Has there been any word on Drow as an Ancestry?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Paizo Employee Creative Director

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
If a Pixie and a Grig are both Sprites, or a cyborg and a mutant are both Fleshwarps, I don't see a problem with Drow being Elves just because they are different from other Elves.

For the record, when (not if) we do a drow ancestry, I'd prefer them presented as a type of elf. Same as for aquatic elves. Both as uncommon or rare options, but still heritages of elf, with their own dedicated ancestry feats not open to other elves.


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James Jacobs wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
If a Pixie and a Grig are both Sprites, or a cyborg and a mutant are both Fleshwarps, I don't see a problem with Drow being Elves just because they are different from other Elves.
For the record, when (not if) we do a drow ancestry, I'd prefer them presented as a type of elf. Same as for aquatic elves. Both as uncommon or rare options, but still heritages of elf, with their own dedicated ancestry feats not open to other elves.

Interesting, interesting! Out of curiosity — Would you personally prefer to give the same treatment to Duergars and Dwarves and the Svirfneblin and Gnomes as well?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Travelling Sasha wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
If a Pixie and a Grig are both Sprites, or a cyborg and a mutant are both Fleshwarps, I don't see a problem with Drow being Elves just because they are different from other Elves.
For the record, when (not if) we do a drow ancestry, I'd prefer them presented as a type of elf. Same as for aquatic elves. Both as uncommon or rare options, but still heritages of elf, with their own dedicated ancestry feats not open to other elves.
Interesting, interesting! Out of curiosity — Would you personally prefer to give the same treatment to Duergars and Dwarves and the Svirfneblin and Gnomes as well?

I would, yes.


James Jacobs wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
If a Pixie and a Grig are both Sprites, or a cyborg and a mutant are both Fleshwarps, I don't see a problem with Drow being Elves just because they are different from other Elves.
For the record, when (not if) we do a drow ancestry, I'd prefer them presented as a type of elf. Same as for aquatic elves. Both as uncommon or rare options, but still heritages of elf, with their own dedicated ancestry feats not open to other elves.

Were it me, I would personally put aquatic as uncommon and drow as rare.

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
I think I mentioned it before, but I'm definitely interested in 2e darklands books :3 because besides last darklands book being 3.5, would be nice to get expansion of what Darklands is under every continent all over golarion

The tricky part about doing a Darklands book is that it, more than most other regions, is more of a place meant as a GM resource than a Player resource. The Darklands are traditionally a place to go adventure, not a place to come from. That said, I've wanted to do an Adventure Path where the entire party is composed of Darkland ancestries for a decade or so... so if we can figure out a way to do a book that has both GM information AND Player options in a way that can:

a) not skimp on the GM content if it needs the room, and
b) do so in a way that doesn't make customers frustrated about "spoilers", and
c) get to a point where we're ready to do lots of Darklands stuff in the first place, then

I'll be delighted! :-)

AND: From the office of expectation management, I'd love to have a section in a bigger Darklands book that talks about the regions below all the other parts of the world, but I'm wary about developing too much about that content before the top side is more set in stone, and wary about not supporting the core part of the setting the most in the book in the first place.

Ironically, the longer it takes for us to get around to a Darklands book, the more other parts of the world we'll be able to explore and the less of an issue that will be.

Fingers crossed that this can be resolved, because I'd absolutely adore it if a Darklands book could come out! If there's concern about doing a purely Darklands book while there's still content to be explored for the main part of the setting, maybe there's a better chance to get some Darklands content that focuses on Nar-Voth and its interaction with the surface world. That'd be interesting too!


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James Jacobs wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
If a Pixie and a Grig are both Sprites, or a cyborg and a mutant are both Fleshwarps, I don't see a problem with Drow being Elves just because they are different from other Elves.
For the record, when (not if) we do a drow ancestry, I'd prefer them presented as a type of elf. Same as for aquatic elves. Both as uncommon or rare options, but still heritages of elf, with their own dedicated ancestry feats not open to other elves.

See, the issue I have with this is that, while I am absolutely ok with regular Elves not having access to Drow feats, I may have some issues with Drows having access to Elf feats.

Sharing some, absolutely. Drows freely taking Forest Stealth, Tree Climber or even Avenge Ally? Bit off flavour. Plus Drow weapons must include the whip and hand crossbow, let's be real.

I'm more likely to welcome the idea of a separate Ancestry with a shared selection - which incidentally I have written, because I needed one for a bit :P

Not going to retranslate everything back to english, but I'll write down some highlights for the feats:

Unwavering Mien, Nimble Elf, and Elf Step from regular options, plus the Drow weapon line (with Weapon Cruely being the critspec feat) and Drow Lore as normal.

