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My group is interested in playing a campaign in the Theros setting with PCs being a bunch of mythological creatures.

The Minotaur and Centaur playable races have the size set as Medium for player characters - but both I and my players feel that it would be more fun and interesting to have them be Large creatures, similar to what the respective NPC stat blocks suggest.

However, before I allow this, I want to be aware of any potential pitfalls this might run into.

What are the advantages and disadvantages a Large PC would have? Are any of them game-breaking in a way where they either become overpowered in a standard group of player characters, or become a liability for the group?

As we are not planning to play a published adventure, I am not overly worried about important story-related spaces not being accessible to them due to their size, as that is something I can adjust in my preparations.

I saw the same question was asked for D&D 4e, but I know nothing about that system and the provided answers seem fairly system-specific.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you planning to change anything stat-wise other than large size? Weapon dice, AC, speed, etc? Or just "you are Large and that's all that changes"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Aug 4 at 9:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have any other changes planned at the moment. I am asking more for general evaluation so I would say just assume the races are as is except for the size. \$\endgroup\$
    – Deeps
    Aug 4 at 9:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ What is the intention of using the abstract size category "large" instead of keeping "medium" but adjusting the height/weight? Why do you think it would be more interesting about their largeness, and what kind of ramifications do you and your players envision? \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Aug 4 at 9:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu I don't think that should be relevant to answering the Q, but if it helps: I don't what to introduce a narrative and rules dissonance where certain creatures are let's say 10' in the "story" but rules treat them as 5' and because of that, they are favored/unfavored by the rules vs other creatures of the same size. I know that DnD, in general, is very different and "simulationy" then let's say PBTA games which I play a lot but in my mind, if you are "large" then rules should treat you as large and not medium. As for ramifications this introduces, that is what I am asking about. \$\endgroup\$
    – Deeps
    Aug 4 at 10:52
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Being a Large PC is probably not a big deal

(pun intended)

Largeness is not, in and of itself, a particular problem. The drawbacks to being Large -- like having a hard time taking cover, squeezing a lot, and being unable to block small creatures in combat -- are probably balanced by the benefits -- like being able to grapple bigger creatures and occupying a wider space, which allows threatening opportunity attacks against a bigger area and physically blocking more squares against Medium to Huge creatures.

In 5e, reach is not an inherent property of size, so there's not a major benefit in being able to threaten non-adjacent spaces for opportunity attacks, as long as you keep the standard 5-foot reach intact. While you might be considering giving the Minotaur a 10-foot reach or an ability like the Bugbear's long limbed (which increases its reach when attacking on its own turn), I'd advise against it. Attacking into a larger area really is a significant boost in melee combat, so be cautious about altering that.

You also might run into some issues if somebody wants to use certain spells or effects that hit targets in a short radius from the character, because a size increase vastly increases the number of squares the effect can reach. For example, the Hunter Ranger's whirlwind attack potentially becomes a lot more dangerous when you can affect an area 4 squares on a side instead of 3, and when its user can share small creatures' spaces. Imagine wading into a horde of goblins and then doing a whirlwind that hits 12 of them at once! (This is somewhat counterbalanced by the risk of exposing himself to up to 12 counterattacks if he can't drop them with that one hit, and the fact that they can intentionally set up the same situation to pincushion him... even if he doesn't have any whirlwind-like abilities.)

It's also worth considering that large creatures are much less impacted by the threat of opportunity attacks. A large creature can reach a much larger area while remaining engaged with one target than a medium creature can. (This is a little hard to explain without using pictures.)

The roleplaying difficulties of being too big for the world around them are probably what the players are looking for in asking to play large characters in the first place, so I doubt those actually count as "drawbacks" in this case.

You will need to alter some abilities

You will want to alter a few racial abilities to take the characters' changed sizes into account:

  • The Minotaur's hammering horns should only affect creatures the same size or smaller, since the size comparison is a major limiting factor on who you can push around.
  • The Centaur will need to lose the first benefit of equine build so as to not count as a Huge creature when moving stuff around.

There are questions you should have answers for ahead of time

A big question is going to be weapon size. The DMG discusses this a bit in the Creating a Monster section, on page 278:

Big monsters typically wield oversized weapons that deal extra dice of damage on a hit. Double the weapon dice if the creature is Large, triple the weapon dice if it's Huge, and quadruple the weapon dice if it's Gargantuan. For example, a Huge giant wielding an appropriately sized greataxe deals 3d12 slashing damage (plus its Strength bonus), instead of the normal 1d12.

