As I mentioned here on my comparision between 3.5 and Pathfinder classes, now comes the race comparisons.
Keep in mind this means playable 'at' lvl 1, so no level adjustments or extra hit dice allowed. So while 3.5 had Aasimars and Tieflings and elemental children like the Genasi, and other 'humanoid' monsters they were not technically playable...more on that later.
1. Arctic Dwarf` (small sized not medium like normal Dwarf)
8. Deep Imaskari`
9. Dragonborn (RoD)
11. Dwarf (Deep, Dark*,Gold`, Mountain~, Stone ~, Dream, Badlands, Seacliff)
13. Elf (Aquatic, Gray, Wild Wood, Kagenesti*, Qualinesti*, Silvanesti*, Sea*, Dargonesti*, Dimernesti*, Sun`, Star`, Painted)
15. Gnome (Forest, Whisper, Wavecrest, Mad*, Deep~)
17. Gully Dwarf*(Gnome and Dwarf crossbreed)
19. Half-Elf (Half-Drow)
22. Halfling (Tallfellows, Deep, Ghostwise`, Strongheart`, Golden~, Shoal)
23. Half-Orc (Scablands)
25. Human (lots of ethnic choices but nothing 'really' counting as a ‘subrace’)
28. Kender* (like a Halfling to the point of interchangeability but stats and mentality vastly different enough to be separate)
34. Minotaur* (medium size)
39. Sea Kin
43. Spirit Folk`
47. Wild Dwarf` (small sized not medium like normal Dwarf)
Since Pathfinder after Bestiary 1 did away with the royally stupid ECL and LA rules for the RP system in ARG you'll notice I put gnoll and lizardfolk in here as they were down in the ARG book, which supersedes the Bestiary 1's LA on these two. Also Svirneblin which have 24 rp are included since they are put among the 'uncommons' and I'm only counting regular and not noble Drow. Otherwise I only included races at or under 20 RP.
6. Drow (not noble)
14. Gnoll (ARG)
28. Lizardfolk (ARG)
30. Monkey Goblin
Okay first thing is first Pathfinder just edges out 3.5 in numbers of playable races, though 3.5 has several variants of Dwarves and Elves, and there is a lot of races that look human, (Xeph, Asherati, The Incarnum races, Illumian, etc. Heck Deep Imaskari and Underfolk are humans evolved to live in the Underdark) but share zero mechanical similarities and are generally shown as parallel to humans and not a branch of it. Of interesting note, is the difference in presentation of Changelings, with 3.5 a cross between human and doppelgangers, and in Pathfinder an all-female race born of human and hag parents, and capable of turning into a hag after puberty if they heed their mother’s call. Then there is the 3.5 Dragonborn, and yes they were a playable race BEFORE 4th, and they had a much cooler back story then they got in 4th. The TLDR being a youth of x race becomes a dragon by literally being willing transformed inside a magic egg and re-hatched to help Bahamut in his fight against Tiamat. Personally the rp and backstory with that makes a character as rich as expensive German chocolate.
3.5 had some duds in the race department like the Hadozee (winged orangutans…-_-;) and the apes of the hairless variety (humans and their human wannabes for the most part. But other than this I won’t go into my dislike of humans in fantasy.) But they did have winner winner chicken dinners: The Darfellan were very unique humanoid ‘orca’ like race that could live on land,3.5 Dragonborn before they got watered down in 4th, Gold Dwarfs, Mongrelfolk (A literal if too many half this and half that’s get together this will happen), Spellscales, Shifters and Warforged were all very unique and cool races.
3.5 and Pathfinder also have some overlapping races outside of the Core; Orcs, Goblins, Kenku (Kenku…Tengu…same thing.) , and Kobolds all represent, (Hobgoblins are bit different in Kalamar but still cool) and make fine PC choices. But other than that, the similarities start to divert. 3.5 only has one race that at lvl 1 that can get air born. (Raptorans, I think Hadozee get glide IIRC) Pathfinder has 3 (Strix, Syrinx, and Wyvaran, 4 if you count a feat for Aasimar, and Kobolds have trait to let them glide.) Now to me flight is not that big of an advantage, better mobility sure, but it’s also a great way to make yourself a target. (A flying wizard is a flak magnet for example, and people forget most dungeon ceiling are like…10ft high at best? Not to mention the flight mechanics as most can’t fly like a bee and just stop and start or turn on a dime.) So it’s a balance.