New feats I added in were:
Lv1 - Spider Familiar, Ruler (Command 1/d) and Magic Resistance (reaction, +1 vs spells, +2 vs mental)
Lv5 - Daylight Adaptation (lessening daylight penalties)
Lv9 - Magic Imperviousness (requires resistance, permanent +1 vs spells, +2 vs mental), Drow Magic (levitation 3/d), Drow Noble (Darkness and Faerie Fire 1/d each)
Lv13 - Greater Drow Noble (requires Noble, 2 casts per day of Darkness, Dispel Magic, Suggestion as 4th lv spells chosen on the moment)
Lv17 - Demon Lords Favourite (Divine Decree 1/d)

They're almost all molded on existing ancestry choices, mostly a mix of orcs, gnomes and tieflings. It's ok enough to be playable, but we'd all love an official version.
If they can be done as Elves without making them too forest-y, I'm in, but you'll have to sell me on it :D


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
If a Pixie and a Grig are both Sprites, or a cyborg and a mutant are both Fleshwarps, I don't see a problem with Drow being Elves just because they are different from other Elves.
For the record, when (not if) we do a drow ancestry, I'd prefer them presented as a type of elf. Same as for aquatic elves. Both as uncommon or rare options, but still heritages of elf, with their own dedicated ancestry feats not open to other elves.

While I am not entirely against this approach, as the idea of utilizing the Heritage system to represent the various divergant subgroups of people and think it would work well with certain Ancestries, such as having a broader Ancestry of lupine people who had the Adlet and Rougarou as distinct Heritages (which, I am aware are not related); I do agree with Ediwir where on some points.

Presenting the Drow, Duergar, and Svirfneblin as Heritages for the Elf, Dwarf, and Gnome Ancestry would present some problems with Feats. Sure, you can place a benefit for each that reads something like "You gain access to Drow Heritage Feats", I feel like creating a list of Elf Feats you can't take, because they don't match the lore or themes of the Drow, could get messy; especially as more content gets produced. For instance, I personally don't think Drow should be capable of taking the Brightness Seeker Elf Feat. So how do you deal with something like that without creating an artificial list of Elf Feats that Drow cannot take, and adding to this as things evolve? That may require every future Elf Feat to feature side note that reads something like "Drow and Aquatic Elves cannot take this." Seems cumbersome.

I think making them each their own distinct Ancestry, like Fetchling and Azerketi (who are technically a divergant subgroup of Humans) leaves more room for dealing with this issue, as well as creativity. I think a better solution may be to do something similar to how Archtypes are handled, where certain shared Feats are presented in a list to the relevant Archetype, and then maybe adding a blurb that says something like "These Feats gain the Drow Trait when taken by the Drow Ancestry." Then, fro. There, and future Elven Feats that can also be taken by a Drow can simply include the Drow Trait alongside it. I suppose they could also feature a "Drow can take this Feat" blurb, but that goes back to my previous statement about being cumbersome.

Then there are things like a Drow Noble line of Feats, which I personally feel like should be lightly restricted behind a Drow Noble Heritage. But, that is neither here nor there I suppose.

That said, I think they both have their benefits and difficulties. Personally, I think each may do better as an Ancestry, but I think they would work fine as Heritages. Either way, I look forward to seeing what is done.

On the subject of Aquatic Elves, please tell me they will be presented with an Ancestral name somewhere down the line? Calling them Aquatic Elves bothers me so much. I'd be okay with Sea Elves. But they very much so need an Ancestral name imo, like how Fetchlings call themselves Kayal.

On the matter of Serpantfolk as an Ancestry; maybe we can meet in the middle and have a Serpentfolk equivalent to the Naga's Nagaji? I think that would be a good compromise. Something in the same vein of say the Yuan-Ti,
who have three major subgroups: Purebloods, Half-Bloods, and Abominations. Maybe Serpantfolkcould be similar? We have two castes already with the Aapoph and Purecaste. Why not create a third? I imagine Serpantfolk hatch from eggs. Perhaps, some of those eggs are "defective" by Serpentfolk standards, resulting in a subgroup of "Lesser Serpentfolk"? These could serve as an Ancestry appropriate subgroup. Give them a history of living under the same subjugation that other "lesser" Ancestries experienced while under the Serpentfolks yoke, and bam, a group of Serpentfolk that don't like Serpentfolk. Lol

Last thing and I am gone: I very much second the desire to see a regional Lost Omens books covering the Darklands. I think it entirely possible to expand and elaborate on the extent lore and environs we've been told about up to this point, while still leaving enough mystery about the region to leave room for future content. Besides, I'd argue it is very difficult to actually host an adventure in the Darklands if we never actually explore their contents.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
If a Pixie and a Grig are both Sprites, or a cyborg and a mutant are both Fleshwarps, I don't see a problem with Drow being Elves just because they are different from other Elves.
For the record, when (not if) we do a drow ancestry, I'd prefer them presented as a type of elf. Same as for aquatic elves. Both as uncommon or rare options, but still heritages of elf, with their own dedicated ancestry feats not open to other elves.

I at first thought that a Lineage feat would work best, but Light Blindness (in the case of Drow) stumped me. But having it tied to a heritage does sound reasonable enough, given we have examples of heritages with downsides as well as upsides. So I think this is what I would prefer as well.


