The "accidental" character


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In my quest to find the atypical characters to play, I've realized that most Pathfinder characters will never have a quality very common to fantasy protagonists: The naive newbie, the hapless hero who is dragged into a greater world kicking and screaming and despite his complete ineptitude, manages to eke out a win for the good guys by the skin of his teeth and absolutely blind luck. Most Pathfinders seem to have a deliberateness to them that just wouldn't work for the accidental hero, a willingness to step into harm's way and a bit of malice aforethought as they brandish their weapons or spells. Not what I'm looking for.

What I want, can be best described with the following paragraph:

"Hello! This is a very strange world! I've never been out of the scullery before. This is all so new and strange! Oh hello! You're a gnoll, aren't you? Why are you pulling out your weapon? AHHHH!!! WHY ARE YOU ATTACKING ME?!? Run away! Run away! AHHH!! I didn't mean to do that to you! Please stop trying to hurt me! AAAGH God I did it again!! WHY DOES LIFE HATE ME?!?!?"

Anyway, I've been trying to wrap this concept into Pathfinder terms, but I can't figure out how... it's that deliberateness factor that has stymied me. Most actions in combat are deliberate actions to hinder or harm an enemy, and that just doesn't work for the accidental hero. Obviously, bluff is going to be a required skill.

Now, I could make a 'useless' character very easily... but I don't want to do that. I want to make a character who is an asset to the party... but one that isn't acting deliberately to be a hindrance to the enemy. This means, for one, no spellcasting. Yes, the 'hapless apprentice' is a time-honored aspect of this literary concept. But I feel that spellcasting breaks the 'deliberateness' barrier -- the hapless apprentice is trying to do something that will hinder the enemy or help the party. No, I want this guy's actions to appear (almost) completely random.

The best I can come up with is some kind of monk; the unarmed fighting style lends itself quite well to flailing your arms about in sheer panic, and bonus feats like Improved Trip and Improved Disarm would seem to fit well with this concept, as the accidental hero manages somehow to get his opponent's legs tangled or knocks a weapon away with his random actions. But, there's that deliberateness factor. I'd need a great bluff score, and monks don't get bluff as a class skill (meaning I'd need to waste a feat on skill training), and they tend to use Charisma as a dump stat.

That would imply a bard... but again, there's that 'no spellcasting' limitation. Plus, bard song seems like a pretty deliberate action taken to help the party. Plus, the combat style of the bard just doesn't fit well. Most advice I've seen for a disarm bard says 'get a whip', and a whip doesn't mesh well with the accidental hero. This is not the plucky professor; this is the guy who doesn't mean to be an adventurer in the first place. Getting a whip implies the intention to use it, which breaks the deliberateness factor.

Rogue? I dunno, I'm kind of leery of being a rogue. Though, bluff is a class skill, and you can get the Combat Expertise/Improved Disarm feat chain started fairly early if you go Human (which I intend to do). The requirement to go with weapon attacks kind of breaks the deliberateness factor, but after all, Golarion's a dangerous world, and the accidental hero can swing around blindly with his old table-leg (club). And sneak attack is just another thing the hapless hero accidentally manages to do while running around like a chicken with his head cut off. (Now, I know I mentioned not wanting a weapon in the paragraph above with the bard. There's a difference between grabbing an old table-leg to defend yourself, and getting a whip where you're going to be way over there striking an opponent 15 feet away. Deliberateness is the deciding factor.)

Maybe the rest of you have better ideas? I'm not looking for combat efficiency here; I'm looking for something fun to roleplay. (After all, this is a roleplaying game, not an arena combat game.) I'm working with the Core rules here, and there might be something in another book that I'm not familiar with. Plus another race might be more suited for the concept; there's always the classic halfing hapless hero, but with the impending release of a certain film, I don't want to be seen as a copycat (which is why I'm kind of leery about being a rogue). I don't want to be a millstone around the party's neck; I just don't want this guy to be taken seriously.


there's a class for it: Commoner.

Also, Level 1 characters. Sure they know fight stuff, but let's try putting him up against the big world of CR 8 encounters, adult dragons. Not going to last long.


Also, I know that use of the bluff skill isn't going to make them ignore me. At best it's going to shift their attitudes from "This guy is deliberately trying to kill us, we need to stop him" to "This guy is a danger to everyone on the battlefield, we need to stop him". But, in a situation where I'm flailing about and my buddy the fighter is being a deliberate menace, suddenly my buddy is the bigger threat -- because my actions are still completely random. Even though my wild arm-flailing just took out your buddy, my buddy the fighter is clearly the bigger threat -- so you go for him, and not me.

Come to think about it, this concept really lends itself to the rogue. But I still like the idea of being a monk with this too.

