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In Pathfinder 1st edition, a Small character received the following benefits and detriments compared to a Medium character:

  • +1 AC
  • +1 on attack rolls
  • +4 on Stealth checks
  • -1 CMB
  • -1 CMD
  • lower weapon damage die
  • 3/4 the carrying capacity
  • 1/2 the weight of armor and gear

In 2nd edition, none of those changes seem to be in effect and I can't find any mention of new ones. So while Gnomes, Goblins, and Halflings are all listed as size Small, it doesn't seem to make any difference. Are there any benefits or detriments to being Small in 2e?

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They are almost, but not quite, mechanically identical. None of the various size bonuses and penalties from First Edition apply. Only a few rules care:

The Grapple, Shove, Trip, and Disarm actions all list the following requirement:

You have at least one free hand. Your target cannot be more than one size larger than you.

The rule about moving through the space of bigger creatures ("Creatures of Different Sizes", CRB pg. 475) cares about the difference between Small and Medium.

There are a few similar exceptions -- mounts, sharing spaces with unconscious creatures, and such -- but nothing comparable to the bonuses and penalties built into size in First Edition.

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None

Small-sized and Medium-sized creatures have no drawbacks or benefits inherent to their size, unlike in the 1st edition of the game. Even Large-sized characters will gain no benefits from it.

Barbarians with a Giant Instinct and the Enlarge spell being the only obtainable abilities to become Large-sized. Do note that the benefits are similar, but are gained by those effects and not exactly due to the size increase.

So, at best, this is what you would gain from become Large-sized, independently of your original size (from Enlarge):

You become Large, increasing your reach by 5 feet and gaining the clumsy 1 condition

And this is what happens when a creature becomes Tiny-sized, according to the Shrink spell:

The target shrinks to become Tiny in size. Its equipment shrinks with it but returns to its original size if removed. The creature's reach changes to 0 feet.

But other than that, Small and Medium creatures work exactly the same. Also note that the rules for Equipment sizes are the same for both Small and Medium.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ There's no listed increase in weapons damage either, it only references status bonuses. So it seems that Large weapons likely have the same damage dice too. Admittedly though this would make Giant Instinct a little underwhelming, so I hope I'm just missing something. \$\endgroup\$ – Cyberspark Aug 15 '19 at 8:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Giant Instinct is average, you gain increased damage and reach, which was the main benefit of increasing in size in 1e. Later on, the bonus damage increases, and as noted on darch's answer, there are other game mechanics that compare the size between both creatures. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Aug 15 '19 at 11:38

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