Cultural vs. Innate Racial Traits?


Races & Classes

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

I really like the notion of racial traits. One thing I'd suggest doing however is taking the time in advance to categorize them as either innate (i.e. something you're just born with) or cultural (i.e. something you learn while growing up).

This gives an in game rationale and simple mechanic for creating subraces and special castes. If you want to tweak one of the existing races without starting from scratch simply swap out some of the cultural traits for something new.

At its simplest level this means you could create sea faring dwarves, mad scientist gnomes and similar racial groups that vary a little from the mainstream.

I wrote a lot of Class Acts articles back during the print days which tailors my perspective when looking over any ruleset. I always look for sections of the rules allowing me to offer up interesting variations.

This suggestion of offering up cultural traits goes a long way towards increasing the options within the rules without much additional effort. That's one of the nice thing about considering this perspective from the start, you can slip them in rather than trying to shoehorn them later on.

Thoughts?

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Hal Maclean wrote:

I really like the notion of racial traits. One thing I'd suggest doing however is taking the time in advance to categorize them as either innate (i.e. something you're just born with) or cultural (i.e. something you learn while growing up).

This gives an in game rationale and simple mechanic for creating subraces and special castes. If you want to tweak one of the existing races without starting from scratch simply swap out some of the cultural traits for something new.

At its simplest level this means you could create sea faring dwarves, mad scientist gnomes and similar racial groups that vary a little from the mainstream.

I wrote a lot of Class Acts articles back during the print days which tailors my perspective when looking over any ruleset. I always look for sections of the rules allowing me to offer up interesting variations.

This suggestion of offering up cultural traits goes a long way towards increasing the options within the rules without much additional effort. That's one of the nice thing about considering this perspective from the start, you can slip them in rather than trying to shoehorn them later on.

Thoughts?

I'd love to just scrap the cultural traits.

Example: +1 vs orcs and goblins? +4 AC vs giants? What if you come from a stronghold that has been at war with the drow for centuries, but hasn't seen a giant or orc in just as long? Somehow, you still know how to fight an enemy that has become irrelevant to your people?

Now I know some people might suggest a house rule to drop the bonuses, or that the player should replace orc with drow, but that's not the point.

I want to see racial stats for what it means to physically be that race, not what it means to culturally be that race.

What I wouldn't have a problem with is each race getting a couple of Cultural Feats so a player could regain the traits the races currently have, but also allow players to define their PC's culture as best fits their game world.

A couple of examples:

Racial Conflict: Battles for territory have brought your people into conflict with other species. You receive a +1 to attack when fighting either of two creature types of your choice. If you choose a humanoid or outsider, you must also choose a subtype. [Insert Ranger Favored Enemy table here.]

Noble Warrior: Your people favor refined martial skills and you have benefited from their teaching. You are proficient with the longsword, rapier, longbow (including composite longbow), and shortbow (including composite shortbow).

Miner: You receive a +2 bonus when Appraising gems and precious metals. You also have a +2 bonus to Perception checks related to underground construction.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

I do like having the cultural traits split out - not only does it make creating non-standard cultures for the races easier as the OP mentioned, but it makes handinlg the reincarne spell easier - only the inate racial traits should be replaced, and the cultural traits should remain the same as the creature's original race.


The idea of culture/race splits have been around for a little while. They've existed in some non-OGL sources, plus a few third party sources. Stripping out the cultural traits and applying some notes on "nations" or "cultures" might work out, but I'm not sure how compatible such a change would be, especially since the line drawn between "species" and "culture" can easily vary (how many of the Half Orc abilities are cultural? now compare to Dwarves or Elves).

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I, too, would like to see a split between racial and cultural abilities. Two of my PCs in my current RotRL game have been reincarnated, and now the elf has a dwarf's racial hatred of goblinoids and giants, but can't remember how to use her thinblade...


I very much like this idea. I once had character concept for a human woman who was adopted by dwarves as a child and wondered how I might alter the human stats to accommodate dwarven racial traits.


this never occured to me but OMG i like it. two big thumbs up and i hope the powers that be make this one happen.


When I started working on my version of 3rd edition (when WotC was still denying that they were creating a 3rd edition), I did something like this. The "racial" traits were assigned; every elf had low-light vision and a resistance to sleep and charm magic. However, the cultural traits were variable, and bought according to the whim of the player (and the restrictions of the DM). Only the half-races (half-elf, half-orc, and half-ogre got finished before I lost interest with the official announcement) had no racial traits, just a lot of optional ones they could purchase... because they made do with what they had, and every one would wind up being unique.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Pneumonica wrote:
The idea of culture/race splits have been around for a little while. They've existed in some non-OGL sources, plus a few third party sources. Stripping out the cultural traits and applying some notes on "nations" or "cultures" might work out, but I'm not sure how compatible such a change would be, especially since the line drawn between "species" and "culture" can easily vary (how many of the Half Orc abilities are cultural? now compare to Dwarves or Elves).

Half-Orcs? One. The greataxe and falchion specialization.)

Dwarves have six: Stonecunning, weapons, appraise bonus, orcs n goblins, giants, and craft bonuses for stone and metal. (The Appraise and Craft bonuses could possibly be considered one trait.)

