The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is a game about rules. At its core, it's really about one rule, the most important rule, appropriately named "The Golden Rule." That rule starts out with this sentence: "If a card and this rulebook are ever in conflict, the card should be considered correct." A character really shows what makes him special when he gets to break those rules. What makes Damiel great? Recharging potions that should be banished. What makes Darago special? Putting cards in your hand that would normally go back in the box. Those powers let you break the rules and bring the most fun to the game.
Everyone who plays this game learns two rules pretty quickly: You can only play one card of each type per step or check, and if you don't have a way to determine which skill you are using, you have to use Strength or Melee. The Best Character Ever gets to break both those rules on a regular basis, and his name is Sajan.
Rise of the Runelords Sajan can go crazy with blessings, and he's got a deck full of them to do just that. Anyone who has ever played him for a few adventures has probably enjoyed rolling over 100 on a check. Nothing makes you want to buy more dice for the game more than Sajan does. In fact, if you want to answer the question of how many dice of each type you could possibly ever need at one time, the answer has to involve Sajan (and is probably somewhere north of sixty dice). If you play Sajan, you'll usually save some time if you start your turn by saying "I'm going to need ALL the dice."
Sajan doesn't need a card to determine the skill for his check. His powers do that for him, and they let him throw some traits on there, too. Sajan won't have a problem with those pesky monsters that need you to use the Magic trait to defeat them. He's got some magic in those flaming fists of his.
But before I go too much further, let's look at the basics. One of the first things I do when deciding on a character is see if I can find his weakness. The easiest way to do this is to find the d4 in his stats. For Sajan, you'll notice the distinct absence of a d4 on his character card. Don't bother searching the back of the card either. It isn't misplaced. It just isn't there. That's right: no d4. The worst he'll do is a d6. Your friends won't complain when Sajan encounters the card they really want. He's got a d6, so just throw him some blessings, and he can acquire it. It's not like Valeros running into that spell Ezren has wanted for the past two adventures. You're worried about a nasty barrier? No problem. Sajan's got a d6 and loads of blessings to take care of that. He's also a template breaker. You thought Ezren was a bit odd with no blessings? How about a guy that starts with only three of the six types of boons? And more than half of those are blessings!
Now, let's examine his roles, Drunken Master and Zen Archer. Both roles give you ways to soak up non-Combat damage, and they both let you draw a card at the start of your turn. I consider that to be a safer way to increase your hand size. Since the card isn't in your hand, you are less likely to lose it when someone else does something foolish and that leads to you taking damage. Also, it keeps other players from greedily asking for all your blessings. Now, yes, as a Drunken Master he must draw 1 card. And yes, that can have some negative consequences, namely, getting him killed. But if you aren't recharging lots of cards with Sajan anyway, then you aren't playing him right.
My personal favorite role is Drunken Master, for this reason: "After you play a boon with the Liquid trait, you may succeed at a Fortitude 6 check to recharge it instead of banishing it." Throw in some skill feats to improve his Constitution, and at 1d6+4, that 6 is almost a guarantee. Give him the Amulet of Fortitude or a similar card, and it is a guarantee. Sajan was Damiel before being Damiel was cool. As a Drunken Master, almost no check is impossible. Give him a Potion of Healing, and he can go all-in, playing his massive amounts of blessings on other characters' checks and then healing them all back in. Or better yet, give him allies he can use to heal himself. (Father Zantus and the promo Poog of Zarongel were constants in my deck throughout Rise of the Runelords.) When my wife and I played a four-character party through Rise of the Runelords, Sajan was probably the biggest reason we didn't need a character with the Divine skill to heal us. And Drunken Master gets bonus points for probably being the most thematic role in the game.
But Zen Archer is no slouch either. He's recharging those ranged weapons he would otherwise discard. Give him some bows, and he can help with combat at other locations for the cost of a recharge. And don't miss the fact that his "go crazy with blessings" power still works, even when he plays a weapon to determine the skill for his check.
Recharge, recharge, recharge. Sajan's character card and both his roles center on recharging things. That's what he does! He can do it so often that you should get to see your whole deck multiple times in a game. And what's more fun than that? No waiting around for that particular card to come back up! Instead, you'll see it next turn… and probably again two turns after that.
And that is what makes him the best. Recharge cards, cycle your deck, shrug off non-Combat damage, and roll an unseemly number of dice. What's better than that?
Resident Adventure Card Game Expert
Next week's blog will bring you a whole new version of Sajan as we preview the Monk Class Deck!
Adventure Card Game Designer