PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

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PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by AvonRekaes » Thu May 24, 2018 7:04 am

This thread is about how well, or not, PHB races, or more specifically their subraces, fit within the Eberron campaign setting.

I was invited to make this thread by HawkDiesel, who wanted to hear my rants against the Mountain Dwarf and Rock Gnome for Eberron campaigns, so my personal opinion is that several PHB subraces are ill-suited to Eberron and using them without comment or alteration puts across to players new to the setting some incorrect implications.

So, before I start, let me just say, again, this is just my opinion. I am not likely to be swayed from it, so trying to convince me away from my points probably will end in frustration. HOWEVER I invite anyone to share their own opinions, so that anyone reading the thread can see all sides and viewpoints.

SO, if you don't want to see negative thoughts expressed about PHB subraces in Eberron, skip the rest of this first post :)

Let's start with the basic assumption of what a subrace is. As presented, I think the PHB subraces represent cultural divisions. The High Elves are not "genetically" more magical than Wild Elves, they just don't consider you an adult in their society until you learn at least one cantrip. This means that each subrace is representative of a society. There are other interpretations of what these subraces are, or can mean, in an Eberron game and I'll address those alternate interpretations too, but first I will address subraces "as intended" in the PHB.

As a society, Mountain Dwarves do not exist in Eberron. There is no nation, clan, or society of dwarves in any region of Eberron that is known as being the most competent, well-trained soldiers on the face of the planet. There is no cultural emphasis in any known dwarven culture on training for war above all else beyond all other martial societies (Karrnath, Dhakanni, Dragonborn, etc.). In a generic setting, the Mountain Dwarf gets across the feeling of "dang, these dwarves mean business, and they're the most likely culture to produce the best trained militia and their fighters are the strongest and toughest in the world". In Eberron that distinction goes to House Deneith for the best training, and goddamn warforged for the strongest, toughest soldiers. By including the Mountain Dwarf, with it's +2 Str and Con and +1 HP per level, the sheer design space for warforged is choked up in making them merely equal to Mountain Dwarves in terms of sheer strength and behind in sheer toughness (less HP per level). How can Warforged ever make sense when compared to the Mountain Dwarf?

For the Rock Gnome, the meat and potatoes ability of the subrace, the unique and sole ability amongst all playable races to create clockwork items (which are themselves actually so unsophisticated that they fall apart in a day) just flat-out does not make any sense in the current world of Eberron, in two individual, separate ways:
  • First, House Cannith is known throughout Khorvaire to be the best, most talented tinkerers. They RUN the "Tinkerer's Guild". So why can't humans make clockwork devices, and why are the gnomes the only ones who can? The Rock Gnome's ability to do so while humans can't is an insult to the setting, I feel, if left as is.
  • Secondly, the "tech"-level of Eberron is far in advance of a generic setting, or should be, and there is no reason why a wind up toy would fall apart in a day. If you assume that non-player characters (ie, society as a whole) have the ability to make permanent clockwork items but amongst player characters ONLY GNOMES have the ability to do so, why are they COMICALLY BAD at creating simple non-magical clockwork devices? This isn't Krynn where tinker gnome inventions have a 50/50 shot of exploding. The Zil gnomes have plenty of competent artificers, such as the elemental binders making airships in concert with House Cannith. So if NPC gnomes are competent tinkerers, why is there an entire society of shitty tinkerer Rock Gnomes? Cause remember, subraces are cultures. There is now, if you use Rock Gnomes in Eberron, a society of amature tinker gnomes who are just terrible at making anything and ALL of their inventions fall apart in a day. Because remember, there is no in-game ability to make clockwork items EXCEPT for this ONE racial ability. It is impossible for you to get any better at it.
Now, you might be thinking "what if they're just good at making improvised items?" Well then, of course, there is an entire society of gnomes that just has the unique and sole ability amongst all of Khorvaire to McGuyver improvised detritus into a hogpog but functional clockwork item. They're so brilliant, they can make working clockwork out of junk! And then we're back at the first point, where you're shitting all over House Cannith's humans who can't possibly do the same, despite canonically being chosen by destiny, for being the best tinkerers around, to manifest the Mark of Making.

Now the alternate interpretation is that subraces are "aptitudes", individual talents that a player character might have but don't necessarily reflect their race. This is how Keith has expressed he'd use PHB subraces in Eberron, and I can understand a desire to at least TRY to reconcile how a large chunk of the PHB could at least be officially used without disrupting the setting. It has the advantage of not disrupting society as a whole.

Except, I still think it sucks, and I'll get into why in a second. But first, I want to emphatically state that I mean no offense nor disrespect to Keith. I assume if any official Eberron material is to be written for Eberron it is going to HAVE TO include the official PHB material. Just like 4e Eberron HAD TO include Baator because "that's just how planes work now", and he did his best to reconcile the shoe-horning in of Baator into Eberron's cosmology in an official capacity.

This is how I view Mountain Dwarves and Rock Gnomes. They are 5e Eberron's Baator. Keith's just doing his best.

Now here's why I think the "aptitude" explanation sucks. If a PCs subrace is an exceptional aptitude, but what they are exceptional for is wildly divergent from their race's culture, or even just intentionally not coming from his race's society, what's point of tying subrace "aptitudes" to a race at all? If a player picking "Mountain Dwarf" just means "really tough fighter" with no meaning in greater dwarven society, why can't Deneith humans pick the "really tough fighter" aptitude? Why can't dragonborn? Why can't half-orcs? Why can't Valenar elves? Why would a gnome character, because of a specific aptitude he picked that has no bearing on gnomes as a whole or his place within gnome society, be the only kind of character that can even possibly select the only aptitude that allows anyone to be the McGuyvery improvised tinker genius? Why couldn't Cannith humans pick the "McGuyvery improvised tinker genius" aptitude?

And, possibly even more importantly, I don't actually believe a new player would even understand the implication of aptitudes not being representative of their race. I don't think a new player playing a Rock Gnome, would understand he is playing an exceptional gnome with the unique and sole talent in all the world to McGuyver ingenious little devices that not even the genius artificers of world renowned House Cannith can replicate. I think a new player is just going to assume "this is what some gnomes are known for." Which is the default PHB view. And then we're back at square one. Because NO, that's NOT what gnomes are known for. That's what HUMANS ARE KNOWN FOR ALMFLKJNGNMLAOL:NHJGB:OLNAFNHLGN

...Ahem.

So no, no Mountain Dwarves and no Rock Gnomes in any Eberron game I run. They have no place in Eberron under any interpretation of the rules or setting I can think of.

... Y'all can thank HawkDiesel for that rant. :P

So, what are your thoughts?
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by willpell » Thu May 24, 2018 10:18 am

I'm fine with the dwarf (maybe the Warforged need a buff), but I completely agree with the ill-considered and useless nature of the rock gnome's trinkets.

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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by Big Mac » Thu May 24, 2018 12:44 pm

I thought that one of the central themes of Eberron was that everything in D&D exists in Eberron...

...but has a different background that explains it in an Eberron context.

From what I can tell, from the evolution of AD&D, through 1st and 2nd Edition into 3.0 and 3.5 D&D, the (demihuman) subraces were originally designed as things that would fit into Greyhawk, with other settings, like Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance building their own variant subraces.

Those subraces still exist and, seem to have been turned into semi-generic things. That might be fine for some campaign settings (especially something like Council of Wyrms or Ghostwalk, there there is not a large body of work for the campaign setting) but I don't think the approach works for Eberron.

Having said that, I think that the concept of dwarves, elves, halfings and so on having subraces totally works for Eberron. It's just the default history of these subraces that isn't appropriate.

Take Mountain Dwarves, for example. That's a totally valid concept for Eberron. There must be mountains in Eberron and where better for the dwarves of Eberron to protect the horde of gold they have than a vast underground complex surrounded by wards that prevent teleportation and other magic and armed guards, epic sealed doors and traps?

The generic Mountain Dwarves are designed to work with the Morndinsamman. You only get that far and you realise that they are broken and need that bit rebooted.

But, it's totally appropriate to have dwarven clans that have traditionally stuck to digging out underground vaults and other dwarven clans that cross the lands guarding money.

And if you are going to have to reboot the Mountain Dwarves, to make them work as "Eberron Mountain Dwarves", I think you might as well do what Forgotten Realms did, with it's customised subraces, and come up with a new name for them. FR has Arctic dwarves, Gold dwarves, Shield dwarves, Urdunnir dwarves, Wild dwarves and Duergar. Most of those subraces are unique to the Realms.

I think that Eberron should do the same thing for it's subraces.
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by AvonRekaes » Thu May 24, 2018 3:16 pm

I will just add that I'm not entirely opposed to the idea of a "Mountain" Dwarf subrace. My issues are what the mechanics of these subraces imply about their culture, and how those implications don't fit (for me) in the world of Eberron.

Like, It's fine to say that the Mror Holds has clans that are entirely devoted to the art of war. What isn't fine for me is to mechanically represent them as better fighters/more devoted to war than the cultures in Eberron that are KNOWN for their martial nature, like the Valenar elves or Warforged.

Otherwise, BigMac, it appears we are in accord. That Eberron deserves custom-made subraces of its own, to better represent the cultural norms in Eberron.

Take the Gnome for instance. In my version of Eberron, there are two gnome subraces, the Forest Gnome from the PHB which represents the gnomes who exist in Thelanis and the Feyspire known as Pylas Pyrial, and the Zil Gnome, which are the gnomes that, in ancient times, left the Feyspire and have existed alone on the material plane for millennia and have their own culture which prizes guile and subterfuge:
Zil Gnomes
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
Alignment. Zilargo is a very peaceful nation, leading the gnomes to have a strongly lawful bent. However, gnomes seem predisposed to subterfuge and trickery, and there is a strong chance one may come across an evil gnome.
Zil Guile. You have proficiency with the Deception and Insight skills.
Zil Magic. You know the prestidigitation cantrip. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for it.
This is what I want to see for Eberron. I want to see EBERRONS cultural assumptions about their subraces brought forth in mechanics, instead of trying to shoehorn and justify other setting's material (like suggesting that Ghostwise Halflings can be used for Talenta halflings. Why not just make Talenta halflings?)
Talenta Halflings
Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution score increases by 1.
Alignment. Halflings of the Talenta Plains tend toward lawful good. As a rule, they are good-hearted and kind, hate to see others in pain, and have no tolerance for oppression. They are also very orderly and traditional, leaning heavily on the support of their community and the comfort of their old ways.
Talenta Weapon Training. You have proficiency with the boomerang, sharrash, and tangat.
Bonded Mount. Talenta halflings consider the bond between rider and mount to be sacred. After spending a week with a beast mount, you may craft a mask to bond with it, using 5 gp in materials. While wearing this mask, you may communicate with your bonded mount as if under the effects of the speak with animals spell. In addition, whenever you make a Wisdom or Charisma check involving your mount, you add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.
You may only bond to one mount at a time, and the bond lasts until the beast dies. Talenta halflings typically favor dinosaurs as mounts, especially the fastieth and clawfoot.
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by HawkDiesel » Thu May 24, 2018 6:48 pm

I would disagree with you on a few points. For one, I do think that on a biological level (as much as fantasy tropes can bring biology into the conversation) High Elves are more magical than Wild Elves. One parallel is through humans. Humans have a biological basis to learn language and communicate in a way that most other animals do not. We are biologically hardwired to learn language, and as children we naturally pick up language without effort. And despite the fact that people have a wide range of intelligence, from cognitive deficit to genius intellect, only the most severely cognitively deficient individuals cannot use language. While people on the lower end of the spectrum do not use language as effectively as those on the higher end of the spectrum, most people can and do use it. In the same way, High Elves may have a propensity to pick up magic without effort through their biological hardwiring. Not all High Elves are smart, and so their cantrips may not be as effective, but all can use them nonetheless because of their natural capacity to do so.

