Ronning
 member, 66 posts
Sun 23 Apr 2017
at 17:44
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
I've sworn off PF for all things 5e and couldn't be happier. PF is ludicrous. It was my first love and I could do nothing but watch as the thing swelled and swelled and swelled. Like, damn girl, stop eating. GO for a run or something. But nope.. She just got bigger and bigger.

I left her for 5e. She may be a bit dumb but damn her body is fine.
Varsovian
 member, 1366 posts
Sun 23 Apr 2017
at 21:04
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
drewalt:
I know people have done hex versions of it before (see the Hex Grid rule variant on the d20srd site for 3.5 edition), but I'm far too lazy for that because all the facings/reach rules assume squares and I don't want to convert everything.


I was thinking more of discarding the grid altogether and just measuring distances. That's the way I ran combat in M&M and it worked out fine...
GreyGriffin
 member, 77 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Sun 23 Apr 2017
at 21:12
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
Gonna lift this from another thread, thought it could be useful here....

While getting everyone on the same page for optimization is a good general practice, a system that essentially requires you to calculate your DPR in order to meaningfully participate seems like a failure of design...

5e is simple and playable, and designed to keep the math from spiralling too far out of control with tottering towers of multipliers and bonuses.  Sure there are the edge case warlock stacking builds, but you don't have to k'nex together a Rube Goldberg machine of feats to stay relevant in a given party.

While I appreciate rewarding system mastery, I feel Pathfinder leans waaaay to far towards rewarding and punishing decisions made during character generation and advancement.  Actions, strategies, and intelligent decisions made during play will never compensate for your colorful and characterful but behind-the-curve build.</quote>
willvr
 member, 1046 posts
Mon 24 Apr 2017
at 02:57
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
-sigh-

Both have advantages. Let's not go edition wars take 5.
GreyGriffin
 member, 79 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Mon 24 Apr 2017
at 05:34
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
In reply to willvr (msg # 47):

Oh yeah, I'll totally concede that Pathfinder has some points for it.  It has much more open character generation options, and a huge amount of material and legacy support.  You can go to the moon and back at chargen with just first party material, to say nothing of the vast number of modules that have been printed to strip for parts.  Plus, there's some satisfaction to be found in mechanically intricate characters, encounters, and interactions.

On top of that, I much prefer Golarion to the Forgotten Realms, as well, as a default setting.

I just felt that the case for 5e's advantages hadn't really been articulated.  It's too easy to correlate "simple" with "poorly conceived" or "limited."
willvr
 member, 1047 posts
Mon 24 Apr 2017
at 10:24
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
In reply to GreyGriffin (msg # 48):

The only problem I have with 5E is I think their modules are poorly written. If you're going to the modules due to lack of time to write your own, they make you do far too much work to make the module flow.

However, I quite enjoy playing it. I play it offline; whilst the only PF I can do is online, as none of my regular playing group want to run it.

To be honest, for me, what is important if I'm running something is good module support; whilst if I'm playing it all comes down to the playing group. 5E doesn't do well with a group of rules lawyers for example; but can do quite well with people with whom the main aim is character development (as in history/personality not stats).
Krul
 member, 27 posts
Sun 30 Apr 2017
at 10:32
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
So thoughts on creating your own pantheon;

First, it is not completely necessary, I've considered running a setting without any active deities, with non of the divine casters except for druids, hunters, oracles and rangers, going on the idea that they draw their powers from nature itself, different aspects in the case of oracles and pure nature in the case of druids.  This doesn't mean mortals can't believe in deities, or that they don't exist, but that no deity actually answers prayers with magic, this creates a world where mortals have a lot more say over their world, since they have no deities interfering with them.

Second, chose a paradigm; decide if you want a singular all powerful deity(possibly with different aspects), or a group of deities, since we're talking pantheon will assume the latter, though if you like, I can discuss a few ideas of the former with you.

Pathfinder goes on an interesting path, you have to look a little close to notice it, but twos, threes and sevens are hit a lot in their primary setting deities.  They have seven good aligned deities, and a deity for each of the seven sins, though lust is a chaotic neutral rather then a evil one.  Each alignment has 2 deities, except for Lawful Good, which has 3, and each of them give a different take on what that alignment means, and producing a total of nineteen major deities.  There are a number of lesser deities as well, but the primary are those nineteen.

