Pathfinder races and ancestries list 2024

Pathfinder 2e races, or ancestries, are a crucial part of your tabletop RPG character - here's all the details on the core Pathfinder races.

Pathfinder races and ancestries guide - Paizo rulebook artwork showing a goblin in glasses with a grenade

With the rapid expansion of Paizo’s Pathfinder fantasy universe since the TTRPG’s first edition came out in 2009, it’s spawned a vast range of Pathfinder races – called ‘ancestries’ – to choose from. Ranging from the simple Gnome and Elf to playable Kobold, Gargoyle, and Android races, the full list is nearing 40 (and that’s just in second edition). Our guide will start by detailing the core six Pathfinder 2e races, their lore, and key stats.

As a thoroughbred tabletop RPG, originally built from the bones of third edition Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder has some crossover with the classic DnD races you may know. It also has a character class system to design the role you’ll play in your party – for help there, try our full Pathfinder classes guide. You’ll find some similarities to the DnD classes if you’re already familiar with these, but there are plenty of key differences to understand.

That’s enough about the differences between Pathfinder and DnD though. Let’s talk 2e ancestries.

These are the core, playable Pathfinder 2e races:

Naturally, for a TTRPG as beloved, mature, and expansive as Pathfinder 2e, there are a lot of other playable races besides those core six ancestries – 30 of them, by our reckoning (plus six more that will be found in an as-yet-unreleased Pathfinder book). It’ll take us time to do proper deep dives into every single one, but, for the moment, here’s a table of the lot.

Here are all the playable Pathfinder races:

Core races Uncommon races Rare races
Dwarf Azarketi Anadi
Elf Catfolk Android
Goblin Fetchling Automaton
Gnome Gnoll Conrasu
Halfling Grippli Fleshwrap
Human Hobgoblin Ghoran
Kitsune Goloma
Kobold Kashrishi
Leshy Poppet
Lizardfolk Shisk
Nagaji Shoony
Orc Skeleton
Ratfolk Sprite
Tengu Strix
Vanara Vishkanya

Not included in this list are six of the most recently announced ancestries: Merfolk, Athamarus, Surkis, and awakened animals, plus the Minotaur and the Centaur. These mythology-inspired races appear in Howl of the Wild, a Pathfinder book that’s set to release in 2024.

Paizo art of a female dwarf, one of the Pathfinder races

Pathfinder Dwarf

The Pathfinder Dwarf race is fairly close to the classic Tolkien variety we know and love; the Pathfinder 2e Core Rulebook describes them as “a stoic and stern people, ensconced within citadels and cities carved from solid rock”; it says they’re “short and stocky” folk who’re “slow to trust those outside their kin”.

“If you want to play a character who is as hard as nails, a stubborn and unrelenting adventurer, with a mix of rugged toughness and deep wisdom—or at least dogged conviction,” it says, “you should play a Dwarf.”

The core Pathfinder Dwarf stats are:

Stat Value
Hit points 10
Size Medium
Speed 20 feet
Ability boosts
  • Constitution
  • Wisdom
  • Free
Ability flaw Charisma
Languages
  • Common
  • Dwarven
  • Additional equal to your Intelligence modifier, chosen from accessible languages
Traits
  • Dwarf
  • Humanoid
Darkvision You can see in darkness just as well as bright light – but your vision is monochrome
Clan Dagger You get one free Clan Dagger item – but selling it will bring disdain from other Dwarves due to taboo

Paizo art of an alchemist elf, one of the core Pathfinder races

Pathfinder Elf

The Pathfinder Elf race also borrows much from J.R.R. Tolkien’s elves – and the DnD Elf 5e and Half-elf 5e races based on them.

“Elves combine otherworldly grace, sharp intellect, and mysterious charm in a way that is practically magnetic to members of other ancestries,” says the Pathfinder 2e Core Rulebook. They’re an incredibly long-lived and “often rather private people”, it adds, with “the perspective that can come only from watching the arc of history”.

“Their inborn patience and intellectual curiosity make elves excellent sages, philosophers, and wizards, and their societies are built upon their inherent sense of wonder and knowledge”, it adds.

