Riverhelm (Ranger)

Round 2: Design an archetype

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka Transylvanian Tadpole

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Riverhelm (Ranger)

Thought to be descendants of Hanspur himself, riverhelms are the unmatched pilots of the Sellen, taking their bonded keelboats up narrow creeks forgotten by the Riverfolk and braving rapids no one else would dare.

Natural Pilot (Ex): At 3rd level, a riverhelm gains Skilled Driver (water) as a bonus feat. This replaces endurance.

Bond of the River (Ex): At 4th level, a riverhelm develops a close bond with his keelboat. He can purchase or craft the keelboat, and must live aboard for a week before receiving any benefits.

When aboard his keelboat, a riverhelm gains a +1 morale bonus to attack rolls, saving throws and skill checks and heals naturally at twice normal rate. He has a superb understanding of his vessel, gaining Expert Driver (water) as a bonus feat and a +3 bonus to Craft checks to repair his boat. A riverhelm suffers no penalty piloting his boat with half crew or more. For less than half crew, base DCs are increased by 10, and he can even pilot his craft alone; base DCs are increased by 20.

A riverhelm can get the best from his keelboat even when it is damaged. When aboard, penalties incurred due to the broken condition are halved. In addition, the keelboat takes 15 rounds to sink completely rather than the usual 10.

This ability replaces hunter’s bond.

Blessing of Hanspur (Ex): At 7th level, a riverhelm gains a swim speed of 20 feet when wearing no armor or light armor. This ability replaces woodland stride.

Mystical Pilot (Su): At 11th level, the water's flow serves a riverhelm’s whim, carrying him wherever he wishes. His keelboat’s speed is 60 feet and acceleration 30 feet even when travelling against the water current. This ability replaces quarry.

River Womb (Sp): At 12th level, if a riverhelm submerges himself fully in fresh water he gains water breathing and sanctuary (as per normal caster level) for up to 5 consecutive minutes per level. For each minute submerged, he recovers a hit point, but taking any action ends the effect. This ability can be used once per week and replaces camouflage.

Ethereal Pilot (Sp): At 19th level, a riverhelm can pilot his keelboat into the Ethereal plane once per day. This functions as ethereal jaunt, affecting the keelboat and all onboard. When travelling ethereally, the keelboat can sail through normally solid terrain as easily as water, although when it returns to the Material plane it must do so on water or be destroyed. The effect’s duration is equal to 3 + Wisdom modifier hours. Anyone disembarking from the keelboat causes it to return to the Material plane instantly. This ability replaces improved quarry.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

James, congrats on making the Top 32! As one of the 7 designers who chose to make a ranger archetype, you've got quite a bit of competition.

For me, this design seems thematically coherent but very narrowly focused on the River Kingdoms or rivers generally. I like the swim speed as an interesting addition, I think the River Womb is interesting flavor with real utility, and hey, Ethereal Pilot is cool.

Unfortunately, being bonded to a keelboat has some major disadvantages, enough to make me wonder whether anyone would actually play this archetype. Good job on a narrow topic.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Natural Pilot: This feat needs the sourcebook name listed after it because it's not from the Core Rulebook.

Bond of the River: Like the cavalier archetype that replaces an animal bond with a boat, I wonder why anyone would ever take this--it's so incredibly limited compared to a normal animal that can go with you anywhere (though there's nothing stopping you from dragging your boat onto land and still getting the bonuses).

Blessing of Hanspur: Note that rangers in PF have abilities that limit them to light or medium armor, as compared to 3E rangers where they could wear medium armor but some of their abilities didn't work in medium armor. This ability shouldn't be limited to just light armor because medium-armor rangers won't be able to use this ability and will be sad.

River Womb: Water breathing is a 3rd-level spell that last 2 hrs/level. This is really weak compared to that... and you can only use it once per week?

Ethereal Pilot: This ability just kinda arrives out of the blue.

I do NOT recommend this archetype for advancement.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Good RK tie in, one of several to work boats in to the archetype but I think this one may do it best, while it is very limiting if there is a place for it then it is the River Kingdoms. I think some of the swaps need some tweaking but those are notes back from the developer not reasons to reject it.

In the end, I like the concept and the execution, while it has its flaws, is good enough to get the nod from me.

I DO Recommend this archetype for advancement.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

I think Sean misses the point of River Womb (it's free healing, not water breathing), but agree that once per week is a silly sort of limit for an adventuring archetype.

