I have been playing a Lythic (humanoid-ish Earth elemental) that has earthglide (a method of movement through the ground that is similar to flying) as a PC. With the blessings of my GM. I'm finding that it feels really overpowered. This campaign is underground-bound only, so I can constantly be hiding/traveling through the ground to avoid all sorts of things. Flight is one thing, but earthglide is literally doubling as a way for me to hide while I don't want to be in the combat. Slipping under the ground without a problem, and then popping back up where the bad guys are (Tremorsense 100').. Well, it just feels like it's pushing the bounds of any kind of balance.

Despite being the player of this character, I can't help but feel mildly sorry for the GM (whom is probably a little irritated at having to deal with all the wild possibilities from my being able to essentially go off and do whatever with near-impunity).

I'm curious how other people would deal with this in their games? Would you just go with it, and figure out how to deal with the character as it's overpowered? Try to find limits of earthglide (it is rather slow afterall)?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What did you give up to balance the abilities of the Lythic? Is it just 4 levels, for the CR4 of the Lythic? \$\endgroup\$
    – Pat Ludwig
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 20:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ We went with two level adjustment, as we are playing a fairly high powered campaign in the first place. This holds true for all the other players with monstrous races as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Naetuir
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 20:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ CR is not a good indicator of how much a monster race would behave when elected to playable race. Most monsters don't face the problems player characters usually are entangled in. At will magical powers, weird forms of movement and supernatural perception are OK as long as the monster is on the spotlight for the limited time frame in which players fight it. But if they are pulled on the scene 24/7 (by being elected to a player character), these abilities totally become overpowered. Monsters should usually be nerfed to become effective characters. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 4, 2012 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


Keep in mind that even though Pathfinder doesn't have character level adjustments for playable races, the fact that a Lythic with no character levels is still CR 4 should be taken into account. You're basically 4 levels higher than standard races.

That said, imo Earthglide and tremorsense still seems overpowered. If you want to limit the ability, perhaps limit Earthglide to inlude only natural constructions. I.E., you can glide through cave walls and dirt, but worked stone (such as dungeon floors and walls) block the gliding ability.

This would let you maintain the flavor of the creature, and provide an advantage in outdoors combat situations, but allows your GM to write dungeon encounters without considering your ability to slip through walls and floors.

If tremorsense is also a problem, consider applying the same restriction: tremorsense only works through naturally occurring constructs such as ground and rock, but man-made floors disrupt it.

Lastly, keep in mind that the Lythic is an outsider, not a humanoid. This could cause problems with certain spells, introducing unexpected immunities, etc.

In light of all of these, I would recommend instead playing a new race—a Half-Lythic—described as a human whose ancestor once mated with a Lythic (similar to a Half-Dragon). Said Half-Lythic would be a humanoid creature with the limited Earthglide and tremorsense, but otherwise the same as the character you play now.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm. That's an interesting take on it. The GM that was taking on this campaign was specifically going for more monstrous characters. With that being the case, getting closer to humanoid with a half-lythic may not have worked in this campaign. It probably would help in a more normal non-underground non-monstrous campaign. It is interesting that you bring up limiting the movement. There isn't any errata on Earthglide, but I was debating if it was only your body that could slip through the ground, maybe? Equipment is not included? That would be a pretty big limiting factor... \$\endgroup\$
    – Naetuir
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 20:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Since you're playing a monstrous campaign, perhaps don't use a Half-Lythic, but still limit the movement opportunities. \$\endgroup\$
    – dlras2
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't believe that equipment being included is address in the core rules. I don't believe any standard, equipment-wearing creatures have Earthglide. And when a Druid wildshapes into an Earth elemental, their equipment melds with them. Your GM would be able to rule that equipment does not glide with them, since there is no existing ruling. Not that normally Lythics are not described with any equipment. \$\endgroup\$
    – dlras2
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 21:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right. That's one of the things that I have been thinking. It's the downside of such a rules heavy game as I see it. Since there is no rule actively saying no to it, I don't see why not (since earthglide is basically described as swimming through the ground, which I don't think has a real world corollary). Then again, that would be a pretty handy way to make the ability less-than-useful. It would almost neuter it's use as a player character. \$\endgroup\$
    – Naetuir
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 21:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ The rules are more of guidelines. There's really only one rule: rule 0. If your GM wants to rule one way or the other, do so. \$\endgroup\$
    – dlras2
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 21:08

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