Eliminating Ancestry-based stat boost / flaws


Homebrew and House Rules

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

There has been a lot of talk recently in indie RPG/story-game circles about the mechanization of fantasy race-based stat adjustments. (E.g.All dwarves get +1 Con and Wis, and -1 Cha).

These impose a fantasy-racist stereotype on whole groups of people ("All Dwarves are wise and tough, but hard to get along with"), that's actually backed up by the rules.

And the more I think about it, the less goid I feel about it.

In my PF2e games, I am making the following change:

All Ancestries get the choice of two free boosts (like a human), or three free boosts and a flaw.


I get where you are coming from. And I think your system would be fine balance wise if that's what you are concerned about.

I think its a bit better in this edition than it was in the past because with the inclusion of the free boost and the optional two more flaws for a boost you can get any stat to max on any ancestry adding a bit more variety.

In my home games for PF1 I made humans +2 Cha, +2 any physcial, -2 Wis in part because it made humans no longer the default.


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I think part of your problem is you're using the socially charged term race rather than the more appropriate species.

Dwarves being tougher than elves is no more of an unjust stereotype than tigers generally being larger than squirrels is.

That said it wouldn't really break anything to make this change.


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Fantasy races have different stats because they are different species from humans. Dwarves literally do have resilient biology, and neurologically tend towards introversion. Similarly elves live so long that they're just smarter on average than humans by virtue how much more knowledge they've absorbed over the years. Halflings and gnomes are the size of children so they aren't as strong as adults of bigger races. These are not stereotype in the same way that darkvision, innate spells, and movement speed are stereotypes.

What IS fantasy racist and stereotypical is the default racial traits that make all dwarves good at fighting orcs and goblins, which I'm glad is gone in 2e. I always hated the idea of certain sentient humanoid races being the expected low level fodder. It's fine in settings like say, Warhammer, where orcs and goblins are asexual sentient fungus that just aren't capable of complex thought or morality. But in a setting like Pathfinder, it just feels wrong.

Also the only reason humans are default is because we the players are humans, so the developers use humanity as a reference point; although I wouldn't mind the option to give humans +2 any physical, +2 any mental, -2 any other, and +2 any as an alternative to +2 free boosts.


Personally, I like the stereotypical view of the Fantasy races. Focus on fantasy here!

Only, problem I have if those mechanics have too much impact on game mechanics and character concepts.

With -1 modifier penalty and +1 floating boost, that difference will be only 1 at start. Used to be 2 in previous editions.

2 is kind of much IMHO.

Best approach was with 13th Age where race and class ability boost at character creation does not stack.

That way if Elves have bonus to Dex and Int and wizards can get bonus to Int from start, every wizard will have same starting intelligence(if they spend same number or character points, or whatever you call it), but on average in-between ALL classes Elves will be more agile and smart than other races lacking that ability boost.

But form me in PF2E, all races should get
2 boosts to pick from 3 abilities, 1 flaw to pick from 2 abilities,

all classes should get 1 boost to pick from 3 abilities(not stacking with racial boost).

I.E:

dwarf fighter;

1. Pick 2 ability boosts from str,con or wis.
2. Pick 1 ability flaw from dex or cha.

3. Pick 1 ability boost from str,dex or con. Not stacking with ability boost from step 1.

Since you would get 1 ability boost less this way and it prevents having 18 from the start all abilities start at 12 and extra flaw can be taken to rise ability from 10 to 12 or 12 to 14. Take 2 flaws to raise 14 to 16. Take 3 flaws to to raise 16 to 18.


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People are in a hurry to defend this right up until racial Int modifiers exist. It's racist, and I like your easy fix, OP.


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keftiu wrote:
It's racist

It's always fun when people act like there's some sort of moral component to their houserules.

Play the game however you want, but using such charged terminology doesn't do anything to help anyone.


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swoosh wrote:
keftiu wrote:
It's racist

It's always fun when people act like there's some sort of moral component to their houserules.

Play the game however you want, but using such charged terminology doesn't do anything to help anyone.

Plenty has been written about the racist elements of classic fantasy (https://jamesmendezhodes.com/blog/2019/1/13/orcs-britons-and-the-martial-ra ce-myth-part-i-a-species-built-for-racial-terror is a recent favorite), and pretending otherwise doesn't help anyone. There's no reason not to try and do better - which 2e is making an explicit, visible push for already.


