Standardize Rules for Half-Races Across All Ancestries


Ancestries & Backgrounds


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I see great potential in the idea of using feats to create half-races. But to fully realize that potential, we need to integrate them into the rules for normal races.

Currently, only humans get access to half-races, and only half-elf and half-orc, and only by spending their one 1st level ancestry feat. It's unnecessarily restrictive, and it turns iconic core races into feat taxes.

So, I suggest a slightly different system: Everyone gets two heritage feats at level 1. One of these feats must come from your ancestry, but one can come from any other ancestry with GM approval. If you pick a heritage feat from another ancestry, you get the corresponding trait and are a half-race.

To balance this, I would also suggest giving those who pick both feats from their own ancestry their choice of some bonus proficiencies (or perhaps even a signature skill) from a list of things associated with their ancestry. The elf who picks a human heritage feat can get access to human stuff, but the one that stays pure elf might get those sweet elven archery skills.

A system like this would make any combination of playable races possible using the same rules as making normal characters. And it would make half-races actually function like half of one thing and half the other. It would also have the added benefit of giving ancestries more impact and flavor right at level 1, something they are currently sorely lacking.


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Yeah, I can see that. I'd want Orc added as core, even if dripping with disclaimers saying 'not meant for good PCs' and 'attacked on sight in most places' to give half-orcs from orcish backgrounds a stronger base.
Also, certain species haven't previously been able to inter breed with each other (Dwarves and anyone not an outsider, for example), though I suppose that doesn't preclude it from being added in. Or they could add feats to each race saying "half your ancestry is of a different people, choose one of the following <list of compatible options>. Immediately choose one feat from that ancestry, and you can choose from it's feats at any time you gain another ancestry feat. You also gain it's trait."


Gug on the Silver Mountain wrote:

Yeah, I can see that. I'd want Orc added as core, even if dripping with disclaimers saying 'not meant for good PCs' and 'attacked on sight in most places' to give half-orcs from orcish backgrounds a stronger base.

Also, certain species haven't previously been able to inter breed with each other (Dwarves and anyone not an outsider, for example), though I suppose that doesn't preclude it from being added in. Or they could add feats to each race saying "half your ancestry is of a different people, choose one of the following <list of compatible options>. Immediately choose one feat from that ancestry, and you can choose from it's feats at any time you gain another ancestry feat. You also gain it's trait."

How is that different than the situation with Goblins, which are core?

I think they should ALLOW half-races of anything, but perhaps be limited by world. I mean, there are a couple fantasy worlds with half-dwarf races, for instance. And who doesn't want to play a half-halfling?


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and FWIW, Bastards of Golarion did provide guidance on a method of half-breeding anything, using the race builder - and that's a Golarion specific book. There's also the 'precedent' of the many MANY strange sorcerer bloodlines and racial heritage feat uses that indicate that other races can crossbreed - it's just not done often enough to identify as their own 'race'.


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Really all you need to do is have the words GM approval in there to set player expectations properly. And you can have guidelines for Golarion, but the system need not restrict everyone else should Paizo decide to keep the Dorcs and Three-Quarterlings out of the official setting.

The beauty of this set up is that it would integrate the rules for whole and half-races, so that no additional work is necessary for any given combination. The system can remain open and setting agnostic and support the most possible options without needing to create special content specifically for it.

Liberty's Edge

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I agree that we need more than one ancestry feat at level 1. There are just too many heritage option that you have to either/or right now.

I think the step after that is to make a category for ancestry feats that aren't tied to any one species. Things like aasimar, tieflings, half-elves, half-orcs, half-dwarf, adoption (which is a general feat right now), etc., easily fall into this category. There are a ton of feats that could just as easily apply to an elf, a human, and a gnome, and breaking them out from the individual ancestries can only be a good thing.


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Another version of how this could work, perhaps more conservatively balanced:

Once again, everyone gets two heritage feats and a regular ancestry feat at level 1. And then add the following feat as an option:

Dual Ancestry: Either your parents were of different ancestries or one or both were of mixed heritage. With GM approval, you may select one ancestry other than your own. You gain the corresponding trait for that ancestry, must select one of that ancestry's heritage feats at level 1 and may select ancestry feats from either ancestry whenever you gain ancestry feats.
Special: This feat which can only be taken using your level 1 ancestry feat.

It's simple, it's universal, and it balances the flexibility of the half-races with a single feat tax, just like the half-race feats now or the adoption feat.


