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Balanced Racial Traits House Rules


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


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We recently updated and finalized our house rules for Pathfinder, and I took the opportunity to balance most of the races, as per the Advanced Race Guide. Basically, any that were worth less than 10 RP were brought up to 10 RP (and dwarves were actually given a minor weakness, to bring them down to 10 RP). I haven't tinkered with aasimar, tieflings, drow or any of the other really high point, more obscure races, as any changes there would probably have to be too major (and would make the "Blood of ..." books, which I quite like, harder to use).

Anyway, since I have seen this topic brought up on the messageboards, now and then, I assume that others might be interested in this. Here is a link to a document, which details all of the changes:

Balanced Racial Traits


The small boon granted to half-orcs seems worthwhile. Truthfully, aside from a few differences, I can't tell which ones you changed, and which ones you didn't. maybe you could removed the ones you didn't alter.


Ciaran Barnes wrote:
The small boon granted to half-orcs seems worthwhile. Truthfully, aside from a few differences, I can't tell which ones you changed, and which ones you didn't. maybe you could removed the ones you didn't alter.

All of the ones included have some changes, except Elves, Gnomes and Half-Elves. I included those three in the original document, though, for the sake of convenience.


The dwarf weakness was clever.


Ciaran Barnes wrote:
The dwarf weakness was clever.

Thank you! :)

It was a bit tricky, because I wanted it to be a genuine weakness (but not too extreme), while still feeling like it was implied by the dwarves' description, so that it wouldn't feel new and tacked on. Actually, the "not feeling tacked on" notion was foremost in my mind for all of the changes the article presents. Anyway, the dwarves-acting-surly-to-other-races notion sprung immediately to mind, but I didn't want it to prevent the possibility of dwarven bards and the like - that is, dwarves who actually make the attempt to be personable having that option. I think that the Diplomacy rank mechanic handles that: in effect, the weakness can be "bought off" - but only by someone making an active effort (and spending skill ranks) to do so.


Who looks at Humans in Pathfinder and says, "Yeah, this race is pretty underpowered, let's give them Exotic Weapon Proficiency as an extra bonus feat"?

Cheliax

I honestly have to agree with Roberta on that.

Humans are already really good as-is, no changes necessary.


Roberta Yang wrote:
Who looks at Humans in Pathfinder and says, "Yeah, this race is pretty underpowered, let's give them Exotic Weapon Proficiency as an extra bonus feat"?

Paizo, apparently, since humans are worth only 9 RP in the Advanced Race Guide. And that's after over-paying for linguistics (since, as written, they have no racial tongue - they pay for at least two languages, but only get one).

To be honest, though, the human change - which is one we applied long before the ARG came out and which, thus, has been well playtested - started as a reaction to the human's loss of the Multitalented trait (as compared to 3.5). We were of the opinion that humans were more or less balanced against the other races in 3.5, so taking this away, when some of the other races were actually strengthened, just seemed unfair (where I come from, if you have two equal sides and take something away from one... well, that one is obviously weaker). We could have given humans back Multitalented, but, under PF rules, that seemed not quite right (specifically, it would seem extreme, when added to Skilled). So, given that most core races have a weapon familiarity (actually, several), this seemed like a good trade-off. And note that WF, of this sort, is worth 1 RP in the ARG - just right, to bring humans up to the proper 10 RP.

BTW, when it comes to racial traits, I'm not sure that you can consider the option to be proficient with a single weapon (or, at least, make it martial, if it is normally exotic - proficiency is not automatic) equivalent to a feat. Theoretically, it is, but, if Paizo was looking at it that way with the other races, dwarves, elves and the like would be worth a lot more than they are now. In effect, our human weapon familiarity just gives humans a single weapon which is treated as having "human" in the name (and note that it cannot be another race's weapon, such as elven curved blade). The weapon you choose should, of course, be cultural, but it's up to the GM to enforce that.

Cheliax

Humans are still better than all the other base races, though. They really don't need this. The other races got pushed more towards the Human level with the Pathfinder, but they're not quite there yet, even with the changes you made.

RP is an AWFUL measure of how weak or strong a race is, because of how under- and overvalued some things are in the ARG's race builder.


Seranov wrote:

I honestly have to agree with Roberta on that.

Humans are already really good as-is, no changes necessary.

Again, the only thing I can say, to this, is that these changes have been very well playtested (for well over a year-and-a-half, now) and seem to be working fine, for us. I am only posting this, now, because I finally got around to adding in the some of the newer Featured and Uncommon race stuff and coordinating it with the ARG. The core race stuff (and some of the other pre-ARG race stuff, from the Bestiaries and modules) is nothing new, at least for us.