I would also disagree with you on the Rock Gnomes. For one, while House Cannith has the most respect for their capacity in artifice, they are not the only game in town. They may have the best marketing and reputation, but I am sure they have their competitors. As you yourself mention, the Zil gnomes mastered the process of elemental binding. In looking at the ships and devices that utilize this process, it is not just magical in nature, but a feat of engineering as well. There are moving parts, specially designed anchors, control mechanisms... to me that speaks to a high degree of not only magical prowess but also engineering. Engineering is about demonstrating curiosity and solving problems in novel ways. Sure, plenty of people in Eberron probably start fires with cantrips and such because Eberron is all about wide magic with low level magic being widely accessible. But gnomes look at that and instead of seeing how magic creates fire, they work to find solutions of how to make fire without magic. They have a natural inclination for engineering, curiosity, and problem solving. Combined with their skill with words and their need to retain a great deal of information due to the way Zil society functions, and it is a perfect fit for Zil gnomes to also be tinkers and create inventions. They may not all be good or even great at artifice, but all seem to have a natural bent towards finding novel ways to solve problems. Once again, as with the example above with the elves, it is not about how well each Rock Gnome is able to make clockwork creations, but that they have a natural capacity to create and solve problems. Not all Rock Gnomes become great artificers, but even the most incompetent of Rock Gnomes can make simple devices.

I would also argue that while there are no official mechanics for creating clockwork objects (though there was the Wonder Maker feat presented in the Racial Feats UA), I would also argue that there doesn't need to be. Most actions and magical effects can easily be flavored as feats of engineering. Are you a gnome wizard throwing a fireball, or a gnome tech using your Boom Gun? Are you a gnome sorcerer using the Fly spell, or a gnome artificer using your Personal Elemental-Bound Flight Pack? Is that an unseen servant, or a clockwork butler? Also, I agree that the clockwork objects presented as options in the Rock Gnome description are simple. But they cover a lot and give a good idea of the kinds of things their devices can tackle. Also, you have to look at how the Rock Gnome balances against the Forest Gnome. We can't have Rock Gnomes creating things more powerful than what could be achieved by Minor Illusion or talking to small woodland creatures.

And I would also argue that humans have not been chosen by destiny to be the best artificers. First of all, manifestation of a dragonmark is rare, and most people in the guilds that represent House Cannith are not all dragonmark bearers. In fact, not all of them are even human. Those that bear the dragonmarks may be the most naturally gifted and make up the governing boards of the House, but I guarantee House Cannith would snap up a minotaur artificer that could prove them self as a top-tier inventor and engineer. Because once again, even the dragons of Argonnessen do not fully know or understand what the manifestation of the dragonmark means. There are theories, but there is no evidence that the marks are in fact a blessing. While they are typically beneficial to the one that bears a mark, these marks may just as easily be a means for the Overlords to break free of their bindings. How they might be used is unknown, but still dragonmarks despite how long they have been around are still poorly understood outside of the powers they grant.

I also disagree with your statements regarding the racial aptitudes and how they reflect in the world. Just because a rock gnome has a natural gift and tendency to create clockwork tools does not mean that a human could not replicate it (mechanically via use of a relevant skill check with a tool kit and some gold). Their natural ability and gift for tinkering does not take away from the achievements of House Cannith. It doesn't mean that House Cannith members are unable to replicate what an untrained gnome can create. But I also think that you have a narrow view of the Dragonmarked Houses. House Cannith is known for producing great artificers, but they are not the only ones producing artificers. They are not the only game in town when it comes to feats of artifice or engineering. As much as they might like and are attempting to create a monopoly, they have not achieved it yet. There is even argument that they did not even truly create the warforged, as there are source books that discuss ancient creation forges that were found in Xen'drik and belief that House Cannith adapted this magic and engineering, but did not create it from scratch. I mean, as hard as House Cannith might try, they have failed to replicate the ability of the Zil gnomes to create the elemental bindings that have revolutionized travel. That alone should speak to the capabilities of gnomes as rivals to the best of what House Cannith has to offer.

As for the Dwarves, while the Dwarves of today might not be known for their martial prowess so much, you have to take into consideration that Dwarves are not native to Khorvaire. They originally emigrated from Frostfell. And so while they may live somewhat differently now, they may easily maintain the traditions of their ancestors of the Frostfell. We don't know what those dwarves put up with or how they existed because that history is not written, but it may have influenced their capacities. Despite not being as big on training for war as the Valenar or made for it like the Warforged, it does not reduce the fact that they have a natural capacity for martial training.

Personally, I think you are conflating the natural capacities of a race and the specific choices they make in training and development through use of class choice, background, and feats. Just because mountain dwarves are quicker studies in martial training, high elves are quicker to learn magic, and rock gnomes are natural engineers and artificers, it doesn't mean that each member will always pursue those capacities to their ultimate potential. All Rock Gnomes have an elementary understanding of engineering, but not all of them are interested in artifice or engineers. Just like some people have extreme gifts in math, science, or art, but they squander those gifts because they want to follow a different path. But at the same time, enough Rock Gnomes did follow that path and as a result, they have a strangle hold over House Cannith in their mastery of elemental binding. While Mountain Dwarves may not all train for war, their natural gifts make them GREAT at guarding their vaults of gold and other treasures entrusted to them for safety. And while all High Elves are not master wizards, enough have developed those talents to have created the Deathless.

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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by AvonRekaes » Thu May 24, 2018 7:40 pm

To clarify my position and some misunderstandings you have drawn from my point, I do NOT believe that Cannith should be the only artificers. I am well aware that they do not have a monopoly on the artificer class and that, to use your example, a minotaur might join them.

My issue is that, *unless you start houseruling the game anyway* currently Rock Gnomes ARE the "only game in town." They are the ONLY THING IN THE ENTIRE GAME that can create clockwork items, again, unless you houserule, and I think that is bullshit for Eberron.

So if we're going to start houseruling, then lets houserule Gnomes to actually reflect what makes them truly stand out as a people in Eberron. Are Zil gnomes known far and wide for their artifice above all other apects of their culture? No. Do they have talented binders with some secret proprietary knowledge? Sure, they have gnomes who take levels in Artificer, but their culture isn't KNOWN for it. But what Zilargo is KNOWN for is the Trust and how it shapes their society. So since we're houseruling to allow humans with a tool proficiency to make clockwork items anyway, why not just houserule to make a gnome subrace that actually feels like it accurately represents the bulk of Zilargo society?

By the way, your "reflavor spells to be devices" breaks down because as soon as your PCs venture into Khyber and fight a beholder, your nonmagical steam-gun stops working when in the beholder's antimagic gaze. And even if you have an explaination for that, that is a massive reflavoring of the rules and puts a lot of onus on the game to represent things it wasn't meant to. Can you do it? Sure. Should that be the standard for all Eberron games? I don't believe so, no.

And if you do see subraces as genetics more than culture, I still think that causes problems. If Rock Gnomes are the most likely to be genetic predisposed to solving problems with interesting devices and are natural engineers, why isn't Zilargo known for its impressive engineering? Why isn't Zilargo technologically superior to all other nations? This genetic predisposition for engineering is not reflected in Zilargo society. Do they HAVE talented artificers? Yes. But so does every other nation, to no greater or lesser degree than Zilargo.


I will also add that, according to canonical lore, the Dragonmarks manifested on people that already greatly displayed the qualities of their mark. The original families of House Cannith, generations before the first among them ever developed a dragonmark, were already the among best, most trusted traveling tinkerers on Khorvaire. The Mark of Death appeared on the elves of the Vol family weeeeeeeeelllllllllllllllll after necromancy and undeath had become the family pastime. Same thing for the Mark of Finding, appearing on the clans of the most successful hunters and gatherers of the Shadow Marches.

All these people expressed extreme aptitude with a quality that was only later manifested in a dragonmark. If there was a race of people genetically predisposed to be tinkrers and were just naturally better and more talented at it than the original traveling Cannith tinkerers, why did the Mark of Making manifest on the humans and not Rock Gnomes?
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by HawkDiesel » Thu May 24, 2018 8:02 pm

How is it house ruling to allow people to create clockwork items? There are very little rules or even guidelines in general for item creation in part to give the DM more ability to adjudicate this. This was intentionally done to get away from what previous editions established in magic magic gear so necessary for character advancement.

However, the mechanics of the Rock Gnome's capacities to create clockwork gadgets is on par with a cantrip. Specifically it is mechanically similar to the Prestidigitation cantrip. This is a great example that WotC specifically creates a magical effect reflavored using gadgets. As for the issues you make in reflavoring magical effects, it's not really an issue. First of all, just because something is mostly clockwork does not mean it has no magical components. In a world such as Eberron with wide magic, I would expect nearly everything has been touched by magic to some degree. It doesn't create the kind of issues that I think you believe it would, and the issues it may create are either minimal or easily explained using a bit of creativity. For example, maybe certain forms of magic just muck up sufficiently advanced technology, similarly to how Harry Dresden can't use a cellphone or even a gun more modern than a revolver without it going haywire.

Additionally, I also disagree with your assessment regarding the things that gnomes are known for and have accomplished in their society. Just because they have a natural talent for engineering does not mean that their society would be a technological utopia. It just means that they have found ways to channel their skills into other endeavors that they find more valuable. We don't know much about Zil society or how it was founded and came to be. It could be that their current focus on word play, espionage, and the development of the Trust is a relatively recent societal and cultural shift from how things used to be. Additionally, their natural aptitude for curiosity and engineering (which once again, while manifested in the creation of clockwork gadgets, is more fundamentally about problem-solving) may have made it easy for gnomes to pivot from engineering gadgets to social engineering (which is a real thing).

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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by AvonRekaes » Thu May 24, 2018 8:14 pm

HawkDiesel wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 8:02 pm
How is it house ruling to allow people to create clockwork items? There are very little rules or even guidelines in general for item creation in part to give the DM more ability to adjudicate this.
Because there are rules for it. They're a racial feature. That only one subrace of one race gets. Saying that anyone else can duplicate their racial feature is a house rule.
First of all, just because something is mostly clockwork does not mean it has no magical components.


Except it does, because in the actual sole instance of clockwork item rules in the game (that aren't creatures), the Rock Gnome ability, it is not described as "magical" in any way, so their devices continue to function in antimagic fields and cannot be foiled with counterspell or dispel magic.
For example, maybe certain forms of magic just muck up sufficiently advanced technology, similarly to how Harry Dresden can't use a cellphone or even a gun more modern than a revolver without it going haywire.
This sounds like an excellent houserule. I just do not believe it should be the standard by which Eberron is presented in any official or widespread capacity in 5th edition.
Additionally, I also disagree with your assessment regarding the things that gnomes are known for and have accomplished in their society. Just because they have a natural talent for engineering does not mean that their society would be a technological utopia. It just means that they have found ways to channel their skills into other endeavors that they find more valuable. We don't know much about Zil society or how it was founded and came to be. It could be that their current focus on word play, espionage, and the development of the Trust is a relatively recent societal and cultural shift from how things used to be. Additionally, their natural aptitude for curiosity and engineering (which once again, while manifested in the creation of clockwork gadgets, is more fundamentally about problem-solving) may have made it easy for gnomes to pivot from engineering gadgets to social engineering (which is a real thing).
This is about nuance and easily digestible worldbuilding. For a brand new player who is new to D&D coming to the game and sees the Rock Gnomes, they are naturally going to make the assumption "huh, these are the steampunk tech guys. This race must be known for their tinkering and gadgets because it is wrapped up and a core function of their race if I pick it". I highly doubt a brand new player is going to see the Rock Gnome and go "huh, these guys are excellent problem solvers and must be great at social engineering and espionage".

