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Thread: Racial writeups

  1. #1
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    I was thinking of using the following racial writeups for my next BR
    campaign. These writeups were made to emphasise the cultural differences
    rather than the biological differences between each class, and doesn`t
    really address dwarven toughness or elven immortality and such because I`m
    playing those down a little for playability purposes. I thought I`d post it
    on the list to see if anyone had any thoughts about it or if anyone else
    might like to use them.


    Anuirean
    Abilities: +2 Str, +2 Wis, +2 Chr, -2 Dex, -2 Con
    Skill: +1 bonus to Diplomacy checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Skill: +1 bonus to Ride checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Bonus Feat: any Basic Combat feat
    Special: +1 to all action die or regency die rolls
    (+1 every 4th level)

    Brecht
    Abilities: +2 Dex, +2 Chr, -2 Con, -2 Wis
    Skill: +1 bonus to Bluff checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Skill: +1 bonus to Sleight-of-Hand checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Bonus Feat: any Basic Skill feat
    Special: +6 Wealth Points at first level
    +2 Wealth Points every two levels (2nd, 4th, etc)
    +1 initiative (+1 every 4th level)
    Dwarf
    Abilities: +2 Con, +2 Chr, -2 Dex, -2 Int
    Skill: +1 bonus to Concentration checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Skill: +1 bonus to Spot checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Bonus Feat: any Melee Combat feat
    Special: +1 bonus to Fortitude saves (+1 every 4th level)

    Elf
    Abilities: +2 Dex, +2 Wis, -2 Str, -2 Chr
    Skill: +1 bonus to Survival checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Skill: +1 bonus to Search checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Bonus Feat: any Ranged Combat feat
    Special: +1 bonus to Will saves (+1 every 4th level)

    Goblin
    Abilities: +2 Dex, -2 Int, -2 Chr
    Skill: +1 bonus to Move Silently checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Skill: +1 bonus to Intimidate checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Bonus Feat: any Basic Combat feat
    Special: +1 bonus to initiative checks (+1 every 4th level)
    +1 to attack rolls prepared with the Ready action
    (an additional +1 every 4th level)

    Halfling
    Abilities: +2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Str, -2 Wis
    Skill: +1 bonus to Tracking checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Skill: +1 bonus to Disable Device checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Bonus Feat: any Stealth feat
    Special: +1 bonus to Reflex saves (+1 every 4th level)

    Khinasi
    Abilities: +2 Int, -2 Wis
    Skill: +1 bonus to Ride checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Skill: +1 bonus to all checks regarding any one knowledge skill
    (an additional +1 every 4th level)
    Bonus Feat: any Special Equipment feat
    Special: Choose 2 skills. These are always class skills for you.

    Rjurik
    Abilities: +2 Con, -2 Dex
    Skill: +1 bonus to Survival checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Skill: +1 bonus to Sense Motive checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Bonus Feat: any Stealth feat
    Special: +1 to Massive Damage Threshold (+1 per 4 levels)

    Vos
    Abilities: +2 Str, -2 Dex
    Skill: +1 bonus to Intimidate checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Skill: +1 bonus to Balance checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Bonus Feat: any Pursuit feat
    Special: 4 extra hp at 1st level (+1 every level)


    -Lord Rahvin

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    Just a hasty comment, -- but if you want to emphasize cultural differences, why not emphasize skill differences rather than debatable stat differences?

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    > Just a hasty comment, -- but if you want to emphasize cultural differences, why not emphasize skill differences rather than debatable stat differences?

    I`m confused. I thought I did that.
    I took the special abilities of most of the races away (I may give them back
    later at an ECL cost or feat/talent system) like Shadow Walk, Little Stone
    Golem, and Live Forever, ephasising instead the particular skill bonuses
    that each race would get based on cultural outlook, or stereotype.

    -Lord Rahvin

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    Just a quick question; Why do Anuirean have +6 points ability stat
    bonus while they only suffer a -4 points penalty? All of your other
    human sub-races are balanced out, this does give an advantage
    playing an Anuirean.

