Thoughts on 'race-norming'...


Homebrew and House Rules


We've had instances of this in recent campaigns where the player wanted to be one race mechanically but another race for RP, flavor purposes. One wanted to play a Rogue using human racial stats and abilities but conceptually preferred the idea of an uncharacteristically viscous elf. Another wanted the Kitsune's mechanical benefits but preferred to be a human for RP purposes.

Has anyone else ever done this and what are your thoughts about the practice in general? In both cases it seemed to work out fine since the changes were cosmetic. I can understand the game preferring to keep the races unique from each other but in practical application I can't see a reason to forbid the practice...


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I don't get the need to do that.

For the rogue: Human raised by nasty elves. (adopted trait)
For Kitsune: they have a human form, so the RP purposes does not make sense to me imo.

I'm not a big fan of reskinning as race to another existing race. Just play the existing race.

Silver Crusade

The clue is your final sentence. If you are the GM and you don't have a problem with it then go right ahead.

That said I wouldn't allow it. Part of the fun of the all the races is their distinctiveness. If you just let an Elf take Human traits then they aren't an Elf just a Human in an Elf suit.


I've allowed it as a GM, even suggested it to players on occasion, and have no problem with it at all. Since the rules are straight out of the book, the characters don't cause power/balance problems. And, so long as the swap is withing my groups tolerance for believability (I wouldn't allow "ogre with stats of a goblin" for example) there's no harm done to the flavor of the game either.

I do the same thing for weapons occasionally as well, like a pirate who wields a "scimitar" by the rules, but describes it as a "cutlass".


I would probably go completely one way or the other. So either:

  • Everyone buys their own racial abilities with points, a la the ARG, or
  • Everyone uses the "stock" races out of the Core Rulebook.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I wouldn't have a problem with this as DM. Heck, if it makes it easier for them to hit the concept they want, then all the better! The last thing I want is to have a player with an awesome concept have to shelve it because the race that fits just wouldn't mechanically match up with what they need.


Viscous elves...

Liberty's Edge

Sissyl wrote:
Viscous elves...

I wonder if they're good on pancakes?


StabbittyDoom wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
Viscous elves...
I wonder if they're good on pancakes?

They make a tasty dip for lembas bread.


Just have them take a crack at the ARG. Design a race to their flavor. He could make it a half-breed Humanoid(Human, Kitsune) if he wants or just straight up Humanoid(Human) but with some Kitsune-like traits. But it'd be odd that he's mechanically a Kitsune and responds to Bane effects as if he were a Humanoid(Kitsune) but is RPing it up as if he's a Human.


I'm somewhat curious how much these players are trying to have their cake and eat it too. I mean, the appeal of being a human mechanically is obvious. You get a free feat, skill, and choice of where your stat point goes. Best race for optimizing basically any character concept. Those are the consolation for having no other racial perks of any kind though.

For instance, did the elf player give up getting elven as a free language, low-light vision, and the crazy long lifespan? Did the kitsune player give up the low-light vision, the bite, and the shapeshifting? If so, how was this all rationalized? If not, why would anyone in your campaign want to play an actual human?


This has honestly never come up for me as a player or GM. The closest thing would be the case where a player wanted to play a racial class archetype that didn't refer to any specific abilities of the race (in this case, plantspeaker druid) but was entirely based on culture. I have 0 problem with that.

I wouldn't let one of my players totally reskin a race, though. The races are what they are at my table. Then again, coming from a group that is roleplaying-first, gaming second, I don't see the need.


Damocles Guile wrote:

We've had instances of this in recent campaigns where the player wanted to be one race mechanically but another race for RP, flavor purposes. One wanted to play a Rogue using human racial stats and abilities but conceptually preferred the idea of an uncharacteristically viscous elf. Another wanted the Kitsune's mechanical benefits but preferred to be a human for RP purposes.

With all due respect, all of these races are basically humanity in the first place, just different aspects of it. Their behavior is very understandable from a human psychology perspective. Therefore, seeing as how the "races" are basically just human minds/perspectives in a different outfit, there really isn't much of an issue here.

Play the character in any way you wish. The only caveat I would make is that traditionally villainous races like orcs, goblins, drow etc are going to be VERY unpopular with most NPC's, and perhaps would be hunted by their kin.


Sissyl wrote:
Viscous elves...

They sound very sticky. Slimy too.

Liberty's Edge

Given how many abilities can be swapped in and out for many races, it would be unusual but not entirely impossible for an elf to be born without low-light vision, or a human with or any number of other slightly-but-not-grossly off combinations. This is especially true between human and elf because they cross-breed, potentially allowing someone to be mostly human, but have just enough elf to manage to manifest low-light vision, or be mostly elf but be just enough human to lose out on low-light vision.

