A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Default New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    A long time ago, I set out to make some homebrew races for a campaign I was running that let players step a little further towards the monster manual end of things than the standard PHB options. That game is long over, but I recently dug up some of my notes and decided to put the finishing touches on several of my ideas. This race, the oni, is one of them.

    Unlike their common portrayals in lots of media (including the Monster Manual), these oni are not actually demonic or evil in any way, though their fierce appearance and boisterous personalities have gotten them that reputation. Rather, these oni are a people who love to party, love to fight, and love to mix those two things together. They are also a race which is split into two groups, the red oni and the blue oni. If you want to read a bit of their culture, you can open up the fluff spoiler and read it there. If you don't care about that but are passingly curious about the mechanics I gave them, the Oni Traits spoiler is for you!

    I appreciate any and all comments that you have. My goal was for this race to be interesting and distinct from the races that already exist, but still balanced when compared to them. Thanks for taking a look!


    Oni



    Artist Credit: JoshCorpuz85 on deviantart

    ”Sometimes, I can’t believe the two of you are sisters,” said the cleric.

    Across from him Ryoko yawned wide, one red arm effortlessly extended with her massive greataxe clasped in hand. The weapon almost scraped the roof of the ancient room that the group was waiting in, while nearby her sister Ari sat surrounded by a trio of torches, flipping madly through some dusty old tome.

    "I know, right?" Ryoko said, finishing her yawn and resting the axe negligently over her shoulder. "She got all the brains, but it's okay cuz I got the looks." She took a pull from her wineskin and burped loudly with satisfaction.

    Her sister sighed and rubbed her forehead between her two short blue horns. “Could you...not? I’m trying to translate these runes so that we can bypass this magical statue without poisoning our thief again, and without al-” Ari’s complaint was cut short by a massive booming noise and the pattering of shattered gravel as the statue in question exploded into chunks of pulverized stone.

    “Oops,” said Ryoko. “I got bored by your prattling and accidentally destroyed the statue. So, I guess, problem solved!”

    In the passage behind them, the sudden droning of millions of wings and the clicking of ravenous mandibles echoed through the corridors. And it was getting closer. “Without poisoning our thief again, AND without alerting the carrion swarms that we sneaked past earlier of our presence in the temple,” Ari said, completing her earlier statement through gritted teeth.

    “Oh. Right. Well,” said the red sister, bouncing her axe from hand to hand. “I think I have a solution for that problem, too.”

    The blue sister let out a long suffering sigh, then said, “Right, fine. Just let me get a few spells ready…”


    Spoiler: Fluff
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    Oni are among the most physically imposing people in the kingdoms. With their looming build, horns, pointed teeth, and exotic skin coloration, it is no wonder that early tales cast them as demons and ogres. They are also a people mysteriously divided in two, with red and blue oni often hailing from the same family but having distinct physical and personality traits.

    Left to their own devices, Oni prefer to create smaller towns that rarely grow larger than a few hundred people, but many have adapted to the great cities of the kingdoms and can be found all over. They tend to find work in physically demanding professions such as mining, logging, construction, and airship building, though they also make powerful warriors and sorcery runs strong in their blood.


    Children of the Sun and Moon

    Legend says that the first oni were beasts who lived below the ground and didn’t know the sky. One day, the mightiest warrior of her generation grew curious and cracked the stone above her head so that she could walk onto the surface. She saw the Sun above and he saw her, and he fell in love, as he had never seen anything like her before. The Sun’s love marked her so that she could stand in the light, and he promised to make the whole world his gift if she and her clan came to the surface to live with him.

    She went back below the earth and spoke of what she had seen, of a beautiful sky bright with a fire that didn’t burn, and her clan could see that she was changed. But they were afraid of what they did not understand, so they sent the wisest man in the clan, her brother, to make sure it was safe.

