Fluff legality question


Pathfinder Society

Grand Lodge

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Ok...I have an idea for a character, and I was wondering if the concept would be PFS legal, as it verges kind of close to re-skinning.

The idea is for an Alchemist character who was born human, but due to an accident with a mutagen containing orc blood when he was learning to become an alchemist became a half-orc. His motivation would then be to find a cure, only to fail at every turn...possibly making things worse (grows a random tentacle, or a third arm, etc)

Mechanically the character would just be a normal half-orc alchemist, just the fluff would be that he wasn't born that way.

My backup story would just be that he is a true half-orc who hates his orcish heritage and is trying to 'cure' it through alchemy, but I think the other version is more flavorful. :)

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

I don't see any problem with this.

1/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Rather than call it 'fluff', call it 'flavor'.

And you're not the only one who's done something like this...

Spoiler:

I have a now-Undine character that started as Human for their first mission for PFS, but by the time I had a chance to do their L2 rebuild, the Undine race was available and things that happened during said mission really leaned towards that race.

As a result, they were given an 'experimental elixir' containing essences of the Plane of Water to help them overcome their Oracular Curse and Mystery... and it had interesting and unusual side effects...

Sczarni 5/5 ⦵⦵

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

You could actually do it by being Human, take Racial Heritage (Half-Orc) as your 1st Level Feat, and Retrain out of it before retirement ^_^

But the Fluff Flavor you have now works, too.

The Concordance

"Michael Brock wrote:

You can name your character whatever you like. You can also be a Shaonti warrior for roleplay purposes. You just can't get any mechanical benefits from choosing Shaonti warrior from a book outside of core. As a matter of fact, your character can utilize any of the countries in the Inner Sea World Guide for RP flavor. They just can't take any of the mechanical options from the ISWG unless it appears on a Chronicle (or when we update the Guide if we add languages and the like).

That's similar to what exist now without a sourcebook. I've had a character at a table I GMed that claimed he was from Arcadia. He had absolutely no mechanical benefits from it and it was strictly roleplay flavor, but he advised his character was from Arcadia. The same applies when someone says their character is royalty or a Blakros family member and the like. If something is taken for fluff only, and strictly roleplay purposes, you can use any of the source material. You just can't take any mechanical benefit from it."

Fluff is a correct term for a character background or story. It doesn't need changed to flavor.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Hegash wrote:
Fluff is a correct term for a character background or story. It doesn't need changed to flavor.

Staff have asked us to use "flavor" on these boards, rather than 'fluff'.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Are we seriously going to argue "fluff" vs "flavor"?

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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Bob Jonquet wrote:
Are we seriously going to argue "fluff" vs "flavor"?

Lets just call it cotton candy that way its both.

1/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ewww... cotton candy... bleh....

4/5

Fluff is more a texture :)


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
RealAlchemy wrote:
Fluff is more a texture :)

Like a FlufferNutter sandwich?

2/5

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Staff preferences for terminology aren’t forum rules, and it’s annoying to see this constant derail every time someone uses the term fluff.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

That's probably why it's not being discussed as a violation of forum rules, but rather as an expression of courtesy towards Paizo staff members. ^_^

2/5

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Yes, but it’s a derail nonetheless. Staff can speak for themselves—we don’t need to presume to speak for them.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

I’ve never heard this issue before. Is “fluff” some kind of inappropriate euphemism?

Sczarni 5/5 ⦵⦵

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It's considered a racist slur for Skittermanders.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Bob Jonquet wrote:
I’ve never heard this issue before. Is “fluff” some kind of inappropriate euphemism?

Well when the term fluff literally means “something trivial, superficial, and of no value” and you’re applying it to the bulk of someone’s work, something they devoted a lot of passion and energy to, it is.

The Exchange 1/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent aka Shaudius

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As Rysky said, the term fluff has a negative definition, something that the word for the alternative thing, the rules, crunch, doesn't have, that's why the preferred terms are crunch and flavor and not crunch and fluff.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Nefreet wrote:
It's considered a racist slur for Skittermanders.

He's so fluffy you're gonna die?

