Designing a Race-Help Needed


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Here's what I've got started:

Type Humanoid (Human)-0 RP
Speed Normal-0 RP
Size Medium-0 RP
Ability Scores Advanced (+2 Mental, +4 Dex, -2 Str)-4 RP
Languages Linguist-1 RP
Racial Traits
Flexible Bonus Feat-4 RP
Skilled-4 RP
Change Shape, Lesser (human, only suppresses tattoos, but otherwise functions as normal)-3 RP

They are supposed to look just like a normal human, but they sport glowing tattoos (same color as their eyes and viewable in any condition, except when under the effect of illusion and transmutation spells, or when dead) chronicling the individual's life history of it's own accord in their native language (written as circular glyths with geometrical shapes and markings and an arrow pointing up in the center to indicate proper viewing direction, holding enough information for each glyth to contain 150 words). I want the race to be as powerful or slightly more powerful than a Drow Noble. I'd also like to give them some mechanical penalties because of the glowing biographical tattoos.

Ask yourself a couple questions: what is it that you need this race to do? Can you reskin a base race to serve your purpose? If not is there an equivalent racial feat or ability that you can create to add onto a base race (swap for another feature)?

Does it need to be mechanically as powerful as the drow noble? How do? Stat wise, SLAs? It sounds like you have all the flavor in place.

I'd make them immune to Invisibility while not under some other Illusion/Glamer or Transmutation effect, and have major penalties to Stealth checks, perhaps under a constant Glitterdust spell or something?

As it sits, it's a 16 point race that's more powerful than any of the other player races combined, and potentially more powerful than the Drow Noble in terms of raw numbers. However, it lacks the utility that they possess.

Drow Nobles are usually 40+ race points. Over half of those points come from their SLAs, which is where a good portion of their power comes from. If you want these guys to be more spell-caster based, add in some powerful Spell-like abilities. Constant Divine Favor/Shield, At-will Fog Cloud/Deeper Darkness, etc. are all going to raise those points similar to a Drow Noble's points as they stand.

Or, throw in some tertiary stuff that provides indubitable power. See In Darkness special abilities, Blindsight, Super Spell Resistance (12 + hit dice), Natural Armor, Wings/Flight, etc. will likewise raise the points and bridge the power gap.

How about illusion and transmutation spells that target them manifest at -4 CL and while the tattoos aren't being suppressed, they are under the effects of a Glitterdust spell. As for the biographical part of their tattoos, I'm still drawing blanks. For magic abilities, I'll go with Spell Resistance, Greater, then maybe a per-day ability to apply metamagic to spells they cast or are affected by.

Any advice?

And all of my advice would involve lowering the RP cost of the race.

Ciaran Barnes wrote:
And all of my advice would involve lowering the RP cost of the race.

I was intending to have this race be NPC-only.

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If it's an NPC, then give him whatever you want and adjust fire during gameplay.

How brightly do these tattoos glow? Candle, torch, hooded lantern, brighter, much brighter?

Asides from "glowing runes", what is the race's shtick/theme?

The tattoos don't glow brightly enough to affect light level, but enough for the individual to be visible as if in normal light in any light level, excluding supernatural darkness, and can be seen through an extra 10 feet per level of fog and other conditions that hinder visibility. Their main gimmik will be a per day ability to cause a magical surge. It would entail being able to apply a metamagic feat to a spell that they cast or are affected by without increasing the casting time or using a higher spell slot. They would count as having all metamagic feats for the purpose of this ability, but can't apply a metamagic feat that would set the adjusted spell level above what the caster can cast.

Uh ... that's pretty powerful light ala fog lights on cars. I can't see canning the light level without canning that increased visibility through fog. It shouldn't matter a lick through smoke, smoke being smoke and not fog.

Even candle-strength light is detectable at a far more significant distance than the light it sheds.

What you're describing is considered incredibly powerful for a racial ability. The closest magic item equivalent is the caster's tattoo.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

My advice would be to develop more of the racial background first... unless you're playing pure hack&slash (no judgment if you are, btw) you're going to want the verisimilitude that comes from knowing why/how the race is the way it is. Were they created by a god? Why? Maybe they were originally humans that a powerful wizard augmented... to what end? Why do magical tattoos record the story of their life? Maybe the god who created them is related to knowledge or history or record keeping and they're living records... maybe the wizard who altered them was originally using them to collect information on something? Why do the 'tattoos' glow so brightly? Did the wizard do that so they couldn't sneak away (or up to him)? Did the god do it because their primary purpose is to display information?

