- 1 Making a New Character
- 1.1 Choose a Name
- 1.2 Choose a Class
- 1.3 Choose a Race
- 1.4 Determine Ability Scores
- 1.5 Choose an Alignment
- 1.6 Character Backstory
- 1.7 Starting Languages
- 1.8 Determine Skills
- 1.9 Choose Feats
- 1.10 Determine Starting Hit Points
- 1.11 Determine Carrying Capacity
- 1.12 Get Equipped
- 1.13 Determine Armor Class Value
- 1.14 Determine Attack Values, Saving Throws and Initiative
If you are new to role-playing games, and you haven't already, we recommend you take a few minutes and read the What is a Role-Playing Game? page. It is a basic explanation of what this fun and challenging hobby is all about.
If you've played an RPG before and feel comfortable, or you've read that page and you haven't run for the hills, then this page is where you begin the process of creating your alternate persona, your character.
We recommend that you use a character sheet. This can be as basic as a piece of paper where you write things down, although we have a pre-made sheet available if you want to use that instead:
Here are a few different versions of the Epic Path character sheet:
- Print and Play (PDF) — Use this one if you want to play at the table without having to stare at a computer the whole time.
- Sharable Spreadsheet (Google) — Make a copy of this one for yourself (so you can edit; it's read-only), and share it with your GM and friends. Access it from any computer.
- If you intend to play a spellcaster, you will want to make multiple copies of the "Spellbook" page (or tab, if a spreadsheet) before you start. Epic Path spells go to 17th level, potentially, so make up to 5 copies of the page, if you think your campaign might go on that long.
- If you intend to play a character who carries more than two weapons, you will want to make additional copies of the "Weapons & To-Hit" page (or tab, if a spreadsheet).
- Making copies of these pages before you start filling in data can save you a lot of pain in the future. Do it now!
Don't be intimidated by how many pages the character sheet has. You'll mostly be using the first two pages during the game. The remaining pages are worksheets you can use to ensure you are calculating everything correctly, to track your progress after each game session, help you level up, or to just generally flesh out your character's details.
Making a New Character
Now that you have a character sheet, it's time to create a character. The goal here isn't just to get all those boxes filled in, but to try to make someone memorable and fun to play. Even if your game is nothing but hack and slash, having a character who is known for snappy comebacks, or who is always drunk at the worst possible times (where does he even get booze in a dungeon?), will make your games more interesting and memorable, and you and your friends will enjoy yourselves all the more for it.
Try new things. Take risks. Have fun.
Choose a Name
The name of your character can really set the tone for the rest of the character creation process. It can also set the tone for the game. The more creative and evocative the name, usually, the more memorable the character. You could have the most interesting backstory, funny quirks and dynamic outside-the-box hijinks with your character, but if his name is "Fandolf", that's all anyone is going to remember.
It's fine to want to make a character like that guy in that movie you like, but try to put a spin on it that makes the character your own, as well.
Remember, a great name leads to a great character.
Choose a Class
A character's class represents a profession, such as fighter or wizard. If this is a new character, he or she starts at 1st level in this chosen class. As the character gains experience points (XP) for defeating monsters, he goes up in level, granting him new powers and abilities
If your character is a spell caster that prepares spells (such as a wizard) you will need to determine the spells your character starts with. Consult your GM to determine this list.
It is usually a good idea to discuss your class selection with the other players in your group, to ensure that your party will have a good mix of abilities. It is strongly recommended that at least one person play a healing class. It is also very helpful to have a tank character who can soak up a lot of attacks that might otherwise land on the more delicate characters. Damage classes will keep the fights shorter, meaning the party will take less damage (dead monsters don't do damage, usually). In the end, though, you should play the class you want to play, and have fun. A party without a healer can get by with potions, scrolls and rods, or just sleep off their damage. Perhaps not optimal, but certainly playable.
The character class your character chooses at 1st level is always your character's Favored Class. Favored classes dictate several of the class' starting features: the number of attacks the class can make during a full attack action, their starting saving throw values, their base AC, their Bailiwick skill and the Linked Skill associated with it, and a bonus class feature that is only available to characters who choose that class at character creation (and thereby make the class their favored class).
Dual-classed characters get to take the highest number of attacks from either class (they don't add them together, they just take the best of the two), the best of each saving throw bonus offered by either class (so if one class offers a better Fort save, while the other class offers a better Reflex save, they get to take the good bonus for both saves, despite the fact that they come from different classes), and the highest of the Base AC values from among their two classes. They can put ranks into both Bailiwick skills offered by the two classes, but they only get bonus ranks in one Linked Skill (they choose). They get the bonus Favored Class Feature from both classes.
If a character Multi-Classes into a second (or third, etc.) character class, they do not get as many of the favored class bonuses as the Dual-Classed character does. They still take the highest number of attacks from either class (they don't add them together, they just take the best of the two), and the highest of the Base AC values from among their two classes. However, they don't get the saving throw bonuses of any secondary class(es) they take. They can put ranks into the Bailiwick skill of their secondary class(es), but they never get the free skill ranks for any Linked Skills associated with secondary classes. Finally, they do not receive the Favored Class Feature of any secondary classes, unless they take the Eclectic feat for that class.
Available Character Classes
Class Primary Role Potential Role Important Stat(s) Ease of design Ease of play Description Alchemist Damage Support INT, DEX, CON Moderate Moderate Alchemists are mad-scientist types, who can use spell-like extracts, throw powerful bombs, and temporarily alter themselves with mutagens. Barbarian Damage Tank CON, STR, (WIS or CHA) Moderate Moderate Barbarians are melee combatants that use their rage to deliver powerful attacks, often at the expense of their own defense. Bard Support Healing CHA, DEX, INT Moderate Complex Bards are charismatic performers who provide many useful benefits to their allies, cast spells, and attack enemies with powerful blasts of sound. Brawler Damage Tank STR, CON, DEX Simple Moderate A brawler is a heavy-hitting melee combatant, who favors bare-handed attacks over weapons, with good damage and decent defenses. Cleric Healing Support WIS, CHA, STR Moderate Complex A cleric is a divine caster who can heal their allies even as they attack their enemies. They are only modest attackers, but their utility is unmatched. Druid Support Healing WIS, STR, CON Complex Complex A druid is a master of nature, who travels with a loyal animal companion, summons monsters to aid them in battle, and can transform themselves as well. Fighter Tank Support STR, CON, DEX Complex Moderate Fighters can be powerful offensively, or defensively, but rarely are they masters of both. They are tremendously versatile; no two fighters are alike. Monk Damage Tank WIS, DEX, CON Simple Simple Monks train in martial arts to deliver lots of rapid-fire attacks against their foes, either with unarmed strikes, or with specific weapons. Paladin Damage Tank, Healer CHA, STR, CON Moderate Simple A paladin is a heavily armored warrior who augments their battle prowess with divine magic, allowing them to smite their foes, and bless their allies. Partisan Tank Support WIS, CON, STR Simple Moderate A partisan is a melee fighter at the center of a battle. They excel at defending their allies, and changing the shape of the battle around them. Prowler Damage Support STR, DEX, CON Simple Moderate A prowler is a highly-mobile combatant who can traipse through the battlefield, striking their foes from unexpected directions. Ranger Damage Support DEX, STR, WIS Moderate Simple A ranger is a master tracker, who can deliver powerful attacks against a foe they have designated as their quarry. Rogue Damage More Damage DEX, (CHA, STR, or INT), CON Moderate Moderate A rogue is an expert at stealth, and attacking foes who are unaware of them, capitalizing on their opponent's weaknesses to achieve victory. Sorcerer Damage Support CHA, DEX, INT Moderate Moderate A sorcerer casts magic through a combination of their inherited bloodline, their intuition, and their unrivaled willpower, blasting their foes with powerful spells. Warlord Healing Support CHA, (STR or DEX), CON Simple Moderate A warlord commands their allies to victory, granting them better positioning, tactical advantages, temporary hit points, and numerous other advantages. Wizard Support Damage INT, DEX, CON Complex Complex A wizard is a scholar of the arcane, studiously perfecting their magic through rigor and practice. They are powerful, but also highly versatile.
