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I've done my best to address the concerns from the answers to my original question about my homebrew dryad sapling race. How does this look?

What I'm looking for is whether this is balanced vs the PHB races and if not, how to fix it to make it balanced.


Race: Dryad Sapling

Statistics:

  • Age: Dryad Saplings live as long as humans, 80 to 100 years, in Sapling form before planting themselves and becoming bound to their trees. All Dryads and Saplings are tied to natural, non-magical trees. Magical varieties of tree, or Tree-like creatures are not valid choices. A planted Dryad gains all Dryad statistics, retaining all their character levels and abilities, and becomes an NPC under the Dungeon Master's control.

  • Size: Saplings are Medium creatures, mostly between 5 and 7 feet in height, though Redwood Dryads are between 6 and 8 feet in height. Applewood Dryads are Small, between 3 and 5 feet high.

  • Speed: 30

  • Darkvision

  • Dryad Saplings have a proficiency with Nature skill checks

  • They are proficient with Clubs and Quarterstaffs, and with Longbows and Shortbows

  • Treewhispers: Dryad Saplings may understand the whispers of natural trees, but cannot communicate to them. They must spend a full turn and touch the tree to understand what it says, receiving brief impressions, feelings, and images.

  • Dryad Saplings learn the druidcraft cantrip at first level. At 3rd level, Dryad Saplings may learn either the entangle spell, using Wisdom as their spellcasting ability, and can cast it once per day.

  • Languages: Dryad Saplings speak Sylvan and Common.

Subraces

Wildforest

This subrace is the most common, and encompasses deciduous and coniferous trees, except Aspens, Redwoods, Sequoias, and cultivated fruit trees.

  • Wildforest Dryad Saplings gain +2 Wisdom and +1 Charisma.

  • Proficiency with Whips and Nets

  • Additional Language: Elven, due to their longstanding contacts with Elves

Aspen

This subrace are all identical clones of each other, differing only in their appearance due to age and personal style. They always plant themselves within their colony of origin, connecting to the vast root system that spawns natural clonal colony aspens, and join the hive-mind of their Rootmother.

  • Aspen Dryad Saplings gain +2 Intelligence and +1 Constitution

  • Proficient with Glaives

Redwood

This subrace is larger than the others, and are bonded with Redwood or Sequoia trees. Redwood Dryad Saplings stand up to 8 feet in height, though they are slender and are still of Medium size.

A full Redwood Dryad stands between 25 and 35 feet tall and counts as a Huge creature. (A planted Dryad is always an NPC.)

  • Ability Score: Redwood Dryads gain +2 Strength and +1 Constitution

  • Proficient with Mauls

  • Additional Language: Giant, due to their traditional interbreeding with Giants

Applewood

This subrace is small in stature, and are bonded with cultivated fruit trees. They stand between 3 and 5 feet tall, and count as Small creatures, both as Saplings and as full Dryads.

  • Applewood Dryads gain +2 Dexterity and +1 Charisma

  • Proficient with Daggers and Shortswords

  • Additional Language: Gnomish or Halfling due to their associations with these races

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    \$\begingroup\$ FYI to readers: This is a follow-up version of a homebrew question per our iterative method of handling homebrew review. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 11 '18 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a suggestion, it looks like it could benefit thematically from Vulnerability to Fire, coupled with Resistance to Poison or Psychic damage, or perhaps make Fire an overall Vulnerability, with each subclass having its own Resistance. Obviously not a requirement, but it may draw questions when someone shoots a Firebolt at a plant race and nothing additional happens. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Oct 11 '18 at 23:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ possibly try removing words such as "may" which could lead to uncertainty. instead of saying "X may get Y" say "X gets Y" \$\endgroup\$ – rpgstar Oct 12 '18 at 0:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Many conebearing trees require fire as part of their reproductive cycle. Lightning may be a better vulnerability \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Owens Oct 12 '18 at 4:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ In your spellcasting section you state "may learn either the entangle spell" but don't provide an alternative. Based on prior feedback, my assumption is that there are no longer other options so it should just be "learn the entangle spell". \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari Oct 12 '18 at 14:06
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This is a little bit weaker compared to official races (but within reasonable range to be "balanced")

I'm going to use the Wildforest Saplings as an example, but most of what I'm describing applies to all of the subraces (with a few exceptions I'll deal with specifically later).

