Advice for Party Building


Advice


Hello to everyone on the wonderful forums!

So the questions are at the end, but if you read through it might help give some context.

So I am a teacher, and one of the clubs I started was a board game club. It is still getting started and I am hoping to find myself more established over the coming years, but I have to relate an awesome event which happened not too long ago. The conversation goes like this:

*Students approach my desk after BGC meets*

Students: Mr. Teacher-guy?

Mr. Teacher-guy: Yes students?

Students: We have a question, but we are not sure we can ask you. Its about BGC.

Mr. Teacher-guy: Well, you never know until you ask, so I would say ask.

Students: There is a game we want to play, but we are not sure we would be allowed, or even if we could.

Now, at this point I am thinking Cards Against humanity or some equally risque game, to which I would most certainly get in trouble with administration.

Mr. Teacher-guy: Keep it holy now. *Our way for saying, "I'm listening, but this might be a no situation.*

Students: ... Do you know anyone who could teach us Dungeons & Dragons?

Mr. Teacher-guy: Oh children... yes... yes I think I can help you.

So, I have decided to go with Pathfinder as I do not have the most recent version of D&D and I am more familiar with Pathfinder anyway.

Now I have already decided on how I am going to run the game. I have bough a couple seasons of the PFS adventures in the past, so I am going to use them as my base adventures since they are pretty straight forward. I am also going to eschew the normal experience progression in favor of milestone leveling to (somewhat) mirror the PFS progression, only mine will be tiered. It is going to look like this:

Level # of Adventures needed to advance
1 3
2 3
3 5
4 5
5 7
6 7
7 9

And so on and so on. My thinking is it will allow them to invest in the history of their characters as well as giving them a journey to overcome.

I want to make the characters for them, at least the mechanics of it all with the idea they can just sit down and play, while they come up with the history and story bits. I was going to make the mechanics for levels 1 - 3 so they can see how a character grows and progresses, then once they hit their 4th level advancement the character would be theirs to develop.

My questions are as follows:

1. I have six students interested in playing currently. I was thinking of making the following group. Cleric, Fighter, Monk, Ranger, Rogue, and Sorcerer. I have never constructed an entire party before, and I am worried about balance. I want them to be effective, but not broken. The threat of death should still be very real. Also, building a group which would need to work together. Do you, wonderful people of the forums, have suggestions on a good party build in that case?

2. Generally speaking, I have a projector I can use to put up a playmat on my whiteboard to draw maps, but are there any other suggestions you can make for helping the game be more visually enticing?

3. Does my progression seem sound? I know for PFS it is 3 per level, but part of this is going to be them creating their story, which was always the part I loved. Once they hit 12 it is going to be the retirement series, but I want that to seem like a truly earned campaign.

4. In that vein, when they jump tiers (lvl 2 - 3, lvl 4 - 5, etc.) I was going to make that last adventure be an extended proper adventure, not a PFS scenario. Are there any of the adventures out there you really like you can suggest? My notion is it should be an adventure which would cover multiple levels, and culminate with them hitting the next tier. So fro example. When they are about to jump from 2 - 3, I would run an adventure meant to take characters from lvl 1 - 3, so at the end they reach lvl 3.

5. Are there any limitations you can think of I should impose? I know PFS removes item creation from the table for play, do you think I should do the same to keep it in the proper light?

Any advice, questions for clarity, or suggestions would be awesome. You rock community!


You might want to actually use PFS scenarios, at least in the beginning. I also wonder if you should let them make their own characters after you feel that they have some experience and a good grasp of the rules. I would start with just the Core book. Also, I highly recommend that you allow them access to the strategy guide. It is very good for what it does.

The Exchange

I think get the PFS scenarios in this order:

1) Confirmation
2) First Steps
3) Crypt of everflame

Could do the price of immortality trilogy, but I feel that the other 2 aren't that good.

If it were me I'd continue with the following:
4) Quest for perfection (Part 1)
5) Quest for perfection (Part 2)
6) Quest for perfection (Part 3)
7) Before the Dawn (Part 1)
8) Before the Dawn (Part 2)
9) Feast of Ravenmoor
10) Carrion Hill

What are the ages of the kids in question? 9 and 10 can be a little spooky, depending on how it's run. That whole list will bring them to level 5 (using PFS leveling mode) if they're up to it.

Core Monk and Rogue(especially if your allies aren't the sort who are willing to give you flanks - may be a little hard on kids to understand flanking teamwork) aren't that easy to play, and Core Sorcerers...eh wizards are better. Consider having a bard, or a druid instead (though animal companions can be a bit of a fiddly bit). Give the ranger 1 rogue level if he needs to disable device.

I can offer to build the entire party, Core only, but it'll definitely be more optimised then the pregens.


1) I'd suggest starting by giving each of them a character sheet for an Iconic - the pre-generated characters. They're known to not be especially optimized, and should serve as a good starting point for their first time playing. Emphasize to the kids that they can learn the ins-and-outs of character creation later - for now, they're learning to play the game.

Remember that with a six-character party, they're not going to have too much trouble once they start the game.

2) It all depends on your unique situation. You can bring small figures, use candy, whatever works. Whatever you pick should be largely uniform in size and quality, though.

3) I think your progression should aim for their characters to hit retirement by the end of the school year. Adjust the number of missions as necessary (probably lower it, so they feel they're still progressing on a regular basis - that's important!).

