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Differentiating Valeros (Fighter) from Amiri (Barbarian) in Beginners Box style games


Beginner Box


I’m GMing some Beginners Box style games for my kid and his friends this summer. Four 5th graders and a 7th grader. The time I have to commit to planning, revising and prep is finite, so I’m trying to keep everything pretty as-published. We needed a 5th PC, so I pulled in Amiri, the pre-generated Barbarian. I’m running the four Beginners Bash mini adventures, maybe one or two other mini scenarios, and I plan to finish the summer with Black Fang’s Dungeon as a grand finale. All are 1st level characters.

We’re one session in (they just fought some goblins is all so far), and Amiri seems to have Valeros, the pre-gen Fighter, outclassed in about every significant way. Going off memory here, but:
Higher Strength, so she does more damage and gets a competitive to-hit roll in melee.
Higher Constitution, she has more hit points.
Faster movement speed, which really matters, I find, at 1st level.
Has the rage ability, which Fighters lack.
Has a much bigger sword in the art, which seems to matter to these kids.
I think there’s some overlap on skills too.

I don’t have a ton of experience specifically with Pathfinder, but I’ve gamed on and off over the years and I am of course intellectually aware that there are differences between Fighters and Barbarians. But at 1st level, with newbie kids as players, using Beginners Box rules, I’m a bit stumped on how to differentiate the characters.

I’m also a little unsure about Kyra the Cleric. She has a -1 to hit with her ranged attack (sling) so I did not encourage this. Her armor gives her a movement speed of 20 ft. I’ve coached the player to cast Bless at the start of a fight and heal teammates at the end (or sooner if needed.) But in the bulk of the fight, she didn’t get to do much beside run 20 ft. towards opponents, which she said was boring. Usually her faster-on-the-move or higher-on-the-initiative-order teammates had beaten her to the enemies. And sometimes they were in her way; with only 20 ft. of movement, every square really mattered!

I already know a few ways to flesh out and differentiate these characters and given them things to do: skill uses and roleplay. We’re working on it. Wondering more about input for combat game mechanics and fight scenes.

To be clear, the kids were NOT disappointed. They did not want the session to end! I’m just trying to anticipate and mitigate potential issues I might foresee. Thanks for any input!

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Is Valeros a two-weapon fighter?

That's distinctive.


GeraintElberion wrote:

Is Valeros a two-weapon fighter?

That's distinctive.

I'd say no, not as written. (Not at 1st level, using Beginners Box rules.) The art does show him with two weapons equipped though. (I've tried to coach these kids that the art does not always reflect exactly what we're doing in OUR session.)

As written, I'd say Amiri always uses her sword two-handed, and Valeros normally does too. But Valeros has a shield and can equip it for a little better AC at the cost of doing a little less damage. His AC is better anyway, (and Amiri's AC gets worse when raging, I suppose,) so he's got her beat in the AC department. Will that register with the kids as significant? Untested.

I'm hesitant to introduce two-weapon fighting this summer. (Or really even choices like "do you equip your shield or wield your sword two-handed?") On week two, we're still at the "which of these dice do I use?" stage.

Plus I've got a list of other things I'd like to work in (spells, magic items, Rogue skill uses, and some plot and roleplay.)


I have no idea how Amiri is set up as a Pregen in the BB so a few thoughts on Val:

1. Double check his stats, when I ran the BB adventure a while back I noticed that there was an error on Val's sheet that had his longsword attack 1 lower than it should have been (I think they forgot to factor in his Weapon Focus). I think that this was corrected in later printings, but you should check to be sure.

2. BB Val has improved Initiative, so he's probably acting first more often than she is.

3. If you want to give him a niche and want to run the pregens as written, then go with the shield and sell him as an armored tank.

Some players don't want their character getting hit more than they want to be able to do a bunch of damage, and Val is the pregen who is going to be best at not getting hit.

If you're willing to change him up, you could swap out one of his feats for Cleave and sell him being able to take out 2 enemies at once. Or Quick Draw, letting him start a fight with his bow equipped and then switching to his sword when enemies close to melee range.

If movement speed is an issue, are you not using charge? Or is it not an option in these scenarios because of positioning/terrain?

Dark Archive

If I had to guess re: the movement, they're probably starting by casting a buff like Bless and then moving. With 2 melee characters and a low move speed getting into an open space can be tough, and it wouldn't surprise me if most fights were over by the end of Round 2-3.

They'll really start differentiating at Level 2 when the Barbarian gets a Rage Power while the Fighter gets a bonus feat and Bravery. Until then, make use of his shield in melee and his bow at range. The Barbarian may be a stronger damage dealer but it's also less versatile.


