Hawkmoon's Best Character Ever: Sajan

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Now that most of the design team has told us about their favorite characters, we thought we'd invite PACG messageboards MVP Hawkmoon to tell us who his favorite character is.

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?

Hawkmoon
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!

Tanis O'Connor
Adventure Card Game Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Class Decks Iconics Monks Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Sajan

Wait, is Athnul Sajan's long lost sister or is she just a card NPC that players can make use of?


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Congrats hawkmoon!

Athnul does not look Vudrani, and I don't see Sajan ever resolving the search because that would kinda defeat the point.


A wonderful choice. Sajan was my son's choice through RotR. He loved the blessings and the massive amount of dice. I loved this quote:

Quote:


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."

Except for d4s, of course. :)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Not only do we love the same characters, but for the same reason. No matter what I'm playing, whether it's PACG, D&D/Pathfinder, Magic the Gathering, etc., my playstyle is always to find a build that says "Just tear up the rulebook, it means nothing to my character".

Blessings? I'll play however many I want
Damiel's potions? Nah, I'll just keep them
Darago / Balazar? Those dead monsters? Mine.

Adventure Card Game Designer

zeroth_hour wrote:
Athnul does not look Vudrani, and I don't see Sajan ever resolving the search because that would kinda defeat the point.

Athnul is from Tian Xia. Sajan's style is basically bāhu-yuddha; Athnul's is likely a variant of shorinji kempo.

Of course, Rooboo practices tengudo.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Berselius wrote:
Wait, is Athnul Sajan's long lost sister or is she just a card NPC that players can make use of?

She appears to be one of the new PCs from the Monk Class Deck.

This is Sajan's long lost sister.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Athnul looks like a Fire Bender from Avatar: The Last Airbender. My interest in playing a monk is very piqued and anxious to see what her character/role cards look like.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

... told you to NEVER let Hawk have his own blog entry.
Gosh now I have to review my full monk strategy.

Great blog Hawk!


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Well... Firebenders in ATLA utilize a style based on Northern Shaolin techniques. There was a lot of consultation in ATLA to make the martial arts authentic.

Athnul, on the other hand, seems to be in a White Crane style stance, which is actually a Southern style. However, Northern Shaolin techniques emphasize high kicks, so it's feasible.

I dug a bit further, and what Mike refers to as shorinji kempo is a Japanese derivative where most of the striking is derived from Northern Shaolin techniques and the grappling is derived from jujutsu.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

So excited for the Monk class deck. By far the one out of all the possible class decks that I want the most.

Andrew L Klein wrote:

Not only do we love the same characters, but for the same reason. No matter what I'm playing, whether it's PACG, D&D/Pathfinder, Magic the Gathering, etc., my playstyle is always to find a build that says "Just tear up the rulebook, it means nothing to my character".

Blessings? I'll play however many I want
Damiel's potions? Nah, I'll just keep them
Darago / Balazar? Those dead monsters? Mine.

Sajan is my favorite in RotR (and overall), Damiel is my favorite in S&S, and Balazar is my favorite in WotR. So yeah, lots of the same there. Ezren is pretty high up on my list too, due to the combination of cards you can work together to make him amazing.

But Sajan is just so fun to play.

Paizo Employee Contributor

Hawkmoon269 wrote:
But Sajan is just so fun to play.

I'll second this. Your article (which is both well thought out and an entertaining read!) led me to reflect on all the people I've taught this game.

Everyone I've taught that played Sajan has gone out and bought the game.

(No one I've taught that played Merisiel, conversely, has ever bought the game, emphasizing the relative "fun" in (i) having no real weaknesses, and (ii) recharge, recharge, recharge.)

Adventure Card Game Designer

zeroth_hour wrote:

Well... Firebenders in ATLA utilize a style based on Northern Shaolin techniques. There was a lot of consultation in ATLA to make the martial arts authentic.

Athnul, on the other hand, seems to be in a White Crane style stance, which is actually a Southern style. However, Northern Shaolin techniques emphasize high kicks, so it's feasible.

I dug a bit further, and what Mike refers to as shorinji kempo is a Japanese derivative where most of the striking is derived from Northern Shaolin techniques and the grappling is derived from jujutsu.

