Opinions (and Facts) on Things in the Player's Handbook

Back to SeanKReynolds.com home


Chapter 2: Races

Ability Modifiers
    Note that all racial ability modifiers are even numbers. This is because the changes in the ability score table occur every 2 numbers. If you create a race that has a combination of ability score modifiers that are odd (such as +1 Strength, -1 Dexterity), it means that a player that chooses to make a character of that race can assign an odd ability score to Strength and Dexterity, which means the Strength bonus makes a difference and the Dexterity penalty doesn’t. In effect, that race has a +2 Strength modifier and a +0 Dex modifier. While the game was in development, the designers called this "create a bonus, hide a penalty."
    If you want a race to have a +2/+0 combination, create it that way. Giving odd modifiers only allows a player to "legally" cheat. In the D&D game, all PC races (and all creatures) must have even ability score modifiers.

Human and Half-Elf Favored Class
    Humans and half-elves have their highest-level class as their favored class. Some people think this is in error, and that it the rule should be that these races can pick any one of their classes as a favored class, regardless of class level, which would give them incredible flexibility in multiclassing. The rule is correct as written.
    The intent of the human and half-elf favored class is not to allow these races to triple-class in any combination the player chooses, deftly avoiding multiclass XP penalties for differing levels. This argument is like saying that a triple-classed halfling should be able to ignore multiclassing penalties if any of her other classes are within one level of her rogue level. Humans and half-elves already have an advantage in that their favored class can change over time; allowing them to choose which class is favored is an even greater advantage for which the game was not written to handle.

Human Bonus Skill Points
    Human bonus skill points should be applied after any Intelligence penalties to skills. It’s more advantageous to the character to do the +1 human point after the Intelligence penalty, because a human character with a big Intelligence penalty would reduce you to 1 skill point (the minimum), and then your human bonus would bring that up to 2.
    If you applied the bonus point first, that would penalize the low-Int guys even more than they already are. Applying it first, in effect, negates the advantage that humans get for their bonus skill points. It’s a corner case, but an important point.

Speed
    By default, a humanoid Medium  creature should have speed 30. Dwarves are an exception, as they are on the extreme low end of their size category.
    Small characters default to speed 20.

Languages
    The PC races all speak their own racial language and Common. All characters in an adventuring group of normal PCs should be able to communicate with each other, as dealing with interpreters and pantomime grows old quickly.