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Parent Race: Hemokatín Vampire

I am going to use all of the traits as if I were following the traits for a Hemokatín of each of the 6 subraces. Please note that I will not be putting Age or Alignment traits here. All 6 subraces are Chaotic Good (Usually), and mature faster than humans and live to 750. This is all for D&D 5e.

The first subrace I'm focusing on, Bloodline, has the following traits:

Bloodline Hemokatin

Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma increases by 2, and one different ability of your choice increases by 1.

Size. Bloodlines are the exact same size as humans. Your size is Medium.

Speed. You have a base walking speed of 30 feet.

Bite. As an unarmed strike on your turn, you can bite one willing creature or a creature you are grappling. If you hit a creature other than an undead or construct, you deal 1 piercing damage and 1d8 necrotic damage, rather than the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.

If you do not use this attack against a creature within 3 weeks, you go insane: You gain the poisoned condition, and you undergo the effect of the confusion spell when you take damage in combat.

Darkvision. Due to your relationship with vampires, you have superior vision in dim light and darkness. You can see in dim light within 120 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness in the same radius as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shade of gray.

Keen Senses. You are proficient with the Perception skill.

Advance Grappler. When you grapple a creature, you are considered proficient with the Athletics and Acrobatics skills and double your proficiency bonuses for those skills.

Light Sleeper. You only need to sleep for 4 hours out of a long rest. The other 4 hours must be spent performing light activity, as normal.

Undead Constitution. You have resistance to poison damage. You also have advantage on saving throws against poison, disease, and being put to sleep by magic.

Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks and attack rolls that depend on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Skills. You are proficient in an additional two skills of your choice.

Tool. You are proficient with on tool of your choice.

Minor Illusion. You know the minor illusion cantrip.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common, Hemokatín, and two other languages of your choice. Hemokatín is a secret language similar to theives' cant.

Here are what I think is unbalanced:

Bite. Too much necrotic damage?

Skills. Three skills seems a lot, especially when you choose two.

Is this subrace balanced with the other D&D 5e races, especially those with subraces themselves?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please review this meta: How can I ask a good homebrew review question? This question is missing a lot of helpful details. What are your concerns with these features? What is your motivation for each feature? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jan 28 at 14:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's primarily the Bite attack. Is it too powerful? \$\endgroup\$ – The Darke Lorde Jan 28 at 14:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ An advantage of posting one subrace at a time is that you can tweak the other subraces based on guidance you receive on this one. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jan 28 at 17:27
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Too many features. This is overpowered.

I have used the Detect Balance google sheet for lots of homebrew race evaluations and have found it to be a pretty decent measure of balance. Here are my results *without accounting for the bite attack:

32 Hemokatin Bloodline
8 ASI +2
5 Choice of ASI +1
0 30 ft speed
5 Choice of Two Skill Proficiencies
2 Skill proficiency
2 Trance
4 Darkvision 120
4 One Common Resistance
1 Common & 2 or 3 languages
1 Tool (or choice thereof) proficiency
2 Cantrip
-3 Sunlight Sensitivity
1 Expertise on rare subset of a skill

Notice I have left off the bite attack, since there is nothing already baked into the spreadsheet resembling it. We're at 32 points already, which is among the strongest races already (Variant Human is 33, Scourge and Fallen Aasimar are 32). Adding in the bite attack, which does necrotic damage, will send this further ahead of these already powerful races. Limiting the bite to a creature you have grappled is not much of a limiter when you double your proficiency bonus for grapple checks. Think of it as "significantly overpowered version of grapple" rather than "underpowered version of natural weapon". This is a very powerful race with too much stuff.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Having to grapple before you can use an attack is absolutely a limiter... and the ability to deal necrotic damage is rare, but not actually particularly more powerful than other kinds of damage. I mean, I agree with your overall conclusion, but the bite itself is not the problem here. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jan 28 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenBarden Think of it as "significantly overpowered version of grapple" rather than "underpowered version of natural weapon". \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jan 28 at 15:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with most of what you say, but valued slightly different, including the Bite and my sleightly different weighting I concluded 35-36 points. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Jan 28 at 15:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu 36 is probably about right with the bite included. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Jan 28 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...but the bite doesn't add much to the grapple. It's not like grappling someone prevents you from hitting them with your sword. I mean, you're right. The grapple is overpowered... but the bite isn't what makes it that way. It's the free expertise. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jan 28 at 15:49
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It's clearly overpowered, and you're giving yourself too much stuff.

