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Advanced Race Guide Playtest

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Illustration by Francesco Graziani

For over two years now, we've released a plethora of new classes, feats, spells, and other options for your character, but the one area we've never really explored too deeply is races. The Advanced Race Guide is going to change all that with a bunch of new races explored in detail and new options and tools based specifically on your character's race.

Included in this mighty tome is a system for building your own race, using a simple point-based mechanic. While this won't be legal for Pathfinder Society Organized Play, this system will allow players and GMs to add new and innovative races to their game, as well as to add some of the more monstrous options to the party roster. Building a system like this is not easy, and balancing it is even trickier, which is why we want you to playtest this system early and give us your thoughts, opinions, and suggestions for making it better.

This system is available now. Go grab the document right here and read through it. Build a race or two and introduce them to your game. Post your ideas and feedback to the Advanced Race Guide Playtest Board. Make sure to add your custom races to the New Races thread. This playtest will be open for the next two weeks. We look forward to seeing what you come up with.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Francesco Graziani Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Playtest
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Okay, I set out to make a Pathfinder-ized version of a race I came up with for a totally unrelated setting some time ago, the Eveo. If you want, you can read the full description of the race and character for that, but here's the gist.

The Gist:
The Eveo are small lemur- or monkey-like critters. They live in forested swamps or archipelagos, where they subsist on a diet of fish and fruit. They're primarily arboreal, and can swim well. They can walk on the ground, but are a bit slower and more awkward when doing so. They have brindled brown/gray fur, prehensile tails, and three eyes (the middle one sees in infrared and ultraviolet spectra, so they've got terrific vision). They're cheerful and dexterous, but not especially muscular.

After a quick overview, I figured 10 RP would be plenty to build something like that. Here are the stats I worked out:

The stats:
Race: Eveo

Type: Monstrous Humanoid (2 RP, Darkvision)

Size: Small (0 RP, +1 AC, +1 attack, -1 CMB/CMD, +4 size bonus on Stealth)

Base Speed: Slow (-1 RP, 20 feet on the ground because they're more comfortable in trees or water)

Ability Scores: Standard (0 RP, -2 STR, +2 DEX, +2 CHA)

Languages: Standard (1 RP, Common, Eveo automatic; Elven, Sylvan, Aquan, Auran, Boggard or Grippli for bonus languages)

Defensive Abilities:
Lesser Defensive Training (1 RP, +4 dodge AC vs Humanoid (Grippli))
Shadow Blending: harder to hit in shadows (1 RP).

Skills & Feats:
Stalker: Perception & Stealth are always class skills (1 RP).
Camouflage: +4 stealth in marshes or forests (1 RP).
Silent Hunter: reduced penalties for moving stealthily (2 RP).

Sense Abilities:
Low Light Vision (1 RP)

Other Abilities:
Prehensile Tail (2 RP)

Weakness abilities:
Light Sensitive: dazzled in areas of bright light (-1 RP).

That's a total of 10 RP spent, after a -2 adjustment for being Slow and Light Sensitive.

There's exactly ONE entry for Humanoid (Grippli) in the entire bestiary, so it would pretty unusual for the ability to actually come into play. But since the two races occupy much the same terrain and would be in competition for food, it would make sense to have some racial rivalries going on there.

I wanted to give them Climb and Swamp Stride (1 RP each) to reflect their comfort in the trees and their swampy biome, in preference to Shadow Blending and Lesser Defensive Training. Or perhaps Climb and Swim speeds, since I envisioned them as fairly strong swimmers (due to fishing).

Unfortunately, ALL of the standard movement abilities (Climb, Sprinter, Swamp Stride, Swim) have Normal 30-foot speed as a pre-requisite. Why on earth? What's preventing something from being slow on land and fast in the water? Like, say, the Nixie from the Bonus Bestiary, who has a land speed of 20 and a swim of 30. Ditto for climbers -- there are plenty of creatures who move quickly in the trees but not so as well on the ground. Bracchiating chimpanzees come to mind.

If it were up to me, I'd change the pre-reqs on the standard movement abilities thus:

Suggested standard movement pre-reqs:
Climb: must be Medium or smaller (on the theory that big creatures fall hard).

Sprinter: Normal speed trait makes sense as a pre-req in this case, since the ability is all about being fast.

