GMPC Time! But Which Class to use?


Advice


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Howdy folks. I'm about to run a game for some first-timers to Pathfinder, and I'm throwing in a GMPC to help them out some while they learn the rules. However, I'm having a bit of trouble actually deciding on a good class for this role. That's where you guys come in, though!

The party is currently at 3 people, two of whom have already decided what character concepts they're going with. One's a half-elf sword and board slayer, and the other is going to be a halfling monk. I have narrowed down my options somewhat for which classes I think would be the best fit. Namely I'm torn between a Witch, Life Oracle, or Abjuration School Wizard. Pretty much intend for this to be someone to hand out buffs and debuff the enemy, and not much else. Of course, any other suggestions would be quite nice as well.


The tried and true GMPC is the cleric, Evangelist Cleric is pretty much perfect as it make the rest better.


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All three of those classes are powerful casters and will easily overshadow the PC. This is a really bad idea. A better idea would be something like bard or investigator. The bard works well for this because not only do they have a ton of ways to buff the party, but they also get bardic knowledge. This allows you to feed the party information they need but have somehow missed. Spend your skill points on knowledge skills and avoid having the bard as the party face.


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GMPCs should always be support characters. Healbots are always a good choice. Bards are also good as they make the other characters better and can drop some plot related knowledge when needed.

Direct combatants and problem solvers are very bad choices for GMPCs. Those tend to steal the thunder of the PCs and relegate them to spectators.


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Caimbuel wrote:
The tried and true GMPC is the cleric, Evangelist Cleric is pretty much perfect as it make the rest better.

Indeed it is. However, the last time I ran a GMPC, it was an Evangelist Cleric. For simple variety's sake on my part, I'd like to give a different class a try this time.

Mysterious Stranger wrote:
All three of those classes are powerful casters and will easily overshadow the PC. This is a really bad idea. A better idea would be something like bard or investigator. The bard works well for this because not only do they have a ton of ways to buff the party, but they also get bardic knowledge. This allows you to feed the party information they need but have somehow missed. Spend your skill points on knowledge skills and avoid having the bard as the party face.

Thank you for the bard suggestion, but I have to just outright say no to an investigator. Yes, they're skill monkeys. But between Inspiration and Extracts, they have way too good of an opportunity to outshine the PC's really easily without actually helping them. Add in how I already have a slayer who also studies targets, and my lack of desire to overlap the character's capabilities in that regard.... Yeah. Solid no on GMPC material.

thorin001 wrote:

GMPCs should always be support characters. Healbots are always a good choice. Bards are also good as they make the other characters better and can drop some plot related knowledge when needed.

Direct combatants and problem solvers are very bad choices for GMPCs. Those tend to steal the thunder of the PCs and relegate them to spectators.

Perhaps I'm being overly prickly here, but you did read the part where I said "buffing and debuffing only," right? I know that support characters are pretty much perfection for a GMPC, as I have run a few before. Perhaps I should've mentioned my prior experience before.

Sovereign Court

I think you are being prickly. His advice was fairly even tempered.

I also think a bard is a good choice becasue of buff/debuff and healing.

Of your 3 choices I think the Life Oracle is a really good pick.


I usually play a bard or skald without spellcasting but with some rogue stuff instead as a GMPC.


Bards make good DMPCs. They have great utility casting and performance, you can use them to drop all matter of plot hooks because of bardic knowledge, and versatile performance makes them great skillmonkeys. They can work fine in a fight, but unless you seriously try you won't steal the PCs thunder.

Lantern Lodge

mourge40k wrote:
Perhaps I'm being overly prickly here, but you did read the part where I said "buffing and debuffing only," right? I know that support characters are pretty much perfection for a GMPC, as I have run a few before. Perhaps I should've mentioned my prior experience before.

Your prior experience should inform you as to which elements of the various advice you may receive can be applied to your specific circumstance.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Ranger? Like a grizzled veteran who acts as a mentor? Replace the animal companion with that advice ability.

But bard is probably best.


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What about an Occultist?

  • 2/3 caster means you won't overwhelm the story with phenomonel cosmic power.

  • Base powers include fairly easy access to wand use (+1/2 lvl. to UMD), item identification (w/ bonus of GM specified info on the item's historical significance and recent use), easy access to highly accurate, less expensive, flavorful divination, and the ability to trap (but not command) creatures by alignment (if the party can maneuver the creature into a hidden magic circle) for questioning or the like.

  • Spell list includes basic healing, debuffs, and utilitiy spells, as well buffs, but are fairly limited in scope for each individual occultist.

