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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Silver Crusade

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Todd Stewart wrote:

So long as I get to have a character with horns, hooves, and a prehensile tail at a minimum I'm good with however the mechanical framework happens to be.

Basically give me wild and crazy classic tieflings (ala Planescape and Pathfinder so often) and the wilder strains of Pathfinder ganzi in 2e and I'm good to go, because let's face it, do you really think that I'm going to play much beyond tieflings or ganzi over the next decade? Not unless there's support for half-faerie dragons or something equally snowflakey that's right in my standard wheelhouse. :D

*pokes Designers with pokey stick*

Give Todd more work. Please :3


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

That's a fair point, especially if Paizo is sticking to Heritage feats as being physiology only type stuff. I'd say they PROBABLY won't be background feats though, as backgrounds grant a pretty narrow list of benefits from skill feats and lore. Rather, I would guess they would be non-heritage ancestry feats. We know that there will be at least some feat trees for ancestry feats, so

Deadmanwalking wrote:
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.

Oh, that's nice. I was aware of the Mwangi Expanse example, but I didn't realize they had gone that far with the Inner Sea as a whole. Giant Slayer gave me a really bad snapshot I guess.

Still, the both the d20pfrd and the official Piazo equivalent directly contradict this. "As seen by civilized races, half-orcs are monstrosities, the result of perversion and violence—whether or not this is actually true. Half-orcs are rarely the result of loving unions, and as such are usually forced to grow up hard and fast, constantly fighting for protection or to make names for themselves."

That's literally the first thing most people read about half-orcs. And while I'm cool with early canon being discarded if it happened before the setting had fully coalesced and the authors were still figuring stuff out, having that text front and center will still define half-orcs in the eyes of most people. And nothing in that quote feels any more setting specific than your description minus some names of places. (Which would be reasonably close to the 5e PHB write up on Half-Orcs, for example.)

If Paizo wants to drop that language from the half-orcs write ups, I am cool with it. Still, even then it will take a while for that assumption to fade out of game. Lots of old baggage gets assumed as being true for Golarion by players even when it isn't. See all those folks who think all orcs or goblins are evil in Golarion and Pathfinder adventures treat them as OK to kill just for being orcs or goblins.

Silver Crusade

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AngelZiefer wrote:
RPGs are games for heroes, not monsters,

Race does not a monster make.

Silver Crusade

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CraziFuzzy wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
CraziFuzzy wrote:
You mean immediate benefits like those listed in the Half-elf feat?
HALF-ELF (Heritage, Human) FEAT 1 wrote:
elven speed, elven tongue, gifted speaker, or low-light vision

Wow, it's become clear why there is so much spam in this forum on the weekends, those guys must clean up around here before the moderators save you guys from yourselves.

Yes, the immediate benefit of giving up your human feat is to become an elf without all of the base elf abilities and without their elf feat. Quite the benefit.

Isn't that what Half-elf always has been?

No, Half-Elves have been Half-Elves.

Silver Crusade

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Arachnofiend wrote:

Oh boy, my favorite race has been reduced to a feat tax. So much for my half-orc bard idea given she won't even be proficient in her falchion until whenever she gets her next ancestry feat (what was it, level four or something?).

At this point you need to include orcs as a core ancestry because anything else will feel like a slap in the face.

My two absolute favourite characters in Pathfinder have been a Half-Orc and a Half-Elf, each with additional lineages interwoven (Linnorm and Jackelwere, respectively) :(

Shadow Lodge

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I just figured something else that bugs me. If you are half of one race and half of another.... why don't BOTH races have the option? Why can only humans be half-elves? Why aren't there half-elves that are far more Elven than Human, and get a "Half-Human" feat they could take too?


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Dragonborn3 wrote:

I just figured something else that bugs me. If you are half of one race and half of another.... why don't BOTH races have the option? Why can only humans be half-elves? Why aren't there half-elves that are far more Elven than Human, and get a "Half-Human" feat they could take too?