EDIT: No, Marthian, please re-read the part in the original post where I say I don't want to be a millstone around the party's neck. That means being a contributing member of the party... with adventurer levels and everything. And an equal level to the rest of the party. If I'm 1st level, then the rest of the party is also 1st level. Just that where the fighter might have been a soldier before turning adventurer, and the wizard might have been an apprentice, my character was a scullery-boy who had no foreknowledge of an adventuring life.


I might forget the "no spellcasting" limitation and go with a Charisma based caster class like sorcerer. Roleplay it like the scullion or whatever that has no idea they've got the powers that just go off when they're needed for the first adventure or two.

"Eh! Kobold! Yuuck! Stay away from me!" Rowen shrieked as he held out his arm in a feeble attempt to block the creature's onslaught. Suddenly a bolt of eldritch blue flame leaped from Rowen's hand to engulf the kobold. It was hard to tell who was more surprised by this turn of events, Rowen or the kobold.


Couple things. First, I don't think the "hapless hero who wins due to absolutely blind luck" is even remotely a "common fantasy protagonist." The most common protagonist is the one identified and taught decades ago by Joseph Campbell in his seminal work "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" which analyzed the protagonists of thousands of myths, novels and stories identifying what he called the "Hero's Journey" which he then laid out in great detail. (Actually he preferred the term "monomyth" but "hero's journey" is what it became popularly known as.)

The monomyth protagonist has many very distinct aspects which can be summarized as:

1. The reluctant hero does not want to be a hero
2. The hero has a murky past which includes royal or heroic ancestry or mysterious powers
3. The hero is untrained and naive
4. The hero is the focus of a powerful prophecy
5. The hero is discovered by powerful enemies before he can defend himself
6. The hero has to run away and learn his powers
7. The hero finds an advisor/guide who teaches him
8. The hero returns and fights his enemy, but loses and barely escapes
9. The hero wants to give up, but cannot because the enemy is too evil
10. The hero reluctantly returns to battle and barely wins, fulfilling the prophecy

There are variations on that, but that is a rough outline. Since the book was published many authors have studied the monomyth and used it to construct their own stories. George Lucas famously invited Joseph Campbell to his house for a couple of days while working on the "Star Wars" story.

Virtually every major fantasy/sci fi protagonist has some or most of these aspects in play. The steps above read like a plot outline of Star Wars, Harry Potter or even the X-Men.

You can absolutely do the monomyth in Pathfinder.

Now, there are a few stories that are similar to what you've described. Perhaps the "White Gold Wielder" series would qualify. I wouldn't know, I got through about three chapters of the first book and couldn't read any more. But it sort of has that feel. Still, if you want to play PF that way, that's pure role playing and is easy to do. Just because your character HAS the powers on your character sheet doesn't mean your character even has to KNOW they have them. That's up to you as the player and the concept you are playing.


"My character was a scullery-boy who had no foreknowledge of an adventuring life." - Go for a Rogue?


The problem is the refusal of character growth. I have tried to play the reluctant hero. That character cannot wallow in reluctance forever. You face a choice: Develop over the course of the journey, change as circumstance and experience change you, or quit.

Maybe you'll be dragged along, desperate to stay alive. But what do you do on that occasion that comfort and normality are presented? Do you put away your sword and settle down?


Look up the manga Mx0 for an example of an accidental spellcasting protagonist.


Umbral Reaver wrote:
The problem is the refusal of character growth. I have tried to play the reluctant hero. That character cannot wallow in reluctance forever. You face a choice: Develop over the course of the journey, change as circumstance and experience change you, or quit.

I agree. How long are you planning on this character being "Random arms flailing about" guy? Because IMO, it would be funny at first and get old really fast. At most it would last for 1, maybe 2 levels. I do think it would be fun, at first. Also, IMO, class and mechanics have less to do with it than roleplaying.


An idea I bounced off my DM as a fun idea went thusly:

A sword and board fighter, who is a cowardly pacifist. Now, sure, it sounds blahse but here's the fun part.

See, let's say the fighters name is Bob. Bob is a schmuck. A cowardly schmuck. A lily livered pacifist schmuck, but for some reason he keeps getting pulled into fights, combats, and epic quests that a schmuck just has no right to be near.

Why is Bob there? Why is he fighting? why is Bob charging headlong into the maws of creatures that no mere man should know exist? Because of his shield.

No, not because he thinks his shield will protect him, but because his shield used to be a person, who was transformed into this intelligent shield by an evil wizard. Unfortunately, the shield has masochistic tendencies, it get's giddy with pain and can't resist the temptation of a solid beating.

Unfortunately, Bob didn't know this at the time he picked up the shield to protect himself from schoolyard bullies. The shield has quite literally bound itself to Bob through some magic way above Bob's understanding (he was never good with books). Ever since that day, the shield has been getting him into more fights and trouble then he can shake a stick at. After a particularly brutal beatdown at the hands of an angry Sczerni mobster, who's legitimate lineage was questioned by the shield, Bob decided he needed a weapon to protect himself. Hence, a reluctant schmuck became a fighter.

