Future-Proofing -or- How do we account for Ancestries with intrinsic unusual abilities?


Ancestries & Backgrounds

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So in PF2, one's choice of ancestry does not give much on the front end- you get a heritage feat, an ancestry feat and maybe some intrinsic bonus from your genes like darkvision.

But what about all the PF1 races which get something much more substantial than darkvision from their DNA- Kitsune can shapechange; Astomoi are all telepaths; Strix and Gathlains can fly; Locathah, tritons, merfolk, cecaelias, and a bunch of others are amphibious and have swim speeds, etc.

It's not like we can take a Strix's wings away and have it still be a Strix, and "you can just fly" is a lot better than darkvision, or even darkvision+unburdened (which seemingly was too much.)

Are we going to need to give each of these things big drawbacks? Are we just going to be okay with the idea that these later ancestries are simply more powerful than the core ones? Sure, some of these things you could get away with buying over a few levels with ancestry feats (e.g. a Kitsune gets better at shapechanging) but if you take a Strix's wings or a Merfolk's swimming away they sort of stop being what defines them.

Should all of the core ancestries get more stuff right out of the gate since we're going to have to publish some things that get really desirable stuff automatically? I mean, we already have an issue where a disproportionate number of gnomes are going to be svirfneblin and a disproportionate number of elves are going to be from underground since darkvision is stronger than other heritage feats.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

So in PF2, one's choice of ancestry does not give much on the front end- you get a heritage feat, an ancestry feat and maybe some intrinsic bonus from your genes like darkvision.

But what about all the PF1 races which get something much more substantial than darkvision from their DNA- Kitsune can shapechange; Astomoi are all telepaths; Strix and Gathlains can fly; Locathah, tritons, merfolk, cecaelias, and a bunch of others are amphibious and have swim speeds, etc.

It's not like we can take a Strix's wings away and have it still be a Strix, and "you can just fly" is a lot better than darkvision, or even darkvision+unburdened (which seemingly was too much.)

Are we going to need to give each of these things big drawbacks? Are we just going to be okay with the idea that these later ancestries are simply more powerful than the core ones? Sure, some of these things you could get away with buying over a few levels with ancestry feats (e.g. a Kitsune gets better at shapechanging) but if you take a Strix's wings or a Merfolk's swimming away they sort of stop being what defines them.

Should all of the core ancestries get more stuff right out of the gate since we're going to have to publish some things that get really desirable stuff automatically?

I'd think you have them those fancy abilities, but with a restriction (a first level Strix can only fly for 10 minutes a day; Merfolk have crappy land speed initially) and then add high level feats that take these restrictions away (5th level feat for Strix makes it an hour, 9th level is unlimited, 13th or 17th increases the fly speed) and then for magical abilities, maybe just tie them to straight character level (Like the PF1 Fetchling's shadow plane interaction spells [7th you get shadow walk, 11th is plane shift]) or something like that.


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Well, the diagetic problem is that a Strix who cannot fly basically whenever they want to is not a functional member of Strix society (there are no stairs or ladders to where you sleep at night. So maybe all Strix PCs are wing-clipped outcasts? But that limits the set of stories you can tell about heroic Strix.

Plus if you're spending 100% of your ancestry feats on "you can fly competently" then you can't really reflect any other aspects of Strix culture (their suspicion, their masks, their magical bonecraft, etc.)


A lot of your suggested ancestries are OP ancestries that I've seen no sane GM allow a player to use in PF1 for precisely the reasons you're asking for a boost in the core ancestries: because their base abilities are extremely overpowered compared to someone who doesn't have them starting out.

With that to take into account, considering an earth-changing event takes place prior to PF2 (aka Return of the Runelords), it's possible that, like Goblins, these other "ancestries" will either be extremely changed/nerfed, or even simply no longer be a PC choice except by GM FIAT.

And considering that many options have been handled this way in the past (such as by having vampire or werewolf or half-dragon PCs in D&D 3.X), I wouldn't be surprised if these other ancestries similarly tread the same path.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
A lot of your suggested ancestries are OP ancestries that I've seen no sane GM allow a player to use

I know the RP costs in the ARG aren't reliable but Gathlains are a 12RP race, Locathahs are a 10 RP race, Tritons are an 11RP race, Kitsune are available for PFS without a boon, Vanaras were an 8RP race with a climb speed, etc.

So we have a flying ancestry, two swimming ancestries, and a shapechanging ancestry which are deemed less overtly powerful by Paizo than a 13RP Tiefling, and those were everywhere.

I mean the reason GMs say no to Astomoi is "playing an ambulatory void is weird and I don't want to have every NPC have to freak out when they see you" not that it's actually powerful. Not perceiving the world past 60' is a major limitation.


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Flight speed on a base race is going to be problematic, yes, but that's always been the case. Just like your GM wouldn't allow it before, your GM won't allow it after. So if Paizo wants to make a race that's clearly problematic, they can, just like they did before.
It just won't be balanced.
And you won't be playing it.

(Had a kitsune in my last game and it was fine, flavoured her shapechange as her vigilante identity swap and was awesome. Had a player show up with a flight speed of 90ft at lv1 to be untouchable and he got peppered with arrows because he had no cover. I'm ok with people bringing stuff to my table, but not everybody is, and don't expect to auto-win with it because I have been giving my NPCs ranged backups since 2002, when my party wizard said "well it's not like they have bows".)


