So I’ve already written quite a bit about some of the races available to my players in Exploration Age – the assimar in one post and the deva, mul, and shardmind in another. Yet, I’ve got more yet to be released D&D races I’m going to make available to them and I’d like to give you the mechanics I’ve created as well as the unique story for each race in my setting.

Svirfneblin

First up, the svirfneblin. They’re actually a gnome subrace, so bust out that Player’s Handbook, and check out the gnome. I’ve given you the deep gnome story in another post, so check that out if you want their story. Here are the mechanics.

Svirfneblin Traits

Deep gnomes are weird.

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Superior Darkvision. Your darkvision has a radius of 120 feet.

Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Stonecunning. Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to the origin of stonework, you are considered proficient in the History skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

Svrifneblin Combat Training. You have proficiency with the war pick and warhammer.

Svirfneblin Lights. You know the dancing lights cantrip. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for this spell.

Duergar

Mohawk duergar is the best.

Living with the drow and fighting side-by-side in their constant war with the aberrants are the duergar, or gray dwarves. Like their surface kin the gray dwarves value martial prowess and good well-crafted. This is, of course, because the duergar descended from their surface kin a long time ago. During their bloody war with the chromatic dragons on the side of the shardminds, some dwarves went into The Underdark seeking refuge. These dwarves became the duergar and eventually found an entirely new war beneath the surface.

Now, in many ways duergar have more in common with drow than they do with dwarves of the world above. Both duergar and drow deal with the constant stress of their aberrant war and rely on each other with undying trust.

While they share brotherhood and battlelines with the drow, duergar do not share their drow’s impulsiveness and live-each-day-as-if-it-were-your-last lifestyle. Almost everything the duergar do is in preparation for war. Duergar are practical and know that a good night’s sleep and healthy meal are more likely than a late night of revelry at ensuring survival the next day. They craft arms and armor, mine metals, and train constantly. Ever vigilant, careful, and calculating are the gray dwarves.

Duergar adventurers could be mercenaries seeking a better life on the surface, aberrant hunters hoping to learn new techniques to help them with their war below, deadly assassins for hire, or anything you dream.

Duergar Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Superior Darkvision. Your dark vision has a radius of 120 feet.

Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Duergar Magic. You know the thaumaturgy cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the invisibility spell once per day. When you reach 5th level, you can also cast the enlarge spell once per day, but you may only target yourself with the spell. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Shifter

Don’t mess.

Shifters are born outcasts. Many are killed as babes, their parents too horrified to look upon them. To the elves they are abhorrent monstrosities. To the werewolves – an evolutionary misstep deserving only to die. Many of the shifters lucky enough to have a parent let them live are still kicked out of the house at an early age, or orphaned when their parent is murdered by bigots.

These abandoned shifters find each other and form communities of wandering vagabonds who make a living performing, swindling, and selling crafts. These communities exist all over Findalay and many look forward to the circuses and carnivals the shifters provide. Others feel shifters have been short-changed and try to help these beings find a more established life in Findalay. Some fear the partial werewolf race avoiding and shunning them. The truly fearful seek out and kill these half-breeds.

The discovery of Verda has opened up new possibilities for the shifters, a place where they may have a home of their own free from persecution, stares, jeers, discrimination, violence, and the ever-looming Brotherhood of the Moon.

Shifter adventurers could be thieves disguised as traveling circus performers, cunning mages using their magic to predict people’s fortunes, wild, untamed barbarians, or anything you dream.

Shifter Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Age. Shifters mature and age at the same rate as humans.

Alignment. When it comes to good or evil, shifters are usually neutral, since they embody the spirit of the wild. Most shifters tend to be wild and free and therefore favor chaos over law.

Size. Shifters range from just over 5 to just over 6 feet tall and have lean builds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. Thanks to your lycanthrope heritage, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Keen Hearing and Smell. You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language of your choice.

Subrace. Two subraces of shifter are found in Canus: longtooth and razorclaw. Choose one of these sub races.

Longtooth Shifter

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2.

Longtooth Shifting. Once per day, as a bonus action you may shift, entering a more beastial state for one minute. When you do, you gain a +2 damage bonus to Strength-based attacks and regenerate 5 HP at the start of your turns. In addition, you grow long fangs which function as a light weapon which deals 1d6 piercing damage. You may attack with your fangs as a bonus action on your turn.

