Monthly Archives: March 2017

The “No Worries” Expertise Feat

Pathfinder has a lot of hidden math. Mostly, that’s intentional. You don’t need to know how skill DCs scale to make a character.

But sometimes it means a player thinks they have a character that’s good at something… and they don’t. And that becomes sad, and frustrating.

And in many cases, neither the player nor the GM want to examine all the math to find out what went wrong, when they just want to know a PC is good at something.

So: The “No Worries” Expertise Feat

“No Worries” Expertise

Don’t worry, you really are pretty good at that thing.

Prerequisites: GM permission, no one else in the group is taking this feat with the same skill as you unless everyone has agreed that’s cool.

Benefit: Select one skill. You have a 75% chance to succeed at any use of that skill when not taking 10 or taking 20. You must keep max ranks in the skill. If the GM says something is unusually hard, you only have a 65% chance of success. If the GM says it’s unusually easy, you have an 85% chance of success. If the GM says it’s impossible, it’s still impossible.

You only get to use this feat once per attempt to use a skill, after that you are at the mercy of normal skill rules. You’re an expert, not infallible.

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Fixing the 15 Minute Adventuring Day

The Issue

For people who haven’t run into the term, the “15 minute adventuring day” is a phenomenon where players in RPGs with strong resource-management element (such as spell casters in Pathfinder and similar games) that reset daily, often use some of their most powerful options, then decide not to go forward with any more encounters until they have regained everything.

How often a group of adventurers gets to rest is hugely variable to play style, and a huge part of the question of balance between casting classes and nowcasting or limited-casting classes.

But… there’s no reason restoration of what are after all MAGIC abilities needs to be tied to sleep., Maybe you get spells back once per week. maybe you recharge your mystic powers only when the right conjunctions occur. Maybe you need to see your holy powers thwart evil before you have the righteousness built up to restore those abilities.

In short we make these things “per day” because that is how games do it, and because it’s easy, not because there is any internal logic to it.

So if it’s an issue… change it.

The Metaphysics

Some players want to have an in-world justification for any rule, especially any rule that restricts their existing power curve and tactics. So, give them one.

Magic does not follow a set schedule. Holy power isn’t tracked on a punch clock. Even your amazing extraordinary powers require the circumstances for them be JUST right, and that doesn’t happen just because the sun went down and came up again.

These things are tied to fate, destiny, and the ebb and flow of eldritch powers that are unseen and barely understood.

You only recover your daily abilities and spells if you have properly slept, as per the normal rules, because you need to be rested and ready when the Right Moment comes. And if you prepare spells, you still need to take an hour to do so once the Cosmic Well of Mystic Might refills.

But instead of happening every day? That happens when Cosmic Conjunctions and the Destiny of Living things has come to a Juncture.

The Rules

Cosmic Conjunctions? Also known as every 3d3 encounters. On average between 3 and 9 major things happen to characters between recharges, and they don’t know exactly when the Big Recharge is coming.

Encounters 2 more more above your APL count as two. Encounters 1 under your APL count as 1/2, and those 2 or more under your APL don’t count at all. The GM determines how many encounters it’ll take in secret once you hit a reset, and tracks how many encounters you have had since then.

Groups with strong ties track this as a group, but the GM may choose to track individuals separately as the GM prefers.

No wizard knows the hour of the Grand Conjunction that refills HER spells. No cleric can say exactly when the will of the gods renews them. It happens when it happens.

Until then, you just need to husband your resources, and no there’s no point in going home and resting up. If you don’t seek your destiny? Then destiny won’t reward you with power.

So you might as well keep seeking well past 15 minutes into your day.

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Professional PCs: About My Character (Part 3)

Okay, as outlined to About My Character Part One and Part Two, my new PC now has a name, race, class, history, and through line.

So, Now I can actually make a character. In a lot of ways this is the boring part. 🙂

Ability Scores
Because it’s going to affect so many other choices, I like to do ability scores first when making a Pathfinder character. I often adjust those choices from time to time during the process (when the character creation rules allow that), but knowing what my character’s natural abilities are helps me know what he or she can do, and what the character is likely to focus on in the training that leads up to 1st level.

So, I know Krokar is a half orc who plans to kill a god, and who embraces tactics but it better known for being a fanged killer. I can work with that.

