Born of Two Worlds

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

As some of you have no doubt noticed, we haven't said much about half-elves and half-orcs except to confirm that they'll be part of the Pathfinder Playtest. Of all of the ancestry choices in Pathfinder, these were two of the trickiest to design. With the way that the feats are structured, it would be easy enough to just list the feats from both parents (plus some unique options), but that quickly led to cherry-picking the best of both. Moreover, that approach didn't address the base statistics of the ancestry that are very important to overall balance, such as starting hit points and speed.

In the end, we decided to make both half-elves and half-orcs an addition to the human ancestry. You start by selecting human, then take the corresponding heritage feat to represent your diverse ancestry. Let's take a look at the half-elf feat.

Half-Elf Feat 1

Heritage, Human

Either one of your parents was an elf, or one or both were half-elves. You have pointed ears and other telltale signs of elven heritage. You gain the elf trait. Select two of the following benefits: elven speed (increase your Speed by 5 feet), elven tongue (add Elven to your list of languages), gifted speaker (you are trained in Diplomacy), or low-light vision (you can see in dim light as well as you can in bright light). In addition, you can select elf, half-elf, and human feats whenever you gain an ancestry feat.

Special You can select this feat twice. The second time, it loses the heritage trait and you gain the other two benefits.

This approach comes with a number of advantages. First off, it lets us make a half-elf that truly does have some of the advantages of both ancestries, while still allowing you to pick the parts that you think best represent your character's upbringing. Grew up among elves? Then picking up the Elven language makes sense. Had to explain yourself to the humans you grew up with? Then being trained in Diplomacy might be the way to go. As with all of our ancestries, we wanted the choice of being a half-elf or half-orc to be meaningful to your character and expressive of the backstory that you've decided to create. This ancestry feat gives a lot of benefits; to get similar benefits, you would normally use a general feat to pick up Adoptive Ancestry, which grants you access to the ancestry feats from another ancestry (as long as they don't have physiological requirements) to represent your deep connection to another ancestry's culture and traditions. However, being a half-elf gives you access to human feats, elf feats, and half-elf feats (including feats with physiological components), as well as two additional benefits.

At this point, you might be saying, wait, what about humans in general? Let's take a look at some of their options. At its core, human is a very flexible ancestry, with choices like Natural Ambition to gain an extra 1st-level class feat, General Training to gain an extra 1st-level general feat, and Skilled to gain training in two additional skills. However, humans also have fun options for particular builds, like this one for a character who wants to reduce the penalties for being untrained.

Clever Improviser Feat 1

Human

You've learned how to handle situations where you're out of your depth. You gain a +1 circumstance bonus to checks for skills in which you're untrained.

Of course, this approach for half-elves and half-orcs means that we needed to include a few orc feats in the book so players would get the complete experience of being a half-orc. Take a look at this classic feat.

[[R]] Orc Ferocity Feat 1

Orc

Frequency once per day

Trigger You're reduced to 0 Hit Points.


Fierceness in battle runs through your blood, and you refuse to fall from your injuries. When this feat is triggered, you avoid being knocked out and remain at 1 Hit Point.

This allows the half-orc to stay in the fight after taking a felling blow, even a really big hit or a critically failed save against a dragon's breath attack!

In addition to allowing you to choose any feat from both ancestries, we were also able to design a few ancestry feats specifically for half-elves and half-orcs. Take a look at this half-elf feat.

Inspire Imitation Feat 5

Half-Elf

You inspire your allies to great feats through your own actions. Whenever you critically succeed at a skill check, you automatically qualify to take the Aid reaction when attempting to help an ally at the same skill check, even without spending an action to prepare to do so.

This means that when you critically succeed, you can Aid your ally at no extra cost to yourself, which is particularly useful if your ally needs some help doing something at which you excel.

Beyond what this means for half-elves and half-orcs, using an ancestry feat to unlock a more diverse heritage gives us a lot of options for the future. For instance, aasimars, tieflings, and other planar scions come from a wide variety of ancestries in Golarion, instead of just defaulting to human. In Pathfinder First Edition, there's a sidebar to that effect, but it provides no mechanical adjustments for non-human planar scions beyond their size category. The playtest treatment would allow you to build a character whose ancestry really reflects their combined heritage. And if your setting has half-elves and half-orcs where the other parent isn't human, say half-orc/half-dwarf characters, you can just allow the half-orc feat for dwarf characters and the rest of the work is already taken care of. This also opens up a lot of design space (in the form of feats) to explore what otherworldly parentage might mean, giving you different options based on what type of outsider has influenced your heritage, similar to the popular subcategories of aasimar and tieflings (pitborn, musetouched, and so on). Having a solar in the family might grant access to entirely different feats than if your ancestors were blessed by a hound archon.

Now, this approach is a little different than what we've done in the past, so we are going to be asking a few questions about this through surveys during the playtest. We're keen to hear what you think about half-elves and half-orcs in the playtest. Why not roll one up and give it a try?

Jason Bulmahn
Director of Game Design

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Crayon wrote:
Is there any reason a player who had other uses in mind for her Ancestry Feats couldn't just spend them on other Human or Elf (as appropriate) Feats they wanted and just include the character being Half-Orc (or whatever) as part of the character's backstory?

This 100% depends on how open your group is to reflavoring, and some groups (such as PFS, but they are hardly the only example) flat would not allow you to be a "Half-Elf" or "Half-Orc" unless you pay the feat tax.

UlrichVonLichtenstein wrote:
And before anybody cries "House Rule!" at me, I'm not a Dungeon Master. I'm a Player, therefore it's not my place to establish House Rules or make such requests of a Dungeon Master who hasn't had the opportunity to vet the idea for game balance.

