Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The design behind my "Thematic Races"


Thank you for the feedback regarding my “Thematic and Simple” versions of Pathfinder Core Rulebook races.

First, it’s now clear that they aren’t simple. I guess that’s in part due to my lack of skills with English and text organization. Anyway, I’m editing the previous posts titles to “Thematic Pathfinder Races”. I hope to better edit them in the future (maybe a PDF, never did one before).

The basic idea/principles behind these alternate race rules are:
  • Remove the racial modifiers and all those numbers and minutiae. This is really just my opinion and there isn’t anything wrong with the Pathfinder. I just don’t like all those +1 or +2, or various circumstantial modifiers.
  • However, I do like Rerolls or D&D 5E’s Advantage/Disadvantage. I also love to use dice as modifiers (like DCC RPG, Cortex or Alternity). Rolling dice is fun!
  • I like FATE’s original design philosophy which postulates that you don’t need abilities that are mechanically constant (Aspects came originally from this I guess). What I want at my table are racial traits that – once activated – give the spotlight to player’s race of choice. At that moment, the mechanic should make a difference.

Thus, I removed all modifiers and little mechanical bonuses. I tried to exchange them for daily rerolls or similar traits.

Each race now basically gives you this:
  • 4 Beneficial Traits (1 of which you can choose).
  • 1 Detrimental Trait.

The Detrimental Trait works almost like a FATE’s Aspect (if you know FATE then you can see the Detrimental Trait as a sort of “specific Aspect”, one that can only be activated negatively). The idea of the Detrimental Trait is to showcase a specific racial “flaw” and to grant a new daily use of another racial trait (I find it more interesting than a boring -2 to some Ability Score). It’s a rule that does requires cooperation between the GM and the Player.

Explanations given (I hope), this is your basic racial traits for a 1st level Elf Ranger:

 Keen Senses.
 Elven Soul.
Nimbleness.
 Elven Fighting Style.
 Frail Form (detrimental Trait).

A 1st level elf wizard would maybe choose these:

 Keen Senses.
 Elven Soul.
 Nimbleness.
 Elven Magic.
 Frail Form (detrimental Trait).

Note the “”. I use it to mark when a specific Racial Trait is activated. It’s just a suggestion.

To keep my design goal that race should matter at higher levels, you can now choose to acquire new Racial Traits at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 20th levels, instead of gaining an Ability Score advancement (I suggest changing the Pathfinder rules so that an Ability Score advancement now grants a +2 to one Stat or a +1 to 2 Stats).

So, at 4th level, our Elf Ranger could choose to take a new Racial Trait. His abilities are now:

 Keen Senses.
 Elven Soul.
 Nimbleness.
 Elven Fighting Style.
 Frail Form (detrimental Trait).
 Bond with the Land.

That’s all for now. I’ll try to post the Half-Orc next.

As always, any feedback is really appreciated.