AnimatedPaper wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
If a Pixie and a Grig are both Sprites, or a cyborg and a mutant are both Fleshwarps, I don't see a problem with Drow being Elves just because they are different from other Elves.
For the record, when (not if) we do a drow ancestry, I'd prefer them presented as a type of elf. Same as for aquatic elves. Both as uncommon or rare options, but still heritages of elf, with their own dedicated ancestry feats not open to other elves.
I at first thought that a Lineage feat would work best, but Light Blindness (in the case of Drow) stumped me. But having it tied to a heritage does sound reasonable enough, given we have examples of heritages with downsides as well as upsides. So I think this is what I would prefer as well.

Light Blindness is another tricky bit. If it requires a feat to be playable outside of the Darklands, it's an issue - and if there isn't one, it's not playable outside. I'd probably lean towards a milder penalty than what Bestiary drow face, but one that is hard to reduce / remove and so remains as a present reminder of your ancestry. As it is in the bestiary it would write drow into a corner, so...


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If your issue is "I don't see why my drow character would have forest stealth, they grew up underground where there are no trees" that's not really substantively than "I don't see why my dwarf character would have stonecunning, they grew up in a port village built on a sandbar and spent their formative years on ships".

Specificaly- don't take feats that don't fit your character concept. It's not like no Drow anywhere has spent time in forests, but if yours hasn't then just don't take feats that are about "being in the woods" (and if you want to take those feats for what they do, well your backstory is up to you.)


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Besides, there absolutely are forests in the Darklands.

Silver Crusade

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James Jacobs wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
If a Pixie and a Grig are both Sprites, or a cyborg and a mutant are both Fleshwarps, I don't see a problem with Drow being Elves just because they are different from other Elves.
For the record, when (not if) we do a drow ancestry, I'd prefer them presented as a type of elf. Same as for aquatic elves. Both as uncommon or rare options, but still heritages of elf, with their own dedicated ancestry feats not open to other elves.

But... Drow Tieflings! *puppy dog eyes*

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
If a Pixie and a Grig are both Sprites, or a cyborg and a mutant are both Fleshwarps, I don't see a problem with Drow being Elves just because they are different from other Elves.
For the record, when (not if) we do a drow ancestry, I'd prefer them presented as a type of elf. Same as for aquatic elves. Both as uncommon or rare options, but still heritages of elf, with their own dedicated ancestry feats not open to other elves.
But... Drow Tieflings! *puppy dog eyes*

You can still do drow tieflings. Or if you can't, that'd mean you can't have half-orc or half-elf tieflings, and that's not right neither.

AKA: The lore of the world supports those. If the rules as written so far don't... that's just some errata that needs doin'.

Silver Crusade

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I'd LOVE a Darklands book, so much wonderful fantastical stuff down there. But, something caught my eye and I had a response.

James Jacobs wrote:
but because I want them to remain mysterious to players to a certain extent.
The only way you can keep something mysterious is be not publishing anything about them, we have stories with them and they're in Bestiaries. Making them playable isn't going to make them any less mysterious than they already are. Having a handful or thousands of people play them has no effect on that. Which leads into,
James Jacobs wrote:
is more of a place meant as a GM resource than a Player resource.

This really isn't true anymore, and hasn't for awhile.

From the publishing side, of course, but from the consumer side of things there isn't really a GM only vs Player only dichotomy. "This is a GM book so only GMs should read it and this is a Player book so only players should read it" is a plan that evaporates immediately once it goes from paper to practice.

GMs read through all the books they can for ideas, and players likewise, and that's without pointing out that a lot of people play both roles.

For example, if you wanted Serpentfolk to be mysterious you shouldn't have published Serpent's Skull and put them in Bestiaries.

And this all falls under that what is or is not mysterious to the players is not not-mysterious to the characters in setting.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
If a Pixie and a Grig are both Sprites, or a cyborg and a mutant are both Fleshwarps, I don't see a problem with Drow being Elves just because they are different from other Elves.
For the record, when (not if) we do a drow ancestry, I'd prefer them presented as a type of elf. Same as for aquatic elves. Both as uncommon or rare options, but still heritages of elf, with their own dedicated ancestry feats not open to other elves.
But... Drow Tieflings! *puppy dog eyes*

You can still do drow tieflings. Or if you can't, that'd mean you can't have half-orc or half-elf tieflings, and that's not right neither.

AKA: The lore of the world supports those. If the rules as written so far don't... that's just some errata that needs doin'.

This is also a concern for me. As someone who is a rather staunch Half-Elf player, the desire and ability to play such concepts as a Half-Elven <insert Versatile Heritage> would be nice. But to errata the idea of Hertiages being allowed to take Versatile Heritages seems like it would invite the arguement that one should be allowed to just take multiple Versatile Heritages, or qny derivative Heritage to begin with. This would be cool, cause then you could do something weird like make a Half-Elf/Half-Orc with a Human base(although, this concept is technically possible by simply giving an Orc the Half-Elf Heritage or an Elf the Half-Orc Heritage), having a Changeling/Beastkin, or even making a Half-Drow by taking the Drow and Half-Elf Heritages. But this just seems messy in some cases.

