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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Jurassic Pratt wrote:

Can't. It's tied into the lore of the world. Taldor covered most of the continent at one point which led to most of the humans in the world speaking Taldane (Common).

Most humanoid races are gonna want to understand humans, so most are going to know common.

"most of the continent/world" being one small part of the world they happened to have focused on so far.

I imagine many races who aren't interested in dealing with Humans wouldn't bother to learn their language. Isolationist Elves being on that list.
Getting rid of mechanical obligation does not mean that many characters of various races could not 'choose' to know Common/Taldane.
We already adapt by saying "for this creature in this location, Common is XYZ (e.g. Tien) so they know Tien instead".
So there is no difference in saying "this one knows Elven and Sylvan because Sylvan is Common for them because they feel like it".


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Jurassic Pratt wrote:
Quandary wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Everyone still automatically having Common makes it difficult to have language matter much.
Get rid of that please.

Can't. It's tied into the lore of the world. Taldor covered most of the continent at one point which led to most of the humans in the world speaking Taldane (Common).

Most humanoid races are gonna want to understand humans, so most are going to know common. You can't just suddenly have most races stop speaking common without a drastic lore change.

Could they nerf common a little bit though. Like -2 on diplomacy and deception checks based on language because common is only a bit better than a pidgin language or something?

EDIT: Maybe separate actual Taldane from the simplified version that everyone knows as common?


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Tarik Blackhands wrote:
Plus having a party where no one speaks the same language is one of those things that only sounds fun right up till you have to start playing with it.

Could just have PCs start with common + racial language while most NPCs only have racial language.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Am I correct in thinking Ulfen, Tien, Varisian and other cultural elements were going to be handled by Heritage feats?

If so, none of the half-races can gain these.

Seems like that would be a problem as well.


Bardarok wrote:
Jurassic Pratt wrote:
Quandary wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Everyone still automatically having Common makes it difficult to have language matter much.
Get rid of that please.

Can't. It's tied into the lore of the world. Taldor covered most of the continent at one point which led to most of the humans in the world speaking Taldane (Common).

Most humanoid races are gonna want to understand humans, so most are going to know common. You can't just suddenly have most races stop speaking common without a drastic lore change.

Could they nerf common a little bit though. Like -2 on diplomacy and deception checks based on language because common is only a bit better than a pidgin language or something?

EDIT: Maybe separate actual Taldane from the simplified version that everyone knows as common?

That penalty occurred to me as well, though I figured it could be a bonus for speaking the native tongue instead. Seems like it would go over a little better.

Side note, how do y'all handle your party face not knowing many languages but your 7 charisma witch knowing all of them? This seems to come up kind of a lot with how languages are gained. Do you let the face roll the diplomacy, figuring the witch is just translating and the heavy lifting is coming across from the tone and body language of the face? Or do you make the witch use her own diplomacy score because she's the one talking?


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I make the witch do the talking but the bard (or any other one person) can do the aid other action to give a +2.


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Yup, although the Bard could also just be using Tongues etc...
(Witch is still useful because she could at least gain basic info from them before Bard wasting Tongues on randos who they may have no real interest in)


BretI wrote:

Am I correct in thinking Ulfen, Tien, Varisian and other cultural elements were going to be handled by Heritage feats?

If so, none of the half-races can gain these.

Seems like that would be a problem as well.

Not necessarily. Your Heritage is kind of like your background-- you might fit into more than one box but you choose the one you most identify with. So you could aesthetically be a half orc but your heritage and ancestry feats could all be Ulfen, for example.

Side note, for some reason Pathfinder 1 didn't seem to support Ulfen half-orcs either. Only humans can choose an Ethnicity, at least in Hero Lab. So you're bending the rules a little for entirely flavor reasons in either edition, I guess.


BretI wrote:

Am I correct in thinking Ulfen, Tien, Varisian and other cultural elements were going to be handled by Heritage feats?

If so, none of the half-races can gain these. Seems like that would be a problem as well.

This was a concern for me as well.

Although it doesn't strictly pertain to Human side, if raised by Orcs/Elves, specific Orcish/Elvish ethnicities could be relevant too.


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OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0 wrote:

Oh yay. Half-elves and Half-orcs are reduced to Feats.

Who could have guessed, given that PF2 is Featfinder. How could you argue it isn't now?

