It Builds Character #7: Pathfinder II

Welcome to the seventh in an occasional series called It Builds Character in which I use the character generation rules of various tabletop role-playing games to create a character and attempt to flesh them out into something distinctive.

It Builds Character #7: Pathfinder II

The Game

For the seventh entry in this series, I’ll be returning to Paizo Publishing’s Pathfinder RPG, which I also covered in the second entry of this series. This arose for a few reasons: firstly, I’m planning on GamesMastering a Pathfinder campaign once I find a local group of players. Secondly, I’m working with my wife to help her generate a character (possibly for that campaign also). Finally, I ran a Twitter poll recently because I wanted to generate a new character now that I have a tiny bit more familiarity with the rule set. It got very few votes, because I’m not a particularly known online person but I’m forging ahead anyway.

The Character

STEP I: Determine Ability Scores

The rule book lists five different methods for generating ability scores, four of which revolve around the number of dice rolled and how they are assigned, and the fifth one uses a points buying system (we’ll see an example of points buying in the next entry in this series) – Once again, I opt for the “Standard” method which is to roll four six-sided dice (4d6) and discard the lowest one six times and then assign those scores to each of the six abilities – Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom & Charisma. So, let’s roll!

The rolls

16 (6+5+5+1)

12 (6+4+2+1)

9 (5+2+2+1)

15 (6+5+4+3)

12 (4+4+4+2)

12 (5+5+2+2)

This is quite the range. We have one below average score (that accursed 9), as well as 2 scores that are notably above average in the form of that 15 and 16. Everything else falls into the more average range for adventurers. Since the poll referenced above determined that this character will be a Bard, I assign the scores as follows:

Str: 9  Dex: 12  Con: 12 Int: 15  Wis: 12  Cha: 16

 

STEP II: Pick Your Race

Since I’m already going for an unfamiliar class, I decided to go all in and go for a  Pathfinder race that I also seldom play (I tend to favor dwarfs, humans, and the occasional half-elf), a Half-Orc. I’m not hugely familiar with them as player characters, but I’m familiar enough with orcs from general fantasy pop cultural osmosis, (and from playing a surprising large amount of Warhammer Fantasy Battle 4th through 6th editions) so I have an idea of how I’m going to play the character. One advantage Half-Orcs get is a +2 to any one ability score.  I decide it’s going to boost the Constitution score to 14. They get a few  other bonuses, most notably a +2 to intimidation, and the chance to fight on for a round with 0 hit points or less.

STEP III: Pick Your Class

As I’ve mentioned, this character is going to be a bard, so that class is decided for me. The first thing this gives the character is a mighty 10 hit points (8 for the d8 hit die, +2 for the Constitution modifier). There’s also a list of class skills, which we’ll get into in Section IV below. I’ll note the character has 8 skill ranks per level currently, since that’ll be useful later. The character is proficient with simple  weapons, rapiers, longswords, saps, shortswords, shortbows, and whips (as well as greataxes and falchions from being  a half-orc), so I’ll be able to choose from a wide range of weapons later. The character’s also proficient with light armor and shields, so will be able to defend against some blows easily.

Bards, like wizards get the ability to learn spells. Based on that Charisma score of 16, the character can cast  unlimited level 0 spells, 2 level 1 spells, 1 level 2 spell, and 1 level 3 spells per day. That’s not truly the case though, as this 1st level bard will only know 4 level-0 spells and 2 level 1 spells. Looking at the Bardic spell list, I decide these will be:

0-Level

  • Light
  • Message
  • Daze
  • Ghost Sound

1st-Level

  • Summon Monster I
  • Cure Light Wounds

A small role

A couple of other features of Other things the character gets from being a bard are bonuses to knowledge checks, limited performance bonuses that allow them to either counter or distract from magical effects, fascinate a foe, or inspire courage in an ally. That’s about everything for the first-level bard class, so on to Skills.

STEP IV: Pick Skills and Select Feats;

This character has 8 skill ranks to distribute, and being 1st-level can’t have more than 1 rank in any skill. From the non-class skills, I  opt for Ride, so the character can handle a mount if needed. The other seven skills I end up choosing from the Bard skills: Perform, Knowledge (local), Bluff, Intimidate, Perception, Sense Motive, and Sleight of Hand.

