For the month of May, Unearthed Arcana brings us two new playable races.
The new playable races are Centaurs and Minotaurs. Neither of them have subraces. There has already been a take on Minotaurs back in 2015 so I’ll be comparing the two. Let’s begin!
Centaurs are a race connected with nature that like to live in open spaces so they can run. Their flavor is pretty open ended so you can do whatever you like with them in your game. Not that you wouldn’t be allowed to do anything anyway, but let’s just move on.
- Ability Score Increase. Strength increases by 2 and Wisdom increases by 1. It feels right, to be honest. Centaurs are a physically strong race but their connection with nature justifies the Wisdom increase.
- Size. Giving medium size to the Centaurs feels weird. However, I understand the decision to keep the size of the playable races medium. There are extra features that try to emphasize the larger build of a race without causing the complications a larger than medium size could cause.
- Speed. Centaurs can move a bit faster (at 40 feet), which does make sense.
- Charge. It works pretty much just like the monster trait. If you move at least 20 feet straight towards a target and hit them with a melee weapon attack, you get to deal extra damage. You can use this once per short or long rest. It can be debated that the once per short rest part isn’t necessary since the whole move at least 20 feet and make a melee weapon attack is enough to keep this feature balanced.
- Hooves. Your hooves are natural melee weapons that use Strength and deal bludgeoning damage. I have no issue with that.
- Equine Build. This is in the same category with the Powerful Build feature of the Goliath. However, the difference is that the build of the Centaur makes climbing more difficult for them. Also, medium or smaller creatures can ride you. This can lead to hilarious, and possibly epic, moments. Also, can a Centaur ride another Centaur to battle?
- Survivor. Proficiency in the Survival skill. I don’t mind features that grant skill proficiencies.
- Hybrid Nature. Centaurs count as both humanoids and monstrosities. Seems reasonable. This means they’re affected by effects that work for either of these types. An example for that is that Centaurs can be affected by both the Hold Monster and Hold Person spells.
- Languages. Common and Sylvan. I guess Sylvan is here because of the nature flavor. I don’t mind that.
Overall, I don’t think I have anything bad to say mechanics wise. The lore is pretty open ended because it’s Unearthed Arcana content. That’s not really bad because, as I said, it lets the Dungeon Master have fun with it. It is a pity, however, that there are no subraces. I’m a fan of subraces because, in my opinion, they add more to a race. Not just mechanics wise but lore wise.
Minotaurs get zero lore in this document. The 2015 Unearthed Arcana installment provided a ton of lore, but it focused on the Minotaurs of Krynn. Moreover, it’s noted that these stats represent Minotaurs not affected by Baphomet.
- Ability Score Increase. Strength increases by 2 and Constitution increases by 1. Pretty standard. Again, no subraces means less versatility in this area. The previous version gave a +1 to Strength and you got to choose to give an additional +1 to either Strength, Intelligence or Wisdom.
- Size. I explained above why I think both Centaurs and Minotaurs get medium size.
- Speed. A standard speed is 30 feet. I wouldn’t mind a speed of 40 feet.
- Horns. Your horns are natural melee weapons that use Strength and deal piercing damage. The previous version gave a straight 1d10 damage instead of 1d6 + Strength. It also gave advantage shove checks.
- Goring Rush. This is a weird one. If you take the Dash action and move at least as far as your speed, you can immediately make one melee attack with your horns as a bonus action. The requirement is weird and makes this feature hard to use. The previous version of this feature didn’t state a minimum distance that needs to be traveled in order for it to be used.
- Hammering Horns. This feature allows you to attempt to shove the target of your Attack action, using your reaction. The way it is worded doesn’t allow a combination with the Goring Rush feature.
- Menacing. Proficiency in the Intimidation skill. Have you ever seen a Minotaur charging towards you? Neither have I but it must be really scary.
- Hybrid Nature. Just like with Centaurs.
- Languages. Common and Minotaur. No comment needed.
Overall, I think it’s an okay race but could use some work. Goring Rush needs to be reworked into something usable. I’d like to see a version that could be combined with Hammering Horns. Also, I believe subraces would give more depth to the race.
Apart from the mechanics, we didn’t get much about Centaurs and Minotaurs. I want to believe this is Unearthed Arcana was an attempt to gauge interest in these races in order to expand further in a future installment. If that’s the case then I’m okay with what this document has to offer. However, this also means that, if there will be a second take on them, I want to see a lot of flavor and subraces.
That’s all for now. I’d love to hear your opinion. What do you think about these races? Are there any subraces you’d like to see? Also, how about their flavor? How do you imagine Centaurs and Minotaurs in your game?
And until next time, have fun!