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CampinCarl's Character Creation Guide for Pathfinder PbP


Online Campaigns General Discussion


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Welcome to CampinCarl’s Character Creation Guide for Pathfinder PbP gaming!

If you’re here, you’re either a new player who wants to get his feet wet on the boards, an experienced player who wants to get better at formatting and resource tracking, a GM who wants to benevolently dictate his players make a more readable profile, or a critic to tear me apart. Any and all are welcome!

First, a little about myself. I have played Pathfinder for about five years now, and I’ve been around the boards for a little over two years. In my time on the boards I’ve played in dozens of games and am currently involved in nearly twenty, including running my own homebrew game. Throughout this entire process I noticed something. Almost nobody makes their character profiles the same, they are often hard to read and understand, and some are just downright illegible. After I ran a game or two on the boards, and when I got a little more used to the boards and started checking other people’s builds, what began bothering me was that almost every profile style has a learning curve to it. Most of the time all of the information was there, it was just hard to read and you had to do a fair bit of detective work to really understand where all the numbers were coming from.

So after some experience and experimentation, I designed my own standard for creating and formatting my PbP characters. It has inspiration from how stats look in bestiaries, but other things are more fleshed out and broken down, like special abilities and skills and equipment. The endgame of this formatting is so that when anybody looks at a character, they should be able to find what they’re looking for and understand it completely in seconds, no detective work required and no questions necessary. I’ve had numerous people praise my profile style and eventually I decided that for the good of gamerkind I would write this guide.

Now while this guide is a catch all for all races and builds (in Pathfinder), different builds will look differently. For instance, a Human Fighter will look vastly different from an Elven Wizard, mostly due to the increased complexity of the wizard class compared to the fighter. Similarly, a low level character will be different than a high level character due to the massive increase in complexity as the levels raise. While you can easily document everything on a low level character inside their profile, a 20th level character has too many options and abilities to be compressed down to a readable length, which is why hyperlinking some of your abilities/feats/etc. can be beneficial.

So, without further ado, let’s get to breaking down how to go about this PbP Character Creation guide!

Character Sheet Template:
First things first. Follow this link to a blank character sheet. Now copy and paste the entire thing into your profile and save it. This is your template and takes care of 90% of the formatting for you. You’re welcome!

Ability Scores:
So let’s really get started. You’re creating a level 1 character? Great! You’re creating a level 30 character? Great! Both of them start the same way. By building a level 1 character. First things first, determine your ability scores. These is usually done with die rolls or with a point buy system. If you’re using the point-buy system method, consider using this character generator. There are many other features available there, but I use it primarily to determine point-buy based ability scores because it will do the math for you. Once you have your ability scores, distribute the effects of them throughout your character sheet. Here is a quick breakdown of what each score effects. There are more things that each one effects, but this will get you started until you get further into your character.

Strength CMB, CMD, Carrying Capacity
Dexterity AC, Touch AC, Reflex Save, CMD, Init
Constitution HP bonus (we’ll add class HP in a minute), Fortitude Save
Intelligence Bonus Skill Points
Wisdom AC (if you’re a monk), Will Save, Perception
Charisma Nothing right now

I’m going to start with the stats Str 14 Dex 12 Con 12 Int 14 Wis 12 Cha 16. Now I need to sneak ahead a little and pick a race before I go in any further, because racial modifiers will be changing my ability scores. Let’s say you go with Halfling, so now my stats are Str 12 Dex 14 Con 12 Int 14 Wis 12 Cha 18. Remember that I’m not at racial abilities yet, so I’m only worried about the ability score modifiers. So now I distribute the effects of my ability scores throughout my sheet, and it will look like this and my formatting will look like this.

Race & Traits/Drawbacks:
Now you’re ready for the next step, picking things that are inherent to your character. This will be their race and traits/drawbacks. You’ve already picked a race when you determined ability scores, so now you just have to document the abilities of your race under the Special Abilities spoiler. Take a moment to stop and distribute the effects of these abilities throughout your character sheet. For instance, Halflings get +2 on saving throws against fear, +1 on all saving throws, and +2 on Acrobatics, Climb, and Perception checks. I document the bonus on saving throws by simply adding 1 to each save, and I document the circumstantial bonus by adding the bonus in parenthesis on the side of my saves. Then I put the skill bonuses under Non-Standard Skill Bonuses, and mark that they are racial bonuses. Also don’t forget any bonus languages you get for your race, as well as what gender your character is.

Now as a small race I have a few extra things to make note of. I’m going to have to change my speed to 20 ft., add a +1 size bonus to AC, subtract -1 from CMB and CMD, add a +4 size bonus to Stealth checks under the Non-Standard Skill Bonuses area, and lower my Carrying Capacity (round to the nearest whole number). Also take note of any special types of vision you have. A Halfling doesn’t typically have darkvision, but for the sake of this guide I’m going to add the ability to show how to document your Senses. Since my special Halfling has darkvision, not only do I note it in the special abilities section, but I also add it to the Senses section at the very top of my sheet. This helps GMs to quickly check what your senses are.