It's a lot easier to add abilities to the blank slate that is human, than it is to completely alter what the elf ancestry grants.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Part of my concern is this going forward. In core, if I’m “losing” half-elf and half-orc for low level games, switching to human isn’t a huge deal. I usually go with human anyway if it’s restricted to core. But if tiefling, aasimar, (maybe fetchling?), ifrit, oread, sylph, undine, changeling, dhampir, skinwalker, and suli all give up their first-level feature, then I don’t really feel like I’ve got a lot of interesting choices. I get the flexibility of picking human feats later, but my goal is to play something other than the same core races.


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Welcome to Pathfinder 2.0, a game where you level defines everything on your character. Since you sum your level in every skill, save, AC, attack, your ability to take potions. The level (masked as feasts) also determines how "elvish" or "orkish" your character will be.

Shadow Lodge

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GM OfAnything wrote:
Dragonborn3 wrote:

I just figured something else that bugs me. If you are half of one race and half of another.... why don't BOTH races have the option? Why can only humans be half-elves? Why aren't there half-elves that are far more Elven than Human, and get a "Half-Human" feat they could take too?

It's a lot easier to add abilities to the blank slate that is human, than it is to completely alter what the elf ancestry grants.

They aren't altering how being an Elf works if they add a feat that lets them be half-elves anymore than they are changing how being a Human works.

Liberty's Edge

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

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

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


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Fallyrion Dunegrién wrote:
Welcome to Pathfinder 2.0, a game where you level defines everything on your character. Since you sum your level in every skill, save, AC, attack, your ability to take potions. The level (masked as feasts) also determines how "elvish" or "orkish" your character will be.

Admittedly, if the feats are good enough to warrant different build choices that affect the meta-game decisions of character building this might not be a bad thing.

For instance, if making an elf means i get to take things like Elven Magic which improve my DCs and SR equivalent rolls, then elves become better blasters regardless of class choice.

If dwarves get to take something like Hardy which gives them a +2 on saving throws vs spells, they might make better 'tanks' also regardless of class.

I would want to make sure these choices balance against each other in ways that make the ancestries play differently and actually affect my in game decisions more than flavor and micro-orginzational changes to the build like a lot of the racial options in PF1 were. In theory this might not be bad.

It's our job to test this and decide how much more or less umph these feats need in order to make these work during the play test.


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I must admit, I was a more than a little skeptical at first, when I read that I'd need to sacrifice a Feat slot just to play my Half-Race characters. Though, this might change when we see the general level and Feat progression chart.

But I love the idea that Half-Races are more like templates, applicable to *every* race in the book- Aasimar Dwarf Paladin, Tiefling Hobbit Bard, Dhampir Wizard Elf, I can't wait to get my hands on the rules.

Though, I do have to ask; what about Half-Drow characters, resulting from a union between Drow and either Humans or Elves/Half-Elves? In Pathfinder 1st edition, it was as easy as taking the Blended View alternative racial trait (half-elves). And I doubt that Drow will be a playable race in the playtest (let alone the official release).

Can you give me anything to assuage my worries?


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."

Ditto to this, in addition to my other concerns...


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master_marshmallow wrote:
Fallyrion Dunegrién wrote:
Welcome to Pathfinder 2.0, a game where you level defines everything on your character. Since you sum your level in every skill, save, AC, attack, your ability to take potions. The level (masked as feasts) also determines how "elvish" or "orkish" your character will be.

Admittedly, if the feats are good enough to warrant different build choices that affect the meta-game decisions of character building this might not be a bad thing.

For instance, if making an elf means i get to take things like Elven Magic which improve my DCs and SR equivalent rolls, then elves become better blasters regardless of class choice.

If dwarves get to take something like Hardy which gives them a +2 on saving throws vs spells, they might make better 'tanks' also regardless of class.

