Character Creation Rules

When I start a new campaign, I like to send out a set of guidelines outlining what I do and don’t allow for character creation. Sometimes these are very specific (I have been known to restrict a group to one character with a full base attack bonus, one with 9-levels of spellcasting, and one with 6 or more skill points… though that is far from universal). Sometimes they are pretty general. They are always designed to help players make characters that will fit well in the campaign I plan to run.

That doesn’t mean I am a dictator. If the rules mean you can’t make the character you want, talk to me. Normally, that’s because you want to run something that won’t work well in the game I want to run. In that case, the whole group may want to discuss what kind of game we want, and if I am the best GM for it. Rarely, you have some corner case I have accidentally ruled out with broad rules, in which case it may work for me to inform the whole group the rules are being modified to allow for it.

I’m going to be running a new Pathfinder RPG campaign soon, which I classify as a “Beer and Pretzels” game. That is, it’s lighthearted entertainment not to be taken too seriously, in which I am often making things up as I go along. The rules for character creation in this game are typical, if not necessarily iconic, for how I do things and are presented here in case anyone finds that interesting.

*1st level characters
*You character can only take options from the Core Rulebook, Advanced Player’s Guide, Advanced Class Guide, Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Magic, Occult Adventures, Player Companion: Dirty Tactics Toolbox, Player Companion: Melee Tactics Toolbox, and ONE other book by Paizo or Rogue Genius Games. (Exception, if you play a rogue or monk, you may use the version in Pathfinder Unchained. If you play a summoner, you MUST use the version in Pathfinder Unchained).  If the thing from the optional book you select references something in optional books you have not selected, you may take just those things from the other books. (If using hero lab, you can turn off sources to make sure you don’t use illegal options. You can also check, or, for sources, or if using, you can ask me about things you don’t know the source for.)
*No matter what book you pick, you can only play races designed to be PCs and that cost no more than 11 race points using the race builder options in Advanced Race Guide. If you don’t know, feel free to ask, but put simply everything in the Core Rulebook is in, full-powered drow, assimar, and similar souped-up races are out.
*If you pick a race that has fewer that 11 race points, I’ll give you a boon of my choice to make up the difference.
*You begin play with 300 gp of equipment. If you end up with a lot to spare, remember than a potion of cure light wounds is only 50 gp. 🙂
*16 point ability score buy, using the ability buy rules from the Core Rulebook.
*No evil or chaotic neutral characters.
*All characters must have a good reason (that the character is okay with) to be seeking adventure and wanting to solve problems. If your character ends up being uninterested in the adventures I run, you’ll get bored, and no one wants that. 🙂
Also, one of my general rules for running a game:
*All players agree we are all here to try to help everyone have fun.
I STRONGLY recommend you all discuss among yourselves who is playing what, but if the game ends up with four elven magi, so be it.

About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at

Posted on September 7, 2016, in Microsetting, Musings, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Mike Myler and commented:
    Owen is a kinder GM than I. “Is it on the official Paizo PRD or one of the Veranthea books? If it isn’t, the answer is no.”

    • So, said another way, Mr. Myler, “No 3PP stuff allowed – except for mine.”
      Heh heh heh…
      ::golf clap::

      On a completely separate note, point buy (though it seems quite popular with many) makes me die a little on the inside, ala, “Hmm…what will I abysmal at in exchange for being underwhelmingly better than ‘meh’ at something else…decisions, decisions.”
      Then too, I often feel about the same’ish with stat arrays.
      Yes, I know, I know. What can I say? One of my long-held sentiments with RPGs goes something like, “I can be mediocre or worse in real life. If I’m investing the time and attention to a character in a game, I’d kinda like to be pretty kick-ass.”
      True story. If that means the monsters and/or other adversaries will need to be a bit more kick-ass, well so be it – I’d rather have a character die because a foe was bad-ass than because my character was “sad-ass.” 😉

  2. I also like to give players a campaign primer.

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