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I've offered to help Alex wrap this project up, at least to the PDF level. I haven't heard or seen anything from him in quite a while.

First expectation is a flame out, as mentioned above, but if so it seems to have been a very bad one. I find no sign of online activity anywhere in a long time.

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LordVanya wrote:

I'm of the mind that at least 2 changes are needed to make things feel 'right'.

1) General Feats should be expanded to 10. (I favor rolling Ancestry Feats into General.)
2) Archetypes cost General Feats instead of Class Feats.

Combine that with the ideas presented above and you have a system that is both satisfying and reasonably flexible.

That sounds pretty reasonable to me, if you want to keep the class flavor dominant.

Liir wrote:
In addition, Archetypes (if we stick to that name) are really just groups of feats, so you could have for example an Animal Companion "archetype" that any class could take, as well. Either way, as I explained in my original post.. I fully expect this to be the future -- this is only about the original core rulebook design.

I was coming at this from AGE system (Fantasy AGE-flavor, though Dragon AGE and Modern AGE both have influence here... I haven't read Blue Rose yet).

Depending on version, every level (or every other level) you can either gain a new talent at the Novice level, or upgrade an existing talent to Journeyman (or then to Master).

I have to admit, I like talents better than feats. You can still have varying amounts of advancement in them, but they are larger, more concrete blocks to work with.

Specializations are comparable to the PF2 archetypes we're talking about here, but are... just talents. Three steps each. You're constrained as to when you can take them, but otherwise they work pretty much the same way.

I expect you could model prestige classes in much the same way as archetypes/specializations, but that seems so obvious it's hardly worth mentioning.

Liir wrote:
Personally I would also cut down the spell lists and add them back (including more powerful versions) within Archetypes (Disciplines). Archetype restricted spells would be “uncommon” to others. That way you can not only cut down the number of spells people need to review to play a class, but also safely create more powerful (themed) spells. For instance a Necromancer archetype with powerful necromancy spells that a generic “Wizard” couldn’t automatically access.

I especially like this idea, especially if the Necromancer brings non-spell abilities of interest.

Alexander Augunas wrote:
Liir wrote:
Said lots of interesting stuff.

I think we're generally in agreement, Liir, that ultimately many classes seem to be built around the fantasy of the Iconic character (i.e. Harsk, Valeros, Seelah) than the class itself. This is likely why the PDT felt it necessary to redesign Valeros as a shield-using fighter (the fighter class doesn't really have many Two-Weapon options) or why the ranger class is filled with crossbow abilities (the iconic ranger, Harsk, uses a crossbow).

I think keeping the name as Archetypes is stronger for legacy reasons, and I also think that for most classes, its important that archetypes remain optional. You shouldn't have to pick up an archetype, even a fighting style archetype, if you don't want to. The point of my suggestion was to use existing mechanics to better organize feats that, realistically, are part of a fighting style fantasy as opposed to a class fantasy. (For example, "I block massive blows with my shield" is clearly part of the fighter and paladin fantasies, and I'd argue that it's just as valid a fantasy for barbarians, rangers, and even wizards, considering Aroden is a major part of the setting.)

"Feat", to me, suggests something you can do.

"Archetype", on the other hand, is something you are.

Do I know a few tricks with a bow? I know a feat or two.

Am I one with my bow? Archer archetype.

Strife2002 wrote:
kjdavies wrote:

Seems petty, but Low Templer prestige class, pg 281

* table shows "Live to Fight Another Day" being gained at level 5;
* text description says "At 6th level".

Which, if either, is correct?

It seems the official correction is to change the ability description to say it's gained at 5th level.

Source: The Pathfinder Society Campaign Clarifications page found here.

Ah, thank you strife2002. I'd looked for errata, didn't think to look in the PFS pages.

Seems petty, but Low Templer prestige class, pg 281

* table shows "Live to Fight Another Day" being gained at level 5;
* text description says "At 6th level".

Which, if either, is correct?

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Endzeitgeist wrote:
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

And what a review it was! Thank you again, EZG.

John Mechalas wrote:
An unsolved problem with the fighter, though, is that your AC doesn't scale. You are on the front line, in melee, dealing heavy damage but eventually you are going up against monsters making attack rolls in the 30's. Literally everything hits you. You end up needing healing every few rounds. So you have one thing you can do, and that one thing literally gets you pounded constantly.

To compound the problem, not only does your AC not scale, but to get the really high AC it will probably again be circumstantial. Touch attacks largely obviate high AC builds because your armor and natural armor don't count.

Of course, by that point you're probably too busy failing saving throws for negated "high AC" to really be an issue.

BlyssOblivion wrote:
Hey, just thought I'd mention that you have magma bloodline as not gaining flight (they gain the magma dragon's burrow feature instead), but you put Flyby Attack as one of their bloodline feats. Not sure if that was intended or not, just figured I would mention it.

Huh. Nobody else -- and about a dozen people crawled over this document before I published it -- said anything about that. Well caught.

I mostly took the bloodline feats for each bloodline from the list of feats the ancient version of the matching dragon. Ancient magma dragon has Flyby Attack, so it went on the list.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Magma draconic bloodline sorcerers do get fly as a bloodline spell at 7th level, so I suppose it's justifiable to retain as a bloodline feat, but I think you're right that it's not the best fit.

I'll need to think about this.

Andre Roy wrote:

Another possibility I though, and you probably thought of it too, would be to have a Dragon-Blood/Infused/Imbued Psychic Archetype.

