Advice: General and Building a Rival Party


So I am starting my homebrew Pathfinder campaign in probably a month give or take. I have most of it worked out in terms of setting, loot, and storyline at this point. Most of the monster encounters and similar have been worked out too...though I'm fully expecting them to completely circumvent my plans somehow eventually. Will roll with it when that comes around in any case.

Where I'm having some issues is building their rival 'party' (using that term loosely). This is going to be the group that occasionally beats them to the punch, gets in their way, or ends up chasing the same goals. I see them very mercenary, some bordering on completely uncaring and evil behavior.

So next I suppose would be the party my players will be using:
- Gunslinger - 2 Hander Sniper. Sort of a quasi engineer, brother of the Inquisitor. Very intellectual in nature.
- Inquisitor - 2 Hander with a Greatsword. Hunter of Heretics for his Church. Loves lighting them up. The two are sort of black sheep in their noble family.
- Paladin - 1 Hander with Shield (I think). I have the least info on this character right now.

Obviously not exactly ideal but they are meshing their stories together and I wanted them to play what they wanted. All three tend to build viable characters, though not completely minmaxed. I'll be toning down most encounters to try challenge but not brutalize them and likely be fairly generous with potions.

What I'm thinking for the rival party (willing to take suggestions here!) is this:
- Roguish Gunslinger (Very cocky in nature. I'm imagining him likely with some rogue or shadowdancer sorts of levels). Charismatic leader of the group. Honestly not sure Gunslinger is the best idea here but in the background he is a childhood rival of the PC Gunslinger above.
- Alchemist - Loves the mutagens and bombs. Very disconcerting in appearance likely with an extra arm or similar. Possibly a bit insane (I imagine a bit of Kefka in this guy).
- Summoner - Tricky sort. Sends in the Eidolon generally and supports with pits and similar. Uses summons/eidolon to cover escape when needed. Generally quiet and unassuming, in the background of the three.

Thoughts? Would these be a good match or would you recommend another class? The only one really set is the first fellow, the other two are openish.

So some help on building them would be hugely helpful as I'm not very good at that yet. Also as they are meant to be recurring villains/rivals keeping in mind ways for them to escape would be very helpful.

Misc info: I imagine them running into the rivals around 3 to 4 times throughout the campaign. The campaign itself is starting at level 5 and probably going up to a max of 15 (more likely 13 or so). They are likely to see these guys around level 6, 9, and 12. Every couple levels. Using a fast exp progression.

Thanks! Appreciate any help I can get.

Lantern Lodge

I think you got your rivals kinda right.

Thoughts on...
- Alchemist -
Given that I have a Bomb Alchemist in my party, I can tell you one thing... they rock when it comes to bombs. With the right feats, Point-Blank Shot and their Throw anything Feat coupled with some discoveries like Precise Bombs and Explosive Bombs and a Good dex score of say 18-19 at lv 5? And you got yourself a Alchemist that can hit targets EASILY with a range touch attack, do tons of splash AND avoid hitting his friends.

If you dip a point into Fighter you can even have him armored/shielded up and be super tough to hit with a high ac. Making him a danger to your PC's. His attack won't 1 hit KO the party, but they will have to take him out fast, as the Alchemist can keep a steady barrage of bombs going to chip away at the PC's health.

- Summoner -
I would suggest going with a Master Summoner Archetype. NOT for min/max reasons, but for Role-play. Since a Master Summoner has wide range and number of monsters to summon and they last mins per level, your PC's Party will never know what they may face when fighting the Master Summoner.

The Master Summoner give YOU a bigger bag of tricks to pull out on your PCs. You have a lot more options on what you can throw at them.
Instead of an Eidolon that they can identify, they may be suddenly be attacked by eagles that have been shadowing them for the pass 5 mins, etc.

If you keep the Summoner Stealthy, the PCs will have to make an effort to find him and take him out.

Extras -
I would suggest a Healer and a Debuffer in your party. Again for RP reasons. A healer can justify how a Rival party can get back on their feet quickly after being defeated/chased away by your PCs.

While a Debuffer can add danger elements to the story. For example, casting web to block the PC's path just as a monster or lava is coming down the tunnel.

Otherwise I think you can go with your current ideals. You got a tank, a crowd control and a range/skill monkey, all that is needed to make a party work.

Scarab Sages

Also, don't forget to PLAYTEST the group against the PC's before you unleash them against the players....That was one thing i only ever did once and learnt the hard way. I had a rival group that looked good on paper and didn't test them against the PC's first..LOL My players walked all over them...

