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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Mark Seifter wrote:
DFAnton wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
While some might be a bit odd to gain later, like ancestral longevity, we tried to ere on the side of flexibility instead of littering the game with heritage feats (most only have one or two at most). Those that are there are usually based on physiology and would make almost no sense to suddenly develop later.

Waitwaitwaitwaitwait. LIFESPAN is a feat?

I get that you guys are trying to make everything featy into a feat, and everything spelly into a spell, but you don't need to do it for everything. A list of traits would be perfectly acceptable for literal biological aspects of a character.

Lifespan isn't the benefit of that feat. It gives you a flexible skill trained each day based on living a long life of doing all sorts of things.

Oh, thank god. I nearly died.

Paizo Employee Designer

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DFAnton wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
DFAnton wrote:
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
While some might be a bit odd to gain later, like ancestral longevity, we tried to ere on the side of flexibility instead of littering the game with heritage feats (most only have one or two at most). Those that are there are usually based on physiology and would make almost no sense to suddenly develop later.

Waitwaitwaitwaitwait. LIFESPAN is a feat?

I get that you guys are trying to make everything featy into a feat, and everything spelly into a spell, but you don't need to do it for everything. A list of traits would be perfectly acceptable for literal biological aspects of a character.

Lifespan isn't the benefit of that feat. It gives you a flexible skill trained each day based on living a long life of doing all sorts of things.
Oh, thank god. I nearly died.

Not to worry! In the alternate universe where that's actually what the feat did, that could never happen because you hadn't taken a feat yet to determine your lifespan.


MerlinCross wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:


No, that is not the case. It's a one-time feat, not one you can take again. It's in the first sentence of my post in the quote.

That is... what I said. Perhaps you misunderstood me.

What I am saying is that a human with Natural Ambition will always be one class feat ahead of a half-elf or a half-orc, which actually matters, because class feats are strong options that directly improve a character's ability to carry out their class's specialty. That trumps gaining minor, auxiliary side benefits.

But that's not correct, so I'm not explaining well. Our example from before is Half-Elf Ezren who takes Half-Elf at 1st level and Natural Ambition at 5th to get Widen Spell when it matters more. Compare to Human Ezren who takes Natural Ambition at 1st and then <something else that isn't a class feat because he can't take Natural Ambition again> at 5th. The half-elf Ezren is not a class feat behind. Now a full elven Ezren would never be able to get that class feat, but the half-elf can.
And yet Human Ezren takes part 2 of "Insert Wizard build here" at level 5. Half-Elf Ezren has to wait till what... level 7? Further?

But human Ezren doesn't get low-light vision, the speed boost, the bonus language, or the diplomacy boost.

If you build a human wizard and half-elf wizard in PF1, the human can have one more wizard-y feat, because his bonus feat is more flexible. And the human wizard will always be one feat ahead of a similarly experienced elf, dwarf, gnome, tiefling, etc. wizard. That's part of why humans are the dominant race...I mean ancestry...on Golarion.


NetoD20 wrote:
Ancestries was one of the things I was mostly excited about, the idea of getting free racial treats as we level up is great. However what I didn't realise at first was that we don't get the same amount of stuff at 1st level as we did in 1st edition. So really what ancestry feats have become is just a way of spacing out our racial traits throughout 20 levels, and I'm very disappointed in that. Why my dwarf can't start out with Greed, Defensive Training, Stonecunning, etc. at 1st level and then get his other ancestry feats later as he levels up as well? That would have been great! It would be like getting all the stuff you normally expect to get from playing a dwarf/elf/gnome whatever in 1st edition, and then getting the 2nd edition equivalents of 1st edition's great racial feats (Orc Hewer, Mage of the Wilds, Effortless Trickery etc.) as ancestry feats later on as you level up. I thought the new ancestry feat system was about developing and emphasizing your ancestry throughtout the whole character advancement instead of just at character creation like in 1st edition. Instead it's just getting the same stuff you got in 1st edition, but instead spaced out through many levels.

Actually, the Ancestry Feats seem to be more in line powerwise with the racial feats of PF1 than the starting racial traits. They share many of the same names, but they seem to be on average way better and the best ones are REALLY good.

Quote:
could understand getting traits that are not based on physiology (e.g. picking up a weapon proficiency and the racial language), but picking up darkvision after first makes no sense. I'd also say picking up a halfbreed feat any time after character creation makes no sense*, as well as dropping one through retraining. The preview above doesn't list that restriction on the feat, but I'm going to assume/hope they have it in the playtest book, or add it in the final version.

It does, actually. That is exactly what the heritage tag denotes.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
MerlinCross wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:


No, that is not the case. It's a one-time feat, not one you can take again. It's in the first sentence of my post in the quote.

That is... what I said. Perhaps you misunderstood me.

