Friday, April 5, 2013

Alternate Rules: Cultural vs. Biological Traits

So one thing I've thought of and talked about doing is splitting up the biological and cultural attributes of races. Just as an example of what I mean, the Vyanth spell resistance and bonus to CMD vs. disarms from having extra long and flexible fingers and having extra fingers are biological attributes, their ability to count all weapons with Vyanth in their name is a cultural attribute. Elves having low-light vision and resistance to sleep effects are biological attributes while their bonus on caster level checks to overcome spell resistance and their ability to count any weapon with Elven in the name as a martial weapon are both cultural attributes. I know I've said this kind of thing before, I'm just reiterating my thoughts for the sake of the post. The reason I am thinking of doing this is because I do not like the way biological features and cultural features get lumped together in race documents. Which is also something I've said before.

Perhaps you've heard of Pathfinder's Advanced Race Guide? It's a really neat book that breaks down racial features from pretty much every single Pathfinder race currently in print and supplies a point cost for them based on what abilities they have and what those abilities cost individually. It is kind of neat and it also gives some guidelines on how to gauge the power level of some of the beefier races like Tieflings and Drow when they are in a party of more mundane core races and you are fighting normal encounters. Most of the core races like Elves and Dwarves come in at around 8-11 race points, Noble Drow come in at like 41 and Ogres are like in the high thirties, I think. Another neat thing it does is offer some alternate traits to replace the standard features of the races with. So Elves can switch out their elven magic trait for the eternal grudge trait to gain a +1 bonus on attack rolls against Dwarves and Dwarves can trade out their bonus on saves against poison, spells, and spell-like abilities and gain spell resistance.

I don't want to alarm anyone, but my races are not balanced. When I started statting out Hekinoe's races I looked around in my various 3.5 books to try and find a race that best fit the flavor of a Hekinoe race and went from there. The Rankethlek and Soulless are based on Eberron's Warforged, while the Fallen are based on the Undead from a d20 World of Warcraft book I have. When we ended up playing Hekinoe with 4e I tried to use those races as a base. There were tweaks and changes and shifts along the way, but I always try to use pre-existing material as a base when I can. The reason I do this is because my theory is that someone, somewhere, probably, maybe, at least playtested it a little. Probably.

So ever since I got a hold of the Advanced Race Guide I have been wanting to run through all my races and figure out their point costs and even things up if I can or tone a race down if I need to. Recently I've been wanting to strip out what I consider to be cultural abilities and replace them with something like a rule saying each character may select one suite of cultural traits from a country they are native to. With The Known World being the way it is, it is fairly easy for a race to not be native to that race's normal homeland. Any race could grow up in Kusseth, so it seems to me that a player should have the option of showing this, instead of being stuck with some nonsensical racial ability like having knowledge of Vyanth weapons when they grew up as an orphan in the slums of Kusseth and joined a youth gang. I already have a cultural section in the traits section of the campaign book, and this system I am thinking of implementing would absorb those traits. I might just replace the entire trait section and system, depends on how far I decide to take this nonsense. I don't think the trait system is that big of a deal anyways, no one has ever taken the additional traits feat, so they're obviously not a super big deal to my players.

Anyway, just kind of outlining some of my thoughts on future alterations to the campaign book. I like the concept behind this system, so it will more than likely make an appearance in the campaign book in the future. Along with corruption rules and other things I've slide somewhere into a folder on my computer to await the day when one campaign ends and another begins. 

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