@Big Lemon: I also plan on (in our next campaign) removing the restrictions on most racial archetypes and feats. Most of them only have flavor connections to the base race and I don't like restricting concepts for arbitrary reasons. Adventurers are *supposed* to be the exceptions, dangit! Let 99% of Forgemaster clerics be dwarves, but don't tell me a human couldn't do it too! (Especially if raised by dwarves.)


so i can't call my Onispawn tiefling barbarian a half giant? despite being over 8 feet tall and Oni basically being Japanese Demonic Giants.

Can i at least call my pajama-clad purple haired anemic Samsaran conjurer a Yokai Magician specialized in the 5 elements?

Can i call my Female Silver Haired Human Barbarian a claymore?

Can my aasimaar necromancer's celestial ancestor be a Shinigami?

Can my fetchling bard have nymph ancestry instead of human and a pair of vestigial shadow wings that serve no mechanical purpose?

Can my catfolk look like a human female with the ears and tail of a cat?

Can my Undine Cleric of Seiryu have a scaly section on her pale skin that vaguely resembles a japanese school swimsuit in shape?


Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:


Can i call my Female Silver Haired Human Barbarian a claymore?

Depends. Does she have Fast Healing?


Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:


Can my Undine Cleric of Seiryu have a scaly section on her pale skin that vaguely resembles a japanese school swimsuit in shape?

(opens mouth to say something inappropriate...decides against it...for now)

Dark Archive

Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:

so i can't call my Onispawn tiefling barbarian a half giant? despite being over 8 feet tall and Oni basically being Japanese Demonic Giants.

Can i at least call my pajama-clad purple haired anemic Samsaran conjurer a Yokai Magician specialized in the 5 elements?

Can i call my Female Silver Haired Human Barbarian a claymore?

Can my aasimaar necromancer's celestial ancestor be a Shinigami?

Can my fetchling bard have nymph ancestry instead of human and a pair of vestigial shadow wings that serve no mechanical purpose?

Can my catfolk look like a human female with the ears and tail of a cat?

Can my Undine Cleric of Seiryu have a scaly section on her pale skin that vaguely resembles a japanese school swimsuit in shape?

[Maybe NSFW?]I see what you are doing here, and I am okay with it.[/Maybe NSFW?]

Spoiler:
That'd be a Sahaugin, not an Undine, though.


Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can i at least call my pajama-clad purple haired anemic Samsaran conjurer a Yokai Magician specialized in the 5 elements?

Wouldn't be much use when your spellbook keeps getting stolen by the blond-haired blaster wizard girl :P


Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
so i can't call my Onispawn tiefling barbarian a half giant? despite being over 8 feet tall and Oni basically being Japanese Demonic Giants.

Yes you can. Calling yourself something is not the same as being something. Like Uwe Bol calling himself a movie maker.

Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can i at least call my pajama-clad purple haired anemic Samsaran conjurer a Yokai Magician specialized in the 5 elements?

yup.

Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can i call my Female Silver Haired Human Barbarian a claymore?

Sure...

Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can my aasimaar necromancer's celestial ancestor be a Shinigami?

Or a bladebound kensei :-)

Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can my fetchling bard have nymph ancestry instead of human and a pair of vestigial shadow wings that serve no mechanical purpose?

Fey ancestry from the human side. Why not?

Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can my catfolk look like a human female with the ears and tail of a cat?

You realize you'll be targeted by conjuration specialists who specialize in casting Black Tentacles?

Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can my Undine Cleric of Seiryu have a scaly section on her pale skin that vaguely resembles a japanese school swimsuit in shape?

Anachronistic in look, but cool none the less.


darkwarriorkarg wrote:
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can my catfolk look like a human female with the ears and tail of a cat?

You realize you'll be targeted by conjuration specialists who specialize in casting Black Tentacles?

More like : Tentacles of Forced Intrusion


kyrt-ryder wrote:
darkwarriorkarg wrote:
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can my catfolk look like a human female with the ears and tail of a cat?

You realize you'll be targeted by conjuration specialists who specialize in casting Black Tentacles?

More like : Tentacles of Forced Intrusion

This could be a school sub-specialty, like the infernalist.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Damocles Guile wrote:

We've had instances of this in recent campaigns where the player wanted to be one race mechanically but another race for RP, flavor purposes. One wanted to play a Rogue using human racial stats and abilities but conceptually preferred the idea of an uncharacteristically viscous elf. Another wanted the Kitsune's mechanical benefits but preferred to be a human for RP purposes.

Has anyone else ever done this and what are your thoughts about the practice in general? In both cases it seemed to work out fine since the changes were cosmetic. I can understand the game preferring to keep the races unique from each other but in practical application I can't see a reason to forbid the practice...

