Category Archives: Pathfinder Development

Bennenite Staff Mastery Feats for PF1

In my longest-running fantasy RPG group campaign, The Sovereign Kingdoms, there was a famous religious order who revered Saint Bennen. Known as “Bennenites,” they were warrior-priests who were considered masters of quarterstaff fighting. They were a popular piece of lore for the world, and anytime a character was described as wearing heavy armor and carrying a wooden staff, shod in cold iron at one end and silver at the other, players knew to take them seriously because they obviously had received Bennenite training.

Bennenites were one of the major Good Guy organizations, and included clerics, fighters, priests, and “Kirks” (which were a form of religious order given roughly the same authority and respect as Knights, but only where that religion was acknowledged). However, Bennenite training was made available to anyone not known to be of foul character, and young peasants, squires, mercenaries, and craftsmen often trained at Bennenite Chapterhouses. If those trainees later turned evil, that did not somehow take away the benefits of their training. (One major villain was a mage with Bennenite Training, and a magic staff).

I had begun to work on Bennenite training feats for 3.0 and 3.5 fantasy RPG rules, but never finished them. Here is a new take on the ideas, at least to start, for Pathfinder 1st edition.

Bennenite Training
You have been trained in the fighting style of St. Bennen, who said “Let none who can pick up a stick see themselves as unarmed against adversity.”
Prerequisite: Proficiency with quarterstaff, base attack bonus +1 or 1 rank Knowledge (religion)
Benefit: When equipped with a quarterstaff, you can use it as if it was a longsword, shortsword, or one of each, except the weapon damage type is bludgeoning. You are still considered proficient with the weapons when you use the quarterstaff as a longsword and shortsword, even if you aren’t proficient with longsword and/or shortsword. You can use this as proficiency for feats (such as Weapon Focus: Longsword), but if you only meet the proficiency as a result of Bennenite Training you can only use those feats with a quarterstaff. Any feat, ability, or action you have access to you can apply to a quarterstaff you can continue to use even when treating the quarterstaff as a longsword, short sword, or both. You cannot gain the same benefit twice by using one version for quarterstaff and one for another weapons (for example if you have Weapon Focus with both longsword and quarterstaff, you cannot apply both to the same attack).

If you take an action that normally requires two weapons (such as attacking with two weapons), you must treat the two ends of your quarterstaff as the two weapons.

If you are proficient with quarterstaff, longsword, and short sword, this feat acts as Weapon Focus for any attack you make with a quarterstaff.

Bennenite Training Specialization
You have learned advanced teachings of St. Bennen.
Prerequisites: Bennenite Training, base attack bonus +4 or 4 ranks Knowledge (religion).
Benefit: When you make an attack with a quarterstaff, regardless of what weapon you treat it as, you gain a +2 bonus to damage dealt. This counts as Weapon Specialization, and does not stack with other forms of Weapon Specialization.

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More Sigil Scion Options for PF1

So, I wrote up a short set of options for “Sigil Scions,” themed abilities you can stack onto PF1 characters (or monsters) to give them a significant boost in effectiveness. And I have a system for turning oracle mysteries into domains, which would make access to some revelations an option.

But the Sigil Scion rules assume everyone is going to get some spell power, and not everyone WANTS spells — even bonus Still Spells with Eschew Material Components — for their characters.

Enter Sigil Seals.

Sigil Seals

If using the Sigil Scion rules, a character may take a Sigil Seal in place of Sigil Spells or Sigil Power. A Sigial Scion may replace both Sigil Spells and Sigil Power with Sigil Seals, if desired.

Sigil Seals grants a power at 1st level, and again at 8th level. These powers may be bonus feats, alchemist discoveries, the investigator inspiration, magus discoveries, ninja tricks, rogue talents, shaman hexes, slayer talents, or witches hexes. When selecting bonus feats, you do not need to meet any ability score prerequisite, but all other prerequisites must be met normally.

