Race Point Issue on the Undine's Acid Breath Alternate Trait


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


According to the Advanced Race Guide:

*Acid Breath: Undines whose outsider heritage can be traced to a water mephit can wield acid as a weapon. Such an undine has a breath weapon that is a 5-foot cone of acidic water usable once per day. The breath deals 1d8 points of acid damage per two character levels (maximum 5d8). A Reflex saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 the undine's level + the undine's Constitution modifier) halves the damage. This racial trait replaces the spell-like ability racial trait.*

The undine's spell-like ability racial trait costs about 1 RP.

So how does Acid Breath have the same cost as the undine's spell-like ability? By itself, a breath weapon costs about 1 RP. Add in the Powerful Breath (+1 RP) and Increased Damage (+1d8/ 2 levels. Max. 5d8. = 4 RP?), and the above trait should cost 6 RP.

I am guessing that the reduced range of this breath weapon plus the spacing of the Increased Damage special to every 2 levels brought down the cost back down to 1 RP. But I do not know how they reduced the cost.

Does anyone have an idea on how the math was done here?

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm not even sure what is the question here...are you confused because you think that alternate racial trait should be the same value as the trait they are replacing?

You will often find out looking around that it isn't the case just by going through a few races with alternate racial traits. Alternate racial traits value are not created equal.


Eltacolibre wrote:

I'm not even sure what is the question here...are you confused because you think that alternate racial trait should be the same value as the trait they are replacing?

You will often find out looking around that it isn't the case just by going through a few races with alternate racial traits. Alternate racial traits value are not created equal.

No, what I am trying to figure out is how the people who created that alternate racial trait for the undine got it to equal 1 RP (the same cost as the undines' spell-like ability). The undines are the only race in the Advanced Race Guide who have two different breath weapons listed as alternate racial traits in that book. And neither one completely follows the breath weapon trait mentioned in the Race Builder chapter at the end of that book.

If I could figure out how Paizo did the math for that particular alternate trait, then I could do something similar when using the Race Builder.


The designers don’t use the race builder is how they do the math. The race builder is not really that good. It is a GM tool to create races so should only be done by the GM who can overrule anything he needs to.


I think the mistake is expecting the traits to be equivalent cost and they often aren't. I think they started with a pile of traits and replaced what looked good and NOT what was the closest in cost. It's easier to pretend that they added the RP costs after they figured out what trait replaced which ones.


Indeed, the race builder and RP points are useful as loose guidelines, but I've seen it is rather easy to build races with lower RP and races with higher RP and have the lower RP ones be notably stronger than the higher RP ones.

There's two ways to think about this with the undine though.
Either breath weapons when they scale the way it does only cost 1RP
Or the designers don't stick strictly with the race builder's concept of RP when making alternate traits. I think the later is more likely.

But, if you are really needing for some reason to stay within a certain RP, I guess just figure a breath weapon that scales like that one is worth 1rp, as, there's no official source I'm aware of that clarifies this.


As pointed out in this thread, Race Points are problematic for use as anything other than a very vague guide. For example, Sulis cost 16 RP; Fetchlings cost 17 RP; and Svirfneblins cost **24** RP; they are not terrible, but they aren't THAT good. Going the other way, the other Elemental-touched races cost 6 to 7 RP, but they aren't THAT bad.


Farastu wrote:
Indeed, the race builder and RP points are useful as loose guidelines, but I've seen it is rather easy to build races with lower RP and races with higher RP and have the lower RP ones be notably stronger than the higher RP ones.

yep. I find several RP costs off as some things seem overvalued. For instance, a +2 to a skill has the same cost as 2 elemental resistances.


You will notice that this "breath weapon" has a 5-foot cone. So it can only hit a single creature that is adjacent to the undine.

The standard 1 RP breath weapon has a 15-foot cone or 30-foot line. It's possible to hit 6 small/medium creatures with that.

A 1/day energy attack that affects 1 adjacent opponent for reasonable damage is probably worth 1 RP. It is not area effect in any real sense of the word (except against swarms) and the damage it does should be less than the damage you are doing with your normal attacks.

The reality is the basic breath weapon in the race builder is a joke. Decent for 1st level characters but within a few levels it becomes a novelty and is useless for actual combat. The ability should have scaled by level.


UnArcaneElection wrote:
Sulis cost 16 RP...

Actually, this one is wrong. The person who did the math didn't double check their work.

According to the list, Suli "pay" 4 RP for their elemental assault ability. This is an error. 1 RP gets you an elemental assault that targets one energy type. 4 RP therefore would get you one separate energy assault for each energy type, for a total of 4 per day. That would be pretty awesome.

But instead, they get one assault which allows them to choose the energy type. This is arguably worth more than one with a fixed energy type, but is certainly not worth four. If you had all four, you could choose one of a specific energy type and still have 3 left over. So I peg the suli's assult ability at 2 RP (1.5 RP would be more reasonable if fractions were allowed).

Likewise, suli "pay" 3 RP for the outsider type, but do not get darkvision, which normally comes as a part of the outsider "package." Therefore, they have effectively "lost" 2 RP by not getting this ability.

So even by their own system the Suli are worth 12 RP, not 16.


I would remind you that the standard Undine Spell-like Ability is Hydraulic Push, Which is more versatile than either spit attack, and that's not taking into account the feats that improve it.

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