GM Sappy's Rise of the Runelords - Little Heroes Table 1 (Inactive)

Game Master Sapiens

Sandpoint Battle

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Soooo, I was perusing the Paizo store and happened upon this lovely, child-themed adventure. Since I'm already running a game starring old people, it only seems appropriate to make one filled with children, perhaps trying to make it slightly darker.

But it wouldn't be a GM Sappy's game without some weird, thematic house rules, would it? Therefore, I think it'll be appropriate to make this a...
ridiculously low power game.
Stay with me, please. I know, you've all made countless level 1 characters to attend Petros Lorrimor's funeral, protect the Swallowtail Festival or reclaim the Stolen Lands. Often, first levels feel like a slog until your build really comes online and you start doing your nice tricks. I get it.

What I'm offering is a different perspective, having you start from, basically, level 0. Your characters wouldn't be adventurers, they'd be kids who dream, one day, to become adventurers. Did you read those Dragonlance books on Raistlin and Caramon Majere's childhood? Something like that, perhaps without wizardly crankiness and moon gods shenanigans. You'll get to roleplay the moment that those kids who were fighting with wooden swords have to face their first real challenges, standing bravely in the face of danger. I don't know about you, but I believe that this could be the cutest things since bunnies.

Your characters would begin play with a low point-buy stat distribution and a tuned-down version of class abilities. This will require some balancing on my part, but I believe I can do it. For example, a cleric would only have domain power, reduced spellcasting and no channel energy (NOTE: just off the top of my head, likely not how it'll actually be). A wizard will be learning his cantrips and have no familiar yet. Weapons and armor will likewise be lower-powered: not many people would trust a 12-years old with a sword (perhaps an apprentice blacksmith might get one via a trait, though) so you'd have to make do with what you can find around: kitchen knives, fire pokers, quarterstaves and slings. As for protection, you may be able to sneak into the attic and grab Grandpa's old leather jerkin, but good luck getting a breastplate for yourself.

Then, sooner or later, you'll level up. You'll get all those first-level goodies and they will feel lovely because you earned them. Those little rewards will feel so much better. And even as you gain a few more levels, I'm betting you'll keep that beautiful feeling of adventure and discovery.

An additional note, although the idea came from that adventure, it will not necessarily be the one run for this game. There are several scenarios and APs that could work well with this idea.

So, who's with me?

I'm listening. A young boy who dreams of becoming a paladin. Would this campaign be set in Golarion?

Quite likely Golarion, yes. I'll look around for suitable low-level adventures and weave them together around one home settlement, so that we won't have to justify kids in their early teens going over to the corners of the world.

This sounds fun. Made a character once with this in mind. "Down the rabbit hole" feel. But gm had to stop due to RL issues

Liberty's Edge

The Dungeon Crawl Classic, "Legends are Made, Not Born", is a great 0-level adventure as well as DCC's Attack of the Frawgs.

Interested in playing, for sure!

I'd be down. I used to have a character who was a little girl. She helped around a tavern and went on "adventures" in her spare time.

Ooooh. I'm very interested. Question: if everybody survives, and is interested, do you think we could continue the campaign when the kids reach "level one" and begin adventuring proper?

And sooo many ideas. Oh, joy.

-A grumpy, intelligent girl with adventuring wizards for parents. (Bloodrager)

-The homeless kid who's always pulling off crazy stunts. (Swashbuckler)

-The one grounded member of the group, without any real skills but a pinch of common sense and intelligence. (Some kind of class that lends itself to skills that suddenly awaken out of nowhere, like sorcerer or oracle.)

Thanks for the suggestion! Those modules could be an excellent start!

And sure, adventuring could very well go on, there are several adventures that lend themselves pretty well to smart, crafty kids playing around with their newly acquired adventuring abilities.

Other modules I've been considering are Ire of the Storm, The Dragon's Demand, Cat and Mouse and Shunned Valley of the Three Tombs (and The Fiddler's Lament if you'd like something more creepy). Adventure Paths often assume that PCs are more accomplished adventurers, so unless [crazy idea]we set the early adventures on Sandpoint, then start RotRL[/crazy idea] they wouldn't work well.

Interesting concept.

@GM Sappy - if you do not already have other ideas of how you want to handle it, there are some 3rd party options for 0 Level characters here and here and young character's stuff here if you are interested.