    He emerged from the crack she had made and into the cool moonlight, and he looked in vain for the bright fire in the sky. The Moon saw him and fell in love, because she had never seen anything like him before. The Moon marked him with her power to let him see in the night, and promised to make the entire world her gift to him and his clan if they came to the surface to live with her.

    When he came back to his people, he argued with his sister about what they had seen. The oni who believed the brother became the favored of the Moon, those who preferred the sister’s tale became the favored of the Sun.

    Thus the first oni were divided into red and blue. But because the Sun and the Moon had both promised the world to their beloved, neither was able to completely fulfill their promise. Ever since, the oni have been destined to struggle against the beasts and the elements and the other races of the surface. Legend says that one day the oni people will prove themselves worthy to both the Sun and the Moon. On that day the promises of both will be fulfilled, and the oni will inherit the world.


    The Red and the Blue

    Oni are born with pale skin, but go through a gradual transformation as they reach young adulthood. Their skin and hair colors slowly deepen, becoming tinged with either reddish or bluish hues which intensify as they age. According to traditional oni religion this reflects their being chosen by either the Lord Sun or Lady Moon, though other explanations, from environmental influences to inheritable factors to subconscious choice have been proposed. The truth is that nobody knows for certain, and even identical twins can undergo opposing transformations.

    What is known is that each group tends to embody distinct personality traits (whether oni develop them as a result of their color or their color is determined as a result of their personality is an endless debate). Red oni are focused on passion and the whims of immediate gratification. They are formidable in a conflict but exuberant and uninhibited in celebration, constantly seeking extremes and hunting for new sensations. Blue oni, on the other hand, are driven by ambition and a fascination with the world’s infinite variety. They still enjoy celebration, though this usually takes the form of appreciating the finer things in life rather than indulging wildly.

    These personality traits are not universal, and there are plenty of patient red oni and party animal blue oni. More often than not, though, a oni will fulfill many of the expected personality types of his or her respective group.

    Oni Culture

    Despite their fearsome appearances, oni are no more inclined to war or evil than the other races of the kingdoms, though red oni are notoriously quarrelsome and given to brawling over perceived slights. They make up for it by being equally willing to let bygones be bygones, especially if you’re willing to buy them a drink.

    If someone does threaten a oni community with war, however, they are more than able to oblige. Red oni are known for producing powerful warriors, especially berserkers, who charge into battle wearing stylized war masks featuring grotesquely exaggerated oni features in order to intimidate enemies. Blue oni can become terrifying assassins and mages, particularly warlocks.

    Oni of any color love a good party, and they are known throughout the kingdoms for throwing good festivals and for doing so given even the smallest excuse. Oni love alcohol and love drinking, and any good oni would match up his village’s berry and grain spirits against the greatest dwarven brews and elven wines in the world. Their capacity for drink is legendary, and not for nothing is the expression "drunk as an oni" a common byword for boisterous inebriation throughout the land.


    Oni Names

    Male Names: Amon, Ao, Iblis, Ken, Maro, Ravan
    Female Names: Akai, Bethe, Kali, Mara, Rem, Ryoko
    Family Names: Aduna, Irawan, Kusuma, Sumadi, Vishwa

    Spoiler: Oni Traits
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    Oni Traits

    Oni are physically imposing and socially outgoing, larger than life in all aspects of their existence.

    Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2 and your Charisma score increases by 1.
    Age. Oni mature and age at about the same rate as humans.
    Alignment. Oni are pragmatic but principled, and are so spread out in the world that they can be found in any career and creed. Red oni tend towards chaos and blue towards being lawful, but otherwise they run the complete gamut.
    Size. Oni are tall and very powerfully built, seven and a half feet tall is not unheard of and they can weigh in excess of 350 pounds. Your size is Medium.
    Speed. Your walking speed is 30 feet.
    Oni War Training. You gain proficiency in light and medium armor as well as mauls.
    Iron Stomach. Whenever you roll a 1 on a Constitution saving throw, treat the result as a 20 instead.
    Powerful Build. You count as one size larger when determining carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.
    Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Giant.
    Subrace. Though not technically subraces, choose either red oni or blue oni.


