Half-Orc / Half-Elf


Ancestries & Backgrounds

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Silver Crusade

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shroudb wrote:
Rysky wrote:
To put it laconically: I want Half-Elves and Half-Orcs to be their own Ancestries like the others. I don't care about the mechanics.

But what is an ancestry?

It is history/lore, which they have, speed HP and vision, which they have, and a list of ancestral feats, which they too have.

So it really is just a formating of the book at this point, and not an ancestry/mechanics issue.

It is all three.

They are not an Ancestry currently, they are a tacked on options for Humans. You have to spend a Feat to be them. They do not exist outside a Feat chain for Humans. That's all they are currently. They are not their own thing.


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I think it boils down to what Rysky thinks "their own Ancestries like the others" means. I suspect it means that there should be no reference and no connection to the human ancestry in the description of the half-elf or half-orc ancestry. Perhaps other than that Rysky doesn't care about the mechanics.

These half-breeds (and others) are not a race, and not an ancestry either, since that's just a different name for the same thing. Rather, they hold aspects of both their ancestries. There are a lot more humans than elves or orcs in Golarion (or in most any frpg setting) so it makes some sense to include them there, but what the hell, if it makes you feel better, list 'em on a separate page. Might increase the cost of the book a bit, but nobody cares about that, right?

Y'ask me, half-elves and half-orcs ought to be a lot more rare than elves and orcs, and those ought to be pretty rare in a predominately human world.


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The problem I see with half-elves and half-orcs is that you have to take a particular feat to become one, and then you must pick two of the four options within that feat. There is no room for growth for ethnicities added to this system later.

For example, how would a half-drow be built? Presumably, they would have a slightly different set of abilities from a standard half-elf, but how would you construct a "Half-Drow" feat that is not significantly more powerful than the "Half-Elf" feat?

For non-human ancestries, adding new ancestry feats appears to be a far simpler matter.


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Every race should get a heritage slot in addition the the ancestry slot. We could get different species like drow and bleachlings accessible through feats instead of needing full write ups.

I also really want +Int gnomes.


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We know, reportedly, the advantage to humans is their feat, natural ambition, which is a really good first level ancestry feat. They have also said the flexible/no-flaw attribute selection is an advantage, which with random rolls, or shifting ceilings I might agree, but with staged choice attribute generation, it is a very minimal advantage. (and actually, offering a choice of choose-able flaw would be the only real way to make it seem like that much of an advantage)

We know many people have felt that only picking one ancestry feat can be a little disappointing, if not frustrating. many people have advocated for some additional front-loading of ancestry choices.

Some people have felt that the Human Half-X heritage feats significantly hurt the options of playing such ancestry choices, since you can only have one heritage feat, and you have to spend it to become your chosen heritage. Really, the half-feats are strong feats, and since they have four components you pick two of, not all half-x have to be the same at first level. It isn't awful, but I admit feeling like it is at least a little lackluster still.

Many people have suggested giving two ancestry feats to everyone. Others point out, one heritage feat, and one ancestry feat. Others say two ancestry feat, still limiting one to only one heritage feat. What if humans got a minor boon, saying that they are more adaptable, that they would be allowed to select a second heritage feat with their 1st level ancestry feats. If you choose not to take natural ambition, you can pick up a second heritage feat. [ok, no half-orc/half-elf combinations allowed.]

Alternately, instead of granting a second Ancestry feat at 1st level, give out a free/extra General feat at first level, with the understanding that it can be turned in for an ancestry feat. (and humans might be allowed to have two heritage feats) Instead of it being a human trait, it could be an aspect of the half-x traits, that they can choose another non-half-x heritage trait at first level despite already having a heritage trait.

Actually, I kind of like the additional general trait idea, it would give more flexibility of choices, including racial choices. You could also then swap the ancestry and general advancements, allowing the second standard acquisition of ancestry traits to be at 3rd level, making it more front-loaded.

You might also be able to allow a general feat to be traded to allow for a archetype dedication feat at first level. [if there is balance concerns, the feat could specify that the player must spend their next Class feat they earn to re-purchase the feat, and the general feat gets retrained to some other general feat at that time.

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My beef with the ancestry feats as races for them is simple.

1) It limits the above. They lose their unique flavor if they are just another feat chain.

2) FSBNNN. If I have to spend a feat to play the character, then it is, by default, a feat tax.

3) Half Orcs get screwed, and are exceptionally dumb to read. You have to spend a feat, and another to get Darkvision, which has been a staple of the race? Thanks, now I'm two feats behind a goblin, for frak's sake. Oh, look, other races can burn a feat at first level to get weapon familiarity. My half orc has to either choose to a) get dark vision, or weapons and b) not until FIFTH level. So now I'm behind the Goblins and Dwarves.

Pathfinder went so far to not make the Half Orcs the bastard children of the game. PF2 puts them back in the box.


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I want to build a character that is half human, half elf, half dwarf, half halfling, half orc, half…

Is that too much to ask? Too many halves?


'I'm Half-Human, Half-Demon, and Half-Golem...'


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Matthew Morris wrote:

My beef with the ancestry feats as races for them is simple.

1) It limits the above. They lose their unique flavor if they are just another feat chain.

2) FSBNNN. If I have to spend a feat to play the character, then it is, by default, a feat tax.

