The Problems with Race Leveling


As D&D moves away from tying ability scores to race, the design is trending towards including more robust and flavorful racial features. This makes sense…except when it doesn’t. Recently, the 5e design team has leaned more heavily into racial features that provide new benefits when your character levels up.

These features have two problems:

  1. They don’t make sense.
  2. They are troublesome for players.

A Tale As Old As Time

Now, let’s not pretend this is a new development.

The Elf was originally a class in 1e/basic. But, this design was quickly dumped when class and race were separated in 1977. No longer can you take a level in a race when you level up.

Kind of.

In fact, this design has crept back in; it exists in core 5e. Since the Player’s Handbook, the Tiefling has had scaled racial features that give you new spells when you level up. We…

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