I just read through Storm King’s Thunder, the newest WotC adventure. It’s pretty good! In particular, I think it does a mostly-good job of convincing you to run a connected, breathing world, with hooks and plot ends a-plenty. People want things. People want somewhat reasonable things. The actual courts involved are a little zany, the not-dealing-with-giants-yet part doesn’t do it for me, at one point there’s a house which is literally wearing a wizard’s hat which isn’t my aesthetic, but… pretty good.
As a brief reminder: I hate the dwarf, and I hate the gnome. The former is a human-but-fightier. As for the latter, advantage on saving throws against mental spells means the DM doesn’t get to play fast and loose with succubi and sorcerers. It’s too broad.
But what I realized was that I don’t actually hate the dwarf, they’re just the wrong size — and in 5e, that’s easily fixed! If you made the dwarf size small but changed nothing else about them, the only thing you’d be doing is locking them out of the greataxe and maul, requiring two hands for their battleaxes, or reducing them to handaxes as a primary weapon. “Gnome” would be a perfectly fine subrace of small dwarf, to whit:
Ability score increase: Your intelligence score increases by 1.
Gnomish Resilience: You have advantage on saving throws you make at the end of your turn against magic.
Gnomish Weapon Training: Your weapon training applies to picks and crossbows, not axes and hammers.
Gnomish Lore: You may extend your use of Stonecunning to mechanisms and alchemy as well.
I think Hill Dwarf and Mountain Dwarf are still fine things as well, with their new smaller size.
The halfling continues to have a place in this world. I think of them as goblin-adjacent, but I like them in waistcoats and pipe-adjacent. I thought of building a gnome out of the halfling first, but they lack the tool association, the stone association, the poison resistance.
I still need something good for the Vor. The halforc is fine, and maybe I’ll get something great from Volo’s Guide.