CW: Inclusivity, no pulled punches, also exasperatingly long.
Fighting racism and other isms in games means sometimes you have to call out your friends. The people at Paizo, the people who created Pathfinder in general, are great folks. Paizo took an early and consistent stand for dignity and social justice before it was mainstream. Thank you for that. And now I'm going to call them out.
Pathfinder 2e made the decision to toss the word "race" and use the term Ancestry. Race, of course, is a loaded term. Its original and strict meaning just means a group of descent. Of course, the era of empire and colonization, followed by a rash of pseudoscience in the 19th and early 20th centuries, have made it a particularly loaded term. It's really hard to argue against the term "race" pretty quickly raising a lot of real world implications any time it's used. So kudos for that. It also conveniently sidesteps whether we are talking about species, subspecies, ethnicities, or perhaps even on-human classes of beings like robots or demons. But changing a term doesn't mean anything if you don't challenge the underlying issues.
Early on in P2E, the decision was to "make ancestry matter." It wasn't something something that you simply chose when you made a character, and largely forgot as you advanced in your class. I'm going to show my hand here early and say that there are some problematic implications of saying your character is particularly defined by race and class, and that race is something that follows you throughout your destiny. You can say, okay, you are pulling those terms a little out of context. But the game itself pulls the terms out of context, avoiding a larger real world meaning that colors how those terms are used. D&D gives you a race and class. Everquest, race and class. World of Warcraft, race and class. Pathfinder 2e... ancestry and class. It really seems like a stretch to say it's some coincidence that all these games just happen to ask you a lot about your race and class, despite being mechanically independent and only sharing certain themes. Game designers, do you not hear those words when you repeat them often enough? Or have they been said so many times they've lost a connection to their underlying meaning? Are you the kind of person who in the 21st century could post "What race do you hate?" do the general forum of a roleplaying game message board without flinching?
So let's talk about ancestry mattering. There are several aspects to your ancestry. There is your origin. There is your history, which is related. There are stereotypes. And of course, the truth of those stereotypes depends on what what is your esseence. Now, the good part of choosing an ancestry is that all it truly demands is your origin. I mean that, we're off to a good start. As far as history goes, I would expect to see some matters that relate to how a history and culture shape a person. At this point, it has to be considered, to what extent is my history describing a character, and to what extent is it prescribing? Am I adding traits that are logical because of where my character is from and how they were shaped, or do the traits exist to make sure the character conforms to preconceptions of what someone of that ancestry should be? Like, if someone grows up in the USA, I would expect them to speak primarily English, with some speaking primarily Spanish or one of a few Asian languages in the case of certain populations. But if I were describing someone from Kenya, would I say they probably have farmer skills? There are lots of people working in Kenyra in agriculture, though some are not strictly speaking farmers but laborers, mechanics, and so forth. But there are also plenty of non-farmers, such as former army cook and later government economist Barack Obama, Sr. While he grew up in a village and participated in traditional culture, I would not expect him to have exceptional farming skills. For someone to learn a language, such as English, I would expect them to either know it natively, learn it academically, or acquire it through experience. It doesn't say anything about who they are as a person, really. But for someone to be a farmer, or a miner, or a priest, I would expect those characteristics and skills to hinge on opportunity and choice--not, necessarily, ancestry. More to the point, there are farmers of many different ethnicities, and they share many characteristics in common, but don't really share a definable ancestry.