    Red Oni
    Oni chosen by the sun have various shades of red skin. Their hair tends to be lighter than their skin, and can be anything from coppery blonde to fiery red. They are typically more spontaneous, proud, competitive, and gregarious than those chosen by the Moon.

    Burning Eyes. You have advantage on saving throws against being blinded, and magic can’t blind you.
    Lesser Regeneration. If your hit point total is half your maximum or lower, you can spend a reaction to activate lesser regeneration. While this ability is active, you regain a number of hit points equal to 1 + your Constitution modifier (minimum 1) at the start of your turn if you have at least 1 hit point. Lesser regeneration lasts for three rounds at 1st level, four rounds starting at 3rd level, and five rounds starting at 5th level. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.

    Blue Oni
    Oni who were marked by the moon have bluish or greenish skin and hair, and their eyes glint in the dark with reflected light, like a cat’s. They tend to be more analytical, traditional, ambitious, and refined than those chosen by the Sun.

    Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light.
    Overwhelming. After rolling for damage, you may choose to reroll any number of damage dice and take the new results instead. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.
    Last edited by Steel Mirror; 2017-01-03 at 11:46 AM.
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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    I like what you got here with the oni. Though now my brainbox wants to come up with a reason as to why the MM Oni is so horrible and around for campaign world-building purposes... Thanks for sharing this with us!

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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.

    Spoiler: Thoughts on MM oni
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    As for the MM oni (I'll call them 'greater oni' to avoid confusion), maybe there are isolated tribes in the edges of the wilderness where these larger, more magical, more aggressive version of the oni make their homes in the mist. Because of their ability to change shape they are rarely (knowingly) encountered, but they are crafty and powerful enough to accomplish great evil when they are motivated to do so. The most worrying thing about the greater oni, though, is that they prey on normal, lesser oni communities, specifically aiming to steal their children in order to raise them as their own. And a lesser oni child raised by a greater oni doesn't become a red or a blue oni, he or she becomes another greater oni. Nobody knows exactly why, but because of this the lesser oni are as much victims of greater oni's evil as any other race (arguably they are even more the victims, because a greater oni rampaging in other races' lands might lead to a backlash against the lesser oni villages even though they have nothing to do with it).

    Or at least, that's one possibility! I also noticed that the picture in the MM appears to be a blue greater oni. Might be fun to make an alternate version of red greater oni that focuses a bit more on berserking and less on magic. Maybe I'll do that.


    As for the playable oni race, I'm really worried about the balance of the red oni's Lesser Regeneration. The two comparable racial abilities that I've been using to try and calibrate it are Stone's Endurance from the goliath and Dwarven Toughness for hill dwarves. On the one hand, you can't control when Lesser Regeneration goes off, its effects are spread out over multiple rounds and so isn't as reliable, and you don't benefit from it if you heal to max or fall to zero while its duration is going. So you won't necessarily get full value out of it reliably, and in lots of fights it just straight up won't activate. On the other hand, at low levels it can represent 12 extra hp per fight for an oni with 16 Con (compared to goliath's 10.5 extra hp on average for the same Con) but at high levels it gets a lot better, giving up to 48 extra hp per fight for a 20th level character with 20 Con (while a goliath only gets 12.5 and a hill dwarf at that level gets 20, though that is a boost to max hp so it's slightly better). So it can get pretty darn powerful.

    Anyway, if anyone has thoughts on that I'd be obliged.
    Last edited by Steel Mirror; 2016-12-11 at 09:03 PM.
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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    If you feel that the Lesser Regeneration is overpowered, perhaps lowering the regeneration to half-proficiency may suffice. Though that is a quick & dirty patch rather than a fix... I honestly need to play test this myself before I can give a better suggestion.