On to Feats. and I opt for Point-Blank Shot, making the character  especially deadly with ranged weapons within 30 feet.

STEP V: Buy Equipment

Time to gear up! A bard starts out with 3d6 x 10 gold pieces for buying equipment. Which, in this case, came out to 90. Since I went with that Point-Blank shot feat, the character needs a ranged weapon, so I spend 33 of those gold pieces to buy a shortbow and 20 arrows. The character is also going to be wearing studded leather armor, so there goes another 25 gold. I also buy a dagger for 2 gold pieces in case things get hairy at close range. That leaves 30 gold pieces to spend on non-martial equipment.  I pick up a musical instrument (specifically, a drum) for the bard to perform with, for another 5 gold pieces. We round things out with a few adventuring vitals, a backpack (5 gold), bedroll (1 silver), 2 days rations (1 gold), and a tent (10 gold). That leaves the character with 9 gold pieces and 9 silver pieces to spend later.

STEP VI: Finishing Details

 

There’s more than  few finishing touches needed to turn this bard from a spreadsheet to a character, but first we need a few more details on the spreadsheet. I opt to make the character male, and he goes by the name Zirg Cech. My campaigns generally don’t make a big deal out of alignment, but I decide that Zirg is Chaotic Good, should it become relevant. Rolling for age, Zirg is only 16. He’s 5 foot 6 inches tall, and weighs 206 pounds. Zirg also has black hair, which he wears closely cropped to his skull and has yellow eyes.

Zirg grew up with the semi-nomadic Dark Mountain Orc Clan, where he was often bullied due to his short stature and semi-human heritage. This led him to hide from his peers, and frequently also the elders among the clan, which has engendered a fiercely independent streak in him. This eventually meant that he was marked for execution by the clan for desertion, since he didn’t join them in a short territorial conflict with the kobolds and goblins that were attempting to seize clan farmland. Through sheer force of personality, he was able to barter his sentence down to mere exile, and was ceremonially drummed out of the Clan. His last act as a Clan member was to steal the drum from the herald conducting this ceremony and flee into the marshlands.

Zirg has no desire to end his exile, but had grown lonely, so now he frequents a small human town that he doesn’t know the name of. Some of the townsfolk are afraid of his orcish visage and tend to give him a wide berth. Others are less kind, with small children frequently hurling stones and pebbles at him in the cobbled streets. He leaves them be, outside the occasional glower to scare off some of the more vicious attackers. Zirg will often be found in the common area of the local tavern, enjoying a thick, dark pint of ale. When he’s in his cups, Zirg bashes out a beat on his drum and sings bawdy songs to the other patrons. This has made him more popular than he realizes with some of the more disreputable town folk. If you ask Zirg, he’ll tell you he’s friendless. If you ask the bartender, you’ll get quite a different story…

What do you think, loyal blog followers? Is this a series worth continuing? If so, are there any particular games and editions you’d like me to use to create characters?

Please leave some comments and let me know!

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It Builds Character #2: Pathfinder

Welcome to the second in an occasional series called It Builds Character in which I use the character generation rules of various tabletop role-playing games to create a character and attempt to flesh them out into something distinctive.

It Builds Character #2: Pathfinder

The Game

For the second entry in this series, I’ll be using the rules of Paizo Publishing’s Pathfinder RPG, which I confess I have yet to play and am mostly unfamiliar with it. In fact, creating a character for this post will be the first time I’ve cracked open the core rule book. From what I gather it’s a generic fantasy role-playing game that was marketed as an alternative to Dungeons & Dragons’ 4th Edition for fans who enjoyed D&D’s 3rd (and 3.5) Edition and felt that 4th Edition threw away too much of the baby with the bathwater.

The Character

As I said, I’m not fully cognizant of how Pathfinder works right now, so the only thing I know for sure about the character I’m planning on creating is that they are going to be a wizard or equivalent magic-user and also probably male. Everything else is up in the air

STEP I: Determine Ability Scores

The rule book lists five different methods for generating ability scores, four of which revolve around the number of dice rolled and how they are assigned, and the fifth one uses a points buying system (we’ll see an example of points buying in the next entry in this series) – For simplicity’s sake, I opt for the “Standard” method which is to roll four six-sided dice (4d6) and discard the lowest one six times and then assign those scores to each of the six abilities – Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom & Charisma. The rule book notes that for Wizards (like I want to be), spells are tied to the Inst ability, so I’ll keep that in mind as I roll and assign scores.

