View Full Version : Special Race... Looking for advice

2011-06-21, 09:24 PM
Hi, guys. I don't usually do much homebrew outside of the world in which my campaign takes place, but a couple of my players wanted to share a character. Specifically they wanted to share a two-headed character so they they could both roleplay and get the full effect of that aspect of the game. So I searched, admittedly rather poorly, not even bothering to use google but rather Control-F'ing all the race books I have for the phrase "two headed" and a couple of variants thereof. With no success on that route, I decided to sit down with the players and try to design a race from scratch for them to play. This is what we came up with.

Racial Traits
+2 Intelligence
+2 Charisma
-4 Dexterity
Base Speed 30
“They say two heads are better than one. Damn straight they are.”

Physical Description
Humanoid species with a split spine, starting three quarters up the back. Spilt then leads to two necks…. Which leads to two heads. Four pointy ears, four eyes, two noses, sixty-four teeth,and most importantly, two mouths. Genetic defect causes a male-female combo sometimes. Those particular Shekormis are sterile. Different hair colors on each head is common.

Hailing from the lands to the far east in Chorista, the Shekormis are an ancient race of spellcasters, specializing in Sorcery, one of few races not descended from dragons capable of sorcery. Shekormis are also proficient in Wizardry, however, and have a great amount of spellcasting prowess in whatever magical path they take; however, they make terrible druids, due mainly to their particular arrangement with alignment.

Shekormis, having two heads, have two distinct personalities, and generally these heads are of opposite alignment on the sliding scale of chaotic to lawful, i.e., one head is generally lawful and the other head is generally chaotic.

Dominance Checks*
At the beginning of each turn, both players roll a d20 for Dominance Check. If their dominance checks are within 2 of each other (i.e., checks of 16 and 18 would qualify), then both players may take a turn; if not, only one player takes a turn and must choose from their own spell pool. If either player rolls a 1, the character’s turn is skipped.

Racial Benefits *
Shekormis have two separate sets of spells per day and two sets of spells known. Each set of spells per day and spells known is half of those known by a normal Wizard or Sorcerer, though, rounding up, and the bonus they gain from their charisma or intelligence to spells per day is halved for each set. That is to say, combined, they have a complete set of spells known and spells per day.
Favored Class: Wizard or Sorcerer
Automatic Languages: Common and Halfling

It seems pretty bare bones to me. Is there anything glaringly wrong with this? Is there anything I can do to make it better? Sorry if I seem like a terrible awful noob for all this, and I'm really terribly sorry if this is the wrong section of the site for me to post this. Thanks for any advice!

2011-06-21, 09:37 PM
You're in the right place. But here's the thing. This race seems like a bad idea. A wizard that can prepare two diffrent spell lists, worse, a cleric that can prepare two diffrent spell lists. It's ethier really great, because it makes them MUCH more flexible, or really horrible because one or both the players doesn't know what they're doing. Also, bonus spells don't increse that often which means if you have +3 spells per level you actually only have one because three doesn't devide evenly.

Secondly, the arguments, not good. In one case they both get their turn fine and dandy. But on the other only one does, and the other gets shafted, and on the OTHER other they both get shafted.

It's an intresting idea, but what happens if both players want to have the same alignment, what happens if there's only one player? I would suggest just telling them that they should play siblings. Maybe twins.

EDIT: Also, having a race which can not only be of any alignment but actually has creatures who's alignments are completely contrary to eachother doesn't make sense, because it's generally excepted that alignment is an effect of your culture not a genetic trait. Unless you're playing with "always evil" meaning that the creature 100% of the time

byaku rai
2011-06-21, 10:00 PM
It seems to me that if you're going to do something as awful to them as split spell lists (especially to a sorcerer; that's basically neutering them with how few they know), you can probably do without the argument check. Also, in the case of a split (6-15), how do you determine which head/player gets to go and which doesn't? If the player/players gets to decide, it basically means them taking a turn as normal. If not, you're left with the DM deciding (bound to lead to hurt feelings sooner or later) or random chance, which will wreck the action economy even worse than a 25% chance of the two primary casters both losing their turns at the same time (which is how you've got it set up now). Think about it; unless they have redundant or at least overlapping spell lists, chances are they're not going to get to do what they want/need to do a good portion of the time.

I'd suggest re-doing the proportions on the argument check (natural 1 for no action, 2-10 or so for one action, the rest for both) and maybe putting in a proviso for single-player version (the thought of a dual wizard batman, who would essentially be able to cast two spells per round for free, scares me) changing the proportions to a harsher system like you already have.

Apologies for poor grammar and syntax. My brain is in the process of eating itself. I'm that tired.

2011-06-21, 10:27 PM
If you are going to go that path, give them superior 2-weapon fighting (as an ettin.)

If you'd like to start over, ettins are also a good resource; while you'd probably want to give different LA, ability scores, etc, it is the classic example of a 2-headed creature in D&D.

