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Building Bad: Tips on Creating Memorable Villain NPC’s

January 6, 2020 Comments off

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It’s easy, relatively speaking, to run a villain in most campaigns.  You’ve got technical application of the rules, some rudimentary tactics, and keeping track of stats, spells, and wounds, sure…. And sometimes that can be burdensome, but any GM worth their salt should be able to readily handle that aspect of the game, if not right away then early in their GMing career.

But how do you take a pile of stats and make it memorable?  Make it truly villainous?  here are a few tips to creating a bad guy that your players will love to hate.

Reputation / Infamy

You hear about a villain, or their actions, before you ever see them:  You come across the scene of the murder.  You hear the villagers talk about the tradgedy the villain has brought to bear (even if they don’t know that’s who is behind it).  People talk in hushed tones about the warlord  in the neighboring province.  Villagers tell tale of the creature that lives in the woods.

This is best delievered as background noise, tavern rumors, or news reports.  Better yet, it’s learned when the party is busy with another problem.  It builds a richer world, one fraught with problems where the party can only do so much.  The villain is a problem that the party has to work itself up to.  Haunting scenes of death and destruction or chilling tales from victims or survivors build the villain’s reputation.

Villains use others to do their dirty work.

While some villains may be solitary, many villains that wield enough power will draw followers that seek to benefit from the riches or influence their dastardly patron.  Others may see a chance for wanton violence in the company of someone who has mastered it.

This could be as minimal as a hobgoblin or bugbear that commands a small horde of semi-faithful goblins.  It could be a petty crime lord that pays a biker gang to ferry his contraband and protect his holdings for a cut of the take.  It could be an army.  In this agency, there is power over the innocent.  These perhaps not-so-powerful followers can affect change by virtue of their numbers.  They can destroy a village, derail a train, and in big enough numbers, crush a nation.

Use these minions to exact the will of the Villain, spy on their enemies, and create confrontations that remind the party the villain is active without putting the villain himself at risk.  Furthermore, these minions brag about their patron villain.  They want people to know that they are to be feared and respected because of their patron’s power.  Let your minions tell tales of their patron villain, threaten his wrath, and predict his retribution.  You’re building a relationship between the villain and the party without the villain saying a word themselves.

Villains attack heroes where they’re most vulnerable.

Only so much force can be brought to bear agains the heroes themselves.  They are, after all, the heroes!  They were built to overcome adversity.  When a villain cannot eliminate the heroes, they can make them pay.  Often, they have friends, family and loved ones that don’t have the same capability to fight back.  And there’s nothing to make a villain more hated than attacking or exploiting the innocent, especially if the heroes are close to the victims.

Villains live to fight another day.

There is no single thing that drives a party mad more readily than a villain slipping through their grasp.  Villains should plan ways of making their escape so that the heroes cannot follow until it’s time to stop telling their story.  Dedicated retreat can be difficult to counter, especially for a Villain applying a little forethought.  Take note, however, that if you do this, there are two rules you have to follow: One, the escape must make sense in some form or fashion or the party will see the escape as a cheat. Make sure evidence of their escape plan is clear and reasonable. Two, you must eventually let the heroes catch the villain.  The contract you have with the players as a GM is that you will give them the opportunity to be heroic. Give them that opportunity, if not right away.

Villains use their resources to make your misery their hobby.

Villiains have time and resources that allow them to do things that an average hero wouldn’t even consider.  It might be having their goons ransack the heroes’ base, burn down a town, or spread nasty rumors about them.  They can take their time or drop a little money into making the heroes miserable, including impersonating them while doing their worst.  Fire is cheap.  The watch and judges can be bribed. While the possibilities are endless, the goal is to anger the party, not to kill them.  They are owed a confrontation, and their anger is the spice that will make that fight all the more satsifying.

Villains aren’t just cruel to the heroes.

