Better Character Creation Mod for D&D 5e

Around this time last year I made a mod for the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons that changed how character creation was done. It added 5 new races to the game, and completely rebalanced the bonuses you get from races, classes, and player backgrounds. The idea was to increase the impact of player backgrounds, while reducing racial bonuses to bonuses that stem from morphological differences. To find out more, you can either download the pdf of the mod or check out the website where I posted it as it was being made. I’ll also post it below here if you’d rather just read it.

D&D 5e Better Character Creation Mod

Pterodactyl people (The Rindarra):

The Rindarra have wings that go from just above their hip to their wrist, kind of like bat wings. Their bones aren’t light enough for full flight, but they can use their wings to glide.

Many Rindar settlements are built among tree-tops, where they can utilize their wings to get around. People from such places tend to be good at climbing, as typically the only way to get up into the trees is to climb a rope from the bottom. Many of these settlements are outfitted with ziplines for the benefit of their non-Rindar citizens and visitors, but newer ones may not have them yet as they may not see a need for them.

Not all Rindar settlements are in the trees, however. Some are on cliff-sides or on solid ground. It largely depends on the geography of the land and the people living there. Many Rindar cultures forego wearing clothes on the upper half of their body in order to allow them to use their wings, though the Rindarra who settled on flat ground are far more likely to have a culture of wearing clothes above the waist.

Rindar Traits

Age. Rindarrans mature at about the same rate as humans and live a good deal longer. They are considered adults at 20 and live to be about 250 on average.

Size. Rindarrans stand between 4 and 5 feet tall, and weigh about 80 pounds on average. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 ft.

Glide. Your leathery wings allow you to glide across the sky. While you hold your arms out you fall as if under the effects of the spell Feather Fall. While doing so, you must move 30 feet forward each round. You can turn while doing this, but you must move a total of 30 feet (descent distance not included). If you collide with anything while gliding, you begin to fall as normal. While gliding, you cannot use your hands/arms to attack, meaning you cannot cast spells with somatic components, shoot ranged weapons, or throw weapons at enemies with your hands while gliding.

Cargo Carry. While gliding, you can carry an object in your talons so long as the object has something which your talons would be able to grip on it, or the object is small enough that your talons could hold the entire object at once. You can only carry something if its weight is less than or equal to three times your strength score in pounds. So, for instance, a Rindar with a strength of 10 could carry an object with weight less than or equal to 30 lb.

Languages. You can speak Common and Rindarran.


Rock People (the Terra):

The Terra are a race of sentient golems created long ago by an ancient wizard. They’re typically kind of portly and round-shaped, though they don’t have to be, with a smooth spherical head that is featureless except for their glowing white eyes. The secret to their creation is known only by members of the species and individuals whom they place a great deal of trust in. It is believed that something about the magic makes it almost impossible for a non-Terran to cast the spell, which begs the question of who created the Terra in the first place if they can only be created by other Terrans. The Terra have no mouth, but the magic that brings them to life also allows them to speak.

Terra Traits

Age. Terrans don’t mature physically, though their minds mature at the same rate as humans. Their natural lifespan is very long. They live until their bodies erode away or they are otherwise destroyed, allowing them to survive for millions of years in perfect conditions, though most die after a few thousand years.

Size. Terrans usually stand between 4 and 6 feet tall and weigh thousands of pounds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 25 ft.

Magic Senses. Magic allows you to see, hear, and feel things, though you cannot taste or smell. These senses aren’t any stronger than a human’s senses would be.

Rock Body. You have a body made of rock and don’t need to eat, drink, or breathe to survive. You do not sleep. Instead of sleeping, you take 4 hours each night to rest your limbs, as it is rather exhausting to move your rocky form. You do not dream while doing this; you are fully aware of your surroundings and notice approaching enemies and other events as normal. You are immune to magical effects that would put you to sleep.

Poison Immunity. As a rock person, you don’t have any blood or a circulatory system. For this reason, poison attacks don’t work on you. You are immune to poison damage and the poisoned condition.

Petrification Immunity. As a rock person, effects that petrify people have no effect on you.

Languages. You can speak Common and Terran


Lizard People (The Sciorr):

A group of lizard people with sharp claws on their hands and feet that can be used to dig into walls and climb up soft surfaces.

Sciorr Traits

Age. The Sciorr mature a bit faster than humans and live to be about the same age. They are considered adults at 16 and live to be about 80 years old on average.

Size. Sciorrens stand between 5 and 7 feet tall and weigh between 120 and 240 pounds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 ft.

Climbing Claws. Your claws are so sharp that they allow you to climb up structures made of soft materials. You have a natural climbing speed equal to your walking speed when climbing up such structures. You cannot hang upside down using this ability. Surfaces that are soft enough to climb include wood, dirt, soft rocks such as pumice, graphite and clay, and soft metals such as gold and silver. They do not include hard rocks such as Basalt, or hard metals such as iron, steel, and adamantium.

Sharp Claws. When you would make an unarmed attack with your fists, you may opt to make a claw attack instead. Your claw attacks are based on the same stat as your unarmed attacks, and they deal 1d4+modifier damage. You are considered proficient with your claws for the purposes of this attack.

