We are playing (a converted) City of the Spider Queen and a player whose character died has now created a new one; a Dwarven Rogue. He asked me if he can take the Ancient Enmity Alternate Racial Trait from the Advanced Race Guide:

Ancient Enmity: Dwarves have long been in conflict with elves, especially the hated drow. Dwarves with this racial trait receive a +1 bonus on attack rolls against humanoid creatures of the elf subtype. This racial trait replaces the hatred racial trait.

The only reason he asks this is because he knows he will be facing a lot of drow. If he were starting at level 1, I would allow this. But his new character is level 8, and has no reason whatsoever to have hatred vs elves, since drow only recently roamed the area. Also I don't think it's fair to the other players, who still have their original characters.

Does anybody has some advice, or faced the same problem?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Tom, and welcome to the site. "Do you have any advice?" isn't a good Stack Exchange question, it's an invitation to a discussion which we can field in chat or which should be brought to a forum. The titular question is a little opinion based: some people will think it's OK, others will not. If there's an actual problem we can resolve (e.g. "I am concerned this will cause {insert problem here}, will it really?") that might be suitable, but as is I'm voting to close this as primarily opinion based. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 3 '15 at 10:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Should I delete it? @doppelgreener \$\endgroup\$ – Tom Jonckheere Feb 3 '15 at 10:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Definitely don't delete it just off one person's input, someone else could disagree, and show the question is fine and that I may be raving mad. Other community members may come by with suggestions for improvement, even after it gets closed. Might as well leave it here! \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 3 '15 at 10:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Both those books and an awful lot of Pathfinder content are published for free (and legally) on Paizo's PRD (now linked in your queston) and on d20pfsrd.org. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Feb 3 '15 at 13:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @sadaqah No, half of the players are casual players, who don't know who Lolth is or what they could expect. The players that did know are still playing their character from the previous adventure. Only he gets a new character because his other character died. \$\endgroup\$ – Tom Jonckheere Feb 3 '15 at 14:22

Yes. I consider it part of my job as GM to ensure that the adventures my PCs get involved in play to their strengths and challenge their weaknesses, and to make them relevant to their backgrounds. I believe it's unfair to let a player invest in a skill only for it to hardly ever come up during play for example.

If I were you I would consider the situation you describe in your question in a similar way, and would actually encourage players to try to match their character design to the demands of the adventures they are facing. Yes, its a bit 'meta', but I think this is a perfectly valid thing to do if it means the new PC is more relevant to the story in some way.

For example.... So, the dwarf wants to hate elves instead of the typical orcs? Use this as an opportunity. Ask them to explain why this is the case. What happened in this character's past that made them feel this way? Think about how you can weave this detail back into the adventure.

As for worrying about how the other players might feel if you allow this. Have you asked them or is this an assumption you are making? I know it's not something I would have an issue with as a player, but others' views might differ. If they do then discuss it with them and perhaps come up with an appropriate compromise.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is not what racial advantages/disadvantages are. Dwarven hatred of orcs is not something that stems from them being bullied by orcs as a child, it's something that stems from generations upon generations of war. That is not something that suddenly switches because of your own past, for that kind of specialized grudges, rangers with preferred enemy work a lot better. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Feb 3 '15 at 12:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why can't it be different for this character? \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Feb 3 '15 at 13:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because once you start allowing this, dwarves are no longer dwarves. Player 1 will want his dump stat to be intelligence instead of charisma, player 2 will want + strength instead of wisdom because it works better for his character and player 3 wants to be proficient with katanas instead of axes to save a feat. Are they still all dwarves? You're not really supposed to chance racial feats because that's exactly what they are, things common to that race. "I'm a human with 4 arms and pointy ears" is no longer a human. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Feb 3 '15 at 13:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik This is a published option for Dwarven characters, not a request for a house rule. See edits to the original question. \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Feb 3 '15 at 13:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik There's a huge difference between refluffing a racial trait and houseruling new rules text for one. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthew Najmon Feb 3 '15 at 17:00

You say:

The only reason he asks this is because he knows he will be facing a lot of drow.

Well, I don't think that is a good enough reason. The bonus isn't unbalanced, it won't cause the game any trouble, but he is still basically asking something for nothing.

Instead, make him work for it. You can tell him "I will allow it if you can work it into your background so that it makes sense that your character has a racial hatred for Elves (and Drow in particular)

The worst thing that happens is he decides not to take the bonus. It won't hurt his character much. The best thing is that he comes up with some sort of cool background and everyone at the table wins by making the story a bit better.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for working it into the background. While OP says that "drow only recently roamed the area" the new character could be from far away and hunting down drow (due to the racial hatred). \$\endgroup\$ – sadaqah Feb 3 '15 at 13:49

Have you allowed any other alternate racial trait options from the same book or source?

If yes, then you should definitely allow the trait selection. "Normally that'd be ok but since you're picking something you know you'll actually get to use now it's not ok" is uncool. If no, then continue...

Will the base trait go unused for at least the next, oh, let's say five sessions (because there are no orcs around)?

If yes, then you should at least consider allowing the trait selection. Ever had a ranger and the DM simply never dropped your favored enemy? Dead traits are boring and irritating. The character would actually be better if they didn't have the trait in the first place, because at least there wouldn't be something on the sheet every time the player looks at it going "You can't use me! Haha!" If no...

Can the character be made more interesting - or a better fit for the party or setting - by allowing the trait selection?

If yes, then you should still consider allowing the trait selection. A comment on another answer mentioned "This dwarf isn't from around here, he's traveled long and far to find drow to hunt." This, to me, makes much more sense than "Hi random dwarf we don't know deep in the Underdark, we're willing to trust you with our lives because we sense your decision-making process is similar to our recently-deceased friend's." In a campaign against drow, it's much easier to work a drow-hunter into the party. The enemy of my enemy...

If you managed to answer no to all those questions, then feel free to tell him no, although I still don't see what harm it does to allow it. But I'm not going to tell you're playing the game wrong if you don't allow it - if you and your table are having fun, you're clearly doing it right.


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