Athletes in Pathfinder
Rarely do you need detailed rules for athletes in Pathfinder, but it does come up sometimes. Being an Olympian, or the cultural equivalent, makes sense as a background for an adventurer, and it’s something that might come up more often in an Anachronistic Adventures game.
So, if you ever need to run high-stakes sports, where things are far from life and death but it does seen like stress of distraction are involved, here are some simple rules (in a rough draft format).
Professional (athlete) covers making money and answering basic questions related to your field. It also allows you to compete in that sport.Making a Professional (athlete) check in most circumstances determins whether or not you do well in a specific event, based on the level of competition (see below). If doing a complex competition, such as a 9-inning game or a multi-stage event, a character’s check represents how well they do overall.
Compete professionally at a typical level 10
Compete professionally at a city level 13
Compete professionally at a state level 15
Compete professionally at a national level 18
Compete professionally at a championship level 20
Compete professionally at a worldwide level 25
If the storyline requires a pivotal moment, or the competition is a single specific effort (such as performing a floor routine at the Olympics), the check represents not the character’s total success, but their ability to remain focused, calm, and consistent. This is the experience and professionalism sports fans often talk about – two football quarterbacks may both be able to perform equally well in practice, but the one with more experience is less likely to choke during the crucial moment of the Big Game.
If the character passes their Professional (athlete) check at the competition level in these cases, it means they are doing everything right as far as poise and avoiding distractions or mental errors go. A second check is still required. However, if the poise check is a success, this second check is 1d10 + 10 + skill bonus, rather than 1d20 + skill bonus, or taking 10.
This second check may be another Professional (athlete) check, opposed by the skill of another team or enemy team member (“Can you outrun the last relay runner on the opposing team!?”). If it’s a team event, the two teams should first make checks based on their overall quality [likely determined by the GM based on the scenario, but representational of the average of all the team-member’s Professional (athlete) checks].
For an athletic test against a hazard or obstacle (How far can you jump? Who Swims the fastest?) the check it may be a static DC for a related skill for binary success (Can you climb the rope of Mount Midoriyama?) or to see how far you get (an Acrobatics check to determine your long jump). In either case, for competition, a successful poise Profession (athlete) check still makes the roll 1d10 + 10 + bonus.
This means that if the competition is a long jump, for example, both Profession (athlete) (to see if you can use 1d10 + 10 rather than 1d20) and Acrobatics (to determine actual distance jumped) are important. Knowing how to handle yourself during the contest is important, but so is raw jumping ability.