Languages. You can speak Common and Sciorrian


The Alraune:

The Alraune are a race of plant people who are renowned for their natural beauty. They are known for their ability to mimic the voices of others, and some from other races believe them to be untrustworthy for this reason, though these suspicions are largely unfounded.

Alraune Traits

Age. Alraune age at the same rate as humans but live a bit longer. They are considered adults at 18 and live to be about 120 years old on average.

Size. Alraune stand between 5 and 8 feet tall and weigh between 100 and 240 pounds. Your size is medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 ft.

Magic Mimicry. Your Magical body allows you to perfectly mimic the voices of people you’ve heard. After listening to someone speak in a language that you understand for a minute or more, you can mimic their voice. Your mimicry includes nuances such as intonation and cadence, as well as pitch. For all intents and purposes, it is a perfect copy of their speech. This is a magical effect, and as such can be detected by spells such as detect magic. The school of magic this uses is alteration.

Languages. You can speak Common and Alraunian


The Mer:

The Mer are an aquatic race of humanoids with scaly skin and webbed hands and feet. They tend to live in cities made of coral or stone at the bottom of bodies of water such as seas or lakes.

Mer Traits

Age. Mer-people mature at the same rate as humans but live a lot longer. They are considered adults at 20, but they can live to be up to 300 or so years old.

Size. Mer stand between 6 and 7 feet tall and average about 180 pounds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 ft.

Natural Swimmer. Your webbed hands and feet give you a swimming speed equal to your walking speed.

Amphibious. You can breathe on land and underwater.

Dark Vision. Your eyes are attuned to low light conditions, allowing you to see in dim light as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light out to 60 feet.

Languages. You can speak Common and Merrish


D&D Official Races

I want to keep it so that the official D&D races from Wizards of the Coast are still playable, but that puts me in a bit of a bind. A lot of what differentiates them is stuff that isn’t related to their morphology, and that’s kind of hard to work around with this new system. I don’t really want to re-write all of the official races and change them so that they have weird new abilities just to fit my system, so instead I’m just going to make it so that if you choose one of the official races you get a free proficiency in a skill of your choice plus the usual walking speed, languages, age range, and height/weight of your chosen race. If your chosen race has a feature that allows them to cast spells, you may take it instead of the extra proficiency. I don’t like this compromise, but I think it’s roughly balanced, so it’ll have to do until I can think of something better.

Exceptions: If you choose to play as a Tabaxi, you have the same features that the Sciorr have. If you choose to play as a Kenku, you can take the mimicry ability listed in the Kenku description instead of the skill proficiency. If you choose to play as a Triton, you have the same features as the Mer.


Class Changes

Each class now gives the player an ability score bonus to the core stat of the class, in addition to everything else they do. If you’ve played the game enough, you can probably guess most of these, but I’m going to write them down to avoid any confusion. The following is in addition to the normal things you get for each class

Barbarian

When you take the first level of this class, if you have no levels in any other class, increase your Strength score by 2.

Bard

When you take the first level of this class, if you have no levels in any other class, increase your Charisma score by 2.

Cleric

When you take the first level of this class, if you have no levels in any other class, increase your Wisdom score by 2.

Druid

When you take the first level of this class, if you have no levels in any other class, increase your Wisdom score by 2.

Fighter

When you take the first level of this class, if you have no levels in any other class, increase either your Strength or your Dexterity score by 2.

Monk

When you take the first level of this class, if you have no levels in any other class, increase either your Dexterity or your Wisdom score by 2.

Paladin

When you take the first level of this class, if you have no levels in any other class, increase either your Strength or your Charisma score by 2.

Ranger

When you take the first level of this class, if you have no levels in any other class, increase either your Dexterity or your Wisdom score by 2.

Rogue

When you take the first level of this class, if you have no levels in any other class, increase your Dexterity score by 2.

Sorcerer

When you take the first level of this class, if you have no levels in any other class, increase your Charisma score by 2.

Warlock

When you take the first level of this class, if you have no levels in any other class, increase your Charisma score by 2.

Wizard

When you take the first level of this class, if you have no levels in any other class, increase your Intelligence score by 2.


Backgrounds

I like the background system in D&D, but I want to make your choice of background more impactful. I want to give the player more abilities based on their backgrounds. I also wanted to make a more easily understandable way to create a custom background. You can use the graphics I made to create a new background or to modify an existing background to work with my mod.

There are 3 pools of things to choose from to build a custom background. To make a new background You pick 3 from the first one and 2 from the next two. You cannot pick the same thing twice, though you may pick multiple copies of something if there are multiple copies in a pool (for example, you can’t take an intimidation proficiency twice, but you can learn two different languages).

Next, you work with your DM to figure out what your character’s background is that allows them to do these things. This should include things like their past occupation and major events or periods of their life that allowed them to learn how to do what they can do, in addition to personal details. It’s also a good idea at this time to think about bonds, personality traits, ideals, and flaws for the character. Finally, once you have an idea for your character, work with the DM to create a background feature similar to the ones in the Player’s Hand Book. This feature should exemplify the flavor of the character.

