1
\$\begingroup\$

I come here with a homebrew race for 5e D&D, its history, physical and mental description as well as racial features. I would like to know your take on the racial bonuses, if they are balanced individually and as a whole. What's most important for me is this race's Perpetual Hover trait, how or if it could break the game or what impact could it could have on the game. This is opinion—asking before running the actual playtest of the race.

Mentar Traits

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 2 and your Constitution score increases by 1.
  • Age. Mentars live up to around 110 years old. They are however born with intelligence of other races' adults, which lets them take care of themselves after a week or so. They reach "adult" size at around 20 years old, but never stop growing throughout their lives.
  • Alignment. Mentars naturally do not tend towards any particular alignment, but the passive mental strength of a mother influences her children, which are born with the same alignment as their mother, resulting in almost everyone in any isolated settlement having the same alignment.
  • Size. Mentars vary in build, but their size is solely dependant on age, from barely 5 feet at the age of 20, to over 7 feet tall when coming close to the natural end of their lifespan. Your size is Medium.
  • Speed. Your base speed is 30 feet of hover.
  • Perpetual hover. You do not have legs, but you permanently hover around 1 foot above solid ground at all times. This means you are immune to the prone condition, and cannot lay down on any surface. You are physically incapable of jumping and if you find yourself higher than one foot above ground you start falling. You take falling damage as normal, and if you are alive after falling your body hovers back to 1 foot above ground. You can use your reaction to reduce the fall damage to 0, stopping your fall before touching the ground.
  • Basic Psionics. You know the Mage Hand cantrip, and the hand is invisible when you cast the cantrip with this trait.
  • Psychic Resistance. You are resistant to psychic damage.
  • Mental Beacon. You passively broadcast your emotions to creatures around you, and you can strengthen this effect to bolster your words and actions. When you make an Intimidation, Deception or Persuasion skill check you can roll with advantage. You can use this feature once and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.
  • Reality anchor. You cannot be forcefully teleported or summoned by any spell or feature as long as you are not unconscious.
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language of your choice.
\$\endgroup\$
9
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Please review this meta discussion about writing a good homebrew review question. In particular, are there any further details you can provide about your own assessment of this race? What research have you done already? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2023 at 6:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ the hover seems very unprecedented - can you point out another PC race that has a similar ability? Also, as written it does not allow you to ignore difficult terrain, and says nothing about liquid surfaces (typical examples: H2O in liquid state, tar, molten metals or rock) \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Aug 28, 2023 at 9:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Cezaryx I ask that because the most easy comparison to balancing is to look at existing feats or abilities. There are a number of abilities that ignore terrain. It seems that the perpetual hover is like a perpetual spell - is there one that would be mimicked? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Aug 28, 2023 at 10:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ How do Mentars sleep when they can't lay down? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2023 at 14:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @stevenjackson121 that note about flight/hover sounds like good meat for an answer, rather than a comment to clarify/improve the post. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Aug 28, 2023 at 16:01

3 Answers 3

4
\$\begingroup\$

This is balanced against book races

Using Detect Balance, a tool that has pooled a lot of community input to grade the power of various racial abilities on a point scale, with balanced against printed races at 24-27 points, average 25.

Perpetual Hover. Most of the features are bog standard, which makes them easy to score. The one interesting and unusual feature is Perpetual Hover. There are some issues with it (some also pointed out in comments): it does not say if it has any influence on difficult terrain, or how it works above liquid (lava, ocean etc.) These things should be spelled out, as they are sure to cause questions if anyone wants to use this race. Even worse, there are dimensions such as the Border Ethereal, Deep Ethereal, or Astral plane, where there is no "ground". What will the race do there?

Aside from that, it is not flight, not even jumping, so it does not make you faster or allow you to evade combat or overcome obstacles. Effectively, it allows you to avoid falling damage, maybe comparable to a free Feather Fall spell that as a level 1 would be worth 3 points. It also provides Immunity to the prone condition, the value of which depends on how often you end up prone in combat (it also has slight downsides, e.g. you cannot lay down against unfriendly fire). In my experience, getting knocked down that is not that common, although it does happen, so it is useful. I might rate this as maybe another 3 points, like a medium resistance, bringing the total to 6 points.

