An Elegant Solution to Half-Elves (and other half-races)

I am not sure if this idea has been proposed or not but it seems worth putting out there. I have never been very fond of the idea of "half-races" being considered full, genetically "set" races but rather "mutts" which combine aspects of the two parents. So the idea I propose is simple, to make a "half-race", you simply choose a subrace package from another race. In the case of humans, you sacrifice the +2 in one ability for a subrace package of another race and your other +1 ability score bonuses are applied to the remaining abilities (giving +1 to each ability after the subrace bonus). To add human ancestory to another race, you do not choose a subrace, instead gaining +2 to your subraces ability bonus (NOT the ability of your choice). This allows all sorts of fun "half-races"; an elf with a mountain dwarf father (+1 Wis and Armor Mastery), a high elf with a human mother (+2 Int). By not giving the choice of ability with the human +2 ability bonus, I do not think it should break anything... but I am not a math wiz (somebody could check and/or explain). As a "quirky" roleplayer, I would REALLY love to have this sort of additional flexibility during character creation. I am sure many may not fancy the idea, I respect that, but this concept does sound like fun to me. I PERSONALLY hope Wizards decides to add a system like this to races, it is just a long standing desire (especially the Elf/Mountain Dwarf... reminds me of Two-Edge for those who remember ElfQuest). I also respect that many may just be opposed to some half-breeds ("A DWELF!!! ARE YOU SICK!!!)... But hey... Don't hate the player... Hate the game ;)
I am not sure if this idea has been proposed or not but it seems worth putting out there. I have never been very fond of the idea of "half-races" being considered full, genetically "set" races but rather "mutts" which combine aspects of the two parents. So the idea I propose is simple, to make a "half-race", you simply choose a subrace package from another race. In the case of humans, you sacrifice the +2 in one ability for a subrace package of another race and your other +1 ability score bonuses are applied to the remaining abilities (giving +1 to each ability after the subrace bonus). To add human ancestory to another race, you do not choose a subrace, instead gaining +2 to your subraces ability bonus (NOT the ability of your choice). This allows all sorts of fun "half-races"; an elf with a mountain dwarf father (+1 Wis and Armor Mastery), a high elf with a human mother (+2 Int). By not giving the choice of ability with the human +2 ability bonus, I do not think it should break anything... but I am not a math wiz (somebody could check and/or explain). As a "quirky" roleplayer, I would REALLY love to have this sort of additional flexibility during character creation. I am sure many may not fancy the idea, I respect that, but this concept does sound like fun to me. I PERSONALLY hope Wizards decides to add a system like this to races, it is just a long standing desire (especially the Elf/Mountain Dwarf... reminds me of Two-Edge for those who remember ElfQuest). I also respect that many may just be opposed to some half-breeds ("A DWELF!!! ARE YOU SICK!!!)... But hey... Don't hate the player... Hate the game ;)



Here is my solution to Hybrids: community.wizards.com/kezzek/blog/2013/0...

I use a combination of physiology, culture, and environment.  Hybrids can pick a blend of these from their parent races.
@kezzek: Your ideas win for complete flexibility, I personally think the option I proposed may be just a tad more simple. Your option kicks though... They should give us each of the three as options for a DM to fit to his campaign style.
@kezzek: Your ideas win for complete flexibility, I personally think the option I proposed may be just a tad more simple. Your option kicks though... They should give us each of the three as options for a DM to fit to his campaign style.


Thank you.  I really think hybrids should not just be limited to half-elfs and half-orcs.  The mechanics for these hybrids should follow easily from the parent races, particularly since culture determines many of the racial characteristics.

@kezzek: Your ideas win for complete flexibility, I personally think the option I proposed may be just a tad more simple. Your option kicks though... They should give us each of the three as options for a DM to fit to his campaign style.


Thank you.  I really think hybrids should not just be limited to half-elfs and half-orcs.  The mechanics for these hybrids should follow easily from the parent races, particularly since culture determines many of the racial characteristics.




I could not agree more. This is something I have long thought needs a simple solution.
@kezzek: Your ideas win for complete flexibility, I personally think the option I proposed may be just a tad more simple. Your option kicks though... They should give us each of the three as options for a DM to fit to his campaign style.


Thank you.  I really think hybrids should not just be limited to half-elfs and half-orcs.  The mechanics for these hybrids should follow easily from the parent races, particularly since culture determines many of the racial characteristics.




I could not agree more. This is something I have long thought needs a simple solution.


There are still some players that want half-elves and half-orcs to be independent races.  I've never understood this desire for independence but there are various campaigns which have half-elves as an entirely separate culture from either humans or elves so I guess the argument isn't without merit.

Racial characteristics should be designed from the earliest stages to allow for hybrids and to define the limits placed on racial abilities. 
First - I like the idea (proposed some time ago - I don't recall by whom) of using the half-races to fill the 'subrace design space' for humans.  This would make their base race human, with the various half-races as 'subrace' options.


 Under this approach - the races would get a small packet of subrace abilities.    But they would also share some characteristics with the humans.


