What is essential in a character


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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In my group I'm the one who likes to tinker with different builds. Of course over the years a pattern has emerged. There are some things that every single one of these characters seems to have either through items or build...

Here is my list of essentials that I strive to build into every character:

Optimized for a specific combat role and have ranged weapons (front-line fighter, ranged combatant, Blaster, Healer, Buffer)
Optimized for a specific out of combat role (Scout, Tracker, Face, at least one unique knowledge skill....)
Ability to fly or climb
self-healing
Doesn't breathe (preferably can fight under water)

what are some of your essentials?


Adamantine Heavy Pick. Spear if not proficient in all martial weapons.


A CON of 12 or more


Oh oh oh Darkvision...did I fail to mention that?

Otherwise the party members carrying torches might as well have a Neon Sign over their heads that says 'Free Treats'


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A good hook so that the character always has a reason to back up the rest of the party.

Also an easily identifiable and unique character that is easy for the other players to relate to.

Dark Archive

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A one page background with at least some kind of character flaw.


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Every character I create is trained in at least one interaction skill (Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate, and/or Sense Motive). Even if I'm not playing the party face, it's still handy to be able to use these skills to interact with PCs.


Abilities/skills that would have enabled them to actually survive and thrive in their backstory.

A previous occupation/profession (prior to adventuring) that is mechanically accounted for, especially when they are of a race that has a long life span.

A starting equipment list that they could actually survive with in the wild, unless they live in a city.

If they live in a city, traits that reflect the personal connections they have made there (or the lack of connections, if they're loners).

These choices are decidedly non-optimal, but I find far more enjoyment in playing a character than in playing a character sheet.


All of my characters are swordsmen of some sort.

Shadow Lodge

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A player that is fun to be around.


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aboniks wrote:
These choices are decidedly non-optimal, but I find far more enjoyment in playing a character than in playing a character sheet.

I would argue that a good character build will have elements that most consider 'non-optimal'. Although this game is combat oriented combat is not it's only aspect. I agree that spending some of your resources (not all, like I said the game by nature IS combat oriented) on some mechanical reflection of your character is always essential.

I had a wizard character that always spent a skill point in Profession (Cook). I would create the meals for the adventuring party when we were on the road and I worked in one of the Inns as head chef when we were in town. I remember one time the DM even gave the party a bonus (I think it was temporary HP) when I rolled really well on making the party breakfast.

Shadow Lodge

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A reason to work well with others. Lots of storybook heroes are loners, its a popular archetype, but the game of pathfinder is about teamwork. I've found that character with whom I've thought about why I want to work with the group end up faring a lot better. Having a way to self heal, total unnecessary having a way to heal my friends on the other hand is mandatory. If my buddy is bleeding out on the ground I need some way to help him.


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A wooden box of Vargouilles. Have a strong PC throw one into the center of an enemy ambush, the result could be disastrous, but it'll definitely be hilarious.


Fort and will saves, ac, hp, perception, melee attack bonus, ranged attack bonus. Rope.


The one guiding star I've got in what's 'essential' for my character's mechanical build is this: can it do what I've sold it as being able to do?

If I claim that my character is a mighty warrior and then they keep getting their face rolled on by common monsters, that's not acceptable. If I sell something, I gotta actually pony it up.

As far as the non-mechanical stuff goes, I feel that any given character should be believable and introduce new plot lines & potential conflicts to the game.


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A bowling ball
A box of chalk
Fishing line
A box of needles

One time I lost my bowling ball so I had to walk around with the severed head of some recently killed humanoid opponent for a while. Heads don't roll quite as nicely as bowling balls do.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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a goal...

whether its something specific (like "become the ________ of _______" or "find/win/earn the _______ of _______"), fairly vague (like "prove to ______ that i'm not ______" or "become a true master of _______"), or even something impossibly grand (like "become the greatest ______ of all time") a goal informs your decision making and helps drive the story (or at least your part of it).


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As long as optimized doesn't mean maximized I agree with most things said. I'm just a little tired of these maximized characters with no flaws who crunch through combat with no real threat. I've been toying around with strong prominent character flaws, like Aboniks said something non-optimal. Again, non-optimal doesn't necessarily mean tank it but I found I enjoy not being the best at everything. Its nice to be able to carry the party but I find it more fun to let people have their strengths and weakness and I having my own.

The 5 roles seem good but don't forget blending roles.

