Alright so this is going to be a long winded thing so here we go.

I'm going to be starting in a Pathfinder game and I'm going to be participating as a member of the group as a Merfolk Sorcerer. I've done a bunch of comparisons to features and what not and I've drawn a pretty amazing self-portrait so I'm pretty set in wanting to be a Merfolk. I've got a nice spread of stats and I'm trying to squeak out a path of what I'm going to take in the future and since Sorcerer's don't get bonus spells known the pickings in the future are looking pretty slim.

Now I figure I have a few ways to get some extra spells in the long run, be it via carrying about twenty wands for low level non-scaling utility spells and whatnot, but I'd really like some extra wiggle room, and the best way for me to get that would be via the Human Class Bonus for Sorcerer.

For the record, here are the following differences between the racial favored class bonuses:

Human Add one spell known from the sorcerer spell list. This spell must be at least one level below the highest spell level the sorcerer can cast.

Merfolk Add +½ to the sorcerer’s caster level when determining the range of any spells with the water descriptor.

I've done some checking up on some spells and whatnot and have determined that the Merfolk Sorcerer Favored class bonus stinks on ice something fierce. There are 11 spells or so that have the water descriptor, about 8 of them have Long range by default so range isn't even an issue at that point. There is one Fixed range spell, and two short to medium range spells that might benefit from a range increase.

In other words, It sucks. Fiercely. It's far far worse than a Hit point or a skill rank, and that's really saying something. The Human bonus on the other hand gives you 3 Bonus Cantrips, 2 bonus spells of every other level, and 3 bonus 8th level spells.

My question is thus, is there any way for a non-human to acquire another races favored class bonus, and if not is there an efficient way aside from Rings of Spell Knowledge or carrying many, many wands to get the bonus spells I want and/or need?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is the character entering the campaign at level 1? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 7, 2015 at 14:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes. The Merfolk will be entering the game at level 1. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Jun 8, 2015 at 2:13

4 Answers 4


Not that I can find

There's a bunch of stuff to let humans be other people, and you can be a Aasimar Human Goblin if you want, but no way to count as human if you're not already a half-elf/half-orc/aasimar/tiefling.

Backwards compatibility (hah!) has you covered, though. From Races of Destiny,


Your human heritage is more prominent than in others of your kind.

Prerequisite: Half-human race or human-descended race.

Benefit: You are treated as a humanoid with the human subtype for the purpose of adjudicating all effects. If you are not a humanoid, your type changes to humanoid and you gain the human subtype. If you are already a humanoid, you gain the human subtype. In either case, you retain any other subtypes you had (such as orc or extraplanar), and you retain any traits common to all creatures of your original type (such as darkvision). You gain 4 additional skill points.

Special: This feat may only be taken at 1st level.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Does merfolk classify as human-descended race, though? \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Jun 7, 2015 at 11:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zachiel - merfolk is to humans as 'aquatic elves' is to elves. I'd say it counts. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Jun 7, 2015 at 12:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JackLesnie Except, Aquatic Elves don't have the lower body of a fish, they have finned legs that can still walk on land. There is nothing that states they are descended from humans in the PFSRD. To say they are would be a houserule. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Jun 7, 2015 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have to agree with Ruut, especially with the existence of Gillmen, who are RAW direct decedents of Azlanti humans, modified by the Aboleth after Starfall (If we're talking about the Pathfinder campaign setting, not just the rule set). \$\endgroup\$ Jun 7, 2015 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @misterducky - the existence of one underwater human-descended race does not invalidate the existence of another. They have the torso of a human. Convergent evolution is bunkum, and it's a houserule either way, so i'd place good money on it coming out as 'human-descended'. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Jun 7, 2015 at 18:18

Bonus Spells Through Items

In regards to the last part of your question, about getting more spells, without having to carry a lot of wands, there is a wondrous item from Ultimate Equipment. The description of the Page of Spell Knowledge is as follows:

This page is covered in densely-worded arcane or divine magical runes. It contains the knowledge of a single arcane or divine spell (chosen by the creator when the item is crafted). If the bearer is a spontaneous spellcaster and has that spell on her class spell list, she may use her spell slots to cast that spell as if it were one of her spells known. A page of spell knowledge is priced based on the spell's cleric or sorcerer/wizard spell level, unless the spell doesn't appear on either of those spell lists, in which case it is based on the highest spell level as it appears on any other spell list. For example, a spell that is on the 4th-level inquisitor list and the 2nd-level paladin list is priced as a 4th-level spell.