So 3.5 had quite a few cool races and some duds, but if we threw in all the possible racial variants from 3.5 it’d still get buried by the racial options in Pathfinder. Some call this bloat, me I call it being realistic as no two people ‘should’ be alike even within their own race. Even as vanilla as humans are, there is still some nice quirks of vanilla bean, French vanilla, vanilla and chocolate swirl…you get the point.
Now Pathfinder isn’t without faults, there is some dumb races that while I wouldn’t begrudge a PC for playing them I still don’t have to like em’ (Gripplis…frogs…-_-…eww. And Ghorans…a walking fruit salad for when the party gets hungry, literally!) And the water only races like Gillmen and Merfolk.
But where they just beat the every loving pants off 3.5, where they take 3.5 behind the woodshed and just beat em’ bloody is the vast amount of races that 3.5 locked away and said ‘These are monsters only’ and ‘you can only play these at x lvl once you figured in the races HD, LA, and it equals the ECL once they take a level of this…only then can you play them’…Pathfinder unlocked them and said ‘go to town’ (I don’t agree with PFS locking out most of the races, but I can see the point of simplicity in a more streamlined living storyline thing PFS does, so…don’t agree but not a big deal.) In a regular game of Pathfinder the races listed above once you add classes, aren’t really more powerful than one or the other. Some are tailor fitted for some classes, and you have munchkins, and power gamers, but that’s been true of D&D 3.5 too.
Aasimar, Tiefling, the not Genasi (Ifrit, Oread, Slyph, Undine) , Gnolls, Lizardfolk, Duergar, Svirfneblin, Drow, Catfolk and Hobgoblin (not counting KoK) were all locked away by an unnecessary and overly complicated mechanic. There was a lot more in 3.5 that could of made great PC characters (There is a polar bear race in Dragonlance that springs to mind.) but weren’t even given a ‘player stat’ block (Like +2 Str, -2 Dex, etc.) but were given LA, and sometimes even stated they favor ‘x’ class and advance in class. -_-;… so it was mathematical headache, and the way leveling was done a massive kneecap if you wanted to have fun. Because let’s say I wanted to play a Gnoll paladin in 3.5 (I did actually by the way. He is my divine hunter in Pathfinder.) In 3.5 Races of the Wild came out and made the race a quasi-class you had to take 3 levels in before you could take your first level of pally, (But at least it and few other books did do this for other races making them playable but hear me out.) what stunk though was those 3 levels literally got you just HD, a point of nat. armor, and martial weapon prof, with I think med. Armor prof. You were gimped hard compared to just playing a 6th lvl pally. In Pathfinder my Gnoll Pally rocks just as hard a humie pally does because both are lvl 6 when they have the same exp. And it made no sense because the race features really didn’t add up to the LA, drop the HD and there is literally NOTHING the race offered but a racial adjustment (again solely thanks to RotW), some profs. And some nat. armor. Other races like 3.5’s Catfolk got hurt even worse cause they got a level adjustment for no reason and NO HD. Yeah a level 2 3.5 Catfolk Wizard would have 1d4+Con. That hurts.
Thank Caydean, Pathfinder later knifed this stupid system. (B1 still had it, but it seems like it’s dead now, with ARG burying it and letting the cats use it for a litter box.)
Pathfinder also expanded what 3.5 didn’t offer, Kitsune, Androids, Ratfolk , Wyrwoods and Skinwalkers (discount Warforged and Shifters…but I’ll take em’.) and Wyvarans (not a half-dragon but good enough ^-^)
Anyway that’s my two coppers. And a rant/vent.
TLDR 3.5 races had some cool things I still like to this day but Level Adjustment, and ECL was a very bad mechanic and Pathfinder won the day with their races and racial options.
Also Pathfinder has the ONLY cool monkey race in the Vanara.