Core Design: Sajan

Friday, August 30, 2019

Keith here to kick off the first in a long series of blogs discussing the new versions of the iconic characters that we did in Core. When designing these characters, we did things in roughly this order:

  1. Delve into the character’s current backstory.
  2. Evaluate the character’s capabilities in the RPG.
  3. Examine the character’s new art.
  4. Examine every old version of the character to cherry-pick the best parts (using designer definitions of best).
  5. Focus on powers and capabilities that would feel good in any and every adventure we make from here on out.
  6. Make sure the final result feels different enough in play from the previous versions that veterans aren’t bored.

Some things changed with Pathfinder’s new edition, like Valeros using a shield, Harsk dual-wielding axes, Fumbus... existing. Little things like that.

Sajan Gadadvara, Pathfinder's iconic monk.

Swanky temple sword you got there, Sajan.

To start this blog series, I wanted to do one of the four characters we put in the Core Set Quick-Start scenario. So, let’s talk about Sajan.

Rise of the Runelords: Sajan, Character C, Male Human Monk. Rise of the Runelords: Sajan, Character C, Favored Card Type: Item.

For when you really need to play all the blessings on your check.

Hawkmoon, an invaluable contributor on of our forums, once wrote all about how Rise of the Runelords Sajan was the best character ever. One of my goals for the new Sajan was making sure he felt different, but still passed “the Hawkmoon test.” Thankfully, Hawkmoon was excited for the changes and liked the new Sajan.

Monk Class Deck: Sajan, Character B, Male Human Monk. Monk Class Deck: Sajan, Character B, Favored Card Type: Weapon.

I think CD Sajan stole all of RotR Sajan’s weapons.

With Monk Class Deck Sajan, we switched away from the multiple blessings and punching to focus on his use of slashing weapons, particularly that temple sword he’s often holding. This version was dubbed Stabby Sajan. We also bumped Sajan to a starting hand size of 5, which is a huge quality of life improvement for a class that’s supposed to feel agile.

Sajan, Character 0, Human Monk. Sajan, Character 0: A member of a disciplined caste of warriors in the service of the knowledge god Irori, Sajan scours the world for his kindnapped sister Sajni, whose martial arts porwess matches his own. He is as comfortable with a tatani mat as a temple sword, or his fists that move with lightning speed. Favored Card: Blessing.

I’ve played a number of monks in the RPG, and one aspect that I felt we could focus more on is how versatile and well-rounded monks are in the RPGs. Or, at least, try to be. They are great at all saves, have a fair number of useful skills, and really like having a good Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom. Monks are pretty much the example class for Multiple Ability Dependence, where you need more abilities than you can afford to increase. Core tries to emphasize the monk’s versatility in a few ways by giving Sajan a more human monk-like array of “okay but not great” stats, and by letting you be “pretty good” (though not great) at more things by recharging your blessings on any check and having more skills.

Starknife, Weapon 0: Knife, Melee, Ranged, Piercing, Finesse. Dogslicer, Weapon 0: Sword, Melee, Slashing, Finesse.

Punch, kick, slash, stab. Sajan’s no one-trick pony. Four tricks, maybe.

Core Sajan keeps a couple weapons in his deck, because he’s got a sword and dagger prominent in his artwork. Thankfully, Core includes some more weapons that use Acrobatics, and knives in Core can be used to help others.

Calistria's Sting, Blessing 1, Deity: Calistria, Divine, Veteran. Grandmother Nightmare, Blessing 3, Deity: Lamashtu, Divine.

Sajan doesn’t need to worship a deity to make good use of their blessings.

Another benefit that Sajan derives from Core that isn’t obvious at face value is that Core has so many more diverse blessings. As a character who likely blesses every turn, with blessings as his primary card type, this lets you really customize Sajan’s deck in an interesting way. Want to be ready to avenge? Pack a Calistria’s Sting. Want extra dice against monsters, and you’re okay fighting the occasional summon? Grandmother Nightmare has your back. Nothing to worry about there.

The Big Sky, Blessing 1, Suit: Hammers, Harrow, Veteran. WHEN THIS IS THE HOUR: At the start of your turn, you may remove 1 of your scourges. The Sickness, Blessing 1, Suit: Shields, Harrow, Veteran. WHEN THIS IS THE HOUR: When you suffer damage, suffer the scourge Plagued.

Challenge: have Sajan play all 54 Harrows at least once in one adventure path.

Curse’s Harrow blessings open up an entire world of character capabilities for Sajan. Cycling The Big Sky lets you deal with scourges. The Sickness is a good blessing to save for slightly riskier rolls, when you need to make checks a little easier.

Sajan, Role 0, Exiled Padaprajna: The goddess Suyuddha teaches anyone who will listen, whether by word or fist. Sajan, Role 0, Iroran Dedicant: Knowing yourself means first knowing everything else.

Wonder how often Sajan’s roles are mispronounced?

Both roles offer a reroll option, since you’re probably rolling a bunch of dice at most things, but you don’t necessarily have a great bonus. Padaprajnas master all aspects of warfare, so that role offers better skill and proficiency with weapons alongside improved teamwork feats. Iroran Dedicant focuses more on perfection of self, improving his unarmed fighting skills and giving him ways to turn any roll into success. Iroran Dedicant also offers a unique ability (not for everyone) to shift around your skill and card feats as you play, letting you adapt to different adventures and correct past choices you might regret.

And that’s our new Sajan. In testing, we found him more flexible and interesting to play and advance. Hopefully, you’re enjoying him too!

Keith Richmond
Adventure Card Game Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Sajan
Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber


I'm looking forward to more of this series!

Sajan is pretty cool. I like how much he feels like a Monk in Core.

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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

I have yet to play any version of Sajan - I need to correct that, soon.

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

This is a great blog post - very informative (especially for those of us that like to try our hands at creating PACG characters).

I'm looking forward to other blog posts in this series.

Just a note - this discussion isn't showing up in the PACG forums.

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

If it passes the Hawkmoon test, it has to be close to perfect. :-)

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