To me, at least, it seems like massive hoops you have to backflip through to land at a POSSIBLE plausible explaination. One that I personally don't buy.

But I think I am getting to argumentative, and I apologize if I am coming on too strong.
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by tetrasodium » Thu May 24, 2018 8:34 pm

I think some people are putting too much emphasis on subraces. even here on earth humans have the south american folks with Laron's Syndrome, visible differences between people from different regions, Tibetan people that live so high in mountasins that they an breathe easily in town when visitors have trouble with the thin air, all sorts of things.

The mountain dwarf's fluff is nonsense to eberron yes, but that does not prevent a dwarf from deciding at a young age (by choice, genetic lottery, or butterfly effect) from deciding at a young age that they are going to be a house kundarak guard, mighty warrior with Dennieth, or whatever.. A mountain dwarf did so through whatever means & lives in a culture that favors that sort of thing more than most other cultures. Similar things apply to the various elf/gnome/etc subraces & almost all of them can be explained without needing to insert biological divisions.

That does not mean that there is no reason not to add extra subraces for eberron. With the addition of subraces you have the races much less generic than in past editions, currently all of those subraces are either fairly generic or very heavily flavored towards the baselines of the default setting of forgotten realms. Some races would do well to have more subraces that embrace other parts of the racial heritage embraced in eberron where significant improvements can be made that minor refluffing of existing subraces is not enough.

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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by Tim Baker » Thu May 24, 2018 8:37 pm

AvonRekaes wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 3:16 pm
This is what I want to see for Eberron. I want to see EBERRONS cultural assumptions about their subraces brought forth in mechanics, instead of trying to shoehorn and justify other setting's material (like suggesting that Ghostwise Halflings can be used for Talenta halflings. Why not just make Talenta halflings?)
I would be supportive of this approach.
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by AvonRekaes » Thu May 24, 2018 8:42 pm

tetrasodium wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 8:34 pm
A mountain dwarf did so through whatever means & lives in a culture that favors that sort of thing more than most other cultures.
Except the Valenar elves are MUCH more battle-focused than the dwarves of the Mror Holds. DO the Mror Holds have a tradition of battle? Sure. I'm not saying anything ridiculous like dwarves can't be fighters. Of course they can.

Is dwarven culture known to favor fighting and war and battle more than most other cultures ON EBERRON? More than Valenar elves? More the the Dragonborn of Q'barra? More than Dhakanni Goblins? More than even Karrnath? No. They are not.

That does not mean that there is no reason not to add extra subraces for eberron. With the addition of subraces you have the races much less generic than in past editions, currently all of those subraces are either fairly generic or very heavily flavored towards the baselines of the default setting of forgotten realms. Some races would do well to have more subraces that embrace other parts of the racial heritage embraced in eberron where significant improvements can be made that minor refluffing of existing subraces is not enough.
I can see to this. My Elven subraces may be unnecessary, as it might be perfectly applicable to make High and Wild elves make sense in Eberron. But where the subraces absolutely make no sense and their existence implies incorrect cultural norms for Eberron, (ie Mountain Dwarves and Rock Gnomes), those I disallow entirely for my personal Eberron games.
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by HawkDiesel » Thu May 24, 2018 10:31 pm

AvonRekaes wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 8:14 pm
Because there are rules for it. They're a racial feature. That only one subrace of one race gets. Saying that anyone else can duplicate their racial feature is a house rule.
But there are rules for creating items. In the DMG on page 129 there are rules for how a character might craft items during their downtime. Are these rules focused on magic items? Yes. Does that make them limited to magic items? No.

Additionally, in the PHB under the description of the Poisoner's Kit, it specifically states that proficiency in the kit allows a person to make poison. There are also other tools sets that include Tinker's Tools, Smith's Tools, and Brewer's Tools. While they don't get specific descriptions like the Poisoner's Kit, it would be pretty useless to have tools that couldn't... ya know... allow you to make the thing that the tools are made for.

This is further expanded in XGtE in ways that tool kits can be used to potentially create and repair objects, as well as creating mundane items in downtime.

Just because Rock Gnomes are the only race specifically named that has a tendency to create clockwork gadgets does not mean that rules do not exist for others to create them. It just requires more intention, commitment, and willingness to spend money on supplies.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 8:14 pm
Except it does, because in the actual sole instance of clockwork item rules in the game (that aren't creatures), the Rock Gnome ability, it is not described as "magical" in any way, so their devices continue to function in antimagic fields and cannot be foiled with counterspell or dispel magic.


The items described in the Rock Gnomes entry are also extremely basic and as I mentioned before, replicate nothing more powerful than what can be achieved by prestidigitation. It doesn't break the game to allow such effects to function in an antimagic field or to not be dispelled. However, more powerful items or reflavoring magical effects into gadgets has a requirement that even though they are not necessarily described as magic, does not mean that they are not affected by magic. Dispel Magic certainly was not created to hamper more advanced technology. But that does not mean that it is also not effective against it.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 8:14 pm
This is about nuance and easily digestible worldbuilding. For a brand new player who is new to D&D coming to the game and sees the Rock Gnomes, they are naturally going to make the assumption "huh, these are the steampunk tech guys. This race must be known for their tinkering and gadgets because it is wrapped up and a core function of their race if I pick it". I highly doubt a brand new player is going to see the Rock Gnome and go "huh, these guys are excellent problem solvers and must be great at social engineering and espionage".

To me, at least, it seems like massive hoops you have to backflip through to land at a POSSIBLE plausible explaination. One that I personally don't buy.
A conversation with a player is easy enough to help them understand the role gnomes play at large in Eberron. That doesn't negate or require for Rock Gnomes to not exist. For example, I notice you have said nothing about Forest Gnomes. How are you ok with hippy animal lovers that are clearly meant to be nature druid tricksters, but not able to accept gnomes that like to tinker? In fact, in the game I'm running, I have a player that is playing a Rock Gnome Fighter who is actively involved as a secret agent of the Trust, and he absolutely loves his gadgets and quite easily integrated their use into the general Zil culture. He is constantly making alchemical agents, tanglefoot bags, trick arrows, and all kinds of things.

Just because some gnomes have a natural gift for tinkering does not require that as a race or a culture they would be the best at it. It could be just a national pastime or a way to build up their logic skills which are useful in Zil culture.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 8:42 pm
Except the Valenar elves are MUCH more battle-focused than the dwarves of the Mror Holds. DO the Mror Holds have a tradition of battle? Sure. I'm not saying anything ridiculous like dwarves can't be fighters. Of course they can.

Is dwarven culture known to favor fighting and war and battle more than most other cultures ON EBERRON? More than Valenar elves? More the the Dragonborn of Q'barra? More than Dhakanni Goblins? More than even Karrnath? No. They are not.
While dwarves may not be as focused on martial prowess as the Valenar, even if they were would they fight the same? Valenar are all about quick attacks, guerrilla tactics, speed, and using their horses. Mountain Dwarves are strong, and their proficiency in armor does not mean they train in it. Instead it probably means that because of how they are built, they don't have the same difficulty moving in armor. Most people need to adjust to wearing armor, it slows their movement or restricts their agility, and it has a lot of weight to it. The fact the Mountain Dwarves can easily wear armor may be less about them training in armor and more about that they just don't get affected by wearing armor in the same way that others do.

For example, most people need to practice at riding a bike. They have to overcome their fear of falling, learn to balance, and get used to falling. But someone with perfect balance and no fear could theoretically get on a bike and ride pretty well without even having that initial need to practice.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 8:14 pm
But I think I am getting to argumentative, and I apologize if I am coming on too strong.
No worries. We are coming from different perspectives and clearly have different gaming styles. That's ok. There's no right and wrong, and it's ok to disagree. I'm not trying to sway anyone that I'm right or have the answers. But I am trying to demonstrate that there are other ways of seeing things, and explain the ways in which I disagree with you or how your perspective relates to mine.

For the record, I have no problem with creating new subraces that might better embrace the tropes created by Eberron. Where I disagree is that all subraces are in some way required to resemble the Eberron specific tropes, or that specific core subraces should be disincluded because they don't mesh with the Eberron style. There are lots of potential reasons those subraces may exist, even in a society that values diametrically opposed skills or traits. They may not make up the majority of the population, but that doesn't mean they need to be erased or have no place in the lore of Eberron.

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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by tetrasodium » Thu May 24, 2018 10:51 pm

AvonRekaes wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 8:42 pm
tetrasodium wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 8:34 pm
A mountain dwarf did so through whatever means & lives in a culture that favors that sort of thing more than most other cultures.
Except the Valenar elves are MUCH more battle-focused than the dwarves of the Mror Holds. DO the Mror Holds have a tradition of battle? Sure. I'm not saying anything ridiculous like dwarves can't be fighters. Of course they can.

Is dwarven culture known to favor fighting and war and battle more than most other cultures ON EBERRON? More than Valenar elves? More the the Dragonborn of Q'barra? More than Dhakanni Goblins? More than even Karrnath? No. They are not.

That does not mean that there is no reason not to add extra subraces for eberron. With the addition of subraces you have the races much less generic than in past editions, currently all of those subraces are either fairly generic or very heavily flavored towards the baselines of the default setting of forgotten realms. Some races would do well to have more subraces that embrace other parts of the racial heritage embraced in eberron where significant improvements can be made that minor refluffing of existing subraces is not enough.
I can see to this. My Elven subraces may be unnecessary, as it might be perfectly applicable to make High and Wild elves make sense in Eberron. But where the subraces absolutely make no sense and their existence implies incorrect cultural norms for Eberron, (ie Mountain Dwarves and Rock Gnomes), those I disallow entirely for my personal Eberron games.
No dwarven culture is not known for fighting, but dwarves are known as house Kundarak, that weird Mror holds mountain fortresses thing with gaashkala orcs around the mountains. Yes it's a stretch, but maybe it's culturally more acceptable to bring your kid to work. Maybe those dwarf kids get off on guarding things like mtof implies. Describe it any way you want, but the mountain dwarf's mechanical bonuses are not on their own problematic. The lack of elven subrace to fit valenar style elves and such is the problem. I linked to a [urk=https://t.co/2bt45rVOqS]twitch video[/url] in the minotaur thread where crawford admits that the stupid maze recall thing got dropped because it didn't fit some settings around the 53 minute mark & they were going for something that was more able to fit different settings. From reading MToF I think they might be making more of an attempt at doing better than they have so far in 5e. It could be coincidence sure, but there was a definite shifttowards not being quite so heavily faerun & faerun only with xge & mtof.

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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by AvonRekaes » Fri May 25, 2018 12:08 am

HawkDiesel wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 10:31 pm
But there are rules for creating items. In the DMG on page 129 there are rules for how a character might craft items during their downtime. Are these rules focused on magic items? Yes. Does that make them limited to magic items? No.
Actually yes. Because those rules are rules for creating magic items. They are not the rules for creating non-magic items.
Additionally, in the PHB under the description of the Poisoner's Kit, it specifically states that proficiency in the kit allows a person to make poison. There are also other tools sets that include Tinker's Tools, Smith's Tools, and Brewer's Tools. While they don't get specific descriptions like the Poisoner's Kit, it would be pretty useless to have tools that couldn't... ya know... allow you to make the thing that the tools are made for.

This is further expanded in XGtE in ways that tool kits can be used to potentially create and repair objects, as well as creating mundane items in downtime.

Just because Rock Gnomes are the only race specifically named that has a tendency to create clockwork gadgets does not mean that rules do not exist for others to create them. It just requires more intention, commitment, and willingness to spend money on supplies.
Show me where in any 5th edition book there are ACTUAL rules for the crafting of clockwork items with a Tool proficiency, and I will halfway change my mind. The problem is that there aren't any. What you're talking about here is a houserule. You are looking at rules that exist and extrapolating them to homebrew clockwork item creation rules. You are inventing rules that are not written in any book and you are houseruling.

