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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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest
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Shadow Lodge

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Oh, look, they reduced page count in the final book by making two races amount to a weaker after thought...

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.

Why not? Resonance is getting shoved down our throats and that's waaay more drastic than a language change.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Deadmanwalking wrote:
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.

I blame Aroden.

Dark Archive

So while I don't still mind idea of half elves and half orcs just being human heritage feats, I do have to admit its kind of sad it probably means half orcs and half elves won't have their own heritage feats as results. So no specific feat for snowcaster half elves or half elf tieflings or whatever

Liberty's Edge

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Dragonborn3 wrote:
Why not? Resonance is getting shoved down our throats and that's waaay more drastic than a language change.

It's really not. Resonance and other equivalent stuff (personal magical fields and signatures and the like) has been in the setting for a long time. All that's changed is how the rules interact with it.

Languages not so much.


Kerobelis wrote:
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.

Languages seem alot sparer in P2E in terms of # you get for free, so if it does match your concept, it's reasonable to choose it this way.

And if you doesn't match your concept, then you don't have to take it / get it automatically,
whether that is because you didn't even know your Elven parent, you were too lazy to learn their crazy ancient language, or they didn't want you to learn it.


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The Shifty Mongoose wrote:
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?

I doubt we'll get this from Paizo. They're pretty dedicated to doing Golarion as the default setting, and as far as we know these crosses don't exist there. I don't know if it's been explicitly stated who can and can't breed, but I figure if they were possible, we'd have seen them by now. It's Pathfinder, everyone hooks up. :) I don't think they'll add options that aren't supported in their default setting.

That said, this is certainly room for homebrew and third party publishers. Getting half-orcs and half-elves where the other half isn't human seems to be as simple as the GM saying in their world, those feats can be taken by other races. Half-dwarves and half-gnomes and such will need a bit more work, but it's basically adding a feat and possibly half-* racial feats. Shouldn't be too hard.

Liberty's Edge

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This makes me sad.

This makes me very, very sad. Instead of working to give both Half-elves and Half-orcs a good, keen natural foothold in the world, instead they've been given a feat tax in order to exist. It'd be different if the 'feat tax' opened up other ancestry feat options at level 1. Instead, it removes those options.

Why not make being a Dwarf an ancestry feat that humans can take, if we're gonna go that route? A human can take Dwarven ancestral feats so that they can kit their human to be as Dwarflike as the game wishes? Why do dwarves get a full work and write up?

If these two important races are getting the not-actually-a-race treatment, can we at least get two full racial write ups for those that do? Perhaps orcs as mentioned in other threads?

I'm genuinely upset from this. Downgrading my two favorite races has practically destroyed my excitement. No WONDER they waited this long to spring this.

Silver Crusade

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Alric Rahl wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Arikiel wrote:
I like it! I found it silly/annoying how Half-Orcs always got specced out like a "full race" while Orcs were treated like an after thought. Nothing against the Half-fans but as far as representation goes I always felt they should be a sub-entry or even just a footnote in the sections about their parent races.

I also like how it makes it clear that half-elves/orcs/etc. are a lot less common than full-blooded humans, elves, dwarves, etc. It always felt kind of odd how half-blooded people were in core next to other options which were vastly more numerous and widely distributed.

Like Golarion has enough half-orcs that you can plausibly play as one in any adventure path regardless of where it's set, but it's not like they were ever common.

Actually considering that the Giant Slayer campaign talked about nothing else except the amount of half-orcs in the area I feel like they were more predominant then other systems, almost like Paizo made it a common race.

To be fair, it's set either inside or on the boarder of Belkzen.


One question about the inevitable plane-touched races. If they're handled with a feat, will they be losing different stat bonuses? Or is it possible that the feats might include a bit about replacing your ancestry bonuses with those from the feat? I'm not sure if it matters too much, considering that the racial mods seem to be less important with the new character creation. You can't go above 18 at first level for example. And all ancestries can have an 18 unless it's in the stat they get a negative in.


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Quandary wrote:
Honeybee wrote:
Sweet. How do I play one in PFS?
wrong forum, can't help you there

Nice dodge.

So your position of "orcs are exactly as valid a player ancestry as everything else, so shut up and stop complaining" doesn't take into account that, in Paizo's organized play setting (which is the only real option some people have to play Pathfinder), orcs are completely unplayable. And this is a campaign that allows fifteen ancestries by default, plus another (estimated) twenty-two additional ancestries. But not orcs. It's almost like, just maybe, there is something different about how they're officially treated.

So maybe telling people to just play orcs instead, or whatever you're saying, isn't really helpful. (I'm erring in your favor and assuming you weren't being intentionally disingenuous.)