This way, you have your deliberate fighter, Bob doesn't WANT to be there, but years of getting beaten up have given Bob plenty of opportunity to be effective, and since he knows he's going to end up in fights anyway, he had to learn how to make sure he'd survive them. Best thing is, you don't need to worry about skills, and it actually makes sense if he isn't good at bluffing or diplomacy. He's tried talking his way out of trouble before, but the shield is particularly gifted at irritating people. It always ends in a beatdown, so he's given up after years of failure.

If your DM isn't a fan of the intelligent item, or masochistic shield mechanic, Bob could just be hallucinating his shield is talking to people when really, it's Bob saying all the stuff that get's him beat up. Gives you some fun RP and a quirky character who can still contribute effectively to the party.


I agree with the above - why is the party going to let you come along somewhere dangerous? Why are they going to give you any of the treasure? Why would they not get you a job in the tavern and leave you there?

That said I'd go Oracle - and take the archtype that gives you the Misfortune revelation - this gives you a re-roll once per creature per day - it's amazingly good and if nothing else you might be able to be the party 'lucky mascot'. Take no spellcraft and take subtle spells - like bless - in your own mind you're not casting you're doing the fantasy equivalent of a high five and a 'Go Team!'

At least then they'll have a reason to keep you about.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
John-Andre wrote:

In my quest to find the atypical characters to play, I've realized that most Pathfinder characters will never have a quality very common to fantasy protagonists: The naive newbie, the hapless hero who is dragged into a greater world kicking and screaming and despite his complete ineptitude, manages to eke out a win for the good guys by the skin of his teeth and absolutely blind luck. Most Pathfinders seem to have a deliberateness to them that just wouldn't work for the accidental hero, a willingness to step into harm's way and a bit of malice aforethought as they brandish their weapons or spells. Not what I'm looking for.

What I want, can be best described with the following paragraph:

"Hello! This is a very strange world! I've never been out of the scullery before. This is all so new and strange! Oh hello! You're a gnoll, aren't you? Why are you pulling out your weapon? AHHHH!!! WHY ARE YOU ATTACKING ME?!? Run away! Run away! AHHH!! I didn't mean to do that to you! Please stop trying to hurt me! AAAGH God I did it again!! WHY DOES LIFE HATE ME?!?!?"

Well there's always the Ciaphas Cain HERO OF THE IMPERIUM! approach.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Now, there are a few stories that are similar to what you've described. Perhaps the "White Gold Wielder" series would qualify. I wouldn't know, I got through about three chapters of the first book and couldn't read any more. But it sort of has that feel.

If you're talking about the Thomas Covenant books he fits the monomyth better than what the OP wants. Character growth happens and he eventually comes to deliberate heroic action even if it takes the whole first trilogy to get there.

Even Rincewind isn't as unheroic as the OP wants. I'm not sure who you're thinking of that is.


Atarlost wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Now, there are a few stories that are similar to what you've described. Perhaps the "White Gold Wielder" series would qualify. I wouldn't know, I got through about three chapters of the first book and couldn't read any more. But it sort of has that feel.

If you're talking about the Thomas Covenant books he fits the monomyth better than what the OP wants. Character growth happens and he eventually comes to deliberate heroic action even if it takes the whole first trilogy to get there.

Even Rincewind isn't as unheroic as the OP wants. I'm not sure who you're thinking of that is.

I am not thinking of ANY literary character that meets this "accidental hero" concept. First of all I think it would make for a seriously crappy book that I would probably put down after one chapter. Secondly, I don't know of any character I have ever read who didn't eventually grow and become deliberate. Especially since every literature expert will tell you that character growth is perhaps the single most important aspect of story telling.

I don't "get" what the OP wants. It sounds like a game I would not want to play in. I certainly would not want to PLAY a character like that, and if I were in a party with a bumbling idiot who had no desire to fight, I'd ditch him immediately and replace him with someone who wanted to fight. I'm an adventurer, not a baby sitter.


The Misfortune revelation of the dual cursed archetype for oracles would work perfectly for what you're after. You just need to describe all the forced rerolls in a 'accidental' fashion....

ie: The fighter was going to miss, but you accidently bumped into him, and his blow hit instead. Or the bad guy was going to make his reflex save, but your foot caught on the tablecloth, and pulled the table out from in front of him he was using for cover, and he took full damage instead... etc.

edit: oops, VoodooHoodoo hit on this a few posts above.


I was thinking of the Bard Archivist for a similar character. He's a bookworm who's been pressed into field duty and is most helpful to his party by identifying the enemy combatants. There are plenty of mundane reasons for him to know certain spells (like Grease to help deal with a stubborn wagon, or Cure Light Wounds because he volunteers at the local temple).


Could you use a reflavoured drunken master monk for the bumbling protagonist, who just wants a stiff drink or ten in peace and everybody to leave him alone?