What I am saying is that a human with Natural Ambition will always be one class feat ahead of a half-elf or a half-orc, which actually matters, because class feats are strong options that directly improve a character's ability to carry out their class's specialty. That trumps gaining minor, auxiliary side benefits.

But that's not correct, so I'm not explaining well. Our example from before is Half-Elf Ezren who takes Half-Elf at 1st level and Natural Ambition at 5th to get Widen Spell when it matters more. Compare to Human Ezren who takes Natural Ambition at 1st and then <something else that isn't a class feat because he can't take Natural Ambition again> at 5th. The half-elf Ezren is not a class feat behind. Now a full elven Ezren would never be able to get that class feat, but the half-elf can.
And yet Human Ezren takes part 2 of "Insert Wizard build here" at level 5. Half-Elf Ezren has to wait till what... level 7? Further?

Unless it happens to be an ancestry feat Half-Elf Ezren can't do that at level 5, he already spent his one Natural Ambition at level 1.


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kwiqsilver wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:


No, that is not the case. It's a one-time feat, not one you can take again. It's in the first sentence of my post in the quote.

That is... what I said. Perhaps you misunderstood me.

What I am saying is that a human with Natural Ambition will always be one class feat ahead of a half-elf or a half-orc, which actually matters, because class feats are strong options that directly improve a character's ability to carry out their class's specialty. That trumps gaining minor, auxiliary side benefits.

But that's not correct, so I'm not explaining well. Our example from before is Half-Elf Ezren who takes Half-Elf at 1st level and Natural Ambition at 5th to get Widen Spell when it matters more. Compare to Human Ezren who takes Natural Ambition at 1st and then <something else that isn't a class feat because he can't take Natural Ambition again> at 5th. The half-elf Ezren is not a class feat behind. Now a full elven Ezren would never be able to get that class feat, but the half-elf can.
And yet Human Ezren takes part 2 of "Insert Wizard build here" at level 5. Half-Elf Ezren has to wait till what... level 7? Further?

But human Ezren doesn't get low-light vision, the speed boost, the bonus language, or the diplomacy boost.

If you build a human wizard and half-elf wizard in PF1, the human can have one more wizard-y feat, because his bonus feat is more flexible. And the human wizard will always be one feat ahead of a similarly experienced elf, dwarf, gnome, tiefling, etc. wizard. That's part of why humans are the dominant race...I mean ancestry...on Golarion.

To add to this, because I feel like Merlin missed it: The human can't take the next "wizard build feat" because natural ambition can only be taken once. That means for raw wizard feats the two character even out at 5. The human has to take some other human feat instead, and what we have seen of the human feats (and general feats, for that matter) doesn't actually put them that far apart from what the halfie heritage feats do.


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Yeah... the more I think about it the clearer it is that 'half-elf' as written is a harsh downgrade over just playing an elf instead (for at least nine levels anyway).
I expect this to change for the final rulebook. But if it doesn't I'll be adding a bonus elven/orcish heritage feat to the benefits Half-Elf/Orc... just so that it actually has a benefit compared to just playing your non-human parent race instead. It will suck for me if it doesn't change, because I'd never take the feat as is.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
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, on 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.

I feel like that's kind of a false equivalence though. The base Human stuff (i.e. flexibility in attributes) is supposed to be equivalent to the base Elven stuff (less choice in attributes, vision, etc). I don't think anyone is complaining about that part, we're complaining that the Half-Elf feat comes at the cost of a Human or Elf feat, and that the benefit (future feat choices plus 2 of the 4 mini options) doesn't seem equivalent to the other ancestry feats you could take instead at level 1.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
NetoD20 wrote:
Ancestries was one of the things I was mostly excited about, the idea of getting free racial treats as we level up is great. However what I didn't realise at first was that we don't get the same amount of stuff at 1st level as we did in 1st edition. So really what ancestry feats have become is just a way of spacing out our racial traits throughout 20 levels, and I'm very disappointed in that. Why my dwarf can't start out with Greed, Defensive Training, Stonecunning, etc. at 1st level and then get his other ancestry feats later as he levels up as well? That would have been great! It would be like getting all the stuff you normally expect to get from playing a dwarf/elf/gnome whatever in 1st edition, and then getting the 2nd edition equivalents of 1st edition's great racial feats (Orc Hewer, Mage of the Wilds, Effortless Trickery etc.) as ancestry feats later on as you level up. I thought the new ancestry feat system was about developing and emphasizing your ancestry throughtout the whole character advancement instead of just at character creation like in 1st edition. Instead it's just getting the same stuff you got in 1st edition, but instead spaced out through many levels.
Actually, the Ancestry Feats seem to be more in line powerwise with the racial feats of PF1 than the starting racial traits. They share many of the same names, but they seem to be on average way better and the best ones are REALLY good.