There are a few other settings which have different layouts for their major deities, Scarred Lands has one major deity for each alignment, though the purely neutral one is the titan of nature.  The paradigm is completely different from the main pathfinder world, all major gods are descended from the titans, whose cruelty drove them to rebel against their parents.  This created a completely different world setting wise, especially since the titans still struggle against their imprisonment, and it is only been a few centuries since the great war.

Meanwhile, Dragonlance had seven deities for each alignment, at least until recently, and it seriously colored their world due to how active those deities were.  Of course, the dragons who served the gods of evil and those who served the gods of good had a lot of effect on the world as well.  The history of dragonlance is the history of deities interfering with mortals, most so then most settings.

Generally, if your going for a pantheon, first decide how active you want them to be, do they only act though their servants, or do they act directly upon the world.  Next, decide how many of them you have; in my opinion, for a pantheon, the smallest you should consider is four(4 elemental deities), and while there is no limit to the largest, I've seen a setting were they had 100 deities after all.  However, I would not suggest 100 deities for someone starting on their own setting.  Technically 2 and 3 is possible, but generally I see these as more a variation on the singular deity idea.
Isida KepTukari
 member, 132 posts
 Elegant! Arrogant! Smart!
Mon 1 May 2017
at 03:42
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
Varsovian:
One note: rules for spells *are* intimidating. For instance, clerics have normal spells, orisons, domain spells, domain powers... I feel like a player might need a flipchart to organize all this.



The multiplicity of spells generally doesn't provide too much of a burden, and as the spellcaster is usually one of the classes that requires a bit more bookkeeping in nearly any system, I hope the player in question would be prepared to write things down.

I've played both arcane and divine spellcasters, and I will say that a domain spell, as it is generally used by divine casters who prepare their spells, effectively just becomes another part of your daily prepared spells.  It's actually easiest to remember, as that one spell slot rarely changes.

Orison and cantrips are also not too bad.  They are either low-level divinations (detect magic, detect poison) that are busted out in non-combat situations, minor combat spells broken out in extremis (ray of frost, acid splash, spark), or small utility spells (mage hand, open/close, prestidigitation).  No one has very many at any one time (the max is 6), and because they are so minor, they aren't going to tip game balance very hard one way or the other.

Special powers, like domain powers, bloodline powers, school powers, oracle powers, witch curses, etc., those are class features. I jolly well hope you remember your class features.  Like your spells and weapons, these are the things you look at when determining your options for actions in any given situation.

All of this does require more tracking and writing than, say, your average rogue, but anyone who wants to jump into a spellcasting character should be ready with their pencil.  I don't think it's excessive, and once you know roughly what spells you're going to have for a given situation, you just use that list for the adventuring day.
Varsovian
 member, 1368 posts
Fri 19 May 2017
at 20:05
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
Okay, so here's a question:

1st-level characters. How do you make an interesting PF game for them? Judging by the bestiaries, these characters can only fight rats or goblins...

BTW. What kind of stories is it possible to do in PF? What are you experiences?
Isida KepTukari
 member, 138 posts
 Elegant! Arrogant! Smart!
Fri 19 May 2017
at 20:28
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
If you want to get into creative encounters there are a couple of ways to do so.

One, there are 6 Bestiaries, so there are more than just rats and goblins to choose from.  Even in just the first book there are low-level undead, animals, and magical beasts (and others).

Two, your fellow man (or demihuman) is always a legitimate threat.  Bands of warriors of any race can be brigands and thieves, tribes of demon-worshipping raiders, etc.

As for what kinds of stories... What kinds can you tell with D&D?  What can you tell with any roleplaying game?  Wade into the dungeon and raid the corrupted tomb, go to the forest and find out what's making the mysterious lights, infiltrate the crime guild in the city to see who's blackmailing the nobles, go fight a dragon and rescue a princess!  (Or fight some kobolds and rescue the merchant's daughter.)
engine
 member, 332 posts
Fri 19 May 2017
at 20:31
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
In reply to Varsovian (msg # 52):

You ask your players what kind of game would interest them.

You're either being sarcastic about the monster selection or you're not really trying. Look again.

