The question of race part 8 – revised ratings and conclusions

In The question of Race, or nature versus nurture I looked at races in Dungeons and Dragons, starting with BECMI and AD&D, and then moving onto 5e, with a view to developing cultural traits which could be swapped about for a character with a certain genetics raised by a different race.

It quickly became clear the races weren’t balanced enough for this, so I switched my attention to working through all the playable races to come up with ratings for each. This led to the following posts:

The question of race part 7 – looking back reviewed how I came up with the ratings, and looked at some other similar attempts. As I have worked through it, my ideas have shifted a bit, so this post is an update to my ratings and a comparison of the results.

However precise the numbers are, this is all very subjective, so this is my interpretation of the impact the different features will have on the game. I appreciate this is may differ from your opinions, and does in some places definitely differ from some other ratings.

Rating weightings

I will list all the different features, along with my original weighting and my revised rating, with comments where I feel it appropriate. I will continue to separate these into genetic and cultural.

This is a more comprehensive listing of my weightings than before, which will make my fudging explicit and so help me review it.

  • Ability score increase (cultural): +1 point per increase – unchanged
  • Proficiency (cultural): +2 points for skill, +1 points for double proficiency specific cases, +1 if light weapon, light armour or tool, +2 if martial weapons, medium or heavy armour – unchanged I can see the argument for less-used skills to be downgraded, but I can also see that which skills are useful and which aren’t will depend on the campaign and the imagination of the player, so I’ll keep the simplicity of rating all skills equally
  • Advantage (cultural): +2
  • Disadvantage (cultural): -2
  • Spellcasting (cultural): +1 for cantrip only, +2 if additional at #3 & #5 – unchanged
  • Language (cultural): +1 point per language – +1 per 2 languages
  • Darkvision (genetic): +2 for 60′, +4 for 120′ – downgrade to +1/+2 Thinking about my experience, the situations where darkvision is actually useful are less common unless the whole party has darkvision, so there will usually be some light source
  • Resistance (genetic): +2 per attribute
  • Immunity (genetic): +4 – unchanged
  • Speed (genetic): +1 per 5′ over 30’/-1 per 5′ under 30′ – unchanged
  • Variant human feats (genetic): +2 – upgrade to +4 – these vary widely in utility. On the whole they seem more than a single proficiency, but I don’t think (in general) they are as huge as Detect Balance rates them. I feel they are about worth double. Even the sharpshooter (which is often thrown about as the superfeat) while extremely powerful, only applies in situations where there is the opportunity for sniping at extreme range. In my experience it is not very often that this opportunity occurs.
  • Hold their breath underwater for 15 minutes, Reborn not needing to breathe, Triton amphibious. +2 – upgrade amphibious to +3, not breathing +4 Not needing to breathe is particularly powerful because it also renders you immune to airborne attacks like poison clouds.
  • We get additional methods of movement, such as the Tabaxi climbing speed and the Triton/Lizardfolk swimming speed. I’ve rated this at +1 for 20’, +2 for 30’ and +3 for the Aarakocra 50’.flying speed – upgrade the 50’ flying speed to +4
  • Long reach +1 – upgrade to +2 this can have significant impact in combat
  • Not slowing down with heavy loads +1 – unchanged
  • We start to get features which are once per short or long rest, such as the Firbolg hidden step or the Goliath Stone’s Endurance. I’ve typically rated these as +1 due to the limitation of effectively once per encounter. – hidden step could be quite powerful, so +2 for that; will review on a case-by-base basis
  • We start to get natural weapons. These substitute for unarmed attacks, so turn that 1+STR into (typically) d4+STR or d6+STR. Given that’s less than most weapons, this only seems worth +1. – unchanged
  • Similarly natural armour; I’ve rated this +1 for the Lizardfolk (AC13) and Loxodon (AC12), and +2 for the Tortle (AC17). – I think AC17 is probably significant enough to be +3

Ultimately, however objective I try to be there’s going to be a degree of subjectivity…

Updated ratings

So how does that affect the ratings? Here’s the full list with my updated ratings. I follow each breakdown with the original rating, the revised rating and (where available) the Detect Balance rating, along with the same rating scaled against the maximum in the scale (20 in my original ratings, 17 in my revised ratings and 47 for Detect Balance).

Aarakocra

Source(s): Elemental Evil, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

Aarakocra are bird-like humanoids who roost on isolated mountaintops

  • Genetic: medium size, age 3-30, speed 25′ (-1), flying 50’ (+4), talons unarmed weapon (+1) – total +5-1 = +4
  • Cultural: Dexterity +2 (+2), Wisdom +1 (+1), additional languages Aarakocra and Auran (+1) – total +4

Original: genetic +4-1, cultural +5 = total +8/20 (4.0)

Revised: genetic +5-1, cultural +4 = total +8/17 (4.7)

Detect Balance: 41/47 (8.7)

Notes: The major feature of the Aarakocra is the 50’ flying speed, which Detect Balance rates at a massive +28/47. I’m not so convinced – yes it’s great where it’s applicable, such as combat in the open, but I can see it getting in the way indoors and underground so I’ve gone for a more measured 4/17. Now arguably you wouldn’t use an Aarakocra in such a campaign, but if the flight doesn’t come into play it’s quite underpowered. I’ve rated the two languages together as +1 since they’re both quite rare.

Aasimar

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Eberron: Rising from the Last War, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

Aasimar are humanoids with an angelic spark.

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens-100, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), resistant to necrotic and radiant damage (+4), healing hands (+1) – total +6
  • Cultural: Charisma +2 (+2), cantrip (+1), additional language Celestial (+1) – total +4
  • Subraces:
    • Protector Aasimar: Wisdom +1 (+1), radiant soul (+3) – total +4
    • Scourge Aasimar: Constitution +1 (+1), radiant consumption (+2 -1) – total +2
    • Fallen Aasimar: Strength +1 (+1), necrotic shroud (+2) – total +3

Original: genetic +5, cultural +4, subrace +3-4 = total +12-13/20 (6.0-6.5)

Revised: genetic +6, cultural +4, subrace +2-4 = total +12-14/17 (6.5-8.2)

Detect Balance: 31-32/47 (6.6-6.8)

Notes: Being resistant to both necrotic and radiant damage is powerful. Detect balance rates all the Aasimar transformations as equivalent, but I think radiant soul is more powerful because of the 30’ flying speed, and radiant consumption is given a -1 penalty as well as a +2 bonus because of the damage to self.

