Earlier this month Paizo released a anticipated sourcebook, the Pathfinder RPG: Advanced Race Guide. The book not only offers hundreds of options to play more than 30 already defined races, but also contains a system to create entirely new races if we want.
I'm really a big fan of using exotic creatures in my games, both as a player and as a game master, and I like to show that they are not only different is statistics: they have an unique view of the world, their own customs, religions, history and many more things that makes them different. so when I first heard about that Advanced Race Guide is under development I was very interested. Now I'm happy to say, this book really delivers!
The slightly more than 250 pages of the Advanced Race Guide are divided into four chapters and several appendixes, but I think it's easier to divide the book into two major parts. The first part is chapters 1-3, as these are dealing with already established races, while chapter 4 contains the Race Builder if you want something unique.
For the known races we receive a good number of options, including alternate racial traits, racial archetypes, feats, equipment, magic items, spells, and favored class options. Of course, Core Races get much more to choose from than the Featured or Uncommon races, but even the most obscure species have something interesting. For example Core Races each have 3-4 racial archetypes, Featured Races each get 2, while uncommon races get only a single archetype.
By the way, the races in the book are divided into three groups :
- Core Races (Chapter 1.) - Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, Half-Elves, Half-Orcs, Halfings, and Humans
- Featured Races (Chapter 2.) - Aasimar, Catfolk, Dhampirs, Drow, Fetchlings, Goblins, Hobgoblins, Ifrits, Kobolds, Orcs, Oreads, Ratfolk, Sylphs, Tengus, Tieflings, and Undines
- Uncommon Races (Chapter 3.) - Changelings, Duergar, Gillmen, Gripplis, Kitsune, Mefolk, Nagaji, Samsarans, Strix, Sulis, Svirfneblin, Vanaras, Vishkanyas and Wayangs
With the help of the guide you may play characters which are really playing with their race own strengths or stereotypes, including stone-bonded dwarves, pyromaniac goblins, tricky kitsune and elementalist suli. Thankfully, many of the options are not only usable for a specific race (like many of the archetypes, items and spells), while others are practically useless for almost anybody outside of the connected race.
I also want to say a few words about the Race Builder, which was extensively tested by players all around the world. Well, in my opinion the Race Builder in itself is a real gem, and I'm really happy that it was made! Basically it's a finely balanced point based system, where you may buy racial qualities and traits with Race Points (RP), and the final cost determines the relative strength of the race. Since RP values are presented for the already available races you may compare your own creation if it is relatively equal with the Core Races (around 10 RP), but of course you may create much powerful races if you want. Certain abilities are only available for these more powerful species, if they are advanced (11-20 RP) or monstrous (20+ RP) races.
As a comparison, the core races are between 8 and 11 RP, and most of the other playable races in the book falls between 6 and 15 RP. They also provided some examples for the use of the Race Builder, including an alternate, no racial hit-dice version for Centaurs and Gargoyles, as well as several new races.
After reading the book my head is buzzing with character ideas, which clearly means that Advanced Race Guide is filled flavorful, interesting and playable concepts all around from flying slyph druids to ratfolk alchemists experimenting on diseases. And then we also have the very flexible Race Builder, so if your campaign world is filled with light-sensitive four-armed giant badger-men, here you go! So all I can say, that Advanced Race Guide is clearly deserves 5/5 points from me.
If you are interested in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide (as you should, really), it is available on Paizo's own store on this link.
Zoltán "Cain" Mészáros