Recently this week I took advantage of the GM's Day Sale on Drive-Thru RPG and snagged a couple of things on my wish list. One of them was Little Red Goblin Game's Racial Guide 4: Nontraditional Races. The aim of the book was to create 32 all new PC races unconnected to previous traditional fantasy material, and they're full of creative ideas. For exampl, there's the crystalline Chel who can record their surroundings to a limited extent and turn them into light projections, the blubbery Wugs who can inflate their own bodies and appear more threatening (complete with Intimidate and fear DC increases) and increased buoyancy, and the Tarrasquelings which are literally cast-off bits of the legendary beast's flesh given humanoid shape and form!
It's a pretty cool book, but one race in particular jumped out at me, the Kapre. Basically the pitch is that they're a race of Huge-sized giants (20 to 30 feet tall) who are actually rather easygoing and frail for their size. They used to live in jungles, picking the fruit off of tall trees for sustenance, and migrated to other forested areas over time. Unlike most giants, they are peaceful and do not prefer battle, living in tight-knit nomadic bands. A few live in settled towns known as lungsons, but their buildings consist of little more than tents held up by very tall poles which can be easily uprooted. Drugs such as ganja (re. marijuana) and khat are an integral aspect to their culture and are frequently used to wind down after a hard day's work.
Like the other entries, the kapre's write-up is rather brief, but what is provided is rather interesting. Their generally nonviolent nature makes sense when we look at their stats below. Still, the benefits of Huge size probably means that a lot of players are going to make them into melee fighters of some sort. And mechanically speaking this is an optimal route for them.
When it comes to most Pathfinder races, both first and third party, virtually all of them are Small to Large size. The associated benefits and penalties for further deviations from Medium end up causing quite a bit of complications for both traditional adventuring and game balance purposes. Little Red Goblin Games, however, play-tested the race to make sure it would be balanced in combat. And from a glimpse at the stat block, they're not as overpowered as you'd think they'd be for a creature of that size.
Ability Score Racial Trait (-3): Kapre are enormous but their frailty makes them weaker than other creatures of the Huge size category. This makes them rather limber (comparatively) and light on their feet for such large creatures. Their giant roots assure that they are not particularly bright, though this doesn’t seem to hamper them. They gain -4 Strength, -2 Intelligence, +2 Dexterity.
Design Note: After adjusting for the ability score racial trait and size, a kapre has +0 Strength, -2 Dexterity, and -2 Intelligence.
• Size (10): A kapre is a Huge (tall) creature. They gain a +4 size bonus to Strength and a -4 size penalty to Dexterity. Huge races take a -2 size penalty to their AC, a -2 size penalty on attack rolls, a +2 bonus on combat maneuver checks and to their CMD, and a -8 size penalty on Stealth checks. A Huge (tall) creature takes up a space that is 15 feet by 15 feet and has a reach of 15 feet.
• Type (0): Kapre are humanoids with the giant subtype.
• Base Speed (0): Kapres have a base speed of 30 feet despite their great size, due to their long stride and small feet.
• Languages (0): Kapre begin play speaking Giant and Common. Kapre with high Intelligence scores can choose from Halfling, Gnome, Elven, Goblin, Orc, and Dwarven.
• Small Hands (-1): Despite being of Huge size, kapres must use weapons sized for a large creature. Likewise, a kapre deals damage with unarmed and natural attacks as if it were a large creature.
• Pharmaceutical (3): Kapre gain a +2 racial bonus on Craft and Profession checks related to the creation and sales of drugs as well as a +2 bonus on all Heal checks.
• Hyper-Hallucinogenic (2): A kapre’s mind reacts differently to a recreational hallucinogenics. Whenever a kapre takes a recreational drug (worth at least 2 sp), its mind expands and accelerates, gaining a +2 racial bonus to Wisdom and Charisma, but a -2 penalty to AC due to an increase in lethargy. This benefit lasts for 1 minute after they take it.
Racial Points: 11 RP
The Kapre are rather lacking in variety in terms of beneficial features in comparison to other races, both Core and the other Nontraditional entries. Their Huge size and modified Dexterity penalty precludes a lot of sneaky builds and ranged combat. The hallucinogenic mental boost is actually quite short for everyday spellcasting, but in terms of combat it can actually be doable as most battles in Pathfinder do not last beyond 10 rounds. Still, the cost for every dose, and the -2 armor class on top of the -2 for Huge size is a pretty big kicker, which makes it an overall inferior choice for an inherent mental bonus other races get.
Regarding the melee department (the one we've all been waiting for), it's not what I'd call overpowered, per se, except potentially in the area of reach. The lack of Strength bonus means that they're getting a net -2 on attack rolls due to size, and the fact that they can only use weapons sized for Large creatures (or one size category smaller) means that the massive damage bonus you were thinking of with that 4d6 greatsword is only going to be 3d6. So in short, you're still getting a nice damage bonus, just not a gigantic one.
However, it's still pretty good for melee builds for one big reason: reach. The kapre's 15 foot reach is a boon, and when combined with a reach weapon you can increase that up to 20 feet! Combine that with enlarge person (which now works on giants in Pathfinder due to them being humanoids now), you can get a Gargantuan Kapre with a Huge glaive dealing 3d8 damage plus strength up to 25 feet away! That +2 Strength you might get from a human or half-orc option is a small price to pay, given how important reach is for many melee builds. This might sound like a lot, but keep in mind that melee's a rather underpowered option in Pathfinder sans a few min-maxed builds in comparison to what spellcasters can do at middle to high levels. I don't fear that a kapre PC's going to to unbalance the game except at the lowest levels where that 2d8/3d6 damage can one-shot a lot of challenges.
TL;DR The Kapre are a neat idea, and can be a useful springboard for other designers thinking of creating a Huge race. I like the limitations placed on the kapre to avoid turning it into an overpowered damage-dealer, such as Small Hands and no Strength bonus. I would've preferred if it had at least an inherent mental score bonus (or at least hallucinogenic buffs with a much longer duration for out-of-combat casting), and maybe bonuses to some skill checks beyond Craft and Profession for some variety. Although reach is its greatest asset and I can see most players going for a Barbarian/Fighter/etc build, the Kapre can make for passable Clerics, Druids, or Rangers which don't rely upon stealth. The Charisma bonus from hallucinogenic drugs might make for a neat Paladin build, too! The intelligence penalty's going to hurt Magus builds hard, though.