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  1. - Top - End - #61
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Multiple quotes can get so unwieldy.

    So, it depends on what you mean by "right" or "best".

    Oldschool D&D used small modifiers on bell-curve rolled stats, alongside racial abilities like Infrared vision and Immunity to Sleep, plus racial level limits (plus "die-> start over at level 1, unless you've made it to level x), to make other races great starter charters for beginners, who then graduate on to the humans that Gygax wanted to see dominate the party.

    The Ancient Domains of Mystery, with *huge* start modifiers, method makes race *mean* something, makes races play very differently, even for the same class.

    One homebrew I played used point buy with XP, and cost multipliers on stats, ranging from x1 to x5. I loved playing the mineral people, who had x1 on DR (*most* races had x4 or x5), whereas my brother, a true spike, preferred the draconic races, who had the overall best multipliers (plus other racial advantages, like flight and energy immunity).

    The Warhammer Fantasy method gave oldschool D&D style small bonuses and penalties, alongside named modifiers (like "strong" or "tough" or "flee!") that were already being used by the system / classes. It was great for detailing exactly what did and did not stack, and for making the mechanics consistent and easily referenced.

    The marvel facerip method effectively had you roll different dice for stats based on race (imagine if humans rolled d4s, and gods rolled d10s). This made different races very different, like they are in the comics.

    I've played games where, on level-up, you got to improve 2 attributes… but (at least) 1 *had* to be a "preferred" attribute (Dex or Magic for elves, Strength or Con for dwarves, etc).

    The Talakeal method of being one of several methods of changing the cap in point buy is great for making races meaningless ("cosmetic") outside of min-maxing. And point buy is great for letting people create the character that they envision, and for min-maxing. So it's a system that has doubled down on encouraging min-maxing.

    So, start with answering the question, "what do you want?". Then we can describe a system which does that.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2020-12-26 at 08:16 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #62
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Is anyone else reading this and coming to the conclusion that, from a game design standpoint, trying to please everybody is futile? D&D by dint of being huge and iconic might want to maximize appeal, but Talakeal's game isn't going to be facing that.

    Also, I do think it's worth noting that most fans of flex stats aren't calling racial modifiers actively racist. They can say that they diminish the real options at the table to only ones with properly stat boosts, or that a stat modifier (especially one that boils down to just +1 to a roll) isn't all that exciting as a racial feature. Those are game design points. That's different from a race like drow having been written in problematic ways, which is solved by being more conscious in your writing. Again Tal won't be perfect, but it's worth splitting the game design elements from the world design elements.

  3. - Top - End - #63
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    Is anyone else reading this and coming to the conclusion that, from a game design standpoint, trying to please everybody is futile?
    That's a trivial truth that applies to everything. If you're only now drawing that conclusion, oh boy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage
    That's different from a race like drow having been written in problematic ways, which is solved by being more conscious in your writing. Again Tal won't be perfect, but it's worth splitting the game design elements from the world design elements.
    World design is game design. Specifically, how you describe a race is how you communicate what that race's role is in your roleplaying game and single biggest justification for mechanized racial traits is modeling that role. If you do your job right, your setting and your mechanics should be harmonious with each other to the degree that a player who likes the description of a race also likes mechanics of that race. If this is not happening, you want to dig into why it's not happening, to see where the error is.

  4. - Top - End - #64
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    Well, since the OP is discussing a system which is still under development, the solution is to make a system where these sorts of modifiers do not render a particular race/class combination nonviable. If Strength controls spell damage but Intelligence spell duration, for example, a half-orc wizard with higher than normal Strength but lower than normal Intelligence could still prove quite functional. The character will play differently from other wizards, but not necessarily at a disadvantage.
    That's possible, but it's a very tricky design goal. You also need to ensure that no race/class combination ends up overwhelmingly good, so as to render other options that fill that role strictly suboptimal. This would require that all ability scores be roughly equal in overall value to all classes.

    You'd be effectively multiplexing all of the ability scores across all of the classes and requiring that each and every score/class combination is (a) not a killer problem if the score is low and (b) not overpowered if the score is high.

    This design goal does become easier in a classless system, however. For example, I currently have a classless system on the back burner where a character's power level and versatility level are on separate progression tracks. Their versatility level determines what features they have access to while their power level determines how many are active at once. Having a high ability score allows a character to have additional features active, but only if those features are ones that are tied to that ability. So, a character with +1 charisma might have improved feint or forceful spells available but only be able to use one at a time. Under this system, every ability score could be useful for every type of character so long as they can find the right feature to make it useful.

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    Now, if you acknowledge that pixie barbarians (being a rather extreme case) "shouldn't work," how do you plan on reinforcing that without having ability score modifiers?
    No racial ability modifiers does not mean no ability modifiers. Size modifiers should exist. Our hypothetical pixie barbarian would suffer the same disadvantage that a human barbarian would if magically shrunken, however that's represented, except that the pixie barbarian would suffer that disadvantage all of the time.

    (Come to think of it . . . maybe a pixie barbarian should be viable after all, if they have some way of magically growing. That'd be a cool concept - they'd be an excellent scout while shrunk, as excellent a warrior as any other barbarian while human-sized, and if they can re-shrink when needed they'd be great for hit-and-run operations.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    So, for example, if your system says goblins are small, ugly and evil and they are at mechanical disadvantage because of that: if a player wants to play a goblins that's neither small nor ugly nor evil, what exactly are they liking about your goblins?
    This varies depending on your setting, but the list could be pretty long. Goblins are more than small, ugly, and evil. They can also be wacky, endlessly crass, and literally have no sense of shame. So, if a player wants to play a wacky, endlessly crass bard who literally has no sense of shame then it makes perfect sense that they'd want to be a goblin.