With a 25 point buy and a character is hits things first, soak up damage second, and casts spells third, I want a big Strength and Constitution, and a fair Wisdom. I also like the idea of being quite intimidating.

I drop 16s in Strength and Constitution, eating 20 of my 25 points. I wrestled with that for a good long time. There are lots of ways to boost hit points – the Toughness feat, favored class bonuses, and so on. So do I really want a 16 Constitution? Would a 14 not be just as good, and much cheaper at 5 points?

On the other hand, inquisitors have a d8, so I don’t have as many hit points as a fighter with the same Constitution score. And for hp calculations after 1st level, I don’t know if we are doing maximum, or rolling the hit dice, or some formula. If we roll and I get a 1, I’m going to want to use those other hp addition methods even if I already have a 16. So, that stays.

That leaves mw with 5 points to spread out among my Dex, Int, Wis, and Cha. I need at least an 11 Wisdom if I want to cast spells. Of course, I COULD sell off something I don’t need as much. For example, with 6 skill points/level as an inquisitor, I could go down to an 8 Int and still have more skill points/level than a typical fighter. That’d let me buy my Dexterity up to a 12, for example, which would be an etra point of AC and Reflex saves, even in very heavy armor.

But I don’t see Krokar as dumb, even if he’s not a genius either. Similarly he’s not clumsy and not unstriking. No matter how much it might make sense from a pure effectiveness point of view, it doesn’t match my character concept to sell an ability down below 10.

I decide to go with a 14 Wisdom, thinking I’ll put my +2 racial bonus to any one ability score from being an Orc in, and end up with three 16s, ensuring I can cast 5th and 6th level inquisitor spells when I am much higher level.

But I don’t.

As I go to make that note, it just doesn’t feel right. Krokar is a massive brute in my mind, and he just isn’t equally strong and wise. He may get there. I kinda hope he does. But right now he’s too brash, and too dedicated to the patently insane idea that he’ll kill his own god. One could certainly argue that praying to the god of war for the power to challenge the god of war is not wise. even if it worked in this case.

Instead, I put my racial +2 into Strength, ending with Strength 18, Dexterity 10, Constitution 16, Intelligence 10, Wisdom 14, and Charisma 10. I’m not 1005 convinced about that Charisma, but certainly there are physically imposing individuals who just don’t know how to make the most out of their visual look. I decide to ponder at as character design goes forward. I can always adjust, later.


First, since the Advanced Player’s Guide is available, I want to look at alternate racial traits. I decide right off the bat I’m not willing to sacrifice the “intimidating” feature for anything. Getting +2 on Intimidate checks ties into my character concept too well.

But then I spot “Toothy,” which gives me a bite attack. My character history calls out his noteworthily large tusks, so this seems a perfect fit. Since I’m using a greatsword the natural attack would be a secondary attack most of the time – low chance of hitting, low damage, but I like the idea and it means Krokar has options if he’s disarmed or captured. I decide to take it.

Next, there are the standard 2 traits many campaigns allow, and the GM confirms we can pick 2 from the APG. Looking through those, I immediately liked the sound of “History of Heresy,”

“You were raised with heretical views that have made it difficult for you to accept most religious beliefs and often caused you or those you love to be treated as pariahs. As a result, you have turned your back on religious teachings. As long as you do not possess any levels in a class that grants divine spellcasting power, you gain a +1 trait bonus on all saving throws against divine spells.”

This trait would literally do me no good since my first level is in a divine spellcasting lass. And Krokar hasn’t exactly turned his back on religious teachings, he’s just taken a different message than expected from it. I still note it down, in consideration. It’d be a strong roleplaying touch to support my character history with a trait that’s useless to me, though it might also make the GM feel like I was asking for something to be done with that choice, and I don’t want to add any pressure in a light and fun campaign.

Then I run into Indomitable Faith.

“You were born in a region where your faith was not popular, but you still have never abandoned it. Your constant struggle to maintain your own faith has bolstered your drive. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Will saves.”

I suspect telling your religious teachers you plan to kill their god WOULD be unpopular, so this actually seems a closer match to my character history, if not quite as a weird-fun choice.

In combat traits, I find Courageous.
“Your childhood was brutal, but you persevered through force of will and faith. No matter how hard things got, you knew you’d make it through as long as you kept a level head. You gain a +2 trait bonus on saving throws against fear effects.”
Krokar’s entire childhood wasn’t brutal, but the part where the lost his whole family and came to hate his chosen god is. And, I like the idea that opposing your own deity takes courage.