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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    Ooh, if you do playtest these guys I'd love to hear your thoughts on how they work in play! I did have one of my players play a version of the blue oni waaaay back, and it worked out pretty well, but I'd still love it to death to hear what others think about them after actually putting them through their paces.
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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    It's good to have you back, Steel Mirror. I still look forward to reading what you have learned while play-testing those homebrew races of yours. That said, I have a question about your latest creation. One, wouldn't it be better to give a charisma boost to the Red-Oni subrace and Wisdom for its Blue counterpart? Also, I too found lesser regeneration unbalanced. You might want to replace that racial feature with something else.

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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by ocel View Post
    It's good to have you back, Steel Mirror. I still look forward to reading what you have learned while play-testing those homebrew races of yours. That said, I have a question about your latest creation. One, wouldn't it be better to give a charisma boost to the Red-Oni subrace and Wisdom for its Blue counterpart? Also, I too found lesser regeneration unbalanced. You might want to replace that racial feature with something else.
    I concur. An idea I've been considering for any races I'd want to have regeneration feature is to let them spend Hit Dice to heal as a bonus action in combat. Potentially more healing, but with the opportunity cost of it using your HD.

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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by ocel View Post
    It's good to have you back, Steel Mirror. I still look forward to reading what you have learned while play-testing those homebrew races of yours. That said, I have a question about your latest creation. One, wouldn't it be better to give a charisma boost to the Red-Oni subrace and Wisdom for its Blue counterpart?
    Hey, ocel! Long time no chat! It's good to have you around to reality check my ideas again, too!

    As for giving a different stat boost blues, one of the goals of the race was actually to make blues pretty decent sorcerers and warlocks (reds too, actually). Between the extra armor proficiencies, the stealth buff to combat casting that is Iron Stomach, and the ability to reroll any number of damage dice from one attack which has some synergy with large blast spells that have lots of dice a'rolling, I think that letting them get a stat boost that is good for blasty mages is a good way to encourage that build.

    On the other hand I could conceivably give them Int and let them go for Eldritch Knight or a mysteriously buff wizard, but I like warlock/sorcerer better for oni because it seems more oni-y, and also because I think warlocks have a better archetype that can put Strength to good use in the blade pact.

    Quote Originally Posted by ocel View Post
    Also, I too found lesser regeneration unbalanced. You might want to replace that racial feature with something else.
    Quote Originally Posted by Edge View Post
    I concur. An idea I've been considering for any races I'd want to have regeneration feature is to let them spend Hit Dice to heal as a bonus action in combat. Potentially more healing, but with the opportunity cost of it using your HD.
    Thanks, I knew this was the most troublesome feature. The 'using HD in combat' option is actually one that I've been considering for a long while, so maybe this is a good place to put it. Or I could do what I was thinking at first and have Lesser Regen only restore 2 hp per round, never more. That starts off the same as the current version but only caps out at 16 hp if you max your Con at 20th level (and how many builds max Con anyway?).

    Or I could go ahead and try to come up with a new feature. I do kind of like regen for the reds though for how it subtly pushes them towards Barbarian, where every hp counts more than usual because of how often they are the damage sponge as well as how easy it is for them to get resistance to damage and thus make every hp healed basically twice as valuable.

    And I do think the regen ability is less powerful than it appears at first glance; not getting to chose when to use it and needing to go below half just to benefit from it means that at low levels it's easy to get knocked out before it helps much, and at high levels you have so much hp that going below half is much rarer and, even if you do, 2 extra hp per round is absolutely negligible and even 6 per round is easily overwhelmed.

    I dunno, does the weaker version of regen seem to be a bit fairer? Or should I look at the combat HD idea or something completely new?
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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    I like Lesser Regeneration as-is, and I buy your justifications on how it balances out against the Goliath's on-demand "Second Wind." I guess the only thing I don't like about it is how it's a biological function that improves as your level of skill with things increases.

