Variant Human Feat Impact

When a DM decides to give their players a Level 1 Feat, it’s likely to offset the mechanical allure of the Variant Human, and encourage a more diverse cast. Therefore, it’s helpful to know what kind of sway Variant Human’s mechanics provide before deciding to use such a rule. With over 400 survey responses, here’s the results!

Picking Variant Human Over Desired RaceVariant Human Feat Impact

The results of Variant Human’s Level 1 Feat impact are shocking:

  • 66% of players have had their racial preference compromised
  • 28% of players frequently have their racial preference compromised
  • 11% of players always play Variant Human due to the 1st Level Feat

This demonstrates beyond reproach that the existence of the Variant Human Level 1 Feat is impacting the majority of players’ choices in character creation. When you multiply these findings times a table of adventurers, it’s very unlikely that at least one of them isn’t sacrificing their racial preference for the mechanical benefit of the Variant Human.

Consider a table of four players. There’s only a 1% chance that you sit down with a table of four players who have never compromised their racial preference due to Variant Human’s mechanics. Conversely, theres a 74% chance that one of the four players often (or always) compromises their racial choice due to Variant Human’s mechanics. To shrug this off with the notion that it “never happens at my table” is embracing blissful ignorance.

Variant Human is Chosen for Character Concept

Here we see that players are choosing Variant Human to realize their character concept, not just for a damage or utility boost to an otherwise completed concept. This is bad because it shows the Variant Human choice is not a result of powergaming, but stylistic compromise.

Variant Human is the Most Popular RaceVariant Human vs. Other Races

Respondents were asked how often they played Variant Human as opposed to other races. This reinforces the concept that Humans are a strong favorite in terms of race. With Variant Human representing the race played 43% of the time, there is an argument to be made that the mechanical allure of a Level 1 Feat is a huge draw over other races.

Other Factors to Popularity?

Admittedly, there may be other factors at play:

  • Player tendency towards Humans may be a result of familiarity.
  • Race may be chosen by DM fiat.
  • Playing certain races may be affected by campaign setting.

However, the data suggests that the driving factor in this decision is more than familiarity, since Variant Human comprises 84% of the Human racial selection:

Variant Human vs. Base Human

Player responses also indicate that their racial choices are more often driven by internal factors than external, as you might expect. As for external factors, only 8 of 434 players stated that their DM would not let them play a Variant Human. Internally, players admit to being drawn by the allure of Variant Human’s Level 1 Feat:

Variant Human Temptation

If your players can’t resist the temptation, consider granting a Level 1 Feat to even the scales.

2 thoughts on “Variant Human Feat Impact

  1. “This demonstrates beyond reproach that the existence of the Variant Human Level 1 Feat is impacting the majority of players’ choices in character creation. When you multiply these findings times a table of adventurers, it’s very unlikely that at least one of them isn’t sacrificing their racial preference for the mechanical benefit of the Variant Human.”

    I feel this is slightly skewed based on the surveyed group, as they were specifically gathered from forums where the populous is generally more invested – and experienced – in the game, where they start desiring archetypes immediately. Rather, the potential players surveyed are perhaps more interested in optimal mechanics, and are perhaps a focused minority given the sample size.

    Otherwise, very good.

    Like

  2. The main problem is that the non-variant human is meh. If it were any good, you could simply disallow variant humans and problem solved.

    While I see why extra feats help (because now variant humans only get the *second* best feat for your concept) it also massively increases the party power level.

    It stands to reason a better solution is to improve the default human enough so that the variant can be disallowed, and the race is still selected “often enough” (where the exact value differs from table to table).

    Like

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