Monday, December 31, 2012

Spicing Up Encounters: The Animal Pit

    The Animal Pit requires some set up, but adds a lot to an encounter.  It is best for low level characters who do not yet have access to teleport or flight.

     In this encounter, one or two party members have been captured, stripped of their items, and thrown into a 30 foot deep animal pit.  The animal pit is a 25 by 25 foot square, and it has a heavy grate on top that prevents anybody from climbing in or out.  The grate is locked in place, though a DC 15 disable device check will unlock it, after which a DC 15 strength check will move it.  The grate also provides partial cover to anybody on the other side.

     The animal in the pit should be difficult for one or two party members to take on, its CR equal to the party member's level.

     The rest of the party is at ground level, fighting whomever threw their buddy in the pit.  One of the enemies up here has the key to the grate.  During the fight, the heroes can try to unlock and lift the grate, assist their buddy in the animal pit, steal the keys and open the grate, or kill the person who has the keys.  The rest of the party should do this before the hero in the animal pit succumbs to the monster in the pit.

      Simple, easy to run, and makes for some nice drama!

Friday, December 28, 2012

How to Run an Epic Battle

      Many great adventure paths and stories have epic battle between two (or more) gigantic armies.  These battles are often crucial to the plot, and serve as a climax to whatever scene they are in.  The question becomes how to incorporate a game like pathfinder, which focuses on a relatively small group of individuals, into a huge battle.  Well, there are a few points to remember.

Allow the Players to Scheme

      Although Pathfinder is a Role Playing Game, most players will latch onto the opportunity to utilize their Real Time Strategy skills.  In the weeks leading up to the battle, the players will want to build more towers, train the troops to withstand a cavalry charge, instruct the mages on the best uses of stone to mud, or make a fence of immovable rods.  You should allow and encourage this.

      During the actual battle make sure that the player's plans either come to fruition or are dashed, but make sure to address them.  Their preparations should have real and concrete effects on both the battle as a whole, and the skirmishes that the players take part in.

Break it up into Parts

      No matter how grand a battle, the end result will be boring if you don't break it into parts.  Instead of one long combat of wave after wave of enemy, divide the heroes' role into manageable subsections.  These sections should be distinct, meaningful, and realistic, and they should have a visible impact on the rest of the combat.  A few examples are detailed at the end of this post.

      Large battles should have at least 3 different segments to show just how immense they really are, but feel free to have epic battles with far more segments.

The Larger Battle Affects the Heroes

      As our heroes run around the battlefield, the fighting around them should affect what they do.  There are a few ways to accomplish this.  The simplest way is to adjust the number of enemies or obstacles in each combat depending on how the battle is going.  Attack the players with catapults until they take out the catapult.  Give the players healing if they lower the drawbridge, allowing the clerics across.

      A more complex method is to employ a variation of the performance combat rules.  Assign a score to how the battle is going for our heroes, from -3 to +3.  This score is known as a "Tide of Battle" score, and is applied as an untyped bonus to our heroes during attack rolls, CMB rolls, skill checks, and saving throws.  It represents not only the morale boost of winning, but also shouted warnings, "invisible" flanking partners littered across the field, unseen arrow volleys, and general strategic advantage.  As our heroes accomplish or fail at tasks, make sure to adjust the tide of battle score.

      Some characters, such as bards, clerics, and spellcasters are able to affect a large number of creatures at the same time.  For heroes using these abilities, for example a bard using inspire courage or a sorcerer using stone to mud under a horde of enemies feet, apply temporary adjustments to the Tide of Battle Score as you see fit.  After all, imagine how much more effective a bard is if he is giving bonuses to 50 people instead of 5.

Example:  Storming A Castle

      Before the battle, our heroes must make two diplomacy checks to pump up the troops, then two intimidate checks to warn them what will happen if they fail.

      The battle begins, but almost immediately there are problems.  The large gate in the outer walls is guarded by a group of trolls, and none dare go near them.  Our heroes must fight these trolls, then plant and arm a small bomb on the gate to blow it open.

      Within the first wall is a moat, and the drawbridge is up.  Our heroes must make swim checks to swim across the moat, then climb checks to get to the drawbridge controls.  Every round of checks is another round of arrows that our heroes must deal with.

      Within the drawbridge control room, there is a token force, and a puzzle for our heroes to figure out (Knowledge Engineering helps greatly).  When they have pulled the correct levers, the drawbridge comes crashing down.

      The drawbridge is lowered, but a gigantic magical siege engine is tearing our troops apart.  Our heroes get to the siege engine, and must endure infinite waves of enemies until they deal the siege engine enough damage to destroy it.

      Enough is enough.  Our heroes decide it's time to end this battle and kill the king.  Our heroes weave their way through chaotic streets, first making stealth checks to avoid arrow fire, then making perception checks to locate the king.

      The fight against the king and his guard is straightforward.  Once he is killed, our heroes may take his head and ride through the streets, making intimidate checks to cause enemies to throw down their weapons.

Example:  Defending A Castle

      Before the battle, our heroes must make two diplomacy checks to pump up the defenders, then two bluff checks to let them know that the odd are in their favor!

      The gate is holding, but the enemy has brought siege ladders.  Assign each hero onto siege ladder, and give them five rounds of one mook a turn.  At least the heroes know exactly where the mooks are coming from.  Fire or a good strength check will destroy a ladder or push it off into oblivion.

      Here come the siege towers!  Our heroes have 2 turns to destroy the approaching structure, or else out pop a band of ogres!

      Our commanding general has taken a poisoned arrow.  Make acrobatics checks to get to him in time, then defend him against infinite enemies as a party member treats him.  This only ends when his poison is cured or he dies.

      The combat on the walls has gotten intense, and those defending the cannon have fled.  A fighting retreat has been ordered, but the heroes may take a few turns of Disable Device or Knowledge Engineering to transform the remaining gunpowder into a bomb.  For each attempt, the heroes must deal with another round of arrows.

      Defend the King!  Our benevolent ruler finds himself face to face with the BBEG, and it is up to our heroes to defend his highness.  Our heroes are halfway across the battlefield, but a couple of riderless horses are milling about.  Fly, run, ride, or teleport, but get to the king as quickly as possible and defend him!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Skill Uses

Ever wish that you had a table explaining the basics of each skill?  Now you do!

Skill Table

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Should the Paladin Fall?

         There are a lot of questions about when a Paladin should fall, and with good reason.  The rules are intentionally vague.  They describe a roleplaying situation, not a mechanical situation, and so are best left to DM and player scrutiny.

"A paladin who ceases to be lawful good, who willfully commits an evil act, or who violates the code of conduct loses all paladin spells and class features."
         The most important part of playing with a Paladin is communication.  Before even considering the fall, you must determine what the Paladin's codes are.  Does he follow the rule of law, or his own personal code?  Does he favor the greater good or the immediate good?  What God does he follow?

         I offer up the following five criterion for determining when a Paladin should fall.  If a Paladin meets all five of these criterion, he should fall.  If a Paladin meets the first two, and at least one of three, four, or five, he might fall.  If a Paladin does not meet both one and two he should not fall, regardless of all else.

1:  Did you warn him?

       If you did not warn him, he should not fall.  This is the most important rule.

       The fall of a Paladin should never come as a surprise.  It is the DM's duty to warn the Paladin of any wrongful course, should the player (if not the character) be unable to see it.  Pathfinder is a cooperative game that is about having fun.  Players will have a bad time if they feel that their powers are taken away without warning or apparent reason.  The DM must warn the Paladin that he is stepping down the wrong path, and perhaps suggest a better one.  If you forgot to tell the player that he may lose his paladin abilities, then his character should not fall.

     However, if you told a Paladin that his actions were likely to lead him down the path of darkness, and he took them anyway, then tally one against the Paladin.  However, take a second to consider what exactly an act worthy of falling is...

2:  Was there an obviously better alternative?

        Lose/Lose situations are not grounds for falling.  The Paladin should only fall if he knows of a better alternative.

        Every once in a while, a DM will place a paladin, intentionally or not, in a situation without a clear correct path.  Let's take the most basic possible example.  There are two children trapped in a burning building.  The Paladin only has time to save one.  Either way the Paladin will have the death of a child on his hands, and so he should not be penalized for choosing one or the other.  There is no better alternative, so the Paladin should not fall.

        Now, let's say that the Paladin has in his possession a wand of create water capable of putting out the blaze and saving both children.  However, the player or the character are unaware of the nature of the wand, and so does not use it.  This wand is not an obviously better solution, as the Paladin is unaware of it, so the Paladin should not fall.

