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View Full Version : Pathfinder Jolethi: a Size-Shifting Quadrupedal Race



Ninjaxenomorph
2016-04-24, 12:15 AM
Don't have much time to do a fluff writeup, but basically, I had an idea for a campaign setting I'm working on with others, that of a quadruped (an idea someone had suggested) tiny (same guy a few weeks later suggested a tiny race) race. A visual description is a bit difficult at this point, but describing them as having both traits of canine, feline, and especially mustelids.

Jolethi Characters

Ability Score Racial Traits: Jolethi are not strong in frame, but are nimble in both mind and body. They gain +4 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, and -4 Strength.
Size: Jolethi are Tiny creatures, though they can change their size to Small at will (see Wild Change below). They gain a +2 size bonus to AC, -2 size penalty to their CMB and CMD, and a +8 size bonus on stealth checks.
Type: Jolethi are fey.
Base Speed: Jolethi have a base speed of 20 feet.
Low Light Vision: Jolethi can see twice as humans in conditions of dim light.
Wild Change: As a standard action, a jolethi can transform into a large version of themselves , and back again. Their size becomes Small, their speed changes to 40 feet, and any gear they are carrying also changes size, though if dropped it reverts to its normal size. In Small form, they gain a +2 size bonus to their Strength, and a -2 size penalty to their Dexterity. This is a supernatural ability.
Bite: Jolethi possess a bite attack that deals 1d3 points of damage in their Tiny form, 1d4 in their Small form.
Forest Runners: Jolethi always count Acrobatics and Survival as class skills.
Shifting Magic: Jolethi have an innate connection to transmutation magic. When Tiny, when casting spells of the transmutation school on creatures other than themselves, their caster level recieves a +2 bonus. When Small, this bonus instead applies to spells cast on themselves.
Quadruped: Jolethi are quadrupedal creatures. They must use unusual armor, and cannot use magic items intended for humanoids in many cases, at the GMs discretion. Their forepaws are prehensile, however, allowing wielding of objects. A jolethi carrying something one-handed treats normal terrain as difficult terrain, and difficult terrain as impassible. A jolethi using both its hands treats all terrain as impassible.
Languages: Jolethi begin play knowing Common and Sylvan. Joltehi with high Intelligence can choose from the following: Centaur, Draconic, Elven, Gnoll, Gnome, Halfling, and Harpy.

Any feedback/suggestions? Considering changing the creature type to magical beast, but fey has precedent in being a PF race type, plus its less powerful (don't want this race to get darkvision).

Digitalfruitz
2016-04-24, 04:37 PM
Seems pretty cool to me, with the quadruped rule what happens if they try to use a two handed weapon, or a light weapon?

Ninjaxenomorph
2016-04-24, 04:48 PM
As I stated. Using a weapon in one hand results in difficult terrain, two hands is impassible terrain. Or, move at half speed and can't move at all, respectively.

naitsirk117
2016-04-26, 09:34 PM
Could they hold something in their mouth? It might be neat if they got something for using their mouth like a hand to grasp weapons and such.

upho
2016-04-27, 03:01 PM
A visual description is a bit difficult at this point, but describing them as having both traits of canine, feline, and especially mustelids.Sounds as if they're awesomely cute! Do they come with thick silk soft fur in various odd colorful patterns, fey-style? A nice fluffy tail? Can I have one when you're done creating them? :smalltongue:


Considering changing the creature type to magical beast, but fey has precedent in being a PF race type, plus its less powerful (don't want this race to get darkvision).I think they're just fine as fey. In my mind the magical beast type wouldn't suit as well with their high Int, prehensile forepaws and, presumably, own highly developed culture.