  5. - Top - End - #65
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    If your designing a new system, what's your valid justification for having orcs in the first place?
    What do you mean by valid?

    Do you mean have a reason at all? Do you mean a reason you agree with? Do you mean one that isn't logically inconsistent?

    To answer the question, I guess simply put it is because I want to have a large variety of opponents, and things like dragons, orcs, griffons, werewolves, fairies, and ghosts all have a lot of cultural weight behind them; it makes the game feel more familiar and comfortable, and allows more creativity than my mind alone could come up with creating so many species from whole cloth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    If you're raising too small sample sizes as a point, that implies you don't except to play a lot of different games with your own system, and don't really care about what other people do it. Also, Drizzt thing was a trend for players, that's part of what the comic was spoofing. Drizzt codified the idea that a Ranger fights with two swords and this wormed its way to game mechanics of multiple games, including his parent game D&D. If you didn't see it, you didn't look too hard
    Players characters are a very small sample size across all games. Let's say the average group has four players and starts a new campaign every six months. That means that I have been at the table with less than 100 PCs despite playing regularly for a quarter of a century.

    This is too small a sample size to make statements about the capabilities of a population, especially considering it is comprised of PCs who are already extraordinary outliers who are defined by their exceptionalism to begin with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    I'm not talking about forcing players to play stereotypes, I'm talking about your system encouraging, by it's mechanical structure, playing of stereotypical characters. Substituting one internal stereotype with another isn't preferable here. Also, again, if you want diversity and are fine with PC demographics lining up with NPC demographics, just randomize character creation already.
    The goal is for players to play the character they want to play. If it conforms with a stereotype, that's fine, if it contradicts it, that's also fine.

    I haven't said I want diversity or PCs to line up with NPC demographics, those are terms other people have used.

    Randomized character creation is, imo, the worst of all worlds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    But beyond that, let me write you another satirical conversation:

    GM: "In this world, dark elves are called Drow, they are an evil, subterranean, matriarchal spider-worshipping race."
    Player: "That's so cool! I want to play a Drow!"
    GM: "Nice! So let's start by rolling your abi-..."
    Player: "But I don't want to be evil."
    GM: "Okay? Well, that's workable..."
    Player: "I also don't want to play any subterranean adventures. Those are so cliched."
    GM: *Puzzled* "... well okay, you could be
    part of an exploration party send to the surface..."
    Player: "I also don't want to worship spiders."
    GM: "... well they do have some other gods..."
    Player: "Also, I find this matriarchy thing not to my tastes, so I'll play a lone male who has no ties to that social paradigm.
    GM: *Looks at the player* "Okay, let's see if I got this right: I described an evil, subterranean, matriarchal spider-worshipping race..."
    Player: "That's right!"
    GM: "... but you want your character to not be evil, not live underground, not worship spiders and not have anything to do with their social order?"
    Player: "Yes!"
    GM: *crossing their arms* "... what, exactly, did you find cool about my Drow?"
    Player: *points to a book* "Well, you see, they have dark skin in that picture."
    GM: "And?"
    Player: "And I find your game has too few dark skinned people in it."
    GM: "Okay?"
    Player: "So I thought I'd fix that by playing a Drow."
    GM: "Uh..."
    Player: "But I don't want to be part of an evil matriarchy. That'd give a bad impression of dark skinned people. So, instead, I will be lovable good ranger!"
    GM: "You... you do realize my setting has actual dark skinned humans in it? Including an entire culture of immigrant from historical Egypt?"
    Player: *puzzled* "Yes?"
    GM: "So if you want a positive representation of dark skinned people, why not play, you know, a dark skinned human?"
    Player: "... but they're not elves."
    GM: "... I'm sorry?"
    Player: "They're not elves. So they don't have pointed ears. Or this totally awesome bonus to dexterity. Playing a ranger is totally unoptimal without a bonus to dexterity."
    GM: "Doesn't sound like you really want to play a Drow at all."
    Player: "How come? I just said I wanted to play a Drow."
    GM: "Would you be satisfied with playing an Egyptian with one-time boost to dexterity?"
    Everyone else at the table: "Hey, wait a second! You didn't give us that option when we made our characters!"
    GM: "... why's that a big deal all of a sudden?"
    Player 2: "I totally wouldn't have picked orc and eaten an ability score penalty to mental stats if I could've just been a human with a bonus to strength.
    GM: "But I thought you liked exploring orc culture and special disadvantages they have in society?"
    Player 2: "Well sort of, but these penalties totally stink. I could've just picked a human and... I dunno, pretended I was still an orc?"
    Player 3: "Refluffed."
    Player 2: "Say what?"
    Player 3: "Not 'pretended'. Refluffed. It's what you call it when you take a mechanic made to model one thing and use it for a completely different thing!"
    GM: "Hold on... so you would've been fine playing... refluffed humans?"
    Player 2: "Yes."
    GM: "But then, what was the point of me creating all these special mechanics to model differences between orcs and humans?"
    Player 2: "Eh, I don't play orcs for the mechanics, I play them to explore the culture, the psychology..."
    GM: "But those mechanics are there to model the culture and the psychology! How are you supposed to explore being disadvantaged withouy actually having any disadvantage?"
    Player 2: *sips juice through a straw* "Eh, I can just roleplay it."
    Player 1: "So, can I play a Drow now?"
    What are you trying to say here?

    It seems like you are agreeing with me, that we have two players both picking a race they don't really want to play for mechanical reasons when they would be happier with a more freeform set of bonuses.

    Or are you just saying the players are both idiots wanting to have "badwrongfun"?

    Also, the idea that Orc culture and psychology boils down to "-2 int" is laughably absurd.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    I'm going to ignore your Changeling example because I don't know that game and you aren't giving me enough information to give a reasoned analysis.
    Well, that's your loss then.