3 people marked this as a favorite.
CorvusMask wrote:
So while I don't still mind idea of half elves and half orcs just being human heritage feats, I do have to admit its kind of sad it probably means half orcs and half elves won't have their own heritage feats as results. So no specific feat for snowcaster half elves or half elf tieflings or whatever

There's a Half-Elf only feat right there in the blog.


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I'm on the fence with this. It works in it's own way. My problem is with Ancestry/Heritage feats at later levels. Namely, getting more of stuff that is available to the general population of that race/culture. I think that the baseline dwarfiness or elfiness should be locked in by adulthood, level 1 for most PC's.

I am all for more Ancestry/Heritage Feats down the line though. However I think these should be Feats that make you a paragon of the race or culture. Elven high magic and dwarven rune magic could be gated in such a way. I believe what already becomes available at higher levels in the playtest qualifies as this sort of thing.

I suppose it makes sense to take entry heritage feats at higher levels if you've been assimilated into a culture after some time too.


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ChibiNyan wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
So while I don't still mind idea of half elves and half orcs just being human heritage feats, I do have to admit its kind of sad it probably means half orcs and half elves won't have their own heritage feats as results. So no specific feat for snowcaster half elves or half elf tieflings or whatever
There's a Half-Elf only feat right there in the blog.

But it's not a heritage feat. Heritage feats are distinct, and only available at first level. It sounds like the only way a half-orc or half-elf can take a heritage feat would be to take the general feat to get another ancestry feat, which is a bit of a double whammy for these characters.

This could be easily fixed with two ancestry feats being available at first level.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Resonance and other equivalent stuff (personal magical fields and signatures and the like) has been in the setting for a long time. All that's changed is how the rules interact with it.

I can see what you mean, it's sort of like when people say 4th Ed power sources were always part of the game, sort of implied; and now we have Primal magic in PF2!


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Yay ! I like this very much !

Being able to make half-breeds other than half-humans is cool. I wanted to do this for a long time. I'm very exited for this, and it makes me happy that Paizo thought about it.

Also, Orc Ferocity is a very powerful ancestry feat, since you can prevent from being knocked down at dying 2 on a critical fail. (oh, and half-orc healers incoming)

And with Inspire Imitation, maybe we will finally be able to play sneaky half-elf rogues without being spotted because the barbarian failed his roll :D


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

<science rant incoming>

I'd say it's a genetic thing. Humans tend to adapt pretty well to their environment : you live in the desert ? Bam, you're tanned to prevent from burning up. You have to do very physical things all the time, like running or climbing ? Bam, you get muscles. Some of those changes are inherited, but in the end, except for a few exception, every human can become tanned or muscled in a matter of weeks or years. Plus, we have a wide variety of "different humans" through the world depending on where they live, reflecting this adaptability even more.
Thanks to this genetic adaptability, humans' DNA can assimilate very varying other DNAs and "make it work", and you get some traits from both your parents. For exemple, in real life, if a Nigerian and a French person have a kid, maybe he will end up with a black complexion and an european face. Transposed to a fantasy world, humans' DNA would assimilate other races' DNA.
Other races would have a tougher time doing the same since they are all described as "not being able to adapt". Every dwarf has the same complexion and anatomy, same for elves, same for orcs, with little to no variations. Also, in games like Pathfinder or D&D, civilised races tend to be mesmerized by humans struggling with their short lifespan and often fall in love with them (classic half-elf story). And orcs breed (or at least used to since they lost their infamous rape culture) with everything with no regards to your race, but because of genetics it just ends up working with humans.
I'd suggest looking up real life half-breed animals, it's very interesting and can give you ideas for RPGs.

</end of science rant>

Or maybe wizards did it.

Sean R wrote:

This makes me sad.

This makes me very, very sad. Instead of working to give both Half-elves and Half-orcs a good, keen natural foothold in the world, instead they've been given a feat tax in order to exist. It'd be different if the 'feat tax' opened up other ancestry feat options at level 1. Instead, it removes those options.

Why not make being a Dwarf an ancestry feat that humans can take, if we're gonna go that route? A human can take Dwarven ancestral feats so that they can kit their human to be as Dwarflike as the game wishes? Why do dwarves get a full work and write up?

If these two important races are getting the not-actually-a-race treatment, can we at least get two full racial write ups for those that do? Perhaps orcs as mentioned in other threads?

I'm genuinely upset from this. Downgrading my two favorite races has practically destroyed my excitement. No WONDER they waited this long to spring this.

I wouldn't say it's a downgrade. In the end, you get approximatively what the ancestry feats would give you, and you get access to 2 more ancestry feat trees than any normal human. The only things you miss out, I think, are things like Forlorn Elf and the likes. Plus, you still get options which are only available to half-elves and half-orcs, so in the end those half-breeds are the ones with the more work put into them. Plus, it allows to make any kind of half-breeds pretty easily now and not be forced to only do half-human-elf and half-human-orc.