Any feedback/suggestions?In general, I'm wary of races smaller than small or larger than large, basically because their size typically limits their number of viable build options considerably, while they easily become no-brainers for the build types that benefit from their unusual size. But of course it's not impossible to create a reasonable tiny race. More importantly in this case, it seems to me their issue with holding items and moving, especially combined with their tiny/small size, make their career options extremely limited. And that issue actually doesn't fit very well with some of their other bonuses:

Quadruped:A jolethi carrying something one-handed treats normal terrain as difficult terrain, and difficult terrain as impassible. A jolethi using both its hands treats all terrain as impassible.So if they're not going to rely solely on spells, they're limited to melee, and only using natural attacks or UAS, both of which have few viable class/build options and in many ways are considerably more nerfed by a smaller-than-medium size (and effective damage die size) than wielding manufactured weapons typically is. They do get a bite natively, but they're still very sub-par for anything melee, to some extent also because they'd need no less than three feats just in order to get their melee prowess up to the level where races with a Str-bonus start (ie Finesse, Deadly Agility, Agile Maneuvers).

If going for a class which can rely solely on spells, they're largely limited to polymorph shenanigans and/or a few divine full caster options in order to avoid additional feat investments or being hampered by their quadruped bodies again, since out-of-the-box they cannot even hold a rod and move at the same time.

Which brings us to the next problem:

Wild Change: As a standard action, a jolethi can transform into a large version of themselves , and back again. Their size becomes Small, their speed changes to 40 feet, and any gear they are carrying also changes size, though if dropped it reverts to its normal size. In Small form, they gain a +2 size bonus to their Strength, and a -2 size penalty to their Dexterity. This is a supernatural ability.

Shifting Magic: Jolethi have an innate connection to transmutation magic. When Tiny, when casting spells of the transmutation school on creatures other than themselves, their caster level recieves a +2 bonus. When Small, this bonus instead applies to spells cast on themselves.As written, it would be very difficult for them to benefit from their small-sized bonus to transmutation magic when casting polymorph spells on themselves, since they'd be unable to turn themselves into any shape larger than small size (magical size increases don't stack).

In short, I think they're a pretty cool idea but, unless I'm missing something, mechanically terrible in their current state. I think even giving them a good fly speed wouldn't be enough to compensate for their major weaknesses and lack of viable options build-wise. Though I wouldn't recommend that since it would just make them problematic during the earliest levels while they'd still be UP later on. Instead, I suggest you completely dump the whole movement limitation when holding items, or perhaps keep the difficult terrain part when they hold something in both front paws, if you also add a major mechanical boon. And of course I think you should add that Wild Change is an exception to the normal rules and stack with other magic size increases. These changes wouldn't make them OP in any way IMO.

And speaking of mechanical balance, I think it's worth remembering that the race creation system sucks as a balancing instrument (if you're concerned about increasing RP), and that all major Paizo races get plenty more than what is listed as their racial traits. These are pretty much the two main reasons why humans are so strong for all kinds of builds, despite their traits totalling a modest number of RP.

Ninjaxenomorph
2016-04-28, 10:24 AM
Sounds as if they're awesomely cute! Do they come with thick silk soft fur in various odd colorful patterns, fey-style? A nice fluffy tail? Can I have one when you're done creating them? :

I thought of them as looking more natural; definitely one of the more 'low-key' fey.

I think they're just fine as fey. In my mind the magical beast type wouldn't suit as well with their high Int, prehensile forepaws and, presumably, own highly developed culture.

I gave them an Int bonus both because this setting already has two Dex/Wis races and a Dex/Cha race, and I think it suited them to be clever, given their small stature.

In general, I'm wary of races smaller than small or larger than large, basically because their size typically limits their number of viable build options considerably, while they easily become no-brainers for the build types that benefit from their unusual size. But of course it's not impossible to create a reasonable tiny race. More importantly in this case, it seems to me their issue with holding items and moving, especially combined with their tiny/small size, make their career options extremely limited. And that issue actually doesn't fit very well with some of their other bonuses:
So if they're not going to rely solely on spells, they're limited to melee, and only using natural attacks or UAS, both of which have few viable class/build options and in many ways are considerably more nerfed by a smaller-than-medium size (and effective damage die size) than wielding manufactured weapons typically is. They do get a bite natively, but they're still very sub-par for anything melee, to some extent also because they'd need no less than three feats just in order to get their melee prowess up to the level where races with a Str-bonus start (ie Finesse, Deadly Agility, Agile Maneuvers).

