Hey Player! Not enough customization items for you? Are you wanting to make something that really stands out?
Characters in Tabletop RPGs are like hot rods. They deserve to be customized and tooled to be exactly what you want to be, and you deserve to be at your highest level of comfort while playing your character.
Race/Class/Skills/Feats are just not enough to personalize your character? Then have I got a system for you!
Pathfinder Traits are the next step in customizing a character to your own exacting specifications. Here we are going to look at some of the best traits in Pathfinder 1st Edition to get the most out of your trait selection.
First, though, let’s look at how traits work.
How Does One…Trait?
Traits are specialized enhancements for characters that go beyond feats, skills, and class abilities. These traits are smaller aspects of your character and their backstory that offer small bonuses and help to tie those characters into the setting.
Theoretically, a Character Trait is supposed to be equal to about half the power level of an actual feat. So two traits would therefore be the equivalent of about one bonus feat. It’s important to keep that in mind because some traits might need to be tweaked depending on the GM’s campaign setup.
Normally the rules as written say player characters should have 2 traits at most at the beginning of the game, but that is really up to the GM. They are of course the final arbiter of their campaigns.
If a PC might want to pick up more Traits, there is a Feat called Additional Traits, which allows for 2 more traits to be selected from two different lists.
The bonuses gained from traits are referred to as trait bonuses and do NOT stack with each other. The idea is to give players more roleplay hooks and slight advantages, but not to give them more power on top of what they already get from the optimization of class abilities and feats.
Types of Traits
Traits are broken down into several categories:
Basic Traits: Basic Traits focus on the character themselves. It’s broken down into 4 more Subcategories.
- Combat: Traits based on physicality or melee combat.
- Faith:Traits having to do with theological or philosophical leanings or learning.
- Magic: Traits dealing with arcane or divine magic training or backgrounds.
- Social: Traits dealing with social connections or social standing.
Campaign Traits: These traits are more focused on the campaign storyline and plot arcs themselves. Most of the printed or official Campaign Traits are from the official campaigns put out by Paizo, but nothing is saying they can’t be adapted for home games, or that GMs can’t just make up their own traits.
Race Traits: Race Traits are traits based on a character’s specific race or ethnicity. They can accentuate race attributes or play into the basic cultures of the base races in the game.
It is worth noting if a character’s race changes because of some magical effect, they still maintain their bonuses from Race Traits. The only thing that can remove Race Traits is if a character’s memories and experiences were somehow rewritten.
Regional Traits: Regional Traits are based on physical geographic regions. Maybe a character grew up there, has family there, or has spent a great deal of time there. Typically a PC can only have one Regional Trait, and are required to spend at least one year in that region to qualify.
Religion Traits: Religion Traits are connections to faith-based organizations or churches, as well as the gods themselves. Characters do not have to actually be divine casters to have Religion Traits, but they do need to have some kind of connection to a Church to qualify.
Let’s take a look at some of the best traits you can select for each category.
These are judged based on their Applicability and Power. Applicability is how often the bonus from the trait is going to come up, and Power is more based on how potent the bonuses are.
This is not an exhaustive list, but some of the stand out choices we’ve been able to find.
- Child of the Temple
- Ease of Faith
- Exalted of the Society (Cleric, Society
- Indomitable Faith
- Scholar of the Great Beyond
These traits are almost intrinsically tied to the campaigns they are coming from. It might be possible to extract them and reskin them to make sense into your own campaign if you are playing or planning your own campaign, but it would require a great deal of extra work on the GMs part to get them all working and playing nice together.
If your GM is using Campaign traits in their game, you must have at least one Campaign Trait when the game begins.
Most of these Traits involve linking your character to an NPC backstory and also allow you to unlock more skills for your character. It’s important for GMs to talk to players to make sure players are ready to take on character contacts, or maybe even have no contacts whatsoever.
Rise of the Runelords
Curse of the Crimson Throne
Legacy of Fire
Racial traits key into your individual racial archetypes, and give more options for flavor to your character. The bonuses are small like most traits, but give nice little boosts to help your get into your character more.
- Animal Friend (Gnome)
- Auspicious Tattoo (Human)
- Balloon Headed (Goblin)
- Carefully Hidden (Human)
- Elven Reflexes (Half-Elf)
- Forlorn (Elf)
- Grounded (Dwarf)
- Legacy of Sand (Half-Orc)
- Militant Merchant (Dwarf)
- Warrior of Old (Elf)
- Youthful Mischief (Elf)
Regional Traits are a great deal like Campaign Traits. They are tied very closely to the setting the game is in. There is nothing saying you can’t use these traits and just reskin them to your personal campaign if it differs from the base game, though.
- Glory of Old (Dwarf)
- Isgeri Orphan (Isger)
- Freed Slave (Katapesh/Andoran)
- Heart of Clay (Lingshen)
- Mana Waste Survivalist (Mana Wastes)
- River Rat (Marsh or River)
Like Regional and Campaign Traits, this category is intrinsically tied to the setting, but unlike Campaign Traits, these should be relatively easy to adapt depending on the Gods or Religions the players are following.
Remember though, to gain these benefits, the character must be a part of the Faith and the traits can go away if the character ever leaves the Religion.
- Eyes and Ears of the City (Abadar, God of Commerce)
- Lover of the Law (Abadar)
- Lessons of Faith (Chaldira Zuzaristan)
- Purity of Faith (Iomedae)
- Wisdom in the Flesh (Irori)
- Underlying Principles (Nethys)
- Cleansing Light – d20PFSRD (Sarenrae)
- Defensive Strategist (Torag)
Many of these options, in every category, double up or give similar bonuses. Remember, Trait Bonuses do NOT stack with themselves. Two options that give a bonus to Fortitude saves won’t stack with each other.
It is worth it to spread yourself out to multiple options to really make your character your own. Customize that Hot Rod to your heart’s delight!
Keep it fast and fun, Pathfinder!