Homebrew review request: 15 regional traits


I'm trying to assign regional traits to my homebrewed world. As some background, these would be a set of fifteen regional traits for 15 universities in a metropolis dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. The idea is that each trait is for a graduate. I've revamped some existing traits. Here's my current list.

I'd love some input into whether some of these traits are wildly imbalanced. To be clear, could y'all critique these homebrewed traits and tell me if you think any of them need a buff or debuff compared to the rest.

  1. Ars Arcanum (arcane arts) is a +2 trait bonus on concentration checks made while casting arcane spells (renamed version of the existing trait: Quantium University Graduate)
  2. Ars Divina (divine arts) is a +2 trait bonus on concentration checks made while casting divine spells. (renamed version of the existing trait Kwanlai Believer)
  3. Ars Occulta (occult arts) is a +2 trait bonus on concentration checks made while casting psychic spells. (filling the void for psychic spells-related traits)
  4. Ars Prima (primal arts): Once per day, you can cast Suppress Primal Magic or Influence Primal Magic (only one of them). Replace the duration of the effect with "lasts three rounds". (inspired by traits such as Corpse Dodger which grant in the form of once per day spell-like abilities)
  5. Ars Vis (understanding how 1 to 4 interact with each other): You can make a DC 15 concentration check to add another type of energy damage to a spell they cast that would deal damage (similar to Elemental Pupil, but makes it so the damage has two types instead of only adding 1 damage of an additional energy type)
  6. Ars Temporum (studying history): the character has amassed a considerable amount of study notes. You can spend 1d4 full rounds looking through your notes to get a +2 trait bonus to a knowledge (history) check. If you fail the check, you can spend three hours looking through your notes to get a single other check (inspired by the Pathfinder Chronicles item with a small buff: the capacity to reroll after a failed check).
  7. Ars Geographicam (studying cartography and the planet itself): if you have a map of an area, you can plan a route to reduce overland travelling time by 20%. (to my knowledge, this cannot be compared to any existing trait)
  8. Ars Vivens (studying all living things): You get a +1 trait bonus to confirm critical hits (against living creatures). You also get a +1 trait bonus to AC only when enemies are confirming a critical hit against you (the logic being you understand how your and other's bodies work better than most). [There are many traits who grant bonuses when it comes to confirming critical hits but they often focus on the weapons you use. They seem a bit weak so I chose to limit the type of creatures it's effective against and add a defensive bonus The defensive bonus to my knowledge has no equivalent in existing rules]
  9. Ars Creatrix (studying all art forms): you get a +2 trait bonus to perform (choose a category) and craft (choose category) checks. You may choose one to always be a class skill. (similar to Varisian Wanderer, but adding craft while limiting the class skill to only 1).
  10. Ars Systemata (studying how 6 to 9 influence culture and social groups): Once per day, when making a diplomacy, bluff, or intimidate check against a crowd, you can choose to take a +5 trait bonus (must be chosen before rolling).[A buffed version of Inspiring Speaker, but with the limitation of once per day and choose before rolling]
  11. Ars Medicae (healing): when making a heal check for first aid, in addition to stabilizing them, you also grant them one temporary hit point for each round you spend with them (within 5 ft and spend at least 1 standard action with them) until they reach 1 non-temporary HP. (a more general-use version of Patron's Boon, but which requires sacrificing more actions and only grants temp HP)
  12. Ars Factorum (engineering): choose building, construct, or craft. If building, you reduce the amount of time it takes to build a room or building by half if you double the cost. If construct, you can choose craft (construct) as a feat without meeting its prerequisites. If craft (choose category), you get a +3 trait bonus to those checks.
  13. Ars Crescente (agriculture and other forms of plant cultures): You get a +3 trait bonus to all knowledge (nature) checks that would apply to plant-life (similar to all the traits that grant buffs to checks)
  14. Ars Potionum (potions and other such concoctions): Diminish the amount of time it would take to prepare a potion, poison, mutagen (and variants), balm or elixir by half if you succeed a DC 15 concentration check (use character level for caster level) (similar to technological brewmaster, but uses a concentration check instead of a 10% cost increase).
  15. Ars Artificis (studying ancient crafting and construction methods and attempting to replicate them): you can make a DC 20 knowledge (engineering) check for an item or construct (once per day for a specific item). This takes you an hour. If you succeed, you can attempt a craft check to replicate or repair the item as if you had 3 skill points in the matching crafting category. (to my knowledge, this cannot be compared to any existing trait)

For additional context, traits are an extra layer of customization players can choose for their characters. Usually, rules are only one trait from each category (regional, faith, magic, campaign…) for a total of two, and an extra third if you're willing to take a drawback. While these will be the rules I use for this campaign, it might be useful to know that rules regarding traits are left up to interpretation.

Best Answer

The majority are reasonable, but a few need work

I've edited the traits in question as if I were considering including them in my own Pathfinder campaign.

  1. Ars Arcanum: When casting an arcane spell, you gain a +2 trait bonus on concentration checks.

  2. Ars Divina: When casting a divine spell, you gain a +2 trait bonus on concentration checks.

  3. Ars Occulta: When casting a psychic spell, you gain a +2 trait bonus on concentration checks.

    Notes: 1–3 are fine. No one will take them, but they're fine.

  4. Ars Prima: When you take this trait, pick either influence primal magic or suppress primal magic. Once per day, you may cast the picked spell as a spell-like ability. Your caster level for this spell-like ability is always 1, and the spell's duration is always 3 rounds.

    Notes: This is fine. I nearly balked at a 4th-level spell, but it's one of those it's-a-role-playing-spell-so-we-over-leveled-it deals, and not a big deal. I couldn't find the influence primal magic spell, and the Google returns only your questions about your traits. So I don't really know if this trait is balanced, but I have to assume the spell influence primal magic isn't improved invisibility or dimension door or something.

