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On D&DBeyond, I've found this homebrew Kuo-toa race. There are others, even on D&DByeond, but this is the one that seems to most closely adhere to how the Kuo-toa appear in the Monster Manual (or their D&DBeyond stat block).

I'll reproduce the racial traits and such here:

Otherworldly Perception

The kuo-toa can sense the presence of any creature within 30 feet of it that is invisible or on the Ethereal Plane. It can pinpoint such a creature that is moving.

Age

Kuo-Toa live slightly shorter lives in comparison to humans, maturing at the age of 7 and reaching ages up to 50.

Alignment

Kuo-Toa are mostly neutral or evil, and although they have a rigid sense of their own law, they may seem chaotic to other humanoids.

Size

Kuo-Toa reach are around 4-5 feet tall. Your size is medium.

Langauge

Kuo-Toa adventurers can speak, read, and write Common and Undercommon.

Ability Score Increase.

Your Wisdom score increases by 2 and your Constitution score increases by 1.

Amphibious

The Kuo-Toa can breathe air and water.

Slippery

The kuo-toa has advantage on ability checks and saving throws made to escape a grapple.

Sunlight Sensitivity

While in sunlight, the kuo-toa has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

Some of these details don't seem to have any source that I know of, such as their age range, but otherwise the mechanical aspects seems to honour the stat block of the "monster" kuo-toa.

But is it balanced compared to the other player races? In particular, the Otherworldly Perception trait looks to me like it might be overpowered, but would this make it overpowered compared to, say, the Yuan-ti Pureblood, which I believe is considered the most powerful of the monstrous races from Volo's Guide to Monsters?


In response to some answers; I didn't actually spot that this doesn't have a swim speed of 30 feet! I just assumed it would have (I mean, why wouldn't it? Of course it should)! If I were to make use of this, I would definitely ensure that it has a swim speed of 30 feet (I'm the DM in this situation).

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It's almost balanced, but...

Let's look at the scores for a Kuo-Toa in the Monster Manual.

STR 13 (+1)
DEX 10 (+0)
CON 11 (+0)
INT 11 (+0)
WIS 10 (+0)
CHA 8 (-1)

Their highest ability score is actually Strength, which is neither of the ability score increases covered. If I had made this, I would have made the increases +1 Strength and +1 Constitution.

I also would have given this race a swim speed of 30 ft., as the race is literally a fish, and it is in the stat block. Most of these features are balanced out by Sunlight Sensitivity, a great, big, debuff. If anything, removing the Otherworldly Perception would make the race underpowered.

Surprisingly, this race would fit best in a melee class if the stat block was followed (barring Sunlight Sensitivity), but it seems that the creator attempted to shoehorn the monster into a spellcasting class. Otherwise, everything seems legit, as I cannot find a source that argues against it.

On the fact-based side of things, let us look at the traits from a user's standpoint.

  • Languages: Undercommon is not the most useful language, but good for campaigns that deal with drow and the like a lot.

  • Otherworldly Perception: As enemies on the Ethereal plane are rare, I'm going to ignore that. Seeing through invisibility, however, is powerful. The hole in this is that the Kuo-Toa cannot see the creature (and hence does not know whether it is an invisible Duergar or an invisible Archmage), and only knows the creature's location if it moves. This is akin to the first-level spell Detect Magic:

An aura forms around objects or creatures you can see, indicating that it is magical. It must be within 30 feet. You also learn its school of magic, if it has one.

  • Sunlight Sensitivity The reason this race is balanced lies in this trait. Melee classes are killed by this feature, and (most) spellcasters don't like getting within 30 feet of a creature just to pinpoint its position. Disadvantage on Perception is hard to ignore:

"Yes! I rolled an 17 for Perception! What do I see? Oh, wait, disadvantage...nat2."

  • Amphibious: Saves you a few gold pieces on Potions of Water Breathing.

  • Slippery: Great for melee classes, especially Monks, who don't usually rely on Strength.