Essentially a Psychic (not sure, at the moment, which class would work best for it) that derives his Power from one of the Esoteric Dragon or from Esoteric Dragon ancestry.

My first impulse was a bloodline, to go with the others, but I couldn't reconcile sorcerer casting psychic magic (modes and spell lists are so different). Then I found the psychic bloodline and figured I could mix that in, but given how many spells some of the esoteric dragons might give access to there might be nothing left of the original draconic bloodline.

I'm not totally averse to that. My hybrid domains blend two domains and often have nothing left of either of them (such as Abyss blending Chaos and Evil, or Guardian blending Protection and War).

In this case it didn't seem to fit properly.

So I considered an archetype that changes the class itself before applying the bloodline, and that could work but is a greater departure from just a bloodline. On the other hand, there is precedent in the crossblooded and wildblooded archetypes. Keep it as a backup.

A third option (prestige class) I don't expect to pursue.

Finally, psychic discipline. Esoteric dragons are psychic casters, not sorcerer casters, so have them connect to the psychic class as a discipline instead of to the sorcerer class as a bloodline. This keeps the spells all consistent by type, and the draconic powers are more likely to align with abilities that are useful to a psychic than a sorcerer.

I'm in the middle of a data reorganization and don't anticipate having time to work on this for a little while, though.

Andre Roy wrote:
kjdavies wrote:

At some point I expect to tackle the esoteric dragons, but at the time I did this I wasn't familiar enough with the Occult material to be comfortable including them.

That is quite understandable and I'm sure you'll do a great job with them too. This little supplement is a good way to keep veteran gamer on their toes by throuwing a little curveball on Draconic Sorceror.

I've done a bit more research, and I'm starting to think -- have almost concluded, to be honest -- that the esoteric dragons might be a better fit as draconic disciplines for the psychic.

The other five dragon families cast as sorcerers, the esoterics cast as psychics. This was the major stumbling block, and while I thought I saw a way forward by mixing in the psychic bloodline (bloodline arcana: "you're a psychic, Harry") it just didn't seem right.

I still haven't decided, though. I'm near the end of the A-Z Blog Challenge and I might have accidentally drafted the core of a book to restructure magic item construction. Oops.

Andre Roy wrote:
Just bought it and I can already see great fun for me in the future. Hopefully the Esoteric Dragon will beadded one day. :)

Excellent, I hope you enjoy it Andre. It was fun to develop.

At some point I expect to tackle the esoteric dragons, but at the time I did this I wasn't familiar enough with the Occult material to be comfortable including them.

I think the next bloodlines book will be for the fey.

Thank you for the review.

Chris Ballard wrote:
Downloaded just fine.

Excellent. I hope you enjoy Draconic Bloodlines and find it useful.

Chris Ballard wrote:
I'm having trouble downloading the pdf. It does not start personalizing.

Hi Chris,

I don't watermark my PDFs, so I wouldn't expect a problem here. I did find that initially I couldn't download it either, but I tried a short time later and it worked. Can you try again?

doc the grey wrote:
Sweet! Are they just like spreadsheets or do they have some sort of stylistic layout like the one on the cover?

The worksheets are available for free if you want to take a look. They're implemented as worksheets rather than fillable forms, though. I like to print them out and fill them with a pencil, I find I think about the structure as I go.

That said, I created an Excel spreadsheet that I use when I'm in a hurry. All seven worksheets (d4, d6, d8, d8 alternate, d10, d12, d20) are implemented on separate tabs. I've updated the Polyhedral Pantheons product -- that is, this one, not the free Worksheets -- to include the spreadsheet. The updated product with the spreadsheet should be available soon.


doc the grey wrote:
Does this include handouts or digital sheets for laying out or designing pantheons?

Hi doc,

The worksheets certainly are in the ZIP file along with the Polyhedral Pantheons PDF, I just checked.


And please, anyone who gives this a try, let me know how it goes.

This document outlines the bare bones of the process, I've got another one coming that expands on the material and provides some examples.

kjdavies wrote:
JTStorm wrote:

Pretty cool item. I think I might give it a go on my next game world.

It looks like there may be a problem with the standard d8 template though. The secondary domains don't seem to line up to the diagram as they do with the other templates.

I'm sorry I didn't see the comments earlier, I didn't even know about them. Liz set me straight, I'll see them in future.

I believe you are correct, JTStorm. I'm pretty sure I've accidentally used an older version of the diagrams for those sheets. Well spotted. I'll get those fixed and uploaded tonight.

On examination, the diagram were correct but the worksheet wasn't. Thanks again for spotting that and reporting it, I've uploaded a corrected file.

JTStorm wrote:

Pretty cool item. I think I might give it a go on my next game world.

It looks like there may be a problem with the standard d8 template though. The secondary domains don't seem to line up to the diagram as they do with the other templates.

I'm sorry I didn't see the comments earlier, I didn't even know about them. Liz set me straight, I'll see them in future.

I believe you are correct, JTStorm. I'm pretty sure I've accidentally used an older version of the diagrams for those sheets. Well spotted. I'll get those fixed and uploaded tonight.

Hi Marc,

I just PMed you links to this book and the barbarians book.

I reckon approximately a quarter of each book -- and at least half the time compiling it -- is new content that aims to make the material easier to use.

