Is letting a player use a Large or larger race a bad idea from the game balance point of view?


Pathfinder ruleset assumes players to be Medium or Small humanoids. Not so many rules exist for non-standard characters.

  • The only "official" way to play as a bigger dude that I know of is using race building rules. With explicit DM permission, it’s possible to create an 11-RP race that will be Large and still have the reach of a Medium/Small creature. Also, this race probably won’t fit into the world of Golarion unless you work for it.
  • Bestiary creatures that are Large or Larger typically have racial Hit Dice, and I’ve heard it many times that mixing racial and class HD for players is generally a bad idea.
  • Some monstrous humanoids, e.g. Trox, have official racial stats and are Large, but playing them is usually frowned upon, as their appearance creates certain social difficulties unless the campaign is set in a monstrous setting.
  • Half-Giants published by Dreamscarred Press are up to 8 ft. 4 in. tall, but still Medium. They are treated as being Large for certain purposes, but not for reach, although they can use Large weapons.

Threads about PCs being Large usually bring up all the related bonuses: CMD/CMB, reach, extra damage, extra STR, and say that it all makes such races vo. Very often they also talk about Enlarge Person alongside Haste creating Huge Barbarians that one-shot everything they see, and about enemies that can’t even retaliate because of limited reach. What makes me a bit interested here, though, is that it’s usually mundane characters who benefit most from increasing their melee potential, and melee characters are rarely overpowered compared to casters.

However, lacking any first-hand experience, I wish to know:

Is it actually a bad idea to allow players to choose Large races for their characters?

By "Large races" I mean races that are properly Large, have all the related benefits, including reach. This race can be custom-made, adapted from another source, or an existing one can be used.

Please remember about the Good Subjective/Bad Subjective guidelines and state your experience of seeing Large or larger races in actual play if you decide to post an answer. Let’s not get this question closed.