That's a finer distinction than I'd draw on the basis of one image. I'm not sure we can easily impose such distinctions as "Northern China" and "Southern China" on a fantasy world. Nonetheless, the flexibility between hard and soft combat is basically what I was going for when I described it that way, based on Tanis's build for the character.


Great article Hawkmoon!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I like Sajan because he evades the d4 wall, particularly in solo play. It's a shame his primary ability does not work out of combat (barriers can stop him cold) but he's still quite good. I am sure in a group where others can pop blessings, he excels even more.

Definitely looking forward to the new monk class deck as well.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

How have I not known about this? Can't wait for my monk class deck to arrive.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Mike Selinker wrote:
zeroth_hour wrote:

Well... Firebenders in ATLA utilize a style based on Northern Shaolin techniques. There was a lot of consultation in ATLA to make the martial arts authentic.

Athnul, on the other hand, seems to be in a White Crane style stance, which is actually a Southern style. However, Northern Shaolin techniques emphasize high kicks, so it's feasible.

I dug a bit further, and what Mike refers to as shorinji kempo is a Japanese derivative where most of the striking is derived from Northern Shaolin techniques and the grappling is derived from jujutsu.

That's a finer distinction than I'd draw on the basis of one image. I'm not sure we can easily impose such distinctions as "Northern China" and "Southern China" on a fantasy world. Nonetheless, the flexibility between hard and soft combat is basically what I was going for when I described it that way, based on Tanis's build for the character.

That's true. I meant to go for an explanation of why Athnul's style would seem similar to the Firebenders' in ATLA. What ended up happening was probably a little nitpicky.

I'm interested to see how the hard and soft styles play out. I'm a big fan of flexibility.


I played both versions of Sajan through RotR, and wasn't so convinced as to his usefulness.

I took drunken master because it was cool, but it felt seriously under-powered - pre-rolecard, you have to sink all your skill feats into Dexterity to have any chance of passing combat- being able to play multiple blessings sounds cool, but actually it's just patching over the fact that he can't use weapons, so is starting on a very low base, compared to someone using a +1 or +2 weapon, or someone who has a combat-focused sub-skill like Ranged or Melee: any time you have to fight outside your turn, or do multiple checks, you're seriously stuck.

Post role-card, you can try to recharge those liquid boons, but who has 4 spare skill feats to put into constitution to make the odds anything more than average?

In our experience Sajan was a few turns of playing lots of blessings, then being stuck as you draw in to all your items and can't go anywhere/do anything. Prepare for lots of dull turns, occasionally broken up by a moment's excitement as you find you actually need to do an acrobatics check.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I knew from the beginning that I was going to choose Drunken Master. By the mid-point, I had 2 feats in Dexterity and 2 in Constitution. With only the +2, I was more reliant on the blessings to roll higher. (I often wondered why he combat defining power couldn't use Acrobatics.) Getting as many Erastil blessings as possible (and the Zarongel if you have it) helps since you are adding 2 dice with each blessing. 3d10 +2 for a single card recharging is pretty good. And 5d10 +2 for 2 recharged cards is even better. I did fill out his Dexterity before the end.

To help him cycle, I got other cards that would also recharge. He had the Holy Candle so I could thin out his non-blessings a bit. Father Zantus thinned him out too once I used him. I'd often use Monkey to acquire something, even if I had a reasonable chance to acquire it with out it so I could get back to my blessings.

And for the liquid recharge, you only need 2 skill feats (and that is the max in Constitution anyway). He has a +2 for Fortitude, so 1d6 +4 is a 5 minimum and you only need to get a 6. And Amulet of Fortitude's reveal power (or the Belt of Physical Might if I remember correctly) will make that a guarantee.


MightyJim wrote:
I took drunken master because it was cool, but it felt seriously under-powered - pre-rolecard, you have to sink all your skill feats into Dexterity to have any chance of passing combat- being able to play multiple blessings sounds cool, but actually it's just patching over the fact that he can't use weapons, so is starting on a very low base, compared to someone using a +1 or +2 weapon, or someone who has a combat-focused sub-skill like Ranged or Melee: any time you have to fight outside your turn, or do multiple checks, you're seriously stuck.