For example - the ability to choose your racial ability score modifier would probably be a human race benefit, while the ability to raise all ability scores by one would be a (full) human subrace benefit.  Half-elves would get low-light vision and a racial benefit similar to those of the other subraces - but specific to them.


Allowing them (as an optional rule) to choose the racial benefit of their parent sounds like a good idea as well.

The argument for independant races for half-elves is based upon Tolkein; the argument for independt races for half-orcs comes from people being uncomfortable with their likely origin in a family game.


Carl


First - I like the idea (proposed some time ago - I don't recall by whom) of using the half-races to fill the 'subrace design space' for humans.


I think that was me.

Blog.  (Scroll down to races.)
First - I like the idea (proposed some time ago - I don't recall by whom) of using the half-races to fill the 'subrace design space' for humans.


I think that was me.

Blog.  (Scroll down to races.)



I recommended separating culture and biology in the following thread.  community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...

The idea I considered for creating half-races was to take the culture of one race, and take the biology of another.   Later I added an environment component to help flesh out half-races and subraces further.

I put my own ideas in this blog.

Using this system, I could build all the current races in the playtest, although I changed humans since I didn't like the way they were made.

I am starting to think, however, that races should have their own progression table.  Like Basic D&D but with the ability to have a class as well.

That would be awesome.  Truly unique races.
First - I like the idea (proposed some time ago - I don't recall by whom) of using the half-races to fill the 'subrace design space' for humans.


I think that was me.

Blog.  (Scroll down to races.)



No  - I think it was here. 


community.wizards.com/dndnext/go/thread/...

Cark
     Keep in mind that the half races should be [marginally]inferior to the pure races.  If they were superior, the pure races would vanish.  And giving the mixed race flexibility can pretty easily result in superiority.  The player finds ways to select the advantages of bpth races.
     Keep in mind that the half races should be [marginally]inferior to the pure races.  If they were superior, the pure races would vanish.  And giving the mixed race flexibility can pretty easily result in superiority.  The player finds ways to select the advantages of bpth races.



No.

They should be equal - not inferior.

We aren't trying to model population dynamics - we are trying to make a game.

Carl
     Keep in mind that the half races should be [marginally]inferior to the pure races.  If they were superior, the pure races would vanish.


Maybe they will, but haven't yet.  Of maybe half-races are rare and cross-race couplings only rarely produce offspring.  Or maybe a thousand other reasons.

But hybrid races should be balanced against the other races.  There's no reason to make a half-race a trap option.
I don't think that half-races should be inferior- otherwise there would be little reason to play them. They should be fun and have perks all on their own that mixes with human, elf, and orc depending on if you are half elf or half orc. 
IMAGE(http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y152/RockNrollBabe20/Charmed-supernatural-and-charmed_zps8bd4125f.jpg)
Making 1/2 elves and 1/2 orcs full-fledged races I felt was odd.  Shouldn't they just be hybrid creatures?
Making 1/2 elves and 1/2 orcs full-fledged races I felt was odd.  Shouldn't they just be hybrid creatures?



Half-breed, that's all I ever heard
Half-breed, how I learned to hate the word
Half-breed, she's no good they warned
Both sides were against me since the day I was born.
                                            -Cher



 
Carl
If full races were built so that they were slightly attuned to a specific class and half races allowed a blended option of two full races, then hybrid races might be better attuned to hybrid classes.

Full race individuals could enter hybrid classes but would favor one class more heavily than the other.
Hybrid races would offer a more balanced approach to hybrid classes.

Example:
Elf favors Wizard
Human favors Fighter

Elf Gish would be somewhat better in the Wizard half
Human Gish would be somewhat better in the Fighter half
Half Elf Gish would offer a balance that worked well with both halves.
The things I like about the system I proposed are: a) it is simple, b) it keeps hybrids on equal footing with pure races preserving balance, c) the basic nature of the system prevents "cherry picking" of traits as only subrace traits are on the table to be taken by hybrids in the system I put forward, d) It ends the human "lock" on the +2 ability which has balance advantages all its own. Below are examples of how the system I mentioned would work... Not complicated and I am sure it could be worded in simple language to further improve its simplicity. I know lots of you wish for a more comprehensive system, but this could be added to the system with a minimum of effort or spent page space (something I am sure WotC values greatly). 
 
If non-human, a hybrid of two races chooses a "primary" race stat block and a "secondary" race by taking the subrace block of another race.
(Example - High Elf/Mountain Dwarf: Elven Weapon Training, Free Spirit, Keen Senses, Languages, Low-Light Vision, +1 Wisdom, Armor Mastery.)

Human hybrids gain +1 to all stats and the Traits granted by a single subrace, excluding the ability bonus.
(Example - Human/High Elf: +1 to all abilities, Cantrip)

Other race hybrids with humans gain none of the traits of a subrace block of their choice but instead add +2 to the stated ability modifier.
(Example - Wood Elf/Human: Elven Weapon Training, Free Spirit, Keen Senses, Languages, Low-Light Vision, +2 Dexterity)

Having the three examples should make it more clear how human hybrids are handled. Any, system for hybrid races would be better then they now offer though and thus be a willing addition. If they went as far as kezzek's ideas I would be even happier, but anything would be better then our current "choice" ;) 
     Keep in mind that the half races should be [marginally]inferior to the pure races.  If they were superior, the pure races would vanish.