During all of this time, there has been no sudden rush to make humans in any of our campaigns - they are no more or less frequent than they ever were. Most people I know who really worry about exotic weapons and the like would be more inclined to play an elf, to get elven curved blade (or just a longsword and longbow, for a wizard). Frankly, the other races' weapon familiarities are much more potent than this one - and, in ARG terms, cost no more than this one.

But to each his or her own. It was written for our games - and works well for them - but posted in case anyone else wants to make use of it. Use what you want, and leave the rest.

Cheliax

The thing is that every Human character would get EWP: Fauchard or EWP: Falcata for free. Which are two of the only weapons in the game that are actually almost worth burning a feat on EWP.

It's extra power for a race that is already amazingly versatile and strong.


Seranov wrote:

The thing is that every Human character would get EWP: Fauchard or EWP: Falcata for free. Which are two of the only weapons in the game that are actually almost worth burning a feat on EWP.

It's extra power for a race that is already amazingly versatile and strong.

I think you need to re-read the article - every human cannot take EWP: Fauchard or EWP: Falcata for free. WF is not the same as the Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat. If you choose an exotic weapon - and note that you would have to justify it as a cultural choice - it simply becomes martial. If you're cleric, wizard, rogue or some other non-martial type, you're just out of luck - no falcata for you, I'm afraid. For any of these classes, you would have to pick a martial weapon, to gain proficiency, not an exotic one. As I said earlier, this is not the same as just being given elven curved blade or something like that.

*sigh* I do wish people would read things before arguing about them...

And, as for the "amazingly versatile and strong" comment... Versatile? Yes. Amazingly strong? I just don't see it. The bonus feat is nice, for sure, but no better than some races' spell-like abilities and the like. And humans give up almost everything else for it, having far less traits that most other races. Seems like a wash, to me.

Cheliax

Almost anyone who would actually want a Fauchard or a Falcata would be able to use it. Wizards and Rogues and the like wouldn't be interested in them, and Clerics generally use their deity's favored weapon.

Humans are amazingly strong because of getting both the bonus feat (which can be literally anything they want, so long as they meet the requirements) and an extra skill point per level (or 3 skill focuses spread over their career), plus a floating +2 ability score.

These all combine to make one fact the truth: There is no class that wouldn't be better off as a Human. Except race-specific ones, which it can be argued you can take with Racial Heritage feats.

Humans are wicked good, and giving them a free martial/exotic weapon on top of it is like putting extra whipped cream on your ice cream sundae. It's just going above and beyond.


Seranov wrote:

Almost anyone who would actually want a Fauchard or a Falcata would be able to use it. Wizards and Rogues and the like wouldn't be interested in them, and Clerics generally use their deity's favored weapon.

Humans are amazingly strong because of getting both the bonus feat (which can be literally anything they want, so long as they meet the requirements) and an extra skill point per level (or 3 skill focuses spread over their career), plus a floating +2 ability score.

These all combine to make one fact the truth: There is no class that wouldn't be better off as a Human. Except race-specific ones, which it can be argued you can take with Racial Heritage feats.

Humans are wicked good, and giving them a free martial/exotic weapon on top of it is like putting extra whipped cream on your ice cream sundae. It's just going above and beyond.

Yes, yes, I get it: you think humans are too tough. We don't. Let's just agree to disagree.

As I said earlier, these house rules - or at least the core race parts of them - have been used for many, many months, now, and work very well for us. I simply posted them in case anyone else wants to make use of them. If you don't like them, don't use them. Or just use the parts you like (if any). I promise my feelings won't be too hurt, either way.

I do wonder, though, if anyone, other than Ciaran, has read past the Human entry, which is apparently more controversial than I thought. It would be nice to know if anyone found any of the other race stuff worthwhile...

Cheliax

I'm just pointing out that trying to bring everything to 10 RP is still going to create races of wildly varying power.

If it works for your group, that's fine, but I'm just trying to point out the wildly glaring example of why trying to balance around 10 RP is not a good idea.


Seranov wrote:

I'm just pointing out that trying to bring everything to 10 RP is still going to create races of wildly varying power.

If it works for your group, that's fine, but I'm just trying to point out the wildly glaring example of why trying to balance around 10 RP is not a good idea.

Actually, from my point of view, this isn't really a good example, at all. You see, as I believe I implied in my earlier posts, we settled on this version of humans a long time ago. Nothing new, there. Much later, the ARG just seemed to validate our decisions, since it has PF humans being worth 9 RP and ours being worth 10 RP. Couldn't really argue with that.

Having said that, I do agree that some of the ARG's point values seemed kind of wonky - including the fact that human's pay 1 RP for supposedly good language skill, when, in fact, they tend to have one language less than everyone else, on the average. But the point system is useful for ballparking, and I was careful to factor in its weaknesses, when making choices for the newer races, over the last couple of months. It has problems, true, but, once you know where they are, it can still be a useful tool.