    In my opinion, Changeling is the optimal way to do a game with a cosmopolitan mixture of races; where each race has a handful of very flavorful rules (almost none of them numerical) but with rich cultures, psychologies, and aesthetics. The game is well liked, and people are very passionate about the races in it.

    Were I trying to create or looking to play in a game with a bunch of PC races (which I am not), this would be my ideal model.

    When you say this doesn't work, Changeling is the perfect counter example to illustrate that it can and does, but if you want to ignore it I guess I can try explaining it a different way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    The Talakeal method of being one of several methods of changing the cap in point buy is great for making races meaningless ("cosmetic") outside of min-maxing. And point buy is great for letting people create the character that they envision, and for min-maxing. So it's a system that has doubled down on encouraging min-maxing.
    Aside from terminology, there is literally no difference between adjusting the cap and D&D style racial modifiers; I just find the math more straightforward.

    As for min-maxing, it really isn't enough of an issue to warrant limiting player freedom and handholding.

    Generally, a min-maxxed character slightly outshines the rest of the party in their area of specialty, and then sits around being useless and bored when their specialty isn't applicable.

    Then they die the first time one of their weaknesses is targeted, and throw a temper tantrum about how the GM went out of their way to screw over their character, and I add another to my tally of gaming horror stories.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    So, start with answering the question, "what do you want?". Then we can describe a system which does that.
    I want a system where players are free to make the character they want but the DM can fall back and racial stereotypes to create diverse encounters that play differently.

    But really, the point of the thread was trying to identify and avoid exactly what real world offense people are taking with the D&D system of racial modifiers.

    Quote Originally Posted by SwordCoastTaxi View Post
    As influential as D&D is now, never forget that tampering with the game mechanics can lead to ruin. It's why WotC isn't listening to the SJWs and their rant against races.
    They clearly are though. They have issued public apologies, banned a bunch of old magic cards from tournament play, allegedly breached contract over offensive content in Dragonlance, and redid how racial stat modifiers work in Tasha's.

    Now, if or how any of this actually addressed the problem is anyone's guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    Also, I do think it's worth noting that most fans of flex stats aren't calling racial modifiers actively racist. They can say that they diminish the real options at the table to only ones with properly stat boosts, or that a stat modifier (especially one that boils down to just +1 to a roll) isn't all that exciting as a racial feature. Those are game design points. That's different from a race like drow having been written in problematic ways, which is solved by being more conscious in your writing. Again Tal won't be perfect, but it's worth splitting the game design elements from the world design elements.
    Agreed; but I have seen numerous people on forums make statements like "Numerical racial modifiers are racist" or "Physical mods are ok but mental mods are offensive" or "Bonuses are all right but penalties need to go" or even "Abilities that encourage a certain style of play are ok as long as they aren't flat numerical modifiers".

    Again, I am mystified as to how or why, but I really do want to learn and am trying to avoid those pitfalls.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2020-12-26 at 04:04 PM.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  6. - Top - End - #66
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Agreed; but I have seen numerous people on forums make statements like "Numerical racial modifiers are racist" or "Physical mods are ok but mental mods are offensive" or "Bonuses are all right but penalties need to go" or even "Abilities that encourage a certain style of play are ok as long as they aren't flat numerical modifiers".

    Again, I am mystified as to how or why, but I really do want to learn and am trying to avoid those pitfalls.
    Whether or not they even are pitfalls is subkect to debate.

    Best to settle it with your target audience and adjust accordingly

    Anyways, my response is a few posts back, im not qualified in game design any more than that opinion

  7. - Top - End - #67
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Aside from terminology, there is literally no difference between adjusting the cap and D&D style racial modifiers; I just find the math more straightforward.
    Aside from being demonstrably false, this bit is also irrelevant, as D&D stat modifiers produce similar effects.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    As for min-maxing, it really isn't enough of an issue to warrant limiting player freedom and handholding.

    Generally, a min-maxxed character slightly outshines the rest of the party in their area of specialty, and then sits around being useless and bored when their specialty isn't applicable.

    Then they die the first time one of their weaknesses is targeted, and throw a temper tantrum about how the GM went out of their way to screw over their character, and I add another to my tally of gaming horror stories.
    And… that's not enough to warrant reevaluating your mechanics?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I want a system where players are free to make the character they want but the DM can fall back and racial stereotypes
    Cool. Coupled with your statement of lack of concern for the number of valid / playable / optimal race/class combinations, that's perfectly workable numerous ways.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    to create diverse encounters that play differently.
    Now you've lost me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    But really, the point of the thread was trying to identify and avoid exactly what real world offense people are taking with the D&D system of racial modifiers.
    Just… to pick on my heritage… don't make an obvious not!Viking culture… and then claim that their culture has left them all so developmentally retarded that they racially get mental penalties, and you should be fine. I think. I'm… not terribly… "sensitive" that way, tbh, so I'm probably not much help here. I'm more the "dude, you dropped out of 4th grade to help your family, *of course* you're gonna be behind scholastically (but kudos on caring for your family)" type, than the "ix-nay on the ehind-bay" type.

    Also, as others have said, replacing "intelligence" with "memory" or "learning" or some such will also help.

    I guess my question is, why is this a concern for you? I could see the point in raising general developer awareness, but… your system has a target audience of, what, about 5 people right now? In what way is talking to us more valuable to you than talking to them about this issue would be¹? Understanding *this* - the reason for your concern - might also help us give you more useful answers.

    ¹ other than, you know, the Playground being awesome, and having some of the best mind on the net. If that's your reasoning - crowd-sourcing from the best - then I can't really argue.