Elves have three: Bonus to ID magic items, weapon proficiencies, and noticing secret doors by walking past them (They live in the woods, how many secret doors do they really get to practice on?)

Gnomes have four: Weapon proficiencies, bonus vs. reptiles and goblins, AC bonus vs giants, and a bonus on craft or profession.

(The bonus vs kobolds, goblins, and giants makes me think we need to get more creative with the gnome. They're basically dwarven illusionists. It'd be nice to have less dwarf in the gnome traits. I don't read +4 AC vs giants and think "these guys are descendants of the fay".)

Halflings have a weapon bonus, and some might consider the bonus to acrobatics and climb to be from upbringing and not innate.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Erik Randall wrote:


I'd love to just scrap the cultural traits.

Example: +1 vs orcs and goblins? +4 AC vs giants? What if you come from a stronghold that has been at war with the drow for centuries, but hasn't seen a giant or orc in just as long? Somehow, you still know how to fight an enemy that has become irrelevant to your people?

What I wouldn't have a problem with is each race getting a couple of Cultural Feats so a player could regain the traits the races currently have, but also allow players to define their PC's culture as best fits their game world.

A couple of examples:...

Cultural feats could work as a mechanic, but you'd still need to keep default "races" for those who just want to get started rolling dice. The goal of this sort of meta design thinking is to build in ways to tweak the rules without increasing the workload for those who don't want to bother.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

JoelF847 wrote:
I do like having the cultural traits split out - not only does it make creating non-standard cultures for the races easier as the OP mentioned, but it makes handinlg the reincarne spell easier - only the inate racial traits should be replaced, and the cultural traits should remain the same as the creature's original race.

hey that's right! Never even thought of that advantage. :)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Pneumonica wrote:
The idea of culture/race splits have been around for a little while. They've existed in some non-OGL sources, plus a few third party sources. Stripping out the cultural traits and applying some notes on "nations" or "cultures" might work out, but I'm not sure how compatible such a change would be, especially since the line drawn between "species" and "culture" can easily vary (how many of the Half Orc abilities are cultural? now compare to Dwarves or Elves).

You might also want to check out "Martial Cultures" in Dragon #341 (IIRC). This notion first occurred to me when I was working on it.

The Exchange

JoelF847 wrote:
I do like having the cultural traits split out - not only does it make creating non-standard cultures for the races easier as the OP mentioned, but it makes handinlg the reincarne spell easier - only the inate racial traits should be replaced, and the cultural traits should remain the same as the creature's original race.

This came up in our game; dead human, reincarnated as a dwarf.

While gaining all the dwarven traits, the human traits were specifically stated to be kept (skill points & feat) for an net gain.
I can see how that could be seen as abuse (though as one of the least munchkin members of the party, I wasn't going to refuse the benefit).
:)


Racial and cultural traits would be a great idea; now we just have to figure out how to balance it, and maybe it can be implemented into 3.P.


Erik Randall wrote:
Pneumonica wrote:
The idea of culture/race splits have been around for a little while. They've existed in some non-OGL sources, plus a few third party sources. Stripping out the cultural traits and applying some notes on "nations" or "cultures" might work out, but I'm not sure how compatible such a change would be, especially since the line drawn between "species" and "culture" can easily vary (how many of the Half Orc abilities are cultural? now compare to Dwarves or Elves).

Half-Orcs? One. The greataxe and falchion specialization.)

Dwarves have six: Stonecunning, weapons, appraise bonus, orcs n goblins, giants, and craft bonuses for stone and metal. (The Appraise and Craft bonuses could possibly be considered one trait.)

Elves have three: Bonus to ID magic items, weapon proficiencies, and noticing secret doors by walking past them (They live in the woods, how many secret doors do they really get to practice on?)

Gnomes have four: Weapon proficiencies, bonus vs. reptiles and goblins, AC bonus vs giants, and a bonus on craft or profession.

(The bonus vs kobolds, goblins, and giants makes me think we need to get more creative with the gnome. They're basically dwarven illusionists. It'd be nice to have less dwarf in the gnome traits. I don't read +4 AC vs giants and think "these guys are descendants of the fay".)

Halflings have a weapon bonus, and some might consider the bonus to acrobatics and climb to be from upbringing and not innate.

My point exactly. The dividing lines are all different. Half-Orcs gain a proficiency. Elves gain a couple questionable ones (secret doors is arguable). Dwarves get a ton (although I'd call stonecunning genetic given the nature of elementals in the game). They all split differently - so come up with a coherent rule set for split cultural and racial abilities that doesn't break the game or backwards compatibility.

It's a tough haul, and I'm not sure if it's even possible.


Freakin' forum ate my beautiful post, but here's the gist.

Isn't the racial/cultural divide arbitrary? Take stonecunning. Is it due to the nature of dwarves and their bond with the earth? Or is it due to a cultural obsession with mining and craft?

If you designate certain traits racial, you're effectively telling GMs that in this game, Dwarves are traits A, B and C, but not D, E and F. But that line of what makes a Dwarf a Dwarf is different for different gamers.

For me, Dwarves are: bearded, greedy, goblin-hating craftsmen with axes and an uncanny connection to stone and earth. But for another gamer, Dwarves might just be short, stocky, gruff dudes (cf Dark Sun).

