Thursday, June 4, 2015

Races of Pathfinder: Orc

Orcs are your proto-typical bruisers, big, dumb, and exceptionally strong.  Hated and feared for their barbarism, orcs make great melee characters, but not much else.

Racial Traits:
Ability Scores: Orcs get +4 to Strength, but suffer a -2 penalty to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.  The strength bonus means a strong low level start, but you'll be constantly lacking in the skills department, as well as having a slightly weaker Will save.  Still, if damage dealing is the only thing you care about, it's hard to beat.

Size: Orcs are the same size as humans.

Speed: Orcs have the standard 30ft base movement speed.

Orc Ferocity: This trait allows an orc to keep fighting as if disabled  after being taken below 0 hit points. This can be excellent at low levels, when it essentially adds a huge percentage to your HP, but it dwindles in usefulness as the levels go up.  For a Cleric, Paladin, or other healing class, this can be invaluable since you can use that standard action to heal yourself.

Weapon Familiarity: Orcs gain automatic proficiency with two very nice martial weapons, the greataxe and the falchion. If you’re going to be playing a class that only gains simple weapon proficiency, this can be a huge boon for you, but if you’re going to be a Fighter or any other class that gains martial weapon proficiency, trade this out for something better.

Darkvision: Darkvision is way better than low-light vision, because realistically most DMs don’t really worry about lighting conditions except for darkness. This is a great ability to have.

Light Sensitivity: Light Sensitivity is a minor but pervasive penalty, that will provide annoyance for a good long time.  Luckily, if you aren't a ranged character you can easily trade it out for Dayrunner.

Alternate Race Traits:
Dayrunner [Light Sensitivity]: Light sensitivity is a pain in the ass. It's only a -1 penalty, but given that you'll likely spend much of your campaign outdoors during the day, that penalty can really accumulate.  Dayrunner lets you trade it out for a -2 penalty on ranged attack rolls, which is great if you don't make ranged attacked!  Plus, the flavor is hilarious: "Orcs refuse to yield to any foe, including the sun.  Some spend hour upon hour glaring at the sun."

Feral [Weapon Familiarity & Language]: The bonuses here, survival as a class skill and +1 to attack and damage while at negative, are pretty minor.  However, what you are trading in can be made pretty minor too. If you don't use an orc weapon, and you have another way of getting languages, then its something to consider.

Smeller [Ferocity & Weapon Familiarity]: Scent is a nice ability, but I consider Ferocity to be much stronger, especially at lower levels.

Squalid [Ferocity]: A +2 bonus against nausea is wonderful in and of itself, but you also get a +2 bonus against sickened and disease.  Squalid will have much better longevity than ferocity, and getting nauseated mid-combat is really unfortunate.

Given that the orc suffers from a -2 penalty to all mental stats and a +4 bonus to strength, an orc's favored classes isn't exactly shocking.  The orc is going to excel in any straight melee class, and lag behind in with spell casters.  I won't bother going through the classes in depth, but fighters, barbarians, cavaliers, and rogues are all prime candidates. 

Racial Favored Class Bonuses:
Alchemist: Adding +10 minutes to the duration of mutagens is fine, but it can really just be managed with better mutagen use.  It's not likely to be relevant.

Barbarian: More rage rounds means more BARBARIAN SMASH, which is exactly what you want to do.

Cavalier: +1 to CMB with bull rushes or overruns is far too situational to be of any use.  Stick with something useful.

Druid: This is an interesting one, +1/2 to damage dealt by your animal companion's natural attacks.  If you've got an animal companion with plenty of natural attacks, this can add up.  Definitely worth considering.

Fighter: With orcish ferocity, adding 2 to your Constitution for the purposes of dying at negative hit points is really interesting.  On the one hand, it's double the number of hit points you can get from a normal favored class bonus.  On the other hand, you could wind up with 40 extra hit points to go through disabled vs 20 extra hit points to go through not disabled.  If you have some way of healing yourself (unlikely as a fighter), then this is a great choice for tanks.

Ranger: Extra hit points for your animal companion means it’s less likely to die, so that’s always a good thing.

Summoner: Extra hit points for your eidolon are always a good choice, so this one’s a keeper.

Witch: Extra spells for your familiar is nice, but you can always add them from a scroll or a wizard's spellbook by tossing cash at them.

Racial Archetypes:
Dirty Fighter (Fighter): I like this archetype because of the versatility that the Dirty Trick combat maneuver affords you, and Fighters get a lot of feats so you can pick up a lot of Improved and Greater combat maneuver feats as you gain levels. Dirty Trick is actually a fantastic maneuver, allowing you to inflict one of several debilitating statuses to an enemy for one or more rounds, and the best part of this archetype is that at 9th level you can start using dirty tricks as attack actions rather than Standard actions, meaning you can do multiple dirty tricks per round. The ability to eventually apply two conditions to a foe that you target with Dirty Trick after level 13 is also REALLY good. If you’d like to build a character who kicks dirt in someone’s eyes to blind them, then smacks the sides of their head to deafen them and finally kicks them right in the nads to sicken them, this is the archetype for you!

