>Lockout: Apparently My Thoughts On Sam’s Race/Feat Question Were Too Long For A Comment

>As such, I will make them a post!

First, I very much appreciate the consistent feedback! It’s nice to have to think about my posts summat after I make them.

I ported some of the racial stuff over from another campaign I wrote, specifically the coloration of the dragonborn and the orcish feats. I’m not sure if you noted that the Greenblood grants half-orcs access to the orcish feats (which include an always-active weapon feat, though at present some of the others require the orc racial, which I might grant half-orcs another feat to take). I also understand that the expertise-style feats are big, but every 4e game I’ve played in for the last year or so has adopted the policy of just handing out expertise (now versatile expertise) for free, based on the thousands of internet-spawned words churned out about the combat gap issue. So the first part of my reason for including that sort of feat is, yes, an expectation that players will be allowed to make some more flavourful choices when less interesting things like expertise are already provided.

The second part of specific inclusions like that is setting related, for the half-elves and half-orcs. It’s important to stress that there are no humans in my setting, effectively. Humans exist, but only in the swamps, mountains, and woods…they’re all near-savages, and the vast majority of “humans” one meets are going to be closer to a shifter at the very least (with most of what you find in a human tribe actually being a reskinned gnoll, minotaur, goliath, squirrelman, etc). That’s crucial because I’m not for one second trying to buy into the 4e revisionist half-orc bullshit where they’re a “separate race.” That’s ridiculous. A half-orc comes about when a mommy or daddy orc and a mommy or daddy something else bump one ugly with one not-so-ugly. In the Tran empire, orcs have opportunity to breed with elves or dwarves (I could possibly see opening hobgoblins and bugbears up there too). If it’s the former, though, it’s going to be the result of military conquest, since the main thing orcs are doing other than fighting beastmen is trying to kill off those darn independent elves. Elves wouldn’t raise a half-orc, so the creature is much more likely to take Greenblood and be a hulking savage who is perhaps a mite more graceful than his companions. Dwarven camp followers might give birth to a half-orc child, and occasionally a dwarven ranger might fall in love or lust with an orc and raise a dwarf/orc hybrid, which would actually find itself fairly well accepted in frontier Tran society. However, because the options are so very limited in terms of genetic mixing, I wanted to ensure that players were making their choice of parentage a significant part of their backstory.

It’s the same with the half-elves. Again, with no humans to breed with, half-elves on the Tran continent are elf/dwarf hybrids exclusively. Some elves trade peacefully with the Tran, and elves are hot, so it’s all sensible. In the Silken Kingdoms, since all the races represent the same core race (elves) further altered due to magical specialization/experimentation, mixing two already hybridized races produces offspring who favor one side of their parentage alongside the elven blood that they still retain. They can’t take human feats (it wouldn’t make any sense) so I wanted them to have an option whereby they can explore some races’ feat trees…hence the dilettante swapping.

The third reason for my choice of feats like Greenblood is that I do expect the specific players I anticipate playing in my game to jump for this because I’m not a man with patience for min-maxery. Perfectly optimizing a sheet is fine for a delve or convention, where you may be on a timer and you’re sure to be up against some utterly brutal encounters. However, in the 16+ years I’ve been playing DnD I’ve never gone in for character optimizaiton; I’ve always preferred character realization (was that lame? Perhaps!). That’s true no matter what kind of game I’m running, but since I’m incorporating some rules into this specific campaign that make situations a mite less lethal (players have resources at their disposal to skip particularly dangerous encounters, though doing so will limit their options in other areas) there’s even less call for the maximized approach. A half-orc in the Tran empire is going to be viewed a certain way and reacted to a certain way; I want her to have options regarding how much of that view and reaction is founded, and how much of each racial heritage is displayed.

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3 thoughts on “>Lockout: Apparently My Thoughts On Sam’s Race/Feat Question Were Too Long For A Comment

  1. >Well, that all makes sense, so good of you to explain! I'm glad you give the obvious requisite feats out free, it really does free up space for so many more creative choices (like combat styles, which are sooooo feat intensive!)My one further gripe however might be that it seems like these sort of feats and the rationale behind them smacks a bit more of a 3rd than 4th edition frame of mind. I don't mean just yours specifically, but all the others that have been released, such as "Wood Elf Agility" or "Gold Dwarf Pride." 4E purported to have moved away from requiring you to put your money where your mouth is in terms of investing skill points into things like craft (pottery), proffession (cook), or perform (slam poetry) to prove your commitment to your character fluff. In 4E, if you say you're a good cook, presto… you are! Why then create feats like these that seem to imply that unless you take Wood Elf Agility, you aren't REALLY a wood elf? That in your own words, you haven't fully REALIZED your commitment to savage orciness unless you invest a feat slot into it which may be sorely missed. Its not the mechanics of the feat that lie at the source of this problem obviously, but rather their name and fluff which creates this form of character extortion.Feats are supposed to be combat tricks, areas of study, learned skills and abilities… not some reflection of your genetic makeup. It just seems like a mixed message to simultaneously slim down the cumbersome skill list in the name of keeping backstory and game-mechanics separate with one hand, and then with the other to create feats like these which conflate the two all over again. Certain races (Dragonborn, for instance) that have distinct and significant genetic bloodlines are handled with a customization option at the race selection stage of character creation… you don't need to take a feat to prove to anyone that you're committed to being a white dragonborn rather than a red one. If the distinction between orcy half-orcs and dainty half-orcs is really important in your setting, maybe there should be some sort of similar choice between bonuses at race selection rather than burdening the feat list with that responsibility?Long story short? I'm essentially just complaining about feat names since everything else seems pretty air tight. Sigh, how pointless… I'm not really this critical, I swear!

  2. >I think the core distinction between your view and mine is that, in character creation at any level, I don't think I've ever missed a feat. The powers and race I select (especially dips from multi feats, since I'm extremely likely to multi) build out the character, but I'm struggling right now to think of a single non-multi feat for a single character I've ever built where I've said "Shit, if I only had that feat my concept would be complete!"If anything, I tend to be disappointed in most feats because they either feel wholly insufficient for the expenditure (a +1/tier to damage with conditional spells? Really?) or so must-have that they feel they could just be baked into a class build (Dwarven Weapon Training. Between the +2 damage and the increase in die size and/or reliability of damage depending on the axe you pick, is there really a reason to take the 5% chance to hit of a +3 prof weapon over an axe, ever? I built a Tempest fighting dwarf and dicked around for maybe 6 levels with spiked gauntlets before I realized I could take DWT and have a double axe for a 4 point increase on my high-end damage [i]and[/i] a boost to armor from defensive weapon). I don't like taking the former kind of talent because I feel like I'm throwing my feats away; I don't like taking the latter because I feel like I'm being told what to do (DWT is so much better than nearly any other weapon training feat except for the Gith one). Half-Orcs are already well-supported by feats in the game, so taking Greenblood boosts your racial while opening up more options. The kind of character likely to take it probably A) has a high Con and B) expects to spend a fair amount of time bloodied, so that alone makes the feat worthwhile. Having access to more choices on top of that, including a weapon feat, is probably appealing to that kind of character, but hardly critical for a half-orc sorcerer (though I could see them going Storm or Wild, boosting dex and con and buying a high cha, and getting a good use out of it). I look at it as an add-more, not a must-have.

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