The reason that this is almost balanced is its way of not fitting into any particular class well (if it had the correct ABC). If you are a wizard, chances are you'll be too far away to use Otherworldly Perception. If you are a Fighter, disadvantage on attack rolls is TERRIBLE. For WIS based classes...it may fit, but they really shouldn't have these ability score increases that make them attractive for those classes. Wisdom is NOT the Kuo-Toa's strength; Strength is their strength.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You should include why you think it is almost balanced and focus on that rather than whether the features it gets is (in your opinion) correct/flavorful. The latter discussion is likely best had in a forum or in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 21 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ My second paragraph covers that the race would be balanced if it had one more tiny feature (swim speed), as it has Sunlight Sensitivity. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCentaur Apr 21 at 18:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ My point is you give no justification for why something balances or not, or would make it unbalanced and we generally expect answers to justify their findings/statements. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Apr 21 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think what @Someone_Evil is saying is that you don't explain why those things are debuffs or buffs, which means this answer comes off a little opinion-based. FWIW, I fully agree with you though. \$\endgroup\$ – Riker Apr 21 at 19:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ About the stats, it's interesting to note that all the other Kuo-toa stat blocks all have equally high STR, CON and WIS scores; it's only the basic Kuo-toa that seem to have average stats all round except for a little more STR and a little less CHA. So I can see why whoever created this might have landed on +2 WIS, especially if they didn't want the Kuo-toa's ASIs to resemble races like Half-Orcs and Goliath... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Apr 21 at 22:11
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This Kuo-toa race is less powerful than the standard PC race

I'm going to use the Detect Balance system (DB) to produce a numerical score for each trait. We can then compare that against a typical PC race. After that, I can explain some of my reasoning for the scores given. As a quick reference, in the DB system, 1 point is for a ribbon trait that will very rarely be impactful, 2 points are for a sometimes useful trait, 4 points are for a frequently useful or powerful trait, and 8 points are for an unusually powerful trait. 0 points mean that the trait is identical to almost every other race and doesn't have to be adjusted for.

  • Otherworldly Perception: 2
  • Size - Medium: 0
  • Languages - Common and Undercommon: 0
  • Wisdom +2: 8
  • Constitution +1: 4
  • Amphibious: 2
  • Slippery: 2
  • Sunlight Sensitivity: -3
  • Assumed Movement Speed 30 feet: 0
  • Total: 15

The average PC race has a score of 25±1. This race is below the lowest rated PC race, Standard Human, at 17.

Score Breakdown

Most of the point allotment comes straight from the user guide for the system. I'll explain here why I may have departed from the guide or had to produce a new score that isn't in the guide.

Otherworldy Perception: I'd feel really hard pressed to rate this better than "sometimes useful". All though it initial look very powerful, I just don't see this as a trait that would be used frequently enough to warrant a higher rating. In a campaign with significant subterfuge or Ethereal travelling creatures, it would prove advantageous. But the mediocre distance mostly limits the usefulness of spotting invisible creatures to indoor locations, where 1st level spells like Faerie Fire or mundane means such as dumping a sack of flour on the floor also hard counter invisibility. Your mileage may vary but in the assumed standard high magic D&D campaign, I don't see this being better than having Darkvision.

Slippery: Again, a trait I don't feel that I could rate higher than "sometimes useful". There aren't a significant enough number of creatures that regularly deploy grapples against PCs to make this trait more powerful.

Other Considerations

Negative Synergy: The DB system also includes a caveat to accommodate negative synergy within a race. For this race, the ASIs push towards a Wisdom centric class, with spellcasters being the ones to gain the most from the ASIs. The Slippery trait, however, pushes a more melee oriented class, one that might be grappled more often to get the most out of the feature. The classes that utilise Wisdom (for spellcasting or another mechanical effect) are Cleric, Druid, Monk, and Ranger. Depending on how you build your Cleric, they may or may not be in the front line. A non-Wild Shaped Druid will not presumably be in the front line with their poor armour selection and mediocre Hit Points. A Wild Shaped Druid can be in the front line, but whether or not their Wild Shaped form can use this trait is going to be DM fiat, I'd personally lean no. The Monk will probably be in the front line depending on their Monastic Tradition and are probably the best fit for this combo. The Ranger could be in the front line if built for it but probably aren't. It's pretty hit or miss whether there is any negative synergy or not, so I have omitted the point penalty, but something to be aware of.

Swim Speed: If the race did get a swim speed of 30 feet, the points total would increase by 2.

Conclusion

The "killer feature" of this race (Otherworldly Perception) will probably not be used as often as you may hope. The standard ASI +2/+1 keeps the race from falling too far behind the other races. The other traits have only a small impact on the total point score and the possibility of creating some negative synergy. Sunlight Sensitivity is a lead weight holding the race back.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ the detect balance system you mentioned is killer. comment of the month \$\endgroup\$ – Jason Dossett Apr 22 at 15:19

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