Oreads are planetouched native outsider races with a connection to the elemental plane of earth. This means that they’re hearty, heavy, and strong, and they make excellent melee combatants. Their Wisdom bonus also opens up the possibility of great synergy with divine caster classes. Their special racial options for archetypes and such aren’t QUITE as exciting as the other planetouched races, in my opinion, but they’re still a fun race to play!
Ability Scores: +2 Strength, +2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma. The boosts to Strength and Wisdom make for an amazing Ranger or Monk setup, with Cleric, Druid, Fighter, and Cavalier being top options as well. Paladins will suffer from the Charisma penalty a bit, but could still do just fine.
Type: Oreads are outsiders with the native subtype, so just like the other planetouched races they can’t be affected by spells and effects that target humanoids, such as enlarge person and charm person, so this is a double-edged sword. .
Size: Oreads are the same size as humans.
Speed: Oreads have a slow base speed of 20 feet, in fact I believe they’re the only Medium-size player race to have slow speed that can still be encumbered by carrying too much weight! This definitely hurts, but can be ignored if you play either a Monk (who gets speed boosts) or a Cavalier (who will be riding his mount all the time).
Energy Resistance: Having resistance 5 to acid is very nice, and is probably stronger than the resistances which the other elemental races get because spells with acid damage generally deal that damage over multiple rounds.
Spell-like ability: Oreads get a cast of magic stone once per day for free, which could come in handy for caster classes and perhaps even a ranged build at low levels, but isn’t the most exciting thing out there.
Darkvision: I’ve talked this one to death on other races’ descriptions… it’s excellent, and way better than Low-Light Vision, simple as that.
Earth Affinity: This power actually makes a Sorcerer build totally viable despite the penalty to Charisma, as it essentially boosts your Charisma stat back up to baseline IF you choose the Earth Elemental bloodline. It’s also kinda cool to change the damage type of burning hands and scorching ray to acid type, because fewer monsters have resistance to acid than to fire. However, it would be nice if this ability would be updated to include some of the other earth-themed bloodlines too, such as Deep Earth, Shaitan and Draconic (Black, Green or Copper). The boost to Cleric spells with the (earth) descriptor is excellent, and remember that you can choose any of the subdomains of the Earth domain for this ability too, such as Caves, Metal, and Radiation. My personal favorite of those is Metal, as it gives you a great way to ignore hardness of objects at early levels (can you say “sunder Cleric”?).
Alternate Racial Traits:
Crystalline Form (Earth Affinity): If you aren’t playing a Sorcerer or a divine caster who gets a domain, this could be a good option for you. The only sad thing is that ray attacks aren’t nearly as prevalent as straight-up arrows coming at your face, and this doesn’t help you against arrows at all. This is a decent option for a front-line combatant, though Stone in the Blood is probably overall a better choice.
Earth Insight (Earth Affinity): This seems like a super obvious choice for oread Summoners, except that their summoning spell-like abilities already last MINUTES per level instead of rounds per level. A Wizard or Witch might also consider this option, but Sorcerers should stick with Earth Affinity unless they REALLY don’t want to use the Earth Elemental bloodline.
Ferrous Growth (Spell-like Ability): This is a super thematic ability, and it could be invaluable for creating a tool you need mid-dungeon such as a crowbar or something, but I strongly prefer the Treacherous Earth option to this one for pretty much any character.
Fertile Soil (Earth Affinity): This ability can let you use the Verdant bloodline with the same bonuses you would get from the Earth Elemental bloodline, and it’s a pretty powerful one. I especially love the combination of the entangle spell and the Tanglevine first-level bloodline power, and gaining a natural armor bonus each time you cast a personal-range spell is super strong as well (pick up a wand of expeditious retreat and cast it on yourself at the start of every battle to get +1 natural armor AND fix your slow speed for the whole battle!). With this option, you can be a really excellent “debuffer”-style Sorcerer.
Granite Skin (Energy Resistance): While a natural armor bonus is good and will help out in more situations, I still would probably keep the resistance 5 to acid over this.
Mountain Born (Spell-like Ability): Compared to casting magic stone once per day or the benefits of Treacherous Earth, this is a terrible option. Stay away!
Stone in the Blood (Earth Affinity): Fast healing sounds really great, right? And it is. the only problem here is that this ability only gives you fast healing 2 for ONE ROUND, with a cap on the amount of healing you can get per day equal to 2x your level. That’s essentially just like reducing the damage you take from the acid attack that hit you by another 2 points. This is still a great ability because you can have someone cast acid splash on you to heal two points per round (since it won’t deal more than 5 damage), but if this lasted a few more rounds it would be MUCH better.
