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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Sir_Chivalry's Avatar

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    Default Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    I'm running an Eberron game online and a decent enough number of my players want to play half-elves and half-orcs. Widespread opinion (perhaps not universal) pegs those two races are significantly inferior to the dwarf and human, with the other races of the PHB falling somewhere in the middle of that spectrum depending on what you're building (and the gnome perhaps being only slightly better than the halfsies)

    Fluffwise the half-elf and half-orc are VERY IMPORTANT in Eberron, receiving almost as much world importance as the new races of Changeling, Warforged, Shifter and Kalashtar, and I would really like to soften the blow of playing these races outside their intended narrow niche (half-elf diplomats and half-orc barbarians aside)

    Heading off potential sticking points:
    -Yes I understand it's "roleplay not rollplay" and a race doesn't need to be "good" to make a character worthwhile. I want to incentivize/mitigate the shortfall for my players who've chosen to play races that are important to Eberron's identity

    Especially as the hobgoblin race on the OTHER end of the scale is likely going to be downgraded to a playable LA +0, though I don't want each race to become homogenized I do want to bring the floor up a few feet

    I know Pathfinder and 5e did these races a lot more favours but what if anything can be done to help them out in 3.5?
    Feel free to PM me if you want something PEACHed. I may not be one of the greats, but I'll do it if you ask.

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  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Kurald Galain's Avatar

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir_Chivalry View Post
    I know Pathfinder and 5e did these races a lot more favours but what if anything can be done to help them out in 3.5?
    Then why not use the Pathfinder version? They're compatible and you've already said you find it better
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    Troll in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    Give them human heritage from races of destiny for free as a first level bonus feat. Allow them to trade that for a different bonus feat for which they fulfill the prereqs at character creation if they would rather that. Boom! Mechanically half human.
    Last edited by daremetoidareyo; 2020-01-14 at 02:51 PM.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    Half-orcs are at least a one-trick pony: if you want to play an uncomplicated "I hit it until it falls over"-style Fighter or Barbarian, they're a good choice. Half-elves are a no-trick pony though, they're not the best at anything. The only reason to play one I can see from a mechanics standpoint is their "favored class: any", except that hardly anybody enforces multiclassing penalties.

    A simple way to make the half-elf worth playing would be to give them either a bonus feat at level 1 or an extra skill point per level (player's choice which one they get).

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    Simple, strong solutions for both:

    Half-Elf:
    -Give them a +2 to any ability score of their choosing and a -2 to another of their choice, representing their versatility. Alternatively, give them the human skill points.
    -Their choice of proficiency with one of the following: longsword, rapier, longbow, or shortbow. Representing their elven heritage.

    Half-orc: Drop one of the negative modifiers, representing their Orc heritage. Half-orcs now start with the Toughness feat at level 1, representing their Orc heritage.

    You've now made them equal-ish to the other core non-human races.

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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    Initially, the developers were really concerned about how powerful of a stat that Strength would be, since it affects both how often and how hard it hits. It quickly became apparent that this was not nearly as big of a concern as they thought, but the half-orc penalty stuck around.

    The quick and dirty fix Half-Orc it is usually to get rid of either the -2 Intelligence or the -2 Charisma. I've seen a few houserules that also give them a bonus to Intimidate checks, but it isn't exactly widespread.

    I don't think there's as much of a consensus on Half-Elves, simply because there's several different ways you could tweak it. Popular options include giving them the extra skill point per level that humans get, Elvish weapon proficiencies, a bonus feat, explicit qualification for Able Learner (or other racial feats for either human or elf), or some combination of the above.

    For what it's worth, the dev team did at least acknowledge that Half-Elf is the least powerful back in a 2005 article. Interesting poll results there as well, for "most powerful classes" and "least powerful races."

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Then why not use the Pathfinder version? They're compatible and you've already said you find it better
    Pathfinder has very little Eberron content fleshed out, plus different systems have different feels and shortcomings.