Swamp Stride: must be Medium or smaller (on the theory that big creatures can't maneuver easily in difficult areas)

Swim: no pre-reqs. Base speed doesn't make sense here, as the Merfolk can tell you with their 5-foot land speed and 50 foot swim speed. Size doesn't make sense either -- whales are fast enough to hurl themselves bodily out of the sea after all.

Other thoughts:

The Prehensile Tail ability has a typo. It says "They cannot wield weapons with their tail, but they cannot retrieve small stowed objects carried on their persons as a swift action." The second "cannot" is probably supposed to be a "can".

Why is sneaky limited to goblinoids? Can't other types of creatures be sneaky? I'd be surprised if the Fey aren't good at stealth.

I'm pretty pleased with how my Eveo race came out, despite not being able to give a climb speed to an arboreal species. I could see them for any class, though they'd be best as a stealthy/ranged character, such as a ranger or a rogue. A sorcerer Eveo with the Shadow bloodline would make an interesting choice. They probably wouldn't make the best melee combatants -- I can't really see one putting on full plate -- but even that could work if done judiciously.

Overall this looks like a pretty good system. Needs some tweaking, but that's what the playtest is for.

Cheliax

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

I don't really understand the upset over the missing Dragon type, when it's so easy to build one yourself.

The only things the Dragon type actually gives, with 0 racial HD, is darkvision 60 ft. (2 RP), low-light vision (1 RP), and Draconic Immunities, immunity to magical sleep and paralysis. Now the immunity to paralysis is not defined for an exact value, but combined with the immunity to Sleep effects it's either a 2 RP ability like Eleven immunities or else a 3 RP ability. So in total, a Draconic race to start off would be 5 or 6 RP.

You can add on however much natural armor, energy resistance, flight, breath weapons, and whatever else you'd care to to arrive at your desired level of "dragon-ness", but a base is easy to figure out, even if they didn't give us one.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Like what I'm seeing so far, though I trust this will not be the end-all & be-all of the abilities to come. I wants' to build me a Troll! (well, maybe a Troll-kin - I've never been satisfied with Half-trolls).


I'm tempted to try and build some draconians with this system. Looks doable, even if I have to create some racial abilities myself.

Looking good so far Paizo. I'll take it for a spin.

Shadow Lodge

wolflord wrote:

This is so awesome! Well done guys!

While most of them are in the 10-14 range, some of these have significantly less than 10. For those poor ifrits, gripplis, orcs, etc it seems like you could add some things to get them up to around 10. You could have another category for adventurers or heroes that goes beyond the base racial stuff, and get them up to around 10. Now that we can see the rough power comparison, those weaker races would be a hard sell for player characters.

Note that the point buy system does not exactly conform to a power ranking of sorts, although the possibility is there. Not all abilities can be converted to point costs: For instance, many of the "lower-ranking" races are native outsiders(IIRC, all elemental ones are) who gain a blanket immunity to all Person spells(Dominate, Enlarge, Hold, etc), a pretty powerful ability that seems to get missed a lot. The racial type likely does not account for it, which might explain the relatively low score of some of the races.


Why Skilled cost 4 points and Advanced Intelligence only 4, the second is more important for anything (languages, skills, skills modifiers, abilities rolls, spellcasting, etc)?


Azure_Zero wrote:
wolflord wrote:

This is so awesome! Well done guys!

A few things.

1. I'd love to see a living-construct type so we can make warforged.
...

I believe living-construct is WotC property and not in the OGL,

so Half-construct type will have to do.

I suspect Jewish mythology would argue against that. (Not all golem-stories ends as neatly as the one about Rabbi Löw and the Prague ghetto.)


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Kajehase wrote:
Azure_Zero wrote:
wolflord wrote:

This is so awesome! Well done guys!

A few things.

1. I'd love to see a living-construct type so we can make warforged.
...

I believe living-construct is WotC property and not in the OGL,

so Half-construct type will have to do.
I suspect Jewish mythology would argue against that. (Not all golem-stories ends as neatly as the one about Rabbi Löw and the Prague ghetto.)

Even if it's in myth, they can not use "living-construct", or have all the same properties as living-construct from Eborron in the Half-construct type, or it's a copyright violation and a lawsuit.

Andoran

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
guille f wrote:
Why Skilled cost 4 points and Advanced Intelligence only 4, the second is more important for anything (languages, skills, skills modifiers, abilities rolls, spellcasting, etc)?

