Musicus Meter (5e Guideline)

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This material is published on D&D Wiki under express written permission of James Musicus in collaboration with D&D Wiki users.

See a list of races that are using this meter here.

Musicus Meter

Based off revision 3-4-2016 of the Musicus document

Considerations

  • On D&D Wiki we use the Players Hand Book Errata over what is written in the Players Hand Book while the Musicus Meter's current revision does not. As such when this page was transcribed we switched the wording in several places to that used in the Errata.
  • When using and referencing Musicus's Meter it is imperative to remember that it is a guideline. Meaning that when using it as a general rule or principle for race creation you can normally create a comparatively balanced race that meets the standards of the D&D Wiki and WotC.
  • The next thing to consider afterwards is that as a guideline it doesn't always hit its mark and rely's on its user to be able to make the best judgements during creation as such be mindful that even races created using Musicus Meter may not meet the intended standards.

Step-by-Step Race Creation

  1. Consult the DMG pages 285-287 on Creating a Race
  2. Decide on a target score ranging from 4 (Volo's Kobold) to 8 (Dwarf). 5-6 is recommended.
  3. Assign a Primary Ability Score. This score gets +2.
  4. Decide on Secondary Ability Scores for Subraces. These scores get +1. If a race has no subraces, simply assign a +1 to their Secondary Ability Score.
  5. Decide on racial traits
    1. Select traits from the Table or list below or write your own and assign values to them. This process should work like a point-buy system using the costs listed. All costs are weighed against ability score improvements.
    2. Races get 2 languages for free: Common, and one other that is race-specific.
    3. If the total score (Traits + Ability Scores) is near your target, you’ve done everything right!
  6. Using the Race Template, write a full race document.
  7. Enjoy the Game!

Reminder: This document does not perfectly balance everything, as close as we tried to make it. It assumes you will tweak things as needed or to suit your group or campaign. Please make sure that the races adhere to D&D Wiki race design standards.

Racial Traits

This list of traits covers how the Musicus Meter would score the included traits. Traits that are classed as variant and as such have special considerations when using them are marked with an asterisk*. The trait descriptions in the table below are written in such a way so that users can easily copy them in without needing to edit them to hyperlink references. In addition, any word enclosed in square brackets [like so] is meant to be replaced with an appropriate value (e.g. damage type, skill, etc.); the square brackets must be removed! Anything marked with [#] is meant to be filled with a numerical value (again, remove the square brackets). Finally, this table only includes additional traits that are added on top of the default races receive and as such the first two languages a race gets, a base 30ft walking speed, etc, aren't included.

