[Idea] Non-humanoid ancestry


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


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Hi there.

I like pathfinder a lot and I find it interesting to be able to play a bit of whatever you want, but I find that like many role-playing games, Pathfinder 2 is quite limited to humanoid characters.

So why not start innovating with non-humanoid characters and why not build gameplay around them as well?

Example I'm working on.

Warg Mechanics
Hit Points
10

Size
Medium

Speed
30 feet

Ability Boosts
Strength
Wisdom
Free

Ability Flaw(s)
Intelligence

Languages
Common
Goblin

Darkvision
You can see in darkness and dim light just as well as you can see in bright light, though your vision in darkness is in black and white.

Bite
Your sharp teeth and powerful jaws are fearsome weapons. You have a jaws unarmed attack that deals 1d6 piercing damage. Your jaws are in the brawling group.

Quadruped
Wargs can only manipulate objects with their mouths and are considered to have no hands. Any items they wield are considered untrained.

What do you think?


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Usually the game is limited to humanoid chars to avoid problems for items and other humanoid centric mechanics.

But we already have some non-humanoid ancestry that's Conrasu and also some shapeshifters like Anadi thats the real shape is a Spider, Leshys also don't have humanoid trait but usually they have humanoid shapes and Kisunes also have some fox shapes and if we include Battlezoo, we have Dragons!


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Yes, but we are still on a kind of "cheating" of characters who are not humanoid but have a humanoid form to be playable, and that's a bit what I deplore.

I actually have Battlezoo ancestry dragons, but again they have a humanoid "skeleton".

I find that the games are too thought out for each character to be independent and we lose too much of the "overall vision" aspect.


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Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Most poppets don't even have opposable thumbs! Yet they somehow get along just fine.


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I don't think you're going to see this gain much traction, at least not from Paizo.

Best case scenario is you'll get something that basically says "yeah, it doesn't have a normal bipedal shape but that would break things and make it really hard to play so instead here's something that will let you function like you did".


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I think the likeliest bet for something similar is a Winter Wolf ancestry, as they’ve been established to have a humanoid form. One of the main assumptions they’ve balanced the action economy around is having two hands; anything that tries to go over or under that pretty quickly runs into some snarls.

Which is a shame, because I’d love to be non-humanoid for an entire campaign.


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I think I'm going to create and offer some non-humanoid homebrew ancestry to change it up a bit, for casters it won't change much, but I like the idea of being able to play a Warg.


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I'm pretty sure (though I can't find it currently) that in Starfinder no matter what shape your character has, you effectively have two hands to carry or wield items with and you can get any stat list of armor built or adjusted to fit you for trivial cost.

We would probably need something like that in Pathfinder before we could go completely overboard on strange shaped ancestries.

Liberty's Edge

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You are going to NEED to start by solving the problem with Hands in a truly robust manner before you get started in earnest, period. There is perhaps one or two classes that can function as an adventurer even on a base level without having at LEAST two hands or something equivalent. The vast majority of all Character concepts simply cannot work AT ALL if they don't have at least 2 appendages that function and count as hands for all intents and purposes.

If you can't nail that down and provide for them to hold/equip/wield things then you're already starting with a completely doomed concept.


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Natsil wrote:

Quadruped

Wargs can only manipulate objects with their mouths and are considered to have no hands. Any items they wield are considered untrained.

This feature of the Warg ancestry is the big problem. It is a gigantic character disability. The warg cannot wield a sword, cannot use thieves' tools, and will need a special ruling to cast spells that require a free hand. Thus, most classes are half functional to the character. Non-humanoid creatures do not necessarily fit character classes designed for humanoids.

An existing semi-humanoid example is the strix. I care about that ancestry because one of my players played a marvelous strix character in a PF1 campaign and I cannot duplicated the low levels of that character in PF2. Strix are not exactly shaped like a humanoid, because they have wings. The 2nd-level Strix Kinmate from Bestiary 3 has fly speed 25 feet. In contrast, a 2nd-level strix PC can use his or her wings to jump an additional 5 feet. They buy other wing-related abilities with ancestry feats: Nestling Fall feat 1 prevents falling damage, Fledgling Flight feat 5 gives fly speed 10 feet with forced landing at end of turn, Juvenile Flight feat 9 gives 10 minutes of full-speed flight once a day, Wing Step feat 9 allows two Steps in one action, and Fully Flighted feat 13 finally gives flying at will. Paizo is very reluctant to let strix PCs use their non-humanoid wings until flying becomes routine for their level.

The eidolon of a summoner character is essentially a second character that can be non-humanoid. And we don't know whether an eidolon can use mundane items (January 2022 thread Eidolons and Items) so the question of whether they have hands with which to use items is lost in the shuffle.

Pathfinder 2nd Edition's main design theme was balance. The Paizo developers wanted high-level play to be as good a low-level play and they wanted to limit power builds. Thus, possibly broken abilities, such as flight, are very restricted. Likewise, they don't want players to build seriously underperforming characters either, such as a warg fighter with no ranged attacks to use against flying creatures.

