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Pathfinder ancestries now get DnD style custom ability boosts

TTRPG publisher Paizo announced a new rules errata for Pathfinder that further divorces ability scores and “biological essentialism” from playable ancestries

Pathfinder ability boost errata - Paizo art of a horned woman with green hair and white eyes

Pathfinder publisher Paizo shared a blog post announcing a fresh rules errata on January 3, as well as “changes to the way we make changes” in the first place. Errata posts will now occur bi-annually rather than when RPG books get reprinted. And while Wednesday’s particular rules changes tweak everything from classes to animal companions, Paizo says its “most expansive change” is a new rule that further divorces ancestries from specific ability scores.

The updated Pathfinder 2e rules now include “alternate ancestry boosts” that let players “choose two free ability boosts for a character of any ancestry”. The rules text from Paizo’s errata FAQ says, while you can still use the ‘standard’ ancestry ability boosts suggested for Pathfinder ‘races’, “you always have the option to replace your ancestry’s listed ability boosts and ability flaws entirely and instead select two free ability boosts when creating your character”.

In the blog post, Paizo shares some background on the decision to sever ancestries from ability scores. “There have been many ongoing conversations in the gaming community and within Paizo about biological essentialism in RPGs”, it says. “We think it’s time to address this issue and have added this universal option.” “This makes it clearer that ancestries aren’t a monolith, and adds more nuance to the world and a wider breadth of characters”, it adds.

Changing representation of races has also been a prominent focus for tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, which recently announced plans to remove ‘race’ as a term in future rulebooks and link ability score increases to backgrounds instead of race. D&D also introduced an optional custom origins rule in the 2020 book Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything which let players completely customise their ability scores – a rule that bears some resemblance to the new overhaul of ancestry ability boosts in Pathfinder.

Pathfinder ability boost errata - Pathfinder 2e core rulebook from Paizo

Paizo specifies in Wednesday’s blog post that this change is “an alternative for all characters and campaigns, not a variant rule, since it’s expected to be in line with the power level of other options”. “If you have made or want to make a character using an ancestry’s printed options (such as a dwarf with a Con boost, Wisdom boost, free boost, and Charisma flaw), those options remain, and those characters still follow the updated rules.”

The optional Voluntary Flaws rule also appears to have changed. Originally, this allowed players to take two additional ability flaws to gain an extra ability boost. However, the new errata from the FAQ instead says, “this is purely for roleplaying a highly flawed character”.

For more on Pathfinder, check out our guide to the core Pathfinder classes. We can also tell you all the latest (exclusive) info about the recently released Sky King’s Tomb Adventure Path.