All the classes are carefully designed to be balanced and interesting to play at all levels. However, some players may wish to play a character which is not purely one class or another, but is, instead, a combination of one or more classes. Three methods exist to accomplish this:
- Prestige-Classing -optional
Broadly speaking, dual-classing, multi-classing and prestige classing all allow you to enjoy the synergies of more than one character class, at the expense of more complexity and possibly ill-fitting abilities, compared to your peers. Multi-, Prestige-, and Dual-classed characters will also frequently find that more of their ability scores are important, forcing them to spread their scores out a bit more than a character focused on a single class. However, such combinations can be very powerful indeed, making such a decision quite attractive, despite the aforementioned drawbacks. See the descriptions below for details on how all three of these methods work.
- A dual-class character chooses two character classes at character creation. The tier of each of those two classes DOES NOT MATTER for advancement purposes. Unlike any other case, BOTH of these classes is considered their favored class (with the corresponding favored class bonuses), and once selected, the player is committed to those two classes for the remainder of that character's career. A character that dual-classes can never multi-class or prestige-class. Similarly, dual-classing can only be declared at character creation (meaning you cannot play a single class for a while and then decide to dual-class). Dual-classing requires a commitment.
- The advantage of dual-classing is that you get both favored class bonuses immediately, and then alternate between the two chosen classes every other level, meaning that you gain the benefits of both classes as early as 2nd level. Thus, at level 4, you have two levels in each class, and access to both favored class abilities. The tier of those levels does not matter.
- Like always, a dual classed character cannot be changed without making a new character.
- You always gain base attack bonus, save bonuses, and class features, based only on the character class you are advancing in your current level. All such class features and abilities are additive, and you must follow any rules for class ability stacking. (For example, a Brawler/Monk dual-class character must choose whether they want to use Monk Special Attacks or Brawler Special Attacks with each attack they make. A Cleric/Wizard must choose to cast either a Cleric spell or a Sorcerer/Wizard spell when they spell cast. Etc.)
- Some fun examples of character classes which often synergize well are Sorcerer/Prowler, Fighter/Rogue, and Cleric/Monk. There are many other powerful and entertaining combinations that players are encouraged to explore.
- Multi-classing is perhaps the most easily understood form of changing classes. A multi-class character is 'built up' of class tiers from any class they wish to take. When you begin multi-classing, you choose a different character class to begin advancing from level 1. This means you stop advancing in levels in your current class, in exchange for gaining levels in a completely different class of your choosing. GM's may decide that some combinations are disallowed, either due to personal preference, or due to campaign/story-based justifications. If there are any questions, the GM adjudicates.
- In order to multi-class, you must possess 1 or more full tiers (steps of 5 or more levels) in your most recent character class, and you must meet any requirements of the new character class you wish to begin advancing in (such as alignment restrictions). It is generally frowned on to change alignments simply to multi-class, but the GM may, of course, rule as they wish.
- Once you have chosen a new character class, when multi-classing, you begin advancing in that class from level 1, and you must commit to advancing at least 5 levels in that class before you can multi-class again (you must advance to the end of your current tier). If you then advance in that same class again, you must advance to the end of the next tier before you can choose to change classes again. You may also multi-class back into a class you had already gained one or more tiers in, in which case, you continue gaining levels from where you left off (not starting at level 1, because you already have level 1 in that class).
- Due to the level and tier requirements, you can multi-class a maximum of seven times by level 31, which should provide enough class diversity for even the most exotic character concepts, or whimsical indecisiveness.
- Experience points required to advance in a new class is always based on your total character level, NOT your current character class' level.
- Your 'preferred class' bonus is (nearly always) based on the first character class you choose at character creation. If it is not, you must inform your GM what your preferred class is, at character creation, and the GM may always disallow this, if they so decide. Once a preferred class is selected, it cannot ever be changed, even through character reselection.
- If any of the classes you choose offer a choice of paths at class level 1, such as the fighter's Technique, the rogue's Path, or the barbarian's Mien, you may only ever select this path when you gain your first level in that class. That is, if you change classes, and then come back and take another tier in the first class which offered a choice of paths, your additional levels in this class make use of the same path. You can't take more than one path in a class (unless the class specifically allows that), nor can you change it, once selected, without use of the Character Reselection rules.
- You always gain base attack bonus, save bonuses, and class features, based only on the new character class, not your previous character class(es). The tiers include 'delta values' which can be used to add up your bonuses in each of these categories. The exact to-hit in each of the four possible base attacks can vary widely. One big advantage to having a third or fourth attack (even with very small bonuses to-hit) is that any attack with a to-hit number, no matter how small, can be traded away for a five-foot step.
- Example 1: A paladin reaches character level 6, and chooses to stop gaining levels in paladin (stopping at 5th level, the top of the Courageous Tier), in order to gain levels in fighter, instead. At level 11, the player chooses to revert back to being a paladin, stopping at fighter level 5. At level 11, they become a sixth level paladin(the first level of the Intrepid Paladin tier), and continue advancing as before. Such a combination allows the character to become an expert at wearing heavy armor, and gain some new tricks with their weapon, while primarily focusing on their paladin's class features.
- Example 2: A player chooses to make a fighter at level 1. At level 6, she changes to cleric, and then at level 11, changes to a rogue. Thus, at level 11, she is a fighter 5, cleric 5, rogue 1, with a total character level of 11. Such a character is very self-sufficient, with a wide range of modest capabilities that work well together.
- Example 3: A player creates a rogue at character creation, and changes to a prowler at level 6. At level 11, they change to a brawler, and then at 16th character level, they change to a ranger. At this point, they are character level 16, with 5 levels in rogue, 5 levels in prowler, 5 levels in brawler, and 1 level in ranger. Despite having only Tier One levels, since all their combat attributes are additive across all character tiers, this character is a monster in melee combat, with great mobility and powerful attacks, whether armed or unarmed.
- Prestige Classing is an optional system, and all players must get GM approval before using it.
- Prestige Classing, in its simplest form, is exactly like Multi-Classing, except that when you reach the highest level in a tier and decide to take a different class, you do NOT start the new class from level 1, you instead choose the next character level as the first level of your new class. Another way of looking at it is you never take the same class Tier twice.
- It is also possible there are dedicated Prestige Tiers, which are five level blocks of unique class levels that are not part of any base class. The only way to take such a Prestige Class Tier is to have GM permission to use Prestige Classing.
- Example 1: A paladin reaches character level 6, and chooses to stop gaining levels in paladin (stopping at 5th level, the top of the Courageous Tier), in order to gain levels in fighter, instead. Their first level in Fighter is level 6, and they continue gaining Fighter levels until level 10. At level 11, the player chooses to revert back to being a paladin, stopping at fighter level 10. At level 11, they become an eleventh level paladin(the first level of the Heroic Paladin tier), and continue advancing as before. Such a combination allows the character to become an expert at wearing heavy armor, and gain some new tricks with their weapon, while primarily focusing on their paladin's class features.
- Example 2: A player chooses to make a fighter at level 1. At level 6, she changes to cleric, and then at level 11, changes to a rogue. Thus, at level 11, she is a fighter levels 1-5, cleric levels 5-10, and rogue level 11, with a total character level of 11. This character can only choose Fighter Tactics up to level five, can only cast the cleric spells they received from levels 6 to levels 10, and may only choose rogue Talents starting at level 11 and above, among other interesting interactions. All of their BAB and save progressions are additive, of course. Their Base Armor Class is 11 (due to their Fighter Tier) and they gain the Fighter's Favored Class Bonus, making their Base Armor Class a whopping 12. Such a character is very self-sufficient, with a wide range of capabilities that work well together.
- Example 3: A player creates a rogue at character creation, and changes to take prowler level 6 at character level 6. At level 11, they change to a brawler (taking the Heroic Tier brawler levels), and then at 16th character level, they change to a ranger. At this point, they are character level 16, with levels 1-5 in rogue, levels 6-10 in prowler, levels 11-15 in brawler, and level 16(only) in ranger. This character is a monster in melee combat, with great mobility and powerful attacks, whether armed or unarmed.
Choose a Race
Your character's race, aside from just being a great source of stat bonuses and quirky abilities, helps you add to the character's story. Instead of just "he's an elf", try to come up with ideas for why he left his ancestral home to go adventuring with a bunch of other weirdos. Maybe his ancestral home was destroyed, or maybe he was exiled.
Epic Path has done away with racial bonuses which are fixed to particular stats. The reason for this was to let players choose the race they wanted because it was cool, rather than because it was the only one that gave them both the Charisma bonus and the Wisdom bonus they need to make their stats line up the way they want. All races now allow the player to apply bonuses (and penalties) to the ability scores of their choice. Note, however, that even with racial bonuses to ability scores, no ability score may begin the game higher than a 20 or lower than a 7.