It does open up an inordinate amount of design space for half-....feats. So there's that. Double yay?

Ahh the feat jokes.

Consider replacing the word "feat" with the word "choice" in all instances.

Ancestry gives you choices, Background gives you choices, Class gives you choices, plus you get Skill choices and General choices, and if you like, you can take Archetype choices and Multi-class choices too.

Everything is a choice!


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Quandary wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Orcs aren't getting the full race treatment, either.

Wow, sounds like big change from P1E, where Orcs had same ARG Featured status as Aasimar, Tiefling, Ratfolk, Dhampirs...

ARG: Featured Races wrote:
While the seven core races are the primary focus of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, they're not the only ones suitable to be played as characters. Other, even stranger races help populate the world, and—with the GM's permission—also work well as player character races, creating fun and exciting new roleplaying opportunities. (...) While many of these races are considered civilized, some are typically viewed as monsters, and may prove interesting challenges for roleplaying and character interaction. When playing drow, kobolds, orcs, or other such races, it is often best for party dynamics to take on the roles of characters who rebel against the norms of their races and societies—creatures who do not agree with their often brutal cultures, and instead wish to carve out a better existence for themselves among other races.

That almost looks like... undeniable intention for Orcs to be playable (as PCs, no less, although that isn't inherent to concept of "full race treatment").

Expressly giving advice exactly how to integrate Orc PCs into a game could even be called... encouragement.
Note Paizo's provisional Playtest Core Race treatment Goblin gives similar advice distinguishing heroic PC from problematic majority.

Sweet. How do I play one in PFS?


Honeybee wrote:
Sweet. How do I play one in PFS?

wrong forum, can't help you there


Real question. Can you play a goblin in Pathfinder society?

EDIT: okay found it out for myself boons huh. So is there a reason that an orc boon doesn't exist or was it just an oversight? Is it golorian cannon that goblins are less evil than orcs? And if that's the case what was with all the freak out about goblins being core now?


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Bardarok wrote:
Real question. Can you play a goblin in Pathfinder society?

Short answer is yes.


GM OfAnything wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
Real question. Can you play a goblin in Pathfinder society?
Short answer is yes.

Thanks.


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Kalindlara wrote:

The baseline for humans etc. is "average" (a somewhat odd term under the circumstances).

"...all the children are above average." (Lake Wobegon)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

How sneaky. I was not expecting a new blog today. I have to wonder if this will happen tomorrow as well. And the next day for that matter.

Note: Ignore the rest, already answered by the above blog, I'm not deleting it because I don't believe in erasing past mistakes. Or in other words, I made myself look stupid so I'll wear the blonde locks. ;) (Okay, silver. I'm old, what can I say?)

Now as for the half-elves and half-orcs... I have a recommendation. Please, have a couple half-elf-only and half-orc-only Feats. Because it makes sense - hybrids in nature often have attributes not found in either parent (for instance the liger (male lion, female tiger) is larger than both the tiger and the lion, while tigons (female lion and male tiger) can have spots, and litigons, the children of tigons and asiatic lions are even bigger than ligers).

So a couple specific ancestry Feats for beings with parents of two ancestries would allow extra diversification. You can even have these abilities be more powerful but only accessible at high levels. It would help provide a sense of uniqueness to half-elves and half-orcs (and other beings of different ancestry parents) rather than have them be just a mixture of two ancestries.

And let's be honest. They are more than just the sum of their parents. Half-elves and half-orcs should have something extra to make them of interest to more than just power-gamers.


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There already are halfie specific feats. There's one printed in the blog post.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Ah, thanks Cap. I forgot about that while skimming through the complaining about incorporating half-elves and half-orcs into the humanity ancestry.


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Hmmmm. Not sure how to feel about this one. I can see some good points and some bad points. Guess I'll wait for the playtest to come out before I make a judgement. There's really no way to know if a half-elf is competitive without knowing the full picture.
My gut feeling though, is that I don't like losing that 1st level feat, even if it is technically a more powerful option. It just feels like I'm going to often sit down to roll up a half-elf or half-orc, and then realize that missing feat is something I really need for the idea I have.
Hopefully they'll prove my gut wrong.


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Whoa, I was right with my speculation that these would be feats on the human ancestry. Me being right doesn't happen much, so this is weird. Varied and rambling musings follow.