Also, the characters don't need to fight, or anyway don't need to fight to the death. It's not always necessary to kill or even hurt the other side to accomplish one's goal. If they're raiding a barrow but have no hope of actually clearing it, maybe they can make a quick raid for some of the less well-guarded treasure, to fund a strong raid later.
Varsovian
 member, 1369 posts
Sat 20 May 2017
at 05:13
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
As usual, thanks for answers!

Isida KepTukari:
One, there are 6 Bestiaries, so there are more than just rats and goblins to choose from.  Even in just the first book there are low-level undead, animals, and magical beasts (and others).


I'd need to check, but aren't even low-level undeaded tougher than CR 1 or 2?

quote:
Two, your fellow man (or demihuman) is always a legitimate threat.  Bands of warriors of any race can be brigands and thieves, tribes of demon-worshipping raiders, etc.


Ah, I keep forgetting that you simply can have the players fight against normal humans :) I guess I'm too enamoured with the Bestiaries beasties...

Still, a band of warriors might be too tough for 1st-level characters to fight...

quote:
As for what kinds of stories... What kinds can you tell with D&D?  What can you tell with any roleplaying game?  Wade into the dungeon and raid the corrupted tomb, go to the forest and find out what's making the mysterious lights, infiltrate the crime guild in the city to see who's blackmailing the nobles, go fight a dragon and rescue a princess!  (Or fight some kobolds and rescue the merchant's daughter.)


How about mood, style etc.? Pathfinder has such comic-booky art... Could it be used for something a bit more realistic, like Game of Thrones-style settings etc.?

engine:
Also, the characters don't need to fight, or anyway don't need to fight to the death. It's not always necessary to kill or even hurt the other side to accomplish one's goal. If they're raiding a barrow but have no hope of actually clearing it, maybe they can make a quick raid for some of the less well-guarded treasure, to fund a strong raid later.


I admit that my perception of PF / D&D might be a bit warped due to Baldur's Gate and similar cRPGs. Which featured a lot of combat encounters...

On the other hand, isn't PF somewhat geared toward combat? Its combat rules are quite robust.

This message was last edited by the user at 05:13, Sat 20 May.

engine
 member, 333 posts
Sat 20 May 2017
at 06:36
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
Varsovian:
On the other hand, isn't PF somewhat geared toward combat? Its combat rules are quite robust.
Robust combat rules don't mean that's what a game is "geared toward." By that logic, we could say that PF/D&D is geared toward magic, because spells take up so much space.

Combat rules need to be precise because that's where the most crucial questions arise because that's where player's playing pieces (if not the players themselves) can be eliminated from the game. Everyone needs to be on the same page in terms of what can and can't happen, so when something happens everyone agrees that it should have. That in no way eliminates the inevitable arguments when a character dies, but the effort I'd necessary.

Skills are extremely important to the game too, it's just that it's a) much more difficult to do for Perform or Spot what they can do for combat, and b) if Perform or Spot goes pear-shaped, it's not necessarily the end of the world. Though, look at the skills where a flub /might/ really mean a disaster, like Stealth or Jump or Climb. Those skills get a lot of ink, because, as with combat, there's a high chance of an argument coming up.

But, hey, focus on combat. I'm a fan, myself. The game has a class called "Fighter" for goodness sake and every dang thing has HP. I Just keep in mind that combat doesn't need to mean a fight to the death, and doesn't mean that the combat rules have to come into play at all.
Varsovian
 member, 1370 posts
Sat 20 May 2017
at 20:25
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
Okay then, good to know. I was just sharing my impressions...
engine
 member, 334 posts
Sat 20 May 2017
at 21:04
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
In reply to Varsovian (msg # 57):

My bad. It was framed as a question, so I took it that way.
silverelf
 member, 217 posts
Sun 21 May 2017
at 02:46
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
When it comes to any game system it takes work to make a story, its still a good platform for story telling. It gives you races with options if you wish them. It gives you a world, you don't have to use if you do not wish too. You can always adjust it to what you want. Still, like any system you need to read basics, and be willing to take the time to read through things. It has an elaborate system for combat, or you can use quick and dirty rules, it is really all about the story you are telling, when it comes to low level creatures there are plenty to contend with. You can toss wild animals because at low levels, they are a challenge. Given most people are assumed to be 16 ish starting out, it really is a thing of building up as you grow, you see. There are numerous things, wolves, goblins, kobolds, other people, natural terrors its really about how you set the story, to what combats are what.