The core Pathfinder Elf stats are:

Stat Value
Hit points 6
Size Medium
Speed 30 feet
Ability boosts
  • Dexterity
  • Intelligence
  • Free
Ability flaw Constitution
Languages
  • Common
  • Elven
  • Additional equal to your Intelligence modifier, chosen from accessible languages
Traits
  • Elf
  • Humanoid
Low-light vision You can see in dim light as if in bright light – you ignore the ‘Concealed’ condition caused by dim light

Pathfinder Elf heritages

There are five Pathfinder Elf heritages to choose from in the 2e Core Rulebook:

Heritage Feature
Arctic Elf
  • Cold resistance equal to half your level
  • Treat environmental cold effects as if they were one step less extreme
Cavern Elf
  • Gain Darkvision
Seer Elf
  • Cast Detect Magic as an arcane innate spell at will
  • Gain +1 on Identify Magic and Decipher Writing (magical) skill checks
Whisper Elf
  • As long as you can hear normally, you can use Seek to sense undetected creatures in a 60ft cone
  • Gain +2 to Seek when locating undetected creatures within 30ft
Woodland Elf
  • When using Climb on foliage, move at half speed on a success and full speed on a crit success
  • Climb at full speed on a success if you have Quick Climb
  • You can always use Take Cover in forest terrain, even if not next to an obstacle

Paizo art of a goblin, one of the Pathfinder races

Pathfinder Goblin

With the Pathfinder Goblin race, Paizo’s game truly diverges from the Dungeons and Dragons DNA in which it originated. Unlike DnD’s Goblin 5e race (which only recently took on a proper significance outside of ‘low level enemy choice’), Pathfinder Goblins are their own thing altogether: a distinctive, humorous, and quirky race with its own lore and society.

Physically, the core rulebook describes Goblins as “stumpy humanoids with large bodies, scrawny limbs, and massively oversized heads with large ears and beady red eyes” – adding that most are bald, with skin ranging from green to blue, and an average height of three feet.

Culturally, we read that Goblins “live in the moment, and they prefer tall tales over factual records”; that “Goblin virtues are about being present, creative and honest”; and that “play and creativity matter more to goblins than productivity or study”.

The core Pathfinder Goblin stats are:

Stat Value
Hit points 6
Size Small
Speed 25 feet
Ability boosts
  • Dexterity
  • Charisma
  • Free
Ability flaw Wisdom
Languages
  • Common
  • Goblin
  • Additional equal to your Intelligence modifier, chosen from accessible languages
Traits
  • Goblin
  • Humanoid
Darkvision You can see in darkness just as well as bright light – but your vision is monochrome

Pathfinder Goblin heritages

Here are the Pathfinder Goblin heritages found in the 2e Core Rulebook:

Heritage Features
Charhide Goblin
  • Gain fire resistance equal to half your level
  • Checks to remove persistent fire damage are DC10 for you rather than DC15, reduced by another five if another creature helps
Irongut Goblin
  • After ingesting something, gain +2 for saving throws against afflictions, against the sickened condition, and when removing the sickened condition
  • When a successful Fortitude save is affected by the above bonus, it automatically becomes a crit success
Razortooth Goblin
  • Gain a ‘jaws’ unarmed attack that deals 1d6 piercing damage; this attack is in the brawling group and has the finesse and unarmed traits
Snow Goblin
  • Gain cold resistance equal to half your level
  • Treat environmental cold effects as if they were one step less extreme
Unbreakable Goblin
  • Gain 10 HP from your ancestry instead of six
  • Reduce falling damage as if you had fallen half the distance

Pathfinder races and ancestries guide - Paizo artwork showing a character from the Gnome race using a jeweller's eyeglass to inspect a piece of metal

Pathfinder Gnome

The Pathfinder Gnome race originates in what Paizo’s universe calls “the First World”: the realm of the Fey – and their Fey heritage gives Pathfinder 2e Gnomes distinctive traits like “bizarre reasoning, eccentricity, obsessive tendencies, and what some see as naivete”, according to the Core Rulebook.

