101 Alternate Racial Traits (PFRPG) PDF (based on
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What makes a character unique?
Many facets create a distinctive personality and character, and the proper traits can go a long way towards making your next hero much more memorable. Why not make sure you've got the best to choose from?
With 101 Racial Traits you'll find more options for all the core races, certain to give any character a distinctive and personal background. Make your dwarves "unshakeable" or "Born with Axe or Hammer," and your "Highborn" elves the keepers of an "Alicorn bloodline." Gnomes might be "Well-Traveled," or be handy with "Steam and Fumes." Even humans can find something a bit more exotic, making them a "Child of Destiny," or gifting them with "Eidetic Memory." These traits provide interesting options for the mechanics-minded and roleplaying flourishes to personalize every PC.
Whether you decide on a Wendigo Ancestry, life as a Star-Touched elf, a Quickling Spirit, a half-elf Bastard's Life, a half-orc's Noble Savage heritage, or a halfling's Cannibalistic Reputation, having at least fourteen options for any race means hundreds of combinations and characters designed with panache and flair. It means a character with not just good traits, but the Rite traits!
101 Alternate Racial Traits also includes all of these new character options for HeroLab (Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook and Advanced Player's Guide data sets required) at no additional cost!
Author: Steven D. Russell Cover Art: Joe Calkins Pages: 11
This pdf is 17 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ads and 1 page SRD, leaving 12 pages for the new selection of racial traits, so let's check them out!
The first thing you'll notice about this pdf will be that it, in contrast to the other 101-books, is full-color and thus adheres to the beautiful layout you can also see in Rite Publishing's free Pathways magazines. Most of the artworks (all but one) subsequently also are full-color. Nice!
One of the coolest features of character generation is coming up with unique back stories, at least for me and my players. While we all know that adventurers tend to be somewhat above average individuals, we sometimes crave a special touch that has its own representation in the rules and sets them even further apart from their peers, be it via ancestry, culture or just by choice - modifications are fun and this book offers a plethora of new racial trait options for the core races. In order to review this book, I'll mention my favorite traits and my least favorite ones for the respective races, so let's check them out!
Dwarves, the stout, bearded defenders get a very cool ability that reflects their stoicism, granting them a bonus to DC to successfully use sense motive against them and enchantment resistance. On the very cool, far-out side, we can now also play dwarves that have been subjected to horrible experiments and cross-bred with lasher, granting them the ability to get reach at the expense of strength with elongated limbs. I LOVE how potentially creepy that is. I didn't care for "Tried and True", which lets the dwarf automatically succeed at any class skill if he/she rolls a 19 or 20. Sorry, but depending on the class this trait is over-powered.
Elves also can be customized to be more unique with these traits: While some of the ancestry traits (like pairing with a giant eagle) somewhat felt icky, gaining wings via the "Aellar Ancestry" is kinda cool. We also finally get a rules-representation for the elven immortality. We are also treated to some traits related to magic, making the feeling of the elves more in touch with magic. There was no trait I had a problem with.
Next up are the Gnomes, who get a very cool expansion of their tropes. Both clockworks and humor and witticism get their rules-representations and my favorite is actually "Misunderstood Genius", that lets the gnome choose ONE skill - on a roll of 19 or 20, he gets a +20 bonus to said skill. I like this in contrast to "Tried and True" due to still making it possible for failing a check and being limited to one skill. My least favorite one is "Well-traveled", which grants bonus languages. While useful in e.g. campaigns like mine, it might see less use in other campaigns. The lurker-ancestry (gnome/cloaker-crossbreeds), once again providing fodder for people who like it creepy like yours truly. Great traits.
Half-elves get a special treatment, essentially providing components and traits that make it possible to play a full-blown half-drow or just take bits and pieces due to distant ancestry. I especially liked "Adaptive Learning" - a concisely presented trait that lets you choose an additional class skill each time you enter a new base class. Once again, I've got nothing to complain.