As for what I might try for: a boy that has spent a fair amount of time with his hunter/trapper father in the woods hunting game for food and hides. Likely path: Ranger or Hunter (a very remote, outside shot of druid)

@GM Sappy
The Falcon Hollows modules could work, as Crown of the Kobold King does have children written in the module.

My idea for the kid will be Cavalier :)

I'd like to make a rogue, I think. Or maybe a bard.


Nice to see interest, and thank you all for the advice, I'll be sure to check them out! The inspiration came from a similar Italian 3PP called The Manual of Lowest Levels, I think that ultimately I'll cherry-pick and patchwork things together.
Also, the idea of weaving humble beginnings into a Rise of the Runelords game is growing on me, since it's the most iconic and "classic fantasy" of the bunch...

I like this idea a lot. It's like those classic Japanese roleplaying video games where a bunch of kids who start out fighting rats in the sewers eventually save the world.

Liberty's Edge

Sounds like a lot of fun...the RotRL could easily be added to to make an epic game! Will you be turning this into a recruiting forum? Would be interested in a monk or ranger character if you are!!

What would you think of a child psychic with reduced spellcasting who thematically, isn't actually aware she's casting spells yet?

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I can see a lot of interest, so a proper recruitment is definitely going to happen. I'll have to slog through a tough school week, though, before I can write down a full rule set and choose a starting adventure.

The child psychic might work, depending on their personality. I can see a child, wishing that the wolf won't eat them, and the wolf mysteriously standing down.

Great. I'll be waiting here.

I do have an oddball question. Could we take, for example, an archetype or prestige class designed for a small race as a human child?

Huge dot. I've been thinking about putting together a similar campaign recently except with all old people that start at a rest home. Anyways this sounds way fun, and I already have ideas for a son of the local magistrate that is very much a wuss and rule follower. He would also be continually bragging about the fact that his father is paying for him to be mentored by the local paladin.
Let us know when recruitment starts :)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Interested. :) would love to do a childhood game again.

I'm thinking a Young Tiefling, the local delinquent orphan who dreams of becoming a magus.

Has a tough guy attitude but is more a glass cannon. Relying on his appearance to keep kids his age cowed.

I'm super interested, and I've got a Magical Child Vigilante character I've been sitting on and wanting to play but haven't had the chance. This would be a wonderful excuse on so many levels.

If you do a sanctioned AP, would you be willing to sign off on chronicle sheets? Just curious, still interested if not.

Magical child could make for a fun group :)

Racial archetypes might be OK, as long as they are not too closely tied to race.
As for chronicle sheets, I don't know much about PFS. I'll be using a few houserules, so I wouldn't know if the campaign might be eligible, but if it is I don't see why not.

As long as the campaign is run mostly as written (within some variance, I usually rebalance encounters and play with house rules) then PFS credit can be earned.

GM Sappy wrote:

Racial archetypes might be OK, as long as they are not too closely tied to race.

As for chronicle sheets, I don't know much about PFS. I'll be using a few houserules, so I wouldn't know if the campaign might be eligible, but if it is I don't see why not.

As FedoraFerret said, so long as the AP is mostly kept intact story and difficulty wise, you can earn PFS credit. A few house rules and weird variations are expected for home groups. The only big rule is that whatever character you use can't be used in PFS games until you finish the whole AP which is frankly no big deal since.

And yeah Seth86, a Magical child is so much fun in concept but you really need an AP or something similar to really make a Vigilante shine since all of the fun is dodging people figuring out it's you in the two forms.

Dear GM Sappy, your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. I liked the WWII idea, and this one sounds really interesting. I've played 1 encounter in RotRL, but I know tie ins to the town are pretty important, and having grown up there makes a lot of sense.
It'd also mean an otherwise weird party makes more sense.
Not sure what I'd play. Blacksmith? Wild child? I'd be interested in being related to another PC though - ideally a brother (or half brother).

Just a thought...
Scaling down below 1 can run into problems - for example a rogue might have trouble getting any sort of 'fast talk' and stealth and lockpick, and natural ability starts to outweigh levels stuff.
Could I suggest run 1-3, and scale UP everything else?
So at 1 we fight a goblin, and it's an actual dangerous combatant. A wolf is a Dire wolf. Traps have really high DC.
The system stops breaking down, because you can still use higher numbers, without needing to have things like "half BAB".
You can do the same for weapons; "sharpened stick" is a spear, but if we still use it when we level up, well, it's a crappy improvised weapon. On the other hand you can probably still kill a goblin with it more easily than that epic fight when you did it as a kid and nearly died.

