Posted on February 18, 2013
Title to be decided when I can make it witty, but not super-offensive.
After going over the other classes available to players in Pathfinder, I thought I’d go over the other races available too. Some of them are other species… but some of them are just other races, this is a problem fantasy settings have had for a while and it is a confusion the genre shares with some of the more outlandish racist philosophies. So yay!
The bulk of the alternate “races” are all about racial admixture; what your grandmother used to call miscegenation and then everyone would look embarrassed until someone started a conversation about how the potatoes were great, weren’t they, very creamy, great job grandma. Most of the races are human + something else, suggesting that humans are some kind of blank canvas that anything can jizz across and create some new species.
Halflings, gnomes and dwarves don’t appear to be able to interbreed with humans (because you know if it could happen, it would happen), but elves and orcs can, so I assume that any of the half-human new races could also be created with elves or orcs.
I mention all of this only because Paizo doesn’t really. They do have to go over how half-orcs are made in the main rulebook, but I guess if you don’t want to have too many discussions of exactly how much rape there is in the game you are pitching at 13 and up, that stuff gets brushed up pretty quick. The most they talk about is the preconceived notions Joe Golarion will have about your weird heritage. So how does an earth elemental get it on with a human? We don’t know and it is best never to think about it.
So I combed over the new races, both their flavour and their mechanics. The flavour is important, I think, because it covers how other people react to your race as well as some very strong recommendations for character traits (small t).
The mechanics are harder to assess, since there is no vanilla. Humans may be the default, most populous race, but even they get some boosts at character creation (extra feat, extra skills, +2 on whatever they want). The other races tend to have a similar package: Two good stats, one bad stat, some passive check bonuses, some skill bonuses, some proficiencies and some kind of darkness mitigation. We can see that most of the following races/species have the same deal.
I also rated the races/species by how excited I would be to see them as PCs from 1 (Jesus christ, why?) to 10 (I would have been fine with them being in from the start).
So anyway, here they are, some new races, some new species:
You know what Drow are. I was kind of glad that there weren’t any Drow on Golarion when I first cracked open Pathfinder. Turns out there were, they were just hiding. Just as Dwarves and Gnomes have a different kind of background on Golarion (Dwarves don’t tunnel into the earth on Golarion, they tunneled out of it/Gnomes aren’t cackling tinkerers, but weird adrenaline-junkie exiles) the backstory to the Elves and Drow is a little bit different. Sensing the rise of mankind and an approaching catastrophe, the Elves left Golarion. Just left, went away. Leaving behind a remnant of their race that grew embittered and malicious as they struggled through the next few – very difficult – millenia. Then the Elves came back once mankind had managed to get over its savage phase.
The Drow eventually start making their way back into Golarion’s lore, albeit slowly. One good thing is that during the first three adventure paths Paizo made, you weren’t even allowed to play a Drow, which cut down on the number of misunderstood outcasts who were the one in a million Drow who wanted to do good in the world by being tragic and kewl. You know when Batman isn’t just punching guys or schmoozing as Bruce Wayne, but having deep internal conflicts about whether or not Gotham needs blah blah blah. That’s the Drow PC, all the god damn time. Fuck the Drow and fuck everyone who plays them.
Good: +2 Dex, +2 Cha; crossbow, rapier and shortsword proficiency; immune to Sleep effects, +2 vs Enchantment, Spell Resistance 6+Lvl, +2 Perception, Dancing lights x1 day, Faerie fire x1 day, Darkness x1 day, Poison Use, Double distance darkvision.
Bad: -2 Con, Dazzled in bright light (-1 attacks and perception), blinded for the first round of bright light; you must tell everyone about your character, all the damn time.
How excited I would be to see a Drow PC: 1/10
Except this guy.
A staple of 3e D&D, Aasimars and their diabolic counterparts, the Tieflings, represent a half-human, half-celestial being. Maybe not even half and half, you only need a drop of Aasimar in your lineage to be one.
There is no real drawback to being an Aasimar, although they did bump the benefits down from 3rd edition. Still, they’re beautiful, thoughtful people that other people want to be around and they make great social characters.
From something Paizo did really nothing with to something they put a lot of effort into – Goblins. Iconic in part down to how much they like doodling them, I think the Goblins are included just because they look great and everyone associates this particular iteration with Pathfinder.