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Haladir wrote:

There has been a lot of talk recently in indie RPG/story-game circles about the mechanization of fantasy race-based stat adjustments. (E.g.All dwarves get +1 Con and Wis, and -1 Cha).

These impose a fantasy-racist stereotype on whole groups of people ("All Dwarves are wise and tough, but hard to get along with"), that's actually backed up by the rules.

And the more I think about it, the less goid I feel about it.

In my PF2e games, I am making the following change:

All Ancestries get the choice of two free boosts (like a human), or three free boosts and a flaw.

We can say that this stuff is bad/racist/unfair, and we'd probably be right.

But we would also be denying ourselves a very important (and very classical) part of what made (or makes) the game "the" game. Things like this helped tell stories like Lord of the Rings and other fantasy-based mediums; Tolkien, Dragonlance, and several others, either advertently or inadvertently, negatively or positively. I won't go so far as to say that it is a sole defining factor, but it certainly gave more soul to such series than if it weren't there at all.

I mean, there's a fine line between being "PC" about things so you look good in the eyes of the public and mistreating historical legacy which actually got you to the point you're at now, and this has been done amongst a lot of things in the recent years simply because it was, at one point, offensive to someone or something in the past, and they decide to drudge it up for some "noble" reason.

Granted, I'm of the opinion that historical legacy stops being okay when it's proven to be nothing but a pure detriment, there can be some great storytelling and experiences with this sort of thing. Can it instead turn into a sour experience? Sure. You always run that risk with, well, risque things. But a good storyteller does so in a way that doesn't leave a bad taste in your mouth, and instead makes you go "Wow, that was actually very good!"

In fact, a lot of (relatively) modern media has done this very same thing. They take things that are normally offensive in a general situation, put a spin on it through plot and character positioning, and make it appear as something totally okay for people to view/witness.

**EDIT** Had bad grammar in a couple spots. Fixed it.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'll defend int penalties. It is abundantly clear that different species can have different capacities for intelligence. We consider it a non physical traits, but it's simply not true, to a large extent brain structure determines intellectual capacity. We just understand it less fully than we do skeletal and muscle structure etc. Regardless a crow is more intelligent than a dove and a man more than a crow.

In pf2 terms the stat system isn't even that extreme. While if you had to take a bet whether a random gnome or human was stronger, you'd probably pick the human but it is not a sure thing. Any ancestry can achieve any mod with any attribute, the ancestry modifiers just nudge the averages one way or the other.


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keftiu wrote:
swoosh wrote:
keftiu wrote:
It's racist

It's always fun when people act like there's some sort of moral component to their houserules.

Play the game however you want, but using such charged terminology doesn't do anything to help anyone.

Plenty has been written about the racist elements of classic fantasy (https://jamesmendezhodes.com/blog/2019/1/13/orcs-britons-and-the-martial-r ace-myth-part-i-a-species-built-for-racial-terror is a recent favorite), and pretending otherwise doesn't help anyone. There's no reason not to try and do better - which 2e is making an explicit, visible push for already.

So to try and clarify - the writer of that blog is accusing a man famously anti-allegory of making an allegorical race deliberately and intentionally ? That is sadly inflammatory and the point I stopped reading (but also because it is early here and it probably wasn’t best processed early morning)

Sure there may be themes there but to argue it was deliberate seems to misunderstand the person you are talking about

If the author of that piece was going to going to try and confidently assign intent to him (something that is actually impossible as I have brought up on this board when one poster was accusing others of lying by calling them “dishonest” when they couldn’t know that) then it really would have helped to actually learn everything about the person written about

I didn’t know this sort of discussion was common in gaming circles because I am not close to that world. I can see where they are coming from. But they do need a better foundation that the one in the blog linked


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keftiu wrote:
People are in a hurry to defend this right up until racial Int modifiers exist. It's racist, and I like your easy fix, OP.

well, it isn't racist if it's true.

In most fantasy Elves, are described far superior to Men.

It is same thing to give elves bonus to intelligence or give humans penalty to intelligence,

but it looks nicer to give bonuses rather to give penalties.

but in a system that gives only bonuses to various things, not having a bonus IS a penalty that is very nicely packed into not having a bonus.