Sure, he starts out like any other non-melee-focused character. But he can use two blessings out of his hand where others can only use one. And those blessings are recharged instead of discarded. Also, once you get your first power feat, he can take on monsters that require Magic.

MightyJim wrote:

Post role-card, you can try to recharge those liquid boons, but who has 4 spare skill feats to put into constitution to make the odds anything more than average?

It's just a Fortitude 6 check so you are 50-50 if you have no skill feat on Constitution. But if you know you're going Drunken Master, you probably have given youself both skill feats.

MightyJim wrote:
In our experience Sajan was a few turns of playing lots of blessings, then being stuck as you draw in to all your items and can't go anywhere/do anything. Prepare for lots of dull turns, occasionally broken up by a moment's excitement as you find you actually need to do an acrobatics check.

That wasn't our experience at all. With 8 out of 15 cards being blessings - and more as you add Card feats - and with those blessings being recharged instead of being discarded, Sajan is hardly ever without a blessing in his hand.

My son played Sajan and he was wickedly useful for fighting. As Hawkmoon's post said, he was rolling tons of d10s every turn - recharge 6 blessings to roll 7d10 and then get them back when you reset your hand.


Hawkmoon OP. Hawkmoop.

Scarab Sages

Great blog Hawkmoon!


Nice blog Hawkmoon.

While we're discussing Sajan... what's up with the Temple Sword promo for Sajan. Its a weapon that would be great for him but the RotR Sajan doesn't even start with a weapon? The owner stat really doesn't do him much good.

Here's hoping class deck Sajan gets to start with a weapon.


I'm thinking the Temple Sword will work well in Rooboo's hands(or claws?), the only downside would be having to acquire it instead of adding it to her starting deck(But there's always house ruling, right? ^_~)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Shade325 wrote:

Nice blog Hawkmoon.

While we're discussing Sajan... what's up with the Temple Sword promo for Sajan. Its a weapon that would be great for him but the RotR Sajan doesn't even start with a weapon? The owner stat really doesn't do him much good.

Here's hoping class deck Sajan gets to start with a weapon.

I would expect the CD version to start with one, otherwise the Owner trait really doesn't serve a purpose.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Well, if Satan gets a card feat, applies it to weapon and then somehow manages to banish his Temple Sword in AD1 or AD2, he can still replace it without having to spend a card feat.

Actually, when he gets a card feat, the owner trait allows him to pick the Temple Sword without having to use a deck upgrade to do it as well.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
zeroth_hour wrote:

Well, if Satan gets a card feat, applies it to weapon and then somehow manages to banish his Temple Sword in AD1 or AD2, he can still replace it without having to spend a card feat.

Actually, when he gets a card feat, the owner trait allows him to pick the Temple Sword without having to use a deck upgrade to do it as well.

First off, I don't want Satan getting feats of any kind. The monsters in this game are deadly enough as it is.

Second, that a bit much for Sajan to be able to use his Owner trait. Either take the feat, then find a way to banish all extra weapons your party has plus one more to leave you needing one, or take the feat after a scenario when there were no weapons gained.

Yea, I'm leaning towards "CD has a starting weapon" lol

EDIT: Vic's post here linked to my earlier post suggesting the CD had a starting weapon, in response to a post asking about the trait's usefulness. I'm taking that as "Yup he gets one"

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Oh, at LEAST one.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
Oh, at LEAST one.

...


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I wanted to say thanks for letting me write this.

And also, a big thanks for something I just noticed. The images of Sajan's RotR character cards have all been updated to use "skill" instead of "die." That is a wonderful thing with the Monk deck coming out soon. Thanks so, so much for that.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Before anybody wonders about that, we're not planning to reprint RotR anytime soon; we've just been keeping the files updated with current templates, for use in projects like Obsidian's game and for future foreign language translations.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Silly autocorrect.

Yeah, I noticed that Obsidian's game uses the new versions of the text.

CD probably does have a starting weapon, but I was saying there were other ways that the Owner trait could matter after building a starting deck; I was concentrating on OP and forgot about box play.


