I recently had a Player Character of mine ask if he can play as a "Giant" if he dies. After asking specifically what he wanted this was his wish list:

  1. Able to carry "more"
  2. Able to reach "farther" (He's okay with just taking a glaive, so not an issue.)
  3. Able to move "farther"

The Giants - Cloud, Fire, Frost, etc. - all seem way too powerful to be a race as well as have a class. Therefore, I set out to homebrew a race, and have laid out the mechanics of one where I predominately used the Goliath and Dwarf races as a base. Is this race mechanically balanced when compared to the other available player character races?

Fir Bolgs

Fir Bolg characters possess the following racial traits:

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 2, and your Strength score increases by 2.
  • Age. Fir Bolgs have lifespans easily twice that of humans. They enter adulthood in their late twenties and usually live less than three centuries.
  • Alignment. Fir Bolg society, with its emphasis of honor above all, has a strong lawful bent. The Fir Bolg sense of familial duty and strong convictions of integrity push them toward good.
  • Size. Fir Bolgs are between 8 and 10 feet tall and weigh between 340 and 400 pounds. Your size is Large.
  • Powerful Build. You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.
  • Overt Presence. Your enormous size grants proficiency in the intimidation skill.
  • Natural Athlete. You have proficiency in the Athletics skill.
  • Speed. Your walking speed is 40ft.
  • Languages. You can speak read and write in both Common and Giant.
  • \$\begingroup\$ So they would count as Huge when determining carrying capacity and the weight they can push, drag, or lift? \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Aug 5 '15 at 1:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut yes they would. \$\endgroup\$ – SolidusVerum Aug 5 '15 at 1:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ The amount of discussion this question appears to require is a good demonstration of why we require homebrew evaluation questions to be either asked or answered from concrete experience in order to fit the Stack Q&A format. SolidusVerum, this question may be better suited to a discussion forum (such as our chat) where back-and-forth brainstorming and responses rooted significantly in opinion are permitted. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 5 '15 at 7:42

I'll start by breaking this down by feature.

Ability Score Increase: This is on the strong side of player races, up there with Mountain Dwarves, Half-Elves, and Humans. However, barring exceptional multiclass combinations or other weird builds, no one needs more than 3 stats. In a point-buy game, that means you want to try to start with 3 scores at 16, which only the Human and Half-Elf can do. So this isn't as strong as either of those.

Age and Alignment: Obviously don't really factor into mechanical balance.

Size: I'm guessing you didn't know the ramifications of a Large player race, because this is a big deal.

Firstly, a Large creature occupies an area 10 feet by 10 feet, or 2 squares by 2 squares. This will make it extremely strong for builds using opportunity attacks or protecting allies, especially with the Sentinel feat. Note that they can squeeze into 5 foot spaces if they need to, so this is rarely a disadvantage.

Secondly, a Large creature technically doubles the damage die of their weapons. This rule is hidden away in the depths of the DMG, so I'm going to assume that your players don't know about it and you don't tell them.

Oddly enough, reach is actually independent of creature size, so you don't have to worry about that.

Powerful Build: The usefulness of this is dependent on your group's playstyle. It's certainly open to some potential abuse; with a Strength score of 20, a Fir Bolg could lift, drag, or carry 2400 lb and have a carrying capacity of 1200 lb (double that with a Bear Totem Barbarian).

Overt Presence and Natural Athlete: Proficiency in 2 skills is pretty good. Not overpowered, but definitely strong.

Speed: 40 feet is faster than any other race except the Aarakocra, who you can't really compare against because their ability to fly is the entire point of their race. This is, again, not overpowered, but definitely strong.

Languages: Common + 1 other, the same as everybody else.

So, in summary, this is either a really strong race or an overpowered one. If you ignore the effects of having Large size, then it's a really strong race, with its good ability score increases, 2 skill proficiencies, and higher speed. If you allow it to occupy 10 feet by 10 feet, it's probably overpowered. If you allow it to deal double weapon damage, it's definitely overpowered.

Personally, I'd probably leave occupying 10 feet by 10 feet in and focus my nerfs elsewhere, because it's the only thing this race has that makes it really unique. I would suggest considering removing one of the skill proficiencies and maybe even bringing the speed down to 35 feet.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with Miniman with 4 ability improvements (2 for strength and 2 for constitution) I would get rid of maybe athletics skill proficiency. Human variant gets 2 ability improvements, a skill proficiency and a feat. This seams about the same as 4 ability improvements and one skill proficiency. \$\endgroup\$ – Progredi Aug 5 '15 at 2:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Progredi would you please clarify, why would you get rid of the athletics skill over the intimidation skill proficiency? \$\endgroup\$ – SolidusVerum Aug 5 '15 at 3:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @daze413 That's the point - pushing, dragging, and lifting are all things that don't get used in most campaigns. Groups that aren't heavily detail-oriented probably won't ever use that ability. Because of that, the magnitude of it is pretty much irrelevant. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Aug 5 '15 at 3:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman Almost never, but that's not because there aren't opportunities to make good use of epic strength in a non-logistics focused game. This guy can pick up an entire wagon (with its contents), a dairy cow, or 12 cubic feet of solid granite. Plus he can sumo wrestle Stone Giants. There are lots of ways to use carrying capacity once you can get it well outside the realm of reason, most to impress or intimidate people, but occasionally to straight-up solve problems that were only really problems in the first place cause Hercules wasn't around. Generally leads to falling item abuse. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Aug 5 '15 at 6:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ I still think this is group dependent, but I've adjusted my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Aug 5 '15 at 7:42

I think this race is too powerful. One of the pieces of advice in the DMG when making modifications is to ask yourself if anyone would choose the previous alternative to the new option. That is, when looking at this giant, I see a race that is obviously superior to its next closest race, I.e. a Goliath.

I would suggest the following changes.

  1. Reduce the size of the race to Medium. Declare that members of this race are on average 8 to 9 feet tall.

  2. Reduce either the Str or Con bonus to a +1 or remove the skill proficiencies. All of those benefits together is more than other races get.

  3. Reduce the movement speed to 35

In my game, one of my players wanted to create a half ogre, for the same basic reasons as the ones you provided (save movement speed) and we came up with basically the same abilities as you except that it was +2 STR and +1 CON. At first I allowed him to be large , but found it was too overpowering, and when the Goliath was released, I noticed that they intend all PCs to be medium sized or smaller.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you please explain how a large character is "too overpowering" assuming I leave out the double bonus to damage? \$\endgroup\$ – SolidusVerum Aug 5 '15 at 19:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ The situation for our group, was that the half-ogre had an effective attack area of 30x30 feet (reach), combined with a large movement (he was a monk), which competed with the wizards AOE spells and the half-ogre monk was stealing the show. In addition to that, a bunch of narrative situations came up, where his size was causing him to steal the spotlight and not giving other characters a time to shine. He eventually had his half-ogre monk retire to do its own thing at the next town,(his choice, not mine) and replaced it with a human warlock. \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Aug 5 '15 at 21:05

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