    Azazel

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    Birthright Developer Raesene Andu's Avatar
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    The only problems with ability adjustments for human races (as has been pointed out so many times in the past) is that an adjustment to an ability is an adjustment to the biological makeup of a person, not a cultural difference.

    Taking a look at the various peoples of earth, the differences between them is so minutely small that you can not say that a person's place of origin significantly effects how they will perform mentally of physically. There are some very small differences (primarily physical), but these only show up at the elite level (for example, look at the 100m sprint), and can not said to be a major difference (i.e. lead to an ability adjustment) for the vast majority of people.

    Therefore, it does not make sense to say that a person's culture can effect their abilities. There is no significant biological differences between the human tribes of Cerilia, but there is between humans, elves, dwarves, etc, which is why those races have ability adjustments.

    Culture, however, can lead to differences in a person's skills. Going back to real world examples, someone bought up in a primitive tribe (say one in the Amazon) will have a different set of skills than someone bought up in a western industrialised nation. So you would be correct to give either bonuses to skills, or access to certain regional feats to indicate these differences.

    I don't think these benifits would change or grow as a character gains experience though, as they only represent a person's starting benefits. From there on a character chooses what he/she learns, what feats to learn, whats skills to improve and so on.
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    Site Moderator Ariadne's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Lord Rahvin

    Anuirean
    Abilities: +2 Str, +2 Wis, +2 Chr, -2 Dex, -2 Con
    Skill: +1 bonus to Diplomacy checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Skill: +1 bonus to Ride checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Bonus Feat: any Basic Combat feat
    Special: +1 to all action die or regency die rolls
    (+1 every 4th level)
    Wow, not a little bit hard?

    Khinasi
    Abilities: +2 Int, -2 Wis
    Skill: +1 bonus to Ride checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Skill: +1 bonus to all checks regarding any one knowledge skill
    (an additional +1 every 4th level)
    Bonus Feat: any Special Equipment feat
    Special: Choose 2 skills. These are always class skills for you.
    No. Khinasi are intelligent AND wise. The -2 I would give to Con...

    Vos
    Abilities: +2 Str, -2 Dex
    Skill: +1 bonus to Intimidate checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Skill: +1 bonus to Balance checks (+1 every 4th level)
    Bonus Feat: any Pursuit feat
    Special: 4 extra hp at 1st level (+1 every level)
    Vos are, well, not really stupid, but...
    I would give the -2 to Int...

    This is only a quick comment, nice idea, but it will bring those human races nearly to an ECL...
    May Khirdai always bless your sword and his lightning struck your enemies!

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    >
    > Just a quick question; Why do Anuirean have +6 points of ability stat bonus while they only suffer a -4 points penalty? All of your other human sub-races are balanced out, this does give an advantage playing an Anuirean.
    > Azazel

    I stuck to the DMG on this one. p24. "Here`s an important secret: Not all
    of the ability scores are equal. Notice, for example, the half-orc with a
    penalty in Intelligence and Charisma but a bonus only in Strength. That`s
    because neither a penalty to Intelligence nor a penalty to Charisma by
    itself is equal to a bonus in Strength. To return to the cat people
    example: Dexterity is also a very important ability, and thus a Dexterity
    bonus could not be balanced by a Charisma penalty alone unless some other
    drawback was added as well."

    The +2 Str is balanced with the -2 Con, but the -2 Dex had to balanced with
    two mental ability scores (Wis and Chr) because Dex is such a useful ability
    scores that provides so many benefits. Now the DMG does go on to say that
    these bonus/penalty balances may not work when switched (i.e. a bonus to Dex
    may be balanced by a penalty to Wis and Chr but a bonus to Wis and Chr may
    not be balanced with a bonus to Dex), so strictly according to the DMG, the
    Anuirean may still not be powerful enough in terms of ability bonuses, but I
    think it works.