Racial Ability Score Bonus Arrays
- The 'standard' racial stat bonus array is the ability to add +2 to any two stats during character creation at the expense of subtracting -2 from one other stat.
- The first 'optional' racial stat bonus array is the ability to add +4 to any one stat during character creation at the expense of subtracting -2 from one other stat.
- The second 'optional' racial stat bonus array is the ability to add +2 to any one stat during character creation and then add a +1 to any three other stats, all at the expense of subtracting a -2 from one other stat.
Each stat may only be modified once, either positively or negatively, by the bonuses in the racial stat arrays. Some referees may choose to use only the 'standard' racial stat bonus array in their campaigns in order to simplify character creation.
Each race begins with one or two traits that are standard to the race, as well as a list of major and minor traits available. At character creation, the player chooses one major racial trait and one minor racial trait when selecting their race. Once selected, these benefits may not be changed.
The tables below show the races available for player characters to play. Each race is unique, and provides its own history, background, culture, and idiosyncrasies, providing a rich resource for role-playing, over and above a character's own personal history and background.
GM's may wish to specifically allow or disallow certain races, due to how they may or may not fit into their campaign setting. GM's should also warn players if any of the races suffer from a great deal of bigotry, persecution, or hatred from the majority of society, since most players will prefer a little forewarning of what they're getting themselves into, in such cases. Finally, if one race is the dominant population (often humans, but each campaign world is different), GM's may wish to provide incentives (or disincentives) for playing a character who is of the dominant race.
If all races are available in a GM's campaign setting, they may want to think about how each race fits into society as a whole, and how the different races treat each other. In such cases, most places with a lot of people will look a lot like the cantina scene from Star Wars.
In Epic Path, all of the player races are considered Humanoids, but they are then divided up into five racial subtypes:
- The first subtype is 'Primary'. Sometimes referred to as the 'Old Races' or 'Ancient Races', these are the species of intelligent, civilized humanoids that have been around the longest.
Race Size Movement Types Notes Dwarf Medium Walk 20 ft. Mountain folk, renowned for their smiths and craftsmen Elf Medium Walk 30 ft. Graceful immortals from the First World Gnome Small Walk 20 ft. Endlessly curious explorers with manic personalities Halfling Small Walk 20 ft. Dauntless hill folk, brave and lucky Human Medium Walk 30 ft. Adaptable people who always yearn for more
- The second subtype is 'Beast'. These are generally more recent species which have arisen over time. There are the same number of Beast Races as Primary Races, for 'reasons'.
Race Size Movement Types Notes Gata Medium Walk 30 ft. An impulsive race of aggresive warriors, aligned with cat spirits Grippli Small Walk 20 ft., Climb 20 ft. Fun, clever, and smiling, these quick folk are aligned with frog spirits Kitsune Medium Walk 30 ft. Lovely, clever, and sly, this race is aligned with fox spirits Nagdyr Small Walk 20 ft. A rodent-like people known for fast-talking and guile Tengu Medium Walk 30 ft. Hardy, brave, and brilliant, this race is aligned with raven spirits
- The third subtype is 'Spiritual'. These races seem tied to the land by their blood, or their ancestors were shaped by their relationship with powerful divine spirits.
Race Size Movement Types Notes Arborian Medium Walk 30 ft. A matriarchal society made strong by the forest spirits Barani Medium Walk 30 ft. A bloodline forever altered by celestial interference Bru-Kin Medium Walk 30 ft.* Physically imposing, with one foot in tragedy and the other in nobility Fey-Kin Medium Walk 30 ft. Mixed-breed people who have trouble fitting in
- The fourth subtype is 'Elemental'. These beings are tied to earth, air, fire, or water, and perhaps derive their bloodlines from the elemental planes, somehow.
Elemental Race Size Movement Types Notes Ifrit Medium Walk 30 ft. Fiery of appearance and temperament, a race aligned with fire Oread Medium Walk 20 ft. A race of the stone within, as strong and reliable as bedrock Sylph Medium Walk 30 ft. A race of the air above, as unpredictable and swift as the wind Undine Medium Walk 30 ft., Swim 30 ft. Gentle in their strength, a race aligned with flowing water
- The fifth subtype is 'Outsider'. Sometimes also referred to as 'Sports', these races were created (or perhaps subverted) by influences from distant, dark planes of existence.
Race Size Movement Types Notes Changeling Medium Walk 30 ft. Too pretty for their own good, this race blends in like no other Mallori Medium Walk 30 ft. A race of humanoids touched by the demi-plane of shadow Tiefling Medium Walk 30 ft. A bloodline forever altered by Infernal experimentation Vanx Medium Walk 30 ft., Swim 30 ft. Amphibian builders of weirs and canals, as loud as they are kind Vishkanya Medium Walk 30 ft. Born of a curse, these serpentfolk make their way in a new world
Determine Ability Scores
These six scores determine your character's most basic attributes and are used to decide a wide variety of details and statistics. Some class selections require you to have better than average scores for some of your abilities.
In Epic Path, stat generation always uses a point buy system. While we acknowledge the 'good old days' of rolling dice for your stats, we're not recommending that system for these rules.
For all rules written here, we are assuming that all games are using the Epic Fantasy power level, which starts the players with 28 stat points.
Note that Epic Path is written and balanced for Epic Fantasy type characters, but we also recognize that such power levels are not everybody's cup of tea. As a result, we have defined several other power levels as detailed on the Campaign Power Level page.
- Important Note to Referees: Especially at low levels of play, campaign power levels make a major impact in these rules! If you want to use the Epic Path rules to play a Low Fantasy game, expect it to be a hard, miserable struggle. Which we find appropriate, if a Low Fantasy game is your cup of tea. On the other hand, if you play an Industrial Magic level game, expect the players to be pretty darn amazing. Which is appropriate if you want that sort of a more cinematic, dramatic, style game.
No matter the power level, in all cases stat costs are:
Stat 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Cost -4 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 5 7 10 13 17
No stat may be bought below a 7 even after racial adjustments, and no stat may ever begin higher than a 20 after racial adjustments.
Once you have determined your ability scores, you should calculate your ability modifiers. Modifiers are used in nearly every case where the ability score is applied to a check. Some examples include skill checks, to-hit and damage rolls, and (rather obviously) ability checks.
The formula for calculating the modifier is (ability score -10)/2 (round down). You can also refer to the following table:
Stat 0-1 2-3 4-5 6-7 8-9 10-11 12-13 14-15 16-17 18-19 20-21 22-23 Modifier -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6
Ability Score Calculator
Choose an Alignment
Character alignment is a way to abstractly state a character's moral and philosophical outlook on life. It is not a replacement for a character's backstory or personality traits, but it is a useful way to summarize that personality. The alignment of a character is a guide to the moral and ethical demeanor of that character, but nothing is set in stone.
Many campaigns will have moral and ethical elements (dare we say, even dilemma's?) as part and parcel of the challenges that face heroes. A major portion of this aspect of gameplay (in most game worlds) is the presence of fantastical Gods and their associated religions and worshippers. As a result, a character's Alignment can have story-driven game impacts. If your game world has fantastic religions as part of the environment, your choice of alignment for the character can have serious effects.
For example: If the prominent religion in your game world is a sun-worshiping faction that performs frequent and massive rites of human sacrifice, then declaring your character to be 'Chaotic Good' is going to lead to many interesting role-playing opportunities and more than a few moral dilemmas.
That being said, there are no specific mechanics for HOW a character's alignment interacts with the game world. This is a nearly pure story-driven mechanism, and should be handled on a case-by-case basis by every Game Master based upon the game they wish to run for their friends. Scenarios that would be perfectly acceptable for one group of friends may be much more difficult for a different group. Each Game Master must run THEIR game for THEIR table of players.
As a rule of thumb, for simple 'kill the monsters and sell the treasure' scenarios, alignment is not often a critical factor. Less experienced GM's may wish to leave the heavy 'dilemmas and consequences' role-playing elements out of their game, in which case, declaring by fiat that all adventurers have the 'Detached' alignment is the simple and effective course of action. If you have a character who needs fantastical religious and alignment mechanics for Deific powers, refer to the character class for details of how those mechanics will work.