I hope you see my point--I really dig race-related traits, I just think the racial/cultural divide is a bit of extra book-keeping that doesn't get us very much.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

cr0m wrote:

Freakin' forum ate my beautiful post, but here's the gist.

Isn't the racial/cultural divide arbitrary? Take stonecunning. Is it due to the nature of dwarves and their bond with the earth? Or is it due to a cultural obsession with mining and craft?

If you designate certain traits racial, you're effectively telling GMs that in this game, Dwarves are traits A, B and C, but not D, E and F. But that line of what makes a Dwarf a Dwarf is different for different gamers.

Creating cultural and innae traits should have no impact on the average game (or on the average player). As an example, default dwarves would stay as is. However, by identifying some of their traits as cultural it would make things much easier for DMs and designers to lift them out and replace them with other balanced traits to suit the needs of a particular adventure or supplement.

I don't know if analogy helps or not but it popped into my head so I'll try it anyway :)

Imagine a washing machine with two components, one identifies it as a household appliance and the other identifies it specifically as a washing machine. By removing the component that identifies it as a washing machine and replacing it you can turn it into a stove, a refrigerator, or anything else; but it remains a household appliance.

So, the innate traits mean your character or NPC remains a dwarf. And, if all you want is a standard dwarf you don't do any tinkering. But if you want to play a jungle dwarf, a sea faring dwarf, a dwarf reared on the plane of shadow, an orphan raised by a clan of ninjas, etc; you can swap out the cultural stuff for traits more appropriate for that background.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

cr0m wrote:

Freakin' forum ate my beautiful post, but here's the gist.

Isn't the racial/cultural divide arbitrary? Take stonecunning. Is it due to the nature of dwarves and their bond with the earth? Or is it due to a cultural obsession with mining and craft?

If you designate certain traits racial, you're effectively telling GMs that in this game, Dwarves are traits A, B and C, but not D, E and F. But that line of what makes a Dwarf a Dwarf is different for different gamers.

For me, Dwarves are: bearded, greedy, goblin-hating craftsmen with axes and an uncanny connection to stone and earth. But for another gamer, Dwarves might just be short, stocky, gruff dudes (cf Dark Sun).

I hope you see my point--I really dig race-related traits, I just think the racial/cultural divide is a bit of extra book-keeping that doesn't get us very much.

It doesn't have to be more book-keeping. Not much anyway. Just strip out some feats that cannot be explained by physiology. Allow all characters a certain number of bonus feats. Some things currently designated racial feats can appear in there. When it makes sense, the prerequisite can say "Raised by dwarves; cannot be city-born" or whatever.

We already do this for humans and no one complains about the extra book-keeping.


I agree.

This is the way HARP does it - and I love it.

They have "backgrounds" which allow you to make a character from:
- wilderness
- aquatic
- urban
- desert

and several others. I've never cared for the idea that if I made a gnome who grew up on a boat in the middle of the ocean that he'd automatically know how to speak with burrowing mammals.

Dumb.


I understand exactly the intent behind having a group of racial traits that are set in stone, and a set of cultural traits that can be swapped to make Sea Dwarves, Jungle Dwarves, etc (not that I don't appreciate a good washing machine metaphor!).

But go back to my stonecunning example. How do you decide where to put that ability? Tarren says strip out anything that can't be explained by physiology... sure, but who decides what can or can't be explained?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for Jungle Dwarves. I just don't see that this racial/cultural thing gets us much, and it'll limit some people.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

cr0m wrote:

I understand exactly the intent behind having a group of racial traits that are set in stone, and a set of cultural traits that can be swapped to make Sea Dwarves, Jungle Dwarves, etc (not that I don't appreciate a good washing machine metaphor!).

But go back to my stonecunning example. How do you decide where to put that ability? Tarren says strip out anything that can't be explained by physiology... sure, but who decides what can or can't be explained?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for Jungle Dwarves. I just don't see that this racial/cultural thing gets us much, and it'll limit some people.

I'm glad you're a fan of washing machine metaphors :) It's such an obscure passion I rarely get a chance to express it in public...

As to who gets to make the decision about what constitutes a cultural trait, that sort of classification is still up to Jason and the rest of the Paizo warband.

The key is to demonstrate how using cultural traits makes things easier for design purposes (both professional and homebrew). If you start out with it built into the rules you don't have to find a way to handle it later on when the situation demands it.

You also don't necessarily have to balance the cultural traits of each race vis a vis each other. All you must do is make sure that you balance whatever new cultural traits you introduce for a race with what you took out.

On the stonecutting example. That looks to me like a cultural trait. But maybe there's something I missed. What was that reference to elementals upthread all about?

Liberty's Edge

Hal Maclean wrote:
On the stonecutting example. That looks to me like a cultural trait. But maybe there's something I missed. What was that reference to elementals upthread all about?

AFAICT the idea is that dwarves may actually have a touch of elemental earth in their blood, in a similar way tieflings have a touch of demonic blood, or the way Pathfinder gnomes are biologically very close to the fey. I could get behind that concept easily, although I'd also support Stonecunning as a cultural trait.

