Elf vs Half-Elf


Rules Discussion


Generally I love the ancestry/heritage system, though in this case I wonder if many players would choose being an elf over being a half elf.

So for comparison, an elf gets;

6 HP
30 foot speed
Boosts to Dex, int
1 free boost
A flaw to Con
Low-light vision
An elf heritage
Elf feats

A half-elf gets;

8 hp
25 foot speed
2 free boosts
No ability flaw
Low-light vision
"No heritage"
Elf, human & half elf feats

The HP and speed difference is fairly negligible - the real trade is the heritage and boost/flaw, and feats.

2 free boosts is significantly better than a boost to Dex/int, and the free boost for the elf can be thought of as purchased by the flaw to Con.

I think three boosts and a flaw is better than two boosts and no flaw, as it let's you optimise more (this is why the option to take two flaws to get a boost exists as an optional rule)

But free boosts are generally better than specific boosts, so I think this balances out.

The elf heritage features I think it could be fair to balance them against the access to human and half elf feats, as that is the other real difference.

Is darkvision or cold resistance or tree climbing worth losing out on that sheer amount of feat versatility?

It feels a bit out of balance in favour of the half elf to me - I feel like the ability score situation is marginally better for the half elf, and my gut feeling on the feats vs heritages is that the human and half elf feat access is better than most, if not all, of the elf heritages.

I think the one and only feat advantage for elves is they are statistically more likely to qualify for ancestral longevity, as half elves generally only live up to 150, though as it is still possible for them to qualify just by the player choosing to be old (which has no mechanical downside).

Thoughts? Am I underestimating the elf, or are half elves just superior?

Shadow Lodge

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If you are using stealth or in Difficult Terrain, the increase from a 25 to a 30 base speed becomes an increase from 2 squares to 3 square per move, which can be significant.

As for stats, the +3 boosts a non-human gets allows for a 18 / 16 / 14 'good stat' array (with the caveat that two of those scores need to be Dex and Int) while the +2 boosts a human gets only allows for a 18 / 16 / 12.

Of course, the Con flaw is pretty much always going to be painful for elves, so your mileage will vary...


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Every multiple of 10' movement is important for the same reasons Taja mentioned, and Elves can get to 40' w/ minimal investment. Hitting 30' is a "must" for melee, and also allows jumping 10' pits w/ no roll.

If you take the jumping feats, every 5' makes even more of a difference.
Swim speed also changes.

That's the main Elf advantage on any melee build using Dex & Int (and yes, there shouldn't be a build dumping Con!).


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The speed thing is a big deal. There just aren't that many ways to permanently improve your speed. An elf gets two of them. I would trade 2 HP for +5 movement every time.

Two pick stat increases is nice, but not automatically superior. Many builds want Int and Dex. As long as you wanted those to be at least 12, then pick two isn't better. The Con flaw is definitely a flaw as more Fort save and HP is always nice. Bad Con is what makes Elf the not automatically superior pick.

More feat options is nice, but you don't actually get more feats. After some splat books I'm guessing nearly every ancestry will have some nice picks. At that point the number of options won't matter much compared to how many you actually have.

I don't see half elf as superior to full elf. It just depends on what you want to do.


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I think it depends on the type of character you want to build though. Some of my most favorite characters have not been statistically powerful but fun to play.


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Heritage can be quite powerful too. The upcoming Ancient Elf heritage gives you a multi-class dedication feat at lvl1 which if you are planning to multi-class at lvl2 anyway is worth that feat slot.

I think the system is flexible enough to build something awesome.

Let’s say a Elf Strength Fighter
A: 12 Str; 12 Dex; 8 Con; 12 Int; 10 Wis; 10 Cha
B: 14 Str; 12 Dex; 10 Con; 12 Int; 10 Wis; 10 Cha
C: 16 Str; 12 Dex; 10 Con; 12 Int; 10 Wis; 10 Cha
Lvl1: 18 Str; 12 Dex; 12 Con; 14 Int; 12 Wis; 10 Cha

You could have taken a hit to Int and Wis or Cha (or a double hit to Int) to boost that Con to 14 but that’s only 1hp at first level.

With this build with an Ancient Elf heritage and the Nimble Elf ancestry feat you’ve got a possible Fighter/Wizard, Fighter/Alchemist or Fighter/Ranger with 35ft movement at lvl 1. Bump that Con at 5, 10 & 15 and leave it at 18, pick up toughness if your going down too often. Picking up fleet gets that base movement speed up to 40.

That’s just one example of something you can only make with an elf. Even without the Ancient Elf heritage there’s plenty of other builds you can make that utilise Elf feats.

Half-Elves get multi-talented at lvl9 which is very nice as you don’t need to meet the prerequisites however:
1) that’s a long time to wait
2) Ancient Elf lets you use your 4th level class feat to pick up at 1st or 2nd level feat from your new class. Multi-talented requires 10th or higher level class slots for the same feat. That’s a high price to pay.


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Does something about the Ancient Elf heritage prevent a half-elf from gaining its benefits via Elf Atavism? (Like an explicit ban on exactly that.)