Point
Cost
Name Description
-2 Tiny.* Your size is Tiny.
-1 Damage Vulnerability. You have vulnerability to [damage type] damage.
-1 Small.* Your size is Small.
-0.5 Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on {{5a|wis}} ({{5s|Perception}}) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.
0.5 Ability Swapping. You can use your {{5a|[str/dex/con/wis/int/cha]}} modifier instead of your {{5a|[str/dex/con/wis/int/cha]}} modifier when [situation].
0.5 Amphibious. You can breathe air and water.
0.5 Armor Proficiency. You have proficiency with {{5e|[Light Armor/ Medium Armor/ Heavy Armor/ Shields]}}.
0.5 Brave.* You have {{5e|advantage}} on saving throws against being {{5c|Frightened}}.
0.5 Cantrip. You know [one cantrip of your choice from the {{5E|[Class]}} spell list]/[the ''{{5e|[Spell]}}'' cantrip]. {{5a|[str/dex/con/wis/int/cha]}} is your spellcasting ability for it.
0.5/ 10ft Climb.* You have a climbing speed of [#] feet.
0.5 Damage Resistance. You have resistance to [damage type] damage.
0.5 Darkvision. You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within [#] feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
0.5 Environmental Adaptation.* You’re acclimated to [environment], as described in chapter 5 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
0.5 Extra Language.* You can speak, read, and write one extra language of your choice.
0.5 Powerful Build. You count as one size larger when determining your carrying capacity and the weight you can push, drag, or lift.
0.5/ 5ft Extra Movement.* Your base walking speed increases to [#] feet.
0.5 Fey Ancestry.* You have {{5e|advantage}} on saving throws against being {{5c|Charmed}} and magic can’t put you to sleep.
0.5/ spell level Innate Casting.* You can cast the ''{{5e|[Spell]}}'' spell once with this trait, requiring no material components, and you regain the ability to cast it this way when you finish a long rest. {{5a|[str/dex/con/wis/int/cha]}} is your spellcasting ability for this spell.
0.5 Lucky. When you roll a 1 on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can re-roll the die and must use the new roll.
0.5 Mask of the Wild. You can attempt to hide even when you are only lightly obscured by foliage, heavy rain, falling snow, mist, and other natural phenomena.
0.5 Natural Armor.* When unarmored, your Armor Class is equal to 11 + your {{5a|dex}} modifier.
0.5 Natural Weapon.* You are proficient with your unarmed strikes, which deal 1d4 [piercing, slashing or bludgeoning] damage on a hit.
0.5 Nimble. You can move through the space of any creature that is of a size larger than yours.
0.5 Poison Resilience.* You have advantage on saving throws against {{5c|poison}}, and you have resistance against poison damage.
0.5 Savage Attacks. When you score a critical hit with a melee weapon attack, you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.
0.5 Skill Proficiency. You have proficiency in the {{5s|[Skill]}} skill.
0.5 Speak with Small Beasts.* Through sounds and gestures, you can communicate simple ideas with Small or smaller beasts.
0.5 Stonecunning.* Whenever you make an {{5a|int}} ({{5s|History}}) check related to the origin of stonework, you are considered proficient in the {{5s|History}} skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.
0.5/ 10ft Swim.* You have a swimming speed of [#] feet.
0.5 Tinker. You have proficiency with artisan’s {{5e|Tools}} ({{5e|Tools|tinker’s tools}}). Using those {{5e|Tools}}, you can spend 1 hour and 10 gp worth of materials to construct a Tiny clockwork device (AC 5, 1 hp). The device ceases to function after 24 hours (unless you spend 1 hour repairing it to keep the device functioning), or when you use your action to dismantle it; at that time, you can reclaim the materials used to create it. You can have up to three such devices active at a time. When you create a device, choose one of the following options:
  • Clockwork Toy: This toy is a clockwork animal, monster, or person, such as a frog, mouse, bird, dragon, or soldier. When placed on the ground, the toy moves 5 feet across the ground on each of your turns in a random direction. It makes noises as appropriate to the creature it represents.
  • Fire Starter: The device produces a miniature flame, which you can use to light a candle, torch, or campfire. Using the device requires your action.
  • Music Box: When opened, this music box plays a single song at a moderate volume. The box stops playing when it reaches the song’s end or when it is closed.
0.5 Tool Proficiency.* You gain proficiency with the [artisan {{5E|Tools}} or {{5E|Tools}}] of your choice: [tools]./ You gain proficiency with {{5E|Tools|[tool]}}
0.5 Trance.* You don’t need to sleep. Instead, you meditate deeply, remaining semiconscious, for 4 hours a day. While meditating, you can dream after a fashion; such dreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive through years of practice. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit that a human does from 8 hours of sleep.
0.5 Weapon Proficiency.* You have proficiency with the {{5e|weapons|[weapons]}}.
0.5 Minimum Armor Class. Your Armor Class can not be lower than 12.
1 Ability Score Increase. Your {{5a|[str/dex/con/wis/int/cha]}} score increases by 1.
1 Breath Weapon. You can use your action to exhale destructive energy. This produces a [15 or 5 by 30]-foot [cone or line] dealing [damage] damage.

When you use your breath weapon, each creature in the area of the exhalation must make a {{5a|[str/dex/con/wis/int/cha]}} saving throw. The DC for this saving throw equals 8 + your {{5a|con}} modifier + your proficiency bonus. A creature takes 2d6 damage on a failed save, and half as much damage on a successful one. The damage increases to 3d6 at 6th level, 4d6 at 11th level, and 5d6 at 16th level.

After you use your breath weapon, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

