Since my weekend is full, I’m just posting small posts for those days, even though I’m writing about a big theme behind the scenes, which analyses the strength and weakness of a certain class compared to another. And a second one, which I accidentally posted, since I missed the Draft button, so sorry for the trouble, my few followers… it’s still not time to conquer the world! We need more!!! 😉
For now, we make it simple and talk about a single little thing: How the normal human is endangered by the human variant!
Most players will choose the variant, since +1 on all ability scores are less impressive than +1 to two abilities, an additional skill proficiency and a feat (which could get you another +1 bonus to an ability). And they’re mostly right to do so, since most classes needs only some ability points, it reminds more of the human in 3e and 4e, the fact that, since humans are considered as the standard, other races seems to be under the line more dumb/weak/ugly than normal, etc.
The normal human is the result of wanting to have the option of a simple game for those who wants and especially for starters. Most of the new 5e players are already used to at least one edition of the game, more complicity doesn’t matter.
But it doesn’t have to mean, that the normal human is less good. In D&D 5e more acceptable abilities have more weight, since you won’t be hopelessly outclassed by another character in these regards and anything could become a save and then you want to use every modifier you have.
Sadly the modifier is the most important thing about a score, so to get more bonuses, so we need as much odd values as possible, so we either roll or point-buy to make a normal human strong. Since rolling is too variant, let’s go point-buy, in this case I’d use this basic: 15, 13, 13, 12, 11, 9. The reason: Every class should be good at one ability and a 13 can be more useful than an 11 (if you upgrade the 9 to 10). So you have one good ability score, 2 secondary, two acceptable and one moderate.
As a fighter it could be: 16, 14, 14, 13, 10, 12 and that statline could be a 1st level Roy Greenhilt of Order of the Stick, a not all brute fighter, who knows a bit of tactics, but tends to do some rash decisions, when things becomes chaotic and sometimes not for the better.
Will this be better as the variant? It’s about point of view, because it won’t make you better at your class at all. To be a better fighter (or wizard or anything else), specialization always beats generalization. But these aren’t the only things important, because maybe you want to have your fighter be the leader of the party or have a more believable hero/person, etc.
And of course you’re less depended on other characters outside combat and have above average chances in most saves, since proficiency often goes to saves which are you main and secondary abilities.
Would I play a normal human myself? Fighter: Definitely, 7 ability score improvements means that I can actually get more than enough feats during the game and that’d be a knight, so I’ll need some more ability scores in everything! Other classes? As long they benefit with multiple abilities, like the Ranger or the Monk.
The normal human is less customizable and the strength of feats is the real deal, so it shouldn’t be that strange that most gaming-groups will dismiss the normal human. But remember, that sometimes an unusual choice will bring unlikely happiness.