These decisions will inform other design aspects. If they were created by a god, and still in close relationship with it, then it makes a lot of sense for them to have powers like divine favor, shield of faith, bless/aid/prayer. If a wizard started the whole thing what other abilities would have helped his purpose? If they were information gatherers see invisibility, clairaudience/clairvoyance,or arcane sight all make sense... if they were intended for more malign purposes things like mage armor and/or magic missile might be better... if he was a little odd and obsessed with 'the light of knowledge' they could have more light-based abilities (flare burst, daylight, searing light, etc) that only work when their 'tattoos' are visible.

Building this way will help the race feel more cohesive--more 'real'--than just slapping together some random cool abilities and calling it a day.

Wall of Text Warning:
The first members of this race used to be a group human nomads who have wandered the desert wastes until they found a patch of fertile land and settled there. Unbeknownst to them, that land was the site of one of several battles in a war waged milinnea ago by all of the epic-level warriors and mythic creatures, puffed up with pride and egos to rival a god, against the gods who governed the universe. After several bitterly won victories, the gods had won, but the blood of those slain, rich with mythic energy, soaked the ground and sustained life for all this time. As these humans cultivated this land, they unwittingly absorbed these energies to the point where their bodies generated the energy on their on, and so marked the reemergence of mythic creatures. Rather than having them ascend, however, this mythic energy had a more subdued effect: bodily enhancements and magical black tattoos that recorded the history of the individual, the energy deeming them (perhaps erroneously) legends in their own right. As time wore on, newer generations generated more and more energy in less time, until 10-15 generations later, when some of these people began spontaneously exploding, their bodies unable to contain the vast reserves of energy that would build up. Desperate to save their people, their archmages initially tried to purge the energy from their bodies, but all attempts resulted in their life force being drained to oblivion as well. Eventually, they designed a ritual that would create vents for the energy on the body and linger through all posterity, and the magic latched onto the tattoos. While the tattoos don't really give off light, the substance that the vented energy takes the form of causes an optical illusion, leading to their tattoos to "glow" as bright as neon and cut through fog like fog lights, yet doesn't affect the environment, hence the "glowing" tattoos.

Here is a crazy notion... 3.5 had bloodline levels in UA (I think). You could give them whatever base stat adjustments you want, skin them however you want, and gestalt the bloodline levels (from the mythic creatures) to their base class levels, and call it a day. Anything extra could be racial feats.

It IS crazy, but it would be exciting to try out with some tweaks. I will definitely consider it. Thanks!

More suggestions will still be appreciated.

I'm also considering granting members of this race who become Mythic either access to two Mythic Paths instead of one, or an extra Path Ability on every even or odd Tier.


RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Given that explanation, I'd go with effects that are channeled releases of power (without a lot of finesse). Daylight and searing light both seem like great fits. Burning hands looks good too, and scorching ray.

I'd strongly suggest against a race granting extra path abilities. That's way too strong. Granting the dual path mythic feat is a lot more reasonable.

How about channeling it as a pulse, which would come in one of three flavors (possibly offering a choice each time):

Push (creatures within the area are subjected to a special bull rush attempt, using their character level and charisma modifier as their CMB for the purposes of this ability, but may only move creatures directly away; creatures that move 10 ft or more because of this ability are also knocked prone)

Strobe (creatures within the area are affected as though they were in the area of a Color Spray spell)

Antimagic (area is affected by an Antimagic Field, save that it only lasts one round)

I'm also thinking of other ways they might be able to use the pulse.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

First, our group discourages 'NPC only' races, meaning all must be balanced toward actual RP. View these in that light.

-The 'any metamagic' is obscenely powerful, especially with a bump to a casting ability.

-any 'enhanced' or 'advanced' version of the already powerful Human (or similar) must be approached with care. Even a niggling ability in the hands of a PC can crank the power level. Without a limitation, you're talking game breaker.

-They get a +4 on Dex? That outclasses Elves! Your description does not mention this major feature at all. Any race with such a dominant ability score is going to be defined by such. A +4 to Strength is awesome and to Constitution is incredible. Our group forbids such to a casting ability score for that reason.

-Your post this morning sounds more like modifications and feats for leveled characters.

-Caster features for a race mean that they have to be casters to benefit. The common farmer would either see no benefit or have to be a druid. You are pigeonholing the race, not a popular concept with the Golem. They prefer versatility, but if that is what you want, go for it.