Bugbear

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Eberron: Rising from the Last War, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

  • Genetic: medium size, age 16-80, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), reach 10′ (+2), powerful carrying (+1) – total +4
  • Cultural: Strength +2 (+2), Dexterity +1 (+1), proficient in Stealth (+2), extra damage on surprise attack (+2), additional language Goblin (+1) – total +8

Original: genetic +4, cultural +8 = total +12/20 (6.0)

Revised: genetic +4, cultural +8 = total +12/17 (7.1)

Detect Balance: 30/47 (6.4)

Notes: same result, but a lowered maximum gives a higher relative rating. Detect Balance falls similar.

Centaur

Source(s): Guildmasters’s Guide to Ravnica, Mythic Odysseys of Theros

Centaurs are the quintessential merging of human and horse.

  • Genetic: fey, medium size, age teens-100, speed 40′ (+2), charge (+2), hooves (+1), powerful carrying (+1), difficult climbing (-2) – total +6-2
  • Cultural: Strength +2 (+2), Wisdom +1 (+1), proficiency in one of Animal Handling, Medicine, Nature or Survival (+2), additional language Sylvan (+1) – total +6

Original: genetic +6-1, cultural +6 = total +11/20 (5.5)

Revised: genetic +6-2, cultural +6 = total +10/17 (5.3)

Detect Balance: 27/47 (5.7)

Notes: Very similar ratings across all three.

Changeling

Source(s): Eberron: Rising from the Last War

Changelings are shapeshifters who can disguise themselves as other people.

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens-100, speed 30′, shapechanger (+3) – total +3
  • Cultural: Charisma +2 (+2), additional ability +1 (+1), proficiency with two of Deception, Insight, Intimidation and Persuasion (+4), two additional languages (+2) – total +9

Original: genetic +2, cultural +9 = total +11/20 (5.5)

Revised: genetic +3, cultural +9 = total +12/17 (7.1)

Detect Balance: 28/47 (6.0)

Notes: Detect Balance doesn’t rate the two skills or languages as highly, but still in a similar ballpark.

Dhampir

Source(s): Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft

  • Genetic: small or medium size, speed 35′ (+1), darkvision (+1), don’t need to breathe (+4), spider climb (+2), vampiric bite (+2), dhampir hunger (-2) – total +8
  • Cultural: ancestral legacy or proficiency in two skills (+4) – total +4

Original: genetic +10-2, cultural +4 = total +12/20 (6.0)

Revised: genetic +10-2, cultural +4 = total +12/17 (7.1)

Detect Balance: not rated

Notes: The big feature here is not breathing, and hence immune to all airborne attacks. Also spider climb. Downside is the hunger.

Dragonborn

Source(s): Basic Rules/Player’s Handbook

  • Genetic: medium size, age 15-80, speed 30′, breath weapon (1/short or long rest) (+2) + corresponding damage resistance (+2) – total +4
  • Cultural: Strength +2 (+2), Charisma +1 (+1), additional language Draconic (+1) – total +4

Original: genetic +4, cultural +4 = total +8/20 (4.0)

Revised: genetic +4, cultural +4 = total +8/17 (4.7)

Detect Balance: 21/47 (4.5)

Dragonborn – Draconblood

Source(s): Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

  • Genetic: medium size, age 15-80, speed 30′, breath weapon (1/short or long rest) (+2). darkvision (+1) – total +3
  • Cultural: Strength +2 (+2), Constitution +1 (+1), additional language Draconic (+1), Intimidation or Persuasion with advantage (1/rest) (+1) – total +5

Original: genetic +4, cultural +5 = total +9/20 (4.5)

Revised: genetic +3, cultural +5 = total +8/17 (4.7)

Detect Balance: not rated

Notes: downgrade of darkvision to +1 makes this equivalent to normal Dragonborn

Dragonborn – Ravenite

Source(s): Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

  • Genetic: medium size, age 15-80, speed 30′, breath weapon (1/short or long rest) (+2) . darkvision (+1) – total +3
  • Cultural: Strength +2 (+2), Charisma +1 (+1), additional language Draconic (+1), reaction attack (1/rest) (+1) – total +5

Original: genetic +4, cultural +5 = total +9/20 (4.5)

Revised: genetic +3, cultural +5 = total +8/17 (4.7)

Detect Balance: not rated

Notes: downgrade of darkvision to +1 makes this equivalent to normal Dragonborn

Dwarf

Source(s): Basic Rules/Player’s Handbook

  • Genetic: medium size, age 50-350, decreased speed (25′) (-1) but not slowed by heavy armour (+1), advantage on saving throws against poison, resistance against poison (+2), darkvision (+1) – total +4-1 – total +3
  • Cultural: Constitution +2 (+2), proficiency with battleaxe, hand axe, light hammer, warhammer (+2) and smith’s tools, brewer’s supplies or mason’s tools (+1), double proficiency in History relating to stonework (+1), additional language dwarvish (+1) – total +7
    • Hill dwarves: Wisdom +1 (+1), +1hp/level (+2) – total +3
    • Mountain dwarves: Strength +2 (+2), proficiency with light and medium armour (+1) – total +3

Original: genetic +5-1, cultural +8, subrace +3 = total +15/20 (7.5)

Revised: genetic +4-1, cultural +7, subrace +3 = total +13/17 (7.6)

Detect Balance: 29-30/47 (6.2-6.4)

Notes: Detect Balance rates the weapon proficiency, tool proficiency and expertise relatively lower.