3) Half Orcs get screwed, and are exceptionally dumb to read. You have to spend a feat, and another to get Darkvision, which has been a staple of the race? Thanks, now I'm two feats behind a goblin, for frak's sake. Oh, look, other races can burn a feat at first level to get weapon familiarity. My half orc has to either choose to a) get dark vision, or weapons and b) not until FIFTH level. So now I'm behind the Goblins and Dwarves.

Pathfinder went so far to not make the Half Orcs the bastard children of the game. PF2 puts them back in the box.

I agree that the system we were provided in the playtest has a lot of feel bad to it. But I think the idea to use a heritage option to alter an ancestry is a good one. The feel bad for mixed ancestry comes in both varieties; being unable to get as many choices for flavor reasons, and being able to get equivalent features for mechanical reasons.

Flavor wise you give up your level one heritage feat choice that sets you apart from “the average bear” just to indicate what ancestry your parents had. That part of ancestry should just be a free roll, no barriers, no taxes, just the ability to tell the story you want to tell about who gave birth to you and who raised you.

Mechanically the current system also feels bad because you need to take the half blooded heritage feat twice to get all four things, when nearly every other ancestry would get them all for one feat. And it also results in no feats left over to invest in the non-heritage feats that make your character concept function well.

Picking your parents and having that be flexible and meaningful is exactly what we want. But what we get is that if you pick mixed parents, you have to give up flexibility and you have to accept less meaningful game impact at first level.

Separating heritage from ancestry, giving every one a heritage feat for each parent would put all ancestries back on the same level. The half-orc and half-elf heritage feats seem like a good model with four things that come from blood. Each parent would provide two things and you could mix parents however you choose. Everyone would wind up with four things and access to a list of ancestry feats.

Since the ancestry feats already use the trait system, it would be easy to mark the ancestry feats with one or more ancestries. You could label some with only half-orc, some with only orc, and others with both orc and half-orc. This would allow for reasonable overlap of feats that are applicable to single blooded only, mixed blooded only, or both. Then the heritage feats should be four things that make you a half-orc or four things that make you a dwarf and you pick two of them per parent. It wouldn’t be a big change, since most races only have one heritage feat choice anyway.

I would get rid of the adopted ancestry general feat and just add an “adopted” trait to the ancestry feats that a foundling could gain. Players could choose an adopted heritage for one or both parents, still get the same four things based on actual parents, but their remaining feats could include any adopted trait that matched the race of their adopted parent.

Imagine being able to show up the the first session with a back story of being a half-elf, but raised by a kindly dwarf and her gnome husband. with a couple of elf and human biology features and still getting to have an ancestry feat to add depth to just what sort of impact that heritage and ancestry meant to your character and your concept.


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I like Zam's idea.


Zamfield wrote:
Imagine being able to show up the the first session with a back story of being a half-elf, but raised by a kindly dwarf and her gnome husband. with a couple of elf and human biology features and still getting to have an ancestry feat to add depth to just what sort of impact that heritage and ancestry meant to your character and your concept.

No one keeps you from playing that concept already. What you want are the mechanical benefits from having this background which has nothing to do with the actual possibility to build that background with the current system.


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Asuet wrote:
Zamfield wrote:
Imagine being able to show up the the first session with a back story of being a half-elf, but raised by a kindly dwarf and her gnome husband. with a couple of elf and human biology features and still getting to have an ancestry feat to add depth to just what sort of impact that heritage and ancestry meant to your character and your concept.
No one keeps you from playing that concept already. What you want are the mechanical benefits from having this background which has nothing to do with the actual possibility to build that background with the current system.

Reducto ad absurdum

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Add me as not at all a fan of not having half-elf or half-orc as their own race, and without a feat tax.


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Taxation is theft. :)

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The term "half-breed" has some pretty negative real world connotations, so let's please steer away from that term.


In regards to the "feat tax", I'd like all ancestries to give an additional feat at level one.

DanceYrself wrote:
I too understand the move, but it also brings up questions as to why its human based and not elf or orc based. In past editions and other game settings, they are almost always their own unique race with their own lore and qualities.

This is a great point. I like that Half Elfs and Half Orcs were split out but they should really be under Elf and Orc respectively (Yes - my survey indicated that Orc and Half Orc should be together). I'd like to see all ancestries provide "Half" options (except, perhaps, Half...half...ling) so this reorganization would make a lot of sense.

Ed Reppert wrote:
Taxation is theft. :)

I'll gladly pay my taxes if it means my players can field Half Goblins, Aasimar Gnomes, Half Dwarf/Half Elves, Tiefling Tengu, etc.


I have submitted my survey indicating that my group and I would prefer if half-elf and half-orc had their own separate ancestries and ancestry listings.


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I suppose the fundamental question is whether two different ancestries from among the singular group including at least dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, and humans can interbreed at all. D&D/PF seems to have answered that in the affirmative in only two cases. Perhaps the other cases should be officially addressed.

Half-whatever is not, to my mind, a separate ancestry from the parent ancestries. And it should IMO be a heritage ancestry feat in both parent ancestries. Not that it matters, because either way you get access to both sets of ancestry feats.


Ed Reppert wrote:
D&D/PF seems to have answered that in the affirmative in only two cases.

Dark Sun tried to show them the way but they wouldn't listen. It's strange to have Half Dragons and Half Giants but not Half Dwarves.

On the Pathfinder front, Sorcerer Bloodlines and Bastards of Golarion establish a precedent but not much has been done with it.

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