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Igor Horvat wrote:
keftiu wrote:
People are in a hurry to defend this right up until racial Int modifiers exist. It's racist, and I like your easy fix, OP.

well, it isn't racist if it's true.

In most fantasy Elves, are described far superior to Men.

It is same thing to give elves bonus to intelligence or give humans penalty to intelligence,

but it looks nicer to give bonuses rather to give penalties.

but in a system that gives only bonuses to various things, not having a bonus IS a penalty that is very nicely packed into not having a bonus.

The problem I can see people raising with this is that it reinforces stereotypes, which a lot of people consider offensive as stereotypes have often been associated with race/ethnicity. While a legitimate concern, there are tools in the book to greatly help players avoid these issues (even if it means they might be weaker overall to compensate), so I'd think a more conservative fix would be to actually use the tools in the book instead of cry "Racist!," ridicule the origins of something which helped get them to where they are today, and create a houseruled subsystem that not everyone would know or actually care to follow in an attempt to be PC.

But honestly, Paizo has always built adventure paths and such so that the players don't have to be optimal. You can probably run around with 2 16's and 2 14's instead of 18/16/14/12 or what have you, and be fine. By this logic, flat checks are penalties to you because you don't get bonuses to them, which is just completely wrong because flat checks are meant to be arbitrary.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Another thing I like about my proposed change is that it opens up more storytelling potential by expanding design options. This gives players more flexibility with character builds. You can play a dwarf wizard, for example, without having to make a sub-optimal character mechanically.

Here's the article on D&D Beyond that crystalized how I'd been feeling about this:


https://www.dndbeyond.com/posts/563-reimagining-racial-ability-scores

The specific mechanical changes on that site are 5E-specific, but adapting the concept to PF2e seems easy.

And one thing to those above who admit that something might be racist but want to do it anway...

Take a moment to consider the implication of that position and ask yourself: Do you really want to do that?


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In-before-the-thought-police-comes...

There's no point in having ancestries if they are all equal.
No point in having orcs, kobolds and other humanoids if they are just humans with a different appearance.
And why stop at humanoids? Dragons should have the same stats as a human, unless you really want to be racist! Did I hear someone saying that ogres are big and dumb? My god, that's so hurtful for... I don't know, someone!
And please, stop saying that zombies are mindless! They have got righs, too!

An halfling is half as tall as a human, saying that they should have the same strength on average makes no sense; their DNA will make them excel in other stats instead. Actually, that's true for real human ethnic groups too.
Now, coming to intelligence... I understand that people insisting on a correlation with real life could mess the thing up, but really, we are speaking of fantasy races in a RPG: it's got the same value as any other stat (or less, actually).
Saying that no fictional humanoid race ever should be on average less good than a human at learning and reasoning, analyzing situations and understanding patterns is a big trap, and makes a very bad precedent.


Haladir wrote:
All Ancestries get the choice of two free boosts (like a human), or three free boosts and a flaw.

I wouldn't use three free boosts and a free flaw. That would make dump stats too easy. Some alternatives:

1. Everyone gets a choice of their standard ancestral boosts/flaws or two free boosts and no flaws.

2. Give humans a standard set as well (I would suggests boosts in Constitution and Charisma and a flaw in Wisdom - humans are resilient and build large communities, but their short lives often make them short-sighted and impatient), and then go with the same as 1.

3. Allow all ancestries to either take three free boosts and the flaw normally specified by ancestry, or two free boosts.

4. Two free boosts for everyone.

I think 2 would be my preference. The main problem with it is that humans are traditionally the ones most into divine magic of the core races, and that doesn't match well with a Wisdom penalty. But then again, actual clerics could just be the non-stereotype humans, because just worshiping a deity certainly doesn't need Wisdom.


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Haladir wrote:

Another thing I like about my proposed change is that it opens up more storytelling potential by expanding design options. This gives players more flexibility with character builds. You can play a dwarf wizard, for example, without having to make a sub-optimal character mechanically.

Here's the article on D&D Beyond that crystalized how I'd been feeling about this:


https://www.dndbeyond.com/posts/563-reimagining-racial-ability-scores

The specific mechanical changes on that site are 5E-specific, but adapting the concept to PF2e seems easy.

And one thing to those above who admit that something might be racist but want to do it anway...

Take a moment to consider the implication of that position and ask yourself: Do you really want to do that?

