How do we make sense of "I didn't have this aspect of the culture I grew up in until level 5"?


Ancestries & Backgrounds

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So as it stands, a number of nonhuman characters will be taking heritage feats at level 1, because that's the only time you can get them. Without spending your 3rd level general feat on an ancestry feat, you then won't be able to get things like "Dwarves dislike goblinoids" or "Goblins are fond of fire" or "Elves are nimble" until 5th level."

Putting aside the idea of "this doesn't make sense", let's instead consider how we can make sense of it. How do we explain "I grew up with my people's ancestral weapons, but I didn't know how to use them until a quarter of the way through my career"? Or an Elf or Dwarf suddenly discovering a distaste for Demons or Giants? Some ancestry feats make sense as things you can get later (such as the Elf ones where you have perspective due to a long life) but it's harder to see how an Elf suddenly becomes nimble at 9th level.

Some of this can make sense in the context of "spending time with your people" during downtime, but is this going to be by default built into every campaign? Set aside some time for your Dwarven PCs to go home to their relatives for the holidays so they can be radicalized against Orcs?

I'm really just spitballing here, since I don't want to say "It doesn't make sense" when really this hobby is largely predicated on creative people being able to make sense of darn-near anything.


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You can't.


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I guess I should be less harsh about it. You can, but it will almost necessarily always take the form of "I know all this but neglected it so now I have to actually spend time on it."

"You can't" is better suited to the biological feats, which simply should not exist.


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For a religious character I guess it might take the form of divine inspiration. If the bonus is just +1 (as many are) maybe the bonus was just too small to note initially?

Since this will be coming up all the time it's going to be hard to avoid having any explanation wear thin though.


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the majority of ancestry feats should be upfront at level 1 instead of spread out over 20 levels, I like to think we all deep down inside know this, but for some reason the folks making the game had a moment and simply forgot that it would be sensible to do so.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I agree that many we were given should be at first level, but disagree that all of them should be.

I think it makes sense that the Weapon Cunning (Dwarf) or Weapon Elegance (Elf) would take time to grow into. You are perfecting the form you started with in Weapon Familiarity. In fact, I would say they probably should add another that is Weapon Perfection where you can get to a higher proficiency level with your racial weapons. Allow an Elven Mage to become Expert or Rogue to become Legendary with a Bow.

Where it doesn't make as much sense are things like Discerning Smell, Obsessive, Flame Heart, Razor Teeth and some of the other ancestors feats.


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BretI wrote:
Where it doesn't make as much sense are things like Discerning Smell, Obsessive, Flame Heart, Razor Teeth and some of the other ancestors feats.

All of those except Obsessive are heritage feats, which can only be taken at level 1. I feel like Obsessive though is one of the easiest ones to justify later though- you just didn't discover the one topic that is close to your heart until later level, at which point you dove wholeheartedly into it.

Grand Lodge

I mean, your typical level 1 character might not really have a reason to know how to kill ancestral foes well or wield certain weapons because they haven't had much use for that knowledge up until recently. It makes sense that an elf would get into the adventuring life, and then decide to learn how to use their ancestral weapons further along.


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i feel that the "typical" could be a Either or situation that your character gets one or the other at 1st do that 2-3 times a "Race" and then have other options that you become more aware of later in life Like Dwarven Stone cutting or maybe poison resistance.. its a thought. it feels absolutely weird that some of these pop up later in a characters life.


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Mr. Whisper wrote:
I mean, your typical level 1 character might not really have a reason to know how to kill ancestral foes well or wield certain weapons because they haven't had much use for that knowledge up until recently. It makes sense that an elf would get into the adventuring life, and then decide to learn how to use their ancestral weapons further along.

Problem is for any character you can draw up and explain "Why they didn't need to know this", you can probably draw up a character that can explain "Why the did need to know that"

Elven Blacksmith that has to take up the arms they forge for adventure might not know how to swing their ancestral weapons. A soldier that has trained for army service only to be waylaid into saving the country from some other threat probably would have it.


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Like the justification of a fighter getting more fighter feats or a wizard getting more spells in the course of an adventure is that adventuring serves as practice for one's various skills, and necessity forces them to push themselves and innovate, right? After all, people do get better at things they practice.

So how does one practice "being a dwarf" or "being an elf"?