There are ten possible alignments. Each one is defined by various types of behavior. While the behavior of a sentient person is complex, to put it mildly, in game terms this is defined by how closely your character strives to adhere to various moral and ethical tenets.
The first Tenet is whether you character is:
- Detached or Engaged.
- Detached Alignment
A Detached character is a person who is not interested in anything to do with Gods or religion or any of that 'social' stuff. Detached is basically an alignment for those players who are not heavily engaged in role-playing, or for those who are true outsiders in their society. Detached characters don't have any extreme positions, and are motivated by whatever advances their personal goals. They are not interested in following laws or advancing freedom at all costs, they are not advocates for doing good deeds and they are not interested in doing evil for the sake of evil alone. They aren't even very interested in the abstract working of deities, the 'Celestial Game'. Detached characters just want to do as they wish, and stay uninvolved. Detached is best for players that are not strong role-players, who just want to show up, be with their friends, roll dice, and get loot.
- Engaged Alignments
If you are not Detached , then you are Engaged. An Engaged alignment is a lot more complicated than the 'don't bother me, I'm gaming' Detached alignment. Being Engaged means that your character is invested in the moral and ethical happenings of the game world. This means that you are interested, one way or another, in how the world views you, and how you affect the world. Now, this is a complex topic, and philosophers have been arguing about this for ages. In game terms, everything in the Engaged Alignments boils down to where your behavior inspiration falls on two complimentary tenets. Those two tenets are:
- Good versus Evil, and,
- Law versus Chaos.
If you are Engaged in the doings of the game world, then you must decide your characters leanings. There are nine ways that your character can define themselves as Good, Evil, Lawful, or Chaotic, and various hybrids between them all. This is best illustrated with a simple chart, as below:
Lawful Good Pure Good Chaotic Good True Lawful True Neutral True Chaotic Lawful Evil Pure Evil Chaotic Evil
- Looking at the vertical columns to the left and right of this chart, we see there are three Lawful alignments, and three Chaotic alignments.
- Looking at the horizontal rows at the top and bottom of this chart, we see there are three Good alignments and three Evil alignments.
A note to GM's about Alignments. As a matter of practicality and simplicity, we STRONGLY encourage your table of Engaged players toward the Lawful and Good tenets of behavior. Leaving aside the real-life moral issues of evil-ness, long and bitter experience has demonstrated that running capable role-players in Chaotic and Evil scenarios, while enormously challenging and fun, is also very difficult. The very nature of being either chaotic or evil means that it is more difficult to maintain party cohesiveness, and to be frank, keeping smooth play with your typical table of players is often like herding cats, even when they're all Lawful Good. That said, we present every alignment without prejudice, because your fun is your fun. Just be aware, treachery and backstabbing at the game table makes the already challenging job of the referee even more...challenging. Plus, as even a cursory glance at the Bestiary will show, there are LOTS more Evil monsters than Good or even neutral ones, so giving an Evil party enemies to fight requires you to use Patterns...and that is quite deliberate. We're not going to say we're prejudiced against Evil games, but we're not going to deny it, either....
Each of the Engaged alignments defined in the table above has a loose philosophy and moral code attached to it, though every character will have their own nuances within these guidelines. Players should select alignments that are relatively close to the alignments of the other players in the party, since a party of good characters probably won't want to keep company with a chaotic evil character for very long. For that matter, even mixing Detached and Engaged players can present challenges. It is best to discuss the alignment of your intended campaign with players in advance, and get a feel for what you and your friends want to do.
Here is a brief summary of what the different Engaged alignments mean, and how characters of these alignments might uphold their beliefs in role-playing situations.
- Lawful Good
- A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. A Lawful Good character believes that the greatest benefit comes from strictly obeying wise and righteous rules. Taxes spent in a fair and generous fashion, abuses discovered and corrected immediately, an absolute minimum of deceptive practices, everything open and above-board, the good of the whole advanced with every action, these tenets and more are the central drivers of the Lawful Good character. A lack of rules is an abomination, and the promotion of suffering and despair unfairly upon some rather than others is even worse. Lawful Good works constantly to build trust and relationships, seeking to maximize the quality of life for everyone, equally.
- Lawful good combines honor with compassion. But never think that a Lawful Good person is stupid for their high-mindedness. An exemplary Lawful Good character will always have friends, and that can be a treasure vast beyond compare.
- Pure Good
- A Pure Good character does the best that they can to improve and enrich both society, and the people within it. Pure Good will obey right and just laws, but will ignore or abrogate laws that are oppressive or unfair. Pure Good people are interested in a healthy, happy, non-hurtful society, but they are equally interested in making sure that individuals within that society are enriched according to their actions. Note that the criminal, murderous, and mad may be enriched by incarceration or even expunged, if their faults outweigh any possible good to be derived from them. Pure Good characters are among the first to help others. Trying to take advantage of a Pure Good person or society is risky, because they have many, many friends indeed.
- Being Pure Good means doing what is good and right without bias for or against order.
- Chaotic Good
- A Chaotic Good character acts to promote weal and goodness as they see fit. Rules and strictures are seen either as oppressive measures, or as unnecessary paperwork. If everyone was Chaotic Good, there would be no need for any laws, after all. Chaotic Good characters often donate their time or treasure to promote the fortunes of whomever has caught their latest fancy. Orphans, widows, and luckless sorts of all varieties can count on a kind word and a helping hand from a Chaotic Good player. Chaotic Good characters are usually among the first to see corruption, evil deeds, and wanton cruelties, and immediately take action. Do not expect a Chaotic Good person to worry too much about legality or consequences. Drawing a sword on the corrupt mayor right in their council chambers is...distressingly par for the course.... That being said, Chaotic Good isn't mindless, either. Leaving the Mayor alone and instead giving a firebrand speech in the courtyard also works....
- Chaotic Good combines an unflinchingly good heart with a free spirit.
- True Lawful
- True Lawful characters act as law, tradition, or a personal code directs them. True Lawful characters believe that order and rules are of paramount importance for the continuation and advancement of society. The individuals in a society are important, yes, but True Law recognizes that not everyone can expect to win every time. Everybody has to accept some constraints, so less fortunate souls can come up in the world. A system of Law is always preferable to rank, howling anarchy, but even in orderly societies, there is much work to be done. Laws merely for the sake of spreading either weal or woe are bad laws, and should be challenged and revoked. If the society is so corrupt or vainglorious that it cannot change from within, then force of arms will carry the day. Short-term pain is perfectly acceptable to gain long-term stability and prosperity, measured within a framework of fair and equal rules for everyone.
- True Lawful means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot.
- True Neutral
- A True Neutral character is NOT Detached, even though on the face of things, they seem similar. Detached characters simply don't care to pay any heed to the workings of the moral and ethical world.
- A True Neutral character can be played as very interested in the workings of the moral and ethical world, but believing that balance in all things is critically important to the overall health of the world. Such a True Neutral character often finds themselves acting as examples for what is missing around them, their behavior changing depending upon the outside environment. A society that is drowning in selfishness and woe will cause such a True Neutral character to perform deeds of pure Goodness, to show that dark society what they are missing. Contrarily, in the eyes of a True Neutral character, a high and shining society of Goodness is brutally repressing all the evil urges of the populace, and the True Neutral character must act to free up some space for the darkness and cruelty to run free, because those urges are just as important as the brightness. As a result, such an active True Neutral character can feel almost schizophrenic, as their behavior will vary around the dial, based on how they see the world. This can be surprisingly hard to play, so be cautious when choosing this alignment.
- That being said, some True Neutral characters commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. These characters also find their behavior changing based on the world around them, but they tend to suppress behaviors in others, rather than serve as examples. In a Good society, they will target the agents of goodness, by word or deed. In a Lawful society, they will act to fight oppression in all manners, etc.
- True Neutral means you act naturally in any situation, without prejudice or compulsion.
- True Chaotic
- A True Chaotic character is a person who truly believes that artificial rules, rules written by one person to control the behavior of another person, are always inherently wrong and oppressive. Even rules that are intended to promote societal well-being are short-sighted and wrong-headed. The absolute freedom to act as you wish is the one true birthright of every intelligent creature, and it is a deep wrongness that organized societies to flaunt this universal truth. At a very minimum, a True Chaotic character will ignore any and all laws that they feel infringes on their freedom. In more extreme cases, a True Chaotic will act, vigorously, to subvert and tear down the iron-fisted Rule of Law in every way possible. To put it mildly, this can be a difficult path to walk. That being said, True Chaotic characters are not mindless, and are well aware that they often need to 'pick their battles', but make no mistake, in their mind, REAL freedom is worth any price.