But I can understand that it can be disapointing compared to other games since half-breeds are no longer their own races, or if you're not interested in half-breeds other than orcs and elves :) Let's hope the "half-breeds-only" feats will be good enough that you will still enjoy playing them.


Arachnofiend wrote:
How can anyone genuinely like this? The half-ancestries effectively don't get an ancestry feat until level five. Do any of you people actually play half-orcs or are you just happy that the ancestry is so strongly discouraged by the mechanics now?

So far (I wrote this when I arrived to your post) , it is not like "anyone" liked it. It is more like "everybody but you" did.

So maybe the beauty (or lack of) is in the eye of the beholder


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

<science rant incoming>

I'd say it's a genetic thing. Humans tend to adapt pretty well to their environment : you live in the desert ? Bam, you're tanned to prevent from burning up. You have to do very physical things all the time, like running or climbing ? Bam, you get muscles. Some of those changes are inherited, but in the end, except for a few exception, every human can become tanned or muscled in a matter of weeks or years. Plus, we have a wide variety of "different humans" through the world depending on where they live, reflecting this adaptability even more.
Thanks to this genetic adaptability, humans' DNA can assimilate very varying other DNAs and "make it work", and you get some traits from both your parents. For exemple, in real life, if a Nigerian and a French person have a kid, maybe he will end up with a black complexion and an european face. Transposed to a fantasy world, humans' DNA would assimilate other races' DNA.
Other races would have a tougher time doing the same since they are all described as "not being able to adapt". Every dwarf has the same complexion and anatomy, same for elves,

I would say Elves in D&D have historically also had very adaptable DNA, what with the 9,000 elf types (wood, snow, desert, wild, jungle, subterranean, flying, amphibious, etc).

Liberty's Edge

8 people marked this as a favorite.
gustavo iglesias wrote:
So far (I wrote this when I arrived to your post) , it is not like "anyone" liked it. It is more like "everybody but you" did.

Uh...while not everyone agrees with Arachnofiend, saying everyone disagrees with them is at least equally inaccurate. My own posts expressing dissatisfaction with the current arrangement have been favorited quite a bit and met with agreement from various people.

So 'everybody but Arachnofiend' did not like this. Not even close. Who's in the minority is impossible to tell, because of the nature of internet arguments in general as much as anything else, but neither side of the argument is some tiny fringe group.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:
So far (I wrote this when I arrived to your post) , it is not like "anyone" liked it. It is more like "everybody but you" did.

Uh...while not everyone agrees with Arachnofiend, saying everyone disagrees with them is at least equally inaccurate. My own posts expressing dissatisfaction with the current arrangement have been favorited quite a bit and met with agreement from various people.

So 'everybody but Arachnofiend' did not like this. Not even close. Who's in the minority is impossible to tell, because of the nature of internet arguments in general as much as anything else, but neither side of the argument is some tiny fringe group.

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can't …” … please all the people all of the time” John Lydgate

Just generalize that and aply accordingly.


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

<science rant incoming>

I'd say it's a genetic thing. Humans tend to adapt pretty well to their environment : you live in the desert ? Bam, you're tanned to prevent from burning up. You have to do very physical things all the time, like running or climbing ? Bam, you get muscles. Some of those changes are inherited, but in the end, except for a few exception, every human can become tanned or muscled in a matter of weeks or years. Plus, we have a wide variety of "different humans" through the world depending on where they live, reflecting this adaptability even more.
Thanks to this genetic adaptability, humans' DNA can assimilate very varying other DNAs and "make it work", and you get some traits from both your parents. For exemple, in real life, if a Nigerian and a French person have a kid, maybe he will end up with a black complexion and an european face. Transposed to a fantasy world, humans' DNA would assimilate other races' DNA.
Other races would have a tougher time doing the same since they are all described as "not being able to adapt". Every dwarf has the same complexion and anatomy, same for elves,

I would say Elves in D&D have historically also had very adaptable DNA, what with the 9,000 elf types (wood, snow, desert, wild, jungle, subterranean, flying, amphibious, etc).

True. I only played 3.5 years ago and a bit of 5, and in core there weren't that much different elves (well, as I remember it at least). So yeah, maybe for D&D elves, it may be more of a cultural thing. Still, Pathfinder elves are all very similar.