Together with your DM, decide what equipment your character should have based on their background. Alternatively, use the starting wealth table from chapter 5 of the Player’s Handbook to determine how many gold pieces you have and spend those on items from the lists in chapter 5 of the Player’s Handbook.

To modify an existing background, pick any one skill proficiency and two things from the third pool. The background you chose now gives you the things you chose in addition to what it gave originally.

Pool 3 Choice Descriptions:

Aggressive

As a bonus action, you can move up to your speed toward an enemy of your choice that you can see or hear. You must end this move closer to the enemy than you started.

Animal Communication

Through sounds and gestures, you can communicate simple ideas with beasts.

Brave

You have advantage on saving throws against being frightened

Cunning Artisan

As part of a short rest, you can harvest bone and hide from a slain beast, construct, dragon, monstrosity, or plant creature of size Small or larger to create one of the following items: a shield, a club, a javelin, or 1d4 darts or blowgun needles. To use this trait, you need a blade, such as a dagger, or appropriate artisan’s tools, such as leatherworker’s tools.

Evasive

When an enemy targets you with an opportunity attack, you may use your reaction to force them to make the attack with disadvantage. You may choose to activate this ability before or after they make their roll, but before you know the result.

Expert Forgery

You can duplicate other creatures’ handwriting and craftwork. You have advantage on all checks made to produce forgeries or duplicates of existing objects.

Flashy Combatant

Your fighting style is stylish, entertaining and impressive. When you hit an enemy with a weapon attack you can choose to distract your enemies. Every enemy you didn’t hit with your attack must make a Wisdom saving throw. If they fail, they are transfixed by your stylish moves and they lose their reaction until the start of your next turn. The DC for the saving throw is equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your charisma modifier. You can use this feature once per combat.

Improvised Weapon Specialist

You have proficiency in any improvised weapons you use. When you use an improvised weapon that bears no resemblance to a weapon it deals 1d6 damage instead of the usual 1d4.

Insomniac

You have advantage on saving throws against being put to sleep.

Lucky

When you roll a 1 on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll.

Mask of the Wild

You can attempt to hide even when you are only lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena.

Mental Discipline

You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed

Melee Specialist

You get a +2 bonus to damage rolls you make with melee Weapons.

Minor Casting

Choose a class: bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard. Learn a cantrip from that class’s spell list. Your spellcasting ability for this spell depends on the class you chose: Charisma for bard, sorcerer, or warlock; Wisdom for cleric or druid; Intelligence for wizard.

Nimble

When you try to move through difficult terrain, you may make an acrobatics check (DC set by DM). If you succeed, you may move through the terrain at full speed for this round.

Ranged Specialist

You get a +2 bonus to damage rolls you make with ranged weapons.

Resourceful

You can use scrap metal and other bits of detritus to make small, useful trinkets, such as a lockpick, caltrop, or fishing hook. When you decide to make a trinket, tell your DM what you’re making and what you’re using to make it, then roll a Dexterity (sleight of hand) check. On a 20 or higher you make the trinket and you can choose to make it stealthily if you wish, on a 12 or higher you make the trinket but in the process you make some noise, on an 11 or lower you fail to make the trinket and you make some noise. If you are proficient in tinker’s tools and you have them on hand, you may choose to use that proficiency instead of sleight of hand.

It takes between 1 action – 1 minute to make trinkets using this ability, depending on the complexity of the trinket. Trinkets made using this ability must be small enough to be held in 1 hand, and are usually shoddy, quickly built things. They tend to break after a few uses or after a few hours, whichever is sooner.

Stubborn

When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright. you can drop to 1 hit point instead. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.

Stunt Master

Whenever you make a Dexterity (acrobatics) check to gain the attention of a group of people, you are considered proficient in the Acrobatics skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

Tinkerer

You have proficiency with artisan’s tools (tinker’s tools). Using those tools, you can spend 1 hour and 10 gp worth of materials to construct a Tiny clockwork device (AC 5, 1 hp). The device ceases to function after 24 hours (unless you spend 1 hour repairing it to keep the device functioning), or when you use your action to dismantle it; at that time, you can reclaim the materials used to create it. You can have up to three such devices active at a time.

When you create a device, choose one of the following options:

Clockwork Toy. This toy is a clockwork animal, monster, or person, such as a frog, mouse, bird, dragon, or soldier. When placed on the ground, the toy moves 5 feet across the ground on each of your turns in a random direction. It makes noises as appropriate to the creature it represents.

Fire Starter. The device produces a miniature flame, which you can use to light a candle, torch, or campfire. Using the device requires your action.

Music Box. When opened, this music box plays a single song at a moderate volume.

The box stops playing when it reaches the song’s end or when it is closed.

Vicious Attacks

When you score a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.

Strength Score +1

Increase your strength ability score by 1

Dexterity Score +1

Increase your dexterity ability score by 1

Constitution Score +1

Increase your constitution ability score by 1

Intelligence Score +1

Increase your intelligence ability score by 1

Wisdom Score +1

Increase your wisdom ability score by 1

Charisma Score +1

Increase your charisma ability score by 1

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