- True Chaotic represents freedom from society's restrictions, the iron fist of the tyrant, and a do-gooder's zeal.
A note about Evil. "Evil" is a widely misunderstood state of being. It is common to believe that 'Evil' merely means 'selfish', and truth be told, there's a lot of truth to that. Taking what you want without regard to others IS a state of Evil. But that's not all there is to it. Evil can be, and often is, a philosophy. Some 'Evil' people and beings are considered 'Evil' because they genuinely believe that the tenets of Goodness are wrong-headed and foolish. Improving the lives of everyone, or even yourself, is not how the universe really works. Living a life of happiness and comfort does not lead to striving and reaching to be your strongest, greatest self. Real, genuine, EVIL means that happiness, comfort, heck, even wealth and power, are essentially just props. Doing real Evil means being almost Stoic in your outlook, only applying that mindset to yourself, and everyone else, to boot. Cruelty is better than kindness, enemies are more valuable than friends, suffering and loss and heartbreak are part of life and should be embraced and promoted, not shunned.
Now, this mindset is radical, and much better suited to Bad Guys and Monsters than player characters. Firstly, real-life players who dabble in Evil often find it creepy and disturbing, and rightly so! Secondly, playing an Evil campaign means that keeping the players working together can be difficult, to put it mildly. We present the Evil alignments partially as a role-playing opportunity for those who are interested in such explorations, and partly as guidelines for GM's on how to properly make monsters and bad guys behave in appropriately wretched ways. Approach with caution!
- Lawful Evil
- A Lawful Evil character methodically does what they want within the limits of their code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. Indeed, frequently, hurting others is the entire point! Lawful Evil cares about and honors tradition, loyalty, and order, but not freedom, dignity, or life. Laws which wrong-headedly promote weal and oppress woe are opposed tirelessly, lobbied and argued against without fail. Lawful Evil characters play by the rules they are given, but without mercy or compassion. They are comfortable in a hierarchy and work tirelessly to spread misery and woe to all they meet. They expect to rise in most organizations, and will act without error to crush all who fail to follow the rules. They condemn others for any reason at all, racist, sexist, ageist, promoting any and all bigotries, because they enjoy it, and such condemnations promote their goals. They are loath to break laws or promises, even ones they consider utterly foolish, but they will obey the letter of the law and contort intent as far as possible to promote their own goals.
- Many Lawful Evil characters have particular taboos or codes of conduct, such as not killing in cold blood (but allowing underlings to do so when required) or not letting children come to harm (because they are too young to have properly suffered yet). Lying is an interesting dilemma for the Lawful Evil character. Having personal honor is often important to them, but lies are such powerful tools to hurt others....
- Many Lawful Evil people and creatures commit themselves to evil with a zeal like that of a crusader committed to good. Beyond being willing and even eager to hurt others for their own ends, they take pleasure in spreading evil as an end unto itself. They may also see doing evil as part of a duty to an evil deity or master.
- Lawful Evil represents methodical, intentional, and organized evil.
- Pure Evil
- A Pure Evil character does not care about rules or laws, nor are they rabid advocates of freedom of expression. A Pure Evil character likes hurting others, and frequently even themselves. They enjoy torment, physical and mental, and will cheerfully stoop to the lowest and meanest of behaviors. No act of cruelty is too large or too small, there is nothing out of bounds, there is no taboo that they will not trample in their desire to Do Evil. Attacks on children and other helpless victims are fair game, and they will generally do whatever makes them happy and they can get away with. Pure Evil is out for itself, pure and simple, but it is rarely foolish or stupid. They flout all 'civilized' norms, because they see such behavior as idiotic. Pure Evil sheds no tears for those they kill, whether for profit, sport, or convenience. Indeed, Pure Evil is likely to get a hearty laugh at the mangled remains of their victims, especially if they can taunt their loved ones with them. Pure Evil has no love of order or freedom and holds no illusions that following laws, traditions, or codes would make one bit of difference in the real world.
- Some Pure Evil characters hold up evil as an ideal, committing evil for its own sake. Most often, such individuals are devoted to evil deities or secret societies.
- Pure Evil represents Evil without honor, driven by both selfishness and zeal.
- Chaotic Evil
- A Chaotic Evil character believes that freedom and woe are the only true states of being. Goodness is a sop for the weak-minded, and rules are abominations against the natural order of things. Chaotic Evil characters do whatever their greed, hatred, and lust for destruction inspire them to do. They recognize no social boundaries, and their utter contempt for soft-hearted kindness often pushes them to inflict harm wherever they notice it. They are vicious, arbitrarily violent, and unpredictable, but often, uncomfortably smart about it. They may be surrounded by soft-bellied sheep, but a proper wolf knows how to stalk in the dark of night to maximize their fun.
- If a Chaotic Evil character is simply out for whatever they can get, they are ruthless and brutal. If they are committed to the spread of evil and chaos, they are even worse. Thankfully, the plans of a Chaotic Evil character are frequently haphazard, and any groups they join or create are likely to be poorly organized. Typically, chaotic evil people can be made to work together only by force, and their leader lasts only as long as they can thwart attempts at assassination.
- Chaotic Evil represents the desire to spread misery, cruelty, and woe, and allow utter freedom to do so.
These Engaged alignment descriptions are presented only as guidelines, and each player can interpret how they want to role-play their alignment in their own way, as long as their actions don't seem to indicate that a different alignment would be a better fit. Players who want this level of detail in their game should choose an Engaged alignment they'll find comfortable or interesting to play, and then write their backstory to fit this philosophy.
Once you pick your alignment, your character's actions are expected to fall within the guidelines of that alignment. Stray too far outside the guidelines, and your GM may make your character's alignment change to something more appropriate, based on those actions. By far the most common alignment change is from an Engaged alignment to the Detached alignment. It is also possible to deliberately change alignment by taking actions contrary to your current Engaged alignment. This can have consequences ranging from an interesting development in your character's story, to a crisis of faith, leaving your character distanced from his god, or even the temporary (or permanent) loss of character abilities. Needless to say, changing alignments can be a big deal.
GM's are encouraged to provide lots of warning to players who are in danger of changing alignments, giving them ample opportunity to change their ways before it's too late.
In general, players should come up with as much backstory as they can stand, as backgrounds provide hooks for GM's to use to customize their campaign to the characters. This lets the characters feel more like a part of the story, and makes the story seem more like it couldn't have happened with just anyone who came along. There are many, many resources on the Internet for generating a backstory, if you are stuck, or you can take inspiration from a favorite story, or movie.
That said, character backgrounds do not have any sort of game-mechanics effect on the character. Just because your character has a former military career, or used to be a reluctant member in an evil cult, doesn't mean you get bonuses in combat, or start with some scary magic item. The story is there to help you get into the head of your character, and help the other players understand what motivates you.
Your background should be at least a little realistic for your current character level. A first level character probably hasn't had much opportunity to become a world-famous dragon-slayer, for example.
It is also important to try to keep your character's motivation and backstory at least somewhat compatible with the rest of your party. This ties in closely with alignment, but generally, a character who has no empathy and really enjoys how all that blood flies around when they kill things will probably have a hard time convincing the paladin to keep hanging out with them.
You may find it fun to talk to your fellow players and see if anyone wants to share a backstory with you. Playing siblings, for example, can add a dynamic to the group that is slightly different than than "several strangers meet in a tavern" dynamic.
Most of all, though, be creative.
All player characters can speak, read, and write the Common language at native familiarity, regardless of the race chosen, or their intelligence score. Some races provide an additional language to starting characters, regardless of their intelligence score. Characters with secondary languages from their race can speak, read and write these languages at native familiarity as well.
In addition to the starting language(s), characters with a positive Intelligence modifier gain one bonus language per +1 of their modifier. That is, a character with a 14 intelligence (which grants a +2 INT modifier) would learn 2 bonus languages. These bonus languages are selected from the list of bonus languages available to their chosen character race. Bonus languages are always learned at the fluent level of familiarity.