Escape Plans off the top of my head - wand of web, warp wood to jam the door, wall of thorns, slow...

The biggest problem I have seen with the long term rival is the getting away.

It is sometimes difficult to build an encounter where the bad guys don't walk right over the PC's but can still get away to be encountered again. Especially if you want them all to get away.

What you may want is a 'hidden' cleric type leader, Mister-X, who doesn't face the party. He can keep ressurecting them. So the party gets to refight the guys they already killed. The bad guys now have a better idea of what the PC's are likely to do and make a better plan to ambush them with the next time. The part never encounters Mister-X until your are ready for the rivals to be finished off for good.

If your PC does play a paladin, I would consider an antipaladin. I know that may be a bit cliche, but I think you won't have to do much more work to create a nemesis for your PC paladin. I could see putting your paladin into situations where he needs to act and yet that act causes the loss off an opportunity to smite the antipaldain - like save a drowning child as the antipaladin who just threw the child into the lake laughs and walks away.

The reflex saves for the paladin and inquisitor may be their lowest save, so I would put a nemesis in that focuses on battlefield control or blasts. I'm leaning towards an arcane caster, rather than your alchemist. That role could also provide a quick, magical means of escape.

If you're tied to your gunslinger I would emphasis the roguish element - perhaps make him part of an organized group he can tap for resources that help keep your rival party one step ahead. I'd make sure he can land a shot from long distances - a sniper vs sniper scenario against your PC sniper would build upon the childhood tension already built into your story.

This is an excellent start.

After further thinking on it, I had sort of come to the same conclusion. Not only would it be exceedingly difficult to keep them all alive and escape after every fight (say the gunslinger crits...ouch), that is liable to get really annoying really fast for the players. Plus I would hate to rob them of a kill earned. So perhaps the best idea is to try keep the one guy as the recurring and the other two might change with each encounter (should they fall during a fight).

As for the mister X idea, it's not a bad one either. It gave me some ideas that I could weave into the story, but I want to give it some more thought still. I may tie it in just to keep the one guy as having a way to return should they get a lucky shot on him.

The arcane caster might be a really good idea. Even early levels offers invisibility sphere which would do the trick in most cases. It's not a bad idea, thanks!

For the gunslinger, I wouldn't say I'm tied to him. I would sort of like him to use a gun, but if there are other viable ways to build a gun user without the gunslinger class that could be really great. The sniper vs sniper scenarios could be a lot of fun as you mentioned and I like the idea.

Oh and thanks for the escape ideas! Those are really handy. Giving me some great ideas so thanks to all of you!

Personally, I like the idea of another rival npc group, rather than a set of nemeses intended to be fought over and over. A rival group just competes (for attention, for resources..."sorry, we just bought the last wand of cure light wounds for 20 miles, ha ha ha!", for glory, etc.) rather than actively opposes a heroic PC group. The nemesis npc group is difficult to pull off due to the reasons others cited above (primarily, ensuring they get away which by the 2nd time the PCs will know something is up). Good luck either way! /salute

Aleron wrote:
...Plus I would hate to rob them of a kill earned...

Unless the mission is to kill the other group. They would still get the XPS. IF they retreat so you can still fufill the mission, it is still a win.

A fair point that.

I've done some thinking on the group. I am going with gunslinger for the leader of the group, though he'll be using the mysterious stranger archetype and also multiclassing into ninja (liberal use of vanishing trick for sneak attacks and also to escape if things turn sour).

One will be an arcanist of some sort. Still having trouble deciding on what exactly. Summoner, master summoner, sorc, or something. They all have their pros and cons. Summoner for the eidolon/summons to toss at them seems like the best since it gives them a pool of minions and throw aways.

Not sure on the alchemist now. An antipaladin or similar might be a good round out as mentioned above. I do like the idea of some sort of heretical character for the inquisitor and pally to hunt though.

I'm also prefering them as a rival group to outright enemies. Not counting out that they might attack them though. They should make the players uneasy at least to be around and probably antagonize them.

Thanks everyone! Things are starting to come together.

Aleron wrote:
... I'm also prefering them as a rival group to outright enemies. Not counting out that they might attack them though. They should make the players uneasy at least to be around and probably antagonize them...

I've had GM's do this before. It works especially well if the group is good and has a morality based character like a paladin or good cleric. Then the party won't have any legit reason to kill them and has to figure out how to work around them.

A zen archer would make a good counterpoint to your gunslinger for style, and to the inquisitor in temperment.
Professional pride over weapon choice could come into play. I once had this work in may party with my archer ranger and a rogue who used pistols.

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