Otherwise I like it. Lastly, dont forget about giving every character, Character! Make them noteworthy :)


I agree with the goal. Goals give characters motives and aspirations.


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What is essential in a character?

The ability to be described with at least 3 sentences, without touching on what the character is called, what he does, what he looks like, or what his role is in the group.

-Nearyn


Nearyn wrote:
The ability to be described with at least 3 sentences, without touching on what the character is called, what he does, what he looks like, or what his role is in the group.

I want to try this.

Evlynne Fairchild

A noble woman who has been shunned by her order and is adventuring to prove herself. She is stubborn, strong willed, quick to anger and constantly in a battle to control her darker nature.

...

I don't have a third sentence.


It'll come to you :)

-Nearyn


Nearyn wrote:


The ability to be described with at least 3 sentences, without touching on what the character is called, what he does, what he looks like, or what his role is in the group.

This is a good one.


The trait that gives diplomacy and knowledge local as class skills.

Because apparently having average charisma means half your encounters with people end with people disliking you. Honestly surprised anyone in a city can even stand going to work every day considering some GMs I've had and their ridiculous "socialization."


aboniks wrote:
Nearyn wrote:


The ability to be described with at least 3 sentences, without touching on what the character is called, what he does, what he looks like, or what his role is in the group.
This is a good one.

Hmmm my current PFS wizard (who one day I'll be able to get back to by not having work on the first sunday of a month) . . .

Loren grew up on the streets for several years after being orphaned before being taken in by her master (skill points were spent on sleight hand and other thiefly skills) when he stumbled across her and took her in as an apprentice. When she was nearly finished she was talked into having a party while he was away on business which ended with a thief friend trying to steal an item that triggered turning him into a cat, her into a girl and swapped the faces of the other two friends there (it was late and most had left). Her master returned and on finding out about the betrayal of trust (she invited someone in who tried to steal from him) he kicked her out. Losing the second place she called home and a surrograte father to boot has given her a driving urge to master her magical powers so she can create a home (she's heard tales of wizard towers, pocket dimensions and the like though she has no idea yet how you go about making them) that will be hers and can never be taken away from her again. Her familiar is the friend who was turned into a cat that's she's bonded with due to her feelings of guilt about what happened to them, this is also why she's adventturing as she's also looking for a way to turn him back (if that also allows her to turn herself back into a guy as well that's a bonus, and when she's able to take leadership at 7th level. Well if it were PFS legal anyway her familiar is going to start remembering her old life as a guy which is currently repressed which is really going to cause her some issues given for the first seven levels she was a cat, the friend not the character.) . . . I can go on.

As for the original question most of my players have possesed powers of one sort or anther if its allowed. Otherwise nothing really consistent.

EDIT
Given some of the people I've seen at work I can see the validity of that social aspect.


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Well, you need to be powerful, so you can crush your enemies, but you also need high perception, so you can see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women. (It's a good thing it's not 3.5, as that would require both spot and listen)

Scarab Sages

Static Hamster wrote:
Nearyn wrote:
The ability to be described with at least 3 sentences, without touching on what the character is called, what he does, what he looks like, or what his role is in the group.

I want to try this.

Evlynne Fairchild

A noble woman who has been shunned by her order and is adventuring to prove herself. She is stubborn, strong willed, quick to anger and constantly in a battle to control her darker nature.

...

I don't have a third sentence.

here let me help.

3rd sentence. - "She really likes pie."


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Tholomyes wrote:
Well, you need to be powerful, so you can crush your enemies, but you also need high perception, so you can see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women. (It's a good thing it's not 3.5, as that would require both spot and listen)

AM NOT "AM BARBARIAN", BUT AM OTHER BARBARIAN, AND AM AGREE WITH TALKY MAN. AM HATE SEPARATE SKILL CHECKS, MAYBE AS MUCH AS CASTIES.

AM MAY BE DUMB, BUT AM NOT BLIND. AM HAVE TO SEE PUNY TASTY CASTIES BEFORE AM SMASH. BUT WHEN AM SMASH, AM SMASH GOOD. NOT AS GOOD AS "AM BARBARIAN", BUT AM STILL BARBARIAN, SO AM STILL SMASH.

AM FIND BARBARIAN 'EHS-SEN-CHUL' TO ALL, MORE THAN ANY NOT-BARBARIAN. BUT AM 'OH-PIN-YUN'.


Something you can do in combat.

Something you can do out of combat.