    Some poeple have commented that the Anuirean is too powerful, even, I
    assume, not taking into account the ability score bonuses. I admit that
    giving both a bonus to Diplomacy and Ride may not have been a very good
    idea, since for most of the others I tried to balance a useful skill with a
    relatively non-useful skill, but both of these seemed so apt for the
    Anuirean. On the other hand, the "special" ability isn`t very good and is
    perhaps the weekest of all. I may have to change that one.

    -Lord Rahvin

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  8. #8
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Are these in addition to the racial abilities, etc. described in the PHB? I’m assuming that they are since certain key elements aren’t addressed her, like darkvision for dwarves or lowlight vision for elves.

    Using the “guidelines” presented in Savage Species (3.5 forward compatible) several of these races would receive an ECL modifier. I’ve listed my comments under each race with the page # and brief descriptor from SS as to why the ECL applies.

    Anuirean:
    +1 ECL (unbalanced ability score, pg 11)
    +1 ECL (3 or more racial bonuses to skill checks checks, pg 12 – I’d apply this since the bonuses scale per level, so at 4th level the bonuses are +4 (+2 to Diplomacy and Ride) and also it’s tied into action die (By the way, what is this?) and regency rolls (I assume this is meant for domain actions? Otherwise I’m again confused as to what a regency roll is.)
    +1 ECL (2 or more bonus feats, humans gain one and Anuireans gain a basic combat feat (what is a basic combat feat?) in addition)

    Comes to a total ECL modifier of +3. This is rather high.
    Why do Anuireans lose Con? They are a warrior race. It would be better to drop the Str and Con modifiers to ensure they are not being traded off for each other.

    Brecht
    +1 ECL (3 or more racial bonuses to skill checks checks, pg 12 – I’d apply this since the bonuses scale per level, so at 4th level the bonuses are +4 (+2 to Bluff and Sleight of Hand)
    +1 ECL (2 or more bonus feats, humans gain one and Brechts gain a basic skill feat (again what is this?)
    +1 ECL (initiative increase, I’d use the special attacks and qualities descriptor on pg 12 since this ability can’t be gained by taking a level in any class and it scales by level)

    Comes to a total ECL modifier of +3.
    Why do Brechts lose Con? They are seafarers and this is a very important attribute for that focus, also there is the climate of the Great Bay to take into mind – it is harsher than say Anuire.

    Dwarf
    +1 ECL (3 or more racial bonuses to skill checks checks, pg 12 – Spot, Concentration and Appraise (PHB) checks)
    +1 ECL (bonus to Fortitude saves, I’d use the special attacks and qualities descriptor on pg 12 since this ability can’t be gained by taking a level in any class, it scales per level and it stacks with the dwarven save bonuses in the PHB)

    Comes to a total ECL modifier of +2. This is less than the human modifiers.
    Why do dwarves only receive a +2 to Con and a –2 to Dex? Aren’t they more hardy than Rjurik and less dexterous than Anuireans?
    Why a plus to Charisma? Dwarves are never portrayed as being any better at dealing with the other races than are the other races.
    Why the minus to Intelligence? Dwarves are definitely not portrayed as being any less capable of learning than are the other races, and definitely are more knowledgeable than are the Vos 0 dwarves have a written language.

    Elf
    +1 ECL (3 or more racial bonuses to skill checks checks, pg 12 – Survival and Search (I assume this stacks with the PHB skill bonus) these also scale per level.
    +1 ECL (bonus to Will saves, I’d use the special attacks and qualities descriptor on pg 12 since this ability can’t be gained by taking a level in any class, it scales per level)

    Comes to a total ECL modifier of +2. This is less than the human modifiers.
    Why do elves lose Charisma – this is quite the opposite to the literature and its descriptions of how they are capable of captivated most mortals.

    Goblin
    What type of goblin? Cerilian goblins are comprised of goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears. Elite goblins are hobgoblins, which would generally be the dominant group.