2011-06-22, 01:33 AM
Frankly one head being chaotic (right brain dominate) and one head being lawful (left brain dominate) should cause quite enough conflict. Any inherently good entity tied forever to an inherently evil one would sacrifice itself at the drop of a hat for the good of all.

I'm also not so sure about using a die roll to solve ties. Maybe the control roll should receive a mod based on who won the toss last time? So it evens out a little?

2011-06-22, 04:52 PM
On the twins idea, there was or are a few races with twin effects.

Tween I thought was one of them, but search didn't return anything.

But basic concept was one was a fighter(STR/Strong) and the other was caster(INT/Weak). I want to say MMII.

They have special bonds between them as well.

I want to say there are others, but I can't remember off the top of my head.

2011-06-22, 04:56 PM
Another thought just thought of after post, was something a little more exotic.

A graft or parasite something like that. I think in one of the books had info on these. Or even could be as simple as one plays the familiar of the other?

Or another thought is one is a ghost or similar spirit bound to the other. Thus he can only manifest from and effect things around the one character. This would be good for a caster type. Also better for the character that is prone to not there all the time as you just have that character unable to manifest at that time.

2011-06-23, 10:32 PM
I made a few changes in paying attention to the comments and a couple of friends irl, and edited the original post. Sections I've changed are now marked with an asterisk. Now, I'd just like to say, this is not my ideal way of doing this; ideally each of these players would have her own character so I wouldn't have to bother with searching, or in this case, creating new things. I simply could not talk them out of the idea of a two-headed character no matter what I did.

I understand that the split spell list seems a bit crippling, but the idea is that they choose spells with the spells that the other head knows kept in mind, to produce more effective teamwork. I changed the way that works to make sure they never have less than the maximum spells known, however.

I overhauled the argument system with this one, which I find to feel superior. I didn't want for them to get an extra turn or get their turn skipped quite as much as I originally provisioned; this fairly gives them about one turn per round without favoring one player and without straying from that one turn too terribly often.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the edited race?

2011-06-23, 10:36 PM
The dominence system seems allot better, and the alignement is allot better. Good on ya, players do the darnedest things huh?

byaku rai
2011-06-24, 07:49 AM
Other than a general desire to beat the players' heads together for causing problems, not really. Although I will point out that while the character will generally have one turn a round, as normal, the two players will average out to have one turn every other round. This could get boring for them rather quickly, if managed wrong.

General DM advice to combat this: quick-paced combat is a must. That's generally not a problem for Fighter-types ("I run up and hit the monster!"), unless you're using ToB ("I run up and do a maneuver on the monster! ... hang on a sec while I look it up."). But with spellcasters, as you've seen with C-who-must-not-be-named irl, if they aren't prepared ahead of time gameplay can get bogged down a lot. With ToB and spellcasters, it's usually best to make sure they come to battle prepared:
1. If they're summoning stuff, for the love of all things holy make sure they have the stats written down ahead of time. I have seen nothing which bogs down gameplay more than unprepared summoning.
2. Make sure that they know what their spells do. Details matter. They need to know how many d6s they're throwing at a monster when they do a fireball. They need to know how to handle a maneuver. Above all, they need to know the Save DCs for their stuff, or at the very least how to calculate it on the fly. :smallfurious:
3. If you're feeling particularly vicious, instate a time limit rule on turns. If the person is unprepared to the point where they take more than an arbitrary amount of time (say, 1 or 2 minutes) to do whatever they're going to do that round, their character is skipped for that round. It's harsh, especially for spellcasters, but if you do it for a session or two, I can guarantee that gameplay will be smoother afterwards. Since you're playing with n00bs, you might not want to instate this unless you see the players with the most preparation to do not preparing for their turn ahead of time.

2011-06-24, 11:41 AM
This looks like it could turn out to be a lot of fun for the right players.
A few details:

HD and saves:
If the character can be two classes, what would determine their hit die and save progression? I would recommend using the gestalt rules, though possibly giving them each their own will save.

ECL and experience:
Does this count as one character of their ECL, or two when you calculate experience gain?

Magic Items:
How many magic item slots can this race wear? One of everything plus an extra head slot? Does the item worn on the head slot benefit just that head or both?

byaku rai
2011-06-24, 02:32 PM
^^^ These are good questions. However, if you use the gestalt rules and a single player is using the race, they essentially get to make a gestalt character for free, even if the other players are not. The easiest way to solve this is to make sure that both heads are the same class (which I think is implied anyway).

I just had the thought of a quadruple-gestalt character. :smalleek: this is a frightening concept.

Nigel the Hobo
2011-06-24, 04:31 PM
Quick, non-in-depth mechanic question:

Why add halfling as a language?:smallconfused: I admit I didn't read the entire thread:smallredface: but i skimmed looking for my answer but didn't see anything.

2011-06-24, 10:02 PM
They have to take the same class, yes. As for the halfling question, they come from the same part of this world as do halflings, so it made sense to me to include that as their racial.

byaku rai
2011-06-24, 10:04 PM
The only thing about that, is that it only applies to your personal campaign setting. In general, that doesn't necessarily apply. =P