Just quoting this because while not (entirely) directly related to this thread, dear GODS does this not get said enough. I have seen more threads throughout more Pathfinder/Starfinder forums where the response to dang near every issue is "just houserule it" completely ignoring the fact that not every person has the power to houserule.

Paizo Employee

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UlrichVonLichtenstein wrote:

i.e. Take the Human Ancestry, replace two features with that of the Elf (the exact function of the Heritage Feat) without actually needing to spend a Feat.

That's actually not the exact function of the feat. You keep all of the normal human benefits and then spend your ancestry feat for two additional abilities, such as a 5-foot speed increase (identical to the feat Fleet), an extra trained skill (something you'd normally have to wait for 3rd level for), and access to two additional feat lists for your later ancestry feats.

As far as raw benefits go, the Half-Elf Ancestry feat is actually pretty good and not really a "tax" at all in the sense that that word is normally used when referring to game mechanics, like Combat Expertise which is often considered a tax in the current edition since many people take it knowing they'll never use it but have to have it for other feats they do want. You're almost certainly going to take advantage of at least the elven speed option, and that alone is comparative to the Fleet general feat, which would make the Half-Elf Heritage feat actually better in some ways than the General Training ancestry feat humans get (since that would get you Fleet without any other benefits.)


So do humans get anything from their ancestry except HP, 25' movement speed, and a single feat?


PossibleCabbage wrote:
So do humans get anything from their ancestry except HP and a single feat?

Flexible ability boosts and no flaw. Admittedly that isn't much if your desired stat distribution matched the ancestry you wanted to play but it is something.

EDIT:

Humans
+2 Flexible +2 Flexible
8 Racial HP, 25 ft speed
Common (& one other language?)

Dwarves
+2 Con +2 Wis -2 Cha +2 Flexible
10 Racial HP, 20 ft speed (ignore armor speed reduction)
Darkvision
Common & Dwarf Languages

Elves
+2 Dex +2 Int -2 Con +2 Flexible
6 Racial HP, 30 ft speed
Low-light vision
Common & Elven Languages

Some of the human stuff is guesses but it looks in the balancing they are doing +2 racial HP is worth 5ft of movement speed and having dark or low-light vision is equal to switching a static +2/+2/-2 to a flexible +2

So that's the base before they each get an ancestry feat from their respective lists.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Looks good to me. Again I am liking the modularity. With the separate pools of feats, I can see this working well.


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UlrichVonLichtenstein wrote:

Reading through this issue again, and going over some of the comments and designer replies therein, I'm becoming less and less of a fan of what is a blatant Feat tax to play interesting and diverse characters.

I might be missing an obvious flaw with what I'm about to suggest, and I'm sure somebody will point it out if I am, but wouldn't a better alternative to this -again- blatant Feat tax, simply to allow players to create Half-bloods without paying any sort of tax?

i.e. Take the Human Ancestry, replace two features with that of the Elf (the exact function of the Heritage Feat) without actually needing to spend a Feat. Then I still have my Ancestry Feat available to me at first level. This would, in theory, quell the need to give *everybody* an additional Ancestry Feat at 1st level.

And before anybody cries "House Rule!" at me, I'm not a Dungeon Master. I'm a Player, therefore it's not my place to establish House Rules or make such requests of a Dungeon Master who hasn't had the opportunity to vet the idea for game balance. And why should I have to House Rule it, anyway, when 90% of people in this thread *CLEARLY* want their Ancestry Feat back?

Question: how is this not making half-bloods literally better than humans in every way?


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Well, this has been the most exciting update in a while. I like the reworking so that "half whatever" can now be applied to any Race, like in your dwarf/orc example (but how that unison occurred I can't imagine. Arm wrestle in a bar turned into a passionate night of neutral hate-lust?)

I'm definitely giving these a go.


Shinigami02 wrote:
Crayon wrote:
Is there any reason a player who had other uses in mind for her Ancestry Feats couldn't just spend them on other Human or Elf (as appropriate) Feats they wanted and just include the character being Half-Orc (or whatever) as part of the character's backstory?

This 100% depends on how open your group is to reflavoring, and some groups (such as PFS, but they are hardly the only example) flat would not allow you to be a "Half-Elf" or "Half-Orc" unless you pay the feat tax.

UlrichVonLichtenstein wrote:
And before anybody cries "House Rule!" at me, I'm not a Dungeon Master. I'm a Player, therefore it's not my place to establish House Rules or make such requests of a Dungeon Master who hasn't had the opportunity to vet the idea for game balance.
Just quoting this because while not (entirely) directly related to this thread, dear GODS does this not get said enough. I have seen more threads throughout more Pathfinder/Starfinder forums where the response to dang near every issue is "just houserule it" completely ignoring the fact that not every person has the power to houserule.

Well, technically, I'd be playing a Human (or Elf) since that's what it would say on my character sheet and where all of the relevant mechanics would come from.

The only indicator of the character's mixed Ancestry would be the Backstory and how I'd RP him - the latter not being subject to GM jurisdiction and while the former might be, it should be fairly simple to introduce enough ambiguity regarding the character's parentage to assuage that - 'mysterious stranger' and so forth


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Cyouni wrote:
UlrichVonLichtenstein wrote:

Reading through this issue again, and going over some of the comments and designer replies therein, I'm becoming less and less of a fan of what is a blatant Feat tax to play interesting and diverse characters.