Silver Crusade

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

Probably this:

Elf Atavism wrote:
Your elven blood runs particularly strong, granting you features far more elven than those of a typical half-elf. You may also have been raised among elves, steeped in your elven ancestors’ heritage. You gain the benefits of the elf heritage of your elven parent or ancestors. You typically can’t select a heritage that depends on or improves an elven feature you don’t have. For example, you couldn’t gain the cavern elf’s darkvision ability if you didn’t have low-light vision. In these cases, at the GM’s discretion, you might gain a different benefit.

It'll most likely be GM call though.


Huh, I guess I underestimated the speed and heritage thing a bit, and that sort of evens things out I guess.

The Exchange

Rysky wrote:
Probably this:
Elf Atavism wrote:
Your elven blood runs particularly strong, granting you features far more elven than those of a typical half-elf. You may also have been raised among elves, steeped in your elven ancestors’ heritage. You gain the benefits of the elf heritage of your elven parent or ancestors. You typically can’t select a heritage that depends on or improves an elven feature you don’t have. For example, you couldn’t gain the cavern elf’s darkvision ability if you didn’t have low-light vision. In these cases, at the GM’s discretion, you might gain a different benefit.
It'll most likely be GM call though.

But a half elf does get low light vision so it is explicitly permitted to take the cavern elf atavism for darkvision " ... you couldn’t gain the cavern elf’s darkvision ability if you didn’t have low-light vision ..."

Silver Crusade

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

Which is what it says.

Quote:
you couldn’t gain the cavern elf’s darkvision ability if you didn’t have low-light vision.

"If you didn't", not "since you don't".

I'm guessing it's for future-proofing.


Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
Does something about the Ancient Elf heritage prevent a half-elf from gaining its benefits via Elf Atavism? (Like an explicit ban on exactly that.)

We’ll have to see the final text to see if they put an age limit on it or if it just falls under the “elven feature you don’t have” that Rysky highlighted.

I would certainly limit to just elves in my games unless a player really wanted it and was committed to playing an elderly half-elf way past their prime and wasn’t just looking for the most powerful combinations.


Laran wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Probably this:
Elf Atavism wrote:
Your elven blood runs particularly strong, granting you features far more elven than those of a typical half-elf. You may also have been raised among elves, steeped in your elven ancestors’ heritage. You gain the benefits of the elf heritage of your elven parent or ancestors. You typically can’t select a heritage that depends on or improves an elven feature you don’t have. For example, you couldn’t gain the cavern elf’s darkvision ability if you didn’t have low-light vision. In these cases, at the GM’s discretion, you might gain a different benefit.
It'll most likely be GM call though.
But a half elf does get low light vision so it is explicitly permitted to take the cavern elf atavism for darkvision " ... you couldn’t gain the cavern elf’s darkvision ability if you didn’t have low-light vision ..."

It is a super weird example since it doesn’t apply based on what’s in the CRB. I get what it’s saying because it makes sense but it’s a bad example.

Sovereign Court

I think it's to prevent non-half-elves using an adoption feat to be adopted by atavistic half-elves and thus transitively adopting their way into full elf physiology.

For example, to stop halflings from using Cultural Adaptability to gain cavern elf heritage.


I don't understand how any of that is remotely possible with Adopted.
Adopted designates a single ancestry, period. No heritage should ever have any relevance for it's usage: it just doesn't enter into Adopted's function.
Half-Elves have Human ancestry, and can be adoptive parents for Adopted:Human,
but their Half-Elf heritage will have no effect, nor will any indirect Elf Atavism stuff.

Although this reminds me, why isn't there Human Atavism for Half-Elves with Human Heritages? Maybe when they make more Human heritages?


Rek Rollington wrote:

Heritage can be quite powerful too. The upcoming Ancient Elf heritage gives you a multi-class dedication feat at lvl1 which if you are planning to multi-class at lvl2 anyway is worth that feat slot.

I think the system is flexible enough to build something awesome.

Let’s say a Elf Strength Fighter
A: 12 Str; 12 Dex; 8 Con; 12 Int; 10 Wis; 10 Cha
B: 14 Str; 12 Dex; 10 Con; 12 Int; 10 Wis; 10 Cha
C: 16 Str; 12 Dex; 10 Con; 12 Int; 10 Wis; 10 Cha
Lvl1: 18 Str; 12 Dex; 12 Con; 14 Int; 12 Wis; 10 Cha

You could have taken a hit to Int and Wis or Cha (or a double hit to Int) to boost that Con to 14 but that’s only 1hp at first level.

With this build with an Ancient Elf heritage and the Nimble Elf ancestry feat you’ve got a possible Fighter/Wizard, Fighter/Alchemist or Fighter/Ranger with 35ft movement at lvl 1. Bump that Con at 5, 10 & 15 and leave it at 18, pick up toughness if your going down too often. Picking up fleet gets that base movement speed up to 40.

That’s just one example of something you can only make with an elf. Even without the Ancient Elf heritage there’s plenty of other builds you can make that utilise Elf feats.

Half-Elves get multi-talented at lvl9 which is very nice as you don’t need to meet the prerequisites however:
1) that’s a long time to wait
2) Ancient Elf lets you use your 4th level class feat to pick up at 1st or 2nd level feat from your new class. Multi-talented requires 10th or higher level class slots for the same feat. That’s a high price to pay.

Very nice! Being able to make a magus at first level will be neat. Is this in the upcoming Advanced Player's Guide?


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^ LOCG

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