    Per Savage Species the following are the ability adjustments for goblinoids: (Table A-55, pg 206 and 209)
    Goblin - +0ECL, -4 Str, +2 Dex, -2 Cha
    Hobgoblin - +1 ECL, +2 Dex, +2 Con
    Bugbear - +1 ECL, +4 Str, +2 Dex, +2 Con, -2 Cha

    Halfling
    1 ECL (skill checks, I’d use the special descriptor on pg 12 since these can’t be gained by taking a level in any class bonus to Tracking checks (this doesn’t really exist, track is a feat that gives bonuses to Wilderness Lore checks, and Disable Device checks these also scale per level.
    +1 ECL (bonus to Reflex saves, I’d use the special attacks and qualities descriptor on pg 12 since this ability can’t be gained by taking a level in any class, it scales per level and it stacks with the halfling save bonuses in the PHB

    Comes to a total ECL of +2. This is less than the human modifier.
    Why an increase in Intelligence and a decrease in Wisdom? Are halflings as knowledgeable as Khinasi?

    Khinasi
    +1 ECL (3 or more racial bonuses to skill checks checks, pg 12 – I’d apply this since the bonuses scale per level, so at 4th level the bonuses are +4 (+2 to Ride and any one knowledge skill)
    +1 ECL (2 or more bonus feats, humans gain one and Khinasi gain a Special Equipment feat (again what is this?)

    Comes to a total ECL modifier of +2.

    Rjurik
    +1 ECL (3 or more racial bonuses to skill checks checks, pg 12 – I’d apply this since the bonuses scale per level, so at 4th level the bonuses are +4 (+2 to Survival and Sense Motive)
    +1 ECL (2 or more bonus feats, humans gain one and Rjurik gain any Stealth feat (again what is this?)
    +1 ECL (Massive Damage Threshold increase, I’d use the special attacks and qualities descriptor on pg 12 since this ability can’t be gained by taking a level in any class and it scales by level)

    Comes to a total ECL modifier of +3.

    Vos
    +1 ECL (3 or more racial bonuses to skill checks checks, pg 12 – I’d apply this since the bonuses scale per level, so at 4th level the bonuses are +4 (+2 to Intimidate and Balance)
    +1 ECL (2 or more bonus feats, humans gain one and Vos gain a basic Pursuit feat (again what is this?)
    +1 ECL (4 extra hp, I’d use the special attacks and qualities descriptor on pg 12 since this ability can’t be gained by taking a level in any class and it scales by level) {This is a major bonus, far outpaces any of the other ones.}

    Comes to a total ECL modifier of +3.
    Why do Vos gain a bonus to Balance and yet lose Dexterity?

    Why no half-elf?

    If you ability modifiers are being included for humans then the modifiers for demi-humans need to be doubled in order to maintain the same proportions. For example, Cerilians dwarves are more sturdy than Rjurik, if each has a +2 Con modifier theen they (as a race) are the same. There are no racial min/max scores anymore.

    As has been pointed out ability modifiers are biological, skills (and feats) are cultural. For example a Vos who was raised in Anuire would have the biological ability adjustments of a Vos, but not the racial illiteracy of the Vos and would have the cultural skill/feat modifiers of the Anuirean culture.
    Duane Eggert

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    > The only problems with ability adjustments for human races (as has been pointed out so many times in the past) is that an adjustment to an ability is an adjustment to the biological makeup of a person, not a cultural difference.


    I disagree.
    The very fact that ability scores can be raised upon leveling up enough
    times is a clear indication that they are not strictly biological at all.
    Biology may be part of it, yes, but so is culture, and so is personal
    inclinations. If you look at the game mechanics associated with the ability
    scores, they don`t represent biological benefits/limitations at all but
    subtle inclinations (which could potentially come from any number of
    abstract sources). Each +2 bonus that I gave is only a small +1 bonus in
    some area of the character`s makeup, which could be explained through
    biology, through background, through social class, etc. The ability scores
    at best represent some small area of abstract advantage, an inclination to
    what you`re character *might* be good at... a person could have the worse
    Charisma in the world and completely negate whatever interaction limit that
    provides by 1st or 2nd level. After a couple of levels he could go on to
    become a great diplomat. There`s no reason to strictly assume this minor
    hinderance was an absolute set-in-stone biological limitation rather than
    some cultural trait that had to be overcome.




