Born of Two Worlds

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

As some of you have no doubt noticed, we haven't said much about half-elves and half-orcs except to confirm that they'll be part of the Pathfinder Playtest. Of all of the ancestry choices in Pathfinder, these were two of the trickiest to design. With the way that the feats are structured, it would be easy enough to just list the feats from both parents (plus some unique options), but that quickly led to cherry-picking the best of both. Moreover, that approach didn't address the base statistics of the ancestry that are very important to overall balance, such as starting hit points and speed.

In the end, we decided to make both half-elves and half-orcs an addition to the human ancestry. You start by selecting human, then take the corresponding heritage feat to represent your diverse ancestry. Let's take a look at the half-elf feat.

Half-Elf Feat 1

Heritage, Human

Either one of your parents was an elf, or one or both were half-elves. You have pointed ears and other telltale signs of elven heritage. You gain the elf trait. Select two of the following benefits: elven speed (increase your Speed by 5 feet), elven tongue (add Elven to your list of languages), gifted speaker (you are trained in Diplomacy), or low-light vision (you can see in dim light as well as you can in bright light). In addition, you can select elf, half-elf, and human feats whenever you gain an ancestry feat.

Special You can select this feat twice. The second time, it loses the heritage trait and you gain the other two benefits.

This approach comes with a number of advantages. First off, it lets us make a half-elf that truly does have some of the advantages of both ancestries, while still allowing you to pick the parts that you think best represent your character's upbringing. Grew up among elves? Then picking up the Elven language makes sense. Had to explain yourself to the humans you grew up with? Then being trained in Diplomacy might be the way to go. As with all of our ancestries, we wanted the choice of being a half-elf or half-orc to be meaningful to your character and expressive of the backstory that you've decided to create. This ancestry feat gives a lot of benefits; to get similar benefits, you would normally use a general feat to pick up Adoptive Ancestry, which grants you access to the ancestry feats from another ancestry (as long as they don't have physiological requirements) to represent your deep connection to another ancestry's culture and traditions. However, being a half-elf gives you access to human feats, elf feats, and half-elf feats (including feats with physiological components), as well as two additional benefits.

At this point, you might be saying, wait, what about humans in general? Let's take a look at some of their options. At its core, human is a very flexible ancestry, with choices like Natural Ambition to gain an extra 1st-level class feat, General Training to gain an extra 1st-level general feat, and Skilled to gain training in two additional skills. However, humans also have fun options for particular builds, like this one for a character who wants to reduce the penalties for being untrained.

Clever Improviser Feat 1

Human

You've learned how to handle situations where you're out of your depth. You gain a +1 circumstance bonus to checks for skills in which you're untrained.

Of course, this approach for half-elves and half-orcs means that we needed to include a few orc feats in the book so players would get the complete experience of being a half-orc. Take a look at this classic feat.

[[R]] Orc Ferocity Feat 1

Orc

Frequency once per day

Trigger You're reduced to 0 Hit Points.


Fierceness in battle runs through your blood, and you refuse to fall from your injuries. When this feat is triggered, you avoid being knocked out and remain at 1 Hit Point.

This allows the half-orc to stay in the fight after taking a felling blow, even a really big hit or a critically failed save against a dragon's breath attack!

In addition to allowing you to choose any feat from both ancestries, we were also able to design a few ancestry feats specifically for half-elves and half-orcs. Take a look at this half-elf feat.

Inspire Imitation Feat 5

Half-Elf

You inspire your allies to great feats through your own actions. Whenever you critically succeed at a skill check, you automatically qualify to take the Aid reaction when attempting to help an ally at the same skill check, even without spending an action to prepare to do so.

This means that when you critically succeed, you can Aid your ally at no extra cost to yourself, which is particularly useful if your ally needs some help doing something at which you excel.

Beyond what this means for half-elves and half-orcs, using an ancestry feat to unlock a more diverse heritage gives us a lot of options for the future. For instance, aasimars, tieflings, and other planar scions come from a wide variety of ancestries in Golarion, instead of just defaulting to human. In Pathfinder First Edition, there's a sidebar to that effect, but it provides no mechanical adjustments for non-human planar scions beyond their size category. The playtest treatment would allow you to build a character whose ancestry really reflects their combined heritage. And if your setting has half-elves and half-orcs where the other parent isn't human, say half-orc/half-dwarf characters, you can just allow the half-orc feat for dwarf characters and the rest of the work is already taken care of. This also opens up a lot of design space (in the form of feats) to explore what otherworldly parentage might mean, giving you different options based on what type of outsider has influenced your heritage, similar to the popular subcategories of aasimar and tieflings (pitborn, musetouched, and so on). Having a solar in the family might grant access to entirely different feats than if your ancestors were blessed by a hound archon.

