Monster races being used

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I wonder how much fun it is to make your first character of 4E some monster race that, as the MM states, isn't necessarily balanced.

Why would someone want to make some probably imbalanced character as their first character of 4E without actually knowing the fun of the current base races?

I ask this question because I see a lot of people talking about using Minotaurs, or Kobolds, or whatnot for their martial characters (not including warforged because they have gotten character race rules in a Dungeon or Dragon article).

What is the fun in doing that off the bat? Especially considering that those races have no racial feats yet and that those little buggers seem to make character races a lot of fun early on and completely powerful in paragon and epic tiers.

Can someone please explain to me the appeal of silly monster races that, in 90% of the campaigns, probably don't even fit in the story and in the 10% they do fit probably have no real roleplaying fun (just rollplaying fun).
Well as far as my players are concerned, we have all been playin DnD since 2e and some us since 1e. I prefer the classics and dwarves still have a special place in my heart but others in our group like the unusual. So for them making a gnoll wizard or a kobold warlord is very appealing. And with a good DM all things can be balanced, just have to try to use RAI instead of RAW as much as you can. If it looks broken it probably is and will be fixed at a later time officially. Until then house rule it and let your players have the options to make THEIR character the way they want to play it, within reason LOL.

Kaz
Can someone please explain to me the appeal of silly monster races that, in 90% of the campaigns, probably don't even fit in the story and in the 10% they do fit probably have no real roleplaying fun (just rollplaying fun).

It would help if you explained a little more as to why you consider some MM races "silly" just 'cause they lack racial feats & a nifty Dragon writeup. If it's only due to the fact that they aren't in the PHB, you're on your own, IMO. After all, what's so serious about races like dwarves (short stocky guy with the ZZ Top beard) or elves (tall skinny girl with green hair & pointy ears) in the first place?

As for the lack of racial feats & other related goodies... Maybe they just don't appeal to some gamers enough to make a difference - not enough to avoid choosing a race that's not fully rounded-out, anyways. If I'm going for a bugbear TWF ranger, picking weapon focus or something like that as my first feat is as good an option as any in the absence of racial feats. Until WotC comes out with more material, I can get by just fine with that while the party's dragonborn opts for a bigger breath weapon blast.

BTW, my bugbear ranger dishes out pain like crazy with his large weapons. That's still loads of fun, even without a racial feat.
For my part, you must blame the Greeks and Richard Knaak. Nothing to do with current rules sets at all. From earliest childhood the story of Theseus and the Minotaur that monster was my favorite of all the foes in the Greek tales. Then with good Mr. Knaak writing The Legend of Huma a whole new world was opened up to me. Honorable Minotaurs? The sky had no limit. So much so that soon after when I got into D&D I ignored all the rules and created for my very first character, a Minotaur. He spent roughly 80% of his first battle paralyzed by a Carrion Crawler. Good times. Mind you, that was the mid 80's and D&D not AD&D. Back when Elf was not just a racial choice, it was class too! :D

So it is really the love of the race more than any potential balance or rules issues that causes me to make up a few Mino characters. My favorite so far (and untested as I've not placed him into a game) is the Minotaur Warlord of which I've put together one build for Inspiring (which is feels like everyone and their aunt is doing) and one for Tactical. I also pay 50% extra cost to upsize any weapons to Large, along with a 50% weight increase. Just seemed right.
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Finally something I can completely agree with Devlonir about.

From a game mechanics standpoint:

Chapter 2 of the PHB contains instructions for creating a character. In the enumerated instructions step one is Choose Race, which references Chapter 3 of the PHB. In the detailed description of Character Race, immediately after the enumerated instructions, Dragonborn, Dwarves, Eladrin, Elves, Half-elves, Halflings, Humans, and Tiefling are mentioned by name and you are again directed toward Chapter 3. Chapter 3 details all of the aforementioned races. At no point in the chapters about character creation and character races is there a single reference to selecting a race from the racial traits section of the monstrous manual. The first two paragraphs of the racial traits section describe how the information in that section is most appropriate for creating NPCs of nonstandard races and a caveat about how a player may make a character of one of the MM races with DM permission. The italicized text signifies that this falls into the realm of a houserule, not a core rule.

Any reasonable reader will see page 189 of the DMG, the entire section on houseruling (note that rule 0 is no longer a part of character creation and is thus not a consideration for a standard PC), is a warning against houserules without very careful consideration.

Important to consider from a mechanics standpoint: Why do I need to allow nonstandard races in my campaign? What problem does this solve? Is this problem a prevalent mechanical failure or an isolated incedent? Is the group enjoying the game more with this rules change than they were without it?

Some of these questions are simple to answer. Why do I need to allow them? Because I want the flavor in most cases, in some cases it would be that the race is traditional to the campaign setting and was omitted from core rules (i.e. Dragonlance Minotaurs). What problem does this solve? If the answer to your why was I want the flavor then it really doesn't solve a problem, if your why was that an iconic campaign race was omitted then it corrects an omission that detracts from an established campaign environment. Is the problem prevalent or isolated? In nearly all cases adding a new races is an isolated problem, it would be truly rare (or a sign of underdeveloped RP or DMing techniques) for an entire group to all insist that playing a minotaur is critical to them having a good time. The key question, is the group enjoying the game more or less with this houserule, cannot be answered if the group has not played an extended game without the houserule. That is the single, best reason to not allow houseruled races in a game that is so relatively new. It is impossible to tell if the houserule has added to or detracted from the game. My initial analysis would suggest that the races from the MM detract from gameplay by eliminating a measure of balance, thus making the core races a sub-optimal choice for any character class.