I would want to make sure these choices balance against each other in ways that make the ancestries play differently and actually affect my in game decisions more than flavor and micro-orginzational changes to the build like a lot of the racial options in PF1 were. In theory this might not be bad.

It's our job to test this and decide how much more or less umph these feats need in order to make these work during the play test.

My problem here is that a lot of things you got at level 1, will now be unlocked on later levels.

The real diference between a Elf and a Dwarf in level 1 will be HP and Speed, and some adjustment in abilities score.


UlrichVonLichtenstein 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."
Ditto to this, in addition to my other concerns...

I think in those cases the child defaults to human?


Captain Morgan wrote:

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. [

Oh, that's nice. I was aware of the Mwangi Expanse example, but I didn't realize they had gone that far with the Inner Sea as a whole.

Yeah, see, that is really cool; back when I started my 3rd Ed Planescape campaign, one of the characters was a half-orc ranger from Oerth (World of Greyhawk), and his background was that he was the product of a union between a human male and an orc female (they truly loved each other, or at least...), and he served as a protector of the borders for both peoples, the orcs being the larger, more powerful LE society, and the humans a small town/community (much prefer the orcs to the gnolls!).


This confirms to me that my group will be having 2 Ancestry Feats from level 1.


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I’m actually not really in favor of the two-feat fix. Humans get their pick of first level class and general feats with that, which seems really strong.


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QuidEst wrote:
I’m actually not really in favor of the two-feat fix. Humans get their pick of first level class and general feats with that, which seems really strong.

That's why I like using Heritage feats for the extra 1st level feat. It is a much smaller category and should be easier to balance for. In the case of the gnome, that would effectively give them a default additional racial ability, since Discerning Smell seems to be their only Heritage feat, which might calm some folks down who are mad there isn't enough set in stone for ancestry anymore.

Just add a default human heritage feat and you are pretty much good.

Shadow Lodge

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Yeah, but it doesn't look like humans are NOT going to be the strongest picks just like in PF1 so no big change there.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
I’m actually not really in favor of the two-feat fix. Humans get their pick of first level class and general feats with that, which seems really strong.

That's why I like using Heritage feats for the extra 1st level feat. It is a much smaller category and should be easier to balance for. In the case of the gnome, that would effectively give them a default additional racial ability, since Discerning Smell seems to be their only Heritage feat, which might calm some folks down who are mad there isn't enough set in stone for ancestry anymore.

Just add a default human heritage feat and you are pretty much good.

Ah, that makes sense!


Extra Heritage is an option, but I think humans always get the class feat eventually anyway, and that a general feat is usually on par with a race feat so that's not a power issue to me. I'll just go with 2 ancestry.


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Why not just say that if someone takes a heritage feat they get an ancestry feat from the half elf choices at 1st level but can then take either elf, half-elf or human ancestry feats at later levels.

Or even add a single general feat that allows you to take a ancestry feat, but only once. That way people could take it at any level if they wanted but the half elf/orcs could take it at 3rd level.


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OK, I just came up with an alternative system that I feel still fits the spirit of what PF2 is trying to do with Ancestry, but fixes a lot of the frustration I'm hearing with only having one Ancestry feat at level 1 without giving 1st-level characters too much.

Though I love the idea of turning everything into feats, maybe ancestry is a bit too fluid to incorporate the rigidity of feats. 1 feat is 1 feat is 1 feat, and you can't get a second feat just because the feat you chose isn't as good as the others. Maybe instead, players get a pool of Ancestry points. Meanwhile, you have everything that goes into a race valued with different Ancestry prices. Maybe even have the truly trivial/given elements of a race be worth 0 points (and put a cap on how many 0-point features you can pick up, or something, allowing Paizo to introduce new "given" features in the future without an exponentially expanding list of racial features gained at 1st-level down the line). Darkvision is worth more points than Low-light Vision, but maybe you can lower the value of Darkvision by also buying Low-light Vision. You have a list of weapon proficiencies worth varying amounts, which allow you to pick one single weapon and spend less, or you can buy the Racial Weapon Proficiency package, which greatly lowers the cost of each listed weapon, perhaps marking some on the list as "given", but still requiring you to buy proficiency for the very good/niche weapons (albeit at a lowered cost).