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I see no way to justify a half-orc potentially having regular vision at level 1, then upgrading to low-light vision at level 5, then upgrading to darkvision at 9. If she were exposed to magic that improves her vision, sure, if she engaged in training that lead to her being a master in Perception, sure. But your natural vision from being an orc doesn't just improve over time like that.


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It seems that, in their eagerness to increase modularity, they forgot that living beings have traits that they can't just pick and choose.

Grand Lodge

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Here's an option I haven't heard yet: we get all of our ancestry feats at level 1 and lose them as we level up.

Orc eyesight gets worse, elf breaks a leg, dwarf learns to appreciate duergar, etc.

It would counter the whole "leveling is always good" axiom, but leveling would still be better than not leveling. Also, this would make much more narrative sense.


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Yeah, I'm not a fan of this. I don't get the benefit of it- it all still needs to be balanced and checked, but now it also all needs to be balanced and checked according to when you get it.

I'd rather just have 3 or 4 (definitely 4 for the poor halfling) baked in at the start.


You had the training but the training had no game effect until "now".


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Joe Mucchiello wrote:

You had the training but the training had no game effect until "now".

Because magic? Someone is coming along and removing mental blocks from all characters that hit 5th, 9th, 13th and 17th levels?

If you had the training...well, that's the whole of the thing.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
BretI wrote:
Where it doesn't make as much sense are things like Discerning Smell, Obsessive, Flame Heart, Razor Teeth and some of the other ancestors feats.
All of those except Obsessive are heritage feats, which can only be taken at level 1. I feel like Obsessive though is one of the easiest ones to justify later though- you just didn't discover the one topic that is close to your heart until later level, at which point you dove wholeheartedly into it.

Missed that they were heritage feats. Not surprising, I’m sure there are a lot of things I’m still not groking about the rules yet. I generally need to break things down and figure out what information is most key on a topic.

I am really feeling like with a lot of the stuff you need to be 5th level before you have abilities roughly equivalent to a 3rd level PF1 character.


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I find this concept dumb as well. Just give every class three racial feats/traits at first level.

Silver Crusade

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Yes, not a fan of this system either.

Racial feats should not be spread out, such as half-orcs darkvision for example.


I can see justification if needed for a lot of things. Environmentally activated suppressed genes improving ability to see in reduced lighting over time, I've always hated stone Giants I'm just getting better at killing them, I finally grew my big goblin teeth back after that thing with the armored horse...

But I wouldn't mind making a dwarf feel more dwarven first level.

Dark Archive

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As I commented in other thread, my first impression is that I would prefer it if by level 10(at max, I think getting all of them by level 5 would work too. It is valid option to be able to pick all five of them at level 1 in my opinion too) you would have gotten all ancestry feats you can get(and that on first level you would get two, one reserved for heritages and one in general). This is mostly because while ancestry feats are cool, none of them are that good that at level 13 and 17 they are exciting anymore especially since their feat level at minumum is 5 and it would be really silly if Paizo included feat tax chain ancestry feats that goes all way up to level 17(aka requiring all five ancestry feats in chain to get it)

Basically, I think by "half way point" character should have grown into their complete abilities they get from ancestries


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Voss wrote:
Joe Mucchiello wrote:

You had the training but the training had no game effect until "now".

Because magic? Someone is coming along and removing mental blocks from all characters that hit 5th, 9th, 13th and 17th levels?

If you had the training...well, that's the whole of the thing.

You've never been trained at something that you still sucked at. And then after years of practice started actually being good at? Play a musical instrument. You are trained. You know every fingering. Every trill, every glissando, everything there is to know about the instrument. You are trained. You also still suck. You need 10,000 hours of work at something to become good at it. Practice after training is necessary to ___excel__ at the skill.

Let's put it this way. Do you want to be a foxhole with someone who just finished basic training? Or the guy who has spent a month under fire in that foxhole? Both of them are trained. One month does not make you an expert by any stretch of the imagination. They are both just trained.

You talk about mental blocks as a joke. But there really is a difference between training and doing. And after 4 levels of doing, you finally understand how to put the training to practical effect and gain a mechanical advantage with the skill/effect/whatever.

Yes, it does make sense.


