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We are beginning a Curse of Strahd Campaign and one of my players wants to play a Ratman. I'm afraid that giving him lycanthropy at level 1 might be a bit overpowered so I toned it down and added some extra fun little abilities.

Ratman

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

Size. Ratmen stand between 3 and 4 feet tall and average around 90 pounds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Disease Resilience. You have advantage on saving throws against poison, you have resistance against poison damage and you are immune to disease.

Infected bite. Due to your life in the city's sewers, you have been infected by a number of horrendous diseases that have affected your physiology. You have a bite attack that deals 1d4 piercing damage. A creature hit by this attack must succeed a Constitution saving throw against a DC of 8 + your Constitution modifier + the amount of piercing damage inflicted by the initial bite. On a failure, the creature takes poison damage equal to your Constitution modifier and cannot be affected by any healing effects. On a success, the creature takes half damage and suffers no addition effects. The creature can repeat saving throw at the beginning of each of your turns. On a success, the effect is removed, however if the creature fails three times the effect lasts until the creature take a short or long rest (creatures immune to the poisoned condition are also immune to this effect, but still take the poison damage. Creatures immune to disease take nothing but the piercing damage).

Keen Smell. The Ratman has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

Natural Claws. Because of your claws, you have a climbing speed of 20 feet. In addition, your claws are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them, you deal slashing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice), instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.

Rodent Nimbleness. You can move through the space of any creature that is of a size larger than yours.

Languages You can speak, read and write Common and Undercommon.

The Infected bite preventing healing effects was specifically requested by the player so I'd like to keep that if possible, though rewording and balancing is fine of course.

If I need to be more specific about "Balanced"

  • Is this more or less powerful than a Wererat at level 1?

  • Have I given the rat too many abilities and if so which ones should I change or remove to balance things? (maybe a vulnerability)

  • Should the Ratman be a small creature? (my player doesn't think so but I do, maybe make it small but still have 30 ft movement speed cause there reactionary, quick and nimble for there size)

  • I'm tempted to add an ability similar to a toned down Alert feat or Cunning Action to make the race seem more jittery and on-edge but I think that might be pushing it a bit too far, Do you think I could add one more ability without tipping the scales?

  • For "Infected Bite" should I keep the "plus the amount of piercing damage taken during the initial bite" added to the DC or just make it "plus your proficiency bonus"?

  • Does the "Infected Bite" ability make sense or is it too wordy?

  • And most importantly, Does playing as an anthropomorphize Rat (or any more animalistic creature) in Curse of Strahd specifically, have any inherit unfair advantages/disadvantages?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ there is a very similar question here that has a lot of overlap with your race and ideas \$\endgroup\$ – Karan Shishoo Oct 28 at 8:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also is your player opposed to playing a rat-based shifter ? \$\endgroup\$ – Karan Shishoo Oct 28 at 8:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KaranShishoo No the player wasn't opposed to it, I was. I didn't give it too much thought but automatic 15 dexterity at level one effectively means he can dump dex and still have it be a 15, plus becoming a lycanthrope at level 1 just feels too powerfull. Correct me if I'm wrong (also the player wants the stop healing bite effect and the wererat doesn't have that so...) \$\endgroup\$ – Youjay Oct 28 at 8:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Im talking about the shifter race not being a wererat (were PC's tend to be a bit overpowered imo). He can probably go with the swiftstride or longtooth subrace since those seems to fit the best for a rat \$\endgroup\$ – Karan Shishoo Oct 28 at 9:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KaranShishoo Thanks for pointing be to this, I completed forgot shifter was a race, I'll ask him what he thinks but I'll still keep this question open just encase they don't like it. \$\endgroup\$ – Youjay Oct 28 at 9:14
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Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

This isn't bad, most races get a 2+ and 1+

Size. Ratmen stand between 3 and 4 feet tall and average around 90 pounds. Your size is Medium.

You should make this a small creature. Dwarfs stand 4'4 and are medium. You are shorter than that.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

This is fine, many races have that speed.

Darkvision. You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Again, darkvision isn't uncommon.

Disease Resilience. You have advantage on saving throws against poison, you have resistance against poison damage and you are immune to disease.

So you're immune to disease and resist poison? That is slightly overpowered. But I'll let is pass.

Infected bite. Due to your life in the city's sewers, you have been infected by a number of horrendous diseases that have effected your physiology. You have a bite attack that deals 1d4 piercing damage forcing the creature make a Constitution saving throw against a DC of 8 + your Constitution modifier + the amount of piercing damage taken during the initial bite, on a failure the creature takes poison damage equal to your Constitution modifier and cannot be effected by any healing effects, on a success the take half damage and no addition effects. At the beginning of your next turn, if the creature failed there previous save, the creature makes another Constitution saving throw, on a success the effect is removed on a failure the effect remains for an additional round, if the creature fails three times the effect lasts until the creatures next short or long rest (creatures immune to the poisoned condition are also immune to this effect, but still take the poison damage, creatures immune to disease take nothing but the piercing damage).

This is very wordy, and I don't think that any other (official) race has this. I think it should be removed.

Keen Smell. The Ratman has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

This too is fine, some races have something similar to this.

Natural Claws. Because of your claws, you have a climbing speed of 20 feet. In addition, your claws are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them, you deal slashing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice), instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.

Again, other races have this, it's not as common darkvision but...

Rodent Nimbleness. You can move through the space of any creature that is of a size larger than yours.

If you took my advice about making it small creature than you could move through the spaces of medium creatures. Slightly overpowered.