Back to the original idea, I'm very in favor of splitting off cultural and innate traits. I love the Traits system in Mike Mearls' Iron Heroes. IH has some traits such as:

Swampborn
You were raised in the fens. You get a +2 to Survival while in swamp or marshlands. Also, choose one of the following:

  • Swampswimmer - You get a +2 bonus to swim checks and on checks to hold your breath.
  • Muckdweller - You gain acid resistance 5 and a +2 to saves vs poison.
  • Marsh Recluse - You gain a +4 bonus to bluff, diplomacy, intimidate and sense motive checks vs creatures that typically live in swamps, but a -2 on such checks against non-swampdwellers.

Of course, I just made up the above, but you get the idea. This would be a great thing to do for the races, such as:

Dwarf Racial Traits
Dwarves have the following innate traits:

  • Darkvision 60'
  • Slow and steady
  • +2 vs magic and poison
  • etc.

In addition, dwarves receive one of the following cultural traits at creation:
  • Miner - Stonecunning
  • Sailor - +2 balance/swim/prof(sailor)
  • etc.

What do you think?

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

Jagyr Ebonwood wrote:


Dwarf Racial Traits
Dwarves have the following innate traits:
  • Darkvision 60'
  • Slow and steady
  • +2 vs magic and poison
  • etc.

In addition, dwarves receive one of the following cultural traits at creation:
  • Miner - Stonecunning
  • Sailor - +2 balance/swim/prof(sailor)
  • etc.

What do you think?

Wonderful.


still really excited and about this concept and hope some form of this makes the final cut. as far as cultural feats vs. simply dividing racial and cultural in the stats and letting the dm sort it out on his own after that. i, personally, would like to see feats. say the dwarf and half orc get 3 (since everyother race now gets 2 +2's to abilities as well the orc should have gotten some buff to off set that), the human and half elf get 1, the elf gnome and halfing get 2. it makes the human a little more fun too. but i'll take what i can get on this one.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

I'd offer the caveat that the variant racial stuff should be in the DM's section not the player's section. Making things look too complicated that early in a book sends up a red flag. Simply identifying some of the racial traits as cultural, and noting that you can swap them out for something else, opens up a lot of room for tweaking just with that. When coming up with bonus features I look for ways to create "optional invisibility" in the sense that you only need to see them if you want to.

One thing I'd suggest with cultural feats. Rather than using them as the mechanic for handling different backgrounds it might make more sense to use the backgrounds as prerequisites instead. So maybe you could create a feat called "Mud Dancer" and require a swamp background as the prereq.


cr0m wrote:
For me, Dwarves are: bearded, greedy, goblin-hating craftsmen with axes and an uncanny connection to stone and earth. But for another gamer, Dwarves might just be short, stocky, gruff dudes (cf Dark Sun).

And obsessive-compulsive. Don't forget that Athasian Dwarves are gentically OCD.

But I do see your point. The racial/cultural divide, if it has any place, is in the campaign sourcebook, not the core rules. While I disagree, I have to agree. And that statement does make sense if looked at sideways. ;-p


Tycho, Lord of Karran-Kural wrote:

This came up in our game; dead human, reincarnated as a dwarf.

While gaining all the dwarven traits, the human traits were specifically stated to be kept (skill points & feat) for an net gain.
I can see how that could be seen as abuse (though as one of the least munchkin members of the party, I wasn't going to refuse the benefit).
:)

LEAST munchkin? With a bard in the party? And your dance of the seven veils stuff? And ultra-optimized skills? And demanding spell books whilst not paying for them? A stranger to the truth and no mistake. Ha!


No cultural traits. That way lies madness.

I swear, the elves will schism at the drop of a hat, with each sub-race getting its own unique racial adjustments. What do we have now? Sun elves, moon elves, wood elves, drow, high elves, grey elves, wild elves, swamp elves... Plus half-elves, of course. One of the things WotC unquestionably got right was trimming elves down to three races, and I see nothing wrong with going right back to just elves and drow.

Cultural differences should be a matter for backgrounds and roleplaying, so far as I'm concerned, not for stat adjustments. Otherwise you're going to wind up with people picking the most advantageous set of adjustment for elven character x, and then going on to play them just as they would any other elf.

The Exchange

Kaile Stormfall of Heironeous wrote:
LEAST munchkin? With a bard in the party? And your dance of the seven veils stuff? And ultra-optimized skills? And demanding spell books whilst not paying for them? A stranger to the truth and no mistake. Ha!

Sorry, but I don't do the 'dance of the seven veils'.

You seem to have mistaken me for some kind of houri. Whilst I am almost impossibly handsome, and could probably earn quite a sum doing so, I am afraid I do not frequent the same circle of establishments as you obviously do, where men cavort with painted catamites.

I specialise in fatal self-defence with extreme prejudice.

And since when was a well-rounded education a bad thing?
I am baffled by preaching-folk and their insistence on doltishness being a virtue.
Admittedly, by well-rounded, I include the ability to defeat bonds, unlock cells, and palm lethal weapon onto my person.
And if you were to perform 100 two-knuckle press-ups before breakfast each day, as I do, to purify my mind for spell-preparation, then you too may one day be able to match my cat-like somersaults. And maybe even catch up with me in the 'hit point' department?

I know not these spellbooks of which you speak; I simply have a hobby of collecting a large library of bed-side reading. Such things are a mere trifle, obviously of no use to anyone else, since they have not seen fit to avail themselves of the many esoteric languages at my disposal. If you ever wish to sink a whole level's worth of skill into practicing your Ancient Suloise/Baklunish/Abyssal/Terran/Auran/Aquan, etc, I would be happy to let you share them.