Gnomes, it says, “exhibit a wide range of natural skin, hair, and eye colors”, while their “large eyes and dense facial muscles allow
them to be particularly expressive in their emotions”.

Tragically, though, Gnomes must “constantly wander both mentally and physically”, forever seeking new knowledge and experience – or be struck by The Bleaching: a sickness that drains the color from Gnomes’ vibrant hair and skin, and “plunges those affected into states of deep depression that eventually claim their lives”.

The core Pathfinder Gnome stats are:

Stat Value
Hit points 8
Size Small
Speed 25 feet
Ability boosts
  • Constitution
  • Charisma
  • Free
Ability flaw Strength
Languages
  • Common
  • Gnomish
  • Sylvan
  • Additional equal to your Intelligence modifier, chosen from accessible languages
Traits
  • Gnome
  • Humanoid
Low-light vision You can see in dim light as if in bright light – you ignore the ‘Concealed’ condition caused by dim light

Pathfinder Gnome heritages

These are the Pathfinder Gnome heritages found in the Core Rulebook:

Heritage Feature
Chameleon Gnome
  • You can spend an action to create minor changes to your hair and skin color and pattern, or an hour for dramatic changes
  • In areas where your color matches the environment, you can make minor changes to blend in and gain +2 to Stealth checks
Fey-Touched Gnome
  • Gain the Fey trait
  • Gain a Primal cantrip you can cast at will (you can change the cantrip once per day by meditating)
Sensate Gnome
  • Imprecise scent lets you locate a creature within 30ft via smell
  • Gain +2 to Perception checks when locating undetected creatures within range of your scent
Umbral Gnome
  • Gain Darkvision
Wellspring Gnome
  • Gain a cantrip from the Arcane, Divine, or Occult spell list that you can cast at will
  • When you gain a Primal innate spell from an ancestry feat, change it to the tradition of your chosen cantrip (Arcane, Divine, Occult)

Paizo art of a Halfling, one of the core Pathfinder races, playing a wind instrument

Halfling Pathfinder

Paizo’s version of the Tolkien hobbit trope (by way of the original DnD Halfling race), the Halfling Pathfinder race is made up of “short humanoids who look vaguely like smaller humans”, according to the Core Rulebook. Mostly living barefoot, they reach adulthood around 20, and live to around 150.

Pathfinder Halflings, the book says, are “optimistic and cheerful, blessed with uncanny luck, and driven by powerful wanderlust”. They can roughly be divided into two camps: those who “live among humans within the walls of larger cities, carving out small communities alongside taller folk” – and those who “prefer a nomadic existence, travelling the world and taking advantage of opportunities and adventures as they come”.

The core Pathfinder Halfling stats are:

Stat Value
Hit points  6
Size  Small
Speed  25 feet
Ability boosts
  • Dexterity
  • Wisdom
  • Free
Ability flaw Strength
Languages
  • Common
  • Halfling
  • Additional equal to your Intelligence modifier, chosen from accessible languages
Traits
  • Halfling
  • Humanoid
Keen eyes Your sharp eyes give you a +2 bonus when using the ‘Seek’ action to find hidden or undetected creatures within 30 feet. When targeting an opponent that’s Concealed or Hidden from you, reduce the flat check DC to three (for a concealed target) or nine (for a hidden target).

Pathfinder Halfling heritages

There are five Pathfinder Hafling heritages in the Core Rulebook:

Heritage Features
Gutsy Halfling
  • When you roll a successful save against an emotion effect, it’s automatically a crit success
Hillock Halfling
  • When you regain HP overnight, add your level to the points regained
  • When anyone uses Medicine to treat your wounds, eat a snack to add your level to the HP regained
Nomadic Halfling
  • Gain two extra languages of your choice (common or uncommon)
  • Every time you take the Multilingual feat, gain another new language
Twilight Halfling
  • Gain low-light vision
Wildwood Halfling
  • Ignore difficult terrain from trees, foliage, and undergrowth

Paizo art of a human, one of the core Pathfinder races, examining a potion

Human Pathfinder

Just like its DnD Human counterpart, the Human Pathfinder race is highly “unpredictable and varied”, united mainly by its “exceptional drive and the capacity to endure and expand”, according to the Pathfinder 2e Core Rulebook.

