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I just started D&D, bought my version 4 manuals and I'm now at my stage in character creation.

The problem: I was wondering if playing as a centaur would be possible? What forms of skills and stats would be allowed with him so that his stats from version 3.0 wouldn't make him a god-taur. (Or really weak, again, I'm incredibly new at the game). Also please give a brief explanation of your choices, and what each one means.

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Welcome @lykos-wolfsong! I edited your question to make it easier to answer. We try to avoid signatures and the like because it distracts from the question. –  C. Ross Sep 8 '10 at 0:01
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What type of Centaur? A pure crazy woodlands berserker, a wise teacher, or one that can be both? –  anon186 Sep 17 '10 at 13:41
    
You may also want to take a look at rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/2436/… which points out some resources and tip for the general case of race building. –  Simon Withers Nov 26 '10 at 0:48
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3 Answers 3

If your GM doesn't mind, there's no reason why a centaur couldn't work. You'd want to keep him roughly balanced with other races; 4e doesn't really have the same concept of monster levels as 3e did, so he needs to be on par with other races from level 1 onwards.

Building Your Own Based On Another Race

Each 4e race gets +2 to two stats. For the centaur, I'd make it Dexterity and Strength -- they're strong and agile, if I recall correctly. Constitution would be a decent alternative to Dexterity, if you want to emphasize endurance.

Next, I'd take a look at another race that has similar characteristics. In this case, how about the minotaur from Player's Handbook 3? The minotaur has a charge power, which seems to make sense for centaurs. They get skill bonuses to Nature and Perception. The former is a good match for a wild race like centaurs; Perception might not be as good, but you can change that to any other skill without causing any problems at all.

If I were doing this, I'd also want the centaur to be faster than most races. Minotaurs are speed 6, which is exactly average. If you make the centaur speed 7, you should drop some other class feature. Minotaurs have an ability called Ferocity to reflect their bloodthirst: when they drop to 0 hit points, they get to make a free attack. That doesn't seem to match the centaur all that well, so maybe drop Ferocity and take the extra square of speed instead?

The other advantage of using a minotaur is that you could keep many of the minotaur feats. For example, there's a minotaur feat called Springing Charge that allows you to charge again when you score a critical hit with a charge attack. Normally it's minotaur-only, but there's no reason not to let a centaur who's based on the minotaur use it.

In some cases, of course, the minotaur feats won't make sense. Ferocious Frenzy is a feat that builds on the minotaur's Ferocity power, and if you don't give that one to the centaur, the feat doesn't make much sense either.

The basic concept of taking something that's already been written and renaming it to be the idea you want is called reflavoring in 4e terms, and it's immensely useful for all kinds of things.

Building Your Own From Scratch

Now, if you want to put a bit more effort (and some money) into it, there's an absolutely great PDF called Hard Boiled Cultures, which breaks down ways to balance new races. It's pretty cheap and I recommend it to anyone who wants to read some smart stuff on adjusting cultures in 4e, but it's definitely not the easiest way to get a playable centaur.

Third Party/Fan Material

I can't vouch for the quality of any of these, but:

Man, definitely a tendency for fan-built centaurs to have the fey origin. If you like that, you could add it to the minotaur reflavoring above with no issues.

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I'd go for these ones as a starting point.
Speed, skill bonuses and the (adapted) quick kick power are taken from the centaurs found on Monster Manual 2. Other features have been selected on personal taste.

The big issue, here, is that a MM centaur is a Large creature. No playable character race out there seems to be larger than Medium. I'm not seeing true problem with Large, but perhaps it has not received enough play-testing. For these reasons I shrank them to an over-sized Medium (much like a goliath).

I was wandering if a speed of 8 is too much. Also, I'd introduce some rule for handling mounting. PC centaurs couldn't ride Large creatures (and probably, they could have problems with larger too), but they could be ridden (at least by Small characters). Warning: this could open up a can of worms.

Anyway, high base speed and a decent at-will racial power made me keep the list of racial features very short.