And I still maintain I am the least munchkin of the lot of us, since, unlike our bard, I can't use a shoddy rules loophole to set my save DCs in the 40's.

See you Thursday :)

Scarab Sages

I gotta say, I ADORE this idea and would gladly use it in any game I ran.

However, that being said, for Paizo to do so as an official rules change would probably be on the far side of "backwards compatible" that they are talking about.

As an Unearthed Arcana-style rule variant, i think it would be awesome. And I know I'd use it.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

Chris Banks wrote:

No cultural traits. That way lies madness.

I swear, the elves will schism at the drop of a hat, with each sub-race getting its own unique racial adjustments. What do we have now? Sun elves, moon elves, wood elves, drow, high elves, grey elves, wild elves, swamp elves... Plus half-elves, of course. One of the things WotC unquestionably got right was trimming elves down to three races, and I see nothing wrong with going right back to just elves and drow.

To be fair, sun elves and moon elves are simply re-named for the Forgotten Realms setting, they aren't actually different mechanically from standard elves and high/grey elves (which I think are the same - though I could be wrong on that one.)


Tycho, Lord of Karran-Kural wrote:


Sorry, but I don't do the 'dance of the seven veils'.

You seem to have mistaken me for some kind of houri. Whilst I am almost impossibly handsome, and could probably earn quite a sum doing so, I am afraid I do not frequent the same circle of establishments as you obviously do, where men cavort with painted catamites.

Ha! Your perjury is obvious, as are your weak attempts at defamation. Heironeous rules. And you didn't even understand the subtle jibe I was making towards your munchkinism - your book learning has dulled you wizard!

Tycho, Lord of Karran-Kural wrote:
I specialise in fatal self-defence with extreme prejudice.

No, you specialise in near-death opportunism and dithering. Extreme prejudice is my domain (War or Glory - you can pick either).

Tycho, Lord of Karran-Kural wrote:

And since when was a well-rounded education a bad thing?

I am baffled by preaching-folk and their insistence on doltishness being a virtue.
Admittedly, by well-rounded, I include the ability to defeat bonds, unlock cells, and palm lethal weapon onto my person.
And if you were to perform 100 two-knuckle press-ups before breakfast each day, as I do, to purify my mind for spell-preparation, then you too may one day be able to match my cat-like somersaults. And maybe even catch up with me in the 'hit point' department?

I'll let you know the next time I'm reduced to half or less shall I? Hasn't happened in 10 levels but you never know eh? And who needs somersaults, when peity grants you all the Reflex save you'll ever need?

By the way, tried charming someone with your evident wit lately? Thought not. And before you fire that back at me I'm the one with scores of followers, all right?

Tycho, Lord of Karran-Kural wrote:
I know not these spellbooks of which you speak; I simply have a hobby of collecting a large library of bed-side reading. Such things are a mere trifle, obviously of no use to anyone else, since they have not seen fit to avail themselves of the many esoteric languages at my disposal. If you ever wish to sink a whole level's worth of skill into practicing your Ancient Suloise/Baklunish/Abyssal/Terran/Auran/Aquan, etc, I would be happy to let you share them.

And a Comprehend Languages would count as any of these, you faithless fop! Once again, you mistaked yourself with someone who can hide his dishonesty! Those are no tomes of creative writing, but books of power, and can be sold as such. Hand over the cash!

Tycho, Lord of Karran-Kural wrote:
And I still maintain I am the least munchkin of the lot of us, since, unlike our bard, I can't use a shoddy rules loophole to set my save DCs in the 40's.

Yeah well, he's not alone in that respect *cough*. Okay, well maybe not 40's, but near enough as makes no difference.

Tycho, Lord of Karran-Kural wrote:
See you Thursday :)

Can't wait :)


This idea is not backwards compatable but it IS a feature that would convince me to upgrade to PF. Reincarnate/polymorph has always been the weakest wonkiest part of 3E and I can see cultural traits as a good fix.

Stonecutting has both aspects IMHO. Since Dwarves are physicaly tough (high CON, barrel chested, hammer-masters) they've got a physical edge in digging. However I could see the spot and appraise bonuses being cultural in origin. A polymorphed or reincarnated Dwarf would still know his minerals right?

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

BossOfEarth wrote:

This idea is not backwards compatable but it IS a feature that would convince me to upgrade to PF. Reincarnate/polymorph has always been the weakest wonkiest part of 3E and I can see cultural traits as a good fix.

I don't know why it wouldn't be backwards compatable. Surely we could just assume that all the dwarves encountered up to now are "standard dwarves" (for lack of a better term) with all the typical cultural traits.

In future releases however making up new sorts of racial groups by swapping out cultural traits gets so much easier if we start out with them already identified.

Dark Archive

Hal Maclean wrote:
I don't know why it wouldn't be backwards compatable. Surely we could just assume that all the dwarves encountered up to now are "standard dwarves" (for lack of a better term) with all the typical cultural traits.

And this would be the ideal. Traits that are not inborn to the race, but are learned, could be marked with an asterisk. Different cultures of the same race might have different skill bonuses, racial enemies, favored weapons, etc. but that would be written up later under those regional variations.