Scarred Witch Doctor: Pre-errata, this was awesome. Post-errata, it's fine. 

Racial Feats: 
Beast Rider: This feat is a great choice for a multiclass character who is planning to go into the Mammoth Rider prestige class. Since you can take this feat at 7th level, this will allow you to use a more exotic creature as your mount three levels before you can begin taking Mammoth Rider levels (10th level minimum), and you can treat your druid level as up to two levels higher (up to your maximum level) for determining the powers and abilities of your new mount. Combine this with Boon Companion, and you can have a full-strength mount or animal companion with up to six class levels that don’t normally increase your animal companion’s abilities! 

Blood Vengance: This feat allows you to go into a rage-like state if one of your allies is knocked unconscious or killed, which is pretty cool. Note that it says you MAY enter the state, so you’re not going to be forced to do it if the situation wouldn’t warrant you doing so. It’s important to be aware also that this won’t work for summoned creatures, or for companion creatures (except at very low levels) because the ally has to have at least the same number of hit dice as yourself.

Born Alone: This feat really would only be useful if you have a huge Constitution bonus. A few temporary hit points usually aren’t going to make a huge difference, especially as you get to higher levels, so I’d say you’re better off picking up Toughness instead.

Brutal Grappler: This one lets you combine your grappling efforts with an ally at the same time, allowing both of you to deal damage automatically. You also are treated as aiding each other on the grapple, gaining a +2 to CMB checks. If you and an ally both have a decent CMB, this one could definitely be worth it. The only bad thing is that both of you need to take it, as it’s a Teamwork feat.

Bullying Blow: If you’re building an Intimidate-based build, you might want to consider this one, as it lets you intimidate an enemy as a free action after you hit them. The only bad thing is you can’t use it with a full attack action.

Deathless Initiate: This is the first feat in a fairly in-depth line that will eventually keep your orc from dying after hitting 0 hit points, allow him or her to keep fighting well past 0, and negate critical hits. However, there’s a serious feat tax for this one, as it requires both Diehard and Endurance.

Deathless Master: If you’ve invested in Deathless Initiate, you’ll likely want this one too, as it allows you to keep taking actions after hitting 0 hit points without taking a hit point from each action. The feat tax keeps piling up, though.

Deathless Zealot: This is a nice capstone for the Deathless line of feats. You essentially force all of your enemies to reroll any critical hit confirmations they make against you, and forcing rerolls on your enemies is always excellent.

Destroyer's Blessing: A sundering Barbarian would gain a lot from this feat, but any other character will find it lacking.

Ferocious Action: This is a good choice if you’re going to invest in the Deathless feats above or Ferocious Resolve below, because you won’t be staggered when you’re under 0 hit points, and if you’re raging there’s really no penalty to using this feat. I like it.

Ferocious Resolve: This is a different way to continue fighting after you’re reduced below 0 hit points, and it requires much less feat investment. Combine this one with Ferocious Action to keep fighting until you’re dead as a doornail without being staggered.

Ferocious Summons: For a summoning-focused caster, this is a seriously awesome ability, especially at lower levels. You’re essentially giving every summoned creature an additional 10+ hit points, by allowing them to fight past 0 hit points, though they do become staggered.

Ferocious Tenacity: Here’s another way to keep yourself alive when norally you’d be dead. In this case, when you’d normally be killed by hit point damage, you can instead expend rage rounds to reduce the damage. Pretty cool!

Fight On: And here is yet ANOTHER way to keep from dying after you hit 0 hit points. This one gives you a number of temporary hit points equal to your Con bonus when you’d normally be knocked out. However, this feat is not nearly as powerful as the others I’ve just talked about, so stick with the Ferocious line of feats above instead.

Fire God's Blessing: A single point of healing when an enemy takes fire damage isn’t a huge bonus, but if you plan to set your enemies on fire a lot it’s almost like having Regeneration, which is pretty nice. 

Foment the Blood: This would be a really cool ability if it worked for all of your allies, but sadly this will only give damage and critical hit bonuses to orcs and half-orcs, so unless you are in a party with all-orcish blood, this probably isn’t worth your time. However, if you’re a GM writing up an encounter with a band of orcs, make sure to give the cleric this feat!

Gore Fiend: This is a great option for a orc Barbarian, especially if you often use weapons with a decent critical range. It gives you an extra round of rage every time you confirm a critical hit with a melee weapon OR a crit is confirmed against you, which probably happens more often than you realize.

Grudge Fighter: For any melee character who doesn’t rage and doesn’t have a Bard in their party, this is an excellent choice, since rage and bardic performances are the main sources of morale bonuses, and who doesn’t like to wreak vengeance on an enemy who attacked them?