Stereotypes raise some tricky issues. Now, stereotypes share a purpose in the human mind. I couldn't shop for groceries if I didn't know what to expect when I ate a banana. I would find it paralytic if I wondered, every time I approached a cashier, if we shared a language in common -- even though, on occasion, I might be surprised and, in fact, they don't speak useful English and require more than the meager Spanish I know. I stereotype doctors as having a university education, and I think of Germans as being predominately light-skinned people of European origin who speak primarily German. Now, imagine I want to characterize a people as being horse-riders, almost from birth. To a great extent that is true of many peoples who have committed to the life of a born rider. Many Native Americans, over the course of generations, adapted to a lifelong training as riders, beginning when they were very young; the medieval Mongolians, likewise. Japanese samurai were dedicated riders, and while not usually born to the saddle, might train from a very early age if they were to have a military career. In Plato's Republic, Socrates describes a system of education for the ruling elite that begins with expert horsemanship from an early age. In my roleplaying game, I want to make it possible to access this type of exceptional training. At this point, I want to ask a question, though. Is there a quantifiable difference between someone who learned to ride as barely more than a toddler, because they were raised by horseman of the Mongolian steppes, and someone who learned to ride as barely more than a toddler because they were raised by a family of Spanish trick riders? Or even someone who was put on a horse at a young age, and simply spent the next couple of decades riding every minute they weren't sleeping? Is proficiency with an axe something that naturally occurs as a part of being raised among dwarves, or is it something characteristic of dwarf culture but not something every dwarf necessary learns? If I saw all dwarves are trained in traditional weapons, unlike all humans, am I saying dwarves are programmed, destined, or raised for war? In what way is dwarven axe proficiency different or the same as the use of the Welsh longbow, or the Australian boomerage? Moving on, if dwarves are dour and stubborn, is it because that is their nature, or is that just a generality? If a dwarf is gregarious and broad-minded, do they stop being a dwarf? Do they need an exceptional explanation to be a dwarf not raised among stern, unyielding clansman as similar to the stones themselves as to other warm-blooded creatures? To what extent are stereotypes "true?" To the extent they are true, to what extent are they useful or necessary?
I'm going to skip the whole debate of how fantasy races correspond to real world people, and go right to humans. Human heritages are pretty straightforward. You can be a half-elf, half-orc, skilled, versatile, or, apparently, Wintertouched. Being a half-elf or half-orc is pretty straightforward. It doesn't mean you belong to any particular ethnicity, it means you have some non-human DNA. Specifically, "You gain the elf trait and low-light vision. In addition, you can select elf, half-elf, and human feats whenever you gain an ancestry feat." So basically you get a minor nonhuman superpower (low-light vision), and you can do things both humans and elves can do. That's satisfyingly non-racist. Now, there are some oddities about treating a nonhuman person and a human mating as though it were kind of just cross-cultural, but in the real world, people are of mixed ancestry, so it's nice how matter-of-factly this is treated. Skilled and Versatile give me pause. Are we saying humans are more capable than other people? Are we saying they are just generally more flexible? There are good in-game reasons to do this, particularly if humans aren't all that powerful otherwise compared to other people. But I'm going to come out here and say this smacks of European and European-American exceptionalism. It's kind of the center of white culture to assume white as the default, and white people as being "regular," of white people having access to pretty much any choice or destiny without limitation, and of having a superior and more knowledgeable cultural than "primitive" or brown people. You can actually twist this around and use those heritages to create a Skilled hunger-gatherer, or a Versatile black prince who trained as priest but is also a skilled rider. The presentation, however, is that humans are "regular," the colorless ancestry. And that's a problem in itself. Every single time a nonhuman ancestry gives something that is a skill or trait and not a superpower, you come closer to suggesting a nonhuman ancestry is an ethnicity. By implication, then, ethnicities are not "regular" human ancestries. Wintertouched is actually a little better. It gives you cold resistance. It notes, "This heritage is most common among the Jadwiga of Irrisen, due to their descent from Baba Yaga, and certain Erutaki touched by the spirits." That's... actually good. It's common, not mandatory. It isn't actually restricted to a certain ethnicity, so anyone can take who can furnish an explanation (in fact, I know real world, European-Americans who seem to have this power for inexplicable reasons). It also serves a useful purpose: it gives a resistance that is otherwise not available to humans, the ability to walk barefood in the snow. It doesn't really say much about a person beyond having this ability, and that certain origins are more likely to have this power. So, good job on that.