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

<science rant incoming>

I'd say it's a genetic thing. Humans tend to adapt pretty well to their environment : you live in the desert ? Bam, you're tanned to prevent from burning up. You have to do very physical things all the time, like running or climbing ? Bam, you get muscles. Some of those changes are inherited, but in the end, except for a few exception, every human can become tanned or muscled in a matter of weeks or years. Plus, we have a wide variety of "different humans" through the world depending on where they live, reflecting this adaptability even more.
Thanks to this genetic adaptability, humans' DNA can assimilate very varying other DNAs and "make it work", and you get some traits from both your parents. For exemple, in real life, if a Nigerian and a French person have a kid, maybe he will end up with a black complexion and an european face. Transposed to a fantasy world, humans' DNA would assimilate other races' DNA.
Other races would have a tougher time doing the same since they are all described as "not being able to adapt". Every dwarf has the same complexion and anatomy, same for elves,

I would say Elves in D&D have historically also had very adaptable DNA, what with the 9,000 elf types (wood, snow, desert, wild, jungle, subterranean, flying, amphibious, etc).
True. I only played 3.5 years ago and a bit of 5, and in core there weren't that much different elves (well, as I remember it at least). So yeah, maybe for D&D elves, it may be more of a cultural thing. Still, Pathfinder elves are all very similar.

What I don't get it how elves can be as adaptable as humans when it takes them like 90 years to reach maturity, and have such a prolonged lifespan. Humans go through many iterations a lot faster than elves.


I find this design of half-breeds nice. But I'll chime in and also suggest 2 Ancestry feats at first level.
Mainly not because of versality but to avoid that half-breeds can't have a Heritage feat like some poster wrote. That would be sad.

Also, I hope that there will be a half-human heritage feat in a later splat book for half-orcs that are mor orcy and other half-breed shenanigans.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think having half-breeds follow a nice simple homogenous system that can eventually be applied to ancestries other than humans is absolutely great and was actually quite needed

I get the worry about one feat at 1st-level not being enough but I feel that is exactly what the playtest will reveal

Not too mention that I have the nagging feeling that giving two feats at 1st level might make the half-breeds really better choices than humans

Also I do not mind the half-breeds not getting the full ancestry treatment because in fact they are not

I never quite got why people enjoyed half-elves and most players I know who played one did so merely for some rules benefits and played them as either Human or more rarely Elf

The Half-orc is different IMO. Many chose one because full-orc was not available while others liked its unfairly reviled outsider vibe

I would be ok for a Orc ancestry in the CRB even though I see this as even more difficult to explain away than Goblins who will already need an AP's world-changing event to justify

However I cannot help but wonder if putting Orc in the CRB would not just be the end of the half-orc


One really cool aspect of this system is that it can handle things like drow conversion really well.

Dark Archive

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Doktor Weasel wrote:
ChibiNyan wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
So while I don't still mind idea of half elves and half orcs just being human heritage feats, I do have to admit its kind of sad it probably means half orcs and half elves won't have their own heritage feats as results. So no specific feat for snowcaster half elves or half elf tieflings or whatever
There's a Half-Elf only feat right there in the blog.

But it's not a heritage feat. Heritage feats are distinct, and only available at first level. It sounds like the only way a half-orc or half-elf can take a heritage feat would be to take the general feat to get another ancestry feat, which is a bit of a double whammy for these characters.

This could be easily fixed with two ancestry feats being available at first level.

Ye, I'd assume that folks that want to have mechanical benefit for specific type of half elf wouldn't be happy with "Okay so flavor wise your elf parent was ekujae elf, but until level 3 you aren't mechanically ekujae half elf"

BTW, this makes me wonder whether halfdrow/darkborn would be completely separate heritage feat in 2e instead of being variant of half elf like in 1e

On another hand, this would really help aquatic half elves if they were their own heritage rather than half elf variant considering how aquatic elves are in weird way separate race from elves despite being mechanically really similar :p Like, you'd think that aquatic half elves would be more different from other half elves than they were in 1e


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Mark Seifter wrote:
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.

I think this is a bad assumption to make and, at best, reveals a weakness of the underlying system if true. The fact is in PF1, Con was "required" because of the way dying worked, because of low HP at early levels, and because of the frequency of save-or-die Constitution saves later in the game. Two of the three reasons for avoiding low Con are now gone.

If you're going to say "the lowest you can have in an ability score is 8, but we don't expect anyone to actually do that..." that's both presumptuous and shows bad design. Why bother having 8 if you don't expect people to build characters with that score?


The Raven Black wrote:

I get the worry about one feat at 1st-level not being enough but I feel that is exactly what the playtest will reveal

Not too mention that I have the nagging feeling that giving two feats at 1st level might make the half-breeds really better choices than humans

That is a risk. The ancestry feats will likely need to be toned down to balance things. I suspect this is something that will likely change because of the playtest. There already was concern about the single ancestry feat not being enough to really differentiate ancestries. And now this revelation makes it even more problematic with two core options requiring a feat to take and preventing them from having other options.


