Regaining features lost from taking alternate racial traits

Pathfinder Society

Lantern Lodge

Hi there! I hope to get an official rules response from Paizo on this. We couldn't find anything as of yet.

I have one of those grandfathered-in Aasimar characters that was created prior to this race no longer being playable. Normally Aasimars have darkvision. However, I took an alternate racial trait at character creation that gave me a real cool halo in lieu of darkvision. Later on I took a level in sorcerer, and decided to do a tattooed sorcerer archetype so that I'd get a familiar -- a thrush with darkvision via the Celestial template, from an Aasimar feat I took that grants that. "Mockingjay", as the thrush is called, acts as a recon drone, going down dark hallways and reporting to me, via my use of Message and the fact that thrushes speak Common. I also took the orc bloodline, which makes me count as an orc in addition to the "counts as a human and an Aasimar" that I already had.

AND HERE'S THE KEY THING: The Orc bloodline gives me darkvision.

Aside from the strategic advantages of having darkvision, it's a very important part of my character's backstory and roleplay. My play style revolves around roleplay, so this is a big deal for me. Angelica's parents were already getting on in years when they had her, and given the extended lifespans of Aasimars vis-â-vis other races, her half-orc mom is long gone. Angelica grew up in Tian, so one day, as a toddler, she smeared wasabi sauce all over her body. "Look, Mommy! I wanna be green, like you!" Can I get a collective "Awwwwww..." from everyone? :-) So having the Orc bloodline, and all that comes with it, including darkvision, is a very emotional connection to her orc ancestry for Angelica. Momma would be proud of the hero her wasabi-covered baby has grown up to be.

NOW THE DISPUTE: Last night's GM felt that Angelica should not be allowed to ever have darkvision from any other source, including having the Orc type from the Orc bloodline or having that bloodline specifically say that you now have darkvision. I was fine with that for this game, pretending it shorted out due to the caves we were in, and had the halo activated anyhow for the benefit of a new player who didn't realize her human barbarian needed a light source.

I want to find out who's right, and adjust my character going forward. The GM feels that the halo's elimination of my Aasimar darkvision means I can never ever ever have darkvision, ever. You know, I'm not sure what he'd say if there was a spell or magic item that went "Zap! You've got mail! Er, I mean, you've got darkvision!" But as far as gaining it from the Orc bloodline, no. He feels if you give up a racial trait like darkvision, at chacater creation, the rules say you can't get it back from any source. I maintain that the rules don't say that. That doesn't make sense. I mean, a human or other race that didn't start with darkvision, well, doesn't have darkvision. They take the Orc bloodline. They now count as both a human and an orc, as well as they get darkvision. That's how it works. You didn't have darkvision, and then you're exposed to magical gamma radiation -- don't get me mad, cuz I'm big and green and can see in the dark now! lol

I really really really want to continue roleplaying her connection to dead half-orc Mommy. But I'm also already thinking of how cool the roleplay will be to have Angelica NOT have darkvision, but Mockingjay the thrush DOES. That could be fun. I just wanna know what the rules are for going forward with her, and for the benefit of the GM as I told him I'd find out. Either way, I'm still going to find a way to have fun. :-)

This will also affect another character I have, a half-orc who grew up in complete darkness as her and momma were half-orc slaves born in the caves -- Grandmama was a human captive forced to breed with the cheiftain, that dude from Orcs of Golarion that carries the skulls of his enemies with him. Years of being taunted in total darkness caused my character, Jade, to still be terrified of the dark. Just like Angelica, Jade also had an alternate racial trait at chacater creation that took away her darkvision. Later on, she too gained a level in sorcerer, and I took the Orc bloodline. So Jade now has darkvision, but I roleplay that she's STILL afraid of the dark. This gets a lot of lols -- "Wait, a half-orc who's afraid of the dark? Hahahahaha!" And then, a lot of gasps when I tell everyone WHY she is afraid of the dark. It's a really great roleplay experience for everyone. "Yeah, I know I can see in there, but it still looks different than daylight! And it's still dark! It FEELS different than daylight, too! Did you know you can feel the darkness touching you? Like hundreds of orc fingers reaching out to...I don't wanna talk about it. YOU go in."

I guess it's no big deal if Jade looses her darkvision. So I'll carry a light source. Big whoop. It's just a deeper roleplay if she can see in the dark, but is still frightened by it.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

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The only thing I can say is that you tradeout a racial trait.

If you got darkvision from a difference source that is not a racial trait for your race, I don't see why you shouldn't be able to have darkvision.

The Exchange 4/5

what Gary said.

Shadow Lodge

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You traded out your racial darkvision; you're just playing an aasimar that never had darkvision to begin with. To say that means you can't get darkvision from some other source is like saying choosing a race that doesn't get darkvision naturally means you can't ever have darkvision, either.


As every else has said your GM is wrong if just going by the rules. I am not clear from your post whether this is a home game or a PFS group. You are posting in the PFS section of the forums and PFS GM's are required to run according to the rules, at least the rules as they best understand them. Sometimes, where things are ambiguous, you will find variation on how the rules work. This really isnt one of those times. Your character has darkvision from their bloodline.

If this is a home game then it is up to you and the GM to agree things between you. This really should have happened when you took the sorcerer level.


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I'll just agree that losing an ability from one source does not prevent gaining it from a different source except where it is specifically called out that you can never gain that ability.

Lantern Lodge

Thanks, that's my sentiment, too on this PFS table the other night. I hope this will be sufficient for him for future games. If not, perhaps after the weekend someone at Paizo will see this and issue an official ruling. If they don't, or if for some reason that's still unacceptable to the GM, I'll just have Angelica's darkvision short out when playing at his table. That could be fun to roleplay. She's multiclassed, so maybe her oracle powers are mysteriously interfering with her sorcerer powers. Daddy was a half-ELF, so maybe her elven ancestors are asserting themselves from beyond but unintentionally short-circuiting her orc stuff. Or they're doing it intentionally. Maybe it's Mommy's ghost withdrawing Angelica's orc powers, as she's upset that Angelica rejected the "gods" to become a monotheist. I think it would be more fun if my character doesn't know why and has to deal with the emotional angst of worrying if her actions are displeasing to her dead parents. Plus, she still has the thrush's darkvision to make use of, and a nice big halo to light up the night.

Thanks everyone for your input! :-)

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

If your GM isn't convinced by a bunch of randos on the forums, you will probably have to appeal to your local VO, and possibly should anyway.

Scarab Sages 5/5

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I doubt Paizo will give you an official ruling on this, because it shouldn't need an official ruling. There is no ruling that once you lose an ability from one source that no other source can possibly give it back to you.

The GM is flat out wrong.

Lantern Lodge

Thanks, everyone. I think you're correct that nothing short of Paizo backing me up will change his mind. And I agree they're not going to, as they shouldn't.

Thanks for the suggestion to get the VO involved.

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