From a dynamics view the fact that the races from the MM are houserule races and are recognized by the game designers as being out of balance creates an atmosphere where a player interested in role-playing a dwarf or elf is put at a mechanical disadvantage compared to the player that wishes to play a shadar-kai or bugbear. Even if both characters are optimized to the best of their racial potential, the houseruled races will be at a mechanical advantage. This creates an environment where there are now a set of wrong choices in character creation, a dynamic that 4E is designed to specifically eliminate. By reintroducing the element of fundamentally incorrect character choices, and not just the possibility of suboptimal but correctable selections through advancement, you reintroduce one of the major flaws of 3.x and powergaming in general. Intentionally adding dynamic flaws to a campaign should require no further explanation as to why it is a poor decision.
Why would a GM allow monster races for players? Depends on the setting. Eberron, for example, has a significant number of "monster" races that make fine PC's, thanks to the setting.
I allow them because I want my gnomes back.
kobold warlord? :O you must be reading my posts on these boards because thats what I been talking about making my first character as.

Is he at some sort of awesome advantage? NO. why? well first of all, yes he has no racial feats at all (though i'm sure some future supplement will help this, hopefully soon).

Now if he was perhaps say a kobold rogue then sure, from what I been told the stats fit much better with a rogue as well as his power. But again certain races fit best with certain classes. I have no actual want for a kobold rogue right now, though. I love the kobold warlord because the rp opprotunity and flavor is just GOLD.

Sure shifty is powerful but not necessarily gamebreaking... woo woo shifting twice, so game breaking. I find elven accuracy and the halfing power to be much more gamebreaking... I mean you get reroll options at 1st level! Thats just NUTS.

I brought this up in another thread actually... after so long the same old races become rather bland... really bland. I haven't played a phb race in a long time, just can't bring myself to do it. And even then it's mostly humans because they are so flexible. And unless there is some special quirk about the person I usually find monster races to make much more memorable characters not just for yourself but for your fellow players as well.

I mean c'mon. A kobold warlord! Tactical or inspiring, the story basically writes itself!
Yeah, we are playing several Eberron Campaigns right now, so playable races from MM are needed. Would feel silly if Warforged, shifters or Gnomes werent available to us, and our old Xendrik campaign we had drows (mainly Sulatar, Vulkors and Umbragens are still barred cultures)
I totally agree with The_Almight_Onion and the points he put forward are the exact points why I feel nobody actually SHOULD use monster races untill an official writeup has been made of the race (like Warforged)

Now, I also agree that everyone should have their own game and if someone wants a Minotaur, Kobold, Bugbear or anything they should. But I always feel that those choices should come from a personal preference, not from a power gaming view. The fact that some monster races are overpowered in combination with some classes gives me, as a DM, enough reason to disallow them.

Too many times have I played 3.x games where one character with an overpowered race/class combination outperformed every character in the party. I feel those combinations are weakened now in 4E and allowing monster races just strengthens them again.

Final point I want to rewrite is: I cannot understand why someones goe for some half-written, imbalanced monster race as their first 4E character when there are THREE new races in the PHB that have their own strengths and weaknesses and racials feats that will not be as prone to power gaming as the monster races are. All 3 these races also have an inhuman feel and offer great RP opportunities, do you really need that kobold/bugbear/minotaur if you could also make a dragonborn/eladrin/tiefling?
I totally agree with The_Almight_Onion and the points he put forward are the exact points why I feel nobody actually SHOULD use monster races untill an official writeup has been made of the race (like Warforged)

Now, I also agree that everyone should have their own game and if someone wants a Minotaur, Kobold, Bugbear or anything they should. But I always feel that those choices should come from a personal preference, not from a power gaming view. The fact that some monster races are overpowered in combination with some classes gives me, as a DM, enough reason to disallow them.

Too many times have I played 3.x games where one character with an overpowered race/class combination outperformed every character in the party. I feel those combinations are weakened now in 4E and allowing monster races just strengthens them again.

Final point I want to rewrite is: I cannot understand why someones goe for some half-written, imbalanced monster race as their first 4E character when there are THREE new races in the PHB that have their own strengths and weaknesses and racials feats that will not be as prone to power gaming as the monster races are. All 3 these races also have an inhuman feel and offer great RP opportunities, do you really need that kobold/bugbear/minotaur if you could also make a dragonborn/eladrin/tiefling?

Obviously you only think in numbers and not actual roleplaying opprotunity. We don't play the race because of their stats at all. We play them because they are fun and great and unique. Dragonborn...bleh.. nothing really unique.. just a half-dragon with 0 ecl basically.

And how long are we supposed to wait for creature write-ups? Oh and do we have to be paying subscribers to dungeon and dragon magazines just to get access to them if they are put in the magazines like the warforged was? Have you thought about that? Maybe it will be more than a year before they decide to give full write-ups to the races and maybe it will be 2010 when they come out, who knows!