From what I can tell, the costs of the system appear to be at least partially balanced in two ways: RP cost and tier access. Any nonstandard ability requires an advanced or monstrous race, which looks like it is supposed to automatically bump you up in APL calculation. So you're paying the cost in RP *and* in threat level. (Of course, that just winds up getting them more XP faster, so I don't know how much of a cost it actually is...) Regardless, the cost of Advanced ability scores pretty much has to be taking into account the tier access to work.


I'm a little surprised at some of the pricing issues, it seems like they were shoehorned a bit to fit most current races into 10 RP. Seriously, goblins pay 8 points for +4 to ride and stealth (generally, skill bonuses are 1 RP for +1 to any skill), and hardy (+2 to saves vs. spell and more) or a skill focus (+3 to a single skill) cost one point - does that make sense? Plus, flexible modifiers (+2 to any 2 skills) compared to the regular +2/+2/-2 array is only 2 points more, and the lack of penalty to an attribute alone will likely impact several skills, and probably other stats according to the ability used.

I like the of disentangling racial abilities so they can be used for homebrews and the like, but I think some of the pricing is way off.


Shisumo wrote:
guille f wrote:
Why Skilled cost 4 points and Advanced Intelligence only 4, the second is more important for anything (languages, skills, skills modifiers, abilities rolls, spellcasting, etc)?
From what I can tell, the costs of the system appear to be at least partially balanced in two ways: RP cost and tier access. Any nonstandard ability requires an advanced or monstrous race, which looks like it is supposed to automatically bump you up in APL calculation. So you're paying the cost in RP *and* in threat level. (Of course, that just winds up getting them more XP faster, so I don't know how much of a cost it actually is...) Regardless, the cost of Advanced ability scores pretty much has to be taking into account the tier access to work.

+1

It took me several minutes to figure that part out (because, naturally, I skipped all the intro text and went straight into the meat, so I missed out on the Standard/Advanced/Monstrous differentiation). I wish there were a more visually intuitive way to sort through all of them... minor nit pick though.

So, Skilled is a Standard ability, so races being built within 10 RP have access. Advanced Intelligence is an Advanced ability, so only races being built on a budget of 20 RP or more have access to it. Adv. Intelligence may be better, but if you don't have access to it, then Skilled is the next best thing.


guille f wrote:
Why Skilled cost 4 points and Advanced Intelligence only 4, the second is more important for anything (languages, skills, skills modifiers, abilities rolls, spellcasting, etc)?

Skilled can be taken by standard, advanced and monstrous, where as Advanced Intelligence can only be taken by advanced and monstrous. It balances out in that retrospect.


Foghammer wrote:

I got a chuckle out of the planetouched races - none of them had as many as 10 points, yet they were in the advanced section, among the likes of aasimar and tieflings.

All in all, I like this a lot. I look forward to playing around with it and seeing what all the community churns out.

EDIT: For clarification:

Advanced Race Guide Playtest wrote:


Flight (4 RP): Prerequisites: None; Benefit: Members
of this race have a f ly speed of 30 ft. with clumsy
maneuverability. Special: This ability can be taken more
than once. Each time it is taken, the race’s fly speed is
increased by +10 ft. and the maneuverability improves by
one step for each additional 2 RP spent.

If I take Flight 3 times, then my fly speed is 50 ft. and maneuverability improves 4 times (two additional purchases of flight equals 8 RP, divided by 2 RP)?

Or is that a typo, and it should read "each additional 4 RP spent?"

I think the intent was that fly speed increases by 10ft for each time you spend +4RP, and separately, you may increase maneuverability with a cost of +2RP per step.

The wording here should be clarified.


Eric Jarman wrote:

I think the intent was that fly speed increases by 10ft for each time you spend +4RP, and separately, you may increase maneuverability with a cost of +2RP per step.

The wording here should be clarified.

Not saying you're wrong, but that would make taking Flight multiple times unattractive in my mind. I'd just take the speed increase and take Skill Focus: Fly as a bonus feat for 2 points. That alone would give you +3 (+6 at 10 ranks) as opposed to the static +2 or +4 that maneuverability gives per step.

Also... I'm totally going to use these rules to create d20 versions of Magi from the CCG Magi-Nation Duel. Some guy named BlackDaggr did it years ago with 3.x, but Pathfinder is more compatible, I think. Fun times!


