Reworking Species

When you’re making a character you pick a race, and then a class. When you pick a race, in standard D&D, it comes with a lot of baggage. ‘Stonecunning’ isn’t really a racial trait, it’s a cultural trait. Similarly, there’s nothing uniquely Elvish about a starting cantrip, or learning to use swords. Are all Gnomes born knowing Gnomish, or is that something that they learn?

So I broke it down into two lists, and decided against the term ‘race,’ for a couple of reasons I’ll get into later. The first is ‘species.’ That is, what you physically are. Dwarves are fundamentally different than Elves, who are different than Humans. They’re physiologically built differently, and that’s a good thing. That’s what we’re going to focus on today.

The second is ‘culture,’ which goes into what different cultures teach their members is important. If you’re raised by Elves, you know how to handle a bow and speak Elvish, even if you were born a halfling. We’ll do this another time, primarily since I’m not done tinkering with it yet.

So without further ado, here’s the list:

  • Elves: Trance and Sharp Eyes
  • Dwarves: Iron Constitution
  • Halflings: Lucky
  • Orcs: Relentless
  • Dragonborn: Draconic Heritage
  • Humans: Fleeting

And the longer explanations:

Trance means that Elves do not sleep and cannot be put to sleep by any effects. When resting, when a human would require 8 hours (roughly) of sleep, an Elf requires 4 hours of calm meditation. Elves claim this is different than the human practice of meditation but, naturally, the difference is extremely hard to describe.

Sharp Eyes gives Elves advantage on all Perception rolls related to sight.

Iron Constitution grants a Dwarf a resistance to poison damage, and advantage on all saving throws related to poison and disease.

Lucky lets the Halfling reroll a result of 1 on a d20 roll for an attack, saving throw, or ability check. They must use the new result.

Relentless grants the Orc proficiency on death saving throws.

Draconic Heritage lets the Dragonborn choose an energy type. They gain resistance to that energy type and can breathe a cone of that energy type 1/rest.

Fleeting gives Humans an additional skill and a bonus 2 HP / level.

And that’s it. When you choose a race, that’s what you get. You get to choose your attribute bonuses- we assume that player characters are exceptional members of their society and have chosen a career that suits their natural talents. You get another set of formerly ‘racial’ abilities when you choose your culture, as well.

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