Yes certain combinations will be broken. But do you think my kobold warlord is broken? LOL! not even close. He actually might even be a little sub-optimized but I don't do it for the stats, its for rp opprotunities! AND AGAIN THATS BASED ON THE RACE YOU WANT TO PLAY. KEY WORD = WANT. Kobold and dragonborn are not the same and never will be! They do not represent the same rp opprotunities!

Edit: A little why i think kobolds get +2 dex and con. Dex well... that was their ONLY plus in 3.0-3.5 and got -4 str and -2 con with that so your actual net gain was a -4. So this was something they kept, which is fine, they are nimble shifty guys.

The con? It took me some thinking and it dawned on me. No longer are kobolds just simple 1-hit fodder anymore (outside of minion) And there was something of a contradiction in their original writings in that their bodies were frail but they had the endurance of an ant colony that never stopped. They mined and mined and heck, there is even a endurance feat just for kobolds in races of the dragon (kobold endurance). So how could they be so weak and frail and yet mine and mine for hours on end with so much endurance? It didn't seem to make much sense so they ran with the endurance deal of kobolds along with the idea of no longer being 1-hit fodder and changed that -2 into a +2.
I think it really varies table to table and story to story. My GM is allowing some races out of the MM, only two of us are using it though. A pair of Longtooth Shifters. The setting allows for it and really given the support the standard races are much better off. The other players could have picked things like Bugbear rangers or Hobgoblin starlocks but we all want a good story and want the feel of the world to be "right".

Its just like others said, Eberron needs some of those races, others want their gnomes. Other settings has Minos as standards. Ultimately the GM sets the standards and the players choose to play the game if its fun or no.

Hard to judge something from the outside without any real knowledge of what's going inside imo. YMMV of course.
Ah now we come to the heart of the matter. The rules say...... One of the lines in the dmg is all about you can use ALL of these rules or NONE of these rules. A good DM will create monsters, items, settings, feats and whole new cultures for his players to encounter. (In fact huge sections of the dmg are for just such things) If had cannot adapt a few monsters into playable races he needs to sit down a rethink why he is playing. This is a game but unlike a boardgame or MMORPG the rules are not set in stone. They are guidlines to help facilitate play and fairness. Its not like football and a foul is issued if someone breaks the rules. Saying that you will not allow your players to play a race or class just because there isn't a full 20 page write up on it is just going to lose you players.

So far in our campaign we have 1 monster race, a mino fighter, and he does not in any way shape or form unbalance the game. The human ranger we have far outdamages him and is more versitile to boot.

Try to think outside the box, let your inigination out for a walk and do something different. Your play and those who will play with you will have a much more enjoyable time.
Too many times have I played 3.x games where one character with an overpowered race/class combination outperformed every character in the party. I feel those combinations are weakened now in 4E and allowing monster races just strengthens them again.

Like?

I don't know what sort of 3e game you played, but my personal experience was that the most overpowering combinations tend to stem from LA+0 core PHB races such as humans and dwarves. Powerful races like angels and dragons were cool, but the way in which ECL was handled just ended up making them too weak compared to a PC with the same number of class lvs.

For me, it is probably more because I am more or less bored of the existing core races, having faced them for 7+ years. So I will take any option which lets me play some fancy exotic race which breaks the mold.

4e also seems to pigeon-hole race/class combinations more stringently compared to 3e. Each class is more or less MAD to some extent, and it appears that the primary way of ensuring that you do not suck is to select a race which grants +2 to your 2 key stats. Which more or less dictates what you can or cannot play. For example, a dragonborn makes a fairly lackluster wizard (who relies a lot on int and wis), but an excellent warlord or paladin.
From a dynamics view the fact that the races from the MM are houserule races and are recognized by the game designers as being out of balance creates an atmosphere where a player interested in role-playing a dwarf or elf is put at a mechanical disadvantage compared to the player that wishes to play a shadar-kai or bugbear. Even if both characters are optimized to the best of their racial potential, the houseruled races will be at a mechanical advantage. This creates an environment where there are now a set of wrong choices in character creation, a dynamic that 4E is designed to specifically eliminate. By reintroducing the element of fundamentally incorrect character choices, and not just the possibility of suboptimal but correctable selections through advancement, you reintroduce one of the major flaws of 3.x and powergaming in general. Intentionally adding dynamic flaws to a campaign should require no further explanation as to why it is a poor decision.

I don't agree with this statement at all.

First of all, I believe that the designers were insinuating that the MM PC/NPC writeups were unbalanced in the sense of being LOWER POWERED, not HIGHER powered.

Perfect example... look at the Warforged MM writeup compared to the Dragon article. Anyone who has read both notices very quickly that the official Dragon Warforged Race writeup got a SUBSTANTIAL power increase over the MM version. Even ignoring the amazing new racial feats, classes, and ability to make equipment and implements into components.... their encounter power was very much buffed.

So if anything, we can expect the full PC race writeups to be even more powerful than the ones in the back of the MM.
Especially concerning races like the Shader-kai you mentioned. In that example, I'm interested in the fluff of Shader-kai, but the bare bones MM version is CLEARLY inferior to a number of PHB races in almost every situation.

