Pathfinder RPG Proposal: Wayangs





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  1. #1
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    Proposal: Wayangs

    I'd like to make a proposal to have the Wayang race (from Paizo's Dragon Empires setting) available for play in LPF. While I generally like the idea of trying avoid an over-proliferation of PC races, the Wayangs really strike me as interesting, for both their fluff and their crunch, and I think they'd fit in well into our setting. I also like the idea of having a small-sized race available for play that is mechanically distinct from halflings and gnomes (whose similar stat bonuses and penalties frustrate me to no end).

    As far as the fluff of Wayangs in E'n, I picture it as being something like this:

    Wayangs are close relatives of gnomes, and share their fey roots. Both can trace their origins to the Hidden Path, but whereas Gnomes can be seen as much purer expressions of that path, Wayangs seem to have originated from a point at which the Hidden Path intersects with vertices of the Essential Path which express dimness and concealment, such as Darkness, Smoke, and Oil. Whether the Wayang arise from one specific intersection, or whether they are born of a multitude of them, remains uncertain. Either way, the resultant race is a muted relative of their gregarious cousins: Wayangs emphasize secretiveness and stealth, tending to be far more introverted than Gnomes, and their appearance (mostly muted grays and blacks, with occasionally deep purples, blues, or reds) reflects this.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Here's the crunch; I modified the languages slightly to reflect the absence of the the Tien tongues.

    All wayangs are humanoids with the wayang subtype. They have the following racial traits.

    Ability Scores: Wayangs are nimble and cagey, but their perception of the world is clouded by shadows. They have the following ability score adjustments: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, –2 Wisdom.

    Size: Wayangs are Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a –1 penalty on their combat maneuver checks and to CMD, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.

    Speed: Wayangs have a base speed of 20 feet.

    Senses: Darkvision 60' (wayangs can see in the dark up to 60 feet.)

    Special Abilities:

    Light and Dark (Su)
    Once per day as an immediate action, a wayang can treat positive and negative energy effects as if the wayang were an undead creature, taking damage from positive energy and healing damage from negative energy. This ability lasts for 1 minute once activated.

    Lurker (Ex)
    Wayangs gain a +2 racial bonus on Perception and Stealth checks.

    Shadow Magic (Ex/Sp)
    Wayangs add +1 to the DC of any saving throws against spells of the shadow subschool that they cast. Wayangs with a Charisma score of 11 or higher also gain the following spell-like abilities: 1/day—ghost sound, pass without trace, and ventriloquism. The caster level for these effects is equal to the wayang’s level. The DC for these spells is equal to 10 + the spell’s level + the wayang’s Charisma modifier.

    Shadow Resistance (Ex)
    Wayangs get a +2 racial saving throw bonus against spells of the shadow subschool.

    Languages: Wayangs begin play speaking Common and Wayang. Wayangs with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Abyssal, Aklo, Draconic, Goblin, and Infernal.

 

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    May want to be careful with the stealth bonus. As small creatures, wayangs will already get +4 size. At first level, a typical wayang will have something like +13 to stealth (+4 size + 3 class skill +1 rank + 2 racial + 3 DEX).

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    Stealth is a bit pimped for sure, although I don't know if a substitution is necessary, or, if so, what would replace it. From a fluff perspective, I think the stealth bonus makes a lot of sense, and I don't know if the +2 puts things on a level where it'd pose a balance problem. But I'm certainly open to hearing otherwise.

    Frankly, I think the perception bonus makes less sense, at least from a fluff perspective: so their "perception of the world is clouded by shadows" (-2 Wis), but they get a bonus to Perception? Seems a bit at-odds to me, and strikes me as a defacto bonus that doesn't really belong. But of course, you won't catch Wayangs complaining.

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    I like that you've given them a bit of E'n fluff. I'm just not sure it's enough to overcome my ambivalence towards this race. Accumulated modifiers (-Wis +Perception) still make them more observant than the average human which is strange considering that little tidbit that you pointed out. The stealth modifiers are really good and this race would make excellent rogues given that sneak attack would help alleviate lower damage for being small.

    Overall, I just don't like this race enough to give it a 'yes' but neither do I dislike it enough, or think it too unbalanced to give it a 'no'. There are other races (like grippli, ratfolk, suli, vanara and vishkanya) that I find much more interesting. I'm gonna leave this sit for a bit and mull it over and hopefully others will drop in and discuss.

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    Yeah, the -Wis +Perception bit is ... odd. Especially since that's the primary skill you use Wisdom for anyway.

    I'm wondering, though, if this race might not get some tweaking in the upcoming Advanced Races Guide? Since even the person proposing it recognizes some oddities to the mechanics, maybe we should table discussion to see if it's modified there?

    I recognize it's a couple months away, but just my first thought.

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    Based on this post by James Jacobs, it looks like they'll be some additional information in the ARG, but I'd imagine that information will be more on the order of adding fluff than modifying crunch. If you look at the tengu entry from the bestiary vs from the Dragon Empires setting, that seems to be all that really changed. Slightly different situation, of course, but I'd still be surprised to see changes of the things we're talking about. In any event, it'd be a bummer to wait that long just to reassess our standing on allowing Wayangs, though if that's the vote, then I'll of course go with it.

    What do people think about replacing the Perception bonus with something that makes more sense? I'd be up for that. Perhaps +2 for Sleight of Hand (based on their caginess/secrecy) or Knowledge (Planes) (given the association with the shadow planes)?

  • #7
    I am not a huge fan of a proliferation of playable races, though I suspect that is my own personal bias. I am watching the discussion here, but my inclination is to vote "no" at this time, possibly to reevaluate when the Advanced Races Guide comes out.