I go with Indomitable faith and Courageous, because I like what they say about Krokar’s mental state, and how he got there.


As I noted, inquisitors get a lot of skill points. I put a rank each in Intimidate, Knowledge (nature), Knowledge (religion), Perception, Sense Motive, and Spellcraft. The Intimidate is supposed to be his natural (and growing) ability to be menacing. The rest is his formal religious training in Absalom.

Class Features

About the only class feature choices I need to make as a 1st level inquisitor are my domain and my spells known. Domain is easy – the tactics subdomain of war. It’s one of the things that drew me to Forum as a god, and it fits nicely into Krokar’s character history. I don’t get a lot of spells know. 0-level I take detect magic, light, stabilize, and virtue, in an effort to get a mix of utility and tactical options. I wouldn’t give a half orc light normally at 1st level, but Krokar sees the benefit of making allies able to see.

For my first level spells, I take cure light wounds (because I don’t know if we’ll have a cleric and, anyway, it should help keep Krokar in the fight if things go south), and magic weapon. That last is another effort at a tactical choice. If we run into ghost rats, for example, being able to make a weapon magical will have a big upside. Also, it’s less likely to step on the toes of a cleric, if we have one. I can pick up more standard options, like bless, divine favor, and protection from (alignment) later after I see who else is in the group.

Though I don;t have to select it, it’s also worth noting that stern gaze works nicely with my desire to be intimidating. I pretty well decide to stick with my 10 Charisma. Krokar will get scary just fine, and leave diplomacy and deception to charisma-focused members of the team.


I get a single feat. I’ve played a fair number of human fighters in my time, so this feels light, but them’s the rules, and honestly there’s no feed I need to make this character feel right, which is nice. I can explore some other options.

I suspect Power Attack is a must-have eventually, and lots of feats will come with that as a prerequisite, but I don’t qualify for it right now since my base attack bonus is +0.

I could do Weapon Focus (greatsword) to represent Krokar’s training, but it doesn’t feel right. Krokar is a monster in combat, but he focused on tactics in his training. Later, the inquisitor’s teamwork feats will represent that nicely, but for the moment even if I took a teamwork feat it’s unlikely anyone else will.

Other than “hit it harder,” most of Krokar’s current tactical options involve spells. He doesn’t have a LOT of those at 1st level, but using them judiciously in combat may be the best way to get the feel of someone who does more than slice at targets. And if I am casting in combat, with my non-maximized Wisdom, casting defensively is far from a sure thing.

So, despite not being interested in a major spellcasting focus, I take Combat Casting. It’s a solid feat with high use throughout my career, and right now it represents Krokar having studied when martial magic can tip the scales in a conflict.


We have a LOT of money for 1st level characters, 300 gp each, but we still can’t go crazy. I pick a greatsword, and decide I like the idea of a long suit of chainmail for his main protection. That’ll likely change to a breastplate later on, but the 50 gp savings is worth it to me right now. I also get a light crossbow for ranged fights, and a morningstar as a back-up weapon.

That leaves me plenty of money for a backpack, rope, blanket, food, and so on. Since I have darkvision and light, I skip torches or lanterns.


And that’s it, my 1st level character is basically done! I hope you found the explanation of my process interesting (and if not, why are you still reading this?). Assuming the campaign lasts long enough for me to level up Krokar, I may revisit this idea and go over the choices I make at each level.


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Geek Movie MiniReview: Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island was, for me, a delight. It knows it’s a giant monster movie with roots in grindhouse and pulp, and it isn’t embarrassed about that at all. But it also sees the benefit in things like characterization, story, pacing, and development.

I clapped with childhood glee, laughed, cried, and gasped. I am exactly the target audience for this.

In my binary digit-based review system, it gets a thumbs up.

Pulp Hero Names

I love pulp heroes.

I love coming up with hero names and ideas.

You see where this is going.

It’s TOUGH to come up with a pulp or even golden age hero name that have the classic pulp feel, don’t suck, and comic fans don’t recognize as being from something else.

So no promises on these, and I may use them myself someday, but here are some pulp-era hero names I’ve not found in use in comics or pulp stories and that don’t seem to be trademarked… along with the concepts I personally used them with.