  8. - Top - End - #68
    Orc in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    So...this seems like creating a problem for the sake of it? Presumably “human” is set to a flat default, so no issue there. Is anyone really going to fly into a rage at your table if the 300 pounds of snarling orc is physically more capable and mentally less so?

  9. - Top - End - #69
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    What do you mean by valid?
    Presumably, if you're making a new system but using a tired old trope, you have some premise or design goal that supports using that trope. I ask because letting a player play a powerful orc wizard after you've established orcs are generally bad wizards is a self-created problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal
    To answer the question, I guess simply put it is because I want to have a large variety of opponents, and things like dragons, orcs, griffons, werewolves, fairies, and ghosts all have a lot of cultural weight behind them; it makes the game feel more familiar and comfortable, and allows more creativity than my mind alone could come up with creating so many species from whole cloth.
    If your reason is familiarity, familiarity is also a valid justification for orcs being bad wizards. The problem with this approach is that you're fundamentally relying on tropes and stereotypes external to your game. It's easy for whatever you write about, for example, your orcs to be buried under what your players think about orcs.

    And this is precisely where accusations of racism come in. How? Because if your players thinks orcs are racist stand-ins for whatever real life group, they will project that on your orcs regardless of whether that's what you put on paper.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal
    Players characters are a very small sample size across all games. Let's say the average group has four players and starts a new campaign every six months. That means that I have been at the table with less than 100 PCs despite playing regularly for a quarter of a century.

    This is too small a sample size to make statements about the capabilities of a population, especially considering it is comprised of PCs who are already extraordinary outliers who are defined by their exceptionalism to begin with.
    I'm not talking about perfectly modeling in-setting demographics, I'm talking about diversity among characters made by your players.

    If it's too easy to optimize, every character of a type will look the same. If race has little to no impact, every character of type will look the same regardless of race, and they will also play the same. It's the basic pitfall of simple point-buy systems, as explained already multiple times. You don't need a sample size of a hundred to start seeing this. Though you'd easily get to that hundred with a character turnover rate that isn't glacial.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal
    The goal is for players to play the character they want to play. If it conforms with a stereotype, that's fine, if it contradicts it, that's also fine.
    And their idea of a character they want to play is coming from... where, exactly?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal
    [Regarding my satire]
    What are you trying to say here?
    You know what they say about explaining the jokes. It's on you to get what is being said, otherwise there isn't a point. Though the actual points have been said in plain English elsewhere in this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal
    Well, that's your loss then.
    It's not my loss, I simply can't do cross-comparison with a system I know nothing of.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal
    In my opinion, Changeling is the optimal way to do a game with a cosmopolitan mixture of races; where each race has a handful of very flavorful rules (almost none of them numerical) but with rich cultures, psychologies, and aesthetics. The game is well liked, and people are very passionate about the races in it.

    Were I trying to create or looking to play in a game with a bunch of PC races (which I am not), this would be my ideal model.

    When you say this doesn't work, Changeling is the perfect counter example to illustrate that it can and does, but if you want to ignore it I guess I can try explaining it a different way.
    If you think Changeling is optimal, copy what Changeling does. For all I know, you could already be doing that, but nothing you say about it here would allow me to look at your rules and tell me that.

  10. - Top - End - #70
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    So...this seems like creating a problem for the sake of it? Presumably “human” is set to a flat default, so no issue there. Is anyone really going to fly into a rage at your table if the 300 pounds of snarling orc is physically more capable and mentally less so?
    ...the post directly above yours is someone complaining about their culture getting stereotyped as mentally deficient. No, this isn't a fake made up problem, people actually do get annoyed when people write up TTRPG races in an offensive way.

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kane0 View Post
    I personally don't see enough of a reason to separate dexterity and agility but that's probably off topic.
    Its something I have gone back and forth on. Basically, it is simply too good as a single stat as it has nearly twice as many applications as any other stat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kane0 View Post
    50 plus Flaws plus another 50 from progression may be too generous? It sounds really generous, suppose that impression depends on skill, feat and ability costs.
    It is a bit, yeah. A well rounded starting character is above average at everything. End game characters can have perfect stats if they like, but by that point they have plenty of other things to spend advancement on including superhuman scores.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kane0 View Post
    I'm not seeing a problem with that really. Some might chafe at the ‘penalties’ though, same reasoning that 5e dropped them.
    Yeah, but depending on how you handle it it creates weird math or verisimilitude issues with humans.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kane0 View Post
    Edit: what i would suggest is instead of races changing the available range (which is a racial bonus in disguise) institute increasing costs for higher stat values and races give discounts to that increasing cost. There is still an ‘optimal’ use for your points, you cant really get around that, but at least you arent ‘forced’ to spend you points in certain ways based on race and feel ‘wasted’.
    That is a good idea, and it is what most D&D point buys do, but imo it is a lot of complexity for little gain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Aside from being demonstrably false, this bit is also irrelevant, as D&D stat modifiers produce similar effects.
    How is it false? Is it because some races are imbalanced, because some point buys use escalating costs?

    Either way, yeah, my point is that it does produce similar (and in most cases identical imo) effects.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    And… that's not enough to warrant reevaluating your mechanics?
    Well, if I held the players hand more tightly they would just bitch at me at character creation rather than their death.

    So I am going with the option that allows more freedom and works out better in the long run for people who are able to learn from their mistakes rather than blaming others.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Now you've lost me.
    My game is very humanocentric. While the option to play any race exists, the primary purpose of the nonhuman races is as "monsters" for the players to overcome.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I guess my question is, why is this a concern for you? I could see the point in raising general developer awareness, but… your system has a target audience of, what, about 5 people right now? In what way is talking to us more valuable to you than talking to them about this issue would be¹? Understanding *this* - the reason for your concern - might also help us give you more useful answers.
    Well, I would like to publish someday. I have put some much time, effort, and money into this system I would really like to see it through, even if it ends up as another "fantasy heart breaker".

