Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #8

Wednesday, July 1, 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 Lini, the iconic druid, and her snow leopard animal companion, Droogami.

Female gnome druid 8
N Small humanoid (gnome)
Init +5; Senses low-light vision; Perception +15
AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 17 (+4 armor, +2 deflection, +1 Dex, +1 size)
hp 71 (8d8+32)
Fort +9, Ref +3, Will +10; +2 vs. illusion
Defensive Abilities defensive training
Speed 20 ft.
Melee mwk sickle +7 (1d4–1)
Ranged +1 sling +9 (1d3+1)
Special Attacks wild shape 4/day
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th):
1/day—dancing lights, ghost sound, prestidigitation, speak with animals
Druid Spells Prepared (CL 8th):
4th—cure serious wounds, flame strike (DC 18), freedom of movement
3rd—call lightning (DC 17), dominate animal (DC 17), greater magic fang, poison (DC 17)
2nd—barkskin, bull's strength, flame blade, lesser restoration
1st—cure light wounds (2), entangle (DC 15), longstrider, obscuring mist
0—create water, detect magic, know direction, stabilize
Str 8, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 8, Wis 18, Cha 16
Base Atk +6; CMB +4; CMD 17
Feats Combat Casting, Improved Initiative, Natural Spell, Weapon Focus (claw)
Skills Acrobatics +8, Fly +10, Handle Animal +10, Knowledge (nature) +8, Perception +15, Survival +13
Languages Common, Gnome
SQ nature bond (snow leopard animal companion), nature sense, resist nature's lure, trackless step, wild empathy +11, woodland stride
Combat Gear wand of cure light wounds; Other Gear mwk sickle, +1 sling, +2 leather armor, amulet of mighty fists +1, boots of elvenkind, druid vestments, elemental gem (air), headband of inspired wisdom +2, ring of protection +2

Male snow leopard
N Medium animal
Init +6; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +8
AC 22, touch 17, flat-footed 15 (+6 Dex, +1 dodge, +5 natural)
hp 45 (7d8+14)
Fort +7, Ref +11, Will +3; +4 vs. enchantment
Defensive Abilities evasion
Speed 50 ft.
Melee bite +9 (1d6+4 plus trip), 2 claws +9 (1d3+4)
Str 18, Dex 22, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +5; CMB +9; CMD 26
Feats Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Stealthy
Skills Acrobatics +10, Climb +9, Perception +8, Stealth +13
SQ devotion, link, share spells, sprint

So a druid and her animal companion walk into the forest. Wait, I did that bit last week. The druid is one of those classes that is tough to nail down. The rules for the druid involve a number of different subsystems, including animal companions and the rules for changing shape. Not surprisingly, of all the parts of a druid, these two received the biggest overhaul.

Let's start off by taking a look at wild shape. The old rules were a bit disjointed, giving you additional uses almost sporadically as you gained levels, while granting different types and sizes along the way. The new system grants you the ability to wild shape one level earlier (4th, instead of 5th) and gives you an additional usage every two levels after that (Lini is wearing druid vestments which gives her an additional use). Just like before, you can maintain a form for one hour per Druid level. Unlike the old system, which gave you the exact stats of the animal, the new system is based off a number of spells that grant a specific list of ability score bonuses. These spells also grant some of the powers of your new form, depending on the spells level (just as they did in the Beta playtest version of the rules). For example, at 8th level, Lini can turn into any animal from size Diminutive to Huge, a Small or Medium elemental creature, or a Small or Medium plant creature. If she were to change her shape into a Large dire tiger, her Strength would jump to 12 and her Dex would drop to 10. She would also gain a +4 natural armor bonus, a speed of 40 feet, and the tiger's claw and bite attacks, as well as its ability to pounce, rake, and grab. The big change here is that these alterations to her statistics are now size bonuses, meaning that she can take advantage of spells like bull’s strength and magic items to enhance her ability scores (magic items that continuously function continue to do so while in wild shape, such as her amulet of mighty fists). Add in bull's strength and Lini the dire tiger could make two claw attacks at +10, dealing 2d4+4 each, and one bite attack at +9, dealing 2d6+3 with the opportunity to grapple anyone she hits. So while this ability allows Lini to become a respectable melee threat, it does not allow her to ignore her physical stats during creation if she wants to be good at combat.