  • #8
    I'll vote yes as it is from the book. The race will have a tendency towards rogues and wizards. The -Wis/+Perception thing can be summed up as "Curiosity killed the Wayang". They sneak around and notice the little things, but don't know when to back away from a danger.

    The stealth issue is not overpowering. There is likely always going to be someone in the party with a stealth of 1 or lower to blunder and ruin his chances of sneaking unless he is way ahead of the party. Then we are back to the "Curiosity killed the Wayang".

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    I'm still considering. Qik makes a good case that the main stats aren't likely to change so much as be added to with various racial alt options, so I'm not as convinced a delay for the book is anything more than a stalling action.

    I don't know that the wis/perception thing is so crazy that it requires house-ruling (and in general I think the dictum is to try avoiding that when possible, yes?). Super stealth is super stealth, but with vanish at second level for a lot of character types, I'm not sure maxing that out is really as overpowering as it at first seems. Makes for some lovely sneakiness at 1st level, but pretty quickly access to sneaky magics make that less necessary. Or, at least, that's my take on it.

    I suppose where I am now is wondering about where the community's generalized philosophy lies on adopting new playable races. With an entire book dedicated to (from what I gather) statting out a boatload of them, the Wayangs might make a good test case for where we set the bar for entry. Apologies in advance if this comes across as a thread hi-jack; it's not my intent.

    My first thoughts are that, beyond being considered for whatever your values for mechanical balance are (and, being mechanics, I think they're easier to explain in approval discussions), I think the more ephemeral (but not really less important) things to consider would fall along these lines:

    1) Can it fit logically into the ecology / social ecology of LPF? Playable races, just like playable classes, seem to me something you should encounter with a reasonable frequency. Some may clearly be less prevalent than others, but if 'race X' walks into a bar (or The Dunn Wright), it should be reasonably capable of interacting without being utterly alien.

    I think Qik's done a decent job of fluffing the Wayang such that they have a 'place' in E'n.

    2) Is it reasonably unique? Yes, this might seem to be fundamentally at odds with (1), but I think a good playable race strikes a good balance between these two. Of the previously-added races, I think Merfolk and Tengu probably manage to meet this standard better than Aasimar and Tieflings. I'm not entirely convinced the latter two aren't just more riffs on the "half-x" template, though I've seen a few examples of folks whose concepts move beyond that.

    Here I'm a little more on the bubble. As with Aasimar and Tieflings, I'm not sure Wayangs aren't a pretty standard trope: this time the "dark X" model, where X in this case is Gnomes. At least, on reading, they seem rather like the Gnome equivalent of Drow or Derro to me. In which case, I'm not sure a creature template might not be more appropriate (Nocturnal? A modified Unseelie?).

    I haven't really made up my mind, and I'm not trying to be stubborn or insensitive; I'm just not solidly convinced one way or the other yet, so figured it might help to throw out where my head was and see how others respond.

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    Thanks for your thoughts, All. I appreciate the discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by IronWolf View Post
    I am not a huge fan of a proliferation of playable races, though I suspect that is my own personal bias.
    I am actually inclined to agree with you, IW. I find that there's a point at which an excess of player races stretches credibility. In a fantasy setting, that is, admittedly, an irrational conception, but it's mine nevertheless. Things just start to feel like so much cherry picking.

    This is where the Wayang's similarity to Gnomes comes into play. I find I'm much more inclined to accept a new race that is related to, or an off-shoot of, an existing one - from a fluff perspective, that provides, at least for me, an adequate explanation for their presence in the world. I also believe that E'n's cosmology (which I'm very fond of) is well suited for explaining these sorts of distortions of more familiar races.

    Quote Originally Posted by jkason View Post
    1) Can it fit logically into the ecology / social ecology of LPF? Playable races, just like playable classes, seem to me something you should encounter with a reasonable frequency. Some may clearly be less prevalent than others, but if 'race X' walks into a bar (or The Dunn Wright), it should be reasonably capable of interacting without being utterly alien.

    I think Qik's done a decent job of fluffing the Wayang such that they have a 'place' in E'n.

    2) Is it reasonably unique? Yes, this might seem to be fundamentally at odds with (1), but I think a good playable race strikes a good balance between these two. Of the previously-added races, I think Merfolk and Tengu probably manage to meet this standard better than Aasimar and Tieflings. I'm not entirely convinced the latter two aren't just more riffs on the "half-x" template, though I've seen a few examples of folks whose concepts move beyond that.

    Here I'm a little more on the bubble. As with Aasimar and Tieflings, I'm not sure Wayangs aren't a pretty standard trope: this time the "dark X" model, where X in this case is Gnomes. At least, on reading, they seem rather like the Gnome equivalent of Drow or Derro to me. In which case, I'm not sure a creature template might not be more appropriate (Nocturnal? A modified Unseelie?).

    I haven't really made up my mind, and I'm not trying to be stubborn or insensitive; I'm just not solidly convinced one way or the other yet, so figured it might help to throw out where my head was and see how others respond.
    Personally, I find the Wayang to be very unique, albeit a potential result of the "inversion" trope you referenced. The other two small races are gregarious and charismatic - I like that the Wayang offer something contrary to that. I also think that they do the "outsider with dark origins" thing much better, both fluff and crunch wise, than the way the tieflings do it, so in that sense, I feel as though they're providing a valuable new asset to building and shaping a character.

    I also quite like Satin Knights' "curiosity killed the wayang" axiom.

    Just to be clear: I don't mean to over-argue my point on this; just enjoying the discussion. I totally understand the potential aversion to adding new player races.

    Finally, just to make it official, I am going to put in my YES vote.

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