We’ve never played Pathfinder before. Or, for that matter, And D&D prior to 4th Edition.
(Does this sap our RPG cred? We feel like it does, a bit. Whether one is a fan of Pathfinder or not, claiming to have something worthwhile to say about RPGs without having played them is akin to being an English Professor who has never read Hamlet. It doesn’t matter if it’s your thing or not, it’s a big enough thing that you shouldn’t be able to get away without SOME sort of experience with it.)
So, we are mighty excited that the opportunity has come up for us to PLAY some pathfinder, as a friend of a friend is about to run a game. But you know what’s even better? We have to make some characters.
Being a GM is a delight: creating worlds and plots and things. Being a designer is great as well, inasmuch as you can construct story-systems and plots and worlds by the bucketful. But as far as we’re concerned, the best seat in the house is on the other side of the DM screen, with a little character sheet and some big ideas and some poorly-thought-out superstitions about dice management*. And the best bit, and the most difficult bit, is right here: making up an initial character concept. With an entire world at our disposal, how can we settle on just one?
Short answer: we don’t. We make a bunch, and then next week when we get together with the GM and the other players, we’ll figure out who of the four is most likely to fit in best with the needs of the party. Of course, the party comes first, which is good because otherwise choosing a single fella will be next to impossible. To that end, we’re focusing on four characters that hit the Big Four roles: Warrior (take a punch, leave a punch), Thief (sudden stabbing and obscure skills), Mage (buffs and bonuses and battlefield alteration) and Healer (hit points, hit points, get ’em while they’re pointy!).
… with the caveat that we’re not in the business of statting out fully optimized builds at the expense of narratively interesting builds. Which is to say that my Warrior option might not be the best punch taker or giver, but he WILL be fun to play. One hopes.
- Airic Twain, Fighter; Cad archetype, with a dip into Monk for the Flurry of Blows and some nice maneuvering possiblities… also, Airic is lawful evil. Airic is a guardsman. Oh, it’s brilliant. He keeps his armor shiny, he makes sure to spend an hour in the yard, swinging his polearm back and forth and saluting whomever needs saluting, and then when he and his partner, Lars, go out on patrol, the world is his. It’s beautiful… Lars walks first, bushy black beard and twinned swords and rusty brown stains on his armor that are far more evocative than they should be, and Airic walks behind, small, wiry, smiling all the time. The stupid ones out there know not to mess with the two, because Lars is immense and more than willing to beat them down. The smart ones know not to mess with the two because Airic will do anything. Literally, anything… when Airic fights, people lose eyes, lose hands, get thrown through windows, get garotted with their own hair… bad things happen, and people die, and Airic can always claim that it was in the pursuit of the law, which nobody would dare doubt. So he and Lars swagger through the world, collecting free drinks and smokes and money from terrified (though in their own way, appreciative) shopkeepers, drug dealers, and local thugs. It’s the good life… or at least it was. It was until some local punk got Lars hooked on Shiver. There’s nothing wrong with showing up to patrol a little drunk or high or worse, but Lars… the man was shaking, visibly shaking, and stoned out of his gourd on some sort of spider venom. Gods knew how they got it to him, but he was hooked from day one. First his placid bulk turned cranky and violent, even when violence wasn’t being called for, and then, well, he turned strung out junkie enough that even the Captain saw something was up and gave him the sack, and Lars kicked it about two days later. So now Airic’s got a new partner, and just his luck, she’s some idealistic little prat begging to get the two of them ambushed and entirely unwilling to let Airic enjoy the fruits of his position. And now Airic is pissed. Luckily enough, he had plenty of vacation days he hadn’t felt the need to use, and he’s ready to go out and see that whomever cost him his easy gig isn’t going to see anything ever again.
- Jer Dovetail, Halfling Gunslinger; he uses the Mysterious Stranger archetype, which mostly means that his feats of gunplay are powered by his charisma, rather than wisdom, and as soon as possible he’s going to grab a level in rogue, to take advantage of the sneak attacking and some of the stealthy feats. He works in shipping, and his occupation is listed in the ledgers as “Second Boatswain,” but only because the accountants in House Leroung figured out long ago that listing someone in the ledger as “Security” is an invitation for unwelcome attentions. He’s been in and around boats all his life: his father was a shipwright, and it was during Jer’s short and shiftless apprenticeship that he learned enough of smelting nails and securing cannons to turn his attentions to gunsmithing. Sadly, his father’s untimely murder left teenaged Jer in charge of his younger brother, Ferren; Jer left any artisnal asperations behind in order to take grunt-work with his father’s company… it was there that his interest in weaponry turned practical, as he travelled up and down the Jeggare river, guarding cargo of varying values and degrees of legality. He learned to shoot straight… then he learned to shoot wiggly in a way that would work to his advantage. And more than anything else, he learned how people work: how to see what they wanted and how to give it to them, or take it from them if need be, as mercenary work could have long stretches of downtime where pay was scarce, and most of what he got he sent to his brother anyway. That was years ago… his brother’s a clerk in a minor shipping firm now, and Jer’s ready to take a vacation, get his land legs back. Oh, and vengeance. Against the rat bastard what murdered his father. That’ll be nice too.