It just seems less complicated and game changing to just make them full Ancestries. Again, I'd also point the the fact that people such as the Fetchling, Azerketi, and even the Munavri are derivative subgroups of Humans who were altered by various sources, just as the Drow and other non-Human people were. Yet, at least in the case of the first two, they are Ancestries; a trait I imagine the Munavri will also share. Maybe this is because physiologically their abilities are very different from Humans? I couldn't begin to guess. Just seems weird.

Again, I really like this idea as a possible mechanic somewhere. I personally just don't think it fits for groups of people like the Drow. Just my 2 cents.


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Heh, so Serpentfolk ancestries...

we can plays us some Snek Drizzsssst when? ;p


Daren Mott wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
IIRC Paizo drows have indigo blue to lavender skin, just saying.
It wasn't always that way. As I said, distancing.

I have read of Drow being described as NOT being dark brown going all the way back to AD&D 1st Edition, but then people doing the artwork commonly messed up and used dark brown anyway (when they were using color at all).


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A lotta people keep clamoring for serpentfolk PCs but the creative director said he wanted them to remain monster npcs in so many words. Some monsters do not have pc ancestry equivalents. That's perfectly fine...full stop. If the imaginer of the Golarion world wants serpentfolk to represent a purely adversarial force that just seems like the law of the land to me. And again I don't see that as a problem at all. Im not gonna demand to my DM that my next character be a cloud giant........bc that's a monster not a pc option. The creative director said the serpent folk are monsters not pc options

Scarab Sages

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Rysky wrote:
I'd LOVE a Darklands book, so much wonderful fantastical stuff down there. But, something caught my eye and I had a response.
James Jacobs wrote:
but because I want them to remain mysterious to players to a certain extent.
The only way you can keep something mysterious is be not publishing anything about them, we have stories with them and they're in Bestiaries. Making them playable isn't going to make them any less mysterious than they already are. Having a handful or thousands of people play them has no effect on that. Which leads into,
James Jacobs wrote:
is more of a place meant as a GM resource than a Player resource.

This really isn't true anymore, and hasn't for awhile.

From the publishing side, of course, but from the consumer side of things there isn't really a GM only vs Player only dichotomy. "This is a GM book so only GMs should read it and this is a Player book so only players should read it" is a plan that evaporates immediately once it goes from paper to practice.

GMs read through all the books they can for ideas, and players likewise, and that's without pointing out that a lot of people play both roles.

For example, if you wanted Serpentfolk to be mysterious you shouldn't have published Serpent's Skull and put them in Bestiaries.

And this all falls under that what is or is not mysterious to the players is not not-mysterious to the characters in setting.

I don’t think the ship has sailed for serpentfolk remaining mysterious. We still know relatively little about them, other creatures have remained mysterious even after appearing in Bestiaries and APs, and there still exists a big difference in player-facing and GM-facing material.

Lovecraftian monsters remained mysterious, horrifying and effective antagonists even after appearing in Strange Aeons and numerous Bestiaries. Making playable Denizens of Leng, for example, would certainly make them less alien. The same is true of serpentfolk.

We also know very little about serpentfolk society or culture compared to orcs and goblins, the two traditionally “Always Evil” peoples. We know orcs and goblins down to ethnicities, population centers and movers/shakers. That isn’t true of serpentfolk.

Finally, being confined to Adventure Paths and Bestiaries means fewer people know about serpentfolk. While nothing prevents a player from purchasing GM-facing material, the fact remains most of them choose not to. Player-facing books like Advanced Player’s Guide and Ancestry Guide sell more units that GM-facing ones like the Gamemasery Guide or Bestiaries.

The genie’s not out of the bottle. If the people at Paizo can keep serpentfolk mysterious should they decide to.


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UnArcaneElection wrote:
Daren Mott wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
IIRC Paizo drows have indigo blue to lavender skin, just saying.
It wasn't always that way. As I said, distancing.

I have read of Drow being described as NOT being dark brown going all the way back to AD&D 1st Edition, but then people doing the artwork commonly messed up and used dark brown anyway (when they were using color at all).

Drow in Second Darkness were dark blue, blue or purple, and there's that very light lavender drow in the Bestiary. I like the intense purple ones, too, but I remember those from third edition. Light blue/indigo seems to be newer, but that "distancing" is two editions old at least.


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I just think if they can think and talk and live like people, they are people, and so them being monsters exclusively sits poorly for me. It feels weird to see gnolls and orcs get rehabilitated (to much acclaim!) in 2e and then in the same breath have serpentfolk firmly confined in the “we gotta have monsters for DMs” category.


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keftiu wrote:
I just think if they can think and talk and live like people, they are people, and so them being monsters exclusively sits poorly for me. It feels weird to see gnolls and orcs get rehabilitated (to much acclaim!) in 2e and then in the same breath have serpentfolk firmly confined in the “we gotta have monsters for DMs” category.

But you do gotta have monsters for the dm.. and that arbitrary destinction between monster and potential pc is set up by the creators of the property.


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I guess maybe the point is that serpentfolk are supposed to be fundamentally alien in a way that gnolls and orcs are not.