Having read all the rangers at this point, I'm still on the fence about this one. Maybe the voters will give it the nod, or maybe they'll have the same reaction the judges did to most of the boat archetypes.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Locke1520

I'm afraid that I'm not as fond of this archetype as I am the Scallywag (Cavalier). While both archetypes limit dungeoneering...that cavalier already has that problem and thus a boating archetype actually expands the class while this archetype introduces the limitation. All in all it's not a bad archetype and in the right situation I could see using it but there are other entries I'm much more fond of.

Conratulations on making it to the top 32 and good luck this round.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka surfbored

Very well written, cool powers too. Defining abilities start slow, but steadily ramp up.

It's a perfect NPC archetype for the River Kingdoms. Not something I (and probably most players) would ever play though.

You might get through on the quality of your writing and if you do, you'll need to raise the excitement factor a bit.

Good luck!

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8 aka nate lange

well written, good use of the template; i think your link to RK is actually a little too specific- "thought to be descendants of Hanspur himself" sounds more like the opening of a monster entry than a class.

this seems like it would be a pretty balanced archetype, but only in certain campaigns... i've never played in a campaign where we needed piloting rules nor one where you would regularly be fighting on/from a small boat. in a standard campaign (even one set in RK) this seems like a really weak option.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

I will give general impressions, but with 3 areas of particular focus that suit my personal interests. Archetype and ability names: do they show flair? How closely tied to the River Kingdom is the archetype? And last but certainly not least, do I want to play this archetype?

Archetype and ability names: Strong. Thematically solid and closely tied to the RK. All are a very nice fit for what they label as well.

River Kingdom tie: Well above average. Tied to the rivers about as closely as you can be.

Desire to play: This one is difficult. I *want* to play this archetype, but it really would require a certain kind of campaign. The abilities are all very cool and appropriate, but they're just so limited in where you can use them.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

While this archetype is... passable on its own, when directly compared with both the other bonded-boat archetype cavalier and the plethora of rangers, it comes up just a little short.

That's not to say it's bad, but it doesn;t wow me enough. There are some cool abilities, even if they're not quite perfect, but they limit the class in what it can do. Especially because you specify a keelboat, which no 4th level character would ever be able to purchase or craft alone (13,000gp!). Even spending 100% of wealth by level you have to be halfway out of level 5 before you could even buy it, and that's if you were naked as a jaybird. Which means that your 4th level ability will never happen until you're at least 5th level - or probably 7th or higher unless you've got a generous party.

Further that by restraining you not just to water, but *one* body of water (due to the fact a keelboat weighs several tons). Sure, you can sail around things, but you're turning an activity that sakes some parties hours into a task that could take weeks.

Basically, I'm lamenting the vehicle you chose, and it was a BAD choice.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka theheadkase

Another really good themer. You have a theme, and you stick to it. Kudos!

Natural Pilot is cool, you get a +4 which is boring, but you did it by referencing a new(er) feat which was well done.

Bond of the River, I like this actually. I can see a ranger going down a river, coastline, large body of water or the open seas strafing with his mighty bow! Seriously, I like the imagery this conjured in my head. My question though, is what happens if the boat is broken? How about if it is sunk but they have waterbreathing and are "aboard" their boat? What if they take a piece and fashion shoes or boots, you are technically "on" the ship?

Blessings of Hanspur, good tight themed ability with a smart replace.

Mystical Pilot, good ability but bad name. Just kind of meh compared to the other names you came up with. What about Legendary Pilot? Or Superb Pilot? Or something other than Mystical?

River's Womb, great name but so-so mechanics. 5 minutes, 5 HP once a week. Maybe once a day, better at once an hour. And at 12th level...meh.

Ethereal Pilot, ahhh now I see where you were going with the Mystical Pilot name. This is cool. Except for the disembarking part. What if someone gets thrown off? Crap...there goes the boat and everyone on board should take damage if it's solid land (although you don't get into that part of it...which you should).

I still have the same issues in focusing so much on a boat. I like this one better than the others that did it though.

I do NOT recommend advancement, but will probably spend an extra vote on it.


Clouds Without Water corrected me, 60 HP for an hour's worth of water rest is better than 5 HP. Although the fact that ANY action kills the effect and the once a week thing still stifles it for me. Thanks Clouds!

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

theheadkase wrote:

River's Womb, great name but so-so mechanics. 5 minutes, 5 HP once a week. Maybe once a day, better at once an hour. And at 12th level...meh.

I read this the same way at first, but it's 5 minutes per level, so it's initially 60 minute and 60 HP, which is decent. Outside of the once a week thing.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Congrats! I'm loving the Hanspur archetypes, and this is good but still misses the mark for me. You have given me an idea for the one a had worked on(but scratched as being to RK specific).
Good luck!