(by four laser swords for calling him that... )

Sczarni 5/5 ⦵⦵

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

D'oh! I did that thing again. Where I post Starfinder stuff in a Pathfinder Forum.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Balderdash. I think this is much ado about nothing. I do not recall anyone, when describing their character or campaign using the term fluff intends it to mean "without consequence." Quite the opposite from the perspective of the player. The "fluff" is often what makes their character cool and sets them apart from other similar (mechanically) characters. Words often have multiple meanings and the context with which they are used specifies the meaning. I see no difference between "fluff" "flavor" or "story." No offense, I think this is a case of misinterpreted perception. It is merely a word used (for decades) to describe the difference between the technical aspects of the game (mechanical ruleset, ie "crunch") and the creative, narrative (ie "fluff").

I can understand being offended if the player actually intends to mean it as suggested, but they could interchange any of the words above to describe the (in their opinion) inconsequential aspects of their character, dismissing the creative aspect of their character saying "Ignore the fluff" or "Ignore the flavor" or "Ignore the narrative" etc. So, the word is not the compelling factor, its the intent behind the use and if used as described and directed towards the content creators, I agree it would be offensive.

IMO, this is similar to how "bad" is used with the typical long-enunciation in colloquial speech. The textbook definition of "bad" is well-know, but clearly the intention is antilogous. It would be misperception if someone performed an interesting act and got offended when someone described it "Man that was bad!" (you know what I mean :-)

When I originally posted the question, I thought maybe there was a marginalized community (LGBTQ, ethnic, etc) where that word was used negatively and I was simply unaware. Certainly, people are entitled to their feelings and to be offended, when something is offensive, but I don't understand how this qualifies.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, Tennessee—Knoxville aka tchrman35

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Rysky wrote:
Well when the term fluff literally means “something trivial, superficial, and of no value” and you’re applying it to the bulk of someone’s work, something they devoted a lot of passion and energy to, it is.

Tell that to my pillow, my couch, my comforter, or winter jacket.

Flavor connotes an equally useless trait of a particular item. My breakfast's flavor isn't what sustained me through the day. I could have eaten a slurry of protein and carbohydrate powders in water and gotten the same benefit. Flavor makes the experience now enjoyable. Now, flavor can give us clues as to the function of a particular food, but in the end, the flavor doesn't *do* anything. It's irrelevant.

I could sit on an elevated wooden board to watch TV. In fact, that would've been a lot cheaper than what I have. But I spent a lot of good money on a fluffy couch. The wood and metal structure does all of the work. Without the structure, the couch doesn't function. But don't tell me the fluff is useless! The fluff is the main reason I bought it!

I will do my best to avoid using the term "fluff" now that I know that it communicates things I don't normally intend. But it certainly feels a little silly.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

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I appreciate your willingness to accommodate others in the community.

The Exchange 1/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent aka Shaudius

Stephen Wight wrote:
Flavor connotes an equally useless trait of a particular item. My breakfast's flavor isn't what sustained me through the day. I could have eaten a slurry of protein and carbohydrate powders in water and gotten the same benefit. Flavor makes the experience now enjoyable. Now, flavor can give us clues as to the function of a particular food, but in the end, the flavor doesn't *do* anything. It's irrelevant.

If it is irrelevant why do we pay more for things that taste good, if flavor was irrelevant or unimportant nothing would have it because it clearly costs more to make something taste good.

As for the couch analogy, words have multiple meanings, here fluff doesn't mean fluffy as in a couch it means the other definition of fluff. Here's the two noun definitions:

1. soft fibers from fabrics such as wool or cotton that accumulate in small light clumps.

2. entertainment or writing perceived as trivial or superficial.

Here's the formal verb one:

1. make (something) appear fuller and softer, typically by shaking or brushing it.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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There is an "unofficial" (read: not in the dictionary) meaning for fluff in the context of RPGs. We have used it for decades simply to mean non-mechanical aspects of the game. We cannot ignore that fact and suggest that anytime the word "fluff" is used it is with the intent of trivializing the creative narrative aspects of the campaign.

The Exchange 1/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent aka Shaudius

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Bob Jonquet wrote:
There is an "unofficial" (read: not in the dictionary) meaning for fluff in the context of RPGs. We have used it for decades simply to mean non-mechanical aspects of the game.

Where do you think the term fluff came from, it didn't just appear out of nowehre, it was, and in many cases still is, used in the same manner as what is in the dictionary. That's why the designer don't like the word used.

Bob Jonquet wrote:
We cannot ignore that fact and suggest that anytime the word "fluff" is used it is with the intent of trivializing the creative narrative aspects of the campaign.

We can because we don't ignore where words come from nor the context in which it was historically(and in some cases currently) used even in the RPG context.