Overall I think this makes sense. They were already kind of a subset of their parent races instead of a distinct thing. But I have to agree with the sentiment that there should be more ancestry feats. From the beginning I thought having only one at the start is really limiting, and if half-orc and half-elf (and potentially the planar races and such) need a feet just to have their ancestry, then there really should be two at 1st level.

I also have to agree with the issue that waiting until 5th level for the second feat is problematic. I can see 'growing into' some of the heritage, but these ancestry feats seem few and far between. Especially coming from PF1 where much of this is available by default at 1st level, and even more so with the half human races not getting anything other than their ancestry until level 5. It makes more sense to me that ancestry feats would be front-loaded instead of evenly spaced out. And 5 total over 20 levels might not be enough anyway. This will likely result in lower powered ancestry feats, but I think I'd accept that as long as they aren't all super situational like many PF1 feats are.

The talk of opening up half-orc and half-elf to other races, and possibly opening up half-gnome, half-dwarf and half-halfling is something that really seems setting dependent. This is where having setting and rules independent of each other comes in handy. And then it would be good to include who can interbreed and what the result is in the information on the setting. Or just list the situation for Golarion and third parties can add the options for half-gnomes and such. I think the general idea for Golarion is Humans can breed with orcs and elves, none of the other core races can interbreed with each other, dragons and outsiders can breed with everything and there are rarer cases like Deep Ones creating Deep One/Human hybrids. But are elves and orcs compatible considering both are compatible with humans? What about sub-races like elf/drow mix or dwarf/duergar, human/gilmen or dark-folk?

At this point, they probably should put orcs in the core book. Having the ancestry feats is most of the way there already. And they've already saved page-count by not having a full entry for Half-Elves and Half-Orcs. I wasn't huge on the idea before, but now it seems like there is little reason not to list Orcs in core. Might have a note that in many settings they're uncommon and face a lot of hostility, but goblins should already have the same.

So just are languages being handled? As far as I can tell there isn't a linguistics skill, and getting racial languages seems to be stuck in with class features and feats. They seem to be less accessible in general than PF1. Are you going to need to take feats to get more languages during play? Lore skill?


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Something in the core book has greater cache than a supplement.

Hence Paizo putting in goblins.

And hence a current of back lash against it.

It also gets more and better support.

An example is when new classes where introduced the core races where given alternative favored class bonus options. Non-core races are not guaranteed this sort of content. Some of the non-core may get such options or never.


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I just totally want ORCS as a playable ancestry in the final rulebook.

PLEASE, make room for them! (Even if you have to remove goblins, haha.)

Mark, Jason, is there any possibility for that?


Tangent101 wrote:
Ah, thanks Cap. I forgot about that while skimming through the complaining about incorporating half-elves and half-orcs into the humanity ancestry.

No problem. For what it's worth, I somehow missed that entire feat on my first read. I just registered that there would be half orc and half elf specific feats.


Just as expected, and thankfully acceptable. Now I just want other half-human feats + full Orcs in the final CRB...

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Damn, late to this blog - surprise day, but now I'll be on the lookout every day until Gen Con!

I'm definitely in the camp of not loving half elves and half orcs now being human variants instead of their own races. That being said, I think the flexibility of the system they use IS a good thing for the various planar races, which have a "touch" of some other heritage rather than being a direct hybrid. I'd much rather see half elves and half orcs be distinct races, and then add in "elftouched" and "orcblooded" or something to represent descendants with less than 1/2 of the ancestries. That would be equivalent to an aasimar, oread, etc.

As for the specifics, Orc Ferocity seems both way overpowered, and at the same time too restricted. I'd much rather a version which wasn't a reaction, since it's yet another part of the PF2 playtest which doesn't make a lot of sense of "this works, but only if...you have a reaction, or haven't spent all your resonance". At the same time, being able to ignore infinite amount of damage from a single attack is crazy. Especially for a 1st level feat. I want a power which lets a character stay at 1 hp after being dropped to 0, but only if the damage wouldn't take them to negative constitution (and I know that's not how death works in PF2, but it's a reasonable limit for a power like this), but I don't want a power that lets them ignore a heightened 20th level disintegrate, or an attack from a grim reaper or something like that which would obliterate them into bloody chunks of meat (or dust as the case may be).