Given the fact that the Beginners Box didn't includ Amiri, the fact that she and Valeros don't come off that differently is not a design flaw. If anything it reinforces the design team's decision to omit Amiri. That said - i just looked at the BB Valeros, and they have SO MANY stats wrong on that sheet, its embarrassing. In addition to his TO HIT stat being too low, his Power Attack weapon damage makes no sense. They show his regular weapon damage as if he was holding his shield, but do not include his +2 Shield AC in his Armor stats.

Kyra's downside is a fact of the game. It is something that the kids can learn about, in terms of character strength relative to Level. Unless you are building around it specifically, most low-level Full Casting classes are weak (Except for the Druid, with their animal companions, and witches with their all day hexing). They do what they can to contribute, and they try their best to NOT DIE. It isn't a ton of fun, unless you can get into the character and see fear the dread and craziness of the moment through their eyes. But - if the player puts in the time, they become incredibly strong, starting at mid levels. And then it will be the fighters and barbarians who will feel like they are late to the party... When they just want to hit an enemy, but all of the enemies have been enclosed within a conjured stone wall, or are all running away in fear, or are too busy puking inside of a noxious cloud of smoke...


Oddman80 wrote:
i just looked at the BB Valeros, and they have SO MANY stats wrong on that sheet, its embarrassing.

Can you link to the sheet you're referring to? The stats on the sheet that comes with the box are all pulled from the Beginner Box rules, and I haven't found mistakes.

There are a lot of simplifications in the Beginner Box, so what you are calling 'mistakes' might just be the simpler rules.


I'll add, that when I ran the BB Pre-gens I treated the Wizard and Cleric as 2 caster levels higher to make their spells a bit more fun for the players (first level blast spells are decidedly underwhelming).

For the cleric's bless and Prot From Evil this could allow a buff to last 2 encounters instead of just one.

There is also an error on pregen Cleric's sheet (at least in my printing) as her Sun's Blessing (add her cleric level to damage when channeling energy against undead) has been omitted.

When introducing someone to playing a support character like a Cleric, it's important to point out to them when another player succeeded on something because of their buff spell or their after battle heals keeping everyone going. Also that fighting undead is their time to shine. The Fighter types might be dealing with DR, but Kyra can hit all the skeletons at once with no damage blocked by DR.

Though I'll say that we had no problems with Kyra's ability to wade into battle in our game. I pointed out to the players that they need to watch the position of their team, the higher movement speed characters need to use their movement (and the lack of AoO in the BB) to help clear attack paths for their slower/lower initiative teammates and set up potential flanks that would benefit both of them.

Of course, none of the rooms in Black Fang's Dungeon were so huge that the difference in movement speed had a big impact often. if the other scenarios are in wide open wilderness setting or something, that could be different (in which case Charging or double moving to try to get a Flank position set up is optimal.


CrystalSeas wrote:
Oddman80 wrote:
i just looked at the BB Valeros, and they have SO MANY stats wrong on that sheet, its embarrassing.
Can you link to the sheet you're referring to?

THIS IS THE ONE I had found when I looked. If it is a no-no to post this, I apologize, and will remove it.

Looking over it again, however - i think i may have just misunderstood how they were doing the extra mini stat blocks on the sides...
It looks like it may just be Weapon Focus that is missing


Oddman80 wrote:

Looking over it again, however - i think i may have just misunderstood how they were doing the extra mini stat blocks on the sides...

It looks like it may just be Weapon Focus that is missing

Here's the errata for Valeros

Errata Thread

There was also a staff explanation about the cleric that I'll try to find. That whole thread is a good read if you want to know what's a design decision and what's an error.

I made some pregen sheets with all the corrections, so I forgot about that errata thread.


Ninja in the Rye wrote:

I have no idea how Amiri is set up as a Pregen in the BB so a few thoughts on Val:

1. Double check his stats, when I ran the BB adventure a while back I noticed that there was an error on Val's sheet that had his longsword attack 1 lower than it should have been (I think they forgot to factor in his Weapon Focus). I think that this was corrected in later printings, but you should check to be sure.

2. BB Val has improved Initiative, so he's probably acting first more often than she is.

3. If you want to give him a niche and want to run the pregens as written, then go with the shield and sell him as an armored tank.

Some players don't want their character getting hit more than they want to be able to do a bunch of damage, and Val is the pregen who is going to be best at not getting hit.

...

If movement speed is an issue, are you not using charge? Or is it not an option in these scenarios because of positioning/terrain?