I might be missing an obvious flaw with what I'm about to suggest, and I'm sure somebody will point it out if I am, but wouldn't a better alternative to this -again- blatant Feat tax, simply to allow players to create Half-bloods without paying any sort of tax?

i.e. Take the Human Ancestry, replace two features with that of the Elf (the exact function of the Heritage Feat) without actually needing to spend a Feat. Then I still have my Ancestry Feat available to me at first level. This would, in theory, quell the need to give *everybody* an additional Ancestry Feat at 1st level.

And before anybody cries "House Rule!" at me, I'm not a Dungeon Master. I'm a Player, therefore it's not my place to establish House Rules or make such requests of a Dungeon Master who hasn't had the opportunity to vet the idea for game balance. And why should I have to House Rule it, anyway, when 90% of people in this thread *CLEARLY* want their Ancestry Feat back?

Question: how is this not making half-bloods literally better than humans in every way?

I am in a loop of pondering this myself, even in regards to "Give everyone two ancestry feats!" suggestion.

It seems like the option Humans get that's really rustling the jimmies is the extra Class feat. Its probably good stuff. General feat probably too. But, if everyone gets two ancestry feats to start then Humans either get an extra Class and General feat at the start of the game, which is probably too much, or the "One of them has to be a Heritage feat" notion is pressed, and then whatever Heritage feat the Human has access to has to compete with "Gain access to all of another ancestries non-Heritage feats."

Even the current state is delayed gratification, trading the ability to jump-start a build for the ability to (Possibly) perfect it later. So Half-Whatever seems like a stronger choice over the long-term, over either parent. Though I can be missing something myself.

Still, many of the suggestions put forward look to me like making a choice of 'Human' far less useful that being Half-Something. I'm not actually super pleased about the way Half-Elves and Half-Orcs are being handled, I prefer them being their own thing. But along with the Half-Races I play Humans predominantly, so I am still wary of my own primary stand-by becoming the "Not as Good as Mixed-Blood" option.

I am aware that Humans were probably overtuned in PF1. I'm fine trying to even that out, but I don't want to see them falling behind either. I could be wrong that these suggestions would do that, but since I imagine "Humans get an extra Feat or two." is pretty much going to be their only selling point, as before, having others freely cherry pick that option seems like it will greatly diminish any point of playing one.

I'd still do it anyway, because my problems are the opposite of Arachnofiend's and I spend too much time with Orcs and Half-Golems and Gargoyles. Being 'Normal' makes me the odd man out, but I shall not falter in the face of those cocky so-and-sos.


Bardarok wrote:


Humans
+2 Flexible +2 Flexible
8 Racial HP, 25 ft speed
Common (& one other language?)

Dwarves
+2 Con +2 Wis -2 Cha +2 Flexible
10 Racial HP, 20 ft speed (ignore armor speed reduction)
Darkvision
Common & Dwarf Languages

Elves
+2 Dex +2 Int -2 Con +2 Flexible
6 Racial HP, 30 ft speed
Low-light vision
Common & Elven Languages

Note: Humans recieve an ethnic language by default now. Though I imagine taldans and chelaxians will be exempt (as Common, aka taldane, is their ethnic language), and therefore will never played in campaigns where languages matter (admitedly almost none, ever) unless the GM is kind.

The HP difference between ancestries is negligible, even at 1st level I just cannot bring myself to care about an up to four-point hit point disparity (Dwarf vs. Elf). Same goes for languages, they just aren't generally important or impactful on gameplay (barring house-rules I've successfully used to make languages important).

The Flexible Array is an advantage over the Standard Array... but a circumstancial one at best. There are plenty of core classes that can use the elf or dwarf array just as easily as the human. Effectively a human's flexible array is only an advantage over purposefully suboptimal characters like Elf Barbarians and Dwarf Bards.

So all that leaves in many circumstances is whether or not the Ancestry feats available to Humans are good enough compared to those available to a dwarf or elf to justify not gaining almost an entire ancestry feat's worth of extra benefits 'for free' (in exchange for drawing from a different, ostensibly worse list)*.
For example:
Elves gain +5 movement and low-light vision 'for free' (and I guess they also lose 2 HP).
Dwarves gain Darkvision and move faster in heavy armor (but slower in light armor or no armor) 'for free' (and I guess they also gain 2 HP).
*The problem with that claim being that from what we've seen, every Ancestry has a feat or two comperable to those available to humans, and the lists are bound to grow over time (which means power-creep).

Half-Elf and Half-Orc on the other hand, are effectively 'pre-spending' their 1st level Ancestry Feat (meaning they lose 20% of their total ancestry bonuses up-front) to gain one or more of the following benefits:
A) Being about 50% better off at 1st level than a human who had spent (read as wasted) their 1st-level Ancestry Feat on being Adopted By Elves/Orcs instead; because apparantly it being an even worse trap than being a half-elf/orc is a feature, not a bug. This is of course assuming you cherry pick two 'good' options from the limited list of negligible benefits the Half-It feat grants.

B) Being able to select, as early as 3rd (via General Feat) but usually at 5th level, from an ostensibly even better list than what pureblooded humans get (the Half-Elf/Orc list I presume). Such feats would need to each be at least 20% better than the best Human and Elf/Orc feats to justify the cost of not being a pureblood instead.

C) Being able to select the two best ancestry feats from any two of the three lists available to you as early as 5th, or as late as 9th.


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Me and my players like this change.


Pathfinder Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am still trying to juggle exactly what this means in terms of options. I look forward to finally being able to see the complete playtest book once it is released in PDF. I expect that will allow me to better judge some of the tradeoffs.

I do think it is a reasonable decision to put it in the Playtest because the PF2 Playtest is likely to be much more thorough than later playtests. They can use what they learn from doing it for half-orcs and half-elves when they later allow things like Dragon Heritage.