      For the sake of argument, lets say that the Paladin is again faced with the burning building.  Instead of saving either child, he decides now would be a wonderful time to pull out his bag of endless marshmallows and make a s'more.  There is an obviously better solution, so this may be grounds for falling.

3:  Was his act unlawful?

      Pathfinder describes the relationship between lawful and chaotic:

"Lawful characters tell the truth, keep their word, respect authority, honor tradition, and judge those who fall short of their duties. Chaotic characters follow their consciences, resent being told what to do, favor new ideas over tradition, and do what they promise if they feel like it."

       In most games, there are two ways to play lawful characters.  Those who follow the law of the land, and those who strictly follow their own personal code.  The DM should ask what kind of Paladin the character is playing, and then use that information.  Often, the law and code will conflict.  When they conflict, don't hold law-breaking against personal-code Paladins, and don't hold code-breaking against rule-of-law paladins.

      Let's consider an example.  The Paladin Charity believes that she should give money to the poor.  Charity finds herself in the Land of Nice, where giving alms is mandatory.  She gives half her money to a beggar.  This is clearly a lawful act, as she is following both the law of the land, and her own personal code.

     Next, Charity wanders over to the Land of Mean, where it is illegal to give money to the poor.  The King of Mean is a wealthy jerk who kicks kittens every morning.  Charity decides to follow the rule of law, and she refrains from giving alms.  If Charity is the kind of Paladin who favors rule-of-law, then this is perfectly acceptable behavior.  If Charity is the kind of Paladin who favors personal-code, then this might be grounds for falling.

     After spending a few weeks in Mean, Charity has a change of heart, and wants to give money to the poor.  However, all of her money has been taxed away.  She decides to steal from the King of Mean, and give the money to the poor.  If Charity is the kind of Paladin who favors personal-code, then this is wonderful.  If Charity is the kind of Paladin who favors rule-of-law, then this might be grounds for falling.

     After successfully sneaking in to the castle, she comes across the treasure trove.  The mounds of gold open her eyes, and Charity decides to take it all for herself.  This is clearly an unlawful act.  She is breaking the laws of Mean by robbing, and she is breaking her own personal code.

4:  Was his act "un-good"?

       Pathfinder describes the relationship between good and evil:

"Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit."

       Some acts are clearly good (such as petting a puppy).  Some are clearly evil (such as killing a puppy).  Most of the confusion comes from greater good and immediate good.  Find out if the paladin favors greater good over immediate good.  Often, these two ideas will be in conflict, and when they are make sure to favor the paladin's reading of it.

       Paladin Smartz goes after a werewolf who has been terrorizing a village.  He tracks the werewolf back to its lair, and finds that the werewolf is a poor, defenseless boy who cannot control himself.  Luckily Smartz can remove the curse.  This is clearly a good act.  He is serving the immediate good by saving the boy, and he is serving the greater good by protecting the townsfolk.

       However, there is some bad news for Paladin Smartz.  Remove curse does not work.  Smartz raises his sword to strike the boy down.  If this is a greater good Paladin, then this is the right move.  Killing the boy will prevent any further attacks on the village.  However, if this is an immediate good Paladin, then this may be grounds for falling, as killing an innocent boy certainly feels like an evil act.

       Paladin Smartz slowly lowers his sword.  He cannot kill the boy, but his adventure would have no room for him.  Instead, he will bring the boy to the town jail, and force the town to work on his cure.  If this is an immediate good Paladin, then he has fulfilled his objective.  The innocent boy is not dead.  However, if Smartz is a greater good Paladin, this may be grounds for falling.  He is endangering the lives of every civilian by letting the werewolf live.

      The conundrum is too much for the Paladin.  He slays the boy, then returns to the village.  Smartz is angry at the mayor for placing him in such a delicate position, so he returns to town hall and slays the mayor.  Then all the witnesses.  Then everybody else in town.  This is clearly an evil act, as it serves neither the greater good, nor the immediate good.

5:  Was his act against his God?

       The fifth criterion is the one where you can have the most flexibility, and the most fun.  Why?  Because you are the Paladin's God.  You get to make the rules. You can even change the rules – Gods, even Lawful Good gods, are notably fickle.

       Paladin Hare worships BunnyLord, Lord of Bunnies.  He favors rabbits, hates oozes, and is pretty relaxed about out-of-wedlock hanky-panky.  When Hare is faced with a possessed rabbit, he chooses to capture the creature and perform a complex exorcism rather than simply kill it.  When he is given the choice between killing dragons and killing oozes, he kills oozes every time.  And when he finds his wife in bed with the mayor, he lets them both off with a warning instead of taking more serious action.  Paladin Hare is a great follower of the Bunnylord.

       Paladin Roast also worships the Bunnylord, Lord of Bunnies.  When Roast is faced with a possessed rabbit, he slays the beast to prevent further damage.  When he is given the choice between killing dragons and killing oozes, he goes after the red dragon that has been causing more damage than any ooze.  And when he finds his wife in bed with the mayor, he takes them both to a court of law for adultery.  Even though none of these acts is non-good or non-lawful, the Bunnylord may still be displeased.  Probably not grounds for falling, but the Bunnylord may have a stern word with Paladin Roast.


       A Paladin can be many things, and it is important to know exactly what a Paladin is before passing judgement.  To wrap up, let's consider the following example.

        Paladin Triky is greater good paladin, who follows a strict code of "destroy all demons" and worships the BunnyLord.  He is faced with a possessed rabbit who has been terrorizing the villagers.  But the villagers have been unable to kill it due to strict no-poaching laws.  He decides to destroy the rabbit as quickly as possible.  Should he fall?

       Well, you may want to ask Triky.  Triky was preserving the greater good by saving the villagers, even at the expense of the life of an innocent bunny.  He also broke the no-poaching law in favor of his own personal code.  However, that's all consistent with who Triky is as a Paladin.  True, he went against the BunnyLord's wishes, but with good reason.  Paladin Triky should not fall for killing the bunny.

      Paladin Conflikt is an immediate good Paladin who follows the law of the land and worships the Oozelord.  He decides to save and cage the bunny, wasting time and resources searching for a cure.  Should he fall?

     Well, you may want to ask Conflikt.  Conflikt was favoring the immediate good by saving the bunny, even at the potential expense of all those around him.  He preserved the no-poaching law, even against the OozeLord's wishes.  Paladin Conflikt should not fall for saving the bunny.

     Here's the take away:  What might make one Paladin fall is the right choice for another.  Know your player's Paladins.  Don't place them in unwinnable situations, or, if you do, don't penalize them.  And above all, let them know if a certain action will lead to a fall.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Class Should I Play?

         It's a good question, and now we have the answer!

         Open up this Google Doc, and make a copy.   Then, in the column that says "Want or Do Not Want" place number 3 to -3, depending on what you want in your character.  Three means strongly want, -3 means strongly do not want, 0 means ambivalent.  After you do that, numbers will appear next to the classes - the highest number will indicate the class that best suits your playing needs!

What Class Should I Play? Questionnaire

Alternatively, looking for what class would best round out your party?  Check out the

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How to Make a Good Campaign Wiki

         A good wiki or website can add a lot to your campaign.  It can store information about your world, story, and characters.  It can help players keep track of loot and exp.   It can provide a place for between-session roleplaying.  But most of all, it can keep players interested and excited about your campaign.

         Let's look at the aspects of a good campaign wiki.  You can see an example side-bar off to the side of this post.

A Good Hosting Site

         A lot of people use Obsidian Portal for their campaign wiki.  This is not surprising – Obsidian Portal is made for running table top RPGs.  There are many features that make life easier, such as pre-generated blank character sheets.  However, I have found that Obsidian Portal is a bit limiting in what they will let you do (at least without upgrading).  For example, they only allow you to have one map – problematic for us map lovers out there, and for most sandbox games.

         Instead, I suggest PBWorks.  It's free, easy to use, and very, very flexible.  It will require a few more minutes of set-up (they obviously don't provide you with character sheets), but once you get the format you like, making changes is very easy.

Player Characters

         I require my players to keep their up-to-date on the wiki.  This has a number of bonuses.  It allows me to audit player extremely easily, and without making anybody feel uneasy.  It allows me to put them up against enemies that they may find fun and interesting.  It allows me to see who is under equipped, and provide them with some nice loot in the next adventure.  It allows me to quickly review a character's backstory.