Like Aboleths can think and talk, but we probably shouldn't let people play algollthu precisely because their minds are so aberrant.

Silver Crusade

NECR0G1ANT wrote:
I don’t think the ship has sailed for serpentfolk remaining mysterious.
Let me add that I'm not saying they can't be mysterious at all or have stories or still be antagonists, just that a lot of the "mystery" is gone after they've had a whole adventure about them and have had several writeups.
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
and there still exists a big difference in player-facing and GM-facing material.
I disagree.
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
Lovecraftian monsters remained mysterious
Not since the 1900s, if you got a Wikipedia article you can't really claim to be all that mysterious.
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
horrifying and effective antagonists even after appearing in Strange Aeons and numerous Bestiaries.
This however is true.
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
Making playable Denizens of Leng, for example, would certainly make them less alien. The same is true of serpentfolk.
How so?
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
We also know very little about serpentfolk society or culture compared to orcs and goblins, the two traditionally “Always Evil” peoples. We know orcs and goblins down to ethnicities, population centers and movers/shakers. That isn’t true of serpentfolk.
True, and while detailing their cultures even more would remove some of the mystery, it's not needed for them to be playable, and you can detail their culture and history and not have them be playable, such as them showing up in another adventure, and the mystery is removed all the same.
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
Finally, being confined to Adventure Paths and Bestiaries means fewer people know about serpentfolk.
Pretty sure everyone knows about serpentfolk.
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
While nothing prevents a player from purchasing GM-facing material, the fact remains most of them choose not to. Player-facing books like Advanced Player’s Guide and Ancestry Guide sell more units that GM-facing ones like the Gamemasery Guide or Bestiaries.
While sales is a metric, you don't know if it's "only" GMs buying the books, let alone reading them. Not to mention APs have plenty of player options in their Toolbox, and all the books are always a trove of ideas and inspiration.
NECR0G1ANT wrote:
The genie’s not out of the bottle. If the people at Paizo can keep serpentfolk mysterious should they decide to.

Honest question then, what's still a mystery they have to [general]you?

Being "mysterious" and being used as antagonists are tow different things. You don't need to be mysterious or different to be a villain, if that were true we wouldn't have so many Cheliax adventures.

Silver Crusade

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WWHsmackdown wrote:
keftiu wrote:
I just think if they can think and talk and live like people, they are people, and so them being monsters exclusively sits poorly for me. It feels weird to see gnolls and orcs get rehabilitated (to much acclaim!) in 2e and then in the same breath have serpentfolk firmly confined in the “we gotta have monsters for DMs” category.
But you do gotta have monsters for the dm..

Sooo humans aren't allowed to be villains?

Being playable doesn't remove one's capacity to be an antagonist.

Dark Archive

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I'd like to note that most of people reading Ancestry guide didn't apparently even know lot of options in it existed in 1e ^_^;

Like what JJ is true, if Serpentfolk were playable ancestry, people would be way more aware of everything related to them. Like something being playable makes it more "familiar" and thus more mundane.

Even if GMs know all about serpentfolk lore, them being mysterious is from player perspective.

(that said I'm all in for playable serpentfolk)

Silver Crusade

*nods*

But there's no guarantee that the players won't read the "GM Materials".

Long before I GMed I'd read all the Outsiders I could because of Tieflings and Aasimars :3

Dark Archive

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Agreed on that, though majority of players don't seem to read gm materials much, or rather, they read only their specific interests.

But yeah, I think JJ is more concerned about making serpentfolk feel "mundane" or "familiar" rather than player knowledge about them. They did say they might be more open to playable serpentfolk post a 2e story about them.

On COMPLETE sidenote, on topic of playable Darklands civilizations, I do kinda wonder though if anybody wants playable Urdefhans though xD Like besides them being relatively obscure, serpentfolk do have more universal appeal than them


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I like that the serpentfolk have a tie to the impressive scope of history of the setting; I can imagine they have a wild perspective on the ascendance of humans in the world, and that’s one I would love to be able to play out. In a lot of ways, life in the Inner Sea is defined by playing in the ashes of Azlant, and so I think the view from those they crushed to rise to that prominence is super fascinating.

Plus, I’m always gonna be opposed to “always evil” Ancestries, which a lot of this conversation feels like it sniffs at.

Silver Crusade

CorvusMask wrote:

Agreed on that, though majority of players don't seem to read gm materials much, or rather, they read only their specific interests.

But yeah, I think JJ is more concerned about making serpentfolk feel "mundane" or "familiar" rather than player knowledge about them. They did say they might be more open to playable serpentfolk post a 2e story about them.

On COMPLETE sidenote, on topic of playable Darklands civilizations, I do kinda wonder though if anybody wants playable Urdefhans though xD Like besides them being relatively obscure, serpentfolk do have more universal appeal than them

I wouldn't be opposed, but I don't really have much interest in them atm either I suppose?


I, for one, barely know what a serpentfolk is. I know what Lizardfolk are.