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I admit to having some similar worries. Ignoring hard-to-balance features like flying, there are many mythological races which have something innately magical or special about them as a defining feature of the race. Kitsune are natural shapeshifters, a Vishkanya's bodily fluids are poisonous, Merfolk can breath and swim in water, etc. These aren't things limited to a single heritage - and it'd be nice to see them included in a way that isn't imbalanced.

Right now, the only way I could see this being done is by having the race replace either the choice of heritage or 1st level ancestry feat with the default racial feature. It wouldn't be great from the view of letting player's make choices, but it's currenlty the only real way to allow an innate special feature without instantly imbalancing the race against core options.

Liberty's Edge

For Creatures with BIG bonuses I'd like to see them also introduce BIG penalties to make up for it.

In your example the Strix could take a Circumstance -2 Penalty on all Perception, and Wis Based Checks made while in Sunlight for their Nocturnal Ability. Bake this RIGHT into the Ancestry along with the Wings.

It is either this or giving them something like a stat spread of +2 Dex, -2 Con, -2 Charisma and I REALLY hate Stat-Nerfed Races so...


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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Well one way to handle them is to come out with a Fantastic Races tome. In it it would up the scale of the races with some that are simply more powerful, such as the Aasimar, Tieflings, Kitsune, Strix and such.

Along with it, it can talk about how some races have their natural abilities sort of create a tier system of starting power. Along with these new races, it might also include applicable tweaks to the core races, so that a GM wanting to open the gate to some rare or uncommon ancestries from the new book can off the bat offer some additional perks to players wanting to play one of the core races.

There is also the potential of Level Adjustment, where the more powerful races might get delayed slowed advancement for a certain number of levels until they expend a number of ancestry feats to pay for their starting abilities.

If they can bake in a disadvantage (or selection of ones to choose from) that makes sense, and would properly balance things, that seems like the best bet in my mind. However, the option to increase the game's 'Ancestry' tier, and be able to grant boons to the standard ones would certainly seem to be an option for some games.


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I think it's a big loss if we can't have an Aasimar and a Kitsune in the same party as an Elf and a Dwarf and have everything come out fairly even.

Silver Crusade Contributor

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In addition, I think this is the first time I've seen kitsune placed alongside aasimar and tiefling, let alone strix, for power reasons.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
I think it's a big loss if we can't have an Aasimar and a Kitsune in the same party as an Elf and a Dwarf and have everything come out fairly even.

Indeed, there’s a tendency to say ‘Pathfinder lets me make any character I can think of’ without considering ‘but will it be on par with the rest of the table?’

If your GM filters things, all’s good. If he does not, and you want to play an elf monk, well...


PossibleCabbage wrote:
I think it's a big loss if we can't have an Aasimar and a Kitsune in the same party as an Elf and a Dwarf and have everything come out fairly even.

Shapechanging and celestial powers trumped Dwarfiness and elf powers in PF1, I'd rather not have a repeat.

If they are supposed to come our relatively even then it really shouldn't matter what ancestry a player chooses, in a game that's supposed to make your choices matter. Sounds counterproductive.

Scarab Sages

Kalindlara wrote:
In addition, I think this is the first time I've seen kitsune placed alongside aasimar and tiefling, let alone strix, for power reasons.

There are a lot of really strong kitsune builds, where the racials are key to it. Definitely on par, but with slightly weaker stats.


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I feel like most of the reason Aasimar and Tieflings were the choice of optimizers in PF1 is that people were hunting for specific stat boost combinations. I don't think that's really an issue any more, given how PF2 does stat generation differently.


Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:

A lot of your suggested ancestries are OP ancestries that I've seen no sane GM allow a player to use in PF1 for precisely the reasons you're asking for a boost in the core ancestries: because their base abilities are extremely overpowered compared to someone who doesn't have them starting out.

With that to take into account, considering an earth-changing event takes place prior to PF2 (aka Return of the Runelords), it's possible that, like Goblins, these other "ancestries" will either be extremely changed/nerfed, or even simply no longer be a PC choice except by GM FIAT.

And considering that many options have been handled this way in the past (such as by having vampire or werewolf or half-dragon PCs in D&D 3.X), I wouldn't be surprised if these other ancestries similarly tread the same path.

So one thing that could work for these kind of races is if you allow an OP race that is the equivalent of 3 Ancestry feats at level 1. Then all of the other characters get 3 ancestry feats at level 1. It would tweak all the characters then. Now this might make the party stronger than they should be and would need to be looked at but it would be an option


I see two possible solutions.
The first would be grouping abilities so that flight and counters to flight were lower level in games where races with inherent flight are permitted. Balancing the ability rather than the other race options seems more possible.

Other than that, you'd provide notes indicating which abilities remove the experience granted by which encounters.

The second solution would be making flight available to the race, but requiring a number of feats to make it combat effective similar to mounted combat. That would require feat chains though, and most of those are class locked now. I suppose combat flight could be built as an archetype. The race would still have flight always available to them, but they'd need to build up to flying always being effective. Make feats for silent flight, flying archery, standing take off and maybe a few others; that should do the trick.