Well, If your the GM and you are fine with it, and your players are happy..I say go right ahead.

However, to me it seems that picking one set of racial abilites and matching it to the race "skin" of your choice,,,,,,well it kind of defeats the idea of racial abilities all together. there would then be no difference in what race you wanted to play, just the "package" of "race abilites" you want to use for your character.

I would prefer to keep things as they are, and wouldn't allow "racial reskining". That's just my preference.

Dark Archive

The only "racial reskinning" I have ever done was making a Tiefling character who was born to a pair of dwarves. The only difference was that he had the physical characteristics (height, weight, beardiness) of a Dwarf, instead of a Human. His mechanics were 100% the same as a standard Tiefling.

If the DM is okay with it, sure, why not? But at my table, if you want to play a character that's a Catperson, but you want the stats and racial abilities of a Half-elf... well, you'll end up playing a Half-elf with a cat-ear headband. Relentless teasing may or may not be included.


I can't really understand the appeal, unless their racial trait discrepancy is somehow explained in the backstory. The players could work in some fairly easy explanations.

The elf was raised in a human society...

The kitsune character is trapped in his human form and unaware of his heritage...

Reskinning the aforementioned characters is fairly simple and I wouldn't have any beef with it, but you can easily take it too far. If the players simply wanted the kit because they like it, and had no interest in roleplaying a character with a background that explains the swapped racial traits, I wouldn't allow it.

Best of luck.


A player wants pointy ears without giving up a feat? I'd throw that munchkin out of my game for trying to have their cake and eat it too and for making races meaningless.

Dark Archive

Roberta Yang wrote:
A player wants pointy ears without giving up a feat? I'd throw that munchkin out of my game for trying to have their cake and eat it too and for making races meaningless.

Surely there are wizards who make novelty fake elf ears for humans. Wouldn't even cost that much!


You could always do the Orc and Elf poser thing like from shadow run.


Roberta Yang wrote:
A player wants pointy ears without giving up a feat? I'd throw that munchkin out of my game for trying to have their cake and eat it too and for making races meaningless.

As if pointy ears couldn't be a throwback to an Elven ancestor too far back to make the character a half-elf :P


Katz wrote:
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can i at least call my pajama-clad purple haired anemic Samsaran conjurer a Yokai Magician specialized in the 5 elements?
Wouldn't be much use when your spellbook keeps getting stolen by the blond-haired blaster wizard girl :P

Lawl. somebody got the reference.


darkwarriorkarg wrote:
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
so i can't call my Onispawn tiefling barbarian a half giant? despite being over 8 feet tall and Oni basically being Japanese Demonic Giants.
Yes you can. Calling yourself something is not the same as being something. Like Uwe Bol calling himself a movie maker.

i was thinking of reskinning. she would have the onispawn goodies, but her ancestor would be a giant rather than a true oni

darkwarriorkarg wrote:
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can i at least call my pajama-clad purple haired anemic Samsaran conjurer a Yokai Magician specialized in the 5 elements?
yup.

somebody got the reference. i intended to describe her as more like the reference i was making

darkwarriorkarg wrote:
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can i call my Female Silver Haired Human Barbarian a claymore?
Sure...

as long as she can be a member of the claymore organization and her greatsword bears a crest on the blade to serve as her grave marker should she die

darkwarriorkarg wrote:
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can my aasimaar necromancer's celestial ancestor be a Shinigami?
Or a bladebound kensei :-)

i was thinking more along the lines of the Grim Reaper or Charon than Bleach. Komachi Onozuka would be a better fit

darkwarriorkarg wrote:
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can my fetchling bard have nymph ancestry instead of human and a pair of vestigial shadow wings that serve no mechanical purpose?
Fey ancestry from the human side. Why not?

the fey ancestry would replace the human side with no mechanical changes. all fluff

darkwarriorkarg wrote:
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can my catfolk look like a human female with the ears and tail of a cat?
You realize you'll be targeted by conjuration specialists who specialize in casting Black Tentacles?

let the tentacles come, Kitty doesn't mind. nor does she care.

darkwarriorkarg wrote:
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
Can my Undine Cleric of Seiryu have a scaly section on her pale skin that vaguely resembles a japanese school swimsuit in shape?
Anachronistic in look, but cool none the less.

the scales would mostly be on the torso, from shoulders to hips, resembling a school swimsuit in design on all parts. but it would really be an unusual draconic scale growth that also provides modesty.