I daydream that one day the Paizo developers will invent a comprehensive system for balancing non-humanoid physical features. Maybe they will publish a book All Characters Great and Small with lots of non-humanoid ancestries and the rules for dealing with them in a balanced way. In the meanwhile, we have to balance our homebrew.

Imagine that a 3rd-level party with a warg fighter PC is fighting a Flame Drake. Because the drake is a Moderate Threat 3, the warg fighter cannot sit on his haunches on the sidelines while the rest of the party fights the flying, fire-breathing creature. He needs to use his anti-flier abilities.

Modify the warg ancestry's jaws attack to include Grab ability like NPC wargs have. Then add that handless quadruped fighters qualify for the Leap of Opportunity fighter feat 1, that lets them make an attack of opportunity 15 feet away by making a Leap action first.

Leap of Opportunity [Reaction] Feat 1
Barbarian, Champion, Fighter, Magus, Swashbuckler
Prerequisites Attack of Opportunity, Handless Quadruped
Trigger A creature within 15 feet uses a manipulate action or a move action, makes a ranged attack, or leaves a square during a move action it’s using.
You leap at a foe that leaves an opening. Make a Leap and an unarmed melee Strike against the triggering creature. You can leap up to 10 feet into the air and you do not fall until after the Strike and any actions triggered by the Strike. If your attack is a critical hit and the trigger was a manipulate action, you disrupt that action. This Strike doesn’t count toward your multiple attack penalty, and your multiple attack penalty doesn’t apply to this Strike.
Special This counts as an attack of opportunity.

The flame drake intends to Fly above the party wizard, Strike with its Fangs, and then Fly away, mostly staying up above reach weapons but taking a final dive down to the wizard. But the drake flies 15 feet above the warg fighter who makes a Leap of Opportunity with his jaw attack. He hits and makes a Grab action before his weight pulls both of them to the ground. The drake has two actions left on its turn, so it Escapes and then Stands. It is still on the ground, so the warg can make more melee attacks against it on his turn.

A character that cannot use many standard humanoid abilities needs alternatives. The best flavor of those alternatives would be class-based rather than ancestry feats, which means a lot of groundwork. A warg wizard would need a separate set of alternatives for a creature that cannot write in a spellbook.


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Themetricsystem wrote:

You are going to NEED to start by solving the problem with Hands in a truly robust manner before you get started in earnest, period. There is perhaps one or two classes that can function as an adventurer even on a base level without having at LEAST two hands or something equivalent. The vast majority of all Character concepts simply cannot work AT ALL if they don't have at least 2 appendages that function and count as hands for all intents and purposes.

If you can't nail that down and provide for them to hold/equip/wield things then you're already starting with a completely doomed concept.

Conversely, you also need to figure out how to adjust versatility and power down if you are dealing with a possible ancestry with more than two hands. Many items and feats are balanced with the considerations of handedness in mind, requiring the player to budget their actions and loadout around how much time things take to juggle or retrieve.


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An example of a strange shaped ancestry that does work is the Hunter Automaton. Because it mentions that being quadrupedal is optional and that you can still use all equipment normally.

As a cool thing for a home game one-shot, a monstrous ancestry that can't use equipment could be fun. But I wouldn't have fun playing it long term. Maybe others would.


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Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Honestly, I'd be totally fine with the handedness remaining an issue and the developers slapping a rare tag on the ancestry, and making a sidebar warning GMs of some of the possible difficulties inherent in allowing such an ancestry in play.

I'm not playing a warg (or blink dog, or other bestial, non-humanoid creature) because I wanted to climb trees and dual-wield daggers and do the things any adventurer could do. I'm playing a warg because I wanted my character to BE a warg.

That being said, I would not mind some some partial work arounds, provided they make some sense. Perhaps allowing canine ancestries to use their paws for things like easy door latches, or their mouth to hold and manipulate a single one-handed item, or to be able to climb many vertical surfaces in the same manner as mountain goats, or to cast somatic components for their spells by moving their whole body as a "hand". I would not want a blink dog mutant with human hands or something equally silly--that defeats the purpose of playing a non-humanoid monster entirely.


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How about Skitter or some sort of ancestry from StarFinder


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I would appreciate some love for characters being able to do more in the alternate forms that Anadi and Kitsune receive, in addition to how much I would enjoy a Warg or Winter Wolf ancestry.


Handless Quadruped
Wargs can only manipulate objects with their mouths and are considered to have one hand. They can handle objects with one or two hands with their mouths. But they can still only wield one item at a time.
They can use their legs and mouth to cast spells with verbal or somatic components and replace material components with additional somatic components.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Hands aside...

Natsil wrote:

Hi there.

I like pathfinder a lot and I find it interesting to be able to play a bit of whatever you want, but I find that like many role-playing games, Pathfinder 2 is quite limited to humanoid characters.