I guess my idea of a four armed insectoid race is out. :(


It mentions under constructs that they would still benefit from fast healing special quality, but that isn't an option and neither is breath weapon, thought these would be under monstrous options.


sadomsa wrote:

It mentions under constructs that they would still benefit from fast healing special quality, but that isn't an option and neither is breath weapon, thought these would be under monstrous options.

There ise a 1st lv spell that grants Fast Healing: Infernal healing, so it is likely just an option thing for later (if you ever acquire it)


I tried building something like a Panserbjørn - basically an intelligent bear. It proved fairly tricky - the different ability modifier packages are somewhat odd, and the straight bonuses too pricey. I just based the build on the stats for a brown bear in the SRD. But, there's no Magical Beast type available, and no way to limit the use of weapons, armor and tools - the MB type indicates only proficiency with natural weapons (which is appropriate), but there's no option to use this as a point-balance weakness. I'd like to be able to do awakened/intelligent/magical animals as playable balanced races. That's a pretty strong fantasy trope.


Benjamin Baugh wrote:
I tried building something like a Panserbjørn - basically an intelligent bear. It proved fairly tricky - the different ability modifier packages are somewhat odd, and the straight bonuses too pricey. I just based the build on the stats for a brown bear in the SRD. But, there's no Magical Beast type available, and no way to limit the use of weapons, armor and tools - the MB type indicates only proficiency with natural weapons (which is appropriate), but there's no option to use this as a point-balance weakness. I'd like to be able to do awakened/intelligent/magical animals as playable balanced races. That's a pretty strong fantasy trope.

I think that the reason for that is the races are supposed to be bipeds. I assume you're talking about the armored bears from the his dark materials trilogy (been a while since I read them). I think you could just home brew content for this and see how it works

My suggestion:
Magical beast 3 (RP)
low-light vision
darkvision 60'
Unable to be proficient in weapons other than natural weapons even if classes give you weapon proficiencies.
Unable to be proficient in armor other even if classes give you armor proficiencies.

Racial armor proficiency (4 RP)
Grants proficiency with armor that mimics the abilities of full plate. You must craft the armor yourself to wear it, and all other creatures (including members of your race) are not proficient with it.

But that's just me. The other bonuses should be pretty obvious.

Edit: just remembered that the armor worn by the armored bears was forged from metal that fell from meteorites, sounds like adamantine to me.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The only problem I'm seeing with this is that some of the Advanced Races don't have examples in any of the books I own. The Catfolk, Ratfolk, Suli, Vanara, and Vishkanya all have the standard language packages, but don't list whether or not they have a racial language. The Vishkanya also have weapon familiarity, but it doesn't list which types of weapons.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Thedukk wrote:
The only problem I'm seeing with this is that some of the Advanced Races don't have examples in any of the books I own. The Catfolk, Ratfolk, Suli, Vanara, and Vishkanya all have the standard language packages, but don't list whether or not they have a racial language. The Vishkanya also have weapon familiarity, but it doesn't list which types of weapons.

Well maybe they're stated elsewhere in the book, that is not released yet.

Andoran

This question somewhat hinges on the following assumption:

Am I correct in remembering that all fear effects are mind-affecting abilities?

If so, if I take the half-undead type (granting +2 vs. mind-affecting) and then give them the fearless ability (+2 vs. fear), do these stack (granting them a +4 vs. fear and +2 vs. other mind-affecting abilities)?

Editor, Jon Brazer Enterprises

Thedukk wrote:
The only problem I'm seeing with this is that some of the Advanced Races don't have examples in any of the books I own. The Catfolk, Ratfolk, Suli, Vanara, and Vishkanya all have the standard language packages, but don't list whether or not they have a racial language. The Vishkanya also have weapon familiarity, but it doesn't list which types of weapons.

They're coming out in Bestiary 3, which should be out in a month or two, if I recall correctly.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I tested this out last night. I was able to create a humanoid (0 RP) small race (0 RP) that had 20 ft movement (-1 RP), xenophobic language array (0 RP), with a Greater Paragon Ability (-1 RP).

This gave me a +4 ability, -2 physical, & -2 mental. For the sake of this post it was a +4 Str, -2 Dex, & -2 Cha. This left me with 12 RP to spend to make a race that had a total of 10 RP and have no level adjustment. According to the new rules you can't pick more then 3 abilities from any individual category. I chose to take 3x Advanced Strength (12 RP total).