In the core rules they only speak common, but in Golarion,don't they also have a regional dialect?

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Cheliax

I believe so, yeah.

Varisians start with Varisian, Chelaxians start with Chelish, Shoantis start with Shoanti, Tian-whatevers start with Tien.


Ciaran Barnes wrote:

In the core rules they only speak common, but in Golarion,don't they also have a regional dialect?

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Yup, thankfully, they get Common and one regional tongue (usually), according to page 11 of the Inner Sea World Guide. The change we made to human languages is simply a logical derivative of that, broadened to apply to most other worlds, as well. In ARG terms, this means that they actually get what they paid for, linguistics-wise.

Lantern Lodge

One thing you've not taken into account is the Alternate Favored Class options available to humans.
Yes, all PCs can choose from the skill point or hit point. Some races excel at specific class roles. But the Alternate Human Favored Class bonus is almost ALWAYS worth taking. Regardless of class or concept.
That's huge.


The problem with the ARG is that the costing of those racial traits is debatable; some of them seem much more expensive than they're worth.

Humans have the phenomenally powerful combination of flexible specialized traits. They have three traits that the player can use as desired, guaranteeing all their racial traits will be valuable to every character and every build.

Other races usually have several abilities that eat up RP but do nothing for a given character - which traits are worthless to a character may vary, but in general a non-human has 1-3 racial traits that "do nothing". So in practice most nonhumans operate at "listed RP - X rp", with X the value of traits you can't use.

Examples are half-elves' multitalented trait, Elven Magic for non-casters, Orc Ferocity for classes without some fancy more to pull off at < 0 HP, Weapon Familiarity for characters that want to avoid melee, and so on.

Variant racial traits to ameliorate this a bit, but it's hard to use 100% of your listed RP, unless you're a human.

---

That said, I do think your dwarven weakness is clever. I'm not convinced it's necessary though - a lot of dwarves' RP is eaten up by niche racial traits.


"amazingly versatile"
"amazingly strong"
"wildly varying"
"wildly glaring"
"phenomenally powerful"

Man, people are big on hyperbole, here...

Really, I don't think any of the races are amazingly, wildly or phenomenally better than any of the others - not even the tieflings and aasimar.

Anyway, has anyone actually managed to get past page 3? To be honest, I'm not terribly interested in feedback about the core races, since, as I said earlier, we've been using these rules for over a year-and-a-half, now (since long before the ARG came out), and they work just fine for us. And I'm frankly getting rather bored of the "humans are amazingly wildly phenomenally over-powered" feud, from this thread and too many others. I'm much more interested in what people think about the Featured and Uncommon Race changes - especially the elemental races, changelings and samsarans - since those are the only ones that are actually new(ish) for us and, thus, haven't been playtested nearly as much.


When your main advertisement is that the new races are "balanced" and the first thing you show is that you took the strongest race and made it stronger, there's not a whole lot of incentive for people to read any further. The revisions are evidently not balanced; why waste any further time?

I did skim forward and see that you got rid of the Samsaran's only interesting ability, so there's that.


Take a look at the various build guides for classes on this forum. Look for trends in race choices; those are a much better indication of how strong races are than the rather arbitrary RP values of race traits.

* Humans are always a blue choice. For every class.
* Half-Elves and Half-Orcs are always green or blue. The reason is the flexible stat bonus and a couple of useful other traits.

Other races are maybe green/blue for one or two classes at best.

* Dwarves are nice for clerics/druids; particularly druids because Wild Shape means they can get rid of the poor movement rate.

* Elves get green in many caster classes, blue in Int-Arcane classes. For other classes they're maybe just a bit too fragile, and (unless you take alternative racial traits) a bit too focused on spellcasting.

* Halflings and Gnomes: low strength and slow movement are crippling to almost any class; and to the ones where it isn't crippling, human bonuses are still as good or better.

The most popular races have flexible traits (+2 to any stat, free skill focus or free feat), while the more unpopular races have low movement and possibly low strength.


Roberta Yang wrote:

When your main advertisement is that the new races are "balanced" and the first thing you show is that you took the strongest race and made it stronger, there's not a whole lot of incentive for people to read any further. The revisions are evidently not balanced; why waste any further time?

I did skim forward and see that you got rid of the Samsaran's only interesting ability, so there's that.

Had you bothered to really read the article and the many posts on this thread - rather than just dipping in, being sarcastic, and then disappearing (as I notice you tend to do in many other threads, as well) - you might have realized that I meant balanced in ARG terms, i.e. all worth 10 RP. I suppose I could have titled this differently, for clarity's sake, since "balance" is clearly a subjective (and, apparently, somewhat loaded) term, but hind-sight's twenty-twenty. Obviously, if you assume the ARG system is flawed, right from the beginning, then you are not going to like these ideas. Which begs the question of why you are bothering to get involved in this thread, at all... Just bored, I guess.