I thought Serpentfolk were Yuan-ti, but then again there are a lot of iterations of the same concept with a different name. The only thing I think of are the snake people from World of Warcraft.

I come from D&D land, and didn't want to play Pathfinder 1e for the same reasons I quickly didn't want to play D&D 3.x, like ever again after 4th edition and now 5th edition. However on the other side of the boat I hope I don't have to play D&D 5e ever again and I can only play Pathfinder 2e.

From that point of view I know next to nothing about Golarion (that's the world right?) or like any lore or anything. I know what Drow are but that's because of Drizz't and like they're really popular in D&D too, and Duergar are like Dark Iron Dwarves in my mind, you know, from World of Warcraft.

I mostly come from a Warcraft and Warhammer Fantasy background. Make of that what you will. Neither has very much to say about Serpentfolk.

(P.S. I don't like Forgotten Realms either. 4e's Points of Light setting was the best thing I've ever played, but now I want to try out official material to experience Golarion.)

P.S.S. This has nothing to do with anything at all but where can I read about Tian-Xia? Lost Omens World Guide? Maybe we could get a Tian-Xia world guide or something like the darklands book? I don't know anything about it, but I did decide that all the ways a Swashbuckler works sound and feel a lot like the typical media depiction of a Ronin and I'd like to explore that character. Although he's just a boring human half-elf :P

Dark Archive

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keftiu wrote:

I like that the serpentfolk have a tie to the impressive scope of history of the setting; I can imagine they have a wild perspective on the ascendance of humans in the world, and that’s one I would love to be able to play out. In a lot of ways, life in the Inner Sea is defined by playing in the ashes of Azlant, and so I think the view from those they crushed to rise to that prominence is super fascinating.

Plus, I’m always gonna be opposed to “always evil” Ancestries, which a lot of this conversation feels like it sniffs at.

While serpentfolk culture is pretty evil, JJ agrees that they don't have to be all evil and there likely does exist good aligned ones.

But yeah, I do agree that conversation gets weird when posters start arguing "well there should be at least one civilization whose members are all nazis so you can use them as standard bad guys or just kill them without guilt!" <_< Like, fiends do basically already fill the "you can safely assume that genocide daemon is evil" niche, so I don't really know if in modern times we really should have "basically an ethnicity or mortal species whose all members happen to be evil"

Dark Archive

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Dargath wrote:
P.S.S. This has nothing to do with anything at all but where can I read about Tian-Xia? Lost Omens World Guide? Maybe we could get a Tian-Xia world guide or something like the darklands book? I don't know anything about it, but I did decide that all the ways a Swashbuckler works sound and feel a lot like the typical media depiction of a Ronin and I'd like to explore that character. Although he's just a boring human half-elf :P

We will likely get more Tian Xia material with Fist of the Ruby Phoenix ap, but for now you could read Dragon Empires Gazetteer campaign setting book for 1e


CorvusMask wrote:
Dargath wrote:
P.S.S. This has nothing to do with anything at all but where can I read about Tian-Xia? Lost Omens World Guide? Maybe we could get a Tian-Xia world guide or something like the darklands book? I don't know anything about it, but I did decide that all the ways a Swashbuckler works sound and feel a lot like the typical media depiction of a Ronin and I'd like to explore that character. Although he's just a boring human half-elf :P
We will likely get more Tian Xia material with Fist of the Ruby Phoenix ap, but for now you could read Dragon Empires Gazetteer campaign setting book for 1e

Thanks! I should pick up that Adventure Path for the lore then, I hadn't heard of it. Is it out already or coming soon or..?


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There’s a pair of Tian Xia books for 1e, but unfortunately they’re... pretty dubious, compared to the representation strides 2e has made. I’m keen to see the region updated for 2e with the same care the new Mwangi material has been.

The Ruby Phoenix AP is three issues, monthly, starting in April.

If you’re looking for lore, that’s what the 2e Lost Omens line is for, and every book has been solid-to-great so far.

Dark Archive

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Dargath wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Dargath wrote:
P.S.S. This has nothing to do with anything at all but where can I read about Tian-Xia? Lost Omens World Guide? Maybe we could get a Tian-Xia world guide or something like the darklands book? I don't know anything about it, but I did decide that all the ways a Swashbuckler works sound and feel a lot like the typical media depiction of a Ronin and I'd like to explore that character. Although he's just a boring human half-elf :P
We will likely get more Tian Xia material with Fist of the Ruby Phoenix ap, but for now you could read Dragon Empires Gazetteer campaign setting book for 1e
Thanks! I should pick up that Adventure Path for the lore then, I hadn't heard of it. Is it out already or coming soon or..?

Its the one after Abomination Vaults, so next month's one basically. Though again, the info in it will likely be more about Goka specifically rather than Tian Xia in general. I do think we will likely eventually get Lost Omen book for Tian Xia, but when that is I have no idea.

Edit: Ah, got ninja'd x'D


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CorvusMask wrote:
keftiu wrote:

I like that the serpentfolk have a tie to the impressive scope of history of the setting; I can imagine they have a wild perspective on the ascendance of humans in the world, and that’s one I would love to be able to play out. In a lot of ways, life in the Inner Sea is defined by playing in the ashes of Azlant, and so I think the view from those they crushed to rise to that prominence is super fascinating.

