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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).

 

The Inselberg Clan – Dwarven Occult Playtest Characters

November 18, 2014 Comments off

To cap off last week’s reviews of the Occult Adventures Playtest material, we are presenting a group of pre-generated characters (PFS legal) to help get you in the mood to play. We chose to make a group of dwarves just because the occult does not always have to be represented by humans. As a group, this group is tough, well armored and has good damage potential, but the lack of specialized skills and abilities of the traditional roles (cleric, rogue, etc.) of an adventuring party may make them seem weaker. But, they are dwarves and dwarves are cool.

Click on each individual dwarf’s name to see their character sheet and hopefully the two done by hand are correct. Even though they are PFS legal, we did not give them factions because you may envision a different way to depict these characters. And if you aren’t quite sure about an ability or power, check out the Occult Adventures Playtest reviews here:

Now presenting the Inselberg Clan:

The Inselberg Clan is a small group of dwarves brought together because of their strange abilities. Possessing abilities not of the divine or the arcane, they struggle to find a place in dwarven society where they are accepted and can continue to develop their powerful abilities.

Samas Goldeye (Dwarf Kineticist 1) : Buried in a cave-in deep underneath the clan hall, Samas was given up for dead. Thoughts of death and dying caused Samas to exhibit sudden control over rock and earth, aiding in his escape from his rocky tomb. He now spends his days trying to control his newfound abilities as a geokineticist, or at least that’s what Jargas calls him.

Bogurr Deepearth (Dwarf Medium 1) : Bogurr found that he had gift to commune with his ancestors during a visit to his familial clan’s vaults where he heard voices calling out to him. These voices turned out to be the voices of his closest ancestors and Bogurr is allowing them to channel their energy through him to finish things that they were unable to before death.

Turk Granitesides (Dwarf Mesmerist 1) : Having served time in the militia and establishing a name for him as a capable leader, Turk became aware of his abilities as a surprise to many, including himself. He had a reputation for a steely gaze that unnerved his enemies and a calming, compassionate way with his troops that seemed to always yield surprising results.

Bogarr Deepearth (Dwarf Occultist 1) : Brother to Bogurr, Bogarr Deepearth is deeply proud of his ancestors. Noticing Bogurr’s gift with communing with his long-dead family, he discovered a way to manifest his ancestors’ might through items they held dear, from his great-grandfather’s waraxe to his grandfather’s shield.

Jargas Greystone (Dwarf Psychic 1) : The studious Jargas keeps close tabs on his fellow Inselbergs. Having discovered his own increased mental faculties, he researches ways to help both his comrades and develop his own abilities.

Burgand Midearth (Dwarf Spiritualist 1) : As the Deepearths’ first cousin, Burgand seemed to be the most in tune with his family’s ancestors. While Bugarr channels them through his body and Bogarr channels them through their possessions, Burgand has actually become a vessel for his great-great-great-grandfather, Fregan Greenstone, one of the first battleragers ever known. Burgand struggles to keep his angry grandfather from getting out of control and he depends on his fellows for guidance and understanding.

 

5E & Me

August 11, 2014 1 comment

HERO_StartBoxLast week, Scott D wrote his ARTICLE about the pleasant surprise he experienced with the D&D 5TH EDITION STARTER SET. Well, I was there! He was the Dungeon Master and I was actually playing; enjoying it all. (Having been unable to consistantly play RPGs for a little while, it was refreshing to be able to play.)

I will say that I purposefully did not partake in the playtest of 5th edition in the last year or so. First off, I was playing other stuff like Pathfinder and Edge of the Empire and Dungeon Crawl Classics. Secondly, I did not want to be one of those guys to be sitting at the table and say, “Oh, that changed from the second revision? Well, that totally screwed up my strategy.” And finally, I just did not know if I believed in Dungeons & Dragons anymore.

While playing the Starter Set I came to the conclusion that I liked the new edition. It fits right in the middle of everything that is out there right now. You do not have to be a calculus professor to crunch the numbers and you do not have to rely on the dice for every single decision that is made about your character. It fits in between all of that, with, from what I could see, the potential to swing in either direction, depending on your group’s play style. It has easy to understand mechanics and more story-telling opportunities over the long term that could easily entice new players to join the fold.

I jumped at the chance to play because it was so new to me. I had only downloaded the BASIC RULES that day to familiarize myself so I would not slow play down and became hooked (Especially when I got to character creation; more on that later.). See when I play Pathfinder and see the problems that so many have with keeping the rules straight from 3.0 to 3.5 to Pathfinder, it is sometimes a turn off. Especially if it takes 10 minutes to find the correct rule. And then there are the arguments about which edition is better. I was not looking for that; I wanted that fresh RPG feeling. And I think I got it.