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what it looks like ism that a lot of those feats should be standard for a lvl 1 character, especially the physical stuff. Half-Orcs decide they can see in the dark suddenly at level 5? that doesn't make much sense.

The idea of ancestry feats (or heritage feats, atm I'm still not sure what is what) per se is not bad on paper, but the implementation of 'well, that is what we know race X can do (and should be able to do from the start), so let's spread that out through all the levels so that a high level play, the finally get a decent Dwarf/Gnome/whatever' is extremly awful.

make a lot of those feats first level standard and come up with new ideas for later levels. The promise to 'make Dwarves even dwarfier' is in direct contradiction to what is presented in the book

Dark Archive

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Yeah, getting ancestry feats at level 13 and 17 wouldn't be that bad if they allowed your dwarf to become the dwarfiest dwarf that ever dwarfed. Currently it just makes you full dwarf


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Trust me; youre gonna love this. This is my base form a dwarf; aargh, now this is a dwarf, that has ascended past a normal dwarf. Lets call this a dwarlf lvl5. Aaargh; now this is a dwarf that has ascended past an ascended dwarf. I call this a level9. And this... is to go... even further beyond....

Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhh!

At least that is how monks can play it off?

Not a fan of the unlock racial abilities later in your life thing either.


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Easy: you role-play the aspects of it, but you don't gain the mechanical benefits until you're more experienced and learn how to integrate the mechanics with the rest of your skill set.

A goblin can love fire, and simply hainghe extra fire damage at level 5. A dwarf can have an ancestral hatred and simply not get the +1 until later.

Have people really forgotten that this is a role-playing game?


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I think the simple explanation is that a race represents having certain innate talents, but talent is nothing without training (i.e. experience). Just as being an Olympian requires both a certain level of talents/genetics and a lot of training. You might have the world's greatest swimmer's body, but if you seldom jump in a pool, it doesn't count for much.

Dwarves are taught to hate giants, and taught stories about the weaknesses of giants their whole lives, but to a growing dwarf, those are just stories. Once the dwarf starts to learn about the hack and slash of combat, and begins to see how justified those hatreds are, he finally understands the importance of those lessons and how they can be applied to the chaotic hack and slash of combat.

Many half-orcs have low-light vision, but developing this into darkvision is harder for them than pure-blooded orcs. It takes training, practice, focus, and discipline, and when they're among ordinary folk, they don't really feel the need to develop it. Only once they start adventuring do they appreciate how truly dark and full of terrors the night can be and find it within themselves to develop this latent talent.


Thank you, bookrat and Slurmalyst. Knowing something and taking advantage of that knowledge such that it improves your odds are two entirely different things.

That said, I also agree, there should be more up front ancestry feats. The later level feats should be spent on being EVEN better fighting against giants and even better city survival.

Liberty's Edge

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"Dwarves dislike goblinoids"
Why do you need a bonus to hit goblinoids to dislike goblinoids?

"Goblins are fond of fire"
Why do you need a bonus to using fire to like fire?

"Elves are nimble"
Elves already start with a 30 foot speed (sounds pretty nimble to me), this is just getting even more nimble.

You can have a like or dislike (or in the case of an elf, a certain trait) without getting a mechanical bonus for it. Getting the feat at higher levels just means that you're focusing on that like or dislike over the course of your career.


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"Genetic" traits should be all in a race from start.
"cultural" traits can be few to choose from and available to pick only at lvl1.
lvl5,9,13,17 feat slot can be used to improve on "genetic" and picked "cultural" traits.

Genetic traits: immunitiy to sleep, low-light vision, darkvision, resitance to poisons, slow or fast movement, etc...

cultural traits: weapon familiarity, skill training, "rasist", stonecunning, etc...


I agree. Letting there be more opportunities to take heritage feats would be better.


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I do like the overall system of gaining Ancestry feats over time, and think it makes total sense.

As folks have said, there's a difference between "I grew up around this and am familiar with it," and "I have intentionally practiced this and am currently skilled in it."

An IRL example, my mother and grandmother were musicians, and I took piano lessons as a kid and played cello in school. I haven't played either of these to speak of in 20 years, and I assure you, I do not presently count as "trained" in musical performance!

However, I can read musical staff and find notes and chords (slowly) on a piano, and can muddle through fingerings on a mandolin or banjo or bass guitar. If I dedicated some time to any of these instruments, I'd be able to pick up proficiency pretty quickly, tapping into that familiarity and initial training from my Ancestry.