Plus, I’m always gonna be opposed to “always evil” Ancestries, which a lot of this conversation feels like it sniffs at.

While serpentfolk culture is pretty evil, JJ agrees that they don't have to be all evil and there likely does exist good aligned ones.

But yeah, I do agree that conversation gets weird when posters start arguing "well there should be at least one civilization whose members are all nazis so you can use them as standard bad guys or just kill them without guilt!" <_< Like, fiends do basically already fill the "you can safely assume that genocide daemon is evil" niche, so I don't really know if in modern times we really should have "basically an ethnicity or mortal species whose all members happen to be evil"

A distressing number of folks see the trees (“it’s messed up to say you can kill all orcs and goblins!”) and not the forest (“it’s messed up to have /any/ born type of person be exclusively framed as guilt-free fodder for violence”) and it kills me.


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keftiu wrote:

There’s a pair of Tian Xia books for 1e, but unfortunately they’re... pretty dubious, compared to the representation strides 2e has made. I’m keen to see the region updated for 2e with the same care the new Mwangi material has been.

The Ruby Phoenix AP is three issues, monthly, starting in April.

If you’re looking for lore, that’s what the 2e Lost Omens line is for, and every book has been solid-to-great so far.

Then I will eagerly keep my eyes out for a Lost Omens Guide to Tian-Xia :D That would be cool. Especially since my DM has us in a fantasy Japan setting and I've been 3D Printing everything Japanese themed. I know Tian-Xia encompasses more than Fantasy Japan, and also isn't a 1 to 1 analogue, but I am excited about the region :D

I'm really starting to like the Lost Omens books. I bought some Lost Omens Gods & Magic, the Character Guide, the Ancestry Guide thus far. Since I got into Pathfinder Society I also bought the Lost Omens Pathfinder Society Guide.


keftiu wrote:
Plus, I’m always gonna be opposed to “always evil” Ancestries, which a lot of this conversation feels like it sniffs at.

So there are some things that make sense as always evil by default- outsiders who are made of the literal elemental essence of evil, mindless undead who are driven to lash out at whatever they see, and fundamentally alien entities like Mythos stuff and Aboleths.

I think the point of not giving PC rules for a serpentfolk ancestry is to underline that these are not simply snakey humans, they are in fact something greater and weirder.

Anything that can think and make decisions can be any alignment, but when something thinks and reaches decisions in a deeply unfamiliar and unusual manner. Like the reason we don't want to offer an algollthu ancestry is not "well, they don't get around that well out of water."

Which is not to say that we shouldn't have snakey people, they just probably shouldn't have direct ties to the ancient serpentfolk

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In case of Aboleths though, I think it goes further than having alien mind:

They are all basically mental clones of teach other, so when first primordial aboleth soup happened to be evil, all their descendants who inherited their memories and personality were evil as well :p


PossibleCabbage wrote:
keftiu wrote:
Plus, I’m always gonna be opposed to “always evil” Ancestries, which a lot of this conversation feels like it sniffs at.

So there are some things that make sense as always evil by default- outsiders who are made of the literal elemental essence of evil, mindless undead who are driven to lash out at whatever they see, and fundamentally alien entities like Mythos stuff and Aboleths.

I think the point of not giving PC rules for a serpentfolk ancestry is to underline that these are not simply snakey humans, they are in fact something greater and weirder.

Anything that can think and make decisions can be any alignment, but when something thinks and reaches decisions in a deeply unfamiliar and unusual manner. Like the reason we don't want to offer an algollthu ancestry is not "well, they don't get around that well out of water."

Which is not to say that we shouldn't have snakey people, they just probably shouldn't have direct ties to the ancient serpentfolk

But that insistence - “we just can’t hope to understand them” - is how you end up at “-and that’s why you’re always good to draw swords when you see one.”


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's worth pointing out that one of the Ten Magic Warriors is widely believed to have probably been a Serpentfolk. The notion of non-Evil Serpentfolk isn't outlandish in- universe, at least in some corners.


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As both a player and a dm I truly think it's ok to have some content reserved for the dm. Some of the toys aren't shared. I'm not going to let my players put in a homebrew mind flayer race in my 5e campaign......bc mindflayers are my toy, not theirs.

Liberty's Edge

Dargath wrote:
keftiu wrote:

There’s a pair of Tian Xia books for 1e, but unfortunately they’re... pretty dubious, compared to the representation strides 2e has made. I’m keen to see the region updated for 2e with the same care the new Mwangi material has been.

The Ruby Phoenix AP is three issues, monthly, starting in April.

If you’re looking for lore, that’s what the 2e Lost Omens line is for, and every book has been solid-to-great so far.