I agree with a lot of the post that the best way to do this is going to be a spontaneous spell caster. The way I see it there are three types that could work. Sorcerer, Oracle or bard. Of the three the Oracle is probably going to be the easiest to work.

In the description of the Oracle it states outright "These divine vessels are grated power without their choice, selected by providence to wield powers that they do not fully understand." Almost any build of Oracle is going to meet your requirements but some are probably better than others. A Oracle of Battle with the lame curse could be someone chosen by the Gods for reasons of their own. For spells chose a mix of combat buffs and divinations. Your curse could be a result of a childhood injury. A lot of the revelations of a Battle Oracle fit well into your background. Maneuver Mastery and Skill at Arms really work well as you don't know how you learned to do these with no training.

If you want to go for a Bard I would suggest a different sort of reluctant hero. Play an Archeologist Bard and be the scholar who finds some hidden knowledge that causes him to come out of his shell. He could be a student of a university that finds a clue to some important discovery that will make him famous. This works well since what you contribute to the party is more knowledge and skills. The reason the party would want to keep you is you are the one who is figuring out what they need to do. Your spells are pretty minor to start and could be chosen to for use outside combat Comprehend Languages is almost a must.

The Sorcerer is probably the weakest of the choice to pull this off. While their spells are a result of inborn power and do not have to be learned, they usually start manifesting some abilities as they are growing up.

Using a non spell casting class other than rogue is not going to be realistic. And even a rogue is going to have to have some training so will not work as well. The idea of someone flailing their arms about and just happening to do advanced combat maneuvers is about the same level of believability as a chimpanzee hitting random keys and writing a bestselling novel.


Sorry, I didn't read the original post closely enough and took this:

John-Andre wrote:
I'm working with the Core rules here, and there might be something in another book that I'm not familiar with.

To mean that the OP was limiting himself to using Core rules which excluded oracle. I think the fluff for oracle works much better than fluff for sorcerer.

Another alternative is a summoner whose eidolon keeps popping up and thrashing the baddies without, perhaps "despite" the character's intentions. Perhaps even having short RP moments where the eidolon looks at the summoner and chastises him for not acting in self-defense. However, I think that bleeds more into why many players hate summoners than what the OP is trying to achieve.

Please try to keep the lack of deliberate action down to the first adventure or two. At some point the character not acknowledging his heroic abilities is a level of self delusion that breaks verisimilitude.


If you're saying you want to make a hero right out of a cliche, then I suggest looking through The Fantasy Novelist's Exam. It's normally a way to get rip-off-tip-offs and avoid writing yet another cliched story, but if that's your goal it might give you some pointers.


I'd say the most accurate class choices for hapless kid being dragged into an adventure would be commoner or rogue. Or sorcerer/oracle if he gets dragged in because he's started manifesting strange and unfamiliar powers.

You could also represent such a character as a 1st level [insert class] with the young template, depending on the character's age.


LazarX wrote:
John-Andre wrote:

In my quest to find the atypical characters to play, I've realized that most Pathfinder characters will never have a quality very common to fantasy protagonists: The naive newbie, the hapless hero who is dragged into a greater world kicking and screaming and despite his complete ineptitude, manages to eke out a win for the good guys by the skin of his teeth and absolutely blind luck. Most Pathfinders seem to have a deliberateness to them that just wouldn't work for the accidental hero, a willingness to step into harm's way and a bit of malice aforethought as they brandish their weapons or spells. Not what I'm looking for.

What I want, can be best described with the following paragraph:

"Hello! This is a very strange world! I've never been out of the scullery before. This is all so new and strange! Oh hello! You're a gnoll, aren't you? Why are you pulling out your weapon? AHHHH!!! WHY ARE YOU ATTACKING ME?!? Run away! Run away! AHHH!! I didn't mean to do that to you! Please stop trying to hurt me! AAAGH God I did it again!! WHY DOES LIFE HATE ME?!?!?"

Well there's always the Ciaphas Cain HERO OF THE IMPERIUM! approach.

Just make sure to grab Leadership at level 7, because you aren't surviving without Jurgen watching your back.


John-Andre wrote:
In my quest to find the atypical characters to play, I've realized that most Pathfinder characters will never have a quality very common to fantasy protagonists: The naive newbie, the hapless hero who is dragged into a greater world kicking and screaming and despite his complete ineptitude, manages to eke out a win for the good guys by the skin of his teeth and absolutely blind luck. Most Pathfinders seem to have a deliberateness to them that just wouldn't work for the accidental hero, a willingness to step into harm's way and a bit of malice aforethought as they brandish their weapons or spells. Not what I'm looking for.

Nothing wrong with this kind of character concept, nothing whatsoever. You need to apply a bit of imagination to put them into a PC class sometimes - some classes it won't happen to, but for others it can work really well.