Ability Scores: +2 Constitution, +2 Dexterity or +2 Wisdom
Size: Medium
Speed: 8 squares.
Vision: Low-light

Languages: Common, Elven
Skill Bonuses: +2 Athletics, +2 Nature
Four-Legged Stability: When an attack would knock you prone, you can make a saving throw to avoid falling prone.
Quick Kick: You have the quick kick power.

Quick Kick

As an enemy tries to circle you, your hind quarters kick with lightning speed.
At-Will
Immediate Reaction - Melee 1
Trigger: An enemy moves into a space where it flanks you.
Target: The triggering enemy
Attack: Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity + 4 (6 at 11th level and 8 at 21st level) vs. AC
Hit: 1d6 + Strength modifier, Constitution modifier, or Dexterity modifier damage.
Level 21: 2d6 + Strength modifier, Constitution modifier, or Dexterity modifier damage.


For a discussion about Large player characters see this question.

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just FYI Bugbear is a playable race that is large. –  wax eagle Jul 27 '11 at 12:29
    
Mmm... not according to the Compendium. Also it would be odd, because among the monsters, only the Mistmane Bugbear is of Large size, the other dozen of them are all Medium. –  Erik Burigo Jul 27 '11 at 13:01
    
No other race that I know of has an At-Will Racial Attack, so it would probably be better to make Quick-Kick an encounter power as otherwise it might be a little overpowered compared to the other races. –  James J. Regan IV Dec 29 '11 at 21:09
    
Shades, goblins, changelings and kobolds have At-Will racial powers (but they are all utility ones). Quick Kick is actually circumstantial, and burns away your immediate action, but it could happen more than once during an encounter. I think a lot of playtesting should be made. On one side, a speed of 8 is awesome, so tuning down the Quick Kick could be acceptable, on the other, making Quick Kick an encounter power could leave some space for another minor racial feature. –  Erik Burigo Dec 30 '11 at 11:00
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Posting my version of the mob found in Erik's answer, modeled after the elf. Traded vision and one skillup for +1 speed. Swift Kick is an IR. Elven origin offers a reason why they're medium, and access to the elf-feat line.

Elven-child Centaur

The child of elven mages and their willing centaur allies, the elven-child was made as a courier and as a symbol of alliance between those two races. When the alliance fell, there was a large enough elven-child population to form their own small clan. [A bit of backstory is always nice]

+2 Dex, +2 Str or Con [These seem to be the consistently high stats. Dex/Str is a really nice combo. Dex/Con can make for some interesting mixes. A number of races have both though, so it's not hugely beneficial.]

Languages: Common, Elven [Generic, links with background]

Skills: +2 Athletics Speed: 8 Vision: Normal [Trading a skill and vision for speed. Speed 8 is very situationally useful, just as low-light is. Nature is a valuable skill, and so feels like a worthwhile trade]

Fey Origin: Your ancestors were native to the Feywild, so you are considered a fey creature for the purpose of effects that relate to creature origin. [Elves have this. Centaurs are fey. You're fey. It doesn't really matter.]

Elven Origin: You count as an elf for all feats and powers that relate to creature origin. [Feats are important cause house-ruling feat trees is annoying. The dex focus of elf and this make compatibility easy.]

Quick Kick: Immediate Reaction, when an when a creature moves into a space where it flanks the centaur, at-will. [The IR and "on flanking", combined with the damage make it viable as an at-will. The fact that it does only dex-mod damage means that the damage won't be increased by any feats, items, etc. It is, however, a fantastic minion popper, and feels fun, despite not doing much damage. As an IR, it also costs significantly in the action economy, which is necessary for its utility. ]

Dex Vs. AC, Dex Modifier damage

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+1 for the Immediate Reaction: quite better so. –  Erik Burigo Nov 27 '10 at 18:24
    
As the DM referenced by the OP, this would probably be the option I would be most comfortable including in my campaign. –  Brisbe42 Nov 28 '10 at 3:38
    
As this is strictly worse than the elf (one of the more broken races out there) I would have no problems with running it, or playing it for flavour. The thing to look out for is a charge-happy build, which this would be a really fantastic race for. (Charge in as a barb, get flanked, get free IR, charge again, repeat) –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Nov 28 '10 at 7:46
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