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I'm trying to homebrew the goliath and orc because Powerful Build is really lackluster in its current iteration. I would like to make these large und muscly races feel more powerful than a gnome of similar strength without giving ASIs to them. (Basically adopting WotC's new approach.) I am not sure if it would be too imbalanced and how to assign points to the various racial features to compare them to other baseline races. (I am aware of Detect Balance but a bit clueless there.)

What I would like to do is give both orcs and goliaths Advantage on all Strength Checks and Strength Saving Throws based on their Powerful Build feature. Do you think that this would be balanced when measured with something like Detect Balance? These are basically the One D&D UA race traits with my additions.

It would be really helpful if you could answer this with your One D&D experience in mind but a general answer on the overall and rough power level of these traits would be okay as well.

These would be the homebrew races (basically UA plus my stuff):

GOLIATH TRAITS
Creature Type: Humanoid
Size: Medium (about 7–8 feet tall)
Speed: 35 feet
Life Span: 80 years on average
Giant Ancestry. You are descended from Giants. Choose one of the following benefits—a supernatural boon from your ancestry; you can use the chosen benefit a number of times equal to your Proficiency Bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a Long Rest:
Cloud’s Jaunt (Cloud Giant). As a Bonus Action, you magically Teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space you can see.
Fire’s Burn (Fire Giant). When you hit a target with an Attack Roll and deal damage to it, you can also deal 1d10 Fire Damage to that target.
Frost’s Chill (Frost Giant). When you hit a target with an Attack Roll and deal damage to it, you can also deal 1d6 Cold Damage to that target and reduce its Speed by 10 feet until the start of your next turn.
Hill’s Tumble (Hill Giant). When you hit a Large or smaller creature with an Attack Roll and deal damage to it, you can knock that target Prone.
Stone’s Endurance (Stone Giant). When you take damage, you can use your Reaction to roll a d12. Add your Constitution modifier to the number rolled and reduce the damage by that total.
Storm’s Thunder (Storm Giant). When you take damage from a creature within 60 feet of you, you can use your Reaction to deal 1d8 Thunder Damage to that creature.
Large Form. Starting at 5th level, you gain the ability to supernaturally grow. As a Bonus Action, you change your Size to Large, provided you’re in a big enough space. This transformation lasts for 10 minutes or until you end it as a Bonus Action. During that duration, you have Advantage on Strength Checks, and your Speed increases by 10 feet. Once you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you finish a Long Rest.
Powerful Build. You have Advantage on Strength Checks and Saving Throws. You also count as one Size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.

ORC TRAITS
Creature Type: Humanoid
Size: Medium (about 6–7 feet tall) Speed: 30 feet
Life Span: 80 years on average
Adrenaline Rush. You can take the Dash Action as a Bonus Action. When you do so, you gain a number of Temporary Hit Points equal to your Proficiency Bonus. 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.
Darkvision. You have Darkvision with a range of 60 feet.
Powerful Build. You have Advantage on Strength Checks and Saving Throws. You count as one Size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.
Relentless Endurance. When you are reduced to 0 Hit Points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 Hit Point instead. Once you use this trait, you can’t do so again until you finish a Long Rest.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have added the D&D One tag to this - not sure how we want to handle houserules on unfinished rulesets... \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Dec 19, 2022 at 15:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe if you do not ask about UA, and just presented the homebrew race as it is, this would be better answerable, compared to the published existing rules. You are asking how it measures up on Detect Balance, but DB does not do the newer UA races, it even does not have the Multiverse versions ... unless I have an outdated link. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 19, 2022 at 16:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, I see what you're asking. I think I missread "Would" as "what" and then got lost in the body. While misreading is on me, having the body fully explain the question (and the title only serve as a summary) is very useful. I think this is clear enough to be answered (even if that answer may not be satisfactory). And while it could be split up to two questions (one for goliath and one for orc), they seem the same and connected enough that any difference should be in scope for an answer to handle. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Dec 19, 2022 at 16:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ If your question was really about one D&D then please don’t remove that aspect of your question to appease somebody else. Keep your question focused on the game system and issue you have Otherwise, you might not get the answer you need or want. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Dec 19, 2022 at 16:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast If this question is about One D&D, then the community has voted to keep One D&D material separate from conventional UA material. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 19, 2022 at 20:00

1 Answer 1

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This would not be in line with current typical point values

Conclusion first: both the UA goliath and orc are already strong compared to many other current races. Your improvment would push them up further. The resulting race would not be balanced compared to current races, at least not if you use Detect Balance as your yardstick. It might be OK for the future races, which seem to be a bit more powerful, but as those are still in flux, no-one can say.

Unfortunately, it does not make sense to try and benchmark something for balance against the playtest material itself, because the playtest clearly states on page one of each of its PDFs under Power Level:

The character options you read here might be more or less powerful than options in the 2014 Player’s Handbook. If a design survives playtesting, we adjust its power to the desirable level before publication in a book. This means an option could be more or less powerful in its final form.

But it can make sense to benchmark your current proposed race against the other current races. For this comparison we keep in mind that the playtest moves the ability score increase from Race to Background, so for power comparisons, we need to treat the new Race as if it also had a normal ability score increase.

Your modification

Advantage on all Strength checks can be advantage on a situational (worth 2) or common (worth 4) roll. In UA, grappling is just an unarmed strike currently, so you cannot make it a common roll or very common roll by building a grappler. But Athletics is common enough to be at least situational. Maybe put it in the middle at 3 points.

Advantage on all Stength saves can be advantage on a rare (worth 1) or situational (worth 2) roll. Given that the current UA version of powerful build already gives you advantage on grapple saves, probably the most common source of Strength saves (as it is not one of the common spell save types like Wisdom, Constitution or Dexterity), I'd put this at rare, 1 point.