Let's dig deeper, looking at Feats. Arcane Tattoos states, "You have tattoos on your body corresponding to one of the ancient Thassilonian schools of magic." And that's cool. This feat exists to support the flavor that there is a Thassillonian style of magic, and that it's primarily learned by humans. You could also presumably gain this feat by living in that region, or being taught by a Thassilonia magician. There isn't a restriction, so good on that. This feat isn't racist to humans. ... But is there actually a good reason an elf couldn't get those tattoos? Or why a person couldn't have these powers with a completely different origin to their powers? All it does is give a cantrip. Elves can't have a cantrip? You can't get this power from a magical birthmark, or a distinct magical ancestry? So, I have to downgrade this one, from a cool bit of flavor, to being based on a stereotype, not really a necessary distinction.
Haughty Obstinancy is another feat, which states: "Your powerful ego makes it harder for others to order you around." So, this isn't racist, at least, against various groups of humans. It doesn't imply anything about Thasillonians, or Belgians. But is there something about this that is particularly human? First of all, I'll note there are real-world human cultures were powerful egos are anathema, so this is a little ethnocentric, a little bit of an erasure. It also feels to me this is masculine-coded. But let's set that aside. What this feat says is that if you know someone is human, you might imagine they have a powerful ego, whereas if there are an elf, you don't. In other words, ancestry is personality. That sounds an alarm bell for me. Further, this isn't necessary or useful as a distinction at all, since can't a member of any ancestry have a powerful ego? Halflings are generally considered vain, not arrogant, but wasn't a Smeagol once a being very much like a halfling? This feat exists purely to reinforce a stereotype about humans. By implication, stereotypes about other ancestries are also valid. There is no argument whether this stereotype is true or not, the game says it's true, which means the developers are saying it's true, and when you implement this in your game, you are saying this is true. When you go out on St. Patrick's Day and perform drunkenness and perform parodies of Irish culture and arts, and talk about being 1/16th Irish with an Irish temper, you are saying you are basically fine with this feat. Just imagine for a minite, if instead of a Human Ancestry, we had an Irish Ancestry, and there was an Irish feat, Irish Temper. From there we can extrapolate Inscrutable Motives for an Oriental Ancestry, and Natural Rhythm for your African Ancestry (which your American mixed-ancestry black can take due to their Half-African Heritage). But wait, I can hear some of you thinking, these are about different non-human ancestries, not ancestries within the human race.
Don't worry, I've got you. We've got:
I particularly appreciate that we get not only a stereotype for the Quah, but stereotypes for the individual tribes. Know Onself, sadly, requires access through the Vuldrani ethnicity, so you won't be able to learn it from a storefront in Los Angeles, California without some kind of feat or permission from the GM.
So here are two feats that show that stereotypes about the personalities, characteristics, and skills of human ethnicities are "true." There is no ambiguity, the game says these differences exist, and when you implement these rules, you are saying these differences exist. There are stand-ins for mysterious, mystical Orientals in P2e, and there are stand-ins for traditional tribal people who are all known for one fascinating exotic skill. Don't worry, there are higher levels feats as well, to make sure at 5th level you can "swim like a fish" due to your ancestry, or that, "You’ve learned to split your focus between multiple classes with ease," very handy for people from members of one class who wish to participate in other, and are able to by virtue of their ancestry.
P2E has been designed to ensure that ancestry is not just an inconsequential choice you make at character creation, but one that shapes you throughout your life and career as you advance in your class.
They cast spells and use weapons, none of which is helped much by grabbing. I've never even thought about them grabbing before. They didn't have that ability in D&D 3e at all.
As I noted above, Somalian pirates managed to conduct a devastating campaign for ten years, without heavy weapons, capital ships, or state backing.
If the only question is why one of the major players doesn't just level the Rock with a horrific, civilization-ending weapon, just devise a political or military explanation that makes sense to you.
And yet better in every way. TWF is not even a very central concept in PF2. Double weapons as implemented in 3.0 -- I mean PF1 -- were always dumb.