This item is priced exactly as a Pearl of Power, but as you can see, works a little differently. As long as the page is somewhere on your person, it allows you to burn a spell slot in the spells known list.

The downside is, obviously, it costs money. Priced like a pearl of power, you're looking at 64,000g for a level 8 spell slot, and because I suppose they don't want people to just be able to buy more cantrips, there are no zero level Pages of Spell Knowledge, so there are some limitations to this idea. GM fiat could probably whip up one or two, but still.

Another Race Alternative

Another potential opportunity I could see is talking your GM into allowing you to use the Favored Class Bonus from the Gillmen. Their bonus is the exact same as the human, and it sets a precedent for aquatic humanoids.

This next bit will drift into the realm of opinion, but the Merfolk starting stats are very strong. No penalties to ability score, with three +2 bonuses. They also have +2 natural armor, and have no weakness racial traits. This might be something to consider when approaching your GM about adding even more power. It might be wise to offer up a compromise. As you're going to be playing a mostly Sea based game (Discusses in rpg.se chat), it might make sense to offer to take the Water Dependent Weakess Racial Trait from the Gillmen:

Water Dependent: A gillman's body requires constant submersion in fresh or salt water. Gillmen who spend more than one day without fully submerging themselves in water risk internal organ failure, painful cracking of the skin, and death within 4d6 hours.

All of these racial options will require GM approval, as none of them would be RAW.

Also, shout out to Hey I Can Chan for pointing out that Page of Spell Knowledge is superior to the Spell Lattice which I had originally posted, in pretty much every way.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I sincerely appreciate the politeness, but, strangely, it's unnecessary. The pleasure is supposed to be from sharing and helping others. (I know! Weird, right?) Here's the appropriate question on Meta. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 7, 2015 at 15:58

1) The Adopted trait doesn't do this, but seems like it could. GMs who reject the RAW approach to achieving this might be amiable to a house rule letting you do this with this trait.

Racial Heritage is a Human Racial Feat that lets you count as any other race. You can acquire the feat as a merfolk by using Alter Self or Instant Enemy or Polymorph Any Object to turn into a human (depending on your GM). When you are no longer human, you would normally no longer be able to use the feat, but Racial Heritage grants you Human and any one other additional race, and so meets its own prerequisites once you have it. If you use Alter Self or Instant Enemy, your GM may make you find a way to have the spells up indefinitely. Instant Enemy requires a custom magic item, but Alter Self can be acquired at-will through a number of sources, such as the Greater Hat of Disguise.

You may also be able to just Polymorph before/during leveling up, dependant on your GM, and chose the racial favored class bonuses that way.

2) Pages of Spell Knowledge are relatively cheap and weightless and you can stack them all in a spellbook and forget about them. This is the best way to get more spells as a sorcerer. You should not use the human favored class bonus to do this, because you can buy them with gold instead. The only exceptions are 0-level spells, which cannot be learned this way. Instead, Cracked Orange Prism Ioun Stones, which cost 1000 gp, give you another 0-level spell as a spell known.


Regarding Racial Favored Class Bonus... Non-Human: No. Half-Human: Yes.


Can a half-elf or half-orc select human racial favored class options?