        It also allows other players to look at each other.  This encourages fun group dynamics and teamwork, as well as minimizing player overlap.  Most of all, as with every page on the wiki, it gets players to the wiki and thinking about the campaign between sessions.

Adventure Log

         After every session, I write up what happened in an Adventure Log.  I tend to run fairly intricate games, so reminding the players what has happened is crucial.  Make sure to give individual characters credit for what they do.  Players love reliving glorious or dangerous moments.

Group Loot

         Dividing up group loot can be difficult for some groups.  Clarifying exactly what's what often helps.  A group loot page should not only list the items that are up for grabs, but also have a comments section for players to discuss who should get what.

Character Chat

         The Character Chat is perhaps the most important part of a wiki.  This is where players can have in-character discussions in between sessions.  The Character Chat is a fun and exciting place for your players to be engaged in the game when they are not actually playing.  It keeps enthusiasm up and is a great opportunity for roleplaying.

World Information

         If you are running a homebrew game, then you probably want to tell your players about the world.  This is a section for you to explain everything that you players should know, from geography to religion to NPCs of note.

Everything Else

         Of course, you should feel free to write up anything else you like on your wiki. I lay out my House Rules on the wiki, so everything is clear with the players.  I keep track of crafting on my wiki, as it tends to get rather complicated.  I also keep track of real world information – for example, who paid for dinner a particular night.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Heroic Favor

         Sometimes, heroes need a helping hand. I award heroic favor to my player for good roleplaying or heroic deeds.  It is a powerful and rare resource, and should be saved up for the most dire of times.

Gaining Heroic Favor

         Each player starts off the campaign with one point of heroic favor. Heroic favor carries over from session to session. However, a player cannot have more than five points of heroic favor at any one time. If he does, he is not eligible for more heroic favor.

         At the end of each game session, the GM will choose one player who has demonstrated the best roleplaying ability, and award him with one point of heroic favor at the end of the session. This means that he has made choices not based on optimization, but rather on background and personality, sometimes to his own detriment. It also means that he has taken the initiative in out-of-combat situations. Note that a character being taciturn or reticent is not an excuse for a player not to be engaged. In such cases, there are still plenty of roleplaying opportunities.

         Additionally, any character who posts at least twice in the campaign wiki's character chat between sessions will automatically gain a point of heroic favor.

         If your character is not up to date on the campaign wiki, you are not eligible for gaining Heroic Favor.

Using Heroic Favor

         Heroic Favor is very powerful. Whenever it is used, it must be accompanied by a bit of flavor. Only one point of heroic favor can be used each round. Heroic Favor can be expended for one of three things:

         1: If you are at positive hit points, and an attack would kill you through damage, then you may spend one point of heroic favor to ignore all damage from the attack. Instead, your HP drops down to negative half constitution. You are not stabilized.

         2: You may spend one point of heroic favor to transform a natural 20 rolled against you into a natural one. You may also spend a point of heroic favor to transform a natural one into a natural 20.

        3: If you are at negative or 0 hit points, and an attack would kill you through HP damage (negative con), you may spend two points of heroic favor to ignore all damage from that attack. If you were stabilized, you resume bleeding out.

      4: You may use a point of heroic favor at the start of your turn to attempt remove any condition you may have. Re-roll whatever save you made to get the condition. If you pass, the condition dissipates, and you may act this turn as if you did not have the condition. If you fail the save, or there was no original save that gave you this condition, the condition leaves you at the end of your turn. You may use this for bleed, blind, confused, cowering, dazed, deafened, entangled, exhausted, fascinated, frightened, nauseated, panicked, paralyzed, shaken, sickened, staggered, or stunned. You may not remove broken, dead, disabled, dying, energy drained, flat-footed, grappled, helpless, incorporeal, invisible, petrified, pinned, prone, sinking, stable, or unconscious.

You may only use these die rolls on yourself! You may not use them to improve or save others.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Handling Crafting

          Crafting can be complicated and difficult to manage in a campaign.  By far the best way to handle crafting is to have a good crafting page on your wiki.

         A good crafting page will have the following four items:

         1:  A table of craftable items

         2: A Basic description of how crafting works*

         3: A Log of how much time crafting time passed during each session, and the level at which that session was played

         4: A Table logging what items were made when.  The Table should have:  Session Number, Item Requested, Materials Cost, Craft DC, Skill Bonus, Time Devoted, Die Rolls with Bonus, And Result in Percentage and Result.

        5:  A Fancy Crafting Calculator like this one.

* To determine how much time and money it takes to make an item, follow these steps.

  1. Find the item's price in silver pieces (1 gp = 10 sp).
  2. Find the item's DC from Table: Craft Skills.
  3. Pay 1/3 of the item's price for the raw material cost.
  4. Make an appropriate Craft check representing one week's worth of work. If the check succeeds, multiply your check result by the DC. If the result × the DC equals the price of the item in sp, then you have completed the item. (If the result × the DC equals double or triple the price of the item in silver pieces, then you've completed the task in one-half or one-third of the time. Other multiples of the DC reduce the time in the same manner.) If the result × the DC doesn't equal the price, then it represents the progress you've made this week. Record the result and make a new Craft check for the next week. Each week, you make more progress until your total reaches the price of the item in silver pieces.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Injecting Horror into your Game

1:  Ignorance is Bliss (Or Terror)

        This is the most important rule.  Horror is ignorance.  Keep your players in the dark (literally as much as possible) about everything.  Who they are fighting, how things got so bad, why things are happening the way they are.  Dungeons should be dark, with plenty of places for creatures to hide.

2:  Take it Seriously

        Some games are very casual, and that's fine.  However, if you are running a horror game, you must keep things serious.  You should not joke during the game, and you should not encourage your players to joke.

3:  Use Descriptions, Not Mechanics

        Avoid calling things as they are.  Instead of saying "A Giant Spider steps into the cave."  Explain it's a "a gigantic, many legged monstrosity" or "some hulking creature, its many black eyes gleaming..."  If the PCs deal it damage, tell them that they have lopped off some piece, but it keeps coming.  When it dies, perhaps it will squirm around a bit.  Don't tell them that it's dead - say "the creature drops to the ground, squirting vile red juices across the floor.  It's black eyes start to melt across its face..."  Don't take them out of initiative unless they ask to be taken out.

4:  Slow Burn, Not Cheap Thrills

        Don't try and scare your players by having things jump out at them.  It won't work.  Instead, give them long descriptions and slowly build tension.  Horror takes a while to fully develop, so don't expect to give it to them all in one dose.

5:  Use New Enemies or Mechanics

        Meta-gamers or long time plays won't be scared by a zombie or skeleton.  They have seen each of these hundreds of times, and know how to deal with them.  Instead come up with a new enemy, or some brand new mechanic, and thrust it on your players.  If you like, simply refluff old enemies, giving them a new look and feel.  This will put even veteran players out of their comfort zones.  These aren't zombies, they are writhing, human shaped piles of internal organs (with the same mechanics as zombies).

6:  A Dash of Confusion

        Things happen for no reason.  Strange, but small, occurrences are just unexplained.  Players are used to solving puzzles - give them puzzles they can't solve.  Confusion is scary, but it can also be frustrating.  Go easy on it.  Players can only immerse themselves so much, and if the game becomes too confusing they will get annoyed and may take it out on you.

7:  The World is Scary

        When world building, make it inherently scary and try to avoid common tropes.  Perhaps there is always the threat of strange invasions from the unknown, perhaps the dead linger, perhaps children transform into monsters in the dead of night.  Give the players little to no control over some events, and make sure that they are weak in the face of many threats.

8:  Fleeing is Better than Fighting

        The objective should not be to take out the enemy, or to retrieve the lost artifact, or to save the king.  The objective is to survive.  If players are fighting for something besides their own skin, they may feel emboldened.  Place them in some fights against obviously unbeatable foes, and kill their allies in front of them.  Make the encounter about escaping from something, rather than overcoming it.

Here is an example of a horror themed dungeon.  To really up the ante, remove some of the puzzles, including Room 4, 5 and 6. Jacob's Tower, Level 7: Gothic

Monday, November 26, 2012

Spicing Up Encounters: The Run-Away Wagon

          Sometimes you get into a fight on the back of an out of control wagon.  And sometimes that out of control wagon is headed straight for a cliff.  I know, I know, no need to explain, these things happen.

          Here's how to play it.

          The Wagon is a 3 by 5 rectangle.  Yes, 15 by 25 feet is a little extreme for a wagon, but otherwise we wouldn't have enough room to fight.  The row by the horses is considered difficult terrain, as there is a seat for the driver there.