If a villain is cruel, there are plenty of ways to show it.  Sometimes, this involves slaying their own underlings for their own incompetence.  For the chaotic evil out there, it could be slaying bystanders for almost no reason at all.  In most cases, it’s going to be a villain taking the most direct route to solving a problem, even if that means a few people have to get hurt along the way.  Show these victims to the players in your story so that they get the depth of what a jerk your bad guy really is.  If possible, let your villain do this infront of them, but just out of their grasp.  Use the innocent as human shields to cover the villains escape or distract the heroes from seeking their vengeance.

Villians love to hear themselves talk.

There’s nothing more disappointing than fighting your way through multiple floors of a dungeon or secret base and finally cornering the villian you’ve been hunting for weeks to only have him or her wordlessly wade into combat with you without uttering a word.

This is the easiest, cheapest way to make a villain 100% more satisfying.  Call it a surprise round where the villain takes his whole action talking, or do what I do and say it’s a special “drama round” where you apply GM fiat to tell a cool story.  However you make it happen, have your villain at least say a few lines:

“Miserable stinking imbeciles!  You think you can defeat me?  I am Lord Castigar!  I have slain hundrends of so called heroes like yourselves.  Come at me, if you wish to die!”

It doen’t take much to improv some witty (or not-so-witty) dialogue.  But don’t stop there.  Each round, on the villains action, give them some more lines.  Goad the players, mock them, have them explain the cunning nature of their plan, or if things are turning agains tthe Villain, have them start to negotiate.  And when they negotiate, see if there is a way to be reasonable.  See if you can actually tempt the player into taking the deal.  Don’t be surprised if your villain tells the heroes, “Wait! Stop!” and they actually do it, and hear him out (with hesitation).  There’s something about our human natures that make us willing to hear reason, if its possible, and a villain can use that to his advantage.  A real villain will always welch on the deal anyway, so its nothing to make a few promises and then try to get back to their position down the road.  A good villain bides his time. And if they can’t, you have to remember the last thing…

Villains are people too.

Well, some of them are demons, or space monsters or whatever. But the best villain is a villain that can exist in reality.  Sure, there are murdering psyhopaths that cut a swath of death a destruction through the universe for no reason, but the best villains are ones that could exist, that do exist.  They’re usually greedy, money hungry or power hungry people who bend a few rules at first to get what they think they need or deserve.  Soon, when this becomes easier, or if the reward is just too good, they make bolder moves and more people get hurt.  Maybe life has taught them lessons that make empathy a sign of weakness, and they’ve moved beyond being concerned with how others are affected by their actions.  But a complex villain, one that might yet be turned away from their path, or might show vengence another evil for reasons all their own, that’s a truly well developed villain.  They have reasons for acting how they do, and don’t see themselves as evil so much as driven, regardless of the consequences.

In the end, every villain wants to live.  If the choice is obvious death or the possibility of surviving, 9 times out of 10 a villain will choose life unless losing everything is too great of an insult to their vanity. And then, its up the heroes to show mercy, or perhaps begin the road towards villany themselves. Every villain has to start somewhere, and its a fine line between vengence and wrath.

Scarefest Preview

October 20, 2015 Comments off

scarefest3-logo2-horizontal1This weekend in Black Mountain, Scarefest 2015 brings an awesome weekend of gaming to the campus of Montreat! Tons of RPG sessions and board-gaming from the 23rd to the 25th, and a $10 pass gets you a seat at the table for all three days. The outstandingly active Asheville Pathfinder Lodge would hold a Halloween-themed costume game event that started as one day at our Friendly Local Gaming Store the Wyvern’s Tale, in subsequent years grew in to a weekend of gaming, and this year has expanded to it’s own location.

Like previous years there will be lots of Pathfinder Society sessions, including the “specials” that are typically only run at big conventions and include coordination of several concurrent tables of players working together towards a common goal. This year, the scope of Scarefest has expanded to include other RPGs like D&D Adventurer’s League organized play, as well as Dungeon Crawl Classics and Star Wars (both run by yours truly), and World of Darkness (can’t get more on-theme than that!), Shadowrun, several flavors of Savage Worlds, Bolt Action, Dread, Numenera, and a truly impressive collection of board games. Once you’ve purchased your ticket, sign up for games on the event’s warhorn.