Having the cost of some Racial features reduced after you invest in others, but still being able to buy them at full price if you want to skip the lesser features could be the key to the balance issues of Half-____ races using this system. Pulling numbers out of thin air, let's say Low-light Vision costs 2 Racial points and Darkvision costs 3 Racial Points. Buying Low-light Vision lowers Darkvision to 2 points. So you'll spend less if you skip Low-light Vision and just buy Darkvision (3 points), but you'll get more abilities at a slightly higher cost if you get both (4 points). This would give players incentives to not go straight for all the best options, because they're rewarded for building a more grounded, diversified ancestry.

This brings me to Half-____ races - You could give the "Half-Elf" feature a cost of X, and by doing so, get a discount on all Racial Features for both human and Elf (you could prevent multiple discounts from making the best abilities too easy to get by putting a floor on their costs), or maybe include a specific list of which features get discounted. This way, they're still spending more points than someone building a full-blooded Elf or Human, but they can still get whichever Racial Features they want to fill their racial concept, and the discount system would prevent them from winding up being less than the sum of their parts.


Dragonborn3 wrote:
Yeah, but it doesn't look like humans are NOT going to be the strongest picks just like in PF1 so no big change there.

Eh. Humans look like the most flexible pick. I'd hazard a guess that for any given build they will be the 2nd or 3rd best ancestry. But I think for various SPECIFIC builds some other ancestry will edge them out. Orc Ferocity went from being a thing that lets you fight on badly for a round in exchange for almost certainly dying, to an incredible safety net that keeps you from death's door. That's awesome for a barbarian or anyone who wants to be able to keep furiously swinging at the boss instead of backing off to heal.

Gnomes can get critical specializations unlocked on classes that otherwise couldn't, and if you combine that with an extra cantrip and their CON bonus and they look like they will make for surprisingly effective sorcerer gish despite the strength penalty. They are also the only way we have heard to get familiars outside of druids and wizards.

Then there are all those rangers and rogues that are shooting themselves in the foot if they don't have dark vision. I expect goblins to be a really popular choice for those types.


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I like it. Any chance you could do something similar to tieflings and aasimar (although I would prefer them to be more universal, so a tiefling whose non-fiend ancestor was an elf is different from a tiefling whose non-fiend ancestor was a dwarf)? Maybe universal racial feats.....

Liberty's Edge

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Captain Morgan wrote:
Oh, that's nice. I was aware of the Mwangi Expanse example, but I didn't realize they had gone that far with the Inner Sea as a whole. Giant Slayer gave me a really bad snapshot I guess.

Yeah. That happens partially in (and entirely right near) Belkzen, where such things are by far the most common. This also isn't helped by all the APs in Varisia, which is likewise right near Belkzen.

Captain Morgan wrote:

Still, the both the d20pfrd and the official Piazo equivalent directly contradict this. "As seen by civilized races, half-orcs are monstrosities, the result of perversion and violence—whether or not this is actually true. Half-orcs are rarely the result of loving unions, and as such are usually forced to grow up hard and fast, constantly fighting for protection or to make names for themselves."

That's literally the first thing most people read about half-orcs. And while I'm cool with early canon being discarded if it happened before the setting had fully coalesced and the authors were still figuring stuff out, having that text front and center will still define half-orcs in the eyes of most people. And nothing in that quote feels any more setting specific than your description minus some names of places. (Which would be reasonably close to the 5e PHB write up on Half-Orcs, for example.)

Yeah, it's unfortunate. It's not actually Golarion Canon, though, being in the setting neutral core rulebook line. It's a problem because almost nobody realizes that and because it's the first thing people see about them.