You can still play a Dwarf Wizard and be optimal mechanically with no significant drawbacks, meaning that's an inept comparison. Maybe not so much for Sorcerers or Bards, but even with the drawbacks it's not a big deal because you're more often than not suffering penalties to things you don't really care about, meaning the additional flaws to get that 18 Charisma isn't the end of the world if you take the proper flaws. Even then, the game APs demonstrate that having only a 16 in your primary stat isn't the be-all end-all. If your complaint is having to do that, then quite frankly just change the voluntary flaw system to be a single penalty for a single boost and call it a day, because that's really all you need to do to fix that.

As for wanting to do that? I do. Some people actually take pride in some of the aspects demonstrated in the fantasy race writeups, and denying it because the general public doesn't see it as being PC is a copout, a bending to oppressive public opinion which is more often than not serving as some aggressive overcensoring just to appeal to some inane concept that, in my opinion, does more harm than good. A lot of players and GMs do play up the "Dwarves drink a lot" or "Elves are condescending" tropes, and more often than not, they do it because they like doing it, and I haven't really seen anyone be up in arms about the roleplaying being done in my groups or in any of the conventions I've gone to. And that's not even getting into the adventure path specifics, because yes, previous adventure paths have brought up some very touchy subjects that quite frankly wouldn't pass whatsoever in this PC era.

In my opinion, this is just a case of people worrying way too much about negative public opinion to the point of potentially denying historical implications. Remember that these supposed negative concepts are what helped get us to where we are today. Much like people hypothesizing what would have happened if the Titanic didn't sink, guessing what might have happened if things such as this weren't present may have resulted in this game being way different from what it is now, or even more drastic, not having existed at all.


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Haladir wrote:


And one thing to those above who admit that something might be racist but want to do it anway...

Take a moment to consider the implication of that position and ask yourself: Do you really want to do that?

Yes!

it's fantasy, so who cares?

Racism can be a great plot device in campaign.


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Megistone wrote:
There's no point in having ancestries if they are all equal.

Counterpoint- you can give all ancestries the option to have just 2 free stat boosts (like humans) and differentiate them from each other via heritages and ancestry feats. Of the things that tell us what an ancestry is, the stat adjustments are kind of the least important part. We could completely eliminate the difference in stat boosts and nothing important would be lost.


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I'm the first one to call for social justice measures, but this one I'm not seeing. If "races" actually represented different ethnicities/races as we know them in the real world, we could definitely have a problem. They simply don't, though. They are literally different species. A Cheetah is faster than a Tiger, but the tiger is bigger and stronger.

I think there could be a case in earlier D&D which was definitely less diverse. Having all humans be white came with some unfortunate implications. PF2, on the other hand, doesn't even have other ancestries all white anymore (and thank Shelyn for that).

Race, in the real world, has a lot of societal implications and is tied heavily into ethnic heritage. It is steeped in other peoples and racism. The change we needed to see was moving away from a loaded term like "race" and no more monocultures in other species. PF2 has done this in spade and I don't they need to go as far as removing ability scores adjustments.


keftiu wrote:
People are in a hurry to defend this right up until racial Int modifiers exist. It's racist, and I like your easy fix, OP.

There's no more races in the game though, so it's more like ancestrist?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Megistone wrote:
There's no point in having ancestries if they are all equal.
Counterpoint- you can give all ancestries the option to have just 2 free stat boosts (like humans) and differentiate them from each other via heritages and ancestry feats. Of the things that tell us what an ancestry is, the stat adjustments are kind of the least important part. We could completely eliminate the difference in stat boosts and nothing important would be lost.

What is the functional difference between "x race is stronger than y race" and "x race is faster than y race"? If you level stats to avoid problems that just shifts it down the line. Humans are more adaptable than other races, elves are fragile, every one else is dumber than gnomes because gnomes get 3 languages etc.


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Malk_Content wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Megistone wrote:
There's no point in having ancestries if they are all equal.
Counterpoint- you can give all ancestries the option to have just 2 free stat boosts (like humans) and differentiate them from each other via heritages and ancestry feats. Of the things that tell us what an ancestry is, the stat adjustments are kind of the least important part. We could completely eliminate the difference in stat boosts and nothing important would be lost.
What is the functional difference between "x race is stronger than y race" and "x race is faster than y race"? If you level stats to avoid problems that just shifts it down the line. Humans are more adaptable than other races, elves are fragile, every one else is dumber than gnomes because gnomes get 3 languages etc.