          The horses need to be modified a little bit too.  There are two horses to this wagon, but having two large creatures isn't really going to cut it in terms of spacing or realism.  Use the horse statistics, but make them one square by 2 squares.  Sacrilege, I know, but it makes far more sense conceptually.

          Throughout the encounter, the wagon is traveling at 40 mph, or about 360 feet per round.  Obviously, just draw the wagon on the battle grid.  The cliff is 1,800 feet away from the start, or 5 rounds.

The Ride

          The ride, and thus the encounter, is going to be 5 rounds long.  At the end of the 5th round, the wagon will plummet off the cliff.

          The fight proceeds much like any other fight does, but in much smaller quarters.  Casters suffer a concentration check for vigorous motion (10 + spell level), but other than that things are normal, if a bit cramped.

          At the end of the Second Round and the end of the Fourth Round, the wagon will hit a bump.  All those on board must make an Acrobatics 15 check or fall prone.

Stopping The Wagon

          Players adjacent a horse can make Handle Animal 20 checks to calm it. Both horses must be calmed to have any effect.  If both check are made before the fifth turn, then the horses stop before the cliff.  If both checks are made on the fifth turn, then it is too late to slow down and the wagon will still plummet over the edge.

          If either horse dies, or the wagon is dealt some cataclysmic or unbalancing blow, the wagon immediately crashes.  If the wagon crashes, all players are thrown from the wagon, and are dealt the appropriate damage.  They are dealt an additional 3d6+10 damage (Reflex 20 halves) from the wagon splintering apart.

          The horses are connected to the wagon by a thick wooden pole, or "tongue," that runs between them.  If this can be severed before the fourth turn, then the wagon will stop before the cliff.  If the tongue is severed on the fourth or fifth turn, then it is too late and the wagon will not slow down in time.  Because of the vigorous motion of the wagon, the tongue is treated as a wooden object with Armor Class 14, Hardness 5, 20 hit points, and a break DC of 23.

Falling off the Wagon

          If characters fall or jump off the wagon, they are dealt damage as if they had fallen 50 feet.  Characters may use acrobatics to mitigate this damage using the falling rules.

          Each round the wagon moves 360 feet, so any character that falls off the wagon is effectively out of the combat.  However, if multiple characters fall off the wagon, it is possible for them to engage in combat, given that they fall off the wagon on the same round.  Draw a separate battle grid for them to engage.

Falling off the Cliff

          Falling off the Cliff is a really bad option.  You should always warn the characters on the 5th round that they either should jump off the wagon now, or they are going off the cliff.  The cliff is 100 feet tall, but the added forward momentum of the wagon yields damage as if the characters had fallen 110 feet.  Additionally, the wagon splinters and breaks upon impact, dealing 3d6+10 (Reflex 20 halves) damage to anybody who remained on it.  Overall, this can amount to 14d6+10 damage: on average, 60 damage.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Spicing Up Encounters: The Disintegrating Battlefield

        The Disintegrating Battlefield is a fairly simple way to spice up an encounter.  It's easy to run, can apply to a variety of situations, and can make a fight far more interesting.  In a Disintegrating Battlefield encounter, the usable squares shrink as the battle goes on.

        There are many variations of the encounter, but I will list three.  Feel free to mix and match elements of each.

Lake of Lava

        Our heroes approach a boss-man who has made his home in a volcano.  They have figured out how to deal with the environmental hazards, fought through the dungeon, and make their way to the lake of lava in the center.  The boss-man waits on a island of rock in the middle of the lake, and our heroes make their way across a thin bridge to the island.  The island is a circle with a radius 7.

        Once the battle begins, the boss-man shows off his magical connection with the lava.  The bridge connecting the island to the main land breaks away.  At the start of each of his turns, the boss man takes a free action to crumble 10 squares of island away into the lava.  He (i.e. the GM) chooses these squares, but they must be squares that were already adjacent to lava at the start of his turn.  Any character who is standing in one of these squares can make a reflex save 15 to fall prone in an adjacent square.  Once the boss-man is defeated, the island stops crumbling away, and the land bridge re- solidifies.

On A Spire

        Our heroes have somehow found themselves on a spire thrust up from the earth.  Perhaps they were deposited there, perhaps the earth was thrust up with them.  The Spire is a circle with a radius of 8.  At the bottom of the initiative order on each round, the outermost ring of the Spire breaks off.  Anybody on one of the squares that breaks off may make a reflex save 15 to fall prone in an adjacent square.

On A Raft

        Our heroes find themselves on a raft with an enemy or few.  After placing the enemies, place some number of sharks or other aquatic enemies in the waters around them, ready to grab any morsels of meat that fall off.

        The raft is an 8 by 8 square.  At the end of each round of combat, roll a d4 to randomly choose a side of the raft.  All squares along that side of the raft break off and instantly sink.  Any characters on the squares that break off may make a reflex save 15 to fall prone in an adjacent square.

        Once the fighting stops the raft is no longer under stress, and pieces stop breaking off.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Spicing Up Encounters: The See-Saw

        Disclaimer:  This encounter gimmick is silly.  So silly that your players may titter in glee as they play it.  However, silly isn't always a bad thing, and it can often spice things up.

        The See-Saw encounter takes place on, you guessed it, a gigantic See-Saw over a deep pit.  Our heroes are deposited on one end of the See-Saw, and enemies (of equal weight), are placed on the other end.  Our heroes must defeat their enemies, but take care not to overturn the entire device, sending everybody on it tumbling to the hard ground below.

Setting up the Encounter

        When our players first enter the See-Saw room, there is a large stone wall that divides the room in half along the fulcrum (center) of the See-Saw.  This wall divides our heroes from their enemies, but also keeps the See-Saw flat regardless of weight distribution.  There is a rather prominent switch near the wall which will cause it to rise, reveal the enemies on the other side, and destabilize the See-Saw.  To either side of the See-Saw is a 50 foot pit.  If the players just have torches they will not be able to see the bottom of the pit, as torchlight extends 40 feet.  As soon as the switch is pulled, roll initiative.

        In general, you want to place enemies with a similar composition to the party on the other side - medium creatures, a mix of ranged and melee, and the same number as there are heroes.  Feel free to deviate from this, but not too much.  If you place four ranged large creatures on one side of the See-Saw, then it is almost guaranteed to overturn within three rounds.  Also, you are probably going to want to use constructs or undead - who else would just be hanging out on a gigantic See-Saw?

Balancing the See-Saw

        Every character on the See-Saw is given an approximate weight.  Medium characters weigh 1, Small characters weigh 1/8th, and large characters weigh a whopping 8.  Each size category increases or decreases weight by a factor of eight (as the unit is twice as wide, long, and tall as his compatriots: 2 x 2 x 2 = 8).  It should be mentioned that dead bodies stay where they are, and still count for weight.  Weight on the 5 foot width of the fulcrum do not count for weight on either side.

        At the start of each round after the first, tally the weight on each side of See-Saw.  If one side has more weight than the other side, the See-Saw tilts in that direction, and is considered "Tilted."  Tilting the See-Saw in the opposite direction results in it become "Flat" for the next round.  If the See-Saw is "Tilted," and then tilts in the same direction, it becomes "Severely Tilted."  One more tilt in that same direction, and the See-Saw over turns, breaks, and all character fall to the ground.

        Let's have an example.  Round One:  The See-Saw is flat, as it will always be for round one.  Round Two:  More weight is on the West side, so the See-Saw is "Tilted" West.  Round Three:  More weight is on the East side, so the See-Saw goes from "Tilted" West to "Flat."  Round Four:  More weight is still on the East side, so the See-Saw is "Tilted East."  Round Five:  More weight is still on the East side, so the See-Saw is "Severely Tilted East."  Round Six:  At the start of this round, more weight was still on the East side, so the See-Saw overturns.

        Any round that the See-Saw is "Severely Tilted," all characters on the See-Saw suffer a -2 penalty to attack rolls, skill checks, and concentration checks.  Spell Casters must make a DC 10 + Spell Level Concentration Check (vigorous motion) to cast spells.  Additionally, all loose items (such as dead bodies) roll 4 squares downhill.  Any bull rush attempts downhill gain a +5 bonus, and any bull rush attempts uphill incur a -5 penalty.

        If the See-Saw ever goes from "Tilted" to "Severely Tilted," all characters on the See-Saw must make a DC 10 acrobatic check or fall prone and slide one square downhill (if possible).