I much prefer to get half a dozen weaker but flavourful options than one powerful one at 1st level. A 1st level character should get some 5 or 6 ancestry feats instead of just 1. Also, I don't like heritage feats, the physiological benefits of heritage feats should be granted for free alongside the standard ancestry benefits (speed, ability boosts and flaws, and such). Ok, maybe not the Ancestral Longevity one, but come on, elves don't get anything to Perception as a standard physiological feature?? I mean, that is perhaps the most iconic feature of the elven race. "What do your elf-eyes see Legolas?"


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NetoD20 wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
NetoD20 wrote:
Ancestries was one of the things I was mostly excited about, the idea of getting free racial treats as we level up is great. However what I didn't realise at first was that we don't get the same amount of stuff at 1st level as we did in 1st edition. So really what ancestry feats have become is just a way of spacing out our racial traits throughout 20 levels, and I'm very disappointed in that. Why my dwarf can't start out with Greed, Defensive Training, Stonecunning, etc. at 1st level and then get his other ancestry feats later as he levels up as well? That would have been great! It would be like getting all the stuff you normally expect to get from playing a dwarf/elf/gnome whatever in 1st edition, and then getting the 2nd edition equivalents of 1st edition's great racial feats (Orc Hewer, Mage of the Wilds, Effortless Trickery etc.) as ancestry feats later on as you level up. I thought the new ancestry feat system was about developing and emphasizing your ancestry throughtout the whole character advancement instead of just at character creation like in 1st edition. Instead it's just getting the same stuff you got in 1st edition, but instead spaced out through many levels.
Actually, the Ancestry Feats seem to be more in line powerwise with the racial feats of PF1 than the starting racial traits. They share many of the same names, but they seem to be on average way better and the best ones are REALLY good.
I much prefer to get half a dozen weaker but flavourful options than one powerful one at 1st level. A 1st level character should get some 5 or 6 ancestry feats instead of just 1. Also, I don't like heritage feats, the physiological benefits of heritage feats should be granted for free alongside the standard ancestry benefits (speed, ability boosts and flaws, and such). Ok, maybe not the Ancestral Longevity one, but come on, elves don't get anything to Perception as a standard physiological feature?? I mean, that is perhaps the most...

I mean, too few ancestry feats and heritage feats competing with ancestry feats are my big complaint about what we have seen so far. I won't argue those points.

But you said we were getting the same stuff back, which is simply not true. I couldn't get a free familiar for being a gnome in PF1. Or a viable at will magic attack.


Cyouni wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:


There is a compound chance of death at every encounter, and starting out weaker at level 1 reduces your chance of being alive at level 5.

Ok, let's analyze this. Let's presume that we wanted Dex/Int anyways. The half-elf takes low light vision and 5 ft movement, thus becoming physically identical to the elf. What does the elf take that obliterates +2 HP so badly that the half-elf will die without it?

Bear in mind, this is the best case scenario for the elf comparison.

The Forlorn feat is the only one we've seen so far (on Merisiel's character sheet) but it qualifies by improving your chance to shrug off emotion/fear effects that debuff you and reduce your combat effectiveness. Is that a cumulative 1% improvement in survival to 5th? 10%? I don't know (and it depends on encounter structure). But it is something.


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Human flexibility in stats is largely irrelevent, because of the way stats are generated. The system is actually sort of limited, for example, humans cannot produce an array of three 16s and three 10s like every other race can (the closest they come is 16, 16, 14, 12, 10, 10).


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Jason Bulmahn wrote:
While some might be a bit odd to gain later, like ancestral longevity, we tried to ere on the side of flexibility instead of littering the game with heritage feats (most only have one or two at most).

Why? Why do we need more and more and more flexibility? More options don't always make something better.

Here is a Harvard Business Review article that says more isn't always better:

https://hbr.org/2006/06/more-isnt-always-better

There are lots more of these articles. There's something to be said for elves being more alike than they are different, at least when compared to humans.

Quote:
I also want to stress that while we want your ancestry to be an important part of your character's make-up, it is not our intent that it overshadow your class.

It may not overshadow the class, but forcing players to constantly make trade-offs adds to the stress level. This blog and Marks' responses suggest this is some incredibly deficiency in P1 that players can't play the characters they envision. From my perspective, missing out on some concept of the race isn't making me feel more customized.

Quote:
Its meant to compliment and round out your build, not to necessarily define it.

But race is a defining element. By doing this way, for me, you've reduced it to a bunch of mechanical choices that undermines the lore of being part of that race.

I'm going to be fair and say I only play humans. So I will not speak for others and claim that your undermining the identity of races by forcing even more customization. But an endless stream of choices at every level starts to be counter-productive. Don't get me wrong, I am not in favor or huge racial advantages, but every option is another bullet for the gun of min/maxers who often turn the game into an arms race.