4) Sounds like you want a Module. For a party of six characters, they can probably handle their level +1 in a module, so some options...
-Masks of the Living God if they enjoy roleplaying (get wrapped up in an evil cult and learn to take it down!)
-Feast of Ravenmoor for creepy small-town stuff
-Risen From The Sands for an Egyptian adventure
-Plunder & Peril for pirate stuff

Those're all Level 3-4 Modules, and they're pretty good. ^^

5) Limit them to the Paizo SRD - and whatever specific books on that you want them to be using. Again, emphasize that future games can have more options, and for now you're being a teacher and helping them learn the fundamentals of the system.


1. Create flaws in each character so they require the rest of the party. Also, by everything that's good and holy in this world, make than an Unchained Rogue, an Unchained Monk, and actively use Weapon Mastery Handbook in creating that Fighter. I can see why you'd make a party like that, but I'd probably recommend you replace the Ranger with a Bard. Having pets in a 6 person party will slow down combat a lot.

Also, considering it's a whole six of them, I'd spread out casting duties. I'd probably do something like:

- Spellscar Oracle with Blackened Curse
- Inquisitor (do recommend Heavy Armor Proficiency for first feat, by the time Stalwart rolls around he'll have mithral heavy plate. Don't neglect DEX though.)
- Bard (probably bow-based)
- Ley Line Guardian Witch (Elements or Winter patron sound fun?)
- Slayer (switch-hitter)
- Unchained Barbarian (possibly Steelblood to have more heavy armor users, but vanilla or Invulnerable Rager would work)

Note that all this party is spontaneous-based. I find that makes casters delegate more responsibility between themselves.

2. Roll20 probably. Ambience music.

3. Sure.

4. Dragon's Demand is pretty sweet. You could put the first part early on, and then spread out the rest of the campaign with other stuff in between. The Harrowing at level 9 is mandatory.

5. No summoning, no companions, familiars only for the stat boost and skills, no combat or UMD with familiars. First rule of every character: find a reason to stick with the party. If you don't have one, retire your character. Item Creation is fine in my opinion.

PS: I can build that party upon request btw.

Grand Lodge

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Just a Mort wrote:

I think get the PFS scenarios in this order:

1) Confirmation
2) First Steps
3) Crypt of everflame

Could do the price of immortality trilogy, but I feel that the other 2 aren't that good.

If it were me I'd continue with the following:
4) Quest for perfection (Part 1)
5) Quest for perfection (Part 2)
6) Quest for perfection (Part 3)
7) Before the Dawn (Part 1)
8) Before the Dawn (Part 2)
9) Feast of Ravenmoor
10) Carrion Hill

I've played a majority of these and really like the order he is telling you to play in.

Perhaps if this Club is going to be a regular thing you might want to look into joining the Pathfinder Society Play and Earning the Credits. That way when the kids grow up but still want to play they can go to Cons and weekly meetings for PFS play around the country. They can also still use their characters in any of those locations. So if a Kid does move away he has an activity to go meet new friends.


I would pick up the beginner's box and use that as the basis for your builds. Stick to simple, easy to use character concepts. build some solid characters with builds for the first few levels and but let the players at the books after that. I would not want to take on all the responsibility to level them and lots of players will find it fun.

I would run a character creation session before the game. They don't need to be at the rules, but give them some ideas of the types of characters they could be and then ask what they want to play, then build simple characters off that. Stick mostly to straight classes. Encourage only 1 arcane and 1 divine caster, but for martial roles duplication is not a bad thing.

Finally, I would probably only have 2 sessions before level 2. You want to hook them, and rewards early helps with that.


The best advice I can give is this. Oh, and always carry rope.

The Exchange

I will argue that multiple divine/arcane casters may not be a bad thing - what if the cleric himself needs rescue? I suspect most of the kids would say, I want to swing a big sword and hack bad guy into pieces, because thats how tv shows(adventure time) go. 4 melee - there may be times some cannot engage, esp in 5 ft cooridors. Especially that these are kids, I doubt they will understand the use of reach weapons, yet.

Also. I heard sometimes kids like to have fluffy animal friends following them around. I mean you get a teddy bear/doggie as your bodyguard. How cool is that?

Or you could run dragons demand for them, its a 1-7 module. However, its not so simple hack and slash, there's quite some talky talky involved, which might result in bored kids who want to "kick bad guys @ss".

Please don't teach the kids to be pirates(plunder and peril) :p We need to teach the younger generation to do the right thing.


Hey everyone!

First, I want to say holy cow thanks for all the advice! It truly is appreciated, and I can't tell you how much it means to have your support in this.

Second, I want to say my goal is to teach them to be good gamers, part of my goal in starting the BGC in the first place was to instill a sense of welcoming, laughter, and community within a school which needs it. This is why I want to expose them to several different play styles, from puzzle adventures, to hack and slash, to some talky talky though I agree that would probably bore them the most. What can I say, I am a teacher, I have to teach ha ha.

Third, for those mentioning the pregens, I had thought about that, but I wasn't sure I wanted to use them as I would want to remove all the background bits so they could make the characters personality their own, and if I am going to do that I might as well build the characters myself. However, the mention of flaws definitely gave me ideas, and I have started incorporating them into the builds as well.