Sub-races, on the other hand, such as Sea Elves vs. High Elves, would have different inborn abilities as well.

Even then the Sea Elves of the great abysal chasm might have one set of skill bonuses and a racial hatred of the local Sahuagin, while the Sea Elves of the inner freshwater sea might have never seen a Sahuagin, and have bonuses to deal with the human residents whose kingdoms ring the inner sea.

Hal Maclean wrote:
In future releases however making up new sorts of racial groups by swapping out cultural traits gets so much easier if we start out with them already identified.

And by just putting a single sentence in the front of the races chapter stating that asterisked racial traits are cultural things that may vary regionally, with those listed being the 'default' Dwarven traits or whatever, and then asterisking the 'learned' traits, it would be really easy to break them down without adding more than a sentence and some asterisks to the core race write-up.

Additionally, the Reincarnate spell could have a few words added to the text stating that the new character has the racial abilities of the new form, but not the cultural traits. The Elf-cum-Dwarf suddenly remembers her life as an Elf, and her familiarity with swords and bows, but doesn't have any sort of understanding of dwarven waraxes, since she doesn't remember ever using one or training with one. She's an Elf, recently reborn in a Dwarf's body.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Set wrote:


Hal Maclean wrote:
In future releases however making up new sorts of racial groups by swapping out cultural traits gets so much easier if we start out with them already identified.

And by just putting a single sentence in the front of the races chapter stating that asterisked racial traits are cultural things that may vary regionally, with those listed being the 'default' Dwarven traits or whatever, and then asterisking the 'learned' traits, it would be really easy to break them down without adding more than a sentence and some asterisks to the core race write-up.

Additionally, the Reincarnate spell could have a few words added to the text stating that the new character has the racial abilities of the new form, but not the cultural traits. The Elf-cum-Dwarf suddenly remembers her life as an Elf, and her familiarity with swords and bows, but doesn't have any sort of understanding of dwarven waraxes, since she doesn't remember ever using one or training with one. She's an Elf, recently reborn in a Dwarf's body.

Is there an emoticon for "forehead slap"? :)

Set, as it turns out that's exactly what I was hoping to see. For some silly reason I could not figure out an easy way to slip it in though.

But you just did. :)

Now it's up to the Pazoians to decide if they actually want to adopt the idea.

Geez, what a simple way to establish the idea and I just couldn't see it. Way to go Set!

Dark Archive

Hal Maclean wrote:

Set, as it turns out that's exactly what I was hoping to see. For some silly reason I could not figure out an easy way to slip it in though.

But you just did. :)

Eh, you led me there. I just pointed at what you led me to and said, 'This, yes?' :)

Ultimately, my goals are not to mess with backwards compatibility and to provide options, not restrictions. This does both. No change for those who don't want to have to relearn anything, and yet a framework that leaves the *option* to tweak cultural traits for those who want to do so.


My take:

All bonus languages and favored classes (with the exception of half-elves and humans who get to pick their favored class) are cutural

Dwarves - Stonecunning, Greed, Weapon Familiarity, Hatred, and Defensive Training are cultural
Elves - assuming that Elven Magic is a trait of elves' innate magic, only Weapon Familiarity is cutural
Gnomes - Gnome Magic seems innate/sorcerous, so that stays racial, but Obessive, Weapon Familiarity, Hatred, and Defensive Training are cultural
Half-Elves - assuming adaptability is a racial trait, there are no other cultural benfits to this race
Half-Orcs - Weapon Familiarity is cutural
Halflings - Weapon Familiarity is cultural, I assume fearlessness is a racial trait
Humans - no other racial benefits

The problem is that the races are balanced, they're just not balanced along racial and cultural lines. So if you break these up between racial and cultural bonuses, Dwarves are going to be practically customizable while Half-Orcs (that can grow up in at least orc or human cultures) are very rigid.

I like the idea of the split very very much. I just don't think its possible without tossing out the idea of compatibility.

The Exchange

I spent one level in my new form, unable to speak Dwarven (now rectified).
It would have been highly embarrassing to have been addressed in that tongue, and stand there like a moron, going "Huh?".

The Exchange

Kaile Stormfall of Heironeous wrote:


By the way, tried charming someone with your evident wit lately? Thought not. And before you fire that back at me I'm the one with scores of followers, all right?

I'm sorry, but I was under the impression that at least 100 of them only turned up to follow your cloak around?

:)


To Tycho and Faile,

argumentum ad hominum should be discouraged... it's very unbecoming IMHO and detracts from the force of the ideas you are trying to champion.


Tycho, Lord of Karran-Kural wrote:
I'm sorry, but I was under the impression that at least 100 of them only turned up to follow your cloak around?

Nope, my leadership is over 25 'au naturelle'. You can cough, splutter and go "what the...?" round about now :-)

Plus, stop trying to crash the disbelief - I believe that items only release the potential within the character rather than look glittery. I can't imagine paladins and clerics following me around coz they like the look of my cloak.

And I'm pretty sure you've got items that would make you crash and burn without them :-) Is that a headband you've got on there? Or have you gone for the cheesy different slot item option?

:-)


Praetor Gradivus wrote:

To Tycho and Faile,

argumentum ad hominum should be discouraged... it's very unbecoming IMHO and detracts from the force of the ideas you are trying to champion.

