Posted by : David Guyll November 28, 2013
Now I have no major problems with the mechanics of 5th Edition's dragonborn: yeah, they might be a bit underpowered but at least there is currently no horrible, horrible Level Adjustment, and they even included an encounter-based breath weapon (though they were careful to follow the tradition of using more words than is necessary to explain how it works). I also like their appearance, having stated on occasions that I wish dragonborn should possess the scales and features of other dragons, and even houserule them in my own campaigns. Where it fails is the flavor test.
See in past editions half-dragons were the result of dragons getting it on with other creatures, which is fine and could even make for interesting—or hilarious—results depending on what Dungeon Masters paired them up with (half-dragon/half-dragon dragons, anyone?). Since they were their own race in 4th Edition they moved away from that and created several potential origins: either they were created by Io before or during the creation of true dragons, or they sprang forth from his blood along with true dragons.
5th Edition does not introduce a new origin alongside the others, instead outright ignoring them in favor of having them be the result of dragon eggs that are not blessed by either Bahamut or Tiamat. In other words if a dragon lays some eggs and one of two dragon gods cannot be bothered to bless them, you get dragonborn. Hopefully they can cope with the fact that due to divine negligence—in a world where gods routinely hand out miracles like they are candy, no less—which would have otherwise resulted in a nigh-immortal lifespan, as well as being near the top of the monstrous food chain without having to survive for ten or so levels.
What is even stranger is that they are willing to make a concession for the 4th Edition look—something that I think no one was asking for—by stating that in some worlds they have all interbred so much that they have become homogenized, even though past editions were rife with races that did not somehow become homogenized over time. Why not just say that your dragonborn can just all look mostly alike? Why include this aspect of 4th Edition and not the origins? They could have just as easily put in un-blessed eggs with the other, better, possibilities, but given the pitches for the dryad, medusa, and more I guess I should not be too surprised.
While the new origin is equal parts silly and lazy, it is at least easy enough to ignore. Less so is the second option of the third survey question asking about the mechanics of the D&D Next dragonborn:
I dislike them, because they're too much like the 4th Edition dragonborn and not interesting enough.
They are not asking if you dislike them just because they are too much like 4th Edition (which is essentially a non-reason), or if you dislike them because they are not interesting enough, but if you dislike them because they are not like 4th Edition and not interesting enough.
I am not sure why they are comparing them to 4th Edition's dragonborn when they do not have a flexible ability score bonus, bonuses to skills that cannot be easily negated, get more out of their healing surges, gain an attack bonus when bloodied, cannot use their breath weapon on the same turn that they can do something else, and cannot swap out their breath weapon for a fear-effect. I could not find an option for disliking them because 5th Edition mechanics are largely uninteresting and lazy, but at least they are underpowered so I had a backup option.