While it's fun to have a combat focused monster or a guy who can talk everyone he meets into giving him there pants, you need to be able to do the other bit as well on occasion.


Ability to work well with the other characters in the group.


Tholomyes wrote:
Well, you need to be powerful, so you can crush your enemies, but you also need high perception, so you can see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women. (It's a good thing it's not 3.5, as that would require both spot and listen)

This also answers the question "what is best in life?"


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This thread has restored my faith in my fellow players.

Thank you all!


Thematically:
-A character interesting enough for me to play
-A short backstory
-A skillset that can match mechanics

Mechanically:
-At least 12 in dex, con & wis (more if it's a "low" save)
-A save at least equal to your level
-A clearly defined role (generally at least one in combat, one out of combat)
-My personal adventurer's kit (includes "normal" things like a grooming kit).
-A panic button (to escape if trouble hits too hard)


At least an NPC that is alive and is important to my character.
At least one reason my character would want to team up with others.

Liberty's Edge

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General Requirements for Everyone:

Thematic:

-A concept that the player playing them finds interesting and compelling, as well as fun to play.
-A backstory that makes sense with the game's setting and premise.
-The stats to reflect said backstory (usually a few skill ranks are sufficient).
-An alignment and personality that are workable with the rest of the PC group and not disruptive.
-A reason to adventure with the other PCs.

Mechanical:

-Generally, at least a 16 in their prime stat (preferably 18 if they're primarily an offensive caster like a Wizard), and at least 10 (preferably 12) in Con. Low secondary stats can be worked around, but not being able to do the primary role you're set up for is...problematic, as is serious lack of HP.
-As others have mentioned something useful to do both in combat and outside it (doesn't have to be a role in the strictest sense.)
-As a party, there needs to be someone to cover most of the skills, at least one each ranged and melee character, and someone who can heal (ability to use Wands of CLW will do, though more is better).
-An adventurer's kit of some sort (the Pathfinder's kit plus rope will do).
-I strongly recommend a couple of backup weapons [Silvered Mace and Cold Iron Dagger (or Silvered Mace normal Dagger and Cold Iron Morningstar if you want to load up) are the classics].
-No completely terrible saves. Negative numbers on a save are bad.
-At least one healing potion on their person at all times so that, in an emergency, anyone can save them if they go down. The standard healer(s) may be busy after all.

Personal Requirements for My Characters:

Thematic:

-Generally, needs to be fairly nice (ie: both friendly and Good Aligned) and likable. I make an exception for Evil campaigns, but even there they tend to be the affable type.
-Needs to be pragmatic enough to behave tactically in life-or-death situations basically regardless of circumstances.
-Generally fairly vindictive if crossed (and I mean seriously messed with, not insulted or other petty stuff), and fairly ruthless in dealing with real enemies. This can be modified somewhat by deity and history but it's pretty much always at least partially true.

Mechanical:

-Needs to have Int of at least 12, and either Charisma at a similar level or something like the Conversion Inquisition, where another stat can be used for social stuff.
-Generally needs Sense Motive and Diplomacy trained and with the class skill bonus. I wind up talking a lot, and like my characters to be likable, so this seems needed. Bluff is nice, and wanted, but not absolutely required.
-Need good ranks in at least one Knowledge skill, preferably more. I know a lot about the world, and it's frustrating not being able to use any of that IC.
-The character needs to be notably effective and dangerous (I like competent protagonists).


Je m’appelle, Jaeger I lost ma family when I was young and spent sometime livin in'ta waller slums. Dat is till Garret took me in'ta his home and adopted me. It was at tis point I met ma beb...I may have been a bit o' an couyon when we firs met but tis all good now.

Hey look I got three sentences. :)

My "essentials" are be competent in what the character does. Most important the concept has to be fun. My tiefling swordsman for WoTR has the spirit of a demon living inside him acting as his heart.


Jaeger di Angelo wrote:
My tiefling swordsman for WoTR has the spirit of a demon living inside him acting as his heart.

"My heart hungers for the souls of the innocent!!!!"


Nearyn wrote:

What is essential in a character?

The ability to be described with at least 3 sentences, without touching on what the character is called, what he does, what he looks like, or what his role is in the group.

-Nearyn

I think I'm going to translate this into a new goal for my RP. Not the ability to describe a character like you've got here. I think that's always something I'd be able to do with a PC I'm playing.

I'd like to be so clear and consistent in my RP that others could state those core ideas behind the character without me needing to tell them?