-An isolated race with Linguist? How? Why? Etc? Not saying it's impossible, but an explanation would help. A Human sub-race I use is focused on a ancient center of learning that uses a different tongue each day, with non-speakers forbidden to speak any other, save a lower 'gutter' tongue that is barely usable.

-A drawback to their powers and features could help, perhaps becoming exhausted or even fatigued after use. Remember that flaws are a staple in both people and better developed characters. Even Tolkien's 'super elves' were riddled with cracks and the blue union suit hurts from Kryptonite.

I'm really designing this race to be par for the course in an area that throws CR 6 dragons at a 3rd level party, and that's an "easy" battle (basically a Dark Souls zone).

I knew metamagic surges were too powerful, which is why I came up with the pulse ability to replace it with.

How about this for explaining their ability scores: Advanced (+2 Mental, +4 Dex, -2 Str) the mythic energies in their bodies speaks to them, giving them extra insight and greatly aids their fine manipulation skills, so they often lead a life of taking it easy?

For the pulse ability, I was thinking about making it either a supernatural or spell-like ability, usable 3/day, with the first use of the day causing them to become fatigued for 1d4 rounds, the second use making them fatigued for the rest of the day, and the third use causing them to become exausted instead. The pulse would be in the shape of a 25 ft diameter burst centered on the user.

They run the kingdom more like an outpost, resupplying the occasional band of nomads of a diverse cast of races.

How about their main drawback being trouble resisting the actions on mythic creatures?


I tend to agree with Bwang. You don't need to frontload every benefit... that's where class levels and magic items/ feats come in. Having the NPCs gestalted with bloodline levels or mythic paths is fine, but if you ever want a PC of that race, these adjustments need to be additive in their nature to maintain balance.

You have flavor, you have multiple suggestions on how to achieve the power level, what more (specifically) are you looking for?

Shouldn't having your life history written all over your body affect knowledge checks against you?

Is that a serious question? What I mean is shouldn't that be an issue that comes up in role playing scenarios? Should there be a mechanic for reading?

Rewriting the racial traits:

Humanoid (human)
Normal Speed
+2 to one physical score, +2 to one mental score, both chosen at character creation.
Standard Language
Flexible Bonus Feat
Change Shape, Lesser (human)
Biofluorescent: they are always viewed as though they were in an area of normal light.
Bibliographical Tattoos

Dropped metamagic. Will either drop pulse or move it to a wearable magic item. Working on FCBs.

Anyone got suggestions for alternate favored class bonuses?

Also thinking about giving them the minor version of bloodline levels for free and add a magic item to boost it to the major version for a limited time per day.

I'm looking through the books to pick out FCBs. I'll write out my choices tomorrow, but perhaps you guys can come up with unique ones in the meantime.

I'm dropping the bloodline levels idea. Instead, I think that I'll make a Racial Archetype for the Vigilante, where they transform into Taninim (from "In the Company of Dragons") as their Vigilante Identity, and borrow features from the Draconic Exemplar class for use while they are Taninim. I would certainly appreciate help to make it happen.

I finally got a name for them: Myth-Bound.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The 'change shape' being defined as just suppressing the glow might be over pointed, though I might have misread. One of our rarer races is based upon the Eberron Shifters, having a 'choice' of some dozen or so subraces, each with different feats and benefits. Their 'shape change' is only to their bestial form and pointed at just 2, not 3.

Myth-Bound is good, but Myth-Cursed might work as well, seeing as they can be identified by their 'aura'.

I just noticed nobody makes Racial Archetypes for their homebrewed races. I'm not sure why not. I'm still doing the FCBs and Vigilante Archetype, though. Any suggestions?

Running low on bandwidth here, but when I get back, I'll post the FCBs.

If it's for NPCs, just design a base dude, then add class levels from there.

Literally yesterday I wanted my own Ratfolk style race ("Skaven"!) and didn't like a lot of the stuff in the ratfolk entry, and didn't want to go through the work of applying that entry to a dude.

So I took the CR1/3 Goblin, the CR1/2 Hobgoblin, the CR1/4 Kobold and then the Ratfolk entry, and just grabbed things and adjusted until it was roughly the power level of a Hobgoblin, but small, using certain feats for it's weapons and play-style..

and bam! Just look at monster entries for about the powerlevel you're looking for, and make your base dude from there; then adjust with feats and class levels depending on your need. When you're unsure of it's rough CR (remember that CR is not a great measurement, just a way to help you understand power level) then make some comparisons to other things at and/or around it's CR until you figure it out. Nerf or Buff it accordingly.


