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My table likes to theorycraft and make builds that are then playtested via PvP. We generally run fairly strict RAW and don't allow homebrew, but we have allowed Unearthed Arcana in the past. I'm trying to see what other builds I can make using this potential race below and how it might stack up in PvP if we allow it.

I'd like to see how this race is balanced against the existing ones to see if we could include it in our PvP testing:

Virashti

The Virashti are a race of blue-skinned, four-armed geniuses that lives in forest cities. They have learned how to balance advancing technology while preserving nature. They have the best education system in the galaxy.

  • Ability Scores Increase. Your Dexterity score increase by 2, and your Intelligence score increase by 1.
  • Age. Virashti mature about the same rate as humans, but they can live up to 100 years.
  • Alignment. Most Virashti are good in nature. They generally don't have a preference towards lawful or chaotic.
  • Size. Virashti range from 5 feet to over 6 feet tall. Your size is Medium.
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
  • Darkvision. Accustomed to twilit forests and the night sky, 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.
  • Four-Armed. Your morphology has grant you an extra set of arms. These arms can be used for tasks such as, performing somatic components of spells, grappling, or wielding weapons. Once per turn, you can also draw, stow, or interact with an object requiring no action, assuming you have a free hand.
    When you attack with a weapon that does not have the Heavy property, you can make an off-hand attack using a separate weapon that also does not have the Heavy property using your bonus action. This off-hand attack does not add your ability modifier to the damage rolls, following the rules of two-weapon fighting.
    Furthermore, you cannot use a shield while you are wielding a weapon with the Heavy property, or wielding more than one weapon simultaneously.
  • Virashti Training and Knowledge. You are proficient in the Athletics or Sleight of Hand skill, and one skill of your choice from the following list: Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature, or Religion.
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Virashti.

The goal is to have a playable four-armed race in D&D 5e. The Four-Armed trait allows you to dual wield longswords (or equivalent) and rapiers right out the gate, making the Dual Wielder feat less appealing (if not obsolete). This also means that you can dual wield non-heavy two-handed weapons such as, greatclubs, light crossbows, or shortbows.

Other races usually gets a combination of natural weapon/natural armor, innate spellcasting, skill and/or tool proficiencies, damage type resistances and a unique racial trait. Those with a stronger unique trait usually have less racial traits overall. However, I have struggled assessing how powerful the Four-Armed trait actually is, and the Virashti race as a whole.

I've compared it to races like Aarakocra, which gets flight, and Satyrs, which gets magic resistance, and feels like this is pretty balanced, or at least comparable to them. Dual wielding shortbows is especially comparable to variant Humans picking up Crossbow Expert, if not worse. So far in my campaign, I've yet to pull the dual wielding shortbows gimmick, so I don't know how that plays yet.

Is this race overpowered when compared to other 5e races? And if so, how can I improve balancing this race? A comment suggested for me to put a standard for the basis of the comparison. I guess by balanced I mean that I don't want the Virashti to be the only "viable" choice when min-maxing a specific build.

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It's not game-breaking, but it's a bit much.

Let's look at the kinds of builds that might seek this thing.

  • Lets you wield a shortbow and a shield. That's... not actually particularly meaningful for almost anyone. The people who might reasonably wield a shortbow won't naturally have shield proficiency, and wont' generally be inclined to take it.

  • Lets you wield two shortbows. This is roughly equivalent to wielding a hand crossbow and taking crossbow expert, but with better range and no easing of melee disadvantage. Almost everyone who's weapon-focused enough to be interested in a trick like this gets proficiency in hand crossbows anyway, with the sole exception of the monk... and trying to dual-wield shortbows really doesn't play to the monk's strengths. In general, then, that makes this worse than a feat, which means that you're not that much better off than a variant human. Your sidebar features are a lot nicer, but not overwhelmingly so, as a matter of balance.

  • Lets you wield a hand crossbow, crossbow expert, and shield. This is potentially interesting, as there are fighter builds out there that crossbow expert/hand crossbow, and adding a shield isn't a bad thing. You can even dual-wield shortbows while you wait for your feat. Still, ability to use a shield isn't worth a full feat. Maybe half a feat? At this point, you're competitive with a variant human (which is quite good) but, again, not overwhelmingly so.

