So, I played my Gravewalker Witch last night and it was a complete sucess. Woke up from a coma incurred by drinking a draught the night before that turned out had been cursed by worshippers of Groetus to seperate the soul from the body of the drinker and send it to Groetus' moon for a day. When my character woke, his body was contorted in a horrible shape on the floor next to his bed, clutching a poppet made of human skin and filled with grave-dirt and bones and fingernails... He had no recollection of what had happened from the moment he drank the draught... But felt alterred. Racked with visions of death and madness (I failed about 10 saves in a row to break him from the draughts effects, gm told me I needed to come up with some wild reprecussions for such an epic string of failures.) His party was outfront of the house we had ransacked the night before (morally bankrupt group ftw) and were hunting badgers for breakfast. The first badger fell dead, and upon it dying, my character was suddenly compelled by the poppet to be near to the dead thing. He ran out of the house and proceeded to commune with the corpse through the poppet, creepily caressing it as he spoke unlife into the dead badger. The party went nuts, killed the undead badger and knocked my guy unconcious when he started babbling about the end of the world and screaming at them.
All in all I think it went about as well as can be expected. He went to sleep a spellslinger and woke up a gravewalker with the ability and the compulsion to raise the dead. I'm wondering though, how others have handled their characters acquiring a new class after levelling up.
I tend to plan out my character at least a few levels in advance. If I am planning on taking another class, I will start acting in ways that are normal for the new class ahead of time (trying to track things if a Ranger or Druid, taking an interest in arcane magic if Wizard, etc.). Once my new level and abilities come into play, it is far more believable that after all the practice, the new abilities start working right away.
I figure for this instance, he wouldn't be proficient in doing much of anything along the lines of bringing back the dead (how would he practice?). So, the poppet would sort of act as a guide for him... Showing him the will of Groetus and teaching him his purpose. Over the next few modules he's going to come into his own as a gravewalker and either accept or deny the "gift" that Groetus has bestowed upon him. It sort of stands in contrast for me to a few of my fellow players at the table, who took another class upon leveling up and didn't play it out as though they were any different than they had been the previous day. Just one day they were a gunslinger, the next day they were also a summoner.
Willing suspension of disbelief goes right out the window.
It depends on how you look at it. Especially at low level. The system is granular, you take one level at a time, there are no mixed levels or in between stages.
It also depends on how you think of the classes. Are they all separate known things in the game world or are they just ways to represent different facets of a character.
It's easier to think of with classes that don't make pacts with gods or other forces. Those do seem to need some kind of event. Though you could play it as something you'd had or known all along, but hadn't yet developed full access to. The eidolon is your childhood "imaginary" friend, come to find you again.
But the Ranger taking a level of Fighter isn't having a grand revelation or new career path, just reflecting a little more focus on combat and a little less on woodsy stuff.
There is no way to represent a character conceived as both gunslinger and summoner until you've taken a level of each. That doesn't mean the character has to be thought of as a Gunslinger who is now also a Summoner. It may have been always part of the character concept, just with no way to represent it mechanically.
Usually, I don't multiclass so... New abilities that crop up come from
When I do, I already have it established in my brackground. For example, in a 3.5 game that's stalled out, I have a character concept of being a Samurai/Duskblade, basically a warrior whom has learned special sword techniques. Now, we start level 1 and though he doesn't actually have any Duskblade spell casting yet, he none the less sees himself as a special kind of swords man. As I level, each new class feature/spell, comes off as the fruition of his training, even if he was just doing sword Kata's all darn day.
So basically, make it feel natural/pre-planned.
|Darigaaz the Igniter
Depends on what class you're going into and whether you've planned it out. For example, a barbarian planned to get a level of oracle might be having prophetic dreams (also a nice way to foreshadow a totem). Or lets say you have a rogue who spent the entirety of adventures for a level claiming and using various alchemical items, hey maybe he'd like to take a level in alchemist next.
While I'm not multiclassing in my current campaign, I do foreshadow my planned feats and class abilities. My Infernal Sorceror just made 7th level, and in preparation for his gaining Improved Disarm as his free feat, he has been practicing regularly with the party fighters, to improve his wrist control and precision. The spells and magical abilities just come to him, though, which I don't really role-play. I prefer to surprise the party with a new spell they weren't prepared for.
Darigaaz, it's interesting that you bring up the alchemical rogue as an example, because that's EXACTLY what my wife's character has just done. After six levels as an ultimate skill-monkey (14 skill points per level!), she took a level of Mindchemist Alchemist, to represent all the culmination of her (frustrated) efforts to scientifically replicate magical effects.
In general I plan out my class levels in advance. In Pathfinder so far I have not multi-classed. In earlier versions of the game when I did, I would start role playing the change in advance of leveling up. My rogue contemplating a level of sorcerer might pretend to be casting spells, or with some GM agreement might even succeed in performing some minor magic out of battle.
In a situation like the OP describes with some dramatic change brought about by trauma, I'd do it about like he did.
Interestingly, one of my current PF characters is a level 3 gravewalker witch... Love that character, I play him as a sort of wild-eyed voodoo priest.
I was playing a CG half-orc barbarian who was learning to like civilisation. He particularly liked beer, parties, beer, sing songs, beer and girls (when he had a lot of cash to spend on them). So he hung around with the rogue and bard for a bit - and finished up taking a level of bard. His performance skills were drum and chant (he wasn't that civilised).
Later he took Chevalier as a class. There was absolutely no IC prep for that - he met some guys in a bar and they got talking ...
OOC - I wanted the character to develop better social skills as he hung around with all these civilised people. Bard seemed a good way to get those skills. He never got too civilised but he was better able to operate in the town/city settings we finished up in.
For the Chevalier - that was planned a couple of levels before hand to get the pre-reqs.
For some, it is very much like THIS.
Personally, I usually try to RP the entire previous level as working towards the next. And sometimes if due to environmental/circumstantial/RP reasons it would make more sense to go into something else on the next level (surprises do happen in this game), then that is what will often happen.
It may not be "optimal", but it makes sense for the character. Also, for me, being "optimal" is not equivalent to "the only way to play/survive/thrive", and I have had TONS of fun with sub-optimal characters. YYMV, of course.
I have an archer right now that has used poisons his entire career and always tastes his poisons to be sure they're still potent. Since he acquired his ring of sustenance all he has eaten is his poison. One day he finally snapped, woke up and chugged a vial of his poison.
It turned out that after years and years of consuming the poison he had turned himself from a fighter into an alchemist. All of his extracts and mutagens are made from diluted poison. Let's just say that he's more than a little insane.
Oh man, now I found this craziness...
Whispering way sounds straight up my dudes alley. Maybe a level in undead lord and a few more in gravewalker will take me further down this necromantic rabbithole I seem to have found my character in and set him up as an agent of the grave.
Then a few levels in master summoner with the raise skeletons feat and he'll extremely popular... With dead folks.