Makeitstop wrote:

Another version of how this could work, perhaps more conservatively balanced:

Once again, everyone gets two heritage feats and a regular ancestry feat at level 1. And then add the following feat as an option:

Dual Ancestry: Either your parents were of different ancestries or one or both were of mixed heritage. With GM approval, you may select one ancestry other than your own. You gain the corresponding trait for that ancestry, must select one of that ancestry's heritage feats at level 1 and may select ancestry feats from either ancestry whenever you gain ancestry feats.
Special: This feat which can only be taken using your level 1 ancestry feat.

It's simple, it's universal, and it balances the flexibility of the half-races with a single feat tax, just like the half-race feats now or the adoption feat.

I don't see a reason to force the character into taking a heritage feat for the other ancestry. heritage feats are totally optional for all ancestries, and without them, that is how you reflect the 'normal' version of a given ancestry.


Only humans get access to half races because further down the road the other races will get feats for their subraces. Elves will get feats for aquatic elves, drow, etc. Your proposal is just another thread to plead for more feats to spend at first level. No thanks.


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Asuet wrote:
Only humans get access to half races because further down the road the other races will get feats for their subraces. Elves will get feats for aquatic elves, drow, etc. Your proposal is just another thread to plead for more feats to spend at first level. No thanks.

Admittedly, they have not rules out the option down the road for being able to use the Half-elf heritage feat on a dwarf, or half-orc on a halfling. That's the real benefit of this type of system.

Also, they are not limiting the half-heritage feats down the road to specific feats for specific races. Yes, aquatic elves would be a thing for just elves - but they also mentioned that aasimar, tiefling, and other plane-touched races (sylph, undine, etc) would be more universal - so they only need to make one set of aasimar feats, that would be able to work on any existing ancestry.


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If half-elves and half-orcs are not being kept as their own ancestry but being converted into an ancestry feat then I agree that this needs to be expanded to be a standardised system accessible by all ancestries. One of the things that had always bothered me about those races in D&D/Pathfinder was they assumed all half elves and orcs had a human parent*; when I saw the sidebar about taking a feat to play a half-orc or half-elf I was excited thinking that problem was going to be fixed. If Paizo chooses to keep hybrids as an heritage feat instead of as their own separate ancestry, I would like them to create a common set of half-X feats for each of the core ancestries (and orcs) that are accessible to any ancestry.
One possible solution would be by breaking each ancestry down into a major (the ancestry) and minor (new class of feat) component (base hp, ability boosts and flaws, speed, and special abilities). At character creation in addition to the current feats all characters would be required to take one of the new class of feats (if you want to play a straight X you just choose both the X ancestry and the half-X feat giving you the full set of stats the current ancestry provides). Additionally this would get rid of the feat tax currently existing for half elves and half orcs, and would allow for a bit more variation.

*As far as I can tell the only rational ever for adding half elves and half orcs as races, but ignoring half dwarves or half hobbits (early editions of D&D did refer to them as such before legal issues got brought up, and through AD&D 2E the description remained that of hobbits) is explicitly because of Lord of the Rings: the Numenorean kings were half elves, and the squint eyed traveler in Bree was likely a half orc bred by Saruman, and in both cases they were half human. No other half-races are mentioned in Lord of the Rings, so no others show up in D&D and its decedents.

**Going back to Lord of the Rings and Tolkien, while the first Numenorean king was a half elf in the style of (A)D&D/Pathfinder, his half-elven brother Elrond is nothing like the half elves of earlier editions. By breaking the current ancestry system into a major/minor component it would allow for the creation of both types of characters.


Asuet wrote:
Only humans get access to half races because further down the road the other races will get feats for their subraces. Elves will get feats for aquatic elves, drow, etc. Your proposal is just another thread to plead for more feats to spend at first level. No thanks.

Which eliminates the possibility that half-races can be half of a given ancestry subrace, which seems silly: "Oh, now I'm learning how to be a half-drow..."


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Aldarc wrote:
Asuet wrote:
Only humans get access to half races because further down the road the other races will get feats for their subraces. Elves will get feats for aquatic elves, drow, etc. Your proposal is just another thread to plead for more feats to spend at first level. No thanks.
Which eliminates the possibility that half-races can be half of a given ancestry subrace, which seems silly: "Oh, now I'm learning how to be a half-drow..."

