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The hozu are a race of humanoid monkeys who live in dense forests and jungles of high elevation. They're a resourceful and cunning folk who lack a concept of fair play and have developed ways and techniques of dirty fighting. They live in large family groups, ruled over by a war leader and a great sage.

This is a very rough first draft. The abilities are meant to convey their tricky, dirty fighting and they're suppose to be good monks. I know there probably are some balance concerns, but I hope some of you will be able to specifically pinpoint them.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2 and either your Strength or Wisdom scores increase by 1.
  • Size. Hozu stand between 5 and 6 feet. Your size is medium.
  • Speed. Your walking speed is 30 feet.
  • Creature Type. Your creature type is humanoid.
  • Nimble Dodge. If a melee attack misses you, you can immediately move 5 feet in any direction that isn't blocked as a reaction. This movement does not provoke opportunity attacks.
  • Monkey Grip. You can use Dexterity in place of Strength for any checks made to shove or grapple.
  • Tricky Fist. Your unarmed strikes deal 1d4 bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage and can use Dexterity for both attack rolls and damage rolls.
  • Trip and Bash. Once per turn when you hit a creature with an unarmed strike, you can Shove that creature as part of the attack. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus and regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
  • Agile Climber. You have a climbing speed equal to your walking speed.
  • Languages. You can speak, read and write Common and Simian.

Is this homebrew race overpowered?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How does the Trip and Bash work - can you elaborate does it require an Action, Bonus action or Reaction? Is it a replacement for a regular melee attack or in addition to it such as a Fighter's action surge feature? \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Mar 25 at 9:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, are you meaning the race to be a good fit for a Monk? Or is that just incidental? :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Senmurv
    Mar 25 at 9:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Trip and Bash is a part of the attack. They're very much meant to be great monks, yeah ! @Senmurv \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex Sash
    Mar 25 at 9:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ 1. There are many, many beastfolk races that are officially in game rn, but no monkeys and I think that it'd be cool to have one 2. There's many races geared towards specific classes (half-orc barbarian and fighter, wood elves as rangers, winged characters and bows etc) but there are not that many that synergise well with monks, besides increasing unarmed damage a little. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex Sash
    Mar 25 at 13:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just as an editing note, I'd cut "in any direction that isn't blocked" from that dodge ability. Just "move 5 feet" is sufficient to apply the standard movement rules. The way it's written makes it sound like there's something unusual about that movement. Unless you mean to say this is different than just moving 5 feet without provoking, in which case I think it needs to be clear about the difference. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 25 at 14:10

2 Answers 2

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It looks balanced but you should test it on a monk

I normally would use the Detect Balance sheet to score this. John Doe already did that, and it looks balanced on the surface.

However, there is one issue with point-buy scoring systems like Detect Balance: they tend to break down if there is strong synergy between multiple features. The flat scores cannot capture these interactions. Of course, finding synergies is half of the fun of building characters (or Magic: the Gathering decks, if you are into that - where combo decks demonstrate how individually innocous elements can combine to create something that can be game-breaking).

All the "special" features in this build already work very well together. You can use Dex for unarmed melee, shoves and grapples, you get extra mobility with Nimble Dodge on such melee, and you get free Shove actions on hits. They make for a nice pseudo-monk. The free shove action, which normally would cost you a full separate action looks like the strongest element, and having it gated by proficiency bonus uses helps.

The real question is how this will work on a monk. For example, the Nimble Escape helps to conserve Ki when you do not need to Step of the Wind to Disengage from an enemy to move away. As you pointed out, you can use Trip and Bash in combo with the monk's unarmed attacks. Shoving them also gets you out of close range or can be used to drop your opponent prone, a strong effect if used with Flurry of Blows where all the additional attacks then happen with advantage while he is down.

I think this is still fine, but it's these kinds of sublte advantages piling upon each other that can become dangerous, and I would recommend to test this, and be ready to nerf it, in case it turns out too strong. (In particular, if you want to make this available to players, discuss this is experimental and have the player understand there may be some correction later on if they pick it and it turns out unbalancing.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The free shove is also once per turn \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex Sash
    Mar 25 at 11:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Broken as a monk, boring as a mage" was the first thing I thought when reading through the racial traits, so it's good to see we had similar thoughts. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 25 at 12:28
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This is probably balanced, if not a bit underpowered

I'm using this Google sheet from the top-rated answer on this question. Let's go through the racial features step by step as outlined in the Google Sheet. I will skip entries that do not come up (like Flight).

  • ASI: nothing extraordinarily powerful, +2/+1 is on the strong side though. 12 points.
  • Language: standard Common + 1. Simian will probably not come up unless you also homebrew the setting. 0 points.
  • Skill proficiency: none, for some reason? I'd guess Acrobatics would be the natural choice here. A tool proficiency maybe too? 0 points in the current state.
  • Movement: standard 30 ft plus 30 ft climbing speed (not Spider Climb). 2 points.
  • Weapons: no proficiencies (quarterstaff would make sense I think). 1d4 unarmed strike that can use DEX. Why bludgeoning, piercing AND slashing though? Doesn't make sense narratively and does not really change much. Would change this to 1d4 bludgeoning and bind it to DEX, since that's your main stat anyway. 1 point.

Now we get to the special racial features of your Simian race. This will be trickier to rate, but I'll try to give a good estimate.

  • Nimble Dodge: similar to Goblin's Nimble Escape, but a bit weaker. You could buff it to Use your reaction to move up to half your move speed when a melee attack misses you. With that I'd give it 4-6 points.
  • Monkey Grip: basically just changes shoves and grapples from STR to DEX on your side, as I would guess the target still makes the check normally. Synergizes well with DEX as the main stat, so maybe 2 points? Shoves and grapples aren't really that common...
  • Trip and Bash: Synergizes and incentivizes unarmed strikes (which are weak though). Use a number of times equal to proficiency modifier is OK. Maybe 2 points?

In total - with slight adjustments -, that gives us (12 + 2 + 1 + (4 to 6) + 2 + 2) = 23 to 25 points, which is pretty square in the middle for the published races. I do feel however that the unarmed strikes will not be used a whole lot because of the d4 damage die. This won't scale well below level 3. With DEX as main stat and the other features, this of course makes Monk the go-to class for this race, but I feel the Monk's class features will quickly outshine the racial features of this build.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I'm glad it's not too strong. Though of note, Trip and Bash works with any sort of unarmed strike, monk and fighting style ones included. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex Sash
    Mar 25 at 9:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Moving half your speed when missed by an attack could easily defeat multiattack, especially on a fast monk with a high move speed, if the enemy had to use some movement to get to you in the first place. Or to stand up from prone after a shove! \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26 at 21:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Limited uses requires extra bookkeeping by players to track them; that's an option but one you'd prefer to avoid, as discussed on other Q&As about homebrew race (or class) balance. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 26 at 21:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes Cordes I disagree. Limited uses is something in every race in the game \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex Sash
    Mar 27 at 3:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlexSash: Several races have a 1/day thing (like Aasimar Healing Hands), but scaling with proficiency mod is rarer. That's also a big over-statement: many common races like Human, Dwarf, and Halfling, don't have any resources that come back after a rest. (Except for some variant sub-races with spells.) I was talking about discussion on another recent Q&A which it turns out is also your question. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 27 at 4:12

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