Quote:
I personally think having your connection to your people grow and expand over time is a benefit to this system.

I think that would happen over the course of decades for elves and dwarves, not between level 1 and level 5, which might span a couple of weeks. I'll also add the counter point that adventuring with outsiders, imo, would signify a distancing yourself from your people.


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As far as complaints re: Feat-upgrading "Physiology" related things, I don't get the complaint unless you're trying to keep narrow perspective.
P1E allowed Deep Sight upgrade for any race with Darkvision. Physiology dictated you couldn't see in Dark past 60' before, now you can.
As far as 'missing' Elf/Orc traits that you gain later, those could be delayed maturity things, or maybe you were sick and got better.
Maybe some of those capabilities also depended on practice or training which you had missed out on growing up.


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Cantriped wrote:
Human flexibility in stats is largely irrelevent, because of the way stats are generated. The system is actually sort of limited, for example, humans cannot produce an array of three 16s and three 10s like every other race can (the closest they come is 16, 16, 14, 12, 10, 10).

I think that the thing which works for humans is that you can structure your array any way you want, whereas it's harder to have a charismatic dwarf, wise goblin, or tough elf. +2/+2/+2/-2 options can give you an 18/16/14/12/10/8 pretty easily but 2 of those highest stats are dictated by your ancestry.

If I'm understanding this correctly, a human can manage an 18/16/12/12/10/10 in any order they want, which is a pretty good array for a class that really cares about two stats.


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^ In P1E it was almost default to simply not be able to do stuff with dump stat, but that isn't the case anymore. I think tighter math and broader usage of stats like CHA means Human gets something out of not tanking dump stat as hard. You can and will be using all your stats for relevant things, and the +1 means more than in P1E especially with Crit Fails/Success.


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Only the highest and lowest values (the 18 & 8) have to come from race, and to get the 18 your race and class must share bonuses anyway. So in practice you aren't really that limited since you wouldn't jave chosen the race if it didn't put the 18 where you want it.

Besides... who doesn't want more Dex or Int? The two most generally useful stats in the game.


Wow Tuesday blog, that catched me unguarded.

Before I read the comments, I really want to congratulates Paizo for making half-bloods part of the Human ancestry. For a long time I've thought that half-bloods should be a template, the approach presented here covers that design space good enough. There is still hope for PF2 :)


Cantriped wrote:
Besides... who doesn't want more Dex or Int? The two most generally useful stats in the game.

A Str based Fighter, a cleric, etc.


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edduardco wrote:

Wow Tuesday blog, that catched me unguarded.

Before I read the comments, I really want to congratulates Paizo for making half-bloods part of the Human ancestry. For a long time I've thought that half-bloods should be a template, the approach presented here covers that design space good enough. There is still hope for PF2 :)

If only it wasn't tied to Human... ;-) Me want's some Dworcs or Half-halflings.


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edduardco wrote:

Wow Tuesday blog, that catched me unguarded.

Before I read the comments, I really want to congratulates Paizo for making half-bloods part of the Human ancestry. For a long time I've thought that half-bloods should be a template, the approach presented here covers that design space good enough. There is still hope for PF2 :)

Oh. Abandon ship, my dude.

Feel real torn about this, but like the ancestry feat-driven approach. REALLY like the possibility of "general" heritage feats that apply the planetouched, et al ancestries. Excited to get my digital hands on the PDF.


willuwontu wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
Besides... who doesn't want more Dex or Int? The two most generally useful stats in the game.
A Str based Fighter, a cleric, etc.

Why would an Elf become a Greatsword wielding Cleric of Gorum, and why wouldn't they want more skills, or the ability to use ranged weapons and spells?


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Quandary wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
Joana wrote:
I understand that a PC gets better at fighting or wizarding or rogueing by practice, but I don't get why he'd get more elfy or gnomey.
If this is how the system is supposed to work, I agree with you. It's genre-contrary to get more ancestry traits as you level.
So it was genre-contrary when Race-pre-req Feats built upon Racial abilities in P1E? Or Drow Nobles etc were implemented as Feat chains?

You'll have to explain this better. And yes, it's possible things in P1 were bad ideas, that doesn't mean we should put them in P2.


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I'm going to chime in and say that while 80% of what I see in PF2 excites me, the way half-races are treated is part of the 20% that doesn't excite me. I'd much rather have them be their own distinct starting race instead of a feat tax appended to human, at least for such important and iconic races like half-elf and half-orc.

But, I only play home games (and I'm that one guy who always insists on playing a lizardfolk or kobold), so I don't really have a horse in this race anyway.