Elf

Source(s): Basic Rules/Player’s Handbook

  • Genetic: medium size, age 100-750, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), fey ancestry (+2), ­ only need 4 hours “trance” instead of 8 hours sleep per night (+1) – total +4
    • Drow: 120′ darkvision (+1 additional), disadvantage on attack rolls and Perception in sunlight (-2) – total -1
  • Cultural: Dexterity +2 (+2), additional language elvish (+1), proficiency in Perception (+2) – total +5
    • High elf: Intelligence +1 (+1), proficiency with longsword, shortsword, longbow, shortbow (+2), know a cantrip (+1), additional language of choice (+1) – total +5
    • Wood elf: Wisdom +1 (+1), increased speed (35′) (+1), proficiency with longsword, shortsword, longbow, shortbow (+2), can hide when only lightly obscured by natural phenomena (+1) – total +5
    • Drow: Charisma +1 (+1), proficiency with rapiers, shortswords, hand crossbows (+1), dancing lights cantrip, faerie fire at level 3, darkness at level 5 (+2) – total +5

Original: genetic +6, cultural +5, subrace +5 = total +16/20 (8.0)

Revised: genetic +4, cultural +5, subrace +5 (drow +6-2) = total +13-14/17 (8.2)  

Detect Balance: 27-28/47 (5.7-6.0)

Notes: This is one of the largest differences between my ratings and Detect Balance. Detect Balance rates the fey ancestry in particular (advantage on saving throws against charm and immune to magical sleep) lower than I do, along with the weapon training and the skill proficiency.

Source(s): Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
  • Pallid elf (Wildemount): Wisdom +1 (+1), advantage on Investigation and Insight (+4), light cantrip, sleep at level 3, invisibility at level 5 (+2) – total +7(+9) = +16
  • Sea elf (Wildemount): Constitution +1 (+1), proficiency with spear, trident, light crossbow, net (+1), swimming 30’ (+2), amphibian (+2), speak with swimmers (+1), additional language Aquan (+1) – total +8(+9) = +17

Original: genetic +6, cultural +5, subrace +7-9 = total +18-20/20 (9.0-10.0)

Revised: genetic +4, cultural +5, subrace +7-8 = total +16-17/17 (9.4-10.0)

Notes: these additional subraces of elves feel overpowered. They are the only two races which go above 16 in my old system, and they are again the highest ratings in the new system (although they share the 17 with Warforged).

Firbolg

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

Firbolgs are forest guardians.

  • Genetic: medium size, age 30-500, speed 30′, hidden step (temporary invisibility 1/rest) (+1), powerful carrying (+1) – total +2
  • Cultural: Wisdom +2 (+2), Strength +1 (+1), detect magic and disguise self 1/rest (+1), speak to beasts and plants (+1), additional languages elvish and giant (+2) – total +7

Original: genetic +2, cultural +7 = total +9/20 (4.5)

Revised: genetic +2, cultural +7 = total +9/17 (5.3)

Detect Balance: 26/47 (5.5)

Genasi

Source(s): Elemental evil, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

Genasi are humanoids imbued with elemental power as a result of their birth.

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens-120, speed 30 – total +0
  • Cultural: Constitution +2 (+2), additional language Primordial (+1) – total +3
  • Subraces:
    • Air Genasi: Dexterity +1 (+1), hold breath (+3), levitate 1/long rest (+1) – total +5
    • Earth Genasi: Strength +1 (+1), move across difficult earth/stone as normal (+1), pass without trace 1/long rest (+1) – total +3
    • Fire genasi: Intelligence +1 (+1), darkvision (+1), fire resistance (+2), produce flame cantrip, burning hands at 3rd level (+1) – total +5
    • Water genasi: Wisdom +1 (+1), acid resistance (+2), amphibious (+2), swim 30’ (+2), shape water cantrip, create or destroy water at level 3 (+2) – total +7

Original: genetic +0, cultural +3, subrace +3–7 = total +6-10/20 (3.0-5.0)

Revised: genetic +0, cultural +3, subrace +3–7 = total +6-10/17 (4.7-5.9)

Detect Balance: 19-25/47 (4.0-5.3)

Notes: the Genasi have the widest swing per subrace. The Earth Genasi seem distinctly underpowered compared to the Water Genasi. But they are all pretty underpowered.

Gnome

Source(s): Basic Rules/Player’s Handbook

  • Genetic: small size, age 40-350, reduced speed (25′) (-1), darkvision (+1), advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma saving throws against magic (+3) – total +4-1
  • Cultural: Intelligence +2 (+2), additional language Gnomish (+1) – total +3
    • Forest gnome: Dexterity +1 (+1), minor illusion cantrip (+1), speak with small beasts (+1) – total +3
    • Rock gnome: Constitution +1 (+1), double proficiency on History checks related to magic items, alchemical objects or technological devices (+1), proficiency with tinker’s tools (+1), and can construct a tiny clockwork device (+1) – total +4

Original: genetic +4-1, cultural +3, subrace +3–5 = total +9-11/20 (4.5-5.5)

Revised: genetic +4-1, cultural +3, subrace +3–4 = total +9-10/17 (5.3-5.9)

Detect Balance: 23-24/47 (4.9-5.1)

Notes: I originally missed the Intelligence +2 until comparing against Detect Balance, so my previous posts undervalued the gnomes. Now I’ve added that back in it’s in the same ballpark as Detect Balance.

Goblin

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Guildmasters’s Guide to Ravnica, Eberron: Rising from the Last War, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

  • Genetic: small size, age 8-60, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), Disengage or Hide as bonus action (+3), fury of the small (+1) – total +5
  • Cultural: Dexterity +2 (+2), Constitution +1 (+1), additional language Goblin (+1) – total +6

Original: genetic +5, cultural +4 = total +9/20 (4.5)

Revised: genetic +5, cultural +4 = total +9/17 (5.3)

Detect Balance: 26/47 (5.5)

Notes: Fairly similar relative ratings.

Goliath

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Elemental Evil, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

Goliaths are hulking wanderers from the mountains.

