What about chucking racial stat bonuses entirely?

One thing that's generally been true as long as races have been set up with bonuses to certain stats (and sometimes penalties to others) is that the stats have had a stronger "pull" than the rest of everything else that's going on, with relatively few exceptions. (Though some certainly exist.)

Imagine two setups. I'm going to phrase them in extremes:

I) A Half-Orc is a great fighter. A Half-Elf is an okay fighter. A Halfling is a bad fighter.
II) A Half-Orc, a Half-Elf and a Halfling are all good fighters, but have bonuses that help them be a fighter in ways that are culturally appropriate. For example, a half-orc might have a bonus to charging, a half-elf might give bonuses to allies, and a halfling might be effective vs. larger characters.

Obviously D&D has never been completely at one extreme or the other, but I think that moving more towards II is generally more interesting. It's even okay if most people would agree that a Half-Orc is a better fighter than a Halfling, but a Halfling fighter still has unique and awesome options available that make playing one something more than just a pure RP choice at the cost of adventuring utility.

I hope that most people like that setup even if they disagree with what I suggest next.

I think that a great way to move hard towards setup II is to chuck racial ability score bonuses and replace them with more potent general racial features. While we're at it, it would be cool if every race got at least one feature for each of the three pillars. (For combat, defensive abilities are better than offensive ones because every character benefits from them.)

The big drawback to this is that it makes races more complicated. An ability score boost goes on the sheet and then you can forget about it. As someone who doesn't like a proliferation of tiny situational bonuses, I'm leery of making race a bigger source of them. But I like the idea that races have bonuses to being a fighter differently than other races instead of more or less just better or worse than other races.

Also this idea might just be terrible.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Humans would probably suck lwithout some other mechanical advantage. Humans do not really have any racial powah to shine. Last I looked I couldn't teleport or breath fire. Humans should probably be boring mechanicallly. How powerful they are is another question. Doesn't bother me if an elf is more dextrous than a human although right now dex is uber for other reasons.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

I think removing ability bonuses sounds great.

For example, to show that dwarves are naturally tough and hardy, say they get to roll their skill die with Constitution ability checks instead of giving them a Con bonus.
see, its not just bonus proficiencies and abilities that seperate races, a half orc IS naturally stronger than your average human. as i have pointed out in other threads, racial stat changes refer to how they differ to humans. which is also why i agree to stat penalties. orcs have a penalty to int because they are naturally less intelligent than the average human.

my idea on racial stats, give all races bonuses and penalties again (to represent their comparison to humans) and make the stat advantage of humans no penalties. and perhaps give them free skill training (to represent their quick adaptability as referenced in dnd lore)
If they get rid of racial bonuses, what they should do is create Weapon Bonuses and other benefits (like what the other races receive) that can be in a pool for Human PCs.   Then let each Human PC pick two or three of them.   That would simulate the diversity that is represented in with Humans in the fantasy world, and it would balance them with the other races.   I'm all for getting rid of the bonuses to abilities.   They are unnecesary because a) they aren't interesting, b) they don't really fit with bounded accuracy game mechanics.  


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Somehow, I had never thought about this. It would be really easy to give ability score related bonuses, like give Half-Orcs a carrying capacity increase and perhaps a damage bonus with Great Weapons ...

It would definitely level the playing field. PCs are extreme examples; who cares if the Orc wants to have an 18 int, he's just the smartest orc there ever was.

Regardless of ability boosts, humans need something. 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

I think the OP has a point. Stat bonuses may have a place, but they tend to force players to choose between "the character I wanna play" and "the obvious powergaming choice". To me, that's an unfortunate and unnecessary situation

giving the races general bonuses that actively influence how the character solves problems etc should be the way to go.  

Example: both halflings and half-orcs can pick up the rogue class and become good sneaks. While the halflings size gives him advantages at darting between the legs of his enemies and planting a blade in their knee, the half-orc's size lets him move fast and force his way into an advantageous position, or maybe subdue his foes bluntly before striking with a well-placed dagger.

hardcoded racial bonuses are boring and restrictive 
Its funny you post this Lesp, I have been wondering lately why we need to make the races mechanically distinct at all. It seems that as a role playing choice it would be better to allow the range of benefits and drawbacks possible for racial choices to be allowable for any race class combo, and at the same time remove any stat changes from racial choice.