Finally, my immense thanks for all the build suggestions, and I was looking them all over. They are definitely interesting, but I am afraid they might be a little too advanced for them. I won't know until I see them, so I would welcome the build and even if I don't use them to start I will save them to offer as options should their characters die. I want to start out basic with them, and while I am not a GM who TPKs I also don't shy away from the possibility of character deaths. I feel like for them to truly understand the critical thinking involved (teacher...) they need to also see the necessity of making good decisions for the party. That is partly why I only created one healer, do you go for the kill on the bad guy? or do you go and support your cleric who is currently being ganged up on? Same for the Sorcerer.

It is possible I am missing something in that logic, I admit. I was also playing with the idea of a druid or paladin character in place of the monk, however, one of my students really wanted to play the monk, so I am going to start him out with it and go from there. I want to keep it core classes and races only to begin and then start spiraling them out. However, the unchained rogue and monk is a definite inclusion, as I saw the build and they make more sense.

So, to sum up, I would love to see the character builds, and I have saved all the suggestions for adventures, putting them into a progression.

OH! I almost forgot, I did look at the level progression. Club meets on Mondays, and I was thinking about running every two weeks, so twice a month we have our session. With the way the school year goes, they will reach 12 by the end of the second year, which I think is actually pretty good for them. However, I may adjust as I go to make sure they are in a good pace.

Please keep the suggestions coming. I actually have a database of information I put it all into so I can review it and look over the adventures, and all the suggestions made here have been put into the database and I am going to also include the students in the suggestions so they have can have a say in how they want the group to go.

You are all wonderful human beings, thank you for helping make this a reality. All my love to you and yours, may your parties never die and your dice roll true.


One thing I'd suggest is to go over the very basics and check with what kinds of characters they want to run. I see one of your players wants a monk, so that's fine. Just get a sense of what they want, both in and out of combat.


It was something very similar that got me back into the hobby after a lengthy hiatus. Our club was only for table-top role playing, started at 5 members (who did the grunt work of starting the club with the school administration) and swelled to 23 in just two years. I actually had to go to a recruiting/application/lottery process to cull the herd so to speak, because I could only put in enough time to GM one group. Good luck, and remember the most important part of introducing new young minds to the hobby is making sure they have fun! Even if you have to take some of the rules and throw them out the window.


I think the idea of using the pregens is to run a few adventures with the pregens, letting them switch which they are playing so they can get a feel for the rules and the types of characters. Then once they have an adventure or two of experience, teach them to make their own characters. Kinda like teaching them to play with training wheels, then taking them off once they have the basics.


I'd definitely suggest considering a 6/9 caster or two, such as a Bard, Inquisitor or Alchemist. Paizo tend to have balanced the mechanics for each of these classes very well, with decent power curves, multiple class features and spells lists that fit thematically and practically.

While you may want to keep things simple at the start, each of these classes has a lot of variety and can help to learn the system as a whole. They also tend to have enough skill points to keep up in non-combat encounters.


Inquisitor is very complicated for new players.


'Sani wrote:
I think the idea of using the pregens is to run a few adventures with the pregens, letting them switch which they are playing so they can get a feel for the rules and the types of characters. Then once they have an adventure or two of experience, teach them to make their own characters. Kinda like teaching them to play with training wheels, then taking them off once they have the basics.

This is a very good idea. A lot of people change their minds about what types of characters they want to play after they play for the first time.

No plan survives contact with the enemy.


Just don't let them use the pregen Harsk.

In all seriousness though, I really like the idea of having a Bard in there. More PCs is tantamount to a more effective bard. Also, having just 1 other person who can cast CLW once or twice a day is pretty clutch. When the Cleric goes down because the goblin with a d4 got a crit and maxed damage, how do you recover from that? Bard to the rescue.

Having a bard is also nice for adding a +1 that everyone has to remember. The Cleric won't always bless, the Rogue can't always flank, but the Bard can almost always Inspire Courage. Having this aspect will prepare the kids to remember other situational bonuses that can become crucial, since they will have frequent exposure.

I'm also in agreement that having a Ranger with a pet can bog down the game, and that the pet usually will be more of a hindrance than help in combat. Just watch any episode of Critical Role.

The rest of the basic party composition seems very balanced.

To actually build the party, I'd limit it to Core and APG only. That should give a vast array of customization, without being overwhelming. The individual character builds might take a page out of the Guide to the Builds. Just take the 20 point buy suggestions, maybe modified slightly to give some flaw or additional flavor to the character. Perhaps take a point out of the primary stat and put it into Wisdom or Con. That should add durability at the expense of raw power and still give a solid character. For Feats and Skills, you're pretty limited at first level, so there really shouldn't be much dithering over the choices.


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I have two daughters who've played several times at home with me. Currently they're 11 and 13, but they've played back as early as 7 and 9. The one thing that never fails: games get very cinematic.

My girls never say to me: I'm going to move up using Stealth and inspect the area; my Perception check is X

Instead it's: I move up with lots of caution. You said there's a clearing right? I'll look around really carefully, try and see if there's anything in the leaves on the ground that looks like a trap. Maybe a weird shape, or a mound or something.

Then when the older one DID find something she thought was a trap; a bunch of vines under the leaves she looks over her spells (playing a wizard) and goes: Ok, I have Mage Hand. I'm gonna pick up a branch, brush away some leaves until I can clearly see the vines. Then I'll pick up a heavy rock and drop it on the vines and other areas in the leaves to see if I can set it off.