Scarefest-MainPromo-webI’ll be representing DCC with two adventures: The 13th Skull and Bride of the Black Manse.

13th Skull synopsis: Thirteen generations ago, the ambitious first Duke of Magnussen made a fell pact with an unknown power, who asked for but one thing in return: the thirteenth daughter born to a Magnussen duke. Now, generations hence, the daughter of Duke Magnussen XIII is stolen away by a hooded executioner riding a leathery beast. As it wings back across the city walls to drop behind the Duke’s mountain-top keep, all who watch know it alights in the Magnussen family crypts, where the devilish secrets of thirteen generations have been buried and forgotten – until now…

Bride of the Black Manse synopsis: Centuries past, Lady Ilse ascended to scion of House Liis by trading the archdevil Mammon what he wanted most: her immortal soul – and a diabolical betrothal. The triumph proved hollow, for every year on the eve of her fell covenant, she was beset by visions of Mammon and her foul promise. Seeking to save herself, she was buried alive, swaddled in the holy symbols of a dozen divergent faiths. This desperate ploy held Mammon at bay for centuries…but a devil can afford to wait a very long time.

After hundreds of years, the last of the holy wards has fallen. The devil has come to collect his due. Tonight a storm crashes against the ancient manor house and forgotten spirits rise from the muck and mire. The fallen belfry tolls once more, announcing the hellish fete. As the adventurers arrive to explore the Black Manse, Mammon calls for his winsome bride. He will leave with a soul at the end of the night. The only question is: Whose?

The Star Wars adventure I’m running caught my ear on the Order 66 podcast from d20 radio. They created a horror-themed Star Wars adventure that features the “fear check” mechanic, and should be really fun to run! Not many people would associate Star Wars with a creepy Halloween gaming event, but Ice Station Zulu does well to bring some darkness and fear to a galaxy far, far away.

It looks like quite the impressive line-up, and is a pretty awesome value. Come out this weekend and roll some dice! Costumes are highly encouraged, but not required. See you there!

Pathfinder Unchained: Summoner

June 15, 2015 Comments off

This week we conclude our examinations of the new classes and from Pathfinder Unchained for the Pathfinder Role-Playing Game. This book takes four classes (barbarian, monk, rogue, summoner) and tries to address the problems of their previous edition versions and fix them. There are some clear cut winners and losers while some are change with only mediocre results.

We are finally examining the new Unchained Summoner, one of the least changed classes. The summoner itself is basically unchanged except for the revamped spell list. Spells that were obviously out of place in the old version have been placed at higher levels, balancing the class out versus others of a comparable power level. The biggest change has been to the eidolon itself. Players now choose a template, such as angel or devil, that dictates its base form and gives a sort of cohesion to the eidolon and tie it to a game world better than some random smattering of evolution points. This template comes with several free evolutions, resistances and even class abilities (ex. agathions gain lay on hands at the summoner’s 8th level) in addition to the evolutions that eidolons already receive. Roleplay-wise, this is one thing that needed to be done.

The downside to this rebuild? Nothing. Or it should be if players did not want the older version. The new version fixes all the kinks and problems, such as the spell list and randomized eidolon parts, of the old version, but with the older version still around may mean the unchained version will stay in lower numbers for a long while.

The Unchained Summoner receives a grade of B+ because even though it sets everything right from the old version, players will still want the broken, over-powered version that appeared in the Advanced Player’s Guide. It receives the great marks from balance and role-play, but low on desirability.

Since Unchained is different than the original, we decided to go with a somewhat different type of build. We went with a build that uses the eidolon not as a tool of the summoner but more of a main character and the summoner taking the support role. We provided some background information, a level 1 character sheet (click the link on his name) and progression to level 8.

