Core Design: Lini

Friday, September 27, 2019

Sajan Gadadvara, Pathfinder's iconic monk.

Hi, Droogami! I see you brought lunch.

In the first Core Design blog, we had a good chat about Sajan. This time we’ll look at another of the four Quick-Start characters, Lini.

Rise of the Runelords: Lini, Character C, Female Gnome Druid. Rise of the Runelords: Lini, Character C, Favored Card Type: Ally.

Arguably, the best strongest character in Rise of the Runelords.

Paul Peterson, a great guy and amazing designer, once wrote all about how Rise of the Runelords Lini was the best character ever. A secret I did not reveal when I wrote my best character blog is that I agreed with him, but it would have been a lot less interesting if we both wrote a blog about Lini. The next dirty little secret [note: not really a secret] is that Paul and I could both be called power gamers.

I once handed a high-level Rise of the Runelords Lini to a friend to play for a session and she asked what her character was good at, to which I replied, “everything.” She could recharge animals to explore, reveal animals for 1d4+4 to all checks, and carry some of the best spells in the game like Augury and Cure. Hard to beat.

Skull & Shackles: Lini, Character C, Female Gnome Druid. Skull & Shackles: Lini, Character C, Favored Card Type: Ally.

Sometimes you just want to swim with the fishes. And talk to them. And have them help you seize pirate ships. All that.

Skull & Shackles Lini gives up her bonus to every check in the world for even more amazing mastery of all Animal allies. She’s also better at using her version of the RPG’s wild shape ability to use a d12 for her Strength or Dexterity. With the right support, she can be an exploration machine, and she’s got two of the most important skills for Skull & Shackles: Fortitude and Survival.

Druid Class Deck: Lini, Character B, Female Gnome Druid. Druid Class Deck: Lini, Character B, Favored Card Type: Ally.

Oddly, the Lini with the most animals is also the only one pictured without Droogami.

Druid Class Deck Lini explored a pretty different direction from the previous two Linis. No longer attempting to emulate wild shape, she went all in on wielding her animals as her weapons. Her skills got a bit of a bump, making her pretty reliable at recharging spells and combat. If you go with her Pack Lord role and fill her deck with animals, you really do feel that “Everything is cool when you’re part of a team.”

Lini, Character 0, Gnome Druid. Lini, Character 0. Lini is a friend to all the savage beasts of the forest, soothing their hungers and redirecting their baser instincts. With her snow leopard Droogami nearby, she collects sticks from every forest she has visited, a wooden road map of her travels; should she settle down, they may become a house.

Lini’s new portrait really lets you see the details in her hair and face.

One of the first changes I made to Core Set Lini was to replace her Knowledge skill with Perception. It fit better for how I’ve seen every druid in the RPG, as well as the ways we tend to use Perception and Knowledge in the ACG. I knew that I wanted to give her a power like Class Deck Lini, because in play it feels so much more like you are actually using your menagerie of friends. I also knew that I wanted to stop worrying about armor and weapon proficiency with her.

Cat, Ally 0, Animal. Hippogriff, Ally 6, Animal, Mount.

Animals help with all kinds of checks. A fair number involve mauling your enemies, but not all!

Lini benefited a lot from Core’s focus on local teamwork. Her allies in Core and Curse are far more likely to be able to benefit her friends, and her power lets her cycle them more quickly back to her hand. She can also add a d4 to every Animal check at her location, helping everyone gather animal friends and defeat Animal banes, and also helping Lini’s own combat checks.

Droogami, Ally 1, Animal. Owner: Lini. Aspect of the Monkey, Spell 2. Magic, Divine, Animal.

Droogami is a great reason to be Lini. Aspect of the Monkey just makes me smile every time I see it.

She also gets to start with a level 1 card, the only named ally in Core: Droogami. Droogami helps out some of Lini’s favorite kinds of checks. She also gets to recharge or shuffle Droogami back into her deck for mobile explores, so you’re likely to want to keep Droogami forever. Convenient, since Droogami is an important part of her backstory and artwork.

Because she doesn’t need to worry too much about Attack spells or weapons, Lini can focus on utility spells like Aspect of the Monkey. In addition to bearing a truly excellent piece of artwork by Vicky Yarova, it’s a solid bonus for Lini to display for the entire turn, and her extra die for Animal checks applies to its recharge check (as well as any other Animal spells you might pull from Ultimate Wilderness and/or the Hunter Class deck).

Hide Armor, Armor 0, Light Armor. Lucky Starknife, Weapon 2, Knife, Melee, Ranged, Piercing, Finesse, Magic.

Her art’s got armor and a weapon, so Core Lini does too. You can learn to love them, though.

I wanted to stick with a more balanced spread of boons than RotR Lini had, at least in part because I knew we were going to make weapons and armors better cards for her. Now she can display armor and take a sling or knife to assist with combat checks, or a quarterstaff or bolas to avoid some banes. Hide Armor really shines in Lini’s hands as a great proactive choice, adding a big bonus to her check. It won’t absorb a sudden big hit as well as Chain Mail, but if instead you need to turn into a bear and tear an enemy apart, it’s got (or at least is on) your back.

Lini, Role 0. Wild Whisperer. Everything talks, if you know its language. Lini, Role 0. World Walker. The world is her cloister.

I assume all Lini roles from now on need to start with double W’s. Suggestions welcome!

As a Wild Whisperer, Lini focuses on her Animal companions, improving all Animal checks at her location, especially her combat checks using them. She also has a few powers (themed around using wild shape) to improve her physical skills or gain Acrobatics and Fortitude.

Her World Walker role instead focuses on her surroundings, adding to all checks at Wild locations (a common location trait in Core and Curse) and moving more easily. Along with her wider travels, she also becomes resistant to poison and elemental damage (useful for survival in some of the more extreme corners of Golarion and beyond) and learns to use herbalism to remove scourges from her party.

That’s our new Lini! She’s self-reliant and versatile and feels like a great druid in play.

Keith Richmond
Adventure Card Game Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Thanks for another great entry in this series - very interesting and enlightening to see a description of the design process and intent.

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Cool! Really interesting seeing the underlying design thoughts of the different iterations

That Aspect of the Monkey card looks disturbing . . . .

Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I always love how just beneath the rules text on any card is a rich pool of roleplaying inspiration that can easily turn into compelling characters and stories. Thanks for sharing more.

Keith Richmond wrote:
I knew that I wanted to give her a power like Class Deck Lini, because in play it feels so much more like you are actually using your menagerie of friends. I also knew that I wanted to stop worrying about armor and weapon proficiency with her.

All the armor and weapon proficiency changes in Core were because of Lini?


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Great post! I'm glad to see Lini now has her Droogami in the Core set (rather than needing a hard to get promo card in older sets). My only regret is that I can't make a Lini deck of all porcupines.

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