Or you could just have race packages that boost everyone up to the new minimum. That seems a bit simplistic and would probably end up creating some really odd balance issues regarding races that are at their best in a party with some weird race.


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ErichAD wrote:


Or you could just have race packages that boost everyone up to the new minimum. That seems a bit simplistic and would probably end up creating some really odd balance issues regarding races that are at their best in a party with some weird race.

I could see something like this as a houserule.

Currently I am not a great fan of how race/heritage has been implemented. Developing say "Ancient's Blood" later in life seems very strange and immersion breaking to me (taking the feat as a dwarf at level 9 say...). But playing with a "Powerful Races" variant that allows players to take 2 or 3 race feats (or heritages) at L1, would allow a set of 3 feats say to develop flight abilities for a Strix type character, while a dwarf could take Ancient's Blood, Hardy and Weapon Familiarity...

Contributor

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I have been saying basically what the OP is saying here since August. Between my blogs and podcasts and Actual Plays, I am crossing my fingers that they are aware of this issue. ;)


Charon Onozuka wrote:

I admit to having some similar worries. Ignoring hard-to-balance features like flying, there are many mythological races which have something innately magical or special about them as a defining feature of the race. Kitsune are natural shapeshifters, a Vishkanya's bodily fluids are poisonous, Merfolk can breath and swim in water, etc. These aren't things limited to a single heritage - and it'd be nice to see them included in a way that isn't imbalanced.

Right now, the only way I could see this being done is by having the race replace either the choice of heritage or 1st level ancestry feat with the default racial feature. It wouldn't be great from the view of letting player's make choices, but it's currenlty the only real way to allow an innate special feature without instantly imbalancing the race against core options.

Yeah, I think replacing both the ancestry and the heritage feat in exchange for flight, possibly in addition to a loss of a stat bonus, would be necessary to sort of balance that out. Flight is just crazy good and it's hard to balance that against other races.

Like if we erred on the side of "f&#~ this race flight is crazy OP" then I'd say they only get 1 fixed stat boost and a free boost at level 1 in addition to a stat penalty, their heritage and level 1 ancestry feats are useless and basically do nothing other than flavor, and then at level 5 or 10 they get their lost stat boost back once flight starts becoming a thing for other characters and then from there they progress as any other race. Flight is good but it becomes less special once there's magic items that grant it.

So for Strix, I might say 6 HP, Medium size, 25 movement (including flight), +DEX OR +WIS but not both, one free boost, and -CHA. F&~+all for heritage and ancestry which are pretty much pure fluff. Dunno how to deal with Adopted Ancestry except to maybe say that it won't take effect until some arbitrary level? That avoids working around the ancestry feats sucking until flight stops being an amazing advantage. And then at whatever level they just automatically get +WIS or +DEX, whichever they didn't take, but only to a maximum of 18 and otherwise granting a free boost to any other stat but those two to avoid stat f@*$ery.

I don't feel that's really weak enough but there's levers that can be pulled now, just gradually give back stats that were taken away as flight becomes less exclusive as well as giving access to actually decent ancestry feats.


Now that I think about it, I think it might literally require no boost whatsoever from ancestry, free or otherwise, and maybe an additional penalty of one stat of your choice. I think having across the board lower stats might be necessary to really counteract the ability to just leave the ground and ignore melee fighters, or to pursue other flying enemies. If you're going to be flying, I think having a lower AC and to-hit for your archery build is fair enough.

Since PF2 ability scores are generated entirely by boosts, it's fairly easy to withhold boosts until later in a character's career to balance out extreme abilities. You gain access to potions of flying at level 8 that grant a flight speed of 40 for 1 minute, and celestial armor that grants a flight speed of 30 once per day at level 10. At level 9, the uncommon Cloak of the Bat grants grants a fly speed of 30 once per day or can turn you into a Tiny bat for 10 minutes (not nearly useful as useful in combat but hey it's still flight). 10 looks like it'd be a good point to give one free boost from ancestry, as well as start allowing for actually useful ancestry feats.

At level 14 other characters will have access to a greater potion of flying that lasts an entire hour, and the uncommon Greater Cloak of the Bat can be activated as many times per day as the player wishes (but it eats up Resonance to do so, so it's not going to be used for very long regardless). Still not quite on par with an unrestricted flight speed of 25, all day every day, but I think it's venturing towards close enough that I think other races should have picked up ancestry feats that would have made up the difference by then. A boost to DEX (or if DEX was boosted before, one other stat of the player's choice) is then granted, and one of the racial penalties is removed. The Strix is now just like any other race, except it doesn't need a magic item or spell to fly.

Again, having something which is better than level 14 magical items at level 1 is really strong, and it's hard to balance that without adding arbitrary restrictions to the flight or over-nerfing them. It's not enough to just take away just one boost because that's easy enough for most characters to ignore when their to-hit is going to be decided by the stat they've got an 18 in.

---

I suppose an alternative way to handle this is to withhold class feats. Basically, a flight speed is worthy of a level 14 class feat. Getting that feat early means you're in feat debt and you need to pay for it in other ways.

If you're a Strix, you gain access to a special Archetype called Flyer. The Flyer Dedication feat requires a race capable of flight (such as a Strix) and that no other class feats have been taken (so you must spend the first class feat you get on it). The dedication feat gives you a permanent fly speed, but it also doubles the level requirements for all class feats, including other Archetype feats and feats taken from other classes.