Now, this approach is a little different than what we've done in the past, so we are going to be asking a few questions about this through surveys during the playtest. We're keen to hear what you think about half-elves and half-orcs in the playtest. Why not roll one up and give it a try?

Jason Bulmahn
Director of Game Design

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Playtest
1 to 50 of 768 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next > last >>

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm, that could make things very interesting.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Interesting. Might we see other additions to the human ancestry in a year from now?


13 people marked this as a favorite.

Great stuff! It's only logical, honestly, and the idea of furtherly customizing aasimar, tiefling, geniekin and other ancestries through feats reflecting their particular heritage is simply inspired. Very well done, kudos devs!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I love half-elves but this honestly feels a bit like the combat expertise of 2E, I saw it coming, but had hoped they would be able to forge their own destiny.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So does this open up the possibility that you are a dwarf with the half-orc ancestry feat? Or an Elf aasimar, etc?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Neat!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I've had a couple of characters whose parents were a half-orc and a half-elf, so how do I handle that? However I do it, it's probably better than the PF1 version of "pick one parent to take after."

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

11 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm now curious if traditional monstrous subraces, such as drow and duergar, will get this treatment and become heritage feats.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Justin Franklin wrote:
So does this open up the possibility that you are a dwarf with the half-orc ancestry feat? Or an Elf aasimar, etc?

Fortunately, answered in the blog. ^^


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Huh, a Tuesday Blog.

I do hope the half-orc starter feat has the option for weapon proficiencies, since it was one of the main ways to keep that warrior flavour even in other classes. Waiting until a later level for your wizard's sidearm doesn't feel right.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Benjamin Medrano wrote:
Justin Franklin wrote:
So does this open up the possibility that you are a dwarf with the half-orc ancestry feat? Or an Elf aasimar, etc?
Fortunately, answered in the blog. ^^

Totally missed that sentence!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I've had a couple of characters whose parents were a half-orc and a half-elf, so how do I handle that? However I do it, it's probably better than the PF1 version of "pick one parent to take after."

Seems like you could allow them to choose two of the abilities offered by each half-human heritage (i.e., elven speed and orcish tongue).


33 people marked this as a favorite.

So, this all looks awesome except *one* thing. Orc Ferocity should not be a reaction. Really, I stop being tough if I took an attack of opportunity in the last 6 seconds? It should be a free action, even if it's triggered like a reaction might be.


10 people marked this as a favorite.

I like it. Is there any chance you could just add orc in the CRB though since you are already almost there by printing the ancestry feats. Personally I think adding both orcs and goblins would be a good look. (I know that's likely an unpopular opinion though)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Most intersting thing here is the Adoptive Ancestry general feat; this seems to be the answer to 'what if I'm a dwarf raised by elves' or 'what if I'm a goblin adopted by gnomes'.
Overall, I really like their approach to race in this new edition - the only potential problem being how much more work it will take to invent new ancestries compared to PF1 races. I think it's a problem that will be overcome as 3rd parties get used to it & maybe with an Advanced Race Guide later on.


12 people marked this as a favorite.

Cool. Not shocking since someone guessed it earlier this week and then other stuff confirmed it, but cool.

Orc Ferocity looks way stronger now, at a glance. I'm assuming you don't gain the dying condition when it triggers and keeps you on your feat. So you basically keep fighting at full power until you get hit again, and it doesn't seem to be a death sentence anymore. Compare that to PF1:

Orc Ferocity: Once per day, when a half-orc is brought below 0 hit points but not killed, he can fight on for 1 more round as if disabled. At the end of his next turn, unless brought to above 0 hit points, he immediately falls unconscious and begins dying.

I will reiterate that it feels like everyone should get a heritage at level 1 in addition to an ancestry feat, but I will of course see how it actually plays. This feels like the most tempting thing I've seen to house rule but I don't want to muddy the playtest data. (Does that mindset also apply to stuff like giving the fighter more skills?)

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

4 people marked this as a favorite.
lordcirth wrote:
So, this all looks awesome except *one* thing. Orc Ferocity should not be a reaction. Really, I stop being tough if I took an attack of opportunity in the last 6 seconds? It should be a free action, even if it's triggered like a reaction might be.