Somalia had a piracy outbreak that went on for ten years, severely affecting the oil industry, despite not having much in the way of heavy weaponry. Eliminating pirates is tricky. With an enemy nation, you can just win some battles, push them to the brink, and they are like, okay, we'd rather you not burn our entire society to the ground. But pirates, typically facing harsh legal consequences, and with no normal society to fall back, disperse quickly, regroup at every opportunity, and surrender almost never. During the last part of the Golden Age of Piracy on Earth, many governments resorted to simply buying pirates off. They would pay pirates large sums of money to just retire already.
I think mainly it's so striking to me that the removal of a bunch of bonus stacking means your attack bonus is almost entirely based on your level and your character options, while your damage output is gear-based but has a gradually increasing bonus. Your ability to soak damage is based on level and character options, but your defense numbers are almost entirely based on your gear. As long as everything is in some parity, it works out fine. But if you look at a situation where one or more the basic assumptions aren't met (like no armor), these things look a little odd. It's not clear to me why no sweetener was built into defense based on level, in the way a bonus to damage was built in based on level. Like in d20 Modern, the defense bonus is modest, but it exists in part because a lot of d20 Modern characters might from time to time find themselves in situation where they don't have armor or other defensive bonuses.
I'm still pretty new to Starfinder, and this particular issue threw me.
I think it gets weirder when a converted monk has a bare-knuckle fight with a member of a Starfinder class. The soldier or whoever has basically no defense at all. Which in turn makes me wonder how boxing works in Starfinder...
For a generic "beater" fighter, the Unbreakable fighter is a superior choice. You give up some bonuses with weapon attacks to gain numerous advantages to saving throws, particularly those troublesome Will ones. In fact, the downsides don't even really kick in until high levels, so the Unbreakable fighter is almost certainly a better two level dip for an Eldritch Knight or a multiclassed barbarian.
They are change and growth in endless variation, rebelling against any taint of order. Because of their destructiveness, some slaadi do become evil. In general, though, they are simply obsessed with might and reproduction. You could, in theory, gain their alliance to protect Chaos against lawful beings. Mainly, though, they just ignore things that don't relate to their personal desires.
Just as formians and modrons are pitiless in their pursuit of Law, slaadi are pitiless in expressing vibrance, chaos, and brutality. They are parasitic to moral beings but not filled with an abundance of hatred. They think no more of infecting humans with their brood than humans do about plowing meadows and forests into fields, destroying the lives and homes of beasts, fey, and sylvan folk.
One reason they come across as more "evil" is that they usually lack much individuality, and hence don't respond to others as individuals.
I think it's not a stretch to say that they do qualify as little "e" evil to a degree, but lack the intentional malice, in most cases, to qualify as Evil in a metaphysical or moral sense. However, the quest for power can taint them, changing them from beings who express a reproductive role in the Chaotic tapestry to evil beings, the death slaadi, who pursue individual might and dominance over others.
I think a CG slaad would be very rare, and because of their nature, would be unlikely to pass on their genetic or philosophical legacy. However, they might serve as unlikely friends to other types of being.
and it's five stars!
Come check out the monster madness for yourself. 100+ monsters, pay what you want.
The fist that wins is the only fist you need!
Monastic Traditions is now available
Eight new traditions. Thunder and lightning, flying blades, combat textiles, and more.
Well, there's another archetype that prevents the vigilante from wearing armor while offering no defensive benefits and a -2 penalty to AC. Wait, no. That's the same archetype...
As far as the magical child itself, keep in mind that this is an archetype that allows you to have a pet goat that turns into a clockwork raven and performs vengeance strikes.
For whatever reason, the bear animal companion is a black bear, while the wolf animal companion can turn into a dire wolf. I wish there were alternate versions for a grizzly and a normal wolf.
Medium is about right for a large gray wolf, which can hit a very buff 100 lbs. while the somewhat smaller red wolf would often be in the Small range.
Back to the OP, gorillas have a lot of slow-twitch muscle, while humans are relatively dense in fast-twitch muscle. So, a powerful male gorilla can move a 1000 lb log just by grunting and giving it a shove, but the same gorilla struggles to throw an object over a 20 foot gap at some obnoxious kids at the zoo.