Goblins are vicious little pyromaniac bastards, who scavenge at the fringes of civilisation, terrified of lots of stuff and violently hating everything they are terrified of… They have a sense of humour which is cruel and will typically go one step more horrifying than you think it should. It is hard not to feel for them though, because they are the worm that turns – weaker than everything else, they get pushed around and pushed around until there are enough of them that they suddenly strike back, with overwhelming and reckless savagery.
Good: +4 Dex, Small, 30ft’, +4 Ride and Stealth, Darkvision; you have your choice of character portraits, that’s for damn sure.
Bad: -2 Str, -2 Cha, Small
How excited I would be to see a Goblin PC: 2/10
Orcs are Klingons taken to their logical conclusion. What always bothered me about the Klingons was that it all seemed like bluster: They all wear uniforms, so someone had to make them, some one had to decide on a design and someone had to design them. None of that seems like particularly Klingon behaviour – sitting around in a committee, poring over uniform designs, but that’s only because Klingons must be – must be – full of shit about how warrior-like they are. They go on and on about being warriors, but when everyone is a warrior nothing gets fucking done. Small armies of well supplied Redcoats/Romans/US Army rolled up the Zulus/Gauls/Apaches because back home, there were people stitching together quality footwear and churning out water canteens and weapons and drying food for the winter, whereas the Zulus/Gauls/Apaches stuck with being individually badass and collectively fragile.
This is going to happen to Orcs man. As soon as someone gets organised enough, these badasses are going to be confined to history’s dustbin. In the mean time, they’re bullies, abusers, slavers and rapists, working to be as lazy as possible off the battlefield by exerting their aggression on anyone they can. That’s a weak basis for an ongoing culture, Orcs, I’m just saying. History is not on your side.
Good: +4 Str, only Staggered below 0hp, not unconscious, greataxe and falchion proficiencies.
Bad: -2 Wis, -2 Int, -2 Cha. Dazzled by bright sunlight (-1 attacks and perception); you have to go around and introduce yourself to the neighbours as a sex offender whenever you move into a new part of town and – crucially – not rape any of them.
How excited I would be to see an Orc PC: 2/10
How excited I would be to watch all the rest of the party members come up with a standard response/apology for the Orc: 6/10
The good thing about playing an Orc is that you will never, ever, be stuck for a miniature.
The last of the goblinoid races covered are the Hobgoblins. The hobgoblins have addressed almost all the issues that I mentioned with the Orcs. They are militaristic, sure, but in a more ordered way, they’re a functioning society in a state of total war. This is what happens when goblinoids go Lawful. They live in tyrannies, with the general at the top and his will imposed on his hobgoblin subjects who then impose that on their slaves. They have no time for most pursuits outside of warfare and while not innately evil tend strongly towards an evil outlook on the world due to their upbringing. And since they are innately lawful, they’re not going to rock that boat.
They tend not to bother with magic-using classes, preferring melee variants of the other classes.
I like Hobgoblins as an evil race because they’re not your usual chaotic berserker enemies. I am kind of bummed that they aren’t orange any more, I kind of liked the orange-skinned Hobgoblins.
Good: +2 Dex,+2 Con, +4 Stealth, Darkvision.
Bad: Nothing, that’s right, there is 0 draw back to being a Hobgoblin. Except not being orange any more.
How excited I would be to see a Hobgoblin PC: 8/10
Aww, was the orange skinned Hobgoblin that way just because the Spiderman character was as well? Boooooooo.
You know, since Koboldicide is pretty much the bread and butter of the D&D game, it is kind of amazing that these guys have never received a susbstantial rewrite after the whole “Kobolds serve Dragons” backstory was added. Kobolds used to just be helpful Teutonic fairies, but somewhere along the line they became to lizard-like servitors of the Draconic races. I’m not sure why dragons need a dedicated servitor race – surely “Anyone who doesn’t want burned to death” is a deep pool to draw diverse servants from.
Paizo Kobolds seethe with resentment against a) everyone and b) themselves for being on the thin end of the Draconic stick while their mighty cousins are at the top. So they do what everyone with that much resentment does, they over-compensate hard when they can and they bend the knee when they can’t. Kobolds would be kind of interesting as party members because they’d be driven to prove themselves over and over, just to show everyone that they are the best. So, like any Bard character, basically.
Good: +2 Dex, Small, 30′ Move, +1 AC, +2 Craft (Traps) Perception and Profession (Miner), Darkvision; they’re warm blooded lizards, I guess?