You nailed it.

I was exaggerating in my post, but if you start saying that giving different average attributes is not ok because it leans toward racism, it's a slippery slope from there to the zombie rights league.

EDIT: I'll add that the attribute scores of an individual don't come from their DNA only. If you didn't get any school, it's more likely that you didn't develop your intellect to its full potential; conversely, if your society only raises the fittest children and throws the frail ones down from a cliff, you probably have a buff in constitution. Nothing racist there, just how your ancestry does things... with all the exceptions you may want to play, that the game fully supports.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Frankly, I'm now sorry I posted this, and I'm bowing out.

The racism apparent on this thread is astounding.


Haladir wrote:

Frankly, I'm now sorry I posted this, and I'm bowing out.

The racism apparent on this thread is astounding.

Sorry to hear that.


I'm sorry too, I was curious to know where did he see that astounding racism. Towards ogres, I guess?


Megistone wrote:
I'm sorry too, I was curious to know where did he see that astounding racism. Towards ogres, I guess?

I'm curious what races we're talking about. I can only find ancestry in the books.

Do you think dragons deal with this?
Like gold discriminate silver dragons because they're typically less 'oomph'. Or hunt red dragons just for being red dragons, not because they're evil and eat your family. Is it racist to assume red dragons are evil?


Corvo Spiritwind wrote:
Megistone wrote:
I'm sorry too, I was curious to know where did he see that astounding racism. Towards ogres, I guess?

I'm curious what races we're talking about. I can only find ancestry in the books.

Do you think dragons deal with this?
Like gold discriminate silver dragons because they're typically less 'oomph'. Or hunt red dragons just for being red dragons, not because they're evil and eat your family. Is it racist to assume red dragons are evil?

Seems so. They are people, too. And expecially, not less (nor more) intelligent then the others.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I too would like to know exactly what is being considered racist here. If I'm being accused of racism I want to know about it.


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I mean just asserting "this genetic group of sapient individuals is just plain inferior to this other group" is a troubling notion in our reality so it's not something we need to go to pains to reproduce in a fantasy land. We don't actually lose anything if we make goblins not wise because that's how people choose to build their goblins, rather than something which is inherent to their identity."

I'm personally going to adopt the house rule where "you can always choose to take 2 free boosts instead of what your ancestry would give you."


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:

I mean just asserting "this genetic group of sapient individuals is just plain inferior to this other group" is a troubling notion in our reality so it's not something we need to go to pains to reproduce in a fantasy land. We don't actually lose anything if we make goblins not wise because that's how people choose to build their goblins, rather than something which is inherent to their identity."

I'm personally going to adopt the house rule where "you can always choose to take 2 free boosts instead of what your ancestry would give you."

So what about all the sapient monsters? Do dragons have to get weaker? Aboleths. The Star Spawn of Cthulhu is clearly superior.

And on Ancestry, they are different species but hopefully balanced against each other. If we can't accept that on average a 3ft tall person is going to be less strong than a 5-6ft person then I'm sorry that isn't anti-racsim that is just sheer denial of basic nature.

I'm okay with changing it because it opens up attribute arrays across ancestries making character concepts easier to achieve. I'm not okay anyone in support of "gnomes are probably not as strong as humans" being labelled racist.


Haladir wrote:

Frankly, I'm now sorry I posted this, and I'm bowing out.

The racism apparent on this thread is astounding.

Please elaborate what racism did you see in this topic.

Do not cry racism all the time, because when you do run at a real one no one will take you seriously.

"The boy who cried wolf"


Malk_Content wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

I mean just asserting "this genetic group of sapient individuals is just plain inferior to this other group" is a troubling notion in our reality so it's not something we need to go to pains to reproduce in a fantasy land. We don't actually lose anything if we make goblins not wise because that's how people choose to build their goblins, rather than something which is inherent to their identity."

I'm personally going to adopt the house rule where "you can always choose to take 2 free boosts instead of what your ancestry would give you."

So what about all the sapient monsters? Do dragons have to get weaker? Aboleths. The Star Spawn of Cthulhu is clearly superior.

And on Ancestry, they are different species but hopefully balanced against each other. If we can't accept that on average a 3ft tall person is going to be less strong than a 5-6ft person then I'm sorry that isn't anti-racsim that is just sheer denial of basic nature.