At level 10, the Flyer Dedication feat stops doubling the level requirements of class feats, but if you swap out class feats you gained at earlier levels you still must only pick replacement feats that you would have been eligible for at the time.

At level 15, the Flyer Dedication feat will allow you to swap out class feats as though you never had to double the level requirements of class feats - a class feat gained at level 8, for example, could be swapped to a class feat with a level requirement of 8 rather than the previous limit of 4.

This hopefully accomplishes a few things. First, this does allow for flightless variants of normally flighted races - if someone wants to play a Strix but doesn't care about flying, they can just progress like they're a normal race. And it does this without making it a heritage, which, let's be honest, no other heritage could hope to compete with unrestricted flight.

Second, it doesn't restrict the flight in a dumb way. Once you can fly, you can fly. None of this wing-clipping s~$~ (unless you actually want to roll with that). You're just as capable of flying as any other member of your race you might encounter on your journey.

Third, it hopefully frontloads the sacrifice for taking flight, which is where flight is at its most powerful. Early on the loss of a feat should sting, and the inability to take higher level feats should feel like a fair if harsh tradeoff for flying around.

Finally, once other characters start gaining access to flight, the class feat penalties go away. You're still never ever getting that class feat you spent on the ability to fly back, but once flight stops being special you stop having to take crazy penalties for it.

It also works whether or not the table is using XP (I imagine most campaigns without multiple GM's just have the players level up whenever) and it doesn't require different party members be at different levels, which makes CR easier to figure out. It's also not quite a straight feat tax, you're still picking interesting things at every level you're supposed to. They're just weaker than what everyone else is picking, because what you picked at level 1 or 2 was bonkers.

There's still issues, though. I'm not sure there's necessarily enough penalties at early levels for flight. Maybe the dedication feat also has to remove all the ability boosts you got from your race until a later level? It makes multiclassing really hard until pretty late in the game. I'm not sure the impact is going to be evenly felt across every class, some classes just get s*&~tier feats and are going to care less or they've got really good low level feats. And some classes just don't get a class feat at all at level 1, leading to a brief but awkward period of time where the wizard has wings but can't fly. At least the only classes that don't get a class feat at level 1 are all massive full caster nerds so it can sorta make weird sense that they haven't devoted enough time to learning to fly.

It might also be necessary to make it so the class feat "slot" you're using to pay for the Flyer Dedication feat is always your highest level feat, and then you instead pick a class feat as though you're two levels lower than normal, capping out at level 14 where the feat then spend the rest of the game. I feel like a flight speed is an appropriate level 14 class feat, and that's the exact point where all this other complicated nonsense can come to an end.


Ediwir wrote:

Flight speed on a base race is going to be problematic, yes, but that's always been the case. Just like your GM wouldn't allow it before, your GM won't allow it after. So if Paizo wants to make a race that's clearly problematic, they can, just like they did before.

It just won't be balanced.
And you won't be playing it.

(Had a kitsune in my last game and it was fine, flavoured her shapechange as her vigilante identity swap and was awesome. Had a player show up with a flight speed of 90ft at lv1 to be untouchable and he got peppered with arrows because he had no cover. I'm ok with people bringing stuff to my table, but not everybody is, and don't expect to auto-win with it because I have been giving my NPCs ranged backups since 2002, when my party wizard said "well it's not like they have bows".)

Nice. I run a steampunk western setting, so just about everyone is packing iron. I give them melee backup weapons. It definitely has a big impact on how people play when most of your opponents have ranged weaponry.


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So almost 3/4 year later after the previous time I brought this up this is still an issue?
This to me is still the biggest oversight in the entire system and a non-starter for me.

The neutering of the options of what is possible on a racial level.
It basically renders the entire system incompatible with my setting that has a large number of playable species with unusual anatomical traits including flight, swimspeeds, higher than standard movement, carapace, armoured hide, telepathy, extra eyes, inherent shapeshifting, rapid adaptation to new environments, all sorts of natural weapons, limited regeneration, sapient plants ETC.
None of this works at all in PF2e but in PF, I found ways to balance such things against PF core races in ways to not make them seem massively broken. (at least not in the hands of non-power gamers.)


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Well, it's likely that they are aware of this issue, but were not in position to address it during the playtest since "rewriting big parts of the book" was not in the scope of what's possible for the playtest updates. We did have an update where we roughly doubled what ancestries got at level 1, which is positive momentum.

Personally I'd like them to consider "okay what would a PF2 Kitsune or Gathlain look like" and then make sure Humans, Elves, Dwarves, etc. have enough stuff at the front end that we can put all those in the same party and not have problems.


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pad300 wrote:
ErichAD wrote:


Or you could just have race packages that boost everyone up to the new minimum. That seems a bit simplistic and would probably end up creating some really odd balance issues regarding races that are at their best in a party with some weird race.

I could see something like this as a houserule.

Currently I am not a great fan of how race/heritage has been implemented. Developing say "Ancient's Blood" later in life seems very strange and immersion breaking to me (taking the feat as a dwarf at level 9 say...). But playing with a "Powerful Races" variant that allows players to take 2 or 3 race feats (or heritages) at L1, would allow a set of 3 feats say to develop flight abilities for a Strix type character, while a dwarf could take Ancient's Blood, Hardy and Weapon Familiarity...

