Gaming Tonic

What Race Should Be Next In D&D Next Open Play Test?, Poll Results

1e-racesIt has been about sixteen months since I got my first look at D&D Next or 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.  With the last open playtest release we had more classes, more levels, and more options but it occurred to me that there were less races than in that game Mike Mearls ran at the D&D Summit in December 2010.  Where was the half-orc?  I remembered half-orc.  I also remembered receiving material before the open playtest began and there was a half-orc template as an option.  I wrote about that here.  That was more than a year ago now.  So where were the other races in the open playtest?

So I started a new poll and asked, What Race Should Be Next in the D&D Next Open Playtest?  The votes are in and the results surprised me.  The classic races made a strong showing in the poll.  I'd have thought that the races from later editions would have been more popular even with the older gamers.  I'm a fan of a few myself.  Here are the results and my thoughts on each.

Half-elf had 48% of the vote so the fans of D&D have clearly decided what race should be next in the open playtest.  What should the half-elf look like mechanically considering what we have seen for the human and elf in the playtest material?  I could definitely see low-light vision and some choice of a couple ability bumps for the player to choose.  Then if there are sub-races options like there are for every other races so far we include a weapon package to choose from for elven heritage and maybe an additional plus one ability boost for human heritage.

19% of the readers chose half-orc and that doesn’t surprise me as much as the half-elf blowout because the half-orc has always had popularity amongst martial damage gamers.  Like I said, I wonder why we haven’t seen the half-orc yet when I the race in a rough state awhile ago.  When it comes to flushing out the race mechanically, the half-orc is not one that can be pinned down to a couple of iconic abilities.  This allows the designers to flex their mental muscles when creating half-orc abilities.  I think it has to be something more than some kind of charge ability or a damage bonus, unless the damage bonus affected all damage.  That keeps the half-orc a viable option for spell casters.

The race that I was sure would win was in a three way tie for third with 10% of the vote, the dragonborn.  Really I thought the race was more popular and a 4th Edition contingent would see there edition represented.  I love the dragonborn.  They have a breath weapon and can look either serpentine or bulky.  Having the opportunity to play a small dragon character with a more humanoid appearance is what some gamers might call good gaming.  It totally reminds me of Planet of the Apes but with dragons, when you wrap up in armor and ride a horse.  Players have been excited about the idea of playing a dragon man since the Dragonlance series first appeared and we saw draconians.

Also tied  for third with 10% of the vote was tiefling.  I saw quite a few tieflings in my 4th Edition experience, but the actual build and back story always bothered me, so it wasn’t something I felt necessary to play.  I like the idea that demons are extremely varied and all the tiefling worked pretty much the same as all other tieflings.  There were some racial options to differentiate characters a little, but not enough to make me interested.  I do hope something like this appears later on in D&D Next, but perhaps in a supplement or a Dragon article or series of articles, not in the core rulebook.

Gnome took 10% of the vote, and tied for third as well.  That makes me smile because I have always liked gnomes, even if many games have had a hard time figuring out just where to place the other small PC race.  Gnomes have been around the game for a long time but have never really seemed to have the appeal of halflings or dwarves.  From my experience gnomes have never really found their own identity in Dungeons & Dragons, although I have seen variants like the whisper gnome be favored for certain builds.  If and when the designers of D&D Next get around to the gnome PC race, based on the past it is anyone’s guess what they play like.  I hope it's more than talking to burrowing mammals.

The kenku had 5% of the vote which is not only surprising but wishful thinking by a couple of readers at least.  I have said it before the kenku remind me of Spy vs. Spy or that guy from Star Wars who told the Imperials where the droids were on Tatooine.  A flightless bird has never had much appeal to me, even if they are stealthy.  To me kenku come just ahead of shardmind and bladelings but behind shifters and warforged on the race I would like to see next.  I've nothing to say on how they might work mechanically because I have other things to think about.

I am surprised that shifter or warforged did not receive a single vote.  I figured at least someone would write in one of those races.  Both are pretty cool although I think shifter has more D&D potential than warforged, although I have a lot of awesome ways I have used the warforged in my previous campaigns.  That might be another article at some point.  If you didn't vote you can still tell me what you think in the comments section.  If you did vote feel free to elaborate on your vote.  Until next time, Roll Hard!

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  1. I’m surprised at half-elf being so high on the list. They’ve always struck me as a milquetoast entry into the fantasy races department.

    Tieflings, on the other hand, fit into the Bad Boy mold that so many love. Add in tails and you’re starting to target the Cat Girl market in an oblique way as well.

    • The sudden surge in Kenku popularity is probably due to Pathfinder featuring them in the race book. They’re weird, but still hit some really cool spots, like some of the “dark, gothic themes” with their raven looks. They’re quite a fresh thing as a playable race in tabletop games, but I see great future before them (and not just because I’m a sucker for bird-people).

  2. Half-elf has always been my favorite race, so I’m happy to see them at the top. I find them more fun to play than elves, who always seem so stuffy and boring. I like kenku well enough, but if I had two votes I’d definitely have given the other one to the shifter– the best race to come out of Eberron.

  3. Every race should be left out. We should play white sheets instead.

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