Core Classes:
Barbarian: +1/6 Rage Power
Bard: +1 Spell
Cleric: +1/3 Point/Channel
Druid: +1 Energy Resistance
Fighter: +1/6 Bonus Feat
Monk: +1/4 Ki Point
Paladin: +1/6 Mercy
Ranger: +1/6 Favored Enemy
Rogue: +1/6 Rogue Talent
Sorcerer: +1 Spell
Wizard: +1 Spell

Base Classes:
Alchemist: +1/6 Discovery
Cavalier: +1/2 Point/Challenge Damage
Gunslinger: +1/4 Grit Point
Inquisitor: +1 Spell
Magus: +1/6 Arcana
Oracle: +1/6 Revelation
Summoner: +1/4 Evolution Point
Vigilante: +1/6 Social Talent
Witch: +1/6 Hex

Hybrid Classes:
Arcanist: +1/6 Exploit
Bloodrager: +1/4 Level/Bloodline Power
Brawler: +1/4 Level/Unarmed Strike
Hunter: +DR/Magic/Companion
Investigator: +1/6 Discovery
Shaman: +1/6 Hex
Skald: +1 Spell
Slayer: +1/6 Slayer Talent
Swashbuckler: +1/4 Panache Point
Warpriest: +1/6 Bonus Feat

Occult Classes:
Kineticist: +1/6 Wild Talent
Medium: +1/4 Spirit Surge/day
Mesmerist: +1/3 Trick/day
Occultist: +1/6 Power
Psychic: +1/6 Amplification
Spiritualist: +1 HP or Skill Rank/Phantom


Aren't you going to add some description for Biographical Tattoos?

Biographical Tattoos: members of this race counts as a library that imparts a +5 circumstance bonus on knowledge checks regarding that particular member.

Does that satisfy you?

Yes. Can't wait to see what you do with the racial archetype!

Here's a class feature table for the racial archetype. Questions?

1st Dual identity, seamless guise, social talent, taninim form
2nd Draconic talent
3rd Social talent, draconic influence
4th Draconic talent
5th Social talent, dracomorphisis
6th Draconic talent
7th Social talent
8th Draconic talent
9th Social talent
10th Draconic talent
11th Dracomorphisis, social talent
12th Draconic talent
13th Social talent
14th Draconic talent
15th Social talent
16th Draconic talent
17th Social talent, dracomorphisis
18th Draconic talent
19th Social talent
20th Vengeance strike, draconic talent

Taninim form: you assume the form of a Taninim and gain temporary access to Taninim racial traits. When you first assume this form, you may choose alternate racial traits for this form. Once chosen, this form is assumed every time you assume a Taninim form, and cannot be altered in this way again without retraining (as a class feature choice). Your gear melds into this form.

Draconic talent: you choose a Draconic Weaponry, Draconic Defence, or Draconic Gift to add to your Taninim from.

Draconic influence: add half your level as a bonus on skills that true dragons commonly invest ranks in (I've yet to research this).

Since the Myth-Bound generate mythical energy, why not give them the ability to slowly regenerate uses of limited resources like grit, ki, and spells per day?


Does anyone have any ideas for the Myth-Bound, or suggestions regarding the racial archetype for Vigilante?

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You are going strong, but I really want to see the 'fluff'. The stats and details are nice, but our group would argue over the markings' light level. The Illuminarians of our game are similar, but the sigils revolve around their heads and constantly change to the detriment of the Illuminarian. Mood rock colors and, if you can read the language, Spellcraft is easy. And, yes, they do shed light.

That GM has them as a '+1' race, but they have all 3 mentals getting a '+2', not exactly an advantage for a caster. I know they have innate spell capability (cantrips and orisons?), but nothing else.

The mythic energy that is vented through the tattoos takes the form of a special substance that causes an reaction in the eye structures of creatures that view the tattoos, causing the areas of their vision that is part of the tattoos to always register as the same shade of bright colors, even in pitch black.

I was thinking about making alternate racial traits. Maybe a different version of change shape where they turn into an anthropomorphic pharoh hound instead of a plain human, or have a version of the race that are incapable of emotion, having no charisma score and having everything that would run off charisma run off intelligence or wisdom instead. How much trouble would that last one be?

No advice?

Maybe the light is illusion based. So it looks bright without actually generating any light.

Yeah, having the glow effect be illusion-based is better than what I was thinking.

How powerful would having no charisma score (incapable of emotion) and having everything that runs off of charisma run off of intelligence instead (using logic instead of emotion) be?

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