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gustavo iglesias wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
How can anyone genuinely like this? The half-ancestries effectively don't get an ancestry feat until level five. Do any of you people actually play half-orcs or are you just happy that the ancestry is so strongly discouraged by the mechanics now?

So far (I wrote this when I arrived to your post) , it is not like "anyone" liked it. It is more like "everybody but you" did.

So maybe the beauty (or lack of) is in the eye of the beholder

Well, Arachnofiend posted this on page 1, less than one hour after the blog went online. It's a little early to use words like "everybody".

Also, there's room for more nuanced positions. I generally like the idea of half-breeds being human variants instead of their own race, because it opens a lot of doors for new options. But I also recognize the opponents have a case.


Love this concept, though I agree with a lot of people that it definitely needs careful attention to make sure that being a Half-___ doesn't result in an over-/under-powered character. I had a feeling this would be the way to go when Ancestry was first addressed in a past blog (can't think of its title), though I was thinking more of the elementally-touched races.


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.

It makes more sense to me for these to be Background feats. Ulfens and Tiens and so on should be genetically broadly the same.


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Why do some people get mean so quickly? :(

Anyway, it's the playtest. So now, we've got to use Half-Elves and Half-Orcs, and if they suck, we've got to let Paizo know! It's not set in stone yet, folks!


rainzax wrote:

I have a suggestion that may seem redundant but may well due to keep both the modularity of the current half-ancenstry proposal, and those who feel that turning an entire identity into a feat feels like a disservice:

Keep half-elf and half-orc as feats that require a base ancestry (human, elf, orc) to access.

But then also give both half-elves and half-orcs their own page in the Races chapter alphabetically.

These two entries will be shorter, and somewhat redundant, but will be a spelled out example of what these two ancestry feats unlock options-wise, and may contain all the specific half-elf and half-orc ancenstry feats therein.

This way, at the cost of some page count, people can still turn to the Half-elf or Half-orc page and treat this ancenstry like any other, without sacrificing system modularity.

Do we know that this is not the case already, even in the playtest? The blog talks about the mechanical implementation, I don't think it says (or implies) that that's all there is to it.


After talking to one of my player, he pointed out that Orc Ferocity might be even more powerful than what I thought and dying rules might be weirder. Here's an exemple he told me :

The party has vainquished a mad wizard on top of his tower when said tower is collapsing. The 4 heroes jump from the window, fall down 200 meters, get up ten seconds later and run before the tower collapses. (in his scenario, you fall and end up at dying 3, but you can still survive with a success on your stabilization roll)
As for Orc Ferocity, the half-orc wouldn't even need to take a breather. He would just jump, activate his Orc Ferocity and do the hero-landing at 1 HP.

Half-orc Drax : Do it Quill ! I can take it !

This new feat put the light on the strangeness of the dying rules in our opinion. It will most certainly be a must-have. This may need to be playtested thoroughly.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Tender Tendrils wrote:
Almarane wrote:
Vic Ferrari wrote:
Almarane wrote:
DFAnton wrote:
I'm curious. Is there a canon explanation for humans being the blank slate race that can breed with damn near anything?

<science rant incoming>

I'd say it's a genetic thing. Humans tend to adapt pretty well to their environment : you live in the desert ? Bam, you're tanned to prevent from burning up. You have to do very physical things all the time, like running or climbing ? Bam, you get muscles. Some of those changes are inherited, but in the end, except for a few exception, every human can become tanned or muscled in a matter of weeks or years. Plus, we have a wide variety of "different humans" through the world depending on where they live, reflecting this adaptability even more.
Thanks to this genetic adaptability, humans' DNA can assimilate very varying other DNAs and "make it work", and you get some traits from both your parents. For exemple, in real life, if a Nigerian and a French person have a kid, maybe he will end up with a black complexion and an european face. Transposed to a fantasy world, humans' DNA would assimilate other races' DNA.
Other races would have a tougher time doing the same since they are all described as "not being able to adapt". Every dwarf has the same complexion and anatomy, same for elves,

I would say Elves in D&D have historically also had very adaptable DNA, what with the 9,000 elf types (wood, snow, desert, wild, jungle, subterranean, flying, amphibious, etc).
True. I only played 3.5 years ago and a bit of 5, and in core there weren't that much different elves (well, as I remember it at least). So yeah, maybe for D&D elves, it may be more of a cultural thing. Still, Pathfinder elves are all very similar.
What I don't get it how elves can be as adaptable as humans when it takes them like 90 years to reach maturity, and have such a prolonged lifespan. Humans go through many iterations a lot faster than elves.