I am sure it can be daunting coming into a new system. However, much of Pathfinder stuff is in the wiki, so you can really run it from the web if you have need to.  When it comes to CRPG's, that's not all there is to DnD or Pathfinder, I have played all editions of DnD, and Pathfinder to date 4th edition dnd gets close to the CRPG's feel.

It can be as gritty as you want it to be, you can decide the world is low magic, you can make the calls as a gm. If you want something note in it. Implement a House Rule for your game. Its all about you and your way of story telling.

This message was last edited by the user at 02:47, Sun 21 May.

Isida KepTukari
 member, 139 posts
 Elegant! Arrogant! Smart!
Sun 21 May 2017
at 12:13
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
Varsovian:
As usual, thanks for answers!

Isida KepTukari:
One, there are 6 Bestiaries, so there are more than just rats and goblins to choose from.  Even in just the first book there are low-level undead, animals, and magical beasts (and others).


I'd need to check, but aren't even low-level undeaded tougher than CR 1 or 2?


Heavens, some skeletons you can throw at first level characters, no problem!  (Skeletons come in a wide variety of CRs.)  A small group of human or goblin skeletons sound/look quite intimidating, but you also have to remember that most low-level undead are dumb as a brick.  The group could lure them into a dangerous area and drop them into a pit or off a cliff, or even just get on the high ground or crowd around a doorway and play whack-a-skull as they trudge up to the line.

Conversely, skeletons controlled by an evil spellcaster become a lot more dangerous, as they have someone directing them.  As your players gain in levels, you can reinvigorate old threats like skeletons in this way.

quote:
quote:
Two, your fellow man (or demihuman) is always a legitimate threat.  Bands of warriors of any race can be brigands and thieves, tribes of demon-worshipping raiders, etc.


Ah, I keep forgetting that you simply can have the players fight against normal humans :) I guess I'm too enamoured with the Bestiaries beasties...

Still, a band of warriors might be too tough for 1st-level characters to fight...


Most low-level bandits are probably level 1 warriors, the NPC fighter class, and hence usually rate around 1/2 CR.  A group of them will be a little tougher, but well within the capabilities of a first-level party (particularly because most bandit bands won't have a party cleric healing them in the middle of a fight).

The other advantage is that bandits are intelligent people.  They might attack from ambush or during the night, but if the fight goes against them, they'll run away or surrender instead of fighting to the death.  People become bandits because they don't want to work or they're desperate to do anything to live, and neither are going to throw their lives away fighting some strangers when they prove to be tough. They'd rather run away and attack a less-wary traveler sometime later.

quote:
quote:
As for what kinds of stories... What kinds can you tell with D&D?  What can you tell with any roleplaying game?  Wade into the dungeon and raid the corrupted tomb, go to the forest and find out what's making the mysterious lights, infiltrate the crime guild in the city to see who's blackmailing the nobles, go fight a dragon and rescue a princess!  (Or fight some kobolds and rescue the merchant's daughter.)


How about mood, style etc.? Pathfinder has such comic-booky art... Could it be used for something a bit more realistic, like Game of Thrones-style settings etc.?


The mood and style of your game is dictated by you and you alone.  The art for Pathfinder was chosen because Paizo thought it looked eye-catching and dynamic.  But if you wish a more realistic Game of Thrones version?  Absolutely.  Pull up some production stills or put on an episode and say to your players, "My game is more like this."  You can decide to use or not use any of Pathfinder's material for your game, keeping what fits your style, and banning the use of things that don't work.  There are even rules variations if there are base mechanics you'd rather see work in a different way (like, say, having variations with less magical healing, or different ways of using wounds).  Those rules variations can be found in Pathfinder Unchained, if that floats your boat, or you can just experiment with the core rules on your own - no one shall stop you.  :)

If you don't like the idea of fighting monks, you don't have to have them in your game.  Only race allowed is human?  That's your prerogative.  No one from Pathfinder can tell you how to play your game.

This message was last edited by the user at 12:15, Sun 21 May.