Which isn't to say there's ANYTHIGN WRONG with houseruling clockwork crafting rules. Of course you can houserule them. I did it myself 2 years ago:

Artificer's Tools.
A set of tinker's tools is designed to enable you to repair and craft complex mechanical objects.
Components. Artificer's tools include a small saw, hammer, files, pliers, a set of narrow-bladed scissors, and tweezers, and a small crucible and molds for casting gears and other clockwork components.
Arcana. Proficiency with artificer's tools provides you with more information on Arcana checks involving constructs and magic items with complex mechanisms.
History. Your knowledge of mechanical engineering grants you additional insight when answering questions about the origins of such devices.
Investigation and Perception. This tool proficiency can aid in identifying a mechanical trap and determining how it functions.
Craft Clockwork Item. With two days of downtime, a set of artificer's tools, and 10 gp worth of materials, you can work for 8 hours each day to craft a complex clockwork mechanism or device. Some examples of what you can make are: an alarm, a calculator, a clockwork toy, an igniter, a pocket watch, or a music box (though you must also be proficient with Perform checks or a musical instrument to craft this item).

ARTIFICER'S TOOLS
Activity DC
Pick a lock Varies
Disable a trap Varies

The items described in the Rock Gnomes entry are also extremely basic and as I mentioned before, replicate nothing more powerful than what can be achieved by prestidigitation. It doesn't break the game to allow such effects to function in an antimagic field or to not be dispelled. However, more powerful items or reflavoring magical effects into gadgets has a requirement that even though they are not necessarily described as magic, does not mean that they are not affected by magic. Dispel Magic certainly was not created to hamper more advanced technology. But that does not mean that it is also not effective against it.
What you're talking about here is a major houserule and reflavoring for your Eberron games, and that's something I can't argue against objectively. Every table can run Eberron however they want.

I will just say, that for me personally, I cleave to the idea that Eberron uses "magic as technology", not that "technology is equal to magic". If a player in my game wanted to craft a device that produces the effects of a fireball that device is always going to be a wand, or staff, or some other magic item, and that player is going to have to use magic to craft it. Eberron to me is not a place where technology has developed to rival magic, it's a place where magic is used as a reliable resource for the engineering of fantastical technology.
A conversation with a player is easy enough to help them understand the role gnomes play at large in Eberron.
Sure but wouldn't it be better to have a book or widely accepted view of the standards of all the societies of Eberron and have the rules of the game reflect those standards? So you don't HAVE to have the conversasion? So that a player can use that resource and play Eberron with any random person who is also playing Eberron and everyone will at least have started from the same basic assumptions?
I notice you have said nothing about Forest Gnomes. How are you ok with hippy animal lovers that are clearly meant to be nature druid tricksters, but not able to accept gnomes that like to tinker?
Because I can see a place for Forest Gnomes in Eberron. It goes like this:

Feyspire Gnomes
The feyspire of Pylas Pyrial was once a legend out of Zilargo's fairy tales. The gnomes of Pylas Pyrial featured in the oldest of Zil bed-time stories and morality tales, telling stories of tricksy heroes outwitting ugly, dumb brutes. But now, Pylas Pyrial has manifested in the middle of the gnome homeland, bringing the whimsical gnomish figures of folk tales with it into the real world.
Fey-Touched. You have two creature types: humanoid and fey. You can be affected by a game effect if it works on either of your creature types. Additionally, feyspire gnomes are functionally immortal. You will never die of old age, but you may still perish due to harm or illness.
Forest Friends. In all other ways, Feyspire gnomes use the Forest Gnome subrace features from page 37 of the Player's Handbook.

:P
In fact, in the game I'm running, I have a player that is playing a Rock Gnome Fighter who is actively involved as a secret agent of the Trust, and he absolutely loves his gadgets and quite easily integrated their use into the general Zil culture. He is constantly making alchemical agents, tanglefoot bags, trick arrows, and all kinds of things.
And that sounds like a lot of fun for your gnome player. But what if I wanted to play a halfling agent of the King's Dark Lanterns and use gagets for my fun espionage adventures? Without a houserule like my Artificer's Tools, I can't. But your gnome can? There's no justification for my limitation and your gnome's allowance within the world of Eberron. It exists only for mechanical reasons that are being shoehorned into the world.
Just because some gnomes have a natural gift for tinkering does not require that as a race or a culture they would be the best at it. It could be just a national pastime or a way to build up their logic skills which are useful in Zil culture.
This is a paradoxical statement to me. A national pastime is what your culture is known for. Sure, America may not be the best at Baseball, but it is our "national pastime", and it would be an embarrassment if we lost an international league at it.

Besides, tinkering is not the national past-time of Zilargo. It never has been. ACCUMULATING KNOWLEDGE is the national pastime of Zilargo, whether thats working for Korranberg, or spying on your neighbors. Tinkering has been the pastime of a specific grouping of certain human families. That's whose pastime it is. They train anyone who wishes to join them in their tinker's guild, but there is no culture of tinkering exclusive to Zilargo.
While dwarves may not be as focused on martial prowess as the Valenar, even if they were would they fight the same? Valenar are all about quick attacks, guerrilla tactics, speed, and using their horses.
That is a fair point, not every race will fight the same way. But there is going to be at least some overlap, somewhere, where the Mountain Dwarf is stepping on the toes of someone who should be the tough and strong fighter type. I'll give you three guesses who I'm talking about before I get to it in my next point.
Mountain Dwarves are strong, and their proficiency in armor does not mean they train in it. Instead it probably means that because of how they are built, they don't have the same difficulty moving in armor. Most people need to adjust to wearing armor, it slows their movement or restricts their agility, and it has a lot of weight to it. The fact the Mountain Dwarves can easily wear armor may be less about them training in armor and more about that they just don't get affected by wearing armor in the same way that others do.
The Mountain Dwarf's armor proficiencies aren't what bother me. Truth be told, they are actually mostly mechanically redundant. Most people who choose to play a mountain dwarf are going to pick a class that already gives medium armor proficiency, and if you're picking a class that doesn't, your Mountain Dwarf and Base Dwarf racial abilities are not going to make you the optimal choice for that class. (Not a bad choice, maybe, but not the best one, certainly.)

My issue with the Mountain Dwarf is the +2 Str/+2 Con/+1 HP per Level. These traits, as simple as they are, make Mountain Dwarves the overwhelmingly optimal choice when selecting a race to play a fighter or other melee-focused str-based character. It is ridiculously advantageous to pick Mountain Dwarf over all other race choices.

Which makes it very very hard to design a new race, saaaaay... the Warforged, who's sole reason to exist is to be soldiers (in most cases).

How do you make Warforged better at fighting than the most optimal fighter without making warforged utterly broken? How do you push their stats so it's clear to any who glance at them that "hey, these guys make AMAZING fighters" when the Mountain Dwarf is sitting over there being the CLEAR AND BEST choice? If Mountain Dwarves simply did not exist, then you have more space with which to flex your design muscle and create a new race that is amazing at being the fighter (or other melee str-based character).
We are coming from different perspectives and clearly have different gaming styles. That's ok. There's no right and wrong, and it's ok to disagree. I'm not trying to sway anyone that I'm right or have the answers. But I am trying to demonstrate that there are other ways of seeing things, and explain the ways in which I disagree with you or how your perspective relates to mine.
Okay good :) I don't want to sound like I'm trying to stifle discussion.
For the record, I have no problem with creating new subraces that might better embrace the tropes created by Eberron. Where I disagree is that all subraces are in some way required to resemble the Eberron specific tropes, or that specific core subraces should be disincluded because they don't mesh with the Eberron style. There are lots of potential reasons those subraces may exist, even in a society that values diametrically opposed skills or traits. They may not make up the majority of the population, but that doesn't mean they need to be erased or have no place in the lore of Eberron.
Then on this, we fundamentally disagree.

I absolutely believe that a subrace should reflect the society and values of at least a significant portion of the population of the race as a whole. If your subrace doesn't have to reflect your culture or race, then we're back to my aptitutde argument. If the aptitude for tinkering with clockwork isn't part and parcel to being a gnome, why is that aptitude locked behind the selection of being a gnome for a player? Why isn't that aptitude available to goblins, minotaurs, half-elves, anyone? If tinkerering isn't what gnomes are known for culturally, why are they the only ones who can do it?

I do not see how a subrace cannot be tied somehow to culture. Either the stats are genetic, and a culture develops from the race's genetic predispositions, or the stats are presentative of the culture to begin with. Either way, chicken or egg, there's not going to be bacon in the dish.
Last edited by AvonRekaes on Fri May 25, 2018 1:38 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by tetrasodium » Fri May 25, 2018 12:39 am

AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:08 am
HawkDiesel wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 10:31 pm
But there are rules for creating items. In the DMG on page 129 there are rules for how a character might craft items during their downtime. Are these rules focused on magic items? Yes. Does that make them limited to magic items? No.
Actually yes. Because those rules are rules for creating magic items. They are not the rules for creating non-magic items.
Additionally, in the PHB under the description of the Poisoner's Kit, it specifically states that proficiency in the kit allows a person to make poison. There are also other tools sets that include Tinker's Tools, Smith's Tools, and Brewer's Tools. While they don't get specific descriptions like the Poisoner's Kit, it would be pretty useless to have tools that couldn't... ya know... allow you to make the thing that the tools are made for.

This is further expanded in XGtE in ways that tool kits can be used to potentially create and repair objects, as well as creating mundane items in downtime.

Just because Rock Gnomes are the only race specifically named that has a tendency to create clockwork gadgets does not mean that rules do not exist for others to create them. It just requires more intention, commitment, and willingness to spend money on supplies.
Show me where in any 5th edition book there are ACTUAL rules for the crafting of clockwork items with a Tool proficiency, and I will halfway change my mind. The problem is that there aren't any. What you're talking about here is a houserule. You are looking at rules that exist and extrapolating them to homebrew clockwork item creation rules. You are inventing rules that are not written in any book and you are houseruling.

Which isn't to say there's ANYTHIGN WRONG with houseruling clockwork crafting rules. Of course you can houserule them. I did it myself 2 years ago:

Artificer's Tools.
A set of tinker's tools is designed to enable you to repair and craft complex mechanical objects.
Components. Artificer's tools include a small saw, hammer, files, pliers, a set of narrow-bladed scissors, and tweezers, and a small crucible and molds for casting gears and other clockwork components.
Arcana. Proficiency with artificer's tools provides you with more information on Arcana checks involving constructs and magic items with complex mechanisms.
History. Your knowledge of mechanical engineering grants you additional insight when answering questions about the origins of such devices.
Investigation and Perception. This tool proficiency can aid in identifying a mechanical trap and determining how it functions.
Craft Clockwork Item. With two days of downtime, a set of artificer's tools, and 10 gp worth of materials, you can work for 8 hours each day to craft a complex clockwork mechanism or device. Some examples of what you can make are: an alarm, a calculator, a clockwork toy, an igniter, a pocket watch, or a music box (though you must also be proficient with Perform checks or a musical instrument to craft this item).

ARTIFICER'S TOOLS
Activity DC
Pick a lock Varies
Disable a trap Varies

The items described in the Rock Gnomes entry are also extremely basic and as I mentioned before, replicate nothing more powerful than what can be achieved by prestidigitation. It doesn't break the game to allow such effects to function in an antimagic field or to not be dispelled. However, more powerful items or reflavoring magical effects into gadgets has a requirement that even though they are not necessarily described as magic, does not mean that they are not affected by magic. Dispel Magic certainly was not created to hamper more advanced technology. But that does not mean that it is also not effective against it.
What you're talking about here is a major houserule and reflavoring for your Eberron games, and that's something I can't argue against objectively. Every table can run Eberron however they want.

