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Is the following homebrew race balanced?


Marble

Physical appearance: milky orb with 4 smooth tentacles. Absorbs food and water through its skin.

Ability score increase:

+1 to Dexterity and +2 to Wisdom

Age:

Marbles live 200 years.

Size:

Small. You are 2 feet in diameter and weight 100 pounds.

Speed:

You can hover and have a flying speed of 35 feet. You do not need to breathe, but you do need food and water.

Natural armor:

When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 12 + your Dexterity modifier.

Damage resistances:

You are resistant to fire damage.

Sight:

You have truesight to 20 feet, but are blind beyond that range.

Innate Spellcasting:

You know the ray of frost cantrip.
At level 3, you can cast silent image twice per day.
At level 8, you can cast major image once per day.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, why do all of your homebrew races have severe disabilities? Having a sight range of 20 feet is a huge penalty and would likely severly limit this race's attractiveness to players. You should try to create races so that they have maybe 1 minor weakness but mostly just small benefits. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jul 20 '18 at 0:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it is impossible to accurately say whether this Marble race is balanced or not because its racial traits stray too far from typical playable races. As such, any answer will be primarily opinion-based. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Jul 20 '18 at 1:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ To expand on what DavidCoffron is saying a little, trying to balance overpowered benefits with major handicaps is generally problematic, because either players will find ways to avoid being limited by the handicaps and just be overpowered, or they just won't use the homebrew at all. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jul 20 '18 at 1:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint we also have lots of "Is this balanced?" questions for homebrew that are closed. My point wasn't that the type of question is wrong, it's that discussing the balance of an entire race without guidelines as to what the goal is, what it's being compared to, in what circumstance is too broad. Yes/No questions do not always have a right answer, nor is that relevant here. \$\endgroup\$ – Luke Jul 20 '18 at 4:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm reopening this (it's answerable) and opened a meta: How should I ask about my D&D 5e Homebrew being balanced?. I would encourage those who are interested in these questions to provide your input in how they ought to be asked in order to be successful and well-received. I have also raised a conversation about it in chat which others may be interested in reading. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jul 20 '18 at 13:42
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From my perspective, it is too weak to see play, or at least it's too inconvenient to bother playing, particuarly due to the blindness restriction. Analysis as follows.

Your ASI

+1 to Dexterity and +2 to Wisdom

What classes can use it to its full potential?

  • Druid.
  • Monk.
  • Ranger.
  • Cleric?

So, let's check your other features taking into account these classes. Surely, you could choose this race for Wizard, but then you are not that worried about balancing as you are already making a very suboptimal choice anyway.

+2/+1 is usual, so it's fine, by the way.

Weakness is a bad idea

In general, 5e has removed races' weakness. Unlike 3.5e for example, most playable races don't even have any stat loss. From PHB, the major weakness we have is Sunlight Sensitivity from Drow/Dark Elf, and they aren't a common race.

That said, this feature is going to make your race probably unplayable.

You have truesight to 20 feet, but are blind beyond that range.

Essentially, what it does is: you can't play the character as a ranged character. That strongly limits your options for Druid, Ranger and Cleric. All of them will have to play their melee styles (or play with constant disadvantage, allowing enemies to easily hide from you). It also limits the usefulness of their spells, since you won't be able to target anything that is far from you.

That also makes you quite vulnerable to ranged attacks, since they will have advantage against you. It also harms the roleplay, but that's probably not a problem when you are a milky orb with tentacles anyway.

Innate Spellcasting

Along the blindness, Ray of Frost will be mostly useless. As I said, you are (probably) playing a melee character, most weapon attacks will do more damage than the RoF. As both other spells are illusion image types, I don't see why RoF was chosen over Minor Image.

Other than that, the spells are fine and a similar progression to Tiefling's Infernal Legacy. Twice per day might be too much, usually race spells are once per day. I'll assume Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Flying

You can hover and have a flying speed of 35 feet. You do not need to breathe, but you do need food and water.

Flying is usually problematic, but honestly, the blinded condition actually solves most of the problems. You won't be a useful scout when you can only see 20ft, you won't be a flying threat 1st level out of range of your enemies because you are, again, probably melee, or attacking with disadvantage the whole game.

Resistance

You are resistant to fire damage.

Same as Tiefling's Hellish Resistance. This one is fine.

Natural Armor

When you aren't wearing armor, your AC is 12 + your Dexterity modifier.

This is strong, it's a free Studded Leather from 1st level. For Monk, as long as you have at least +2 in Wisdom, this is useless though. For other classes, it's strong but not overpowered in any way, since Studded Leather is a cheap armor choice and you can get higher AC, for example, from Scale Mail in the early game.

TL;DR

The Blindness condition probably makes the race unplayable. Even if you choose to play a melee character and most of the problems with the blindness can be ignored, the race has nothing too attractive that would pull someone to use it, as the other features are fine/strong, but nothing amazing. It's also quite unappealing from a RP point-of-view, since it doesn't offer extra languages or anything.

For a numeric reference, according to this point evaluation of race features (and some changes by me, in particular the -1 point deduction from Small is too severe imo), your race would have 6 points (+3 ASI, +1 Natural Armor, +1 Damage Resistance, +1 Innate Spellcasting, +.5 speed, -.5 small) if you just took out the flying and the blindsight, which would be a balanced race. As the Blind interaction with flying makes the flying lose most of its value (IMO), I would say that adding both conditions gives us around -1.5 point, resulting in a 4.5 overall race. Although the guide states some usual races from PHB as being in that range, as I mentioned earlier, the blinding condition probably makes actually playing it too inconvenient.

Are you sure you don't want a monster, though?

Sincerely, this race doesn't strike me as a playable race. I can't even imagine it communicating or wearing that cool magic armor, cloak or ring. Maybe it's lack of imagination from me, but I guess there is a reason for most playable races being kinda regular humanoids. As a monster, most of its weakness and OPness would actually be fine, you would simply need to balance the damage and defense for some given CR.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ sounds like the majority of the race's issues would be fixed if they could get a class-based or gear-based sense with some decent range, at which point they swing to being kind of OP. Of course, the fact that they're a milky-white orb kind of limits their gear options. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jul 20 '18 at 15:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden As I understood it, it's actually blind (in the sense it doesn't even have eyes or anything) and "sees" through some magical way. I don't think there is anything that "gives" more "senses" than you have (although there are things that "upgrade" your senses, e.g. giving darkvision). I might be wrong on that one though. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jul 20 '18 at 15:17
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No, it has too many potent front loaded at level 1. You have given racial abilities of breath without air, resistance to fire, and a natural armor bonus, and a bonus of 5 ft of movement, which is made all the better as the race floats, not walks or crawls.

You have given it too much casting power, as the spell casting trend of one slot of a 3rd level spell for free does not correlate with two free castings of a 1st level spell.

The third level spell major image is probably too strong for a free, slotless casting, even if it is at 8th level. And, for the capstone, true sight at character creation is far, far too powerful, and 20 ft sight makes the character extremely handicapped.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but the bonuses are too strong, and the handicaps are too crippling to bring this in balance with PHB races.

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