View Full Version : Pathfinder Giving flavor to the Races

2016-10-21, 06:40 AM
Hi, everyone!

I've been working for a while on a campaign I'm going to be running next year, based on the premise that all D&D worlds are actually post-apocalyptic worlds, I'm cutting out the middle man and setting the apocalypse about 23 years ago instead of 1000 or 5000 years ago. Along with all the new gods still figuring out how to be gods, and upended physics, and mutations, I'm digging into the races involved. It's all based around this one city which survived the apocalypse and the massive infestations of kobolds that came afterwards, having races which traditionally are enemies having to work together to survive.

The primary five races of this new city are: Elves(plus drow), Halflings, Humans, Orcs, and Ratfolk. There's also minority races (no more than a few dozen) of Dwarves and Gnomes, and a few hundred Half-Elves and Half-Orcs (more the former than the latter). Aasimar and Tieflings, born of the old gods before they disappeared, are an important part of the setting. I'm also including basic mutations in the form of Fetchlings, Ifrit, Oread, Sylph, Undine, and Skinwalkers, with a large willingness to custom-make a Mutant race for anyone who wants something not included there.

That being said, I was looking over those main five races. And I know the groans you'll already be making, but I was looking at the 'Race Points' that Pathfinder provides for very, very general 'rule of thumb' in building races. Now, before you tell me how bad it is - I know. It needs to be taken with a HUGE grain of salt. Just for starters, any set of building rules that generic is going to contain massive potential for minmaxing - it's the same problem as superhero rule sets. To have the potential for that much creativity, you need to apply a healthy dose of 'GM said no' in order to keep it from getting out of hand. That being said, I've always felt like Dwarves and Elves had a lot MORE to them than other races - and confirmation bias, RP supports that. It's not so much the numbers - I feel like in the end, race has very little to do with how powerful a character is by the time you get to, say, level 3 or 5 or so. It's more to do with flavor.

That being said - I want to toss out the changes I made to races and could folks please let me know if they see anything that I may have overlooked or problems I may be introducing? This is a seaside city, and a lot of their culture is based on their mixed history of pirates and merchant navies. Long considered a 'Human and Halfling' city, the elves and orcs are newcome to this place. The ratfolk were always there, and more came with the other races - but no one ever counts ratfolk in the census, especially not in a harbor town. I'll cut out the several pages of fluff text and just throw these at you.


For elves, I didn't really change much. I just mixed three different sets of alternate racial traits straight from the books, and said, "Here's some fluff text, and these are the alternate racial traits that goes along with it." That being said, the society of forest-dwelling elves based on druids instead of wizards, I replaced the elven +int with a +wis. Also, Drow are just elves with different alternate racial traits - they lost most of their drow-ness in the years away from the dark energies deep below the earth which gave them those traits in the first place.


Additional Racial Trait:

Krakenport Sailor: Halflings from Krakenport have a +1 racial bonus on climb checks, and can remove up to 2 points of penalties to climb checks from bad weather.

Alternate Racial Traits:

Lucky Survivor: Halflings who did not grow up in Krakenport these days had to make their way through the wasteland and chaotic, unstabalized landscape for years. They gain a +1 racial bonus on survival checks, and can remove up to 2 points of penalties to survival checks based on destabilized physics. This racial trait replaces Krakenport Sailor.


Additional Racial Trait:

Krakenport Swindler: The humans who grew up in Krakenport have it as part of their mixed heritage to put one over on the navy from one side of their family, and resist the swindling from the other side. Both merchants and thieves have one thing in common: a quick mouth and quick wit, and the ability to recognize the same in others. Gain a +1 racial bonus on bluff and sense motive checks having to do with buying and selling objects, or otherwise making something out to be more valuable than it is.

Alternate Racial Traits:

Local Survivor: Humans who did not grow up in Krakenport these days had to make their way to the city through difficult terrain and miserable conditions, scrounging for supplies wherever they could. Gain a +1 racial bonus on Perception checks in ruins, and a +1 racial bonus on Use Magic Device checks for minor magical items.