Honestly, I was not sure that I believed in Dungeons & Dragons any more. My personal RPG journey did not start like most did in Dungeons & Dragons (I actually started with TMNT), so even when I played it, it was always reluctantly. I went through a tiny bit of AD&D, 3.0 quite heavily and then onto 4th Edition. Now do not get me wrong, I enjoyed the vast majority of my experiences with D&D, but I always felt like there was something out there that had to be better and more fulfilling than the current edition. I know I just played one session of 5th Edition, but it has something about it. I just cannot put my finger on it… yet.

phb5eWell, enough of all that sappy, critical thinking mumbo-jumbo. Let us get to the fun stuff! I thought the pre-generated characters in the Starter Set were interesting, but they lacked oomph. They lacked complexity. They lacked… my touch. So I took the bare-bones character creation rules in the free rules set (Those are the only rules available right now; payday cannot come quickly enough for the PLAYER’S HANDBOOK.) and turned them upside down. My first creation attempt was lacking until I decided that there just had to be an entire party created.

I only provided blurbs about each character because I wanted you to get a general sense of who they were but not totally define who they are and how they came together. Every DM and every group would play them differently. And that is why I am liking this 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons; definition without definitions.

For your enjoyment:

  • Sgt. Carse Youngblood is a young, upstart officer in the king’s army charged with investigating arcane threats to the crown.
  • Azure is a somber elf obsessed with exacting revenge on the dark elves; all in the name of Shevarash.
  • Bilgar Hilrock is a studious dwarf bent on reviving a university dedicated to dwarven warfare.
  • Gilygan Hairyfoot is a tender-hearted Yondalla-loving halfling cobbler who once stood up to a greedy tax collector.

Download their character sheets HERE!

Categories: 5e, Adventure, DnD, DnDnext, Pregens, Reviews, RPGs

Korsairs of Kortos – Pathfinder Swashbucklers

May 12, 2014 Comments off

Here’s another themed adventuring party by yours truly. This week we take a look at the swashbuckler playtest class. I am probably behind presenting anything with playtest material, but I thought I would give the class the same treatment as I gave the gunslinger party (Thundersmoke) since the two classes are close cousins. I wanted to show everyone what types of characters you could create as a swashbuckler and break the traditional mold of The Three Musketeers.

I normally only create six characters for a party, but Grogg the half-orc came to me late to make seven. Out of this group I think that Taichyu may be the deadliest (Daisho at level 3 with Improved Critical for both blades at level 5) and the Princess may be the most fun to roleplay. Take a look at Bashir to see how Improved Trip would work with a swashbuckler then at Baedley and Johnas for the more Golarion-specific duelist types. And do not forget about Friedl the rabble rouser; he may be the most interesting of them all.

Now presenting for all you fun-loving swashbuckler-types; the Korsairs of Kortos!


Baedley Leafrunner (Male Half-Elf Swashbuckler)

A recent product of the academy in Taldor, Baedle Leafrunner has brought his formidable dueling abilities to Absalom in a sort of wanderlust. Wielding his falcata Chakre and buckler in the traditional Taldan style of Rondelero, he has subtly altered his style to focus more on blade speed than brute strength.

Advancement – Weapon Focus: Falcata (3rd), Taldan Duelist (4th), Endurance (5th)

Class Advancement – Horizon Walker (7th CL)


Johnas Northsun (Male Human Swashbuckler)

Hailing from the northern nation of Brevoy, Johnas Northsun took up dueling early in his life. After defeating many of those his age with his blade Excuri, he has sought out new challenges and adventure in Absalom at the Grand Lodge.

Advancement – Piranha Strike (3rd), Weapon Focus: Aldori Dueling Sword (4th), Dazzling Display (5th)

Class Advancement – Aldori Swordlord (6th CL)


Friedl Baredas (Male Human Swashbuckler)

The witty and carefree Friedl Baredas lives for the open sea and drinking the latest ale. Sailing the Inner Sea for Andoran, he sometimes (inadvertently, of course) blurs the line between pirate and privateer. With his rapier Geonal raised up high, he has pledged his blade to ending slavery on the open waters.

Advancement – Combat Reflexes (3rd), Extra Penache (4th), Sea Legs (5th)

Class Advancement – Inner Sea Pirate (6th CL)


‘Princess’ Furasha Busha (Female Human Swashbuckler)

The beautiful and intelligent Furasha Busha is a fiery swordswoman from Qadira. Trying to stand apart from her two hundred and eighty-eight siblings, she has become quite the master with her scimitar Jakia and strives to become the princess that she is destined to be.

Advancement – Retrain Slashing Strike with Dervish Dance (3rd), Combat Reflexes (3rd), Dodge (4th), Mobility (5th)

Class Advancement – Duelist (7th CL)


Bashir Narenan (Male Human Swashbuckler)

The quiet Bashir Narenan secretly revels in the dangers of explorating the unknown. He was once wrongly imprisoned in Osirion for exploring the wrong tomb and is now more attentive to who hires him and his khopesh Dread Talon.