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens-80s, speed 30′, reduce damage 1/rest (+1), powerful carrying (+1), acclimated to altitude and cold (+2) – total +4
  • Cultural: Strength +2 (+2), Constitution +1 (+1), proficiency in Athletics (+2), additional language Giant (+1) – total +6

Original: genetic +4, cultural +6 = total +10/20 (5.0)

Revised: genetic +4, cultural +6 = total +10/17 (5.9)

Detect Balance: 24/47 (5.1)

Notes: Fairly similar relative ratings.

Half-elf

Source(s): Basic Rules/Player’s Handbook

  • Genetic: medium size, age 20-180, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), fey ancestry (+2) – total +3
  • Cultural: Charisma +2 (+2) plus +1 to two other ability scores (+2), proficiency in two skills of choice (+4), additional language elvish plus one of choice (+2) – total +10

Original: genetic +6, cultural +10 = total +16/20 (8.0)

Revised: genetic +3, cultural +10 = total +13/17 (7.6)

Detect Balance: 29/47 (6.2)

Notes: Like the elf, this is another place where I rate significantly higher, mainly because I reckon the fey ancestry (advantage on saving throws against charm and immune to magical sleep) has more impact, and also rate the proficiencies higher.

Halfling

Source(s): Basic Rules/Player’s Handbook

  • Genetic: small size, age: 20-150, decreased speed (25′) (-1), move through the space of any creature larger (+1), lucky (+1), advantage on saving throws against being frightened (+1) – total +3-1
    • Stout: advantage on saving throws against poison, resistance against poison (+2) – total +2
  • Cultural: Dexterity (+2), additional language halfling (+1) – total +3
    • Lightfoot: Charisma +1 (+1), can hide when obscured only by another (larger) creature (+1) – total +2
    • Stout: Constitution +1 – total +1

Original: genetic +4-1, cultural +3, subrace +2–3 = total +8-9/20 (4.0-4.5)

Revised: genetic +3-1, cultural +3, subrace +2–3 = total +7-8/17 (4.1-4.7)

Detect Balance: 23-24/47 (4.9-5.1)

Source(s): Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
  • Lotusden Halfling: Wisdom +1 (+1), druidcraft cantrip, entangle at level 3, spike growth at level 5 (+2), disadvantage when tracked (+1), move across difficult non-magical plant/undergrowth as normal (+1) – total +5(+5) = +10

Original: genetic +4-1, cultural +3, subrace +5 = total +11/20 (5.5)

Revised: genetic +3-1, cultural +3, subrace +5 = total +10/17 (5.9)

Notes: not as overpowered as the new Wildemount elves, but the Lotusden halflings are definitely more featured than the originals.

Half-orc

Source(s): Basic Rules/Player’s Handbook

  • Genetic: medium size, age 14-75, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), when reduced to 0 hp and not killed outright, can drop to 1hp (1/long rest) (+2), +1 damage dice/critical hit (+1) – total +4
  • Cultural: Strength +2 (+2), Constitution +1 (+1), proficiency in Intimidation (+2), additional language Orc (+1) – total +6

Original: genetic +6, cultural +6 = total +12/20 (6.0)

Revised: genetic +4, cultural +6 = total +10/17 (5.9)

Detect Balance: 24/47 (5.1)

Notes: a fair difference here as well. Again mainly the proficiency and the language.

Hexblood

Source(s): Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft

  • Genetic: Fey, small or medium size, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), eerie token (+2) – total +3
  • Cultural: ancestral legacy or proficiency in two skills (+4), hex magic (+2) – total +6

Original: genetic +4, cultural +6 = total +10/20 (5.0)

Revised: genetic +3, cultural +6 = total +9/17 (5.3)

Detect Balance: not rated

Hobgoblin

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Eberron: Rising from the Last War, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens-100, speed 30′, darkvision (+1) – total +1
  • Cultural: Constitution +2 (+2), Intelligence +1 (+1), proficient with 2 martial weapons and light armour (+2), bonus from allies (+1), additional language goblin (+1) – total +7

Original: genetic +2, cultural +7 = total +9/20 (4.5)

Revised: genetic +1, cultural +7 = total +8/17 (4.7)

Detect Balance: 25/47 (5.3)

Human

Source(s): Basic Rules/Player’s Handbook

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens-100, speed 30′ – total +0
  • Cultural: +1 to all ability scores (+6), one additional language of choice (+1) – total +7

Original: genetic +0, cultural +7 = total +7/20 (3.5)

Revised: genetic +0, cultural +7 = total +7/17 (4.1)

Detect Balance: 17/47 (3.6)

Human (Variant)

Source(s): Basic Rules/Player’s Handbook

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens-100, speed 30′ – total +0
  • Cultural: +1 to all ability scores (+6) or +1 to two ability scores (+2) plus a feat (+4) and proficiency in one skill (+2), one additional language of choice (+1) – total +9

Original: genetic +0, cultural +7 = total +7/20 (3.5)

Revised: genetic +0, cultural +9 = total +9/17 (5.3)

Detect Balance: 33/47 (7.0)

Notes: This is where I disagree most with Detect Balance. The bulk of the score here is a massive +20 for the feat. As discussed above, while I agree they are better than a proficiency, I really don’t see any of them having that massive an impact on a campaign viewed as a whole. If it rated the feat as +8 (major feature) rather than making it a huge exception, it would come in at a total of 21/47 (4.5) which is more in line with my rating.

Kalashtar

Source(s): Eberron: Rising from the Last War

Kalashtar are humanoids bound to spirits from the plane of dreams, imbued with wisdom and telepathic talent.

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens-100, speed 30′, advantage on Wisdom saving throws (+2) resistance to psychic damage (+1), speak telepathically (+2), immune to magic that requires dreaming (+1) – total +8
  • Cultural: Wisdom +2 (+2), Charisma +1 (+1), additional language Quori plus one of choice (+1) – total +5

Original: genetic +8, cultural +5 = total +13/20 (6.5)

Revised: genetic +6, cultural +4 = total +10/17 (5.9)

Detect Balance: 28/47 (6.0)

Notes: I’ve counted Quori + 1 as only +1 because (at least in my experience) Quori is rare. I’ve also downgraded the psychic resistance because of its rarity (as does Detect Balance).

