Review – Lost Omens Ancestry Guide (Pathfinder)

The Lost Omens Ancestry Guide delivers exactly what you would expect – more ancestry/heritage options for Pathfinder 2E – and does it well. Between stand-alone ancestries (like androids) and versatile heritages (like tieflings), the Lost Omens Ancestry Guide delivers 14 brand new choices and expanded options for another 14. While the Ancestry Guide is a Lost Omens book, the explosion of character options makes the book a great source for any Pathfinder game.

Each of the 14 existing 14 ancestries/heritages gets four pages, with 2-2.5 of that devoted to mechanics (mostly ancestry feats, but also new heritages for the ancestries). Note that the underlying rules for most of these ancestries/heritages are located in the Advanced Player’s Guide, while a few rely on the Lost Omens Character Guide (although, of course, you can also find all of them in the SRD). The new versatile heritages get 4 pages each, while new ancestries get 6 (about half fluff/half crunch).

Twenty-eight is too many to say something about everything, but I shall at least list everything for you:

  • Existing ancestries: azarketi (gillmen), catfolk, hobgoblin, kobold, leshy, lizardfolk, orc, ratfolk, tengu
  • Existing versatile heritages: aasimar, changeling, dhampir, duskwalker, tiefling
  • New ancestries: android, fetchling, fleshwarp, kitsune, sprite, strix
  • New versatile heritages: aphorite, beastkin, ganzi, geniekin (ifrit, oread, suli, sylph, undine)

Across all of the categories, there a decent number of the repeat-appearance physical characteristics found among the feats, such as unarmed attacks, enhanced senses (usually low-light vision and darkvision), environmental resistances, prehensile tails, and the like. There are also a relative plethora of options that enable the character to move faster when sneaking, which isn’t something I recall coming up much before (but maybe I’m just forgetting).

Some of the versatile heritages focus on lineage feat chains, which are feats (first introduced in the Advanced Player’s Guide along with the versatile heritages) that represent what type of celestial or other planar being from which the character is descended (or otherwise got their planar distinctiveness). For example, an aasimar with the Idyllkin feat is descended from agathions, gains some nature-related bonuses, and later can qualify for the Tranquil Sanctuary and Agathion Magic feats.

Some tidbits for the existing ancestries/heritages I found interesting included:

  • Dhampir get a psychic vampire lineage that can allow the character to gain temporary hit points by inflicting psychic damage.
  • Duskwalkers have the option to choose a feat that’s based on how they once died, with these feats granting abilities triggered when a character (sometimes the duskwalker, sometimes another character) would gain the dying condition.
  • There’s a hobgoblin feat that allows you to Interact to draw a weapon as a reaction to rolling initiative. This seems like the sort of thing that would drive other players crazy, because if you’ve got a feat that lets you always start with your weapon in hand, the GM probably isn’t going to let the other character just always have their weapons out and ready.
  • Because there seem to be a lot of players who adore leshys, I better not forget to mention that they have cactus, fruit, lotus, root, and seaweed heritage options (wow that’s a lot for one ancestry).
  • Orcs are all in on the Warmask feat chain, which lets the character’s face paint become a magical items with various properties.
  • Ysoki (aka ratfolk) gain access to an Uncanny Cheeks feat (who knows what you might find in those Cheek Pouches?), which seems like exactly the sort of thing you’d want if you wanted to play a ysoki in Pathfinder.
  • If you manage to play a tiefling up to 17th level, you can now go bonkers by transforming into your Final Form once a day, gaining a stack of powers as you incidentally lead everyone around you to believe that you really are a fiend of some sort.

Overall, I like the information on the existing versatile heritages better than the existing ancestries. Some of that is a matter of personal preference – I’ve always been fond of the various plane-touched, and in PF2 that happens to mean versatile heritages. But there was also a distinction between the fluff write-ups – the versatile heritages have a somewhat broader perspective. They tended to offered more generalized views on how people of this heritage tend to be viewed, what challenges they might face, what they might look like, and such. When they get more specific, it’s still of the ‘this is what tends to be distinctive about dwarven folk with this heritage’ variety. The ancestries, on the other hand, tended to focus in on what was distinctive about members of that ancestry from different specific locations (culture, ethnicity, and such). Maybe if I knew I was going to be playing a member of that ancestry and was looking for inspiration on where to be from these distinctions would suddenly become more valuable to me. But on a general survey I am less interested in what Ancestry X is like in a particular town/cavern/tribe/small country. Maybe I’m just not enough of a Golarion Geek to keep track of that level of detail in the abstract.

Although it is not one of my plane-touched favorites, I particularly liked the additional information on changelings (written by Isabelle Thorne), which includes a focus on the psychological effects of being a changeling and experiencing “The Call.”