I will just say, that for me personally, I cleave to the idea that Eberron uses "magic as technology", not that "technology is equal to magic". If a player in my game wanted to craft a device that produces the effects of a fireball that device is always going to be a wand, or staff, or some other magic item, and that player is going to have to use magic to craft it. Eberron to me is not a place where technology has developed to rival magic, it's a place where magic is used as a reliable resource for the engineering of fantastical technology.
A conversation with a player is easy enough to help them understand the role gnomes play at large in Eberron.
Sure but wouldn't it be better to have a book or widely accepted view of the standards of all the societies of Eberron and have the rules of the game reflect those standards? So you don't HAVE to have the conversasion? So that a player can use that resource and play Eberron with any random person who is also playing Eberron and everyone will at least have started from the same basic assumptions?
I notice you have said nothing about Forest Gnomes. How are you ok with hippy animal lovers that are clearly meant to be nature druid tricksters, but not able to accept gnomes that like to tinker?
Because I can see a place for Forest Gnomes in Eberron. It goes like this:

Feyspire Gnomes
The feyspire of Pylas Pyrial was once a legend out of Zilargo's fairy tales. The gnomes of Pylas Pyrial featured in the oldest of Zil bed-time stories and morality tales, telling stories of tricksy heroes outwitting ugly, dumb brutes. But now, Pylas Pyrial has manifested in the middle of the gnome homeland, bringing the whimsical gnomish figures of folk tales with it into the real world.
Fey-Touched. You have two creature types: humanoid and fey. You can be affected by a game effect if it works on either of your creature types. Additionally, feyspire gnomes are functionally immortal. You will never die of old age, but you may still perish due to harm or illness.
Forest Friends. In all other ways, Feyspire gnomes use the Forest Gnome subrace features from page 37 of the Player's Handbook.

:P
In fact, in the game I'm running, I have a player that is playing a Rock Gnome Fighter who is actively involved as a secret agent of the Trust, and he absolutely loves his gadgets and quite easily integrated their use into the general Zil culture. He is constantly making alchemical agents, tanglefoot bags, trick arrows, and all kinds of things.
And that sounds like a lot of fun for your gnome player. But what if I wanted to play a halfling agent of the King's Dark Lanterns and use gagets for my fun espionage adventures? Without a houserule like my Artificer's Tools, I can't. But your gnome can? There's no justification for my limitation and your gnome's allowance within the world of Eberron. It exists only for mechanical reasons that are being shoehorned into the world.
Just because some gnomes have a natural gift for tinkering does not require that as a race or a culture they would be the best at it. It could be just a national pastime or a way to build up their logic skills which are useful in Zil culture.
This is a paradoxical statement to me. A national pastime is what your culture is known for. Sure, America may not be the best at Baseball, but it is our "national pastime", and it would be an embarrassment if we lost an international league at it.

Besides, tinkering is not the national past-time of Zilargo. It never has been. ACCUMULATING KNOWLEDGE is the national pastime of Zilargo, whether thats working for Korranberg, or spying on your neighbors. Tinkering has been the pastime of a specific grouping of certain human families. That's whose pastime it is. They train anyone who wishes to join them in their tinker's guild, but there is no culture of tinkering exclusive to Zilargo.
While dwarves may not be as focused on martial prowess as the Valenar, even if they were would they fight the same? Valenar are all about quick attacks, guerrilla tactics, speed, and using their horses.
That is a fair point, not every race will fight the same way. But there is going to be at least some overlap, somewhere, where the Mountain Dwarf is stepping on the toes of someone who should be the tough and strong fighter type. I'll give you three guesses who I'm talking about before I get to it in my next point.
Mountain Dwarves are strong, and their proficiency in armor does not mean they train in it. Instead it probably means that because of how they are built, they don't have the same difficulty moving in armor. Most people need to adjust to wearing armor, it slows their movement or restricts their agility, and it has a lot of weight to it. The fact the Mountain Dwarves can easily wear armor may be less about them training in armor and more about that they just don't get affected by wearing armor in the same way that others do.
The Mountain Dwarf's armor proficiencies aren't what bother me. Truth be told, they are actually mostly mechanically redundant. Most people who choose to play a mountain dwarf are going to pick a class that already gives medium armor proficiency, and if you're picking a class that doesn't, your Mountain Dwarf and Base Dwarf racial abilities are not going to make you the optional choice for that class. (Not a bad choice, maybe, but not the best one, certainly.)

My issue with the Mountain Dwarf is the +2 Str/+2 Con/+1 HP per Level. These traits, as simple as they are, make Mountain Dwarves the overwhelmingly optimal choice when selecting a race to play a fighter or other melee-focused str-based character. It is ridiculously advantageous to pick Mountain Dwarf over all other race choices.

Which makes it very very hard to design a new race, saaaaay... the Warforged, who's sole reason to exist is to be soldiers (in most cases).

How do you make Warforged better at fighting than the most optimal fighter without making warforged utterly broken? How do you push their stats so it's clear to any who glance at them that "hey, these guys make AMAZING fighters" when the Mountain Dwarf is sitting over there being the CLEAR AND BEST choice? If Mountain Dwarves simply did not exist, then you have more space with which to flex your design muscle and create a new race that is amazing at being the fighter (or other melee str-based character).
We are coming from different perspectives and clearly have different gaming styles. That's ok. There's no right and wrong, and it's ok to disagree. I'm not trying to sway anyone that I'm right or have the answers. But I am trying to demonstrate that there are other ways of seeing things, and explain the ways in which I disagree with you or how your perspective relates to mine.
Okay good :) I don't want to sound like I'm trying to stifle discussion.
For the record, I have no problem with creating new subraces that might better embrace the tropes created by Eberron. Where I disagree is that all subraces are in some way required to resemble the Eberron specific tropes, or that specific core subraces should be disincluded because they don't mesh with the Eberron style. There are lots of potential reasons those subraces may exist, even in a society that values diametrically opposed skills or traits. They may not make up the majority of the population, but that doesn't mean they need to be erased or have no place in the lore of Eberron.
Then on this, we fundamentally disagree.

I absolutely believe that a subrace should reflect to society and values of at least a significant portion of the population of the race as a whole. If your subrace doesn't have to reflect your culture or race, then we're back to my aptitutde argument. If the aptitude for tinkering with clockwork isn't part and parcel to being a gnome, why is that aptitude locked behind the selection of being a gnome for a player? Why isn't that aptitude available to goblins, minotaurs, half-elves, anyone? If tinkerering isn't what gnomes are known for culturally, why are they the only ones who can do it?

I do not see how a subrace cannot be tied somehow to culture. Either the stats are genetic, and a culture develops from the race's genetic predispositions, or the stats are presentative of the culture to begin with. Either way, chicken or egg, there's not going to be bacon in the dish.

You raise a good (and sad) point about warforged It won't be AC either... because Tortle. As to your last point, I did exactly that to some degree. players pick a (sub)race/class/background as normal, then they get to add an origin based on where they came from. Towards the back are the dragonmark enclave options. It's not perfect & there are some things I wish I could think of something more fitting, but for the most part it has been working great. I have a valenar battlemaster/rogue player who really shines with the valenar elf benefits & a freaking gnome barbarian from zilargo who is constantly creating solutions with esoteric ritual spells & kicking butt in combat as a barbarian, likewise with some of my other players from different parts of khorvaire.

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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by HawkDiesel » Fri May 25, 2018 1:30 am

AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:08 am
Actually yes. Because those rules are rules for creating magic items. They are not the rules for creating non-magic items.
UGH! Ok... <selftalk>be calm... remain cool... this is just a friendly discussion...</seftalk>

Please tell me what makes something magic? What makes a fireball? What is it that causes a sword to become a flaming sword? When I look at this game, I see two things. The mechanics, and how those mechanics are framed. If the stats state that 8d6 fire damage is dealt within a specified radius, that is commonly seen as a fireball spell. But whether that fireball happened because of magic or bomb or a gnomish boom gun does not change the effect. It only changes how one describes it.

Thus, I would argue that without house rules or homebrew, the magic item creation is a guideline for ALL item creation. Because you start with the effect you want or the problem you are trying to solve, compare the effect with something that is already out there to get a baseline, and then however that thing is described, it still functions in the way it was meant to. Magic, clockwork gadgets, future alien tech, its all the same.

What is a ranged weapon that does 1d6 piercing damage and use ammo? In the book its a shortbow, but there is no reason I couldn't say it is a blow dart, a wand that telekinetically propel stones, or a gun. There is nothing in the stat block of a shortbow that inherently makes it a shortbow.

In the same way, there is nothing inherently different between a gnomish boom gun or a wand of fireball. They both achieve the same mechanical effect. They are both impacted by defensive spells like antimagic field or dispel magic. But one describes the effect using technology, and the other does so by "because magic."
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:08 am
Show me where in any 5th edition book there are ACTUAL rules for the crafting of clockwork items with a Tool proficiency, and I will halfway change my mind. The problem is that there aren't any. What you're talking about here is a houserule. You are looking at rules that exist and extrapolating them to homebrew clockwork item creation rules. You are inventing rules that are not written in any book and you are houseruling.
Once again, unlike previous 3rd or 4th edition, 5th edition goes back to its 1e and 2e roots by giving more ability for the DM to decide how items are created. There are many instances in 5e where everything is not completely spelled out, because this edition doesn't feel the need to hold a DM's hand and tell them how to run their game. A lot of the language gets away from the lawyer-like babble of 3rd and 4th edition because the ambiguity is a feature, not a bug. Just because WotC did not spell out how players could create a clockwork gadget does not mean they did not give us the tools to do so. It is not a house rule or homebrew, or rather EVERYONE that considers any kind of crafting in 5e is required to do some amount of house ruling or homebrew. Just because it's not spelled out perfectly with tables and formulae and DC charts does not mean it is unavailable in the game.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:08 am
I will just say, that for me personally, I cleave to the idea that Eberron uses "magic as technology", not that "technology is equal to magic". If a player in my game wanted to craft a device that produces the effects of a fireball that device is always going to be a wand, or staff, or some other magic item, and that player is going to have to use magic to craft it. Eberron to me is not a place where technology has developed to rival magic, it's a place where magic is used as a reliable resource for the engineering of fantastical technology.
I fundamentally disagree with this. I love Eberron, and I certainly have a vision for how I expect things to go. But I would never tell a player that wants to have a tech based character no. Sure, Eberron mostly is magic as technology and emphasizes wide magic, but that does not mean there is no mundane technology or that areas within the massive world that is Eberron have not developed technological ways to solve the same issues that magic does in most of society. As I said before, there is nothing that inherently makes the stat block for a fireball a fireball. It is the commonly excepted way that it is imagined and visualized, but that doesn't mean we should stifle creativity or fun by re-imagining it. Why would I make a player use a wand when for them it is less fun than using a Gnomish Boom Gun? Why would I get in the way of being able to explore how such a device might lead to interesting role playing opportunities or challenges for player and DM alike as we work through how others perceive it and the shenanigans that result? For me, fun trumps Eberron cannon every time. And honestly, there's a place for everything in Eberron if you are willing to challenge yourself and be creative. It might not be the norm, or widely recognized or known or understood by the majority of Khorvaire, but that helps a player feel like their character has something unique and can give them opportunities to shine.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:08 am
Sure but wouldn't it be better to have a book or widely accepted view of the standards of all the societies of Eberron and have the rules of the game reflect those standards? So you don't HAVE to have the conversasion? So that a player can use that resource and play Eberron with any random person who is also playing Eberron and everyone will at least have started from the same basic assumptions?
Why would I want to avoid a conversation with a player? I got into gaming not to read rules and stick to cannon, but to create interesting shared stories with my best friends. There is so much out there written about Eberron, both cannon and non-cannon, that there's no way for a person to keep track of it all at all times. Not only that, but I don't think that was Keith's purpose or idea when he created Eberron. He set some tropes and plants a lot of idea seeds, but a majority of Eberron is purposely left a mystery or less well-defined (at least this is the case in the things Keith directly wrote or influenced) to give each table their own ability to create and make Eberron their own. There is no answer to the cause of the Day of Mourning. There is no set way to release the Overlords. There is no single interpretation of the Prophecy. So how can you run an Eberron game in which you are NOT having conversations with your players and fleshing out the mysteries while highlighting the things that draws each individual to the setting?
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:08 am
And that sounds like a lot of fun for your gnome player. But what if I wanted to play a halfling agent of the King's Dark Lanterns and use gagets for my fun espionage adventures? Without a houserule like my Artificer's Tools, I can't. But your gnome can? There's no justification for my limitation and your gnome's allowance within the world of Eberron. It exists only for mechanical reasons that are being shoehorned into the world.
Sorry, but this is flat out wrong. I think I explain the main point above, but just to reiterate, there is nothing that says any character or player cannot invent or create gadgets. It is more clearly spelled out for gnomes, but that does not mean others cannot. For example, as I mentioned before most of the gnome gadgets can be replicated my prestidigitation. With a feat, or a boon, or any number of features, a halfling can get access to that cantrip, and reflavour the effects as his own tinkered gadgets. Additionally, he can spend gold as if he was buying those tanglefoot bags or special arrows, but explain that he got them through his own invention. Or we could use the guidelines in the magic item creation (or the ITEM creation presented in XGtE in the Revised Downtime section) to create the same.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:08 am
This is a paradoxical statement to me. Tinkering is not the national past-time of Zilargo. It never has been. Tinkering has been the pastime of a specific grouping of certain human families. That's whose pastime it is. They train anyone who wishes to join them in their tinker's guild, but there is no culture of tinkering exclusive to Zilargo.
I'm going to respond by something that Keith Baker wrote on his website:
"The people of Zilargo are extremely broad-minded when it comes to religion. Most gnomes try a few religions before settling on a single patron deity. Some never make a final choice; there are gnomes who attend and even perform services for both the Sovereign Host and the Silver Flame. Temples to virtually all religions can be found in the major cities of Zilargo. Korranberg even contains a temple dedicated to the Dragon Below, although the adherents are more philosophical and less disturbing than the fanatics of the Shadow Marches. Despite this seemingly cavalier attitude, most gnomes take religion very seriously; they simply don’t see a conflict in following more than one god.

