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 house rule... ultimate stat flexibility

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Garthanos
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PostSubject: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:23 pm

all heros can choose any 2 stats for their "racial bonuses" even humans

Since I allow powerful amounts of reflavoring anyway..

Does it drain the race flavor out the window?

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“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Tue Feb 07, 2017 12:01 pm

Well... yes and no?

One of the things that has been around at least since 1e is the idea of racial ability score adjustments. Dwarves are hearty, Elves are agile, Half-orcs are strong. These are kind of core concepts associated with the races. And this has been expressed (in part) by their particular ability score adjustments.

In early editions, when you rolled your ability scores (anyone else ever do "3d6 down the line"?), I think it made a noticeable impact because if you got a 15 in your Dex slot by the roll, but you were playing an Elf, you got bumped up because Elves are just naturally more agile. But, of course, at that time, races also had penalties. I believe Elves had a strength penalty along with their dexterity bonus.

The purpose of the mechanics was to ensure that if you took the average spread of scores for any character of any race, on average, Elves would be weaker, but more agile; Dwarves would be heartier, but not as smart (was it an Int penalty? I don't actually remember); and so on. It put a specific mechanical impact on the expression of a race as a whole.

In these early editions, Humans had always been the "center" of it all, meaning they had neither bonus nor penalty to any specific ability scores. They were the "standard" against which other races were measured. And along with this concept was the idea that Humans were more versatile and adaptable to the world. So they didn't have any specific advantages, but neither did they have specific penalties.

This concept persisted more or less unchanged up through 3.x, with slight variations for the specific math of whatever edition. But in 4E, the designers decided that racial penalties were not going to be used and only racial bonuses were applied. The end result was essentially the same; i.e. each race would show a general advantage in the specific ability scores that represented that racial benefit. Elves were, on average, more agile than others; Dwarves were, on average, more hearty that others; etc, etc.

So, I think that in the default 4E presentation, the racial bonuses definitely do add racial flavor. Mechanically speaking, most Arcane Power source characters rely upon Intelligence over other ability scores. Eladrin inherently have a bonus to Intelligence. Ergo, Eladrin more often become Wizards than other races (like Dwarves) that don't have a "built in" bonus to Intelligence. And this fits the lore of the Eladrin; that they are inherently "more magic". The ability score bonuses will tend to "push" various races to favor certain classes over others and those classes would be ones that are traditionally associated with those races.

This is similar to the 3.x mechanic of a "favoured class" for a given race.

However....

In 4E, one of the design concepts was flexibility and allowing "unconventional" race/class combinations to be seen. In 3.x, one rarely saw a Dwarven Wizard. And in 1e/2e you essentially never saw one (there might have even been specific restrictions against it, I don't recall right now). But in 4E, it wasn't absurd to play a Dwarven Wizard (or a Halfling Barbarian or a Gnome Fighter, etc etc). So the system itself encourages "unconventional" race/class combinations. And that tends to downplay the "stereotypes" of class/race combos that formed over previous editions (which typically come from the source material, e.g. Lord of the Rings). So I'd say that allowing Elves to have a Constitution bonus isn't necessarily a problem.

So I think it depends upon the feel you're trying to invoke for your game. Are the races very "traditional" in flavor? Do all Dwarves use axes and have Scottish accents? If so, then I'd say you should keep the racial bonuses as written in the core books. Is the world very different than the "default" feel of "traditional high fantasy"? If so, then reskin away.

And, to add my 4 cents, here's a thought.

All of the races (except Humans and a couple of the "fringe" races) have bonuses to 2 stats. They get one "fixed" bonus and one "choice" bonus. Perhaps you can keep the "fixed" bonus the same, but allow them to pick any other ability as their other bonus. So Elves would get +2 Dex and +2 on anything else Dwarves get +2 Con and +2 on anything else.

For (non-human) races that weren't expanded to have a fixed and a choice, just decide which of the two scores is more "fixed" for that race and go with that. For example, Bugbears get +2 Dex, +2 Str as written. You would decide if Bugbears are more "agile" or "strong" in your world and fix that bonus, then let the other be whatever the player chooses.

Now for Humans, this is tricky. Humans normally only get a single stat bonus, but it already is whatever they choose. This represents their "adaptability" in the world. But it often seems like a shortcoming that they don't get a second ability bonus when literally all other races do. But the fact that Humans get a bonus 1st level feat AND a bonus skill training is definitely something that offsets this apparent shortcoming. But, of course, by providing the additional flexibility to the other races, Humans should probably be given a commiserate benefit. I'm not sure what it should be, but perhaps just a +1 bonus to any other ability score in additional to the +2 to any that they already get.

Obviously, all of this is just my first thoughts on a topic that probably needs a lot more discussion and possibly some play testing. But it was definitely interesting enough to me to ramble on about it for a bit!

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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Tue Feb 07, 2017 5:17 pm

For humans, you could just remove the bonus to Fortitude, Reflex, and Will. With that out of the way, going with Garthanos's original house rule would be easy. The bonus feat and skill that humans get are in lieu of actual racial features, so they wouldn't be a problem.

From the flavor perspective, I would argue that a race's other features do just as much, it not more, to make it unique. The dwarf, dragonborn, warforged, and elf are perfect examples of this.
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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:03 pm

I thought that the Human "racial trait" was their extra 1st-level at will power in their class or the Heroic Effort Racial Power.

And yes, a race's other features also help to shape the "flavor" of a race. That was new to 4E, pretty much. But the history of races from 1e forward had clear associations between a race and a class and it was largely shown by their ability score modifications. And, at least for most common 4E campaigns, I think the specific ability score bonuses applied to each race is appropriate.