Horde Charge: This is a teamwork feat meant to allow an orc raiding party to all charge at once, gaining bonuses to attack. If you do have multiple characters in your party who charge and attack at the beginning of every combat, this might be worth it, but it’s generally tough to convince other players to take Teamwork feats. This would be much better for an Inquisitor or Cavalier who can either use a Teamwork feat on his own or grant its benefit to all his allies, respectively.

Ironguts: A bonus to saves against the nauseated and sickened condition can definitely come in handy, but a bonus to only ingested poisons isn’t that exciting, since most poisons you’ll encounter will be either injury-based or inhaled. A bonus to Survival to find food for yourself will also hardly ever come up.

Ironhide: Most characters will be searching high and low for AC bonuses that don’t cost an arm and a leg at higher levels, so gaining a natural armor bonus of even +1 is probably worth a feat for many characters. Note, however, that if your class has a feature that gives you natural armor bonuses (like the Alchemist or the Druid), then this will NOT stack with those other bonuses. It WILL stack with an amulet of natural armor, however.

Keen Scent: The scent special ability is neat, but often misunderstood.  It will let you detect the presence of invisible creatures, but not pinpoint their location unless they are adjacent to you. Very situational.  Note that you'll also need 13 Wisdom for this feat, which makes it very difficult for an orc to get.

Orc Weapon Expertise: This is an odd feat, letting you choose one of several different combat bonuses that only work if you are wielding a weapon with “orc” in the name that you are proficient with. Sadly, there is only one weapon that fits this description, the Orc Double Axe, so this feat really isn’t useful unless you’re building a character focused completely on using that weapon.

Razortusk: Gaining a bite attack can come in really handy for a melee character, especially one who deals sneak attack damage, as it gives you one more source of sneak damage when you’re flanking someone. 

Resilient Brute: This is just one more feat to add to the list of “ways to not die as an orc”. Once per day you can change half the damage from a critical hit to nonlethal damage, which can be really helpful if you’re fighting some huge bad guy who deals massive damage. 

Resolute Rager: When you’re raging this feat lets you get an additional save vs. a fear effect, however you already get a nice bonus against fear effects while raging, so honestly I can’t really see anyone spending a feat on this one, even though I generally like abilities that give you rerolls. 

Reverse-Feint: This is excellent for a high-AC, high-damage melee frontliner, as you essentially leave a gap in your defenses, hoping that an enemy will try to hit you, and when they do you can use an immediate action to hit them back with a +2 to your attack bonus. The only complaint I have about this feat is that it uses an immediate action, which means you won’t have a swift action in your next turn, and a lot of character builds nowadays are planning swift actions on most turns (I’m looking at you, Mythic Playtest).

Smash: If this feat let you ignore 5 points of hardness on constructs also, it would be much better. As is, if you plan to smash down a lot of doors, this might be for you, otherwise it’s not worth your time.

Smell Fear: This feat is a trap, as far as I’m concerned. With scent, you essentially never need to make a Perception check, with the way the Stealth rules currently work. This means that a +4 bonus to identify creatures that are scared by scent is basically meaningless!

Surprise Follow-Through: This feat and its improved version really make a Strength-based Rogue a viable option. Opponents that you Cleave (after the first hit) are flat-footed against your attacks, which means you get to deal sneak damage to an enemy you cleave into after the first! Very cool, though very feat intensive..

Surprise Follow-Through, Improved: This does exactly the same thing as Surprise Follow-Through but lets you use it with Great Cleave, causing all enemies after the first that you Cleave into to be flat-footed.

Sympathetic Rage: This feat is VERY similar to Blood Vengeance, except that you get to enter a rage-like state anytime you’re adjacent to your raging Barbarian friend, and since this will hopefully happen a lot more often than one of your allies getting knocked out, I’d pick this one over Blood Vengeance. However, it’s sort of a double-edged sword, because if your Barbarian ally needs to move away from you, you become fatigued like a normal Barbarian would pretty much instantly.

Tenacious Survivor: Once again, a feat that keeps you from dying. Are you sensing a theme, here? This one keeps your spirit in your body for a short time, allowing your party healer to bring you back from the dead, but you do gain a negative level from doing so as if you had been resurrected, so you’re gonna hope you never have to use this one.

Thrill of the Kill: Another feat giving you extra rounds of rage, this one lets you gain a rage round anytime you knock out or kill an opponent. Combine this one with Gore Fiend, and scoring a critical hit that kills an enemy will give you TWO rounds of rage, which is pretty awesome.

Trap Wrecker: This feat reminds me of Order of the Stick, because I could just imagine Belkar deciding to smack a trap with a sword instead of using Disable Device. The benefit here is that you can literally smash a trap instead of disabling it, though there’s a good chance you will spring the trap and take damage. However, this is so incredibly flavorful and awesome that I just have to give it a high rating.

War Singer: There are two reasons to take this feat, #1 being if you find your Bard in the midst of an epic battle fairly often, as it doubles the range of your bardic performances if there are at least a dozen creatures battling nearby, and #2 being if you fight a lot of orcs (or half-orcs, or Sorcerers with the orc bloodline, etc.)

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