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Cantriped wrote:
willuwontu wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
Besides... who doesn't want more Dex or Int? The two most generally useful stats in the game.
A Str based Fighter, a cleric, etc.
Why would an Elf become a Greatsword wielding Cleric of Gorum, and why wouldn't they want more skills, or the ability to use ranged weapons and spells?

Raised by orcs.


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I'm halfway on this, I think. I actually do like this, as it always felt like (outside of niche cases) half-elves/orcs were mechanically just worse humans. Here at least, there's a greater upside. That being said, I think the fact that if you're any other ancestry, you get a choice at first level, but with half-X, you don't. It's not even that I don't think the feat is worth while, as +5 ft and low light vision probably is worth it as a feat, but I think the issue is more (at least for me) that if you're (for example) a gnome, you could have a familiar, or cantrips or a unique sense, or... ect, where for the most part, a half-elf is a half-elf is a half-elf, at least at level 1.

Paizo Employee Designer

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willuwontu wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
Besides... who doesn't want more Dex or Int? The two most generally useful stats in the game.
A Str based Fighter, a cleric, etc.

I know when Jason built an elf barbarian for the Twitch Stream, there were a lot of perks, but one of the significant disadvantages was that since he needed the flexible ancestry boost to Strength, he had to accept 8 Con coming out of that step, meaning 12 Con was the best he could do overall, despite Con being a secondary stat used for a few things that help the barbarian out. A human barbarian could have had 18 Strength and 16 Con, which is a 4 point Con advantage over the elf assuming both characters want to have 18 Strength.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

So- How will the “base ancestry” be determined going forward? For example if a halfling/gnome ( for the sake of argument) hybrid becomes possible in some later expansion, would the halfling need a half-gnome feat or would the gnome need a half-halfling feat? Would both options be available depending on which ancestry you wanted to be genetically dominant?

Might some of the players want a half-human feat for their elf rather than the reverse? This could introduce even greater diversity...


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Also a correction, I said ancestry decided where the 18 goes, I was wromg. Only class does. Race ONLY determines where your 8 goes (if any), and where your 18 CANNOT go (where-ever the 8 can, if anywhere.

An Elf Fighter can still have their 18 Str.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cantriped wrote:
willuwontu wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
Besides... who doesn't want more Dex or Int? The two most generally useful stats in the game.
A Str based Fighter, a cleric, etc.
Why would an Elf become a Greatsword wielding Cleric of Gorum, and why wouldn't they want more skills, or the ability to use ranged weapons and spells?

Because an Elf who think she's an Orc is too good an idea to pass.


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willuwontu wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
Besides... who doesn't want more Dex or Int? The two most generally useful stats in the game.
A Str based Fighter, a cleric, etc.

Both probably still want the AC and Skills that +1 Dex and Int provides. Especially since (at least for the Playtest-as-printed) Fighters are still kinda lacking in skills.


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Cantriped wrote:
willuwontu wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
Besides... who doesn't want more Dex or Int? The two most generally useful stats in the game.
A Str based Fighter, a cleric, etc.
Why would an Elf become a Greatsword wielding Cleric of Gorum, and why wouldn't they want more skills, or the ability to use ranged weapons and spells?

Because the swordsman wants more str and con to make up for his twiglike figure that's wearing full plate with max dex = 0.

The cleric needs more wisdom for his spell dcs, and more hp because they're a squishy caster.

I mean sure if the dex and int were free and didn't have an opportunity cost attached, I wouldn't turn em down in the same way you wouldn't turn down free con and wis.

Edit: ninjad by mark.


I think the best way to go about it is to have a Half blood template, where you pick something like 2 traits from each of the races, and then you pick feats from both races from then on.

That said, Ancestry feats being chosen after level 1 also doesn't rub me the right way. I probably would just have people choose like 4 of them at level 1, and deal with the consequences of them being a little OP.

This is probably the only part of the PF2 that so far I just can't really jive with, though Resonance certainly has me suspicious with how clunky it looks, but that's harder to see the full form of.


Shinigami02 wrote:
I have one huge misgiving with this: It completely bars halfbloods (Half-Orc, Half-Elf, Tiefling, Aasimar, Ganzi, Aphorites and Duskwalkers from Planar Adventures, any of the Elemental-kin, Changelings, Skinwalkers, Dhampir... some of these are far and away my favorite races so I'm personally invested in this) from ever getting any kind of Heritage feats of their own, because Heritage feats can as we know only be taken at first level, and, well, simply playing a Halfblood takes your level 1 Ancestry feat.