First of all, there are gnomes who explore every path. Temples of the Fury hold ecstatic celebrations, and monks of the Shadow plumb the deepest mysteries of magic. Zilargo is a place where you can go and debate peacefully with a priest of the Devourer. But the last sentence of the paragraph above gets to the point that many gnomes look to the larger picture. Gods or divine power sources – however you prefer to view them – are part of reality. To the degree that it’s possible, why not try to embrace them all?"
Now this is primarily about their attitude towards religion, but I also see it encompassing their attitudes more broadly as well. Gnomes are first and foremost curious and pragmatic. They recognize the power of magic, but they do not limit themselves to it. They put all things on equal footing and have an open mind because in the end what matters is the result. Whether they solve the problem through technology, magic, or faith matters less than the outcome. So gnomes don't just learn magic, but also technology and engineering. And perhaps it is because they have this mindset that they have beaten House Cannith to elemental binding. House Cannith uses a hammer, and so everything looks like a nail. But because gnomes are more fluid in how they approach problems, they don't just limit themselves to the hammer of magic.

Keith recently posted a Dragonshard article about 5e Halflings and how they fit in Eberron. I bet he will also do one for Gnomes and we will get some more insight into how he sees 5e gnomes fitting into Eberron in general and Zilargo in particular.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:08 am
The Mountain Dwarf's armor proficiencies aren't what bother me. Truth be told, they are actually mostly mechanically redundant. Most people who choose to play a mountain dwarf are going to pick a class that already gives medium armor proficiency, and if you're picking a class that doesn't, your Mountain Dwarf and Base Dwarf racial abilities are not going to make you the optional choice for that class. (Not a bad choice, maybe, but not the best one, certainly.)

My issue with the Mountain Dwarf is the +2 Str/+2 Con/+1 HP per Level. These traits, as simple as they are, make Mountain Dwarves the overwhelmingly optimal choice when selecting a race to play a fighter or other melee-focused str-based character. It is ridiculously advantageous to pick Mountain Dwarf over all other race choices.
Seems you are confusing the Mountain Dwarf with the Hill Dwarf. Mountain Dwarves only get +2 to strength and proficiency in armor. Hill Dwarves get +1 to Wisdom and +1 HP/Level (which if you need a thematic reason why, perhaps this lineage is closer to those who originally came from Frostfell and thus retained the toughness required to survive in that land. So... neither Hill Dwarves nor Mountain Dwarves seem to be the great fighters you have argued them to be).
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:08 am
Which makes it very very hard to design a new race, saaaaay... the Warforged, who's sole reason to exist is to be soldiers (in most cases).

How do you make Warforged better at fighting than the most optimal fighter without making warforged utterly broken? How do you push their stats so it's clear to any who glance at them that "hey, these guys make AMAZING fighters" when the Mountain Dwarf is sitting over there being the CLEAR AND BEST choice? If Mountain Dwarves simply did not exist, then you have more space with which to flex your design muscle and create a new race that is amazing at being the fighter (or other melee str-based character).


Personally, I think I did a pretty fair job at creating Warforged that represent their martial purpose. But the thing is, you didn't just have warforged fighters. I like to picture that there were warforged warlocks that would spam long range eldritch blasts as a kind of artillery unit, as well as warforged scouts all about stealth and reconnaissance, and warforged artificers to repair damaged units. While Warforged were literally built for war, I also see them as having to be somewhat modular and able to be flexible enough to take on whatever role might have been needed. If you built Warforged that could only or primarily be fighters, I don't think they would have seen the success they did in the Last War.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:08 am
Okay good :) I don't want to sound like I'm trying to stifle discussion.
Same here. Not gonna lie, some of this argument is frustrating, but I don't think that's a bad thing, so long as we remain respectful and understand that neither of us is right or wrong.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:08 am
Then on this, we fundamentally disagree.

I absolutely believe that a subrace should reflect to society and values of at least a significant portion of the population of the race as a whole. If your subrace doesn't have to reflect your culture or race, then we're back to my aptitutde argument. If the aptitude for tinkering with clockwork isn't part and parcel to being a gnome, why is that aptitude locked behind the selection of being a gnome for a player? Why isn't that aptitude available to goblins, minotaurs, half-elves, anyone? If tinkerering isn't what gnomes are known for culturally, why are they the only ones who can do it?

I do not see how a subrace cannot be tied somehow to culture. Either the stats are genetic, and a culture develops from the race's genetic predispositions, or the stats are presentative of the culture to begin with. Either way, chicken or egg, there's not going to be bacon in the dish.
I think I made a pretty good argument for the purpose tinkering serves gnomes. It might not be part of the Eberron cannon because these gnomes came after Eberron, but by purposely training their citizens to seek non-magic ways of solving problems, it helps make them flexible and adaptable in ways that other societies that rely so heavily on one type of resource (magic, faith, whatever) cannot replicate. Thus the inclination of Rock Gnomes is less about what they are making with their clockwork devices, but more a counterculture that challenges the notions that all problems can be or need to be solved by a single kind of tool.

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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by AvonRekaes » Fri May 25, 2018 2:19 am

Well, on the technology thing, we are absolutely not going to agree. A setting with technology that is equal to magic, to me, would feel more like the Iron Kingdoms (the setting to the Warmachine game)

If a player wanted to play one specific character in all the known world that went against every grain of every society ever to be described in Eberron canon in order to make a "boomstick" nonmagical fireball launcher, then if he is absolutely dead set on it, fine. But I will have to have A Talk (tm) with him and let him know that his idea is vastly different from anything the world has ever seen and if he's okay with that fine, but it is going to get him a lot of attention. Maybe good (House Cannith contracts?) maybe bad (enemy nation spies trying to kidnap him and force him to make weapons for their nation?), but it will be attention nonetheless. And if he doesn't want that attention? Well I'm sorry, playing a tech character in a non-tech world is going to turn heads. So deal with the attention as the price for not bothering to make a character that fits in the world I am trying to run, or make something more fitting.

It will also be a houserule because you can "cast" the fireball "spell" without somatic or verbal components without spending a sorcerey point on it, something that only Sorcerers can do. And I will point out in 5e that when a magic item lets you cast a spell, you must still, by RAW, supply the somatic and verbal components for it. So you can use your gun in a magical silence spell while your wizard friend's wand of fireball can't be activated.

What makes something magic is that it interact with everything in the game that already interacts with magic. There are dominos set up by the magic system. Taking out one domino is going to break the chain, and any course-correcting you have to do is yet another house rule.

When I run Eberron, I prefer to run canon Eberron. That's just my preference as the DM, and I know that others, like yourself, have other preferences. What bothers me here is that non-canon Eberron is being shorehorned into my canon Eberron. Because, as you admit, the Rock Gnome was made after Eberron and it wasn't made with Eberron in mind. CAN YOU bend over backwards and gloss over how out-of-place clockwork crafting is for every Zilargo gnome to have by saying it's just a byproduct of what they're actually good at? (In your case, using Keith's blog as your source material, it seems like "problem solving" is the key aspect you'd like to represent for Zilargo gnomes) Sure, you CAN. Is that a good solution for someone, like me, that wants to play in canon Eberron and wants their mechanics to reflect that?

For me the answer is no.
Last edited by AvonRekaes on Fri May 25, 2018 2:41 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by AvonRekaes » Fri May 25, 2018 2:36 am

As for the Mountain Dwarf, you are right, I was conflating the two subraces into one horrendous amalgamation in my mind.

The truth may not be as bad as I thought, but Mountain Dwarves are still the only race in the game that gets +2 Str, +2 Con, which is STILL a clear "optimal choice" for a melee warrior, and it STILL infringes on a Warforged. Because unless your Warforged is also +2/+2, then your stone-and-metal-plated-construct-of-solid-living-wood is either A) weaker than a dwarf, or B) less tough than a dwarf.

And yes, there are warforged other than fighters. They are a recent development. According to the original demographics, Warforged who "came off the presses" as wizards or other kinds of dedicated spellcasters are 4 years old or less. The first modern warforged were created over 30 years ago. There are vaaaaaastly more warforged of the "simpler" soldier-like classes. I did mention "for the most part" when I made my point about warforged.

I think I did a decent job with warforged myself. You can see my take on them here

Of the four subraces or "model types" of my warforged, two of them are not "designed" with melee combat in mind, the psiforged and mithral body (which I've adapted to be useful for both dex-types like rogues or duelist-type fencer-fighters and int-based casters like artificers and wizards). But take a look at the composite warforged and admantine warforged.

Next to the Mountain Dwarf, each are inferior to it in some way. Adamantine body warforged were very hard to balance, being an automatic heavy-armor-level of AC, that besides the Tortle doesn't exist. Unlike the tortle, the Adamantine body's armor interferes with spells, but gets better with level.

Either way, it's questionable whether you'd want to deal with all of the Adamantine Body Warforged's drawbacks and quirks when you can just play a +2 STR/+2 CON Mountain dwarf. In fact, the Adamantine Body Warforged is less tough than any race with +2 Con, despite having free heavy armor. That still rankles me, but I couldn't find a way to balance the race. Because I see what +2/+2 gets the Mountain Dwarf, and there's not enough room for the rest of the Warforged's stuff to fit in the same space without being broken.
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by ThePurple » Fri May 25, 2018 4:47 am

HawkDiesel wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 1:30 am
I fundamentally disagree with this. I love Eberron, and I certainly have a vision for how I expect things to go. But I would never tell a player that wants to have a tech based character no. Sure, Eberron mostly is magic as technology and emphasizes wide magic, but that does not mean there is no mundane technology or that areas within the massive world that is Eberron have not developed technological ways to solve the same issues that magic does in most of society.
Actually, while I doubt that Keith Baker would ever straight up tell you "no", he'd get pretty close based upon what the original intent of the world was.