"Unlike humans, elven diversity springs not from common ethnic lineages, but is a result of their species' adaptation to the various ecological habitats across the planet. Changes in elven physiology generally occur gradually over centuries, but even a single elf's appearance can change dramatically over the course of his or her lifetime when exposed to a new environment."

This is from the pathfinderwiki, and the Inner Sea World Guide says practically the same.


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

<science rant incoming>

I'd say it's a genetic thing. Humans tend to adapt pretty well to their environment : you live in the desert ? Bam, you're tanned to prevent from burning up. You have to do very physical things all the time, like running or climbing ? Bam, you get muscles. Some of those changes are inherited, but in the end, except for a few exception, every human can become tanned or muscled in a matter of weeks or years. Plus, we have a wide variety of "different humans" through the world depending on where they live, reflecting this adaptability even more.
Thanks to this genetic adaptability, humans' DNA can assimilate very varying other DNAs and "make it work", and you get some traits from both your parents. For exemple, in real life, if a Nigerian and a French person have a kid, maybe he will end up with a black complexion and an european face. Transposed to a fantasy world, humans' DNA would assimilate other races' DNA.
Other races would have a tougher time doing the same since they are all described as "not being able to adapt". Every dwarf has the same complexion and anatomy, same for elves,

I would say Elves in D&D have historically also had very adaptable DNA, what with the 9,000 elf types (wood, snow, desert, wild, jungle, subterranean, flying, amphibious, etc).
True. I only played 3.5 years ago and a bit of 5, and in core there weren't that much different elves (well, as I remember it at least). So yeah, maybe for D&D elves, it may be more of a cultural thing. Still, Pathfinder elves are all very similar.

Right on, in PF it is more cultural, but they have taken the idea of elven genetic adaptation in 5th Ed to the point where the Chosen of Corellon can change their sex after a long rest.


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Without reading the thread; I really don't like hybrid races being a feat tax instead of a base choice. I really don't like starting racial traits being stripped down into feats either but that's a balance consideration for when I get to see the playtest material in full.

I'm more worried for Paizo's game sense though, when apparently a language is an option on the same level of cost as a proficiency or Low-light vision.

Either languages are meant to be really really important, or the other options are really cheap. (Or there's just a bad imbalance in the half-race feats and all half-elves have diplomacy and low-light vision).


NorthernDruid wrote:

Without reading the thread; I really don't like hybrid races being a feat tax instead of a base choice. I really don't like starting racial traits being stripped down into feats either but that's a balance consideration for when I get to see the playtest material in full.

I'm more worried for Paizo's game sense though, when apparently a language is an option on the same level of cost as a proficiency or Low-light vision.

Either languages are meant to be really really important, or the other options are really cheap. (Or there's just a bad imbalance in the half-race feats and all half-elves have diplomacy and low-light vision).

Yeah, the Speed increase looks to be the most popular.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I have mixed thoughts on this.

On one hand, I like that half-elves and half-orcs can just pull there ancestry feats from either parent race. On the other hand, I don't really like how someone who wants to play either race essentially has to take human, then spend there there only first level feat on being a member of a half race.

Mechanically, I am sure this is balanced, but I think there is another aspect to this: Perception. If folks perceive that half elves/orcs have a "feat tax" to play there race, they may be inclined to not even bother, even if long term it's not going to make much a difference.

I also worry about how this interacts with heritages. As others have pointed out, there is some assumption here that there will be other heritages allowing you to play different ethnicities. However you only get heritage as a first level feat (something I approve of, by the way).

So a half elf has to blow their one heritage feat chance on just being a half elf, and can't afford to to take a drow or snowcaster elf heritage. That means that, in contrast to other races, there are going to be a lot less tweaking of these races versus others, and you can't customize them as much as you would a dwarf or elf.

If a similar model ends up applying to Changelings, or Tieflings, or whatever...you are going to run into a similar problem, where you can only have a generic member of that race, and can't further reflect ancestry.

Ultimately I think it would be a lot better to just have half elves and half orcs as starting races, just like dwarves, gnomes, etc.


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Almarane wrote:

After talking to one of my player, he pointed out that Orc Ferocity might be even more powerful than what I thought and dying rules might be weirder. Here's an exemple he told me :

The party has vainquished a mad wizard on top of his tower when said tower is collapsing. The 4 heroes jump from the window, fall down 200 meters, get up ten seconds later and run before the tower collapses. (in his scenario, you fall and end up at dying 3, but you can still survive with a success on your stabilization roll)
As for Orc Ferocity, the half-orc wouldn't even need to take a breather. He would just jump, activate his Orc Ferocity and do the hero-landing at 1 HP.

Half-orc Drax : Do it Quill ! I can take it !

This new feat put the light on the strangeness of the dying rules in our opinion. It will most certainly be a must-have. This may need to be playtested thoroughly.