In that way players are free to chose a race without needing to force their character into a certain build.
I support the removal of racial statistic adjustments wholeheartedly.  I'm not even real concerned about the 'nudge them towards things' idea, as I don't believe race should be a significant amount of the so-called 'character pie'.
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I like the idea of just getting rid of racial ability score bonuses.  I don't think I'd like to see a bunch of different powers and features for races though.  The differentiation you get from the ones they have now is enough for me.  Giving halflings, half-orcs and half-elves all powers that make them good at different classes in unique ways sounds good on paper, but I think it would be such a complex thing to balance that in practice you would end up with a couple of races that everyone just thought of as having "the best" racial powers (a la 4e's Elven Accuracy).  I'd rather have it be "these three people are all good fighters.  By the way, this one is a halfling, this one is a half-orc and this one is a half-elf".
Good points. I'd love to see races implemented as "different yet equal" but as you say it might cause more trouble than it's worth. 
I still think that races need special abilities to emulate the way we commonly view them in an archtypal way.   Low light vision, dungeoneering, Dwarven resiliance, Halfling luck, nimbleness, Dwarven toughness, etc. both add to flavor and establish crunch that is interesting and useful in the game.   I wouldn't want to lose that.

I could definitely give up ability score bonuses and even weapon specializations.

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Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I think that a great way to move hard towards setup II is to chuck racial ability score bonuses and replace them with more potent general racial features. While we're at it, it would be cool if every race got at least one feature for each of the three pillars. (For combat, defensive abilities are better than offensive ones because every character benefits from them.)

That wouldn't be an impossible system, as long as the game is limited to races that are close to human. But at some point the game has to address how to handle characters who don't fit that standard. Flat stats and racial abilities would work when your range is halfling to half-orc for strength, when somebody wants to play a minotaur/giant/dragon that doesn't work.

I think a better solution would be to break up how stats work in D&D so the game isn't so stat dependent in combat. Move things around so every class needs more then one stat. Put melee attack bonus on dex, damage on strength, put defenses on con, wis and dex, and some other bonuses and important skills on int and cha. It would need some tweaking to insure that dex isn't over valued, but you can see where I'm going. That way a race with a stat out of line doesn't so massively force that race into matching classes.

I like the idea.

But small races should still have a pack of adjustments. They are small and light and shouldn't be able to swim in strong currents without far more training than medium races for example. Some kind of racial traits are unavoidable in some cases.

And there's the Elves Are So Cool That They Are The Best In Any Class With The Right Subrace problem.

Humans would be easy to implement in this system, as they are individually defined by their chosen class, so the race would favor specialists like the current one. 

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

I like the idea of chucking stat bonuses.  Personally, I never felt they were the best way of illustrating that someone is stronger, smarter, more dextrous, or what-have-you.  Although, I do agree that humans still need something.  Which brings me to a suggestion that I've made before.



Racial Traits, Why Humans Shouldn't Get Special Treatment



Racial attribute bonuses, while nice, are easily forgotten racial traits.  They quickly blend into the background, and I find them decidedly unsatisfying.  For most races, who get more than just racial bonuses to define them, this is less intrusive.  However, humans get the shaft on being interesting while simultaneously getting OP attribute bonuses.

To eliminate the over-powered nature of human racial attribute bonuses, and to simultaneously solve the blandness problem, I propose that humans' racial ability score adjustments be altered to simply +2 to one attrinute, and they get the following racial trait to compensate for the lost attribute bonuses.

Empty Inside (Human Racial Trait)
Humans, as a race, are empty inside, as if their souls are incomplete.  Every human seeks something to fill the inescapable void within them.  For some, this is family and friends, for others it's power, wealth, prestige, religion, or a littany of vices a mile long.  This emptiness drives humanity, focuses them, and turns their empty souls into fortresses of resolve.  Once per encounter, Humans have the ability to cancel a disadvantage they face, or the advantage of an opponent attacking them.