Flavor-wise, I would say it represents the half-orc steeling herself for a potentially deadly blow.

Tactics-wise, if you're getting your butt kicked, keep your reaction open just in case.


lordcirth wrote:
So, this all looks awesome except *one* thing. Orc Ferocity should not be a reaction. Really, I stop being tough if I took an attack of opportunity in the last 6 seconds? It should be a free action, even if it's triggered like a reaction might be.

Oh, I missed that. Yeah, that does seem odd. Still, it is a very strong feat even with that restriction.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This has a lot of potential, I'm looking forward to seeing how this works. A little concerned about Orc Ferocity requiring an action though - doesn't feel right.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I love this, and look forward to trying it.

Quote:
And if your setting has half-elves and half-orcs where the other parent isn't human, say half-orc/half-dwarf characters, you can just allow the half-orc feat for dwarf characters and the rest of the work is already taken care of.

This is my favorite part. In fact, I'd love to see half-(other base races). For example, maybe half-gnome heritage feat, to represent the offspring of a halfling/gnome union.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Half-Elf/Half-Orc???


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Justin Franklin wrote:
Benjamin Medrano wrote:
Justin Franklin wrote:
So does this open up the possibility that you are a dwarf with the half-orc ancestry feat? Or an Elf aasimar, etc?
Fortunately, answered in the blog. ^^
Totally missed that sentence!

Yeah, I hear you there. I've missed things which people have pointed out in previous blogs. This blog kind of excites me about the possibilities, personally. ^^


12 people marked this as a favorite.
Charlie Brooks wrote:
lordcirth wrote:
So, this all looks awesome except *one* thing. Orc Ferocity should not be a reaction. Really, I stop being tough if I took an attack of opportunity in the last 6 seconds? It should be a free action, even if it's triggered like a reaction might be.

Flavor-wise, I would say it represents the half-orc steeling herself for a potentially deadly blow.

Tactics-wise, if you're getting your butt kicked, keep your reaction open just in case.

So I'd have to intentionally refuse to shield block an incoming blow, just in case some of the damage would get through and knock me out, instead taking the full brunt of it and staying up because I'm angry? And then go back to shield blocking because I'm at 1 HP? It seems very odd to me.


13 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
I will reiterate that it feels like everyone should get a heritage at level 1 in addition to an ancestry feat, but I will of course see how it actually plays. This feels like the most tempting thing I've seen to house rule but I don't want to muddy the playtest data. (Does that mindset also apply to stuff like giving the fighter more skills?)

This is the single most common thing that has come up whenever I've talked to anyone about the way ancestries work. A single ancestry feat at 1st level feels like too little.


9 people marked this as a favorite.

Orc Ferocity as a reaction is just....no. Seriously, it might work mechanically, but thematically it just makes no sense.

As for the rest of the blog, this is one I hate with a passion. I like the half-races as their own distinct entities, and this just reduces them to a couple of feat chains. I shouldn't be surprised, considering they did this to all the races, but it still rankles.


7 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm glad to see this. I've often felt the half-X races should be folded into their full blooded parents. This does so gracefully.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
rooneg wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
I will reiterate that it feels like everyone should get a heritage at level 1 in addition to an ancestry feat, but I will of course see how it actually plays. This feels like the most tempting thing I've seen to house rule but I don't want to muddy the playtest data. (Does that mindset also apply to stuff like giving the fighter more skills?)
This is the single most common thing that has come up whenever I've talked to anyone about the way ancestries work. A single ancestry feat at 1st level feels like too little.

Of course the human feats (trade a heritage?/ancestry? feat for a class/general feat) sound strong so letting humans double up on that trade might be breaking... its the first thing I've seen that makes me worried about the double ancestry at 1st house rule.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

*stares, brain starts melting*


8 people marked this as a favorite.
lordcirth wrote:
So, this all looks awesome except *one* thing. Orc Ferocity should not be a reaction. Really, I stop being tough if I took an attack of opportunity in the last 6 seconds? It should be a free action, even if it's triggered like a reaction might be.

Disagree. This allows you to survive and remain conscious after taking an infinitely large amount of HP damage. Requiring you to keep a reaction in reserve isn't too much of a cost for that sort of "LOL, not in my house" ability.