In short: my girls see Pathfinder as an action movie, not a game.

If you're running PFS modules, let the kids try anything and get away with some stuff. If they're playing more cinematically try to roll with it.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

One of my friends has played on a projector before and told me it wasn't a great idea. If you've got a good setup and a projector that doesn't overheat and burn people when touched, though, I think you should be fine.

As far as balancing the party, the makeup you suggested does add a bit more complexity with the Ranger's animal companion in tow. I suggest either having them take the Companion Bond or an archetype that replaces it. Definitely use the Unchained Rogue as it has significant improvements to the class and I suggest using the Unchained Monk in addition. I know the Arcanist is technically an advanced class, but being able to switch your spells known each day is much more forgiving than the sorcerer's Spells Known or the spell preparation of the Wizard. And definitely use the Weapon Master Handbook to give the Fighter an edge - I've built a couple and updated some recently that greatly outclass their previous versions.

Good luck, and have fun!

Liberty's Edge

with a part of 6 Id go with

Fighter
Monk
Rogue
Sorcerer
Cleric
Bard

this will get a good mix of abilities and capabilities. stay with core and add as needed later.

Id balance skills to insure theres not a lot of overlap.

remember, this is primarily for teaching and you want each to shine and learn without being overwhelmes. stay away from archetypes because that will just confuse them starting out...stay with the KISS principle

Keep it simple, stupid.


I would make some flexible characters, and let them make changes only one time when they are level 4 or so.
For example a cleric can be played as a melee beast, a tank, a pure healer, even a necromancer... All depends on the right domains.
The monk can make some interesting changes by taking diferents archetypes, you dont like too much to be in melee? take the far strike monk, want to be more tanky, take a the crane style feats, and so on.
I would change the sorcerer for a prepared caster based on int, they may (almost sure will) make take some bad spells, and with a sorcerer there´s no turning back. They will need someone with the right skill for the right moment and a high int makes that possible. Maybe a alchemist can fill better in the team, and he is super flexible. Can go bomber, hyde, summoner or even archer (a granadier with the right build is broken)
The fighter is great but he has two problems for me. First they get a lot of feats, for the begginers may be a trouble to remember all the feats they fighter have, the second problem is that he inst very fun, they partners are getting new spells, new tricks and new powers.. he is only hitting the same way all the story. Maybe a barbarian is more funny with the rage, the rage powers and is easier and funny to roleplay.
And for the proyector... maybe use it as a tool but dont get it much importance, is more intresting to play in a table and some figures.
I apologise if my english is not the best.


one suggestion, have more character sheets than you have players, nothing stinks quite as much as being "forced" to choose the last unwanted toon (even though they may not know what they are getting).

I also support having some more 1/2 casters as role overlaps, they synergize well without stepping on toes too much. Plus they are flexible without being complex, assuming you choose spell lists.

GM screen is a must, and with 6 players, specialization will not be nearly as necessary as with a 4 man party. I suggest giving some quick look up notes for the most common aspects of the game (conditions page brief, combat penalties and bonuses, concentrations for arcanes, lists of possible actions, D20 is a great site for explaining many aspects of the game is a simple manor). You will have a lot to pay attention too, the more you can delegate or provide instant reference the easier your job of keeping the game rolling.

I might also suggest modifier and duration tokens, or possibly even spell tracking tokens if the kids are young.
Dazzled? -1 token stuck on the sheet, blessed? +1 token. Used a lvl 1 spell, flip a spell token from have to used. Buff spell ongoing? Remove 1 round token, stack empty duration ends. Even veterans can struggle with fast math sometimes. I have made my own players develop a separate stat sheet for enlarge/reduce/shapeshift for those that use those abilities (in game) daily.

My own group used the paizo official paper miniatures, as well we purchased a sheet of plain white cardboard the same thickness as the miniature sheets, then printed off and glued (or drew our own) characters on them. Then your players (kids) can have their own mini that is just theirs. Something they can hold onto besides a sheet, 1 inch stands should be simple enough to get, even if you purchase the beginners box or something similar. or use those black paper clips with the arms removed.

A roll grid map is inexpensive and easy to use with overhead markers as well, or you can use overhead transparents for direct placement (grid on paper, map on transparent). Pathfinder is about tactical movement, the easier and more relate-able this is the better. Plus as good as a story is, everyone loves getting to move their own piece, getting a sense of responsibility for it. And visualizing ranges, areas, is tricky one reason i dislike DND 5th for it's suggested no grid at all format.


Hmmm... What about a Paladin? Replace fighter with Paladin, so at first they need to be careful and protect the cleric, but as the Paladin levels up, they gain the ability to heal as well. That would also help with the boring fighter issue (Though truthfully I always loved the fighter, but I was always someone who liked to wail on my enemies ha ha). Just my thoughts.

Not that I am against Bard. Quite the opposite, it comes from a place of deep pain, Bard used to be my absolute favorite class before the transition to 3.0 and all the following renditions of the rules. Since then though, the Bard always fell to the background as a support only class and never really stood out unless the player had a strong enough personality to pull off the character. With them being so new, I am just afraid the student would end up in the background and bored. I guess what I am saying is I have never found a Bard build I would use in place of literally any other class.