This includes:

  • applying archetypes to the base classes to show how the archetype looks... well, applied to the class. Instead of just the delta, you can see how it looks as a class, in context with the bits that remain.
  • applying subdomains to the associated domains, for similar reasons.
  • diagrams. So many diagrams showing the relationships between the various elements.

Simply compiling the information was perhaps a quarter of my time spent on this. Another third or so has been spent on layout (and I've just spent the last few weeks gutting and rebuilding the layout engine so I can make it better). The remaining time has been spent largely on the diagrams and other bits that hopefully will make the material easier to use.

Ah, that's very helpful Liz, thank you.

Marc Radle wrote:

You know, since this book (this series, actually) is made up almost entirely of material created and published by Paizo and other third party companies, it would be nice if the product description at least listed what 3PP are represented, perhaps even giving credit for what elements come from what 3PP.

Not to criticize, but it kind of seems like the least you could do ...

I don't disagree in principle, Marc, but that can run afoul of "don't use our name in advertising" policies. I have explicit license to advertise compatibility with Pathfinder (the PCL), but many PI declarations include book titles as PI and/or trademarks.

For that matter, the PCL is pretty specific that I can only name certain sources. I could copy the Buccaneer (Privateer? There's a pirate-based archetype) from one of the Pathfinder companions almost word for word and all I have to do is include the Section 15 information (and file off any setting-specific names), but I can't otherwise stamp it with the name of the source.

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wraithstrike wrote:

I realized that I might be doing the same thing I am accusing you of doing kjd, and not explaining well enough.

On the issue of 3rd party material you bring it up as if it is a problem. However in the other bloat threads, this has not been brought up. That leads me to believe that you are making a common mistake I see around here. You are confusing what may be a problem for "you" as a general problem for "the game".

There can be a huge gulf between "I don't like X" or "X is bad for me", and "X is bad for the system overall".

Heh, I was just thinking that last night -- I am not articulating my point clearly enough.

I don't see the volume of content available as a bad thing. The volume of content causes certain challenges, further increased by third-party content.

I don't think that is a wrong thing. In fact, I changed the base of a game I'm working on from D&D 3.x to Pathfinder specifically because of the increased volume of information readily available.

That said, I still think there is more available than should be practically available at the table. Reducing the amount used to a reasonable subset that covers the options you want to explore will make for a more coherent, more cohesive setting.

I'm happy to see more choices available, a larger palette available for painting the setting and modeling the choices within it... but there are practical and thematic reasons why I think using the entire gamut is a bad idea.

Kalindlara wrote:

I can.

Apparently I'm abnormal... :(

Nothing wrong with being abnormal. I enjoy it.

But it's not the sort of thing you can count on.

I like Pathfinder. I like the number and scope and nature of the options. But I'd never suggest that the material be applied without constraint.

So, all that said, "primary Pathfinder material" is really big. Cutting it back to a subset, whether that subset is the core rulebook or a selection of other material, is entirely a reasonable thing to do.

As for the game becoming "shapeless", the material is accumulating is a rather large heap, with some segmentation by book it was published in (the books, the PRD) or the type of object (d20pfsrd, kind of).

This mishmash of material can be used to form many reasonably coherent and cohesive subsets, but as a whole there is coming to be enough options available that things 'lose flavor'.

Okay, flavor. An analogy: when blending spices you usually want only a small number of major flavor elements, and you might add some small amounts of other spices as 'flavor rounders', to fill in some of the flavor profile that might be missing. Simply dumping the spice rack into the dish gives you... nothing worth having.

Or painting, you might have some strong chromatic elements in a painting and the rest works around it, or even many colors kept somewhat distinct from each other. Simply throwing many splotches of paint on the canvas and letting the meld gets you a bleah brownish blob.

'Shapeless' here means 'without coherency or cohesion'. You have lots of things mixed together but they lose distinction and character.

The entire question is asking for peoples' opinion. Prefacing all statements with "I think" or "it is my opinion" is wasteful.

Below I discuss some statistics regarding a subset of the PRD (core, apg, arg, bestiary 1-4, ultimate equipment, ultimate combat, ultimate magic, npc codex).

"It is no longer feasible for normal people to contain the set of options available" means that non-savants are going to have trouble remembering all the options they have available at any given time and how they interact.

There are...

  • 175 feats in the core rules, 913 across the books mentioned above;
  • 623 spells in the core rules, 1,360 across the books mentioned above;
  • 48 rage powers in the core rules, 156 across the books mentioned above;
  • 33 domains in the core rules, 34 across the books mentioned above (plus 72 subdomains, if you count those with more than one associated domain once for each associated domain);
  • no archetypes in the core rules, but there are 288 across the books mentioned above (and each archetype modifies an existing class, replacing or changing the class features of the base class... and you can sometimes combine archetypes).

Do you truly expect any normal person to be able to retain enough detail about the options available to a character at any given time, without depending on the books -- six of them if you ignore the bestiary and npc codex -- mentioned above?

Of course the books are available for reference, but can normal people remember enough about each spell and feat and archetype and various class features -- some of which get replaced by one of the hundreds of archetypes available -- to know by name alone what is being discussed? Or for that matter, to even know which book to look in?

This is before adding third-party material to the mix.

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FormerFiend wrote:

I'm asking this on behalf of my DM; one of my fellow players in my current campaign wants to carry out a political assassination by giving an antagonist character a glass of sovereign glue and using prestidigitation to cover up the smell and taste.