You should also notice that many of the MM races have stat boosts in the same defence category, such as Strength and Constitution. As explained by the designers in the Warforged article, this is actually a DRAWBACK compared to other races that get +2 to two different defence affecting abilities.

Sure, we are seeing a lot of builds taking advantage of the Bugbear and Minotaur oversized ability, but that's pretty much one of the only reasons. The races as written in the back of the MM don't really have too much else to offer. The Minotaur for example is lacking ANY defence boosts (made worse by it's stat boosts only aiding Fortitude), gets an almost useless ability (ferocity) and gets a subpar encounter power.
And as others have mentioned, the Shifter and Doppleganger (Changeling) are CORE races in Eberron.... so those of us playing in that setting have no choice but to use them until the full writeup is done.

But once that happens, again, I have no doubt that they will be made even more powerful than the MM version we see.


If you think about it, the core PHB races are VERY powerful.
In fact, most uber optimized builds utilize the Elf, by virtue of their reroll encounter power almost trumping most other races just by itself.


Something else to consider... at least using the brand new core 'points of light' D&D setting...
It seems to be MUCH more friendly to "freak" player races.
I mean, come on.... Humanoid dragons and half-demons are CORE races, and are apparently not ostracized any more than anyone else.
So it's even less of a deal, roleplay-wise, to include other "monstrous" races without too much trouble. A Minotaur, while rarer than say a Dragonborn, is a perfect example.
A bugbear might be a bit tougher, what with Goblin reputation, but as long as he can express his heroic intentions... the new core setting seems much more forgiving.
Especially when his Tiefling buddy might call on his infernal pact with devils to incinerate you should you even THINK of lynching him, lol.

But in the end, it's all really subjective and based on what setting you are in and how your DM runs things.

Mechanically however, I see NOTHING even remotely overpowered with MM PC races, especially compared to 3.5 ECL 0 player races.

Hmmmm.... Whisper Gnome Rogue, anybody? :P
I don't agree with this statement at all.

First of all, I believe that the designers were insinuating that the MM PC/NPC writeups were unbalanced in the sense of being LOWER POWERED, not HIGHER powered.

Perfect example... look at the Warforged MM writeup compared to the Dragon article. Anyone who has read both notices very quickly that the official Dragon Warforged Race writeup got a SUBSTANTIAL power increase over the MM version. Even ignoring the amazing new racial feats, classes, and ability to make equipment and implements into components.... their encounter power was very much buffed.

So if anything, we can expect the full PC race writeups to be even more powerful than the ones in the back of the MM.
Especially concerning races like the Shader-kai you mentioned. In that example, I'm interested in the fluff of Shader-kai, but the bare bones MM version is CLEARLY inferior to a number of PHB races in almost every situation.

You should also notice that many of the MM races have stat boosts in the same defence category, such as Strength and Constitution. As explained by the designers in the Warforged article, this is actually a DRAWBACK compared to other races that get +2 to two different defence affecting abilities.

Sure, we are seeing a lot of builds taking advantage of the Bugbear and Minotaur oversized ability, but that's pretty much one of the only reasons. The races as written in the back of the MM don't really have too much else to offer. The Minotaur for example is lacking ANY defence boosts (made worse by it's stat boosts only aiding Fortitude), gets an almost useless ability (ferocity) and gets a subpar encounter power.
And as others have mentioned, the Shifter and Doppleganger (Changeling) are CORE races in Eberron.... so those of us playing in that setting have no choice but to use them until the full writeup is done.

But once that happens, again, I have no doubt that they will be made even more powerful than the MM version we see.


If you think about it, the core PHB races are VERY powerful.
In fact, most uber optimized builds utilize the Elf, by virtue of their reroll encounter power almost trumping most other races just by itself.


Something else to consider... at least using the brand new core 'points of light' D&D setting...
It seems to be MUCH more friendly to "freak" player races.
I mean, come on.... Humanoid dragons and half-demons are CORE races, and are apparently not ostracized any more than anyone else.
So it's even less of a deal, roleplay-wise, to include other "monstrous" races without too much trouble. A Minotaur, while rarer than say a Dragonborn, is a perfect example.
A bugbear might be a bit tougher, what with Goblin reputation, but as long as he can express his heroic intentions... the new core setting seems much more forgiving.
Especially when his Tiefling buddy might call on his infernal pact with devils to incinerate you should you even THINK of lynching him, lol.

But in the end, it's all really subjective and based on what setting you are in and how your DM runs things.

Mechanically however, I see NOTHING even remotely overpowered with MM PC races, especially compared to 3.5 ECL 0 player races.

Hmmmm.... Whisper Gnome Rogue, anybody? :P

Making the arguement that the imbalance is tipped toward the Core races and not the MM races doesn't really contradict my assertion that a poor game dynamic is introduced.