1/ 15ft Burrow.* You have a burrow speed of [#] feet. .
1 Living Construct. Even though you were constructed, you are a living creature. You are immune to {{5e|Diseases}}. You do not need to eat or breathe, but you can ingest food and drink if you wish. Instead of sleeping, you enter an inactive state for 4 hours each day. You do not dream in this state; you are fully aware of your surroundings and notice approaching enemies and other events as normal.
1 Natural Armor.* When unarmored, your Armor Class is equal to 12 + your {{5a|dex}} modifier.
1 Natural Weapon.* You are proficient with your unarmed strikes, which deal 1d6 [piercing, slashing or bludgeoning] damage on a hit.
1 Naturally Stealthy. You can attempt to hide even when you are obscured only by a creature that is at least one size larger than you.
1 Relentless Endurance. When you are reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. You can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.
1 Superior Darkvision. You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 120 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
1 Quicken. You can use a [reaction/bonus action] instead of an [bonus action/action] to [something that requires a action].
1.5 Innate Magic.* You know the ''{{5e|[Spell]}}'' cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the ''{{5e|[Spell]}}'' spell once and need to finish a long rest before you can cast it again. When you reach 5th level, you can also cast the ''{{5e|[Spell]}}'' spell once and need to finish a long rest before you can cast it again. {{5a|[str/dex/con/wis/int/cha]}} is your spellcasting ability for these spells.
1.5 Toughness. Your hit point maximum increases by 1, and it increases by 1 every time you gain a level.
1.5 Minimum Armor Class. Your Armor Class can not be lower than 14.
2 Ability Score Increase. Your {{5a|[str/dex/con/wis/int/cha]}} score increases by 2.
2 Cunning.* You have {{5e|advantage}} on all {{5a|int}}, {{5a|wis}}, and {{5a|cha}} saving throws against magic.
2 Natural Armor.* When unarmored, your Armor Class is equal to 13 + your {{5a|dex}} modifier.
3 Minimum Armor Class. Your Armor Class can not be lower than 16.
-- Feat. You gain one {{5e|feats|feat}} of your choice.
-- Flying.* You have a flying speed of [#] feet. [restrictions and additional properties if any].
-- Higher Ability Scores.* Your {{5a|[str/dex/con/wis/int/cha]}} score increases by [1/2/3/4].

Certain traits require additional information/considerations and are marked with an asterisk or just don't fit within the table above. These traits are mentioned here.

Ability Scores Increase.

The cost of this trait is 1.5 for the first extra point above baseline (+2/+1), and 2 for the second extra point. So a race with +2/+1 would be worth 3 points as normal. +2/+1/+1 would be worth 4.5, +2/+1/+1/+1 would be worth 6, as would +3/+2, +2/+2/+1 would be worth 6.5, as would +4/+1. A race with only +3 in one ability score would be worth 3.5.

Brave.

Giving a race advantage on saving throws against a specific conditions or more general effect like knockbacks or sleep is worth 0.5 points.

Cunning.

Having advantage on Dexterity, Constitution or Wisdom saving throws is worth 1 point. Having advantage on Strength, Intelligence or Charisma saving throws is worth 0.5 points.

Environmental Adaptation

A race can be naturally adapt to specific environments tahat other races would normally struggle in. These are listed in the Dungeon Masters Guide on page 110 under Wilderness Survival. Being naturally adpat to select environments makes you immune to effects such as the 20,000 feet high altitude limit and allows a race to automatically succeed on checks caused by the effects of factors like extreme heat or cold. Each environment a race is adapt to is worth 0.5 points.

Feat.

The value of a few ranges from 2-4 points, depending on its relative power level.

Fey Ancestry.

Due to how niche it is to be immune to sleep this doesn't add an additional 0.5 to the conditional advantage meaning this has a score of 0.5 not 1.

Flying.

D&D Wiki hosts it's guidelines for flying races. In addition, the Aarakocra can be used as a point of reference during the creation of flying races.

Also, note that normally no magical or psionic flying is available for races.

Rules for Flying

Cost with wings: 0.5 points/+5 feet fly speed

Cost without wings: 1 point/+5 ft fly speed

Note that Flying has a minimum score of 1, which cannot be reduced via restrictions.

Restrictions of Wings

Granting a race a flying speed is a fairly hit or miss thing to do and is normally the primary feature of a balanced flying race. As such below are some restrictions you can add to your flying trait to make it more balanced and flavorful.

Point
Cost
Name Description
0.5/ 5ft after the first 5ft Wingspan. You must be in a space wide enough to accommodate your wingspan to fly. Your wingspan is equal to twice your height.
-0.5 When Hit, Fall. When you take damage while flying, make a {{5a|con}} save with a DC equal to 10 or half the damage is taken, whichever is higher. If you fail the saving throw, you fall to the ground.
-0.5 Alteration Cost. You may not fly in normal backpacks or armor. The cost to alter your gear to be suitable for flight is equal to half the cost of the gear.
-1 No Medium/Heavy Armor. If you are wearing armor you are not proficient in or any Medium or Heavy armor, you may not fly.
-1 Cannot Hover. Must keep moving. While flying, if you do not move at least half your speed during your turn, you fall to the ground.

Poison Resilience.