For other choices, you gain the abilities of the selected ability, using your total character level as your level in the relevant class. If the ability is fueled by a pool of points you do not possess (such as an arcane reservoir for arcanist exploits, or inspiration pool), you gain the relevant pool with a total number of points equal to 1 +1/3 your character level. If you select an investigator inspiration, you gain an inspiration pool and inspiration die using your character level as a class level. If you take investigator inspiration, you may then select an investigator talent if you get another Sigil Seal selection. (For example, a character taking Sigil Seals twice at 1st level could select investigator inspiration and an investigator talent as their two 1st level selections.)

You do not gain any ability not expressly granted by the selection. However, you can apply any option from the selected class feature to relevant options gained from other classes (so if you are a druid, and you select the focused summoning arcanist exploit, you do not gain access to arcanist summoning spells, but you can apply the exploit to your druidic summoning spells).

When you first gain a Sigil Seal, select one ability modifier. Any time your Sigil Seal refer to an ability score or modifier (such as to determine save DCs or uses per day), you use the selected ability.

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Oracle Mysteries as Cleric Domains in PF1

Sometimes, it’s useful to be able to swap around similar features from different classes, such as using oracle mysteries as cleric domains. You might want to have different kinds of clerics for various concepts (perhaps Merothian clerics of Community focus on the founders of each community, so they use the Ancestry mystery as one of their domains). Sometimes you might want to expand options for some other form of 3pp (such as Sigil Scions).

In any case, this specific swap is pretty straightforward.

Mystery spells replace the domain spells of the same spell level. They use the domain spell rules. This does mean a cleric taking a mystery gains access to its mystery spells on character level earlier than an oracle. That’s fine.

Then the cleric gains two revelation powers, one at 1st level, and one at 8th level. A GM can assign these revelations (for example, perhaps all clerics who take the ancestry mystery as a domain gain blood of heroes at 1st level, and wisdom of the ancestors at 8th level), or allow clerics to pick them, but either way they must be revelations can be selected by an oracle at 1st and 8th level. Any calculation in a revelation that works off the character’s Charisma instead works off the cleric’s Wisdom.

And you’re done!

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Sigil Scions (for Pathfinder 1st Ed)

I’ve been meaning to finish this for more than two years, as I began it back when I worked at Paizo. I meant to put it up yesterday, but it took longer than the time I had allotted for blogging, so you get a triple-sized post today instead!

Tithain kept her eyes open and one hand resting easily on the longsword at her hip as she walked alongside Queen Aerigold, who was clearly keeping her attention on the crowds that had gathered to welcome their new monarch. The Queen had insisted she get a new tabard—a bright green silken thing with gold thread and the shining sun-and-tree symbol of the Queen’s Trusted on it—but beneath that Tithain had on the same utilitarian plate armor she’d worn at the Battle of Seven Crowns, all those years ago.

A glint caught Tithain’s eye, and she instinctive stepped between its source and her beloved lady. As a bolt shot out of the crowd, Tithain raised a gauntleted hand and felt the power of her family’s Sigil flow through her, its bright blue lines visible even through the steel protecting her. The arrow slammed into her and shattered, the majority of its force expended against her defensive ward.

A dozen pale-skinned men in the crowd threw off cloaks, reveling the red-and-black garb of Kakkain cultists, and drew weapons as the cityfolk began to cry out and flee from them.

One of the broadest of the men, his eyes glittering with the flickering light of a Fel Embraced, pointed a thorned mace at her and cried out in the echoing voice of those with one foot already firmly planted in Hell.

“She’s a Scion of the Shield Sigil! Kill her first, then the peace-lover queen will fall!”

Sometimes, you want to add something to a campaign that isn’t anchored in class, background, ancestry, or other standard game categories. Sometimes, you just want to be able to slap a whole new power source on characters, and see what fun evolves from it.

Sigil Scions are such a concept.

Sigil Scions have a powerful, mystic source of capability. That might be from their position within an organization, the mark of a god, the collective will of those they defend, an asteroid radiating them with runic power–whatever. The easiest way to add Sigil Scions to a game is to just decide on a narrative framework (anything from ancient heroes reincarnated or cheat codes given to modern characters when they are sent to a fantasy world), and let each player build their own sigil from there. Sigil scions are a pure power-up for characters (especially monks… ), but not as much as being gestalt characters.