+5 Toaster wrote:
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:


Can my Undine Cleric of Seiryu have a scaly section on her pale skin that vaguely resembles a japanese school swimsuit in shape?
(opens mouth to say something inappropriate...decides against it...for now)
i was thinking more the swimsuit design itself would made of scales, not scaly limbs with a swimsuit.
Arbane the Terrible wrote:
Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:


Can i call my Female Silver Haired Human Barbarian a claymore?

Depends. Does she have Fast Healing?

she doesn't, unless we make a rage power for it


Think of it this way, the Elf was adopted to a human family at an early age and because of this he/she has gained the human feat training, skill training and because of all that human food and culture he now is basically human in all respects but he will still have the Elvin immunity to sleep. All things that come with training will be easy to explain away , even the racial stats saying that the stats are more due to training then race.

The +2 dex and intellect can be said to be training a because of the fact that being nimble of body and smarts in real life can be trained into someone. The -2 con can be said to be because of there training of mind then became frail, look at smart people in real life they can be said to be nimble and smart but usually can't take much of a beating.

The stuff like Low-Light Vision, Elven Immunities, Elven Magic, Keen Senses, that all genetics and can't be trained.

That said there was a variant rule i think it was in the the unearthed arcana that made it possible.

As for the tefling being a dwarf in the blood of angle and blood of fiends there is a rule that stats you get all the racial stats of the aasimar/tefling but you look like a dwarf with his size, that's it, you don't get slow and steady or anything else besides the size and the look of the race.

Dark Archive

Of course. That's exactly how he was made, and where I got the idea in the first place.

There was ABSOLUTELY NO MECHANCICAL EFFECT on the actual character. And that's how it should be, in my opinion. And that's certainly how it is at my table when I'm DMing.


In saying that about Aasimar and Teflings, a gnome versions would be small with a 30ft movement but still have the +4 stealth bonus as he is small.

Dark Archive

That sounds incorrect.

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/races/other-races/featured-races/arg-aasimar wrote:

Not all aasimars are descended from humans. Aasimars can be born of any intelligent race, though human aasimars are the most common. Aasimars of other races usually exemplify the ideals of beauty and skill as seen by their base race. For example, halfling aasimars are small, beautifully proportioned, and display exceptional grace. Half-orc aasimars are slightly larger and stronger than ordinary orcs, with tough skin and metallic claws and tusks—they are likely to be neutral rather than evil, but still display aggression and incredible combat prowess. Less common humanoids, such as lizardfolk, catfolk, tengus, and others, can also produce aasimars, though given these races’ exotic appearance, members of the more common races may have trouble telling such aasimars apart from their kin.

It should be noted that while any creature that breeds with a celestial may give birth to half-celestial offspring, only humanoids can give birth to aasimars. Thus, while it’s possible to encounter a half-celestial dragon, unicorn, or griffon, any children of such creatures would be either half-celestials or normal members of their race. (And just as often, these less conventional half-celestials are sterile.) When discussing half-celestials and aasimars, it’s important to distinguish them from both true celestials (angels, azatas, agathions, etc.) and simple celestial creatures (creatures with the celestial template, which are themselves denizens of the good-aligned Outer Planes but similar in many ways to their Material Plane counterparts). Most aasimars also have a difficult time getting people to grasp distinctions between celestial types, with common folk erroneously grouping all such beings together as “angels.”

Non-human aasimars have the same statistics as human aasimars with the exception of size. Thus a halfling aasimar is Small but otherwise possesses the same statistics and abilities as a human aasimar—the difference is purely cosmetic. Non-human aasimars do not possess any of the racial abilities of their base race. However, they are usually raised in the same cultural context as other members of their base race, and thus generally adopt the same fighting style as their peers, use the same types of weapons and armor, and study the same skills.

Emphasis mine.

Liberty's Edge

Seranov wrote:
Non-human aasimars have the same statistics as human aasimars with the exception of size. Thus a halfling aasimar is Small but otherwise possesses the same statistics and abilities as a human aasimar—the difference is purely cosmetic. Non-human aasimars do not possess any of the racial abilities of their base race. However, they are usually raised in the same cultural context as other members of their base race, and thus generally adopt the same fighting style as their peers, use the same types of weapons and armor, and study the same skills.

Changed the emphasis.

EDIT: Since the emphasized text is part of the clause about statistics, size is the exception that aasimars have the same statistics regardless of base race. This means they get to have that +1 to attack, -1 to CMB, etc.


I have a quick question about aasimars and teflings in the blood of angles and blood of fiends, im dm's a campagine we are all aasimars, there is an optional rule for the variant racial abilities by giving up their spell like ability, it states that if the gm approves they can choose and 1 of the abilities, now all 6 stats are in there as +2 and 100% is pick 2 chooses so i let the people roll to see if they got 100 and if they did i let pick 2 variant abilities.

Do you think that was smart?

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