Some racial nitpicks

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VoidDrifter
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Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2015 10:48 am

Some racial nitpicks

Postby VoidDrifter » Tue Mar 10, 2015 12:17 pm

First of all, let me say that I deeply enjoy the Ponyfinder setting work so far. However, there are some things in the corebook's races that just... don't really sit so well with me. I apologize if this isn't the right board to be sharing these thoughts in, but it seemed right.

Secondly, to explain my terminology and hopefully avoid confusing anyone, I use "Tribe" to refer to the major ponykind strains (the Earth-bound racial trait and all racial variants that Earth-bound is swapped out for - Unicorn, Pegasus, Leatherwing, Seahorse, Zebra, Ghost Pony) and I use "Clan" to refer to the minor ponykind strains (any racial variant based on swapping out Unique Destiny - Chaos Hunter, Clockwork, Gem Pony, etc).

The first race to catch my attention is simple: the Doppelgangers. I really don't think that these work as a Clan. It just feels awkward to me that a basic Doppelganger comes off as "I'm a [earthbound/pegasus/unicorn] who looks kind of freaky unless I concentrate hard" and that's it. This is understandable, since it's trying to fit into the limitions posed of being a ponykind Clan, but I really think making them an entirely seperate racial block, ala the Flutterponies, would have been the better option for them. Given them room to really stretch their legs, so to speak.

Secondly, the Steelhearts. I hate to say this, since they seem to be pretty popular, but I do not like the Steelhearts. At all. Why? Well, for one, we already have a living construct ponykind race, in the form of the Clockwork Clan. Seriously, they're pretty superfluous... and it's like the writers actually knew this. The only differences between Steelhearts and Clockworks is that Steelhearts have Lightning Resistance 5, explicitly spelled out rules on resurrection, and set stat bonuses.

...I'm not joking here. Take a look for yourself:

[spoiler]
Clockwork Clan:
* All Ponykind traits (Medium size, Fey (Ponykind), Fingerless, Quadruped)
* Gain Half-Construct subtype (+2 racial bonus to saving throws against disease, poison, exhaustion, fatigue, mind-affecting)
* Base speed reduced to 30ft.
* Fragile Soul: Cannot be raised or resurrected normally.
* Machine Life: Do not need to eat, breath or sleep, but can do so to gain benefits (drinking potion, sleeping to memorise spells, etc).
* Extreme Design: Tribe racial penalty to ability score modifier increases to -4. If no tribal ability score penalty, pick one ability score to suffer -2 modifier.

Steelheart Race:
Racial Type: Fey, Half-Construct
Ability Score: +2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom
Medium Size
Base Speed: 30ft (quadrupedal)/20ft (bipedal)
* Heart of Steel: +2 racial bonus to saving throws against disease, poison, exhaustion, fatigue, mind-affecting.
* Cold Heart: Cannot be raised or resurrected by spell. Must return to a Steelheart Factory and pay cost equivalent to the material component cost of an equivalent spell to be revived.
* Iron Lungs: Do not need to eat, breath or sleep, but can do so to gain benefits (drinking potion, sleeping to memorise spells, etc).
* Conductive: Electricity Resistance 5.
* Fingerless
* Quadruped
* Lowlight Vision
[/spoiler]

With the author of the game having confirmed that Clockworks basically don't get to be resurrected, period, you can kind of see why I'm narked at the Steelhearts. What's the point of having two kinds of construct-pony if one's basically just going to suck? The fact that Steelhearts visually and fluffwise remind me too much of Eberron's Warforged in pony shape is just icing on the cake here.

You can understand why in my own homebrew I basically hack both races apart and stitch them together into a singular Clan-form.

Thirdly, gem ponies. I really don't see why being able to deflect Ray attacks should be a feat-taxing once per day effect. It really makes no sense, and even game balance doesn't explain it; Deflect Arrows only works once per round anyway, and Ray attacks aren't exactly overflowing in the game. Beholders and a small array of low-level Sorc/Wiz spells are about the only sources I can instantly name off the top of my head.

Fourth, sea horses. Again, I don't see the game balance behind "Return to the Sea". Why hide away the ability to breathe water behind a feat? It makes no real sense fluffwise and it's hardly a gamebreaker, even with the Resist Cold 5 attached. Considering all Sea Horses get at level one is lowered land speed for fast swim speed plus Swim being a class skill, it really seems unfair to me.

Finally, chaos hunters. The ponykind fixation upon (or obsession with, if you want to be cruel) order/harmony is nice to touch upon, but the Chaos Hunters just... don't feel like a good expression of it. A dedication to battling Chaotic Outsiders is something I'd expect to see expressed as a Paladin archetype or a combat style, not as the foundation for a race. If they'd been built around the idea of epitomizing the pony instinct to gather together and form harmony, they'd have been a lot more interesting. No serious problems here, just a personal disaffection for them.

Alright, that's my rant done. I'm sorry for anyone I have offended here, and I want to reiterate that I really do enjoy the game, I just have some problems with a small number of the races and almost all of that I can houserule away for my own games.

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David
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Re: Some racial nitpicks

Postby David » Tue Mar 10, 2015 12:29 pm

Phew, that's a lot. The main, huge, difference between Clockwork and Steelhearts is that one is a pony, and one is not. Clockworks belong to ponykind, made of little gears or not, and Steelhearts are their own discrete thing. Even mechanically, Clockworks qualify for all things pony related, while Steelhearts are not ponykind and do not. This is not a minor thing.