Now that's a human racial trait that really fits us.



Note: Call it Driven, or something else if you like.  I'm not very "up with people," so the title is appropriately fitting in my opinion.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

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I think that a great way to move hard towards setup II is to chuck racial ability score bonuses and replace them with more potent general racial features. While we're at it, it would be cool if every race got at least one feature for each of the three pillars. (For combat, defensive abilities are better than offensive ones because every character benefits from them.)

That wouldn't be an impossible system, as long as the game is limited to races that are close to human. But at some point the game has to address how to handle characters who don't fit that standard. Flat stats and racial abilities would work when your range is halfling to half-orc for strength, when somebody wants to play a minotaur/giant/dragon that doesn't work.

I'd put the breaking point closest to giant, probably. I think you can make a mostly convincing minotaur without stat alterations, but giant is pushing it. I also think that's fine on some level; it's convenient that the breaking point appears to - at least for me - fall at about the point where you stop expecting the race to be on the same level as most characters to begin with. It's certainly difficult to make a convincing adult dragon without stat adjustments, but I don't think anybody expects an adult dragon to be on the level of a starting character to begin with. Heck, the 3E savage species gives the crummiest dragon it details (a White Wyrmling) a starting ECL of five.

I would be absolutely fine with only using the "avoid stat bumps as racial features" setup only for creature types that would in 3e terms be LA +0 or LA +1 creatures. (And some LA +2 or more creatures, even; 3.5 had a bit of a tendency to cram piles of abilities and huge ability adjustments onto creatures that skyrocketed their LA but which aren't really necessary to make a convincing version of that creature.) I have no illusions that you can make a convincing version of a storm giant without stat boosts, but any convincing version of a storm giant is going to require special rules anyway since it's not something that can every be advanced as equivalent to the core races. The no-stat-bumps thing can be purely for human-like races.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Somehow, I had never thought about this. It would be really easy to give ability score related bonuses, like give Half-Orcs a carrying capacity increase and perhaps a damage bonus with Great Weapons ...

The thing is, we already have mechanics to handle carrying capacity and damage with heavy weapons.  It's the strength score.  

Some races are naturally stronger, or more agile - or less strong or less agile - than others.  We have a very basic mechanic that governs this.  If we can't use that very simple mechanic for some reason, then that indicates a major problem with the system.

I would much much rather they remove strength or dexterity to attack rolls (and remove intelligence or wisdom to spellcasting attacks /DCs) than for them to jump through hoops to say that half-orcs are kind of stronger but not in a way that is reflected by the actual strength score.

Ideally, they could find a way to make those ability score differences actually matter within each class.  Third edition was actually okay about that, with elves and halflings finally able to use dexterity to hit with melee weapons, creating a real choice between strong races which excelled at the (+hit +damage +power attack) style and nimble races with the (+hit +AC +two-weapon fighting) style.  Even the smart races got in on the fun, allowing them to more easily qualify for the combat expertise > spring attack > whirlwind attack feat tree (though that one wasn't quite as spectacular as they'd hoped).

The metagame is not the game.

Saelorn why bother actually using stuff that you know worked in 43rd and 4th ed when they can screw it all up all over again and release a D&DN.5 that fixes things?

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

Race as cosmetic is an idealist goal that will never happen.
If we can find a gimmick for human that isn't just meta-system tricks, we'll get somewhere.
What about chucking racial stat bonuses entirely?



Yeah, I'm down. 
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
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I think that a great way to move hard towards setup II is to chuck racial ability score bonuses and replace them with more potent general racial features. While we're at it, it would be cool if every race got at least one feature for each of the three pillars. (For combat, defensive abilities are better than offensive ones because every character benefits from them.)

That wouldn't be an impossible system, as long as the game is limited to races that are close to human. But at some point the game has to address how to handle characters who don't fit that standard. Flat stats and racial abilities would work when your range is halfling to half-orc for strength, when somebody wants to play a minotaur/giant/dragon that doesn't work.