8 people marked this as a favorite.
rooneg wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
I will reiterate that it feels like everyone should get a heritage at level 1 in addition to an ancestry feat, but I will of course see how it actually plays. This feels like the most tempting thing I've seen to house rule but I don't want to muddy the playtest data. (Does that mindset also apply to stuff like giving the fighter more skills?)
This is the single most common thing that has come up whenever I've talked to anyone about the way ancestries work. A single ancestry feat at 1st level feels like too little.

I share that feeling, even though I recognize ancestry feats are way stronger than what we got before. Which is part of why I think making second feat heritage only would be good-- it makes you firmly establish who you are but also doesn't have quite as much min-max potential as just handing them a second feat would.


29 people marked this as a favorite.

Oh boy, my favorite race has been reduced to a feat tax. So much for my half-orc bard idea given she won't even be proficient in her falchion until whenever she gets her next ancestry feat (what was it, level four or something?).

At this point you need to include orcs as a core ancestry because anything else will feel like a slap in the face.


16 people marked this as a favorite.

Hrmm. :/ The thing that bugs me here is that I don’t get anything fun from my ancestry until level five. If I want to take advantage of access to both, that isn’t relevant until ninth level!

This allows for mixed ancestries to reflect their backgrounds at high levels, but I want to get a cool half-elf or tiefling ability right off the bat. Human is getting early access to class and general feats (a school Wizard starting with a familiar, wild shape and an animal companion).

It feels like when I’m playing a non-human and I have to spend my first two feats on “stop sucking” feats like point blank shot into precise shot. At level 5, I am at least rewarded with something interesting.

Silver Crusade

13 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
TheFinish wrote:

Orc Ferocity as a reaction is just....no. Seriously, it might work mechanically, but thematically it just makes no sense.

"Thematically doesn't work" is a rather loaded statement in a game where T-rex bites your head but you just scratch off 34 hp of damage, smile and proceed to deliver seven attacks in six seconds, no magic necessary.


15 people marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Charter Superscriber
QuidEst wrote:

Hrmm. :/ The thing that bugs me here is that I don’t get anything fun from my ancestry until level five. If I want to take advantage of access to both, that isn’t relevant until ninth level!

This allows for mixed ancestries to reflect their backgrounds at high levels, but I want to get a cool half-elf or tiefling ability right off the bat. Human is getting early access to class and general feats (a school Wizard starting with a familiar, wild shape and an animal companion).

Yet another reason for two ancestry feats (maybe one restricted to heritage) at 1st level.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Hmm, I like this. Half-elves and half-orcs in PF1 always felt like they were human variants. PF2 embraces that reality as well, but avoids having to construct separate races, then add differentiation according to how much human vs how much elf you have, etc.

Then, this allows for much cleaner descriptions for tieflings and the like, as well as a vast number of intriguing combinations like halfling-tiefling, goblin-efrit, gnome-sylph etc. It streamlines the rules, while at the same time opening the door to more diversity of characters. Kudos!

Regarding orc ferocity as a reaction, I think I'm with the skeptics. I'll see if I'm still there after I read the whole playtest.

EDIT: I agree adding an Orc ancestry would make a lot of sense, since you already have to add the feats anyways. Then, we could eventually get orc-tieflings and more.


7 people marked this as a favorite.

Yeah, I think I'm going to echo the "bonus heritage feat" comment, and then I'd also probably slot Adoptive Ancestry as a heritage feat instead.

Aside from that, this is similar to what a friend and I guessed regarding aasimar/tieflings, and overall pretty decent.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

So...are we also getting an Orc Ancestry? Feels like with Orc Ancestry Feats it seems reasonable.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I like the idea of Planetouched (aasimar, tieflings, genasi, etc) as a feat/template for any humanoid race (daemonic gnomes).

Oh, you can finally have your half-orc elf, ha.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I like it. I'm sure it will benefit from playtesting, of course, but it's a promising direction and feels like the best way to handle these in the PF2 ancestry system.

(Unrelated: if we're going on an accelerated schedule ahead of the release, maybe this means we'll see a multiclassing blog tomorrow. A boy can dream.)


Cool. I like this.


15 people marked this as a favorite.

How can anyone genuinely like this? The half-ancestries effectively don't get an ancestry feat until level five. Do any of you people actually play half-orcs or are you just happy that the ancestry is so strongly discouraged by the mechanics now?


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm not happy about this.


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Arachnofiend wrote:
How can anyone genuinely like this? The half-ancestries effectively don't get an ancestry feat until level five. Do any of you people actually play half-orcs or are you just happy that the ancestry is so strongly discouraged by the mechanics now?