    That said, even if I never publish it, I still don't want my name on something that is ignorant and offensive if I can help it.



    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    So...this seems like creating a problem for the sake of it? Presumably “human” is set to a flat default, so no issue there. Is anyone really going to fly into a rage at your table if the 300 pounds of snarling orc is physically more capable and mentally less so?
    Apparently, yes.

    I don't really understand it, but I would like to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    It's not my loss, I simply can't do cross-comparison with a system I know nothing of.

    If you think Changeling is optimal, copy what Changeling does. For all I know, you could already be doing that, but nothing you say about it here would allow me to look at your rules and tell me that.
    No, but instead of ignoring it you could think about what I am saying about it or even take a look at the system. IMO it really does a good job of making races colorful and distinct without strong mechanical restrictions.

    But no, while I said the Changelings method would be my preferred way of handling a game with a lot of distinct player races, that is not my game. As I said above, humans are the default in my game, and while the system handles player characters of any race, it is as an optional rule, and the default purpose of various races is as obstacles to be overcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    Presumably, if you're making a new system but using a tired old trope, you have some premise or design goal that supports using that trope. I ask because letting a player play a powerful orc wizard after you've established orcs are generally bad wizards is a self-created problem.

    If your reason is familiarity, familiarity is also a valid justification for orcs being bad wizards.
    The key word there is generally. Even if orcs are generally bad wizards, that doesn't mean that an exceptional orc can't be an exceptional wizard.

    Also, there is plenty of media where orcs are fine wizards. Warhammer orcs are innately magical creatures with powerful psychic and shamanistic powers, and while Warcraft orcs don't have a history of using arcane magic, they are the most notable warlocks (another intelligence based caster class) among any of the mortal races.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    The problem with this approach is that you're fundamentally relying on tropes and stereotypes external to your game. It's easy for whatever you write about, for example, your orcs to be buried under what your players think about orcs.

    And this is precisely where accusations of racism come in. How? Because if your players thinks orcs are racist stand-ins for whatever real life group, they will project that on your orcs regardless of whether that's what you put on paper.
    That's a very astute point.

    Not really something that can be solved though without coming up with entirely new racial archetypes from scratch.

    And it still doesn't explain specific complaints about the mechanical implementation of ability mods.


    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    I'm not talking about perfectly modeling in-setting demographics, I'm talking about diversity among characters made by your players.

    If it's too easy to optimize, every character of a type will look the same. If race has little to no impact, every character of type will look the same regardless of race, and they will also play the same. It's the basic pitfall of simple point-buy systems, as explained already multiple times. You don't need a sample size of a hundred to start seeing this. Though you'd easily get to that hundred with a character turnover rate that isn't glacial.
    That's just not something I have seen.

    Sometimes you get a player who makes the same character over and over again, but aside from that they are all very unique.

    Not counting one shots or people who just recreated a character from comics / anime, I have had (off the top of my head):

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    An elven acrobat.
    A human sharpshooter.
    A human psychic.
    A human beastmaster and her wolves.
    A corpulant human businessman.
    A human spearman who is half bird.
    A half fairy half fire elemental gish.
    A half angel half asura gish (who uses different spells and fighting styles from the above).
    A human knight who dual wields magic swords.
    A human gunslinger.
    A pixie rogue
    A pixie sniper
    A giant fomorian berserker
    A velociraptor rogue who specializes in poisoning
    A hobo with a shotgun
    A vampire biker
    A doppleganger
    An air elemental
    A human druid
    A satyr surgeon
    An amazon vampire
    A crippled human psychic and sociopath
    A frost maiden fencer
    A nymph archmage
    A dryad heavilly armed sword and board tank
    A human artificer and monk of hephaesteus
    A cat girl ninja
    A cat girl conjurer
    A human medic
    A blind chronomancer
    A half angel thaumaturgist
    An elven hunter
    A dwarven cleric
    A human noble
    A human alchemist
    A human brawler
    A human chaos sorceress
    A human air bender
    A human blacksmith
    A human ranger and ballerina with mind control powers
    A human pyromancer
    A human gladiator
    A nymph bard
    A fairy healer
    An ogre pirate
    A human samurai
    A half elven necromancer
    A half demon rogue and warlock
    A half angel diplomat and mercenary
    A human archeologist and abjurer
    A human priestess and illusionist


    Only a couple of characters in there even share the same broad archetype, let alone their specific build or secondary skills. I would really strain to find any sort of stereotype on this list aside from most being combatants of some sort and most being human, which is pretty much the premise of the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    And their idea of a character they want to play is coming from... where, exactly?
    Who knows? Lots of places. You can take inspiration from anything. It can be from the text or rules of the game you are currently playing, a character or archetype from another game, a stereotype you are trying to follow, a stereotype you are trying to buck, a character from some other piece of media, a historical figure or someone you know in real life, and many more. Probably a mixture of many of the above.

    Like, for example, I am currently working on a goblin PC. The idea came when I was designing a dungeon, which was the ruins of a goblin vault. These goblins, who had died a hundred years ago, were basically like the Ghost Busters, exorcists for hire, but eventually something went wrong, their containment failed, and their headquarters was turned into a haunted ruin. Throughout it, I had journals for flavor text, which were essentially conspiracy theories. And that got me thinking about who wrote them, and I came up with the idea for a goblin detective who was essentially a cross between Fox Moulder, the Question, and Philip Marlowe.