Due to the poisoned condition and the poison damage type being so uncommonly dealt and so commonly immune/resisted in the Monster Manual, Poison Resilience is considered to be worth 0.5 points instead of 1. A rating of 1 was originally considered due to it giving a condition advantage and a damage resistance, which are both worth 0.5. This only apply's to this condition and damage type, no other.

Trance.

This score can be applied to anything allowing awareness while asleep and/or shortening sleep. Within reason.

Innate Casting.

Some races can cast certain spells innately such as the Earth Genasi and the DMG Eldarin. The point cost of this trait is calculated by multiplying the spell level by 0.5. 1/long rest.

Innate Magic.

This should only give one cantrip at first level, one 1st level spell at third level, and one 2nd level spell at fifth level.

Language.

By default, races have Common and a race-specific language at no point cost. Not having Common as a language is worth -0.5 points. An additional language of the player's choice is worth 0.5 points.

Natural Armor.

Varies from granting a flat additional +1/+2/+3. The cost doubles each time to go up to the next additional armor class amount.

Natural Weapon.

Varies from granting a d4 or d6. The point costs increase by an additional 0.5 for every die you increase this above the base d4. Making this a ranged weapon increases the point cost by 0.5 and the range of this ranged weapon should equal its equivalent in damage die to the crossbows in the PHB.

Size.

Tiny

The Tiny Player Characters variant rule outlines in detail the benefits and detriments of playing a Tiny race. A tiny race generally has 20 feet movement or 10 feet if it has an alternative form of movement like flying or swimming that is greater then 20 feet.

Small

A small race generally has 25 feet movement and disadvantage to attack with heavy weapons

Medium

A medium race generally has 30 feet movement and no other advantages or disadvantages and as such costs no points.

Speak with Small Beasts.

This can be easily changed to apply to other creature types like plants and be worth the same score.

Speed.

Each -5 ft below the normal for the race's size (30 ft. for Medium, 25 ft for Small) is worth -0.5 points.

Each +5 ft above the normal for the race's size (30 ft. for Medium, 25 ft for Small) is worth 0.5 points.

Swim speed is worth 0.5 points per +10 ft.

Climb speed is worth 0.5 points per +10 ft.

Burrow speed is worth 1 point per +15 ft.

See Flying for flying speed.

Note: If you give a Medium sized race a swim speed of 30 ft you are adding 15 ft of swimming and as such it is worth 0.5-1 not 0.75. This logic applies to all racial traits not just speed.

Stonecunning.

Expertise is the general name for it. Which is the doubling of one's proficiency bonus when making an ability check under certain circumstances. Like with stonecunning the situation in which their proficiency is doubled should be fairly specific.

Tool Proficiency.

You can have a choice of up to three tools.

Weapon Proficiency.

Grants up to four weapon proficiencies.

The following traits are not represented in a races traits but in another section such as speed or language pertaining to that race:

  • Extra Movement (Speed.)
  • Extra Language (Languages.)
  • Ability Score Increase (Ability Score Increase.)

PHB Race Breakdown

Dwarf

Score: 7.5-8

Cost Racial Trait
2 Constitution score increases by 2.
0.5 Darkvision 60 feet.
-0.5 -5 feet walking speed.
0.5 Not slowed by heavy armor.
1 Dwarven Resilience.
0.5 Weapon Proficiencies.
0.5 Tool Proficiency.
0.5 Stonecunning.
5 Total.
Hill Dwarf +2.5
Cost Racial Trait
1 Wisdom score increases by 1.
1.5 +1 to your hit point maximum per level.
2.5 Total.
Mountain Dwarf +3
Cost Racial Trait
2 Strength score increases by 2.
1 Proficiency in light and medium armor.
3 Total.

Elf

Score: 7-7.5

Cost Racial Trait
2 Dexterity score increases by 2.
0.5 Darkvision 60 feet.
0.5 Perception Proficiency.
1 Fey Ancestry.
0.5 Trance.
4.5 Total.
Drow +3
Cost Racial Trait
1 Charisma score increases by 1.
1 Superior Darkvision.
-0.5 Sunlight Sensitivity.
1.5 Drow Magic.
3 Total.
High Elf +2.5
Cost Racial Trait
1 Intelligence score increases by 1.
0.5 Weapon Proficiencies.
0.5 Cantrip.
0.5 Extra Language.
2.5 Total.
Wood Elf +2.5
Cost Racial Trait
1 Wisdom score increases by 1.
0.5 Weapon Proficiencies.
0.5 +5 feet walking speed.
0.5 Mask of the Wild.
2.5 Total.