Great flavor here, but the comments about boats being a limiting factor are all too true. That said, I totally see this for NPC keelboat captains in the RK setting. Nice concept.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

Good: nice RK tie ins like that bit with hanspur I actually like the boat though again most of the area is LAND.
Bad: Boats not go in dungeon.
Ugly: Lost in a sea of rangers, see what I did there.
Overall: good might fringe its way into a vote but its the lower end of contenders for me might get edged out.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

I like the concept of the keelboat instead of animal companion with a ranger just as much as I did with the cavalier. I think you did a better job with the boat angle actually, giving some exta abilities do it - though you also could have had them increase with level more along the lines of an animal companion, but were most likely hampered by word count.

Great additional ties to Hanspur, that really makes this a RK archetype, instead of a generic boat ranger. River womb is a nice way to tie to the theme and grant a pretty good healing power, but with it being only 1/minute, I'd have allowed once per day, not per week - it's still not THAT powerful that way. And finally, the etheral pilot is a great way to patially overcome being locked into a particular body of water. I'll most likely be voting for this.

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8

I wasn't sure what to expect from the name. Very interesting to see this treatment based on boating, which hasn't had much respect in the recent game.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6 aka Transylvanian Tadpole

A huge thanks to everyone who voted for this and for my map of refuge, and for all the comments made by judges and voters. It’s a disappointment not to be progressing into the next round, especially as I have a monster submission sitting on my desktop which I’m very proud of.

Self Criticism

Well first off, a ranger in a field of seven rangers, although my closest running mate was probably Chris’ cavalier. I kind of double bluffed myself here. I knew my design choices (rivers, boats and Hanspur) might be a little obvious, but perhaps my contestants would go elsewhere for those very reasons. Well, with 32 fellow contestants, that’s a fairly stupid conclusion.

Interestingly, very late in the day an idea for a bard who has learnt music from the fey, with fey related abilities came to me. Ultimately, I didn’t have time to develop it; if I had I could have stuck out a little more.

Design Choices

Almost all about the boat: The most telling criticism, and something I was aware of developing this archetype, but I could see its uses. As Clark mentioned, we were designing for the River Kingdoms, and I could see where this could have utility in a campaign set in the area. Of course, you can’t take it into the dungeon, but as a keelboat it’s large enough to serve as a mobile base for your adventuring party. Reducing the bonuses for being undercrewed served that idea; a keelboat’s normal crew is eight. With a riverhelm you can pilot your boat with just four without penalty, the standard adventuring party size.

My biggest goof, as RonarsCorruption caught, was failing to think about Wealth-by-Level, something I rarely worry about in my home campaigns (by way of explanation rather than excuse). I should have included some way of significantly reducing crafting costs as part of the archetype’s abilities.

Chris and I both got some criticism for going niche with the boat. It’s definitely a valid point, although when reviewing archetypes we often forget all the powers that haven’t been removed. Play a Riverhelm, and you still get favoured enemy, favoured terrain and a fistful of weapon feats. You also get a boat that loves you!

Plus I was also hoping for some design kudos for using the vehicle rules. None was forthcoming :-).

Blessing of Hanspur: whilst it seemed feasible to allow rangers to swim strongly in leather (light armour), chain mail (medium armour) seemed too much of a stretch, so I broke from the accepted ‘ranger powers in light or medium armour’ trope.

River Womb: my idea here was to give the ranger a quick healing option. I also liked the idea that if a fight was going against him in the river, he could just pitch himself overboard, and float away to fight another day. In my original draft the healing abilities were more powerful, which led me to the once a week usage. I should have considered changing this when I depowered it, but I was worried making it a daily ability would step into cleric territory and be too much.


A few people mentioned this would make a good NPC archetype, which I think is the most telling criticism. I’m a GM much more than a player and I failed to think about what appeals playerwise. I didn’t play to the crowd, which of course is crucial in a contest decided by the votes of people who by and large are players. As Clark mentioned, it’s about bringing the awesome every time, which I didn’t do this time. Had I taken a big step out of the box (and arguably worried less about the River Kingdom tie), I probably could have done better.

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

James, I do actually like that you were using vehicle rules in your entry. Unfortunately, that's rather all there is to it. You used the rules. Sure, you can pilot a big boat by yourself, and you get some really basic (+5 rounds to sink, +60 ft move, +30 ft accelleration) bonuses. That's not that exciting.

You could have tried to do something crazy with the rules. Portable boat? Sure! Boat that starts and stops instantly? Why not! Boat that never requires a crew? You could do it!

You picked up an interesting and underutilized rule, sure, but you unfortunately didn't do anything exciting with it.

In addition to the details provided here quordle, I'll also introduce you online. This is a very nice list of the games I've played, which includes some of my all-time favorites and most well-known titles. another subject. Different games that I bet you'll like.

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