        If the See-Saw overturns, then all characters on the See-Saw instantly fall down to the bottom of the pit and are dealt the appropriate fall damage.  Those on the lower half of the See-Saw fall 30 feet, those on the higher half fall 70 feet.  They must then make an immediate reflex save to dodge the pieces of See-Saw as it comes crashing to the ground.  The See-Saw pieces deal another 5d6 damage, but a DC 18 reflex save halves this damage.  After the battle is over, the survivors can climb up a ladder to the exit of the room.

Clean Up

        After the battle, if they have not fallen, our heroes will find themselves on a still swaying See-Saw.  There are a few ways to get to the exit without overturning the See-Saw.  They can simply all run across, and hope that they all make it before the See-Saw overturns.  They can drag some dead bodies around to counterbalance themselves.  Or they can tilt the See-Saw in the wrong direction, then mosey along over as the See-Saw rights itself.  In any case, it shouldn't be too difficult, although looting the bodies may take a little bit more thinking.

Optional Rule - Torque

        In real life, we would have to use a complicated formula to determine exactly how much force each weight exerts.  We can get a little bit closer to that, but not give ourselves a headache, by factoring in distance from the fulcrum.  Simply double to effective weight of any person more than 5 squares from the fulcrum. If you use this rule, you may want to tell your players about it.

Optional Rule - The Monster at the Bottom

        If you want to spice things up even more, you can add a monster at the bottom of the pit. This monster will attack both parties if the See-Saw falls.  It should be big, imposing, and strange - perhaps a tentacle monster or eldritch horror.  Scatter some skulls around for good measure, and be sure to scare the heroes should they see it.  However, the monster should have no ability to effect the fight above, nor bring the heroes down should the See-Saw remain stable.

Monday, November 19, 2012

More Interesting Traps: The Golden Idols

Golden Idol Trap

         The Golden Idol trap is designed to pit character survival against character greed.  Each character is presented with a valuable, but heavy, golden idol.  When the group suddenly finds itself in a vast pool of water each party member has to decide - keep the golden idol and struggle to stay afloat, or drop the idol and get away scot free.

         The Golden Idol Trap is designed for an APL of 2 - 4, although the same trap can easily be applied to characters up to level 8 or 9 (simply increase the worth of the idols).  It can also be easily adapted to an aquatic campaign.  Simply ignore the room and place the four Golden Idols in a derelict ship - a ship that sinks once the trap is activated.

The Room

         The Golden Idol Trap takes place in a very large room.  The room is square, 180 feet by 180 feet, the walls made of slick, DC 30 climb stone.  The room is filled partially with water, water that extends a whopping 600 feet down into the black abyss.  Above the water there is a cavernous hundred feet to the ceiling.

         Over the water, extending from the entrance of the room on one side to the exit on the other side, is an iron bridge 20 feet in width.  The bridge is anchored to the wall near the entrance and exit by a pair of chains.

The Idols

         In the exact center of the bridge there are four Golden Idols of a dungeon appropriate theme - perhaps dragons, perhaps gods, perhaps dwarven sculptures.  If you have fewer than four PCs, simply place that many idols, or explain that some number of the idols are missing.  The worth of the idols is immediately apparent - A simple DC 10 appraise check values them at 1,500 gp each, or about half of the expected level three PC wealth.  They have no magical aura to them - this trap is purely mechanical.  If you are playing with encumbrance, each idol has a weight of 25 pounds.

        Each Golden Idol is on a pedestal. Any player attempting to remove any of the idols finds that it has some give, but it is rooted pretty firmly on the pedestal.  Tell the player that when he moves his idol, the one next to it seems to jiggle.  If more than one idol is lifted at the same time, each idol has more give.

        In order to remove all four idols, all four idols must be pulled up at the same time.  If the PCs have a tough time figuring this out, then drop a hint to any trapfinders that this might be the case.  Pulling out all four idols requires 4 simultaneous strength 6 checks.  There is no penalty for failure, so the PCs may try as many times as they like.  As soon as all four idols are removed, the trap is activated.

The Trap

         As soon as all four idols are removed, the chains holding the bridge in place fall away.  This correlation is only visible if somebody inspects the underside of the bridge and makes a DC 20 Perception check.  The bridge, being made of iron, immediately falls into the water and starts sinking.  Roll initiative.

         Now is an excellent time to point out that the idols look very valuable, and would probably fetch a pretty penny - but they are weighing the characters down.

         The heroes suddenly find themselves 90 feet from the nearest land (the entrance or exit).  Those without idols can make swim checks as normal.  They can use a move action to make a DC 10 swim check to move a quarter of their base move speed, either horizontally or vertically.  Failing by more than 5 results in going underwater.

         Those with idols have a much more difficult time, and cannot take ten on their swim checks.  They may spend a move action to make a DC 20 swim check to move a quarter of their base move speed either horizontally or vertically.  Scoring a 15 - 19 results in no progress.  Scoring a 14 or less on this check results in the character moving 15 feet straight down through the water.  Keep careful track of how far characters have fallen - they will have to swim back up if they want to survive!  Characters may drop idols as a free action - once the idol is out of their hands, it falls 150 feet a round until it hits the bottom of the pit.  Normal drowning rules apply.

         It should be noted that for each Golden Idol a character holds beyond the first, the DC for his swim checks increases by 10.

         Characters will attempt many things to help their allies.  These methods should be encouraged and rewarded.  Getting in and swimming with them, or otherwise physically helping them from the water, acts as an aid another check swim check.  If a character on land throws a rope to a character in the water, he can make strength DC 15 checks to pull the character 15 feet.  Your players will try interesting and creative methods to save each other, so come up with mechanics on the fly!

In Conclusion

         So there you have it.  The Golden Idol trap will force player to choose between wealth and their own well being.  Many characters, after sinking down to a dangerous level, will drop their idols and swim to the surface.  But some will come away scot free, and a heck of a lot richer.

Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Creative Uses for the Handle Animal Skill

In a previous post, I've talked about the importance of variety in your game (Ensuring GM Variety).  However, it can be difficult to come up with new and interesting ways to use some skills.  Here are 7 creative ways to confront your players with the Handle Animal Skill.

Bad Alarm Dog:  Gee, it sure would be great if we could get into the mansion without the guard dog raising an alarm.  Just throwing them a steak won’t do it.  Somebody has to pacify the dog.  DC 25, with a modifier based on the quality of any treats you have brought, +1 to +5.

A Boy and his Dogs:  A street urchin has learned to take control of a pack of wild dogs, and he attacks you with them!  You may either fight against the odds, or take full round actions to make handle animals checks.  A 12 stuns the nearest dog for one round, and every additional three points that you get on your check stuns an additional dog.  Stunning a dog for two rounds in a row will cause him to lose interest in fighting.  If there are no dogs left, the boy gives up.  Be careful though!  Killing the boy will send any remaining dogs into a rage, giving them each +2 strength and +2 constitution.

 The Dog and his Keys:  Prison, yet again.  The guard has left the keys dangling tantalizingly on a hook that is protected from low level spells such as mage hand.  However, the guard’s dog is wandering about the prison.  Can you convince the animal to get the keys?  DC 25.

              Follow the Scent:  The murderer left few clues, but he did leave a sock with a particular odor.  Nobody in the party has noses this keen, but the town bloodhound could certainly use it to track. The only question is, can you communicate well enough to convince the dog to do it?!  DC 10 if the hound is trained, DC 25 if he is not.

              The Friendly Pod:  Well, you and your party have found yourself, for one reason or another out at sea without a boat.  You will drown before long … but here comes a pod of dolphins!  They seem friendly enough.  Make a DC 15 check to convince the dolphins to take your crew to shore (followED by a DC 10 ride check to stay on!)

The Turncoat Gorilla:  An enemy has trained some wild beast to fight for him.  And yet, you look into the beast’s eyes, and see that he has been mistreated.  Make a Handle Animal check to convince the gorilla to switch sides.  A DC 20 Check will break him loose of his mental chains and convince him to attack his master.

Your Rival’s Rodeo:  Your Rival is prancing down the street on his magnificent, well trained stallion.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if the jerk was thrown and wound up in the mud?  You’re going to try to subtly agitate the horse, in ways that only a true animal handler knows.  Make a handle animal check versus your Rival’s ride check to get the horse to buck him!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Comprehensive Pathfinder Guides Guide

We Be Dragons
The Newest Module from Zenith Games. Soar the Skies as a Dragon!

Want a Dungeon at Every Level from 1 to 13?

Here is the Guide to the Builds
A repository for all of the best builds out there.

Bookmark this Page and Send it to Your Players and Co-Adventurers!