Next you add traits/drawbacks which you will add the exact same way as racial abilities, except you also mark them in the Traits section in the Statistics spoiler. If your campaign is not using traits/drawbacks, you can skip this section. Let’s say my Halfling takes the Reactionary trait and the Oblivious drawback. I document the existence of them at Traits and Drawbacks, then I put their written effects just after racial abilities, and finally distribute the effects the same way as before. My init bonus will increase by 2, and under Non-Standard Skill Bonuses I mark my drawback penalties. With racial abilities and traits/drawbacks added, your sheet should now look something like this with a formatting like this.

Class & Feats:
Now you choose your character’s class. My Halfling is going to be a bard. I’m also going to go with the Arbiter archetype. This part will be broken down into several sub-parts as detailed below.

Add your BaB. Some classes have a BaB of +0 at level 1, but others have a BaB of +1, which will affect their BaB (base attack bonus), CMB (combat maneuver bonus), CMD (combat maneuver defense), and later their attack bonuses under OFFENSE.

Next we add your base saves. Bards have the base saves Fort +0 Ref +2 Will +2, so I will increase my character’s reflex and will saves by 2.

Now onto class abilities. For some classes, like fighters, this is a very short step that only takes a few seconds. For bards and other more complicated classes it’s quite a bit of work. However you will tackle these nearly the exact same way as racial abilities. You add each ability under Special Abilities, then distribute them throughout your sheet where necessary. For a bard, the only thing I have to make special note of is their bonus to knowledge checks, which will go under the Non-Standard Skill Bonuses section. Other than that, the rest of it is about copying over all of their performance details into the Special Abilities section.

Next we move onto Skills and HP. Look at the hit die of your character and how many skill points they receive from their class. Typically, most games start you out at max HP so you can probably add your full hit die to HP. Then go to the Skills section and add how many skill points you get from your class. I get 6 for being a bard. Also this is the time to remember your favored class bonus, which is either +1 HP, +1 skill point, or a special one taken from your race/class combination. If you choose the unique favored class bonus, document it and distribute it just like a class ability. If you choose +1 HP, simply add 1 HP. If you choose +1 Skill Point, put it in the Skills section. I’m going to go with the +1 skill point, so I would mark it under my Skills section to add to my overall skill point pool. At this point you should have your total number of skill points, do distribute them amongst your skills as you see fit. Don’t forget about all of your miscellaneous bonuses you took note of in the Non-Standard Skill Bonuses section, as well as the +3 bonus for putting a rank into a class skill. Also put a * next to each skill that has your armor check penalty applied to it.

Let’s look at Feats next. This section will be pretty quick. Most level 1 characters have one feat. Humans get a bonus feat and certain classes (like fighter and monk) grant bonus feats, so once you determine how many feats you have you pick which ones you want and record them under your Feats section. As always, once you select your feat and record it, distribute the effects of it throughout your sheet where applicable. I’m going to pick Spell Focus (enchantment). At this point your character sheet should look something like this with formatting like this.

Spells:
Now let’s move onto Spells. If you’re playing a character without spells or one that doesn’t get them until later levels (like a paladin or ranger), you can delete the entire Spells spoiler and skip this section. For everybody else, spells is actually pretty quick. You document what spells you know and what level they are, then add how many spells of each level you have. Cantrips and orisons are always at will, while 1st level spell will vary from class to class. Also, if you’re a caster that has to prepare spells ahead of time, simply put (prepared) next to each spell that you have prepared. Lastly, if you have any non-standard spell DCs, make note of them next to the specific spells. For instance, since I took Spell Focus (enchantment), my Sleep spell will have a 1 higher DC than normal. With spells added your character sheet should look like this with formatting like this.

Gear/Possessions:
Onto equipment, or Gear/Possessions. You’re going shopping! See what your character is outfitted with (typically just a certain amount of gold to spend as you see fit) and outfit your character. For this you’re basically opening up the weapons, armor, and equipment sections and just buying whatever you think you need. Let’s say I have average wealth for my class, in this case 105gp. Also document anything your class gives you for free, like how a wizard gets a spellbook. A big trick that my guide does is track not only the cost of each item, but also how much they weigh. This keeps things more realistic, and that sticky-fingered rogue from trying to carry thirty sets of chain shirts out of the dungeon. However it also tracks the cost of every item so that if you ever sell anything or want to see how you’re stacking up against the typical wealth by level, the numbers are easily accessible.