Its not impossible for a race with strength penalties to strength to be strength-based; it's certainly easier tho compensate for a lower strength than a lower mental score. And, it's a race of tiny ferret-people, what do you expect?

If going for a class which can rely solely on spells, they're largely limited to polymorph shenanigans and/or a few divine full caster options in order to avoid additional feat investments or being hampered by their quadruped bodies again, since out-of-the-box they cannot even hold a rod and move at the same time.

They can move, but it's difficult terrain; not impossible. In addition, with tiny size, they could literally hang off another character and use spells. I feel the tactical options opened up by being naturally tiny compensates for any trouble they might have.

Which brings us to the next problem:

As written, it would be very difficult for them to benefit from their small-sized bonus to transmutation magic when casting polymorph spells on themselves, since they'd be unable to turn themselves into any shape larger than small size (magical size increases don't stack).

If I'm not mistaken, with the exception of Reduce/Enlarge Person (which doesn't work on them anyway) most polymorph spells specify what size you change to, which would overwrite their normal wild change bonuses and penalties. But yes, I will consider adding that other magical increases in size affect them as usual, if it would be able to affect them at all.

In short, I think they're a pretty cool idea but, unless I'm missing something, mechanically terrible in their current state. I think even giving them a good fly speed wouldn't be enough to compensate for their major weaknesses and lack of viable options build-wise. Though I wouldn't recommend that since it would just make them problematic during the earliest levels while they'd still be UP later on. Instead, I suggest you completely dump the whole movement limitation when holding items, or perhaps keep the difficult terrain part when they hold something in both front paws, if you also add a major mechanical boon. And of course I think you should add that Wild Change is an exception to the normal rules and stack with other magic size increases. These changes wouldn't make them OP in any way IMO.

And speaking of mechanical balance, I think it's worth remembering that the race creation system sucks as a balancing instrument (if you're concerned about increasing RP), and that all major Paizo races get plenty more than what is listed as their racial traits. These are pretty much the two main reasons why humans are so strong for all kinds of builds, despite their traits totalling a modest number of RP.


I was not using RP as a guideline, though I was using the book for certain language and the like.

Thanks for the feedback! I just annotated the quote, since I'm on mobile currently. I wanted to give them something that's tied to their forms; I was thinking at first Speak With Animals as an at-will SLA in tiny form and Magic Fang (greater?) at will on themselves in small form. But I don't think their possible classes are too limited; most non-martial casters are options, both alchemical classes (a feral mutagen alchemist jolethi would be terrifying regardless of what physical stat they used), and of course rogues. For feat and item support, I thinking about an item that functioned similar to an Amulet of Mighty Fists, but which functioned only for their bite attack; perhaps an alternate racial trait that replaced the skill thing with the ability to use a light weapon or a rod-equivalent without slowing down. Possibly another feat that changes Wild Size to changing to Medium with appropriate bonuses and penalties.

Hmm. What about giving them either Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat, or having a racial-specific 'Jolethi Finesse' that gives the benefits of weapon finesse along with the ability to carry an item in one hand and not count as difficult terrain?

ZippoMoon
2016-05-05, 02:09 AM
Look to Ponyfinder books by Silver Games they handled the weapon problem well with their fingerless rules.

D20pfsrd Link (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/races/3rd-party-races/silver-games)

Debihuman
2016-05-07, 09:18 AM
I like these a lot, and I'm not often a fan of new races. It's refreshing to see one so grounded.

How long can they remain in their larger size? It seems to be indefinitely.

Ninjaxenomorph
2016-05-11, 10:18 PM
Yes; its sorta like the skinwalker's thing, in that it's more of a 'mode' than an ability.