I think that for most of the physical heritages that may come in the future (dragon, celestial, infernal, etc) it is alright if they can't be mixed. I am not convinced that is the case for half-elf or half-orc.


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MerlinCross wrote:
GentleGiant wrote:


Ahh, good then. We can skip all ancestry feats then and just give each ancestry the ability scores adjustments they have at present. Nothing else, since people seem to only take their ancestries for the interesting backgrounds and the RP opportunities they provide.

And to me it should be that way. I should be able to take the race I want without caring about the numbers or feats.

OH WAIT, "Half Elf" is right next to these two other feats in the H section of Feats that clearly show all the numbers you are getting from the word go. It's almost like they want us to compare and contrast the benefits of taking Half Elf Feat over the other H feats it's next to instead of just picking it. Like every other feat. Heck, how many new players are just going to sail past the H section of feats?

It is not "I will be a Half Elf" it is "Will I be a Half Elf" more now.

Wha... what? It's a heritage feat, just like other heritage feats. If it's going to show up right next to the other H feats, so are the other heritage feats. Or, more likely, it's going to be in the ancestry section. Again, why this constant trying to make up things based on an assumption that everything is going to be like the worst thing you can possibly imagine?


Or we could drop mechanics from Ancestry at all and make it purely a matter of description - my favourite way of handling it.


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UlrichVonLichtenstein wrote:

Reading through this issue again, and going over some of the comments and designer replies therein, I'm becoming less and less of a fan of what is a blatant Feat tax to play interesting and diverse characters.

I might be missing an obvious flaw with what I'm about to suggest, and I'm sure somebody will point it out if I am, but wouldn't a better alternative to this -again- blatant Feat tax, simply to allow players to create Half-bloods without paying any sort of tax?

i.e. Take the Human Ancestry, replace two features with that of the Elf (the exact function of the Heritage Feat) without actually needing to spend a Feat. Then I still have my Ancestry Feat available to me at first level. This would, in theory, quell the need to give *everybody* an additional Ancestry Feat at 1st level.

And before anybody cries "House Rule!" at me, I'm not a Dungeon Master. I'm a Player, therefore it's not my place to establish House Rules or make such requests of a Dungeon Master who hasn't had the opportunity to vet the idea for game balance. And why should I have to House Rule it, anyway, when 90% of people in this thread *CLEARLY* want their Ancestry Feat back?

As others have noted, how is this not just making humans actively worse than the half races?

It also fails to deal with the implications of the half-races having the ability to choose from 3 different sets of feats for their ancestry feats, effectively giving it to them for free.


Cantriped wrote:

Note: Humans recieve an ethnic language by default now. Though I imagine taldans and chelaxians will be exempt (as Common, aka taldane, is their ethnic language), and therefore will never played in campaigns where languages matter (admitedly almost none, ever) unless the GM is kind.

The HP difference between ancestries is negligible, even at 1st level I just cannot bring myself to care about an up to four-point hit point disparity (Dwarf vs. Elf). Same goes for languages, they just aren't generally important or impactful on gameplay (barring house-rules I've successfully used to make languages important).

The Flexible Array is an advantage over the Standard Array... but a circumstancial one at best. There are plenty of core classes that can use the elf or dwarf array just as easily as the human. Effectively a human's flexible array is only an advantage over purposefully suboptimal characters like Elf Barbarians and Dwarf Bards.

So all that leaves in many circumstances is whether or not the Ancestry feats available to Humans are good enough compared to those available to a dwarf or elf to justify not gaining almost an entire ancestry feat's worth of extra benefits 'for free' (in exchange for drawing from a different, ostensibly worse list)*.
For example:
Elves gain +5 movement and low-light vision 'for free' (and I guess they also lose 2 HP).
Dwarves gain Darkvision and move faster in heavy armor (but slower in light armor or no armor) 'for free' (and I guess they also gain 2 HP).
*The problem with that claim being that from what we've seen, every Ancestry has a feat or two comperable to those available to humans, and the lists are bound to grow over time (which means power-creep).

Half-Elf and Half-Orc on the other hand, are effectively 'pre-spending' their 1st level Ancestry Feat (meaning they lose 20% of their total ancestry bonuses up-front) to gain one or more of the following benefits:
A) Being about 50% better off at 1st level than a human who had spent (read as wasted) their 1st-level Ancestry Feat on being Adopted By Elves/Orcs instead; because apparantly it being an even worse trap than being a half-elf/orc is a feature, not a bug. This is of course assuming you cherry pick two 'good' options from the limited list of negligible benefits the Half-It feat grants.

B) Being able to select, as early as 3rd (via General Feat) but usually at 5th level, from an ostensibly even better list than what pureblooded humans get (the Half-Elf/Orc list I presume). Such feats would need to each be at least 20% better than the best Human and Elf/Orc feats to justify the cost of not being a pureblood instead.

C) Being able to select the two best ancestry feats from any two of the three lists available to you as early as 5th, or as late as 9th.

I'm sorry, maybe I'm just failing to see it in all of that, but what's your point? (I'm genuinely wondering, it seems like a statement of facts rather than a point to me)

That humans are the worst race in PF2 and should be buffed at the core to be on par with the other races?
That Half-Races should become full races instead of feats?
That maybe having access to multiple lists isn't that powerful (or is overly so)?


Crayon wrote:
Or we could drop mechanics from Ancestry at all and make it purely a matter of description - my favourite way of handling it.

You could also open it up even more. Give everyone a free ancestry package of:

+2 Physical score +2 Mental score -2 Flexible +2 Flexible.
+ two Ancestry feats (or three, depending on how you bundle the remaining abilities), one of which has to be a Heritage feat.