So why not start innovating with non-humanoid characters and why not build gameplay around them as well?

Example I'm working on.

Warg Mechanics
Hit Points
10

Size
Medium

Speed
30 feet

Ability Boosts
Strength
Wisdom
Free

Ability Flaw(s)
Intelligence

Languages
Common
Goblin

Darkvision
You can see in darkness and dim light just as well as you can see in bright light, though your vision in darkness is in black and white.

Bite
Your sharp teeth and powerful jaws are fearsome weapons. You have a jaws unarmed attack that deals 1d6 piercing damage. Your jaws are in the brawling group.

Quadruped
Wargs can only manipulate objects with their mouths and are considered to have no hands. Any items they wield are considered untrained.

What do you think?

You kinda went overboard here. 30 foot speed, a natural weapon, 10 hit points, Darkvision is just the best of all ancestries. The fact that it also has optimal melee ability boosts/flaws doesn't help. An Orc would need to spend its heritage to get the natural weapon and would still wind up slower.

The lack of hands is really the only downside to using this ancestry.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Natsil wrote:

Handless Quadruped

Wargs can only manipulate objects with their mouths and are considered to have one hand. They can handle objects with one or two hands with their mouths. But they can still only wield one item at a time.
They can use their legs and mouth to cast spells with verbal or somatic components and replace material components with additional somatic components.

How do staffs and wands work if they have their mouth full?


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
Natsil wrote:

Handless Quadruped

Wargs can only manipulate objects with their mouths and are considered to have one hand. They can handle objects with one or two hands with their mouths. But they can still only wield one item at a time.
They can use their legs and mouth to cast spells with verbal or somatic components and replace material components with additional somatic components.
How do staffs and wands work if they have their mouth full?

With great care.


I was under the impression that a Leshy, Conrasu, or Poppet PC was under no obligation to be humanoid.

Since Pathfinder no longer has item slots, you no longer necessarily benefit from "having feet". You just need to figure out with the GM how you would wield whatever it is you need to be wielding.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Laclale♪ wrote:
How about Skitter or some sort of ancestry from StarFinder

There is a minor lore problem to deal with: How did they get from the Veskarium to the Golarion solar system?

Of course, given the existence of such races as Androids and Kasathas in PF1, this problem of aliens from outside the solar system reaching Golarion before the Gap is not totally unsolvable.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Since Pathfinder no longer has item slots, you no longer necessarily benefit from "having feet". You just need to figure out with the GM how you would wield whatever it is you need to be wielding.

Instead of item slots 2e now has "Usage slots."

These are all the 2e slots I've been able to find so far.

- anklets
- armbands
- armor
- backpack
- barding (for companion creatures)
- belt
- belt pouch
- bracelet (note that slotless bracelets also appear to exist)
- bracers
- circlet
- cloak
- collar (usually, but not always for companion creatures)
- epaulet
- eyepiece
- garment
- gloves
- hand (typically used for things that can be worn over gloves, such as gauntlets)
- headwear
- horseshoes (for companion creatures)
- mask
- necklace (note that slotless necklaces also appear to exist)
- saddle (for companion creatures)
- shoes
- wrists (for things that can be worn over armbands or bracers, such as manacles)

Rings, necklaces, amulets, broaches, and other small pieces of jewelry tend to be slotless it would seem. Tattoos can also be considered slotless magical items, of a sort.

(But what about PANTS!? :P )

Good luck wearing magical shoes with no feet or toes.

EDIT: Here are the full rules for Usage worn items.

Usage rules, Core Rulebook 535:
An item’s stat block includes a Usage entry that indicates whether a character must be holding or wearing the item in order to use it, or whether she instead must have it etched or affixed onto another item.

Held or Worn

If a character must wield the item to use it, this entry in the item’s stat block lists the word “held” along with the number of hands the character must use when wielding the item, such as “held in 1 hand.” The rules for carrying and using items are provided on page 271.

An item that needs to be worn to function lists “worn” as its usage. This is followed by another word if the character is limited to only one of that type of item. For instance, a character can wear any number of rings, so the entry for a ring would list only “worn.” However, if the Usage entry were “worn cloak,” then a character couldn’t wear another cloak on top of that one. It’s assumed that items are meant to be worn by humanoids; any item that can or must be worn by a different type of creature either states this in its description or has the companion trait. Most magic items a character must wear have the invested trait, as described on page 531.

One could easily argue that a non-humanoid creature couldn't wear ANY magical items with the Worn tag unless it was specified in the item's description.


Well, it's already possible to have a PC who looks like this. I feel like this means the GM either needs to figure out what stuff you can wear, and make sure the treasure piles contain more of that and fewer gloves and anklets.


If a conrasu plays with the humanoid template, so can a warg.


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

Yea. I think it's mostly the settings that limit that type of stuff, rather than the game rules. If you play in a setting where it's totally normal to be a warg, then you can definitely come up with a mechanic that covers it.

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