Right. My apologies Praetor. Me and Tycho know each other and we're not really arguing. We're abusing this thread accidentally because I post without context. Hence the apology. If I really wanted to get a point across I'd wait til I saw him on Thursday and give him a smack :-)

If I'm allowed to be on topic for a minute, I have a couple of thoughts:

I really like what Hal and Set have been saying, and I would use it in my own game. I wonder how many rules there needs to be about this kind of stuff though? Reincarnation is a fairly rare occurrence - rare enough for a DM to make an ad-hoc arrangement wrt racial/cultural/inherent abilities of the character concerned. And as far as npcs go, either the players are encountering a single example of the 'air dwarf' or 'mud elf' out of their own environment and can be dealt with individually, or the players are going into their territory and the DM would be advised to look at all the mods for appropriateness anyway (rules to govern them are hopefully self-evident in these cases - a few of them are on the thread already).

How many different types of dwarf, elf, gnome races (as opposed to odd individuals) do we need anyway? Diminishing returns imho.

What do you all think?

(there, and not an ad-hominum attack in sight :-)

Kaile Stormfall of Heironious (posting as his less aggressive player)

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Set wrote:
Hal Maclean wrote:

Set, as it turns out that's exactly what I was hoping to see. For some silly reason I could not figure out an easy way to slip it in though.

But you just did. :)

Eh, you led me there. I just pointed at what you led me to and said, 'This, yes?' :)

Ultimately, my goals are not to mess with backwards compatibility and to provide options, not restrictions. This does both. No change for those who don't want to have to relearn anything, and yet a framework that leaves the *option* to tweak cultural traits for those who want to do so.

Absolutely right, and dead on to what I was hoping to see. Your idea almost makes me want to light a cigar and say, "I love it when a plan comes together" :)

Here's hoping Jason things its worth the trouble.

Scarab Sages

Praetor Gradivus wrote:

To Tycho and Kaile,

argumentum ad hominum should be discouraged... it's very unbecoming IMHO and detracts from the force of the ideas you are trying to champion.

Matt Devney wrote:
Right. My apologies Praetor. Me and Tycho know each other and we're not really arguing. We're abusing this thread accidentally because I post without context. Hence the apology. If I really wanted to get a point across I'd wait til I saw him on Thursday and give him a smack :-)

Yes, sorry for jacking this thread, but he's just so cute when he gets defensive :)

We aren't really arguing IRL, just in character, and even then, it's all in jest. These characters have bumped heads for the last 2 years, but we've also saved each others bacon countless times, too. It's more like brothers giving each other a ribbing. <tear comes to my eye>

Matt Devney wrote:

If I'm allowed to be on topic for a minute, I have a couple of thoughts:

I wonder how many rules there needs to be about this kind of stuff though? Reincarnation is a fairly rare occurrence - rare enough for a DM to make an ad-hoc arrangement wrt racial/cultural/inherent abilities of the character concerned.

Yes, though the fact remains that there is a huge discrepancy in the PC races, both in the number of racial abilities, and the balance of physical to learned. So much so, that I wouldn't be surprised if there were scores of threads on the character optimisation boards specifically suggesting ways to get oneself bumped off and manipulate the reincarnation result.

Matt Devney wrote:
How many different types of dwarf, elf, gnome races (as opposed to odd individuals) do we need anyway? Diminishing returns imho.

Many of these variant races seem to be a way to circumvent the favoured class restrictions.

Let's make up a new race of elf, a Wood Elf, that lives in the woods, and can freely take Ranger levels!
Yeah!
Then, let's make up another race of elf, a Wild Elf, that erm...lives in the woods, and erm...can freely take Barbarian levels.
Hmm, yeah.
Then, maybe we could, you know, have a new race of elves that erm... lives in the erm...
In the woods, maybe?
Erm yeah, in the woods, and can freely take Druid levels...
You're just taking the piss, now...

Dark Archive

Matt Devney wrote:
How many different types of dwarf, elf, gnome races (as opposed to odd individuals) do we need anyway? Diminishing returns imho.

None at all, if none of the players want to play a dwarf, elf or gnome.

An endless variety, if even one of my players wants to play such a critter, and it doesn't mess with my game.

I only say 'no' if it matters, and if someone in my Greyhawk-set Freeport game wanted to play a Grugach or a 'Valley Gnome' from the Vale of the Mage, I'd be fine with that. I don't mind elves and dwarves and gnomes having as much variety as humans.

They've had subrace options since 1st edition, with Gygax's six different elven sub-races, and three different halfling subraces, and it never really bugged me. It's just part of the setting. A Grugach here, a High Elf there. A turban-wearing pipe-smoking Bakluni here, a barge-poling shifty Rhenee there, a Sueloise albino supremacist there.

Options = good, in my book.

And yeah, I definitely think that Humans should get some cultural options as well, sort of like the Regional feats used in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. That was a great idea. Ideally, each Regional Feat would give access to / or bonuses to one or more skills common to the region, and some other minor bonus, and perhaps some signature gear, much like the way the Realms does it.

Scarab Sages

I think the idea of splitting up cultural and innate racials is a great idea. I think it creates a mechanic that encourages roleplay: have a dwarf that is the woodsy type? or a half-orc raised by halflings...the rules can more easily handle it this way.