Anyway as far the samsaran thing... you lost me on that one. Getting +2 on two skills is interesting, by you? It's not like almost every other race gets that one. We wanted an ability that more accurately reflected the samsaran's description - i.e. that they remember multiple past lives, not just a single one. It seems to me that the new trait works better in that regard and is certainly much more versatile and interesting. But, of course, as noted in the article, if you don't like it, you can always take the original one as an alternate trait - we didn't "get rid" of it, as you said. You did bother to read that far, I hope?


Ascalaphus wrote:

Take a look at the various build guides for classes on this forum. Look for trends in race choices; those are a much better indication of how strong races are than the rather arbitrary RP values of race traits.

* Humans are always a blue choice. For every class.

I don't disagree with that, but I think it has more to do with versatility than strength. Because you have more room to maneuver, with humans, you can more easily adapt them to different roles, so they tend to get picked more often in guides and the like. But they are often inferior in some roles, as compared to other specific races. For example, if we're just talking power, here, I'd sooner play an elf wizard than a human one. The Int and Dex bonuses are both useful, as are the magic-based racial traits, and the access to longbow is great, especially at low levels, when you want to reserve spells (not to mention longsword, if you really want to risk melee). Keen senses, enchantment resistance, and the like are just icing on the cake.

Another simple example. Say, for whatever reason, you want to give your human Skill Focus. In effect, you've made a weak half-elf, since, as compared to a half-elf, the human has, effectively, given up a whole pile of racial traits, just to get Skilled. In ARG terms, he paid double for the bonus feat (which left him few points for anything else, other than Skilled), but gained no advantage from doing so. (Actually, with the new alternate racial traits, I'd probably take the one that gives you Skill Focus scattered over three levels, anyway, but that's beside the point. I could just as easily have picked some other race with some other feat the human happens to want.) Linguistics has the same problem, if you aren't playing in Golarion: humans pay 1 more RP to get one less language, on the average. And if you want, say, Elven and Gnomish - well, the elf gets those options, without paying for them (as do many other races).

But I digress. My point is, it's all a matter of context, with or without the ARG. If you are just talking about a point system, as in the ARG, then you can only really judge the power balance by the end result of many character comparisons, not by just picking the most optimized possibility for your favorite combination and ignoring the rest. Take any bonus feat you want for your human - my elf will still probably make a better wizard and have a bunch of extra racial traits, to boot. The human is more versatile, but it does not make him any tougher, in this context - it actually makes him somewhat weaker. Unless, of course, elves are widely distrusted and hated, in your campaign, in which case the human might be a more "optimized" choice. Again, it's all context.

To be honest, though, even my comments, about this, are kind moot, the way we tend to play. We tend to make the characters we feel like, that suit the story, not necessarily ones that seem particularly optimized. I think elf wizards are better than, say, halfling wizards, but that doesn't mean I'm going to play one, if I have a halfling image firmly in my head. Munchkinism isn't terribly popular, here. We realized, quite a while back that, as I implied, power-level is often based more on context than racial abilities, anyway (especially, as character's progress in level and those racial traits become less and less important, anyway). And class abilities are balanced enough, in the big picture, that context is often the deciding factor for them, as well. Show me a highly optimized character from one of those guides, and I'll show you three situations in which he pretty much sucks.

Which begs the question: why the article? The race balancing started quite a while back - long before the ARG - more as an attempt to round out some races and make them more interesting, rather than make them especially tougher or weaker (it started with the elemental races and changelings - and the fact that humans get no cultural weapon familiarity). The ARG just gave us some tools to take a second look at what we were already doing and make the more recent changes somewhat more objectively (in theory). I'm still not sure how effective those tools are, when used with the races that we specifically changed, using RP (not the core races, so much, but the ifrit, undine, changelings, etc.). The verdict's still out on that one. And, frankly, this thread, which has devolved into the usual "humans are too tough! no, they're not!" argument, hasn't really helped much, in judging that. Guess I'll think twice before bothering to post house rules, again...


well i definitely like the genie-kin adjustments


+5 Toaster wrote:
well i definitely like the genie-kin adjustments

Thank you! :) They were actually the ones that got me to update our notes, in the first place, since it was bugging everybody that Elemental Affinity worked for sorcerers and clerics but not elementalist wizards and oracles. That and the fact that oreads are slow but get nothing in compensation (by a literal reading, not even "slow and steady"). You just have to look at the pictures to see that they should have some sort of natural armor.

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