Armor Man
Nothing Can Hurt Him. Nothing Can Stop Him. Nothing But The Truth.
Armor Man is one of the great heroes of the later Pacific Theater campaign, using his fully covering custom Automatic Rotary Manual Operation Rig, and it’s amazing defensive properties of green steel construction, to save the lives of thousands of marines during the island-hopping fighting. Everyone knows that, and everyone knows (despite never having seen him, and only hearing his mechanically amplified voice) he’s a rich and famous industrialist, likely of New England decent, likely Hardwick Steele, who the press often call “Hard Steel.”
But Armor Man isn’t Hard Steel. Or of New England descent. Or a man.
Instead she is Tomoko “Tom” Hajiro, a genius and courageous warrior whose family was interned during WWII by the US government for their Japanese heritage. Though Hajiro managed to avoid the camps as a result of traveling when the orders came down, she was unable to interest the U.S government in any inventions by a woman or an Asian-American. Wishing to help defeat the evil of fascism, Hakiro turned to Hardwick Steel, the fairly deplorable man who bought her family’s property when they discovered that if it was stored with the government, the US would honor no claim for loss, and offer no insurance for damage. An opportunist, Hardwick took advantage of Hajiro’s genius to build a massive industrial company and helped her build the ARMOR suit and go off fighting toward the end of the war, in the hopes she’d get killed.
She didn’t. She became a national hero, in her role as Armor Man.
Now that the war if over, Armor Man remains a national hero, dealing with Super Science Villains and International Crime Leagues. As long as Hajiro keeps inventing for Hardwick, he’s happy to keep funding her heroic efforts. He can’t expose her without risk of being exposed as a fake and fraud himself (and losing his chief source of new inventions), and she has seen and heard what common American men say about both Japanese and women when they think none are present, and fears what the government would do if it discovered she has duped it, heroically while only doing good, for years.

Crime Basher
Justice Never Sleeps
The man who became Crime Basher was a veteran of WWI who took a piece of shrapnel from an experimental chemical bomb to his skull. It caused him to never sleep, and never need to sleep, and almost never grow tired.
Upon his discharge after the war, the veteran discovered corruption had taken over his big city home, and no one was doing anything about it. Already a combat expert, and now able to work during the day and still stay up to fight crime all night, he assumed the blue-color working-man’s hero identity of Crime Basher, and used his hard fists (and a pair of weighted-knuckle gloves) to punch crime in the face!

Donny Brook
He doesn’t start fights. He ends them.
Domhnall “Donny” Brooke doesn’t mean any harm. He just doesn’t like to see people get picked on. It makes him sore. And so he does something about it. Usually involving hitting things with whatever is handy.
But he happens to also be the reincarnation of the Thulian Age warrior-god Anextiomarus, also known as the Champion of Protection. So when he gets sore, bullies get even MORE sore. He can usually just beat people up, but he IS a reincarnated god. He is always a little strong, and a little tougher, and a little better fighter than the strongest, toughest, most dangerous person present.
But he can still be outnumbered, and he’s not that smart.

Katherine (Kate) “Blaze” Carson
She’s Out of the World!
Blaze Carson is an adventurer’s adventurer. She’s not a masked hero, but she is an ace pilot (with her own custom tricked-out Bell P-59B Airacomet and a massive Dornier Do X seaplane she uses as a mobile headquarters). She’s also a crack shot, drover, anthropologist, master of Bartitsu (which she learned directly from Edward William Barton-Wright), fencer, engineer, deep sea diver, and detective.
She’s also been to the Moon and Mars, where she faced and defeated the MondReich and Aresites, respective, but she doesn’t talk about that much.
Though she kept the ray gun.

The Scarlet Shadow
Crime Makes Her See Red!
The Scarlet Shadow is Lilibeth Jefferson, the oldest daughter of a large family that has had in every generation numerous men become police and soldiers. Growing up she learned everything her brothers learned, but when they went to academies and military programs, she was packed off to school. She became a determined chemist and aided in the creation of new munitions toward the end of the war, but couldn’t get any real science job after the war ended and men came home.
She took a position as a detective’s secretary, and discovered she was better at the job than he was. When he was investigating a case involving strange substances she tailed him and saved his life when an experimental chemical bomb went off. The mix of chemicals didn’t kill her, but gave her the power to create the Scarlet Mist, a thick red fog she can see through (even at night), but which block’s anyone else’s vision. Armed with this power, and a red trench coat and fedora and twin 1911a Colt .45s, she has become the greatest detective in America, the person you go to when everyone else is stumped.
The detective she saved, Mason Alder, has become her chauffer and assistant.