The rolls

13 (6+4+3+2)

11 (5+4+2+1)

11 (5+4+2+1)

15 (6+5+4+2)

10 (5+4+1+1)

11 (4+4+3+3)

That gives me a fairly even spread of scores, and looking at the chapter on ability scores, it seems like 10-11 is treated as the baseline level, so I have four baseline scores and two above average scores. Based solely on the fact that I’m told that Int is an important ability for wizards, and that in most fantasy, wizards can’t wear armor, so they need to be a little tough to avoid getting killed if they are hit by anything, I assign the scores as follows:

Str: 10 Dex: 11 Con: 13 Int: 15 Wis: 11 Cha: 11

I opted to make Str the lowest score as I assume that’s more for melee fighting, and my wannabe wizard wants no part of that kind of action.

STEP II: Pick Your Race

In Pathfinder there are seven base races to choose from: Dwarf, Halfling, Elf, Human, Gnome, Half-orc and Half-elf. They appear to be pretty much your generic fantasy archetypes. Each of the races comes with modifiers to the ability scores generated in Stage I as well as various other traits that might provide bonuses and drawbacks. I hadn’t really considered which race I wanted to be, but for some reason, the idea of a Dwarf who has gotten sick of living underground, mining and fighting goblins and has so become sunned by his clan and turned to spell books for solace appeals to me, so my character is going to be a Dwarf. That changes some of the ability scores, so now he has Con: 15, Wis: 13 and Cha: 9. Being a dwarf also confers a few special abilities, including being able to see in the dark, expertise at stonework and gem appraisal, being slow but hard to shift, and being proficient with battleaxes, warhammers and heavy picks. Based on my emerging character concept, those weapon abilities shouldn’t matter much. One of the sample Dwarf names is “Grunyan” which I like, but I decide to switch it up a bit and name  him “Garnam Blackaxe” as a generic Dwarven name.

STEP III: Pick Your Class

Well, I’ve kind of already done this with my assumption that Garnam will be a Wizard, so I’ll concentrate on that class (Other options included  Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue or Sorcerer). Classes define the abilities that the character might have, and different classes grant different abilities, as well as the number of Skills and Feats a character has access to at different levels (We’ll be looking at skills and feats in later steps of creating Garnam). A Wizard class grants Garnam certain special abilities at first level (subsequent levels as well, but I’m creating him as a new character, which makes him first level).  Firstly he gains access to the following skills: Appraise, Craft, Fly, Knowledge (all), Linguistics, Profession & Spellcraft. Most of these sound self-explanatory, but I will be looking up what exactly the Fly skill lets Garnam do later.

As I suspected, wizards can’t use shields or armor, but apparently can use clubs, daggers, crossbows and quarterstaffs. I think I’d favor a light crossbow, but we’ll see what happens later.

Another class ability wizards get is the ability to learn spells. Based on Garnam’s Int score, he can cast 3 level 0 and 2 level 1 spells per day.

A couple of other features of the Wizard class are something called Arcane Bond, and Arcane School. Arcane bond either allows an animal familiar or an object with a bonus spell stored in it. I’m opting to use an amulet as the bonded object, and keeping it hidden beneath Garnam’s beard so that nobody can steal it from him easily. As for Arcane School, that allows wizards to choose a type of magic to specialize in which gives spell bonuses at the cost of making other types of spells harder to cast. I’m opting to keep Garnam unspecialized, as I prefer being more of a generalist when it comes to magical abilities. Garnam also has the ability to Scribe Scrolls at first level, which may prove handy as he discovers more spells. He also gets a spellbook with his initial spells known. For Garnam, that means all 0-level spells and four first level spells (which we’ll get to later)

STEP IV: Pick Skills and Select Feats

If I’m reading correctly, then Garnam has 4 skill rank slots to start off with. I opt to use 3 of those slots on some of the class skills, namely Spellcraft, Knowledge (Dungeoneering) & Craft (Alchemy). That leaves one slot for a non-class skill, and I opt Sense Motive, as I think Garnam’s a suspicious little bugger.

