Would this be a balanced racial trait?


Homebrew and House Rules


For my games, I've designed a draconic humanoid race - not Kobold Press' dragonkin, nor a conversion of 5e's dragonborn, but something of my own. When creating an NPC with this race, I considered giving him this trait, with the intention of also making available for any character of that race.

Dragon's Talons (Draconian)
Your hands are shaped more like the claws of your dragon ancestors, and are just as deadly.
Benefit: You gain two claw attacks, which are primary attacks that deal 1d4 points of damage. However, you take a -4 penalty to attack and damage rolls with manufactured weapons that you wield with either or both of your hands.

I realize that getting natural attacks at such a low cost might enable some cheesiness, especially for monks, but I'm uncertain how I could balance it, or if it's even such a significant issue. What do you think?


The penalty on the trait really isn't a penalty. Anyone who might want this isn't going to be using a manufactured weapon anyways (an optimized natural attack routine>>>>1h weapon+a secondary natural).

It would likely be a better fit as an alternate race trait; for comparison a Tiefling can swap their SLA for two 1d4 claws.

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I'm assuming this is an alternate racial trait? Not a trait-trait?


Ah, it hadn't occurred to me to make it an alternate race trait. Yeah, that seems better. I'm thinking of having this trait replace their racial elemental resistance (equal to 1/2 their character level). Should I also keep the penalty to using manufactured weapons?


I don't think it would be a major issue to be honest - there are races that get natural claw attacks already without a drawback attached- lizardfolk even get a bite attack along with it.

And while I could see a DM ruling they get a damage boost because logic, inherently monks gain nothing from this. Their unarmed strike damage is already better at level 1, and you can't use natural attacks in conjunction with flurry of blows. Even feral combat training just lets you use your natural attack instead of a monk weapon or unarmed strike for your flurry of blows, it doesn't let you combine them.

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2 claws is a fairly strong racial trait. In fact, catfolk are the only ones I can think of that have it and it's an alternate trait.

However, a -4/-4 to manufactured weapon attacks is way too crippling. This is why I suggest making it an alternate trait and increasing the damage to a 1d6. This makes it a great trait that comes at a hefty price.


MAke it an alternate racial trait, and drop the -4 stuff. Then it is balanced. There are already several races that get natural attacks like Bite and Claws that way.


Cyrad wrote:
2 claws is a fairly strong racial trait. In fact, catfolk are the only ones I can think of that have it and it's an alternate trait.

tengu

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Guru-Meditation wrote:
Cyrad wrote:
2 claws is a fairly strong racial trait. In fact, catfolk are the only ones I can think of that have it and it's an alternate trait.
tengu

Ah, that's right. Though, it's an alternate trait that replaces a really good racial trait.


Cyrad wrote:

2 claws is a fairly strong racial trait. In fact, catfolk are the only ones I can think of that have it and it's an alternate trait.

Also.. lizardfolk? Just mentioned? Not an alternate racial trait. Get a bite attack as well. Is there a reason they're not germane to this discussion?

Changelings get them by default too.

And yeah, tengu, catfolk, tieflings, evil aasimar, weirdly enough, can all get it as an alternate. Ratfolk can get it as a feat if you really want it.

In short there's nothing particularly strange about having claws. It's also fairly useless for a lot of characters, at least past the first few levels, since they scale poorly and most people want to use both their hands for something.


Cool, thanks for all the feedback. I'm a little hesitant to give the claws a different damage die than the race's size (medium, in this case) would indicate, but I might play around with it. For now, I've redesigned it as an alternate racial trait, which roughly reads as following:

Dragon's Talons
Your hands are shaped more like the claws of your dragon ancestors, and are just as deadly.
Benefit: You gain two claw attacks, which are primary attacks that deal 1d4 points of damage. This racial trait replaces dragon's resistance.

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What does Dragon's Resistance do? It's normally better that you replace an offensive ability with an offensive ability.

Aldrakan wrote:
Cyrad wrote:

2 claws is a fairly strong racial trait. In fact, catfolk are the only ones I can think of that have it and it's an alternate trait.

Also.. lizardfolk? Just mentioned? Not an alternate racial trait. Get a bite attack as well. Is there a reason they're not germane to this discussion?

Changelings get them by default too.

And yeah, tengu, catfolk, tieflings, evil aasimar, weirdly enough, can all get it as an alternate. Ratfolk can get it as a feat if you really want it.

In short there's nothing particularly strange about having claws. It's also fairly useless for a lot of characters, at least past the first few levels, since they scale poorly and most people want to use both their hands for something.

Lizardfolk doesn't have an official write up as a race. In fact, the Monster Codex tells you to use the Bestiary statblock for a base lizardfolk. You're probably referencing that race builder example in ARG.

Tengu, catfolk, tieflings, and aasimars have claws as alternate traits. It doesn't amount to much because tieflings and aasimar have nearly a hundred possible alternate racial traits.

So, yeah, claws are pretty rare for a PC race. Because they're valuable. If you're playing a natural attack specialist, you want lots of natural attacks and claws give you two of them. For most practical circumstances, 2 claws is better than 1 bite. Even the race building rules rate them as a tier up from a bite.