(Art by warmtail)

Sigil Power

Select any one bloodrager bloodline, cleric domain, inquisitor inquisition, sorcerer bloodline, warpriest blessing, or wizard specialization. You cannot select a specific option you already have, nor later take the specific option you select here if you gain the appropriate class feature to do so (for example, if you select the cleric healing domain, and later gain cleric domains through some other class, you could not take the healing domain again.)

You gain the abilities of the selected class feature, using your total character level as your level in the relevant class. You do not gain any ability not expressly granted by the selection (so taking the abjuration wizard specialist schools does not give you the ability to prepare spells just because the resistance ability is tied to when you prepare spells). However, you can apply any option from the selected class feature to relevant options gained from other classes (so if you are a druid, and you select the healing domain, you can apply the healer’s blessing ability to your druidic cure spells).

When you first gain sigil power, select one ability modifier. Any time your sigil powers refer to an ability score or modifier (such as to determine save DCs or uses per day), you use the selected ability.

Sigil Spells

Sigil Scions gain spells as they grow in power.

At 1st level, you select three specific class spell lists, which you note down. When you gain Sigil Spells, they must come from these three spell lists. You cannot select spells lists from a prestige class, or a class that gains multiple spell lists (ie you cannot select the hunter class spell list, as it is made of the druid and ranger class spell lists). If a spell list comes from a class with requirements for alignment, background, or armor/equipment restrictions (such as druid or paladin), you must meet those restrictions.

Each Sigil Spell you select is noted as being from one of these three lists (even if it on multiple class lists, you must assign it to just one of your three), and follows the general rules for spellcasting from that class (such as Arcane Spell Failure), though you never need to prepare spells in advance (see below). When you cast these spells you do so as if you were a member of the selected class (Sigil Spells are normal spells, not spell-like abilities).

When you first choose Sigil Spells, You may choose to gain Eschew Materials as a bonus feat, and for all of your Sigil Spells to automatically be Still Spells (thus ignoring Arcane Spell Failure). If you do this, your Sigil Spell caster level is equal to half your character level (at 1st level, your CL is 0.5 – all CL-influenced values are halved, rounding down).

Sigil Spells can be used to meet prerequisites for feats and item creation, but not archetypes or prestige classes.

When you first gain Sigil Spells, you select three 0-level spells known. In addition to 0-level spells from your three class spell lists, you may also choose from the following 0-level spells: detect magic, guidance, light, mage hand, read magic, stabilize. You can assign these to any of your three class lists, even if they do not normally have these spell on that list.

At 2nd level, your total spells known increases to four, and the maximum spell level you can select from goes from 0-level to 1st level. You can select any one 1st level spell from the three spell lists you choose as your Sigil Spell lists to bring you spells known up to your new maximum. You also gain one spell slot you can use to cast any 1st-level or higher spell you know. Your spell slots are restored once per day at a set time (normally dawn) as long as you are not fatigued or exhausted.

As you gain in character level, you gain additional spells known and can select higher-level spells. You spell slots are used to cast any of your 1st-level or higher spells. Thus a 6th level Sigil Scion knows five spells (three of which are 0 level, one 1st-level, and one 1st or 2nd level) and has two spells slots (which can be used to cast any 1st or 2nd level spell the Scion knows). Each time you gain a new level, you can change one spell known to another spell of the same level from one of your three class lists.

When you first gain sigil power, select one ability modifier. Any time your sigil powers refer to an ability score or modifier (such as to determine save DCs or uses per day), you use the selected ability. If a spell references an ability score of yours to determine how it works (such as spiritual weapon allowing you to add your Wisdom bonus to attack rolls with it), you can also switch that to your selected ability.

As you gain levels, your total spells known and the maximum level of the spells you know increase, as shown on Table: Sigil Spells, below.