Once you purchase gear, you (guess what) distribute the effects of it throughout your sheet! My character bought a longsword, dagger, and shortbow, so under the OFFENSE section I need to add the attack bonuses and damage for each weapon. If you have different ways to attack (such as power attack or rapid shot), feel free to add an extra line to show the different ways you can attack if you don’t want to do the math every time. Then add your armor bonus in the DEFENSE section if you bought armor, including the ACP (armor check penalty) by your Skills. Don’t distribute the penalty to the applicable skills, just keep it in mind when you’re making your skill checks. Your sheet should now look something like this with formatting like this.

Congratulations, you’re now done with the crunch for your character! You still need to do fill out your stat lines, but that should be a cakewalk now that the rest of your profile is done. Also you need to write a background and describe your character’s personality and appearance, as well as choose an avatar, but that’s fluff stuff and I’ll leave you to figure that out for yourself ;)

Let me know what you think either on the thread here or with a PM. I believe I’ve checked it over enough times so there’s no silly mistakes like spelling or grammar or bad links, but let me know if I’ve forgotten something important or should add something else to the guide. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming!


Nice work!


CampinCarl9127 wrote:

Gear/Possessions:

...This keeps things more realistic, and that sticky-fingered rogue from trying to carry thirty sets of chain shirts out of the dungeon....

I did not carry out 30 chain shirts*.

/cevah

*(there were only 17)

Silver Crusade

Few things here

A: This would be better as a google doc since you can't really change anything here. In that respect, it's kind of hard to suggest anything for this guide since you can't change the first post.

B: Just like I was told, and I think it stands true, class is EASILY more important than racials, and you should pick your class before you pick your race or stat.

C: Charisma is used for a lot of skills, as well as opposed charisma checks that aren't entirely uncommon.

Aside from that, there's pretty solid info here.


Quick question: What is PbP?


Play by Post

Basically play over the computer via email, forums, or other means.

/cevah


@N. Jolly

A) I'll consider doing that.

B) You should have your entire character idea in mind before starting. My guide just applies their abilities in a certain order.

C) ...yes? If you're referring to when I say charisma isn't used for anything, I do say "right now" because we hadn't gotten to skills yet.


@N. Jolly - So after some thought I decided you're right, a Google doc form would be a good thing to have. However I'm not familiar with the formatting style of Google docs, most importantly how to hyperlink. I'll do some research and get back within a few days on my progress.

Silver Crusade

Well if you need any help, feel free to ask, I've done quite a few google docs in my day, so I can help you with what you need. More guides are always good for the community, although if I do assist it'll have to include at least one cat girl if you're using pictures.


I'm an expert number cruncher (engineering major) but lack some of the aesthetic qualities of other guide writers. I would be very grateful for the help, and while I'm not an anime fanatic, I have a few that I'm rather enthralled with (FMA Brotherhood, Attack on Titan).

Silver Crusade

Nah, we gotta do this big, can't leave any of it not sprawled with anime garbage. /sarcasm.

And yeah, sometimes you have talent some places and not in others, and it's always fun to collaborate on something. If you've got a skype, mine is n.jolly (butler PA), hit me up there and we'll work something out. If not, feel free to just message me through the board so we don't just end up filling your thread up with conversation.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is great. Thank you. Dotting for use later.


bookrat wrote:
This is great. Thank you. Dotting for use later.

Thank you! I hope you find it useful!

Also I have some good news. I'm finally done with the school year so I will be sending the fantastic N. Jolly a PM to start collaborating on a Google Docs version of the guide, and hopefully I can get a Paizo employee to edit my original post to include a link to it there.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
CampinCarl9127 wrote:
bookrat wrote:
This is great. Thank you. Dotting for use later.

Thank you! I hope you find it useful!

Also I have some good news. I'm finally done with the school year so I will be sending the fantastic N. Jolly a PM to start collaborating on a Google Docs version of the guide, and hopefully I can get a Paizo employee to edit my original post to include a link to it there.

Woohoo! I'll keep eyes out. :)


More good news, N. Jolly just got back to me and we should be starting the process for a Google Docs version soon. Keep your eyes peeled, and make sure to tell all your friends about my guide! [/selfpromotion]


New PBP player on these boards. Dotting to bring this back to the top.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One addendum I recommend--for ease of auditing, basically, I'll give each feat, skill, and trait its own line. For feats, I'll include the meat of the description and the level I picked it up or reason I have it, like this (for a Wiz3):

Scribe Scroll (wizard L1 bonus): Can create a scroll of any spell known.

Spell Focus (Conjuration) (L1): +1 save DC for conjuration spells.

Scholar (human bonus): +2 on Knowledge (arcana) and Knowledge (planes) skill checks.

Augment Summoning (L3): Each creature you conjure with any summon spell gains a +4 enhancement bonus to Strength and Constitution for the duration of the spell that summoned it.

