Revised Races

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Contents

Introduction

Races in 3.5 have a lot of problems. Balance is the most obvious one; from an optimization perspective, the vast majority of races are pretty much unusable because they're just so completely outclassed by a select few (one of which is in the PHB itself: human). There are also some lesser issues as well, such as the fact that many races are extremely cluttered with situational bonuses (like +1 to attack vs kobolds) that rarely come up and are just a waste of time for players to remember (if they even bother trying).

This fix is my attempt to expand the usable list of races by bringing every race up in power level so that they're roughly on the same level with each other. A secondary goal is to make all of your racial abilities matter at all levels. For some abilities, this involves changing an ability so that it scales as you grow in levels. Other times, as with most of those clutter abilities that don't really affect most characters (like the aforementioned +1 attack vs kobolds), I just removed the old ability entirely. Hopefully the result is a balanced list of interesting races that increase character options and are diverse enough to be noticeably different from each other.

On Races

Races are generally much more powerful here than in regular 3.5 (and even a bit more powerful on average than in Pathfinder or d20r), though they are (at least supposed to be) balanced in regards to each other. Racial features still remain a far smaller portion of a character's power than their choice of class, and the overall power level of a particular character shouldn't be too noticeably different compared to 3.5 with sources open (especially past the early levels). The main difference is that there are now a lot more racial choices for an optimized character than there were previously, and it's far more defensible to take a race like half-elf or half-orc than before (whereas previously they would only ever be selected in very specialized builds, at least for optimization purposes).

I've also tried to emphasize differences between races so that characters of different races feel different from each other. I gave different races more distinguishing abilities that emphasized certain traits, even as I stripped away the filler abilities that rarely affected gameplay and needlessly wasted memory space. Presentation-wise, I decided to divide racial features into "primary" and "secondary" categories, with primary being the more powerful and defining aspects of a race, and secondary being the remainder. Each race gets all their primary and secondary abilities by default, so this wouldn't affect anyone who choose to be a normal human, a regular dwarf, or whatever. However, this allows for templates which trade lesser or greater racial features for those of similar power level, which I will go into detail about below. All racial abilities that aren't marked as Su or Sp are considered extraordinary.

One of the advantages of having a higher power level on default races is that it allows for a far larger pool of possible races without needing an additional balancing factor (such as level adjustment). Whereas previously it might not be possible to express a race like the drow as LA +0 without stripping away most of what makes it distinct, now it becomes much more feasible. There is a lot of benefit to circumventing level adjustment because of how bad a balancing factor it is; losing levels is so crippling to a character that a race would need to provide a vast amount of power to justify even LA +1. When a distinctive racial feature actually is powerful enough that it still need something to tip the scales (like the four arms of a Thri-Kreen), I will include an optional racial class to provide the feature (more on that below).

On Templates

Templates are provided to customize existing base races and to allow more options in character building. As with races, none of the templates presented have level adjustment. Instead, templates are made with a similar mechanic to the Dragonborn of Bahamut, where certain racial traits are swapped with others, though on a much less extreme scale. All of the existing racial traits are grouped as either primary or secondary so that templates can swap out abilities of a certain power level as necessary.

Generally, if a template requires swapping a set of features (such as primary or secondary racial traits), you may not take another template that swaps the same set of features, though you may take one that swaps a different set (so you can take a template that swaps primary traits and one that swaps secondary, but not two that swap primary traits).

On Racial Classes

As I've explained above, level adjustment is a rather poor way to balance a race because of the extraordinary amount of benefits a race must provide to even be worth LA +1. Racial classes are a better method for this type of power offset. They do still offset character power, since taking more levels in classes with progressing features (such as spellcasting and martial adept classes) is usually better than taking levels in racial classes, but they are much less crippling than not having those levels at all. I will generally try to make all races function so that they don't need such balancing offsets, but some features make it impossible (like Thri-Kreen's four arms). In those cases, I will use racial class in place of level adjustment as the lesser of two evils.

A racial class is like a base class that is only available to members of that particular race. If a creature of a certain race has a racial class, it can choose to take levels in that class at any time, but it does not have to; it can choose to never take any levels in its racial class, or only take a few levels in it and stop, or even sporadically switch between class levels and racial class levels (depending on level requirements for levels of the racial class, this may even be required). Every racial class level has a minimal character level requirement, so a character may only take that class level of the racial class if it is advancing to that character level (for example, if a 1st level half-dragon with one level in its racial class levels up, it cannot take another level in its racial class until it levels up again due to the 3rd level requirement there).


Races

Core Races


Monstrous Races


Planestouched Templates


Draconic Races


Races of Eberron


Psionic Races (Unfinished)


Ungrouped Races

Duergar

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Type:Humanoid (duergar, dwarf, psionic)
Size:Medium
Speed:20 ft land. However, gray dwarves can move at this speed even when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load (unlike other creatures, whose speed is reduced in such situations).
Special Senses:Darkvision 120 ft
Ability Adjustments:+2 Constitution, -2 Charisma
Primary Features:Naturally Psionic: Duegar are naturally psionic, gaining 1 bonus power point per character level.
Psionic Gift: At 1st level, a duergar gains conceal thoughts as a bonus power, which he can manifest using his character level as his manifester level, though it can only target himself. He must spend power points and may augment that power as usual. At 6th level, he similarly gains expansion as a bonus power, and at 11th level he gains strength of my enemy as well. All save DCs are based on his highest mental ability score.
Secondary Features:Deep Constitution: At 1st level, duergar have a +2 racial bonus on saves against paralysis and poison. This increases to +3 at 4th level, +4 at 8th, +5 at 12th, +6 at 16th, and +7 at 20th.
Stability: A gray dwarf gains a +4 bonus on ability checks made to resist being bull rushed or tripped when standing on the ground (but not when climbing, flying, riding, or otherwise not standing firmly on the ground).
Automatic Languages:Undercommon and Dwarven
Favored Classes:Divine mind, monk, psychic warrior
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