If one wants to play a "traditional" specimen of one's chosen ancestry one could pick the "pre-bundled" version, e.g.:
Dwarves
+2 Con +2 Wis -2 Cha +2 Flexible
10 Racial HP, 20 ft speed (ignore armor speed reduction)
Darkvision
Common & Dwarf Languages
+ one Ancestry feat (this could even be pre-selected based on "sub-ancestry", i.e. the old versions of Hill Dwarves, Mountain Dwarves etc.).


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Some things being complained of that I'm just not seeing/

The primary one being that it's a Feat Tax - how is it different from PF1 where humans pay a feat and the skilled trait to gain several abilities such as a skill bonus and low light vision and the ability to be treated as human and elf? I'm really not seeing the distinction...

Liberty's Edge

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dragonhunterq wrote:

Some things being complained of that I'm just not seeing/

The primary one being that it's a Feat Tax - how is it different from PF1 where humans pay a feat and the skilled trait to gain several abilities such as a skill bonus and low light vision and the ability to be treated as human and elf? I'm really not seeing the distinction...

The distinction is twofold:

#1. In PF1, Humans were special for having a bonus Feat, they were uniquely blessed. Sure you gave it up by being a Half Elf, but you gave it up by being a Dwarf, too, or anything else other than Human. In PF2, only Half Elves and Half Orcs give it up, they are uniquely penalized as compared to everyone else.

Being normal as opposed to superior is a very different feeling from being inferior as opposed to normal, in terms of number of Feats.

#2. In PF1, you still had another Feat choice of the same variety. You did not lose access to an entire category of options by being something other than Human. In PF2, you do not get another Ancestry Feat, so this is not the case. All 1st level Half Elves or Half Orcs lack the ability to make a fundamental choice everyone else gets to make.

Both of those are based on feelings, mind you, not necessarily anything objective. But feelings are important since the game is supposed to be fun, and nobody has fun if they feel bad.


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willuwontu wrote:
I'm sorry, maybe I'm just failing to see it in all of that, but what's your point? (I'm genuinely wondering, it seems like a statement of facts rather than a point to me).

That is it. I've already stated my own opinions enough times for them to sound tired. That post was just an analysis so others could draw their own conclusions.

Personally I'm sad that my favorite ancestry to play for flavor reasons has become a feat tax for humans at best and an outright trap-option for them at worst.

I think the easy 'solution' is to give just Humans an extra Ancestry feat, especially if being a Half-It is a Human-Only Feat Tax.

A better solution might be to remove Human from the requirements for Half-Its so that you can have Dwarf-Elfs and Gnome-Orcs. As well as change the initial benefits to the unusual parent's language automatically, one option (such as low-light vision, or darkvision), and one of the unusual parents ancestry feats. Meaning Human Half-Elves effectively have to select an elf ancestry feat at 1st level, but can select human, elf, or half-elf feats thereafter. Similarly an Elf Half Orc has to select an Orc feat at 1st.


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Cantriped wrote:
willuwontu wrote:
I'm sorry, maybe I'm just failing to see it in all of that, but what's your point? (I'm genuinely wondering, it seems like a statement of facts rather than a point to me).

That is it. I've already stated my own opinions enough times for them to sound tired. That post was just an analysis so others could draw their own conclusions.

Personally I'm sad that my favorite ancestry to play for flavor reasons has become a feat tax for humans at best and an outright trap-option for them at worst.

I think the easy 'solution' is to give just Humans an extra Ancestry feat, especially if being a Half-It is a Human-Only Feat Tax.

A better solution might be to remove Human from the requirements for Half-Its so that you can have Dwarf-Elfs and Gnome-Orcs. As well as change the initial benefits to the unusual parent's language automatically, one option (such as low-light vision, or darkvision), and one of the unusual parents ancestry feats. Meaning Human Half-Elves effectively have to select an elf ancestry feat at 1st level, but can select human, elf, or half-elf feats thereafter. Similarly an Elf Half Orc has to select an Orc feat at 1st.

Gotcha.

Personally I'd rather not have them as feats as well, but as I've noted (and others) there's definite balance implications there.

I also feel that giving just humans two ancestry feats at 1 might not be a bad idea, but might benefit the human more that the half-x.

Honestly, the big issue to me is that humans seem worse and worse the more I think about them as an ancestry. It seems like all ancestries just need an increase in what they abilities they grant (and can grant), especially since the general power level just seems so low as a baseline in PF2 for them, and restricts what ancestries could come later down the line.

Liberty's Edge

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For the record, giving only humans two Ancestry Feats strikes me as a terrible idea given how those work. That seems like something that should be given to everyone or nobody.

Grand Lodge

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I think at it's core it's a design issue. We've seen developers talk about how it's okay that there's a feat tax to play a half race because they're actually going to end up more powerful than a human, essentially human+.

Meanwhile, you've got fans of those races saying "I don't want to be a human+, I just want to play a half race and have a variety of Ancestry choices like everyone else at level 1".

Why not simply make them the same power level as the other races and not require a feat to balance?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
For the record, giving only humans two Ancestry Feats strikes me as a terrible idea given how those work. That seems like something that should be given to everyone or nobody.

A'yup. I think humans might need a little more, but not an entire extra ancestry feat over everyone else.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
For the record, giving only humans two Ancestry Feats strikes me as a terrible idea given how those work. That seems like something that should be given to everyone or nobody.

It most likely is. The problem is giving an extra feat to everyone may only solve half the problem (half-its not having an ancestry feat at 1st). Half-its will still be making a questionable trade with back-loaded benefits.

Alternative to a second Ancestry Feat, Humans could have some other generic benefit besides their Ancestry Feat so that they don't feel so bereft of benefits. Maybe Trained in a Lore of choice? I don't know. I just know they feel slightly too weak as a chassis.