In game terms, that means the gorilla probably has a Strength in the 15 to 19 range (high, but not superhuman, as they cannot uniformly do superhuman feats of strength). It probably overestimates their ability with a thrown rock, while underestimating their ability to climb; good enough for our purposes. Size Large takes care of the larger carrying/dragging capacity. That leaves just two basic problems: their ability to crush you with a martial hug, and their biting. The grabbing could be handled with a bonus feat or a monster special quality, and the larger size helps to some extent. Also, with their Hit Dice, they are much better than an untrained human.
As for the bite, they are clearly not primary biters. However, giving them a secondary bite is too weak in a grapple. So, the bite should be an option that becomes available in a grapple.
As far as the giants, it was actually 3e that changed their sizes. In previous editions, they ranged from 12' to 20' tall, which is comfortably in Huge territory. Only hill giants could really be considered Large, and they are considerably bigger than ogres and trolls. Cyclops, also, 20' tall in previous editions.
I think this was mainly for thematics, and also for how they are commonly depicted. My D&D minis have the Huge demons looking kind of small on their bases.
The AD&D monster manual described bulettes as having considerable variation in size. I think they probably decided the Large version was generally more useful, and fit in better with the usual depiction of them launching through the air. I'm not sure I would have made this change, but I'm okay with it. Keep in mind that the original bulette was a plastic figure about 1 1/4" long, which would be Large in comparison to standard miniature size.
The aboleth is the only one that seems really arbitrary, and it doesn't change how it functions in combat much. So, yay, cheaper minis going forward.
Those rules exist for all threads on all topics.
It feels like to me that as you purchase a PDF, the machine should start personalizing it for you, under the assumption you will download it at some point.
I should be able to download several titles at once. At present, I can't always download ONE file in one click. :)
Of course, the process could be improved considerably by just not watermarking stuff.
The file names are terrible. The first thing I do when I extract a new Paizo PDF is add a brief title to the end of the file name.
Pazuzu is a Babylonian demon lord with two pairs of wings and bestial features, associated with the demons of the wind.
Azazel is associated with ritual scapegoats, and is also taken as a name of the Serpent and/or evil, depending on your religion and sect.
Satan is just a derivative of Shaitain, meaning "adversary," the accuser of the Hebrew Bible, often associated with the Devil.
Demogorgon is a name for some kind of cthonic deity so ancient we don't know the original representation. He might actually be a typo. As an underworld figure, often identified as a demon by Christians. He is said to dwell in Chaos.
Orcus was considered by the Romans to be a tormentor of the dead. He gave his name to orco, that is, an ogre, and other monstrous figures, and is the origin of the name orc. Frequently conflated with Pluto and Dis Pater.
Tiamat was a goddess of the ocean. Her sometimes depiction as a serpent probably inspired the D&D version.
That's all a lance is. The spear, not the katana, was the principle samurai weapon of war for much of their history.
Heck, lance comes from Latin lancea = javelin." Tapered lances, like people are used to seeing at Ren Fairs, are for jousting. Mounted combat with a lance has been around since the days of Alexander, existing in Asia well before the establishment of what we would consider Japan.
I just wanted to drop in a quick word about the latest from Tripod Machine, Yokai Races.
This book contains:
Hengeyokai - magical animals that take on human form
Feel free to ask me any questions, here or on the product's page.
Logically, it's Neutral Evil.
Let's say that some kind of temptation to do evil is offered, with relatively little risk or cost.
Let's assume that 1% of the time, any given evil character does not do the evil thing, whether due to some whim, twinge of conscience, or some personal reason.
Let's assume that 1% of the time, a Lawful Evil character refrains from the evil because some larger Lawful issue is at stake.
Likewise, the Chaotic character 1% of the time embraces a Chaotic choice that negates the desire to do evil.
The Neutral Evil character exists to do evil whenever it is advantageous, so there is a 0% chance of them not doing evil because of a more powerful principle at work.
So, LE and CE do the evil thing 98% of the time, but the NE character does it 99% of the time. As your alignment includes, in part, the totality of your behavior, and your likely behavior in the future, the NE character is slightly more evil.