Whenever discussions of firearms in Eberron come up, the standard answer is "no". For the current civilization of Khorvaire, *magic is technology*. Why would anyone develop a completely new way to do something that we already know how to do perfectly well? Why reinvent the wheel? Having someone develop a firearm (and all of the prerequisite technology that goes along with it) in a world where the same thing is already accomplished by wands doesn't make sense.

I don't recall the exact post, but there was one discussion that KB weighed in on about seige technology and how Eberron would need cannons and artillery to break down walls. He basically stated that, while walls and the like present a problem, cannons and other real world solutions to them aren't how Eberron would solve the problem: a cannon is just a scaled up firearm so Eberron would just developed seige staffs, which are scaled up staffs (I imagine them looking like a telephone pole and requiring a team of mages to operate them) that are able to fire huge blasts that can knock down walls.

The only time I've ever seen KB actually support the idea of firearms in Eberron is as part of a unique and specific Dhakaani Goblin subculture. There are 2 reasons for this: first off, the Dhakaani used much less magic than modern Khorvaire does and what magic they *did* use was support based (Dhakaani spellcasters didn't throw fireballs because killing people is what soldiers did); secondly, the Dhakaani had *much better mundane technology* than modern Khorvaire does (ancient Dhakaani armor and weaponsmithing was so good that the equipment of a common soldier was either on-par or better than what the *best* craftsfolk in modern Khorvaire are able to make) because that's what they focused on. Even so, the idea was that *only a single group of the Dhakaani* would have this tech; not all of them. The ubiquity of magic and easy access to powerful bulletproof armor precludes ubiquitous firearms from developing as a norm for a civilization.

Honestly, any worldview that tries to make it so that a single civilization develops both magic and technology side by side, having them accomplish the same things through completely different methods, is nonsensical because it's forcing itself to constantly invent the wheel twice, which is just inefficient. Also, it really doesn't make sense for them to solve the same problems at the same pace, either: whichever solves the problem first, would just be the standard method for solving the problem, which would lead to one form becoming the standard rather than the other. And this would have happened *long ago* when the first major problems of civilization were developing.

If I had a player that wanted to play a gadgeteer of the technological variety in an Eberron campaign, I'd tell them that Eberron isn't the setting for them (artificer is a magical gadgeteer, and that's spot on). One of the things about a campaign setting is that it precludes certain character concepts. I would tell the same thing to someone that wanted to play a traditional Faerun/Greyhawk drow in Eberron as well (or pretty much *any* standard concept in a Dark Sun campaign). Players wanting to play these types of characters are simply demonstrating a lack of knowledge and appreciation for a non-standard campaign setting and, rather than putting in the basic effort to learn the setting, simply try to treat the setting like any bog-standard high fantasy setting. If they want to do that, they can find another game.

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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by HawkDiesel » Fri May 25, 2018 5:00 am

AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 2:19 am
When I run Eberron, I prefer to run canon Eberron. That's just my preference as the DM, and I know that others, like yourself, have other preferences.
Ok, there's a lot of places where we can respectfully disagree and accept that we run things differently. However, this statement here really bothers me. This statement reads to me like a value judgment as if the way that I run Eberron is not cannon or that the way you run it is closer to the "truth." This makes it seem like I haven't read the source books or don't care about the various aspects or histories. Also, I guarantee that while you may think you run Eberron as "cannon," realistically doing so is impossible. We can stay as close to the source material as possible, but each of us reads that material through our own lens and with our own values and bias coloring that information and what is important in ways that will make it unique for each table. There is no "right" or "cannon" way to run Eberron except that the table is having fun. I also absolutely disagree with you that because I incorporate technology or "steampunk" elements that my version of Eberron it is less "cannon" than yours. Because I am sorry, but there is nothing more steampunk than Warforged or Artificers. You may focus on the magic, while I focus on the effect and care less about how it is achieved. But let's not kid ourselves. In essence Warforged are living robots and artificers are people that combined engineering, magic, and faith to utilize a more fundamental force towards problem solving. And just because you tend to be more strict in your interpretations of Eberron lore does not make your table any better or truer to Eberron than mine. It just means that you provide less room to express individual player creativity or alternative interpretations of Eberron tropes.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 2:19 am
Well, on the technology thing, we are absolutely not going to agree. A setting with technology that is equal to magic, to me, would feel more like the Iron Kingdoms (the setting to the Warmachine game).
I don't know this setting. But I disagree. In the way that I read Eberron, there is nothing that says there is no technology. Just that magic and faith are the primary sources of innovation and the basis for solving problems in society. That doesn't mean that the entire world, which encompasses Khorvaire, Frostfell, Aeranal, Argonnessen, Xen'drik, and Sarlona... not to mention Khyber... that in none of those wide and largely unexplored places that there is nowhere that technology has advanced to be able to solve problems on equal footing to magic and faith. Its a big world, and just because there is no mention of it being emphasized in the sourcebooks does not equate to it not existing.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 2:19 am
If a player wanted to play one specific character in all the known world that went against every grain of every society ever to be described in Eberron canon in order to make a "boomstick" nonmagical fireball launcher, then if he is absolutely dead set on it, fine. But I will have to have A Talk (tm) with him and let him know that his idea is vastly different from anything the world has ever seen and if he's okay with that fine, but it is going to get him a lot of attention. Maybe good (House Cannith contracts?) maybe bad (enemy nation spies trying to kidnap him and force him to make weapons for their nation?), but it will be attention nonetheless. And if he doesn't want that attention? Well I'm sorry, playing a tech character in a non-tech world is going to turn heads. So deal with the attention as the price for not bothering to make a character that fits in the world I am trying to run, or make something more fitting.
How is this different than deciding to play a Minotaur in a campaign set in rural Karnath? Or a Cyran refugee in a campaign set in Sarlona? D&D is not about fitting in. It's about exploring and imagination and seeing how players can creatively overcome challenges and become heroes of legend, or at least legendary stories that we will remember for a lifetime. Player characters are SUPPOSED to break the mold, be different, and be more bold than ordinary citizens. That's how they become heroes.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 2:19 am
It will also be a houserule because you can "cast" the fireball "spell" without somatic or verbal components without spending a sorcerey point on it, something that only Sorcerers can do. And I will point out in 5e that when a magic item lets you cast a spell, you must still, by RAW, supply the somatic and verbal components for it. So you can use your gun in a magical silence spell while your wizard friend's wand of fireball can't be activated.
Once again this is easily explained. A player knows that just because the effect does not LOOK like a fireball does not mean it gets benefits or can exploit loopholes that one casting a normal fireball could not. I've already described one way that is relatively easy to implement and explain that allows for player creativity and expression while limiting to the same short-comings of other magic. If you want another example, the person using a Gnomish Boom Gun may have needed to put in place a safety mechanism to ensure that only they can use it, and thus each use requires a passcode or voice activation via a modified whispering stone. That takes care of verbal components. It also creates a form of magic that can be impacted by dispel magic and antimagic fields that is built into the design. Once again, a creative DM is willing to accept the challenges that come with their player's creativity and rise to the occasion. Additionally, you are focusing on relatively minor issues that you are artificially enlarging. I can't even remember a time when the components of a spell mattered to the point that they needed to be tracked, or a time that my players were high enough level to need to worry about antimagic fields or encountering beholders. These are rare occurrences over all. And as long as no one at the table feels like their toes are being stepped on or that these accommodations for creativity are impairing the overall enjoyment for those at the table... then what does it matter? At worst you are getting new ways to challenge yourself and the players. At best you are getting awesome shared experiences that people will remember and laugh about for a lifetime.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 2:19 am
What makes something magic is that it interact with everything in the game that already interacts with magic. There are dominos set up by the magic system. Taking out one domino is going to break the chain, and any course-correcting you have to do is yet another house rule.
For someone so ready to wholesale create new subraces and classes for Eberron, you sure seem against the idea of house rules. Nothing is broken and no dominoes are tipped by making a single exception to how something is skinned. Mechanically it plays out exactly the same as the common interpretation. As long as the player accepts that, there is no reason that one cannot enact "suspension of disbelief." I mean... we are talking about a game that is completely make believe where the rules are made up and the points don't matter. If it's fun, you don't need to over think it. But even if you tend to overthink things, you use your creativity to fill in the gaps.

For this reason, I am ABSOLUTELY ok with a character having the stats of a Mountain Dwarf, but visually describing them as a Warforged. Someone with the stats of a half-orc can ABSOLUTELY say their character is a Minotaur. And you know why it works? Because numbers do not equate to what they represent! There is nothing in the statblock of a half-orc that makes it inherently a half-orc. So before when you said "Why can't my halfling make gadgets?" Well guess what? If they want they can use the Rock Gnome race and just say they are a Halfling and BAM! Suddenly... it works! Because imagination and creativity are the currency of this game, and you can use it to imagine and create whatever is going to be fun.
AvonRekaes wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 2:36 am
As for the Mountain Dwarf, you are right, I was conflating the two subraces into one horrendous amalgamation in my mind.

The truth may not be as bad as I thought, but Mountain Dwarves are still the only race in the game that gets +2 Str, +2 Con, which is STILL a clear "optimal choice" for a melee warrior, and it STILL infringes on a Warforged. Because unless your Warforged is also +2/+2, then your stone-and-metal-plated-construct-of-solid-living-wood is either A) weaker than a dwarf, or B) less tough than a dwarf.

And yes, there are warforged other than fighters. They are a recent development. According to the original demographics, Warforged who "came off the presses" as wizards or other kinds of dedicated spellcasters are 4 years old or less. The first modern warforged were created over 30 years ago. There are vaaaaaastly more warforged of the "simpler" soldier-like classes. I did mention "for the most part" when I made my point about warforged.

I think I did a decent job with warforged myself. You can see my take on them here

Of the four subraces or "model types" of my warforged, two of them are not "designed" with melee combat in mind, the psiforged and mithral body (which I've adapted to be useful for both dex-types like rogues or duelist-type fencer-fighters and int-based casters like artificers and wizards). But take a look at the composite warforged and admantine warforged.

Next to the Mountain Dwarf, each are inferior to it in some way. Adamantine body warforged were very hard to balance, being an automatic heavy-armor-level of AC, that besides the Tortle doesn't exist. Unlike the tortle, the Adamantine body's armor interferes with spells, but gets better with level.

Either way, it's questionable whether you'd want to deal with all of the Adamantine Body Warforged's drawbacks and quirks when you can just play a +2 STR/+2 CON Mountain dwarf. In fact, the Adamantine Body Warforged is less tough than any race with +2 Con, despite having free heavy armor. That still rankles me, but I couldn't find a way to balance the race. Because I see what +2/+2 gets the Mountain Dwarf, and there's not enough room for the rest of the Warforged's stuff to fit in the same space without being broken.
A difference in mechanical stats is not enough to argue that one race is a better martial race than another. In the end, it ends up being a MAXIMUM difference in success of +/- 1. That is so small as to be trivial. Sure, argue about bounded accuracy, but in the end a difference of +/-1 is not going to impact the way a player plays their character in the slightest. And if you really believe Mountain Dwarves are better Warforged than a Warforged, then just have a player make a Warforged character using the stats of a Mountain Dwarf. Because as I have said before... what in the numbers or mechanics makes this thing unable to be imagined in any way other than a Mountain Dwarf? In fact, if I found someone that had no clue what a dwarf was and just listed their abilities: resistance to poison, really strong, natural at wearing armor, good at using certain weapons, very tough, can see in the dark... HOW is that not an equally accurate description of Warforged?
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by HawkDiesel » Fri May 25, 2018 5:14 am

ThePurple wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 4:47 am
HawkDiesel wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 1:30 am
I fundamentally disagree with this. I love Eberron, and I certainly have a vision for how I expect things to go. But I would never tell a player that wants to have a tech based character no. Sure, Eberron mostly is magic as technology and emphasizes wide magic, but that does not mean there is no mundane technology or that areas within the massive world that is Eberron have not developed technological ways to solve the same issues that magic does in most of society.
Actually, while I doubt that Keith Baker would ever straight up tell you "no", he'd get pretty close based upon what the original intent of the world was.