I previously commented directly to this, but I realised this also touches upon aspect I myself brought up re: basic Half functionality. All the stuff you mention (Aasimar, Dhampir, etc) should (like Half-Elf/Orcs) be able to have a "Human Ethnicity" Heritage (Taldan, Osirioni, etc) IMHO since otherwise the idea of "Heritage-less (Half-) Humans" is ridiculous and counter to roleplaying. In some cases a Human ethnic Heritage is the only plausible heritage (if not possibly raised by "Full" something else), although "raised by Elves/Orcs" makes alternatives possible for some. Irrespective of mechanical Heritage, if there is physiological/visually apparent distinction of Heritage, that should be clarified as still applying to all these IMHO.

Grand Lodge

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This is one of the few blogs so far that I'm really unhappy with. Half-orcs and half-elves are two of my favorite character races, but now I have to burn a starting feat just to be able to play one. I don't see how that makes them more balanced. It seems like a handicap to me. At this point I'll start the playtest with a full elf to have all the same abilities granted by the half-elf feat and still have a useful feat to pick for my character.


Shinigami02 wrote:
willuwontu wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
Besides... who doesn't want more Dex or Int? The two most generally useful stats in the game.
A Str based Fighter, a cleric, etc.
Both probably still want the AC and Skills that +1 Dex and Int provides. Especially since (at least for the Playtest-as-printed) Fighters are still kinda lacking in skills.

I mean sure I wouldn't turn em down if it was free, but given that there's other races that align with what I want and don't murder my con while at it, I'd rather go with them.


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Quandary wrote:
... able to have a "Human Ethnicity" (Heritage) IMHO since otherwise the idea of "Heritage-less (part) Humans" is ridiculous and counter to roleplaying. In some cases a Human Heritage...

Heritage-less Humans sounds like an X-Men spinoff.


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I have been thinking about the matter a bit more with regards to the 2e human's Natural Ambition.

The human race is definitely shaping up to be a strong contender for optimized build creation, because an extra 1st-level class feat could be hugely important for assembling optimized builds that bring out the best in a class's specialties. A human who is also a half-elf or a half-orc is handicapped from 1st through 4th level by dint of lacking that extra class feat, but they are a little better off come 5th level. Still, a handicap from 1st through 4th level is non-negligible and should not be discounted.

On the other hand, how are other races, like dwarves and elves, supposed to compete with Natural Ambition? Class feats look to be very potent, and I cannot imagine that dwarves, elves, and others can offer ancestry feats that can reshape an optimized build as much as an extra 1st-level class feat can.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
kwiqsilver wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:


No, that is not the case. It's a one-time feat, not one you can take again. It's in the first sentence of my post in the quote.

That is... what I said. Perhaps you misunderstood me.

What I am saying is that a human with Natural Ambition will always be one class feat ahead of a half-elf or a half-orc, which actually matters, because class feats are strong options that directly improve a character's ability to carry out their class's specialty. That trumps gaining minor, auxiliary side benefits.

But that's not correct, so I'm not explaining well. Our example from before is Half-Elf Ezren who takes Half-Elf at 1st level and Natural Ambition at 5th to get Widen Spell when it matters more. Compare to Human Ezren who takes Natural Ambition at 1st and then <something else that isn't a class feat because he can't take Natural Ambition again> at 5th. The half-elf Ezren is not a class feat behind. Now a full elven Ezren would never be able to get that class feat, but the half-elf can.
And yet Human Ezren takes part 2 of "Insert Wizard build here" at level 5. Half-Elf Ezren has to wait till what... level 7? Further?

But human Ezren doesn't get low-light vision, the speed boost, the bonus language, or the diplomacy boost.

If you build a human wizard and half-elf wizard in PF1, the human can have one more wizard-y feat, because his bonus feat is more flexible. And the human wizard will always be one feat ahead of a similarly experienced elf, dwarf, gnome, tiefling, etc. wizard. That's part of why humans are the dominant race...I mean ancestry...on Golarion.

The half elf or half orc can still take it at level 5


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The mechanical niche humans occupied in PF1 was being the most flexible race in the game. There no class that humans were bad for. Half-Orcs and Half-Elves were second place on this list, but they were a distant second because of the human bonus feat. That feat also made humans quite often the most powerful choice as well, not just the most flexible. A free feat of their choice was really good, especially if you need something to make your build come online sooner.

In PF2, every race is more flexible than it used to be, but humans remain the most flexible. They can potentially jump start a build sooner, though I sort of suspect where we have feat based prerequisites you will also have level gating, so this probably won't be AS true. But a human monk can get Monastic Weapons and still get one other class feat.

Unlike PF1 though, the human doesn't seem to be the most powerful anymore. They aren't gaining an extra feat, or even necessarily a better feat, just a different feat. (A first level human wizard can use their ancestry feat to get a familiar. But a first level gnome wizard can do the same.)