- Chosk, Half-Orc Alchemist; he will most likely use the Chirurgeon archetype, which trades a faculty for poisons with a capacity for healing skills, and will focus on extracts to benefit his allies and bombs to direct the flow of enemies. Do you know how hard it is for a half-orc to get into the Acadimae? Did you know it was possible for a half-orc to get into the Acadimae? It’s the city’s largest and most prestegious institution of… of anything, let alone magic! And Chosk managed to get in! Bribes. Petitions. Promises. Begging! Using his not-inconsiderable skill with alchemy to brew incredibly illegal poisons. All so that the damned gate would be open to the bastard son of Old Korvosa. And then it was! Against all odds, he spat goodbye to his mother, his gang, his life, and walked proudly into society. And got kicked out a year later, charged with brewing an explosive that killed a minor magistrate. He hadn’t, of course, but who would care to look close, right? So now, where does he go? Back home? His mother loved him, in her way, but was glad to see the back of him. To his gang? He, ah, had some rude things to say to the gutter runners who used him as a mobile drug lab when he left. Back to his father in Belzken? Ha! He’d be killed. He’s what you’d call a watermelon: green skin, but pink and squishy as any human on the inside. No, he’s going to get back in the Acadimae one way or another… he’s got a name to clear. Until he can figure out how, he’ll scrape a living selling healing draughts on the streetcorner. It’s not much of a career, but it’ll keep him in food, cheap shelter, and time enough for investigation.
- Serrena, Half-Elf Wizard/Cleric (Undead Lord archetype); she will make Necromancy her school of choice but keep Conjuration available, and invest in a familiar, most likely a thrush she can talk to. When you walk into Serrena’s rooms at the Academae, you’ll notice two things, and the order in which you notice them probably says a lot about you. You’ll notice the corpses, and you’ll notice the flowers. The corpses are easy to notice because they’re upright and wandering about, attempting to perform the complex tasks which Serrena has set out for them. The flowers are easy to notice because they are everywhere. Mostly colorful, mostly dying due to lack of attention, but all fragrant. She, too, is perfumed at all times, not that it ever quite covers the smell of rotten flesh. Serrena, you see, is a Necromancer. But a good one, she would argue! You see, uh, necromancy, as a, uh, an art has been o-overshadowed by the sorts of… you know… mad liches and, and, and things like that who make it seem, uh, Evil. Or so she argues. The fact is, Serrena was, like so many Half-Elves, the daughter of a wealthy and heartless noble human and an exotic and haughty elf, neither of whom cared to take care of the unfortunate result. Serrena was shuttled to an orphanage as early as possible to minimize the scandal, where she was ostracized as half-elves often are, and in short order was shuttled between orphanage, church, foster home, and petty orphan gang (where her minor magic aptitude made up for a total lack of social awareness and minimal skills). Eventually, she found a small church of Urgothoa, of all things, which accepted her as they accept everyone: as a pathetic mortal with potential for purity in undeath. She worked there for years, never quite giving in to an ideology that conflicted with her own, but coming to believe that the only people she could ever truly be accepted by are those who have already died. Now, she’s got a dissertation to write for the Academae, but whenever she gets started she loses herself in thought… how many poor kids like her are out there, being dumped on by the system, pulled off the streets into petty gangs? Can she use her knowledge and the gifts of Urgothoa in a more practical way?
*If you keep the 1 on the top at all times, they will grow WEARY of showing 1, and be more inclined to roll higher numbers. Additionally, you cannot “roll out the 20s” by doing practice rolls… dice contain a potentially infinite number of 20s. That said, you can waste a hot streak, so if your practice roll runs high, then for Gruumsh’s sake don’t roll it again! Don’t even touch it, just leave it sit until you need to actually roll. This has been a public service message from Thought Check Games.