It's also not entirely wrong about how civilized races view them. There's a lot of canonical Golarion prejudice against Half Orcs and viewing them as described regardless of the truth of that narrative. The part that's inaccurate is the second one.

Captain Morgan wrote:
If Paizo wants to drop that language from the half-orcs write ups, I am cool with it. Still, even then it will take a while for that assumption to fade out of game. Lots of old baggage gets assumed as being true for Golarion by players even when it isn't. See all those folks who think all orcs or goblins are evil in Golarion and Pathfinder adventures treat them as OK to kill just for being orcs or goblins.

This is true and unfortunate. Doesn't mean that work shouldn't be done to overcome the issues, however.


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Rysky wrote:

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.

I guess the issue is that being an Aasimar or a Changeling or whatever was always going to compete with the extra feat humans can get at first level- they didn't get it in PF1 and they weren't going to get it in PF2.

So it makes sense for the "thing that makes you a skinwalker" occupies the same kind of slot as "the thing that gives you a 1st level bonus feat." It's just a question of whether what you get from the half-orc package is actually desirable in the long run beyond the extend of being able to say "I am a half-orc" and everything that comes with that.

Also, I worry about extensibility- we can always print more dwarf feats to represent more kind of Dwarves, but are half-elves always going to be stuck with "Elvish, +5' move, low-light vision, or training in diplomacy"? It seems like this since one can't amend printed feats, this makes it hard to do something like "deciding in 2017 that there are now 10 kinds of Changelings."


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Deadmanwalking wrote:


Yeah, it's unfortunate. It's not actually Golarion Canon, though, being in the setting neutral core rulebook line. It's a problem because almost nobody realizes that and because it's the first thing people see about them.

My issue with that as an excuse is that the line "...orc and human tribes sometimes form alliances, joining forces into a larger horde to the terror of civilized lands nearby. When these alliances are sealed by marriages, half-orcs are born." is just as setting neutral as "Half-orcs are rarely the result of loving unions." Paizo very much made their bed on this one.

Quote:
It's also not entirely wrong about how civilized races view them. There's a lot of canonical Golarion prejudice against Half Orcs and viewing them as described regardless of the truth of that narrative. The part that's inaccurate is the second one.

The first line implies that many (most?) Golarions assume Half-Orcs are products of sexual violence. As long as that is true, I see orcs as a PC races as a tough sell for anyone who gets triggered by such topics. Because it means that many (most?) Golarions would treat an Orc PC as, well... a rapist. That's a really gross line to walk.

I'm all for backpedaling from this though. If Golarions can warm up to goblins, they can ditch their preconceived notions about orcs and half-orcs too. And I don't mind a little retconning on the subject, personally. I just think orcs have significantly worse baggage attached to them than goblins.


Gorbacz 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?
Aboleths did it.

Oh, great. Now we have Half-Aboleths.

Err... nevermind. I see what you meant. ;)


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I guess the issue is that being an Aasimar or a Changeling or whatever was always going to compete with the extra feat humans can get at first level- they didn't get it in PF1 and they weren't going to get it in PF2.

So it makes sense for the "thing that makes you a skinwalker" occupies the same kind of slot as "the thing that gives you a 1st level bonus feat." It's just a question of whether what you get from the half-orc package is actually desirable in the long run.

I keep seeing counterpoints like this and I think there is a huge misunderstanding of the core concept...

Humans aren't trading their "Bonus Feat" to be a Half-It. As far as we can tell, Human's do not appear to gain anything at 1st level except for their 'flexible' stat-array, and a very broadly applicable list of Ancestry feats...
What humans are trading to be a 'Half-It' is that 1st level Ancestry Feat; the same 1st level Ancestry Feat a full-blooded elf or orc also recieves in addition to a few minor benefits like low-light vision or darkvision and speaking a flavor language.