As in so many fantasy universes, Pathfinder Humans are “the world’s predominant ancestry” thanks to their “ambition, versatility, and exceptional potential” – but they’ve also “built some of the greatest and the most terrible societies throughout the course of history”.

Physically “as varied as the world’s climes”, Humans in Pathfinder are equally versatile in their in-game stats, which offer a freer basic choice than any other Pathfinder race – but no out-of-this-world special benefits or flaws. Their in-game variety comes mainly from their broad choice of sub-race ‘heritages’.

The core Human Pathfinder stats are:

Stat Value
Hit points 8
Size Medium
Speed 25 feet
Ability boosts  Two free ability boosts
Ability flaw  None
Languages
  • Common
  • Additional equal to your Intelligence modifier, chosen from accessible languages
Traits
  • Human
  • Humanoid

Pathfinder Human heritages

In the 2e Core Rulebook, there are only four Pathfinder Human heritages, while all the other ancestries get five. However, two of those heritages are a little different: the Half-Elf and the Half-Orc. Players looking to explore these options should note their GM might allow you to shake up your core features based on the specifics of your parentage, but the standard build assumes your character descends from Humans as well as Elves or Orcs.

We’ll look at these two in more detail shortly, but for now, here are the remaining two heritages:

Heritage Features
Skilled Heritage
  • Become trained in a skill of your choice, and become an expert in this skill at level five
Versatile Heritage
  • Choose a general feat with prerequisites you meet

Pathfinder races and ancestries guide - Paizo artwork showing a character from the Half Elf race wearing a white sash and large necklace, carrying a pack

Half Elf Pathfinder Heritage

The Half Elf Pathfinder race is made up of the children of one Elf and one Human (or of two Half Elves). Combining the physical characteristics of an Elf and whatever diverse strain of humanity their Human parent was from, Pathfinder Half Elves live longer than Humans (up to 150), and – while they tend to look pretty much Human – have “a natural presence—and often a striking beauty— that leads many to become artists or entertainers”.

The core Half Elf Pathfinder stats are:

Stat Value
Hit points 8
Size Medium
Speed 25 feet
Ability boosts  Two free ability boosts
Ability flaw  None
Languages
  • Common
  • Additional equal to your Intelligence modifier, chosen from accessible languages
Traits
  • Human
  • Elf
  • Half Elf
  • Humanoid
Low-light vision You can see in dim light as if in bright light – you ignore the ‘Concealed’ condition caused by dim light
Ancestry feats You can select Elf, Half Elf, and Human feats whenever you gain an Ancestry Feat

Half Orc Pathfinder Heritage

Just like their Elven cousins, the Half Orc Pathfinder race functions as a ‘Heritage’ within the Human race. Also like them, Half Orcs are the children of an Orc and a Human, or of two Half Orcs.

Because of widespread prejudice against Orcs among the other races, however, Pathfinder Half Orcs don’t enjoy the same relative anonymity and freedom as Half Elves. According to the 2e Core Rulebook, hatred for Orcs (and Half Orcs by extension) often “pushes half-orcs to the margins of society, where some find work in manual labor or as mercenaries, and others fall into crime or cruelty”.

Some Half Orcs give up trying to fit in with a majority-Human society, and go to join Orc tribes, where they do fit in, but are often “considered smart enough to make a good war leader but weaker physically than other orcs”.

“Many half-orcs thus end up having low status among orc tribes,” the Core Rulebook says – “unless they can prove their strength”.

The core Half Orc Pathfinder stats are:

Stat Value
Hit points 8
Size Medium
Speed 25 feet
Ability boosts  Two free ability boosts
Ability flaw  None
Languages
  • Common
  • Additional equal to your Intelligence modifier, chosen from accessible languages
Traits
  • Human
  • Orc
  • Half Orc
  • Humanoid
Low-light vision You can see in dim light as if in bright light – you ignore the ‘Concealed’ condition caused by dim light
Ancestry feats You can select Orc, Half Orc, and Human feats whenever you gain an Ancestry Feat

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