Now, the DM has ruled that the glue wouldn't set in her throat because it requires a full round to set and it takes only about a second for liquid to travel to the stomach, but he's unsure about whether or not it would set in the stomach.

Anyway, we were curious as to whether or not anyone else had come across this scenario before and what their rulings on it were.

I'm pretty sure there is no rules precedent here, so let's take a run at it.

  • I reckon sovereign glue works better than pretty much any glue I've encountered in real life;
  • you can stick your fingers together almost immediately with super glue;
  • you really have no way to pry things apart in your mouth and throat (never mind that pound for pound the tongue is one of the strongest muscles in the human body);

On the face of it, the plan is at least vaguely plausible. I wouldn't rule it out immediately.

Let's see mechanically.

  • sovereign glue is 2,400 gp per dose.
  • "burnt uthar fumes" is 2,100 gp per dose.
  • "hemlock" is 2,500 gp per dose.

Both poisoned mentioned are pretty vicious.

I'd be willing to treat this as an ingested poison that can cause suffocation. Conveniently both named poisons have a save DC of 18 and six units of effect (rounds for burnt uthar fumes, minutes for hemlock).

How about:

Sovereign Glue: Ingested poison, Fort save DC 18, frequency 1/round indefinitely, cure two saves.

Two saves means you've cleared your pipes well enough, but if not you're suffocating unless and until you can (or until you die). This is a bit harsher than normal, so let's add a Reflex save (for free) at the start to spit it out before real complications.

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At the risk of seeming self-serving (because I am publishing books to help deal with this):

From a practical perspective yes, Pathfinder is getting too big. It has reached a point where it is no longer feasible for normal people to contain the set of options available in their brains. Between PRD and 3pp sources there are at least fifty cleric domains and over a hundred subdomains. Several thousand spells, I think I've counted somewhat over 4,000 so far, and a similar number of feats (remember, you get somewhat less than twenty in your career...). Hundreds of rage powers, scores of rogue talents, and so on. Dozens of classes, scores of archetypes, and so on.

Pathfinder in toto is getting too big to use altogether, and there are two primary dangers because of this:

  • It's too big to be readily understood; and
  • It becomes shapeless; when all options are available it becomes a mash of stuff that becomes nonsensical.

However... the sheer volume of Pathfinder material available is part of what is good about it. It allows for so many games to be played from the same chassis, depending what options you make available.

For instance, you might

  • Drop the standard non-human races and replace them with the elemental-touched races (oread, sylph, etc.).
  • Swap out the core cleric domains with other domains, changing the flavor of the pantheon available.
  • Replace the cleric class altogether with the 3pp divine channeller from Rite Publishing (fewer spells, more channelling) and Rogue Genius' Exalted Domains ('double power' domains).
  • Select a set of archetypes and PCs of relevant classes must take (at least) one.

Pathfinder is becoming immense, but there are so many good subsets available within it that I cannot say that this immensity is a bad thing.

Second, regarding 3pp:

With the exception of adding a very small number of new domains (one of which is entirely to fix an oversight by the original publisher) the Echelon Reference Series does not generally add new game elements. As research documents I did not deem it appropriate at this time, because these books are intended to be a baseline of existing material to be built upon further.

As for 3pp present, I include many, pretty much all related content I can lay my mitts on. I have a rule of no 3pp content less than a year after publication, and none when it would mean basically republishing an existing book (such as Dreamscarred's psionics material, which is still primarily in Ultimate Psionics). Only where I think I am adding one of the three things -- concentration, organization, clarification -- do I consider it.

I do have other products in mind that will expand on things, and they may ultimately end up folded into these books, but at this point I feel the intended purpose of these books would be clouded by intruding and introducing new content.

Oliver Volland wrote:
Hm, I had thought my question from above would be easy to answer...

Hi Oliver,

Thanks for your interest. I'll answer in two parts.

First, regarding "new content":

The short answer is "little new game text here". If you have all the same game references I do, you won't find any new feats or archetypes or the like here. This particular book does have three previously unpublished domains, but they account for less than 1% of the book, really.

The long answer is a little more involved.

The Echelon Reference Series started as a set of research documents for another project. I found while researching various topics that I had to go to too many places (currently, what, half a dozen hard covers of player options? plus four bestiaries, and quite a large number of 3pp PDFs) to try to get all of a topic. This eventually became unmanageable -- even something as simple as barbarian rage powers meant a stack of reference material several inches thick.

The relationships between the game elements is often unclear. It can be surprising just how many choices can hang off something (by my count, and including 3pp content, I see 44 feats that ultimately have "Shield Proficiency" as a prerequisite).

This is further complicated by 'design by exception', places where a new game element is created and defined as "just like that, except change this and this". Archetypes and subdomains are two of the bigger examples, but even many spells are defined in terms of each other. There are many game elements where you have to look at multiple pieces (often in different books) in order to get the entire picture.

So, these books have three main goals:

  • Gather related material in a single place and organize it.
  • Make clear (using diagrams) the relationships between the game elements
  • Ease understanding of the material by applying deltas from 'exception objects' such as subdomains and archetypes to their base objects

In a strict sense these books add 'no new game content'. What they do add is organization (all the pieces in one place -- in this case more than 15 archetypes, more than 50 domains, almost 90 subdomains, almost 100 related feats, I couldn't tell you offhand how many channeling options), clarification (each archetype is presented in it's original definition, and applied to the base class and presented as a class so you can see it all in one place; each subdomain is applied to its associated domains and each result presented as a new domain -- apart from the base domains), and navigation (each class feature, each class subfeature, and each feat is diagrammed to show how it relates to other game elements).