Seriously, it has happened several times during my adult life that I think I've "discovered" some new hobby, or my professional life has gone in a new direction "randomly"...and my parents will quietly produce some artifact from my childhood demonstrating that this activity actually has precedent from 30 years ago that I'd totally forgotten about.

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(That said, it might be nice to allow two picks at 1st level? Just 1 feels super limiting even if I agree with the overall design. I wouldn't go all the way to "you get all the Heritage feats at first level", though -- there's a difference between "let dwarves be more dwarfy!" and "every dwarf is super-dwarfy in pretty much the same way!")

The Exchange

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It gets even more weird when you consider retraining during downtime.

"I used to be able to see clearly in the dark but now I can't.
But those orcs won't stand a chance now!"


PossibleCabbage wrote:
How do we explain "I grew up with my people's ancestral weapons, but I didn't know how to use them until a quarter of the way through my career"?

Not that I like this answer as it relates to Races/Ancestries, but you could say "I've always known how to do that, but it just hasn't been part of the story thus far."

That's how I've justified to myself over the years some of the quirks related to multiclassing. At first level you could only be one class. You needed the second class to express your other side for a conception that involves having been trained in both from a young age.

Having to wait until 5th level to reveal an ability common to everyone in your race has me scratching my head. I commented in another threat that I thought the feature they presented was in the wrong place. Building the races should be done by the person creating the setting, such as the GM in a homebrew game.

I think ancestry rules should be about defining your extended family and perhaps the things they can bestow on you, like money, equipment, title, lands, reputation, contacts, skills, etc.


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bookrat wrote:

Easy: you role-play the aspects of it, but you don't gain the mechanical benefits until you're more experienced and learn how to integrate the mechanics with the rest of your skill set.

A goblin can love fire, and simply hainghe extra fire damage at level 5. A dwarf can have an ancestral hatred and simply not get the +1 until later.

Have people really forgotten that this is a role-playing game?

Hehe...

Jack: "Wrog, you're a half-orc. Use your Darkvision to look ahead into the darkness and tell us if there are any enemies lurking about."

Wrog: "My Darkvision?" (Looks ahead w/o Darkvision.) "Err, oh yes. It looks clear up there."

Jack: We advance.

GM: Initiative! Here come the Gnolls.

Jack: "All clear, eh?"

Wrog: "Well, not right now."

Jack: "Sigurd, we need you."

Sigurd: "Sorry boss, I'm still shaking off the effects of the poison that I was immune to..."


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That's the thing though under this system not every elf is trained in those weapons. Not every single elf no matter who or where they were in the world learned to use bows. Now it's player choice on those parts. Not simply dictated as the CRB did for 1E that all elves even those who are blind from birth and those who never grew up around and elf genetically could use them.


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Talonhawke wrote:
That's the thing though under this system not every elf is trained in those weapons. Not every single elf no matter who or where they were in the world learned to use bows. Now it's player choice on those parts. Not simply dictated as the CRB did for 1E that all elves even those who are blind from birth and those who never grew up around and elf genetically could use them.

Well, I really like "you only have the ancestry features you want" as an idea, since I spent a lot of time trying to get rid of Greedy and Hatred on my more enlightened Dwarves without giving up Hardy.

It just feels weird how staggered they are throughout your career, which may be exacerbated by virtually all of the options in the playtest CRB being level 1. Perhaps if there were some actual "this makes sense for a Dwarf to get at level 9 but not earlier" options it'd be easier.


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Slurmalyst wrote:

I think the simple explanation is that a race represents having certain innate talents, but talent is nothing without training (i.e. experience). Just as being an Olympian requires both a certain level of talents/genetics and a lot of training. You might have the world's greatest swimmer's body, but if you seldom jump in a pool, it doesn't count for much.

Dwarves are taught to hate giants, and taught stories about the weaknesses of giants their whole lives, but to a growing dwarf, those are just stories. Once the dwarf starts to learn about the hack and slash of combat, and begins to see how justified those hatreds are, he finally understands the importance of those lessons and how they can be applied to the chaotic hack and slash of combat.