For skills, I'll break down where the skill bonus comes from (from a life mystery Ora4):

Healing +12/+14 (4 ranks, +1 WIS, +3 class skill, +2 healer's kit, +4 revelation bonus)
Spellcraft +7 (2 ranks, +2 INT, +3 class skill)
Knowledge (Nature) +6 (1 rank, +2 INT, +3 class skill)
Knowledge (Religion) +9 (4 ranks, +2 INT, +3 class skill)
Sense Motive +8 (4 ranks, +1 WIS, +3 class skill)
Perception +7 (4 ranks, +1 WIS, +2 racial)
Craft (Textiles) +7 (2 ranks, +2 INT, +3 class skill)
Profession (Spy) +7 (3 ranks, +1 WIS, +3 class skill)
Diplomacy +8 (2 ranks, +3 CHA, +3 class skill)
Linguistics +3 (1 rank, +2 INT)

For traits, I'll just include a short description.

It adds some length, though that can be hidden behind spoiler tags, and it does make auditing for accuracy much easier.


Something else that can be handy to do is to link your feats, traits, and other such things on the profile; either Archive of Nethys or the D20PFSRD websites would work, though I prefer AoN.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm a little reluctant to link to AoN or d20pfsrd, but that's because they're both blocked at work while the PRD isn't.


Hello John Woodford, thanks for your feedback!

I don't like the idea of spreading out my feats like that. As you can see from the skills section, it has a very particular look it it and it takes up a lot of room. For some it may certainly be very useful, especially if your feats are complicated. If that works for you, go for it! Any modifications you think that can help you out more you should go for!

As far as hyperlinking, I tend to avoid it until things start getting really complicated. High levels, complex feats, abilities that interact weirdly with each other, etc. Partly because it's hard for some people to access and they have to go to multiple pages to read what they need to, but also because it is darn time consuming to do. You should see the formatting for the high level wizard I linked, it's a bloody mess.


dotting, tis a god send.


I completed the profile form and created an alias, but I can't seem to add the profile to the alias.

Mook Burley

Statistics:
Male Human Fighter (Favored Class) (Archetype) 0
N Medium Humanoid (Human)
Init +0; Senses Perception +0
------------------------------
DEFENSE
------------------------------
AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 14 (+4 armor, +2 dex, +0 shield)
hp 10+3con
Fort +5(2fighter,+3con), Ref +2(dex), Will +3(+1wis,+2feat)
+1 Will vs fear (total +4)

------------------------------
OFFENSE
------------------------------
Speed 30 ft.

Melee Longspear +4 (+3str,+1attack bonus) (1D8+3) X3 Brace, Reach(10feet)
Club +4 (1D6+3) X2

Ranged Heavy Crossbow +3 (1D10) 19-20X2 Range120
------------------------------
STATISTICS
------------------------------
Str 17, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 7, Wis 13, Cha 8
Base Atk +1; CMB +3(Str); CMD +5(+3Str,+2Dex)
Traits
Drawbacks
Feats +1 fighter, +1Human
Quick Draw(draw weapon as a free action)
Iron Will(+2 on will saves)
Skills (1 points; 2 class, -2 INT,+1 race)
Profession farmer 1 point
Perception 1(Wis)
ACP -2

*ACP applies to these skills
Non-Standard Skill Bonuses

Languages Common

Special Abilities:

------------------------------
SPECIAL ABILITIES
------------------------------
+1 Will vs fear (total +4)

Spells:

------------------------------
Spells
------------------------------
0th (at will)

1st (0/day)

Gear/Possessions:

------------------------------
GEAR/POSSESSIONS
------------------------------
Carrying Capacity
Light 0-85 lb. Medium 87-173 lb. Heavy 174-260 lb.
Current Load Carried 78 lb.

Money 5 GP 0 SP 0 CP
Starting=175gp
Longspear-5 {9lbs}
Heavy Crossbow and 20 bolts-52(123R) {10lbs}
Chain shirt-100(23R) {25lbs}
Backpack-2(21R) {2lbs}
Bullseye lantern-12(9R) {3lbs}
Flint and steel-1(8R)
Bedroll-1sp {5lbs}
Winter Blanket-5sp {3lbs}
4 flasks of oil-4sp(7R) {4lbs}
Hemp rope 50 feet-1(6R) {10lbs}
Waterskin -1 {4lbs}
Club {3lbs}

Background:
Was a farmer’s son till he got in some fights and found he was good at it.

Appearance and Personality:
Suspicious of the unusual or magical. Tied 3 feet of his rope to his belt and crossbow so he could shoot, drop it, and then “draw” his longspear.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Click on the "Profile" tab on the alias, click the "Create a profile for this alias" link, and you should be good. (I think that's at least close to the wording.)


Thanks, It's up here now..

http://paizo.com/people/MookBurley#newPost

I fixed the part where I forgot his init. and perception too.


Dot


Big help, thanks!

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