Yeah, instances like this definitely turn Orc Ferocity into a way-bigger boon than its intended purpose of going down on the sixth blow from the enemy's mace instead of the fifth blow.

Maybe instead of being left at 1 hp, a creature with that feat can be treated as if his Dying counter were 1 lower than it actually was in terms of if he can act. So if something were to bring him to Dying 1, he's effectively at Dying 0 and can act accordingly. This would work the other way as well, and allow him to act if slowly being resuscitated from a higher Dying counter; once he made it back to Dying 1 from Dying 2, he could act again. This system would still kill him at the same counter as normal, though, for it would only determine if he could act or not - it doesn't change his actual Dying counter. I don't have the PF2 Dying rules in front of me, and I'm not sure where I initially read about them (curse these Blogs and their quasi-categorical nature!), so I could be talking nonsense right now, but that seems like a better way to treat the Orcs' ability to keep fighting just a bit longer than other races, instead of giving them a you-can-shrug-off-this-CR-30-monster's-Breath-Weapon-as-long-as-you-already -have-at-least-2-hp] ability, especially since the ability gives the same benefit to the same capacity whether you're 1st-level or 20th-level.


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I understand the desire not to front load characters by having each ancestry gain its racial features through feats, but I have to agree that it does feel like we're getting shafted too early.

This might be because racial options are getting significantly better, so ancestry options matter more in a meta-game sense for character builds just beyond stat choices (which would be a good thing).

Ancestry feats should be stronger than the old racial feats were, elves getting 'spell penetration' as an option and dwarves getting 'iron will/lightning reflexes/great fortitude vs all spells' are clearly racial options that are worth a feat and not necessarily balanced if given out for free.

Racial weapon proficiency, languages, and (admittedly probably not in the new edition given the new dynamics of the mechanics) skills seem like small things that I certainly would not want to waste a feat on, or be expected to waste a feat on in order to gain access to.

blog post wrote:
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.

Then the options aren't well balanced against each other, if we're already admitting that some of the options merit cherry-picking.

The goal of a new core edition should be not to include too much dead weight from the start. Every core option should be worth considering in any game, ideally speaking. Perhaps this goal isn't practical, but I feel we could definitely increase our sigma with some tweaking.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

After some consideration, I do not like this. I thought the whole point of going from races to ancestry was to get rid of subraces, and that's just what it feels like having half-elves and half-orcs be feats.

It also makes listing such characters weird (i.e., instead of having a half-elf bard you instead have a human [half-elf] bard). As someone who's currently playing a human sorcerer with the orc bloodline, I'm like technically I am a human, but I'm sort of a half-orc. It's very weird.

Also, this feels like a huge downgrade for half-elves and half-orcs from first edition.

My suggestion: have a base half-orc and half-elf ancestry with their own unique ancestry feats. You could then have different heritage ancestry feats that allow you to take ancestry feats of other ancestries (i.e., a Human Heritage feat that allows you to take Human feats, Elf Heritage that allows you to take Elf feats, etc.). This gives the half-races more flexibility without front loading them, or have other non-standard half-ancestries like a Dwarf Heritage feat for half-elves. This would give you the same flexibility and not lock players into playing a character with one human and one elf parent.


Almarane wrote:

After talking to one of my player, he pointed out that Orc Ferocity might be even more powerful than what I thought and dying rules might be weirder. Here's an exemple he told me :

The party has vainquished a mad wizard on top of his tower when said tower is collapsing. The 4 heroes jump from the window, fall down 200 meters, get up ten seconds later and run before the tower collapses. (in his scenario, you fall and end up at dying 3, but you can still survive with a success on your stabilization roll)
As for Orc Ferocity, the half-orc wouldn't even need to take a breather. He would just jump, activate his Orc Ferocity and do the hero-landing at 1 HP.

Half-orc Drax : Do it Quill ! I can take it !

This new feat put the light on the strangeness of the dying rules in our opinion. It will most certainly be a must-have. This may need to be playtested thoroughly.

This is a good question. Many systems have overkill damage systems to solve this. For example 5e says if a single hit overkills you by more than your max HP, you die instantly. A 200 meter fall = 600 feet = 300 fall damage, which ought to overkill most mid-level characters who aren't half-orcs, preventing any attempt at stabilizing.

So long as this overkill is triggered before Orc Ferocity, it would be ok for them too, but the current wording doesn't imply that.


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I do like this. Half races shouldn't be races of their own.
With that said, I do think Half-Elves should be an option for elves too.
I wonder if in the future it will be similar with other classes such as Tiefling and Aasimar, and if it will open the doors to other half races.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

While Resonance has been a roller coaster in my feelings and reactions, this has been the first thing about 2e that I actively despise.