The paladin may be difficult to rolepay, be allways good can be a pain. You will need to be patient if someone uses a paladin and he make some mistakes.
Remember that theres a cleric archetype that have some bard mechanics, the Evangelist.
And the cleric isnt squishy, he can be in the frontline without problem as he can afford to spend more point intos con and dextery and still be usefull as he dont need to be the damage dealer if he doesnt want to.


Fighter is ultra fun if you use the Weapon Master's Handbook material.


@ Ducky

I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say that there's no "Bard build that you would use in place of literally any other class."
Do you mean that all other classes are more effective at what they specialize in? I'll agree to that, mostly. However, quite a few gamers (especially the younger ones) want their character to be able to do *EVERYTHING*... And that is what the Bard does very well indeed. They can buff, cast, fight, schmooze, heal, etc., and they can do all of them respectably well, even if they aren't the absolute best at it. I'll give you a sample build, using only the Core book and the APG, built to PFS rules. It can be done Core only, but really, the APG adds quite a bit of versatility and polish.

Human Bard (Arcane Duelist) 1
Str 16 (14+2)
Dex 14
Con 12
Int 13
Wis 10
Cha 14

Traits: River Rat, Reactionary

Feats: Arcane Strike (Class Bonus), Lingering Performance (1st Level), Improved Initiative (Human Bonus)

Skills: 1 rank each in Climb, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Perception, Perform (Oratory), Spellcraft, Stealth, and Swim.

Gear: Buckler, Chain Shirt, Dagger (x2), Sling (w/ 20 bullets), Spell Component Pouch, 50 ft rope, Backpack, 1 Acid Flask, 2 gp, 8 sp remaining.

Spells:
Level 0:
Detect Magic
Light
Mage Hand
Spark

Level 1:
Cure Light Wounds
Grease

HP: 10
Initiative: +8
AC: 17
Flat Footed: 15
Touch: 12
CMB: +3
CMD: 15
Fort: +1
Reflex: +4
Will: +2
Attack: Dagger: +3 (1d4+5), Sling +2 (1d4+4)

While this guy doesn't hit like a Power Attacking Barbarian, he does respectable damage (enough to drop most enemies at Level 1), has decent AC, can do some healing and/or battlefield control, has a decent skill array, is very fast, and can use his buff ability all day long.

Liberty's Edge

Party of good characters
Cleric- a must for the healing
Celestial Sorcerer- never a bad thing to have more healing and damage
Fighter/Paladin- Depends really on the adventure which one is more useful
Rogue- Very much in handy for getting past traps & Locked doors without breaking them.
Bards- Healing and Boosts to the other heroes.

This makes for a Balanced party, with the rogue stealing only from the classic 'bad guys' if you have a Paladin in the party.

This group would be able to handle most issues, as for stats as rolling can cause issues, 20pt buy builds will help a great deal so that no one can claim another is cheating for rolling attributes.

15, 14, 13, 13, 12, 10 would be the standard spread for the heroes in question in such a case, but of course attributes could be bought either way, this way they also learn what they're willing give up when making a character 'cooler' A lesson I wish some of my players at my tables had figured out some time ago when I hear "But, my character only has a 15 he's not great"

:3 so keep teaching o'teacher :-)

The Exchange

Try explaining to that kid that he must be a knight in shining armor. The paladin code should be taken only by a person who knows what he/she signed up for. I would not ask another to play a paladin. They must make the decision with their own free will.

No you may not lie to the border guards saying you have no magic shinies to declare. You have to declare them and pay taxes...

Again, solution to that is to give someone who can lie the magic shiny, then openly declare to the guards, "I have no magic shinies on me."

Truth, nothing but the truth.

Also, impersonation of another person is not allowed under the pally code.

Though mechanics wise, pallies are more tanky due to their superior saves, and swift action heals. For pure combat, I'd take a pally over a fighter.

Ducky, try bard archers. They can kick serious @ss.
Try the following stat array:

Human bard

Str 14, dex 16, con 14, int 10, wis 10, cha 14.

Lv 1 feat: point blank shot, precise shot.
Lv 3 feat: rapid shot.

Without inspire courage on, at 3 you get:

Rapid shot: +3/+3 to hit, 1d8+2 per hit, using a composite short bow. If target is within 30 ft, add +1 to hit and damage.

With inspire courage, within 30 ft, you get:

+5/+5 to hit, 1d8+4 per hit. Max on 2d8+8 per round if attacks hit.

A fighter at 3 with power attack(assuming 16 str start), say on a great sword is at +5 to hit, 2d6+7 dmg. Not too bad comparison, wot?


Guardianlord wrote:

one suggestion, have more character sheets than you have players, nothing stinks quite as much as being "forced" to choose the last unwanted toon (even though they may not know what they are getting).

