charisma; slight build, +2 Perception skill checks
    • Australopithecus: -6 Intelligence, -4 Charisma; slight build, +2 Climb, Perception skill checks, primitive skill set
    • Panthropus: +2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -6 Intelligence, -4 Charisma; bite attack (1d4), +2 Climb, Perception skill checks, primitive skill set


    Primitive skill set: cannot spend skill points on Craft, Knowledge, Handle Animal, Perform, or Ride. Although these skills wouldn't historically see use until H. neanderthalensis or later, the races to which this applies were barely above animal intelligence, and simply didn't have the mental capacity for these skills.

    Literacy: H. habilis and earlier species are never literate, and cannot gain literacy. They may spend two skill points to gain the use of limited symbology -- sufficient to count to ten and understand basic written concepts such as "blue cat" or "go left". This will never achieve the flexibility of a true written language.

    neanderthalensis and panthropus are both noted for having heavier builds and more robust bone structure, which I've chosen to translate into a Con bonus.

    Next up... Dexterity. Suggestions?

    eta: Added Perception bonus to habilis and erectus, since they were still early enough in the technology stakes not to have lost some of the primitive observation skills.
    Last edited by Ashtagon; 2011-06-28 at 02:31 AM.

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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    I'd say leave dexterity alone. It doesn't really seem like early hominids were any more coordinated than we are. Besides, if you change that you've given penalties or bonuses to everything except wisdom, and that would be a bit extreme.

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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    Quote Originally Posted by Immonen View Post
    I'd say leave dexterity alone. It doesn't really seem like early hominids were any more coordinated than we are. Besides, if you change that you've given penalties or bonuses to everything except wisdom, and that would be a bit extreme.
    I think you're right. Dexterity is best left alone. There's no evidence that any off them wee especially lacking in manual dexterity, and kinaesthetic agility was almost certainly superior in more primitive pre-humans to a small degree, so it balances out in any case.

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    Default Re: Really stupid races (early hominids)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    I think you're right. Dexterity is best left alone. There's no evidence that any off them were especially lacking in manual dexterity, and kinaesthetic agility was almost certainly superior in more primitive pre-humans to a small degree, so it balances out in any case.
    Neanderthals couldn't throw like us. Their shoulders weren't articulated right for it. There's actually debate as to whether or not it hurt them in the competition against European humans. There are human tribes (Maori, I believe) who never developed throwing spears... but on the other hand, none of those tribes are in Europe. I'd give 'em the Shaky flaw with Endurance as a bonus feat.

    Thumbs as we have 'em started at-or-around H. erectus. Previously, they're more primitive, not quite as good as ours. If nothing else, it supports the penalties for Craft. Most of the early tools could have just been made with untrained skill checks.

    Improved kinaesthetic agility as compared to modern humans seems based largely on examination of sedentary first-worlders. I've seen some pretty nimble folk in my day, including guys who could scurry up a tree just as quick as you please. They didn't think they were anything special, they just did it a lot more than you or I when they were growing up.

    Being that Australopithecus (especially the females) are just this side of Small, I'd give 'em a +2 Dexterity bonus. The rest should probably stay at +0.

    EDIT: I also want to know where you're getting this notion that we're all that better just because we're extant and they're extinct. These critters were quite thoroughly adapted and well-suited to their environments. The environments changed out from under them, is all.
    Last edited by Solaris; 2011-06-29 at 07:09 PM.

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