Advancement – Combat Expertise (3rd), Improved Trip (4th), Piranha Strike (5th)

Class Advancement – Pathfinder Delver (6th CL)


Taichyu (Male Tengu Swashbuckler)

The pious Taichyu hails from the Far East and lives a code that almost mirrors that of the samurai. With his well-honed katana Yurashi, he intends to spread goodwill in the name of Grandmother Crow, Andoletta, and the Silver Crusade.

Advancement – Two Weapon Fighting (3rd; purchase wakizashi), Combat Reflexes (4th), Piranha Strike (5th)

Class Advancement – Paladin (6th CL)


Grogg Ironfist (Male Half-Orc Swashbuckler)

While growing up in the slums of Absalom, Grogg Ironfist did whatever he had to do to survive. Having been an enforcer, a gladiator and now an adventurer, he bears his morningstar and gladius seeking fame and fortune in the Worldwound for the Sczarni families.

Advancement – Piranha Strike (3rd), Weapon Focus: Gladius (4th), Mounted Combat (5th)

Class Advancement – Low Templar (6th CL)


Check out some more Pathfinder Adventuring Parties:

And some product reviews:

 

Exercise in Character Creation, Part 2

May 5, 2014 1 comment

In last month’s ARTICLE I asked for help in creating my next character who would be the son of my very first PFS character, Danaris Redfeather. Over 50 people took the survey and the RESULTS came out great! After analysis, the proud and determined Adrian Redfeather will be a quick and agile (yet physically weak) swordsman from Andoran who is secretly joining the Pathfinder Society contrary to his parents’ wishes. Such interesting possibilities for this character! But we are not quite there, just two pieces of the puzzle remain; Adrian’s secret identity and his final class.

So, onto the final voting (only 2 questions this time!). This will determine the secret identity (and signature weapons) that Adrian will adopt and the class that he will proceed through his adventuring career through. Two of the classes are playtests and this could give me an opportunity (or excuse) to play one. We will not be worrying about a prestige class since voting was so close, but it could come up later if I think he needs some sort of boost. I will post Adrian’s final character sheet next week along with another one of my famous Pathfinder pre-gen parties – The Korsairs of Kortos.

 **** SURVEY ****

Thank you again for voting!

Pacifist Pathfinder Pregens

September 9, 2013 Comments off

Even though Pathfinder Society agents are part of a larger organization they tend to group themselves into smaller factions based on nationality, religion, race or ideology.  Some of these parties are easier to play and some take a more experienced role-player to accomplish the goals set forth in a scenario or module.  Here is one of those more difficult to play parties of pre-generated characters.

One of the foundations of the majority of role-playing games is combat, but what if a party does not believe in violence and chooses to focus instead on the exploration duties of the Society?  Do the players use diplomacy or intimidation when dealing with others?  What happens when presented with situations that only combat could accomplish?  Do they automatically give up or do they find another way?  Do they rise above and become legends of the Society?

This balanced party presents unique challenges and opportunities.  Everyone has impressive social skills and can still hold their own in actual combat.  In combat they do only deal non-lethal damage so as to not break their oaths and corrupt their values.  Look them over and let us discuss them; this is a very interesting group.  And now to present the Pacifists:

Gaerk Hardrock (Male Dwarf Cavalier – Huntmaster) : This tough, grizzled old dwarf and his trusty old dog joined the Society’s Silver Crusade after years of struggle with orcs, giants and goblins.  Gaerk is just tired of the fighting and has taken up the Order of the Blue Rose to help point him in a new direction in his life.  (Possible Prestige Path : Stalwart Defender)

Tarkhun Marxion (Male Human Cleric – Hidden Priest, Separatist) : Born and raised in Taldor all his life but keeping his worship of Sarenrae a secret, Tarkhun poses as a sorcerer and uses his blunted morningstar to promote peace and goodwill throughout the Inner Sea.  (Possible Prestige Path : Dawnflower Dissident)

Ping Jing (Male Human Monk – Ki Mystic, Sensei, Monk of the Lotus) : From the Far East, Ping arrived at the Grand Lodge looking to learn more of the world so that he may in turn pass it on to his students.  He seeks perfection and peace for this world and wishes to share all of the knowledge he gathers in this life.  (Possible Prestige Path : Pathfinder Chronicler)

Selene (Female Aasimar Paladin – Warrior of the Holy Light, Tranquil Guardian) : Hailing from the deserts of Osirion, the tanned Selene claims a distant ancestor as a celestial being.  Drawing on her inner light, she intends to bring peace and tranquility to the world while serving the Ruby Prince.  (Possible Prestige Path : Living Monolith)

Eagilis of Forest Green (Female Half-Elf Witch) : As a stalwart champion of freedom and peace, the aging Eagilis uses her gifts from her magical dove to promote her homeland of Andoran.  Wearing her somewhat suspect fullplate and brandishing her shiny spear, her knowledge of the world and magical abilities complement her goals.  NOTE: The patron of peace is not legal in Society Organized Play, so pick another and the dove familiar would the just a re-skinned thrush to complement the theme.  (Possible Prestige Path : Steel Falcon)