Orfamay Quest wrote:

Quality control. The Paizo game designers are good, among the best in the business. I'm willing to pay for their expertise in spotting the subtly game breaking, and simply taking out the trash.

Because, basically, 90% of 3PP material is crap. I have higher expectations for Paizo because they've earned it over a period of years. I have very little expectations of a company I've never heard of.

Dude, Sturgeon's Law. 90% of _everything_ is crap.

Beckett wrote:
Zurai wrote:

How is an Elven Wizard better than, say, a Human Wizard with his +2 stat dedicated to Intelligence (even disregarding the pick-a-class favored class humans get)? You're either down 1 hp/level relative to the human or down 1 skill point/level relative to the human, for the price of +2 dex and some miscellaneous small benefits.

For this example, assume Wizard is not the Human's Favored Class.

An Elven Wizard gets their Elven racial traits which are balanced against the Human Wizard's Racial traits. That the Elf gets the "free" +1 H.P. and/S.P. each Wizard Level takes is not balanced out in any way against the Human, who, by definition of the word, is penulized.

Well, if he takes the +1 hp/level, he'd just be back to par with the human wizard (elven Con penalty, remember). Well, slightly better perhaps (+2 Int), but let's pretend the human put his bonus there instead of, say, Strength.

You're being intellectually dishonest. You're taking away a primary human racial benefit (you can pick what your favored class is), declaring "elven and human racial stuff is balanced", having the human take a non-favored class, then complaining the human's screwed because he's taking a non-favored class.

In other words, you're stacking the deck against the human, then complaining that it's not fair. A tad disingenuous.


Beckett wrote:

First off, you are both misenterpreting what I suggested, and misrepresenting what you are trying to say.

My suggestion was that, instead of getting +1 H.P. and/or S.P. at each level, they change it to and one of the following +1 H.P., Save, or S.P. at 10th, 15th, and 20th Level. Do you seriously think that is worse than a maxed out free skill, or +20 H.P.?


  • +3 hit points, over 20 levels, is pretty meaningless. To the point where it seems to me to be a wart, more trouble to have the rule than game benefit it would provide. This is, over 20 levels, as good as SRD Toughness, which is a crap feat.
  • +3 skill points, over 20 levels, is just as bad (but there isn't a core feat in SRD that does this).
  • +3 to a save is pretty big -- worth more than a useful (boring, but useful) feat.

There's really only one choice here (the saves), which are worth more than the suggested +1 hp-or-sp/level.


Taanyth wrote:
I'm all out for favored class bonuses though i still think it can be worked upon a bit. I mean i can't see why an elven mage is getting more HP than a human one.

The elven wizard almost certainly wouldn't have more hit points than a human one, all else being equal. Elves have a penalty to Con (one fewer per hit die), humans don't. At best under these rules, the elf would have as many hit points as the human -- assuming the human didn't put his ability score bump on Con (probably didn't) or put his favored class bonus into hit points (good chance he did).

Taanyth wrote:
I think HP bonus should be restricted for high BAB classes and skill bonuses should be used by the rest.

That does reduce the personal impact of the favored class bonus (you're proposing that characters with good hit points get an additional one per hit die, while those without -- and probably have reasonable skill points already -- get more skill points). This increases the disparity between characters, though. Either you have lots of hit points (and get more if you take a favored class) or you don't, and likewise with the skill points.

I think I've always seen PCs take the one that shores up a weakness, rather than build on their strength, for this point.


Beckett wrote:

It really hurts Clerics also, of which is a Favored Class of Dwarves. Because their Domains and Energy channeling are Cha based. I really like the penulties to the charisma skills, but I hate the Cha penulty. Not only does it do some major damage to a lot of class abilities, but there are other uses for Cha besides being diplomatic.

I would be happy with the penulty to Int, which actually makes sense both mechanically and fluffally. If they do not get that many skill points, they are not likely to burn them on skills like diplomacy, (but can if that is the direction the player wants to go without being mechanically impossible). Maybe the dwarves are not very diplomatic, but they have to have some diplomats or they would have either conquered the world long ago or been enslaved/extinct.

Additionally, with a Int penulty, that would show how they 1.) do not make good Wizards (but still can), and 2.) help to explain why they generally distrust arcane magic, (because they can't grasp its principles and whatnot).

Come to that, beards can help with Bluff and Intimidate. It's a lot easier to lie to someone if he can't see your facial expressions clearly (and I don't see how a beard matters to feinting in combat at all), and a big bristly BEARD INNA FACE is intimdating to most people -- it could be argued that a BEARD like a dwarf wears gives a bonus.

Moving it to Int almost works, except that dwarves are ('historically') noted as remarkably skilled craftsmen (Int-based skill), and depending on the stories have very broad skill use (lots of skill points -- they're good at a lot of things).

I still think a Dex penalty would work better than Int or Cha, for two simple reasons.

  • a penalty to something you should not be bad at is nonsensical
  • a penalty to something that has little impact shouldn't count as a penalty.


Agi Hammerthief wrote:
kjdavies wrote:
I'd rather see something that encourages you to stick with it, than something that rewards a dip. 3.x had enough of that.
if you want to hear less dipping, the extra feat could be handed out at 5th level, that's about when the synergy effect of Racial Traits & Favoured Class drops off in the background noise of Save Progression and Feat/Ability Score Increases.