Many half-orcs have low-light vision, but developing this into darkvision is harder for them than pure-blooded orcs. It takes training, practice, focus, and discipline, and when they're among ordinary folk, they don't really feel the need to develop it. Only once they start adventuring do they appreciate how truly dark and full of terrors the night can be and find it within themselves to develop this latent talent.

My dwarf was a soldier that was stationed at an outpost to guard against giants which he did for several years. However in one brutal attack, the outpost was wiped out and the dwarf fled in self shame. Now he joins ups with an adventuring band.

With this story I should have 1 of two things. The trait that gives a bonus vs Giants, or thanks to PF2, I should be level 5.

And that's the thing about a Roleplaying game as bookrat put it. If you can make up a background explaining why you don't have it, you can also make up a background to say why you have it. I know we're stuck with the whole level thing but level 1s shouldn't be mewling kittens that just picked up the sword or spell book last week.

The Exchange

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Talonhawke wrote:
That's the thing though under this system not every elf is trained in those weapons. Not every single elf no matter who or where they were in the world learned to use bows. Now it's player choice on those parts. Not simply dictated as the CRB did for 1E that all elves even those who are blind from birth and those who never grew up around and elf genetically could use them.

Well, I really like "you only have the ancestry features you want" as an idea, since I spent a lot of time trying to get rid of Greedy and Hatred on my more enlightened Dwarves without giving up Hardy.

It just feels weird how staggered they are throughout your career, which may be exacerbated by virtually all of the options in the playtest CRB being level 1. Perhaps if there were some actual "this makes sense for a Dwarf to get at level 9 but not earlier" options it'd be easier.

I think ancestry could be cool if it was the done way ultimate race handled the racial traits of mix-and-match.

I think everybody would love having 4-5 ancestral feats at level 1 to select what they want their dwarf to be like with a plethora of feats to choose from.

5th-7th-13th and 17th feat choice could be for improvement on those base feats like the various 5th level weapon feats are now.


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Philippe Perreault wrote:

I think ancestry could be cool if it was the done way ultimate race handled the racial traits of mix-and-match.

I think everybody would love having 4-5 ancestral feats at level 1 to select what they want their dwarf to be like with a plethora of feats to choose from.

5th-7th-13th and 17th feat choice could be for improvement on those base feats like the various 5th level weapon feats are now.

I 100% agree with this.

It seems silly that one day you just get dark vision.

I took a PF1 Elf and upgraded him to PF2, and to get the same benefits he would need to use all of his ancestral feats until level 9.

That's not right.

While I like the idea of slowly growing over time with ancestral feats, most of them should be front loaded.


Philippe Perreault wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Talonhawke wrote:
That's the thing though under this system not every elf is trained in those weapons. Not every single elf no matter who or where they were in the world learned to use bows. Now it's player choice on those parts. Not simply dictated as the CRB did for 1E that all elves even those who are blind from birth and those who never grew up around and elf genetically could use them.

Well, I really like "you only have the ancestry features you want" as an idea, since I spent a lot of time trying to get rid of Greedy and Hatred on my more enlightened Dwarves without giving up Hardy.

It just feels weird how staggered they are throughout your career, which may be exacerbated by virtually all of the options in the playtest CRB being level 1. Perhaps if there were some actual "this makes sense for a Dwarf to get at level 9 but not earlier" options it'd be easier.

I think ancestry could be cool if it was the done way ultimate race handled the racial traits of mix-and-match.

I think everybody would love having 4-5 ancestral feats at level 1 to select what they want their dwarf to be like with a plethora of feats to choose from.

5th-7th-13th and 17th feat choice could be for improvement on those base feats like the various 5th level weapon feats are now.

So a couple of issues though are that:

- We don't really want to make assumptions about what a "default" member of a culture is like, since there are no default people, and having Dwarves be automatically hateful and greedy until we trade those away is a bit of a problem.

- But we could just front-load ancestries with a bunch of choices, but this runs the risk of saying that the circumstances of your birth matter much more for who you are than your experiences or your chosen path. Like a Dwarf Fighter who was a Blacksmith gets 3 things from being a fighter (basic proficiencies, AoO, and one feat), 2 things from their background (a skill feat and training in one skill), and 3 things from being a Dwarf (Darkvision, an Ancestry feat, and Unburdened). If we made "what you get from being a Dwarf" matter much more than "what you get from having been a smith" we run the risk of sending the wrong message.


