Niche Request: Gnoll Ancestry


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Bandw2 wrote:
while we're at it, why hasn't there been wolffolk in anything ever? cats, lizards and hyenas but no doggos

Actually there was, it just wasn't very popular. Not pathfinder, but the lupines , I believe they were from Mystara.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Bandw2 wrote:
while we're at it, why hasn't there been wolffolk in anything ever? cats, lizards and hyenas but no doggos

Check the rougarou in Bestiary 6, page 242. It's a latecomer to the game, but it's there!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Midnightoker wrote:

Fetchlings pretty please! Gnoll is a huge favorite since I have an old Gnoll character.

An aberrative touched Ancestry for those that want to be more tethered to the occult essences.

Aberrations are tricky things to pull off as PC races, or as non-evil for that matter. One of the toughest challenges I had back in Lords of Madness for D&D was to come up with a non-evil aberration race. There's nothing in the creature type that says "MUST BE EVIL" but the fact that they're supposed to be, well, aberrant, means that they can't fit into normal society or life in some way. Which makes them tough calls for things that should be able to fit in to a society, which is what has to be an underlying assumption for a player ancestry since the game's about characters working together in a society in most cases.

It's further a challenge in that the further we get away from the expectation of human sized and human shaped, things we take for granted in world design and adventure design start falling apart. If we make nagas a PC option, what sort of wearable magic items can they wear? How do they handle things like doorknobs? What if the adventure expects every player to have feet for some reason?

Starfinder's probably a better game to look to if you want to play truly unusually shaped characters... but even then it gets tricky and potentially has unintentionally comical or unbelievable situations showing up that can break a table's verisimilitude.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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keftiu wrote:
...Skinwalkers...

This one's a tricky one, and not just because of the cultural appropriation elements.

This came about as an attempt by us to give players an option to play a werecreature without giving them a too-powerful template. It also stepped a bit too closely on the ground covered by Eberron's shifters for my tastes as well.

When/if we get to these in 2nd edition, I suspect we'll abandon the name "skinwalker" entirely and come up with something else—if only because the way werecreatures work in 2nd edition is different than how they did in 1st edition. In fact, we could PROBABLY just cut the proverbial middleman out of the equation entirely and just do ancestries for various types of werecreatures, presenting that ancestry as a less powerful, more balanced for PC use than monster use, set of options tied to the werecreature in mind.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

For an aberration ancestry, you have a lot of examples in Lovecraft. Maybe make the ancestry feats for them deal with physical or mental changes rather than refining skills. Let them choose one of the core races as the base, and the aberration slowly overwrites it


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I think the concept of playing an innsmouth descendent isn’t too far outside the reach of a character, which is more or less how I could see an aberrative Ancestry. Or the elder brother from the Dunwich Horror.

Fitting into society isn’t exactly Barbarian, Druid, Tiefling, Gnoll, Drow, or Orc like either, or at least, they don’t automatically fit that mold. Someone of this Ancestry might thrive in society, for pursuit of knowledge of their ancestry or simply because they have a knack for getting people to cooperate.

There’s a certain assumption that if a GM allows an Ancestry that they are allowing the circumstances to exist for that character to fit into the party (the rest comes down to the table, but that’s always a variable)

It could even be loose and more closely tied with a supernatural calling of the void or cosmos, not necessarily inherently evil.

Idk for a game that’s decided to allow goblins, drow, orcs, gnolls, and Tieflings into the mix, it saddens me if the stance is to stop the buck there.

I like my abberations in fantasy settings, they have a completely different tone than science fiction/space fantasy because they don’t have the same mysterious enigma surrounding them.

But fair enough, shouldn’t be hard to cook something up on my own should I want to scratch the itch.

If that type of ancestry can’t work in Golarion, that’s ultimately up to you all, but I don’t see why it couldn’t work in the right setting.


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Val'bryn2 wrote:
For an aberration ancestry, you have a lot of examples in Lovecraft. Maybe make the ancestry feats for them deal with physical or mental changes rather than refining skills. Let them choose one of the core races as the base, and the aberration slowly overwrites it

I second this so much!

If anything now that ancestries span an entire career of a character, you can run an entire character arc around this creeping power in the same way a werewolf or dhampir over the campaign.

Lords of Madness was one of my favorite books! With occult coming closer to the front in this edition, I hoped that meant more madness in my life.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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keftiu wrote:
One question, though; why cut skinwalkers but keep wendigo, which fall into a similar appropriative space?