While you are shifting, you may not cast spells. You can end the shift early on your turn if you so choose.

You gain a second daily use of longtooth shifting at 8th level and your bonus damage to Strength-based attacks while shifting increases to +4, and your attacks with your fangs count as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance. You gain a third daily use of this ability at 16th level and your bonus damage to Strength-based attacks while shifting increases to +6.

Razorclaw Shifter

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

Razorclaw Shifting. Once per day, as a bonus action you may shift, entering a more beastial state for one minute. When you do, your speed increases by five feet, you gain a +1 bonus to your AC, and you have advantage on Dexterity saving throws. In addition, you grow a pair of claws which function as light, finesse melee weapons which deal 1d6 slashing damage. You may attack with one of your claws as a bonus action on your turn.

While you are shifting, you may not cast spells. You can end the shift early on your turn if you so choose.

You gain a second daily use of razorclaw shifting at 8th level and your speed increases by 10 feet, you attacks with your claws count as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance, and your bonus to AC increases to +2 while shifting. You gain a third daily use of this ability at 16th level and your speed increases by 15 feet and your bonus to AC increases to +3 while shifting.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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Comments
  1. joelastowski says:

    That jumper thing for the shifters is HUGE, esp when you consider that the Agile feat (the only one that deals with jumping) only lets you halve the distance you have to move for a running start (to 5 from 10).

    I also cannot look at the name “svirfneblin” without thinking “smurf”. But that’s more of a personal problem, and not an inherent system imbalance issue.

    While it makes sense for balance not to allow raging while shifted, I don’t know if that’ll end up being parallel to whatever final call WotC makes on raging in different forms. Right now there’s nothing stopping a multiclassed barbarian/druid from raging while in wildshape form, and I see shifting as similar. Though that does raise the question about how wildshape & shifting interact. Can I wildshape into a dire wolf, THEN shift and get +2 to Str attacks & regeneration? Not that I would, personally… but one of the first things I look for in any new mechanics is how players will try to break them on me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point on wild shape. I’ll have to playtest and see if that has a significant impact…

      Like

    • qpop says:

      Shifters shifters shifters shifters. That’s just so much awesome right there.

      Liked by 1 person

    • qpop says:

      On the more… technical side, I think Mr. Velociraptor has some very good points. Being able to shift while wildshaped might just tempt me into considering a druid. I also think that not being able to rage while shifting doesn’t make sense thematically, though I get the balance. Isn’t shifting something you do when you’re passionate and excited, unleashing your inner beast nature? Isn’t that a set of circumstances that would also be a good time to rage out? If you want to keep that line though, you will probably want to also include:

      “You cannot shift while raging”

      Otherwise I can just rage first and then shift, RAW.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I was thinking about moving the jump thing all together. What are your thoughts on that?

      Like

  2. Rudy Basso says:

    Deep gnomes are weird and I hate them and my character will hate them too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I took out Natural Jumper and allowed shifters to shift while raging. Let’s see how this goes…

    Like

  4. john fizheir says:

    I think leveling the shifting abilities at all might be what makes this a bit OP. Most races don’t have abilities that level, and the ones that do add diversity rather than power. +6 to hit seems game breaking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • john fizheir says:

      +6 to damage, I mean.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I actually think a lot of the key racial abilities level, magic for drow and tieflings and the breath weapon for dragonborn. It didn’t seem too out of line when I compared it to that.

        Like

      • qpop says:

        The Tieflings and Drow do get more spells but each spell is still only once per day. The dragonborn breath does go up by 1d6 at each point to a max of 5d6 at level 16 but that’s only an average of 20 damage once per short rest. The damage bonus for shifting means that if you hit with every attack you’re doing an extra +20 damage, +40 damage, or +60 damage. That doesn’t include Extra Attack, bonus attacks, etc. To me that scaling isn’t really comparing apples to apples but this is just a layman’s approach; I can’t say that I know much about RPG numbers balancing..

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Kaylee Lock says:

    Thanks for the Shifter, mon frere. I’m itchin to give Eberron Nxt a try.

    Liked by 1 person

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