“Fodder” foes for Pathfinder 1st-edition

I’ve been considering running a Pathfinder 1st-edition game sometime in the not-too-distant future, as a change of pace for when my current Really Wild West campaign wraps up its current story arc. I’ve been especially considering running a variant of the “E6” concept, where regular character progress ends at level 6, and after that characters get a feat (with some new feats to allow ability score progress, access to new spells, access to higher-level abilities as rituals and such).

One of the nice things about running an E6 style game is that lots of classic monsters remain relevant. You have a range from about CR 4 to CR8, and later even CR 9, where its easy to challenge but not overwhelm characters. That means bulletes, dire animals, tougher mundane animals, centaurs, chimeras, cockatrices, cyclops, dinosaurs, drakes, Medium and Large elementals, giant bugs, gorgons, hell hounds, hill giants et al, howlers, hydras, leucrotta, manticores, medusa, ogres, phase spiders, rust monsters, trolls, unicorns and most typical undead (just to name a few) are all easily introduced into encounters. For many people this power level is the “sweet spot” of the game, so E6 just makes that the default, with power increases increasing breadth of options more than raw power numbers.

But it can also mean it’s tough to have challenging encounters with 8-20 foes, which while needn’t be common can certainly be fun. One of the things that can feel good as a hero is to be able to kill foes in a single blow, take out small gangs that jump you in an ally, and hold the bridge against small armies. Doing that without huge numerical bonuses of being 5 levels higher than your foe is tricky, because being outnumbered gives PCs a massive action economy disadvantage.

Lots of games have solved this issue with “minion” or “thug” rules, creating a class of adversary who has enough offensive values to be a threat, but are easily killed. I’ve enjoyed using “rowdies” in my Really Wild West game, and a similar mechanism seems like it might be useful for the specific feel I want for my E6 Pathfinder 1st ed game. This is just a first stab at such rules, off the top of my head, using the template concept and referring to such quickly-defeated adversaries as “fodder.”

I specifically want to make fodder dangerous enough you can’t ignore them, but weak enough their big advantage in extra actions doesn’t allow them to overwhelm PCs. I also want to make sure they are debuffed both in combatant terms, and when thinking about spells and special ablities.

Fodder Template

Six creatures with the fodder template are equal to a single creatre of the same CR. Thus, six CR 2 fodder worgs have a CR of 2. This also means you can have one CR 2 worg pack leader, and six fodder worgs, for a total of a CR 4 encounter.

Fodder have a -4 penalty to Initiative checks, AC, CMB, and CMD.
Fodder have a -4 penalty to saving throws against effects that do not deal hp damage, and if such effects have a duration of 1 round or more, the duration is doubled on a failed save.
Fodder have hp equal to the CR of the base creature. (Thus a CR 2 fodder worg has 2 hp).
Fodder do half damage with all abilities. The save DCs of their spells and abilities are reduced by 2, and on a successful save targets take no effect.
Any successful Knowledge check to identify a creature also identifies if it is fodder.

That’s just one change I am considering making to the rules–I have ideas about cantrips automatically scaling, feats gained from some classes have additional benefits (such as combat feats fighters gain from the class bonus feats automatically granting the combat stamina advantages if the fighter wishes, without needing to expend stamina points), and allowing PCs to gain abilities from other classes as feats.

But those are posts for another day. 🙂

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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 https://www.patreon.com/OwenKCStephens

Posted on January 11, 2022, in Game Design, Pathfinder Development and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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