Several reasons:

- We haven't seen the half-orc heritage feat yet. For all I know, it may well include all the options to replicate most of what matters in the PF1 half-orc build you're after.
- This may be solved if full Orc becomes an ancestry of its own.
- If neither of these pan out, then I'll join the choir of those who're asking for 2 ancestry feats at level 1.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

15 people marked this as a favorite.
Arachnofiend wrote:
How can anyone genuinely like this? The half-ancestries effectively don't get an ancestry feat until level five. Do any of you people actually play half-orcs or are you just happy that the ancestry is so strongly discouraged by the mechanics now?

The exact same way you can dislike it.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
rooneg wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
I will reiterate that it feels like everyone should get a heritage at level 1 in addition to an ancestry feat, but I will of course see how it actually plays. This feels like the most tempting thing I've seen to house rule but I don't want to muddy the playtest data. (Does that mindset also apply to stuff like giving the fighter more skills?)
This is the single most common thing that has come up whenever I've talked to anyone about the way ancestries work. A single ancestry feat at 1st level feels like too little.
I share that feeling, even though I recognize ancestry feats are way stronger than what we got before. Which is part of why I think making second feat heritage only would be good-- it makes you firmly establish who you are but also doesn't have quite as much min-max potential as just handing them a second feat would.

I definitely agree that this might be necessary, especially for the half-human ancestries.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Are the benefits of being, say, a half-elf or a half-orc really as valuable as Natural Ambition (extra class feat) or General Training (extra general feat)?

The half-elf benefits, for example, seem underwhelming. I am skeptical that people would prioritize them over empowering their class.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Arachnofiend wrote:
How can anyone genuinely like this? The half-ancestries effectively don't get an ancestry feat until level five. Do any of you people actually play half-orcs or are you just happy that the ancestry is so strongly discouraged by the mechanics now?

Choose two - Trained in Intimidate, greataxes or falchions count as Simple, darkvision, or add Orc to list of languages.

I can see something like that as the list. And yes, I play quite a few half-elves and am still decently happy with this.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
gwynfrid wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
How can anyone genuinely like this? The half-ancestries effectively don't get an ancestry feat until level five. Do any of you people actually play half-orcs or are you just happy that the ancestry is so strongly discouraged by the mechanics now?

Several reasons:

- We haven't seen the half-orc heritage feat yet. For all I know, it may well include all the options to replicate most of what matters in the PF1 half-orc build you're after.
- This may be solved if full Orc becomes an ancestry of its own.
- If neither of these pan out, then I'll join the choir of those who're asking for 2 ancestry feats at level 1.

Extrapolating from the half-elf feat, the half-orc feat will give two of orcish, trained in intimidate, and darkvision (probably extra HP to mirror the extra movement speed to round things off). You know what's definitely not going to be on that list? Proficiency in the falchion, because that will be in Orc Weapon Familiarity. A feat that half-orcs won't be able to take until level five, and doing so will lock them out of all other ancestry feats until level ten.

Liberty's Edge

27 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm not entirely happy with this. Now, I'm not entirely unhappy either, but it seems really restrictive to never have Ancestry Feat choices as a 1st level Half Elf or Half Orc. And never being able to take other Heritage Feats kinda sucks, too.

But really, this just reinforces my long standing opinion that everyone should get two Ancestry Feats at 1st level. Having one locked in is then not nearly as restrictive.

If that change were implemented I'd no longer have issues with this choice at all.

I'm also in agreement that Orc Ferocity should be a free action because it makes very little sense for it to be a Reaction.

Liberty's Edge

17 people marked this as a favorite.

I have to agree with Arachnofiend here - this feels like a demotion of half-breeds from actual races to a variant human, and that makes me sad.

Half-breeds make up a good half or more of the PCs played in our group. ...that would translate to half our 2E PCs not actually getting any choice in their first level ancestry feat.

The feat itself seems balanced and on par with other ancestry feats at first level, but... it's a funnel, a chokepoint, a barrier.

This could work much better if we had two ancestry feats at level 1, but as it is, it's awkward. I like that there are Orc and Half-Elf specific feats but it doesn't sit right with me overall.

1 to 50 of 768 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Paizo / Archive / Pathfinder / Playtests & Prerelease Discussions / Pathfinder Playtest / Paizo Blog: Born of Two Worlds All Messageboards