Rogue - if your character is on the streets, rogue works just dandy.
Sorcerer - magical talent can pop up in anyone, one minute cleaning the grate, the next bowing up the house...ooops!
Oracle - the gods pick who they will, and one of them picked you.
Witch - well, lots of people talk to their cat...yours just answered!
Paladin - yes, paladin. You saw somebody being set up and grabbed a stick and somehow saw them off...
Barbarian - you were content to mind the farm until the raiders came, and killed, and you got angry...
Bard - you are just a lowly minstrel, really.
Druid - you just happen to live in the forest and have lots of furry friends.
...and so on.


Whenever I first saw a description of a Sorcerer, the first thing that came to mind was that it screamed to be played as a character somewhat similar to this one, the Oracle and to a lesser degree, witch apply as well. The thing that keeps a character like this from being plausible is that all of the classes require some sort of effort and training to get to level one in, even the barbarian (I can't help but think of Oghren's speech about the berserker who could only get angry enough to fight by being 'kicked in the stones'), with those exceptions. Sorcerers and Oracles don't train or practice to become that, it is something that happens to them, same with a patron selecting a Witch.

I just realized how cool it sounds to play a spontaneous caster that doesn't know what new spells he's learned until the first time he casts them.


The only literary character that really fits 'accidental hero' that I can think of is Arthur Dent from HGTTG. And he really doesn't do anything except act as a means of prompting conversation to explain what's going on.

Dark Archive

Well, he actually is a spellcaster, but...


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"Crouching Moron, hidden badass" is pretty easy for any class, but for the specifically cowardly, completely self-aware, and yet still hyper competent by (apparent) blind luck character only comes in two flavors: Fighter or Sorceror.

Now "fighter" can be Barbarian, Paladin, or whatnot but their spells and abilities have to be unplanned and explainable as random chance or subconscious instinct, like casting a spell because for you the verbal components are stammering, "c-c-can't we talk about this?" and the somatics are "holding up your hands in a surrender-ish pose" and the general pattern has to be swinging a sword or throwing a punch or whatnot.

Sorceror, as explained, is just, "oh god I screamed 'keep away' and saved my arms in a sissy-slap motion and now he's on fire! Oh god how did this happen I am not good with computer, I mean magic?!"

A broader version of the trope is the character who lacks this self-awareness, and is actually QUITE competent in numerous areas, but doesn't THINK so. Example:
"I don't know why you keep calling me skilled, I'm just a scullery maid!"
"You just picked 7 locks."
"Sometimes the mistress forgets to unlock the supply cabinet."
"...and the dangerous poisoned traps you disabled?"
"I thought the pressure pad was dusty, I didn't expect it to shoot darts when I poked it with my feather duster."
"What about the eagle-eyed guard you slipped past?"
"The mistress is a very light sleeper so we have to be very quiet."
"and when you disabled him?!"
"I thought he saw me so I panicked and hit him, I didn't know it would knock him out!"
"And your expertise in untying us and tying him up?"
*blushes*

A character who thinks anyone can do what they do, who always wants to run away but runs the wrong way, who disappears at every town but ends up rejoining the party as they're leaving because of "legal trouble" or amorous advances is doable, the challenge is not in the rules, it is in the role-play.

Well okay, it is also in the plot. The man who knew too little stumbled through his successes precisely because the villains never figured out he was just an actor who thought it was all a show.

Liberty's Edge

Halfling Bard can do accidental quite well.

High Cha and take Childlike at first level so you're simply a 'human child'. High Cha and a the more traditional Spoony Bard spells and it's like you're doing nothing at all.

As you level things like Charm Person and Lucky Halfling keep you usefull and you're still 'not really doing anything'.

Bardic music can be anything really, throwing a tantrum, crying, mocking the enemy.

While I don't have him completely plotted out I call him Thad, Thad Actor (star as stage and perhaps you've seen his pirate themed adaptation of Tequila Mockingbird).


VoodooHoodoo wrote:
The only literary character that really fits 'accidental hero' that I can think of is Arthur Dent from HGTTG. And he really doesn't do anything except act as a means of prompting conversation to explain what's going on.

What have you been reading?

Bilbo Bagins in the Hobbit, Frodo Bagins from LotR, along with Sam Gamgee and others.
Simon from Tad William's Memory, Sorrow & Thorn series.
Garion from the Belgariad

...to name just a few!

The 'accidental hero' is a very common trope in fantasy literature. I would say that it is more common than not that the 'hero' starts as just a regular guy. He may be the scion of an ancient line of kings, or the heir to a magical talent that can shake the world, but on day 1, he's a regular guy.


Dabbler, I could not disagree more. All of the characters you mentioned followed the "monomyth" path, meaning they grew and became deliberate heroes. Which is the antithesis of what this thread is supposedly about.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Dabbler, I could not disagree more. All of the characters you mentioned followed the "monomyth" path, meaning they grew and became deliberate heroes. Which is the antithesis of what this thread is supposedly about.