You can't develop Ancients Blood later in life. You can only take it at level 1. And now it isn't even a feat at all as per errata.

Even if you could I don't see it as a problem in fantasy in which characters often unlock latent attributes later in life due to extreme events. Like Thor in Ragnarok for example. "You had the power within you all along" is a super common trope.


Yeah, this is just another reason why the why ancestries are just plain broken in the playtest and needs a full overhaul. They need to just give ancestries back abilities at first level, not have everyone have to buy them back over 20 levels. They do seem to have realized that ancestries weren't cutting it, but their solution of Heritage, is just a band-aid that doesn't go nearly far enough and creates it's own problems, like the fact mentioned previously that Snirfliblin will basically become the default gnome and the fact that most current heritages are nonsensical and arbitrary. And even then, they don't give enough. Anemic ancestries really limits design space moving forward as well as being unsatisfying and just kind of silly to have to level up to get the benefit of your genetics or culture. I really would like to hear what's been done about ancestries since the test.


Malk_Content wrote:
pad300 wrote:
ErichAD wrote:


Or you could just have race packages that boost everyone up to the new minimum. That seems a bit simplistic and would probably end up creating some really odd balance issues regarding races that are at their best in a party with some weird race.

I could see something like this as a houserule.

Currently I am not a great fan of how race/heritage has been implemented. Developing say "Ancient's Blood" later in life seems very strange and immersion breaking to me (taking the feat as a dwarf at level 9 say...). But playing with a "Powerful Races" variant that allows players to take 2 or 3 race feats (or heritages) at L1, would allow a set of 3 feats say to develop flight abilities for a Strix type character, while a dwarf could take Ancient's Blood, Hardy and Weapon Familiarity...

You can't develop Ancients Blood later in life. You can only take it at level 1. And now it isn't even a feat at all as per errata.

Even if you could I don't see it as a problem in fantasy in which characters often unlock latent attributes later in life due to extreme events. Like Thor in Ragnarok for example. "You had the power within you all along" is a super common trope.

This makes sense for some ancestries (such as Noble Drow), but not for numerous others, which is where the problem lies. Halflings, Dwarves, even Humans don't have that sort of evolutionary progression of ancestry, whereas Elves and Gnomes do.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
pad300 wrote:
ErichAD wrote:


Or you could just have race packages that boost everyone up to the new minimum. That seems a bit simplistic and would probably end up creating some really odd balance issues regarding races that are at their best in a party with some weird race.

I could see something like this as a houserule.

Currently I am not a great fan of how race/heritage has been implemented. Developing say "Ancient's Blood" later in life seems very strange and immersion breaking to me (taking the feat as a dwarf at level 9 say...). But playing with a "Powerful Races" variant that allows players to take 2 or 3 race feats (or heritages) at L1, would allow a set of 3 feats say to develop flight abilities for a Strix type character, while a dwarf could take Ancient's Blood, Hardy and Weapon Familiarity...

You can't develop Ancients Blood later in life. You can only take it at level 1. And now it isn't even a feat at all as per errata.

Even if you could I don't see it as a problem in fantasy in which characters often unlock latent attributes later in life due to extreme events. Like Thor in Ragnarok for example. "You had the power within you all along" is a super common trope.

This makes sense for some ancestries (such as Noble Drow), but not for numerous others, which is where the problem lies. Halflings, Dwarves, even Humans don't have that sort of evolutionary progression of ancestry, whereas Elves and Gnomes do.

Well none of them have it. So while it would be my preference to allow some "it was in you all along" the game already explicitly doesn't have that and the devs have stated they want to keep that sort of thing to Heritages and not feats. It is weird for people to make this complaint, when it has already been acknowledged.


Some of these really seem overpowered only in niche settings/campaigns

For instance, sure, some races might have a swim speed. But how often does swimming really come up? and a lot of the aquatic races have limitations on land locomotion or need to return to water regularly

And Kitsune have shapeshifting, but without feats they can pretty much just shift from a fox-like humanoid to one specific humanoid form.

Honestly the best thing would be to give them an okay (not great) version of their current ability (that they could improve with feats), but also pair them with some sort of drawback. Strix for instance are suppose to be highly xenophobic, so maybe by default give them some sort of significant penalty to social interactions or something.

I have concerns over ancestries/heritages, but I admit that this isn't my biggest concern.


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I agree that the current Ancestries seem to be a bit scaled back from 1st edition, at least when compared at 1st level. While I'd have been happier seeing them a bit more full-bodied choices, I'm going to try to stay with the topic as described by the Title of the thread.

How can we take a race that should inherently have an otherwise unusual enough ability it doesn't easily fall within the range of even a combination of both the choice of a heritage and taking a specific Ancestry feat at 1st level.

First and perhaps 'simplest' way one could hand-wave it is say; 'Don't care about balance.' Give them what is minimum viable and don't worry about them being overpowered, mark them uncommon or rare and they only show up if the GM allows them. While simple, it definitely lacks a certain sense of balance and consistency that seems to otherwise be an intended core to underline the Pathfinder 2 foundations.

