Cynocephali are a race of dog men that appear in many real world sources. They're intelligent, have their own language and trade, but eat their prisoners of war. I tried capturing the canine feel though not very sure bout the balance. Is any of the wording confusing? Are there any broken interactions ?

  • Ability Scores: Dex +2, Str +1
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: 30 feet
  • Darkvision. 60 ft
  • Bite. 1d4 + Strength or Dexterity
  • Canine Tactics. When you hit a creature with an attack, you may reroll the damage dice if you had advantage on it or at least one of your allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn't incapacitated. You must use the new roll.
  • Mark the Scent. As a bonus action, you can mark one creature you can see within 10 feet of you. Until the end of your next long rest, your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make to find the marked creature, and you always know the location of that creature if it is within 60 feet of you. You can use this trait a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
  • Keen Senses. You have proficiency in the Perception skill.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are they similar to knolls? (and why couldn't you just use knolls) - this is not to disparage your question, I'm just curious. \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Mar 11, 2022 at 16:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy5 gnolls are hyena like but can be converted to dog in a pinch \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2022 at 16:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy5 I'm not aware of a gnoll playable race in 5e \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2022 at 16:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov honestly, I'd forgotten that it was a question on the stack, but interestingly, it was asked by the same user: Is this homebrew gnoll race balanced? \$\endgroup\$
    – goodguy5
    Mar 11, 2022 at 16:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ We have some guidance for getting the most ouf homebrew reviews, give it a read and see if there are any more details you can provide so we have a better idea of what you're looking for here. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2022 at 16:52

1 Answer 1


This is balanced, a bit on the weak side

Based on the Detect Balance Spreadsheet this race calculates as follows:

  • Ability Scores: Dex +2, Str +1 8 + 4 = 12 points
  • Size: Medium 0 points
  • Speed: 30 feet 0 points
  • Darkvision 60 ft 3 points
  • Bite: 1d4 + Strength or Dexterity 1d4 natural weapon, 1 point
  • Canine Tactics. Not covered. It is situational. Rerolling a typical weapon will add about 1 point of damage. An increase of 1 point of damage for natural weapons is worth 1 added score point, using that: 1 point°
  • Mark the Scent. Treating this as expertise on a subset of a skill, 2 points
  • Keen Senses. Skill Proficincy, 2 points.

This results in a total of 21 points.

Published races range from 17 to 33 points, and the recommended range is 24 to 27 points. You could increase some of the features, to bring it up to that range. It's actually quite refreshing to see a homebrew race that is not overpowered!

° As ExemptMedic pointed out, Canine Tactics could be a powerful racial ability in character builds that are specialized to roll lots of dice on an attack, like rogues with sneak attack, paladins with divine smite or fighters with superiority dice. With d6, each die would add about 0.75 points of damage, with d8 it would be nearly a point per die. This could help to make the race balanced for such classes. A 9th level rogue with +5d6 sneak attack would add 4 damage (plus the one from base die). It could probably move the point value to 4 or so, how much this is worth really varies a lot with class and build; still would leave you with 24 points, not overpowered.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I counted "if you had advantage on it or at least one of your allies is within 5 feet" as conditional. Even if nonconditional it does not add a full expected point to upgrade it for a point in the readout. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2022 at 17:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah I missed that. Yes that upgrades it. Max difference would be something like a 2d6 weapon, then it is worth 1.5 points of damage, on average maybe one so it would upgrade the overall score by 1-2 points. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2022 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ It depends a bit on the die, for a d4 it is a bit more than 0.6 points, for a d12 it is nearly 2 points. Assuming this race uses greataxes, it would be worth 2 points of damage, and I think also 2 points of score, maybe a bit more - I don't think it would be overpowered. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2022 at 18:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin The max different can be much higher than a 2d6 weapon with something like Sneak Attack, Divine Smite, and a Flame Tongue sword. It is very similar to Great-Weapon Fighting, though objectively stronger as it affects more dice (like from Sneak Attack), and more rolls of those dice (like when a d8 rolls a 4, Canine Tactics could be used but not GWF). Though Canine Tactics is at least somewhat harder to use than GWF its requirement for use does pair especially well with the requirements for a Rogue's Sneak Attack \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2022 at 18:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Exempt-Medic: canny optimizers ahoy! Good point. This may make the race potentially very good in some specialized builds. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 11, 2022 at 18:30

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