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
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.
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!
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:
- Ghost Sound
- 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!