That means your modification is probably an improvement of 4 points.

Now, lets look at the difference between the current race roster from Mordenkainen presents: Monsters of the Multiverse and the Unearthed Arcana playtest races (which we'll assume as balanced) -- that will tell us if the new versions of the race are generally more powerful than the current ones. Then lets look at your modifications to those.

Goliath

Category Multiverse Playtest
Creature Type Humanoid Humanoid
Size Medium Medium
Speed 30 35
Little Giant vs Powerful Build one size larger to carry, push, drag, lift; Proficiency Athletics one size larger to carry, push, drag, lift; Advantage on grapple saves
Stone's Endurance vs Giant Ancestry proficiency bonus times reduce damage by d12+Con bonus as a reaction same, plus 5 other options
Mountain Born vs Large Form Resitance to cold damage, endure high altitudes From 5th level, once per long rest grow Large as bonus action for 10 mins (Advantage on Strength checks, Speed +10 feet)

The classical goliath scores 27 points, right at the sweet spot (12 ASI plus 2 for Skill Proficiency, 2 for powerful build, 3 cold resistance, 7 stone's endurance, 1 acclimatized).

Speed: The new extra five feet of speed are worth 2 points.

Powerful Build vs Litte Giant: this is replacing a skill proficiency, worth 2 points, with advantage on a situational roll, worth 2 points, neutral in effect.

Large Form seems slightly weaker than Mountain born worth 4 points. If you had Large Form all the time, it would be clearly stronger, as the high speed alone is worth more than 5 points, and advantage on a situational roll is another 2, so it would be 8 or so points. But you only get it once a day, not ongoing. At typically 3-4 encounters per day, only one of which you can use it in, that should make it 2-3 points for Large Form, 1-2 points weaker.

Giant Ancestry is strictly better than Stone's Endurance. It gives you the option of the former, but also 5 other options. Even if they all would be equal, it still would be better as it gives you choice. Is it more powerful? It is if any of the other options is better. I think especially the Hill Giant option is nasty and the Cloud Giant ability to uncounterable misty step 3/day is also better and easily benchmarked: equivalent to 3 level 2 spells/day, easily measured at 9 points, 2 more than the 7 of Stone's endurance.

So overall, the new Goliath is probably 3 points or so stronger than the current one, and with a total of 30, at the top echolon of the power range compared to contemporary classes, and already out of the recommended range for Detect Balance. Adding another 4 points from your improvements on top of that will only make this worse.

Orc

Category Multiverse Playtest
Creature Type Humanoid Humanoid
Size Medium Medium
Speed 30 30
Darkvision 60 ft. 60 ft.
Powerful Build one size larger to carry, push, drag, lift one size larger to carry, push, drag, lift; Advantage on grapple saves
Adrenaline Rush dash bonus action times prof bonus gaining prof bonus temp hp dash bonus action times prof bonus gaining prof bonus temp hp
Relentless Endurance drop to 1 instead 0 once per long rest drop to 1 instead 0 once per long rest

The only difference is the added advantage on grapple saves in the new powerful build.

Adrenaline Rush is not a default option. Aggressive, allowing you to bonus action dash towards the enemy is worth 3 points. Given that proficiency bonus times is roughly often enough to cover your daily encounters (you on avarage have 3-4, so may fall short a bit in tier one), and you can also use it to get away, that part is probably worth 3 points. In addition you also temp hp out of it, reducing the damage you take, from 4 in the lowest to 36 in the highest levels. In the range where most play happens, at proficiency bonus 3 or 4 somewhere between 9 and 16 points. Compared to Stone's Endurance or a use of cure wounds (worth 3 points as a first level spell), this part is probably also worth around 6-8 points, for a total of 10 with speed-up.

The orc is not pre-scored in Detect Balance, it calculates now as

  • ASI 12 points,
  • Adrenaline Rush 10 points
  • Relentless Endurance 4 points
  • Darkvision 3 points
  • Powerful Build 2 points

31 points, again, top tier. The situational advantage on the grapple save will add another 2 in the new version, already even more out of the recommended range. Again, if you add another four points on top of that, at 37 points you are well out of the recommended range of 24-27. Even if you value adrenaline rush a lot lower, you will be in the mid-30s.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much! This is exactly what I was looking for. Really appreciate it. I found "Greater Detect Balance" and it scores the MM orc at only 29 points though. Is there another document that has all the current races that I'm not aware of? \$\endgroup\$
    – Graybark
    Dec 20, 2022 at 12:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Graybark Those are the also the two I am aware of. There might be others, but I'm not familiar with them. Also keep in mind that this approach has its own flaws, as it does not deal well with assymetric races (combining negative traits to offset positive ones), or with synergistic effects between features. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2022 at 12:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just noticed something. If we go by your 31 points (DGB suggests 29) for the orc, would it not be be only 35 points rather than 37 since you would not also add the advantage on grapples since the advantage on strength checks/saves supersedes and does not stack with the advantage on grapple? This would also be more consistent with how you calculated the score for the goliath if I'm not mistaken. So we'd have 34 for the goliath and 35 (33) for the orc. Also, according to GDB, the recommended range is 25 to 31. The MotM races seem to be slightly higher in power level. \$\endgroup\$
    – Graybark
    Dec 20, 2022 at 21:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Graybark Yes, if any Str save is +2 and the majority of them is from grappling, adding another +1 for non grapple and +2 for grappling is probably 1 too much. Maybe GDB vales AR a bit lower. If you base it of their 29, you‘d still be above their higher recommended range, but not that much. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 20, 2022 at 21:59

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