If a character improves their Intelligence through a permanent source (such as a magic item, a manual, or through level advancement), sufficient to increase their INT modifier, they gain an additional bonus language, chosen from the same list of their chosen race. If a character's INT modifier increases to the point where they could gain more bonus languages than those offered by their race, they no longer gain bonus languages for increasing their Intelligence (though they still gain additional skill ranks each level; see below).
Characters may also learn additional languages by placing ranks in the Linguistics skill.
Skills play an important role in how your character is defined. The skills your character chooses to focus upon and develop, as well as those skills your character chooses to neglect, help you to describe additional facets of your character's personality. No character will be able to achieve greatness with every skill, so it is important to choose a few skills you wish to hone into powerful tools, which skills you will only dabble in, and which skills your character would put little or no effort into at all.
Every class has access to one bailiwick skill representing specialized knowledge gained by being a member of that class, which is not available to people outside of those classes. The six bailiwick skills are:
Characters are always naturally talented in their own bailiwick skill, meaning they can re-map it to the ability modifier of their choice. Once the modifier for their bailiwick skill is selected, it may not be changed, except through the Character Reselection rules. Note that naturally talented skills, and thus bailiwick skills, never suffer an armor check penalty, even if they are mapped to STR or DEX modifiers.
Characters may not place ranks in bailiwick skills which are not specifically available to them via their character class (or in some cases, from a racial trait). Characters cannot train fellow party members in their bailiwick skills, as the knowledge provided by these skills is gained by spending every hour of every day performing the actions of the classes which offer those skills. It's too specialized to teach to an outsider.
If you gain a second bailiwick skill (usually through a racial trait), it is not automatically a natural talent (even though you typically get to choose which of your ability score modifiers is aligned to the second bailiwick skill). Armor check penalties do apply to the second bailiwick skill if you choose to associate it with your STR or DEX modifier.
- Each Bailiwick skill has a linked knowledge skill. For each rank a character places in their bailiwick skill, the character receives a free rank in that bailiwick skill's linked skill. Note that no character may ever have more ranks in a skill than their character level.
- Skill uses for the linked skills are not interchangeable with the bailiwick skill (i.e. you can't use Spycraft to gather information, you must still use your Knowledge (Local) check to do that). Furthermore, the linked skill is not automatically a natural talent, though you can certainly make it one, if you wish.
- If a character has more than one bailiwick skill (usually via a racial trait), the second bailiwick skill does not gain matching ranks in its associated linked skill.
At character creation, every character gains natural talent in their bailiwick skill and one additional skill. Natural talent allows players to re-map the chosen skill to the ability modifier of their choice, instead of the modifier normally used by the skill. This allows each character to demonstrate strength in one particular area, regardless of their character class and primary ability scores. For example, a durable character might Intimidate people using their constitution, cracking knuckles and popping the ligaments in their neck menacingly. Alternatively, a very intelligent person might Intimidate people based upon their intelligence, assaulting their foe with a barrage of cold, hard facts. The result is the same in either case.
Players are encouraged to choose skills which normally use an ability modifier in which their character is particularly weak, converting it to their strongest ability modifier instead. It is recommended that skills which already make use of your second-highest ability score, or even your third-highest, might be less important to remap via natural talent, than the one which uses your worst (or second-worst) ability modifier.
Bailiwick skills which are not available to your character class may not be selected as your natural talent. Only skills which you are allowed to put ranks into may be selected.
If you choose to have natural talent in one of the skills which have specializations (i.e. Knowledge, Perform, Piloting, and Profession), you only gain natural talent in one specialization for that skill. Getting all knowledge skills, for example, would require twelve different natural talents, one for each of Arcana, Deep History, Dungeoneering, Engineering, etc.
Skills in which you are naturally talented never suffer an armor check penalty, even if the chosen ability modifier is STR or DEX.
All characters gain additional natural talent skills at character levels 11, 21, and 31 (note that this is only the same as class level if you don't multi-class or dual-class). They can also be acquired via some racial traits, or the Self-Improvement rules.
- Special: You can also expend a natural talent on a skill which is already a natural talent for you. If you do so, instead of remapping the skill to a different ability score, a result of a natural 1 is no longer considered an automatic failure for skill checks made with this skill. Furthermore, you can never fail a skill check in this skill by 5 or more. In such a case, the result is always treated as having failed by 4, no matter how badly you actually rolled (or how high the difficulty of the check was).
All characters have a Skill Basis modifier which is the 'foundation knowledge' your character has in all skills. This represents the fact that all player characters are exceptional, even in small ways, when compared to NPC's. The Skill Basis is the foundation number from which you calculate your skill rolls, in addition to adding in your stat modifiers, your ranks, magic bonuses, feat bonuses, and any other miscellaneous bonuses.
Your Skill Basis starts out as a +1 at first level, and every four levels goes up by any additional +1 (i.e., +2 at 4th level, +3 at 8th, +4 at 12th, and so on, to a maximum of +9 at 32nd level). Your Skill Basis increase reflects your greater knowledge of all things as you grow more world-wise, and can represent the 'school of hard knocks', the result of overhearing scholars talking in bars, hours of dedicated, solitary study, and many other things. Your Skill Basis increases in the same levels and for the same reasons that you get additional stat points as you level up: heroes are heroic, and their prowess is reflected in many ways.
Determine the number of skill ranks your character gets based on his class and Intelligence modifier (and any other bonuses, such as the bonus received by humans). Then allocate these ranks to desired skills, but remember that you cannot have more ranks than your level in any one skill (for a starting character, this is usually one).
Each level thereafter, your character gains a number of skill ranks dependent upon your class plus your Intelligence modifier. Investing a rank in a skill represents a measure of training in that skill.
Class Skill Ranks Alchemist 3 + Int modifier Barbarian 6 + Int modifier Bard 7 + Int modifier Brawler 6 + Int modifier Cleric 7 + Int modifier Druid 6 + Int modifier Fighter 6 + Int modifier Monk 6 + Int modifier Paladin 7 + Int modifier Partisan 6 + Int modifier Prowler 6 + Int modifier Ranger 7 + Int modifier Rogue 8 + Int modifier Sorcerer 7 + Int modifier Warlord 7 + Int modifier Wizard 3 + Int modifier
Armor Check Penalty
If your character is wearing armor, it may lower some of your skills, as it impedes your movement and slows your reflexes. Each armor listing includes an entry labeled "ACP", which stands for Armor Check Penalty. This penalty is applied to any skill that uses Dexterity or Strength as its mapped ability modifier, but is not a Natural Talent skill. Skills that, by default, suffer from an Armor Check Penalty are:
However, if you choose any of these as your Natural Talent skill, even if you map it to Strength or Dexterity, it does not suffer from an Armor Check Penalty.
Determine how many feats your character receives, based on their class and level, and select them from those listed in the Courageous Tier Feats page.
- All 1st level characters begin with 1 feat, and one additional feat at every odd level (e.g. 3rd, 5th, 7th, etc.).
- If your character's race is human and you took the "Life Lessons" major racial trait, you get 1 additional feat (for a total of 2).
Determine Starting Hit Points
Level 1 characters get full CON score plus max hit die for hit points at level 1. (Note that this means only CON score + max hit die, not CON score + CON modifier + max hit die.) If your CON score increases as you adventure do not forget to adjust your total hitpoints! As a result, all Epic Path classes are considerably more durable at first level than older rules sets would have created. Even the least durable classes like Wizards are no longer at risk of death from a single attack at first level. Don't be afraid to go out and adventure!
To determine hit points for levels beyond 1st, roll the dice indicated by your character class's Hit Dice and add your character's CON score modifier. GM's are encouraged to allow re-rolls of 1's on this roll, because 1's suck. Some house rules even allow characters to take average on the die (rounding down) if the re-roll is also lower than average. After all, we're playing heroes, here, not accountants.
Note that the hit dice for character classes differ here than those in the core Pathfinder rules. This is intentional, as the addition of the character's CON score at 1st level makes low-level characters much stronger than normal Pathfinder characters, while at higher levels, the wider range of hit dice emphasizes the differences between the front-line melee characters and the squishy back-of-the-fight classes.
Class Hit Die Alchemist d4 Barbarian d6 Bard d6 Brawler d8 Cleric d8 Druid d6 Fighter d10 Monk d8 Paladin d10 Partisan d12 Prowler d6 Ranger d8 Rogue d6 Sorcerer d4 Warlord d10 Wizard d4
Determine Carrying Capacity
Your character can only carry so much weight and bulk before their movements are hindered, and their ability to fight competently becomes impaired.