Next, another simple solution is determine how many ancestry feat choices such an ability is (or what level ancestry choice it represents) and offer that to all the other players to level the playing field. Simple and relatively fair, but it means altering other PCs to make a potentially new PC fit and be balanced. That also creates a dynamic where all of the PCs now have extra power, meaning it might impact the expected balance of earlier adventures.

Honestly, simply changing the basic rules from 1 heritage + 1 ancestry to 1 heritage +2 Ancestry (maybe even opening the option for paying 2 ancestry to buy a second heritage at 1st level) might open up the options for races immensely in the core. Then AP can be based with the expectation of 2 ancestry feats at first level. If a race has inherent non-optional abilities they can include part of it in all their heritage options, or could make the race lose one or two ancestry choice options due to their 'advantage'. This seems like a really simple option, but only solves the problem for races whose abilities will only range into an extra ancestry feat's worth of power-balance.

Another option I heard and liked the idea, not unlike the Level Advancement option, was having a race begin with a sort of feat debt. Depending on the significance of their base ancestral abilities, it might consume some of their other feat choices until a certain level where they may pay off the debt via an appropriately leveled ancestry feat. Combining this with another idea... this could effectively a form of Ancestral dedication, but unlike most dedication, it might include an Obligation towards the next certain feat slots.

So if we had some kind of supernatural ability that might be considered comparable to a much higher level ability. If all ancestries have 1 heritage + 2 ancestry, you could have the race 'reserve' one of your highest level ancestry, class, and general feats, until they get to a certain payoff cost. (say an 8th level class feat and a 9th level ancestry feat for payoff). If they have a class like fighter which starts with a class feat, they would find it used, due to their ancestral dedication. When they got to second level, instead of getting a second level ancestry feat, they would free up their 1st level class feat to be chosen, and the second level feat would be reserved. Third level, when they get there, the feat gets reserved, until they reach seventh, when the third level feat would be freed. This means that when they reach 5th level, the reserved ancestry feat switches to the 5th level one, allowing them to choose a 1st level ancestry feat, instead of a 5th level one. This sets back some of the choices back until the ability is no longer as much of a balance issue.

With the prior example, there could even be options that the initial ability might start slightly nerfed, and as the individual's level raises, they may get more of their ancestral base ability released.

So of all the options the latter seems like the most flexible option to allow for potential ancestry choices that are a bit more powerful than average at the start.

Honestly, I wish they'd given them a bit more to start out with, and I wish they had weighted the acquisition of ancestry feats closer to the lower levels.

Actually, add another option to make it possible to buy off some higher level ancestries earlier. What if you started with a heritage and 2 ancestry feats at first level. But instead of not getting another ancestry feat until 5th level, you got a new ancestry feat at 2nd, 3rd, and 4th level. Then ancestries who have 'debts' might be 'programmed' to pay part of this debt off by losing or delaying some of these feats. It would do a better job of front loading ancestry, giving them a chance to get back some of the ancestry options that people felt like they were having to buy back.

Shakes head, looking back at the post, contemplating this was after re-writing it twice to try to make it shorter.


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Doktor Weasel wrote:
most current heritages are nonsensical and arbitrary

My favorite example is Nomadic Halflings. From this, we learn three things:

* Being a nomad and exposed to numerous languages is genetic

* It's impossible to be a nomad with low-light vision or darkvision

* Only halflings can be nomads, which has serious implications for Varisian culture


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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
RazarTuk wrote:
Doktor Weasel wrote:
most current heritages are nonsensical and arbitrary

My favorite example is Nomadic Halflings. From this, we learn three things:

* Being a nomad and exposed to numerous languages is genetic

* It's impossible to be a nomad with low-light vision or darkvision

* Only halflings can be nomads, which has serious implications for Varisian culture

Heritage is a more significant section of an Ancestry, it is not by the rules necessarily Genetic. Feel free to argue it should be, but if You look, especially at the human (not half) heritages, they are more potential or cultural aspects of their ancestry. Some of the Heritages specify bloodline (ancient's blood) but not all of them require that all heritages are physiological, unless I missed something in the update.

I'd say your first one... perhaps a Halfling having predisposition to picking up languages might be genetic, or at least cultural value that encourages picking up the languages.

The second one is pretty well a good identification of a limitation here. There might be class or magical means, but not natural ancestry based means. [If we had one Heritage and 2 Ancestry, this could be changed by allowing one to turn in their 2 starting Ancestry feats to pick a compatible, second heritage.

The last statement doesn't really seem valid, since we don't have a list of all the ethnic options that are going to exist, and there could very well be a Nomad Background, for instance that could allow any race to be a Nomad. [they likely won't get the same benefits, as the Halfling gets as an ancestral benefit, but having a Halfling Nomad doesn't preclude the existence of others being categorized as Nomads]


RazarTuk wrote:


* Only halflings can be nomads, which has serious implications for Varisian culture

This is seriously reaching. Only Halflings (currently) have a ethnocultural nomadic group distinct enough to derive seperate mechanics from. Not no one else can be nomadic. Unless you suggest that because some dwarves can benefit from a noble bloodline that noble bloodlines don't exist in any other race. Which is obviously stupid.