Declaring the new core races to be freak characters is absurd. If the new races are common enough for any sizeable community to have at least a few of them, even if they are only travellers, as resident/transient characters makes them common enough. The fact that goblins, dopplegangers, shadar-kai and the like are not described as being common residents of most communities does make them freak characters. This dynamic can go either way. Your example of the party being a source of fear and intimidating townsfolk into accepting their comrades can and should create sticky situations where the entire party is judged/run out of town at least occasionally, which can be fun or mood breaking depending on how often and how the party reacts. A party that slaughters townfolk for wanting to eject their goblin rogue (or worse) is taking a step far outside the usual dynamics of D&D and creating IMO a problem dynamic, they have just turned themselves into villians. A party that goes to extremes to have their nonstandard allies accepted by each local populous does exactly the opposite.




To point out some mechanically, out of tune races from racial traits:

Bugbear - Predatory Eye can definitely be used to a potentially broken damage advantage for a rogue, ranger, or multiclass

Drow - Darkvision is possessed by no core class; 2 racial encounter powers

Goblin - Racial at-will power is possessed by no core race (unless you make a real stretch of the imagination with human)

Kobold - Another racial at-will power

Shadar-kai - Become insubstantial with an encounter power




That's five without examining the potential advantages of oversized weapons and very specific builds to capitalize on racial traits, all well outside the scope of core races.

The elven "re-roll and accept the second result" power is hardly game breaking but easy to utilize and thus gets a lot of attention in optimizationland. Certainly it can be put to great use in a build tailored around it, but it is not significantly more or less effective than the halfling racial power that forces a "re-roll and accept the second result" of an attack against you.
If Dragonborn was in the MM, I suspect it would be complained about as being too powerful.

Minor Action per Encounter 3x3 breath weapon of your choice that hits on one of three attributes+2 vs REF, and is easily expandable to 5x5? STR and CHA bonus for Paladins? +1 to hit when bloodied and +1 surge value per +1 of CON mod???

No way, man!

OTOH, I'd be reluctant as a DM to let someone play a MM race, for story purposes if nothing else. But not totally closed to the idea either.
If Dragonborn was in the MM, I suspect it would be complained about as being too powerful.

Minor Action per Encounter 3x3 breath weapon of your choice that hits on one of three attributes+2 vs REF, and is easily expandable to 5x5? STR and CHA bonus for Paladins? +1 to hit when bloodied and +1 surge value per +1 of CON mod???

No way, man!

OTOH, I'd be reluctant as a DM to let someone play a MM race, for story purposes if nothing else. But not totally closed to the idea either.

Yes for paladins dragonborn are great as the stats work out. However other races work out equally well with other classes, so I dont see this as a balance issue at all.

The breath weapon of the dragonborn is good, but imho that is not the best racial, its the halfling second chance that is way awesome. Some guy crits you, you use second chance to make him reroll it. Crits are very damaging at high levels when people have +3 weapons that add 3[w] on crits.

Second chance also means that yuo can make someone waste a high level ability by rerolling a hit into a miss and wasting their power.

Dragonborn are not as hot as you think.
I agree the Halfling (and Elf) powers are great, and the Eladrin isn't bad either. All the PHB races are pretty great, which is related to what I was saying. If Halfling's your argument, then you can substitute what you think is the best racial power for what would be argued as being too powerful if it were in the MM.

As to Dragon breath per se, giving your defender a control power that lets him take out multiple minions as a minor action per encounter (and hits +2 vs REF based on your choice of three stats, and is expandable to 5x5 with one feat with no prerequs) is pretty darn great; it's gaining what would be a VERY nice Encounter power, only as a Minor Action. It can also be used in combos, such as with the Frost feats. It's like having a Defender with a free, really nice Wizard power that isn't ranged and doesn't trigger OAs.

Being able to take out a few minions as a minor action, per encounter, will turn the tide real fast in your party's direction and speed up battles considerably.
I would add to the Halfling point that "Channel Divinity: Armor of Bahamut" feat is a pretty worthy substitute for the Halfling racial, as it can also be used on an ally. No, not as good, but I'd rather have a DB with expanded breath and that feat, especially as a Defender gaining both an offensive control and a defensive power.
Final point I want to rewrite is: I cannot understand why someones goe for some half-written, imbalanced monster race as their first 4E character when there are THREE new races in the PHB that have their own strengths and weaknesses and racials feats that will not be as prone to power gaming as the monster races are. All 3 these races also have an inhuman feel and offer great RP opportunities, do you really need that kobold/bugbear/minotaur if you could also make a dragonborn/eladrin/tiefling?

I am one of those players that likes to make monster races as player characters. More specifically I have always had a real softspot for Lizardfolk, they have been a favourite monster encounter of mine when I started out with my human wizard years back.

I then made a lizardman fighter and he was a lot of fun to play. The DM didnt give me any bonus to his stats, I was for the most part statistically "human" but i was a lizardman, balancing was not an issue.

I then got into everquest huge when it came out, and ruins of kunark was the highlight of my video gaming life. Iksar were released, playable lizardmen... and they could be MONKS. I thought it was so cool a ninja lizard doing jump kicks and hitting people with a spinning tail rake, etc.. I played it for waaay to long, and the lore of the iksar was really well thought out, i loved their entire culture, history, attitude, etc.. the evil and vile lizardmen of kunark trying to rebuild their fallen empire. My lizardman was a member of the court of pain, a special sect of monks that flourished by inflicting pain on others.