*** Loris of Almas ***

One of the most promising young orators and diplomats to come out of Andoran, Loris has long had dreams of becoming a great statesman. He was shocked to find that he had been chosen, some say by Talmandor himself, to become the liason of an avoral by the name of Gramann. Charged with presenting Golarion to Gramann, he has been trying to get his plumed obligation to see and understand the good and the evil of the world.

  • Level 1 – Extra Evolution, Summon Good Monster
  • Level 2 –
  • Level 3 – Combat Advice
  • Level 4 – +1 Charisma
  • Level 5 – Extra Evolution
  • Level 6 –
  • Level 7 – Battle Cry
  • Level 8 – +1 Charisma

Check out the other reviews of Unchained Classes:

Pathfinder Unchained: Rogue

June 12, 2015 5 comments

This week we continue to examine the new classes and options from Pathfinder Unchained for the Pathfinder Role-Playing Game. This book takes four classes (barbarian, monk, rogue, summoner) and tries to address the problems of their previous edition versions and fix them. There are some clear cut winners and losers while some are change with only mediocre results.

We will examine the new Unchained Rogue today, probably the best revision to a class in Pathfinder Unchained. The new version takes the old version and adds several new features. The Unchained Rogue automatically gets the Weapon Finesse feat, finesse training with allows you to add dexterity modifier to damage with a single weapon, debilitating injuries (penalties or bonuses) to sneak attacks and rogue’s edge. The rogue’s edge is part of Pathfinder Unchained’s skill unlocks system which adds abilities according to how many ranks of a specific skill you have (Five ranks of Stealth reduces the penalty from sniping by 10). In Pathfinder Organized Play, this is special to the Unchained Rogue; no other classes are allowed to have this. By adding these four things the Unchained version of the rogue is so much better.

The only possible downside to the new rogue is the continued lack of armor class boosters. But for those who have played or are playing a rogue, those are not problems for you and you know how to overcome that with flanking and stealth. Honestly, it is not really a problem.

The Unchained Rogue has been made revised and upgraded beyond what many were expecting. With all of the new changes the rogue gets a grade of A+; all of the additions have made this class more attractive to play while keeping the versatility and abilities of the rogue that players are accustomed to.
Since Unchained is different than the original, we decided to go with a different type of build. We went with a build that uses a finessable two-handed weapon and combat maneuvers (trip or disarm). We provided some background information, a level 1 character sheet (click the link on her name) and progression to level 8.

*** Alyssa Denaria ***

Playing the role of the young, naive girl like an expert, Alyssa is able to accomplish many more things that if she was a hulking brute for the Pathfinder Society and the Exchange. Her subtle and lithe movements are calculated and she draws on her Varisian heritage to become an expert in reading the Harrow cards, a master of the beautiful dance and a wielder of a deadly bladed scarf.

  • Level 1 – Combat Expertise, Improved Trip (or Disarm)
  • Level 2 – Combat Trick (Agile Maneuvers)
  • Level 3 – Piranha Strike
  • Level 4 – Trap Spotter, +1 Strength
  • Level 5 – Rogue’s Edge (Escape Artist), Twist Away
  • Level 6 – Surprise Attacks
  • Level 7 – Extra Talent (Pressure Points)
  • Level 8 – Distracting Attack, +1 Intelligence

Are you happy with the new changes to the rogue? Let us know!

And have you seen our reviews of the Unchained Barbarian and the Unchained Monk? Which of the classes (so far) have piqued your interest?

Pathfinder Unchained: Monk

June 10, 2015 2 comments

This week we will continue to examine the revamped classes and new options from Pathfinder Unchained for the Pathfinder Role-Playing Game. This book takes four classes (barbarian, monk, rogue, summoner) and tries to address the problems of their previous edition versions and fix them. There are some clear cut winners and losers while some are change with only mediocre results.

