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D&D 3E
Do racial bonuses stack? 
10th-Mar-2006 12:30 pm
DrG Don't know me
Looking over this site, I see no mention of several types of bonuses, one of which being Racial. Do Racial bonuses stack? Meaning, lets say (hypothetical) a character is playing a race with a +2 racial bonus to Climb skills, and has a creature template with an additional +3 racial bonus to climb skills. Do these stack?
10th-Mar-2006 09:05 pm (UTC)
No, Racial bonuses do not stack.

Only Unnamed, Dodge and Circumstance bonuses, from different sources, stack.
10th-Mar-2006 09:07 pm (UTC)
Just for clarity, so I don't arbitrarily piss off a player without reason, can you find me something that specifically says that racial bonuses do not stack?

Not that I think you're wrong, mind you, but I would like to see it in writing to show it to someone else.
10th-Mar-2006 09:12 pm (UTC)
This is all you're going to get:
n most cases, modifiers to a given check or roll stack (combine for a cumulative effect) if they come from different sources and have different types (or no type at all), but do not stack if they have the same type or come from the same source. ... Dodge bonuses and circumstance bonuses however, do stack with one another unless otherwise specified.

(Underlining mine, bold not).

Bonuses of the same type do not stack (unless they are circumstance or dodge bonuses, which are THE ONLY explicit exceptions)

Racial bonuses are a type. 2 racial bonuses do not stack.

You could call WotC customer service, but they are notorious for getting rule calls wrong. Or you could write Skip Williams (the guy who does answer columns for Dragon), but you're going to get the above section quoted at you.
10th-Mar-2006 09:17 pm (UTC)
Notice that it does not specifically say that unnamed bonuses DO stack, though.
10th-Mar-2006 09:28 pm (UTC)
Yes it does. "If they come from diufferent sources and have different types (or no type at all)"
10th-Mar-2006 09:41 pm (UTC)
I should also mention that I don't particularly like this ruling, but it is what is in the books/rules.

I think something you pay for with levels should come through, as it isn't rules-breaking. Similarly, if I take 2 classes that give me competence bonuses to a skill, or minor bonuses to save vs fear, or the like, it should stack. That's the benefit of taking the class.

(I also think if you get Evasion from 3 sources, you should get improved evasion. 2 sources is too few and easy, but 3 distinct sources isn't particularly easy. Simillar with Mettle.)
10th-Mar-2006 09:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm torn between balance and versatility. The "evil dm" inside me wants to rule no. But the logical side of me is the opposite. I think there's a line there, though. What about two classes that provide armor bonuses? Or two classes that have Wisdom bonus to AC as a major class feature? I think there should be situations where, in such cases, perhaps substitution is allowed. Say, another feat, or different skill modifiers.
10th-Mar-2006 09:56 pm (UTC)
Not great examples:

For most non-Monk classes that add Wisdom to AC (Ninja, for instance) state that the bonus explicitly does not stack with Monk (although, one explicitly states that it does, IIRC).

Armor bonuses (a la the monk) are also usually explicit, and usually stack. Actually, they usually combine levels and use the monk's progression.

The concern still stands. I'm much happier with 'take a similar ability/bonus/power, of slightly lower power level, to compensate for losing out'. In the case of equipment, the PC can always sell it for the gold value, which is on par with the power of the ability. Skill bonuses, I'd let the PC take a +1 same-name bonus to an allied skill (A different sensory skill, if it is spot/search/listen/ or tracking via survival, a different social skill if it is Sense motive/Bluff/Intimidate/Diplomacy, a different knowledge skill, etc.).

The feat issue is harder. The obvious thing would be to let them take another feat in that progression, if there is one. That could break, though, as later feats are often more powerful. I'm not sure I care. (I also think characters don't get enough feats, as they can't get access to the cool progressions until way-too-late in their carreers, but that's a different argument).

11th-Mar-2006 04:15 am (UTC)
A good example of stacking similar class features is Rogue 4/Barbarian 2. You end up with Improved Uncanny Dodge even though neither 4th level rogues nor 2nd level barbarians are supposed to get it.
10th-Mar-2006 09:26 pm (UTC)
In terms of, say, a half-breed that has the same +2 bonus to any skill, no. They wouldn't stack.

In the case of a template, stack the living shit out of it, and here's why: It's a template, they're made to increase the abilities of creatures. If the template says the creature gets a +3 to Climbing ability, add that +3 to whatever bonus it already had, including the +2. Since not all creatures of any given kind are given the same template (or at least, they shouldn't be) this particular creature is simply much better at climbing than its brethren.

If, however, the template says that the creatures climbing bonus increases to +3 (subtle wording, but a huge difference), it's only getting a total of a +1 increase (+2 ---> +3).

In general, templates aren't replacing the abilities of the creature that the template is being added to. Many templates grant creatures some Special Quality or value that it already posseses, and oftentimes it's worse than what it already has. In that case, you use what it had before. In terms of bonuses to skills, just add 'em up, says I.
10th-Mar-2006 09:31 pm (UTC)
I'm leaning towards your explanation more. I agree, templates are supposed to modify or otherwise enhance a character. If a player wants the template to stack the bonuses, I think paying the cost in Level adjustments should mean that they do indeed stack.
10th-Mar-2006 10:51 pm (UTC)
I'll add my agreement to this interpretation of the rules, although since it's not abundantly clear, it's always the DM's final word that has the weight.
11th-Mar-2006 12:34 am (UTC)
Agreed, I don't think templates list their bonuses as racial in any case.
11th-Mar-2006 01:03 am (UTC)
The only template with which I am familiari, which hapens to be the one in question being applied to a player character, is the Warpwolf, from the Monsternomikon. In it the warpwolf base creature gets a +4 bonus to listen and spot checks, and his race has a +1 racial bonus to listen and spot checks.

And now that I look at it, most all templates I can find have racial bonuses. But knowing Privateer Press's history with typos, misinformation, and missing data, this could probably all be a mistake.
11th-Mar-2006 03:23 am (UTC)
I would compare witht eh templates listed in the MM to see if there are any obvious defects with the way your contraversial template is worded. I took a quick skim over some templates from the MM and didn't see racial bonuses, but there were other types of bonuses. (not saying they aren't there, just that the two ro three I looked at didn't have any that jumped out at me.)
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