For orcs, I really felt like the given rules were missing something... orcs seem inherently a race without nearly as much going for it, but I feel like they should have something to improve their ability to do things together. An orc by himself - eh. An orc with other orcs - scary. So I decided that based on tribe, I'd give orcs a racial teamwork feat, which reflects that feeling nicely, I feel.

Additional Racial Trait:

Tribal Mindset: Orcs gain the 'Horde Charge' feat, even if you do not match the prerequisites.

Alternate Racial Traits:

(Note: All Tribe Racial Traits replace the Tribal Mindset racial trait)

Stained Bundled Sticks Tribe: This tribe gains their name from the journey and losses that forged them. All members of the Sticks have lost family, tribes, possessions, and lands. Stubbornly, they refuse to just lay down and die, and will do whatever it takes to survive together. Members of the Stained Bundled Sticks gain the 'Coordinated Maneuvers' feat.

Whispers Under the Flesh Tribe: For this tribe, shamans are highly respected as a part of their life, and something to be aspired to their spirit magic not some sort of shortcut to power, but instead a reward of strength as the shamans wrestle the natural world into submission. Members of Whispers Under the Flesh gain the 'Shielded Caster' feat.

Voices Raised in Song Tribe: This tribe believes in the strength of an orc in himself, two feet on the ground with a weapon in his hands. They take pride in their songs of war, the beauty of hundreds of voices raised in a single chant to the drumbeat of hundreds of footsteps. Members of Voices Raised in Song gain the 'Basic Harmony' feat, even if you do not match the prerequisites.

We Who Take From Your Throat Tribe: This tribe is a fierce warrior clan who believe in the glory of mounted combat. They ride a specially bred giant dog they call ruchdan-cu, or "Gutteral Throat Clearing Dog," which humans call "Orcish War Hounds." Members of We Who Take Your Throat gain the 'Pack Flanking' feat.

Krakenport Citizens Tribe: Earning the scorn of the One-and-many Tribes, these orcs have decided to join the 'Krakenport' human tribe, for one reason or another vowing to make this their new tribelands, and defend it to their death. Orcish Citizens of Krakenport gain the 'Got Your Back' feat, even if you do not match the prerequisites.


For ratfolk, the main thing running through my head is "Rats are quick as heck, why do they have a slow base speed?"

Changes to Race:

A ratfolk has a 30 ft base speed, not a 20 ft base speed.

Alternate Racial Traits:

Krakenport Wharf Rat: Krakenport ratfolk are more at home in the water than on land, but don't particularly have a love for other rodents they like cats a lot more. Gain a standard swim speed of 30 feet and the standard +8 racial bonus on swim checks. However, your base speed drops to 20 ft. This trait replaces Rodent Empathy.

Fae Rat: Some ratfolk aren't native to Krakenport, but came in with the elves. They grew up in the cracks of a society that only cared about magic, so they got used to faking it. Gain a +2 racial bonus on Knowledge(arcana), Sleight of Hand, and Use Magic Device checks. This trait replaces Tinker.

War Rat: Some ratfolk aren't native to Krakenport, but came in with the orcs. They got used to pretty harsh conditions, being treated as slaves and practice targets. The best way to survive the orcs was to not be seen by them unless they were being useful. Gain a +2 racial bonus on Intimidate, Stealth, and Craft(Butcher) checks. This trait replaces Tinker.

Feral Rat: Some ratfolk had to survive out in the wild since the Shattering, and even survived the kobold wars, before finally coming to Krakenport. Gain a +2 bonus on Knowledge(nature), Perception, and Survival checks. This trait replaces Tinker.

Sea Rat: Ratfolk sailors love the sea it's not just a job, it's their life and their dreams and they only stay on shore as long as it takes to do business so they can get back on the boat. Gain a +2 racial bonus on Profession(Sailor), Climb, and Swim checks. This trait replaces Tinker.