Yes. Half-elves and half-orcs may select racial favored class options, archetypes, traits, and so on, as if they were a full member of both races (a half-elf can select elf and human rules elements, a half-orc can select human and orc rules elements)

Campaign Specific Trait

If you are allowed, you could choose the Finding your Kin trait to get extra HP and skill points in addition to your racial favored bonus:

The chosen class is always a favored class to you, and your dedication to it is such that every time you take a level in the class, you gain +1 hit point and 1 additional skill point over and above what you would normally gain. If multiple PCs take this trait, they should be siblings who were both protected and raised by the chosen NPC.

Good Quote from Giants in the Playground

Topic: [PF] Favoured class bonuses unbalanced?

I agree that they aren't really balanced. But that's sort of the point (or should be...).

Favored bonuses primarily reflect that race's "feel" (flavor), which is why there is no Favored bonus for Dwarf/Sorcerer's, because Dwarves as a race don't match the Sorcerer "feel" (and the CHA penalty doesn't help...), but they DO have a Favored bonus for Oracle, because of the strong connection between Dwarves and Clerics.

Also, ideally, the Favored bonuses should compensate for relative strength/weakness of certain race/class choices, i.e. Dwarfs do not make the best Oracles due to the CHA penalty, so their bonus should be better than a race with a CHA bonus (balance).

And comparing Dwarves and Gnomes, Dwarves do have the (relatively) better bonus: 'free' weapon proficiencies, vs. slightly quicker access to abilities you'll have at some point anyway.

There is usually a conflict between the two (balance/flavor).

Flavor-wise: Humans are the 'do anything' race, thus their Favored options are a little more open and flexible. Compare Human/Fighter to Dwarf/Fighter.

Humans "Add +1 to the fighter’s CMD when resisting two combat maneuvers of the character’s choice"

Dwarves "Add +1 to the fighter’s CMD when resisting a bull rush or trip"

Humans get a choice, because they are the more 'flexible' race.

Balance-wise: Also, look at the Goblin Favored Bonuses, they are heads above ANY other race's Favored bonuses (at least in comparable bonuses). But as a Race, they have hardy any Race features, and have a net +0 to Stats (every other 'standard' race has net +2). So the Favored bonuses are a way of compensating for the otherwise 'weaker' race.

Halfling's get an awesome Favored bonus for going Monk "Add +1 to the monk’s CMD when resisting a grapple and +1/2 to the number of stunning attacks he can attempt per day.", but make the WORST Monks out of the main 7 Races (small size, wrong stats).

Regarding Bonus Spells Known...

It would really require feats, such as:

Extra Spells Known

Benefit: You learn two additional spells known for one spontaneous spellcasting class (such as bard or sorcerer) you have levels in. You may never use this feat to know more spells at any level than you know at each level below it.

Special: You can gain Extra Spells Known multiple times. Its effects stack.

Expanded Arcana

Benefit: Add one spell from your class’s spell list to your list of spells known. This is in addition to the number of spells normally gained at each new level in your class. You may instead add two spells from your class’s spell list to your list of spells known, but both of these spells must be at least one level lower than the highest level spell you can cast in that class. Once made, these choices cannot be changed.

Special: You can only take this feat if you possess levels in a class whose spellcasting relies on a limited list of spells known, such as the bard, oracle, and sorcerer. You can gain Expanded Arcana multiple times.

Another magic item would be great, especially since it doesn't take up a slot:

Page of Spell Knowledge

If the bearer is a spontaneous spellcaster and has that spell on her class spell list, she may use her spell slots to cast that spell as if it were one of her spells known.

Spell Lattice

When a spell lattice is wielded by a spontaneous spellcaster who has the spell contained within it on her class spell list, she can use her spell slots to cast that spell as if it were one of her spells known.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just a note, ability modifiers don't affect spells known, only spells per day. The OP is specifically asking about spells known for the sorcerer, which are generally harder to come by than spells per day. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 7, 2015 at 14:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ The information about the Page of Spell Knowledge and the Spell Lattice on this post was very useful, Thank you Ruut. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Jun 8, 2015 at 2:10

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