I'd put the breaking point closest to giant, probably. I think you can make a mostly convincing minotaur without stat alterations, but giant is pushing it. I also think that's fine on some level; it's convenient that the breaking point appears to - at least for me - fall at about the point where you stop expecting the race to be on the same level as most characters to begin with. It's certainly difficult to make a convincing adult dragon without stat adjustments, but I don't think anybody expects an adult dragon to be on the level of a starting character to begin with. Heck, the 3E savage species gives the crummiest dragon it details (a White Wyrmling) a starting ECL of five.

I would be absolutely fine with only using the "avoid stat bumps as racial features" setup only for creature types that would in 3e terms be LA +0 or LA +1 creatures. (And some LA +2 or more creatures, even; 3.5 had a bit of a tendency to cram piles of abilities and huge ability adjustments onto creatures that skyrocketed their LA but which aren't really necessary to make a convincing version of that creature.) I have no illusions that you can make a convincing version of a storm giant without stat boosts, but any convincing version of a storm giant is going to require special rules anyway since it's not something that can every be advanced as equivalent to the core races. The no-stat-bumps thing can be purely for human-like races.

Rules for relative strength by size class can be done, it would even solve the halfling problem.
These rules could even take into account the difficulty to damage creatures two sizes taller, and the inability to damage creatures three sizes taller, without exceptional means, like traps, specialized group tactic, or magic.

Racial features like the 3.5 Powerful Build can translate differences of power between races better than a +2 on top of a rolled 3 Strength score. And this kind of feature can also be done to translate weakenesses too.

Races without stat adjustments are perfectly doable. I would even say that they would be far better.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

No thank you, I like my orcs strong and dumb, and my elves fast and frail.

Some stereotypes should stay in the game.

there is the reason for "elven ranger" and "orc barbarian" archetypes.

Yeah. It'd be nice to see this change implemented. I've always felt that stat adjustments just made for rather cookie cutter characters. The fighter chooses the strength race, the rogue chooses the dex race and the wizard chooses the int race.

So you got into the "sigh, another elven archer?" mode.

I'd prefer races were used more for storytelling and flavor than as a min/max tool.
No thank you, I like my orcs strong and dumb, and my elves fast and frail.



You can just make your orcs strong and dumb and your elves fast and frail by placing your stats there then.  There's no reason that you have to make everyone else's elves fast and frail if that's not what they're into.
No thank you, I like my orcs strong and dumb, and my elves fast and frail.

Some stereotypes should stay in the game.

there is the reason for "elven ranger" and "orc barbarian" archetypes.


Stereotypes can be better enforced by racial features than with any small adjustement to ability scores, even more if these are rolled.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

Frankly I'd love to see racial ability scores dropped and races instead get cool (non-pigeonholing) features and powers instead. It appeals to me because it means that they're actually thinking about what the race is and does rather than just filling in a grid with strong races, fast races, and tough races.
No thank you, I like my orcs strong and dumb, and my elves fast and frail.

Some stereotypes should stay in the game.

there is the reason for "elven ranger" and "orc barbarian" archetypes.




So, when you build your character, you spend your attribute points to make you orc strong and dumb, and you spend your attribute points to make your elf fast and frail.

Where's the problem?
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
No thank you, I like my orcs strong and dumb, and my elves fast and frail.

Some stereotypes should stay in the game.

there is the reason for "elven ranger" and "orc barbarian" archetypes.



Orcs can still be strong, even without a + to their Str score.  Just alter their encumberence numbers and the orc is instantly mechanically stronger.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

No thank you, I like my orcs strong and dumb, and my elves fast and frail.

Some stereotypes should stay in the game.

there is the reason for "elven ranger" and "orc barbarian" archetypes.




So, when you build your character, you spend your attribute points to make you orc strong and dumb, and you spend your attribute points to make your elf fast and frail.

Where's the problem?



proble is that average orc is stronger than average human, and strongest orc is stronger than strongest human. So you can describe it only as racial bonus to strength.

No thank you, I like my orcs strong and dumb, and my elves fast and frail.

Some stereotypes should stay in the game.

there is the reason for "elven ranger" and "orc barbarian" archetypes.