W0LF0S
 member, 120 posts
Mon 22 May 2017
at 15:47
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
FYI, Paizo has all of their core content available for free online.  Here's a fast link to the Bestiary index: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG...ndices/bestiary.html

It's got a bunch of filters on it that you can use to help you find what you want.  Easy, low level monsters can definitely include zombies: I count 5 that are CR 1 or lower.  Personally, I like the idea of "corruption" spreading around and infecting various low level beasts.  In other words, I like to apply the Fiendish template (or some of the other templates) to some under CR 1 monsters to turn them into legitimate threats for low level parties.  There's also some low-end fey creatures called Gremlins that I would highly recommend looking into.

Don't forget about traps!  Even low-end traps are worth big bundles of experience in Pathfinder.  If the party can disable/survive a trap or two, then they'll be on the fast track to the next level.
Varsovian
 member, 1371 posts
Wed 24 May 2017
at 17:59
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
Okay, here's one quite specific question I have:

I bought Advanced Race Guide yesterday and thought a lot about player races featured there. And I decided that I'd want to fiddle with them a little, using the character creation rules featured in the book. Because I really don't like the idea of orcs being stupid brutes and elves being frail nature lovers :)

And so, I looked at the write-up of elves' racial profile and I decided that I might want to strike off the -2 Constitution penalty the elves have. Doing that would put the elves at the 12 RP score. Meanwhile, humans have 10 RPs. So, that got me thinking about game balance...

And then, I checked the other race write-ups from the book. And I learned that the dwarves have 11 RPs, the drow have 14 RPs. On the other hand, there are races which are noticeably weaker than humans... And that puzzled me, as I've always thought that player races in Pathfinder should be of equal power.

So... how does it work? Is it okay to have the players choose between humans, elves (which would be somewhat more powerful than humans in my version), assimars (which are even more powerful) and, say, kobolds? Or would it be unbalancing to the game? What do you think?
W0LF0S
 member, 121 posts
Wed 24 May 2017
at 18:27
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
The Advanced Race Guide is a bit of a mixed bag altogether.  It's a good thought to expose some of the behind the scene weights and give advice on how to build good, custom races.  However, many of the listed traits have been argued and well demonstrted to be under or over valued, so I recommend reading and using the whole book with a salt shaker nearby.

The general consensus for building a "balanced" race is that anything with at least 8 Race Points and no more than 12 Race Points is probably okay; things with fewer or more Race Points are generally quite a bit stronger than other racial choices.  Some exceptions exist.  Aasimar (15 RP) are generally viewed as fine as are Ifrits (6 RP), because their abilities as a whole either don't break the game or are powerful enough to merit playing.  And variance between the core/playable races is perfectly fine.  Variance is what makes the game interesting!  Dwarves may have 11 RP while Humans have 9 RP, but everyone generally agrees that Humans are the more powerful race choice hands down (a free feat is HUGE in Pathfinder AND they get to choose where their racial bonus goes).  You have to examine exactly what it is the RP are representing to really evaluate if the Race is OP or not.

Most players value the option to play things out of the ARG and use the optional traits listed for their individual races.  Even the core races each have a list of 8 or more alternate traits that usually replace one or more of their standard ones.  Some are straight up more powerful (the Halfling's Fleet of Foot alternate trait comes to mind), while others are clearly subpar.  However, the choice and option is nice to have for when you have a character concept that wants to use the subpar or superior choice.  I constantly see applications by folks that want to play something different or suboptimal or just plain off the wall.  There is definitely demand on both ends of the spectrum, and a better question is this: what are you comfortable allowing into your game?
Varsovian
 member, 1372 posts
Wed 24 May 2017
at 19:44
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
Thanks :)

Although the question of what I am comfortable with is a tricky one. For once, I can't even decide if I want to have elves, dwarves or halflings in my game...

(gnomes are definitely *out*, though)

BTW. I was wondering about that -2 Constitution penalty for elves: is it a big penalty? Does it make elves noticeably frailer than humans, or just a little bit?

On related note: if orcs have -2 Intelligence penalty, then how much stupid are they, exactly?
silverelf
 member, 220 posts
Wed 24 May 2017
at 19:58
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
Intelligence is your mental faculties; your capacity for learning, creativity and the ability to think on your feet. This stat is pretty much your book smart stat I believe, so with say an 8 (10 standard -2 ) the character might not be fast on the up take,  might not know proper terms for certain items, might refer to something as something else.