Sky King
The Highest of High Adventure!
I’ll be honest, Sky King is a Rocketeer pastiche, though he works with a group of Stratoknights and has a mountaintop base called “Avalon” and an airship named ” Llamrei.”

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Without These Women, I Do Not Exist

If you have ever enjoyed anything I have ever done, you have some women to thank for it.
My mother, Claire McMurray, who even when she and my father both had full time jobs was the one who drove me to school if I missed the bus, made doctor appointments, did all the shopping, cleaned the house, bandaged injuries, cooked dinner, and somehow still had time and energy to introduce me to major aspects of fandom, be DM for me and my friends when no one else would, and talk to me when she saw I had problems.
My wife, Lj Stephens, without whom I never would have submitted my first game article, never would have gone to the TSR Writer’s Workshop, never would have learned to type, and basically “Never would have.”
Barbar Hambly, Katherine Kurtz, Mercedes Lackey, Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffery, and to a slightly lesser extent (because I was older) Katherine Kerr, Elizabeth Moon, and Janny Wurts wrote books that KEPT ME ALIVE. Without them, I would have killed myself as a teen.
More recently some amazing women have helped me become a better person, which I appreciate more than I can adequately describe. Kayla Graves and Alison Stoneklifft built two homes-away-from-home that kept me sane. Crystal Frasier and Lissa Guillet have taken me in many times over the past three years when I needed a safe sofa and a hug. Jessica Price and Amanda Hamon Kunz shared an office, and a big part of their lives, with me for more than a year and trusted me enough to let me see how very, very different the world is for them, which helped me grow a lot.
There are many, many more. Hopefully, I’ll find the right place and the right way to thank them all.

Professional PCs: About My Character (Part 2)

So we have examined how I started looking at a character concept back in Part One.

So, I know my PC for the new Reign of Winter campaign I’m playing in is going to be Krokar, a ½-orc CN inquisitor of Gorum. That’s a mechanical description, though. It tells me WHAT Krokar is, but not WHO Krokar is. And I like my mechanics and my story to work together in an RPG. So before I make any more game rule decisions, I want a backstory, and a through line.

Half orcs are often fodder for some pretty horrific ideas in RPGs, and it took me all of a hot second to decide I didn’t want any of them. I’m shooting for someone who is CN, so for my own definition that means they are driven much more by goals and guidelines than rules and systems, and are neither primarily driven by a willingness to sacrifice themselves for others, nor a willingness to specifically plan success that call for harm to others.

And worships war.

Now, to build a background I like that has that character a a destination.

So my first call is that I want Krokar to have had a stable and happy childhood, with both parents involved… because I want to explore what the world looks like to a half orc with a more normal sense of normal. I decide he is of one orc and one human parentage (as opposed to being the child of two half orcs, which might be the direction I went if I was going to have him grow up in Averaka, the Golarion town of half-orcs).

Because I normally see it done the other way, I decide his mother was an orc, and his father human. I put them in Katapesh, because half rocs are common there and because I always see half-orcs portrayed as Nordic or Germanic, and I like the idea of one with different cultural roots. I don’t worry about the fact I plan to use a greatsword perhaps not tying well to that culture, because that’s a divine mandate.

So, I see his mother as a traveling mercenary, and his father as a caravan master. They worked together, grew to respect each other, then fell in love and married. Krokar remembers early years living in a wagon as happy times. Then his parents decided to be part of a Great Venture to create a new town, in part of the Mana Wastes thought to be safe enough for the attempt.

Krokar grew up there, aware that dangers lurked, but he was safe behind mud brick walls.

Then, war.

Krokar was too young to know the cause of the war. And it was a small war. Gebbites attacking Nex, or mercenaries attacking Alkenstar. His home, which he never knew the name of, wasn’t even the goal of the war. It was just a secure place for one side to plan from, and then because a legitimate target for the other side. His parents, his friends, his entire home were killed and destroyed just as his physical childhood ended. His mental childhood died with them.

The forces that took his town had no interest in killing children if they didn’t need to, and he was sent to Katapesh in a refugee caravan. There were, they told him, rules to war.

