I am creating a race of Mutants for my dark fantasy campaign. The core racial mechanic is that each Mutant character picks two mutations from a list. Each mutation gives +1 to an Ability Score and a special trait. Special traits are supposed to be equivalent to ~two thirds of a Feat (I am trying to power-match them to Humans with Optional traits).

I was thinking of one mutation that would give a form of Reach to the character:

Stretched arms: Your upper limbs are flexible and are, or can become, extremely long (e.g., multiple joints, extensible, tentacle-like, etc.). As a bonus action, you can enter in reaching stance until the start of your next turn. While in reaching stance, you add 5 feet to your reach when you perform a melee attack, as well as when determining your reach for opportunity attacks in melee. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.

Instead of giving a permanently increased reach, which seemed potentially too strong to me, the character has to spend a bonus action, which means: (1) it needs to be activated; (2) it gets in the way of other powers (such as off-hand attacks, second wind for Fighters, etc.).

Does this seem balanced?


It's been pointed out that the Bugbear playable race in Volo's Guide to Monsters (p. 119) has the trait:

Long-Limbed: When you make a melee attack on your turn, your reach for it is 5 feet greater than normal.

So the character would always have extended reach (no need to spend a bonus action), but only for attacks (not attacks of opportunity). This might be a good and more official replacement for my previous tentative formulation (and I assume that being in an official supplement it should be relatively okay in terms of power).

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    Welcome to Role-playing Games! We have an excellent Meta question on How to Ask Homebrew Balance Questions.I strongly recommend that you read this and try to follow through with the content inside. I think it'll help you put together better homebrew, better homebrew questions, and give you results that you can use at your table. It'll also vastly increase the odds of a successful Q&A for you here. – NautArch Nov 15 at 15:30
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    Have you looked at the mechanics of PC options that do have Reach in your review and planning of this homebrew (like the bugbear?) And are there no negative features to these mutations? – NautArch Nov 15 at 15:31
  • Thanks @NautArch! As for the Meta question, since you "strongly recommend" I look at its content (I did), can you please tell me specifically what does not work in my question? I gave a brief intro; I explained my basic problem (I want to give Reach, and I want it to have about the power of 2/3 of a feat); I proposed the homebrew trait; and explained my thought process so far. Any suggestion on how to improve is welcome, as I plan to ask more questions here. – lacerbi Nov 15 at 15:41
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    You definitely have done a lot of what's suggested in the meta - which is awesome! I just wanted to make sure you had reviewed this yourself to look at the balance before coming to us. Please see my meta answer on another question (and this is as much for others reading this as for you, even though you've done a great job!) – NautArch Nov 15 at 15:45
  • @NautArch: Thanks for the explanation! As for the mutations, I am following what I understand it's 5e design strategy (at least in the PHB) of only giving positive and no negative features, at least in terms of mechanics. – lacerbi Nov 15 at 15:52
up vote 13 down vote accepted

The Bugbear race presented in Volo's Guide to Monsters has a permanent reach enhancement. As long as your new race is not more powerful than the Bugbear (in terms of stat bonuses and other effects) it's probably okay.

For reference, the Bugbear's Long-Limbed feature is as follows:

Long-Limbed: When you make a melee attack on your turn, your reach for it is 5 feet greater than normal.

Coincidentally, the Bugbear also gets a +1 to dexterity, as granted by the trait you mentioned above.

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    Sounds perfect, thanks! And I will look into Volo's Guide to Monsters. Playable monster races are probably a good source of traits for other mutations. – lacerbi Nov 15 at 15:44
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    It's great that you found something helpful, but you may prefer to give some time before accepting an answer. Someone else may provide something even more useful, or you may discover a problem with someone's answer that didn't come up immediately. I generally wait about 24 hours before accepting to give time for more answers/information. – NautArch Nov 15 at 15:46
  • @NautArch: Good point! – lacerbi Nov 15 at 15:48
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    I should point out the bugbear doesn't get reach on opportunity attacks, something which, on second review, your feature grants. You might want to remove that part, as it could have unintended interactions. – Matt Rick Nov 15 at 15:48

A combination with Polearm Master and Sentinel make this a pretty strong feature, since it allows you to stop the opponent (up to) 2 times, before he gets into attack range:

  1. Activate the feature on your turn
  2. Opponent tries to get into melee range with you, but you hit him with a attack of opportunity.
  3. On your next turn you don't activate the feature placing the opponent outside of your reach. You don't need to move for this to happen so it's possible to avoid attacks of opportunity that could be triggered by you moving back to get the opponent outside of your reach.
  4. Opponent tries to get into melee range again on his next turn, granting you another attack of opportunity denying him the possibility of doing a melee attack against you, if you hit.

If you either change this feature to only work until the end of your own turn or if this permanently increases the reach, this combo wouldn't work anymore, since it wouldn't allow you to change reach without moving or makes you unable to use the extended reach for attacks of opportunity. You should apply one of those changes to the feature.

  • this is mostly an argument against making this an activated power. – Dinomaster Nov 15 at 15:59
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    @Dinomaster Indeed. Furthermore if you reduce the duration to "until the end of your turn." instead of "until the start of your next turn.", this would also prevent this combo. – fabian Nov 15 at 16:11

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