This is a good idea! Kids like choice, and no one likes to pick "the last one." Here are a few more, taken from working with new players:

- Use unchained monk instead of core monk. Much simpler for new players, and fewer shifting mechanics.
- Cleric is pretty awesome, and the player can do what they like. Solid choice.
- Ask the kids to be heroes. No evil alignments, etc. Play up the "we're a team, we're heroes" part of things. There's less conflict this way (and also parents will be happier).
- Some kids may do great with paladin. I know some who would do fantastic! Just boil the code down to: "a paladin is someone who works really hard to do good in the world." Kids love to help others, and to do good things. Then, DM so they and their friends can be heroes.
- Nothing wrong with pets. Kids love having a horse, a giant wolf, etc. These things will draw them into a game. I remember talking for hours about a fictional horse. Then drawing pictures of the horse. Then... For their pets, do the stats and keep them behind the screen. The kids really only need to know the basic mechanics--like AC, hit points, and attack. Everything else, they will be really good at visualizing what's in their head and get really creative with it.
- Simplify the rules. The Beginner Box had it right--starting out, keep it basic, keep it fun. A DM screen helps here, so you can apply some simplifyium to the complexium that can bog things down. Emphasize fun.
- Don't play with archetypes the first time in.
- For casters, pre-select the starting spells with solid, usable basics. A few sessions in, let them see a bigger list and let them make choices.
- Consider making a binder of their classes, and using that at the table. This makes it easier to stealthily replace monk with unmonk, and they can draw and make notes on the pages. You, also. You can use the pages to draw aids as you go along, based on their questions.
- Get a dry erase board for initiative.

When I was teaching a new kid how to make a character in 3.5, it took two evening sessions at my house to character build. Start them off running and playing with some simple options, and let them have fun chasing dragons. Add complexity at their pace and interest.


I have a suggestion on how to make the "board" a more tangible experience...and the best part is that a teacher like you would appreciate it the most!! :)

Get a beat up, forsaken, ol' dry erase board or buy one; preferably one of a size that suits your needs and can be laid down on a table. Then, with an exacto-knife carve lines into the board to make a grid(measure before hand of course!).

Voila! You now have a versatile board that can become anything you can draw! Need a bar to destroy? Done! A giant dragon? Doodle it! And I am sure your students will love to bring their own miniatures and figurines!

Edit: I just saw this was suggested already! My players live the board because it keeps the pace of the game fluid without consuming a lot of prep time. XD

The Exchange

Squirely Orge - to do good in the world is not as simple as you think.

I.e, the local baron is whipping his slaves. Freeing the slaves is a good act, but not a lawful one. If you did that, you breached the pally code. You could offer to buy the slaves, but that doesn't mean the local baron is willing to sell. You could explain to the baron that his actions are wrong, but he may refuse to listen. What should a paladin do in that case?

If you want absolute fairness, make them draw straws out of a box to determine what class they get. If you're feeling nice, let them trade among themselves. Otherwise what you drew is what you get.


Just a Mort wrote:

Squirely Orge - to do good in the world is not as simple as you think.

I.e, the local baron is whipping his slaves. Freeing the slaves is a good act, but not a lawful one. If you did that, you breached the pally code. You could offer to buy the slaves, but that doesn't mean the local baron is willing to sell. You could explain to the baron that his actions are wrong, but he may refuse to listen. What should a paladin do in that case?

If you want absolute fairness, make them draw straws out of a box to determine what class they get. If you're feeling nice, let them trade among themselves. Otherwise what you drew is what you get.

Hey, there. You make some good points and I wanted to address them because part of the spirit of this post I believe, is the wonderful, almost magical delight we all felt when picking up those dice for the first time.

Check out Mark Hoover's post above. These are kids. They aren't rolling X+X+X, they're probably describing things cinematically.

With respect to your experiences, for a while I had players spending entire evenings in philosophy when they played a paladin. I sat down with them, and asked them what they wanted out of the game. I told them, if you want to run a philosophy-centered game, we can do that. My job as DM isn't to punish you for playing the wrong way. We're friends at a gaming table. In my own mind, just follow the spirit being a good person--feed the sick, show mercy to the poor, and smite demons in the face. If they brought more to the table, I would let them do so.

After that, they dropped most of the debates. They also told me it was like they were free to have fun again.

It doesn't have to be complex unless that is what we aim for at the gaming table. It doesn't mean it can't be, but we are free to set the tone. With kids--I think there's something magical about D&D or Pathfinder that they can help us remember.

It's the time when we were the shining hero with the magical horse. We turned into a wolf with a flaming blade, and sometimes all in the same day.

(As an aside, I'd invite you to sit down, camp out, and have some good old fashioned fun any day. The gaming group runs from ages 14 to 55 and higher.)


On party composition, I would avoid fighter. They don't have enough to do outside of combat.

I would avoid rogue unless using unchained. They've never been up to the power curve.

Monk is actually probably fine if you make sure it's a strength build. Dex or wisdom builds fall behind the curve, but strength builds have always been in an acceptable place for casual games.

Druid is over-complicated in that it requires the bestiary to run.

Everything else should be fine in core. Be sure to supply a battle cleric rather than a caster cleric. Something that won't be sucked into the healbot role.

The Exchange

This is going to be quite long for all Core character builds.

Half Orc Fighter:
Str 16
Dex 14
Con 14
Int 10
Wis 14
Cha 10

Hp: 16

Saves
Fort +4, ref +2, will +3

Skills
Perception +1, Acrobatics +3 (- ACP)

Traits:
Reactionary, Indomitable will

Feats:
Power attack, Toughness

Combat gear:
Shortbow, cold iron morningstar, 40 arrows, scale mail, Great axe.

