Dungeons & Dragons: Everything You Need To Know About Custom Lineage

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  • What Is Custom Lineage?
  • Custom Lineage Traits
  • Access To Any Feat
  • Character Optimization With Custom Lineage

For many Dungeons & Dragons players, one of the most enjoyable parts of the game is character creation. Through a character's race, class, subclass, background, spells, and feats, players have a significant degree of freedom and customization when it comes to making a completely personalized and unique character.

However, while D&D features tons of character creation options, the game does feature a finite number of races that may not fit exactly what you have in mind for a specific character concept. Luckily, the ever-excellent Tasha's Cauldron of Everything added rules for creating characters with origins that may not fall into a more traditional mold. Known as Custom Lineage, this option provides players with an unparalleled degree of freedom to make any type of character their heart desires.

What Is Custom Lineage?

Custom Lineage is an option that allows players to easily create a custom character that caters to an idea that wouldn't be fulfilled by the traditional races in the game. This option is incredibly flexible, potentially helping resolve various issues in character creation.

Firstly, if a player wants to create a character of a given race, but is not satisfied with how that race's features would reflect their character's lineage or upbringing, this option can serve as a substitute.

Alternatively, if a player is looking to create a race that doesn't have rules printed in a fifth edition source book, Custom Lineage can be used to help bring such characters to life. This makes it a great option for those looking to create characters such as a creature found within the Monster Manual like a Gnoll, a character of a race from a prior D&D edition, such as a Lupin, or even a character of a non-canonical homebrew race of a player's creation.

Custom Lineage Traits

When creating a character using Custom Lineage, there are some elements of one's character that are mechanically predetermined, while other options are left to a player's choice.

Firstly, while a character made using Custom Lineage is automatically determined to classify as a humanoid, you're able to determine exactly how they look visually, and can indicate if they resemble their kin. Furthermore, a character created this way automatically has the standard movement speed of thirty feet.

When it comes to options available to a Custom Lineage player, a character can be chosen to be either Small or Medium sized, they can gain access to one language other than Common of their choice, and they increase any one ability score by +2. Furthermore, in order to further flesh out a character's attributes, they can be given access to either darkvision or a proficiency in any one skill.

This means that if a character's upbringing or nature would allow them to have particularly keen senses, proficiency in the likes of Perception, Insight, or Investigation may be a good call, while a character of a notably studious background may benefit from Arcana or History instead. If you opt to take a skill proficiency over darkvision, this choice in proficiency can go a long way in conveying a character concept.

Access To Any Feat

Perhaps the most enticing element of a Custom Lineage character is that they gain access to any one feat as long as the character meets any prerequisites that feat may have. As there are over fifty available feats in D&D's fifth edition, this can allow for a wide range of distinct potential character concepts to be fulfilled.

There are a litany of powerful feats that can potentially offer character-defining traits, such as immediate access to telepathy or telekenisis, certain spells through feats like Magic Initiate, Fey Touched, or Eldritch Adept, or additional prowess with certain types of weapons through feats like Crossbow Expert, Great Weapon Master, or Martial Adept.

These feats can be used to reflect elements of a race being presented, such as a player looking to create a Psionic Elan from D&D's 3.5 edition giving their character the Telepathic feat, or a well-traveled multilingual character being given the Linguist feat.

Character Optimization With Custom Lineage

For those looking to maximize their character's Ability Scores as quickly as possible, it's important to note that some feats can be used to automatically have a sizable modifier in any given Score. As some feats, such as Skill Expert or Fey Touched, allow for an Ability Score to be increased by +1 as part of the feat's benefit, when paired with the +2 modifier already provided by Custom Lineage, a character can theoretically begin an adventure with a +3 Racial bonus tacked onto a key Ability Score.

Even when creating a level one character through the use of Standard Array or Point Buy, this can allow that character to begin an adventure with an 18 in a given Ability Score, making Custom Lineage a great choice for various types of players.

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