Languages You can speak, read and write Common and Undercommon.

Two fixed languages is fine.

My analysis: Balanced, but a few features need changed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To add to the size small comment - Dwarves are MUCH heavier, and a 90 pound rat is pretty small. Agree size should be small. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Wagner Nov 26 at 19:05
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It's Probably Fine

Basically, instead of having a +2/+1 stat at L1, this race gets a number of marginally useful abilities.

The Good: Keen Smell is fairly potent and will come up a lot. Infected Bite is good, and can be built around; it's just a bit wordy (I'd simplify the wording). Rodent Nimbleness is relevant and also comes up a lot (kind of a rip-off of Halfling Nimbleness though).

The Situational: Disease Resistance is good, but very situational. Poison comes up reasonably often, but most combats this ability will be useless.

The Bad: +2 Dexterity is usually a relevant stat boost, but most races get a +2/+1 array. I'd say this is below average.

The Fluff: Natural Claws will almost never come up and is mostly useless. You basically always have a dagger which can't be disarmed... OK, fine.

On Infected Bite: This is a neat ability. Just because it's different to what is currently available doesn't mean it's overpowered. The Wererat gets no additional Constitution in its stat array. It basically deals: (1d4+Str/Dex) + (1d4+Con) on a failed save. This is roughly comparable to a longsword.

My worry is that, with multiple attacks, this could slow down the game. Imagine a L20 Wererat Fighter, forcing 8 saves for piddling damage. Maybe make it once/turn with scaling damage, like a SCAG cantrip? What about:

1d4 + Dex/Str Piercing + Con poison (Additional D10s at 5, 11, 17)?

If you want to keep it the same, I'd re-word and simplify as follows:

Infected Bite: Due to your life in the city's sewers, you have been infected by a number of horrendous diseases that have affected your physiology. You have a bite attack which counts as a finesse weapon, which deals 1d4 damage. On a hit, the target must make a Constitution save or take additional poison damage equal to 1d4 plus the Wererat's Constitution modifier (save for half). The Save DC for this bite attack equals 8 + Constitution Modifier + Proficiency.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think if he was doing a stealth mission, using the ceiling or walls to hide from enemies would be a pretty cool race specific ability. Not to mention maybe he can climb walls in situations others can't. \$\endgroup\$ – J. Wagner Nov 26 at 19:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.Wagner There are conflicting Sage Advice entries regarding whether a climb speed precludes you from needing to make checks to climb. See: sageadvice.eu/2016/09/22/…, sageadvice.eu/2016/08/02/… \$\endgroup\$ – James Nov 26 at 20:27
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Ratman

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

You could add a +1 to CONST here as well that would fit thematically and give the standard +2/+1 array others mentioned.

Size. Ratmen stand between 3 and 4 feet tall and average around 90 pounds. Your size is Medium.

I would lean towards making them small. This actually would work better with the Rodent Nimbleness as well. A dwarf is medium at 4-5 feet. I also would suggest maybe lowering the weight a bit. A 90 pound 3 foot rat would be a very plump rat

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

This is a typical speed, no issue here.

Darkvision. You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Makes sense thematically, several other races have this too.

Disease Resilience. You have advantage on saving throws against poison, you have resistance against poison damage and you are immune to disease.

Having disease and poison thrown in together isn't the most balanced, but overall this is fine to keep. You aren't going to be running into enough situations to use this do the point of being unbalanced.

Infected bite. Due to your life in the city's sewers, you have been infected by a number of horrendous diseases that have affected your physiology. You have a bite attack that deals 1d4 piercing damage. A creature hit by this attack must succeed a Constitution saving throw against a DC of 8 + your Constitution modifier + the amount of piercing damage inflicted by the initial bite. On a failure, the creature takes poison damage equal to your Constitution modifier and cannot be affected by any healing effects. On a success, the creature takes half damage and suffers no addition effects. The creature can repeat saving throw at the beginning of each of your turns. On a success, the effect is removed, however if the creature fails three times the effect lasts until the creature take a short or long rest (creatures immune to the poisoned condition are also immune to this effect, but still take the poison damage. Creatures immune to disease take nothing but the piercing damage).

This needs to be reworded to make it less fluffy. I think this could be condensed to a more concise version that gets the same point across. I would add a limitation on uses of this though. Being able to poison someone freely every turn with a melee attack at level 1 seems overpowered. Maybe have this once per short rest. Another option is to have it where you can use this as many times equal to your CONST modifier, and points replenish on a long rest. Would this poisoned effect give it the poisoned condition? It might be better to just stick to the poisoned condition: A poisoned creature has disadvantage on Attack rolls and Ability Checks. I would remove the "if a creature fails three times" part too. Either make it indefinite until saved, or give it a hard number of turns until its passed. The saving throws should be on the creatures turn, not the PC's as well.

Keen Smell. The Ratman has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

Makes sense thematically. Not unbalanced

Natural Claws. Because of your claws, you have a climbing speed of 20 feet. In addition, your claws are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them, you deal slashing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice), instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.

This one should just be the claws as an attack situation. Take out the climbing speed bit and have this a standalone unarmed strike modifier.

Rodent Nimbleness. You can move through the space of any creature that is of a size larger than yours.

This isn't super useful, but it is not unbalanced. I am having a hard time coming up with many situations this would be used. This could be a good spot to place the climbing speed addition though.

Languages You can speak, read and write Common and Undercommon.

As long as Common is in there, this is fine.

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