There's lots of other words this applies to that people don't think of in the same context but still have a historically offensive underlying. Some of them people don't even realize the origins of anymore, that doesn't mean we should be using them. Now is this as bad as some of those things, no, but we don't just get to ignore the historical significance of something because some people don't use it in the same manner anymore. Lots still do.

Scarab Sages 5/5

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Bob Jonquet wrote:
There is an "unofficial" (read: not in the dictionary) meaning for fluff in the context of RPGs. We have used it for decades simply to mean non-mechanical aspects of the game. We cannot ignore that fact and suggest that anytime the word "fluff" is used it is with the intent of trivializing the creative narrative aspects of the campaign.

Then why did, I believe, James Jacobs (could have been another Paizo staffer), officially ask people to stop using the word fluff because they found it offensive and disrespectful of the hard work they do writing the story and flavor elements of the game?

Scarab Sages 5/5

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Shaudius wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
There is an "unofficial" (read: not in the dictionary) meaning for fluff in the context of RPGs. We have used it for decades simply to mean non-mechanical aspects of the game.

Where do you think the term fluff came from, it didn't just appear out of nowehre, it was, and in many cases still is, used in the same manner as what is in the dictionary. That's why the designer don't like the word used.

Bob Jonquet wrote:
We cannot ignore that fact and suggest that anytime the word "fluff" is used it is with the intent of trivializing the creative narrative aspects of the campaign.

We can because we don't ignore where words come from nor the context in which it was historically(and in some cases currently) used even in the RPG context.

There's lots of other words this applies to that people don't think of in the same context but still have a historically offensive underlying. Some of them people don't even realize the origins of anymore, that doesn't mean we should be using them. Now is this as bad as some of those things, no, but we don't just get to ignore the historical significance of something because some people don't use it in the same manner anymore. Lots still do.

Not to mention, we don't get to decide what should or should not offend someone. If someone gets offended, we simply say, "sorry, I'll try to do better next time," sincerely as possible. No explanation, no caveat, no prevarication. Just an apology.

4/5

Jhaeman wrote:
...it’s annoying to see this constant derail every time someone uses the term fluff.

One person's "annoying" is another person's "entertaining".

Grand Lodge

I have always used the term fluff because, to me, it refers to filling up the character/world and not leaving it hollow and devoid of content.

Back to the original reason for this thread though...I'm glad I can stick with my original concept for this character, I prefer the flavor of my original fluff over the watered down less flavorful fluff. ;)

2/5

Slyme wrote:

Ok...I have an idea for a character, and I was wondering if the concept would be PFS legal, as it verges kind of close to re-skinning.

The idea is for an Alchemist character who was born human, but due to an accident with a mutagen containing orc blood when he was learning to become an alchemist became a half-orc. His motivation would then be to find a cure, only to fail at every turn...possibly making things worse (grows a random tentacle, or a third arm, etc)

Mechanically the character would just be a normal half-orc alchemist, just the fluff would be that he wasn't born that way.

My backup story would just be that he is a true half-orc who hates his orcish heritage and is trying to 'cure' it through alchemy, but I think the other version is more flavorful. :)

All of these fluff/flavor things boil down to "Is there a mechanical/numberical/etc benefit or is it just there to change the looks/roleplay/etc of the thing?"

If it would give a numerical, quantifiable advantage/disadvantage in any non-GM fiat way, then it's not allowed for PFS.

You want to have a St. Bernard animal companion? Skin the wolf and call it a day. Zero change.

You want to be a human who's been alchemical-ized into a H/O? Sure, done. no effect - as long as on paper they're built as a H/O, with all H/O rules/restrictions/etc.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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Ninjamancer wrote:
Skin the wolf and call it a day

okay now i REALLY don't like this plan..

4/5

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Ninjamancer wrote:
Skin the wolf and call it a day
okay now i REALLY don't like this plan..

Ruh roh, Shaggy!

Paizo Employee Customer Service & Community Manager

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I think the preferred term is indeed flavor, though that's not necessarily universally true, but it's not something that needs to derail a thread with "yes, it is", "no, it isn't" bickering. If you see more than like, 2 posts getting into an off-topic tangent like this, and you really got to add your 2 cents, start a new thread in the proper forum to debate it, link a comment to it to people can go there to discuss it and then move on.
Now, let's get back to the actual question from the OP.

1/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I like to have a buncha flavor with my characters, it makes things fun and interesting.

That being said, I need to get some more birds into the flavor pile, they've been kinda slacking lately...