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bookrat wrote:

Easy: you role-play the aspects of it, but you don't gain the mechanical benefits until you're more experienced and learn how to integrate the mechanics with the rest of your skill set.

A goblin can love fire, and simply hainghe extra fire damage at level 5. A dwarf can have an ancestral hatred and simply not get the +1 until later.

Have people really forgotten that this is a role-playing game?

This really, really does not work with weapon proficiency. You can't roleplay using a falchion when you're not proficient in falchions.


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Sure you can you take the penalty you spent some time as a kid working with it but your not quite there yet over time you perfect your form and become Proficient!


I really don't look forward to having to send my character back to his ancestral homeland every couple of months to justify them becoming more ancestry-y.


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Jason S wrote:
It seems silly that one day you just get dark vision.

Why do you people keep saying this? Darkvision would be a heritage feat. You either have it at 1st level or you NEVER get it.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
bookrat wrote:

Easy: you role-play the aspects of it, but you don't gain the mechanical benefits until you're more experienced and learn how to integrate the mechanics with the rest of your skill set.

A goblin can love fire, and simply hainghe extra fire damage at level 5. A dwarf can have an ancestral hatred and simply not get the +1 until later.

Have people really forgotten that this is a role-playing game?

This really, really does not work with weapon proficiency. You can't roleplay using a falchion when you're not proficient in falchions.

what it really, really doesn't work with is the biological stuff. Except for magical races like gnomes and elves I guess, because at least then you can say their inborn magic got stronger.

Half Orcs not being able to see in the dark till level 5, on the other hand, is silly. And like someone pointed out, you can't roleplay being able to see in the dark if you can't see in the dark, or you'll get attacked by gnolls.

though, in all fairness, Half orc darkvision is the only one I've seen that can't be explained as "You got better with your race's cultural weapons." or "your natural magic got stronger."

And this is mainly because I've not seen any reason to believe Orcs have any natural magic and even if they did, saying it affects their vision that way would just be an excessively contrived handwave.


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Joe Mucchiello wrote:
Jason S wrote:
It seems silly that one day you just get dark vision.
Why do you people keep saying this? Darkvision would be a heritage feat. You either have it at 1st level or you NEVER get it.

Wrongola. Half orcs can't have darkvision at level 1 as it currently is. they have to take it as a feat at level 5 to get it.


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Murph. wrote:
I do like the overall system of gaining Ancestry feats over time, and think it makes total sense. As folks have said, there's a difference between "I grew up around this and am familiar with it," and "I have intentionally practiced this and am currently skilled in it." An IRL example, my mother and grandmother were musicians...

I entirely echo this. My grandparents were born and raised in Mexico, and my father was born and raised in Germany. I can assure you that despite my ancestry I still -- in my 40s -- acquire new expressions of it. Real life ancestry isn't a cloning factory. Your upbringing provides familiarity, but not actual expertise, which despite the ancestral "Weapon Familiarity" feats are not the same thing. I could give many real life examples of this, though my family my not appreciate a public airing of such anecdotes.

I could also echo the natural talents and gifts, inherited from my parents, that nonetheless are just raw and -- honestly -- wasted unless developed. I still acquire and lose in that area.

This one contested area of PF2 is actually one of the more realistic changes.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
bookrat wrote:
A goblin can love fire, and simply hainghe extra fire damage at level 5. A dwarf can have an ancestral hatred and simply not get the +1 until later....
This really, really does not work with weapon proficiency. You can't roleplay using a falchion when you're not proficient in falchions.

Actually you can. Here's an example: I grew up with a mother who played acoustic guitar. I was quite familiar with it and fond of it. But I didn't actually learn how to play guitar myself until later. My familiarity and fondness for guitar -- part of my upbringing -- didn't actualize in my ability to wield a guitar musically until years later when I spent time practicing to do so.

A character can begin at first level with a falchion they practice with in their spare time. Or they can express their love of the falchion, and speak fondly of great performers or warriors who demonstrated great skill with it. They can praise it to others as a superior weapon or lament that they neglected practicing it when younger. Or narrate tales of family derring do with a falchion. Or many other options.

And eventually and unsurprisingly they can later master what they admire.

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