Treacherous Earth (Spell-like Ability): This is an excellent ability, allowing you to set up an area of difficult terrain before a key battle to hide your casters behind, or even just slow down charging Cavaliers. I would say this is more powerful than magic stone once per day by far. Take this one!
Alchemist: There’s really nothing going for or against an oread Alchemist, as you don’t get bonuses or penalties to Intelligence or Dexterity. If you wanted to build a Jekyl-and-Hyde type character focusing more on Strength, this is probably blue.
Barbarian: Oreads make EXCELLENT Barbarians, thanks to the Strength boost and the Barbarian’s fast movement ability making up for their abnormally slow land speed. The Elemental Kin archtype is an obvious choice, especially in concert with the Stone in the Blood racial option. The Armored Hulk would also be thematic, though you would lose fast movement with that one.
Bard: With a Charisma penalty, I have trouble recommending the Bard class for an oread. The only thing really going for you here is the favored class bonus, which increases the range of effect of one bardic performance, so that you could get +30 feet to three of your performances and +10 feet to one more by 20th level. Overall, though, Bard is a suboptimal choice.
Cavalier [Samurai]: With a bonus to Strength, an oread Cavalier makes surprising sense (even though I feel bad for the poor horse that has to carry your heavy, earthy butt!) Samurai is tougher, since they’re more built to use bows than lances. The Order of the Land makes the most thematic sense, but any Cavalier order would work fine.
Cleric: Oreads make for great Clerics, thanks to their Wisdom bonus. They can also hold their own in combat with the Strength bonus. The Earth Affinity alternate racial power is a no-brainer, and the Treacherous Earth option is really great for a front-line armor-clad Cleric as well. You’ll also want to trade out your racial acid resistance for Granit Skin since you’ll get higher acid resistance (which doesn’t stack) at level 8 (unless you choose the Caves subdomain). I also like the Divine Strategist archetype for an oread since your Charisma penalty would make channel energy less useful, so you might as well drop it! Ignore the favored class bonus and stick with hit points, as a bonus to one type of Knowledge checks when only dealing with the Plane of Earth is just no good.
Druid: Even better than a Cleric, an oread can make for one mean Druid. This is one of the few times that I would suggest picking up the Earth domain instead of an animal companion, because your granted powers and domain spells will be more powerful than normal. I especially like the Metal subdomain, because you can’t wear metal armor, but your fists can be made of steel! You should definitely trade out your acid resistance for Granite Skin since you’ll get higher acid resistance at level 8. You might also consider the Cave Druid archetype, though it will delay your Wild Shape progression, but you’ll eventually be able to turn into an ooze! The Mountain Druid is also attractive, eventually allowing you to turn into a giant with Wild Shape! Make sure to pick up Earth Insight to add a few rounds to your summoned creatures. Ignore the favored class option and just boost your hit points.
Fighter: The oread’s bonus to Strength makes Fighter a prime choice. I like the Thunderstriker archetype for thematic awesomeness of bashing people with a hammer and shield, but pretty much any melee Fighter build will work great. As far as racial options, I would keep the acid resistance and pick up Stone in the Blood and Treacherous Earth. Ignore the favored class option and take the hit point each level instead.
Gunslinger: The bonus to Wisdom and a lack of a Dexterity penalty means that you can make a pretty decent Gunslinger out of an oread. There aren’t many specifically good options, so you can use any decent Gunslinger build.
Inquisitor: Inquisitor is another solid choice for an oread, though without the bonus spells from the Earth domain I would definitely pick Cleric over Inquisitor in general. Like the Gunslinger, this is a good option but doesn’t have anything that makes it really GREAT, so I don’t have a lot to add here.
Magus: There’s really nothing going for or against you as a Magus, as you don’t need a super high Strength score, and there’s no Intelligence bonus.
Monk: There are several different reasons to choose the Monk class as an oread. First off, you get Strength and Wisdom bonuses, both of which are excellent for a monk. Secondly, the favored class bonus gives you a higher chance to crit with your fists, which is awesome! But probably the best thing of all is that you get the option of taking the Student of the Stone archetype, which is an amazing archetype! You get bonuses against critical hit confirmations, bonuses on attacks and combat maneuvers when you’re touching the ground, and eventually light fortification and tremorsense! I would suggest keeping the racial acid resistance and trading Magic Stone and Earth Affinity for Stone in the Blood and Treacherous Earth.
