Paths Not Taken: Initial Thoughts on Race

Living Document: Ancestries

Pathfinder first edition has races, second edition has ancestries. To my mind they are fundamentally the same thing, but the implementation is different.

First edition races are reasonably close to the D&D 3.x races. You get some abilities at character creation and and that’s mostly it. Unless you pick a class archetype, feats, or prestige class specific to your race, the only thing that scales with level is your favored class option, if you consistently take levels in your favored class. I will admit quite happily I am not a fan of the implementation of favored class options.

Second edition ancestries are closer to what I’d like to see from races. You have the ancestry itself, which is basically the inherited aspects of your character, and you pick a heritage that provides another layer of aspects that are similar to, but not the same as, ethnicity or culture, and includes some mechanical effects. Unlike first edition, every four levels (first, fifth, etc.) you get an ancestry feat.

I like the split between physical and social aspects of a character’s background, and I have always wanted background to have a greater influence on a character’s abilities. I loved that the Dawnforge setting explicitly increased a character’s racial abilities as the character gains levels. I’d like to see if I can do something similar.

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