Wasted: Homebrew Review
10 June 2018
Lightborn (5e race)
Author(s) Unknown (apparently adapted from Mark Hulmes)
First up for our Homebrew Review is this race from dandwiki (yes, I know, shooting fish in a barrel) that I came across on Reddit. I couldn't track down a specific author for this one - I did find a reference to a Yogscast stream in the edit history of the article, but following that trail back leads to a somewhat different version.
The version we're looking at appears to have been heavily modified by several anonymous authors and given the dandwiki special treatment of badly conceived features and terrible writing.
So! Who are the Lightborn? Let's see what the page says.
Lightborn are humans who are somehow infused with positive energy. They are typically brave and noble heroes. Native outsiders that had in their blood some good, otherworldly characteristics. They were often, but not always, descended from angels and other creatures of pure good alignment, although some are self righteous over-zealots who take drastic steps for the "greater good" and are by no means always good.
Okay, so it looks like this is another in the series of "humans with weird blood" races, like the Tiefling, the Aasimar and so forth. Wait a minute... they do sound a lot like Aasimar. Hmm. Let's look at the Forgotten Realms Wiki and see how similar they really are.
Aasimar, derived from the Mulhorandi word aasimon, were human-based planetouched, native outsiders that had in their blood some good, otherworldly characteristics. They were often, but not always, descended from angels and other creatures of pure good alignment, but while predisposed to good alignments, aasimar were by no means always good.
Oh, I see! They are basically just Aasimar then, right down to the copy pasted summary. Good to know for future comparison. What other flavour do we get?
Lightborn are indistinguishable from humans although when they use their abilities, their hair glows gold. Exceptionally rare throughout Toril, And or Eberron and, as such, had no true cities or societies of their own a LightBorn could live for the whole of their life's without ever meeting another of their kind and, as such, were resigned to living amongst other races alone.
Not content with aasimar-like features, we're going for glowing golden hair! Sure to get you noticed at parties - or by senpai. You'll need it, though, because apparently you're a loner with no friends. I've had to rewrite this paragraph three times because I inadvertantly started writing the intro to my new young adult fiction series.
In all fairness I'm being too mean here - playing loner outsiders with special qualities is a fantasy staple precisely because most of us do this silly hobby for escapism. Who doesn't want to play a character who is more interesting and special than we feel in real life? With this race that's definitely what you're getting, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that.
Let's kick off the traits by taking a look at their stats. We start with +2 to CHA and +1 CON. This is pretty decent, particularly for Sorcerers and Warlocks who could do with more HP and better concentration checks. A pretty standard +2/+1 distribution, so at least we're not getting off the rails here.
The age section caught my eye:
Lightborn mature at the same rate as humans or their defining race but slowly stop aging. They rarely look older then fifty, but can live hundreds of years.
This is very distinct from the more official version which says they live for about the same amount of time as humans but don't age as visibly. Do these Lightborn just never die of old age?
I'm going to be charitable to the speed section and assume their speed is 35ft. The entry says "Their base walking speed is + 5 ft to the base land speed." which I guess could mean all number of other things - but let's go with the more sane interpretation. 35ft speed is pretty decent; we're in Wood Elf territory here. It's not so high as to be broken but a positive feature in the right kind of game.
As for languages, apparently "Like humans, Lightborn can speak common, celestial and one other language." Since humans can't speak Celestial by default I'm going to be charitable here and assume that the human comparison was simply to Common. But everyone speaks Common, so why make that comparison?
Next up is this chestnut of a trait:
You have advantage on saving throws against being frightened,intimidation,and Death saves.
Advantage on saves vs fear is a pretty solid benefit and a decent racial trait, but advantage on all Intimidation checks? That's strong and very weird to include here. And advantage on Death Saves too?
This trait is both all over the place thematically and probably broken. How does being brave stop you from bleeding to death? This feels like someone just dumped a bunch of extra abilities into this trait so they could get what they wanted from their character concept.
You gain proficiency in the persuasion and Healing skills.
Proficiency in skills is pretty common, so this isn't too bad. Persuasion and (I assume) Medicine aren't the strongest skills in the game either. Whether this belongs alongside all the other traits is a different question.
Finally we get on to yet more features (this race has a lot) that are level locked. This isn't entirely unusual, a number of races pick up some extra stuff (usually in the form of spells) at later levels. This race gets a lot of them though. Like, a whole bunch.
Hope Never Dies.
At 3rd level If you are reduced to 0 hit points, you can choose to be reduced to one hit point instead. When this ability is used, your hair glows bright gold in a radius of 10 ft. for one minute. This Ability can only be used once per long rest.
You know the Light cantrip.
At 5th level, you can cloak your self in a magical Aura. This spell functions as a paladins "Aura of protection". Charisma is your spell casting ability for these spells.
At 5th level you cast the Beacon of Hope spell equal to 1/2 your Charisma Modifier.
Improved Radiant Spirit.
At 15th level you control you fear so well that you are now able to expand your Aura to add the "Aura of Courage" ability to it as well and extend the range to 15ft circle.
Free Paladin auras! As a racial trait! And Aura of Protection before the Paladin even gets it as a class feature! Wow this is broken. The trait claims that the aura acts like a spell, but it doesn't say what this means or how that works (is there a duration? how often can you cast it? does it take concentration?). Presumably it can be targeted by Dispel Magic or something similar, but who knows what was intended here.
The additional spellcasting on top of this is pretty powerful too. Admittedly you won't be casting too many Beacon of Hopes (remember kids: Always Round Down) but it's still a free third level spell or two per day.
I am beginning to suspect whoever wrote this just really didn't want their character to die. Getting +1 CON, a Magical Girl version of Relentless Endurance at level 3, and advantage (and +CHA modifier once you get to level 5) on Death Saves, should mean these characters are relatively difficult to kill off. Oh and remember the part where you don't die of old age? That makes more sense now I guess.
No subraces for these guys, so nothing to review there.
Okay, so you have your special sparkly definitely-not-Aasimar goodness, some spellcasting, and various abilities that mean you don't have to worry too much about either fear or dying. Oh and you're faster than normal people, get important abilities sooner than a Paladin, and some skill proficiencies as well as advantage on Intimidation. That's a lot of stuff to pack into a race that sorta already exists in official material.
The verdict? It's pretty obviously unbalanced. Fortunately it's not the literal worst and is probably fixable by rewriting them to be more rules-friendly (and less paladin-unfriendly), perhaps by straight up removing a few of the traits and rewriting the rest.
Some of the abilities fit the flavour, but others don't (why are they faster than everyone else?). In general it's a bit of a mess, and you're better off playing an Aasimar.