He didn’t believe them.
Krokar’s parents had prepared for their potential demise, given they had a child and had opted for a high-risk venture. When he arrived in the huge city, he might have been sold into slavery, or taken up to be trained as a gladiator. He was already showing his orc heritage, and was broad, and tall, and strong, with great tusks jutting up from his lower jaw. But some woman he had never met, claiming to be a friend of his parents, arrived to pluck him from the refugees, and said he was to be given an education. What, the woman asked, did he wish to know about?
War, replied Krokar.

He was sent to Absalom, where every god has at least a small church, and trained in the ways of war. The church of Gorum there focused on Siege as their primary aspect of war, but taught a little of all the ways of war. He took to combat well. He took to tactics better. A warrior is one person. A war is won by many. Krokar remembered his mother as a mighty warrior, but she had been killed by a group of lesser warriors who worked together to destroy his home. Lesser creatures could work together to destroy greater ones. It was a lesson he would not forget.

He learned that a fight is any conflict where one creature seeks to harm another, for any reason, but a war was a political tool designed to achieve a greater goal. He also learned that Gorum grew out of the conflicts between humans and orcs. A suit of armor, not even a living being, Krokar decided Gorum had invented war.

Krokar hated war, and was now trained to carry it out.

Krokar knelt in the Siege House of Gorum in Absalom, and prayed. He swore to dedicate his entire life to one war, one political goal. To find a group of lesser creatures he could work with, and a tactic he could implement, to achieve a single goal otherwise beyond his reach.

Krokar would kill Gorum, and thus kill War.

Krokar stood an inquisitor, empowered by Gorum himself to carry out a war against his own god.

Okay, no I know where Krokar came from, and have a much stronger idea of who he is. I also have a through line, an idea that motivates him to adventure, to work with others, and generally be a good PC. In Part Three, I’ll investigate how to build this idea with the rulebooks I have access to for this game.

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Roller Dungeon

So here is the idea:

Dungeon speed runs as a team sport, on roller skates. “Roller Dungeon Team T-Shirts” optional, but the Absalom Abyssals Woman’s Speed Destruction Team is my favorite.

EVERYONE is on roller skates. Heroes, monsters, gelatinous cubes… everyone.

The Rules

Every PC must have half their levels in barbarian, brawler, cavalier, fighter, investigator, kineticist, monk, ninja, rogue, or slayer.

For these mandatory class levels, you get +4 skill points per level, and the Skating skill. Also, any class that has Ride replaces it with Skating.

Skating works like Ride, but your “mount” is a pair of skates that take your space. Anything you could do on a mount, you can instead do on skates. All skates have a 30 foot move rate and, like a mount, if you control your skates without taking an action, you get a full action.

Skates are never battle-trained mounts, unless you would get a mount as a class feature like cavaliers).

All dungeons should be 2 CR lower than the APL *your spellcaster assistance has been limited after all, and you are making speed runs).

You only get full XP and treasure for a combat or trap encounter if you finish it in 5 rounds or less. For every round more than that, you lose 25% of your XP and treasure. An encounter begins when you become aware of it, so scouting eats into your time. If you complete an encounter in less than 4 rounds, you get a 10% treasure bonus for each round less time you take.

It’s assumed you have an audience, so Performance combat is an option.

Combine with DungeonBall! or X-Crawl as desired.

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Professional PCs: About My Character (Part 1)

Professional PCs: About My Character (Part 1)

Do professional game designers make characters differently than other experienced and skilled players?

I honestly have no idea.

I kind of doubt either group actually has enough similarities that the question is even meaningful. But, in case anyone cares, and since I have sucked you in this far to my article, I’m going to use that thin excuse to tale this week to tell you about my character.

The Campaign

My wife Lj is beginning a new campaign she’ll GM, to be played roughly once a month at our apartment. Each session is likely to be a few hours, and include dinner. The players are friends, and the tone is going to be non-jokey (as opposed to “serious”), but likely light-hearted.

We began with a one-off adventure to introduce the PCs to each other, and then we are moving to the Reign of Winter adventure path. I know a bit about the LAST adventure in that path, but it’ll be a long time before that matters.

The Game System

Pathfinder. To keep things simple, but not limiting, the GM originally restricted options to the Core and ACG. She later added the APG, and allowed a magus.

Character Creation

The GM laid out that is was 25 point ability score buy, and everyone began with 300 gp. Since we’re using the APG, each PC also starts with two traits.