    Honestly the shifter is probably in as bad of shape as the half-elf and half-orc; the only reason they seem better off is the feats, However, that makes them extraordinarily feat starved. In many of my games I have given them a bonus racial feat to help offset the real damage -2 int and cha does, shifting on its own doesn't give enough of a boost to make up for that hit in my opinion.
    I have also done the following and reworked some of their racial feats to not be so worthless. I can share more of what I have done if interested.
    Fighter: May choose Shifter feats as Fighter Feats
    Ranger: Shifter Rangers may take any Shifter Feat as Combat Style
    Monk: may choose shifter feats as bonus feats.
    WERETOUCHED MASTER ignore the errata that ruined this class

    One way to go about it is to give them ACFs/feats and other such bonuses that help balance them out. For example automatically make intimidate a Str based skill for half-orcs, a ACF to make Str the casting stat for half-orcs (like illumian), heck you could even let some of their human side peak through by increasing their skill points or give them a bonus feat or just give them a +2 con to balance out their ability scores.

    similarly giving half-elves a bonus feat or more skill points like their human kin, also look at potentially adding more alternate class features for them to boost their power in meaningful ways. Remember before races of the dragon kobold were the worst base race in the game a distinction now taken by the goblin. Now they are at the very top of +0 even if you don't include the stupid cheese like being able to get epic feats once they hit old age.
    Last edited by liquidformat; 2020-01-14 at 03:11 PM.

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    Quote Originally Posted by liquidformat View Post
    Pathfinder has very little Eberron content fleshed out, plus different systems have different feels and shortcomings.
    No one's saying you have to use the entirety of Pathfinder, but lifting the stronger racial modifiers and traits from it for use in a 3.5 game shouldn't hurt anything; racials are impactful at low levels but matter less and less over time.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    I drop the Cha penalty, give them +2 Intimidate/Dungeoneering (setting specific Knowledge, whatever you want instead), and let them ignore 2 points of their Armor Check Penalty since they are so beefy and martial. More balanced ability scores, some cultural flavor, and something unique.

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    Troacctid's Avatar

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    The trouble with using PF races is it makes the unique Eberron races worse in comparison. You'd need to update them to match the power level of PF. Not that that's too difficultójust adjust the ability mods a bitóbut you do need that extra step.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    Quote Originally Posted by Telonius View Post
    For what it's worth, the dev team did at least acknowledge that Half-Elf is the least powerful back in a 2005 article. Interesting poll results there as well, for "most powerful classes" and "least powerful races."
    I'd have to mostly agree on "most powerful classes". Cleric/Domains is about as good as Sor/Wiz as a spell list, you don't set half your WBL on fire to actually get said list, the chassis is way better, and turning's probably worth a couple of feats (though not all six that Wizards get for free). Also worth remembering is that point-buy (which is obviously great for Druids and Wizards) is nonstandard; standard is rolls for PCs and elite array for NPCs. Everything after the tier 1s is meaningless anyway since it's "how many people thought this was the best" rather than "where we think they're ranked"; all it means is that 35.6% of the people polled are wrong.

    For the "least powerful race"... eh, compared to optimisers they're a bit low on gnomes, but the thing is that optimisers tend to focus on the strongest archetypes which happen to be where gnomes are strong. Dwarves do very much overshadow gnomes for all the martial classes (and halflings do for Rogue), but optimisers don't play those anyway.
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  12. - Top - End - #12
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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    Races of Stone had also only been out for a year. Not sure exactly when the Killer Gnome build happened, but I don't think it was widely known yet.

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    Prime32's Avatar

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    If it's Eberron-specific, there was some stuff in an online article which might serve as inspiration:
    Khoravar Cant. If a half-elf is raised by Khoravar parents, he will learn to speak both Common and Elvish. Each new generation of half-elves has a greater tendency to mingle the vocabulary of both languages, creating a pidgin dialect that some linguists refer to as Khoravar Cant. Any half-elf can understand this dialect perfectly. Any other character must make an Intelligence check to understand a phrase in Khoravar Cant (DC 5 if the listener understands both Common and Elvish, or DC 10 if he only knows one of the two languages). If the listener fails the check by a point or two, he may get the gist of the conversation; the worse the roll, the less he understands.

    Half-Elven Hospitality. The Khoravar are a young race, and they have had to stand by one another to earn a place in Khorvaire. As a result, there is a strong tradition of hospitality and generosity toward others of the race. This is not as strong as the bond between the gnome families of Zilargo, and a half-elf need not put himself at physical or financial risk for a complete stranger. In comparison to the other races, however, half-elves will go out of their way to help one another and share news and information. This is a two-way street. If the PC develops a reputation as an adventurer or hero, other half-elves may ask for his assistance or advice. If he provides aid, his reputation will spread; if he turns down these requests, he may eventually find himself spurned by others of his kind.

