Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #4

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is set to release on August 13th, 2009, and in anticipation, we are releasing a preview of the game each week until the game hits store shelves. This week, we are taking a look at Harsk, the iconic ranger.

Male dwarf ranger 11
LN Medium humanoid
Init +5 (+9 underground, +7 mountain); Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +17
AC 24, touch 15, flat-footed 19; (+6 armor, +5 Dex, +3 natural)
hp 109 (11d10+44)
Fort +10, Ref +12, Will +8; (+2 vs. poison, spells, and spell-like abilities)
Defensive Abilities defensive training (+4 AC vs. giants), evasion
Spd 20 ft.
Melee +2 greataxe +15/+10/+5 (1d12+5/x3)
Ranged +1 axiomatic shock light crossbow +15/+15/+10/+5 (1d8+1 plus 1d6 electricity/17–20)
Special Attacks favored enemy (humanoid [giant] +6, undead +2, dragon +2), favored terrain (underground +4, mountain +2), hunter's bond (companions), quarry
Spells Prepared (CL 8th)
3rd—cure moderate wounds, summon nature's ally III
2nd—barkskin (already cast), bear's endurance
1st—longstrider, resist energy, speak with animals
Str 14, Dex 20, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 6
Base Atk +11; CMB +13; CMD 28 (32 vs. bull rush and trip)
Feats Deadly Aim, Endurance, Improved Critical (light crossbow), Improved Precise Shot, Iron Will, Pinpoint Targeting, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Reload, Rapid Shot
Skills Climb +16, Heal +17, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +14, Perception +17, Stealth +24, Survival +17 (+22 following tracks)
Languages Common, Dwarven
SQ swift tracker, track +5, wild empathy +9, woodland stride
Combat Gear wand of cure moderate wounds (50 charges); Other Gear +3 studded leather armor, +2 greataxe, +1 axiomatic shock light crossbow, 40 bolts, 20 silver bolts, 20 cold iron bolts, 5 adamantine bolts, belt of incredible dexterity +4, headband of inspired wisdom +2, cloak of elvenkind

Let me tell you a little story.

For months now, stories were spreading about brutal attacks made against merchant caravans making their way through the Mindspin Mountains. While not uncommon during this time of year, the savagery of the attacks and the reports of a giant man, bedecked with ice, caught Harsk's attention. Not a week later, Harsk was high up the mountains, casting about for a trail. He had already encountered a pair of slaughtered caravans, when he found one that was recently attacked. Fresh boot prints in the snow confirmed his suspicions. It was a frost giant. For two days he followed the trail without fault, leading deeper into the mountains before ending at the mouth of a deep, dark cave. Sneaking inside, the wily dwarf quickly found his prey, sorting through a vast pile of ill-gotten loot. The giant had no idea that death had come for him as Harsk took aim with his trusted crossbow.

This is the sort of situation a ranger like Harsk dreams of. Having caught the giant in a cave, he has immense bonuses against the behemoth. Using his favored terrain bonuses, Harsk received a +2 on all Survival skill checks when tracking the giant through the mountains. In the caves (which count as underground), this bonus increases to a +4. It also applies to his initiative (giving him a great chance at going first), Perception, and Stealth checks. His favored enemy bonuses against giants of +6 applies to Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks made against the giant, but more importantly, it applies to his attack and damage rolls. Added up, these bonuses give him a +32 bonus on Survival checks to track the giant in the caves (+30 in the mountains) and a +28 to avoid being spotted as he sneaks up to within 30 feet for the attack.

Assuming Harsk gets the drop on the giant, he can use Pinpoint Targeting during the surprise round to ensure he gets a hit. This feat allows him to make a single attack as a standard action that ignores armor, natural armor, and shield bonuses to AC (which drops the giant's AC down to 8). If he wins initiative, he can then take a full attack against the giant. Using Deadly Aim (which allows him to take a –3 penalty on attack rolls to gain a +6 bonus on damage rolls, just like Power Attack but for ranged weapons), his bonus on these attacks comes out to +19/+19/+14/+9 with each attack dealing 1d8+14 plus 1d6 electricity and 2d6 from the axiomatic quality. If Harsk hits with all 4 attacks (and the surprise attack, which deals a little less damage), his average damage is around 138 points of damage, which is just enough to put the giant in his grave.

If Harsk really wanted to ensure success, he would denote the giant as his quarry before combat begins. This ability is gained at 11th level and it allows a ranger to select a creature that matches one of his favored enemy types as his quarry, granting him a +2 bonus on attack rolls and automatically confirming all critical hits against the target. He can also take 10 on Survival checks to track his quarry while moving at full speed without penalty. Although Harsk can have no more than one quarry at a time, he can select a new quarry 1 hour after his previous quarry is slain.

Now, this is not exactly a fair fight, as Harsk is built to kill giants in caves, but rangers are built to excel in specific circumstances. Against other enemies or in other environments, they are still capable combatants, but they really shine when hunting their favored enemies or while adventuring in their favored terrain.

Harsk also possesses the hunter's bond class feature, which allows him to grant any allies within 30 feet half of his favored enemy bonus against one foe as a move action. Once given, this bonus lasts for 3 rounds. He could have taken an animal companion instead, but we will discuss those in more detail during the druid preview. For now, remember that if Harsk were to take an animal companion, his effective druid level would be 8th (not 5th, as it was in 3.5).

In addition, Harsk has a few spells to aid him in his struggles. He now casts spells with a caster level equal to his ranger level –3 (instead of half his ranger level). His progression has also been improved a bit, giving him a few extra spells. Of special note is summon nature's ally III, which allows him to summon a boar, a wolverine, or even 1d3 Small earth elementals. Take a look at the following lists for more examples (some might even say this was a sneak peak at the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary).

1st level

Dire Rat
Giant Centipede
Fire Beetle
Poisonous Frog
Pony (horse)
Riding Dog
Viper (snake)

2nd Level

Ant, Drone
Elemental (Small)
Goblin Dog

3rd Level

Ant, Soldier
Aurochs (herd animal)
Constrictor Snake
Dire Bat
Electric Eel
Giant Crab
Giant Lizard
Leopard (Cat)

Harsk has a few other abilities as well. Swift tracker allows Harsk to move his normal speed while using Survival to track and reduces the penalty to –10 while moving at twice his normal speed. Track now grants a bonus on Survival checks made to follow tracks equal to 1/2 his ranger level. This change was made because everyone can track now using Survival, making the ability redundant. At higher levels, Harsk would gain additional favored enemies and terrains, additional combat style feats (additional archery feats in Harsk's case), improved evasion, camouflage, hide in plain sight, and at 20th level, the master hunter ability. This ability allows him to kill his favored enemies with a single bolt, assuming they fail their saves. He can also use this ability to deal nonlethal damage equal to the target's hit point total, allowing him to bring his prey back alive.

That covers the ranger. Come back next week and enter the domains of Kyra, the iconic cleric.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

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Tags: Dwarves Harsk Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Rangers Wayne Reynolds
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