That I've seen, they don't really have a "Beginner's Box version" of Amiri. I just needed a 5th PC, so I web-searched a normal write up of Amiri at 1st level and found one. This results in a few irregularities (i.e. I think she has a skill or two that the BB Hero's Handbook does not include,) but I just sort of went with it. Also, the business of her having a bastard sword from the Large size category is not normally the sort of game mechanics I would introduce to kid newbie players at the onset, but, oh well, that ship has sailed. And the kid playing Amiri REALLY likes that big sword in the art.

Oh-- for those following along but not looking at write-ups, both Amiri and Valeros have Power Attack.

To your other points:

1. I did notice that (and corrected for it,) but thank you.

2. Good catch. I hope we don't get into a pattern where Valeros softens up opponents and then Amiri rolls in and gets the kill.

3. His AC is higher, and I'd say by the numbers, he's taking less damage than her. Plus, now that we're a few sessions in, he's about got enough gold to buy some better armor, which I think will make an even bigger difference.

In addition to the gold I've awarded, I'm also starting to giving out various low-level nonmagical item awards. I think this will allow me to give the kids more varied gear and options.

Charge! Great idea! Beginner's Box *does* support this. I didn't introduce this option on week 1 (and, due to the may layout, it didn't come up on week 2,) but yes, now we're at that point.

Good thread, good info. Thank you.


LuniasM wrote:

If I had to guess re: the movement, they're probably starting by casting a buff like Bless and then moving. With 2 melee characters and a low move speed getting into an open space can be tough, and it wouldn't surprise me if most fights were over by the end of Round 2-3.

They'll really start differentiating at Level 2 when the Barbarian gets a Rage Power while the Fighter gets a bonus feat and Bravery. Until then, make use of his shield in melee and his bow at range. The Barbarian may be a stronger damage dealer but it's also less versatile.

Yes, you're right, fights are lasting around 3 rounds tops right now. (And yet they take all session to resolve....) So if a particular kid makes an unwise or unlucky choice and feels like they wasted a round or two... yeah, that seems frustrating. I mean, we've all been there, but perhaps with kids it's more pronounced.

I agree that Level 2 ought to look pretty different. And I am considering letting them level up naturally when their XP warrants it. That will probably make the party pretty overpowered for Black-Fang's-Dungeon-as-written, but I can always add some more monsters to make it tougher.

(See, I'm already violating my original intent to stick with the material as published. Heh heh.)


Oddman80 wrote:

Given the fact that the Beginners Box didn't includ Amiri, the fact that she and Valeros don't come off that differently is not a design flaw. If anything it reinforces the design team's decision to omit Amiri. That said - i just looked at the BB Valeros, and they have SO MANY stats wrong on that sheet, its embarrassing. In addition to his TO HIT stat being too low, his Power Attack weapon damage makes no sense. They show his regular weapon damage as if he was holding his shield, but do not include his +2 Shield AC in his Armor stats.

Kyra's downside is a fact of the game. ...

Interesting, about the decision to omit Amiri. I assumed beforehand, without much thought, that for our 5th PC, a fairly straightforward melee combatant would be easiest and wisest. If I had to do it over again (and I potentially will, for my younger kids, some day,) I might make a 5th PC be a Druid or Bard or something.

Yes, I picked up on some possible stat errors/issues-- or perhaps presentation issues-- on the sheet for Valeros. I corrected one or two, decided to ignore others (or assumed that perhaps I was mistaken and they aren't really issues.)

You know, I think Kyra's downside (or any PCs downside) has been feeling more pronounced in our early sessions where it takes a long time to complete a combat round. If it takes 45 minutes to complete a round (yep!) , and one round feels like a waste for a particular kid, that means 90 minutes between occasions of getting to do something cool. (And you potentially have monsters hitting you in the meantime.) As we learn more and speed up, I bet this issue will fade some.

Again, to be clear, the kids are having a blast overall. This thread is discussing a small negative in an overwhelmingly positive campaign experience. I am very grateful for the chance to share my hobby with these enthusiastic kids!

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
ScottSMadsen wrote:

That I've seen, they don't really have a "Beginner's Box version" of Amiri. I just needed a 5th PC, so I web-searched a normal write up of Amiri at 1st level and found one. This results in a few irregularities (i.e. I think she has a skill or two that the BB Hero's Handbook does not include,) but I just sort of went with it. Also, the business of her having a bastard sword from the Large size category is not normally the sort of game mechanics I would introduce to kid newbie players at the onset, but, oh well, that ship has sailed. And the kid playing Amiri REALLY likes that big sword in the art...

I'm not sure if you've got these or not, from your post.

The Beginner Box product page has links to the Player Pack (rules for Barbarian and more for the other classes.
It also links to the GM Kit and some other neat stuff.

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