Randal Reads APG 2e: Ch 1 – Ancestries and Backgrounds (part 3)

Welcome back to the continuation of the Advanced Player’s Guide special review blog! If you missed the beginning, you can find it here! We covered the Orc, Ratfolk, Tengu, and introduced Versatile Heritages yesterday. Today we dive into the details of the Versatile Heritages!

Chapter 1 – Ancestries and Backgrounds (cont’d)

Note: While I am listing out the lineages for the Versatile Heritages below, they are level 1 ancestry feats and thus optional, you do not have to select a lineage when choosing a versatile heritage the same way you must select a heritage when choosing an ancestry.

Changling

  • Brine May (Sea Hag) – float
  • Callow May (Green Hag) – deception
  • Dream May (Night Hag) – resist sleep effects, sleep heals you better
  • Slag May (Annis Hag) – cold iron claws

At first I didn’t make the connection between witch and changeling … but once I did I thought this was a great entry to showcase versatile heritages. Their descriptive entry was the same as you get for a full ancestry, which is great! It was nice to see them point out that changelings can be any gender- I had thought they were all women, so others likely did as well. The lore about the eye colors and the Call is handy with putting together descriptions and backstories. The heritage alone provides low-light vision if you didn’t already have it, or darkvision if you did. Although four of the seven 1st level feats are lineages, there is no reason to feel forced in choosing a lineage. Lore, claws, and darkvision can all be had by any changeling. This book only provides a couple feats at 5th and 9th, and only one at 13th, though, so you will have to wait until a future book (perhaps Secrets of Magic) to get more advanced ancestry options. Until then, I still think there is plenty here to mix and match many different, fun, and inspiring changelings.

Dhampir

  • Straveika (Nosferatu) – perception, sense motive
  • Svetocher (Moroi) – fortitude against drained, diplomacy

Ah, yes, the Blade ancestry. Or perhaps Alucard fits the genre more appropriately. Either way, the dhampir is mortal flesh with vampire “gifts”. Again, I enjoyed the descriptive options of being created through ritual or “supernatural influence” in addition to simply being born this way. While I have no problems stretching stories and backgrounds, I know there are many who like to see options and examples in print to help them feel validated with their choices. Aside from adding low-light vision (or darkvision if you already had low-light) you also swap how you react to positive and negative energy. All the classic vampire options are here, from darkvision to fangs to speaking with bats, rats, and wolves. Of course you can eventually create mist and turn into wolves or bats! I am guessing because there are only two lineages they had the room to provide a 17th level ancestry feat here, in the form of a daily vampiric exsanguination spell! I haven’t really dug into Golarion’s vampire lore, but I do recall a bit about the multiple types of vampires in the Dresden Files … and it looks like mixing and matching these feats can let you get a few of them onto the game table. I have a player that will be excited to be able to convert his 1e dhampir to 2e, and I look forward to seeing how that translation turns out.

Planar Scions

Each of the planar scions presented here (Aasimar, Duskwalker, and Tiefling) get their own write up and feats, which is great to see. I was worried that categorizing them as “Planar Scions” would mean they were smashed together in a way that would lessen the material each gets in comparison to Changling and Dhampir, and that is very much not the case. Tying the lineages to the various extraplanar creatures is a great way to take something we have already enjoyed and give it a new spin with the new mechanics. Yeah, we saw this already for Changeling and Dhampir, but hey, it is simple and elegant.

Aasimar

  • Angelkin (Angel) – society, multilingual
  • Lawbringer (Archon) – resistance to emotions
  • Musetouched (Azata) – good at escape checks

From vision improvement to lore to halos, 1st level has many classic options not tied to lineage. The 5th level feats seem pretty nice between holy blood, elemental resistance, and bless. You can eventually get and improve wings/flight at 9th and 17th. If you chose a lineage, you can gain related magic at 9th and even summon like-minded outsiders to help you at 13th!

Duskwalker

Duskwalker is distinct from aasimar and tiefling in that there are no lineage feats associated with it. The heritage comes with low-light (or darkvision if you already have low-light) and the neat twist that your spirit nor your body can ever become undead. I don’t really know much about duskwalkers, other than the elevator pitch of souls being sent back to live another life, so I didn’t really have an expectation for the feat options. 1st level options of lore and darkvision are here, as all the entries have had thus far … and it reminds me, this is one quirk of 2e that I still don’t care for. Every versatile heritage has a feat that grants darkvision if you have low-light vision. Sure, they add flavor specific to the heritage, but they could add many more feats by simply having a “Universal Ancestry Feat” called “Darkvision”. That preexisting complaint aside, I really like what the duskwalker offers and I can thing of two different characters I might try out in the future. I really like the Ghost Hunter (strikes are magical or ghost touch against incorporeal) and Lifesense (10 foot range to sense both life and undeath; can’t tell which) feats.

Tiefling

  • Grimspawn (Daemon) – diehard
  • Hellspawn (Devil) – deception, legal lore, lie to me
  • Pitborn (Demon) – athletics, one 1st level common athletics skill feat

From claws, hooves, jaws, and tails, there are feats to provide you with attacks, speed, dexterity with your other worldly appendages. You can have resistances, cast bane and other spells based on lineage, and like your upper planar counterparts … you can grow wings or summon allies from below. I don’t wanna say tiefling feats are “opposites” of the aasimar feats, but they do kinda represent the other side of the coin.


Tune in tomorrow as I dive into new options for existing ancestries!
And, as always, please join us at our Discord server https://discord.gg/Rt79BAj to let me know what you think or simply have a chat!

Randal Meyer

As a lover of crunch (rules and numbers), Randal is always tinkering with rules options. His love of magic users has led him to always fuss with the mechanics of magic and magic items. Years of GMing on the fly have given him vast amounts of ideas and content from which to draw on for adventures (ideas, plots, NPCs). When not working, playing with his kids, bowling, or running a PF campaign, Randal is likely writing some new mobile web app (http://halfmugtavern.blog) to enhance the experience of playing Pathfinder!