    Now, the NPC in question was long dead and irrelevant to the current plot, so I put the idea on the backburner, and am slowly working on the character and plan on playing him the next time I get a chance. I really like goblins, I like their culture, their psychology, and their aesthetic. And though their game rules are built to reflect this, they don't define the character. The fact that he has small size, low light vision, a bonus to intelligence and endurance and a penalty to charisma and willpower has nothing at all to do with the character.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2020-12-28 at 12:23 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grek View Post
    ...the post directly above yours is someone complaining about their culture getting stereotyped as mentally deficient. No, this isn't a fake made up problem, people actually do get annoyed when people write up TTRPG races in an offensive way.
    Thats not really what they were saying. They were complaining about direct real world analogues, which fantasy races generally are not (or at least not intended to be).
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Why, the right way to do racial stat modifiers, not just mental ones, and really about ANY choice the player can make about their character, is to make every choice have pros and cons.

    This is impossible if you work with a relatively simple rulesystem like D&D in which, for example, a Wizard needs Intelligence ... and thats really already all.

    However its not hard at all to make a rulesystem in which a Wizard, or really any spellcaster, needs a number of mental stats, each controlling aspects of magic.

    Aspects of magic could be:

    - How much damage do your offensive spells do
    - How likely is it that you deal a critical hit
    - How much extra damage does a critical hit do
    - How much do your debuff spells weaken
    - How much area do your area spells cover
    - How long do spells with duration last
    - How hard is it to resist your spells of mental domination
    - How hard is it to resist your spells of emotional manipulation (fear, hopelessness)
    - How hard is it to resist your spells of mental manipulation (confusion)
    - How much healing do your healing spells
    - How strong are your buffing spells
    - How much mana do you have at maximum
    - How fast does your mana regenerate
    - How good are you at resisting spells
    - How likely are you to fumble a spell
    - How likely are your spells failing against spell resistance
    - How fast are you at spellcasting (though that could be more of a body/physical thing)
    - How taxing is spellcasting to you (though that could be more of a body/physical thing)
    - Etc etc etc

    So you can have a number of stats each controlling some of these aspects. You can introduce a stat thats called rage which gives you more damage from offensive spells, a stat named patience which makes your spells with duration last longer, a stat named opportunism which makes critical hits more likely, a stat named sadism which increases critical damage etc etc etc.

    Though that would get excessive quickly and you probably want a number of stats that still mean something to the player. So the individual stat probably should control a number of aspects of spellcasting.

    The main problem is such a system can easily be done on a computer, but wouldnt work well in a pen and paper setting, which only wants to handle as few variables as possible.


    About the problem of mental differences being "offensive", I do not have any answer to that. Unless you actually make "subraces" of humans (humans are biologically one race) and actually make them have mental differences, I dont really see the offense. An orc might be mentally slow on average compared to a human being, thats actually simply tradition at this point.
    Time will tell. Or not.

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    It's not just D&D that has this problem, Asimov's all human universe was basically to avoid these problems (specifically in his case he'd have been accused of being the SJW).

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    The problem with racial modifiers is that, if your race can believably be said to be based on a certain culture, it can look like you're making problematic statements whether you are or not.
    I'm going to suggest a useful way to avoid this is to not have an "Elvish culture" and and "Orcish culture" etc. Make your elves and your orcs as diverse as your humans and make sure none of them draw too much from any one culture and be really sure that each race* has nations/cultures that draw from a range of inspirations. No "Orcs are Africans and different Orcish nations draw on different African cultures".
    One Orcish nation might draw on a Nubian influence, but have a human nation do the same. Then your next Orcish nation might mix Aztec and Scandinavian, and the one after that mixes the Dothraki and Hungarian. That way you can be confident your races will not be mistaken for any real human group.

    * you could call them species or subspecies or flavour or any other less-loaded term you like as well
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    orcs are orcs and elves are elves. If you see one of them and think "That's really a human in a costume", then i think that's more a problem with you then it is with the writer.

    The only exception i can think of is if the race's culture is written to be absolutely identical to that of the real world one. If a description of a culture is basically a carbon copy of the wikipedia page with the word "orc" thrown in in place of "human" or "people" then sure, be upset. But if they just have some similar elements but are otherwise clearly their own thing, then it's not really an issue.
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kane0 View Post
    I personally dont see enough of a reason to sparate dexterity and agility but thats probably off topic.
    It's actually rather on topic as I've been juggling stat weighting in my own playtesting for my own personal system that everyone here seems to obligated to make.

    When it comes to balancing ability scores against one another point buy systems make it glaringly obvious when there's stats that have disproportionate returns. Shadowrun decided to split the Speed stat (which governed initiative, attack rolls, dodging and various skills) into Agility (attack rolls, skills) and Reaction (dodging, initiative). Noteworthy in this case is that Shadowrun is generally not a SAD system with characters desiring multiple stats for defense and offense both. When you have one stat that does too much and no class structure that drastically warps ability score valuation (like a class that gets WIS for its attack rolls and damage rolls instead of the standard D&D arrangement) it becomes universal since there are no class based exceptions to dethrone it.

    Fine tune what all the ability scores interact with and it becomes a question of tradeoffs more than the most efficient way to get more of everything.
    By the metric of being wholly dependent on the GM for noncombat interaction Fighter is an NPC class.

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Racial stat modifiers would be much less of a problem if the rules would include diminishing returns for even higher stats and make every stat at least somewhat useful.

    If i look at TDE, then nearly every check in the game involves 3 stats and the lowest of them has the most influence on the outcome. While you can still specialize and try to make sure that many of your important skills and abilities have some stat overlap, high stats are only desirable for prerequisites and some stat-derived secondary calues. But for most of the game, a higher stat average and roughly equal stats are better.