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RazarTuk wrote:
Doktor Weasel wrote:
most current heritages are nonsensical and arbitrary

My favorite example is Nomadic Halflings. From this, we learn three things:

* Being a nomad and exposed to numerous languages is genetic

* It's impossible to be a nomad with low-light vision or darkvision

* Only halflings can be nomads, which has serious implications for Varisian culture

There's a lot of problems with the exclusivity of heritage features. Like goblins can't have both sharp teeth and be able to eat anything. I thought both were defining physical features of Golarion goblins, and of course they work together well.

There's also a problem of heritages making "normal" members of that ancestry rare. For example; three of the four gnome heritages are noted as exotic and rare. So Sharp Nosed Gnomes are apparently the default gnomes. But the incentives are going to drive most PC gnomes to going rare. Similarly with Elves you've got 3 rare regional types and the uninteresting Keen-Eared Elf as the normal elf. But PCs are going to mostly be cave-dwellers.

The more I think about it, the more I think the heritages should go away. At least as currently done. They break verisimilitude in so many ways. I'd rather see heritages done more like the racial variants in PF1, where they're optional represented through feature substitution instead of a menu of Pick One. I liked the idea at first, but I'm souring on it. I think mostly I just liked that it gave a bit more to ancestries at first level. We should probably just go back to having more things inherent to the ancestries, and leave feats for customization. This is much like my current thinking on how classes should be tweaked too.


Malk_Content wrote:
RazarTuk wrote:
* Only halflings can be nomads, which has serious implications for Varisian culture
This is seriously reaching. Only Halflings (currently) have a ethnocultural nomadic group distinct enough to derive seperate mechanics from. Not no one else can be nomadic. Unless you suggest that because some dwarves can benefit from a noble bloodline that noble bloodlines don't exist in any other race. Which is obviously stupid.

Okay, so I'm exaggerating a bit. My point is that ancestry/race/heritage should ideally be genetic, not cultural. There are other heritages which are distinctly cultural, but it's especially noticeable with nomadic halflings, because "nomadic" is a fairly general concept, and there's even an entire human culture built around it.


A predisposition towards language learning can absolutely be genetic and something that would be possibly be favorably selected for over time.


If they never introduce any Ancestries except those in the initial book, there won't be any problem. I've seen a lot of posts over the existence of Pathfinder 1 wishing for a game that didn't have bloat. Making one rulebook and calling it done will satisfy those wishes.


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Eoghnved wrote:
If they never introduce any Ancestries except those in the initial book, there won't be any problem. I've seen a lot of posts over the existence of Pathfinder 1 wishing for a game that didn't have bloat. Making one rulebook and calling it done will satisfy those wishes.

I don't think there is any chance of this happening. Pathfinder is set in a world where aasimar, tieflings, kitsune, changelings, summoners, gunslingers, psychics, and oracles canonically exist. If they want to maintain continuity of the setting (which exists in books, and comics, and video games etc.) they're going to need to eventually print rules for all of those things.

"All the things which used to exist in the world no longer exist" is unsatisfying and saying "they exist but you won't get rules for them" isn't better.

Something like "all the Ratfolk and Catfolk and Merfolk are all dead and gone now" would be the sort of major cataclysmic setting change they explicitly said they would not do.


They could include those things as monsters, and therefore they wouldn't need balancing against the player characters.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Eoghnved wrote:
If they never introduce any Ancestries except those in the initial book, there won't be any problem. I've seen a lot of posts over the existence of Pathfinder 1 wishing for a game that didn't have bloat. Making one rulebook and calling it done will satisfy those wishes.

I don't think there is any chance of this happening. Pathfinder is set in a world where aasimar, tieflings, kitsune, changelings, summoners, gunslingers, psychics, and oracles canonically exist. If they want to maintain continuity of the setting (which exists in books, and comics, and video games etc.) they're going to need to eventually print rules for all of those things.

"All the things which used to exist in the world no longer exist" is unsatisfying and saying "they exist but you won't get rules for them" isn't better.

Something like "all the Ratfolk and Catfolk and Merfolk are all dead and gone now" would be the sort of major cataclysmic setting change they explicitly said they would not do.

More to the point though, game designers gotta eat. So Paizo wants to make money... They don't make a lot of money on the initial book, and it's not a significant continuing revenue stream. Thus supplements...


pad300 wrote:
More to the point though, game designers gotta eat. So Paizo wants to make money... They don't make a lot of money on the initial book, and it's not a significant continuing revenue stream. Thus supplements...

Indeed, every single edition of the world's oldest fantasy game has added additional playable races in subsequent sourcebooks (AD&D almost missed the cut, but there were some in Oriental Adventures). If someone is looking for a "everything there will ever be is in a single book" game, Pathfinder is not it.

I mean, it would be bizarre if there were 10,000 things you could fight but only a half-dozen things you can be.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Eoghnved wrote:
If they never introduce any Ancestries except those in the initial book, there won't be any problem. I've seen a lot of posts over the existence of Pathfinder 1 wishing for a game that didn't have bloat. Making one rulebook and calling it done will satisfy those wishes.

I don't think there is any chance of this happening. Pathfinder is set in a world where aasimar, tieflings, kitsune, changelings, summoners, gunslingers, psychics, and oracles canonically exist. If they want to maintain continuity of the setting (which exists in books, and comics, and video games etc.) they're going to need to eventually print rules for all of those things.

"All the things which used to exist in the world no longer exist" is unsatisfying and saying "they exist but you won't get rules for them" isn't better.