Core Classes

      * Zenith's Guide to the Alchemist, Part I, II, III, IV, V [Discussion] *  (2015)
      Chasing the Philosopher's Stone: N. Jolly's Guide to the Pathfinder Alchemist [Discussion] (2015)
      Becoming Oozymandias - A Guide to the Bottle Ooze Discovery [Discussion] (2017)
      Ogre's RPG Stuff - Alchemist’s Guide (Core, APG, UM) [Discussion] (2013)
     Preserves and Pointy Sticks: A Guide to Reach Fighting with the Preservationist Alchemist [Discussion] (2018)

      Arcanist Optimization Guide [Discussion] (2014)
      Dawar's Guide to the Arcanist [Discussion] (2015)
      "Blow Them to Smithereens" AKA "There WAS a Boss" [Discussion] (2016)
      Counter Savant: The Only Pathfinder Counterspelling Build [Discussion] (2018)
      Magic Beyond Magic: Iluzry's Guide To The Pathfinder Arcanist (2022)

      Bodhi's Guide to the Optimal Paladin & Antipaladin (Core, APG, UM, UC) (Has Mythic Options) [Discussion] (Survey) (2015)
      Marshmallow's Guide to Your Optimal Anti-Paladin (2013)

      Anger Management: A Pathfinder Guide to the Barbarian by Novamurmson (Thread) (2014)
      BARBARIAN AM SMASH - A Practical Guide to Breaking Faces by Trinam (Core, APG, UC) [Discussion] (2013)
      How to Become the Lord of Rage: N. Jolly's Guide to the Pathfinder Barbarian [Discussion] (2014)
      Elewan's Pathfinder Barbarian Guide (Core, APG) [Discussion] (2012)
      kcmorris's A Guide to the Barbarian and Titan Mauler Barbarian (Blog) (2011)

      All the World’s a Stage, and You the Stage Director: A Guide to the Pathfinder Bard (Core, ACG, APG, ARG, UC, UM) [Discussion] (2015)
      Treantmonk's Guide to Bards: Pathfinder Core Rules (Core only) [Discussion] (2012)
      kcmorris's Dervish Dance Bard (Blog, short) (2016)
      Guide to the Buffer Bard [Discussion] (2014)
      Forger's List of Amazing Bard Options (2017)
      The Show Must Go On: Iluzry’s Guide to the Pathfinder 1e Bard (2022)

      Raining Blood: The Bloodrager's Guide to Pleasing the Metal Gods [Discussion] (2014)
      CTP's Guide to the Bloodrager (2017)
      One B.A.M.F's Guide to the Bloodrager (2018)

      Happy Feet, Wombo Combo [Discussion] (2016)
      Brawlers: Debuffing with Style [Discussion] (2016)

      The Cavalier's Code (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2015)
      The Flying Pincushion: GM_Solspiral PAP Cavalier Guide [Discussion] (2014)
      Demi-Lancer: A Guide to Dipping Cavalier for a Mount [Discussion] (2020)
      The Cavalry Has Arrived [Discussion] (2021)

      Tark's Big Holy Book of Clerical Optimization (Core, APG) [Discussion] (2014)
      Brewer's Guide to Reach Clerics [Discussion] (2010)
      Pupsocket's Guide to Dipping Cleric (2014)
      Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Ftagn! A Guide to the Elder Mythos Cultist [Discussion]
      Rogue Eidolon’s Guide to Clerics (Domains) (Core only) [Discussion] (2010)

      Peterrco's guide to Druids (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2012)
      Treantmonk's Guide to Druids Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 (Core only) [Discussion] (2010)
      I'll Be Back.  The Guide to the Reincarnated Druid [Discussion] (2014)
      Druid's Log: Animal Companions [Discussion] (2014)
      Prometeus Guide to the Druid [Discussion] (2016)
      Monk Dipping for Pathfinder Druids [Discussion] (2015)
      Becoming A Force of Nature: Iluzry’s Guide to the Pathfinder 1e Druid [Discussion, Discussion] (Jul 2021)
      Faerie Tricks & Big Sticks: Iluzry’s Guide to Druid Spells & Spellcasting (Nov 2023)

      Bladestorm: "STR Ranger"'s Guide to TWF for Fighters (Core, APG, UM, UC, SoS) [Discussion] (2013)
      kcmorris's A Guide to the Fighter (Blog) (2015)
      Rogue Eidolon's Guide to Fighters (Core only) [Discussion] (???)
      Two Hands are Better Than One: A Guide for Fighters Using Two Hands [Discussion] (2016)
      Secrets of the Swordlord: A Guide to the Aldori Dueling Sword [Discussion] (2013)
      Huh, Fighters Are Pretty Awesome: Nightbringer's Guide to the Pathfinder Fighter [Discussion] (2016)
      Cartmanbeck’s Guide to the Iron Caster (2017)
      Marshmallow's Guide to the Pathfinder RPG Fighter [Discussion] (2017)

      Drake_Rocket's Guide to Grand Gunslinginger Greatness (Core, APG, UC) [Discussion] (2011)
      kcmorris's Musket Master Gunslinger (Blog, short) (2016)
      The Gunslinger's Handbook (2012)
      Lokotor's Gunslinger Guide [Discussion] (2016)
      Surpassing Even the Boss: N.Jolly's Guide to the Pathfinder Gunslinger [Discussion] (2016)

      A Guide to the Pathfinder RPG's Hunter [Discussion] (2016)
      Guide to the Outflanking Hunter [Discussion] (2018)

      Bodhi's Guide to the Optimal Inquisitor (Core, APG, ARG, UM, UC, Other+) [Discussion] (2015)
      Nobody Expects a Guide to the Inquisitor (Core, APG, UM) [Discussion] (2014)
      The Inquisitor's Symposium: A Guide to the Pathfinder Inquisitor (2019)
      The Inquisitorʼs Symposium Redux: A (New) Guide to the Pathfinder Inquisitor (2022)

     The Investigator’s Academy: A Guide to the Pathfinder Investigator [Discussion] (2020)
     Being Sherlock Holmes: A Gentleman's Guide to the Investigator [Discussion] (2015)
     The Investigator's Grand Turnabout: N. Jolly's guide-addendum to the Pathfinder Investigator [Discussion] (2016)
     Elementary! A Handbook to the Pathfinder Investigator (2014)

      Mastering the Elements: N.Jolly's Guide to the Pathfinder Kineticist [Discussion] (2016)
      Sucking Counts as Airbending, Right? (Thread) (2015)
      Aetherialist AKA Telekenticist (2015)
      Pyrokineticist (2016)
      The GM's Guide to the Kineticist [Discussion] (2017)
      Mort’s Guide for Kineticist Dipping and Dipping Kineticist [Discussion] (2019)
      A Useful Guide for Useful Kineticists (Thread) (2017)
      Optimizing the Suboptimal: A Subguide to the Myrmidarch (2012)
      A Guide to Touch Spells, Spellstrike, and Spell Combat (2012)
      Magus Hexcrafter Guide: The Complete Guide For Dealing With The Devil (Core, APG, ARG, UC, UM) [Discussion] (2013)
      Walter’s Guide to the Magus (Core, APG, UM) [Discussion] (2011)
      The Exhaustive Guide the the Kensai Magus [Discussion] (2012)
      Myrrh, Frankincense, and Steel: Kurald Galain's Guide to the Magus (Core, APG, ARG, UC, UM) [Thread] [Discussion] (2017)
      Forger's Supplemental Guide to the Updated Magus (2014)

     Leasing Your Body for Fun and Profit: CockroachTeaParty's Guide to the Pathfinder Medium [Discussion] (2017)
     Guide for the Medium Occult Class [Discussion] (2018)

      The Grandeur of Illusions - A PF Mesmerist Guide (2015)
      Quark's Thoughts on the Mesmerist (2021)
      Follow My Voice: A Guide to the Pathfinder Mesmerist (2022)

      Porpentine's Guide to Zen Archery (Blog) (2013)
      A Guide to the Qinggong Monk (Short, Blog) (2014)
      Optimizing your Qinggong Monk (Short, Blog) [Discussion] (2017)
      kcmorris's Zen Archer Monk (Blog) (2012)
      Revel's Guide to the Monk (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2011)
      Treantmonk's Guide to Monks (Core only) [Discussion] (2016)
      Zen Archer Handbook (Thread) (2012)
      Way of the Angry Bear 3: Bear Fisted Fighting (Monk/Druid Multi-class) [Discussion] (2015)
      The Beginner's Basics to the NEW Master of Many Styles [Discussion] (2016)
      Jam's Blended Archetype Guide: The Monk [Discussion] (2016)