Then D&D3e came out, I decided to make a lizardfolk monk in honor of my retired everquest iksar monk, he was so much fun from an RP perspective, and I even took the good guy path. He was set apart from the rest of his kind due to his higher intelligence and wisdom scores, he knew there was more then the barbaric swamp lifestyle that most of his kin lived. He stumbled upon a human monistary and got his butt kicked by the monks there. He found it amazing how creatures smaller and weaker then him could defeat him so easily without weapons or armor. The master of the temple took him in and tought him along side the human monks as a disciple. When the temple came under attack by a local warlord, it was destroyed, he took his martial art knowledge back to hsi tribe and defeated the lizardking with bare hands and no armor. After that he instructed his tribe to become the first lizardfolk monks that adhered to inner discipline and to better themselves personally and as a race.

Now with 4th edition out, I cant wait to make a similar character or continue his story. His name of course, Thessik irontail. Irontail being an honorary title given to him when he developed the use of his tail as a special martial arts attack the human monks obviously couldent do. (got this idea from the tail rake ability iksar monks in EQ had).

Stats? racial feats? etc.. who gives a crap, i dont care one iota about those. Give me -2 to every ability score if it means I can play my lizardfolk character. Of course my DM is nice and standarizes as best he can stats for a lizardfolk PC. They are pretty much equal to any other race in the PHB, and in the case of elves and haflings, my lizardfolk stats are worse, if wanted to powergame id have chose one of them isntead.
Making the arguement that the imbalance is tipped toward the Core races and not the MM races doesn't really contradict my assertion that a poor game dynamic is introduced.

Declaring the new core races to be freak characters is absurd. If the new races are common enough for any sizeable community to have at least a few of them, even if they are only travellers, as resident/transient characters makes them common enough. The fact that goblins, dopplegangers, shadar-kai and the like are not described as being common residents of most communities does make them freak characters. This dynamic can go either way. Your example of the party being a source of fear and intimidating townsfolk into accepting their comrades can and should create sticky situations where the entire party is judged/run out of town at least occasionally, which can be fun or mood breaking depending on how often and how the party reacts. A party that slaughters townfolk for wanting to eject their goblin rogue (or worse) is taking a step far outside the usual dynamics of D&D and creating IMO a problem dynamic, they have just turned themselves into villians. A party that goes to extremes to have their nonstandard allies accepted by each local populous does exactly the opposite.




To point out some mechanically, out of tune races from racial traits:

Bugbear - Predatory Eye can definitely be used to a potentially broken damage advantage for a rogue, ranger, or multiclass

Drow - Darkvision is possessed by no core class; 2 racial encounter powers

Goblin - Racial at-will power is possessed by no core race (unless you make a real stretch of the imagination with human)

Kobold - Another racial at-will power

Shadar-kai - Become insubstantial with an encounter power




That's five without examining the potential advantages of oversized weapons and very specific builds to capitalize on racial traits, all well outside the scope of core races.

The elven "re-roll and accept the second result" power is hardly game breaking but easy to utilize and thus gets a lot of attention in optimizationland. Certainly it can be put to great use in a build tailored around it, but it is not significantly more or less effective than the halfling racial power that forces a "re-roll and accept the second result" of an attack against you.

I don't think you got my sarcasm when I was referring to the party "intimidating" the townsfolk. It was meant to be a joke... mostly highlighting how (and yes, in only my opinion) absurb it seemed that townsfolk would have major issues with a cow-man opposed to a standard PC with obvious demonic features who's main adventuring contribution is cooking things with hellfire gained through an infernal pact. Never mind that it's specifically written into the core Tiefling fluff that they obtained their powers through devilish pacts and used to run an evil tyrannical empire. That's common knowledge to the average joe villager, even if there are more of them around. And prejudice due to that is much more justified than say, the kind of racism that we often deal with in the Real World. But like I said, it's all subjective and dependent on how you run the gameworld as a GM and whether your players even want to put up with that much roleplaying (as opposed to a more dungeon crawl hack-and-slash game).


As for most of those race features.... I still fail to see where they are unbalanced.

Bugbear - Predatory Eye... um, +1D6 if you have combat advantage only once per encounter? I mean, yeah, it's a nice (but small) boost to damage to one attack only once per encounter that scales somewhat with level... but requires you to get into position. Compared to where most of your damage will be coming from... multiples of [W] and damage modifiers, this ends up being only a slight advantage.
Even the Minotaurs power could be situationally more useful, especially for a Rogue. Charge and knockdown prone? Great, now I have automatic combat advantage till they get up. No flanking or stealth needed.

Drow - I will agree that Darkvision is a huge advantage. I remember reading that the devs were supposed to be limiting it with PC races. The encounter powers aren't THAT bad, considering you use either one or the other... not both per encounter. But yeah, I totally agree that the Drow are one of the more powerful MM races. Both for the features mentioned and because they get +2 to CHA and DEX, which affect separate defenses and make them ideal Artful Dodger rogues.
Unfortunately, I can pretty much guarantee you that the official Drow writeup will be even MORE powerful, especially if the Warforged treatment is any indication.