The Beta playtest rules for animal companions were very similar to their 3.5 counterparts, which caused a number of issues. If you wanted to be a druid with a bear animal companion, you had to wait until 4th level, and once you got past 7th level, you really needed to trade in your loyal bear for a bigger, better bear companion. We wanted druids to be able to form a meaningful bond with their companion from first level, regardless of type, and to keep that companion up through the higher levels of play. During the playtest, we posted up some alternate rules for animal companions, which have made it into the final game with a few alterations. Druids still have the option of taking a cleric domain in place of animal companion, but those that choose a friend will be pleasantly surprised. Companions are now based on a straightforward progression, gaining Hit Dice and other abilities as the druid gains levels. Each animal type is a sort of template that is applied to the base statistics shared by all animal companions. These templates define the companions' ability scores, attacks, defenses, movement types, and special abilities. At 4th or 7th level (depending upon the power of the companion), many animal companions gain a large set of increases, usually based on size (although druids who want a smaller pet now have the option of keeping it the same size). Droogami, for example, started out with the following block of information.

Cat, Small (Cheetah Leopard)
Starting Statistics: Size Small; Speed 50 ft.; AC +1 natural armor; Attack bite (1d4 plus trip), 2 claws (1d2); Ability Scores Str 12, Dex 21, Con 13, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6; Special Qualities low-light vision, scent.
4th-Level Advancement: Size Medium; Attack bite (1d6 plus trip), 2 claws (1d3); Ability Scores Str +4, Dex –2, Con +2; Special Qualities sprint.

Droogami's other statistics are derived from a simple chart that tells you the number of Hit Dice, skill points, feats, natural armor bonuses, and Strength and Dexterity bonuses. Droogami also receives an ability score boost that can be placed anywhere (Dexterity in this case). All of this is on top of the old druid animal companion abilities, such as share spells and evasion.

Aside from these big changes, there have been a number of smaller alterations to the some of the rules used in Lini's stat block. Resist nature's lure, for example, now also applies to any effect that targets plants or wood, such as entangle and warp wood. The spell poison now works with the new poison rules (in this case, dealing 1d3 Con damage per round for 6 rounds, or until a save is made). Entangle has been clarified a bit, giving the entangled condition to those that fail their save, while those that make it can move through the area, which is considered difficult terrain. Of course, the spell still requires tall grass, weeds, or bushes. Since Hide and Move Silently were combined into Stealth, the boots of elvenkind and cloak of elvenkind became a bit redundant. To alleviate this, the boots now grant a +5 bonus on Acrobatics checks.

I should also take a brief moment to talk about the Fly skill (which has been controversial from the start). This skill helps to adjudicate actions in the air, which were previously an all-or-nothing affair based on your maneuverability. Now, just like walking, swimming, or climbing, there is a set list of maneuvers you can perform without a skill check, and some, more difficult flying maneuvers (such as hovering or turning 180 degrees) that require a check. While this is a bit more complicated, it is far more dynamic, allowing for sky chases, dramatic crashes, and my personal favorite, attempting to force a dragon to land by shooting him down. This skill bonus is modified by both your size and your maneuverability, which means that even large Hit Dice creatures, such as dragons, do not necessarily receive high scores, while smaller creatures, such as bats, are quite skilled.

Alright, we are out of the forest now, and over half way done. Come back next week for a lesson on inner peace and busting heads with Sajan, the iconic monk.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

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Tags: Animals Druids Gnomes Iconics Lini Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Wayne Reynolds
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