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, France—Paris

I'm fine with, as long it leads to no modifying behaviour from a NPC. It's probable that some players might attempt to grab a mechanical benefit out of it, and that is the problem.

4/5 Venture-Agent, Washington—Tacoma aka Link2000

My first PFS character was an alchemist. I intended on her being the whole "Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde" kind of persona. In order to add some flavor to the character I wanted her to be really short roughly the height of a female dwarf. Then, after she drank her mutagen, she would grow into this monstrous physique that was roughly the height of a male half-orc. None of this provided me any mechanical benefits, so I never had any real problems.

In fact, only once did a GM question whether or not it was legal. I just told him that for all ruling purposes, my character is a medium character and if height plays a part in a ruling, I'll be more than happy to assume my character was as tall as an average human female for that purpose. We just moved on from there.

Most of her ruling problems was that she combined unarmed strikes with natural attacks and many believed I was attempting to "flurry" with unarmed strikes.

Grand Lodge

Now I just need to settle on a build for the character...I am kind of leaning towards a Hyde/Hulk type of build...tossing in random mutations along the way (tentacle, tumor familiar, vestigial arm, maybe wings).

Mutagens seems super limited though...10 minutes a level, then needing an hour of downtime to make another. I can see a lot of adventures only getting to use a mutagen in 1 fight.

Any thoughts on good Jekyll/Hyde style builds?

4/5 Venture-Agent, Washington—Tacoma aka Link2000

Going for the Master Chymist prestige class will net you a few extra transformations a day. But then you would have 2 personalities, and I'm not sure if that's something you'd like.

I would also like to mention that although occasionally the timing of the mutagen is limiting, I mostly only experienced it at low levels. Any scenario I played often either had the encounters throughout numerous days or within a relatively short span. And on the rare occasion it wasn't, I usually had an hour to prep another one. If it's really concerning though, you could pick up the Infuse Mutagen Discovery and drop 1000gp to have a backup mutagen.

It's pretty common to go for the Feral Mutagen. My alchemist ultimately went for the Mummification discovery and didn't regret it one bit. The two preserve organ discoveries had saved my character from a possibly deadly crit more than once.

Also, I can't think of any feat being more valuable than Extra Discovery. So many of the Alchemist's discoveries are just better than feats.

My Tumor Familiar used to be a Protector, but since the reprinting, I've switched to Valet personally. I've heard good things about making it a Mauler as well.

Grand Lodge

Every melee focused Alchemist build I keep running across involves taking the Vivisectionist archetype to bolster their damage output. Unfortunately, that is not an option for PFS play.

The Master Chymist PrC looks interesting...not sure about the multiple personalities part...but the rest looks promising.

Any other good multi-class options that might improve the character?

Barbarian for rage maybe? Brawler with Mutagenic Mauler archetype? Fighter with Mutation Warrior archetype?

I'm guessing a natural attacks based build would work best for this...so either feral mutagen, or find claws/bite from another source.

Would it be worth take Enhance Potion and Extend Potion to maximize Alchemical Allocation? Pre-buff with potions and elixirs?

Thoughts?

4/5 Venture-Agent, Washington—Tacoma aka Link2000

I've found the Alchemist to be a pretty flexible class overall. So a level dip (or a few levels) in another class shouldn't be too much of a problem. The only big downside is the loss of time on the mutagen. I've seen STR get pretty crazy with a barbarian (maybe bloodrager), alchemist, dragon disciple build once.

Although natural attacks are good, they are not necessary. If you'd prefer to swing a blade or a spear around, I'd say go for it. I was just mentioning that the Feral Mutagen is pretty common for mutagen based alchemists.

And those discoveries with Alchemical Allocation are great, especially if given time to pre-buff (potion of heroism anyone?). The biggest problem I had building alchemists is that they have so many good discoveries. There really is no "bad" way to build an alchemist, in my opinion, unless you intentionally do so.

I think that as long as you have a concept in mind, you're going to have a great time playing the alchemist regardless of the choices you end up making. My alchemists typically evolve around what I feel has been needed between level.

My first alchemist started as a punch-you-in-face ragechemist, but ended up taking a bunch of discoveries and feats that allow her to close into melee quickly and be able to stay there for the majority of the fight. (Dragon Style and Iron Will were definitely on her list of feats, and Spontaneous healing, Preserve Organs, Mummification, and Elemental Mutagen were a few of her discoveries) If you feel that your character is missing something at given levels, I can safely say that there's a discovery/extract for that.

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