Player Customizable Variant Races (5e Variant Rule)

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Design Note: These variants have been created to increase the races' flexibility. They are specifically made to increase the options a player has when designing their character. Race balancing guidelines, such as Marasmusine's Meter, consider this a gameplay benefit. These race variants are balanced on table performance exclusively. Using these variants, a dwarven rogue could be just as capable as a halfling (but not more capable). They are intended to be used for roleplay-designed characters that don't fit into 5e racial archetypes.

Additionally, the player's choice of skills, feats and proficiencies means "good" choices may make the character more powerful than normal. These variants assume that DMs try to make each skill and saving throw come up with about the same frequency. In practice, the balance of these race variants will depend on your gaming group.

In D&D 5e, humans have a variant in the Player's Handbook that allows them to take a feat at first level and gain proficiency in one skill, in exchange for a weaker first-level ability score increase. This allows you to create a human that fits almost any archetype. Conversely, the other Player's Handbook races are far less flexible. There's technically nothing stopping you from being a dwarf rogue, but you'd be putting yourself at a disadvantage by not being, say, a wood elf. In other words, the mechanics of the game penalize you if you do not conform to your species's "role".

These rules are designed to address this restriction, without disrupting game balance. Each race swaps out certain restrictive elements (proficiencies in certain skills, higher ability scores in certain attributes, racial features that only benefit certain playstyles, etc.) and replaces them with the player's choice of feat, among other benefits.

Variant Races[edit]

All races are the same as the standard races unless specifically noted. If a variant says you gain a new ability instead of something else, you must take the new ability.

Dwarf[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this race gains no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Dwarven Combat Training. Instead of gaining the racial weapon proficiencies listed in the Player's Handbook, you choose a single, but any simple or martial weapon to gain proficiency in.

Tool Proficiency. Your tool proficiency may be any artisan's tool of your choice.

Feat. You gain one feat of your choice.

Hill Dwarf[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this subrace has no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Mountain Dwarf[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this subrace has no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Dwarven Armor Training. Instead of gaining racial proficiency in light/medium armor, you gain +1 to AC when wearing armor of any kind. You must be wearing light, medium or heavy armor to gain this benefit.

Elf[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this race gains no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Keen Senses. You may swap out your racial proficiency in Perception for proficiency in any other skill.

Feat. You gain one feat of your choice.

High Elf[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this subrace has no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Elf Weapon Training. Instead of gaining the racial weapon proficiencies listed in the Player's Handbook, you choose a single, but any simple or martial weapon to gain proficiency in.

Wood Elf[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this subrace has no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Elf Weapon Training. Instead of gaining the racial weapon proficiencies listed in the Player's Handbook, you choose a single, but any simple or martial weapon to gain proficiency in.

Mask of the Wild. Instead of this ability, you gain one skill of your choice.

Drow[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this subrace has no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Drow Weapon Training. Instead of gaining the racial weapon proficiencies listed in the Player's Handbook, you choose a single, but any simple or martial weapon to gain proficiency in.

Halfling[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this race gains no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Feat. You gain one feat of your choice.

Lightfoot Halfling[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this subrace has no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Naturally Stealthy. Instead of this ability, you gain one skill of your choice.

Stout Halfling[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this subrace has no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Human (included for comparison)[edit]

Ability Score Increase. Two different ability scores of your choice increase by 1. This replaces any other ability score increases the race may have.

Skills. You gain proficiency in one skill of your choice.

Feat. You gain one feat of your choice.

Dragonborn[edit]

Ability Score Increase. One ability score of your choice increases by 1. This replaces any other ability score increases the race may have.

Feat. You gain one feat of your choice.

Breath Weapon. You may use any ability score of your choice when determining the DC of your breath weapon.

Gnome[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this race gains no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Feat. You gain one feat of your choice.

Forest Gnome[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this subrace has no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Rock Gnome[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this subrace has no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Artificer's Lore. Instead of this ability, you gain one skill of your choice.

Half-Elf[edit]

Ability Score Increase. One ability score of your choice increases by 1. This replaces any other ability score increases the race may have.

Feat. You gain one feat of your choice.

Half-Orc[edit]

Ability Score Increase. When playing as this variant, this race gains no ability score increases at first level. Bonuses from feats are exempt from this restriction.

Menacing. You may swap out your racial proficiency in Intimidation for proficiency in any other skill.

Savage Attacks. This ability may be triggered by damage-dealing spells with attack rolls; roll one of the spell's damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.

Feat. You gain one feat of your choice.

Tiefling[edit]

Ability Score Increase. One ability score of your choice increases by 1. This replaces any other ability score increases the race may have.

Feat. You gain one feat of your choice.



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