Kenku

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

Kenku are cursed birdfolk.

  • Genetic: medium size, age 12-60, speed 30′, mimicry (+2), can only communicate using mimicry (-4) – total -2
  • Cultural: Dexterity +2 (+2), Wisdom +1 (+1), proficiency in forgery (+1) plus two of Acrobatics, Deception, Stealth, Sleight of Hand (+4), additional language Auran (+1) – total +9

Original: genetic +2-2, cultural +9 = total +9/20 (4.5)

Revised: genetic +2-4, cultural +9 = total +7/17 (4.1)

Detect Balance: 21/47 (4.5)

Notes: only being able to communicate through mimicry seems a very severe handicap to me. Only create a character with this race if you really want that challenge, and make sure your GM is happy to work with it!

Kobold

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters

  • Genetic: small size, age 6-120, speed 30′, Strength -2 (-2), darkvision (+1), sunlight sensitivity (-2) – total -3
  • Cultural: Dexterity +2 (+2), cower (+2), pack tactics (+2), additional language Draconic (+1) – total +7

Original: genetic +2-4, cultural +7 = total +5/20 (2.5)

Revised: genetic +1-4, cultural +7 = total +4/17 (2.4)

Detect Balance: 16/47 (3.4)

Notes: Detect Balance rates the Pack Tactics as major (+8); I’m not convinced. Significant, yes, but not by that much.

Leonin

Source(s): Mythic Odysseys of Theros

Leonin are proud lion-like hunters.

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens to 100,, speed 35′ (+1), darkvision (+1), Claws (+1), Daunting Roar (+2) – total +5
  • Cultural: Constitution +2 (+2), Strength +1 (+1), proficiency in Athletics, Intimidation, Perception or Survival (+2), additional language Leonin (+1) – total +6

Original: genetic +6, cultural +6 = total +12/20 (6.0)

Revised: genetic +5, cultural +6 = total +11/17 (6.5)

Detect Balance: not rated

Lizardfolk

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters

Lizardfolk live in swamps.

  • Genetic: medium size, age 14-60, speed 30′, swimming speed 30′ (+2), Bite (+1), hold breath for up to 15 minutes (+2), natural armour AC13 (+1), hungry jaws (+1) – total +7
  • Cultural: Constitution +2 (+2), Wisdom +1 (+1), artisan (+1), proficiency with two skills (+4), additional language Draconic (+1) – total +9

Original: genetic +7, cultural +9 = total +16/20 (8.0)

Revised: genetic +7, cultural +9 = total +16/17 (9.4)

Detect Balance: 29/47 (6.2)

Notes: by my ratings these come out as very overpowered, with the swimming speed, being able to hold their breath, natural armour, a bonus attack and two proficiencies. Detect Balance considers the swimming, holding breath and proficiencies of less impact than I do. Your choice…

The text does describe them as constitutionally unemotional, so beware of that if thinking of playing one.

Loxodon

Source(s): Guildmasters’s Guide to Ravnica

Loxodons resemble humanoid elephants.

  • Genetic: medium size, age 60-450, speed 30′, powerful carrying (+1), natural armour AC12 (+1), trunk (+1), advantage on checks involving smell (+2) – total +5
  • Cultural: Constitution +2 (+2), Wisdom +1 (+1), advantage on saving throws vs being charmed or frightened (+2), additional language Loxodon (+1) – total +6

Original: genetic +5, cultural +6 = total +11/20 (5.5)

Revised: genetic +5, cultural +6 = total +11/17 (6.5)

Detect Balance: not rated

Notes: the rating hasn’t changed, but the maximum has so it has a higher relative rating in the revised system.

Minotaur

Source(s): Guildmasters’s Guide to Ravnica, Mythic Odysseys of Theros

  • Genetic: medium size, age not specified, speed 30′, horns (+1), goring rush (+1), bonus shove (+1) – total +4
  • Cultural: Strength +2 (+2), Constitution +1 (+1), proficiency in Intimidation or Persuasion (+2), additional language Minotaur (1) – total +6

Original: genetic +4, cultural +6 = total +10/20 (5.0)

Revised: genetic +3, cultural +6 = total +9/17 (5.3)

Detect Balance: 20/47 (4.3)

Notes: Detect Balance doesn’t value the skill proficiency, and gives a penalty for “Hybrid Nature” (whatever that is).

Orc

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters

  • Genetic: medium size, age 12-50, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), aggressive (+1), powerful carrying (+1) – total +4
  • Cultural: Strength +2 (+2), Constitution +1 (+1), Intelligence -2 (-2), proficient in Intimidation (+2), additional language Orc (+1) – total +4

Original: genetic +4, cultural +6-2 = total +8/20 (4.0)

Revised: genetic +3, cultural +6-2 = total +7/17 (4.1)

Detect Balance: 18/47 (3.8)

Orc (Eberron/Wildemount)

Source(s): Eberron: Rising from the Last War, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

Orcs, along with their half-orc kin, are a fierce people who have fought world-threatening evils for centuries. Eberron/Wildemount orcs have different skill proficiencies, and lose the Intelligence penalty.

  • Genetic: medium size, age 12-50, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), aggressive (+1), powerful carrying (+1) – total +4
  • Cultural: Strength +2 (+2), Constitution +1 (+1), proficient in two of Animal Handling, Insight, Intimidation, Medicine, Nature, Perception and Survival (+4), additional language Orc (+1) – total +8

Original: genetic +4, cultural +8 = total +12/20 (6.0)

Revised: genetic +3, cultural +8 = total +11/17 (6.5)

Detect Balance: not rated

Notes: Interesting that they came up with this revised Orc which doesn’t have the innate evil nature and loses the Intelligence penalty, so it’s a less politically charged race.