This has some merit. I don't care for how it tastes though, to be honest.

The feat-based solution I mentioned earlier in the thread, while it was going to be a lot of work to set up and balance, would've trivially addressed racial tendancies -- without depending on particular classes. You could fit into various classes, with racial reinforcement (elves would make good wizards, rogues, rangers, mobility-based fighters, archery-based fighters, and so on). The only 'problem' I had was that some races were unusually capable (elves) while others were much less flexible (half-orcs).

Agi Hammerthief wrote:

Hand the feat out at 6th and you'll reward those who don't go PrC at fifth (Favoured Class Level that is, not Character Level).

same goes for the next point:

kjdavies wrote:
Mildly better, I suppose, in that there is encouragement to continue. Unlike the PRPG option (+1 hp/HD), which scales directly with level in the favored class, you still get disproportionate gains -- bigger from 1..4, more or less average at 5 and 6, smaller from 7..10, then repeat the pattern for 11..14, 15 and 16, 17..20.

the symmetry is there:

the extra Save bonus is equally useful for all Favoured Classes, unlike the extra Skill Point per level for which the Bard, Rogue or INT heavy Wizard don't have to care as much as the (probably INT challenged) Orc Barbarian.

OTOH, the Bard, Rogue, and Wizard are more likely to take the hit point, while the Barbarian is likely to take the skill point option.

This is a flexible benefit, and I don't mind that a specific option isn't terribly useful to all characters. I don't think there's anyone who can't use one or the other.

Agi Hammerthief wrote:
Both the feat and the save bonus look more like candy for playing an archetype, rather than a penalty for playing something more creative than 'off the shelve'.

I still disagree with the 'penalty' thing, but am not inclined to argue it.

I'd like to see a mechanism, a mechanical benefit for pursuing a favored class. It can be as simple as "this races tends to make good $class{}es", or it can be a direct benefit. A bonus feat is very difficult to balance -- you likely get it too early (possibly encouraging dipping), too late (you wait a large part of your career before getting it). A bonus skill point or hit point is a small thing, immediately visible. In the end it's worth about a feat, a minor one at that, and is applied evenly over your career.

This feels about right for what I want it to do. Having it won't break anything, not having it won't break anything, but it is a nice little bump for sticking to racial archetype.

Another approach I've seen, and it's been mentioned here, is racial substitutions. The _Accordlands_ setting from AEG used them heavily (I forget if they're optional or mandatory). I like them in principle -- characters of the same class but different races feel really different because of them -- but it gets really unwieldy to document. Which is a shame, because it really does provide racial color to the various classes, sufficient that it gives archetypal behavior to each.

A Deverian (IIRC spelling) can be a member of pretty much any class (social limitations, mostly), but they'll always be a Deverian.


Threeshades wrote:
That is a good point I came to think about while reading the first two pages. Dwarves actually have cleric as a favored class but for some reason have a penalty one of the class's key abilities? Paladins too should be a common choice for dwarves, it stands for their lawful good tendency and their honorable-warrior attitude

Back in the day (first edition, IOW), as I recall if you had Dex < 4 (<= 4?) the only class you could take was cleric.

For those who are concerned about continuity with previous editions and 'this is how it was meant to be back at the beginning!'


Steven Purcell wrote:
Sorry to threadjack but there have been complaints about elves CON penalty ... Elves have often been described as insular, haughty, arrogant, condescending towards other races ... what if we gave the ELVES the CHA penalty and ditched the CON penalty and then moved the dwarf penalty to DEX, would that help the balance? Some better elven racial weapons would help as well, but honestly, I've played several elves over the years and never a dwarf (personal taste).

I have to say, this idea does not offend me. I don't think you'll get a lot of buy in for PRPG, but I'd certainly consider it for certain settings.

(Example) Elves of the Lost Kingdom wrote:
The elves are long-lived, so much so that they have lost interest in anything beyond their realm -- it is but an temporary consideration anyway, why bother? They experience a great lassitude, an unwillingness to invest effort in the ephemeral world. They have a quickness of motion and thought absent in the lesser races, but lack the fire exhibited by those same races, the naked desire to bend the world to their will.

Yeah, I'd play this kind of elf. In fact, I even know where it could fit rather nicely into the campaign I've been working on lately. This balance also helps explain why they tend to have wizards rather than sorcerers (effectively four points difference between the relevant ability scores!), improves them as rangers (that Con hit hurts), and helps explain why you might not find a lot of elven clerics (though I question how much Charisma really applies to clerics -- better in PRPG because channeling doesn't suck as badly as RSRD turning, but I haven't examined it closely).

Hmm. I think I'll upgrade "does not offend" to "somewhat interests".


Nox wrote:
-2 Diplomacy: Lets face it, Dwarves are not ones for social niceties. They'll give you a hearty "Hail and well met!", but they won't automatically take off their shoes when walking on the nice carpet, and they may leave the seat a bit more dusty or coal-stained than it was when they arrived. This is a cultural thing that bleeds into how well they can relate to other peoples. Could you imagine, perhaps, a worse pair of people at a formal non-military ceremony than a Dwarf or a Half-Orc? Especially if there was dancing, soft music playing, and a paste being served as a type of food with a foreign name. The Dwarf would be, quite loudly, talking about how his people serve whole spit-roasted Aurochs and the ale would flow like the river when there is any ceremony of importance. And it's not that they're TRYING to be mean or discourteous, but simply "how it's done back home".