    If i look at Splittermond, it does not have diminishing returns but is not bad at making all stats valuable. It has racial attribute modifiers but those are barely relevant for optimizing. It is all about the other racial modifiers like size or darkvision or natural armor etc. Most characters don't actually have stats at the possible maximum or minimum when their race has modifiers for that stat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Asimov does deep dives into human socio-political theory and human and AI evolution throughout his series. I find it hard to view him as having attempted to avoid things that could be problematic in terms of causing strong reactions and potential arguments.
    His publishers wanted heroic smart humans outwitting evil dumb aliens and that was the only kind of story involving aliens that he would have gotten published in his early years. But as he wanted to write stories that were not all about glorifying humanity, it lead to a human focussed world. In his late works, after he became successful, he sometimes included alien life, though generally not sentient.
    Last edited by Satinavian; 2020-12-28 at 02:58 AM.

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    racial modifiers are cool. giants with big strength, elves with the power to balance on a twig duel wielding 5 ounce mithril swords, etc.

    most of human history plays to racial stereotypes which offends no shortage of people. Red Heads and Irish boxers for instance.

    But here's a way to keep positive about everything and give everyone who wants a way out of their standard locks:

    Exception to the Rule: Race


    this merit/trait/point thingy you spend points on,

    allows you to have generic blando stats unmodified by any racial features whatsoever. By the power of this godlike ability, you are able to be whatever it is you thought you really should have been instead of being whatever it is you wrote down because you thought it would be dramatic to have a story about an oppressed something or other who was entirely unique in their power to stand out and do exactly the opposite of what stereotypes allowed them to do, and instead, prove once and for all to the man, that there is no glass ceiling and nothing you can't do because we are all equal and special in our own unique way.

    Bonus Points:
    You can make a version of this for everything. Exception to the Rule: Class
    Exception to the rule: Kit
    Exception to the rule: Pet
    Exception to the rule: TV Dinner
    Exception to the rule: Cable News Talking head...

    the possibilities are endless

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    This works both ways though.

    Imagine wanting to play a goblin, only to find out that they suck at whatever archetype you want to play and you will be at a huge mechanical disadvantage the entire campaign.
    If your race doesn't go with the archetype then that is a part of the tone of the game and you should respect that. Don't make unnecessarily disruptive characters.
    Black text is for sarcasm, also sincerity. You'll just have to read between the lines and infer from context like an animal

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    Thats not really what they were saying. They were complaining about direct real world analogues, which fantasy races generally are not (or at least not intended to be).
    I mean, on one hand yes. But on the other hand, *gestures despairingly at the Vistani in Curse of Strahd*. Clearly even if authors set out to make their fantasy races be non-problematic, they don't always succeed. And I suspect that a big source of those errors is simply the way that D&D conceptualizes race as a bundle of appearance traits, cultural standards and exceptional abilities. It's a bad paradigm if you want to avoid accidentally encouraging offensive stereotypes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    If your race doesn't go with the archetype then that is a part of the tone of the game and you should respect that. Don't make unnecessarily disruptive characters.
    The whole point of this thread is that it's from the designer perspective. Should the designer use racial stat modifiers as a way to enforce the 'tone' that orcs can't be wizards, gnomes can't be berserkers, goblins can't be clerics? Is that what people actually want, or are we only considering it for tradition's sake? You can't disrupt the tone of the game while the tone is still being decided upon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post
    orcs are orcs and elves are elves. If you see one of them and think "That's really a human in a costume", then i think that's more a problem with you then it is with the writer.

    The only exception i can think of is if the race's culture is written to be absolutely identical to that of the real world one. If a description of a culture is basically a carbon copy of the wikipedia page with the word "orc" thrown in in place of "human" or "people" then sure, be upset. But if they just have some similar elements but are otherwise clearly their own thing, then it's not really an issue.
    Read the 2e Monster Manual some day. Various races are very… racist. Everything derived (or seemingly derived) from that onwards is therefore suspect.

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grek View Post
    I mean, on one hand yes. But on the other hand, *gestures despairingly at the Vistani in Curse of Strahd*. Clearly even if authors set out to make their fantasy races be non-problematic, they don't always succeed. And I suspect that a big source of those errors is simply the way that D&D conceptualizes race as a bundle of appearance traits, cultural standards and exceptional abilities. It's a bad paradigm if you want to avoid accidentally encouraging offensive stereotypes.


    The whole point of this thread is that it's from the designer perspective. Should the designer use racial stat modifiers as a way to enforce the 'tone' that orcs can't be wizards, gnomes can't be berserkers, goblins can't be clerics? Is that what people actually want, or are we only considering it for tradition's sake? You can't disrupt the tone of the game while the tone is still being decided upon.
    They should design it according to their vision. Don't like the vision, pick another setting/game. I don't think it makes sense to ask whether people want that or not, some definitely will prefer it that way, some will hate it, some will not care.
    Black text is for sarcasm, also sincerity. You'll just have to read between the lines and infer from context like an animal

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Read the 2e Monster Manual some day. Various races are very… racist. Everything derived (or seemingly derived) from that onwards is therefore suspect.
    With all due respect, 2nd edition was released 31 years ago. It's older then i am. And I'm certainly nothing like i was 20 years ago, let alone 30.

    I think it's fair to assume that a few things have changed since then.


    Quote Originally Posted by Grek View Post
    The whole point of this thread is that it's from the designer perspective. Should the designer use racial stat modifiers as a way to enforce the 'tone' that orcs can't be wizards, gnomes can't be berserkers, goblins can't be clerics? Is that what people actually want, or are we only considering it for tradition's sake? You can't disrupt the tone of the game while the tone is still being decided upon.
    You can absolutely play Orc wizards, Gnome barbarians, and Goblin clerics though. i've seen some of them before.

    a -2 to one ability score isn't going to make you unable to play any given class. It won't even make you not effective in that class. the only thing it'll do is make it slightly harder, and not even by much. A lot of people would view that more as an obstacle to overcome then something to steer away from.
    Last edited by Draconi Redfir; 2020-12-28 at 09:41 AM.
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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    The easiest solution is to simply ignore people who look at monsters and see human ethinicities (even in a game where that ethinicity already exists), then have the gall to call others racist.