This then scores as:

  • Stats: standard, 12 points
  • Age, Alignment: no influcence
  • Size, Speed: standard, 0 points
  • Basic Psionics: cantrip, 2 points
  • Mental Beacon: advantage on a situational roll, 2 points
  • Perpetual Hover: 6 points
  • Psychic Resistance: rare resistance, 2 points
  • Reality Anchor: PCs are essentially never summoned, and effects that can teleport them against their will are exceedingly rare, most spells require a willing target. So this might protect you from a teleport trap on rare occasion. This is a ribbon, at best 1 point
  • Languages: common + 1 languages, 0 points

Total: 12 + 2 + 2 + 6 + 2 + 1 = 25 points, right smack in the sweet spot. Even if my take on Hover was off by a couple of points either way, this would be balanced.

\$\endgroup\$
6
  • \$\begingroup\$ Basic Psionics isn't just a single standard cantrip since it adds an additional effect. Cantrip + Ribbon should be at least 3 points total for the feature right? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2023 at 23:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also as written there are several drawbacks to the Perpetual Hover. I did notice "Detect Balance" has examples of negative modifiers. Inability to jump should probably be a "negative ribbon" if such a thing exists, and downgrade the ability by a point or so. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28, 2023 at 23:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch-is-skeptical-about-SE Yes. Permanent "Feather Fall" (at the cost of reaction) is 3 points, and immunity to prone is counted as similar to a medium resistance at +3 (end of 3rd paragraph). \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2023 at 0:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! Surprised detect balance doesn’t do condition immunities. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Aug 29, 2023 at 0:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Detect Balance has examples as applied to official races. "Deep Gnome" gets to make Dexterity (Stealth) checks with advantage prof times per long rest and that's counted as +2. I think 1x per day for Mental Beacon is too limiting to be worth +2, and it should be a ribbon unless it's upgraded to prof times per day (or equivalently, replaced witha skill proficiency) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2023 at 1:17
3
\$\begingroup\$

Perpetual Hover may be problematic.

There are some good broader answers and you'd asked for a specific focus on Perpetual Hover, so this answer is specific to that. Perpetual Hover needs clarifications as to how it interacts with:

  1. Flight. Can a mentar be carried by a flight-capable creature as long as they could bear the weight, or would it inexorably pull the creature to the ground (and if the weight could be borne, can a mentar just be carried in general)? Can a mentar get a fly speed, whether it's via spells or class features?
  2. Climbing. If the party needed to ascend (or descend) a ladder, could the mentar climb up/down, or would they need to be carried by the rest of the party in either direction (assuming they can be carried)? As written, they would be incapable of climbing much of anything.
  3. Swimming. Does a mentar plummet to the bottom of an ocean, or can they swim?
  4. Mounts. Can a mentar ride a horse? If the rest of the party needed to ride horses, could you just tie a rope around the mentar and drag them around at horse speeds while the mentar comfortably hovers 1' off the ground (watch out for turns, though)?
  5. Vehicles. Can a mentar go on a boat? Would they punch through the bottom of an airship? If they are able to hover over a cart, if the cart changes direction, do they just careen off on their previous trajectory?
  6. Extraplanar movement. Some planes have inconsistent directions, and some have little to no solid ground at all.
  7. Difficult terrain. As written I'd expect this negates any form of difficult terrain that's exclusively ground-based, so it would negate Grease or Spike Growth but not Black Tentacles or Insect Plague. From the comments, it sounds like this was unintended.

These are very campaign-dependent, but they're also going to have a massive impact as to how the party collectively handles these obstacles. As written, a 5' wide pitfall trap that spans the width of a tunnel is completely impassible to a mentar without teleportation. If the party determines that they need to take a boat to cross the sea, a mentar tentatively would need to load up on Water Breathing so it can trudge across the seafloor or, again, find a source of teleportation. Some or all of these drawbacks may be intended, but could potentially separate and/or frustrate the party.

