I'm trying to understand if player races and monster races with the same abilities function differently. I had this issue arise with player regarding a monster race and a player race not having the same ability.

In the MM pg. 122, the Duergar monster race has this ability:

Enlarge (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). For 1 minute, the duergar magically increases in size, along with anything it is wearing or carrying. While enlarged, the duergar is Large, doubles its damage dice on Strength-based weapon attacks (included in the attacks), and makes Strength checks and Strength saving throws with advantage. If the duergar lacks the room to become Large, it attains the maximum size possible in the space available.

While in the SCAG, the Duergar player subrace have this ability:

Duergar Magic. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the enlarge/reduce spell on yourself once with this trait, using only the spell's enlarge option. When you reach 5th level, you can cast the invisibility spell on yourself once with this trait. You don't need material components for either spell, and you can't cast them while you're in direct sunlight, although sunlight has no effect on them once cast. You regain the ability to cast these spells with this trait when you finish a long rest. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

The issue that arose is that a player who is playing a duergar and used enlarge on himself had to keep rolling for concentration when attacked, but the duergar monster that was also enlarged whom he was fighting did not.

My question is why does a monster race and a player race have two different abilities? Shouldn't they be the same?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because even though this is a really interesting question, questions seeking designer reasoning are no longer handled by this site. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2019 at 9:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ For future reference; please don't circumvent the close/reopening system by deleting and reposting. Your old question was in the prosess of being reopened. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Oct 11, 2019 at 10:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ As the other commenters have said, designer-reasons questions are no longer allowed on RPG.SE; however, your revised previous question (if you choose to undelete it) about the relationship seems on-topic and answerable. In other words, we can tell you the answer to "are X and Y the same"/"what's the relationship between X and Y", but we can't tell you the answer to "why did the designers make the relationship between X and Y what it is". \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 11, 2019 at 10:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ My apologies about closing and reopening. I wasn't aware and It wont happen again. But thank you all for the help. I've only been DMing for about 3 years and have been running into a lot of mechanical issues like this. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2019 at 10:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't really really seem like a question about designer intend. "Shouldn't they be the same?" doesn't mean "why did designers do this?", it means "I don't understand why it works this way." \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Oct 11, 2019 at 10:54

1 Answer 1


Monsters don't have races or classes

Monsters work completely different from players and they aren't made using the normal character creation. They have a statblock, and parts of those might look exactly like those of player races, but that doesn't mean they were made in the same way.

Other than the 'Duergar' tag that is used for things like favored enemies of Rangers, there's no real relation, mechanics wise, between a Duergar player and a Duergar NPC.

So yeah, the player's ability is less powerful than that of the monster. But that's because the player and the monster are used in different situations and are balanced in different ways, in the same way as a NPC fighter is different than a player fighter.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for this answer. As a follow-up question, Would the Enlarge ability that the duergar monster race has be considered a spell-like ability that can be countered with counterspell? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2019 at 12:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ The text says "magically", but it doesn't state if it is casting a spell or not. I'd personally rule that it isn't, but that's perhaps a separate question you could ask. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theik
    Oct 11, 2019 at 12:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MrPandatheDM not Counterspell (as the ability is not a spell), but Antimagic Field should work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Journer
    Oct 11, 2019 at 13:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MrPandatheDM There is no such thing as "spell-like abilities" in 5E. If it is granted via the Spellcasting, Innate Spellcasting, or Pact Magic traits, it is a spell. Otherwise, it is not, even if it references the rules for a spell or has similar properties to a spell. The Death Knight's Hellfire Orb is a good example of something that seems very much like it could be a spell, but is not. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    Oct 11, 2019 at 14:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ While this answer makes true observations, it doesn't do anything to demonstrate that those observations are why the discrepancy exists. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 3, 2022 at 14:38

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