Table: Sigil Spells

1st           Three spells known (max level 0), Zero slots

2nd-3rd      Four spells known (max level 1), One slot

4th-5th      Four spells known (max level 1), Two slots

6th-7th      Five spells known (max level 2), Two slots

8th-9th      Five spells known (max level 2), Three slots

10th-11th                       Six spells known (max level 3), Three slots

12th-13th                       Six spells known (max level 3), Four slots

14th-15th                       Seven spells known (max level 3), Four slots

16th-17th                       Eight spells known (max level 3), Four slots

18th-19th                       Nine spells known (max level 4), Five slots

20th             Ten spells known (max level 4), Five slots

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Ablative for Pathfinder 1st edition

Ablative is a creature ability you can add to monsters to make them shrink as they take damage. It’s designed for use with elementals, constructs, and slimes, but could apply to other creatures as well. If applies to creatures that primarily do weapons or natural weapon damage, it’s reduced damage output heavily counters its increased AC and accuracy. For creatures that use offenses not modified by the reduced size, it generally becomes more dangerous as it’s injured.

When an ablative creature has lost 1/3 or more of its HP, it becomes one size smaller until its HP total is healed to be over that threshold. This otherwise functions as reduce person.

When an ablative creature has lost 2/3 or more of its HP, it becomes one size smaller until its HP total is healed to be over that threshold. This also otherwise functions as reduce person, with the modifiers stacking with the first application.

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Barbaric Axe Fighting, for Pathfinder 1st edition

Jacob Blackmon noted yesterday that there are a LOT of illustrations of barbaric characters fighting with two axes. He’s right, and I also noticed that often that art shows them using 2-handed axes in each hand.

I thought it was a shame it’s not something the 1st edition Pathfinder RPG supports well as a character concept.

And then, this idea hit me.

(Art by Konstantin Gerasimov)

BARBARIC AXE FIGHTING (Combat)
You have mastered a vicious axe-fighting technique.
Prerequisites: Martial weapon proficiency, rage class feature, Str 13.
Benefit: You can fight with two weapons you are proficient with from the axes weapon group, one in each hand. You can do this even if one or both is a two-handed weapon (you can use each 1-handed, without taking any special penalty for doing so, otherwise using 1-handed weapon rules). You are not considered to be two-weapon fighting, and do not gain any extra attacks of benefits of two-weapon fighting. If you gain multiple attacks per round from a high base attack bonus or haste effect, you can choose which weapon to make each attack with.
Additionally, when you make an attack roll where the d20 show a result 1 or 2 less than your threat range, your attack is a lesser critical threat. Roll to confirm the lesser critical threat, just as if it was a normal critical threat. If your lesser critical threat confirms, your attack does double damage. You do not gain any other benefit you would normally gain with a critical hit, and any effect that would prevent a critical hit from being effect also negates your lesser critical hit.
Special: A character that gains rage powers may select this as a rage power if they meet the prerequisites. It functions exactly as noted above, even when the character is not raging.

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A rage-themed warpriest archetype for PF1

I got asked if I would be willing to write up something like this, and it leaped into my head nearly fully-formed.

RETRIBUTOR

Some gods have warpriests that call on divinely inspired fury to strike down the god’s foes.

Special: A retributor must be chaotic in alignment.

(Art by Zackary Lee)

Divine Fury (Ex): At 1st level, you gain the ability to enter a state similar to (but less powerful than) a bloodrager‘s bloodrage. You can enter this lesser bloodrage twice per day. The combined total duration of both your bloodrages each day cannot exceed 3 + your warpriest level. During this lesser bloodrage, you gain a +2 morale bonus to Strength and Constitution, and no morale bonus on Will saving throws. If you have the fervor class feature, you can cast spells on yourself while bloodraging when using fervor to do so. You can also cast these spells defensively and can make concentration checks for these spells while bloodraging. Otherwise, this benefit is the same as the bloodrage class feature.

Beginning at 11th level, your lesser bloodrage grants you a +4 morale bonus to Strength and Constitution, a +2 morale bonus on Will saving throws, and can cast any of your warpriest spells while bloodraging.

This replaces focus weapon, sacred weapon, channel energy, and one of the two blessings (and major blessings) gained by the warpriest, and reduces the number of times per day the warpriest can use his remaining blessing to 1/2 his level (minimum once per day).

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New Talents for the PF1 Wolfshead Pathfinder Class

I had ideas for a few new wolfshead class talents, presented below.

(Art by Konstantin Gerasimov)

New Wolfshead Talents
These talents follow the normal rules for wolfshead talents.