A creature has disadvantage on attack rolls with a weapon that is sized for a larger attacker. You can rule that a weapon sized for an attacker two or more sizes larger is too big for the creature to use at all.

You can easily rule that a centaur is still only able to use weapons sized for a Medium character, since their human half is only human sized, with normal human hands and arms. But a minotaur in the Monster Manual is Large and has a greataxe that deals 2d12 damage, which is going to be completely broken if your PC minotaur decides to pick it up and use it. You need to figure out how you'll deal with that right up front, and let the player know what that ruling is going to be before the game starts. (If the players are asking to be large because they secretly think they're going to have 10 foot reach with a double-damage greataxe, you'll want to disabuse them of that notion as soon as you can. They might drop the entire request!)

You also need to consider how you're going to handle it when one PC decides to ride on another, especially with a centaur in the party. You should talk it over with the player ahead of time to decide how that's going to go -- if centaurs find it demeaning to be ridden, then maybe you can just avoid the issue through roleplay. If not, or if the player decides that "normally no, but it's okay if it's Lance", then you're potentially going to wind up with an intelligent mount that can hit like a PC and lacks the main counterbalance to intelligent mounts, which is the DM having it act against the rider's wishes because it's a person rather than a trained animal. (Yes, PCs can act against each other's wishes, but that's much less likely to happen unless your PCs are particularly fractious.)

You'll want to make it clear to the players right up front that you reserve the right to override game effects that are based on the character's size and may have strange interactions with a naturally Large creature, and that you might need to ask them to switch back to being Medium if it turns out there's some unforeseen effect that makes being Large totally broken.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ OA: do you mean that a Large creature can remain in reach of one creature while controlling a larger area than a Medium creature can? Less need to move around and provoke OA? \$\endgroup\$
    – schroeder
    Aug 5 at 14:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Great point about a Minotaur character meeting a Minotaur monster and comparing their weapons. The OP said that they would not change the weapons stats, but that situation would get awkward at the table without preparation. \$\endgroup\$
    – schroeder
    Aug 5 at 14:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think an interesting point is that a large creature would be less impacted by opportunity attacks by being able to stay adjacent and cover a larger area. There are also situations where enemies are spaced less than 10 feet apart, then the size would actually be a drawback for the creature because to efficiently move around the currently adjacent enemies it either has to squeeze through them or take the AOO. Either it is a good point to think about. \$\endgroup\$
    – Deeps
    Aug 5 at 14:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @schroeder Yes, if an enemy moves to melee range to engage you in an attempt to, say, protect a squisher target behind, you can move to circle that blocker (not leaving their reach) and still reach enemies that are 15 feet away. In general, large creatures get engaged with more easily, but being engaged doesn't inhibit them as much. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 5 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Deeps "higher levels it would be tolerable as players start to get magic weapons like for example the Flametongue sword" That's a good point, but as a counterpoint, a big axe is not a magic weapon, so A) it's getting the benefit of an expensive attuned magic item on the cheap and without using an attunement slot, and B) now the player will immediately want to enchant his giant axe or craft a giant flametongue greatsword, and you're right back in the same situation. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 5 at 20:40
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I played with a Player who wanted their Firbolg to be Large, and not artificially "shrunk" to Medium. It quickly fell apart.

Size in D&D is about relativity. Rules and maps, are designed with the expectation that players are Medium, and things are created around that assumption.

So, placing a Large character in an environment where the designers were expecting Medium creatures can present some challenges:

  • Movement can be hindered (maps, etc.)
  • Cover becomes very difficult (can a Large creature duck down behind a barrel?)
  • Line of sight for attacks now becomes so much easier for both the Large character and attackers (rules are about the creature's space, not where the creature's eyes are, and a Large creature is "twice" as easy to see)
  • All the rules for movement and attacks for "creatures larger than you" suddenly come into play
    • "you can move through a hostile creature's space only if the creature is at least two sizes larger or smaller than you" (here comes the goblin swarm!)
  • Spells and auras that extend "X feet from you" cover a much wider field

I wouldn't call any of these things "game-breaking", but they were enough of a challenge that the Player opted to be shrunk. They couldn't find enough cover, even behind their Party-mates, maps limited their movement, and they were too easy to target. And no real benefit for the cost, except flavor.

And no, I was not overly focused on them to punish their choice; there were just some natural consequences to being larger.