The accidental hero starts as a regular person, and all of these did. I'm no literary expert, but this is the kind of hero the OP means: they start out as normal, and grow from there.

Bilbo was minding his own business at home when Gandalf happened by with thirteen dwarves. Frodo had a bit more warning but no actual training. Simon was a kitchen boy. Garion a dishwasher. Luke Skywalker worked on his uncle moisture farm. These are the kinds of origins the OP mentioned.

Of course the character grows from there, and they mature and change, but there is where they start.


VoodooHoodoo wrote:
I agree with the above - why is the party going to let you come along somewhere dangerous? Why are they going to give you any of the treasure? Why would they not get you a job in the tavern and leave you there?

This would be my primary concern. Note: I don't consider it the duty of the rest of the party to make your wonky character concept possible.


Dabbler wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Dabbler, I could not disagree more. All of the characters you mentioned followed the "monomyth" path, meaning they grew and became deliberate heroes. Which is the antithesis of what this thread is supposedly about.

The accidental hero starts as a regular person, and all of these did. I'm no literary expert, but this is the kind of hero the OP means: they start out as normal, and grow from there.

Bilbo was minding his own business at home when Gandalf happened by with thirteen dwarves. Frodo had a bit more warning but no actual training. Simon was a kitchen boy. Garion a dishwasher. Luke Skywalker worked on his uncle moisture farm. These are the kinds of origins the OP mentioned.

Of course the character grows from there, and they mature and change, but there is where they start.

But none of those characters were stumbling around accidentally winning fights by waving their arms and bumping people.

That's a much harder concept to pull off.

I like the regular Joe caught up in events version of the concept.


Dabbler wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Dabbler, I could not disagree more. All of the characters you mentioned followed the "monomyth" path, meaning they grew and became deliberate heroes. Which is the antithesis of what this thread is supposedly about.

The accidental hero starts as a regular person, and all of these did. I'm no literary expert, but this is the kind of hero the OP means: they start out as normal, and grow from there.

Bilbo was minding his own business at home when Gandalf happened by with thirteen dwarves. Frodo had a bit more warning but no actual training. Simon was a kitchen boy. Garion a dishwasher. Luke Skywalker worked on his uncle moisture farm. These are the kinds of origins the OP mentioned.

Of course the character grows from there, and they mature and change, but there is where they start.

We will just have to agree to disagree. There was nothing in the OP that indicated the character would grow, and many posts on this thread assume and assert the contrary, that the character will NOT grow. Also none of the characters listed are bumbling idiots stumbling around and only succeeding accidentally. The closest you could come to that would be Bilbo, but even Bilbo accepted the role of "thief" and attempted to perform it to the best of his abilities, and improved dramatically when he did so.

So, no, not seeing it your way Dabbler.


Maybe I am misremembering, but I don't think Bilbo, Luke, or even Frodo were exactly press-ganged into it. They were manipulated and pressured some but they still made the choice.

But that's irrelevant, the question and the problem are the sense of utterly incompetent luck and implied lack of growth. The character has to seem like they're no darned good at all at doing whatever it is they do while still managing to do it, and while there are more examples than just Arthur Dent, they're kind of hard to do in a game where you can lose. If the whole point of the character is tripping and falling backwards into success every. single. time. you have to be the one writing the plot, which isn't how a role-playing game really works.

It's how a railroad works.


boring7 wrote:

Maybe I am misremembering, but I don't think Bilbo, Luke, or even Frodo were exactly press-ganged into it. They were manipulated and pressured some but they still made the choice.

But that's irrelevant, the question and the problem are the sense of utterly incompetent luck and implied lack of growth. The character has to seem like they're no darned good at all at doing whatever it is they do while still managing to do it, and while there are more examples than just Arthur Dent, they're kind of hard to do in a game where you can lose. If the whole point of the character is tripping and falling backwards into success every. single. time. you have to be the one writing the plot, which isn't how a role-playing game really works.

It's how a railroad works.

This.


I'm not sure if this is what you want, but here is a character that might fit the bill.

The Nanny - Halfling bard, songhealer archetype
str 10 dex 14 con 12 int 12 wis 12 char 18 (20 pt build)
feats: well prepared
traits: Helpful, caregiver
skills: heal, sleight of hand, perform (sing), bluff, intimidate, diplomacy, sense motive, perception
spells 0th level: mending, lullaby, prestidigitation, daze
1st level: cure light wounds, sleep

The nanny has been taking care of children all her life. She kisses their boo-boos, sings to them, keeps them clean, and puts them to bed at night. What she does she doesn't consider magic, just doing what a good nanny is supposed to do. Now one of the children she has kept has decided to go off and be an adventurer. While the idea of facing scary monsters is terrifying, she would never forgive herself is something happened to him. So she is going to follow him, and take care of him, whether he likes it or not.


