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Wizards' spellbooks and artificer "magic" are explicitly called out as being reflavorable--that is, as long as everything has the same numbers, a "spellbook" doesn't need to be a book, and artificer "spells" don't need to look like classic magic spells. I think I remember seeing some passage about being allowed to reflavor spells in general, such as learning magic missile but casting it by creating a floating skull that spews spooky blobs of pain (as long as the skull doesn't do anything other than deal 1d4+1 force damage three times), but I skimmed the magic section of the PHB and couldn't find it.

Spellcasting focuses and musical instruments are also given as open lists, including some example items and their prices/weights, but stating that, for example, an arcane focus can be "some similar item". What exactly this means for a character's gold pouch and carrying capacity is unclear, but it is another example of something that explicitly allows players to--as long as they don't receive any gameplay benefit--reflavor things to their tastes.

Are there any other rules like this, be they specific to a certain racial trait or class feature, or a more general "hey you're allowed to change things up as long as they don't affect gameplay"? I know that the DMG has guidelines for all sorts of alterations that you can make, but that seems like more of a soft suggestion than something that's definitively legal. This question isn't meant to be AL-specific, but using it as an example since it is an environment where DMs generally can't just go "oh I like that idea sure you can do it"... Could an AL player have a Medium-sized non-venomous drider who's bad at climbing by playing a drow and simply saying that their character is a drider*? Or could an AL player make a barbarian fight not by entering a primal rage, but by consuming a can of vitamin-rich spinach? Or, things in that vein that are related to some specific other race/racial trait or class/class feature?

*Actually, I just checked the AL rules and they say there that you can reskin races, so maybe AL isn't the best example situation here. In general, I just mean "some setting where houserules and homebrew aren't allowed."

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    \$\begingroup\$ Once Tasha's Cauldron of Everything is released, the answers to this might change. I'd suggest checking back in a month or so. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 24 '20 at 17:25
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I'm going to have to frame challenge that.

You're looking for the answer for games where houserules and homebrew aren't allowed. It doesn't exist. Indeed, the idea is antithetical to one of the core principles of 5e. Adventurer's League is as close as it gets, and, as you've noticed, even they have houserules... because 5e is a game that straight-up requires a degree of DM adjudication by design.

And this, indeed, is one of those places. This is exactly the sort of situation that calls for houserule. In this case, it's not because of any crunch limitations. Refluffing your race/class/powers/etc has no crunch implications at all. It's because the DM also has a world to build, and needs to be able to fit your character into the world in the right sort of role. Your drider might be okay, or it might be that being a drider has serious social or even spiritual implications for the world the DM is creating, where letting you play one would warp the campaign in bad ways.

The above is why all of these things are presented as soft suggestions in the DMG rather than rules in the PHB - because a DM has to be able to say "no" to them.

AL, for your example, isn't trying to create that sort of a narratively coherent world, and thus permits such things openly. Many DMs will allow them, especially if you're willing to make adjustments as necessary to fit into the gameworld you have.

If the "you can refluff race changes" idea was available in the PHB rules, they'd have been made clearly visible in the early parts of the book. If you haven't found them, it's because they aren't there. The fact that AL calls it out as a houserule is also pretty indicative - the fact that it's a house rule means that it isn't a core rule.

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The whole principle behind "reskinning/flavoring" is to allow individuality to a character. You can call your darts "throwing stars" but they still only do 1d4 damage and have the same range and restrictions of darts. You can say your long sword was forged from crystal, but it still does the same damage and it is still somehow affected by a rust monster.

A public example is a wizard that doesn't cast spells, but uses potions, perfumes, and tinctures that have the same results and limitations as spells. So you can't throw a potion that is a touch spell, as an example.

But with all that said, it all boils down to the DM as to what is allowed. While I appreciate the potion/perfume reskin and the flavor it adds, I would not allow it in my game as there would be too many questions about "where does he keep them safe?", "how does he refill?", and "how can you switch the spells you have prepared mid-adventure?"

There are no "rules", just soft suggestions.

And that also means, especially with Adventure League, that what can be allowed can change from table to table.

Consider, there is not even a "rule" stating that all races are required to be allowed. Per the PHB

Every character belongs to a race, one of the many intelligent humanoid species in the D&D world. The most common player character races are dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans. Some races also have subraces, such as mountain dwarf or wood elf, as well as the less widespread races of dragonborn, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs, and tieflings.

It does not say that it must be one of races listed in the PHB (or any other WotC book). Only that they are one of the intelligent humanoid species in the D&D world. So if my world doesn't have dwarves, you can't be a dwarf in my world.

So there are no rules for what reskinning/reflavoring is allowed, because once you leave the core mechanics of d20, it's all flavor.

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