That makes no sense. Half-elves with human and drow parents are still mechanically half-elves. They might have different physical traits like white hair or something like that but you don't need to buy feats to have a white haircolor.

Also they might add more half-elf-only feats later to flash out half elf with a subrace parent heritage.


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I would love an option for mixed heritage characters.


Makeitstop wrote:

I see great potential in the idea of using feats to create half-races. But to fully realize that potential, we need to integrate them into the rules for normal races.

Currently, only humans get access to half-races, and only half-elf and half-orc, and only by spending their one 1st level ancestry feat. It's unnecessarily restrictive, and it turns iconic core races into feat taxes.

So, I suggest a slightly different system: Everyone gets two heritage feats at level 1. One of these feats must come from your ancestry, but one can come from any other ancestry with GM approval. If you pick a heritage feat from another ancestry, you get the corresponding trait and are a half-race.

To balance this, I would also suggest giving those who pick both feats from their own ancestry their choice of some bonus proficiencies (or perhaps even a signature skill) from a list of things associated with their ancestry. The elf who picks a human heritage feat can get access to human stuff, but the one that stays pure elf might get those sweet elven archery skills.

A system like this would make any combination of playable races possible using the same rules as making normal characters. And it would make half-races actually function like half of one thing and half the other. It would also have the added benefit of giving ancestries more impact and flavor right at level 1, something they are currently sorely lacking.

I'm not sure if I agree with your approach of how to handle it, but I completely agree with the base concept. I have always wanted to play a half-dwarf/half-elf character but there's never been an option anywhere close to it before and not many GMs are willing to allow houserules for that kind of thing. I was in a game once that approved a half-dwarf/half-human but it only lasted two sessions before they gave up on the game because he only had three players and one wasn't very reliable.


Asuet wrote:
That makes no sense.

It makes no sense for you maybe but it certainly made sense enough to Wizards of the Coast to include elf subrace options for half-elves in D&D 5e.


Aldarc wrote:
Asuet wrote:
That makes no sense.
It makes no sense for you maybe but it certainly made sense enough to Wizards of the Coast to include elf subrace options for half-elves in D&D 5e.

I wrote 2 sentences later: "Also they might add more half-elf-only feats later to flash out half elf with a subrace parent heritage."

You realize that this is a playtest where not everything is included from the start, right? The pathfinder 2 system has no problems whatsoever to add more feats later on to add more options.
And D&D 5e has no subrace options for half-elves in their core rulebook either. That has been added in the Sword Coast Adventurer guide.


Asuet wrote:
And D&D 5e has no subrace options for half-elves in their core rulebook either. That has been added in the Sword Coast Adventurer guide.

Of coruse, but do you realize that is also a ruleset that actually bothered to make the half-elves distinct from both humans and elves and not just a subset entry of humans?


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Aldarc wrote:
Asuet wrote:
That makes no sense.
It makes no sense for you maybe but it certainly made sense enough to Wizards of the Coast to include elf subrace options for half-elves in D&D 5e.

Wait, I thought we were in the Pathfinder Playtest forum, not the D&D Playtest forum =P

If Paizo want to try to go a different route from D&D, I'm all for it. Even more if, down the road, it allows me to play dozens of different half-breeds instead of just two.


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That'd be nice to see the half-ancestries systemized for any playable ancestry combinations (assuming they can mix genes, of course). It'll make it easy for me to introduce playable, balanced half-dragons (if actually playable, hopefully) in the near future.


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Asuet wrote:
Only humans get access to half races because further down the road the other races will get feats for their subraces. Elves will get feats for aquatic elves, drow, etc. Your proposal is just another thread to plead for more feats to spend at first level. No thanks.

It's not just a plea for more feats, it's a proposal for how to use those additional feats that people want in order to provide more options to players, and easily cover all the possible combinations of races.

There is a long history of people wanting to play half-races that aren't currently part of the game. You can find numerous homebrew solutions for individual concepts, but there is simply no way that Paizo is going to be able to design every possible combination for every playable race that comes out over the life of the system. Doing it this way takes care of all the work, it becomes automatic with every race that comes out.

You may not be interested in playing a helfling, lizardforc, or Gnobold, and you may choose to disallow them from your table. But if other people want to play them in their games, why is that so bad? Why shouldn't the system provide the tools if it can be done so easily? What's the downside, that it involves giving out the additional feats that you yourself said people are demanding?