Absentia the 'Half-It' Debate. I like the idea of ancestry having a more front-loaded impact. So I would be happy with two ancestry feats at 1stst for everyone.

Liberty's Edge

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Cantriped wrote:
It most likely is. The problem is giving an extra feat to everyone may only solve half the problem (half-its not having an ancestry feat at 1st). Half-its will still be making a questionable trade with back-loaded benefits.

Not if the Half Elf/Half Orc Feats are improved properly, but yeah it still has a lack of improvement on the gut-level 'feels bad' thing.

Cantriped wrote:
Alternative to a second Ancestry Feat, Humans could have some other generic benefit besides their Ancestry Feat so that they don't feel so bereft of benefits. Maybe Trained in a Lore of choice? I don't know. I just know they feel slightly too weak as a chassis.

I tend to agree, though I'm not sure they're alone in that. I think Halflings might have an issue in this regard as well.

Cantriped wrote:
Absentia the 'Half-It' Debate. I like the idea of ancestry having a more front-loaded impact. So I would be happy with two ancestry feats at 1stst for everyone.

I've been an advocate for this long before the Half Elf and Half Orc stuff was revealed.

Liberty's Edge

Why can't I be a half-dwarf? Think outside the D&D box!!!!

Liberty's Edge

Would a half-halfling be a quarterling?


Castle Mayhem wrote:
Why can't I be a half-dwarf? Think outside the D&D box!!!!

There's always the half-dwarfs from Dark Sun, Muls. They were a bit different than their parents. Certainly seemed to have some Hybrid Vigor going on. I think those are the only half-dwarfs I've seen.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Doktor Weasel wrote:
Castle Mayhem wrote:
Why can't I be a half-dwarf? Think outside the D&D box!!!!
There's always the half-dwarfs from Dark Sun, Muls. They were a bit different than their parents. Certainly seemed to have some Hybrid Vigor going on. I think those are the only half-dwarfs I've seen.

The Dragonlance book Races of Ansalon had a different take on half-dwarves (along with numerous other half-humans). I think the existence of this book is why Paizo folks so firmly deny the existence of half-dwarves, half-gnomes, and other similar races.


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Castle Mayhem wrote:
Why can't I be a half-dwarf? Think outside the D&D box!!!!

Why not if the setting you use has them. It should be easier to make a half-dwarf feat than a whole race.

Half-breeds all round!


Castle Mayhem wrote:
Why can't I be a half-dwarf? Think outside the D&D box!!!!

For the same reason than you can't be a Tiefling or you can't be a non-LG paladin in the playtest : this is a playtest. They are testing out a restricted array of options to make sure those options are perfectly crafted. Even more precisely, they are testing the new version of core features we had in PF1 to make sure the transition works, since they said their priority was to allow GMs and players to convert on the fly from PF1 to PF2. You can't be a half-dwarf in the playtest because you can't be a half-dwarf in PF1.

That doesn't prevent them from improving and adding more options once the definitive rulebook is done, though. Maybe we will see half-dwarfs in the core rulebook or in a splatbook. It will be pretty easy to do, like Barathos pointed out, since now creating a half-breed race is just creating a new feat tree and picking 4 defining traits of the race. From what I can read in this blog, they clearly are thinking about this.
I'd like to have half-everythings too, but we have to be patient for now. Let's start by testing what we have here (416 pages to test will be an enormous work, and I doubt that anyone who can't play for 6 hours straight every week-end would be able to test everything, so imagine with even more things to test), let the devs adjust the rules so that they please the majority, and then improve from there. One step at a time :)


David knott 242 wrote:

The Dragonlance book Races of Ansalon had a different take on half-dwarves (along with numerous other half-humans). I think the existence of this book is why Paizo folks so firmly deny the existence of half-dwarves, half-gnomes, and other similar races.

Was it that bad? I only dabbled a bit with Dragonlance, but they did seem to go a bit too far with making one-trick joke races. Like kender, gully dwarves and tinker gnomes. I think Paizo gnomes owe a bit to the tinker gnomes, but are toned down to be interesting without being always Chaotic Crazy and broadened to not just be focused on mechanical things.


I mean, half-dwarves and whatnot do exist in Paizo publications, just not as fully fleshed out races. Racial Heritage lets a human have the blood of any other race in their veins, and judging by the Sorcerer bloodline anyone can be part-orc too.


Arachnofiend wrote:
I mean, half-dwarves and whatnot do exist in Paizo publications, just not as fully fleshed out races. Racial Heritage lets a human have the blood of any other race in their veins, and judging by the Sorcerer bloodline anyone can be part-orc too.

The keywords in my sentence are "core features" :) Of course we had inquisitors and magi and orcs and duergars and non-LG paladin-like classes in Pathfinder. But those weren't core. We can't expect Paizo to convert 10 years of PF1 in only 2 years of development. First, it would be too much to playtest in only 1 year. Second, that would mean that if the main mechanic (spellcasting and weapon using for magi for exemple, or ancestry for duergars) was badly designed, this would prevent a correct playtest of the more specific mechanic and force the devs to redesign the main mechanic AND the specific mechanic to create the core rulebook.

Edit : In our current problem (the half-dwarf), if they find out that half-ancestry feats was a bad idea, they will just have to tweak the half-ancestry feat system, the half-elf and the half-orc, and potentially the human, elf and orc ancestries. If they were to introduce half-dwarves in the playtest, they would have to tweak all the previously cited mechanics, AND the half-dwarf and the dwarf ancestry. (add two things to tweak for each half-ancestry you want to add)


Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Hey there all,

Interesting to see many of the same debates we had internally playing out here on this issue. I want to point out that humans have a few mechanical benefits that are not shared by any other ancestry. Two floating ability score boosts with no flaw is the best in the game when it comes to build flexibility (compared to the two set boosts, one floating boost, and one flaw of the others). When you look at a feat that gives you other perks on top of that (better speed, languages, vision, or skill use), the costing really does start to even out.