    Maybe an alternate way to make it work:

    Lesser Regeneration. When you are reduced to half of your maximum hit points or lower, your body’s lesser regeneration activates. While this ability is active, you regain a number of hit points equal to 1 + your Constitution modifier (minimum 1) at the start of your turn if you have at least 1 hit point. Lesser regeneration lasts for two rounds at 1st level, three rounds starting at 3rd level, and four rounds starting at 5th level. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.

    This way, as your biology gets stronger, so does your healing, and the scaling parallels how racial spells are granted? Still not perfect, but this also makes the healing ceiling far lower at 24 rather than 48.
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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    That actually does look pretty good. When it comes to flavor I understand where you are coming from in terms of preferring the Con mod to determine scaling rather than proficiency bonus, though it doesn't bother me as much. Obviously that's down to taste.

    That said I still like your revised version just because the math works out better. Smaller amount of total hp recovered, but it's compressed into a shorter time frame, which makes it more beneficial because the healing happens faster.

    A level 1 oni that invest a 14 in Con will net an extra 6 hp per combat (assuming they are always being reduced to below half). That's a fair amount less powerful than the goliath, though the scaling does a lot to make it balance out in the long term. Maybe make it 3/4/5 rounds instead of 2/3/4? Yes that technically makes it possible to have 30 hp from it at high levels, but I still suspect that very few people will be maxing out their Con score, especially with a race that doesn't get a racial bonus. If anyone does commit that much resources to improving their hardiness it probably wouldn't be too unbalancing to let them do so, as their offensive abilities would likely be taking a hit as a result.

    Thanks for the help though, I'll probably use that version of it instead of what is listed now.
    Last edited by Steel Mirror; 2016-12-12 at 02:31 PM.
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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    Or... a completely different idea...

    Lesser Regeneration. When you are reduced to half of your maximum hit points or lower, as a reaction you may spend a Hit Die to regain hit points. If you do, at the start of each of your turns thereafter, for a number of rounds equal to your Proficiency bonus, you gain temporary hit points equal to 1 + your Constitution modifier. After using this ability you cannot use it again until you have completed a long rest. At 3rd level you may spend up to two hit dice when you use this ability, and you may use this ability twice in between long rests. At 5th level you spend up to three hit dice when you use this ability, and you may use this ability three times in between long rests.
    Last edited by Ziegander; 2016-12-12 at 05:18 PM.
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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    I really like the idea of combining the combat use of hit dice with the regeneration-type mechanic. It does have a bit more complexity than I generally look for from a racial ability, in that it scales based off of prof bonus, con mod, and a level-based number of uses all in one racial trait. I might try to simplify it slightly and see what the result looks like, but it's a cool idea.
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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    Why not give the Red Oni subrace a racial feature like Goliath's Stone's Endurance? Only instead of using the parry maneuver it would be rally.
    Last edited by ocel; 2016-12-14 at 05:45 PM.

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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    So after contemplating it for a while, my favorite version is one that Ziegander recommended, with a slight modification.

    Lesser Regeneration. If your hit point total is half your maxim or lower, you can spend a reaction to activate lesser regeneration. While this ability is active, you regain a number of hit points equal to 1 + your Constitution modifier (minimum 1) at the start of your turn if you have at least 1 hit point. Lesser regeneration lasts for three rounds at 1st level, four rounds starting at 3rd level, and five rounds starting at 5th level. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.

    I buffed the version you suggested by increasing the duration by one round, as well as making it something you choose to activate instead of something that happens automatically. I did that both because it's a small (but significant) boost to the ability's power if you can decide when to use it, and because "automatic" abilities in D&D can be kind of awkward. If you forget about it in the heat of an exciting combat, and then realize halfway through that you should have been healing for the last three rounds, how do you handle that? Do you retroactively get the hp back, or do you start it up now even though you just technically got healed back above half hp, or what? This way if you forget to use it, you just forget.