Halfling

Score: 4.5

Cost Racial Trait
2 Dexterity score increases by 2.
-1 Small.
0.5 Lucky.
0.5 Advantage against frighten.
0.5 Move through medium creature's squares.
2.5 Total.
Lightfoot +2
Cost Racial Trait
1 Charisma score increases by 1.
1 Naturally Stealthy.
2 Total.
Stout +2
Cost Racial Trait
1 Constitution score increases by 1.
1 Poison Resilience.
2 Total.

Human

Score: 6

Cost Racial Trait
6 All scores increase by 1.
6 Total.
Variant Human

Score: 4.5-8.5

Cost Racial Trait
2 Any 2 score increases by 1.
0.5 1 skill of choice.
2-4 1 feat of choice.
4.5-8.5 Total.

Dragonborn

Score: 4.5

Cost Racial Trait
2 Strength score increases by 2.
1 Charisma score increases by 1.
1 Breath Weapon.
0.5 Damage Resistance.
0 Draconic Ancestry.
4.5 Total.

Gnome

Score: 5.5

Cost Racial Trait
2 Intelligence score increases by 2.
-1 Small.
0.5 Darkvision 60 feet.
2 Cunning.
3.5 Total.
Forest +2
Cost Racial Trait
1 Dexterity score increases by 1.
0.5 Minor Illusion.
0.5 Speak with Small Beasts.
+2 Total.
Rock +2
Cost Racial Trait
2 Constitution score increases by 1.
0.5 Artificer’s Lore.
0.5 Tinker.
+2 Total.

Half-Elf

Score: 7

Cost Racial Trait
2 Charisma score increases by 2.
2 Any other 2 scores increase by 1.
0.5 Darkvision 60 feet.
1 2 Skill Profienciency's.
1 Fey Ancestry.
0.5 Extra Language.
7 Total.

Half-Orc

Score: 5.5

Cost Racial Trait
2 Strength score increases by 2.
1 Constitution score increases by 1.
0.5 Darkvision 60 feet.
0.5 Profienciency in Intimidation.
1 Relentless Endurance.
0.5 Extra Critical Damage Die.
5.5 Total.

Tiefling

Score: 5.5

Cost Racial Trait
2 Charisma score increases by 2.
1 Intelligence score increases by 1.
0.5 Darkvision 60 feet.
0.5 Fire resistance.
1.5 Infernal Legacy.
5.5 Total.

Elemental Evil Race Breakdown

Aarakocra

Score: 7

Cost Racial Trait
2 Dexterity score increases by 2.
1 Wisdom score increases by 1.
-0.5 Speed -5.
+5 Fly 50 feet.
-1 No medium or heavy armor.
0.5 Talons 1d4.
7 Total.

Deep Gnome

Score: 6-6.5

Deep Gnome +2-2.5
Cost Racial Trait
1 Dexterity score increases by 1.
+0.5 Superior Darkvision.
0.5-1 Stone Camouflage.
0.5 Extra Language.
2.5-3 Total.

Racial Feat: Svirfneblin Magic = 2.5

Cost Racial Trait
1 Nondetection at will.
0.5 Blindness/Deafness (1/Day).
0.5 Blur (1/Day).
0.5 Disguise Self (1/Day).
2.5 Total.

Genasi

Score: 5-7

Cost Racial Trait
2 Constitution score increases by 2.
2 Total.
Air = 3
Cost Racial Trait
1 Dexterity score increases by 1.
1 Unending Breath.
1 Levitate(1/Day).
3 Total.
Earth = 3
Cost Racial Trait
1 Strength score increases by 1.
1 Earth Walk.
1 Pass without Trace.
3 Total.
Fire = 3
Cost Racial Trait
1 Intelligence score increases by 1.
0.5 Darkvision.
0.5 Resistance to fire damage.
0.5 Produce Flame.
0.5 Burning Hands.
3 Total.
Water = 3.5-4
Cost Racial Trait
1 Wisdom score increases by 1.
0.5 Resistance to acid damage.
0.5 Amphibious.
0.5-1 Swim.
0.5 Shape Water.
0.5 Create or Destroy Water.
3.5-4 Total.

Goliath

Score: 5.5-6

Cost Racial Trait
2 Strength score increases by 2.
1 Constitution score increases by 1.
0.5 Profiency in Athletics.
1-1.5 Stone's Endurance.
0.5 Powerful Build.
1 Mountain Born.
6.5-7 Total.
  • Note: Powerful Build, due to its niche applications has been reduced to 0.5 from 1.


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