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Makeitstop wrote:
Everyone gets two heritage feats at level 1. One of these feats must come from your ancestry, but one can come from any other ancestry with GM approval. If you pick a heritage feat from another ancestry, you get the corresponding trait and are a half-race.

This is an elegant, simple, and almost perfect solution. I like it.


Makeitstop wrote:
You may not be interested in playing a helfling, lizardforc, or Gnobold, and you may choose to disallow them from your table. But if other people want to play them in their games, why is that so bad? Why shouldn't the system provide the tools if it can be done so easily? What's the downside, that it involves giving out the additional feats that you yourself said people are demanding?

My position is not that half-x shouldn't be represented in the game. You completely misunderstood my position. My point is that any half-race you add later on can be easily implemented under the current ruleset. And you don't need more feats for that. Want to play a lizard-orc? Homebrew a feat into the orc ancestry feats that's called half-lizard and add some characteristics of lizards. Easy. No need for any additional feats.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

The problem is that those half races end up worse off than non-half races if they aren't also having to take that feat at first level that half races have to.


Makeitstop wrote:

Another version of how this could work, perhaps more conservatively balanced:

Dual Ancestry: Either your parents were of different ancestries or one or both were of mixed heritage. With GM approval, you may select one ancestry other than your own. You gain the corresponding trait for that ancestry, must select one of that ancestry's heritage feats at level 1 and may select ancestry feats from either ancestry whenever you gain ancestry feats.

You mean the way hybrid races actually works?

It was better in Blood of Bastards a companion suplement.

you had your heritage and you roll for a hint of any other mix in your blood.

The way your rule works will lead to a half dragon half tarrasque half dwarf half human with half elven heritages...

how many half could you and to make a whole?


I like this. I think it's a good step toward making Golarion a bigger world with more race combinations--which feels like a win to me.


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Asuet wrote:
Makeitstop wrote:
You may not be interested in playing a helfling, lizardforc, or Gnobold, and you may choose to disallow them from your table. But if other people want to play them in their games, why is that so bad? Why shouldn't the system provide the tools if it can be done so easily? What's the downside, that it involves giving out the additional feats that you yourself said people are demanding?
My position is not that half-x shouldn't be represented in the game. You completely misunderstood my position. My point is that any half-race you add later on can be easily implemented under the current ruleset. And you don't need more feats for that. Want to play a lizard-orc? Homebrew a feat into the orc ancestry feats that's called half-lizard and add some characteristics of lizards. Easy. No need for any additional feats.

If I have to homebrew the feat, that is a new feat needed. One of the advantages of using a standardized system is that the every new ancestry you add comes fully equipped to hybridize. No new content required, official or homebrew.

I mean, you could also take magic out of the game and say it's ok because you can homebrew it back in. Just because you can homebrew something doesn't mean the system wouldn't benefit from supporting it officially. Otherwise, what is even the point of having a system?

Asuet wrote:
Grimcleaver wrote:
I like this. I think it's a good step toward making Golarion a bigger world with more race combinations--which feels like a win to me.
It makes the world silly in my opinion. Where do you draw the line? If every race can interbreed, can i have a half-dog half-cat familiar? Having some possibilities of building half-races is fine but it shouldn't be the default.

You can have official guidelines for what is and isn't common in Golarion, just as we do for other things in the system.

And the line is drawn at playable races. Do dogs and cats have heritage feats? If not, then you can't mix them.

Nor would this make them the default, it would make them an option baked into the game.


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Asuet wrote:
It makes the world silly in my opinion. Where do you draw the line? If every race can interbreed, can i have a half-dog half-cat familiar? Having some possibilities of building half-races is fine but it shouldn't be the default.

I know, right? Where would you keep your WEIRD half-dog/cat familiar? In the stables with the griffon or outside with the owlbear?


I agree to standardize half-ancestries in all ancestries.


You know, the game already has humans reproducing with every humanoid race via the racial heritage feat. And by extension, all of those races can mix with elves and orcs since half-elves and half-orcs can take that feat as well. Let's not pretend like weird combinations of races weren't already part of the game.*

And quite frankly, I find it far more believable that all humanoid races are genetically compatible with each other than that humans are somehow uniquely capable of reproducing with everything humanoid. Does it really make sense to say that human-goblin mixes are possible, and human-hobgoblin mixes are possible, but somehow goblin-hobgoblin mixes are absurd and unthinkable? Why not just accept that humanoid races can interbreed and make that a defining feature? That would actually make the whole humanoid type make a lot more sense to me.

