Game Master Question


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I have been playing various iterations of D&D since the very first 5x8 paperback books in the mid 70s. I just got turned on to PFRPG in the last few weeks. I have to say, from what I have seen so far, I am quite impressed. But enough of that, I have a question.

I have always run my games with no GM screen with all dice rolls right there in front of God and everyone to see. Only secret rolls are seen by the players. Well, in our first real PF adventure (2nd game session) with five 4th level characters, they ran into 2 worgs and 2 werewolves (a Hard, CR 6, encounter). They barely won with no one getting killed, thanks to a well played Cleric. However, in the end, three of the five characters were bitten by the werewolves. Secretly, the dwarven fighter made his save and is not afflicted. The halfling ranger and human wizard were not so lucky though.

They were attacked in the middle of the night and after the werewolves died and changed back into dead elves, they are aware of what is going on. The Cleric is of the knowledge domain and the ranger rolled a natural 20 on Knowledge(nature). So they pretty much know the deal. They are currently 3-4 days from the nearest town and the rise of the next full moon is the next night, only 24 hours away.

We ended the session and will pick up there in the next game session in a couple of weeks. Now that you know the situation, here are my questions:

  1. I can make up rules for it, but are there any published material on how to handle looking for herbs (namely wolfsbane) in the wilderness? I want to stick to standard systems as much as possible since I am new to PF and want to test out the system as best as I can.

  2. Lacking published materials, has anyone published any house rules on scrounging for herbs?

  3. Baring that, what do you think should be the process for locating wolfsbane in the wild. It is spring time and they are currently in temperate foothills covered by deciduous forest.

Like I said, I know I can just make it up, but I am all about systems that are dependable and reusable, so if I create something I want it to be workable and not too easy, because my players will reuse the system to find herbs for use and resale in future games.

Thanks a bunch,


I would use knowledge, nature or profession, alchemy as potential skill checks. I would alter the DC based on the surroundings. Obvisouly you can use judgement in assigning the DC too. If the campaign will not benfit from your players wrestling with lycanthrophy I would lower the DC to promote the chance that wolfsbane would be found.

Dark Archive

This Pathfinder Society module had a mission to find some wolfsbane and may be of help.

The Midnight Mauler

As Karameikos mentioned you could use knowledge: nature, profession: herbalist or maybe even survival to search for herbs. I don't think craft/profession: alchemy would really help you find herbs, because to me that sounds more like a herbalist. But the choice is up to you.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I can't think of any published systems for gathering herbs in Pathfinder.

That said, to me the most logical skill would be Profession: Herbalist followed by Survival.

Survival allows you to locate food and water in the wilderness and thus might be extrapolated into locating a particular type of plant at a higher DC than needed for just any type of food.

The profession skill has rules on how much money you can make with it for a given time period. However, working backwards from that to yield a difficulty produces some pretty wonky results. For instance, wolfsbane sells for 500gp per dose. Profession says you get half your check result in GP per week of dedicated work... so to get a single dose of wolfsbane you'd need to beat a 1000 DC, and it would take a week. So finding two doses in a day would be 14000 DC. Which is obviously beyond extreme.

I'd probably rule that wolfsbane is very rare in the game world (much moreso than in the real world) to justify its game price. As such there might be only a single plant (with multiple doses) in a large area and once you've found it that area is 'played out'. I'd then use Survival to be able to locate that plant. Maybe tell the Ranger a list of likely locations in the area and the party needs to split up to try to find a sample, which someone with Knowledge: Nature would need to describe or sketch.

I would say Knowledge: Nature to know what you need, what it looks like etc. (but I think the nat 20 took care of that one)
Then followed by a Survival to actually move through the woods and underbush, actually searching and collecting it.

Knowledge could be substituted by a Profession:Herbalist or a Heal check maybe a Craft:Alchemy too.

But thats how i would do it, there aren't really rules on it.

Of course, if you as DM decide that Wolfsbane doesn't grow in the area than they can roll a nat 20 on survival with a +40 modifier and still won't find any.

The Exchange

remeber one thing here though. you set the dc for such a thing. when allowing low level characters to fight lycans you are putting a good chance in that one of them is going to be afflicted. a few things you might consider.
1. in the event that the change cannot be stopped what will happen to the party. if it ends in a tpk then you need to make the checks low to find the curative plants. also if this area is afflicted by lycans maybe a local guard scours for survivers from time to time and carry on them doses of the herbs needed for a "much higher than normal" price
the knoweldge of the patrol could be discovered with a knowledge local check. remember these are level 4 characters expecting dc 20 or higher starts getting very difficult and if it is a game ender maybe while searching for the wolfsbane they come across a warning sign that explains how to get to a guard post where they can seek help. at the very least a guard may have manacles and chains to restrain the players when they transform getting them through to the next town where they can buy remedies.

it is our jobs as dms to put obstacles in our players way. it is also our duty to have ways for them to get out of it that are level appropriate.

personally i would air on the side of
the party goes looking for wolfsbane (a low knowledge nature or survival to id what it looks like) and they come across a posted warning of "werewolves are in the area for protection please visit the guard outpost located due west of this location) then another simple survival check to locate west and they travel there. once there they should be given the chance to purchase wolfsbane at 1.5-2x normal price per dose. if they refuse then that player should be locked up by the officers until the full moon passes then escorted to town where they can pay normal price for such a rememdy.

this completely negates a chance of party member death unless they make bad player choices and then you can say "hey i gave you a way out."

I agree that this is a level intensity-based situation, and one needs to ad-hock a little to provide for the difficulty. since the party seems to be a well functioning low level group, give them the equivalent challenge. they know theyre in danger and a limited amount of time, let the ranger be the star of the night, by letting him roll knowledge:nature or survival checks. When successful (I'd just take the first 15-20 roll), Roleplay it out that they find the wolfsbane hours before sunset. Get your players involved and on edge by saying they're cutting it close...they've only got so much time.. is that an extra long hair on your chest?...

These things are going to get your players agitated, and when they finally come up with a plan, execute it, and then wait in terror of the verdict.....give them a win. You'll have them scared witless to face another lycanthrope, but somewhat confident in themselves to successfully protect themselves in the future. I'll lay odds more than one player's going to stock wolfsbane up that very night. dont forget to let the players know once again who they had to rely on to find that wolfsbane.

Should the situation ever come back up again, make it more difficult, like the wolfsbane only grows over the den of the lycanthropes terrorizing the area, etc.

Rite Publishing's "101 Skill Uses" assigns the task "Gather Natural Antidote" to Survival, with a DC equal to that of the poison to be cured. That might make a good model for this search. If the Ranger is in his favored terrain, that would likely apply to the roll, and if Lycanthropes are a favored enemy, maybe that should apply as well.

This could be as simple as a survival check, or design a mini adventure to find the herbs. Here is a good article from Wolfgang Baur on roleplaying.

"Set the bar for your role-playing skill checks ahead of time and stick with them. The rough rule of thumb is that the DC should be roughly equal to 12 plus the party's level, so that a skill-based character with maxed-out ranks and an ability bonus expects to succeed 75% of the time -- and a character without skill ranks and no ability bonus succeeds less than 50% of the time."

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / Game Master Question All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.