Oishi? I know that guy, he's from some place called the Forest of Spirits; he was some kind of diplomat or something to some group called the Kami. He's on the path to enlightenment and he's looked in some odd places so far. He considers that small sword on his back to be the sum of his being.

I think most folks I've played with could describe my Tengu like that... At least, the folks with any interest in RP.


Mechanically, this is what all of my characters have:
1. Constitution of at least 12-14.
2. No ability score below 10 if I can help it.
3. Dwarf or half-orc for race if core only, a race with darkvision if more than core is allowed. I just like having that "darkvision" on my sheet, even though so many DMs I have come across don't give a rat's pooter about the illumination stuff.
4. Intelligence score of at least 12.
5. Typically Neutral Good alignment, though I will play any Good alignment. Sometimes Neutral alignments. Never Evil alignments, and CN I tend to stay away from as well.

Non-mechanically, these are my essentials:
1. A believable background that is reflected in the skills and other choices made on the character sheet.
2. A reason to be where the campaign takes place.


A voice.

My characters are not born. They become. Finding my character's voice is tough, sometimes. Occasionally, I find it immediately. Some get abandoned because I never find it.


After the last adventure path, my players have now agreed that what they need essentially as heroes is....

HIT POINTS! And plenty of them...Deskari may have went down but not before he took the entire group down to single digit hit points and no more heals or potions left...


Reading this has made me realize that I've taken the fluff for granted. I'll admit that I've never been the strongest at the RP aspects of the game but have always made myself useful as a rules guy. This doesn't mean I don't try to RP. One of my proudest character achievements in a game was playing a member of an assassin's guild whom the party did not trust but needed to adventure with because of her access to resources in the city and her usefulness. She may have never earned the other party members trust, but she did earn their respect. She was a charisma based character and a shape-changer so it forced me into many many RP situations which is not my comfort zone and this was the intent.

Even though I am not strong at RP I've still asked myself some of these very obvious questions for every character: Why would my character join the party? Why do the adventurers keep travelling with my character? What are my characters goals in the campaign? Would this be fun to play? I have always asked them without thinking about it because it was so self evident that they had to be there. Fluff is an unlimited resource so even for me it was be relatively easy (sometimes still a challenge) to add these to my characters.

Abilities are a different story.

Things like unlimited flight so your wizard doesn't have to use his spells just to fly up above a jungle canopy to figure out which direction the temple is? Or using your flight to ignore difficult terrain (take that swamp!) or a climb challenge. Or the ability to use a Cure Light Wounds wand so that the Cleric can save his healing for those who need it or stretch it out so we can fight for longer without resting? Or be a back up healer if the main healer has died. Those can be more of a challenge to add because you're limited by the rules.

I enjoy seeing how many of my 'basic' abilities I can get into a build and having them can make some of the challenges in the game easier to deal with, which is always rewarding.

Grand Lodge

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Nearyn wrote:

What is essential in a character?

The ability to be described with at least 3 sentences, without touching on what the character is called, what he does, what he looks like, or what his role is in the group.

-Nearyn

This is a wonderful goal to work towards. Personally I'd rather start with one sentence when the campaign begins, and have 3 or more by it's end. I've always felt your backstory/traits should be simple at first, and letting the character develop over time to be a better experience than starting out knowing everything inside and out about the character.


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Gygax once said, "Back Story? The first six levels are a character's back story."

We've come a long way from the origins of D&D. And it's a good thing.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

"To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."

Weill, it is essential if you are playing a Conan wannabe....


All of my PCs have a character flaw and a motive.

Grand Lodge

Democratus wrote:
Gygax once said, "Back Story? The first six levels are a character's back story."

Whoa, I actually agree with him for once.


(1) A backstory that you care about;
(2) A motivation for adventuring;
(3) At least one thing that your character is mechanically good at, and which he knows he's good at;
(4) At least one thing that your character is mechanically bad at, and which he doesn't know he's bad at (a meaningful liability).


I like to dump Wisdom or Charisma if it'd not a necessary stat. I like being able to act or speak foolishly sometimes; it can be a good way to make things happen when the game slows down ... or at least add a little comedy relief.

Scarab Sages

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I need a concept and personality that's a bit quirky and fun to play.

For example, my next character is going to be a female summoner who worships Zon-Kuthon. Her Eidolon is going to be a gimp that she leads around by a chain

That should entertain the folks at PFS

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