Today, we will examine the new Unchained Monk, one of the best revisions to a class in Pathfinder Unchained. The most outstanding revision is to the flurry of blows. It is now an additional attack at the monk’s highest base attack bonus as part of the full-attack action. It is much simpler to calculate than the older version. This version of the monk has a FULL base attack bonus and a higher hit die, making it more formidable and increasing its survivability in combat. Some of the higher level abilities (abundant step, etc.) that were part of the old version of the monk are now part of the selection of ki powers and not automatically given, adding some versatility to the class. There is a vast selection of ki powers, bonus feats and style strikes to push the versatility to the next level. Style strikes are new and they are abilities used during an unarmed attack during a flurry of blows that add an effect if the attack hits. There are elbow smashes, flying kicks and foot stomps and more that give some really interesting bonuses when attacking.

A continual issue with the monk is the lack of armor class. Even though a monk can add the wisdom modifier in with the dexterity modifier, it still is behind any other class that calls itself a front line unit. Of course to offset this you will need to supplement with rings, amulets, bracers, potions or even wands to obtain a decent armor class. The Will save will also need to be supplemented since the monk now has slow progression for that save (but not Fortitude or Reflex).

The Unchained Monk has been revised and upgraded beyond expectations to make the monk more viable and fun to play. So with all of the new changes the monk gets a grade of A-, with the only bad marks coming from the continual lack of a high armor class and a low Will save.

Since Unchained is different than the original, we decided to show how much power the new version of monk actually has. We went with more strength than finesse and with the full base attack bonus, we were able to pick up some abilities sooner than as a regular monk.

How much power can this monk put out? At level 1, flurry of blows yields 2 attacks with the seven branch sword, a two-handed weapon. At level 3, flurry of blows + ki attack yields 3 attacks with the sword. At level 5, flurry of blows + haste + ki attack would be a total of 5 attacks (1. leg sweep style strike (unarmed damage); 2. if trip successful, triggers AoO attack with the sword thanks to Vicious Stomp; 3. flurry attack with sword; 4. haste attack with sword; 5. ki attack with sword.) At level 7, it could be 7 attacks (Greater Trip gives another AoO during the initial trip and the monk gets iterative attacks at level 6). When you reach level 8, you could probably solely use unarmed strikes (1d10+10+1d6 elemental fury) instead of using the sword. We included haste into the level 5+ attack scenarios because that should be available to the monk.

We (as always) provided some background information, a level 1 character sheet (click the link on his name, Power Attack is already factored in) and progression to level 8.

*** Tamagon the Youngerman ***

When not inspecting the latest artifact brought to the Grand Lodge or teaching fighting techniques to his fellow Pathfinders, Tamagon dedicates his service in the Society to doing good in Absalom and beyond. Each one of the short L-shaped blades on his seven branch sword has a sin (of the Seven Deadly Sins) etched on it. His goal is to stop an instance of each sin every week, which he denotes by tying a ribbon on the corresponding blade.

  • Level 1 – Combat Reflexes, Power Attack
  • Level 2 – Improved Grapple
  • Level 3 – Vicious Stomp
  • Level 4 – Quiggong Power (Feather Step), +1 Intelligence
  • Level 5 – Style Strike (Leg Sweep), Combat Expertise
  • Level 6 – Improved Trip, Elemental Fury
  • Level 7 – Greater Trip
  • Level 8 – Abundant Step, +1 Strength

What do you think about the changes to the monk? Would you give them the same grade? Why or why not?

Check out our previous review of the Unchained Barbarian HERE.

Pathfinder Unchained: Barbarian

June 8, 2015 5 comments

This week we will examine the revamped classes and new options from Pathfinder Unchained for the Pathfinder Role-Playing Game. This book takes four classes (barbarian, monk, rogue, summoner) and tries to address the problems of their previous edition versions and fix them. There are some clear cut winners and losers while some are change with only mediocre results.