Fighter variant (reach):

Half Orc Fighter:
Str 16
Dex 14
Con 14
Int 13
Wis 12
Cha 10

Hp: 13

Saves
Fort +4, ref +2, will +2

Skills
Perception +1, knowledge dungeoneeeing +4, Climb +6(-ACP)

Traits:
Reactionary, Indomitable will

Feats:
Power attack, Combat reflexes

Combat gear:
Shortbow, cold iron morningstar, 40 arrows, scale mail, Glaive,
Get armor spikes when GP permits

Half Orc Ranger(archery fighting style)
Str 16
Dex 14
Con 14
Int 10
Wis 14
Cha 10

Hp: 13

Saves
Fort +4, ref +4, will +2

Skills
Perception +5, Knowledge nature +4, Survival + 5, Climb +6 (-ACP), Disable Device +3 (- ACP), Stealth +5 (- ACP)

Traits:
Reactionary, Indomitable will

Feats:
Power attack

Combat gear:
Shortbow, cold iron morningstar, 40 arrows, scale mail, Great axe, thief tools

Ranger variant (reach):

Half Orc Ranger(archery fighting style):
Str 16
Dex 14
Con 13
Int 12
Wis 14
Cha 10

Hp: 13

Saves
Fort +3, ref +4, will +2

Perception +5, Knowledge nature +4, Survival + 5, Climb +6 (-ACP), Disable Device +3 (- ACP), Stealth +5 (- ACP), Swim +6 (-ACP)

Traits:
Reactionary, Magical knack

Feats:
Combat reflexes

Combat gear:
Shortbow, cold iron morningstar, 40 arrows, scale mail, Glaive, thief tools, get armor spikes when GP permits

Half Orc Monk:
Str 16
Dex 14
Con 14
Int 10
Wis 14
Cha 10

Hp: 11

Saves
Fort +4, ref +4, will +5

Skills
Perception +4, Acrobatics +4, stealth +4, Climb +5

Traits:
Reactionary, Indomitable will

Feats:
Power attack

Combat gear:
Urm...monks aren't really much on non magical gear.

Half Orc Cleric of Desna:

Str 16
Dex 12
Con 14
Int 10
Wis 14
Cha 13

Hp: 11

Domains:Travel, Luck

Saves
Fort +4, ref +1, will +4
Skills
Perception +3, Knowledge religion +4

Traits:
Reactionary, Birthmark

Feats:
Selective channeling

Combat gear:
Longspear, scalemail, cold iron morningatar, sling with 30 bullets.

Orisons:
Create water, Light, Guidance

Lv 1 spells:
Remove fear, Magic weapon, True strike (domain spell)

Cleric variant (archer):

Human Cleric of Erastil:

Str 14
Dex 16
Con 12
Int 10
Wis 14
Cha 13

Hp: 11

Saves
Fort +3, ref +4, will +4

Skills
Perception +3, Knowledge religion +4, Heal +6

Traits:
Reactionary, Birthmark

Feats:
Point blank shot, Precise shot

Combat gear:
Longspear, scalemail, cold iron morningatar, sling with 30 bullets, get a longbow with arrows as soon as GP permits.

Orisons:
Create water, Light, Guidance

Lv 1 spells:
Remove fear, Magic weapon, Protection from evil (domain spell)

Elf wizard(diviner- forbidden schools = necromancy, enchantment):

Str 10
Dex 16
Con 12
Int 18
Wis 10
Cha 10

Hp: 9

Saves
Fort +1, ref +3, will +2

Skills
Perception +3, Knowledge arcana +8, Knowledge local +8, Spellcraft +8, Knowledge religion +8, Knowledge planes +8

Traits:
Reactionary, Dangerously Curious

Feats:
Scribe scroll, Spell focus conjuration

Combat gear:
Longbow, 60 arrows, quarterstaff, dagger, longsword.

Cantrips:
Detect Magic, Read Magic, Acid Splash

Lv 1 spells:
Colourspray, Sleep, True strike(school spell)

Arcane bond:

Raven familiar:

Hp 4
AC 14
Saves:

Fort: +1, Ref +4, Will +4

Skills:
Fly +6, Perception +6

Feats:
Skill focus(fly), Skill focus (perception)

Human Bard:

Str 14
Dex 16
Con 14
Int 10
Wis 10
Cha 14

Hp: 11

Saves
Fort +2, ref +5, will +3

Skills
Diplomacy +6, Sense motive +4, Bluff +6, Perform (Dance) +6, Intimidate +6, Disguise +6

Traits:
Reactionary, Indomitable Will

Feats:
Point blank shot, Precise shot

Combat gear:
Shortbow, 60 arrows, cold iron morningstar, dagger, chainshirt

Cantrips known:
Light, Detect Magic, Prestidigitation, Mage hand

Lv 1 spells known (2/day):
Animate Rope, Sleep

The Exchange

Druid:

Human Druid:

Str 14
Dex 14
Con 14
Int 10
Wis 16
Cha 10

Saves
Fort +4, ref +2 will +6

Skills
Handle animal +4 (+8 for animal companion Fluffy), Perception +7, Knowledge nature +6, Survival +9, Knowledge Geography +6

Traits:
Reactionary, Indomitable Will

Feats:
Spell focus (conjuration)

Combat gear:
Quarterstaff, Hide armor, Sling, 30 bullets, Dagger, Leather barding for animal companion

Orsions known:
Light, Create Water, Guidance

Lv 1 spells prepared:
Faerie fire, Shillelagh

Animal Companion Fluffy:

Teddy:

Bear Animal Companion

Hp 14
AC 17

Str 15, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 2, Wis 12 Cha 6

Saves:
Fort +4
Ref +5
Will +1

Feats: Toughness

Bite +4, 1d4+2
Claw +4, 1d3+2
Claw +4, 1d3+2

Tricks: Defend, Attack (x2), Down, Come, Heel, Guard

Or

Doggie:

Wolf Animal Companion

Hp 13
AC 16

Str 13, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12 Cha 6

Saves:
Fort +5
Ref +5
Will +1

Feats: Weapon Finesse

Bite +3, 1d6+1, (trip)

Tricks: Defend, Attack (x2), Down, Come, Heel, Guard

Or

Kitty:

Big Cat Animal Companion

Hp 11
AC 16

Str 13, Dex 17, Con 13, Int 2, Wis 15 Cha 6

Saves:
Fort +3
Ref +6
Will +2

Feats: Weapon Finesse

Bite +4, 1d6+1
Claw +4, 1d4+1
Claw +4, 1d4+1

Tricks: Defend, Attack (x2), Down, Come, Heel, Guard

Not going to build rogue and sorcerer, because I don't care for rogues, and wizard > sorc, imo. Pally = not building unless the kids are really keen on it.

General stuff everyone should get:
Rope, torches, trail rations, waterskin, backpack, belt pouch, 2 sacks and spell component pouches(for all casters, except the cleric who is using birthmark).One person in party at least should bring a grappling hook/grappling arrow.

Additional notes: On level 2, the ranger dips 1 level of rogue so he can get disable device as a class skill and disable magical traps.

On hindsight, should have stuck all the classes in my last post in Spoilers for easier reading.


Just a Mort wrote:


General stuff everyone should get:
Rope, torches, trail rations, waterskin, backpack, belt pouch, 2 sacks and spell component pouches(for all casters, except the cleric who is using birthmark).One person in party at least should bring a grappling hook/grappling arrow.

Additional notes: On level 2, the ranger dips 1 level of rogue so he can get disable device as a class skill and disable magical traps.

On equipment, these are kids, I am certain they want to pick their own weapons and gear, I would recommend a "party pack" ultimate equipment camp kit or any of the class kits would be great as a "shared load" that anyone can draw from, just reduce an equal value from starting wealth. Then, with necessary gear at hand, they can pick options for flavour or function to fit without hurting themselves with poor choices.

As well, I would advise against having "you NEED" to do this with a character, if no one has trapfinding, and no one wants trapfinding, add an NPC or remove the traps. Keep the kids characters their characters as they want them. (Some see rogue as a personality and may be turned off by the imagery associated with it, as some see Wizard as stuffy, old and with a big beard).

Paizo first and third party products are great, and I use them often, but they can be costly.

The whiteboard with a permanent grid is a nice idea for those who do not have a roll mat, and white cardboard cut to [1x1, 2x1, 2x2] inch rectangles with paper images glued on held up with black paper clips with the arms removed is a cheap way of providing tactical placement minis.
I might also recommend a template for reach/cone/line/radius, maybe a bent paper clip or something that can be dropped on a line or square for fast measuring.

I firmly believe the more agency you can give a new player, the much more likely they are to become invested and wish to continue.

- Have more class choices than there are kids, so no one is stuck with last pick.
- Provide limited options for spells/rage powers/bard songs/etc. Too much choice can be confusing and daunting to learn, but a small list, or choice between 2 fixed lists helps that character become "theirs".
- A character sheet is nice, but a miniature with your own custom character, exactly as you want, on it is better.
- Start the game running, young kids attention spans are not long, rules can be picked up through play, let them choose their classes (maybe best grades choose first or something, or fastest to solve a math problem), then keep customization time to less than a full session, start the adventure before they leave.
- let them know it is ok to change their minds, and also let them know they can do ANYTHING, my own players were often limited to what was on their sheets, I had to remind them of the possibilities not expressly laid out. Having a rule of thumb for non listed actions is handy (want to throw a grappling hook as an impromptu tripwire: DEX throw, Survival determine best spot, STR to tie it off, base 10+level DC).
- Ease them into it, hide the complexity of choices and books for later, once they have a class they like, a pet they love, gear they have fun with, then add more, once they are hooked it will keep them hooked with fresh stuff.
- Determine what kind of game they want: Epic high magic fantasy Elves vs orcs? City intrigue, low magic beating up human thugs? World changing Kingdom shifting wars? Cliche rescue the princess and slay the dragon? Funny? Cinematic? Serious? Like a movie or TV show? I like to set an overall tone, just so everyone has the same expectations going in.
- Have the basic options laid out, let them know what they can possibly do and how long it takes to do it. (Even if it is only for the first few sessions, again D20 is a great site for this).

The Exchange

5e might be better if you really want to go for the storytelling approach. I find pathfinder a little limiting when it comes to trying anything you can think off, as basic DCs start at 15, realistically 20, so if you roll a skill untrained(I.e come up with some fancy idea), if you're lucky, you get a d20+3 to beat DC 20, which is rough. Unfortunately I have little 5e experience and cannot recommend anything, nor create any characters.

The problem with using modules, and to a certain extent, PFS scenarios, is that they were built with the assumption of the classic 4 man party, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric. If you skip one of them, you will get a harder time, which I doubt anyone cares for. If you want to cater to more freedom, you need to tweak on the fly, which you might have some problems with.

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