Half-Orcs get an alternate, more Orcish attribute set and once again get an extremely cool ancestry: Fans of Illithids, rejoice and mind-blast/tentacle-suck your enemies dry! Better yet, this trait can be taken by any race! I tried to be nit-picky here, but I like all of the traits and see no real problems with them.
Then, we get the halflings: I absolutely loved the potential for mischief the "Blinkling Ancestry" provides - by mystical mergeing, these halflings may blink a limited number of times per day. If you're in for a rather gritty or savage setting "Cannibalistic Reputation" offers the jovial folk a rather sinister and badass reputation that helps his allies when flanking foes. Rather prefer the jovial halfling? "Corpulent" makes them tougher, but at the expense of speed and increased falling damage. There is one trait, though, that I absolutely LOATHE: "Common Sense". What sounds rather down-to-earth actually turns out to be extremely powerful: Once per day, as a free action, they can abort an action they attempted and RETCON their whole action, doing something else! The example is given of a halfling sneaking up to an enemy, trying to attack him. If he fails, he can remain hidden and do something different. If this was limited to one kind of roll, I wouldn't complain. But the action to retcon a whole round just feels tremendously unbalanced to me and will never find its way into my campaign.
After that, it's time for the humans to shine: My two favorites here are the "Child of Prophecy" that lets you accumulate markers for rolled 1s which you can convert to bonuses on other tasks and "Eidetic Memory", if only because the latter (as a feat in 3.5) has made several awesome stories possible in my former campaign. I was also kind of touched by "Personal Sacrifice", which grants a bonus to heal and lets them interpose themselves between an attacker and their ally.
Layout is beautiful and adheres to the elegant full-color two-column-Pathways-standard. The artworks, also full color, are nice, though nothing to write home about - "just" ok to good. Editing is top-notch, I didn't notice any flaws and the same goes for formatting. The crunch, as I've come to expect from Rite Publishing, teems with great ideas and most of the traits are solid. However, there also are some I consider to be rather on the OP, too powerful side. GMs should take care to read all the traits carefully and strike out those that don't fit into their respective campaigns power-levels. Thus, my final verdict will be 4 stars - a good book, but one that contains some rotten-egg-traits that rather felt like capstone abilities of classes than racial traits.
This product is 17 pages long. It starts with a cover and credits. (2 pages)
Alternate Racial Traits (12 pages)
There is 101 new racial traits to choose from. A breakdown by race follows.
Dwarf – 15
Elf – 16
Gnome – 15
Half-Elf – 5
Half-Drow – 4 (these are for half-elves but if two of more are taken the half-elf gains light blindness as well)
Half-Orc – 14
Halfling – 15
Human - 15
There is also alternate stats for a half-drow and half-orc presented in the books as well. These other two stats make for 101 traits.
A couple of the ones I liked.
Against the Wall – gives a bonus when fighting with other dwarves to defense.
Strength of Duty – a dwarf can once a day gain temp hp when reduced to zero to keep fighting.
Invest Magic – once a day a elf can cast a spell and not use up the slot.
Houri Ancestory – a elf with traces of nymph blood, once a day can daze all those who look on them for a round. Save to ignore.
Clockwork Magic – gnomes get a bonus to repair items from just listening to the item.
Lovely Distraction – a blend of the best beauty aspects of humans and elves. Gains social bonuses.
Orc Warcry – once a day for one round as a free action, a half-orc can give a bonus to hit, saves etc to their allies.
Bewitching – a human that is good at manipulating others, easier to adjust a NPC's attitude towards friendly.
It ends with a OGL, Ads. (3 pages)
Closing thoughts. The art ranges from meh to pretty good, most of it is color. One piece is black and white. Layout and editing was pretty good I did notice a couple of spots, one where there was no space between paragraphs, but nothing major. There was a couple of traits I didn't care for or just seemed odd. Like one where a elf has naga blood, or a gnome with lurker blood. Other might like them, but I didn't care for a few of them like that. Taken a whole though I liked the majority of them. Many of them can be used with just a fluff change for other races. If you are looking for more traits this is worth picking up. So what's my rating? I am going to give it a 4. It was good but I did notice a couple of minor errors and while most of it was good, there was a few I was meh about and a couple I didn't like.