Inspire imitation has a mechanically okay affect, but I am not at all getting the sense that the power is half-elven (or elven for that matter). It sounds like a bard power or even a skill based rogue power, inspiring their allies by being just that good at something.


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I think you should get the elvish language for free and then choose two of the three options. The language option is by far the weakest but makes the most sense background wise. I predict a lot of half elves that can't speak elvish.


I wouldn't mind orcs in core... But man, it would have to be handled carefully. Orcs have been associated with crimes that are way more triggering than anything goblins do. You'd need to really carefully navigate those waters if they become core. If an NPC accuses a goblin PC of being a pyromaniac murderer, the players can roll with it. If an NPC accuses an orc PC of being the... Shall we say typical villainous orc, it creates a much larger stumbling block for the players.

While I do believe it would be good for dispelling the all orcs are evil myth, in game and out, it almost feels easier to soft retcon some of the Canon on orcs.


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Captain Morgan wrote:

I wouldn't mind orcs in core... But man, it would have to be handled carefully. Orcs have been associated with crimes that are way more triggering than anything goblins do. You'd need to really carefully navigate those waters if they become core. If an NPC accuses a goblin PC of being a pyromaniac murderer, the players can roll with it. If an NPC accuses an orc PC of being the... Shall we say typical villainous orc, it creates a much larger stumbling block for the players.

While I do believe it would be good for dispelling the all orcs are evil myth, in game and out, it almost feels easier to soft retcon some of the Canon on orcs.

All crimes of orcs were crimes of men first.


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Breakdown time.

Born of Two Worlds:
Well, I suppose this was to be expected. The reason why they didn't blog the remaining three ancestries was because they were really only blogging one ancestry with access to at least two different "sub-ancestries" that were once race choices in PF1.

Don't get me wrong, this was probably something that could have been done, but I don't necessarily agree with it too much, and I can easily see this being heavily confusing and construing, not to mention shoehorning and all other kinds of bad stuff.

For starters, Humans aren't confirmed to get a bonus feat. Heck, they aren't confirmed to get anything, really. No stat bonuses, no nothing. I guess that means Humans really are the proper reflection of real life that they are, which is notably weak and underpowered. Thankfully, Occam's Razor would tell us that it's just simply not brought in the blog post, which is still a glaring issue.

Furthermore, if you are only getting one Ancestry feat at 1st level (and every 4 levels thereafter according to several posters), then you can either spend it on this (and thereby be shoehorned into being called a half-X race if you otherwise don't), or you can spend it on something else and never have access to those things. This makes sense, but one issue I have is that players can't properly accommodate their racial choices unless they are given something else (maybe the Human Bonus feat can counteract it, but I doubt they still get one).

Lastly, and this is perhaps the biggest kicker, is that now Human is a gateway race. Technically, they always were in PF1, since in a lot of cases, getting a single flexible attribute combined with a single flexible feat was the most powerful and freeform way to build a character. Now, not only is that still possible in PF2, it's now reinforced and can be subject to numerous "sub-ancestries" (such as the outsiders and the half-X's), which means you're just taking Human to gateway yourself into something else that you may want instead, which is just sloppy, confusing, and counterintuitive design. Do I really need to look at 80% of character sheets and see their Ancestry written down as Human* (with a quick asterisk footnote telling me what their ancestry really is)? I shouldn't have to do that, and with this current system, I'm stuck doing that for most everyone who wants to be that special snowflake. I don't have a problem with special snowflakes in and of themselves, but when this sort of thing happens, I'll be less inclined to allow them just to keep the game simplistic and less murky than what it already is.

Half Elves:
The Heritage feat can make certain characters effectively make an "Elf+" or an "Orc+," depending on which version of options they get/benefit from, or if they have access to certain features that are extremely powerful. Sure, they may not get all of the advantages, but they can still cherry-pick some of the most powerful advantages for those characters, meaning min-maxers of "Humans*" can effectively cheat the system of other races by stepping on their toes too much.

The Inspire Imitation feat seems okay, but if the "Aid limitation" clause from PF1 rears its ugly head once more, I won't see too much use with this feat. It does have promise, though.

Half-Orcs:
Big change to Ferocity to instead allow a "Dying" prevention if a Reaction is spared. The value of this largely depends on the rules for Dying, as well as the character who wishes to take it. A character who constantly uses his Reactions for life-saving or equally important things will not have too much use for it, whereas a class who doesn't most certainly will.