    Those people are very rarely part of the supposedly offended group and are never satisfied, anyway. If isn't racial modifiers, they'll just find something else to use as an excuse to csll you a bigot.
    Last edited by Lemmy; 2020-12-28 at 09:59 AM.

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Draconi Redfir View Post




    You can absolutely play Orc wizards, Gnome barbarians, and Goblin clerics though. i've seen some of them before.

    a -2 to one ability score isn't going to make you unable to play any given class. It won't even make you not effective in that class. the only thing it'll do is make it slightly harder, and not even by much. A lot of people would view that more as an obstacle to overcome then something to steer away from.
    That seems to be at the bottom of a lot of the stat mod issue. People want to play against stereotype but.... they do not want any of the mechanical issues that makes it against sterotyping.

    So... make all pc races mecanicly the same. Stat, extras, ect and then provide points to buy race add ons and get more points for issues.

    Make all the npcs differently however.
    So unless a pc gets exactly the same set up as the npcs, they are forever not quite the same as the rest of their race.

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grek View Post
    I mean, on one hand yes. But on the other hand, *gestures despairingly at the Vistani in Curse of Strahd*. Clearly even if authors set out to make their fantasy races be non-problematic, they don't always succeed. And I suspect that a big source of those errors is simply the way that D&D conceptualizes race as a bundle of appearance traits, cultural standards and exceptional abilities. It's a bad paradigm if you want to avoid accidentally encouraging offensive stereotypes.
    I mean A: they obviously are a real world analogue, and i would frankly say that any of the developers who claim it wasnt are lying, either to us or themselves, and B: if you take away culture, physical attributes, environmental effects and unusual circumstances... whats left?
    “Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grek View Post
    The whole point of this thread is that it's from the designer perspective. Should the designer use racial stat modifiers as a way to enforce the 'tone' that orcs can't be wizards, gnomes can't be berserkers, goblins can't be clerics? Is that what people actually want, or are we only considering it for tradition's sake? You can't disrupt the tone of the game while the tone is still being decided upon.
    Not quite. The question asked in this thread is if stat modifiers are intrinsically problematic/racist. At which point I will gesture broadly at 3.5, Pathfinder, and even 5e as of a year ago. You certainly had people arguing that 5e needed flex stats back then, but very few arguing that fixed stat bonuses made one racist.

    I get that 5e pointbuy limiting you to a 15 max plus most campaigns petering out before 12th level means that your high elf bard will always have -1 to their important rolls compared to a halfling. How to have fantasy races maintain distinct mechanical identities without creating clear best or worst cases (some players aren't too fussed if their choices are suboptimal, some very much are) is an important design element, but I don't think that "giant blooded characters are clearly the optimal choice for melee characters" is actively offending anybody.

    This is separate from tropes and writing. Vistani were based on stereotypes that were harmful to a real world people. That's fixed by better writing and not changing the +s and -s attached if someone wants to play one. And the savage trope, while convenient for simple storytelling (orcs raid in a fantasy setting for the same reason that indians raid in a western setting; they're savages), has problems with both any storytelling that's even slightly deeper (if you want to know what they want so you can engineer a more peaceful coexistence, "they're savages" doesn't give you much to go on), plus the long history of real world peoples being dismissed as savages to justify their mistreatment. Reducing something that closely resembles a human down to that does make a lot of people uncomfortable, and that has been an issue for a good long while in the gaming community. Again, though, you don't save your group of simple savages simply by letting PC members have flex stats.

    To close off this long winded rant, though, Talakeal should not be too fussed about the idea that someone somewhere might be offended by his game. His first two priorities for this level of homebrew are making sure that it's something that his table will enjoy and making sure that it's mechanically sound. Constantly second guessing himself is a good way to constantly revise without making any real progress. Once he has his first few rough drafts out of the way and thinks he has something close to a finished product, he can ask for more eyes on it to see what he might have missed. Authors do have sensitivity readers and make revisions based on their feedback, but only after the main story has already been mostly hammered out.

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    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    If your race doesn't go with the archetype then that is a part of the tone of the game and you should respect that. Don't make unnecessarily disruptive characters.
    And if the tone of the game is about exceptional people changing the world in their own imsge?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    To close off this long winded rant, though, Talakeal should not be too fussed about the idea that someone somewhere might be offended by his game. His first two priorities for this level of homebrew are making sure that it's something that his table will enjoy and making sure that it's mechanically sound. Constantly second guessing himself is a good way to constantly revise without making any real progress. Once he has his first few rough drafts out of the way and thinks he has something close to a finished product, he can ask for more eyes on it to see what he might have missed. Authors do have sensitivity readers and make revisions based on their feedback, but only after the main story has already been mostly hammered out.
    Thanks for the sentiment, but at this point thats all there really is for me.

    Right now the game is more or less finished. The mechanics arent perfect, but work as well as any published game I have ever played, and the text is complete. I cant afford a proffesional editor or layout guy atm, my artists are backed up, and I cant playtest or run demo games due to covid.

    So right now all I can do is revise the text, clarifying the language, fixing typos and rules glitches, and look for things that are inconsistent, offensive, or otherwise embarrassing to smooth out.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Location
    Sweden
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Right way to do racial stat modifiers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    And if the tone of the game is about exceptional people changing the world in their own imsge?
    Then the DM should let you swap out or overcome the penalties of a bad race/class combo. Or play a game that doesn't do that and make the bias an in-game culture thing rather than a mechanical thing.
    Black text is for sarcasm, also sincerity. You'll just have to read between the lines and infer from context like an animal

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