Monk (Unchained)
     You are Already Dead: A Guide to the Unchained Monk [Discussion] (2017)

      * Zenith's Guide to the Ninja Part I, Part II, Part III & Part IV [Discussion] * (2015)
      Death from the Shadow: A Guide to the Ninja by Joseph Bucceri (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2014)

      The Occultist's Reliquary A Guide to the Pathfinder Occultist
      One Man's Junk is Another Man's Power (2015)
      Implementing Magic: VampByDay's guide to the Occultist [Discussion] (2016)
      Rekijan's Guide to Trappings of the Warrior (2017)
           More Occultist Options

      Channeling the Cosmos: A Guide to the Oracle (Core, APG, ARG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2014)
      Brewer's Guide to the Jargonaut (Words of Power Oracle) [Discussion] (2013)


      Bodhi's Guide to the Optimal Paladin & Antipaladin (Core, APG, UM, UC) (Has Mythic Options) [Discussion] (Survey) (2015)
      Cryptic's Guide to the Pathfinder Paladin: Being a God's Wrecking Hammer (Core) [Discussion] (2012)
      Thallin's Guide To Paladins (Optimization) (Core, APG) [Discussion] (2009)
      Oradin Mini-Guide, or How to be a Healbot minus the 'bot' (Thread) (2014)
      The Paladin's Code and Pathfinder (Roleplaying the Paladin) [Discussion] (2014)
      Deadeye's Servant: A Guide to the Archery Paladin [Discussion] (2014)
      The Mini-Guide to the Iroran Paladin [Discussion] (2014)
      Guide to the Paladin through the eyes of a D&D 3.5 Player (Thread) (2014)
      Smite Optimization (Thread) (2011)

     Think it, And So it Shall Be: CTP's Guide to Psychics (2017)
     A Pathfinder Guide to the Psychic (2015)
     There Is No Spoon: Iluzry’s Guide to the Pathfinder 1e Psychic (2023)

      Ginsu Master: A Ranger’s Guide to Two Weapon Fighting (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2011)
      Lastoths Guide to Archery Rangers (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2012)
      Treantmonk's Guide to Rangers in Pathfinder (Core only) [Discussion] (2009)
      Seeing The Forest through The Trees [Discussion] (2021)

      Moxie: A Practical Guide to Roguing with Style [Discussion] (2014)
      kcmorris's Guide to the Rogue (Blog) (2012)
      kjb200's Update to Rogue Eidolon's Guide to the Rogue [Discussion] (2015)
      Bravo's Knife Master Scout Guide [Discussion] (2013)
      Rogue Eidolon's Guide to Rogues (Core, APG) [Discussion] (2010)
      A Guide to the Pathfinder Rogue [Discussion] (2014)
      GM_Soulspiral's PAP Rogue Guide (2013)
      "You're Such a Sap!" A Step-By-Step Guide to the Revised Sap Master [Discussion] (2017)
      Forger's List of Awesome Stuff for Rogues (2017)

Rogue Unchained
      CTP's Unchained Rogue Mini-guide (Thread) (2015)
      One Thousand Years of Death: A Guide to the Unchained Rogue (2017)

      Way of the Samurai (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2012)
      The Cavalry Has Arrived [Discussion] (2021)

     The Seer's Catalog [Discussion] (2016)
     Spiritual Attunement: A Pathfinder Shaman Guide by JBurz [Discussion] (2015)
     Friends On The Other Side: Iluzry’s Guide to the Pathfinder 1e Shaman (May 2022)
     The Shaman: The One True Generalist (Mar 2023)

     Archmage Variel's Guide to the Shifter [Discussion] (2018)

      How to be Metal [Discussion] (2016)

      A Study of Slayers [Discussion] (2015)
      The Art of Omnicide: Iluzry’s Guide to the Pathfinder 1e Slayer (2022)

      The Inner Power: A Guide for Sorcerers (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2012)
      A Quick Guide to Pathfinder Sorcerers: Gods Don't Need Spellbooks (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (Recovered Build Page) (2013)
      Magic in the Blood: A guide to Eldritch Heritage and Sorcerer Bloodlines (Core, APG, ARG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2015)
      The (almost) Complete Guide to Sorcerers - A Practical Handbook (Core only) [Discussion] (2009)
      Thus She Spoke: The Words of Power Sorcerer [Discussion] (2013)
      Sorcerer Nuke/Blast Guide for Pathfinder Society (2015)
      Unlimited Mageworks: Iluzry's Sorcerer Guide [Discussion] (2021)

     Phantom of the OP-era: A Guide to the Pathfinder Spiritualist [Discussion] (2017)
     Eternal Servitude: Guide to the Spiritualist [Discussion] (2016)
     Two Minds are Better than One (A Short Discussion of the Spiritualist Dip) (2015)
     Spirits of War: A Guide to the Phantom Blade Spiritualist (2018)
          More Spiritualist Options

      Summoning Information - A Guide to an Alternate Eidolon (2013)
      The Summoner's Handbook (Core, APG) [Discussion] (2011)
      Tark's Guide to Building Tag Team Champions: (Melee Summoner) [Discussion] (2012)
      Getting into Some Else's Skin:  N. Jolly's Guide to the Synthesist Summoner [Discussion] (2015)
      Summoners - Specialist Sorcerers with a Party of Their Own  (2017)
      Monster's at your Knees - Orthodox Banjoist's Guide to the Summoner (Update to the Summoner's Handbook) [Discussion] (2015)

Summoner Unchained
     Unchained Summons [Discussion] (2015)

     The Dashing Daring Dandy's Dragoman [Discussion] (2015)

Vampire Hunter
     Archmage Variel's Guide to the Vampire Hunter (2018)

      I am Vengeance, I am the Night [Discussion] (2017)
      Meandering Mysticism: Drifter's Guide to the Warlock Vigilante Archetype (2017)
      With Great Power Comes Great Complexity (2016)
      Rogues Gallery: A Guide to the Pathfinder Vigilante (2024)

      Piercing the Heavens: N. Jolly's Guide to the Pathfinder Warpriest [Discussion] (2016)
      In Totality: The Ultimate Guide to Every Cleric, Oracle, and Warpriest Spell in Pathfinder [Thread(2019)

      A Witch's Guide to Shutting Down Enemies (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2014)
      Hubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble. Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble (Core, APG) [Discussion] (2011)
      Patron's Review (2011)
      The Viking Irishman's Witch Guide (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2013)
      Witch Handbook (Thread) (2014)
      A Guide to the Veneficus Witch [Thread] (2019)
      Owl's Guide to Witches [Discussion] (2021)

      THE COMPLETE Professor Q's Guide to the Pathfinder Wizard (Core, APG, ARG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (original) (2013)
      The Blockbuster Wizard (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (2013)
      Treantmonk's Guide to Pathfinder Wizards [Discussion] (2009)
      ShakaUVM's Methods for Necromantic Success [Discussion] (2014)
      Wannabe - Orthodox Banjoist's Guide to the Transmuter Wizard [Discussion] (2014)
      The Spellslinger (A Pathfinder Wizard Archetype): A Guide [Discussion] (2014)
      Spell Sage Archetype: Arcane Apotheosis, the True Wizard, Nethys' Favored [Discussion] (2014)
      DMDM's Guide to the Spell Sage (2017)
      Angry Wizard's Guide to the ACG & Other Misc. Wizard Spells [Discussion] (2015)
      Tarondor's Guide to the Pathfinder Transmuter Wizard (2019)
      Staff and Gun - A Miniguide to the Eldritch Gunslinger (2016)
      Making a Living as a Wizard & Part II  [Post] (2019)
      The Muscle Wizard: A Guide to Greatness (2021)
      The Supreme Spellbook: Analyzing Every Arcane Spell [Discussion(2022)

Prestige Classes
Arcane Archer


Battle Herald
Champion of Irori



Dragon Disciple


Eldritch Knight
      Zolthux's Guide to the Eldritch Knight (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion]

     Hellknight Guide

Holy Vindicator
Mystic Theurge

Stalwart Defender

Rage Prophet

Shadow Dancer

Psionics & Third Party
     Armor of the Mind: The Aegis

      Conscript Guide

      The Cryptic
      Seeing the Writing in the Walls: A Cryptic Guide [Discussion]

      Daevic Guide [Discussion]

Draconic Exemplar
      So You Want to be a Dragon? [Thread]