Ambuscade (Ex): When you attack a creature that could not perceive you just prior to the attack (such as from using the stalk class feature), you attack deals +1d6 damage and, if it is a critical threat, you gain a +4 bonus to the confirmation roll for the threat.

Set Up And Strike (Ex): When in bedlam, if you are wielding two melee weapons but only attack with one of them, the first time in the round you deal damage with the weapon you may roll the damage twice and take the better of the two results.

New Advanced Wolfshead Talents
These talents follow the normal rules for advanced wolfshead talents.

Improved Set Up And Strike (Ex): When in bedlam, if you are wielding two melee weapons, the first time each round you deal damage with the weapon on an attack of opportunity, you may roll the damage twice and take the better of the two results.

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PF1 Wolfshead Hybrid Class Archetype: Scrapper

Here is the promised third article in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game 1st Edition Wolfshead class collection, presenting a full archetype for the class — the scrapper.

(Art by Konstantin Gerasimov)

Scrapper

Some wolfsheads focus on fighting close and dirty, using easily concealed weapons or even their bare hands to tear their opponents limb from limb. These close-fighters also learn a great deal about various combat maneuvers, using them to cripple or crush their foes. A scrapper has the following class features.

Close Finesse (Ex): A scrapper focuses on small, fast weapons she can easily conceal and use in tight quarters. When choosing weapons for her finesse fighting ability, she can only select from the blade boot, brass knuckle, cestus, dagger, dueling dagger, gauntlet, hanbo, iron brush, jutte, kerambit, kukri, kunai, lungchuan tamo, punching daggers, sap, sea knife, shang gou, sickle, spiked gauntlet, starknife, switchblade knife, swordbreaker dagger, tonfa, war razor, or unarmed strike. This ability is identical in all other ways to finesse fighting, and supplements that ability.

Close Attack (Ex): A scrapper focuses her ability to deal sneak attack damage with her finesse fighting weapons at the expense of sneak attacks with other weapons. When she makes a sneak attack with a weapon she has selected for the finesse fighting ability, she uses d8s to roll sneak attack damage instead of d6s. For sneak attacks with all other weapons, she uses d4s instead of d6s. This ability is identical in all other ways to sneak attack, and supplements that ability.

Hidden Blade (Ex): At 3rd level a scrapper adds 1/2 her level on Sleight of Hand checks made to conceal light weapons. She may also draw a light weapon (even a concealed one) as a free action on her turn. This ability replaces stalk, which is delayed to 14th level, At 14th level, the wolfshead does not receive hide in plain sight.

Parry Sense (Ex): At 4th level, a scrapper is so skilled in close combat that she gains a +1 dodge bonus to AC against melee attacks when she is wielding a weapon she has selected for finesse fighting, and is wearing no armor or light armor (shields are allowed). This bonus increases by +1 for every three levels, to a maximum of +6 at 19th level. This ability replaces the wolfshead talent gained at 4th level.

Savage Grapple (Ex): At 5th level, the scrapper takes only half the normal penalties to Dexterity, attack rolls, and combat maneuver checks when she has the grappled condition. She can make an attack of opportunity against creatures trying to grapple her even if they possess the Improved Grapple feat or the grab special attack. If she hits with this attack of opportunity, she gains a +2 circumstance bonus to her CMD against the grapple attempt. She cannot make these attacks of opportunity once a grapple has succeeded. This ability replaces uncanny dodge, and the scrapper cannot select improved uncanny dodge as a talent.

Pit Fighter (Ex): At 3rd level, the scrapper has learned combat tricks from fighting in tight spaces with few rules, such as back alleys and pit brawls. She selects one combat maneuver and gains a +1 insight bonus on her CMB or to her CMD in that maneuver. This bonus increases to +2 if the wolfshead is wearing no armor or light armor (shields are allowed). At every three levels after 3rd, the barbarian may select another combat maneuver and add this bonus on her CMB or to her CMD. This bonus can be applied to each maneuver no more than twice, once on CMB and once to CMD. This ability replaces trap sense.