We had a half ogre who often refered to weapons as stabby or bashy, he didn't know the names for them, didn't care to know. His counting abilities, was bad few, bad lots, bad many, and FUN. since he liked to weigh into combat. So really, its about finding an aspect and going with it. I think.
W0LF0S
 member, 122 posts
Wed 24 May 2017
at 20:26
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
Most commoners in Pathfinder have an array of something like 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.  A few have lower and some have a little higher, but non usually have higher than a 15 or lower than a 6 (even after racial modifiers).  A score of 10 or 11 is the absolute average of average.  I gives you no benefit but also doesn't hand you any penalties.  Someone with an IQ of 100 probably has about 10 or 11 Intelligence whereas someone with an Int score of 8 or 9 probably reads slowly and struggles to learn the concepts behind any procedures they perform (likely an IQ around 90).  I've heard somewhere that a point of Intelligence is equal to 10 IQ points.  I'm not saying that's 100% accurate, but it's a helpful starting point for gauging Intelligence.  Intelligence isn't just how much a character knows but also describes how capable they are at learning in general.  Orcs with their -2 penalty are generally less knowledgeable about topics outside of their interests and generally don't learn very quickly.

For the -2 Con penalty for Elves, it's not gigantic by any means, but it is a measurable handicap.  A -4 penalty would be pretty punishing though.  In the grand scheme of things, you can expect an Elf to make 5% fewer fortitude saves than others and to have 1 less Hit Point per level than other characters.  As compensation, they do get +2 Dex and +2 Int, so they do succeed on 5% more Reflex saves and dodge 5% more attacks than most other characters, and they get also get 1 additional Skill Point per level compared to other characters.  It depends on what your player values highly for their character concept as to whether or not the Elf's toolkit would make an attractive or interesting choice.
engine
 member, 338 posts
Wed 24 May 2017
at 20:27
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
Varsovian:
(gnomes are definitely *out*, though)
Why is that?

Varsovian:
On related note: if orcs have -2 Intelligence penalty, then how much stupid are they, exactly?
Depends how you relate the ability score called Intelligence to actual "intelligence" and what you think of actual intelligence.

For instance, in my games, I don't relate Intelligence to anything other than the numbers and other game effects related to it. For instance, neither low Intelligence nor high Intelligence affects how well a creature can talk (assuming it can talk) or plan or strategize. Nothing about the editions I play require that I do anything else, and I dislike roleplaying "dumb." I certainly have no interest in forcing someone to roleplay dumb, or policing roleplaying that is "too smart," but if someone wants to play that way (even if their character has a high Intelligence score), and they aren't disruptive about it, that's their choice.
LoreGuard
 member, 638 posts
Wed 24 May 2017
at 21:13
Re: Pathfinder is scary...
Varsovian:
....
BTW. I was wondering about that -2 Constitution penalty for elves: is it a big penalty? Does it make elves noticeably frailer than humans, or just a little bit?
....

Keep in mind that especially when using point buy builds, one can without even much effort eliminate a -2 to a stat, and even with a little effort boost it to a bonus.  What a race having a negative tends to do is make the extreme highs less common (or more achievable for a bonus stat).  Basically this soft-cap's your max up or down more than it specifically makes all elves frail, or all orc's stupid.  Half the orcs you meet might be smarter than the average human peasant, but it would 'cost' more of their 'resources' to achieve it.

With this in mind... with a soft cap like that... you aren't likely perhaps to see more than a token few elves on the platform placing in a long distance track event, nor would you likely find many Orc's in the finalists of the local spelling bee.  Easily, there could be one, especially if they have a 'feat' that somehow accents that particular ability, for instance.

So with that in mind, I would suspect that most marshal looking elves, wouldn't seem frail to most observers, but the dwarvish wrestling champion of a local enclave will likely be notably stockier than the local elvish wrestling champion in the neighboring elvish community.  [ok, I stand corrected, the prejudiced dwarves, will say that all the elves look notably frail and weak compared to their obviously superior forms inherited from their ancestors... but that is a perceptional thing, not a (getting con penalties via mechanics) thing.]