    Within a city or town, half-elves often have weekly gatherings (called unity meals) to discuss local news and events. Provided a PC has a good reputation, such a gathering would be an excellent place to learn information. At the DM's discretion, attending a unity meal can provide a character with a bonus to Gather Information or Knowledge (local) or allow the party to find a reliable hireling at a good rate. It can also be a place to learn about possible adventures or mysteries.

    The Bridge Between. Many half-elves extend the principle of hospitality a step further, seeking to serve as a bridge between the different cultures of Khorvaire. Many become bards, barristers, diplomats, chroniclers, translators, or merchants. Others become explorers, hoping to discover new nations hidden in the depths of Xen'drik or Khyber.
    Maybe give them increased bonuses for Aid Another or flanking? Able Learner as a bonus feat? Let them make Craft/Knowledge/Perform/Profession checks with other skills from the same category? (e.g. having 10 ranks in Profession (sailor) gives you 5 virtual ranks in every other Profession skill) You could also take the "sundered from the powers of elves" angle and give them a resistance to attacks which use positive or negative energy (like energy drain).




    For half-orcs, Eberron's mostly live in swamps, so they might have the ability to move through swamps and similar terrain without being slowed. Since there's a dragonmarked house with both human and half-orc members, and IIRC many half-orcs look pretty close to humans to begin with, they might also get to ignore the -2 penalty on Disguise checks for disguising themselves as humans or orcs. Then there's the relationship between the orcs as the original inhabitants of Khorvaire who fought off a daelkyr invasion, and the humans who came from another continent and look uncannily like daelkyr; you might be able to spin that into something planar-themed.




    For either race, you could also just give them extra action points or an ability related to them.
    Last edited by Prime32; 2020-01-17 at 07:12 PM.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    You aren't going to find consensus, yeah.

    As for favoured classes, I use the early Pathfinder version of favoured class (is. You get a bonus hit point or skill point of your choice for every level of your favoured class) I consider that the best version of favoured class and makes favoured class: any an actually useful trait.

    I give both races the human subtype, and allow them to therefore count as human for the purpose of meeting prerequisites.

    I give half-elves human bonus skill points and a diplomacy bonus as well as + 2 cha, -2 con. Not great ability score adjustments, but at least gives them something to specialise in. Makes them decent "face" characters.

    Half-orcs change to +2 con, +2 str, -2 int, -2 cha.

    They get a racial bonus on intimidate checks, ignore a charisma penalty for such checks and add a strength bonus to such checks which stacks with any hypothetical charisma bonus.

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    GreenSorcererElf

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    Half-orcs have strength bonus and darkvision, and really that's good enough. Strength is in fact more widely useful, and if you remove either the cha or int penalty you get a situation where it's very easy to avoid any penalty at all- having both cha and int penalties means there is some cost pretty much mo matter what. The problem shows up for people decide that Everyone Must Have Skills (even though that's not actually supported by the game's expectations), and thus anyone daring to have an int penalty or low skill class is screwed, or when allowing other uber-splat races that laugh at the dwarf. If either of those are how you're rolling then you might as well make it a "template" applied to human, so they maintain the same level of skills/compete with races that have lol str by also getting the bonus feat (and then you keep the cha+int penalty anyway).

    Half-elves, they've got a problem. They're supposed to be versatile and human-like, but favored class doesn't mean jack to 99%+ of the population. Low-light vision is nice, but it's less game-changing and costs 1/6 as much as darkvision, and you could have gone elf for a ton of free proficiencies and twice the spot/search/listen bonus. Diplomacy is either broken or re-written by the DM, and Gather Information is similarly completely controlled by the DM. There are a few easy additions: kick the spot/search/listen bonuses up to full and give them the elven secret door trick, give them the elven weapon proficiencies, or give them human skill point bonus. Which one to use depends on what your group thinks half-elves should be, but considering all zomg bard/social skills/etc that the books decide half-elves are apparently about, skill point bonus is probably the most appropriate.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Any consensus on improving/house-ruling the 3.5 PHB's weakest races?

    Here's how I do it.

    Half-orcs don't take the Int penalty, and gain a +3 racial bonus to Intimidate. I know odd bonuses are kind of weird, but I like it being effectively a +2 after the Cha penalty.

    Half-elfs gain +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks instead of +1.

    Both races gain extra skill points just like humans.

    As a fair warning, I also buff every other race that isn't the Human. That bonus feat is just too good.
    Last edited by heavyfuel; 2020-01-18 at 10:09 AM.

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