    > Taking a look at the various peoples of earth, the differences between them is so minutely small that you can not say that a person`s place of origin significantly effects how they will perform mentally of physically.

    Yeah, but we`re not on Earth. Well... you know what I mean.
    That was, after all, part of the point... I was trying to make the races
    distinct from eachother. The differences between a Vos character and an
    Anuirean character are wildly different from any two given cultures on
    earth. Part of that difference is that stereotypes are horribly
    inappropriate on earth, but in fantasy settings stereotypes are very real
    and actually become distinct traits. This is both because in fantasy
    settings those differences are much more distinct, and because the rules
    we`re using primarily involve PCs which may be seen as a certain subset
    (sort of) of the race itself.


    > Therefore, it does not make sense to say that a person`s culture can effect their abilities. There is no significant biological differences between the human tribes of Cerilia, but there is between humans, elves, dwarves, etc, which is why those races have ability adjustments.

    A wisdom benefit grants +1 bonus to certain perception-related skill checks,
    a +1 benefit against mind-control, and some bonus spells that benefit
    clerics. None of this strikes me as strictly "biological" or so absolutely
    different that it must be limited to only bizzare non-human creatures.
    Likewise, a Strength bonus that allows a character to carry more, inflict +1
    damage in melee, recieve a +1 bonus to attacks, and recieve a +1 bonus to
    atheltic skill rolls doesn`t seem inhuman to me and actually seem quite apt
    for the Vos.

    -----

    In summation: Ability score benefits are not distinct enough to say that
    humans should not recieve them, and in fact are subtle enough to
    well-represent some of the minor differences between the races. The races
    should be made more distinct. (That one I can understand if some of you
    disagree with.) Maybe if there was still such a thing as ability score
    maximum values, I might see the point. Maybe if there was no way for
    ability scores to ever fluctuate, I might see the point. Maybe if a few
    ranks in a skill or one or two levels didn`t completely negate whatever
    disadvantage ability score penalties gave you, I might see the point.

    Something that would more accurately represent biological traits would be a
    maximum rank limit on certain skills, class/level limitations, and ability
    score adjustments higher than 4 points.

    Certain traits that Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings had that *were* biological
    in nature were things like Low Light Vision, Damage Reduction, Immortality,
    Small Size, etc. Bonuses to ability scores, skills, attack rolls with
    certain weapons, extra proficiencies, or even access to certain classes may
    not necessarily be biological in nature. (As you`ve noticed I have even
    dealt with the issues of biological differences, because those will be
    handled in the next part.)


    --------

    > I don`t think these benifits would change or grow as a character gains experience though, as they only represent a person`s starting benefits. From there on a character chooses what he/she learns, what feats to learn, whats skills to improve and so on.

    "Starting benefits" kind of goes against the theme of D&D/d20 which is
    primarily level-based, but we`ll get into that a little later...

    -Lord Rahvin

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  10. #10
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 09:24 AM 5/1/2003 -0600, Lord Rahvin wrote:

    >I admit that giving both a bonus to Diplomacy and Ride may not have been a
    >very good idea, since for most of the others I tried to balance a useful
    >skill with a relatively non-useful skill, but both of these seemed so apt
    >for the Anuirean.

    Access to an appropriate set of background feats seems the most apt way of
    handling this sort of thing IMO. Aside from the utility of the background
    feat function itself, making the bonus an optional thing for a human
    character of a particular background doesn`t make every Anuirean shopkeeper
    +2 better at riding than every Khinasi shopkeeper, or every Anuirean farmer
    a better diplomat than every Vos farmer simply by merit of their heritage.

    Gary

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