  • The bite is in no way overpowered. 1d8+1 isn't huge, and the only way to use it against an unwilling victim is to successfully grapple. By itself, it's very nearly a ribbon power... and that's without the ribbon weakness that oes with it. Also, apparently you can sate your undead hunger (though not deal damage) from draining constructs and undead?

  • Advanced Grappler is a potential issue here. Charisma is a terrible stat for grapplers, but the +1 is floating, and the ability to just have expertise without need of bard or rogue levels is huge. Expertise, even situational expertise, is a much bigger deal than proficiency. This feature, along with the fact that that +1 can be strength, immediately makes this race a serious competitor for optimized grappling builds, even without anything else associated.

  • Sunlight sensitivity is obnoxious. It's either a ribbon disadvantage (if the DM gives you an easy out) or a massive pain to deal with.

  • even leaving aside the bite and the grappler, you get a cantrip, three skills, four languages, a tool, darkvision (...and darkvision 120 at that. Because why?), resist poison, advantage on a few saves, and light sleeper. That's just stacking up a lot of stuff, and it doesn't seem to be there for any reason. Like, the extra tool and two skills are just kind of thrown on the top as extras, to the point that they don't even have unique feature names, and the Minor Illusion cantrip is only barely better. The concept for this one needs to be tightened a bit, and some stuff really ought to be trimmed out as a result.

  • To go more in detail on the "too much stuff"... by detect balance, your ASI comes to 13, 2 points for languages, 10 points for skills (counting the Expert Grappler as one skill-subset, rather than two), 2 for the cantrip, 5 for poison resistance and advantage, 4 for Darkvision 120, -3 for sunlight sensitivity, 1 for advantage against diseases... even without the bite or the light sleeper (it's not quite trance), you're still at 34 points. That's... more than basically anyone else gets, with distance yet to go.

The combination of "it gets more goodies than anyone else" with "it has a bunch of random stuff thrown in to make it better without particular theme" suggests that you are building the race To Be Awesome, rather than anything else. That's not a good objective to be running with when trying to build a reasonably balanced character race. Instead, I would suggest trying to figure out what it is that this race is supposed to be, and then trim back to the features that support that image. You'll wind up with something that's better balanced and also more flavorful.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It IS thematic with the other subraces. I centered the Bloodline theme on being the more versatile subrace... But I will note the changes. Thank you for the help! \$\endgroup\$ – The Darke Lorde Jan 28 at 15:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheDarkeLorde it's not thematic with itself. If you ask "how is this guy different from the normal races", the answer that comes back is "he's super-awesome in a bunch of ways and also is a vampire". That's not a coherent theme. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Jan 28 at 15:58
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Not overpowered, but could use a tweak downwards

Disclaimer: In my experience, people want to play a powerful character. Therefore I always aim to make homebrew as powerful as the the most powerful options, not as powerful as the average options. So that is the context in which I am answering this question.

There is two things I would look at when deciding if something is overpowered, first, do you break anything, that is do you become too good at one thing. Second, do you get too many general goodies.

Let us start with the first, does any of these features break anything:

Bite: This ability will actively hurt you if you try to use it in combat. If you have the strength usually required to grapple, you will do more damage with your unarmed strikes than with your bite. With a +3 strength you do 4 damage with unarmed strikes. While this bite does an average of 5.5 damage, but has to spend an entire action to land a grapple first. Anyone with a weapon will do much better than this bite regardless.

Three skills: Three skills is a lot, I would personally see if I could find a way to cut it down to two. But I don't think it breaks anything to keep it. Perhaps consider some text like this for the subrace. "Instead of gaining Keen Senses, you gain two skill proficiencies of your choice".

Advanced grappler: This looks good on paper, but is actually not a good ability. Because grappling doesn't really do anything other than immobilize an enemy who is already in melee range. You aren't breaking grappling with this, because grappling is weak enough to begin with, that even a big boost doesn't make it worth your action.

So the other concern is if you are getting too much stuff. This is where you are going a little overboard I think. So a good indication is simply the detect balance sheet that others have linked, You score somewhere around 33-35 in my estimation, you probably want to aim for the 30-33 range. Not outdoing variant humans, but not falling behind them either.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You clearly haven't seen what a grappling specialist can do to combat. Grapple to reduce speed to 0, Knock prone while grappling (another Athletics Check). Target cannot stand because they have 0 Speed, target cannot get free because they can't match your Grapple check. Enjoy Advantage for your whole party on melee attacks against them, and any attack they try to make is at Disadvantage. And any character with Multiattack can Grapple and Knock Prone in a single turn. Grappling may not seem powerful in a vacuum, but it's pretty monstrous when coupled with a party that can exploit a grappler. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Jan 28 at 17:45

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