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I recently joined a group about to start a new adnd-2e campaign. As I am new to D&D in general, I only learned after the fact that I made a mistake during character creation, resulting in a combination that does not follow the rules.

I chose to play an elf wizard specialist, a transmuter to be precise. I just noticed reading another handbook that a transmuter needs to be of human blood, i.e. a human or half-elf. This was somehow missed by our DM.

This leads me to two questions:

  1. Is there a significant reason why a transmuter has to be of human blood?

  2. Should I inform the DM of our mishap and ask whether they will allow this combination despite not following the rules?

I plan to inform the DM anyway, I just wonder how the situation can be handled. I guess changing the character's race and re-rolling age, height and weight wouldn't be a lot of trouble.

I just want to resolve this conflict before we start our first session.

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2nd Edition is very picky about which races get which classes and how far they can advance. This is to do with the game’s method of power balance.

In the original Advanced D&D rule set, Multi-Classing and Dual classing are funky/complicated things. Only demi-humans can Multi-Class and even then they have maximum level caps for advancement in each class that are specific for each race.

Next up is Dual Classing. Dual classing is a human exclusive — whereby you start your adventuring career over at level 1, re-level, and once you are back to original level, gain the benefits of each class. But, you never again advance in the original class.

So in 2nd edition class availability (and thus game balance) is heavily dependent on your race. 2nd Edition believes in factoring in the lifespans of the various races into its calculations of game balance. If not, elves (whom had the longest lifespans) would have the most powerful warriors and wizards throughout every realm where they existed, since if you have a 1000 years to gain experience, you can then max every class level (or reach ridiculous levels) in comparison to the shorter lived dwarfs or humans.

So the compromise is to allow demi-humans to split their XP amongst multiple classes simultaneously, and allow them to advance only so far in particular classes. Some races can advance further in some classes than others. Classes that are particularly powerful or quirky (such as paladin) are labeled a Human exclusive. Humans can only advance in a single class at a time (Dual classing is possible). This means that being human awards you the strongest single class advancement alongside access to some of the most powerful classes, though at the expense of the racial bonuses everyone else gets.

By limiting the transmuter to Human and Half-Elf, they are limiting the mechanical multi-classing / dual classing access of the more powerful and quirky class.

Yes, talk to your DM about your character Sheet.

Your DM is also your best source of information and best ally for ensuring your character is both what you want and what works with the table. Perhaps your DM won't mind letting you "have" you racial/class trait combo, or perhaps it might be a smidge outta whack and a few minor adjustments may be needed. Letting him know what you have lets him know what kind of adventures he can expose the party to.

Ensuring that each party member doesn't greatly overpower or fall too far behind the other characters is really important for keeping AD&D fun and engaging for everyone at the table.

That, and they will eventually find out anyway. D&D isn't you vs. the DM, it's everyone at the table vs. the adventure. Working with the 5th party member (the DM) to make things clear and understood to ensure mechanics and story are acceptable goes a long way towards making great games and adventures.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a great answer other than the suggesting the system prevented Gish characters. Bladesingers and even non-templated fighter/mages were viable, even if generally suboptimal, choices, especially at lower levels. I played both. \$\endgroup\$ – TimothyAWiseman Nov 19 '18 at 17:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough, pulled that sentence. \$\endgroup\$ – Play Patrice Nov 19 '18 at 17:42
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The Dungeon Master is advised to allow this on a case-by-case basis

The AD&D 2e revised Dungeon Master's Guide, p.22:

Allow nonstandard race/class combinations only on a case-by-case basis. If you institute a rule—"Gnomes can now be paladins"—you will suddenly find yourself with six player character gnome paladins.

If a player desperately wants to play a gnome paladin, eask him to come up with a thoughtful rationale explaining why this gnome is a paladin. It must be plausible and consistent with your campaign setting. If the rationale satisfies you, allow that player, and only that player, to play a gnome paladin.

The cost of playing an elf is that they can't normally reach higher than level 15 as a Mage, so the DM must decide what level limit an elf would have as a Transmuter. The DMG allows DMs to ignore the demihuman level limits altogether, something which would later be harshly discouraged by Dungeon Master's Option: High Level Characters by Skip Williams, who amusingly went on to write D&D 3rd edition which removed level limits entirely.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ We always houseruled away the racial restrictions and level limits. (Might have kept the "paladins must be human", not sure) \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Nov 20 '18 at 1:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ RE: "'[Y]ou will suddenly find yourself with six player character gnome paladins." Y'know, Dungeon Master's Guide, I find that just a bit hard to believe. While that would be, like, one of the oddest AD&D 2e campaigns ever, I can't imagine any group of normal players, upon seeing that house rule, all agreeing to roll with gnome paladins much less all groups of players! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 20 '18 at 9:09

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