Maybe they will, but haven't yet.  Of maybe half-races are rare and cross-race couplings only rarely produce offspring.  Or maybe a thousand other reasons.

But hybrid races should be balanced against the other races.  There's no reason to make a half-race a trap option.


"Pure" races often have autosomal recessive traits which can lead to an inferior organism.

"Mixed" races could conceivably bring the best of both races.  Why did Saruman breed humans and orcs to give the Uruk-hai?  They were larger and stronger than orcs and much more treacherous and vile than men.
"Mixed" races could conceivably bring the best of both races.


SUre. Sometimes a hybrid demonstrates heterosis.  But sometimes a hybrid demonstrates outbreeding depression.  There's plenty of science to justify either result, so I think it's just as well to try to keep the races balanced.
"Mixed" races could conceivably bring the best of both races.


SUre. Sometimes a hybrid demonstrates heterosis.  But sometimes a hybrid demonstrates outbreeding depression.  There's plenty of science to justify either result, so I think it's just as well to try to keep the races balanced.


I actually would prefer if hybrids were balanced with purebloods.  Or at least balanced in regards to a set of classes.
Just because everyone seems to have missed it:

We aren't trying to model population dynamics - we are trying to make a game.



Just because everyone seems to have missed it:

We aren't trying to model population dynamics - we are trying to make a game.






I agree with you both... though I do want a hybrid system. It just needs to be balanced, simple and efficient in its application.
I agree with you both... though I do want a hybrid system. It just needs to be balanced, simple and efficient in its application.

And the best way to accomplish that is a sort of "Chinese menu" system.

I agree with you both... though I do want a hybrid system. It just needs to be balanced, simple and efficient in its application.

And the best way to accomplish that is a sort of "Chinese menu" system.




I am not sure I understood this response... (Googled it) Do you mean; 1 choice from column a) 1 choice from column b) sort of thing? Except for the human issue that is sort of what I did. Column a) being base race stat block; and b) being subrace stat block... treating humans +2 as thier subrace (just with the option to be human dominant or non-human dominant to complete the choices, as the non-humans would already have the choice of dominance).
Qmark... I am sure that my system is not what you would favor, and in truth I would enjoy having one more like kezzek offers in his blog. But, the idea I put forth is simple (as it could easily be more clealy done in a choice A and choice B format) and thus easy to implement. It is not a perfect solution, maybe not even ideal... but it works and keeps complexity low.
I like the "menu system" idea a lot. That is giving me ideas of how to better word (via menu) the half-humans. I just hope they give us something in the end, whatever it is will be better then the nothing there now.
I am not sure I understood this response... (Googled it) Do you mean; 1 choice from column a) 1 choice from column b) sort of thing?

Exactly that
...treating humans +2 as thier subrace

Simply assume each +1 is a racial trait.

@Qmark: That was the basis of my idea. I would even be willing to say that the most clean and efficient idea would be for half-humans to choose a base race block of a non-human (choice a) and to apply the +2 to one of the two ability scores offered by that races subrace (choice b). Thus doing away with the much more complcated half-human system I had before. I do think if you just give the +2 to any ability though, it limits the viability of humans. By, limiting it to one of the other "parents" racial ability bonuses, it keeps both better balance and adds a bit of a "genetic" feel. This would make the racial hybrid system REAL easy!
@Qmark: That was the basis of my idea. I would even be willing to say that the most clean and efficient idea would be for half-humans to choose a base race block of a non-human (choice a) and to apply the +2 to one of the two ability scores offered by that races subrace (choice b). Thus doing away with the much more complcated half-human system I had before. I do think if you just give the +2 to any ability though, it limits the viability of humans. By, limiting it to one of the other "parents" racial ability bonuses, it keeps both better balance and adds a bit of a "genetic" feel. This would make the racial hybrid system REAL easy!


I think Qmark is considering that each race gets 7 traits. 

Humans would therefore choose +1 str, +1 dex, +1 con, +1 int, +1 wis, +1 cha, and an extra +1 as their chosen traits.

Elves would have low light vision, immunity to sleep, weapon training, etc.

I believe he is suggesting even greater customization but I could be wrong.
This would make the racial hybrid system REAL easy!


Or, just do a fully a-la-carte race system, which makes hybrids limited only by arbitrary idealism.
As I have said before... I agree with both Qmark and kezzek here. I am just not sure WotC would ever do that, same with going "class-less". For better or worse that is how D&D works. I would enjoy BIG changes, like bringing back the Player's Option ideas from 2nd edition (which I think is a lot more like Qmark and kezzek are talking about)... WOW! Would I love the the return of bunches of that stuff!
But, I just do not think that is likely (much to my chagrin)... What I tried to propose here was something that gave some of what I was after, without breaking too far from D&D traditions. Trust me though, I do truly like the more flexible systems you (kezzek and Qmark) are putting forth.