Awesome post hawk. One of my team gonna bring Sajan into AD4 & loving his char.

Thanks for always clarifying & helping everyone understand things better.


My fave character was in S&S. I have a bit of a crush on her actually ;)

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Maybe it is just me, but I think the hardest thing might be actually selecting a favorite character. Hawkmoon has been talking up Sajan for...well, I guess years now, as it's one of the first characters he played in his home game. But he also plays a lot of other characters, too (Ezren, Damiel, and a bunch of others in his home / solo games).

One of the great things about this game is that the team has done a great job making each character unique, and useful / fun in different ways. Every time I read one of these posts I am temporarily convinced that the character they're plugging is, indeed, the best one. At least until I go play a different one. A lot of characters aren't "the best" so much as they are "the best at X."


Calthaer wrote:
One of the great things about this game is that the team has done a great job making each character unique

I'm currently soloing Amiri through RotR and I really do think that is true. At first, she seemed like a lesser version of Valeros, but her Survival bonus helps with many of the allies and her ability to boost Strength/Melee/Constitution by burying a card is more helpful than I first considered.

I'm just starting RotR-AP3 with her and really enjoy her play. She will only lose a combat if I play it too safe and can leave her blessings and allies to help with her off-stats (Wisdom, Charisma, Intelligence).

So I agree with your statement and give kudos to Mike and the developers on their character development.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Yeah, choosing a favorite was actually difficult. I've enjoyed everyone character I've played so far. Even Alahazra, even though I repeatedly get her killed for some reason (happened again last week).

I went with Sajan partially because he was sort of my "first love" of sorts. But on Amiri was on the shortlist, largely because (as I've often said) I discounted her as terrible at the beginning of the game. Then my wife opened my eyes to her awesomeness.

Balazar was one I would have considered, but I didn't think I should pick any character I hadn't played completely through an adventure path. It just didn't feel like I really knew the character well enough.

Valeros was up there too. Even though he seems plain, I felt like you could actually do some interesting things with him by giving him bows to help at other locations (since he could recharge them), which gets all the better if you take his Weapon Master role, his Diplomacy made him good at acquiring allies, and he can be lots of fun if you recharge your weapons almost with abandon. And I really like the Tactician role from S&S.

But, as said above, Sajan is just immense fun. With the exception of the limited organized play I've done, I've tried to never play the same character twice (or at least the same role), since there are still so many choice to explore and enjoy. But Sajan tempts me to break that. I felt like in S&S his Fortitude and decent Wisdom would be well suited for the challenges. Plus all the potions opened up more options for Drunken Master. I'm not so sure how great he'd be in WotR, but I can say for sure that Sajan (in some version or one of his monk friends) will be the first character I play in Mummy's Mask. And that is why I felt he was my favorite.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Last night, I told my PACG group about the possible "deck 7" adventure (just finishing Skull & Shackles)and the person who played Sajan through Rise of the Runelords immediately got excited. He said he has Sajan's final deck memorized (from last August) and would love to see what would be possible with his Drunken Master Sajan.

So yeah, great post Hawkmoon.

Adventure Card Game Designer

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FYI: Alahazra from S&S was my runner-up.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

So far I have rocked Valendron in Skull and Shackles and Arushalae in Wrath. Val's ability to shuttle at the end of his turn was beautiful for those locations that did bad things when you start/end your turn there, especially with S&S ship rules allowing other players to ride with. And he auto-recharge of spells is on thing I certainly miss now. Last night's Wrath game saw me take advantage of many mooks inability to fly as Arushalae bounced out of pointless monster fights left and right.

Paizo Employee Contributor

TriOmegaZero wrote:
So far I have rocked Valendron in Skull and Shackles and Arushalae in Wrath. Val's ability to shuttle at the end of his turn was beautiful for those locations that did bad things when you start/end your turn there, especially with S&S ship rules allowing other players to ride with.

We call that the "Valendron Bus" in our Season of the Shackles games. E.g., "Hey, if we go over to the Sea Caves, can we catch a ride on the Valendron Bus at the end of your turn to get us all out of there?"

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Glad to see I'm not the only one that played party shuttle. :)

Wooooo, monk class deck is on its way!

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