Half-Elves and Half-Orcs get the same stat flexibility as humans and even more feat flexibility long term. They also get some other benefits from the other side of their family which keeps them mechanically up to snuff with humans. The problem is they don't get to pick something more interesting right off the bat like everyone else does.


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Mark Seifter wrote:
I know when Jason built an elf barbarian for the Twitch Stream, there were a lot of perks, but one of the significant disadvantages was that since he needed the flexible ancestry boost to Strength, he had to accept 8 Con coming out of that step, meaning 12 Con was the best he could do overall, despite Con being a secondary stat used for a few things that help the barbarian out. A human barbarian could have had 18 Strength and 16 Con, which is a 4 point Con advantage over the elf assuming both characters want to have 18 Strength.

To be fair, I wouldn't usually roll-up an elf barbarian, or waste my flexible ancestry shoring up their doomed Con. Instead I might focus on stacking sources of damage mitigation (Rage HP, Shields, High AC, etc)


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:

I have been thinking about the matter a bit more with regards to the 2e human's Natural Ambition.

The human race is definitely shaping up to be a strong contender for optimized build creation, because an extra 1st-level class feat could be hugely important for assembling optimized builds that bring out the best in a class's specialties. A human who is also a half-elf or a half-orc is handicapped from 1st through 4th level by dint of lacking that extra class feat, but they are a little better off come 5th level. Still, a handicap from 1st through 4th level is non-negligible and should not be discounted.

On the other hand, how are other races, like dwarves and elves, supposed to compete with Natural Ambition? Class feats look to be very potent, and I cannot imagine that dwarves, elves, and others can offer ancestry feats that can reshape an optimized build as much as an extra 1st-level class feat can.

Though I agree that Natural Ambition seems like the most powerful ancestry feat out there we have seen some pregens that benefit from other options, like the alchemist getting access to martial weapons with the goblin trait thanks to a goblin feat, a martially inclined alchemist might benefit greatly from such an option, now if general training has something akin to Martial training then I see very few cases where humans arent the default top dog


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:

In PF2, every race is more flexible than it used to be, but humans remain the most flexible. They can potentially jump start a build sooner, though I sort of suspect where we have feat based prerequisites you will also have level gating, so this probably won't be AS true. But a human monk can get Monastic Weapons and still get one other class feat.

Unlike PF1 though, the human doesn't seem to be the most powerful anymore. They aren't gaining an extra feat, or even necessarily a better feat, just a different feat.

For this to be true all other ancestries need ancestry feats as good as class feats and general feats.


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Biztak wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:

I have been thinking about the matter a bit more with regards to the 2e human's Natural Ambition.

The human race is definitely shaping up to be a strong contender for optimized build creation, because an extra 1st-level class feat could be hugely important for assembling optimized builds that bring out the best in a class's specialties. A human who is also a half-elf or a half-orc is handicapped from 1st through 4th level by dint of lacking that extra class feat, but they are a little better off come 5th level. Still, a handicap from 1st through 4th level is non-negligible and should not be discounted.

On the other hand, how are other races, like dwarves and elves, supposed to compete with Natural Ambition? Class feats look to be very potent, and I cannot imagine that dwarves, elves, and others can offer ancestry feats that can reshape an optimized build as much as an extra 1st-level class feat can.

Though I agree that Natural Ambition seems like the most powerful ancestry feat out there we have seen some pregens that benefit from other options, like the alchemist getting access to martial weapons with the goblin trait thanks to a goblin feat, a martially inclined alchemist might benefit greatly from such an option, now if general training has something akin to Martial training then I see very few cases where humans arent the default top dog

While characterful, I am not sure how optimal Funbus is with his Doglslicer. Not a big fan of a 1d6 damage no bonuses. I think there may have been a better feat choice? No idea what other goblin feats there are though, so I could be wrong.


Colette Brunel wrote:


On the other hand, how are other races, like dwarves and elves, supposed to compete with Natural Ambition? Class feats look to be very potent, and I cannot imagine that dwarves, elves, and others can offer ancestry feats that can reshape an optimized build as much as an extra 1st-level class feat can.

Some of ancestry feats seem to be the exact same benefit as certain 1st level class feats. (See Familiars above.) That makes these ancestries less flexible (IE, able to optimize for any type of build equally well) but potentially more powerful where they apply. At 1st level, a gnome wizard and a human wizard can both have a familiar through their ancestry feat, but the gnome lowers their dump stat (STR) to have either more CON or CHA than the human, in edition to low light vision. Having extra resonance and/or hit points is a pretty sweet edge. As they level up, the gnome can gain an extra Cantrip slot over the human, which would be a solid wizard feat, or permanent speak with animals. The gnome can also get kukris if they want to gish.

The human feats we have seen thus far don't seem to open any new doors like the other ancestries can. They just provide you with a little more of what you already get.