Bad: -4 Str, -2 Con, Small, Dazzled by bright sunlight (-1 attacks and perception); may be accidentally slaughtered by passing parties of 1st level NPC adventurers.
How excited I would be to see a Kobold PC: 8/10
I don’t know what this game this is from, but I would play it.
The Ratfolk are native to plains areas and travel in trade caravans, although they can also be found in tightly-knit communities in and around human settlements. They’re polite and sociable, preferring to spend time with other polite and sociable races. They’re not much concerned with the acquisition of wealth as they are the acquisition of cool stuff. They are compulsive hoarders and traders as well as skilled mechanical tinkerers and I CAN’T GET THE SKAVEN OUT OF MY HEAD.
On one hand, its great news that Games Workshop have been churning out plastic miniatures for this fringe race for years (you can buy hundred different ratmen for every miniature of a dwarven woman that any one miniature company makes), on the other hand, I can’t not think of the disease spreading, backstabbing, chemical warfaring Skaven. Of these two variations on rat-men one was definitely based on a class pet and the other based on the thing that bit your sister when she went to get her bike out of the garage.
This is the first of three races that are really just anthropomorphic versions of an existing animal, which is a super lazy way of coming up with new races. Still, there isn’t anything here that is egregiously bad.
Good: +2 Dex, +2 Int, Small, +2 Craft (alchemy) Perception and Use Magic Device; Swarming, 2 ratfolk can occupy the same square and will count as flanking if they attack the same opponent. Darkvision. Plenty of miniature choices.
Bad: -2 Str, Small, +4 Handle Animals (Rodents)…. seriously.
How excited I’d be to see a Ratfolk PC: 6/10
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? You had to.
As I mentioned, just making a race a out of an animal-made-manshaped is lazy and choosing the coolest animals seems like lazy fan service for absolutely the worst people. Tigers are the coolest fucking animals on the planet. They’re the best. They’re amazing. If you make the tiger walk upright, it stops being an amazing tiger and starts being just another bipedal douchebag. And it brings up stupid integration problems between animal and humanoid form: like, what’s with the tits? Cats have eight sets of mammary glands and no breasts – breasts are peculiar to human women, mammary glands are universal to female mammals. So how did this process work whereby Catfolk evolved to lose 6 nipples and gain two pointless fat bags?
Speaking of pointless fat bags, you know this is going to lead to some weird furry shit… my disdain is severe and unyielding for this species.
Despite the poor Wisdom, catfolk are fine with being monks, but stay away from any devotion to a cause.
Look at these fucking things. If those were ANY kind of cats, they’d be tearing that Snarf thing’s back legs off and then letting it try to escape before flipping it up in the air and torturing it some more. Cats don’t laugh at the antics of smaller creatures unless those antics involve fighting for its life.
Good: +2 Dex, +2 Cha, +2 Perception, Stealth and Survival, +10′ to Charge, Run, or Withdraw, Low Light Vision, reroll Reflex saves 1x day. Catfolk regard Ratfolk as vermin, which is funny.
Bad: -2 Wis, you are never able to clean that spot just beneath your chin, but it won’t stop you from trying, to the laughter of everyone around. Also when you fail a roll, you have to – have to – pretend you meant to do that. Also, Daylight spells should function as Sleep spells for Catfolk. Good luck finding a miniature.
How excited I’d be to see a Catfolk PC: 2/10
Okay, here is an Anthropomorph that I actually like: the Tengu. The Tengu are taken from Japanese mythology and the Japanese are kind of crappy at making up creatures. What’s menacing Tokyo today? A giant Moth? How will we scare it away? A giant Crab? Okay guys.
But way back before they focussed all their efforts on making everything in the world simultaneously cute and creepy, they came up with the Tengu. It started off as a Chinese monster that was a maneating dogfaced comet. THAT is how you make up a fantastical creature. But in Japan it became a half-bird half-man, then just a guy with a beak and then just a guy with a big nose. The Paizo version selectively dips into these various permutations and gives us something that looks like a bipedal crow. Is it covered in feathers? Yes! Can it fly? No! So why have feathers? We don’t know!
Tengu are vain, deceitful, compulsively thieving, shallow assholes. That said… nope, that’s it. They’re not evil, they are just really difficult to get along with. They are skilled linguists and mimics, handy with blades of any kind and though earth-bound, fly vicariously through kites, which they enjoy flying and use as signal devices.