Compared to their non-human parent; a 1st level a half-it is short an ancestry feat, and 1/3rd of their non-human parents 'racial features', in exchange for an arguably more or less useful stat-array (depending entirely on how suboptimal your choice would have been to the non-human parent). Compared to their human parent, they are supposedly about 50% better off than if they had used their 1st level ancestry feat being adopted by their non-human parent instead.
A Half-Elf Alchemist, Wizard, or Rogue for example, appears to lag behind either of their full-blooded counterparts for the entirity of their career. Despite having similar stat arrays, all pure-bloods have the advantage of an extra Ancestry Feat and additional minor bonuses besides (like flavor languages and low-light vision). Meanwhile the Half-Elf has to wait until 5th level to select their first Ancestry Feat from their suposedly broadened options compared to Humans, and 9th level to truely benefit from the trade by taking ancestry feats with different race tags.


Love it but a couple notes:

1. You guys realize that humans are going to get other things too, right? You get full human-ness and some elf stuff and then later access to just about everything human and elf plus exclusive half-elf stuff. when you can take 3 moves in a turn an extra 5' of movement speed makes a substantial difference. A half-elf human fighter focusing on a mobile combat style (taking things like sudden charge) is just going to be straight up better at it. So, yeah, you miss out on a human feat that you may or may not have taken any way and can take later but you get a lot of stuff for it. Some of it may seem fairly small but it makes a lot of difference long run. And we still don't have the write up for humans so, yeah, we know their stat spread and a couple feats but that's it. It's not like being a half-elf is just being a strictly less elfy elf. It's being a full human that also has elf stuff.

2. Half everything for everyone! It has never really made a lot of sense to me that humans are the only thing that can intermingle. They may well be the most likely to but if elves can mate with humans and orcs can mate with humans it seems reasonable (culturally weird perhaps but physically plausible) that elves and orcs can mate. So come the full version I'm really hoping that there are more half traits (half-dwarf, half-human, half-gnome, half-goblin even). I've always loved the idea of antipodal characters caught between two extremes. A half-dwarf elf or half-elf dwarf could be a super interesting character given the ever present rivalry in fantasy between elves and dwarves. More refined tastes than other dwarves but more gruff than other elves. So many fun possibilities and mechanical interestingness.


I guess the question is whether "What the Half-Elf gets from their heritage feat is comparable to what other people get from their heritage or 1st level ancestry feats." A sense I get is that ancestry feats (at least the 1st level ones) are not very strong.

Since "the feat for being a half-elf should give more stuff" option is always on the table.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I guess the question is whether "What the Half-Elf gets from their heritage feat is comparable to what other people get from their heritage or 1st level ancestry feats." A sense I get is that ancestry feats (at least the 1st level ones) are not very strong.

This very much looks like the case. The half heritage feat benefit lists includes several things that are exactly half of an ancestry feat (one skill trained is half of Skilled, and 5 extra movement is half of the Nimble feat) or one half of a general feat (2 extra hit points is half of Toughness). So combining two of those benefits puts them mechanically on par with the ancestry race.

It just isn't as interesting as say, getting a familiar, or likely to enable a character concept as well as a new weapon proficiency might.

As is, the half-elfs and half-orcs seem to be more or less mechanically on par with their parent race but have less flexibility at 1st level, while gaining more flexibility in the long term by having 3 lists of ancestry feats to choose.

Edit: I suppose I should add that there's a few puzzle pieces we are still missing, to be fair. Like I don't know what Small size does mechanically, for example.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Since "the feat for being a half-elf should give more stuff" option is always on the table.

I really think it the Half-It feats need to be improved to be viable (aka not be a literal Feat Tax).

I want them to work a little like the PF1 Adopted Trait, where the Half-Elf Heritage Feat grants some minor elfy bonuses, and a 'bonus' Elven or Half-Elven Ancestry Feat. So that there is less of an obvious disparity between full and half-blooded ancestries at 1st level when it is the most important.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I guess the question is whether "What the Half-Elf gets from their heritage feat is comparable to what other people get from their heritage or 1st level ancestry feats." A sense I get is that ancestry feats (at least the 1st level ones) are not very strong.

The problem with this logic is that humans can swap their ancestry feat for a class feat. So either the human ancestry feat list is absolutely broken or this assumption is really not the case.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
This very much looks like the case. The half heritage feat benefit lists includes several things that are exactly half of an ancestry feat (one skill trained is half of Skilled, and 5 extra movement is half of the Nimble feat) or one half of a general feat (2 extra hit points is half of Toughness). So combining two of those benefits puts them mechanically on par with the ancestry race.

Note that according to the Elf Blog. Compared to a Full-Blooded Human, Full-Blooded Elves have +5 movement, low-light vision, and speak Elven in addition to their Ancestry Feat. Meanwhile a Half-Elf gets 2/3rds of that Instead of their Ancestry Feat.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I guess the question is whether "What the Half-Elf gets from their heritage feat is comparable to what other people get from their heritage or 1st level ancestry feats." A sense I get is that ancestry feats (at least the 1st level ones) are not very strong.
The problem with this logic is that humans can swap their ancestry feat for a class feat. So either the human ancestry feat list is absolutely broken or this assumption is really not the case.

In PF1, humans get an extra feat at 1st level. If it was balanced then, it's balanced now.


Cantriped wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
This very much looks like the case. The half heritage feat benefit lists includes several things that are exactly half of an ancestry feat (one skill trained is half of Skilled, and 5 extra movement is half of the Nimble feat) or one half of a general feat (2 extra hit points is half of Toughness). So combining two of those benefits puts them mechanically on par with the ancestry race.
Note that according to the Elf Blog. Full-Blooded Elves have +5 movement, low-light vision, and speak Elven in addition to their Ancestry Feat. Meanwhile a Half-Elf gets 2/3rds of that Instead of their Ancestry Feat.

The Half-Elf also gets +2 hit points with touching their Con scores, though. So that closes the gap.

Actually, what this is highlighting for me at present is that HUMANS are lagging behind as an ancestry, not just half-orcs and half-elves. As I mentioned up thread, ancestry feats can effectively grant the same benefit as certain class feats and even general feats. If you compare builds where this is true, humans wind up falling behind the equation, usually based on vision.

So this raises the question over whether humans get anything else at level 1, or if human ancestry feats are actually good enough to justify this. The ones we have seen seem roughly balanced with other ancestry feats, so I'm a little skeptical of the latter. It wouldn't take much for the former though-- just an extra skill proficiency or two could do it.

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Cantriped wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
This very much looks like the case. The half heritage feat benefit lists includes several things that are exactly half of an ancestry feat (one skill trained is half of Skilled, and 5 extra movement is half of the Nimble feat) or one half of a general feat (2 extra hit points is half of Toughness). So combining two of those benefits puts them mechanically on par with the ancestry race.
Note that according to the Elf Blog. Compared to a Full-Blooded Human, Full-Blooded Elves have +5 movement, low-light vision, and speak Elven in addition to their Ancestry Feat. Meanwhile a Half-Elf gets 2/3rds of that Instead of their Ancestry Feat.

By the same token, half-elves get all the human stuff - which may not turn out to be much, but we don't really know what that is yet.


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The Devs keep repeating how turning all aspects of the game into feats opens up tons of design space for moving forward, but to me it just seems like lazy design. "I don't feel like actually designing this race/class/archetype/prestige class/spell/whatever, so let's just turn it into a series of feats and call it a day".
Makes me think that instead of books like APG, ultimate magic, and ARG all of the non-bestiary splatbooks for 2.0 will just be "big book of feats volume 1, volume 2, volume 3, etc".

I'm really hoping that actually seeing the whole playtest book will make it make more sense and not seem so bland, but I'm not very optimistic about it.


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As far as I know, the sole benefits be being Human are their Flexible Stat Array (whose value is arguable), and an Ethnic Bonus Language. Their percieved benefits come from the bredth of options they have for their 1st level Ancestry Feat (the same one everyone else gets too)


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Chief Cook and Bottlewasher wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I guess the question is whether "What the Half-Elf gets from their heritage feat is comparable to what other people get from their heritage or 1st level ancestry feats." A sense I get is that ancestry feats (at least the 1st level ones) are not very strong.
The problem with this logic is that humans can swap their ancestry feat for a class feat. So either the human ancestry feat list is absolutely broken or this assumption is really not the case.
In PF1, humans get an extra feat at 1st level. If it was balanced then, it's balanced now.

I mean first off, it wasn't balanced and humans were largely considered the most powerful race because of that extra feat. Secondly getting an extra feat over everyone else and being able to swap one of your required fluff feats for a more character-defining one aren't the same thing; the first is largely stronger, but the second is bad game design because it flies in the face of why we're cutting feats into different sections in the first place.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
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.

IIRC any level of Dying makes you unconscious and you're still out even if you are healed back to full health

Which now mandates that the healer is a half-orc :-D


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Arachnofiend wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I guess the question is whether "What the Half-Elf gets from their heritage feat is comparable to what other people get from their heritage or 1st level ancestry feats." A sense I get is that ancestry feats (at least the 1st level ones) are not very strong.
The problem with this logic is that humans can swap their ancestry feat for a class feat. So either the human ancestry feat list is absolutely broken or this assumption is really not the case.

It might just be the case that all level 1 class feats are not amazing. Remember that Natural Ambition gets you a 1st level class feat and General Training gets you a first level general feat. If you take those at level 11 you're still getting a 1st level feat out of it.


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Cantriped wrote:
As far as I know, the sole benefits be being Human are their Flexible Stat Array (whose value is arguable), and an Ethnic Bonus Language. Their percieved benefits come from the bredth of options they have for their 1st level Ancestry Feat (the same one everyone else gets too)

Yeah, this seems to be the case right now. Half orcs and half elves definitely look mechanically on pat with humans, and I could see the halfies pulling ahead eventually by cherry picking feats from all their lists.

But at 1st level, humans, half orcs, and half elves all look behind. Unless humans get something else as part of their starting package.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
Cantriped wrote:
As far as I know, the sole benefits be being Human are their Flexible Stat Array (whose value is arguable), and an Ethnic Bonus Language. Their percieved benefits come from the bredth of options they have for their 1st level Ancestry Feat (the same one everyone else gets too)

Yeah, this seems to be the case right now. Half orcs and half elves definitely look mechanically on pat with humans, and I could see the halfies pulling ahead eventually by cherry picking feats from all their lists.

But at 1st level, humans, half orcs, and half elves all look behind. Unless humans get something else as part of their starting package.

I would put humans ahead at first. Cleric, school-focused Wizard, and Druid at least don’t get a class feat at first level, and the other casters are probably in the same boat. Humans are the only ones who can start as two-domain Clerics, for instance. General feats aren’t available until 3rd, normally. It sure would be nice for that gish to start with light armor proficiency... (I don’t actually know if that one’s available or not.)


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
NorthernDruid wrote:

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).

My assumption (hope?) is that languages are going to be a lot harder to come by in P2e than by just adding a skill point at level up. No more entering a dungeon in Iobara and coming out speaking fluent Ancient Osiriani.

Ancestry feats may be one of only a few ways to get a different language.


Vic Ferrari wrote:
UlrichVonLichtenstein 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."
Ditto to this, in addition to my other concerns...
I think in those cases the child defaults to human?

Well, turns out that you can go Half-Elf/Orc by just taking that Feat multiple times. Heck, I can finally play a Tiefling Halfling or Aassimar Dwarf.

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