Reborn

Source(s): Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft

  • Genetic: small or medium size, speed 30′, resistance to poison and disease (+2), advantage on death saving throws (+2), don’t need to eat, drink or breathe (+4), don’t need to sleep and magic can’t put you to sleep (+2), long rest 4 hours (+1), past life knowledge (+2) – total +12
  • Cultural: ancestral legacy or proficiency in two skills (+4) – total +4

Original: genetic +10, cultural +4 = total +14/20 (7.0)

Revised: genetic +12, cultural +4 = total +16/17 (9.4)

Detect Balance: not rated

Notes: this is a very powerful race given the lack of breathing, immunity to magical sleep, resistance to poison and advantage on death saving throws, and this is one race which has gone up in the revised ratings. The back story has a tortured lack of knowledge, but that is for role-playing rather than having an impact on mechanics.

Satyr

Source(s): Mythic Odysseys of Theros

Similar to humans with goatlike horns, pointed ear and furred lower bodies.

  • Genetic: Fey medium size, age teens-100, speed 35′ (+1), darkvision (+1), Ram (+1), magic resistance (+2), extended leap (+1) – total +6
  • Cultural: Charisma +2 (+2), Dexterity +1 (+1), proficiency in Performance, Persuasion and one musical instrument (+5), additional language Sylvan (+1) – total +9

Original: genetic +7, cultural +9 = total +16/20 (8.0)

Revised: genetic +6, cultural +9 = total +15/17 (8.8)

Detect Balance: not rated

Notes: another very powerful class, particularly with the magic resistance. No doubt Detect Balance would rate the proficiencies lower…

Shifter

Source(s): Eberron: Rising from the Last War

Shifters draw on their distant lycanthropic heritage to manifest bestial traits for short periods of time.

  • Genetic: medium size, age 10-70, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), Shifting (+2) – total +3
  • Cultural: none – total +0
  • Subraces:
    • Beasthide: Constition +2 (+2), Strength +1 (+1), proficiency in Athletics (+2), Shifting (as above) – total +5
    • Longtooth: Strength +2 (+2), Dexterity +1 (+1), proficient in Intimidation (+2), Shifting (as above) – total +5
    • Swiftstride: Dexterity +2 (+2), Charisma +1 (+1), proficient in Acrobatics (+2), Shifting (as above) – total +5
    • Wildhunt: Wisdom +2 (+2), Dexterity +1 (+1), proficient in Survival (+2), Shifting (as above) – total +5

Original: genetic +4, cultural +0, subrace +5 = total +9/20 (4.5)

Revised: genetic +3, cultural +0, subrace +5 = total +8/17 (4.7)

Detect Balance: not rated

Simic Hybrid

Source(s): Guildmasters’s Guide to Ravnica

Simic hybrids merge the qualities of certain animal species with human, elf or vedalken.

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens-80, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), animal enhancement (+4) – total +5
  • Cultural: Constitution +2 (+2), one other ability +1 (+1), additional language Elvish or Vedalken (+1) – total +4

Original: genetic +6, cultural +4 = total +10/20 (5.0)

Revised: genetic +5, cultural +4 = total +9/17 (5.3)

Detect Balance: not rated

Tabaxi

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

Tabaxi are curious cat-folk.

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens-100, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), double speed (+2), climbing speed 20′ (+1), claws (+1) – total +6
  • Cultural: Dexterity +2 (+2), Charisma +1 (+1), proficiency in Perception and Stealth (+4), one additional language (+1) – total +8

Original: genetic +6, cultural +8 = total +14/20 (7.0)

Revised: genetic +5, cultural +8 = total +13/17 (7.6)

Detect Balance: 25/47 (5.3)

Notes: again Detect Balance doesn’t value the proficiencies, and considers the climbing speed trivial rather than minor.

Tasha custom

Source(s): Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

  • small or medium, speed 30′, ability +2 (+2), feat (+4), proficiency at one skill (+2), one additional language (+1) – total +9

Original: genetic +0, cultural +7 = total +7/20 (3.5)

Revised: genetic +0, cultural +9 = total +9/17 (5.3)

Detect Balance: not rated

Tiefling

Source(s): Basic Rules/Player’s Handbook

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens to ~100, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), resistance to fire damage (+2), thaumaturgy cantrip, hellish rebuke at level 3 (1/long rest), darkness at level 5 (1/long rest) (+2) – total +5
  • Cultural: additional language Infernal (+1) – total +1

Original: genetic +6, cultural +1 = total +7/20 (3.5)

Revised: genetic +5, cultural +1 = total +6/17 (3.5)

Detect Balance: 23/47 (4.9)

Notes: Detect Balance gives the Tiefling a +6 for “Standard Delayed Magic”. I don’t know what this refers to – I certainly don’t see it in my sources.  Without it, the rating would be 17/47 (3.6).

Tortle

Source(s): The Tortle Package, Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount

Tortles are tortoise-like humanoids with an innate connection to the sea

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens to ~100, speed 30′, claws (+1), hold breath (+2), natural armour AC17 (+2), shell defense (+1) – total +6
  • Cultural: Strength +2 (+2), Wisdom +1 (+1), proficiency in Survival (+2), additional language Aquan (+1) – total 6

Original: genetic +6, cultural +6 = total +12/20 (6.0)

Revised: genetic +6, cultural +6 = total +12/17 (7.1)

Detect Balance: 28/47 (6.0)

Triton

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters, Mythic Odysseys of Theros

Tritons are guardians of the ocean depths.

  • Genetic: medium size, age 15-200, speed 30′, swimming speed 30′ (+2), darkvision (+1), amphibious (+3), resistant to deep water and cold (+2) – total +8
  • Cultural: Strength +1 (+1), Constitution +1 (+1), Charisma +1 (+1), fog cloud/gust of wind/wall of water (+2), communicate with aquatic beasts (+1), additional language Primordial (+1) – total +7

Original: genetic +6, cultural +7 = total +13/20 (6.5)

Revised: genetic +8, cultural +7 = total +15/17 (8.8)

Detect Balance: 28/47 (6.0)

Notes: Detect Balance doesn’t particularly rate the swimming speed or amphibious. Darkvision was explicitly added in Mythic Odysseys of Theros (it was previously implicit in the Guardians of the Depths, but not obvious and many didn’t use it) – so it wasn’t explicit when the Detect Balance rating was calculated. This is another race which has actually gone up in the new ratings.