As for orcs, there are a handful of Orc feats in the book to make half-orc perfectly viable. I am not sure that there is much value in debating the presentation at the moment (they are an addendum at the end of the human entry) as that is all going to change quite a bit in the final book. We will certainly be asking a number of questions during the playtest about this presentation and the way these half-ancestries are included in Pathfinder.

If Human ancestry wasn't mechanically superior to other ancestries you would not have to hobble the half-* races for balance. Humans are more flexible than the other ancestries, but in my opinion should not be objectively better than the other ancestries.

If you limit Humans to CON+2 (they are tough compared to the other animals on spaceship Earth), CHA+2 (they are relentlessly social), WIS-2 (they are pretty foolish too -- just check the news) and a floating +2 and dial back the bonus feats to match the other races. Then Half-Orcs should be able to select any ancestry feat from the Human, Half-Orc and Orc lists, excepting any feats which say Human only or Orc only. Half-Elves would work similarly.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
For the record, giving only humans two Ancestry Feats strikes me as a terrible idea given how those work. That seems like something that should be given to everyone or nobody.

I think, this being the playtest for just the core book, just a couple 'mixed heritages' is appropriate. It lets the actual mechanic get tested. I have serious doubts these will be the only mixed heritages in the game within a couple years - the ARG came out 3 years after the CRB - I think more ancestry options will be available for pf2 much earlier than that - the modular nature of pf2e does make extensions and content packs easier.

Liberty's Edge

CraziFuzzy wrote:
I think, this being the playtest for just the core book, just a couple 'mixed heritages' is appropriate. It lets the actual mechanic get tested. I have serious doubts these will be the only mixed heritages in the game within a couple years - the ARG came out 3 years after the CRB - I think more ancestry options will be available for pf2 much earlier than that - the modular nature of pf2e does make extensions and content packs easier.

*blinks* I...said nothing about 'mixed heritages' in the post you responded to. I am thus deeply confused by your response.

Silver Crusade

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Ssalarn wrote:
UlrichVonLichtenstein wrote:

i.e. Take the Human Ancestry, replace two features with that of the Elf (the exact function of the Heritage Feat) without actually needing to spend a Feat.

That's actually not the exact function of the feat. You keep all of the normal human benefits and then spend your ancestry feat for two additional abilities, such as a 5-foot speed increase (identical to the feat Fleet), an extra trained skill (something you'd normally have to wait for 3rd level for), and access to two additional feat lists for your later ancestry feats.

As far as raw benefits go, the Half-Elf Ancestry feat is actually pretty good and not really a "tax" at all in the sense that that word is normally used when referring to game mechanics, like Combat Expertise which is often considered a tax in the current edition since many people take it knowing they'll never use it but have to have it for other feats they do want. You're almost certainly going to take advantage of at least the elven speed option, and that alone is comparative to the Fleet general feat, which would make the Half-Elf Heritage feat actually better in some ways than the General Training ancestry feat humans get (since that would get you Fleet without any other benefits.)

It’s a Feat Tax because I have to take a Feat I don’t want in order to get close to playing a Race I like. Because Half-Elves don’t exist anymore.

Silver Crusade

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Jurassic Pratt wrote:

I think at it's core it's a design issue. We've seen developers talk about how it's okay that there's a feat tax to play a half race because they're actually going to end up more powerful than a human, essentially human+.

Meanwhile, you've got fans of those races saying "I don't want to be a human+, I just want to play a half race and have a variety of Ancestry choices like everyone else at level 1".

Why not simply make them the same power level as the other races and not require a feat to balance?

^ THIS.

I want to play a Half-Elf, not a Human who becomes increasingly Elfyish.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Paul Watson wrote:

Not greatly a fan of this for reasons people have mentioned anyway.

Mechanically, I don’t see an issue, as half-races have usually been basically humans with pointy ears/teeth in PF1, but paying a feat tax for a race is problematic.
So, suggestions:
1) Instead of allowing the feat to be taken twice which gives really wonky wording, allow a non-heritage racial feat to be taken with this feat and make one of the Half-Elf/Orc racial feats Full Heritage with the same beenfits as taking this feat.

2) Presentationally, if you gave half-elves/orcs their own entries but otherwise treated it as above, it would seem to resolve much of the “respect” issue people are having with it.

Replying to myself, alternative idea:

Each race has a heritage section which details what options can be taken as half breeds.
Half-Elf and Half-Orc are full races. At frist elvel they can only take half-whatever ancestry feats, which would include some human and elf/orc feats gaining access to the full selection only at 5th level so selected heritge feats can be taken but the more versatile human and more elfy elf options can be kept race locked until later.


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So If playing a half-elf/orc is a ancestry feat. So instead of the bonus class feat human gets I can get the half-elf ancestry? If that's the case that's not to far off from the human just getting a bonus feat like in PF1.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
So If playing a half-elf/orc is a ancestry feat. So instead of the bonus class feat human gets I can get the half-elf ancestry? If that's the case that's not to far off from the human just getting a bonus feat like in PF1.

Well, the issue is that the human and the elf both get some HP and some languages and some stat adjustments, some vision and some movement, and each has an ancestry feat to take. A human will probably take something about skills or an extra feat and the elf can take whatever elf feats there are.