I'm okay with changing it because it opens up attribute arrays across ancestries making character concepts easier to achieve. I'm not okay anyone in support of "gnomes are probably not as strong as humans" being labelled racist.

well, we can't go 100% in nature laws as "small" character would be almost unplayable for some character concepts.

I would say at least -6 strength penalty for any "small" character at start.


So the OP has cried racism , not backed it up and then left.

In doing so accusing a bunch of people of being racist with no real evidence

I would like to think that something like that is against community guidelines.

Silver Crusade

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

Read the thread.


I have read the thread, and read it all again now.
All the racism I see is some sample stereotypes of dwarves, elves and ogres, and a physical consideration about halflings. Considering that dwarves, elves, ogres and halflings do not exist, and even in-game they are different species (so it would be specism, not racism), I didn't learn anything new from this second read through.

If disagreeing with anyone who is calling something racist is being racist yourself, no matter what your or their reasons are, there's really no point in even discussing.
And it's probably true, here, judging from past experiences. There are topics (two, actually) that really should never ever be touched. So don't worry, tomorrow is monday: the thread will be closed soon, our extremely offensive opinions will be censored, and gnomes and orcs will be safe again.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I mean just asserting "this genetic group of sapient individuals is just plain inferior to this other group" is a troubling notion in our reality so it's not something we need to go to pains to reproduce in a fantasy land. We don't actually lose anything if we make goblins not wise because that's how people choose to build their goblins, rather than something which is inherent to their identity."

I'm personally going to adopt the house rule where "you can always choose to take 2 free boosts instead of what your ancestry would give you."

Except nobody is asserting the bolded part. We are asserting that some ancestries have a better inclination to excel at some areas and attributes over others, this much is true, but that's not a blanket superiority statement like you're implying. On top of that, it's genetics and evolution at work. It's why Half-Elves and Half-Orcs exist, among other hybrid races.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Haladir wrote:

There has been a lot of talk recently in indie RPG/story-game circles about the mechanization of fantasy race-based stat adjustments. (E.g.All dwarves get +1 Con and Wis, and -1 Cha).

These impose a fantasy-racist stereotype on whole groups of people ("All Dwarves are wise and tough, but hard to get along with"), that's actually backed up by the rules.

And the more I think about it, the less goid I feel about it.

In my PF2e games, I am making the following change:

All Ancestries get the choice of two free boosts (like a human), or three free boosts and a flaw.

just an fyi, you can take voluntary flaws to cancel out your racials.

I have a gnome with 18 strength thanks to those rules.

Spoiler:

Quote:

OPTIONAL:

VOLUNTARY FLAWS
Sometimes, it’s fun to play a
character with a major flaw even
if you’re not playing an ancestry
that imposes one. You can elect
to take two additional ability
flaws when applying the ability
boosts and ability flaws from
your ancestry. If you do, you can
also apply one additional free
ability boost. These ability flaws
can be assigned to any ability
score you like, but you can’t apply
more than one ability flaw to the
same ability score during this
step unless you apply both of the
additional ability flaws to a score
that is already receiving an ability
boost during this step. In this
case, the first ability flaw cancels
the ability boost, and the second
ability flaw decreases the score
by 2. Likewise, as an exception
to the normal rules for ability
boosts, you can apply two free
ability boosts to an ability score
receiving an ability flaw during
this step; the first ability boost
cancels the ability flaw, and the
second ability boost increases the
score by 2. For example, a dwarf
normally gets an ability boost to
Constitution and Wisdom, along
with an ability flaw to Charisma.
You could apply one ability flaw
each to Intelligence and Strength,
or you could apply both ability
flaws to Wisdom. You could not
apply either additional ability flaw
to Charisma, though, because it is
already receiving dwarves’ ability
flaw during this step.


Malk_Content wrote:
So what about all the sapient monsters? Do dragons have to get weaker? Aboleths. The Star Spawn of Cthulhu is clearly superior.

Bright line standard- Are we supposed to think of whatever it is as a person? If so, it shouldn't be overall more or less competent because of what kind of person it is.

All PCs are people, which is useful since all the players are as well. Star Spawn of Cthulhu are not. Perhaps I'm cutting off some variant where we all play alghollthu in the future, but that doesn't sound very interesting to me.

