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This is my second homebrew race ever and while I’ve watched a myriad of YouTube videos about it, all of them seem unhelpful in racial trait creation. I’m questioning about a certain racial trait I intend to include. The main purpose of this racial trait is meant to be Roleplaying flavor but I wanted to add a little something to it because of the Roleplaying flavor text:

Essentially my trait shall allow the elf to switch on and off a second voice. The actual ability of this racial trait is that if you're heavily/mostly obscured, or invisible you can use this voice to have Advantage on one intimidation check using your voice (while still obscured) without losing that obscurity or alerting the target to your whereabouts. This ability can be used once per short rest.

I also should note I’ve only been DM-ing for about 6 or so months and haven’t had to use the rules for obscurity, hiding, or invisibility due to my players actions and the settings of the campaign.

I feel like this situation is very specific or the ability might be a little weak. As of now nobodies using the race so I have free time to prepare it for whatever it may be used for. Any advice on this ability is appreciated.

Stablock: Zantan Elf (working title)

  • Ability Score Increase: One ability score of your choice is increased by one.
  • Age: You age like a normal human until you reach the age of 20. Then every 11 years you only age one.
  • Alignment: living mostly in a world of their own, Zantan Elves are all over the place in terms of alignment. But most commoners tend to lean towards lawful alignments.
  • Size: You are a medium-sized creature.
  • Speed: 30ft
  • Languages: Zantan, Sylvan, common.
  • Dark vision- dim light looks like bright light within 60ft of you and darkness looks like dim light.
  • Fey Ancestry: You have Advantage on saving throws against being charmed and magic can’t put you to sleep.
  • Keen senses: you have proficiency in the perception skill.
  • Trance: You don’t need to sleep. Only to meditate for 4 hours a day. Doing this gives you benefits equal to 8 hours of human sleep.
  • Dual voice (this is the ability I worry about): You can switch on and off a second voice. This secondary voice can sound like whatever you want it to but cannot speak any languages you do not and otherwise behaves like a humanoid voice would. The voice can be heard by all around you when it’s used but doesn’t require a set of vocal cords or air to be used. If you're heavily/mostly obscured or invisible you can use this voice to have Advantage on one intimidation check using your voice (while still obscured) without losing that obscurity or alerting the target to your whereabouts. This ability can be used once per short rest.
  • Faerie Terror: You know the “Thaumaturgy” cantrip. Starting at 3rd level, you can cast the spell “faerie fire” with this trait. At 5th level, you can cast the spell “Fear” with this trait. Once you cast “faerie fire” or “fear” with this trait, you can’t cast that spell again until you finish a long rest. You can also cast either of those spells using any spell slots you have of the appropriate level. Wisdom, intelligence, or Charisma is your spellcasting modifier for these spells when you cast them with this race (choose when you select this race).
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    \$\begingroup\$ It’s looking like your question is heading for closure, but that’s okay and doesn’t mean it’s a bad question. In order for us to answer, we need some details about the race and this trait. Can you provide it in a stat block like format or a way to clearly explain how it works and what actions or resources it takes. Is this a race a player wants or that you’ll just offer them? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 1, 2023 at 1:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is your main concern how this specific trait will interact with hiding/invisibility? How do you want it to work in those situations? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 1, 2023 at 1:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheMacaroniBaconLordOhNo the balance of a race depends on the totality of the race's abilities. As such, it's difficult to tell whether an ability is balanced or not, if we do not know what the other abilities available are. If your race has very underwhelming abilities, but mixed in with one very strong ability, it might still be balanced overall. NautArch mentioned the stat block, as in the list of abilities and other modifiers brought by your race, similar to the ones you can find for the official races in the books. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Jun 1, 2023 at 5:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheMacaroniBaconLordOhNo I'd just add to the comments here to say that a common mistake on species creation is giving them weird little abilities that almost never come up. It's better to come up with something that the player will value regularly than to give them quirky little abilities that don't actually affect anything. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 2, 2023 at 18:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ The comments were recommending the full stat block, like this (arbitrarily selected) question, as the power of a feature often depends on the rest of the race: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/203142/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Shivers
    Jun 3, 2023 at 4:20

2 Answers 2

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I like the Detect Balance spreadsheet for valuing homebrew racial traits.

This spreadsheet says that most races should have traits totaling 24-26 points. It also says that "advantage on a rare roll" is worth one point. The roll you are describing sounds extremely rare, so this trait might be worth even less than one point.

You've noted that this intimidation check can be made "without alerting the target to your whereabouts" but I can't think of many circumstances in which that would be useful, so I don't think it changes the point value.

You can also use this spreadsheet to measure the balance of your homebrew race overall.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This spreadsheet is extremely helpful thank you. Also, most people of this race don’t speak common because of a lore reason (they have little contact with the world outside and speak their own language as well as Sylvan) so would that be one or zero points? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 1, 2023 at 3:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would it be better to have them roll something (like a Wis save) against a roll of a creature (like a Wis save) to try to frighten them or should I change the specifity of this ability to allow them to attempt to intimidate their opponent regardless of wether they are hidden or not? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 1, 2023 at 3:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ We only answer one question per post, sorry! If you have more questions, you need to post them separately. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Jun 1, 2023 at 12:36
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I agree that this ability sounds like it's limited to rather specific scenarios.

You could replace it with the ability to communicate telepathically with this second voice. Should cover the Use Case you mentioned, but is more widely applicable in general. Also, telepathy is a ton of fun ;) It's also more powerful than the ability you described, but I'll leave the balancing to you.

EDIT: A solid statement to back up this proposal requires further context imho. Depending on what other features this custom race receives, this might be overpowered, or still leave room for more.

Telepathy can be obtained through various ways, but let's take the Telepathic Feat as a reference, which you could take as Variant Human: Besides the ability to communicate telepathically, you will also get an ability score plus a 2nd level spell. From this perspective, Telepathy doesn't seem all too powerful. But still, proper balancing requires further context.

From my own experience, I have never homebrewed a custom race featuring Telepathy, but I've dealt with plenty of players having it as class features or whatnot. From what I've seen, it is primarily used to exchange plans and ideas without sharing information with bystanders. All in all, I think that it often comes in handy for the players having it, but only very rarely gives them a significant advantage. It adds a lot of flavour and greatly benefits the awareness of 'who knows what'. Creative players can often use it to produce interesting scenarios, but I have never witnessed the ability of telepathy single-handedly disable a threat. I hope, that helps.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheMacaroniBaconLordOhNo You just posted your question, it’s okay to give it time for more answers to come in and you also have a chance to see community feedback via voting. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jun 1, 2023 at 1:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the stack Florian! Feel free to check out the tour and the help center, it helps at getting a grasp on how this place works. Subjective answers are good, but only if they're backed up by testing and experience on the matter. Have you tried this solution in a group before? If that's the case, sharing how it worked out would greatly increase the value of your answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Jun 1, 2023 at 5:48

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