[spoiler=Human]The couple examples here prove that you can get a 2nd Heritage feat if you so wished, but I'm certain those who both want their Heritage feat combined with their standard feats will be shoehorned into this option, even if they don't really want to. Also, Clever Improviser looks like one of the worst ways to spend a feat. Sure, a +1 to Untrained skills seems nice, but when a lot of important checks are barred behind proficiency requirements, this just seems like a waste of a feat

Overall, I'm iffy about this, a lot, mostly because it reinforces the "Human Master Race" paradigm, or more accurately, the "Human* Master Race" with an asterisk telling me what each race really is. Ugh. This was kind of a bit overbloated with how PF1 handled Humans via the Racial Heritage feat (which is basically what they have now if they so wished), and PF2 just took this issue and multiplied it many times over.


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Bardarok wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:

I wouldn't mind orcs in core... But man, it would have to be handled carefully. Orcs have been associated with crimes that are way more triggering than anything goblins do. You'd need to really carefully navigate those waters if they become core. If an NPC accuses a goblin PC of being a pyromaniac murderer, the players can roll with it. If an NPC accuses an orc PC of being the... Shall we say typical villainous orc, it creates a much larger stumbling block for the players.

While I do believe it would be good for dispelling the all orcs are evil myth, in game and out, it almost feels easier to soft retcon some of the Canon on orcs.

All crimes of orcs were crimes of men first.

Certainly, yeah. But the crimes of orcs outright created their own core race. That's a pretty long shadow to cast.

If Pathfinder moves away from tragic and violent origins as the default for half-orcs as other systems have, orcs in core seems more reasonable.


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Captain Morgan wrote:

Certainly, yeah. But the crimes of orcs outright created their own core race. That's a pretty long shadow to cast.

If Pathfinder moves away from tragic and violent origins as the default for half-orcs as other systems have, orcs in core seems more reasonable.

Half-orcs are a heritage feat, now. A footnote. They won't need to include any origin details, either way. It's my sincere hope, though, that they don't go out of their way to whitewash such a dark element as if it never happened (I'm looking at you, 5e).


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Captain Morgan wrote:
If Pathfinder moves away from tragic and violent origins as the default for half-orcs as other systems have, orcs in core seems more reasonable.

I honestly would love it if Pathfinder 2nd Edition took a hard left turn away from some of the "edgy for its own sake" stuff that was extremely present in early Pathfinder material. I understand they've largely gotten away from it, but there was enough of it early on that the stank kind of lingered.


DFAnton wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:

Certainly, yeah. But the crimes of orcs outright created their own core race. That's a pretty long shadow to cast.

If Pathfinder moves away from tragic and violent origins as the default for half-orcs as other systems have, orcs in core seems more reasonable.

Half-orcs are a heritage feat, now. A footnote. They won't need to include any origin details, either way. It's my sincere hope, though, that they don't go out of their way to whitewash such a dark element as if it never happened (I'm looking at you, 5e).

They a heritage that has a bunch of feats exclusive to half orcs. That's pretty distinct as far as ancestry goes. Compare the effects of the half orc heritage feat to the gnome heritage feat, for example.

I figure someone would probably object to the white washing, and almost mentioned it in that post. There's a case to be made either way on it.


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Captain Morgan wrote:


If Pathfinder moves away from tragic and violent origins as the default for half-orcs as other systems have, orcs in core seems more reasonable.

Personally I think you could leave it in jut fine. You can have both evil and good orcs just like you can have both evil and good humans. But I don't play in Golarion and this is one of the reasons why. Making orcs a PC race was a change I made in DnD 3.5 and kept with all through Pathfinder 1st edition. Probably the Warcraft III influence on me. If orcs are in core I will be pleased for what that means for the evolution of the genre, if not I will just make a new ancestry for them since it looks like that won't be particularly difficult.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:

I wouldn't mind orcs in core... But man, it would have to be handled carefully. Orcs have been associated with crimes that are way more triggering than anything goblins do. You'd need to really carefully navigate those waters if they become core. If an NPC accuses a goblin PC of being a pyromaniac murderer, the players can roll with it. If an NPC accuses an orc PC of being the... Shall we say typical villainous orc, it creates a much larger stumbling block for the players.