Go too far in one direction and it becomes cultural appropriation. Go too far in the other and it becomes whitewashing. The goal is to be inclusive, and that includes drawing upon a wide range of real-world mythologies for inclusion in the game beyond European myths and tropes. Pathfinder is a game about conflict, and that means that some of the things we draw inspiration from are taken from traditions and mythologies about malevolent forces as well as positive ones.

And it's worth noting that we HAVEN'T "Cut skinwalkers" from the game yet. If we DO keep skinwalkers in the game, though, I'd like to see them represented in game as something that's more respectful of the source, and isn't something that is a "cool name for not-as-powerful werewolves and weretigers." There's more to skin-walkers than "de-powered werewolf".

The wendigo as a malevolent and dangerous cannibal-taboo starvation-themed monster is not something we've reworked in that significant of a way to represent something it's not.

All that said, we're constantly learning and trying to improve, and that includes listening to feedback and researching and speaking with writers and content creators who come from various traditions. In future editions of the game we might rename the wendigo into something else and make changes there, but that tomorrow is not today.

It's also a great topic for a different thread, though—regardless of the outcome, a high-level starvation monster isn't a great ancestry for PCs.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Midnightoker wrote:
Val'bryn2 wrote:
For an aberration ancestry, you have a lot of examples in Lovecraft. Maybe make the ancestry feats for them deal with physical or mental changes rather than refining skills. Let them choose one of the core races as the base, and the aberration slowly overwrites it

I second this so much!

If anything now that ancestries span an entire career of a character, you can run an entire character arc around this creeping power in the same way a werewolf or dhampir over the campaign.

Lords of Madness was one of my favorite books! With occult coming closer to the front in this edition, I hoped that meant more madness in my life.

And again, Bestiary 6 has you covered. The yaddithian was included in that book to represent a PC option for an aberration, and it was also drawn directly from Lovecraft's writings.

TANGENT: When I was building up the monster list for Bestiary 6, one of the mandates was that I needed to include some new PC options in the book. Turns out that even six monster books into a ten-year edition cycle meant that there were still plenty of "never before covered" ground to hit. Sure, it came out near the end of the cycle, and as such I feel like a lot of people never really bothered to look into it...

...but it's got a lot of fun stuff in it. Including aberration PC races, canine PC races, a fey PC race (naiad), and a good-aligned PC race from the Darklands (munavri). All four of those would make great ancestries for the game going forward, I think.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Skinwalker might be best worked as a subclass of wizard or sorcerer, with a bigger focus on polymorph spells, or,ideally, a tradition of druids with additional wild shape abilities.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:
while we're at it, why hasn't there been wolffolk in anything ever? cats, lizards and hyenas but no doggos
Check the rougarou in Bestiary 6, page 242. It's a latecomer to the game, but it's there!

that is not a word that i would have ever searched for myself o-o but there it is.

in fact if i was even told about them by someone other than someone with pazio i probably would haven't followed through.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Val'bryn2 wrote:
Skinwalker might be best worked as a subclass of wizard or sorcerer, with a bigger focus on polymorph spells, or,ideally, a tradition of druids with additional wild shape abilities.

Perhaps. Whatever we do with it, making sure it's done in a respectful way is high on the list. And if by respectful way that means "avoid it entirely," that is an option as well. The basic idea of a person with animal features is something that's universal to the human imagination, regardless of time or space.


Admittedly I had not seen the Bestiary 6 creatures mentioned!

Thanks for pointing me that way, it will certainly be interesting to see the future for these, and in the meantime conversions should do just fine.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

True, legends of the Native Americans, Greek myth and Celtic myth all have it, at a very quick tally.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

you know really i think the sadest part about these races(the bestiary 6 ones) ending up later and later in the cycle is they of course are just simply non-existent in APs and other literature in golarion. nothing to be done about it, but it is a sad reality. although to be perfectly honest, i didn't really get a chance to read any of the later APS so they might actually be there, thinking on it more.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Witchwolves were one of my favourites things to play in 1st.

And in 3.5 I absolutely loved the Aberrant Blood feat chain in Lords of Madness and the Dael’kyr Halfblood and Symbionts from Eberron.


James Jacobs wrote:


1) ... Furthermore, as you'll see in the Bestiary, drow have lilac flesh tones now, for reasons I hope are obvious, but I won't get into them here so I can try to return the thread to the original poster's request...