Today, we will examine the new Unchained Barbarian, one of the mediocre ones. The biggest change to the barbarian is its rage ability. The new version of rage takes out the attribute bonuses, simplifying the need for players to have to recalculate everything associated with strength and constitution, including extra hit points, and replaces it with a version that gives static bonuses to attack and damage and grants temporary hit points. By getting rid of the increased hit points through the constitution boost and givng temporary hit points instead, the risk of death when a barbarian comes out of rage is eliminated. While the temporary hit points may be the best thing to happen to barbarians since Conan, having increased strength replaced by the static bonuses (attack and damage) leaves them unable to show off said strength while in a rage (breaking down doors, etc.) and less of a bonus when wielding two-handed weapons. That is where this rage loses.

Unchained also adds a plethora of new rage powers for the barbarian. Stances, activated during rage with a move action, are new rage powers that give abilities that last over the course of a rage and not just once a rage (or even a day). Stances look like variations of the D&D 4th Edition Essentials fighter class who had stances instead of powers. Some of the stances are good and scale nicely over levels and some just do nothing for the barbarian. Examples are powerful stance which adds increasing damage over level progression but others like accurate stance just do not give much of a relevant boost. Of course, some of these stances are the beginning of rage power chains that gets more powerful at higher levels.

Overall, the Unchained Barbarian tackles the disadvantages of the original barbarian, but opens up new problems created by the new rage power and stance powers to get a grade of C+ (which may be higher than any grade any barbarian has ever gotten).

Since Unchained is different than the original, we decided to go with a non-tradtional race and direction. Instead of a half-orc with a greataxe, we have a tengu with two swords in a more finesse type of build than a hard hitting smasher. We provided some background information, a level 1 character sheet (click the link on his name) and progression (feats and rage powers) to level 8.

** Cawsus Blackfeather **

Hailing from the far, far east, Cawsus joined the Pathfinder Society after being rescued by field agents there. He wields a traditional pair of daisho with deadly efficiency but often leaves himself open when he ‘loses’ himself in battle. Although a little flighty, Cawsus considers himself one of the best swordsmen and uses his abilities to protect his fellow Pathfinders.

Progression:
Level 1 – Two Weapon Fighting
Level 2 – Powerful Stance
Level 3 – Power Attack
Level 4 – Knockback, +1 Dexterity
Level 5 – Tengu Wings
Level 6 – Ground Breaker
Level 7 – Improved Two Weapon Fighting
Level 8 – Crippling Blow, +1 Constitution

What do you think? Did they ‘fix’ the barbarian? What other issues do you think need to be fixed? And come back next week for Pathfinder Unchained: Monk as we take a look the new monk.

Pathfinder Society Core Campaign

January 29, 2015 1 comment

With the announcement of the new Core Campaign option for Paizo’s Pathfinder Society Organized Play comes a new way to play. The Core Campaign only allows the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook, the Character Traits Web Enhancement, and the Guide to Pathfinder Organized Play. This is a perfect opportunity for new players to jump in on the fun and learn the game without being overwhelmed with all of the different options and tricked-out characters of current players. It is also an opportunity for veteran players to take the challenge to create characters with less mechanical fluff and play characters with more role-playing substance.

It seems like they have taken a page from Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons to create a sort of ‘Pathfinder Simplified’ where it is still Pathfinder, but on a much more simplified scale. But the advantage that Pathfinder has over D&D 5th Edition is the amount of original, quality adventures available to play. Granted the veteran players have played a large number of these adventures, but returning to them in the Core Campaign will have a decidedly different feel of play, especially if they are played from the beginning and in order (not randomly).

Now to present the Core Campaign Pregens (what you really came for). The challenge was to create characters that could still rock and not have a watered-down or too simple of a feel. The results came out better than expected; an archer, an undead controlling, fire-slinging cleric, a dwarven berserker, a gnomish sorcerer-wizard, a beautiful noblewoman paladin, and a slippery half-orc rogue with a big sword. Each character has a little gold left over to purchase traveling gear (backpacks, pouches, etc.) as a player deems appropriate. And you can always change the sex, ethnicity, etc. to fit your play style. Have fun!