This is setting-dependant. I've seen settings where dwarves are highly aware of proprieties and appropriate behavior, and would at least try to be polite. Not necessarily fit in, but -- just as lace and silk don't belong in the foundry -- work clothes are not appropriate when visiting the tall folk in their fancy homes.

I've also seen settings where dwarves are highly militaristic, and would stand respectfully at a coronation of a pacifist king, dressed formally and properly in their dress armor... snoring as gently as possible.

I'd say that Charisma modifiers would be highly setting-dependant, but that Dexterity bonuses better fit their physiology. Sure, short people can be (and often are) more agile and quicker than taller people, but dwarves are specifically noted as having the ability to Not Move.

IOW, pretty much exactly opposite of what Dexterity really means in D&D.


Set wrote:
plungingforward2 wrote:
No way to the Dex penalty. Dwarves have a knack for solid craftsmanship and are good with their hands. ("Man-made" is dwarven slang for "shaddy.") That does not add up to a Dex penalty.
Dex has nothing to do with Craft skills in D&D. Crafting is all Intelligence-based, and I'd have a definite problem with Dwarves being presented as having an Intelligence penalty, since the craftsman thing is such a key part of Dwarven tradition. But Dex is meaningless, but mechanically in the game and traditionally, since Dwarven diplomats might not be the most traditional thing, but Dwarven acrobats surely aren't!

*cough* Casanunda. Certainly a high-Cha dwarf, if there ever was one.

<snipped some very good Cha-based dwarven characters that look rather interesting to play, to be honest... I've made a note of them for later use>

Set wrote:
They don't run fast, certainly not as fast as an elven ranger, but at the end of the day, the dwarf will have run *longer,*

and carrying a whole lot more

Set wrote:
and he'll say with a wink that this also carries over to other aspects of their lives, which is why there are so many darn half-elves, because the elves with their fleeting stamina are unable to hold on to their women, unlike the long-lasting dwarves!

Tsk. You'd think the elves wouldn't be such short-timers.


KaeYoss wrote:
Set wrote:

Another fan of Dwarves having a -2 Dex and no Cha penalty.

Dwarves have *very* forceful personalities. Fainting flowers they are not. Whether they are loud, argumentative or intimidating, they are not shy or weak of personality

But they're ugly, have poor hygiene, and are very, very annoying. All that are heavy hits on charisma.

Who says they're ugly? Or have poor hygiene (I'd be prepared to accept that one of half-orcs, though)? Or even annoying (though I suppose if you find stubbornness annoying...)?

RSRD wrote:
Charisma measures a character's force of personality, persuasiveness, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness. This ability represents actual strength of personality, not merely how one is perceived by others in a social setting. Charisma is most important for paladins, sorcerers, and bards. It is also important for clerics, since it affects their ability to turn undead. Every creature has a Charisma score.

Physical attractiveness is only part of Charisma. Strength of personality is a much bigger component, and one that I think can overcome a lot of the superficial elements.

Or, to put it perhaps slightly crudely, I have seen some frightfully ugly people get laid... because of their force of personality.

KaeYoss wrote:

Charisma is purely offensive, if you forgive my formulation.

Still, I'd go for Dex, of course, because that's more punishing, and they need to be cut down to size.

'Strength' rather than 'Dexterity' or 'Constitution', as it were.

I'd rather see dwarves with a physical penalty too. I think it makes more sense, and it better balances things than Charisma.

As far as I'm concerned, if half-orcs don't take a penalty to Charisma -- and they're bigger examples of the reasons you say dwarves should have Cha penalties, almost always -- then dwarves certainly shouldn't.


KaeYoss wrote:

Actually, I'd go for both Dex and Cha. Dwarves are powerful enough as it is, so they can weather the double penalty, especially since charisma is one of the penalised stats.

But failing that, dex would indeed fit well - it hurts them more than cha (which they just leave at 8, but dex is usually raised to 12 at least, so you can max out your full plate. Okay, there's stoneplate now, but with the penalty, dwarves would have to raise their dex to max that out), and elves aren't getting anything out of their supposed elven grace, either.

So, I say: Hit the dwarves where it hurts.

I agree. A Dex penalty makes much more sense than a Cha penalty, and it better encourages (directs) the dwarven archetypal fighting style.


Agi Hammerthief wrote:

the thing I 'liked' about the 3.5 system was that I could multi-class into a favoured class without penalty,

now I already can get a de facto penalty simply by not taking a favored class.

so count me amongst those who would like to k.i.s.s. this good-by.


at max I'd suggest a one time bonus feat when taking the first level of the appointed favoured class.

Is that a dipping noise I hear?

I'd rather see something that encourages you to stick with it, than something that rewards a dip. 3.x had enough of that.

Agi Hammerthief wrote:

or give then a +x bonus on one of the saves they would otherwise suck

i.e.: Half Orc Barbarian
good Fort save
bad Will save - but Orc has a Racial +2 on Wisdom
bad Ref save <- give a +x Favoured Class Bonus here

I'd suggest x=1 whith 1-10 levels in the Fav. Class
and x=2 with 11+ levels in the Fav. Class

Mildly better, I suppose, in that there is encouragement to continue. Unlike the PRPG option (+1 hp/HD), which scales directly with level in the favored class, you still get disproportionate gains -- bigger from 1..4, more or less average at 5 and 6, smaller from 7..10, then repeat the pattern for 11..14, 15 and 16, 17..20.