This begs the question:

Why lilac and not lavender?


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scary harpy wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


1) ... Furthermore, as you'll see in the Bestiary, drow have lilac flesh tones now, for reasons I hope are obvious, but I won't get into them here so I can try to return the thread to the original poster's request...

This begs the question:

Why lilac and not lavender?

Olives are better than mint :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Bandw2 wrote:
you know really i think the sadest part about these races(the bestiary 6 ones) ending up later and later in the cycle is they of course are just simply non-existent in APs and other literature in golarion. nothing to be done about it, but it is a sad reality. although to be perfectly honest, i didn't really get a chance to read any of the later APS so they might actually be there, thinking on it more.

This is honestly the trickiest bit about introducing new ancestries into a setting that's already got over a decade of lore. My preferred solution is to introduce new ancestries by having them be from areas beyond the Inner Sea region; that's true for the anadi, for example.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

scary harpy wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


1) ... Furthermore, as you'll see in the Bestiary, drow have lilac flesh tones now, for reasons I hope are obvious, but I won't get into them here so I can try to return the thread to the original poster's request...

This begs the question:

Why lilac and not lavender?

Because both isn't a good choice, and we had to pick one.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
scary harpy wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


1) ... Furthermore, as you'll see in the Bestiary, drow have lilac flesh tones now, for reasons I hope are obvious, but I won't get into them here so I can try to return the thread to the original poster's request...

This begs the question:

Why lilac and not lavender?

Because both isn't a good choice, and we had to pick one.

If humans can run the gamut from bronze to black to white, etc and elves literally change according to the environment they live in over the centuries of their lives, how is both not an acceptable choice?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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FrostFox wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
scary harpy wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


1) ... Furthermore, as you'll see in the Bestiary, drow have lilac flesh tones now, for reasons I hope are obvious, but I won't get into them here so I can try to return the thread to the original poster's request...

This begs the question:

Why lilac and not lavender?

Because both isn't a good choice, and we had to pick one.
If humans can run the gamut from bronze to black to white, etc and elves literally change according to the environment they live in over the centuries of their lives, how is both not an acceptable choice?

By "Both" in this case I was implying stripes or spots or the like, which would be interesting but not really what we wanted to go for.

With each new drow we illustrate, I absolutely DO expect the shades to vary. But with one illustration, or even two (as you get in this book), when they're intended to serve as baselines and references four our artists as well as the first impression for tens of thousands if not more newcomers to the game... we only get that one chance.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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In any event, the original purpose of this thread has filled its point; I've answered the original poster's question about a gnoll ancestry.

Might be best to lock the thread and move on. I don't have that capability at this time, so PLEASE, folks, if you want to keep chatting here about gnolls or other ancestries you'd like to see in the game, by all means do so, but STOP the off-topic back and forth.

In the meantime... I'm going to bed now since it's almost 1:00 AM, so don't take my further silence here on the boards for the next 8 hours or so as anything other than me sleeping. :-P


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James Jacobs wrote:

In any event, the original purpose of this thread has filled its point; I've answered the original poster's question about a gnoll ancestry.

Might be best to lock the thread and move on. I don't have that capability at this time, so PLEASE, folks, if you want to keep chatting here about gnolls or other ancestries you'd like to see in the game, by all means do so, but STOP the off-topic back and forth.

In the meantime... I'm going to bed now since it's almost 1:00 AM, so don't take my further silence here on the boards for the next 8 hours or so as anything other than me sleeping. :-P

Psst! Grease the appropriate palms to put a friendly Gnoll in an AP!

(Appreciate the reply, and hope to see them sooner than later!)


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scary harpy wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


1) ... Furthermore, as you'll see in the Bestiary, drow have lilac flesh tones now, for reasons I hope are obvious, but I won't get into them here so I can try to return the thread to the original poster's request...

This begs the question:

Why lilac and not lavender?

fyi: I was joking.

(Obviously, I shouldn't make jokes. My bad.)

Also,

I will look forward to a gnoll ancestry whenever it arrives.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
scary harpy wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:


1) ... Furthermore, as you'll see in the Bestiary, drow have lilac flesh tones now, for reasons I hope are obvious, but I won't get into them here so I can try to return the thread to the original poster's request...

This begs the question:

Why lilac and not lavender?

Because both isn't a good choice, and we had to pick one.

just make a new color for them, i'm sure that's the easiest route.

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