While I do believe it would be good for dispelling the all orcs are evil myth, in game and out, it almost feels easier to soft retcon some of the Canon on orcs.

All crimes of orcs were crimes of men first.

Certainly, yeah. But the crimes of orcs outright created their own core race. That's a pretty long shadow to cast.

If Pathfinder moves away from tragic and violent origins as the default for half-orcs as other systems have, orcs in core seems more reasonable.

Only if the player chooses to have it be so. I had a player run a scholarly half-orc barbarian whose mother was an orc and had fallen in love with a human. She was an old grey-haired badass who stepped out and attacked stone giants gleefully when stone giants raided her adoptive town to keep her husband and son safe.

You can have half-orcs who are descended from other half-orcs... and who married or have otherwise harmonious relationships. You can have half-orcs born of orc mercenaries hired to guard caravans who spent the night with a human prostitute and the birth control tea failed. You can have someone born of two human parents but who had orcish blood in their past and it just happened to be enough that the orcish traits came out with their child.

You can decide whatever you want.

And also, you can have a half-elf born of a scoundrel elf who seduced a woman and then left her pregnant... oh wait, that actually happened in Rise of the Runelords. ;)


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Just to get this out of the way: I don't believe Human's +2 in 2 stats is an advantage at all. In fact, I would say it's a disadvantage because of the way chargen works in this edition. This makes them the one race that cannot suffer a -2 on a stat to get an extra +2, similar to Starfinder. Granted, abusing this advantage is a bit limited. It would mean leaving racial your -2 stat at 8, giving you 2 points to play with on an ability score you actually want.

For Example, a Human could make a Fighter with 18 STR, 14 CON, 12 DEX, 14 WIS, 10 INT and 10 CHA.
A Dwarf could have 16 CON and 8 CHA and the rest equal.
The same Dwarf, without changing any of his ABC, could also easily choose to have the same stats at the human, but not the other way around.

The only super situational scenario I can imagine where +2 to any 2 scores is an advantage compared to other races is when you need 3 boosts that no other race can even with their floating boost. For example, a Cleric with +STR, +CHA and +WIS. And it took me a good while to come up with a relevant example @_@.

Anyways, please don't use this "feature" as an excuse to explain why the rest of the package needs to be toned down, because it's the opposite.

Paizo Employee Designer

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ChibiNyan wrote:

Just to get this out of the way: I don't believe Human's +2 in 2 stats is an advantage at all. In fact, I would say it's a disadvantage because of the way chargen works in this edition. This makes them the one race that cannot suffer a -2 on a stat to get an extra +2, similar to Starfinder. Granted, abusing this advantage is a bit limited. It would mean leaving racial your -2 stat at 8, giving you 2 points to play with on an ability score you actually want.

For Example, a Human could make a Fighter with 18 STR, 14 CON, 12 DEX, 14 WIS, 10 INT and 10 CHA.
A Dwarf could have 16 CON and 8 CHA and the rest equal.
The same Dwarf, without changing any of his ABC, could also easily choose to have the same stats at the human, but not the other way around.

The only super situational scenario I can imagine where +2 to any 2 scores is an advantage compared to other races is when you need 3 boosts that no other race can even with their floating boost. For example, a Cleric with +STR, +CHA and +WIS. And it took me a good while to come up with a relevant example @_@.

Anyways, please don't use this "feature" as an excuse to explain why the rest of the package needs to be toned down, because it's the opposite.

Jason was very specifically comparing the human to the elf here, since that's the other ancestry in the game that can get elf feats. And as I said earlier, I don't see many people leaving their Con score at 8.


Mark Seifter wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:

Just to get this out of the way: I don't believe Human's +2 in 2 stats is an advantage at all. In fact, I would say it's a disadvantage because of the way chargen works in this edition. This makes them the one race that cannot suffer a -2 on a stat to get an extra +2, similar to Starfinder. Granted, abusing this advantage is a bit limited. It would mean leaving racial your -2 stat at 8, giving you 2 points to play with on an ability score you actually want.

For Example, a Human could make a Fighter with 18 STR, 14 CON, 12 DEX, 14 WIS, 10 INT and 10 CHA.
A Dwarf could have 16 CON and 8 CHA and the rest equal.
The same Dwarf, without changing any of his ABC, could also easily choose to have the same stats at the human, but not the other way around.