Vedalken

Source(s): Guildmasters’s Guide to Ravnica

Vedalken are tall, blue-skinned and ingenious.

  • Genetic: medium size, age 40-350/500, speed 30′, partially amphibious (+2) – total +2
  • Cultural: Intelligence +2 (+2), Wisdom +1 (+1), advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma saving throws (+2), enhanced proficiency in a skill and with a tool (+3), additional languages Vedalken plus one other (+2) – total +10

Original: genetic +2, cultural +12 = total +14/20 (7.0)

Revised: genetic +2, cultural +10 = total +12/17 (7.1)

Detect Balance: not rated

Warforged

Source(s): Eberron: Rising from the Last War

Warforged are artificial lifeforms built to fight in the Last War. Created as tools of battle, they now seek a place and purpose beyond war.

  • Genetic: medium size, age typically 2-30 (max unknown), speed 30′, advantage/resistance against poison and disease (+2), no need to eat, drink or breathe (+4), can’t be put to sleep (+2), conscious during long rest (+1), AC bonus +1 (+1) – total +10
  • Cultural: Constitution +2 (+2), one other ability score +1 (+1), proficient in one skill (+2) and one tool (+1), one additional language (+1) – total +7

Original: genetic +8, cultural +8 = total +16/20 (8.0)

Revised: genetic +10, cultural +7 = total +17/17 (10.0)

Detect Balance: 39/47 (8.3)

Notes: with all its immunities, this is another very powerful race, and (ignoring the two Wildemount elven subraces) has always been the highest rated.

Yuan-Ti Pureblood

Source(s): Volo’s Guide to Monsters

  • Genetic: medium size, age teens-100, speed 30′, darkvision (+1), magic resistance (+2), poison immunity (+3) – total +6
  • Cultural: Charisma +2 (+2), Intelligence +1 (+1), innate spellcasting (+2), additional languages Abyssal and Draconic (+2) – total +7

Original: genetic +8, cultural +8 = total +16/20 (8.0)

Revised: genetic +6, cultural +7 = total +13/17 (7.6)

Detect Balance: 47/47 (10.0)

Notes: This is the highest Detect Balance race, mainly due to giving Magic Resistance a massive +19, and again a +6 for “Delayed Magic” which I can’t find the source for. However, event without those its resistances and immunities make it pretty powerful. Remember the emotionless description in the text, though – quite tricky to role-play.

Overall ratings

So here are the updated ratings:

RaceGeneticCulturalSubraceTotal
Aarakocra+5-1+4+10-1 = +9
Aasimar+6+4+2-4+12-14
Bugbear+4+8+12
Centaur+6-2+6+12-2 = +10
Changeling+3+9+12
Dhampir+10-2+4+14-2 = +12
Dragonborn+4+4+8
Dragonborn – Draconblood+3+5+8
Dragonborn – Ravenite+3+5+8
Dwarf+4-1+7+3+14-1 = +13
Elf+4+5+5+14
Elf (Wildemount)+4+5+7-8+16-17
Firbolg+2+7+9
Genasi+0+3+3-7+6-10
Gnome+4-1+3+3–4+10–11 – 1 = +9–10
Goblin+2+7+9
Goliath+4+6+10
Half-elf+3+10+13
Halfling+3-1+3+2–3+8–9 – 1 = +7–8
Halfling (Wildemount)+3-1+3+5+11-1 = +10
Half-orc+4+6+10
Hexblood+3+6+9
Hobgoblin+1+7+8
Human+0+7+7
Human (Variant)+0+9+9
Kalashtar+6+4+10
Kenku+2-4+9+11-4 =  +7
Kobold+1-4+7+8-4 = +4
Leonin+5+6+12
Lizardfolk+7+9+16
Loxodon+5+6+11
Minotaur+3+6+9
Orc+3+6-2+9-2 = +7
Extended Orc+3+8+11
Reborn+12+4+16
Satyr+6+9+15
Shifter3+0+5+8
Simic Hybrid+5+4+9
Tabaxi+5+8+13
Tasha custom+0+9+9
Tiefling+5+1+6
Tortle+6+6+12
Triton+8+7+15
Vedalken+2+10+12
Warforged+10+7+17
Yuan-Ti Pureblood+6+7+13

Comparison tables

Here are the comparisons in alphabetical order:

RaceOriginalRelativeRevisedRelativeDetect
Balance
DB Relative
Aarakocra84.084.7418.7
Aasimar – Protector136.5148.2316.6
Aasimar – Scourge126.0116.5326.8
Aasimar – Fallen136.5137.6326.8
Bugbear126.0127.1306.4
Centaur105.095.3275.7
Changeling115.5127.1286.0
Dhampir126.0127.1 
Dragonborn84.084.7214.5
Dragonborn – Draconblood94.584.7  
Dragonborn – Ravenite94.584.7  
Dwarf – Hill dwarf157.5137.6296.2
Dwarf – Mountain dwarf157.5137.6306.4
Elf – High elf168.0148.2275.7
Elf – Wood elf168.0148.2286.0
Elf – Drow147.0137.6275.7
Elf – Pallid elf189.0169.4 
Elf – Sea elf2010.01710.0306.4
Firbolg94.595.3265.5
Genasi – Air73.584.7204.3
Genasi – Earth63.063.5194.0
Genasi – Fire94.584.7245.1
Genasi – Water105.0105.9255.3
Gnome – Forest gnome94.595.3245.1
Gnome – Rock gnome115.5105.9234.9
Goblin94.595.3265.5
Goliath105.0105.9245.1
Half-elf168.0137.6296.2
Halfling – Lightfoot84.074.1234.9
Halfling – Stout94.584.7245.1
Halfling – Lotusden115.5105.9 
Half-orc126.0105.9245.1
Hexblood105.095.3 
Hobgoblin94.584.7255.3
Human73.574.1173.6
Human (Variant)73.595.3337.0
Kalashtar136.5105.9286.0
Kenku94.574.1214.5
Kobold52.542.4163.4
Leonin126.0116.5 
Lizardfolk168.0169.4296.2
Loxodon115.5116.5 
Minotaur105.095.3204.3
Orc84.074.1183.8
Extended Orc126.0116.5  
Reborn147.0169.4  
Satyr168.0158.8  
Shifter – Besthide115.584.7  
Shifter – Longtooth115.584.7  
Shifter – Swiftstride115.584.7  
Shifter – Wildhunt115.584.7  
Simic Hybrid105.095.3  
Tabaxi147.0137.6255.3
Tasha custom73.595.3 
Tiefling73.563.5234.9
Tortle126.0127.1286.0
Triton136.5158.8286.0
Vedalken147.0127.1 
Warforged168.01710.0398.3
Yuan-Ti Pureblood168.0137.64710.0