I think it's pretty inconsistent to say that the gnome should not be strong because they are 3' tall while there being nothing keeping the elf from being 6'5", 110 lbs, and strong as an ox.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
So what about all the sapient monsters? Do dragons have to get weaker? Aboleths. The Star Spawn of Cthulhu is clearly superior.

Bright line standard- Are we supposed to think of whatever it is as a person? If so, it shouldn't be overall more or less competent because of what kind of person it is.

All PCs are people, which is useful since all the players are as well. Star Spawn of Cthulhu are not. Perhaps I'm cutting off some variant where we all play alghollthu in the future, but that doesn't sound very interesting to me.

I think it's pretty inconsistent to say that the gnome should not be strong because they are 3' tall while there being nothing keeping the elf from being 6'5", 110 lbs, and strong as an ox.

I mean, Dragons, Aboleths and star spawn all have the markers of personhood...? at the very least they can all pass the turing test.

I find "personhood" a very poor reason to make everything this is a person more or less equal. a Balor and Astral Deva are all people.

as for all PCs that's an even more arbitrary standard.

to me, it seems you're just trying to add wrapping paper to all humans and demi-humans, or maybe you just lack concise wording, idk.

though Dragons and several planar beings are sapient with vastly superior innate abilities.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
So what about all the sapient monsters? Do dragons have to get weaker? Aboleths. The Star Spawn of Cthulhu is clearly superior.

Bright line standard- Are we supposed to think of whatever it is as a person? If so, it shouldn't be overall more or less competent because of what kind of person it is.

All PCs are people, which is useful since all the players are as well. Star Spawn of Cthulhu are not. Perhaps I'm cutting off some variant where we all play alghollthu in the future, but that doesn't sound very interesting to me.

I think it's pretty inconsistent to say that the gnome should not be strong because they are 3' tall while there being nothing keeping the elf from being 6'5", 110 lbs, and strong as an ox.

Well, for gnomes main problem is leverage and length of limbs and length of muscles on those limbs.

I would say that Peter Dinklage is very bad arm wrestler and sprinter.

Dwarves are slower as they have strong upper body and very short legs for that body type. Medium size, but slower.

Elves get -2 constitution and you can describe that as being ripped. 0-1% total body fat, comparing to an average human in 10-15%.

Low body fat means less weight for same muscle mass. more speed. Elves have +5ft base speed as there is less dead weight to carry around.

But, less fat means sooner starvation. Included in -1 penalty on Con saves vs that.

Less fat, more toxic poisons are for you. Again included in -1 pen to Con saves.

Lower Con means less HP. Less body fat means that your muscles are closer to the skin and your major blood vessels are more exposed.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Quote:

I think it's pretty inconsistent to say that the gnome should not be strong because they are 3' tall while there being nothing keeping the elf from being 6'5", 110 lbs, and strong as an ox.

I didn't say they can't be strong. Any ancestry can achieve any starting score, individual agencyis preserved perfectly fine within the rules. But on average at population level analysis gnomes are weaker (in the less strength sense.)


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I definitely agree that if you are going to remove ancestries having different base modifiers, don't you also need to remove ancestries having different base speeds on the same logic...? And then you get into the problem of "dwarf is the best ancestry because it has darkvision".

On the other side of things, people arguing that ancestry modifiers are perfectly logical because halflings and gnomes are obviously weaker than humans would do well to remember that goblins have no Strength penalty.

I dunno. I can see where the argument is coming from - I tend to agree with Rysky on most subjects like this - but I think this is a case where the potential infraction is acceptably small.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Well goblins are the exception and have descriptions of physiology that match with small powerful apes. Gnomes and halflings don't.

Regardless the point is that different physical structures lead to different expected capabilities and it isn't racist to think that. Afterall it's kind of what our entire society survives off (without it selective breeding doesn't work and you try feeding the global population with the crops and livestock of 5000 years ago.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Malk_Content wrote:
Well goblins are the exception and have descriptions of physiology that match with small powerful apes. Gnomes and halflings don't.

Except goblins did have a Strength penalty in 1e.

idk. My point is mostly that, as usual, trying to apply realism to a game is not going to work very well. Ancestry ability mods are what they are because it creates more interesting gameplay, not out of any kind of realism. Verisimilitude, sure, but not realism.