As for the new ancestries/heritages:

  • I really like the androids in Pathfinder (this entry was written by Jessica Catalan), although I have to admit that I’m not entirely sure why. After all, I generally dislike things like guns in Pathfinder (or other classic fantasy settings), and androids would seem to objectively be more ‘out of place’ than a firearm. But I find myself liking them and the whole ‘our spaceship crashed here’ origin. Maybe it’s lingering fondness for the Wrath of the Immortals D&D box set. Maybe its because I Brigh and Casandalee fascinating. Maybe it’s because of the way they link in with some elements of Starfinder. Whatever it is, my only disappointment with androids as an ancestry is that they aren’t more strange. For example, they are still largely biological; they need to eat, sleep, and the like (although I get that there are mechanical reasons to not load those sort of widespread differences on an ancestry). But it’s aren’t like there aren’t a lot of options for those who want to use their nanites, which are probably the android’s most exotic feature. Personally, while I it just seems worse than taking darkvision (through the Nightvision Adaptation feat), I really like another first-level heritage feat, Radiant Circuitry, which allows the android to really light up their biomechanical circuitry. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Dr. Aphra lately?
  • Aphorites and Ganzi are the lawful and chaotic (respectively) versions of aasimar and tieflings. I found the ganzi write-up compelling (again, by Isabelle Thorne), with its discussion of how they fit in (or don’t) in their home communities. Of course, player characters don’t usually stick around, so the ganzis’ tendency towards wanderlust plays right into that. The base heritage grants random energy resistence (it changes every day), and I like the pair of feats (Steady Balance and Cat Fall) granted by the Vestigial Wings ancestry feat. Alas, while there’s a string of feats for making a nifty tail, I will have to wait for another book to make those wings take anyone aloft.
  • If you want the beastly features and shape-changing of a were-creature, without all that pesky uncontrollability, then the beastkin versatile heritage is for you. By default they only switch into a hybrid form, but a first-level feat also allows Critter Form (an itty-bitty version of the animal form). Later feats make the hybrid and critter forms nastier.
  • I personally like the writeup (by Andrew Mullen) for the fetchlings. Unlike many of my other favorites, these are not a plane-touched versatile heritage, but rather an ancestry of their own, descended from Azlanti who fled into the Shadow Plane. They have a striking visual appearance, bleached of all color. Colorless doesn’t always mean dark, however, and while there are deep fetchlings who thrive in the darkness, there are also bright fetchlings who shine their own light. Another heritage option makes the character wispy, granting abilities related to acrobatics and squeezing. And they have my favorite darkvision. Alas, I did find their ancestry feats unexciting. Is it wrong to take an uncommon ancestry and then slap a versatile heritage on it just to get more exciting ancestry feats? What kind of outcast would you have if your otherwise-bleached fetchling had brightly-colored elements from their ganzi heritage?
  • Fleshwarps cover a variety of concepts from Frankenstein-style science zombies to alchemical monsters to mutants to the obvious victims of drow fleshwarping. That breadth leaves the player with a lot of room to decide what their fleshwarp will be and what heritage/feats fit their concept.
  • Under the umbrella of geniekin are the usual oreads (earth), ifrits (fire), sylphs (air), and undines (water), plus the multi-elemental sylphs. Each type of geniekin has its own heritage and feat (the heritages are mostly just improved vision plus access to the feats). There’s a page of “geniekin” feats as well, available to all five types. Many of the type-specific feats are based on the character’s elemental lineage. Because I like both enhanced senses and different movement types, I note that oreads can gain both tremorsense and a burrow speed (undines, of course, can swim). Suli have access to a feat chain based around a damage-enhancing elemental assault. Their Dualborn feat grants two different energy resistances, which is really nice, although it restricts what you can do with some of the other feats. The mixed elements make the suli less distinctive than the other geniekin, however – their flavor identity isn’t as clear and they may well be able to pass for a ‘normal’ member of their base ancestry.
  • The kitsune are by default your traditional fox-headed humanoids, with an alternate for that’s either a ‘normal’ member of a local ancestry, or a fox (depending on the heritage chosen). They can technically have up to nine tails, but can only get above five if they’re high-level spellcasters. Their dual natures give them a spiritual side and they lean towards magic use – even if they aren’t a spellcasting class, many of the ancestry feats grant innate spells. Originating in Tian Xia (as one might expect), kitsune can still be chosen as player characters anywhere.

  • Sprites and strix require some extra mechanical discussion, because these ancestries have wings and naturally fly – but just being able to fly is bah-roken for a first-level character. There’s a reference to GM’s letting player characters have fully-functional wings from the start because it might not fit the player’s concept if the character can’t fly. I suggest refraining from such mollycoddling – characters should’t be allowed to unbalance the game just because the player thinks it would be cool. Full-on flying requires 3 feats and being 17th level for sprites, and 2 feats and being 13th level for strix. Sprites also present the extra mechanical twist of being tiny, with all the rules differences that entails. Thankfully, there is one sprite heritage that makes the character small instead of tiny, and that heritage (pixies) are a pretty traditional sort of sprite (other varieties include fairy dragons and sprites that take on elements of crickets, bees, and bats). Pixies are, however, denied the Corgi Mount feat, which is a shame, because corgis are objectively the best kind of dog. While sprites lean happy-go-lucky, strix tend towards ominous brooding. Aside from the movement/wing-related ancestry feats, there are a lot of strix options about storytelling and other performance types.

The Lost Omens Ancestry Guide is just full to the brim with great new character options. Its utility might, ironically, be reduced in that bastion of Pathfinder play, the Pathfinder Society, where uncommon and rare ancestries are gated. But in home games, where less common character ancestries/heritages can be chosen freely, it’s an invaluable resources. Unless you’re one of those folks who thinks that everyone should stick to the classics, I think the Lost Omens Ancestry Guide should be one of the higher-priority Pathfinder 2E books to get (still after, of course, the Advanced Player’s Guide). A great supplement.

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