But the half elf spends their feat to gain mostly things that the elf gets for free (low light vision, fast movement, or elvish) and has no ancestry feat to show for it. A major benefit they might see is that they can mix feats from the human list and the elf lists, but it will be level 9 before this character has 2 ancestry feats other than the "you are a half-elf" one.


So your saying that even with the ancestry feats giving a number of benefits its still less benefits overall then what just a full human or full elf would have?


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
So your saying that even with the ancestry feats giving a number of benefits its still less benefits overall then what just a full human or full elf would have?

It pretty much feels like you're playing an elf except someone stole your ancestry feat before you even started for vague promises that much later it'll be cool and helpful to get race feats from multiple races from 9th level or after...


graystone wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
So your saying that even with the ancestry feats giving a number of benefits its still less benefits overall then what just a full human or full elf would have?
It pretty much feels like you're playing an elf except someone stole your ancestry feat before you even started for vague promises that much later it'll be cool and helpful to get race feats from multiple races from 9th level or after...

Hmm I see So like he said the only advantage is that later you get something. hmm well what do we think would be a good fix for this? What would make it even so that it feel like a half-elf instead of full you don't have to wait to mid levels to gain the advantage, and it wouldn't be more powerful or better then igther of its components?


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
So If playing a half-elf/orc is a ancestry feat. So instead of the bonus class feat human gets I can get the half-elf ancestry? If that's the case that's not to far off from the human just getting a bonus feat like in PF1.

Well, the issue is that the human and the elf both get some HP and some languages and some stat adjustments, some vision and some movement, and each has an ancestry feat to take. A human will probably take something about skills or an extra feat and the elf can take whatever elf feats there are.

But the half elf spends their feat to gain mostly things that the elf gets for free (low light vision, fast movement, or elvish) and has no ancestry feat to show for it. A major benefit they might see is that they can mix feats from the human list and the elf lists, but it will be level 9 before this character has 2 ancestry feats other than the "you are a half-elf" one.

Here's a link to my previous comment on the subject in case you missed it, it's the part after the dashes. You actually get things from the get go.

graystone wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
So your saying that even with the ancestry feats giving a number of benefits its still less benefits overall then what just a full human or full elf would have?
It pretty much feels like you're playing an elf except someone stole your ancestry feat before you even started for vague promises that much later it'll be cool and helpful to get race feats from multiple races from 9th level or after...

I guess some people may think that way, in terms of roleplaying (but not mechanics, since mechanically you literally have feats from humans and elves/orcs). If it's just a question of perceptions, maybe adding a little page with the different half-breeds descriptions and their specific feats could help not feeling like "I'm a human with elf traits" or "I'm an elf with human traits", and more "I'm a half-elf". But again, it just seems to me this is a problem of perception.

Also, your ancestry feat is not "stolen". You trade your human ancestry feat for something else (as explained in the link at the beginning of this answer)

Edit : or maybe just make Half-Orcs and Half-Elves their own ancestry, but say that they don't get an ancestry feat at 1st level for balance sake. But that would destroy the potential future option to make half-dwarves half-orcs.


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I imagine giving half-elves free access to multiple ancestry feat types gave a bunch of issues, balance-wise.


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Almarane wrote:
I guess some people may think that way, in terms of roleplaying (but not mechanics, since mechanically you literally have feats from humans and elves/orcs).

You literally do not see any benefit until 9th for race feats...

Almarane wrote:
Also, your ancestry feat is not "stolen". You trade your human ancestry feat for something else (as explained in the link at the beginning of this answer)

Compared to an elf, it sure seems that way.

Vidmaster7 wrote:
hmm well what do we think would be a good fix for this?

IMO, allowing that to be an actual race with it's own ancestry feat instead of being a 'vestigial' pseudo-race/feat: If for no other reason than people want to start off as a 1/2 elf/orc and not a human that mutates into a parity of an elf or orc.


Almarane wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
So If playing a half-elf/orc is a ancestry feat. So instead of the bonus class feat human gets I can get the half-elf ancestry? If that's the case that's not to far off from the human just getting a bonus feat like in PF1.

Well, the issue is that the human and the elf both get some HP and some languages and some stat adjustments, some vision and some movement, and each has an ancestry feat to take. A human will probably take something about skills or an extra feat and the elf can take whatever elf feats there are.

But the half elf spends their feat to gain mostly things that the elf gets for free (low light vision, fast movement, or elvish) and has no ancestry feat to show for it. A major benefit they might see is that they can mix feats from the human list and the elf lists, but it will be level 9 before this character has 2 ancestry feats other than the "you are a half-elf" one.

Here's a link to my previous comment on the subject in case you missed it, it's the part after the dashes. You actually get things from the get go.

graystone wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
So your saying that even with the ancestry feats giving a number of benefits its still less benefits overall then what just a full human or full elf would have?
It pretty much feels like you're playing an elf except someone stole your ancestry feat before you even started for vague promises that much later it'll be cool and helpful to get race feats from multiple races from 9th level or after...
I guess some people may think that way, in terms of roleplaying (but not mechanics, since mechanically you literally have feats from humans and elves/orcs). If it's just a question of perceptions, maybe adding a little page with the different half-breeds descriptions and their specific feats could help not feeling like "I'm a human with elf traits" or "I'm an elf with...

So just to simplify your arguement.

In your opinion the fact you gain access to both of the ancestry feat trees of the hybrid race is worth the lose of the ancestry feat correct? I say lose even though it does in fact give you a lot because from what I can tell if you went full elf you would gain everything it gave you but still have an ancestry feat yes?

So essentially the ancestry feat is making you an elf with access to human things then but the human things options aren't available till level 9?

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