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Weapons Proficiency - Class vs Race


Rules Questions

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I apologize if this actually belongs in the rules questions forum but since the question involves a society character, I thought it would work here and answer both regular play as well as society.

Does your class, race, or both determine your weapon proficiency?

I am asking this as I thought of purchasing a bow for my elf druid but the GM states that your class determines your final weapon proficiency. I know the elf has proficiency with longbows (including composite longbows), longswords, rapiers, and shortbows (including composite shortbows), and treat any weapon with the word “elven” in its name as a martial weapon.

The Druid does not carry any of these proficiencies including martial weapons.

If it were me as GM, I would allow it as the race granted the proficiency and the only time martial weapons came into play was if Elven was in the name as stated in the race description. I am sure this question will come up again in my sessions and I wanted to make sure that my ruling or the GM I play with have the correct ruling. Thank you again in advance as I stand by the fact this is a great community.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Both. Your class determines the main set of your weapon proficiencies, but some races (such as elves) have special modifications on top of what your class grants you.

If your GM's POV were accurate, then the whole "elves are proficient with longbows..." rule would be meaningless, since elves who take classes which are already proficient with longbows don't need the "elf rule", and elves who take classes which aren't already proficient with longbows wouldn't be affected (since your GM feels that the class rule trumps the race rule).


The answer is both.

An elf druid is proficient with the longbow, even if druids typically aren't

Similarly, a half orc sorcerer is not proficient with martial weapons, as they only gain simple weapon proficiency. However, they are proficient with falchion and Greataxe, because they are half orcs.

Liberty's Edge

Keep in mind, that despite what the Rules say (and both those who responded so far are absolutely correct), in a Home Game, a GM can make whatever Home ruling they want.

But anytime you are playing Pathfinder Society, whether at someone’s home, at a store, or at a convention, you must go by the rules of the game with the only campaign specific modifications being those that Mike Brock has noted in the Guide, the FAQ, and the helpful message board clarification compilation post.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Thank you to everyone who responded. I was not able to find the answer to my question on the very helpful messageboard clarification post which is why I had presented my question here. If it is there, please let me know so I can locate, review, and report my findings. Everyone's help is very appreciated and you have my thanks.

Grand Lodge

Preston Hudson wrote:
Thank you to everyone who responded. I was not able to find the answer to my question on the very helpful messageboard clarification post which is why I had presented my question here. If it is there, please let me know so I can locate, review, and report my findings. Everyone's help is very appreciated and you have my thanks.

Its not in the Messageboard Clarification post because its not a clarification that needs to be made.

But this is what the 'boards are for, asking questions that you can't figure out by yourself.

Liberty's Edge

Preston Hudson wrote:
Thank you to everyone who responded. I was not able to find the answer to my question on the very helpful messageboard clarification post which is why I had presented my question here. If it is there, please let me know so I can locate, review, and report my findings. Everyone's help is very appreciated and you have my thanks.

I doubt you'll find an answer to your question in any FAQ or clarification post, because I'm sure the developers feel the rule is quite clear.

There really is no ambiguity in it.

Not sure how your GM came to his interpretation. There is nothing in the Race area, or Class area that would say one takes precedence over the other. Indeed, how would the familiarity with Elf weapons allow an Elf to turn the exotic elven sabre to be martial, if Fighter proficiencies take precedence and negate the racial proficiencies.

The only way this makes any sense at all, is if someone could advance only as an elf. And most often, 1HD races that can be made into a PC, advance by class HD. Indeed, any creature from the bestiary that is 1 HD and advances by class, does not have any racial hit dice to advance by.

In other words, the only way what your GM has said would make any sense, is if it were possible to have a level 12 character with 12 Elf hit dice. This is not possible RAW in Pathfinder, as Elves only advance by class hit dice.

Most races give up the extra feat and skill point that humans get, by getting weapon familiarities, a bonus in some skills, a bonus on saving throws in certain circumstances, and sometimes a spell-like ability or two.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

This is why I come to the boards sometimes when I get rulings like this. When she stated that the class determined your weapons proficiency and what you get with your race has no bearing, it did not make any sense to me. If a similar question came to me in my PFS group without this clarification, I would have followed what she gave me. I always had the understanding that the combination of your race and class determined your proficiencies which was, my thought originally, a no brainer but when she informed me that Society went by class for weapon proficiencies, I had to get this clarified. I guess things like this will be a part of my learning experience as both a player and GM. Thank you again.

Liberty's Edge

No problem Preston.

I would definitely have a talk with this GM about making up rules like this (at least find out where she read such a rule or who told her this was the rule).

And if she persists, then I would send a query to your local Venture-Officer on the topic.


I would venture a guess that your GM may have thought of the ruling regarding 0-HD Outsiders like Aasimar and Tieflings only getting class-proficiencies and not Outsider-proficiencies.

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