Trading energy resistance for natural attacks is fair. It's going to be a net negative for the majority of characters; only a trade I'd want if I really want to focus in on having a bunch of natural attacks. There is no hard rule that you must have offensive abilities swap for other offensive abilities.

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Arachnofiend wrote:
Trading energy resistance for natural attacks is fair. It's going to be a net negative for the majority of characters; only a trade I'd want if I really want to focus in on having a bunch of natural attacks. There is no hard rule that you must have offensive abilities swap for other offensive abilities.

There's no hard rule, but it's better design that way. Especially since offense is usually more valuable in this game. With an optional ability, you have to judge its power based on those that find it useful. Even if (for example) it's overpowered for a minority, it's still overpowered. Even by your merits, you can't really conclude it's a fair trade when you don't know what "dragon's resistance" actually does.


An optimized natural attack routine is only going to be equal to a 2h power attacker at best, it isn't overpowered by any metric. I'd only take this if, for preference reasons, I decide that I want this character to do natural attacks.


Cyrad wrote:
What does Dragon's Resistance do? It's normally better that you replace an offensive ability with an offensive ability.

Dragon's Resistance is the aforementioned "one type of energy resistance equal to half character levels" ability. Unfortunately my race doesn't have an offensive ability to trade in for the claws - it has the energy resistance, as well as +1 natural armor, darkvision, and two +2 bonuses to skills. They also count as both dragons and humanoids for the purposes of spells and similar effects, but that's not up for trade.


You should probably change that to just be resist 5 to the chosen element. It's more in line with other races.

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Totema wrote:
Cyrad wrote:
What does Dragon's Resistance do? It's normally better that you replace an offensive ability with an offensive ability.
Dragon's Resistance is the aforementioned "one type of energy resistance equal to half character levels" ability. Unfortunately my race doesn't have an offensive ability to trade in for the claws - it has the energy resistance, as well as +1 natural armor, darkvision, and two +2 bonuses to skills. They also count as both dragons and humanoids for the purposes of spells and similar effects, but that's not up for trade.

That's it? You might have enough power budget to put the claws in or another racial trait. Though, I'd need to see the whole description.


In the advanced race guide, claws only cost 2rp, but I think they do D3... no penalty to using manufactured weapons.

I wouldn't lose any sleep over giving a race 1D4 claws, using weapons usually works out to be much better/cheaper.

The -4 to other attacks probably isn't necessary.


Giving them a claws race trait is totslly reasonable - or, if you want, two claws is a reasonable feat. 1x natural attack (bite) appears as a race trait, and there are multiple feats for a pair of claws. On that note actually, I consider a bite racial often better than two claws, because claws are much easier to get from other sources.

On the topic of other races that get natural attacks skin walkers get lots.

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I forgot about skinwalkers! Though, their ability to gain natural attacks and different movement speeds is primarily where most of their power budget lies.

alexd1976 wrote:

In the advanced race guide, claws only cost 2rp, but I think they do D3... no penalty to using manufactured weapons./QUOTE]Claws cost 2 RP, but they're also an Advanced tier trait. Which is something many people seem to ignore when looking at the race building rules despite tiers functioning as a better indicator of an ability's power level and whether it should go on a PC race or not.


Cyrad wrote:
Claws cost 2 RP, but they're also an Advanced tier trait. Which is something many people seem to ignore when looking at the race building rules despite tiers functioning as a better indicator of an ability's power level and whether it should go on a PC race or not.

Nevertheless, if something appears as a standard feature on two Standard races (or five, if you count the skinwalker heritages with claws separately, they do alter almost every trait after all) and an alternate trait on at least four other standard - low advanced races, I don't agree it's some rare thing that's restricted because it's so powerful. The human bonus feat for example is very powerful but does at least stop you from shopping around for the race with the ideal 2 stat boosts.

Claws on the other hand give you a bunch of options. I suspect the reason it appears mostly as an alternate trait is actually because it's of very little use to the vast majority of characters, no reason to stick it on a bunch of races. Note that skinwalkers have the option of getting them, but they're not stuck with the claws if they want to do something else.

And while two natural attacks is good for natural attackers, claws are also the least useful kind to get as a racial trait - the one that takes up a hand slot and that you can also gain access to in bunch of other ways. If we were talking about taloned feet or similar that would be completely different.

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Aldrakan wrote:
Cyrad wrote:
Claws cost 2 RP, but they're also an Advanced tier trait. Which is something many people seem to ignore when looking at the race building rules despite tiers functioning as a better indicator of an ability's power level and whether it should go on a PC race or not.
Nevertheless, if something appears as a standard feature on two Standard races (or five, if you count the skinwalker heritages with claws separately, they do alter almost every trait after all) and an alternate trait on at least four other standard - low advanced races, I don't agree it's some rare thing that's restricted because it's so powerful. The human bonus feat for example is very powerful but does at least stop you from shopping around for the race with the ideal 2 stat boosts.

If it's labeled as a different tier by the designers and only appears on races that don't have many other racial traits, that should be a sign it's considered a strong racial trait. It is true that some PC races do have Advanced tier traits to set them apart.

Back on topic...yeah, claws could work for the dragon humanoid race depending on what the actual race description looks like.

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