So, when you build your character, you spend your attribute points to make you orc strong and dumb, and you spend your attribute points to make your elf fast and frail.

Where's the problem?



proble is that average orc is stronger than average human, and strongest orc is stronger than strongest human. So you can describe it only as racial bonus to strength.


Among NPCs, maybe.  However PCs are not average members of their race.  Even if you ignore the playstyle differences of "hero from the start" and "zero to hero", and make an academic assumtion that everyone is using the same playstyle, PCs are not normal members of their race.

Also, if you are of the mindset that orcs should be stronger, then just give all your orc NPCs more strength than the Human NPCs.  It's your world to build and play with.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.



Also, if you are of the mindset that orcs should be stronger, then just give all your orc NPCs more strength than the Human NPCs.  It's your world to build and play with.



Bingo.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Yep, use point buy and distribute abilities according to racial "norms". Adventurers are unique in that they get to be different.
No thank you, I like my orcs strong and dumb, and my elves fast and frail.

Some stereotypes should stay in the game.

there is the reason for "elven ranger" and "orc barbarian" archetypes.


Getting rid of racial stat boosts won't make stereotypes go away, because racial stat boosts are not where stereotypes come from.  

No player, ever, will live in our society, seeing Legolas in LotR, playing video games with elven archers and rangers in them, watching TV shows with elven rangers and archers in them, then sit down, open up an RPG book to the elf page(where there's more than likely a picture of an elf with a bow), and then say, "No dexterity bonus?  Guess I can't play an archer."
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
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Yep, I'd be all for dropping racial ability mods in favor of alternate mechanics. Having a race "favor" certain abilities by adding the skill die to that ability check works great for many races, but still won't work well while the abilities are imbalanced. Dex needs to be toned down, and Wis as well (just not as much). Str needs a bit more attention, and most spells should target more than just Con, Dex and Wis.

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waitwaitwait... wasnt one of the original complaints about stat bonuses that it forces them into character archetypes?

but the suggestion that people are happy with is to instead give them abilities which relate to the natural abilities the stat bonuses would have done anyway? how does this not still keep them in archetypes?
but the suggestion that people are happy with is to instead give them abilities which relate to the natural abilities the stat bonuses would have done anyway? how does this not still keep them in archetypes?

This way, I can play a half-orc wizard whose burly muscles allow him to carry more scrolls and spellbooks, and I won't feel penalized either for not being a smart race (whose brainpower no longer helps them cast spells anyway) or for not using my natural racial strength (since my burly muscles don't actually help to swing a sword in any way).

The metagame is not the game.

but the suggestion that people are happy with is to instead give them abilities which relate to the natural abilities the stat bonuses would have done anyway? how does this not still keep them in archetypes?

This way, I can play a half-orc wizard whose burly muscles allow him to carry more scrolls and spellbooks, and I won't feel penalized either for not being a smart race (whose brainpower no longer helps them cast spells anyway) or for not using my natural racial strength (since my burly muscles don't actually help to swing a sword in any way).



but like i have said. this a roleplaying game. a massive  world where RACES ARE DIFFERENT!
Ability bonuses don't help differentiate races. They only serve to pigeonhole races.

If Orcs gained a +2 bonus to athletics checks and increased carrying capacity they would clearly be "stronger" than humans without an attack/damage increase. The increase to athletics checks would also be more broadly useful than a +1 to strength.
Ability bonuses don't help differentiate races. They only serve to pigeonhole races. If Orcs gained a +2 bonus to athletics checks and increased carrying capacity they would clearly be "stronger" than humans without an attack/damage increase. The increase to athletics checks would also be more broadly useful than a +1 to strength.


but what i am getting at is i expeect orcs to hit harder than the average human. i expect them to be overall stronger
Um why?

I mean sure Orcs go on at length about how humans are puny soft creatures, but lets face it they're never actually portrayed as stronger.

Barbarian tribes in dnd also tend to look down on city dwellers and possess much greater strength, however unlike orcs they actually demonstrate it on occasion.
so you are fine with increased carrying capacity and endurance but not extra strength... why?
tell me, where do you think these natural abilities come from?