If, on the other hand, you make all of the Party Large, and you scale the environment to the Players, then we're right back to things being relative again, and you are effectively shrinking the monsters/NPCs, and giving them the "buffs" outlined above.


4e comparison

Since you linked to a similar question for 4e, the differences in 5e are:

  • No special reach considerations (Large does not automatically increase reach)
  • Magical effects are usually based on radius, which would not increase due to creature size. This could actually reduce some spell's area of effect.
  • Paladin Auras: this would appear to scale up ("within 10 feet of you") and offer a larger area and include more smaller creatures than if you were Medium. However, if all Players were Large, then this restores relativity.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree with rules being designed for players to be medium sized, there are several small player races, which already assumes that the rules are able to handle differences in creature size as a framework. As for maps and environments being designed for medium players or players able to fit into 5x5 squares I agree and see the possible issues there but like I said I am not planning to play a published adventure so I don't see this becoming an issue I cannot handle and am prepared to adjust for it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Deeps
    Aug 4 at 10:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, yes, but those small races have specific sized-based bonuses that go along with them. Medium-sized races do not. That makes the small races "special". Medium is the "baseline". \$\endgroup\$
    – schroeder
    Aug 4 at 10:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I saw that you would create your own environment, but that's why I also wanted to mention things like barrels and if they would be scaled, too. A crate might provide half cover for a medium creature, but no cover for a Large creature. In my game, the Players all tried to take cover behind trees. I had trouble offering similar cover to the Large Player without also scaling a tree. \$\endgroup\$
    – schroeder
    Aug 4 at 10:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, a large creature in a 5ft wide corridor is "squeezing", and 5E's squeezing rules are really mean. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 4 at 23:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Deeps Notably, a small creature controls the same space in combat as a medium creature, and has the same carrying capacity. In many ways, the small size class is functionally equivalent to medium, with only a few rules distinguishing them (e.g. heavy weapons). Basically, all PCs are medium sized, but some are more medium sized than others. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 5 at 1:11
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It can be a bit of a problem, but it can be done.

The main disadvantages are size -- cover, fitting in places, etc. If you have a mostly outdoors campaign, or you're doing a series of adventures against the giants, so that the setting will have room for large creatures, then some of that will not be such a problem. Your normal dungeons, etc., will cause difficulties.

You take up 4 squares -- a 10' x 10' area. So you can block and hold areas better, but also can be attacked more easily and by more opponents.

Equipment will also be a problem -- the character will need to get large weapons, armor to fit, hard to find a mount, and so on. Going indoors in towns, getting rooms at the inn, a lot of those normal interactions become a little more complicated.

The main advantage is that large creatures (using large weapons) get an extra die of damage, which can be significant. Adding an entire d8 (or d10 or d12) of damage makes a difference. Enough to make up for all the other stuff? Maybe.

Note: A large creature might not get larger weapons, but then would not generally get the extra damage with a weapon, according to the rules about large creatures. See the DMG, p.278.

The rule about large creatures with large weapons getting extra damage is a general rule, so it would apply to everyone, unless there is a specific exception. The Enlarge/Reduce spell does make such an exception. There is no such exception for PCs in general, so the DM would have to make that exception if he thought it was needed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why does a large creature need to get larger weapons? And where is the rule that says a large PC gets extra damage dice? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 4 at 16:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Probably worth noting that the rule/guideline/design pattern about the weapons of large creatures getting an additional die is a monster/DM facing rule/line. Whether that also applies to PCs which are Large would presumably be determined by the option/house-rule which allows it. It is, for example, not an automatic effect of enlarge/reduce. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Aug 4 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ A large creature might not get larger weapons, but then would not get the extra damage. The rule about large creatures with large weapons getting extra damage is a general rule, so it would apply to everyone, unless there is a specific exception. The Enlarge/Reduce spell does make such an exception. There is no such exception for PCs in general, so the DM would have to make that exception if he thought it was needed. \$\endgroup\$
    – PhilB
    Aug 4 at 17:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PhilB You say it's a general rule, but I'm not familiar with any such rule. I am familiar with the DMG's step-by-step guidance for homebrewing monsters, which mentions scaling the damage of custom monsters with their size, but I've never heard of a general rule that this applies anywhere outside of the dungeon master homebrewing creatures. Can you justify its position as a general rule? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 4 at 18:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ And, once again, even though y'all often state that the comments is not the place to argue against an answer, you're doing exactly that. If you don't like my answer, you are free to post one you like better. \$\endgroup\$
    – PhilB
    Aug 4 at 19:57

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