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Bardarok wrote:
I like it. Is there any chance you could just add orc in the CRB though since you are already almost there by printing the ancestry feats. Personally I think adding both orcs and goblins would be a good look. (I know that's likely an unpopular opinion though)

Not likely, for a few reasons.

1 They're already done with the book, the hilariously short playtest will be for minor tweaks.

2 Whether your group likes it or not, RPGs are games for heroes, not monsters, and in Golarion, Orcs and Goblins are monsters. I know, you want to make your Drizzt-like "I'm not like the rest of my race!" characters or your homebrew world may have different rules, and they will likely be released in future books because...

3 They need content for future books. PF1 has laid a lot of ground work that they could (and probably will) easily pick up for PF2, but they're going to trickle it out just like they did the first time around cause they need to make the money to keep up production.

4 Finally, they've only got so much space in any given book. They Playtest alone is over 400 pages, and that's not including the adventure and anything else contained in it.


AngelZiefer wrote:


2 Whether your group likes it or not, RPGs are games for heroes, not monsters, and in Golarion, Orcs and Goblins are monsters. I know, you want to make your Drizzt-like "I'm not like the rest of my race!" characters or your homebrew world may have different rules, and they will likely be released in future books because...

Goblins are now heroes. There is even an iconic goblin alchemist now, Fumbus.


CraziFuzzy wrote:
edduardco wrote:

Wow Tuesday blog, that catched me unguarded.

Before I read the comments, I really want to congratulates Paizo for making half-bloods part of the Human ancestry. For a long time I've thought that half-bloods should be a template, the approach presented here covers that design space good enough. There is still hope for PF2 :)

If only it wasn't tied to Human... ;-) Me want's some Dworcs or Half-halflings.

Mmmm I don't know, I've never believed that all humanoids could interbreed between them, quite the opposite actually, for me racial interbreeding is a Human only characteristic, that is why one of the halves of half-bloods is always Human.


While you claim that Human versatility for their stats is an upside, it also comes with a downside, so it's hard to determine if it's a net benefit or not. Humans only get to boost 2 stats during the Heritage phase, whereas every other race gets to boost 3. Other races get to tank a stat (dump stat) and humans don't. So yeah, that "advantage" you mention might not be viewed as an "advantage" to everyone. If Humans got 3 floating boosts and a floating penalty, then I'd agree with you, but that's not what they were given...


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Captain Morgan wrote:
kwiqsilver wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:


No, that is not the case. It's a one-time feat, not one you can take again. It's in the first sentence of my post in the quote.

That is... what I said. Perhaps you misunderstood me.

What I am saying is that a human with Natural Ambition will always be one class feat ahead of a half-elf or a half-orc, which actually matters, because class feats are strong options that directly improve a character's ability to carry out their class's specialty. That trumps gaining minor, auxiliary side benefits.

But that's not correct, so I'm not explaining well. Our example from before is Half-Elf Ezren who takes Half-Elf at 1st level and Natural Ambition at 5th to get Widen Spell when it matters more. Compare to Human Ezren who takes Natural Ambition at 1st and then <something else that isn't a class feat because he can't take Natural Ambition again> at 5th. The half-elf Ezren is not a class feat behind. Now a full elven Ezren would never be able to get that class feat, but the half-elf can.
And yet Human Ezren takes part 2 of "Insert Wizard build here" at level 5. Half-Elf Ezren has to wait till what... level 7? Further?

But human Ezren doesn't get low-light vision, the speed boost, the bonus language, or the diplomacy boost.

If you build a human wizard and half-elf wizard in PF1, the human can have one more wizard-y feat, because his bonus feat is more flexible. And the human wizard will always be one feat ahead of a similarly experienced elf, dwarf, gnome, tiefling, etc. wizard. That's part of why humans are the dominant race...I mean ancestry...on Golarion.
To add to this, because I feel like Merlin missed it: The human can't take the next "wizard build feat" because natural ambition can only be taken once. That means for raw wizard feats the two character even out at 5. The human has to take some other human feat instead, and what we have seen of...

So is Human Wizard, that has an extra feat, ahead or not of Half Elf Wizard, because they didn't or couldn't take an extra feat.

That was the point I was trying to get across. To me, that sounds like the half elf wizard is indeed a feat behind. Which is par for the course, humans get an extra feat in most systems.

I don't quite understand how they are supposed to be on the same 'feat' level like Mark suggested. So Half Elf Wizard has to wait to pick up the feat he wants for the build. Human Wizard, has that feat for the build. And can now pick up something at the same level that Half Elf would for the build, at the same time.

This doesn't seem hard to me. How's the Half Elf suddenly getting an extra feat? What? Is it because they can take the extra class feat, feat that's from Ancestry feat that gives a feat to them because they are Human for feats as well as Elves?

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