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I made my own homebrew variant of the Dragonborn race. The ASI replaces the ones in the PHB and it does get the damage resistance from the dragon ancestry trait. My reasoning for these racial traits are placed at the bottom. I wanted to know if this is balanced compared to the other official 5th edition races:

  • Ability Score Increase: Con +2, +1 to one other ability score

  • Darkvision: range of 60 feet. You can see in dim light as if it were bright, and grayscale in darkness.

  • Breath Weapon: You have an elemental breath attack depending on your dragon ancestry. You can use a bonus action to make a ranged attack roll, using your Constitution, against 1 creature you can see within 30 feet of you. You are proficient with this attack. The damage is equal to 1d10 + your Constitution modifier. You can make this attack a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier per every long rest.

  • Developing Wings: You have a pair of wings on your back. Your wings are not fully developed and therefore not strong enough to grant you flight yet. At 10th level, you gain resistance to bludgeoning damage taken from falling. At 20th level, you have a flying speed of 30 feet. Your clothes or armor must accommodate your wings.


  1. I chose this for the ASI as it better reflects a Dragonborn's desire to excel at their given talent and to fulfill any role in their clan. Con+2 because of their strong build, and a flexible +1 to better assimilate into any class.
  2. Dragonborn were born from dragon eggs, and dragons have darkvision. Also the Wildemount variants have darkvision.
  3. The original breath weapon isn't very practical for the action economy in battle, the damage is not great, and it has extremely limited use.
  1. I made the benefits from Developing Wings very gradual.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi, and welcome to RPG.se. Please take our tour when you have time. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jul 10 at 2:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Con+2 because of their strong build", surely that justification would better apply to Str? That said, I do like the Con +2 because it works well with their breath weapon (even if you had kept the RAW breath weapon, it would work well with that too). \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jul 14 at 7:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ It says they were born from dragon eggs in the PHB description of them. \$\endgroup\$ – Lenell Jul 17 at 0:09
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This is balanced, but the breath weapon has problematic design.

I've input this race into the Detect Balance: a 5e Homebrew Race Guide spreadsheet and come up with a score of 24. It's not a straight conversion, so I'll explain each point.

Ability Score Increases

This is slightly stronger than the original dragonborn by making the +1 a choice instead of fixed. DB rates this at 13 points, the original at 12. Not huge deal, just a small improvement for the little bit of extra flexibility it affords.

Darkvision

Another improvement over the original dragonborn, but also a feature possessed by an official variant, the Draconblood Dragonborn. DB rates this at another 3 points. Still on track to be balanced.

Breath Weapon

I think this version of the breath weapon is actually significantly weaker in power than the original, and catastrophically weaker at higher levels. For number of uses, you are probably going to be using this breath weapon a little bit more, up to 5 per long rest at 20 con, but only if you are playing a class that uses high constitution anyway. If playing a low constitution character, you do not get your breath weapon very much.

Which brings me to my next point: this breath weapon is pretty underwhelming, especially at higher levels. First, the original breath weapon has scaling damage, up to 5d6 at 16th level for an average of 17.5 damage on a failed save, and 8.75 on a successful one. Further, the original breath weapons were all some sort of area of effect capable of hitting multiple targets. Your evaluation of the original breath weapon as not "very practical for the action economy in battle, the damage is not great, and it has extremely limited use" seems to be pretty far off, and your breath weapon is significantly worse. Your breath weapon hits one target. At 20 constitution, your breath weapon does 1d10+5 for a maximum 15 damage on a hit (at higher levels, less than the average of the original) and zero damage on a miss. This version of the breath weapon is inferior to the original in every conceivable way, except possibly in the very early stages of the game.

The only thing this breath weapon has going for it is that it is a bonus action, which gives it a little bit more utility in that it can be used along with a weapon attack or spell.

I'm giving it 3 points on the DB score, in contrast with the original breath weapon's 6.

Developing Wings

This contributes nothing to the score during levels 1-9.

At level 10, we get resistance to falling damage. Falling damage seems pretty situational, and its only applicable from 10th level forward, so I think I'm being generous when I rate this similarly to "one rare resistance", which has a DB score of 2 points. It could probably be 1 point.

At 20th level we get a flying speed. I'm giving this zero points because it contributes nothing for 19 levels.

Resistance

And finally, the dragonborn gets a medium resistance, which DB gives 3 points.

Total: 24

The original dragonborn has a score of 21, so on paper, this one seems a little bit better. The darkvision and improved ASI make up for the lackluster breath weapon. Its going to be a bit weaker than the Draconblood and Ravenite dragonborn.

Overall this is balanced compared to other dragonborn - slightly better than the original, and weaker than the published variants.

That's on paper. In actual play, I think the breath weapon is going to be a problem. Mechanically, it's usually going to be totally inferior, and flavor wise, it won't feel like breathing fire. It will feel like shooting a heavy cross bow with your mouth a couple times a day. It really feels more like a solution looking for a problem, and the problem you chose doesn't fit the solution you have brought to the table at all.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Did you take into account the new breath weapon being a bonus action? \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jul 27 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ To be fair, the criticism of the original breath weapon as bad isn't misplaced, just the 'because limited times per day' is wrong and in every other regard the supposed solution is worse than the original, as you point out. Also Con is a good stat, so every character has a bit of it, usually. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jul 27 at 18:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil It could be that I give the original breath weapon too much credit when juxtaposed with a decisively worse alternative. I'll reevaluate and adjust my answer if necessary. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jul 27 at 18:50

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