Spells that don't manipulate numbers (like cure, attack and buffs do) would need to be tweaked, or spells like Spider Climb'd be too powerful.
Flavour wise the spells'd be something between cantrips and 'real spells'.

I'd be interested, if the setting has 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' feel

Ok, so: Pathfinder Society Credit is OK by me if we actually do end up running RoTR. Which I'd rate at a 70-75% chance right now.

For game balance, I'd still prefer to add some houserules to deal with it. I believe that it would help immersion to have experienced players actually feeling less powerful. Also, natural ability should trump training, since you haven't had any real experience.
For example, class skills only giving a +1, restricted proficiencies, fewer spells... Nothing too complicated.
Also, I have a newsletter? O_O

As for the settings, I'm not sure if I can manage that. Narnia has a unique touch that is extremely hard to get, especially with "crunchy" games like Pathfinder.

I'm definitely interested in this, especially if it evolves into RotR, because I'm one of the 4 people on this site that have never played Runelords, so I know literally nothing about it, but have always wanted to play it and keep running into "We've done it already" from my local people.

Doesn't hurt to ask.

I do recommend that it might be easier to use Commoner as a base and add to it

I'm going to start working on a background, under the assumption that it'll be RotRL. I'll make it flexible enough to be edited if that's not the case.

BTW, I'm still here.

Dot. I like the idea of a child kineticist who cant control their power properly.

Magical Child Vigilante is officially percolating, let me know if I can actually go with it, I've got so many ideas to decide between! I've never played Runelords either so that'd be an absolute blast to get to play it.

im also thinking in those lines

@GM Sappy: Fair enough... in which case it'd be interesting to play a kid with a natural ability that doesn't match their class projection; a sort of "remember when Raistlin punched out that bully for his little brother?" type moment.

I see no reason to avoid Magical Child, or pretty much anything, actually. I haven't played RotRL either, so I don't know how much of it will stay in Sandpoint, but I'm sure something can be worked out.

@Harakani: What ho, Muscle Wizard!

@GM Snappy:

I have the RotRL Hardcover since I was planning to GM it once, but did not get an opportunity to do so.
I can say this you don't stay in Sandpoint, your in Sandpoint for I believe one and a half books (out of six) worth of the AP.
Curse Of the Crimson Throne stays in the city for 5 of the 6 books, and Falcon's Hollow modules all stick to one geographic area.

I definitely have a few ideas for this, one of the primary being 'a boy and his dog' though what flavor of terrifying otherworldly power the dog represents is still up in the air

@GM Sappy: Well, maybe ;P
Easiest way might be Knowledge is Power on a wizard with Strength and Intelligence, then play up the raw strength.
Doesn't have to be a strong wizard, though. A smart fighter who was too lazy to continue studying could also work.

Any news on when this one's going to kick off? I'm really looking forward to it!

I'm far deeper in schoolwork than I expected, but I'll try to have a proper recruitment thread up by the end of the week.

Cool cool. Any hints at point buy, classes/archetypes, etc?

GM Sappy wrote:
I'm far deeper in schoolwork than I expected, but I'll try to have a proper recruitment thread up by the end of the week.

Thanks for the heads up.

Did not realize we were looking at Rise of the Runelords for the eventual AP, I'll have to dust off two ideas I'd been keeping in reserve for RotRL and adjust them. Idea one is a Aether specialist Kineticist with the flavor of being close to the usual sort of mysterious orphan and who may or may not be a personification of raw magic. Idea two is a Witch Killer Slayer flavored as potentially the last inheritor of an ancient Azlanti fighting style intended to fight arcane spellcasters.

dotting, this sounds quite interesting.

Point buy would be low, surely no higher than 15 pts - but possibly increasing later in the game.
As for classes and archetypes, I'll surely allow all Paizo, Spheres of Power and perhaps Spheres on Might as well. Would have to work on that one. Generally, I'd go with a rather lighthearted atmosphere, somehow like Final Fantasy IX, so something like a spiritualist infested by the ghost of the twin sister, while a cool idea, would likely be a bit out of place.

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