Good: +2 Dex, +2 Wis; All swords and sword-like weapon proficiency; +4 linguistics and learn twice as many languages with linguistics, Bite attack that does 1d3 damage, Low light vision, when you lose a part member in combat everyone gets sad, but you get dinner!
Bad: -2 Con, on account of the hollow bones.
How excited I am to see a Tengu PC: 10/10
So I guess that’s better than just being a guy with a dildo nose.
Good: +2 Wis, +2 Cha, elemental resistances, +2 Diplomacy, +2 Perception, Daylight 1x day, Darkvision.
Bad: Nothing, they are semi-celestial, pay attention.
How excited I’d be to see an Aasimar PC: 9/10
Tieflings are the result of humans getting it on with fiends. Or more rape. Or Faustian bargains. This doesn’t happen all the time, but like Aasimars, it only takes one kink in the family tree to make offspring generations hence Tieflings. Despite their fiendish heritage, Tieflings – like Aasimar – have the capacity to choose their own way in life, so they aren’t necessarily bound for evil, but try telling the school board that. Distrusted and reviled where the Aasimar are accepted and praised, Tieflings make ideal adventurers, although they do fit in well with the other outcast races (half-elves, half-orcs) and, perhaps counter-intuitively, Aasimars. Tieflings are pretty much the only way to make unlikeable Sorcerors too. All the horns and so in is really just window dressing, it has no particular game impact other than scaring peasants.
Good: +2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Cha doesn’t count against Abyssal/Infernal bloodline Sorceror class requirements etc, elemental resistances, +2 Bluff, +2 Stealth, Darkness 1x day, Darkvision.
Bad: -2 Cha
How excited I’d be to see a Tiefling PC: 10/10
Oh, come on. Half-Vampire, Half-Human, those are Dhampirs. This seems like more fan service because I really don’t think we need these at all. They are statuesque and alluring individuals, who scare the shit out of everyone. Nobody really likes them. They hate the living and almost always succumb to their evil heritage.
Good: +2 Dex, +2 Cha, +2 vs Disease & Mind Affecting Spells, no penalties to Energy Drain, recovers easily from negative levels. +2 Diplomacy, +2 Perception, Detect Undead x3, Low light and darkvision.
Bad: -2 Con, Dazzled by bright sunlight (-1 attacks and perception). Treated as undead for the purposes of cure spells etc.
How excited I am to see a Dhampir PC: 1/10
No sensible person would spend time with them.
Planar-kin are half-human, half-elemental, often the result of Genies including one clause more in a bargain than someone accounted for. The five planes that interact in this way are Shadow (Fetchlings), Earth (Oreads), Water (Undines), Air (Sylphs) and Fire (Ifrits). Of all of the races in the Advanced Race Guide thing, the elemental planar kin seem the least inspired, even lazier than the animal-men. The Fetchlings are an exception to this, as they were originally humans that were forced to the plane of Shadow and adapted to life there. Now they often work as emissaries between the two planes.
Good: +2 Dex, +2 Cha, +2 Know (Planes) & Stealth, Increased miss chance when they are attacked in dim light, elemental resistances, Disguise Self and the some other free spells at later levels, Low light and darkvision.
Bad: -2 Wis
Good: +2 Str, +2 Wis, Elemental Resistance (Acid), Magic Stone x1 day, Darkvision, +1 Caster level for Earth domain spells + powers.+2 Cha for Sorceror purposes which just puts you on a level peg, +1 Caster level for Earth domain spells + powers.
Bad: -2 Cha, 20′ Move.
Good: +2 Dex, +2 Wis, Elemental Resistance (Cold), Hydraulic Push x1 day, Darkvision, +1 Caster level for Water domain spells + powers; +2 Cha for Sorceror purposes, +1 Caster level for Water domain spells + powers.
Bad: – 2 Str
Good: +2 Dex, +2 Cha, Elemental Resistance (Fire), Burning Hands x1 day, Darkvision, +1 Caster level for Fire domain spells + powers; +2 Cha for Sorceror purposes, +1 Caster level for Fire domain spells + powers.
Bad: -2 Wis
Good: +2 Dex, +2 Int, Elemental Resistance (Electricity), Feather Fall x1 day, Darkvision, +1 Caster level for Air domain spells + powers; +2 Cha for Sorceror purposes, +1 Caster level for Air domain spells + powers.
Bad: -2 Con