      Fear Itself: A Guide to the Dread [Discussion]

      Spheres of Power Elementalist Handbook [Discussion]

      Guru Guide [Discussion]

     Dark Wings, Dark Tidings: A Guide to the Path of War Harbinger [Discussion]

    Marksman Mastery: You Only Get One Shot [Discussion]

    Untameable Power: A Guide to the PoW Mystic [Discussion]

     Into the Darkness: A Guide to the Nightblade

      Pacting in Pathfinder - The Occultist Handbook [Discussion]

      Mind Over Everything: A Pathfinder Psion Handbook [Discussion]
      A guide to DSP’s Psionic Powers for the Psions and Wilders

Psychic Warrior
      Jackiscool's Guide to the Psychic Warrior (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion]
      The Psychic Warrior's Handbook (Thread)
      Memory Muscle: The Psychic Warrior Handbook [Discussion]

     Sentinel Guide

      Sharpening the Mind: A Guide to the Pathfinder Soulknife (Thread)
      Mind Becomes Matter: A Pathfinder Soulknife Guide (Thread)

      Striking from the Shadows: The Stalker [Discussion] (Thread)

      The Chess Master: A Tactical Guide to the Tactician (Thread)

      Risky Business: A Thaumaturge Handbook [Discussion]

      Mental Medicine: Psionic Healing Through the Vitalist (Thread)

    Vizier Guide [Discussion]

    Defending the Weak: The Warder [Discussion] (Thread)

      Leading the Battle: A Guide to the Warlord [Discussion] (Thread)

      Where the Wilder Things Are
      A guide to DSP’s Psionic Powers for the Psions and Wilders

     Castilonium's Zealot Guide [Discussion]

Other Useful Guides

      * Guide to the Builds [Discussion] *
      Ravingdork's Crazy Character Emporium

Race Guides
      * Guide To Pathfinder Races [Discussion] *
      Pathfinder Player Race List (Thread)

      * Improving Your Class with Items [Discussion] *
      Good And Cheap Equipment Part 1 and Part 2 and Cheap Ioun Stones and Cheap Wands (Blog)
      The Handy Haversack Pack (3185 Gold and 5 pounds, this sack has everything the adventurer might need)
      The Viking Irishman’s Guide to Weaponry (Core, APG, UC) [Discussion]
      Anzyr's Magic Item Emporium [Discussion]
      Alchemical Items Guide [Discussion]
      Temporary Enhancements to Manufactured Weapons [Discussion] (2017)
      A Guide to Weapons, Armor, Equipment, Alchemical & Magic Items (2017)

General Character Building
      Archetype Tier List: A Guide to Picking Archetypes [Discussion]
      Roguish Quail's Introduction to Classes
      Bench Pressing: Character Creation by the Numbers [Discussion]
      Dipping for Fun and Profit (Thread)
      Getting X to Y: How to make a Attribute do other things (Core, APG, ARG, UC, UM) [Discussion]
      Possible Archetype Combos
      The Big Fat Feat Compendium
      Face_P0lluti0n's Guide to Weapon Finesse [Discussion]
      How to Get a High Armor Class [Discussion]
      Guide for Class Selection [Discussion]
      Playing 101: Guide to Teamwork Feats
      Walter's Guide to Deific Obediences [Discussion]
      X to Y Stat Bonuses (Recovered Thread)
      Getting the Most Out of Your Ability Scores: a Pathfinder 1E Overview (X to Y)
      Categories of Classes [Discussion]

      Guide to the Very Best Traits [Discussion]
      Tips and Traits: A guide to Pathfinder Traits (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion]

Specific Strategies & Tactics
      Athanatism, Necromancy, and Undead: A new way to make friends (2023)
      The Noble Art of Intimidancy
      Attacks of Opportunity: The Red-Headed Stepchild of Pathfinder [Discussion]
      Mastering Metamagic [Discussion]
      Guide to Maneuvers and Initiating (Dreamscarred Press's Rules)
      An Extraordinarily Thorough Guide on Using Handle Animal [Discussion]
      Guide to Helping Your Rogue do Sneakies and Stabbies

Variant Multi-Classing

Tips & Tricks
      Action Economy: Time Savers (Blog)
      Ashiel's Guide to Adventure: Preparation, Tricks, and Strategies (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion]
      The Forge of Combat: Thoughts on Victory and How the Group Achieves it [Discussion]
      Fueling the Forge: Breaking down Combat Tactics in Pathfinder [Discussion]
      Nephril's Extended Beginners Guide [Discussion]

Summoned Monsters and Animal Companions
      Multiple Animal Companions and You [Discussion]
      Animal Companion Comparison (Blog)
      Spells Your Summoned Monsters Can Cast (Short)
      Summon Good Monster: A Closer Look (Thread)
      Why Work When Others Can do it For You (Monster Summoning)
      Druid's Log: Animal Companions
      Teamwork Feats and Animal Companions (Discussion)
      DMDM's Guide to Planar Binding
      Abusing Animals - A Guide to Sharing Spells with Animal Companions for Non-Druids

Specific Class Abilities
      Abraham Spalding's Guide to the Holy Vindicator (or more specifically channeling) (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion]
      Being a Most Concise and Helpful Guide to the Noble Arts of Wild Shaping and Polymorphing (Core) [Discussion]
      Guide To Spells (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion]
      Polymorphamory - The Love of Changing Form: A Guide to Shapeshifting [Discussion]
      Shadow Conjuration Handbook (Discussion)
      Shadow Evocation Guide (Discussion)
      Abusing Animals: A Guide to Sharing Spells with Animal Companions for Non-Druids [Discussion]
      Word of Power Handbook (Thread)
      The Orrery - A Handbook to the Spheres of Power [Discussion]
      Guide to Familiars in Pathfinder by SunderedShadow [Discussion] (2017)
      A Polymorph Guide: Beast Shape vs. Monstrous Physique [Discussion] (2018)
      The Mage’s Menagerie - Iluzry’s Guide to the Pathfinder 1e Familiars (May 2022)
      I Know Kung Fu: Allerseelen's Guide to Style Feats (Discussion)
      Touching the Cosmos: Caffeine Elemental's Guide to Occult Rituals
      Casters Compared [Discussion] (Mar 2023)

Spheres of Might
      Spheres of Might Handbook (2020)

GM Guides
      Top 10 Tips for GMs
      Brewer's GM Guide to Campaign Design (&dropbox) [Discussion]
      Brewer's Guide to GM Session Structure [Discussion]
      GM's Guide to Creating Challenging Encounters [Discussion]
      Templates and You (Thread)
      Inkarnate - A Map Making Tool

      Mythic Guide to Universal Path Abilities [Discussion]
      The Power of the Archmage [Discussion]
      CTP's Guide to Mythic Adventures (Thread)

Play by Post
      DH's Guide to Play by Post Gaming (Thread)
      Building a Better Doomed Hero: Painlord's Advanced Play by Post Play (Thread)
      Painlord's Guide to PbP GMing: Make Your World a Better Place (Thread)
      CampinCarl's Character Creation Guide for Pathfinder Pbp (Thread)

Pathfinder Society
     Flutter's Guide for Pathfinder Society Newbies
     Fame and Fortune: Getting the Most from Your Prestige Points

Guides on Types of Builds
      A Guide to Trip Builds in Pathfinder
      CTP's Guide to Words of Power (Thread)
      Words of Power Handbook by The-Mage-King (Thread)
      Where There's a Whip There's a Way: Amanoo's Pathfinder Guide to Whips
      Cartmanbeck's Guide to the Iron Caster - Using Item Mastery feats to be the ultimate Con-based caster [Discussion] (2016)

      Optimizing your GM [Discussion]

PDFs of All Paizo Materials

Great thanks to Harmon's Guide to the Class Guides on the Paizo messageboards, Hallack's Pathfinder Handbook and Handy Links Index on Minmax Boards, Novawurmson's Optimization Guides Compendium on Giant in the Playground, and all the rest.

Guides here are either no longer accurate or completely eclipsed by other guides. Feel free to look at them for additional points of view, but they may not be correct.

      Professor Q's Guide to the Core+ Wizard (Core, APG, UM, UC) [Discussion] (original) (2012) (Contained within The COMPLETE Guide to the Wizard)
      Way of the Angry Bear 3: Bear Fisted Fighting (Monk/Druid Multi-class) [Discussion] (2015) (Errata makes this no longer viable)
      Axe's Guide to Finding Divinity (2010) (Unfinished & Very Old)