If you were going for realism, it is highly unlikely that a set of six physiologically diverse species have attributes that are perfectly mechanically balanced with each other...


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
MaxAstro wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
Well goblins are the exception and have descriptions of physiology that match with small powerful apes. Gnomes and halflings don't.

Except goblins did have a Strength penalty in 1e.

idk. My point is mostly that, as usual, trying to apply realism to a game is not going to work very well. Ancestry ability mods are what they are because it creates more interesting gameplay, not out of any kind of realism. Verisimilitude, sure, but not realism.

If you were going for realism, it is highly unlikely that a set of six physiologically diverse species have attributes that are perfectly mechanically balanced with each other...

Oh yeah, Goblins were one of the unbalanced races in PF1E. PF2 edition seems like a step forward in terms of "the ancestries are roughly equal" arena.

And your right Verisimilitude is the right term. Pathfinder (or any roleplaying game I'm actually interested in playing) abstracts too much to ask for true realism. I still think it holds from a verisimilitude perspective that a casual look at an (archetypal) Elf would in general make you think it is less robust than an (archetypal) Dwarf.


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I think PF2 does a good thing in allowing all ancestries to get the same maximum value in stats. With the optional flaw, even ancestries with a ability flaw can get the maximum value in that ability.

Having read the linked article (https://www.dndbeyond.com/posts/563-reimagining-racial-ability-scores) and the proposed solutions (which are basically what PF2 does) it is only trading racism for elitism or another form of discrimination.
So Nobles can increase their INT by two but Soldiers can't? Are you saying all soldiers are dumb? And so on.
So it doesn't really solve much, I think.

Even if you remove any ability score modification for ancestry, you still have to give different ancestries SOME different stuff. In PF2, only humans can have the Versatile heritage. So all people of other ancestries are unable to be so versatile? How is that not racist?

A solution would be to have a build-your-own-ancestry system. An ancestry-less system like some people want a class-less sytem where you build your own class from several archetypical features.

EDIT: The linked article even says that the 5e version of racial modifiers makes certain ancestry-class combos suboptimal. For me, the article reads that there is a flaw in the mechanics and it needs to be fixed. And attributing the fix to countering racism helps with not having to admit that the mechanics are flawed.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
masda_gib wrote:


Having read the linked article (https://www.dndbeyond.com/posts/563-reimagining-racial-ability-scores) and the proposed solutions (which are basically what PF2 does) it is only trading racism for elitism or another form of discrimination.
So Nobles can increase their INT by two but Soldiers can't? Are you saying all soldiers are dumb? And so on.
So it doesn't really solve much, I think.

i'm pretty sure actually all backgrounds come with a free boost, and this boost can't be the same as the other boost you picked from your background. so soldiers can boost int and much as a noble.

only your class ability boost is set in stone


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

I mean just asserting "this genetic group of sapient individuals is just plain inferior to this other group" is a troubling notion in our reality so it's not something we need to go to pains to reproduce in a fantasy land. We don't actually lose anything if we make goblins not wise because that's how people choose to build their goblins, rather than something which is inherent to their identity."

I'm personally going to adopt the house rule where "you can always choose to take 2 free boosts instead of what your ancestry would give you."

Except nobody is asserting the bolded part. We are asserting that some ancestries have a better inclination to excel at some areas and attributes over others, this much is true, but that's not a blanket superiority statement like you're implying. On top of that, it's genetics and evolution at work. It's why Half-Elves and Half-Orcs exist, among other hybrid races.

I think the irony here is that the few people who call other racists are the ones who perceive one race to be superior to another while other players see them more for roll/roleplay potential. An elf is still more likely to be faster and more intelligent via ancestry feat, picking up magic and living for over a hundred years. The humans are clearly best at picking up skills and talents, but there's plenty of people who adore playing gnomes and half-orcs.

I've yet to hear someone genuinely dislike dwarves because they're dwarves and not because it doesn't fit their concept/aesthetic for a character. This is progressive twitter bleeding over to other public spaces more than peolple finding elves superior to dwarves. That elven superiority ain't gonna matter much if you prefer the gnome's fey nature and the strange quirks they bring to the game.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Corvo, I think you have good points but that comment about "progressive twitter" is frankly a bit insulting to the people who are honestly participating in this discussion and I don't think it's helpful.

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