Goblin, Kobold- Lumping them together because they have at will powers. What about having an at-will is unbalanced? Sure, if the power was highly powerful, that would be very unbalanced... but being able to shift if you are missed? Or getting an extra shift per round? Nice, but not extreme.
In the same vein.... is the Rogue the more powerful class because it gets the largest selection of at-will utility powers as it levels up? What about Wizard cantrips? Of course not.... they are very minor abilities or bonuses, and are balanced as such because they are at-will.

Shadar-kai - Other than their minor teleport that makes them insubstantial, what about them is uber? Nothing. Even the insubstantial thing is only once per encounter and only lasts until your next turn. 4e insubstantial also isn't as powerful as 3e. It doesn't make you invincible, but kind of cushions the blow. It's a nice little trick, but still definitely on par with PHB race powers.

As I mentioned before, Oversized is nice.... but an average of +1 damage per [W] (or +2 at the most) is not as overpowering as it first appears.
Reminds me of a DM I used to have in 3.5 who thought that Dwarven Waraxes were overpowered because they did 1D10 instead of 1D8, even though they cost a feat. And that was an edition where damage modifiers were king, even more so than 4th.


As was already pointed out, the Dragonborn's power is one of the more effective race powers and that's in the PHB.


I wasn't arguing that there was not an imbalance with the MM races, but that it swings in favor of the PHB races.
Again, I was also pointing out that these races will likely become even MORE powerful once the official PC treatment is done.

But I don't really agree that this can unilaterally be deemed a 'poor game mechanic'. First off, it's optional. Second, it allows some flexibility before more splat books or articles come out detailing these races as PCs. Thirdly, I think it depends on the game, the DM, and the players. In some cases, as I've pointed out, the MM race can actually be an inferior choice as far as optimization.


So in the game I'm running, it really comes down to the fluff and backstory. For example, I'm not allowing Drow... not because they are powerful, but because they just won't jive as heroic PC's in my setting..... sure, there can be lawful good drow that want to save the world... but the pain in dealing with the hatred toward the race is just too much.

Mechanics-wise, however, I'd let any player choose an MM race. This would be after I explained fully the advantages of using a full fleshed out PHB (or Dragon mag) race instead.

But in the end.... if they want to play a Bugbear (or even a Drow for that matter... I'm not completely stubborn)... can explain it and come up with a good background/roleplaying hook... will put up with the racism that will undoubtedly crop up.... then it's all good.

After all, if that's fun for them, who am I to object.
If it's not ruining my fun, or anyone else's at the table, then more power to them. That's the way I view it anyway.
Making the arguement that the imbalance is tipped toward the Core races and not the MM races doesn't really contradict my assertion that a poor game dynamic is introduced.

Declaring the new core races to be freak characters is absurd. If the new races are common enough for any sizeable community to have at least a few of them, even if they are only travellers, as resident/transient characters makes them common enough. The fact that goblins, dopplegangers, shadar-kai and the like are not described as being common residents of most communities does make them freak characters. This dynamic can go either way. Your example of the party being a source of fear and intimidating townsfolk into accepting their comrades can and should create sticky situations where the entire party is judged/run out of town at least occasionally, which can be fun or mood breaking depending on how often and how the party reacts. A party that slaughters townfolk for wanting to eject their goblin rogue (or worse) is taking a step far outside the usual dynamics of D&D and creating IMO a problem dynamic, they have just turned themselves into villians. A party that goes to extremes to have their nonstandard allies accepted by each local populous does exactly the opposite.




To point out some mechanically, out of tune races from racial traits:

Bugbear - Predatory Eye can definitely be used to a potentially broken damage advantage for a rogue, ranger, or multiclass

Drow - Darkvision is possessed by no core class; 2 racial encounter powers

Goblin - Racial at-will power is possessed by no core race (unless you make a real stretch of the imagination with human)

Kobold - Another racial at-will power

Shadar-kai - Become insubstantial with an encounter power




That's five without examining the potential advantages of oversized weapons and very specific builds to capitalize on racial traits, all well outside the scope of core races.

The elven "re-roll and accept the second result" power is hardly game breaking but easy to utilize and thus gets a lot of attention in optimizationland. Certainly it can be put to great use in a build tailored around it, but it is not significantly more or less effective than the halfling racial power that forces a "re-roll and accept the second result" of an attack against you.

Several points here;

1. Races other than the norm is dependent on the world your playing in, 90% humans? Then most if not all non-humans are "freaks." A world with elves, dwarves, dragonborn, halflings and humans plus numerous other races in smaller sized communities, points of light in the darkness? I would say sentients would be far more judged on who they are and what they do rather then what they are and how they were born. A poor game dynamic? I think not. Sounds like a place for a hero to prove his or her worth and make a name for themselves.

2. I have run and often played in "evil" campaigns over the last 20 years and though they always end with party members offing each other they are a viable option. The "monster" races fit right in here. Players with years of experience playing rpg's often want campaigns outside the norm and these sometimes are good for a few sessions to play the bad guys in your world.

3. Yes some of the racial abilities are good, a tricky DM is better. Let em use it, let em do what they will with it. There is always a challenging situation that it won't work in and then they will have to lean on team members and not be the be all end all of the party. That will also allow the other players to feel better about their characters and give the godmodding(daughters term gotta love teens) player a reality check. Honestly though none of those abilities are ground breaking and none of the MM races (except Warforged now) have any racial feats to back them up. When they are made "official" (which believe me they will be the rumor is 12 new races in PHBII?) the final incarnation will be stronger as the warforged one was.