I'll be using Elves as the reference point for what constitutes a "balanced" race in 5e D&D, since they're most similar to what you've created here.

These are features granted to them that aren't the standard issue size/movement speed/etc. stats:

  • Skill Proficiencies. Nature.
  • Weapon Proficiencies. Clubs, Quarterstaffs, Nets, Whips, Longbows, Shortbows
  • Darkvision (range unspecified)
  • Spells. Druidcraft (cantrip; at-will, level 1), Entangle (First Level; once per day; level 3)
  • Languages. Common, Sylvan, Elvish
  • Treewhispers.

Proficiencies

So the first thing we can see is that they're gaining a lot of weapon proficiencies. This isn't a big deal; characters that need specific weapons are probably playing a class that gives proficiency in those weapons in the first place.

The Nature skill proficiency is a bigger deal, but it's not more than what is offered by Elves (who gain proficiency in Perception). And since Perception tends to be a more useful skill in general, I'll make a bold claim that compared to Elves, 2 additional weapon proficiencies for a less optimal skill proficiency is probably a wash, power-wise.

Darkvision

It's not clear what the range on this feature is meant to be. Bear in mind that Darkvision differs from race to race. If this offers 60ft Darkvision, it's on par with what a lot of other races offer, including Elves.

Spells

Access to Druidcraft, which is ordinarily a druid-exclusive cantrip, is a somewhat big deal, tempered by the fact that in general, Druidcraft mostly only offers Roleplaying power, not much mechanical power.

Entangle compares to what Eladrin elves get with Misty Step, or what Drow get with Faerie Fire and Darkness (note that Drow get more than most races, but have some significant downsides in their Sunlight Sensitivity). Since Entangle is a lower level spell than what is offered by either of those two options, I'm willing to call it par.

Languages

This race offers 3 languages, all of which are locked in. This is in comparison to Sea Elves, which also get 3 locked in languages, and contrast to High Elves which get 2 locked in languages + 1 choice language, and other elves which only get their two locked in languages.

The power of languages is difficult to gauge, but since languages are also one of the proficiencies that the PHB specifically gives rules for learning in-campaign, it's easier to bridge any power gap that an extra language might give.

Treewhispers

This is probably the weak link in the race. Being able to understand the feelings of trees is something that's difficult to find mechanical use of. It's a very interesting feature, and probably offers a fair degree of roleplaying use, but it's just not that powerful.

Ability Score Increases

You stuck to the +2/+1 pattern common to official races, so there's not much need to specifically evaluate for that. Redwood is probably the most likely to stand out, because STR/CON is a more viable combo than the other stat combos are, but all of the choices are relatively balanced.

One note here is that it's a bit wonky to have each each subrace have completely different ASIs. The normal convention is to have a universal +2 to one stat that all the subraces share, and the +1 stat being the variance between them. I can't think of any balance implications of that decision, however.

Size wonkiness

It's wonky to have Applewood saplings be a size smaller than the other subraces. Again, not a balance concern, just strange.

Also, the wording on Redwood saplings should be cleaned up; it mistakenly gave me the impression that redwood characters could be huge, until I reread it. Information about how NPCs should be statted generally shouldn't be mixed in with the PC statblocks.

Overall

The biggest thing is to reconsider whether you want the Applewood saplings to be smaller than the others. It's fine if you do; just bear in mind that it diverges from normal design constraints.

Aside from that, it might be good to flesh out more concrete mechanical uses for Treewhispers. As-is, it feels like an underwhelming feature in need of more in-game use.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer! The Applewood dryads are small for lore reasons, as is the redwood's size. I should have removed the language about becoming huge once they complete their transformation for the purposes of the question, but my final packet write up will Include that and more since the lore will matter at the table. As for treewhisper, maybe I pared it down slightly too much. I'll consider boosting it but I dont want to step on the toes of existing spells \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Owens Oct 11 '18 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkOwens It's good flavor. Just review how other races are laid out in the PHB and other books. Flavor text is frontloaded over many paragraphs, and then the statblocks are discrete and don't contain more flavor text than a sentence describing how they differ from other subraces. If you use a different format, you need to make sure it preserves the same consistency of information. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Oct 11 '18 at 20:35

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