Thanks everyone for your advice so far.

No, I wasn't planning on staying as the incompetent bumbler for eternity -- after all, once the character pops up a couple of levels, it's kind of hard to explain why he's still running amok when he's actually had more fighting experience than many grizzled veterans. He'll grow into it, but initially, he'll be very much the new fish. (Sorry, I tend to think of characters only at 1st level. Character growth is kind of foreign to me -- I've never had a 3.5e character past 8th level, and never played a Pathfinder character past 5th.)

Since this will be a PFS character -- well, sorry, but that's the only avenue I have for Pathfinder available to me -- growth will be limited to level 12. As a PFS character he has certain advantages: The reasons for his participation aren't in question, only his ability. (Thus, the reason for this post.) Also, the party really doesn't have a say in my choice of character to play. The GM might, and I know the Venture-Captain does, but as long as the character is a contributing member of the party and not completely useless, I don't see a problem with it. So, if your character refuses to adventure with my hapless hero, then it's YOUR problem and not mine -- and you have to decide whether or not participation in the adventure (and the slot) is worth it. You don't get to sit the hapless hero in a tavern and then go adventuring without him. Not in PFS.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I suggest looking at various NPC "normals".

Not all have NPC class levels.


have you read "the accidental cleric" - by DH Austin? (shameless plug as it is me, and that was my first novel)


John-Andre wrote:

Thanks everyone for your advice so far.

No, I wasn't planning on staying as the incompetent bumbler for eternity -- after all, once the character pops up a couple of levels, it's kind of hard to explain why he's still running amok when he's actually had more fighting experience than many grizzled veterans. He'll grow into it, but initially, he'll be very much the new fish. (Sorry, I tend to think of characters only at 1st level. Character growth is kind of foreign to me -- I've never had a 3.5e character past 8th level, and never played a Pathfinder character past 5th.)

Since this will be a PFS character -- well, sorry, but that's the only avenue I have for Pathfinder available to me -- growth will be limited to level 12. As a PFS character he has certain advantages: The reasons for his participation aren't in question, only his ability. (Thus, the reason for this post.) Also, the party really doesn't have a say in my choice of character to play. The GM might, and I know the Venture-Captain does, but as long as the character is a contributing member of the party and not completely useless, I don't see a problem with it. So, if your character refuses to adventure with my hapless hero, then it's YOUR problem and not mine -- and you have to decide whether or not participation in the adventure (and the slot) is worth it. You don't get to sit the hapless hero in a tavern and then go adventuring without him. Not in PFS.

Well then, I guess you get to inflict your hapless bumbling fool on other players whether they like it or not then. Neener Neener and all that.

Congratulations.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Try a rogue or rogue multiclass with the Dirty Trick line of feats.

That particular feat tree centers around the ability to win by pulling off unlikely maneuvers that could very likely be accidental, such as by causing your enemy's helmet to fall forward over his eyes, or tangling his pants around his ankles to trip or entangle him. Such dirty fighting can often be written off as luck and circumstance.

speaking of shameless plugs:
Some of what you're looking for might be pretty well-covered by the hoodwink, and the lookout could just as easily play the coward. There are a couple of dirty-trick-friendly rogue talents here, too.

As for sneak attack - that's just a matter of hitting a guy in just the right spot. I can think of no better way to reflect victory via blind luck.

Daron Woodson
Abandoned Arts

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

I like the archivist bard idea. There is a character in Gregory Keyes' The Briar King (Thorn and Bone series) who is a monastic (in the western sense, not the kung fu sense) scholar. He has a lot of esoteric knowledge that proves useful and he eventually becomes able to handle himself in a fight. You could also be one of the more bookish cleric archetypes with a bunch of healing and lore spells.


I haven't read many of the other posts and if this has been said, I apologize, please ignore if so.

For what you're suggesting, I would suggest a master of many styles monk, going the panther build that has been shown. You could run through battle forcing AOOs, make them miss and attack them instead (if I'm thinking of the correct feat line.)

Now, I realize this looks like a purposefully aggressive role, but it can be flavored as you suggested. You could flavor it as you run for your life, not realizing that the enemy might attack you if you run by, and chalk the opponent missing and you attacking as just being extremely lucky in flailing your arms and just happen to smack them in the face before they hit you.

Later you could pick up the snake style feats and flavor it's sense motive abilities as you are extremely paranoid and jumpy making you look out for people trying to kill you and making it harder to do so in some cases.

In the end, all it takes is a mechanic that you can re-flavor to fit your particular character flavor and goals.


You just lost me saying this is a PFS character. Why the heck would an accidental hero as you describe join an organization dedicated to exploring and adventuring? By its nature the Society is built by, of, and for people who want to step into harm's way. No Venture Captain worth his salt would send an unsuspecting schlemiel on an adventure when he has a half-dozen adventurers waiting in the lodge's common room.


thejeff wrote:

But none of those characters were stumbling around accidentally winning fights by waving their arms and bumping people.