Then I will eagerly keep my eyes out for a Lost Omens Guide to Tian-Xia :D That would be cool. Especially since my DM has us in a fantasy Japan setting and I've been 3D Printing everything Japanese themed. I know Tian-Xia encompasses more than Fantasy Japan, and also isn't a 1 to 1 analogue, but I am excited about the region :D

I'm really starting to like the Lost Omens books. I bought some Lost Omens Gods & Magic, the Character Guide, the Ancestry Guide thus far. Since I got into Pathfinder Society I also bought the Lost Omens Pathfinder Society Guide.

The first edition Jade Regent AP has many antagonists based on Japanese tropes and spends its latter half in Tian Xia (before that is Viking country and Arctic land).

I believe there are several PFS scenarios set in Tian Xia.

Some other settings such as Rokugan and Kaidan are also based on japanese tropes.

Concerning Serpentfolk, I feel the antagonists of Kull (character from Robert E Howard, the father of Conan the Barbarian) are a big source of inspiration.

Ka nama kaa lajerama.

Silver Crusade

WWHsmackdown wrote:
As both a player and a dm I truly think it's ok to have some content reserved for the dm. Some of the toys aren't shared. I'm not going to let my players put in a homebrew mind flayer race in my 5e campaign......bc mindflayers are my toy, not theirs.

Mindflayer and Snek person aren’t quite the same thing though.

Also with Fleshwarped you can totally play a Mindflayer now anyway.

Scarab Sages

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Rysky wrote:
WWHsmackdown wrote:
As both a player and a dm I truly think it's ok to have some content reserved for the dm. Some of the toys aren't shared. I'm not going to let my players put in a homebrew mind flayer race in my 5e campaign......bc mindflayers are my toy, not theirs.

Mindflayer and Snek person aren’t quite the same thing though.

Also with Fleshwarped you can totally play a Mindflayer now anyway.

Serpentfolk aren't simply snake people the way catfolk and ratfolk are cat people and rat people. Serpentfolk's literary origin is in pulp fiction and horror (my earlier reference to Strange Aeons wasn't idle). The serpentfolk are more similar to mind flayers than they are to other "beastfolk" ancestries.

And a fleshwarp and a mindflayer are completely different.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Rysky wrote:
WWHsmackdown wrote:
As both a player and a dm I truly think it's ok to have some content reserved for the dm. Some of the toys aren't shared. I'm not going to let my players put in a homebrew mind flayer race in my 5e campaign......bc mindflayers are my toy, not theirs.

Mindflayer and Snek person aren’t quite the same thing though.

Also with Fleshwarped you can totally play a Mindflayer now anyway.

They're not the same looking and they have different powers, but they are intended to fill the same role in Pathfinder—that of a powerful underground-dwelling empire of creatures who are vaguely human in shape but for some animal elements.

The role serpentfolk play in the Darklands' ecosystem is very much a "replacement" for mind flayers, which we can't use. Intellect devourers play a part in that replacement role as well (and for sure are the ones who cover the brain-themed elements), but unlike intellect devourers, serpentfolk are something we picked up from old stories and then built up on our own rather than inheriting something brand new from D&D (aka, the intellect devourer), so it's more personally satisfying to expand their lore without worrying about what we do if we want to do something related with serpentfolk in a non-game thing like a novel or a comic or a movie or a video game or whatever.

We can't use mind flayers. But I do want Pathifnder to have a powerful, notable, easilly recognizable villain to dwell in its Darklands that packs something of the nostalgia element that mind flayers do. Serpentfolk were my choice for that illithid surrogate, which is 100% why I first introduced them to Pathfinder as one of the few new monsters in "Into the Darklands."

(Note that other monsters in there do the same thing. Morlocks let us have grimlocks. Seugathis kinda replace umber hulks. Urdefhans were an attempt to build something that could surrogate githyanki. Of the five new monsters in "Into the Darklands," only the vemerak is a wholly brand new critter, the only one I put in the book as something brand new to any setting.)

Silver Crusade

James Jacobs wrote:
Urdefhans were an attempt to build something that could surrogate githyanki.

Ooo...

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Rysky wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Urdefhans were an attempt to build something that could surrogate githyanki.
Ooo...

I've never quite said all of this out loud and in public, by the way, because I wanted to give those four a chance to settle into those roles for Pathfinder. It's been decades now though, and I feel like they have, so hopefully that helps folks understand why I've been hesitant to open up serpentfolk as PC ancestries (or morlocks, seugathis, and urdefhans, for that matter).


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I also want to note that there is a strong difference between "every society this species is in control of has strong to outright evil tendencies" and "every member of that species has strong to outright evil tendencies." The former is carteblanche to fight against those societal interests wherever you find them, the latter is carteblanche to be a racist to that species.

I don't think Paizo wanting to keep an ancestry as an alien, evil and unfamiliar societal entity by keeping them out of the hands of a player is any indication that they are promoting the latter thought. If PCs went around butchering every Serpentfolk they found without any prior justification, those players would be outright evil. Now it is up to Paizo to present that nuance if they ever do a Serpentfolk themed AP by presenting members of that species in the light of a regular* person living in a deeply problematic society (as to a certain extent we all do.)

*Though not necessarily human thought and value process centric.

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