    Thanks for the input, I think this version is useful but not horrendously overpowered. The ability to use HD in combat is a trick I'll keep in the back of the mind in case another race might call for it at some point.
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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    Out of curiosity, why is common the only language your Oni know?
    Last edited by ocel; 2016-12-14 at 05:40 PM.

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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    I wasn't sure what else would fit. I could give them a language unique to their race, but I hesitate to do that every time I make a race because that usually ends up being a dead line on your character sheet. Sometimes I like to give a race bonus languages that already exist in the PHB, but this time nothing seemed appropriate. These oni aren't like tieflings, which are associated with actual demons, so no extraplanar languages make sense. That basically leaves the other racial languages, and I didn't think that these guys have close enough links to any of the other races that they should speak their language by default.

    In my home setting they speak dwarven because of longstanding cultural ties between the two races, but I wasn't sure if that addition to the race would make any sense absent that campaign-specific context.
    Last edited by Steel Mirror; 2016-12-14 at 08:28 PM.
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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    Well, officially, the Oni in Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition have more in common with giants than say devils or demons. I can not remember all of the details, but it has something to do with ogres, like they are related somehow. Of course, you could go in a different direction, and make them fluent in Dwarven or something like that.
    Last edited by ocel; 2016-12-14 at 11:10 PM.

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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    Giant is a pretty good one to give them as a general bonus language. You can look at them and sort of get why they'd be close to giants, and it is nice for them to speak something other than only common.

    I'll add that.
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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    you say "Size. Oni are tall and very powerfully built, seven and a half feet tall is not unheard of and they can weigh in excess of 350 pounds. Your size is Medium."
    however you haven't given them powerful build, is there a reason for this? I don't think it would unbalance the race, and I think it would fit well.

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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Steel Mirror View Post
    Spoiler: Thoughts on MM oni
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    As for the MM oni (I'll call them 'greater oni' to avoid confusion), maybe there are isolated tribes in the edges of the wilderness where these larger, more magical, more aggressive version of the oni make their homes in the mist. Because of their ability to change shape they are rarely (knowingly) encountered, but they are crafty and powerful enough to accomplish great evil when they are motivated to do so. The most worrying thing about the greater oni, though, is that they prey on normal, lesser oni communities, specifically aiming to steal their children in order to raise them as their own. And a lesser oni child raised by a greater oni doesn't become a red or a blue oni, he or she becomes another greater oni. Nobody knows exactly why, but because of this the lesser oni are as much victims of greater oni's evil as any other race (arguably they are even more the victims, because a greater oni rampaging in other races' lands might lead to a backlash against the lesser oni villages even though they have nothing to do with it).

    Or at least, that's one possibility! I also noticed that the picture in the MM appears to be a blue greater oni. Might be fun to make an alternate version of red greater oni that focuses a bit more on berserking and less on magic. Maybe I'll do that.
    perhaps Greater Oni are those who rejected both the sun and moon, or were given an offer by the dark depth to come back to it. also a red grater oni would be cool. maybe the Grater Oni hold a special grudge against Oni.

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    Default Re: New Race: The Oni (PEACH)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazone View Post
    you say "Size. Oni are tall and very powerfully built, seven and a half feet tall is not unheard of and they can weigh in excess of 350 pounds. Your size is Medium."
    however you haven't given them powerful build, is there a reason for this? I don't think it would unbalance the race, and I think it would fit well.
    I was just thinking of taking another look at these guys, as someone was telling me that they thought the red oni are just better at this point than the blue, and I'm trying to decide if I agree. Powerful Build does seem like it should fit for them, and it's one of those things that isn't a huge power bump, so I'll take a look at other races which have it and consider it. It's a good idea.
    For playable monster adventurers who would attract more than a few glances at the local tavern, check out my homebrew monster races!

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