Oracle: The bonus to Charisma really hurts an Oracle no matter what build you do. This is also the only divine caster class that can’t get the benefits of Earth Affinity in any way. Put those things together, and Oracle is just not a good option for an oread.
Paladin [Antipaladin]: While the penalty to Charisma isn’t great, oreads get a bonus to Strength, so if you want to focus more on bashing in heads, you can still make a pretty good Paladin. There aren’t any really stellar archetypes, but I REALLY wish there was a way to get the dwarf-only Stonelord archetype, because it fits so perfectly with an oread Paladin. I would probably house-rule that an oread who took the Dwarf Blooded feat could also take the Stonelord archetype, but I digress. Having slow movement doesn’t really hurt an oread Paladin as long as he’s on his mount, so I would suggest sticking with either the standard Paladin or taking an archetype that keeps the mount. Antipaladins don’t get mounts, so I’ll rate them just a bit lower here. The favored class option is pretty great for a Paladin, boosting the bonuses you grant your allies with aura abilities. Obviously that doesn’t apply to Antipaladins.
Ranger: Bonuses to both Wisdom and Strength make a melee-focused Ranger an excellent option for an oread. To take advantage of that Strength bonus, I recommend the Two-Handed Weapon fighting style. If you know your campaign will take you underground, the Deep Walker archetype is a decent thematic option. Make sure to take the animal companion option for your Hunter’s Bond, because the favored class option gives your companion more natural armor bonus (I imagine this as your companion gaining stony armor to mirror your own earthy skin over time), and make sure to take Boon Companion to get that companion as strong as possible!
Rogue [Ninja]: No bonus to either Dexterity or Intelligence makes Rogue a difficult choice for an oread, and Ninja is even worse thanks to the Charisma penalty. The one build that could work is the “smasher Rogue” which I’ve seen some people attempt, where you build a Rogue who relies almost purely on Strength and flanking for sneak attack dice. If you did so, I would suggest picking up a few levels of Barbarian to get the rage rounds. Overall, though, Rogue and Ninja just aren’t great choices for an oread.
Sorcerer: Normally, I wouldn’t recommend a Sorcerer to any race who has a Charisma penalty, but the oread is an exception. The Earth Affinity and Fertile Soil racial abilities give you a great opportunity to be treated as if you had +2 Charisma for all class abilities of the Sorcerer, as long as you use the Earth Elemental or Verdant bloodlines. Of the two, I think the Verdant bloodline is more powerful, thanks to the focus on spells and abilities that entangle and otherwise hinder foes. Also consider the possibility of being a Crossblooded Sorcerer, which will let you pick and choose from the best bloodline powers at each level and still get the effective +2 to Charisma for all of your class features, at the expense of one spell known at each level (which you can get back by spending some cash on Pages of Spell Knowledge). You will probably also want the Earth Insight racial option to give your summoned creatures a bit of a boost.
Summoner: Like the Sorcerer, normally I wouldn’t recommend Summoner to any race with a Charisma penalty, but there are actually good reasons to consider it in this case. The Charisma penalty definitely DOES hurt, but there is a racial archetype option called the Shaitan Binder which is pretty strong, eventually giving your eidolon the ability to cast limited wish as a spell-like ability! I also like the favored class option, which gives your eidolon a boost to natural armor every four levels (which means you don’t need to spend evolution points to get natural armor!)
Witch: With no Intelligence bonus but also no penalty, there’s nothing either going for or against choosing the Witch class as an oread.
Wizard: Just as with the Witch, there’s nothing saying you can’t make a decent Wizard out of an oread, but there’s also nothing specifically exciting about choosing to do so.
Racial Favored Class Options:
Bard: This is a fun option, and since oreads move a little slower than other Medium creatures you might actually find yourself in need of some extra range on your performances. While being a Bard isn’t terribly optimal in the first place, if you do it, definitely make use of this option.
Cleric: A bonus on one specific type of Knowledge checks which is situational on top of that is just terrible. IGNORE!
Druid: Again, bonuses to single Knowledge checks about only specific creatures within those checks are just not worth your time. IGNORE!
Fighter: This isn’t a bad option if you want to be a “stand your ground” type of combatant, but honestly bull rush and drag just aren’t used that often by monsters. I would say you’re better off with a hit point.
Monk: I really like this choice for an unarmed oread Monk, because if you’ve gone with the racial archetype Student of the Stone, you also have a bonus AGAINST critical hit confirmations against you, which synergize very well.