On to Feats. Unlike skills feats are less tied to race and class, and often represent innate abilities rather than trainable ones. As such, they’re rather less common than skills, so Garnam only gets to choose one to start with. He opts for a Metamagic Feat, specifically Enlarge Spell, which doubles the range of any spell prepared using that feat, though it does use up a spell slot one level higher than normal (so a level 0 spell would use a level 1 spell slot)

STEP V: Buy Equipment

Now that we have some idea of Garnam’s abilities, it’s time to outfit him with a few choice items. As a Wizard, Garnam starts out with a mere 2d6 x 10 gold pieces to spend on equipment. I rolled (4+4), so have 80 gold pieces to spend. Gaarnam already has basic clothing to wear for free, so let’s see what he can afford in the way of weaponry, as he’ll need something when he’s out of spells…

I mentioned before that I see Garnam packing a light crossbow, which costs 35 of his initial 80 gold pieces. 20 bolts to load it with costs another 2 gold pieces, so he has 43 to spend on non-weaponry stuff. 20 of those immediately disappear on buying a spell component pouch and a blank spellbook. Another 2 go towards a backpack to keep the spellbook in, so only 21 gold pieces left. A bedroll and a day’s worth of trail rations  eat up another gold piece, as does a flint and steel. A vial of ink, two inkpens and 4 sheets of parchment eat up another nine gold pieces, leaving Garnam with 10 to spend over the course of his adventures.

Also, since there’s no other good spot for this, I’ve decided to use this space to figure out what the four first level spells Garnam will have already learned are:

Mage Armor

Summon Monster I

Sleep

Ray of Enfeeblement.

These give a broad range of abilities that include combat usefulness (weakening an enemy, summoning a creature to fight, rendering enemies unconscious and protecting Garnam from damage).

STEP VI: Finishing Details

And now, time to try and round Garnam out as a character. First off, we have a few more mechanistic items to take care of, so let’s deal with those. The first thing to deal with is why Garnam stands on the traditional alignment axes of Law vs. Chaos and Good vs. Evil. I’ve decided that as a suspicious little bugger, Garnam is scrupulously honest, but also rather pragmatic in his approach to things. He has a code he adheres to, but it isn’t necessarily one of self-sacrifice. He will kill if he has to, or if his code demands it, which I think makes Lawful Neutral the best fit for his alignment, but alignment is more of a relic of Pathfinder‘s antecedents, so I won’t worry over much about it.

Next up, we have the vital statistics. I opt to take the most mechanistic approach possible and roll on the various tables for Age, Height and Weight. Turns out that Garnam is a sprightly young dwarf of 63, who happens to be exactly 4 feet tall, and weighs in at 171 pounds.

The rest of teh details are up to me, so i decide that he has ashy blond hair, slightly ruddy skin, and a two foot beard that he braids into a vaguely runic shape.

Disillusioned with his family’s mining business at a young age, Garnam dreamed of living to seek his fortune in teh world outside of his home citadel, but he knew his parents would never approve. Every night, after a tiring day in the rockface, he would study runes of magic in the darkness of his bedchamber and eventually, Garnam discovered he had an aptitude for magic spells. He was able to cast a few minor cantrips, The thane of his clan, Garnam’s grandfather discovered this spell-casing and banished him from the citadel for his dabblings with magic, which the clan forbade. Now out in the wider world, Garnam seeks adventure to pay for more research to hone his magical abilities so that one day he can return home and show the value of magic to the Thane and have his honor restored. After being banished for (as he saw it) deceit, Garnam never lies, and he despises dishonesty in others. This has led to him becoming very good at telling if people are lying to him. Those that do, often end up with powder burns or crossbow bolts in non-vital anatomical regions.

All done. So we have a very rough sketch of a character, I may try and adapt Garnam into a short story of his own in the future, as despite being somewhat cliche, I can see potential for narrative there..

What do you think, loyal blog followers? Is this a series worth continuing? If so, are there any particular games and editions you’d like me to use to create characters?

Please leave some comments and let me know!