The only super situational scenario I can imagine where +2 to any 2 scores is an advantage compared to other races is when you need 3 boosts that no other race can even with their floating boost. For example, a Cleric with +STR, +CHA and +WIS. And it took me a good while to come up with a relevant example @_@.

Anyways, please don't use this "feature" as an excuse to explain why the rest of the package needs to be toned down, because it's the opposite.

Jason was very specifically comparing the human to the elf here, since that's the other ancestry in the game that can get elf feats. And as I said earlier, I don't see many people leaving their Con score at 8.

Ok, I guess it makes more sense like that. If we assume the majority of Elves are putting a boost in CON, they are stuck with DEX and INT as their boost. Not gonna make all possible permutations to see just how impactful this is, so gonna trust you on this one ^_^;

EDIT: Now I wonder how good the Elf ancestry feats can get that I would be tempted to wait til lvl5 (after the first wave of boosts) to put it on my guy with low INT/DEX.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I've had a couple of characters whose parents were a half-orc and a half-elf, so how do I handle that? However I do it, it's probably better than the PF1 version of "pick one parent to take after."

That was covered:

You can only have one heritage trait feat.
But if you take the 1/2 elf feat twice, it lose heritage trait so you can now take both.

Paizo Employee Designer

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ChibiNyan wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:

Just to get this out of the way: I don't believe Human's +2 in 2 stats is an advantage at all. In fact, I would say it's a disadvantage because of the way chargen works in this edition. This makes them the one race that cannot suffer a -2 on a stat to get an extra +2, similar to Starfinder. Granted, abusing this advantage is a bit limited. It would mean leaving racial your -2 stat at 8, giving you 2 points to play with on an ability score you actually want.

For Example, a Human could make a Fighter with 18 STR, 14 CON, 12 DEX, 14 WIS, 10 INT and 10 CHA.
A Dwarf could have 16 CON and 8 CHA and the rest equal.
The same Dwarf, without changing any of his ABC, could also easily choose to have the same stats at the human, but not the other way around.

The only super situational scenario I can imagine where +2 to any 2 scores is an advantage compared to other races is when you need 3 boosts that no other race can even with their floating boost. For example, a Cleric with +STR, +CHA and +WIS. And it took me a good while to come up with a relevant example @_@.

Anyways, please don't use this "feature" as an excuse to explain why the rest of the package needs to be toned down, because it's the opposite.

Jason was very specifically comparing the human to the elf here, since that's the other ancestry in the game that can get elf feats. And as I said earlier, I don't see many people leaving their Con score at 8.
Ok, I guess it makes more sense like that. If we assume the majority of Elves are putting a boost in CON, they are stuck with DEX and INT as their boost. Not gonna make all possible permutations to see just how impactful this is, so gonna trust you on this one ^_^;

If you scroll back to my post before the one to you (I think just before but could be one or two back), I mentioned the results when I ran all the permutations. Conclusion: If you want 12 Con, Dex and Int must be both of the top 2 stats you wanted or human is better (even then it's just equal). If you are OK with 10 Con, it's a lot more competitive as long as Dex and Int are two of your top three stats (take the third one you want with ancestry and use the four +2s to get 10 Con).


Starbuck_II wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I've had a couple of characters whose parents were a half-orc and a half-elf, so how do I handle that? However I do it, it's probably better than the PF1 version of "pick one parent to take after."

That was covered:

You can only have one heritage trait feat.
But if you take the 1/2 elf feat twice, it lose heritage trait so you can now take both.

Heritage feats, I believe, are level 1 only.

Shadow Lodge

I do like how you can now mix and match any parentage. Maybe later, after core, there can finally be half-dwarves or something. Quarterlings?

Though why not make half-elf/orc ancestries add-ons to elves and orcs, relating to what the other half is? Because that'd involve making orcs core, and nobody wanted to add in goblins and orcs? Or to avoid any potentially unforeseen issues with letting people pick stuff from any other ancestry?

I might want to play as, say, a halfling raised by dwarves, but I wouldn't want a rules interaction leading to people at PFS saying that's the only real basis for a melee ranger build or something.