I still prefer the PRPG option. At one point I considered applying both parts -- you get +1 hit point and +1 skill point per favored class level. I don't think it would be particularly unbalanced, but I like to encourage decision making. Analysis paralysis among my players pleases me.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Brian E. Harris wrote:
I see a big table of lollys, and a nice gentleman telling me that I can have any lolly I want, but I can only have one. Some lollys are different colors, some are different shapes. Some are longer, where as some are wider. I can have any one of those I want. If I pick the twisty-blue one, and you pick the square red one, you got something I didn't, and I got something you didn't.
To continue the analogy, you pick the twisty-blue one, and not the twisty-red one or the square blue one, and the nice man pops up and says "Congratulations! You get a Reece's cup, too, for picking the right combination of colors and shapes! Sueki picked the square red one, so no Reece's cup for him; red lillipops must be round to get the bonus candy!"

"And we told you this before you chose!

"And in fact, the square one's a little bit bigger!"

An elven fighter makes a wonderful archer build, or a harrier build, or a duelist, or a few others I could come up with if I were willing to put the time into it. Low-light vision, smarter and more agile and faster than a human? The extra hit points shouldn't make a big difference; as before, if he's depending his hit points to stay alive, with any such builds, he's probably doing it wrong. And Toughness is just over there if he wants it.

This is far from a suboptimal, crippled build. Not receiving a bonus for sticking closer to archetype (and notice that ranger works pretty well for some of these anyway) isn't going to break him.


Sueki Suezo wrote:
The only real problem is that the 3.0 designers didn't go far enough - they didn't eliminate the alignment restrictions for certain classes and they were loathe to entirely remove the arbitrary rules that served to siphoned players into traditional race/class combos like the Elven Wizard and the Dwarven Fighter. And alas, the Pathfinder RPG Favored Class rules are just as useless and arbitrary as the class/alignment restrictions that were enforced in 3.X, and 1st and 2nd Edition AD&D before that. But they're much more popular this time around because 1) they aren't as invasive as the old rules 2) they help powergamers min/max powerful race/class combos even further and 3) they appeal to the sentiments of grognards that are afraid that these rules are the only thing keeping their games from being overrun by characters that are like something out of a bad video game/anime series.

Dude, if you're looking for GURPS it's just over there in Austin, Texas.


Daron Farina wrote:
Brian E. Harris wrote:
Favor? ... is it actually a factor that contributes to unbalancing the game?
I don't see how it's balanced. From a pure mechanical point of view, you're giving someone an arbitrary bonus for making one of few specific choices in character creation.

You're right. Let's build a wizard around Str instead of Int. After all, putting a good score into Int is just giving someone an arbitrary bonus for making a single specific choice in character creation.

Daron Farina wrote:
Aside from the issue of encouragement, I would still like to stress that the favored class mechanic works against the primary design goal, backwards compatibility. It only adds to the work needed to be done in order to convert NPCs and PCs.

How do you figure? Count the favored class levels, give him that many more hit points. Or, if you are interested in putting in the effort, give him more skill points to allocate.

Really, with the relative lack of support for favored classes in 3.x (no reason whatsoever to not be an elven fighter -- the bigger HD helps counter the Con penalty, and he shouldn't be getting close enough to be hit anyway) it doesn't add very much work at all.


Daron Farina wrote:
Brian E. Harris wrote:
The real question is, does the bonus of the extra skill point or hit point truly unbalance the game in favor of the player with the bonus?
It doesn't unbalance the whole game, but it does favor the player over others.

Yes, that's what it's for. It works? Good.

Daron Farina wrote:
Brian E. Harris wrote:
I've got to be perfectly honest with you - anything that encourages folks to play the base races/base classes/favored classes is a plus to me. I'm getting sick and tired of the "I want to be different just to be different" mentality that a lot of people have.
Not everyone considers this a problem. If you want to encourage your players to stick with stereotypical race/class combos, then don't allow them to take anything outside of core, except for a case-by-case basis. I had to do this when everyone in my gaming circle decided goliaths were the coolest thing ever.

I have to respond, nor does everyone find that encouraging archetypes is a problem.

And I feel compelled to add that there is a big difference between a 'stereotype' and an 'archetype'.

Third, goliaths had some nifty useful benefits that couldn't be easily acquired elsewhere. As I recall they were a munchkin trap, but it was better bait than most.

Daron Farina wrote:

I still firmly hold that the favored class rules stifle race/class choice. Let me make an example...

Suppose one is choosing between two universities to attend. University A offers a better degree and education, but man, University B has the most awesome weather ever, and the guy:girl ratio is sick! Now, if the government awarded one an extra $5000 grant just to set foot in University A, it would undoubtedly skew one's choice towards A, even though A is the most optimal choice to begin with.

It might encourage people to go to University A, yes. That's what it's trying to do.

Would it affect me? I'm not sure. I got a lot of bursaries and was in a co-op program; after I started working after my first year of school I didn't need financial aid. I earned my own way through.

And 'better degree' (a dubious distinction at best, I think, but I'm a meritocrat at heart) vs. better weather and more women?

Man, why do you even ask these things? $5,000 against that? Not enough, baby, not enough. A man's got to have his priorities straight.


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