Improved Savage Grapple (Ex): At 8th level, the scrapper takes no penalties to Dexterity, attack rolls, and combat maneuver checks when she has the grappled condition. She also is treated as one size larger than her actual size when determining whether she can be grappled using the grab ability or swallowed by another creature. This ability replaces the wolfshead talent gained at 8th level.

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This fulfills my extra content stretch goal from the FaceFunding campaign I ran in Nov/Dec of last year, so if you want more wolfshead content, you should join my Patreon and let me know!

PF1: Wolfshead Class (Index and Favored Class Bonuses)

Right now there are just few articles in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game 1st Edition Wolfshead class collection, but having an index is always useful to point back to.

Full Class Write-up
Found here.

Additional Talents
Found here.

Archetypes:
Scrapper — focuses on light, fast weapons and close-fighting.

Favored Class Bonuses
See below.

Thanks to the FaceFunding campaign I ran on Facebook, the wolfshead now gets a bunch of ancestry-specific favored class bonuses, as follows. Rather than just do 8 for the core ancestries, I have expanded it to 25 ancestries worth of options.

Core Races

Dwarf: Reduce armor check penalty of any light armor worn by 1 (to a maximum reduction of negating the penalty)
Elf/Half-Elf: Gain +1/3 on all Acrobatics, Climb, and Stealth checks in bedlam.
Gnome: Add a +1/2 bonus to trap sense.
Orc/Half-Orc: +1/2 a bonus finesse fighting weapon choice.
Halfling:  Add a +1/2 bonus on critical hit confirmation rolls with any weapon selected with finesse fighting. This bonus does not stack with Critical Focus.
Human/Half-Elf/Half-Orc: Gains +1/6 of a new wolfshead talent.

(Art by Konstantin Gerasimov)

Other Ancestries

Aasimar: Add +1/4 to the morale bonus on saving throws provided by bedlam.
Catfolk: Add +1/3 to the result of any sneak attack damage dealt after all sneak attack damage dice have been totaled.
Changeling: Add +1/6 of a witch’s hex with no prerequisites. The hex can be used only when in bedlam, and doing so expends 4 rounds of the wolfhead’s rounds of bedlam per day. The wolfshead uses her bedlam level as her witch level for all purposes related to this hex.
Dhampir: Add +1 to the number of temporary hit points gained from bedlam.
Fetchling: Add a +1/2 bonus on Stealth and Sleight of Hand checks made while in bedlam.
Gilman: Add +1 foot to Swim speed. This increase only has any effect in multiples of +5 ft.
Goblin: Add +1 to the result of any damage dealt in the surprise round.
Hobgoblin: Add a +1 bonus on CMD against disarm and sunder maneuvers.
Ifrit: Add +1/4 fire damage to the result of any sneak attack damage dealt after all sneak attack damage dice have been totaled.
Kitsune:  Add +1/3 to the DC of any talent gained from the wolfshead class that requires a saving throw.
Kobold: Add +1/2 bonus to CMD when in bedlam.
Nagaji: Add +1 to the nagaji’s effective wolfshead level when determining their level compared to a target with uncanny dodge.
Naiad: +1/3 bonus to the bonuses granted by the naiad’s token using the inspiration ability.
Ratfolk: Add +1 foot to land speed. This increase only has any effect in multiples of +5 ft.
Samsaran: +1/4 to the bonuses gained from the lifebound samsaran ability.
Skinwalker: Gain +1/2 to the skinwalker’s effective Wisdom score for purposes of their skinwalker speak with animals spell-like ability, and +1/2 to the number of times per day they can use that ability.
Strix: Add +1 bonus to the strix’s effective Strength when calculating carrying capacity for flight and the stalk wolfshead ability. this does not increase the strix’s actual carrying capacity, but allows more weight to be considered a light loud for purposes of whether or not they can fly or use stalk.
Tiefling: Select one creature type. (You do not need to specify a subtype, it applies to all creatures of the chosen type). Add +1/2 to the result of any sneak attack damage dealt to creatures of that type after all sneak attack damage dice have been totaled. Each time this damage bonus reaches a multiple of +4, you may select one additional creature type it applies to.
Vanara: Add +1 to the number of rounds per day the vanara may use bedlam.

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I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!