Click on their name to view their character sheet:

Vrandall Greenleaf (Human Fighter)

Tall and thin, Vrandall has left the forests and his home of Falcon’s Hollow for the bustling city of Absalom and the Pathfinder Society. Known as one of the best young archers of any militia in Andoran, he has pledged bow and sword to Major Colson Maldris, a fellow countryman, to preserve freedom and expose corruption throughout the region.

Notes: Vrandall can deal damage, plain and simple. With Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot and Deadly Aim at 1st level, he is the quintessential archer. As he advances in levels, he should take feats and equipment that enhance his capabilities. The first order of business would be to purchase a composite longbow (Str +2) to take advantage of his strength.

Claudiss of Egorian (Human Cleric)

Dressed in red and black robes draped over his armor and tapping the heavy mace on his belt, the glib-tongued young barrister Claudiss is an expert at crafting contracts. Hailing from Egorian in Cheliax, he calls on the fires of Hell to execute the contracts made by undead creatures and turn them to Asmodeus’ service. He has heard of the vast vaults of magical items held by the Pathfinder Society and joined them for the chance to research the magics of Golarion.

Notes: Claudiss is an interesting build for a cleric. He channels negative energy, throws fire bolts and his mace and commands undead. He has decent damage dealing capabilities in melee and at range and is tough enough to handle several roles in a party. He may not be able to channel energy to heal in a pinch, but he can perform those duties outside combat with ease.

Durn Trueaxe (Dwarf Barbarian)

One of the toughest dwarves he knows, Durn is a warrior at heart. He learned early to channel his anger into the swing of his waraxe and crush evil under the heel of his boots. Originally joining the Pathfinder Society as hired muscle, he decided to stay on as the temptation to adventure had overtaken him.

Notes: Durn is tough. He is a decent damage dealer with a good Armor Class, but his hit points set him apart. You could alter him to be a human (Bonus Feat = Toughness; 20 hit points at level 1) or half-orc, but dwarves need some barbarian action every so often. You could also lose the waraxe and shield to wield a greataxe or greatsword for more damage, but you lower his Armor Class considerably (especially when raging).

Zerkesite and Wart (Gnome Sorcerer and Toad)

Always too exciteable to sit down and learn wizardry, Zerkesite found that he was a gifted natural and was able to do many of the things his wizard friends had to study so hard to accomplish. He is a curious young gnome with a thirst for knowledge that has led him (and his faithful toad, Wart) to the Grand Lodge of the Pathfinder Society in Absalom.

Notes: To keep the wizard role in this party somewhat simple and without some of the technical parts of the wizard class, he is actually a sorcerer with the Arcane bloodline. He may have less spells, but he is more flexible and that will help newer players until they get used to the game.

Tenisha Reacklin (Half-Elf Paladin)

The beautiful red-headed Tenisha of the noble Reacklin family in Absalom heard the calling of Shelyn early in life. After observing some of the more destitute and unsavory conditions in the city, her temperment led her to take on a more militant stance in expousing her faith to become a paladin.

Notes: This may be an interesting one to play. She’s a noble, interested in pretty things, and used to the good life. Yet, she has a hot-head and wants to help those in need. There are plenty of role-playing opportunities here. She has a reach weapon (Shelyn’s favored weapon; a glaive) and a high Charisma. As she levels and gains more paladin abilities, she will be quite the thorn in a GM’s side.

Haddock the Sly (Half-Orc Rogue)

Once an enforcer and security for several Qadiran trade princes, Haddock had had enough of the ‘nothing-but-a-dumb-orc’ attitude towards him. Still large and intimidating with this trusty falchion, he realized that he had to carve his own fortune out of Golarion. Seeking the knowledge he needed, he joined the Pathfinder Society with a new purpose.

Notes: Half-orcs are always the bruisers of the party, but Haddock is more. He is still strong and can deal damage with a high-crit weapon (a falchion; a racial weapon) and sneak attack. Taking Power Attack as soon as possible would add to that damage considerably. He is also tough and has the other abilities of a rogue (trap-finding, disable device).