Gem ponies also get a bonus to their AC vs ray attacks, and a bonus against fear. Combined with the ray deflect sure sounds like it's worth a feat, but, again, it's more than that. They have unique feats, and, less quantifiable, you get to be a throwback to some unspecified time of pony glory, and that's pretty cool, but even if we stick to the mechanics, here's what you get for a feat.

+2 AC vs rays
1/day ray deflection
+2 vs fear
1/day reroll a 1 on a d20.

That's not looking bad from this angle.

Sea horses, poor sea horses. We've buffed them since their first appearance. Ultimately, it depends on the session. High seas adventures? Sea ponies are ready to rock! Dungeoneering? Not so shining. They are the definition of a situational trick.

Chaos Hunters, any race that trades unique destiny is less of a 'race' and more of a communal calling. That's why they trade unique destiny. They're giving up that personal drive for one larger than themselves. Could it be an archetype or what not? Likely. I wouldn't be upset if someone did that.

Hope this helps!

VoidDrifter
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Re: Some racial nitpicks

Postby VoidDrifter » Tue Mar 10, 2015 12:42 pm

I do understand that Clockworks and Steelhearts have the whole "ponykind vs. not-ponykind" thing going on. But the problem is? I do not see the point for having two mechanical horse races in the setting, especially when one, on first glance, is pretty much inferior. In my home games, I remove Steelhearts entirely and give Clockworks the Conductive trait and Cold Heart in lieu of Fragile Soul. This is my personal decision, due to personal dissatisfaction with the Clockwork/Steelheart divide.

I do not think Gem Ponies are underpowered. I think that Ray Deflection is underpowered, and pointlessly so, since Deflect Arrows (the feat it's based on) can be used at-will and Ray Deflection is even more specific in what it deflects than its founding feat. With Ray attacks being rarer than missile attacks to boot. But, again, that's easily remedied in my homebrew games - Ray Deflection simply functions 1/round, just like Deflect Arrows, and Gemstone Finish becomes a level 10+ feat that allows it to work at-will.

So, what do sea horses look like now? In my homebrew games, I just remove Return to the Sea as a feat and slap its abilities onto them from the start.

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David
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Re: Some racial nitpicks

Postby David » Tue Mar 10, 2015 12:50 pm

It's not a fair comparison. An arrow will tap you for 1-8'sh damage, maybe we could get up towards 15 with someone who's really good at arrows.

A wizard slings scorching bolt at level 2. The things you can deflect with deflect arrow pale on several orders of magnitude as you gain levels. Forget beholders (though they count), think enemy spellcasters first. Being able to negate an incoming touch spell is a huge deal, compared to the minor hitpoint savings of deflect arrows.

One guy avoided 14 damage, the other dodged a disintegrate. They are so very unequal.

VoidDrifter
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Re: Some racial nitpicks

Postby VoidDrifter » Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:11 pm

You have a point there, I concede that. On the other hand, justifying it as once per day fluffwise is a little harder. Deflect arrows does it by virtue of the fact you really need to concentrate in order to hit the projectile at just the right moment in just the right way. Deflect rays basically works on the fluff of "your crystal coat is so shiny that light bounces off of you".

I can see how to justify it, needing to focus internal magic to enhance its reflectiveness to overcome the magic propelling a ray, it's just a little hard to swallow on a first try.

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David
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Re: Some racial nitpicks

Postby David » Tue Mar 10, 2015 1:27 pm

Think of it more this way. When you channel magic through your nifty crystal shell, it polarizes it, which makes it less able to channel it properly until it's had a chance to 'cool down' and come back to a neutral, unionized, state. The feat makes this ionization happen more slowly, so you can channel magic more frequently before your crystals are too sharply polarized to be useful.

Science!

Skillfulist
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Re: Some racial nitpicks

Postby Skillfulist » Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:11 am

In the Tribes of Everglow book on the Sun Ponies page 96, Trait: Flaming Inquisition, Only Sun Ponies who worship the Sun King, Sun Queen, or Blaze may take this inquisition.

What is that and where is the reference for that trait? What does it entail?

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Llisandur
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Re: Some racial nitpicks

Postby Llisandur » Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:50 pm

Skillfulist wrote:In the Tribes of Everglow book on the Sun Ponies page 96, Trait: Flaming Inquisition, Only Sun Ponies who worship the Sun King, Sun Queen, or Blaze may take this inquisition.

What is that and where is the reference for that trait? What does it entail?

Flaming Inquisition is actually an Inquisition, not a trait. Burning Hoof and Inner Flame below it are both part of it. It's an error in formatting that it looks like a trait. There's a similar but worse error on page 71 where an Antean paladin archetype is mixed in with the traits.

VoidDrifter wrote:So, what do sea horses look like now? In my homebrew games, I just remove Return to the Sea as a feat and slap its abilities onto them from the start.


Tribes of Everglow has some neat options for Sea Horses, although I get what you're saying about simply giving them the amphibious subtype. For Return to the Sea, you could keep it with the +5 cold resist, or bump it to a +10, especially since it requires level 10 to take.

Irockman1
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Some racial nitpicks

Postby Irockman1 » Sat Nov 19, 2016 2:20 am

Have you tried running a Lv1 on Pegasus with the speculum? That might give you both the additional magic to call upon and also a great way to win some of those challenges. Pretty obvious what you'll do with him, but he's probably aware of that anyway by now. If nothing else, he could fly around and snipe away if you give him Death. I'm not sure I'd make him a Lv. 2 though. He's kinda a throw-away character on a suicide mission.


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