101 Alternate Racial Traits presents users with new possibilities for what type of unique character they create. These new racial traits take the place of (most of them) one or more racial traits from the Pathfinder core rulebook. These new traits allow players the flexibility of creating a character similar to what they had envisioned. 101 Alternate Racial Traits truly puts creativity in design back into the players hands by allowing them to create the character types they really want without unnecessary racial traits.
More options! Many of us yearn for more options. To create a character that is truly unique and conforms to the background that you have envisioned. That’s what 101 Alternate Racial Traits is about, the ability to create the character you want to create. Instead of racial traits that are useless, unnecessary or just don’t work with what you want, you can now maximize your characters abilities. Or at least come closer to maximizing their abilities. Even with 101 traits, you can probably find 101 more.
Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
101 Alternate Racial Traits is very well organized with a clean presentation and simple layout. Rite Publishing has a habit of creating high-quality publications and this is no different. Some illustrations are sprinkled throughout, but a supplement like this doesn’t really need many. What it does need, and definitely has, are easy-to-read entries that are also easy-to-find (when reference back through the material).
Mechanics: 10 out of 10
I love the variety of new racial traits, especially the different bloodlines and supernatural abilities. Sometimes you feel like creating a stereotypical dwarf, and sometimes you feel like creating one with your own vision. While 101 Alternate Racial Traits may not give you every option you’re looking for, it definitely gives you plenty to choose from. Even if you don’t find what you want, you can use these new traits as a template for creating your own.
Value Add: 9 out of 10
I am a big fan of supplements that provide more options during character creation. It’s very easy to take the easy route during character creation by building a typical adventurer with the given racial bonuses and penalties. This could be the equivalent of creating sub-races or just creating a flavor for your adventurer that corresponds with the background they created (or want to create). The only problem with more options is finding the right ones to choose. While this may seem a daunting task for many, it can be well-worth the time spent.
Overall: 10 out of 10
Supplements that enhance character creation (by offering more options) is worth purchasing. The key to 101 Alternate Racial Traits is the sheer number of new options you are given (including racial traits for a half-drow) that make it even more worth purchasing. If you’re looking for an easy way to create unique characters, this supplement is for you. If you’d rather keep with the standard options, then you won’t find much value within the supplement.
Everyone has different opinions on certain game rules they allow in their games. I know for myself, I tend to keep a tight cap on what I allow. I allow traits only if they fit the character concept, not the other way around. With traits I see an avenue to forgo role play for roll play, and this is easily abusable by certain types of players. This personal bias of mine I feel I needed to note before giving my review of this book.
Every major race in the Pathfinder Role Playing Game Core Rules was included in this book. With 101 racial traits there are bound to be some that are more useful or more thematically appropriate than others. On the whole I liked more of the traits than I disliked, while the bulk of the traits remained in the so-so category. I found that I tended to like the traits that best fit the race thematically. I also found that I really disliked traits that added some other ancestry that seems in some cases mind bogglingly impossible (unless one uses the excuse that “magic did it,” which gets overused). The singular exception to this was the Trixie Ancestry trait for Gnomes. The groups that stand out with the best thematic racial traits in my opinion are the Dwarves, Elves and Gnomes. There were a few worthwhile traits for the remaining races, plus the set for Half-Elves with Drow ancestry if the GM allows Half-Drow in his/her game.
For GMs who like to give their players lots of options to express individuality through rules (rather than role play), I think this is an extremely useful book. Even if individual GMs don’t like all the traits, they should find some in this collection of traits they find useful and thematically intriguing. For this reason I am giving this a three of five star rating. *But I changed my mind, 4 of 5 stars, given the very nice layout work on this supplement.
I almost forgot. The pictures in this book are mostly all in full color, which is nice. I particularly liked the one of the Gnome with Trixie Ancestry. Maybe that is why I liked the trait?