As some broad-strokes phrasing suggestions, I would take a look at "solid ground":

  • Using "solid surface" with a clarification as to whether the deck of a boat counts would allow for vehicles, but leaves the question of whether a mentar could "walk" over a thick grate set into a boat's deck.
  • Using "surface that can bear your weight" would allow for grates and ladders.
  • Using "something solid that can bear your weight" would allow for mounts.

If you want to enable being flown/carried and swimming, I think that's harder to just slot into the existing phrasing, but it could easily be done with some subsequent riders. Extraplanar movement is unique enough and (again, campaign-dependent) potentially rare enough that it may make sense to just handle on a case-by-case basis.

\$\endgroup\$
1
\$\begingroup\$

This is in line with most playable races

Ability by Ability Comparison

Psychic Resistance - A single resistance is present on many playable races. Tiefling has fire resistance, which is a more common damage type and thus "better" in a vacuum.

Perpetual Hover + 30 ft Speed - This is (for most builds) worse than Winged Tiefling's 30 ft walking/flying speed. There is a niche benefit for characters who really want to use heavy armor and thus can't play other flying races, but a Winged Tiefling in Medium Armor w/14 Dex is roughly as good as Heavy Armor requiring 15 Strength, and boosts a better saving throw along with providing better initiative.

Basic Psionics - Several races allow picking up one or multiple cantrips. This gives a benefit on top, but is strictly worse than a Custom Lineage which takes Telekinetic Feat at level 1. They get to ignore Verbal/Somatic Components, make it invisible, AND if they know the cantrip already from their class the range goes up by 30 ft. Anyone who really wants to specialize in Mage Hand probably needs this Feat or Arcane Trickster anyways, at which point this is entirely redundant.

Mental Beacon - This is only 1x per day. It's nice that it is flexible, but if there's a single critical check in a day, most parties could come up with a way to get advantage. Proficiency in any of this skills would do far more for a character most days, especially as proficiency bonus scales up.

Reality Anchor - This is most comparable to something like an elf's Fey Ancestry (Can't be put to sleep via magic, advantage against Charmed). It's very situational, and in many campaigns won't come up, but it's nice to have.

Comparison to Winged Tiefling

I think this race may serve a niche most similar to Winged Tiefling given its similarities (ability to ignore terrain/psuedo fly with minimal armor restrictions), so I'll use that as the basis for my full comparison.

Comparables

Winged Tiefling gets actual flight, which is far better than Perpetual Hover. Fire Resistance is better than Psychic Resistance.

Winged Tiefling Advantages Winged Tiefling gets Darkvision (60 ft) which comes up in many campaigns and can be a significant advantage from level 1 and never stops being relevant.

Mentar Advantages

Basic Psionics + Mental Beacon + Reality Anchor. None of these are combat relevant. Mage hand would only be relevant in direct confrontations or combat if you get Telekinetic (for subtle casting) or Arcane Trickster, but a Winged Tiefling would be equally good with the same investment.

Summary Winged Tiefling wins the comparables, and probably has the stronger advantages (certainly for combat). I don't think this race is overpowered, and couple probably be buffed (very slightly) and still be in line with existing races.

Changes I'd suggest

Mental Beacon

Add proficiency to Intimidation, Persuasion, or Deception. Mental Beacon's text suggests a passive ongoing benefit, but the rules don't support that. Many races get a skill proficiency in an area to represent being better than usual in that area (for example "Natural Affinity" on Centaur). I'd playtest it with Advantage + Proficiency, but that may be too much and you may end up with just proficiency in the end.

Reality Anchor

Reword with slightly more standard wording. "Forcefully" is not typical game text, and the double negative is confusing at first glance. I'd recommend "While conscious, you cannot be teleported or summoned against your will."

Perpetual Hover

Make it explicit that difficult and hazardous terrain is ignored. It's still weaker than true flight, and doesn't change the above analysis significantly. Also remove the "cannot jump" drawback. As it is, I'm not sure how the character would ascend a giant staircase in a tomb where there's only horizontal surfaces and vertical rises > 1 ft. If you really want to demonstrate difficulty "jumping", add wording like "every foot you jump uses 2 feet of movement" so its still possible, but you're worse at it.

\$\endgroup\$
0

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .