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Ambrus wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Because ECL caused more problems than it solved.
Fair enough. So what would you recommend for those wanting to play monster PCs?

I really love playing monster/non-standard races. Some thing GM's have used to accommodate my racial preferences is to:

1. Have advanced abilities (flight for example) not come into play until later on. (Young birds can't fly until they are strong enough, so this isn't too bizarre from a role-playing perspective.) The table 'challenging advanced and monstrous races' would lead me to believe that around level 6 is an appropriate time for 'advanced' abilities to manifest and around level 11 is an appropriate time for 'monstrous' abilities to manifest.

2. One way to balance more powerful races is to have them make an equivalent exchange in terms of other avenues to power. For example, my Tiefling had nice racial abilities, but he had to spend one of his feats not to be run out of town. The context of the Race Builder guide makes this sort of system even easier to judge. If a player wishes to build a race using more RP than the cost of a human, rather than making the core races change, simply compare the difference in RP to the RP cost of a human's bonus feat. Then make the character pay an equivalent cost in feats later on, before the extra features will be functional. Sacrificing feats is really harsh, but if the player really wants a particular racial concept, it may be worth it.

The races I have played this way have seemed to mesh well enough with the other standard characters in our campaigns. Admittedly I wasn't trying to break the system.

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Andrew Christian wrote:


4 RP for STR & DEX
3 RP for CON & WIS
2 RP for INT & CHA

I agree that pricing all ability score increases at 4 RP per +2 seems incorrect.

All ability scores are not equal: If I were to concede any stat as being more powerful than the rest, it would be STR (and mostly only at low levels, before casters explode in power level). Consider that none of the core races grant a fixed bonus to STR and the only way to get a +2 STR with core races is to use the human modifiers, which are currently more expensive per +2.

But really, it's not that physical stats are better than mental ones or vice versa, it's that each class tends to have a 'primary' stat, so increasing the ability score bonus which is highest should cost more than boosting one that is lower. Consider the point difference between 'Standard' ability scores and 'Flexible' ones: this suggests it is worth a mere 2 RP to eliminate a -2 penalty. Conversely, I've seen enough posts about broken races that it seems clear that stacking multiple boosts to the same ability score should be more expensive than 4 RP each.

One possible pricing alternative:
Let's use 4 RP for one +2 to an ability score as a baseline. This base should be a minimum of 4 RP for the following reason: one bonus feat is worth 4 RP; +2 DEX grants +1 AC (which is on par with a feat) and sometimes +1 to hit, depending on your weapon of choice and other feat selection; +2 STR grants +1 to hit (on par with a feat) and also +1 damage (on par with half a feat), but as I said above, STR is pretty powerful. Thus +2 ability bonuses are at least as powerful as a feat.

1. Offer a discount of 1 RP to raise a race's 3rd and 4th highest scores, or 2 RP to raise one of a race's lowest two ability score modifiers. Most characters with point-buy ability scores cannot afford more than a few high stats, so bonuses to additional stats aren't worth as much [in terms of character creation point-buy differences] as they are with the first stat. These discounts would make eliminating the initial -2 penalty to go from 'standard' to 'flexible' still be worth 2 RP since it is increasing the lowest score.

2. Stacking ability score bonuses to create modifiers larger than +2 should become progressively more expensive. I suggest that for the highest two stats (btw I keep saying 2 because enough builds--clerics, magus,etc--want at least two stats high), stacking extra +2 bonuses should cost an extra +2RP for each purchase beyond 12: i.e. 4 RP to raise to +2, 6 RP [net 10 RP] to raise to +4, 8 RP [net 18 RP] to raise to +6, etc. For the rest, only increase the price by +1RP per additional increase and also apply the discount described in (1). More high stats are still good, they just don't have as significant an impact as the highest bonus did in terms of the overall power level of an optimally-classed member of the race.

Ability Score Traits:
This being said, I would re-price the ability score traits to be consistent with the ability score bonus pricing. Sure, the human +2 to anything could still be worth more due to flexibility. Let's say it's still worth 6 RP, with all ability bonus traits costing the difference. 'Standard' is worth 4+4-2=6RP, so it still costs 0 RP beyond the human baseline. 'Flexible' is worth 4+4=8 so still 2 RP more than the human baseline.

3. Penalties: With regard to price adjustments for ability score penalties, -2 penalties are worth 2 RP back, per the above pricing, but when considering overall power level, there needs to be diminishing returns to prevent 'broken' races.

I think the 'weakness' modifiers (+2, +2, -4) could still be worth -1 RP (as compared to the human baseline) based on diminishing returns--the -4 in a dump stat isn't really that bad; it just means you can't dump that stat quite as much without giving the character an Achilles heel. Similarly, the current pricing for 'mixed weakness' and 'greater weakness' could be consistent with diminishing returns.

When pricing choices like 'paragon' and 'greater paragon' that grant +4 bonuses, consider what it would cost to obtain that +4 by choosing an alternative trait with +2 and then buying 'advanced[ability]' later on. The best you could hope for is -3 [by picking greater weakness] +6 [to raise the +2 to a 4] = 3 RP total. This is the cheapest anything with a +4 should cost.

Are wrote:

Small Size: This trait is really good for its cost. There are several benefits compared to Medium size, and few drawbacks. I'd increase the cost to 1 RP.

I agree that small size should be worth at least 1 RP for the following reason:

All the small races in the core include an associated penalty to movement speed (small races like goblins with 30' movement are described as fast for their size), which as a whole balances being small with being medium. (I actually think being small is an advantage over being medium for some builds, but for arguments sake let's assume this is balanced.) Taking the slow speed trait gives you back 1 RP, thus being small should cost 1 RP so the net cost is 0 RP.

I think Darkholme has the right idea to price features as compared to what you'd get with a feat. If a free feat is worth 4 points, with that feat you could choose thinks like 'Stealty' or 'Alertness' which at their best* give you +4 in two different skills. Thus each +2 is worth about a point each. I think all the abilities that grant skill bonuses should be priced with this in mind.

*Yes, it's true that with the skill bonus ability you get the full bonus right away where as with these types of feats you don't get the full bonus until later on and only if you invest in those skills. However, a character who actually spends their feat on a skill boost is probably focusing on that skill such that they will ultimately get to the +4 level. I personally think the skill boosting feats (for most skills) generally aren't as strong as compared to other feats available, so I'd make the baseline for comparison be the upper limit of their power.

I also think the 1 RP per +2 skill bonus is reflected in the cost of traits. The general pattern (aside from campaign traits) is to give a +1 bonus and make a skill a class skill. This results in a total bonus of +4 (assuming you optimized the benefits to your character), and a trait is worth half a feat, which is approximately 2 RP. And this bonus does apply right away.

Enforcer84 wrote:

I had kind of hoped there would be rules for building "Race Levels" so that more potent races could be build more gradually like monster levels (or Paragon Levels from Unearthed Arcana or Race Levels from Arcana unearthed).

I personally found ECL and racial HD to be awkward in a mixed party back in 3.5. The alternative I would like to see is an option where races may (with GM permission) possess abilities more advanced for their level but that don't come into play until a certain level. The table 'Challenging Advanced and Monstrous races' would seem to suggest that races with advanced abilities that were usable starting at 6th level (or monstrous ones that developed at 11th level) would be roughly balanced with core races. (I'm a fan of wings and would like to be able to create a Pathfinder version of the Avariel race to be playable alongside standard races.)