4. Finally I hope 99% of players in DnD are making a fun PC to roleplay, fight and explore. If you or the players your with are just looking for loop holes in the rules to make the ultimate unstoppable damage dealing machine I think the point may have been missed somewhere along the way. If you are the DM, encourage your players to use RAI and not focus so much on RAW. Elf warlock, halfling paladin, dwarf rogue, kobold wizard, goblin cleric all work just fine in 4e, why I love the system. Sure they are not the best choices but from play testing several and DMing several others, they are neither over powered nor gimped, they are just options for PC's. By level 30 its really just an extra +1 here or there, and at that level thats not a whole lot.
Several points here;

1. Races other than the norm is dependent on the world your playing in, 90% humans? Then most if not all non-humans are "freaks." A world with elves, dwarves, dragonborn, halflings and humans plus numerous other races in smaller sized communities, points of light in the darkness? I would say sentients would be far more judged on who they are and what they do rather then what they are and how they were born. A poor game dynamic? I think not. Sounds like a place for a hero to prove his or her worth and make a name for themselves.

2. I have run and often played in "evil" campaigns over the last 20 years and though they always end with party members offing each other they are a viable option. The "monster" races fit right in here. Players with years of experience playing rpg's often want campaigns outside the norm and these sometimes are good for a few sessions to play the bad guys in your world.

3. Yes some of the racial abilities are good, a tricky DM is better. Let em use it, let em do what they will with it. There is always a challenging situation that it won't work in and then they will have to lean on team members and not be the be all end all of the party. That will also allow the other players to feel better about their characters and give the godmodding(daughters term gotta love teens) player a reality check. Honestly though none of those abilities are ground breaking and none of the MM races (except Warforged now) have any racial feats to back them up. When they are made "official" (which believe me they will be the rumor is 12 new races in PHBII?) the final incarnation will be stronger as the warforged one was.

4. Finally I hope 99% of players in DnD are making a fun PC to roleplay, fight and explore. If you or the players your with are just looking for loop holes in the rules to make the ultimate unstoppable damage dealing machine I think the point may have been missed somewhere along the way. If you are the DM, encourage your players to use RAI and not focus so much on RAW. Elf warlock, halfling paladin, dwarf rogue, kobold wizard, goblin cleric all work just fine in 4e, why I love the system. Sure they are not the best choices but from play testing several and DMing several others, they are neither over powered nor gimped, they are just options for PC's. By level 30 its really just an extra +1 here or there, and at that level thats not a whole lot.

I dont think its because of your picture, but you come across to me as dwarf like, just thought you would like to know =P
Ravennus, just read your post you must have been writing as I was. Could not agree more, fun is the object of the game for all involved. :D

Thessik, yes I am quite dwarflike, short and stout. As for characters, most have been dwarves a kobold here or there. I avoid elves like the plague, can't stand em lol. Guess I tend to play to my nature.
The reasons that most people use monster races is because often they give the player something interesting to play. I have played as plenty of Elves, Half-elves, Halflings, Humans etc... And personally I don't like Dragonborn or what they have done to Tieflings. So, if I want something different to break up tradition I am going to look to the monster races.

Now, my first 4.0 character is going to be a core race (Half-Elf Paladin). But, after that I am going to play a Shadar-Kai wizard or Ranger. Why? Because I love their flavor. While, flipping through the MM I read their entry and immediately felt compelled to play as one. I was saddened because I couldn't find the LA or stats for them (I didn't yet know the rules well). And it would be a while later that I found the section on monsters as PCs.

When comparing the Shadar-Kai to the core races the easiest one to compare it to is the Eladrin. They share attribute bonii, vision,and movement. The Shadar-Kai advantages over the Eladrin are a better Fort and the ability to go insubstantial after teleport (which as has been pointed out isn't as good as in 3.5). While, the Eladrin have one extra language, a better will, bonus against charms, the ability to trance versus needing to sleep, free longsword prof., an extra trained skill, and a longer teleport. So, even without racial feats the Eladrin are clearly a superior race to the Shadar-Kai. So, why do I wish to play a Shadar-Kai? Because, it seems to be a more interesting character rather than being another high elf. Blaming all non-standard racial choices as power gaming is silly (maybe anti-power gaming).

I am starting up a game soon and plan on allowing all MM playable races as long as they can provide a backstory. If the players have a character that they find unique and enjoyable it will be a lot easier to immerse them in the world I have created.
The reasons that most people use monster races is because often they give the player something interesting to play.

This. People enjoy variety. This is a roleplaying game. If a rough write up of a race fires their imagination, why not go with it?

As far the races in the MM being imbalanced, it's not just a consideration of "power level". Some of them have abilities that are a bit outside the normal. Ok, maybe a power that lets a person move as though flying is a bit like a teleport, but then again, maybe it isn't. That's a concern. All of them are in "the balance ballpark" - the designers aren't stupid. The larger write-up races in the PHB tend to get a more comprehension selection of benefits, so they aren't going to be outshone so easily.