*If you really want to get crazy with it, you can already mix any two humanoid races by playing a tiefling or aasimar (which can be made from any humanoid race, even though only the size changes) and take the pass for human or scion of humanity alternate race trait, which allows you to take racial heritage and mix in any other humanoid race. So you can be an angelic ogre-kobold mix, or a rakshasa-spawn tiefling grippli-storm giant. By comparison, playing a half-gnome half-halfling seems rather tame, doesn't it?


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I Think Makeitstop's proposal is pretty sound. There is something to be said about giving PCs a solid system to crossbreed ancestry in a generally simple way. At least as an option.


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More heritage feats at 1st level and more half race options for all races is definitely a step in the right direction.


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Hugolinus wrote:
Makeitstop wrote:
Everyone gets two heritage feats at level 1. One of these feats must come from your ancestry, but one can come from any other ancestry with GM approval. If you pick a heritage feat from another ancestry, you get the corresponding trait and are a half-race.
This is an elegant, simple, and almost perfect solution. I like it.

It's pretty good. There may be some combinations that need something special, but this works as a good baseline. I suppose if you mixed too many ancestries you'd be a mutt of some form and get a special heritage feat for that too.

It does blend the races together a fair bit, and lorewise it could be hard to justify pure races in some regions. Then there's the issue of Heldane's law and whether or not that should be incorporated into hybrid feature expression. It would really require a hard look from their lore folks, but I'd want it for my home games.


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The feat to become a half-orc or half-elf is hardly a feat tax as it both grants acces to twice as many ancestry feats but also gives bonuses on its own.

They already stated that they are only available to humans in the Golorian setting only. So if you want to have dwarven based half-orcs you can do so for your campaign as simply as saying dwarves can take the half-orc ancestry.

Which is the whole reason they are feats now and not their own ancestry. So you can easily do that without having to make a separate half-dwarf half-orc ancestry.


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Excerpt from Ancestry and Class Surveys Thread

Mark Seifter wrote:
Rules Artificer wrote:
The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Indeed. The open surveys are where you can tell Paizo whatever you want. For instance, I repeated my incessant requests that Half Orc and Half Elf no longer be limited to Half Human (this wasn't a category in the other survey). I also asked for Half Gnome, Half Dwarf, Half Goblin, and so on... But not Half...half...ling...because that's weird?

While amusing, I very highly doubt that this will be included as an option. Pathfinder has always assumed the Golarion setting, and 2E has doubled down on that assumption.

And the existing races on Golarion are fairly set in stone after 10+ years of setting building.

Even if it's not "official," we can potentially try to build the half-ancestries in a way that they can be used like Kai wants. For instance, you could get those up and running with a minimum of tweaking and no deep game design necessary with the current version (and that means we could use the paradigm to do just that ourselves for ancestries that have traditionally spread beyond human in Golarion, like aasimar/tiefling/other planar scion).

So... If I'm reading this correctly, we won't be seeing Half Dwarf/Half Elf in Golarion but it will be easy to houserule this for other settings. Also, planetouch of any ancestry are a possibility for Golarion.

All of which, circling around, would benefit from the rules the OP is proposing.


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Yeah, I would be all for things like tiefling and aasimar being half-ancestry feat chains which can be applied to any ancestry, since their other half is something which is unlikely to ever be playable. But doing it that way for things that are already playable seems like an inefficient way of doing things. I mean, I wouldn't object to them making a half-ancestry feat chain for every single playable ancestry they introduce over the life of the system, but I doubt they ever would.


I already mentioned this elsewhere, but the v1.2 character sheet actually has 2 lines for 1st level ancestry feats.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm also on board for separating the "half-blooded" races off of the human ancestry, and making a "half-blooded" ancestry feat for each of the ancestries out there. That way, any ancestry can be mixed with any other, which could lead to some wild design spaces. Anyone want a half-dwarf/half-goblin?

Also, this opens the door for tieflings, aasimars, undines, dhampirs, etc., of non-human stock, which could also be very interesting.


Not to keep repeating myself, but if Ancestry were to be made 100% cosmetic, we could make whatever hybrids we desired quickly and easily while guaranteeing that they're always perfectly balanced!


That is bland, though.
The ancestries would completely lose all practical identity.
That would take me out of the game.

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