Carrying capacity is based primarily on your Strength ability score, but it is also modified by some racial traits, and even by having ranks in the Might skill.
To determine your character's Light Load, Medium Load, and Heavy Load, you should look up your Strength score on this table. Then, review your race's traits (including the Standard Traits), to see if any of them modify your carrying capacity. Finally, if you have a rank in the Might skill (remember, you can never have more ranks in a skill than your character's total level), you can adjust the numbers using this table.
For ease of use, medium load is double your light load, and heavy load is triple your light load. Max drag is fifteen times your light load (or five times your heavy load, if that's easier).
If you are carrying less than or equal to your Light Load (in pounds), you are unencumbered. This must include all equipment, armor, weapons, or anything else you are carrying. If you exceed your Light Load in total weight carried, you begin to suffer penalties for being encumbered, as described here. In addition, some character classes suffer more greatly than others if they are encumbered (in particular, Monks and Brawlers).
You may also want to ensure you have enough spare carrying capacity after character creation to actually haul some loot back to town from all those dangerous places you might go. Loot isn't weightless (in fact, it's often quite heavy), and if you can't haul it back to a store, you can't make any money off of it.
Each new character begins the game with 250 gold coins, that can be spent on a wide range of equipment and gear, from chainmail armor to leather backpacks. This money is assumed to be all the resources the character could muster, regardless of their background story, for 'reasons'. This gear helps your character survive while adventuring.
All characters also start out with a good solid set of clothes for free...unless your Barbarian just isn't into that, which is also fine by us, if that's the kind of game you want to play.... No, you may not sell back your clothes for extra money. For simplicity, you may also purchase an Adventurer's Kit. This costs 12 gold and weighs 44 pounds and provides you with 'all the basics'. You may also 'mix and match' from the Kit, or just 'buy your own'.
Note that the Adventurer's Kit doesn't have any armor or weapons in it, or any thief's tools, or a musical instrument, or any healing supplies, or an Implement or Spellbook, etc, etc. Assuming that's your thing, you should also use the links below to choose and wear armor and weapons, maybe even a shield, and all that other Equipment that will make your character more useful and capable.
The armor or other protective devices you purchase may affect your starting Armor Class (AC), so once you have purchased armor or other protective devices you can determine your Armor Class (AC).
Typically, magic items are not available for purchase at character creation. However, at the GM's discretion (and depending upon the campaign setting), some Lay Magic items, Alchemical Creations (e.g. Alchemist's Fire or Tanglefoot bags) and Magic Potions (e.g. Cure Light Wounds) may be available. Campaigns in which magic is rare, or heavily controlled, should not allow such items to be purchased at character creation.
- Wealth By Level
- Characters beginning at a level other than 1st should refer to the tables on the Character Advancement page to determine starting wealth for characters of their level.
- Links to Equipment
- Note that weapons and armor should be selected from the Epic Path rules, not the d20pfsrd. There are also a few pieces of equipment listed which are unique to Epic Path which may interest a starting character, such as a portable fire or a waterstone.
Determine Armor Class Value
Determine your character's Armor Class. At character creation, this step is fairly straightforward, but as you accumulate magic items, it can grow more complex to keep track of which bonus affects which type of armor class. All of the different bonus types which affect armor class are listed below for your reference.
- Armor Class
- Your Armor Class (AC) represents how hard it is for opponents to land a solid, damaging blow on you. A to-hit roll made against you that is equal to or greater than your armor class is treated as a hit.
Class Base AC + Armor Base AC + Dexterity modifier + Shield bonus + Size Modifier + other modifiers (Armor Enhancement bonus + Dodge bonus + Martial bonus + Natural Armor bonus + Shield Enhancement bonus + Training Bonus)
- Class Base AC: Each character class has a base AC value, listed in the Favored Class section of the class, which ranges from 9 to 11.
- Max Dex Bonus: Most armor limits the maximum amount of your Dexterity bonus that you can apply to your AC (see Table: Armor and Shields). If your dexterity modifier is greater than the max dex value for your armor or shield, you may only add up to the maximum value listed for your armor to your armor class.
Types of Armor Bonuses
All bonuses to AC stack with each other, but not with themselves (with the exception of Dodge bonuses, which do stack with themselves). The types of AC bonuses are:
Bonus AC? Stacks With Itself? Notes Armor Bonus Yes - An armor bonus to AC comes from the physical armor you are wearing. It can be enchanted to grant additional AC via an Armor Enhancement bonus (see below). If you have multiple items providing an Armor bonus to AC, only the highest Armor bonus applies (i.e. you can't wear two sets of armor). Armor Enhancement Bonus Yes - Armor which has been magically enchanted (e.g. +2 leather armor) adds its enhancement bonus to the AC of the wearer. If you have multiple items providing an Armor Enhancement bonus to AC, only the highest Armor Enhancement bonus applies. Dex Modifier Yes - Your dexterity modifier adds to your AC to represent your ability to actively avoid attacks. If you are surprised, or have not yet acted in the round, you may not apply your Dexterity modifier to your AC. Furthermore, most armor limits the maximum Dexterity modifier you may apply to your AC while wearing that armor. If your Dexterity modifier is greater than the Max Dex listed for the armor you are wearing, you may only add up to the Max Dex number to your AC. The additional benefit from your high dexterity is lost unless you remove the armor (or purchase a magical or dweomermetal version of the armor, which may raise the Max Dex of the armor). It is not possible to have more than one source for your Dexterity modifier. Even if you somehow could, you could only use the highest value. Dodge Bonus Yes Yes Dodge bonuses represent actively avoiding blows. Unlike all other bonuses to AC, if you have multiple items providing a Dodge bonus to AC, they stack with each other. Martial Bonus Yes - Warlords can grant a martial bonus to AC to adjacent characters using their Hold the Line stance. This represents the tactical direction and positioning provided by the warlord's leadership. If you have multiple effects providing a Martial bonus to AC, only the highest Martial bonus applies. Natural Armor Bonus Yes - A natural armor bonus improves armor class resulting from a creature’s naturally tough hide. Natural armor bonuses stack with all other bonuses to armor class (even with armor bonuses) except other natural armor bonuses. A creature without natural armor has an effective Natural armor bonus of +0. If you have multiple effects providing a Natural Armor bonus to AC, only the highest Natural Armor bonus applies. Shield Bonus Yes - A shield bonus to AC comes from the physical shield you are wearing. If you have multiple items or effects providing a Shield bonus to AC, only the highest Shield bonus applies (i.e. you can't wear two shields at once). Shield Enhancement Bonus Yes - A shield which has been magically enchanted (e.g. a +2 heavy shield) adds its enhancement bonus to the AC of the shield's wearer. If you have multiple items or effects providing a Shield Enhancement bonus to AC, only the highest Shield Enhancement bonus applies. Size Modifier Yes - You receive a bonus or penalty to your AC based on your size. It is not possible to have more than one source for your Size modifier. Even if you somehow could, you could only use the highest value. Training Bonus Yes - Some racial traits and class features can grant a training bonus to AC. Training Bonuses stack with all other bonuses to AC, except other Training Bonuses. If you have more than one source of Training Bonus to AC, only the highest available bonus applies.
Determine Attack Values, Saving Throws and Initiative
Determine all of the character's other mechanical details, such as his or her saving throws, initiative modifier, to-hit bonus and damage for each equipped weapon, Maneuver Offense and Maneuver Defense scores, etc. All of these numbers are determined by the decisions made in previous steps, usually determined by your class choice.
- To determine a character's normal attack bonus with a weapon, use the formulas below. Note that several other factors can impact this number, such as whether or not the character is proficient with the weapon in question, whether the weapon is appropriately sized for the character, or whether the character is using the weapon with the correct number of hands to properly wield it, as well as temporary modifiers, such as those caused by status conditions. A character may also gain bonuses (or penalties) to their attack roll based on feats, racial traits, class abilities, etc. These should be factored into the formula below, as well.
- Melee weapons: Base attack bonus + Strength modifier
- Thrown weapons: Base attack bonus + Dexterity modifier
- Ranged weapons: Base attack bonus + Dexterity modifier
- To determine how much damage a character deals with a weapon, use the formulas below. Note that damage is also modified by a number of elements, such as a character's level, size, feats and class abilities, and the weapon's mundane or magical properties. Temporary modifiers can also affect a character's weapon damage, such as some status conditions, spell effects or monster special abilities. These modifiers should be factored into the formula below as appropriate.