Whenever discussions of firearms in Eberron come up, the standard answer is "no". For the current civilization of Khorvaire, *magic is technology*. Why would anyone develop a completely new way to do something that we already know how to do perfectly well? Why reinvent the wheel? Having someone develop a firearm (and all of the prerequisite technology that goes along with it) in a world where the same thing is already accomplished by wands doesn't make sense.

I don't recall the exact post, but there was one discussion that KB weighed in on about seige technology and how Eberron would need cannons and artillery to break down walls. He basically stated that, while walls and the like present a problem, cannons and other real world solutions to them aren't how Eberron would solve the problem: a cannon is just a scaled up firearm so Eberron would just developed seige staffs, which are scaled up staffs (I imagine them looking like a telephone pole and requiring a team of mages to operate them) that are able to fire huge blasts that can knock down walls.

The only time I've ever seen KB actually support the idea of firearms in Eberron is as part of a unique and specific Dhakaani Goblin subculture. There are 2 reasons for this: first off, the Dhakaani used much less magic than modern Khorvaire does and what magic they *did* use was support based (Dhakaani spellcasters didn't throw fireballs because killing people is what soldiers did); secondly, the Dhakaani had *much better mundane technology* than modern Khorvaire does (ancient Dhakaani armor and weaponsmithing was so good that the equipment of a common soldier was either on-par or better than what the *best* craftsfolk in modern Khorvaire are able to make) because that's what they focused on. Even so, the idea was that *only a single group of the Dhakaani* would have this tech; not all of them. The ubiquity of magic and easy access to powerful bulletproof armor precludes ubiquitous firearms from developing as a norm for a civilization.

Honestly, any worldview that tries to make it so that a single civilization develops both magic and technology side by side, having them accomplish the same things through completely different methods, is nonsensical because it's forcing itself to constantly invent the wheel twice, which is just inefficient. Also, it really doesn't make sense for them to solve the same problems at the same pace, either: whichever solves the problem first, would just be the standard method for solving the problem, which would lead to one form becoming the standard rather than the other. And this would have happened *long ago* when the first major problems of civilization were developing.

If I had a player that wanted to play a gadgeteer of the technological variety in an Eberron campaign, I'd tell them that Eberron isn't the setting for them (artificer is a magical gadgeteer, and that's spot on). One of the things about a campaign setting is that it precludes certain character concepts. I would tell the same thing to someone that wanted to play a traditional Faerun/Greyhawk drow in Eberron as well (or pretty much *any* standard concept in a Dark Sun campaign). Players wanting to play these types of characters are simply demonstrating a lack of knowledge and appreciation for a non-standard campaign setting and, rather than putting in the basic effort to learn the setting, simply try to treat the setting like any bog-standard high fantasy setting. If they want to do that, they can find another game.
I understand where you are coming from, and I respect this answer. In fact, I homebrewed my own Artificer class and purposely changed that Gunsmith to a Wand Expert. And while I accept that Keith may have a different opinion, Eberron is no longer solely "his." It belongs to each of us, and we can use the parts that resonate most with us while adjusting or discarding the rest. I don't necessarily think guns have a place in Eberron in general. But just as Keith has offered an option where they might exist, I can also work with a player to allow them to explore their concept within the structure of Eberron as I imagine it. I also am less inclined to tell players that in essence it's my way or the highway. There may be a reason they want to play something specific. It might resonate with them. This is especially true of a new player that is unfamiliar with D&D in general, and Eberron in particular. If they are really committed to playing a specific kind of character and I want to introduce this player to RPGs, what kind of message does it send if I say, "Actually... despite this all being made up and in our heads... your character just doesn't work at all. Can you maybe try something else?"

Perhaps I am in a different crowd, because while I enjoy Eberron and love the story seeds it provides and the opportunities to explore its mysteries, I place priority instead on the gaming experience and making sure the table is having fun. If that means adjusting Eberron or ignoring some aspects of it, I am absolutely ok with that. We aren't running games to write books that are going to be fact checked with cannon or open to general criticism. We run games to have fun. And Eberron provides a structure for some of that fun to take place, but my table's fun and experience is not going to be limited by that structure.

Also, in regards to this statement:
ThePurple wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 4:47 am
Honestly, any worldview that tries to make it so that a single civilization develops both magic and technology side by side, having them accomplish the same things through completely different methods, is nonsensical because it's forcing itself to constantly invent the wheel twice, which is just inefficient. Also, it really doesn't make sense for them to solve the same problems at the same pace, either: whichever solves the problem first, would just be the standard method for solving the problem, which would lead to one form becoming the standard rather than the other. And this would have happened *long ago* when the first major problems of civilization were developing.
I would argue there are plenty of real world examples of this. Take for instance HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray or VHS versus BetaMax. Or the variety of ways that we are trying to treat various ailments and develop new drugs. In our society we very seldom use the same methods to solve problems. Where our society differs is that magic just isn't an option because of physics. But if magic were an option, I would bet that magic and technology would be integrated, and that for some problems technology would work better and for other problems magic would work better. And because people view problems through different lenses and understand the world from different perspectives, we can and are constantly arriving at different ways to explain the same things. For example, when it comes to medicine, are we focusing on genetics, epigenetics, chemistry, organic chemistry, particle physics, neurobiology, psychology, or any of the huge number of various disciplines that we use to understand, diagnose, and improve our health? Each of these disciplines is fundamentally different than the other, but each of them offers value to the problems they are tackling with regarding human health. Should we abandon genetics simply because it is redundant with epigenetics? No, because each one conceptualizes the problems differently and frames solutions differently. That does not reduce their value, but increases our awareness of the interactions and complexity of things that impact our lives. If we could add magic into that equation, it would not negate any of the other perspectives or invalidate their foundations, but rather create new interpretations and new understanding regarding the relationship of each discipline to the specific problems they are attempting to solve.

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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by AvonRekaes » Fri May 25, 2018 5:35 am

If you are offended by me pointing out that nothing even remotely close to a gun exists anywhere in the published Eberron books, then I do not think the offense you take is my fault. Guns are very intentionally absent from the setting precisely because it is not a technological world. "Magic as technology" is a quote from Keith. You can even ask him if you don't believe me.

Now, that being said, if you want to change the setting to match what you think in your own creativity is cool, that is absolutely great. Adding guns to the setting is 100% a break from canon, and I'm sorry if you read a value judgment in that. I'm not saying running the setting "as presented in the books" is better/worse than changing it to make it what you think is awesome. Have fun! And I don't mean that sarcastically.

Playing Eberron "by the book", in which artificers have no inherent capacity to create steampunk technological devices without magic (because D&D has no rules for it now, and didn't in 3rd edition) and are spellcasters, and where warforged are not steampunk robots but are magical sentient living golems, is what I want to do.

This is absolutely how the setting is written and presented in the books. Is it better this way than your way with guns and steampunk? The answer to that question is an opinion, so it doesn't matter what my answer is. I respect your choice to play it that way. I just personally choose to run Eberron without major steampunk elements. A pocketwatch is fine to me. Robot programned clockwork warforged are not. I have more fun running Eberron without major steampunk. But that's just my opinion.

What isn't opinion is that Eberron is not inherently steampunk. The Lightning Rail is an electric train golem powered by a sentient elemental. It doesn't run on steam or technology, and you will not find a single piece of evidence for any major modern convenience that has impacted the lives and culture of any society in Eberron that doesn't run on magic.

Would it "ruin" Eberron to add those elements? Obviously not. Would it diverge from how Eberron is written? Yes it does. I'm sorry but that's just facts.

And I am 100% comfortable homebrewing content for the actual systems in the game. New races, new feats, new classes that make use of the systems that are in place and run through the game design of the edition. What I am 0% comfortable doing is homebrewing changes to those systems. Such as magic. I have not, for instance, created a brand new set of rules for combat. I use the system that is given to me. Magic items and spells and the counters to those spells and items are part of those systems, and messing them is, at least to me personally, like pulling from a jenga tower with your eyes closed. Can the tower stay up? Maybe, but probably not. So I leave the systems as they are.
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by ThePurple » Fri May 25, 2018 5:42 am

HawkDiesel wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 5:14 am
Perhaps I am in a different crowd, because while I enjoy Eberron and love the story seeds it provides and the opportunities to explore its mysteries, I place priority instead on the gaming experience and making sure the table is having fun.
It's important to note that not everyone has fun the same way. Personally, I find cleaving closely to the lore and original intention of the campaign setting to be very important to my fun and the fun of my players. The table that I run is very insistent upon keeping to the established lore, which is why my solution to a player wanting to throw that lore out in order to play something that's basically been pulled out of traditional high fantasy is telling them to find another game. I do not mean this as an insult, denigration, or any kind of malignancy. It's simply a recognition that the game that this person wants to play isn't the type of game that I am running with this group of people. If *everyone* in the group wanted to play something that was explicitly out of place in Eberron, I would simply not play in Eberron because it would obviously not be the kind of game that everyone else was looking for.

"Fun" is a wholly subjective thing and there is no "right" or "best" way to do it that's the same for everyone. It's something that all of us need to be reminded of at times, and it's an important thing to remember when doing *any* kind of cooperative endeavor. Not every game is right for every person (great example: my friends and I prefer 4e to all other D&D editions) and not every setting is right for every group or player. In my experience, finding the right fit is extremely important to everyone having a good time to such an extent that, if I sense that a prospective player isn't the right fit, I'll send them away to find a different group (I have done this several times, in fact).

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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by AvonRekaes » Fri May 25, 2018 5:43 am

HawkDiesel wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 5:14 am
Perhaps I am in a different crowd, because while I enjoy Eberron and love the story seeds it provides and the opportunities to explore its mysteries, I place priority instead on the gaming experience and making sure the table is having fun. If that means adjusting Eberron or ignoring some aspects of it, I am absolutely ok with that.
I could easily take this bolded part right here and take offense. It sounds like you're saying I can't run fun games because I want to run them in canon Eberron.

But I know you didn't mean that, so I won't take offense. I'm just pointing out that we all speak in value judgments when we are speaking passionately about opinions we hold.

I was going to write further, but yes, everything Purple said above. The lore is fun for me. Which is why generic high fantasy/Forgotten Realms tropes encroaching on it bothers me so much.
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Re: PHB Subraces and their cultural implications on Eberron

Post by HawkDiesel » Fri May 25, 2018 5:57 am

Ok, fair enough. I'm not meaning or intending to offend anyone, and I realize that no one here is attempting to do so with me or the way that I play the game.

As for the issue with guns in Eberron specifically, I agree that in general they don't belong. But if I have a player that is set on flavoring their shortbow or wands as a gun, or if I have a player that wants to use some kind of steampunk, my natural inclination is not to say "no," but rather "Yes, and..." or "Yes, but..."

I think that while in general they may not have a place in the larger game, it does not mean they couldn't or could never exist. I would typically try to work closely with the player to find a middle ground.

I really do appreciate the conversation and while I know it gets passionate at time where there are disagreements, I certainly value the differing points as well as individuals that may check me with a bit more restraint than I may find myself to be using.

Also @ThePurple, I definitely think 4e is underrated and has a lot to offer. I still use a lot of 4e monsters and traps.

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