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I am thinking of making a Kineticist. They benefit from a high Con (most of their skills depend on it), and a high Dex (for better ranged accuracy). However, the only races I can find that have a bonus to both Con and Dex are Hobgoblin and Merfolk. While they would be viable with some work, I'd like to use a different race while still getting those bonuses.

Would it be unbalanced/game-breaking to take a race and substitute out one of it's ability bonuses?

For example, consider Gnomes (+2 Con, +2 Cha, -2 Str), but swap out +2 Cha for +2 Dex.

Obviously this would need to be with GM consent.

If it is unbalanced, what are some modification that would make it work better?

(I've looked at the Advanced Race Guide rules for races, but they go into detail on a point system which I don't really want to deal with for a “simple” stat bonus swap, and I've heard that they don't work guarantee balance anyway in that you can get some point-balanced races that are objectively superior to others.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you familiar with the Advanced Race Guide's rules for creating/modifying races? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 18 '15 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've looked at them, but they go into detail on a point system which I don't really want to deal with. I've also heard that they don't work very well in terms of balance (as in you can get some point-balanced races that are objectively superior to others). \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Sep 18 '15 at 21:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Cool; I added that to your answer, since it highlights a simpler “just changing bonus stats” kind of focus to the question. People might still suggest it, but knowing your reservations, they'll know better what issues that a suggestion of the ARG would need to address for it to be taken seriously. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 18 '15 at 21:50
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Based on the rules presented in the Advanced Races guide, the gnomes fit into the following:

Standard (0 RP): Members of this race gain a +2 bonus to one physical ability score, a +2 bonus to one mental ability score, and a -2 penalty to any other ability score.

So long as you don't deviate from this formula for gnomes, the race is still balanced for all intents and purposes.

What you're looking for is:

Specialized (1 RP): Pick either Mental or Physical ability scores. Members of this race gain a +2 bonus to two scores of the chosen type, and a -2 penalty to one ability score of the other type.

So it would be slightly more powerful, with a difference of 1RP. But to answer your question, no. 1 RP is not a significant Difference. The highest RP of any of the base races is Dwarves at (11 RP), Gnomes are at (10 RP), so bumping them up by one point is not a significant alteration to game balance. As long as your GM is fine with it, it shouldn't be too significant a boon.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The OP's example explicitly would deviate from that formula, though... \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Sep 18 '15 at 22:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh sorry, I saw "Kineticist" and thought Int and Con. My bad. I'll amend the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Sep 18 '15 at 22:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would 1RP be a significant difference? Good answer, but I don't see any class-specific benefits from Int, why would I want it? \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Sep 18 '15 at 23:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ ..Oh. You're using that kineticist. I thought you were using this Kineticist. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Sep 18 '15 at 23:16
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There is one race that is neither Merfolk, nor Hobgoblin, that would meet your criteria. Human.

A human with the Dual Talent alternate racial trait gains a +2 to any two stats they choose, at the expense of their bonus feat, and +1 skill point.

Dual Talent: Some humans are uniquely skilled at maximizing their natural gifts. These humans pick two ability scores and gain a +2 racial bonus in each of those scores. This racial trait replaces the +2 bonus to any one ability score, the bonus feat, and the skilled traits.

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While I would suggest listening to SevenSidedDie and checking out the guide's rules, I do think this is a Yes and No situation. Modifying that could make a race super powerfully focused on a single class making it non-viable for other classes, or making that one class a bit stronger to start. If its just for one person try to consider his current stats and try to keep it similar to the other PC power levels. Example don't give the PC a score of +2 to his 18 and then have everyone else with a high of say 15. With DM discretion you could just RP you being Gnomish and have all the stats and characteristics of a hobgoblin.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you mean to say "I don't think this is a Yes and No situation"? \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Sep 21 '15 at 16:37

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