This gave the new small race in total a +10 Str, -2 Dex, -2 Cha while only sacrificing 10 ft. of movement. Seems kinda broken to me to begin play with a +10 to an ability score at first level.

Qadira

Belkar wrote:

I tested this out last night. I was able to create a humanoid (0 RP) small race (0 RP) that had 20 ft movement (-1 RP), xenophobic language array (0 RP), with a Greater Paragon Ability (-1 RP).

This gave me a +4 ability, -2 physical, & -2 mental. For the sake of this post it was a +4 Str, -2 Dex, & -2 Cha. This left me with 12 RP to spend to make a race that had a total of 10 RP and have no level adjustment. According to the new rules you can't pick more then 3 abilities from any individual category. I chose to take 3x Advanced Strength (12 RP total).

This gave the new small race in total a +10 Str, -2 Dex, -2 Cha while only sacrificing 10 ft. of movement. Seems kinda broken to me to begin play with a +10 to an ability score at first level.

Advanced abilities can't be chosen for a standard race. This makes your race build invalid.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Edgar Lamoureux wrote:
Belkar wrote:

I tested this out last night. I was able to create a humanoid (0 RP) small race (0 RP) that had 20 ft movement (-1 RP), xenophobic language array (0 RP), with a Greater Paragon Ability (-1 RP).

This gave me a +4 ability, -2 physical, & -2 mental. For the sake of this post it was a +4 Str, -2 Dex, & -2 Cha. This left me with 12 RP to spend to make a race that had a total of 10 RP and have no level adjustment. According to the new rules you can't pick more then 3 abilities from any individual category. I chose to take 3x Advanced Strength (12 RP total).

This gave the new small race in total a +10 Str, -2 Dex, -2 Cha while only sacrificing 10 ft. of movement. Seems kinda broken to me to begin play with a +10 to an ability score at first level.

Advanced abilities can't be chosen for a standard race. This makes your race build invalid.

Where does it say that you can't? I just read the Advanced Strength and there was no prerequisites for it. If you can point it out I will stand corrected otherwise this is a legal build.

*Edit: I stand corrected. I had to re-read the intro for the racial abilities and say that where it said Standard races can only pick from standard abilities. That means Advanced abilities are only for Advanced and Monstrous even though it says no prerequisites.


Firstly,

Prehinsive Tail pg 15 wrote:
Prehensile Tail (2 RP): Prerequisites: None; Benefit: Members of this race have a long, flexible tail that can be used to carry objects. They cannot wield weapons with their tail, but they cannot retrieve small stowed objects carried on their persons as a swift action.

I am assuming that since the emphasis of retrieving being a swift action that they can in fact retrieve items and this is a typo. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Secondly, is there anything extra that will have to go into my Sec. 15 if I use any of this in my products, in regards to it still being Beta?

Just trying to mind my P's and Q's is all.

-Shaun


Did some experimenting on my own. I'm an Eberron junkie and tried building warforged, some Karnathi Skeleton men, and a shifter, also tried building Raptorans. I can post them if you'd like.

My issues:

Thoughts:
1) Resurrection weakness is a bit hit or miss for me, it’s something that I can see being used a lot since it might never come up (IE the enemy is unlikely to have it immediately available and ready). It’s an interesting idea, but I’m shaky on it.

2) There needs to be a better demarcation of where an ‘advanced’ race begins and ends, some of the abilities listed don’t seem especially mindblowing. See also the problem where a Tiefling/Aasimar is well below what other 10 point builds can be.

3) Some of the PH races are a bit strong, it might help if we had a clearer demarcation, does a tiefling still need an LA? Probably not, but is 13 the cutoff point or can we go higher?

4) Need clarification on the ‘can be taken multiple times’ thing in regards to the total limit on taken abilities from each category.

5) Improved elemental resistance might need to be either cleaned up or expanded, since there are abilities that grant resistances that aren’t the specific elemental resistance power.

6) Limit on number of save boosters, this is more the issue of in defensive I could be a half construct of say Dual mind and fortunate.

7) racial spellcasting can allow racial self buffs, unsure on that idea

8) I admit I’m curious on the idea of fast healing, not too high, but would it be feasible or would that be overpowering? I think it might be salvageable as a high point cost advanced (like 6-8) or a medium cost (4-6) Monstrous ability.

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