Paladin: This is a great option for any Paladin, as it increases the passive bonuses that you grant your allies with your aura abilities. Definitely choose this at every level unless you take an archetype that gives up auras in favor of other abilities!
Ranger: You’ll want to take an animal companion as your Nature Bond specifically so that you can boost its natural armor with this favored class option. More armor for your pet means less chance it’ll die, and that’s always a good thing!
Summoner: This bonus is the same as the one you can choose for a Ranger, except it applies to your eidolon. This is really good, because it means you don’t need to spend precious evolution points giving your eidolon that natural armor that it desperately needs!
Student of the Stone (Monk): I really love this archetype for several reasons. It’s obviously very thematically appropriate, but even better are the abilities it grants you. When you and your opponent are both touching the ground, you get a +1 to attack rolls and combat maneuvers, which is excellent. You get to add the Shaitan Style feat chain to your bonus Monk feats, and WOW… you add your Wisdom modifier to acid damage when using Elemental Fist, and even if you MISS you still deal acid damage! I would actually recommend taking Shaitan Style as soon as you qualify for it (should be 7th level) instead of waiting until it’s added to your bonus feat list at 10th level. I also like the defensive abilities you get later on in this archetype, like the ability to spend a ki point to gain DR, and the light fortification armor ability on your skin, giving you a 25% chance of ignoring critical hits and precision damage!
Shaitan Binder (Summoner): This is a strong archetype for the most part, but with one very large drawback… you lose Share Spells. That is a HUGE pain in the butt, as there are a few spells on the Summoner spell list that can’t be cast on your eidolon without Share Spells (such as enlarge person). However, this drawback isn’t the worst thing ever, and you gain some cool abilities instead, such as free basic, minor, major AND ultimate magic evolutions for your eidolon. It also gains the earth glide ability, which is very useful for strategic positioning during combat. Finally, the capstone ability is really amazing, which gives your eidolon a once-per-day spell-like ability to cast limited wish! Note that you still have to provide expensive material components if you duplicate a spell that requires them, but you don’t have to use up 1,500gp of diamond dust to cast it!
Dwarf Blooded: This feat is thematic for sure, and I like that you can get the dwarf’s ability to never be encumbered, though it’s not a super powerful ability by any means. However, the writers of this feat missed out on the ONE THING that would have made it really amazing: having the oread count as a dwarf for racial archetypes. The Stonelord Paladin archetype would have been PERFECT for an oread to take, but they can’t qualify for it, even with this feat. I’ve already decided I’m going to house-rule that this feat qualifies you for the archetype, and I suggest you do the same!
Echoes of Stone: For any oread in an undergound-themed campaign, this is a really excellent feat. A +4 to Perception is a huge bonus, and tossing a bonus to Survival on as well makes this one a no-brainer if you have a feat slot open. However, its situational nature makes it not worth your time unless you’re SURE you’re going to be spending a lot of time underground.
Elemental Jaunt: All four of the elemental-touched races can choose this feat, and while it’s a powerful ability, I don’t think it’s worth using a feat slot on for most characters. If your oread is a spellcaster, she should eventually have access to this spell anyway, and if she’s not a spellcaster, you’re going to want to use your feats on combat abilities and let the caster of the group worry about things like plane shifting. Overall, this just isn’t going to be an optimal choice.
Murmurs of Earth: If you spent a feat on Echoes of Stone because you knew you’d be underground a lot, then you should at least consider this feat, as it gives you a (VERY) limited form of tremorsense. The fact that this uses up a move action is extremely painful, however if you’re up against an invisible enemy or in an area of magical darkness, you’ll wish you had this feat. I’d say it’s worth a feat slot for most combat-oriented characters.
Oread Burrower: A burrow speed is pretty great, and this seems like it would be a pretty amazing option for a character playing in the upcoming Mummy’s Mask adventure path, since there’s likely to be a lot of battles on sand. If you do take this feat, it’s definitely going to be worth your time to spend another feat on Oread Earth Glider as well.
Oread Earth Glider: A burrow speed through solid stone, even at half your normal speed, is pretty powerful. I would especially consider this feat chain for a Student of the Stone Monk, as melding into solid stone and coming up on the other side of an enemy is just AWESOME.
Stony Step: This feat doesn’t sound super exciting on its own, but it opens up Oread Burrower and Oread Earth Glider, both of which are really great. Make sure to combine this feat with the Treacherous Earth racial ability to allow you to create an area of difficult terrain and then move across it freely!