But, as always, in a specific campaign, changing these can definitely provide the "feel" of that specific campaign.


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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:00 pm

An extra at-will is arguably a bit of flexibility at low level that will rarely be noticed after a bit of levelling....

I actually want to implement desperation powers to make it even less likely one will end up doing at wills later but that is a separate issue.

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“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Wed Feb 08, 2017 11:15 am

I don't know that it is rarely noticed as I've seen it used to great effect often. But I understand your point.

My point is that the extra at-will or the Heroic Effort is intended to be the Human racial power.

Races each have their own specific mechanical expressions.

First is the ability score modifiers. Each race (except Humans) gets 2; one that is "fixed" and one that is a choice between two specific abilities (some lesser developed races just have the 2 "fixed" of course)

Second is racial bonuses to skills and/or defenses.

And third is the racial power, which is typically an encounter power, though not always.

This is moving away somewhat from the original post, so it doesn't necessarily warrant discussion here. My thoughts are that if all races (Humans included) are given the flexibility to select any 2 ability scores that get a +2 bonus, then some of the "built in flavor" that distinguishes the races is going to be diminished. And if that's what a group wants, that's perfectly fine.

I was thinking that if a group wanted to keep one ability boost "fixed" and then let the second be "any", that would help to keep some of the original differences between the races, but still allow for more flexibility in character creation. However, Humans would actually be slightly diminished if they only had the one stat bonus. And so perhaps adding a second "+1 to any other ability" would be a way to keep a bit of mechanical balance. I'm thinking that this keeps the adjustments tio the core rules entirely within the realm of ability scores. This avoids trying to figure out the "balance" between ability score bonuses and racial powers and so on.

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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Wed Feb 08, 2017 12:21 pm

skwyd42 wrote:
However, Humans would actually be slightly diminished if they only had the one stat bonus. And so perhaps adding a second "+1 to any other ability" would be a way to keep a bit of mechanical balance. I'm thinking that this keeps the adjustments tio the core rules entirely within the realm of ability scores. This avoids trying to figure out the "balance" between ability score bonuses and racial powers and so on.

Well as was pointed out my rules would also be removing the human across the board defensive bonuses ... which is almost like +2 on 3 stats but only used defensively?

to be replaced by a +2 on only 1, but used for all contexts

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One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:35 pm

Yeah, I can see how there is some equity there. I'm just thinking about how some races have a +1 to a single defense; others have a +2 to 2 skills; and so on.

I know that the lead up to 4E had a LOT of mathematical "balancing" by the development team to try to ensure that the races didn't end up with an "obviously better" choice for every class. And fiddling with things like that makes me always approach with a light touch.

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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:02 pm

I need help testing my index and part file for the Dragon Touched? care to volunteer

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Born To Be Kings and Heros -- From the Ashes Phoenix
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:18 am

skwyd42 wrote:
Yeah, I can see how there is some equity there. I'm just thinking about how some races have a +1 to a single defense; others have a +2 to 2 skills; and so on.

I know that the lead up to 4E had a LOT of mathematical "balancing" by the development team to try to ensure that the races didn't end up with an "obviously better" choice for every class. And fiddling with things like that makes me always approach with a light touch.

Races with a defense bonus, like the Eladrin or Warforged, did so in the hoary old days before variable ability scores, when both of their attribute increases went towards attributes that applied to the same defense: Int/Dex, Str/Con, etc.

I would also submit that the racial power isn't the only racial feature. Look at the Tiefling's Blood Hunt and the Dragonborn's bonus when bloodied.
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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:10 am

Honorbound wrote:


Races with a defense bonus, like the Eladrin or Warforged, did so in the hoary old days before variable ability scores, when both of their attribute increases went towards attributes that applied to the same defense: Int/Dex, Str/Con, etc.

So I should consider a different bonus for my race eh...

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“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” - Lazarus Long via Robert Heinlein.

One suspects Lugh Long-hand Samildánach (a wright/carpenter, a sailor, a smith/bronze craftsman, a healer, a champion, a harpist, a poet/historian, a sorcerer, cupbearer) would agree.
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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Thu Feb 09, 2017 10:36 am

Honorbound wrote:
Races with a defense bonus, like the Eladrin or Warforged, did so in the hoary old days before variable ability scores, when both of their attribute increases went towards attributes that applied to the same defense: Int/Dex, Str/Con, etc.

I would also submit that the racial power isn't the only racial feature. Look at the Tiefling's Blood Hunt and the Dragonborn's bonus when bloodied.

I'm not saying that a racial power is the "only" racial feature. Any feature that a race has (ability score boost, racial power, bonuses to skills, etc) is de facto a racial power. And I think that all of these combined are specifically designed to create a particular "feel" for each race. If these are adjusted, it will change the "feel" of the race; specifically in relation to other races.

It's not wrong, just different.

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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:25 pm

Ah. Sorry if I came across as a snot.
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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:53 am

Honorbound wrote:
Ah. Sorry if I came across as a snot.

You didn't come across as a snot at all. No worries! This is a good discussion topic.

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PostSubject: Re: house rule... ultimate stat flexibility   Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:25 pm

My concern would be that there would be even less reason to take a variety of races. From a power point of view, it's hard to imagine that things wouldn't bias heavily toward the half-elf, if it could have perfect stats for any class.

In my 4e rewrite without races, I've done something similiar - you get a the boost in the stats that match your primary and secondary power sets. But that's a little different, since there are no races for variety to hinge upon in the first place.

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