Something like "all the Ratfolk and Catfolk and Merfolk are all dead and gone now" would be the sort of major cataclysmic setting change they explicitly said they would not do.

More importantly, Paizo's business model is book production. They are not WotC which can in part afford to skate by with a more limited release schedule, because their game is much more simplified and they have Magic the Gathering to help pay the bills. I can't see Paizo going to a 5E publication schedule without a lot of lay offs and scaling down of the company.


So if there's no way for them to make a go of this new edition without supplements, there's still a way to make sure there's never any imbalance. If all the features of new ancestries are copies of old ones with the names changed and different flavor text, they won't have introduced anything fundamentally different. It doesn't matter what color you paint the pieces, the bishop still only moves on diagonals.


Eoghnved wrote:
So if there's no way for them to make a go of this new edition without supplements, there's still a way to make sure there's never any imbalance. If all the features of new ancestries are copies of old ones with the names changed and different flavor text, they won't have introduced anything fundamentally different. It doesn't matter what color you paint the pieces, the bishop still only moves on diagonals.

This holds true only as long as two key assumptions are also true. One, that ancestries introduced later are expressible via existing features (this will not be true, based on common extra-core ancestries, such as Strix, Centaurs, or Kitsune, let alone the thousand and one variable traits that exist for Aasimars or Tieflings). Two, that the ancestry traits introduced in will not be imbalanced (and no matter how hard they try, there will be things that leak through that break this).


I mean power creep is inevitable over the course of an edition of a game like this- compare the best unarchetyped human fighter you could make in 2009 compared to the best one you can make now. So "later options printed allow for more powerful characters than were previously available" is a given (I mean, the latest player companion has a trait that makes you immune to dazzled).

What I don't want, however, is "later options completely obsolete the base ancestries". PF1 managed to have good reasons to play a human or a half-elf or whatever throughout its entire lifespan, even after options to play a Gathlain or a Ghoran came around.

I just don't want us to end up writing ourselves into a corner here.


pad300 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Eoghnved wrote:
If they never introduce any Ancestries except those in the initial book, there won't be any problem. I've seen a lot of posts over the existence of Pathfinder 1 wishing for a game that didn't have bloat. Making one rulebook and calling it done will satisfy those wishes.

I don't think there is any chance of this happening. Pathfinder is set in a world where aasimar, tieflings, kitsune, changelings, summoners, gunslingers, psychics, and oracles canonically exist. If they want to maintain continuity of the setting (which exists in books, and comics, and video games etc.) they're going to need to eventually print rules for all of those things.

"All the things which used to exist in the world no longer exist" is unsatisfying and saying "they exist but you won't get rules for them" isn't better.

Something like "all the Ratfolk and Catfolk and Merfolk are all dead and gone now" would be the sort of major cataclysmic setting change they explicitly said they would not do.

More to the point though, game designers gotta eat. So Paizo wants to make money... They don't make a lot of money on the initial book, and it's not a significant continuing revenue stream. Thus supplements...

More and more companies are moving away from that model, however, not just WotC which suggests the 'treadmill' model simply may not be as viable as it once was.

Also, it's a bit of a nitpick, but classes are, explicitly, not a thing within the setting - they're an abstraction like Level or Hit Points.


Crayon wrote:
Also, it's a bit of a nitpick, but classes are, explicitly, not a thing within the setting - they're an abstraction like Level or Hit Points.

I'm not entirely sure how true this is.

Certainly a guy who picked up a sword and shield early in his career before deciding that "you know, that magic thing is pretty great" can never cast 9th level spells in the new system.


Draco18s wrote:
Crayon wrote:
Also, it's a bit of a nitpick, but classes are, explicitly, not a thing within the setting - they're an abstraction like Level or Hit Points.

I'm not entirely sure how true this is.

Certainly a guy who picked up a sword and shield early in his career before deciding that "you know, that magic thing is pretty great" can never cast 9th level spells in the new system.

He could if he was able to retrain his fighter levels or that was just part of his backstory.


Well classes might be an abstraction, sure, but Pathfinder is not just the roleplaying game, but a series of properties.

So like the Pathfinder novels, one of the most popular and recurring characters is a tiefling (*ahem* hellspawn) so we need those back. I think there's one where we have a protagonist who is a dhampir. We've got spontaneous divine casters who are cursed, and we've got people who can summon eidolons (called out *by name*) at-will, so the oracle and summoner are coming back, and Irrisen without witches (who are called *witches*) isn't really Irrisen.


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Excaliburproxy wrote:


He could if he was able to retrain his fighter levels or that was just part of his backstory.

Retaining, itself, is also weird. Now our fighter-turned-wizard can't whack a training dummy with a sword. Not physically incapable, mind, but no better than any other wizard.

And that's after just a week! You don't forget how to punch people in a week.

Is it an abstraction? Sure. But my point is that a fighter turned wizard in PF2 borderline doesn't exist (archetype multiclassing doesn't allow the same growth (in the new class) as switching classes as PF1) or is functionally no different than an actual wizard because retaining involves permanent brain damage (so glorious, that eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!).

At best we can simulate by being full wizard with a fighter archetype, but no longer has an accurate timeline: the fighter level is his second level rather than his first. (Retaining to get here might work, but I'd have to look at the PF2 retaining rules again, but it still feels "off").

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