My Character

My PC process is one of first deciding what concept I am interested in, then working out a background, then choosing specific details and rules options. The concept is often a simple matter of picking a class and race, though sometimes it’s a more vague concept, such as “A necromancer who wants to understand why undead are all evil,” or “An older doomed hero who just wants to gain the immortality of being in legends and stories.”

I also often work with other players to form a cohesive group of PCs, especially for d20 games, but in this case that wasn’t practical timing-wise.

In this case, I decided to play Krokar, a ½ orc inquisitor of Gorum, the Golarion god of war. Let’s break that down a bit.


I picked my class first. Basically, I don’t recall ever playing an inquisitor PC. I’ve played one of everything else in the Core and APG, if I count 3.0 and 3.5 games going back 17 years. So the oldest Pathfinder class I’ve never played is an inquisitor, and I want to give it a go.

I was also influenced by the fact that I wasn’t able to work with the other players to conceive of a group together, as is my preference. One of the nice things about an inquisitor is that the class can fill a lot of party roles, depending on how you build it. At first level it won’t matter much, and if the group has a major gap (especially if the gap involves lore, spellcasting, or fighting) I can lean toward filling it as I go up in level.


I’ve played a lot of humans, so I wanted to avoid that this time. My last character was an elf, so I’d rather avoid doing another elf or ½ elf. I thought about halflings and gnomes, and no idea I liked for a Small inquisitor came to mind. I had a nearly three-year run playing a dwarf warpriest, which just ended recently, so I didn’t want to play another fighting-6-level-casting-divine dwarf.

That left ½ orc.

I’ve played a few ½ orcs, and I like them, but always as full bab fighting classes, or arcane spellcasters. So a fighting-6-level-casting-divine ½ orc felt new and interesting.


Once I knew I was a ½ orc, I wanted a name that had hard, short sounds. I played with a few until “Krokar” game together. I’ll probably work out a meaning later. It may even give me the push I need to do a whole new name generator for orcs.


So, I have played all good characters for the past dozen or so PCs I made. I liked the idea of not being good, but I had no interest in being evil. Especially since this is supposed to be a light, fun game whatever deity I selected, I wanted it to be one that supported and encouraged an inquisitor who was into team play. So, in the Big 20 from the Core, who are my options?

I worked on the Temple of Abadar not too long ago for Inner Sea Temples. That isn’t the same as running a PC that worships Abadar but it has some of the same effect – Abadar doesn’t strike me as new and interesting right now.

I’ve never run a player character that worships Calistria… but it didn’t feel like a pro-team-play build. And, importantly, I have an idea I like for a CE paladin of Calistria who can work with a group – but that won’t work for this campaign. So, I don’t want to do something similar now, then not be excited by that idea later.

Gozreh. Fine choice. Nothing wrong with it. No idea that supported team play and excited me came to mind.

Green Faith. I’ve played Green Faith rangers and a Green Faith hunter, so that seemed less interesting that some new deity.

Irori. I’d go too monk. And my last Pf monk worshipped Irori. Just didn’t excite me.

Nethys. My only active other current PC worships Nethys,and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to do something new.

Pharasma. I chewed on this one for quite a while. I had a female human militant midwife Pharasma-worshiping  PC idea I kinda liked, but the mixed heritage of a half orc made that idea seem insufficient. I thought about if I wanted to alter it to be more about difficult births, perhaps like those ½ orcs’ mothers go through… but that felt problematic. I decided I didn’t know enough about actual midwifery to play one, and that was my favorite Pharasma-based idea. I don’t have time to do the research right now, so I tabled this one.

Gorum. Golarion fans who know the non-evil, non-good neutral gods by heart will have noticed I skipped Gorum in my alphabetical rundown.

At first I dismissed Gorum. He’s CN, and that’s often code for CE for PCs. Also, he doesn’t feel like a team-player. But, while reading over him, I saw he has access to the Tactics subdomain from the APG. That suddenly clicked as interesting. A Gorumite inquisitor who focused on tactics would naturally think in terms of allies and teamwork and support actions. And a ½ orc with a greatsword had a nice visual appeal to me.

So I settled on Gorum. That just left me needing a backstory, to inform the rest of my character choices. Which we’ll talk about in Part Two.

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My One Gygax Story

My one and only Gygax story.