- 1-handed melee weapons: Weapon's base damage + Strength modifier
- 2-handed melee weapons: Weapon's base damage + 1.5x Strength modifier
- Thrown weapons: Weapon's base damage + Strength modifier
- Ranged weapons: Weapon's base damage
- Generally, when you are subject to an unusual or magical attack, you get a saving throw to avoid or reduce the effect. Like an attack roll, a saving throw is a d20 roll plus a bonus based on your class and level (see Classes), and an associated ability score.
- Fortitude (FORT): These saves measure your ability to stand up to physical punishment or attacks against your vitality and health. Apply your Constitution modifier to your Fortitude saving throws.
FORT Save: Base Save Bonus + Constitution modifier + d20
- Reflex (REFL): These saves test your ability to dodge area attacks and unexpected situations. Apply your Dexterity modifier to your Reflex saving throws.
REFL Save: Base Save Bonus + Dexterity modifier + d20
- Will (WILL): These saves reflect your resistance to mental influence as well as many magical effects. Apply your Wisdom modifier to your Will saving throws.
WILL Save: Base Save Bonus + Wisdom modifier + d20
- Base Save Bonus: Your base save bonus comes from your character class, and increases with level. Refer to the level advancement table of your character class page to find the value for each save.
At the start of a battle, each combatant makes an initiative check. An initiative check is a Movement skill check, using any modifiers you have to your movement skill. Sometimes, a character may have one or more bonuses that only apply to initiative, instead of Movement. In those cases, the character should compare the comparable bonus they have in Movement, if any, and use the best available bonus to calculate their total.
After initiative is rolled, characters and monsters take turns, taking their turn in the order they rolled, counting down from the highest result to the lowest. In every round that follows, the characters act in the same order (unless a character takes an action that results in their initiative changing). The same initiatives are maintained until the current encounter ends. Note that encounters can never last longer than 10 rounds; before the encounter begins its 11th round, the encounter is treated as ended, ending any conditions, buffs, or abilities, that end at the end of an encounter. A new encounter immediately begins, starting over from round 1, with new initiatives, refreshed action points, and resetting any "once per encounter" abilities.
Initiative: d20 + Movement Skill
- Disambiguation: Maneuver Offense was formerly known as Combat Maneuver Bonus (CMB)
- Maneuver offense is a generic term for a skill check to perform a combat maneuver. The combat maneuvers and their associated skill checks are:
Combat Maneuver Skill Action Required Description Bull Rush Might Attack Action Shove an enemy away from you Charge Movement Standard Action Move directly up to a foe and attack them Clamber Movement Attack Action Crawl underneath, or climb on top of a foe Cleave Might Attack Action Attack a foe adjacent to a foe you just attacked Demoralize Intimidate Attack Action Shake the confidence of a foe Dirty Trick Sleight of Hand Attack Action Discombobulate your foe using an unconventional attack Disarm Sleight of Hand Attack Action Strip a weapon out of the hands of your foe Drag Might Attack Action Pull yourself and a foe backwards Feint Bluff Attack Action Make your foe drop their guard momentarily Grapple Might Standard Action Tackle your foe and wrestle them into submission Overrun Movement Standard Action Run through an enemy's space and knock them prone Reposition Sleight of Hand Attack Action Shove an enemy into the space of your choosing Shield Bash Might Attack Action Rattle an opponent by hitting them with your shield Steal Sleight of Hand Attack Action Why wait until they're dead to loot them? Subdue Sleight of Hand Attack Action Incapacitate your foe instead of killing them Sunder Might Attack Action Destroy your foe's weapon or shield Trip Sleight of Hand Attack Action Sweep the leg, and lay them out flat Tumble Acrobatics Move Action at half speed Get yourself into a bad situation, hopefully unscathed Withdraw Movement Standard Action Get yourself out of a bad situation, hopefully unscathed
- Combat maneuvers are performed by making a skill check with the appropriate skill, versus a DC of the target creature's Maneuver Defense. If the check equals or exceeds this target DC, the maneuver is successful. Refer to the individual maneuvers to resolve the outcome of this success.
- Combat maneuvers can inflict some damage when performed, in addition to the other effects of the maneuver in question. This damage is optional; the character performing the maneuver may elect not to inflict damage while still inflicting the other effects (assuming the maneuver is successful). Damage from combat maneuvers is less than the damage the character would do with a normal attack, but is still based on the primary weapon the character is wielding. A character's exact Maneuver Damage is determined using the following formula:
(Primary Weapon's Base Damage (Dice Only) x Level Damage Multiplier) + Weapon Quality + Feat Bonus + Class Feature + Racial Trait + Other
- Primary Weapon's Base Damage (Dice Only): Maneuvers deal original base weapon damage of the weapon you are wielding, not including any adders, such as enhancement bonuses, STR modifiers, feats, spell effects, precision damage, bonus damage, etc. This is just the base weapon damage dice of the weapon.
- Level Damage Multiplier: Base weapon damage increases at each experience tier above courageous (i.e. at 6th level, 11th level, 16th level, 21st level, 26th level, and at 31st level). As these increases occur, they increase maneuver damage accordingly.
- Weapon Quality: Some weapons possess qualities which directly improve the damage of one or more combat maneuvers, when that weapon is wielded as your primary weapon. Typically, weapon qualities only apply to a particular maneuver (or set of maneuvers).
- Class Feature: Some class features grant a bonus to combat maneuver damage, or to damage dealt when performing particular maneuvers.
- Racial Trait: Some racial traits grant a bonus to combat maneuver damage, or to damage dealt when performing particular maneuvers.
- Other: Other bonuses may grant increases to damage dealt by combat maneuvers. These could come from magic items, magic weapon properties, or permanent boons from a powerful entity. Oftentimes, such bonuses will only increase the damage to a particular maneuver (or set of maneuvers).
- If you have natural or class-based non-weapon attacks (e.g. Brawler or Monk), you may roll just the dice you would normally roll for an attack you are allowed to make during an attack of opportunity at your current class level for that class, not including any adders (such as enhancement bonuses, STR modifiers, feats, spell effects, precision damage, bonus damage, etc).
- Example: a 5th level fighter would roll just the dice from their +1 longsword (1d8), while a 5th level Monk would roll just the dice of their Echoing Strike attack (2d8), and a 5th level Brawler would roll just the dice of their Cross attack (also 2d8).
- Combat maneuvers can gain the skill critical bonus effect on a roll of a natural 20 (usually +5 to the total result), which can result in a greater effect from the combat maneuver, but maneuvers never inflict additional damage due to a critical hit, and therefore do not require a critical confirmation roll.
- Disambiguation: Maneuver Defense was formerly known as Combat Maneuver Defense (CMD)
- Each character and creature has a Maneuver Defense value that represents its ability to resist combat maneuvers such as Trip, Overrun and Bull Rush, among many other uses. Maneuver Defense can be thought of as a general statistic used to represent how well a character or creature can handle rough physical treatment. It is related to but different than Armor Class, and is derived in a different way. Maneuver Defense is based on a characters overall experience with the school of hard knocks, the physical size, power, and deftness of the character, combined with their ability to dodge or deflect events. A Player Character's exact Maneuver Defense is determined using the following formula:
10 + ½ Character Level (Round Down) + Size Modifier + STR modifier + DEX modifier + Dodge AC + Shield AC + Miscellaneous + Penalties
- Size Modifier: Fine -4, Diminutive -3, Tiny -2, Small -1, Medium +0, Large +1, Huge +2, Gargantuan +3, Colossal +4, Titanic +5.
- Miscellaneous Modifiers: Some feats and abilities grant a bonus to your Maneuver Defense when resisting specific things.
- Penalties: Any penalties to a creature's AC also apply to its Maneuver Defense for physical attacks. For example, a flat-footed creature suffers the same -4 penalty to its Maneuver Defense as does against its AC.
- Caster check is a general term used to describe making a skill check in order to use a magic spell to 'do something' against a bad guy. This can be wrestling your magical effect through a monster's spell resistance, using a grease spell to disarm an orc, or making tentacles do... stuff... to a whole roomful of demons.
- This is mechanically similar to a Concentration Check.
- Some feats, such as Combat Casting (Feat) and Spell Penetration (Feat), can be selected to improve your caster checks in certain situations.