That's a much harder concept to pull off.

I like the regular Joe caught up in events version of the concept.

I agree, the incompetent who stays incompetent is another kettle of fish entirely, but...

John-Andre wrote:

Thanks everyone for your advice so far.

No, I wasn't planning on staying as the incompetent bumbler for eternity -- after all, once the character pops up a couple of levels, it's kind of hard to explain why he's still running amok when he's actually had more fighting experience than many grizzled veterans. He'll grow into it, but initially, he'll be very much the new fish. (Sorry, I tend to think of characters only at 1st level. Character growth is kind of foreign to me -- I've never had a 3.5e character past 8th level, and never played a Pathfinder character past 5th.)

...which is all well and good.

Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Well then, I guess you get to inflict your hapless bumbling fool on other players whether they like it or not then. Neener Neener and all that.

Congratulations.

Uncalled for, AD, and very far beneath you. Just because you do not like the idea does not mean it will be 'useless' to the party, or 'inflicted' upon them - you are making a great many negative assumptions there that may well not be true.


@Dabbler: If AD is how I think he is that was ,at least for the most part, meant sarcastically.

After all this kind of character can end up a spotlight hog.


robertness wrote:
You just lost me saying this is a PFS character. Why the heck would an accidental hero as you describe join an organization dedicated to exploring and adventuring? By its nature the Society is built by, of, and for people who want to step into harm's way. No Venture Captain worth his salt would send an unsuspecting schlemiel on an adventure when he has a half-dozen adventurers waiting in the lodge's common room.

Because, as I said, Pathfinder Society is my only option for playing Pathfinder in my area.

Therefore, if I want to play this character, it has to be a PFS character.

I suppose I could just run a Pathfinder campaign... oh, wait, by running the campaign, this would exclude me from playing. Imagine that.

blackbloodtroll wrote:

I suggest looking at various NPC "normals".

Not all have NPC class levels.

What part of 'PFS character' did you not understand? PFS characters are not allowed to have NPC class levels, last I heard.


This seems like far more of a role playing choice than a mechanical one. Most of what you describe are personality traits, not character statistics. Just because the character has never adventured before doesn't mean that he doesn't have skill ranks into useful skills. It could be just a natural aptitude that he was unaware of.

I can, however, understand what people are saying about "why would a party want to bring this guy with them?" I understand that this is the sort of character that you want to play. But by the same token you have to understand that the other players are role playing their characters as well and it might be a pretty tough sell (especially at first level) if your character can not provide a compelling reason to be brought along.

Worse yet, as I understand it, he doesn't have a reason to want to come along. If you had it your way the character doesn't want to be an adventurer at all. Not only does that beg the question of how he became a Pathfinder in the first place, but also who's responsibility it is to answer that question. You are placing a lot of the responsibility of your concept on the DM who has set adventures that he can run and likely do not have a hook for a character who doesn't want to be a part of the adventure. These adventures typically assume that the Pathfinders who accept the adventures are doing so willingly for whatever motive the player decides. But if you are going with the "being dragged along kicking and screaming" approach... who is doing the dragging? Why would they agree to do this in or out of character?

Also, it is a bit naive to think that this is THEIR problem not YOURS. If the majority of the players do not want to play with you (or more accurately your character) then it isn't them that is going to be discluded. It is you. The DM will not run an adventure for a single player.

This might be a better concept for a home game where you have the option to talk to the DM and players before hand and can work out a background that involves a hook that forces the character into the story. There isn't really room for that kind of thing in PFS.


John-Andre wrote:
No, I wasn't planning on staying as the incompetent bumbler for eternity -- after all, once the character pops up a couple of levels, it's kind of hard to explain why he's still running amok when he's actually had more fighting experience than many grizzled veterans. He'll grow into it, but initially, he'll be very much the new fish....
It sounds like an interesting character, but...
robertness wrote:
You just lost me saying this is a PFS character. Why the heck would an accidental hero as you describe join an organization dedicated to exploring and adventuring? By its nature the Society is built by, of, and for people who want to step into harm's way. No Venture Captain worth his salt would send an unsuspecting schlemiel on an adventure when he has a half-dozen adventurers waiting in the lodge's common room.

...Robertness has a good point. The way PFS is structured seems to run counter to the "naive newbie, the hapless hero who is dragged into a greater world kicking and screaming". PFS characters do have a "deliberateness to them that just wouldn't work for the accidental hero, a willingness to step into harm's way and a bit of malice aforethought as they brandish their weapons or spells." They are being recruited by an organization.

I think it could work, but it will take a little finesse. Perhaps your character is another characters brother. Do you have a friend who plays PFS? Could you make characters with someone? I'm not entirely sure if PFS DMs have enough flexibility within the rules to be allowed do this sort of character.

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