Ordered by revised rating

Here are the comparisons ordered by revised rating (smallest to largest):

RaceOriginalRelativeRevisedRelativeDetect
Balance
DB Relative
Kobold52.542.4163.4
Genasi – Earth63.063.5194.0
Tiefling73.563.5234.9
Human73.574.1173.6
Halfling – Lightfoot84.074.1234.9
Orc84.074.1183.8
Kenku94.574.1214.5
Genasi – Air73.584.7204.3
Aarakocra84.084.7418.7
Dragonborn84.084.7214.5
Dragonborn – Draconblood94.584.7 
Dragonborn – Ravenite94.584.7 
Genasi – Fire94.584.7245.1
Halfling – Stout94.584.7245.1
Hobgoblin94.584.7255.3
Shifter – Besthide115.584.7 
Shifter – Longtooth115.584.7 
Shifter – Swiftstride115.584.7 
Shifter – Wildhunt115.584.7 
Human (Variant)73.595.3337.0
Tasha custom73.595.3 
Firbolg94.595.3265.5
Gnome – Forest gnome94.595.3245.1
Goblin94.595.3265.5
Centaur105.095.3275.7
Hexblood105.095.3 
Minotaur105.095.3204.3
Simic Hybrid105.095.3 
Genasi – Water105.0105.9255.3
Goliath105.0105.9245.1
Gnome – Rock gnome115.5105.9234.9
Halfling – Lotusden115.5105.9 
Half-orc126.0105.9245.1
Kalashtar136.5105.9286.0
Loxodon115.5116.5 
Aasimar – Scourge126.0116.5326.8
Leonin126.0116.5 
Extended Orc126.0116.5 
Changeling115.5127.1286.0
Bugbear126.0127.1306.4
Dhampir126.0127.1 
Tortle126.0127.1286.0
Vedalken147.0127.1 
Aasimar – Fallen136.5137.6326.8
Elf – Drow147.0137.6275.7
Tabaxi147.0137.6255.3
Dwarf – Hill dwarf157.5137.6296.2
Dwarf – Mountain dwarf157.5137.6306.4
Half-elf168.0137.6296.2
Yuan-Ti Pureblood168.0137.64710.0
Aasimar – Protector136.5148.2316.6
Elf – High elf168.0148.2275.7
Elf – Wood elf168.0148.2286.0
Triton136.5158.8286.0
Satyr168.0158.8 
Reborn147.0169.4 
Lizardfolk168.0169.4296.2
Elf – Pallid elf189.0169.4 
Warforged168.01710.0398.3
Elf – Sea elf2010.01710.0306.4

Ordered by Detect Balance rating

And here are the comparisons ordered by the Detect Balance rating (note there are fewer here because not all of the races have a rating in Detect Balance at time of writing):

RaceOriginalRelativeRevisedRelativeDetect
Balance
DB Relative
Kobold52.542.4163.4
Human73.574.1173.6
Orc84.074.1183.8
Genasi – Earth63.063.5194.0
Genasi – Air73.584.7204.3
Minotaur105.095.3204.3
Kenku94.574.1214.5
Dragonborn84.084.7214.5
Tiefling73.563.5234.9
Halfling – Lightfoot84.074.1234.9
Gnome – Rock gnome115.5105.9234.9
Genasi – Fire94.584.7245.1
Halfling – Stout94.584.7245.1
Gnome – Forest gnome94.595.3245.1
Goliath105.0105.9245.1
Half-orc126.0105.9245.1
Hobgoblin94.584.7255.3
Genasi – Water105.0105.9255.3
Tabaxi147.0137.6255.3
Firbolg94.595.3265.5
Goblin94.595.3265.5
Centaur105.095.3275.7
Elf – Drow147.0137.6275.7
Elf – High elf168.0148.2275.7
Kalashtar136.5105.9286.0
Changeling115.5127.1286.0
Tortle126.0127.1286.0
Elf – Wood elf168.0148.2286.0
Triton136.5158.8286.0
Dwarf – Hill dwarf157.5137.6296.2
Half-elf168.0137.6296.2
Lizardfolk168.0169.4296.2
Bugbear126.0127.1306.4
Dwarf – Mountain dwarf157.5137.6306.4
Elf – Sea elf2010.01710.0306.4
Aasimar – Protector136.5148.2316.6
Aasimar – Scourge126.0116.5326.8
Aasimar – Fallen136.5137.6326.8
Human (Variant)73.595.3337.0
Warforged168.01710.0398.3
Aarakocra84.084.7418.7
Yuan-Ti Pureblood168.0137.64710.0

Conclusions

There isn’t as much difference (in relative rating) between my ratings and the Detect Balance ratings as I originally thought. There are a few major discrepancies, in particular the feats, but I have already covered that quite comprehensively…

And with that I’ve had enough of looking at the races. In the process of compiling these final tables I noticed a few other sources which I haven’t yet included – the Feral Tiefling from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, the Gith from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, the Verdan from Acquisitions Inc, the Locathah from Locathah Rising and the Grung from One Grung Above, plus some Unearthed Arcana races, but I’m going to take a break from this series before I go back and look at them. You can see them on the races page on D&D Beyond.

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