  • Lets you dual-wield light crossbows with crossbow expert. This is basically the equivalent of hand crossbow/crossbow expert, except that you've got better range and +1 effective damage. I'd count that as less than a feat as well.

  • You can dual-wield greatclubs. There's surprisingly little you can do with that, actually. It's basically the same sort of "kind of like a feat, but worse" as many of the other options, only this time with the dual wielder feat.

  • You can dual-wield light crossbows as a rogue. This may be about as good as it gets. Rogues only get one standard attack normally anyway, so the lack of loading feature won't matter with the dual wielding. For a rogue, dual-wilding light crossbows as a Virashti is arguably a bit better overall than the feat (better range, +! effective damage, but still has issues in melee). Virashti becomes very competitive as a ranged rogue build, and is arguably the best available race by a notable margin. This is made even better by the quality of life benefits. Darkvision has obvious benefits for rogues, the extra skills are certainly nice, and the additional free object interaction can be really handy when the rogue in question has to adjust to situations on the fly. I can clearly recall a game I was in with a dual shortsword rogue where object interactions of that variety were a constant and frustrating chokepoint for the first round or two of combat.

So... I'd say, overall, that Four-Armed is basically worth a feat. There are a number of builds for which it's kind of like one feat or another (but a bit worse), and that gets brought back up again by the object interaction. There are a great many builds for which it's worth far less than a feat, but you weren't going to see any of those at your table anyway. There's one build (crossbow rogue) for which it's arguably better than a feat. If you feel that that build is top-tier or even a bit OP, then that may need ot be taken into account, but it's otherwise not that big a deal.

The problem is when it comes to your other abilities. Variant Human gets +1 to two stats (of choice), one skill, and a feat, and it's absolutely top-tier. The feats that Four-Armed plays equivalent to are actual feats that an optimizer might well buy with Variant Human. The Virashti get +2dex/+1int, two skills, four-armed, and darkvision. This isn't necessarily game-breaking levels of good, but it's clearly superior in cases where four-armed is competitive with a feat... and Variant Human is pretty much the standard-bearer for top-tier races in 5e charop.

My suggestion... keep your idea of a big blue dude with four arms. Leave four-armed as it is, and trim back some of the sides, until they're comparable with the side benefits that variant human gets.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice! Thank you for your answer. After reading it, I want to suggest that the Dex increase is reduced to 1, and that Virashti only gets one skill from that list \$\endgroup\$ – field158 Jan 5 at 4:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @field158 Dropping the bonus to +1 is good. Not having a choice where your stats go is sub-par compared to humans, but one of those stats is Dex, so it's still great for any type of ranged build, which the extra arms already favors, and while Int bonuses aren't spectacular, they work well for Arcane Trickster rogues, which is already gaining a bunch of benefits from this race. Because of this, I think that instead of dropping proficiencies to only one, they should be cut entirely. \$\endgroup\$ – BaconyRevanant Jan 5 at 13:42
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It's probably stronger than most other races, but not by a lot.

It is strongest at the earlier levels where the Four-Armed ability allows for dual wielding a Heavy weapon and another weapon, increasing damage by a few points over a human (or dwarf or w/e).

Being locked into Dex is a bit limiting but not unduly so. Darkvision and 2 trained skills is pretty good but not outside what other races grant - the only part that really is is 4-armed.

A two-handed weapon and a shield, or a two-handed weapon and an off-hand weapon, being able to more easily use somatic components etc are all pretty good and it is largely better than what most races bring to the table, but the difference is not what I would call 'game breaking' or anything like. An even slightly more optimized character classwise will outpace a Virashti with a standard race, especially once extra attacks or middle-tier spells start to come into play.

If your table is obsessed with balance/minmaxing, there are probably more important things to consider than this custom race (class balance). If you're not, it likely won't even matter except perhaps for coolness factor.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer! However, the Four-Armed trait specifically states that you cannot dual wield while using a Heavy weapon, or use a shield while using a Heavy weapon or dual wielding \$\endgroup\$ – field158 Jan 5 at 3:03

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