Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #11

Wednesday, July 22, 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 sneaking around with Merisiel, the iconic rogue.

Female elf rogue 6
CN Medium humanoid (elf)
Init +4; Senses low-light vision; Perception +12
AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +4 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 42 (6d8+12)
Fort +4, Ref +10, Will +4; +2 vs. enchantments
Defensive Abilities evasion, trap sense +2, uncanny dodge
Speed 30 ft.
Melee +1 rapier +9 (1d6+2/18–20)
Ranged dagger +8 (1d4/19–20)
Special Attacks sneak attack +3d6, surprise attack
Str 12, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 10
Base Atk +4; CMB +5; CMD 20
Feats Dodge, Mobility, Nimble Moves, Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +13, Climb +10, Disable Device +18, Knowledge (local) +9, Perception +12, Sleight of Hand +13, Stealth +13, Swim +10
Languages Common, Elven
SQ finesse rogue, trapfinding +3, trap spotter
Combat Gear dust of tracelessness, potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of invisibility (2); Other Gear +2 studded leather, cloak of resistance +1, +1 rapier, daggers (8), handy haversack, masterwork thieves tools, ring of feather falling, rope of climbing

Hey, have you seen Merisiel around here anywhere? I am waiting for her to get here so that I can properly preview her and her awesome rogue talents, but she must be running late. Just like an elf, always running late. I know they live for hundreds of years, but my poor human life is short and I would like to spend it on things other than waiting for her to show up. Ow... my kidney!

So, now that Merisiel is finally here and I am shy one kidney, it is time to look at the rogue. Not much changed between the Beta version of the rules and the final game, but for those who are not familiar, let me walk you through the major differences.

The big change for rogues in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is the addition of rogue talents. These work like the special abilities that rogues gained at higher levels in 3.5, but now they are scaled and a rogue gets her first one at 2nd. Every 2 levels beyond 2nd, she can select an additional talent, and upon reaching 10th level, she can begin selecting advanced talents (which includes all of the special abilities from 3.5). Rogue talents are a mixed bag of abilities that allow a rogue to become a little better at one facet of rogue life. Merisiel here has three talents: finesse rogue, surprise attack, and trap spotter. The first gives her Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat, making it a common choice for 2nd level rogues. Surprise attack causes all of Merisiel's opponents to be treated as flat-footed to her attacks during a surprise round, even if they have already acted. Finally, trap spotter gives Merisiel a Perception check to notice a trap the moment she moves to within 10 feet of it.

Other rogue talents add to a rogue's sneak attack, such as slow reactions that causes an opponent hit by a rogue's sneak attack to lose the ability to make attacks of opportunity for 1 round. There are a number of rogue talents that affect movement, allowing a rogue to move faster while balancing or sneaking. There are even a pair of talents that allow rogues to cast a limited number of simple spells to aid them in their shadowy deeds.

Aside from rogue talents, there have been a few other modifications and additions to the rogue. The biggest of these are the changes to sneak attack. This iconic ability now functions on a wider variety of creatures, such as undead and constructs. Now that all characters can locate and disarm mechanical traps regardless of the DC, the trapfinding ability now grants a bonus on Perception checks to notice traps and Disable Device checks equal to half the rogue's level. It also grants rogues the ability to disarm magic traps. Finally, up at 20th level, the rogue gains the master strike class feature, which allows her to kill, paralyze, or put targets to sleep with a successful sneak attack.

Aside from her class features, there are a few other interesting rules bits presented here. Dodge now grants a +1 dodge bonus to AC (and CMD) against all targets. Never again will you need to remember to designate a single foe. Mobility works much as before, but Nimble Moves is a new feat. This allows Merisiel to ignore 5 feet of difficult terrain each round while moving. It might not seem like much but it does allow her to take a 5-foot-step into such terrain or move through it during a charge, both of which might be vital depending on the circumstances.

Well, that is all for this week. Wait a minute, that was a bit short. Since I seem to have a bit of extra space this week, I guess I will take a look at some of the other rules that a rogue must contend with on a daily basis. Of course, I am talking about traps and poisons.

While traps work much in the same way that they always have, the trap rules have been adjusted to scale all the way up to CR 20. This was accomplished by adding in some modifiers for traps that target multiple creatures or last for more than 1 round. For example, the chamber of blades trap, presented below, that deals damage to everyone within a large chamber and lasts for 1d4 rounds. On average, this trap is going to last for 2 rounds and everyone in the room is going to be attacked twice at a +20 bonus for 3d8+3 on each hit. While this is not a huge amount of damage for 10th level characters, it can add up really quick. On average, PCs are going to take 32 points of damage before this trap has run it course (or double that if a 4 is rolled for the duration).

Chamber of Blades Trap (CR 10)
Type mechanical; Perception DC 25; Disable Device DC 20
Trigger location; Duration 1d4 rounds; Reset repair
Effect Atk +20 melee (3d8+3); multiple targets (all targets in a 20-foot-square chamber)

Poisons, on the other hand, have seen some revisions. After PCs hit about 7th level in 3.5, poison becomes almost an irrelevant threat. Once heroes feast becomes an option, it is completely pointless, which is a shame. In the Pathfinder RPG, poisons are a threat again at every level. The immunity gained from heroes feast has been changed to a bonus against poison saves (the same has happened to its immunity to fear) and neutralize poison now requires a caster level check versus the DC of the poison to remove it. Add that in with some advanced poisons and you have a threat that the PCs must now consider when taking on some of the more iconic monsters in the game.

In addition, the mechanics behind poison have changed. Most now deal damage every round until they have run their course (this is called the frequency), but the amount of damage per round has been decreased a bit to compensate. Each poison has a cure line as well, which tells you how many saves you need to make to be free of the poison before the frequency has run out. If you have been poisoned multiple times by the same source, you no longer need to make multiple saves. Instead, the duration of the poison increases by 50% of the original duration and the DC of the save increases by +2. So, if you were poisoned three times by a wyvern, the frequency would become 1/round for 12 rounds and the DC would increase to 21. This system really opens up the poison rules (and curses and diseases which work under similar rules), allowing you to concoct all manner of vile ways to die. Here are a few sample poisons from the Core Rulebook to get your ideas flowing.

Type poison, ingested; Save Fortitude DC 14
Onset 10 minutes; Frequency 1/minute for 6 minutes
Effect 1d2 Str damage, target can attempt one save to cure a lycanthropy affliction contracted in the past hour; Cure 1 save

Insanity Mist
Type poison, inhaled; Save Fortitude DC 15
Frequency 1/round for 6 rounds
Effect 1d3 Wis damage; Cure 1 save

King's Sleep
Type poison, ingested; Save Fortitude DC 19
Onset 1 day; Frequency 1/day (unlike others, this poison continues until cured)
Effect 1 Con drain; Cure 2 consecutive saves

Tears of Death
Type poison, contact; Save Fortitude DC 22
Onset 1 minute; Frequency 1/minute for 6 minutes
Effect 1d6 Con damage and paralyzed for 1 minute; Cure none (This poison continues until the end of its frequency, regardless of the number of saving throws made)

Wyvern Poison
Type poison, injury; Save Fortitude DC 17
Frequency 1/round for 6 rounds
Effect 1d4 Con damage; Cure 2 consecutive saves

There are only three more previews left to go before the release of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. Of course, if you want a bit more, check out Kobold Quarterly #10, which contains another preview written by yours truly and a look at the revised shadowdancer prestige class. Next week, we will round out our look at the base classes by taking a look at Ezren, the iconic wizard.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

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Tags: Elves Iconics Merisiel Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Rogues Wayne Reynolds
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