I don't think it's necessarily a "must have" in the way of mechanics, but it's a simple fix, which would be backwards compatible (since nothing has changed about the traits-just their classification) and which adds to the game as a whole. I figure why not add this in!

Dark Archive

Here's me take on where things are divided...

Physical Vs Cultural Traits for Pathfinder RPG(v1.1)
The following is an attempt to categorize the racial traits of the races supplied in Pathfinder RPG into two groups: those that are traits like size, speed and vision (called Physical Traits), and those traits that reflect some training or mental abilities such as weapon familiarity, languages, and favored class (called Cultural Traits) primarily for the use of creating subraces (hatred, defensive training, languages, and favored class are all easily changed) and the reincarnate spell and similar race changing effects.
I realize that these aren't probably balanced especially humans whose abilities are categorized as entirely culturally related except for size and speed.
I also included the ability score modifiers, but with half-elf and humans' +2 any one ability score racial traits could pose the problem of a Human being reincarnated as a half-elf or vice versa and acquiring an additional physical ability score modifier, therefore if a human or half elf is reincarnated as a human or half-elf I would suggest only allowing them to use this modifier if he/she applied it to a physical ability score modifier at character creation.

Dwarf
The following are Physical Traits of Dwarfs
+2 Con
Medium
Slow and Steady
Darkvision
Keen Senses
Hearty
Stability

The following are Cultural Traits of Dwarfs
+2 Wis, -2 Cha
Stonecunning
Weapon Familiarity
Greed
Hatred
Defensive Training
Languages
Favored Class

Elf
The following are Physical Traits of Elves
+2 Dex, -2 Con
Medium
Normal Speed
Low-Light Vision
Keen Senses
Unnatural Beauty

The following are Cultural Traits of Elves
+2 Int
Elven Immunities
Elven Magic
Weapon Familiarity
Favored Class

Gnome
+2 Con, -2 Str
The following are Physical Traits of Gnomes
Small
Slow Speed
Low-Light Vision
Keen Senses
Gnome Magic

The following are Cultural Traits of Gnomes
+2 Cha
Obsessive
Illusion Resistant
Weapon Familiarity
Hatred
Defensive Training
Languages
Favored Class

Half-Elf
The following are Physical Traits of Half-Elves
+2 Any Physical Ability Score (or the +2 Any Mental Ability Score Cultural Trait)
Medium
Normal Speed
Low-Light Vision
Elf Blood

The following are Cultural Traits of Half-Elves
+2 Any Mental Ability Score(or the +2 Any Physical Ability Score Physical Trait)
Elven Immunities
Adaptability
Languages
Favored Class

Half-Orc
The following are Physical Traits of Half-Orc
+2 Str
Medium
Normal Speed
Darkvision
Orc Blood

The following are Cultural Traits of Half-Orc
+2 Wis, -2 Cha
Weapon Familiarity
Orc Ferocity
Languages
Favored Class

Halfling
The following are Physical Traits of Halfling
+2 Dex, -2 Str
Small
Slow Speed
Keen Senses
Sure Footed

The following are Cultural Traits of Halfling
+2 Int
Halfling Luck
Fearless
Weapon Familiarity
Languages
Favored Class

Human
The following are Physical Traits of Humans
+2 Any Physical Ability Score(or the +2 Any Mental Ability Score Cultural Trait)
Medium
Normal Speed

The following are Cultural Traits of Humans
+2 Any Mental Ability Score(or the +2 Any Physical Ability Score Physical Trait)
Bonus Feat
Skilled
Weapon Training
Languages
Favored Class


David Wickham wrote:
Here's me take on where things are divided...

I disagree with nearly every entry you have. I will give one example, since I don't want to spam the thread: How is luck a trained ability? Halfling or no, how do you train yourself to be luckier?

The problem is, every one of these is different in different settings. In Dark Sun, stonecunning was a cultural feature (that Athasian Dwarves don't possess). In Forgotten Realms, a Dwarf raised by jackals would retain stonecunning. You can't just artificially split apart the traits like that in the core rules - you're infringing far too much on campaign settings based on those rules.

Set wrote:
I only say 'no' if it matters, and if someone in my Greyhawk-set Freeport game wanted to play a Grugach or a 'Valley Gnome' from the Vale of the Mage, I'd be fine with that. I don't mind elves and dwarves and gnomes having as much variety as humans.

I disagree with you as well, on virtually everything said in this paragraph. The philosophy of "only say no when it matters" is the path of letting game-breakers and setting-wrong things into the game.

Elves and dwarves can't have as much variety as humans. One of the coolness characteristics of the humans is variety - if elves and dwarves had the same variety, you'd go back to the 2nd ed "why would I ever play a human" phenomenon - there's simply no reason to.

EDIT: To clarify, my preferred philosophy is, "Only say yes if it fits."


Just wanted to comment that it seems to me this is much easier handled with Traits (and possibly Flaws) from Unearthed Arcana (in the SRD). I recall seeing a good number of 2nd source ones (Shackled City perhaps?) that removed some racial traits in exchange for something else.

e.g.
Human-Raised
Prereq: half-human, racial weapon proficiency
Effect: You were raised by your human parent in exclusively human society. You lose your normal racial weapon proficiencies and gain:
Alpha: one trained skill; or 3.5: 4 skill points.

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