Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rules Spotlight – Racial Talents


Racial Talents were a concept born in the fires of a dilemma:  namely playing both Rifts and Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition.  One had a breadth of amazing options that were nowhere near balanced.  The other had a systematic system that if followed, penalized you for following them.

Modern d20 introduced me to the concept of talents.  Namely, don’t define the powers for a specific class, but use a chain of powers that are level based.  While it had some serious flaws, the concept was sound.

It was originally used to define the powers of your class.  However, it also fixed another problem overall.

How do I give my character amazing racial abilities without breaking the spine?

By substituting Class Talents with Racial Talents, you are able to emphasize your own natural abilities without being game breaking.

Currently the list of racial talents consists of the following:

·         Desecrator: You develop demonic traits that are based on the Desecrators.
·         Dragon: Racial talents that help with the elemental nature of Dragons.
·         DreamCantrip:  minor magical abilities that have ties to the dreamtime
·         Fey: You have Faerie like powers that are otherworldly in nature.
·         Fleet:  These are abilities that emphasize the natural evasion of a small and/or quick creature.
·         Flying: This chain allows a character to fly.
·         Gaze:  Your character has a mystical ability to affect people with a mere gaze.
·         Growing:  You are larger than normal and this affects you strength, reach and other related abilities
·         HallowedTouched: You have dark spell-like abilities that draw on energies of the Hallowed Earth
·         Living Dead:  These talents simulate the undead abilities of the character.
·         Natural Armor:  Your character is more durable and well protected.
·         NaturalWeapons:  You have natural weapons that are as effective as any weapon.
·         Plantkin: You develop your plant characteristics.
·         Savage: This is a grab bag of primal abilities that are based on animal characteristics
·         Savvy: Your race is very good at working with others.
·         Shrinking: Your character gets benefits by being smaller than normal.
·         Stout: Your race is renowned as being tough as hell.
·         Venom: Your character has natural venom.
·         Vision:  Your vision is better than average or has a unique feature.

<will update as new Talents Trees are added>

How do I get Racial Talents?


There are a number of ways to get the option of Racial Talents:

1.       Take a race that has them as a default option.
2.       Put a template on a race that has the option of getting one to get the desired talents.


Case Study – The Big Guy.


A common archetype is the “big guy”: a larger than average sized humanoid that’s a bruiser.

For the purposes of this study I will start with a race with the growth talent tree: The Ungo.  This sasquatch like race is perfect for creating such an archetype, since they have access to the Growing racial Talent Tree.

Furthermore, the race gets the Bigger Build Talent at first level.  This means that your already 1 step along the chain.

Repeating the talent for ease of reference:

Bigger Build (Ex)
Prerequisites: Medium Sized
Benefit: You can carry/lift x1.25 more than a normal medium sized creature.
You also gain a +1 racial bonus to Athletics skill checks.

For the purposes of this build, I will go with the Combatant class and the Brute path, as it emphasizes the physical abilities of the character.

At first level, the character gets 2 talents.  While I could normally get Class Talents from the Combatant Class and Brute Path, in this case, we will take the next two racial talents in the Growing chain.

Hefty Build (Ex)
Prerequisites: Bigger Build
Benefit:
·         You can now carry and lift x1.5 more than a medium sized creature.
·         You now treat medium weapons as light weapons.
Other: Your height is 25% taller than your races normal height; minimum 6 feet tall, maximum 8 feet tall. Your
weight is 25% heavier than the normal, despite not changing size categories.

Large Build (Ex)
Prerequisites: Bigger Build
Benefit: You are now considered a Large sized creature.
·         Large Size (-1 AC, -1 to attack rolls, -4 to stealth skill checks (see skill), +1 to CMB/CMD (see Combat Maneuvers)).
·         You take up a 10x10 foot space
·         You Can lift/carry x 2 that of medium creature
·         You Gain a 10 foot reach.
·         Increase your base speed by 10 feet.
·         You gain +2 Constitution, and +2 Strength
·         You gain Natural Armor +2
·         You lose -2 Dexterity
·         Your unarmed attack does 1d4 damage (still considered a non-proficient unarmed attack if you do not take training).
·         Armor cost and weight is multiplied by x2. You cannot wear armor unless it is specially designed for you.
Weapon use: You can use large weapons in one hand, huge weapons in two hands, medium weapons are
considered light weapons; you cannot use small or tiny weapons.
Other: Your height is 50% taller than your races normal maximum: minimum 8 feet tall, maximum 12 feet tall.
Your weight is twice as heavy as normal. Finding a good place you can get a seat or sleep is quite tough.

Even though it took both talents, my character is a size large creature at level one, with benefits and penalties that reflect this.

I could have taken instead, for example, Brutal Charge, and Brutal Charged improved (See Dark Revelations – Player’s Guide for details) and they would have given different, but equivalent abilities.

This sets up the “agony of choice” but with good options.

To showcase yet another way to do the big guy, I would like to present a new template.

New Template: Giant Blooded


Your character has the blood of giants.  This means your character is made of sterner stuff.

·         Creature Type: You are now considered a Monstrous Humanoid for the purposes of creature type. You lose your old creature type and it is replaced by this creature type. If you remove this template and are allowed to take a new template, you still keep Monstrous humanoid as your characters base creature type.
·         Template Restriction: This template cannot be combined/used by characters that are considered Fey, or Undead in creature type.
·         Racial Talent Trees: You gain access to the Growing, Natural Armor, and Stout talent trees in addition to your normal access to racial talent trees (see racial talent exchange).
·         Racial Talent Exchange: When you first take this template you MUST trade in any one talent (racial or class) you currently have for one racial talent from the racial talent trees granted by this template. Core races that start with this template do not apply this step.
·         Alignment: You can be any alignment
·         Life Span: Giant Blooded creature’s life span is quite long, if this template is added to a player character race, increasing their expected maximum life span by +2d20 years. Core races that start as Giant blooded already have longer life spans and do not apply this step.
·         Biology: You are susceptible to fatigue, hunger, suffocation, rest and thirst like any normal living creature. You can be healed normally through conventional non-magical means (treat injury), healed by luminescent energy, and harmed by corruptive energy like most living creatures

I can now simulate half-giants in Dark Revelations with minimal changes.

A Note About Humans


                While the original intention was to allow the abilities of non-human races to have unique special abilities, a happy side effect of the Template/Racial Talent system is that it allows humans a great degree of versatility.  They pretty much can take any and all templates showing the effect of mystical effect, bloodlines, and augmentation on the human condition.

One last thing


While it might seem somewhat cumbersome, realize that we've added a quite a few builds that do a ton of the work for you with regards to racial talents.  These are both in the book of adventure and as additional content on this blog.



If you come up with any you want to show people, let us know, and we'll both spotlight it and give you credit for your creativity. :)

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