I now have to pay a feat tax to play a race I like. And even then I'm not actually that race, I'm a human with elf/orc blood. And this gets even worse if it extends to Skinwalkers, Changelings, and Planer Scions (I guess that's what we're calling them now).At 1st level I'm a human with a latent lycanthropic strain. At 5th level I'm a Witchwolf. Why can't I just be a Witcwolf? Why can't I just be a Half-Elf?

There's been a lot of discussion back and forth about buffing the Ancestry feat or giving more of them at 1st but that's not actually addressing the issue. It is completely immaterial how much provisions or buffing you provide the feat tax, it's still a feat tax that you have to deal with to play a semblance of a race.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Shinigami02 wrote:
CraziFuzzy wrote:
Archetypes and Alternate Racial traits weren't in the Core Rule book either - and they were added later and work just fine. They could create future ancestry options if they deem it necessary - but I think the whole idea of the ancestry feats is to tone down how much ancestry affects the character at 1st level, and spread that out. That's not just a half-blood thing.
If this is at all talking about my list, the issue here isn't just that the're Alternate Racial Traits. It's specifically that they're the kind of Racial Traits (physical features and IIRC Inherent Spellcasting) that fall under the (very explicitly only available at level 1) Heritage Feat's purview. Which Halfbloods very explicitly would not be able to take because their only level 1 Ancestry Trait is taken by just being a Half-blood. So the only Heritage options they can take... are the (frankly bland and generic, if potentially useful) ones inherent to being a Halfblood. Which will almost certainly be along the lines of the default Racial Traits they had in PF1e, rather than anything from the list of Alternate Racial Traits in PF1e.

Don't forget Jackal Heritage from 1st, one of my favourite characters (a half elf) had that.


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Byron Zibeck wrote:

After some consideration, I do not like this. I thought the whole point of going from races to ancestry was to get rid of subraces, and that's just what it feels like having half-elves and half-orcs be feats.

It also makes listing such characters weird (i.e., instead of having a half-elf bard you instead have a human [half-elf] bard). As someone who's currently playing a human sorcerer with the orc bloodline, I'm like technically I am a human, but I'm sort of a half-orc. It's very weird.

Also, this feels like a huge downgrade for half-elves and half-orcs from first edition.

My suggestion: have a base half-orc and half-elf ancestry with their own unique ancestry feats. You could then have different heritage ancestry feats that allow you to take ancestry feats of other ancestries (i.e., a Human Heritage feat that allows you to take Human feats, Elf Heritage that allows you to take Elf feats, etc.). This gives the half-races more flexibility without front loading them, or have other non-standard half-ancestries like a Dwarf Heritage feat for half-elves. This would give you the same flexibility and not lock players into playing a character with one human and one elf parent.

Half-breeds have their own unique ancestry feats, and making them base ancestries would in fine lock you into having one human parent and one elf/orc parent :/

But I agree a little with you on the listing for NPCs profiles. That does seem weird. But in the end it could be manageable if this mean your first descriptor is the race from which you took most of your genes and the descriptor between brackets is your "secondary race" (like a human [half-elf] would be more human than elf, or a dwarf [half-orc] would be more dwarf than orc)

lordcirth wrote:
Almarane wrote:

After talking to one of my player, he pointed out that Orc Ferocity might be even more powerful than what I thought and dying rules might be weirder. Here's an exemple he told me :

The party has vainquished a mad wizard on top of his tower when said tower is collapsing. The 4 heroes jump from the window, fall down 200 meters, get up ten seconds later and run before the tower collapses. (in his scenario, you fall and end up at dying 3, but you can still survive with a success on your stabilization roll)
As for Orc Ferocity, the half-orc wouldn't even need to take a breather. He would just jump, activate his Orc Ferocity and do the hero-landing at 1 HP.

Half-orc Drax : Do it Quill ! I can take it !

This new feat put the light on the strangeness of the dying rules in our opinion. It will most certainly be a must-have. This may need to be playtested thoroughly.

This is a good question. Many systems have overkill damage systems to solve this. For example 5e says if a single hit overkills you by more than your max HP, you die instantly. A 200 meter fall = 600 feet = 300 fall damage, which ought to overkill most mid-level characters who aren't half-orcs, preventing any attempt at stabilizing.

So long as this overkill is triggered before Orc Ferocity, it would be ok for them too, but the current wording doesn't imply that.

Very true. Maybe it could be stated directly in the dying rules, like "if you die from overkill damages, you die immediatly, no mater the circonstances or your characters' abilities and feats" ? Like that we could create a bunch of other death-preventing feats without having to say in every feat "this does not trigger if you die from overkill damages" and prevent weird situations.

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