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Tangent101 wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:

I wouldn't mind orcs in core... But man, it would have to be handled carefully. Orcs have been associated with crimes that are way more triggering than anything goblins do. You'd need to really carefully navigate those waters if they become core. If an NPC accuses a goblin PC of being a pyromaniac murderer, the players can roll with it. If an NPC accuses an orc PC of being the... Shall we say typical villainous orc, it creates a much larger stumbling block for the players.

While I do believe it would be good for dispelling the all orcs are evil myth, in game and out, it almost feels easier to soft retcon some of the Canon on orcs.

All crimes of orcs were crimes of men first.

Certainly, yeah. But the crimes of orcs outright created their own core race. That's a pretty long shadow to cast.

If Pathfinder moves away from tragic and violent origins as the default for half-orcs as other systems have, orcs in core seems more reasonable.

Only if the player chooses to have it be so. I had a player run a scholarly half-orc barbarian whose mother was an orc and had fallen in love with a human. She was an old grey-haired badass who stepped out and attacked stone giants gleefully when stone giants raided her adoptive town to keep her husband and son safe.

You can have half-orcs who are descended from other half-orcs... and who married or have otherwise harmonious relationships. You can have half-orcs born of orc mercenaries hired to guard caravans who spent the night with a human prostitute and the birth control tea failed. You can have someone born of two human parents but who had orcish blood in their past and it just happened to be enough that the orcish traits came out with their child.

You can decide whatever you want.

And also, you can have a half-elf born of a scoundrel elf who seduced a woman and then left her pregnant... oh wait, that actually happened in Rise of the Runelords. ;)

It is not strictly that simple though. PCs can always be exceptions and specifics are completely up their player. But the rest of world isn't. The actual origin of the half orc PC doesn't change the assumption NPCs make upon seeing them, nor does the PCs origin change what the players think when they meet some random half orc NPC.

The GM has the power to change this of course, and make it so that half orcs are primarily bred from happy unions. But that's a deviation from the established Canon of Golarion. It might be a permissible one, given how sensitive the topic is. But there are some players that will tell you if you change this you are no longer playing in Golarion.


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So the optimal half-elf build is now a full elf with Adoptive Ancestry (human), because that build gets pretty much everything a human with Half-Elf gets, plus some additional elf stuff, right?

Liberty's Edge

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Captain Morgan wrote:
The GM has the power to change this of course, and make it so that half orcs are primarily bred from happy unions. But that's a deviation from the established Canon of Golarion.

Actually, it isn't a deviation from canon at all.

It's been established that most Half Orcs in most areas of the Inner Sea are descendants of other Half Orcs (or Half Orcs and Humans). They were originally bred as a servant class by the Orc Empire long ago, but they mostly just have families like everyone else now. This is found in Inner Sea Races.

In the vicinity of the Mwangi Expanse, there's a tradition of the local Orcs and Humans intentionally breeding Half Orcs in order to fight the local demons. It's businesslike but consensual. This can be found in Bastards of Golarion.

And then there's the Hold of Belkzen. In the immediate vicinity of Belkzen, the unpleasant origin you're thinking of once more holds true in a large number of cases (and likely in the majority within a couple of generations back). But that's actually a pretty small geographical area of the Inner Sea region.

Now, making all this clear would be very good, but that was hampered in PF1 by the actual rulebooks being setting neutral, an issue we no longer have going forward in PF2.


I'm curious. Is there a canon explanation for humans being the blank slate race that can breed with damn near anything?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DFAnton wrote:
I'm curious. Is there a canon explanation for humans being the blank slate race that can breed with damn near anything?

Aboleths did it.

Liberty's Edge

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DFAnton wrote:
I'm curious. Is there a canon explanation for humans being the blank slate race that can breed with damn near anything?

Not really, no.

They also can't, canonically, breed with anything other than Elves and Orcs (well, and Dragons, Celestials, and all the other stuff that really can breed with anything as indicated by Half Dragon Templates and the like).

Why those groups specifically (and not others) can interbreed is a complete mystery.


Devil's Advocate wrote:
So the optimal half-elf build is now a full elf with Adoptive Ancestry (human), because that build gets pretty much everything a human with Half-Elf gets, plus some additional elf stuff, right?

I mean, unless you want any half-elf things or anything based on human physiology. You also lose out on 2 HP, and still have to spend a general feat.

I'd say it's a side grade at best.

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