  5. Ars Vis: When you cast a spell that would deal energy damage, you can take a free action to make a concentration check (DC 15). Success means that the spell's energy damage is now both its normal kind and acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic damage.

    Notes: I think this is fine, but I don't see a lot of utility. I mean, a fireball that deals 30 points of fire/sonic damage is now stopped by both fire and sonic resistance and immunity? Why? Maybe comments can offer ways to abuse it?

  6. Ars Temporum: As long as you aren't stripped of all your gear, you can take 1d4 rounds to consult your notes. In the round after you've finished consulting your notes, you can take a free action to make a Knowledge (history) skill check about a particular creature, place, or event. You gain a +2 trait bonus on this check. If you fail this check, you can, during the same day, take take 1d4 hours to consult your notes again. In the round after you've finished consulting your notes again, you can take a free action to try again the same Knowledge (history) skill check about the same creature, place, or event that you failed earlier but with a +5 trait bonus on that check.

    Notes: I tweaked this a bit, maybe too far.

  7. Ars Geographicam: When you and up to a number of other creatures equal to the your level conduct overland travel together, and you have in your possession a detailed map that includes a route's starting point and destination, you and those creatures may travel 20% farther per hour or per day.

    Notes: This could be kept as time, but that means recomputing overland travel into non-hour or non-day blocks, and it just seemed easier to increase the distance traveled instead. I mean, you can still stop early if you want to travel the same distance in less time. The efficacy of this is entirely campaign-dependent; by including it, you're saying that overland travel will be important. (At least it'll be important until character level 9; then it's largely obviated by teleport.) Also, I don't know if this should affect water travel.

  8. Ars Vivens: You gain a +1 trait bonus on critical rolls against living creatures. Further, you gain a +1 trait bonus to AC when a foe makes a critical roll against you.

    Notes: This is fine, although it may be easily forgotten. I wish Pathfinder had embraced using the term critical roll (cf. here) in its rules text. It would've cut thousands of words.

  9. Ars Creatrix: Pick a Perform skill and a Craft skill. You gain a +2 trait bonus on each of these skills. Pick one of these skill to always be a class skill.

    Notes: This is fine.

  10. Ars Systemata: Once per day, before you make either a Diplomacy check, a Bluff check, or an Intimidate check and that check could affect 2 or more creatures, you may declare that you're using this ability; this is not an action. You gain a +5 trait bonus on that skill check.

    Notes: This is fine, interesting, and competitive with many of the better traits.

  11. Ars Medicae: You can take a standard action to make a Heal skill check to perform first aid (DC 15) on an adjacent creature. Success means that, in addition to the normal effects of first aid, the creature gains 1 temporary hp. Temporary hp gained from this ability stack with themselves (up to a maximum number of temporary hp equal to your ranks in the Heal skill). Any temporary hp gained in this fashion disappear when the creature possesses 0 or more non-temporary hp.

    Notes: I wasn't entirely sure of your vision here. I tried to massage it the best I could to make it interesting any playable, but the fact remains that a level 20 character could take this feat, stab a commoner so that the commoner is at -1 hp then spend 2 minutes with him so that he has 19 temporary hp, which is likely a lot more than that commoner had to begin with, and those temporary hp last until the commoner's at positive actual hp, so maybe days? But, really, who cares? In other words, this is weird but not unbalanced.

  12. Ars Factorum: When you take this trait, pick construct or crafting. If you picked construct, you can take the feat Craft Construct without meeting its prerequisites. If you picked crafting, pick a Craft skill; this Craft skill is always a class skill for you, and you gain a +3 trait bonus on your checks with this Craft skill.

    Notes: These are fine. What I couldn't do is mechanize properly erecting buildings and rooms in half the time for twice the price. The rules for that are enormously complicated (see here), and I'd want to delve into those rules thoroughly to understand the implications. Doubling anything to halve something else, though, is almost always a good deal, so if you include the building option as it is in the original, I'd expect a player to read those rules and find a way to exploit them.

  13. Ars Crescente: You gain a +3 trait bonus to Knowledge (nature) checks involving plants and plant creatures.

    Notes: None. This is fine. You could even make Knowledge (nature) always a class skill, and I don't think it would hurt anything.

  14. Ars Potionum: When you start to create a potion or elixir, you may make a concentration check (DC 15 + the spell level of the potion's spell or the spell level of the elixir's highest level prerequisite spell, and your character level equals your caster level). Success means that the potion or elixir will be created in half the normal time. You may attempt this check only once per potion or elixir. Further, you can brew a mutagen in half the normal time. Finally, you gain a +1 trait bonus on Craft (alchemy) skill checks.

    Notes: Craft (alchemy) covers balms and poisons. Mutagens just take an hour, so whatever. The big deal—if you can call it that—is maybe making 2 potions (or elixirs, I guess) per day. This trait should likely specify whether or not that's possible. (I think it's probably balanced to allow it.)

  15. Ars Artificis: You can take 1 hour to make a Knowledge (architecture and engineering) check against a mundane object or a creature that possesses the type construct (DC 15). Success means that you can replicate or repair the mundane object or repair the creature as if you had 3 skill ranks in the Craft skill needed to replicate or repair the object or creature. You may use this ability once per day per object or creature.

    Notes: While not unbalanced, the trait's effects remain forevermore. This means that the character sheet will be cluttered with Craft skills and associated objects and/or creatures. This is a bookkeeping headache. Nonetheless, it's an interesting headache, and it'll appeal to players who like to track stuff.