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Are there any official rules for tiny characters in 5e?

I have a player who is wanting to play a Sprite character. I have found what seems to be a balanced race build here, but I can't find any official rules for how to handle a tiny character, which is not surprising, since this race is homebrew.

  • For added context: my player is not the type to try to exploit the rules for combat advantage, he wants to play a Sprite because he read the entry in the Monster Manual and thought it would be fun to role-play one. For a class he is trying to decide between a Ranger or an Oath of the Ancients Paladin.

I found some homebrew ideas, here and here, but I am not totally sold on their suggestions. I was wondering if there is something in the actual rules of 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons that I have missed.

The main problem I have with the suggestions above is from a standpoint of verisimilitude. I just can't picture a tiny creature (probably about a foot to a foot and a half tall) being able to wield a longsword that nearly twice as tall as they are, even if they had to use two hands. Even using normal daggers would be cumbersome, since the grip would have such a large girth compared to their tiny hands.

Is adapting from 3.5e to 5e a good option?

Have you tried applying the old size adjustment rules from 3.5e (swapping a Str penalty for a Dex boost, increasing AC and to-hit, bonus to stealth, etc.) in a 5e context? I may just like those rules because they were what I used the last time I had to deal with this situation. Are there any pitfalls or potential unbalance that I may not be seeing if I go with this approach?

Is there a more 5e way to do things?

Is there a better way to do this that fits more seamlessly in 5e game mechanics? Would there be any special considerations for getting Advantage or Disadvantage if you are a Tiny character, for example?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This discussion is worth exploring as it deals with the relative size of tiny creatures and rules such as squeezing between cracks. \$\endgroup\$ – MonkeyKB Oct 12 '17 at 7:58
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The only special rule for tiny characters that I could find is the following (DMG 278):

A creature has disadvantage on attack rolls with a weapon that is sized for a larger attacker. You can rule that a weapon sized for an attacker two or more sizes larger is too big for the creature to use at all.

He would also be able to move through spaces occupied by hostile creatures as if it were difficult terrain (PHB 191):

In contrast, you can move through a hostile creature's space only if the creature is at least two sizes larger or smaller than you. Remember that another creature’s space is difficult terrain for you.

He is also unable to grapple medium creatures (PHB 195):

The target of your grapple must be no more than one size larger than you, and it must be within your reach.

And if you're playing with carrying capacity rules, he would be able to carry less (PHB 176):

Larger creatures can bear more weight, whereas Tiny creatures can carry less. For each size category above Medium, double the creature’s carrying capacity and the amount it can push, drag, or lift. For a Tiny creature, halve these weights.

Otherwise, I don't see any glaring issues that arise purely from having a smaller size.

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My player settled on playing a Sprite Paladin with the Oath of the Ancients. Here is how we are handling it as we go forward.

Sticking to 5e RAW where available

  • No numerical bonuses/penalties for size such as to ability scores or skills like existed in 3.5
  • Tiny characters cannot use weapons sized for Medium creatures (see house rule below)
  • Tiny characters cannot grapple Medium creatures
  • Tiny characters can move through the space of a Medium or larger enemy as difficult terrain
  • Tiny characters have 1/2 the carrying capacity of a Medium or Small character

House Rules

  • Tiny Weapons use damage dice 2 steps lower than weapons sized for Medium characters (i.e. d8 becomes d4) to a minimum of 1 damage.
  • Tiny Ranged Weapons have 1/2 the range of their Medium sized counterparts
  • Items sized for tiny characters weigh 1/10 their standard weight (picked mostly for easy math)
  • Tiny characters can share a square with a single ally without them crowding one another (but if they are in the same square as an ally Rogue, they do not grant Sneak Attack to the Rogue while in the same square)
  • Tiny characters treat sources of cover as logic dictates depending on how much of their body is blocked by the object or character being used for cover
  • Tiny characters should expect to qualify for Advantage or Disadvantage if Medium characters dealing with similarly oversized conditions (such as inside a community of Cloud Giants) would expect to qualify

Fluff to fill the gaps

Because decrease weapon damage might be a problem, since my player wants to use a melee class, I created some fluff for my campaign setting establishing the existence of strong fairy made magical arms and armor that are too small to be effectively used by a non-tiny creature or are only potent in the hands of the right type of fey. As we playtest this concept, if my player's Tiny character seems underpowered, I will begin sewing these special Tiny magic items into the treasure at a power level a little ahead of the other characters to bring them into balance. If the balance seems to work without that, then the Tiny items they find will be about equal in power, or if it ends up that being Tiny actually gives an edge over the other players' characters, I can dole out the Tiny items more slowly. I have discussed this plan with my players and they agree that it makes sense and is fair.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Tiny characters have 1/2 carrying capacity, but items made for them are 1/10 the weight? So basically, since a tiny creature is unlikely to travel with a lot of medium sized items they can carry about five times as many things? \$\endgroup\$ – Kapten-N Jan 23 '18 at 13:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Insert picture of ant carrying a piece of solid rock larger than it in every dimension here. \$\endgroup\$ – Trip Space-Parasite Apr 27 '18 at 19:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kapten-N It's probably a bit of an exaggeration, but not too far off the mark - smaller creatures are, proportionally, stronger than larger ones due to the square-cube law. \$\endgroup\$ – Cubic Jun 29 at 15:34

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