  • Additional powers that are focused but useful, partly dependent on chosen spell schools (thus a conjuration/illusion/abjuration/necromancy builds focused on buffs and debuffs outside of spells.)

  • Not a powerful combatant, but capable enough to stay alive without constant need of a body guard.

    In short, the Occultist can be a capable buff/debuffer, and is the poster child of moving the plot along, without being highly abusable, and a decent portion of your power would fall under your purview as GM. Finally, Occultists benefit from being fairly intelligent and charismatic. This, combined with other abilities, lends itself well to being a mysterious and slightly creepy fourth member.


  • Life Oracle. Take spells known to buff them up and keep them healed, with a few party benefiting utility spells and just a tiny bit of offense for potential emergency situations. Play the character's personality as someone who doesn't like the spotlight.

    The Exchange

    It's going to vary based on what the PC party lacks, but you may want to consider a multiclassed character. It's an easy way for the NPC to have a very wide range of 'adequate' skills, and almost guarantees that she won't outshine any player's character at their particular specialty.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    I went with a Druid for my gmpc in a party with a Paladin, Wizard and Rogue. Mostly because she would spend most of the time as an animal so she'd have a good reason to be quiet about things, she has lots of useful support and some ok heals, and is adaptable to fit whatever the party could need.


    A sacred summoning Herald Caller cleric..... oodles of supporty and buffy goodness.


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    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

    I tend to like witches as GMPCs. With appropriate build choices, they can cover both arcane support and HP recovery/status removal, and those are the two roles my group has the hardest time covering (we tend to run martial-heavy). With Evil Eye/Misfortune/Cackle, it's also really easy to pick out what their action's going to be in combat 95% of the time.

    Plus, since they run off of Intelligence (high Knowledge checks) and often have mystical connections, they're easy ways to insert information that needs to be passed on to the party. And since they tend to be Charisma dumpers and their mechanics lend well to the character being a little spooky/off-putting/weird (not always, but often), it's easy to justify why they're standing in back not taking active part in interactions, and I prefer not to talk to myself if I can help it. :)

    Bards make good characters for making others shine, especially if you put a little investment into improving the aid another action, and they can again cover both arcane support and (at least backup) healing when built right. But their higher Charisma means I have a hard time justifying why they aren't leading conversations, especially if they have the highest Charisma in the party (something I prefer to avoid as much as possible when GMPCs are involved).

    I tend to shy away from summoning on a GMPC, or really anything that gives you more things to control - the GM's turns are already by far the longest part of combat. You don't need anything to make you take even more time, unless you only have one melee who needs a flanking buddy badly.


    Might I suggest a Varisian Pilgrim cleric (devoted pilgrim if you're checking d20pfsrd)?

    Pick some really fun domains with useful party buffs - Liberation and Travel are both fun to fulfill the Varisian Pilgrim archetype requirement, and I'm a big fan of Charm (Love), though there are a number of others. The light armor discourages a typical frontline cleric playstyle. The typical cleric buff roster is very good - bless is a classic, and channel energy is a wonderful ability to keep a party up and rolling.

    Cayden Cailean is a fun choice - a "friar Tuck"-like character is unlikely to make the players feel overshadowed, and passing out your domain powers to the party is a lot of fun.

    I think Life Oracle has the potential to be too good.

    A healing Witch is a reasonable choice, in my opinion. Evil Eye is a welcome debuff, but I'd worry that the witch wouldn't be nearly as capable in the healing department.

    Of course, the same could just as easily be said of my absolute favorite DMPC class - the bard.

    As many others have said, the bard exists only to make the PCs more awesome.

    There are a few easy ways to ensure the bard doesn't become the face of the party - one of my favorites is to make him kind of a sycophant: the party are his heroes, and oh-my-goodness, I couldn't possibly speak for you, there's nothing I could say that would be better than what you could, I'm only here to chronicle your exploits.

    Kind of a C3P0-type. I mean, *technically* we know C3P0 has all these ranks in Diplomacy and Linguistics, but you really don't WANT him talking for you, and he doesn't, either.


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    Gulthor wrote:
    Kind of a C3P0-type. I mean, *technically* we know C3P0 has all these ranks in Diplomacy and Linguistics, but you really don't WANT him talking for you, and he doesn't, either.

    Unless you run into savage flesh-eating tribes of goblinoids who just so happen to revere him for plot purposes. Because every now and then a GM needs to give a sign that solo-raiding the bunker full of hundreds of soldiers is a bad idea.


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    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    My Self wrote:
    Gulthor wrote:
    Kind of a C3P0-type. I mean, *technically* we know C3P0 has all these ranks in Diplomacy and Linguistics, but you really don't WANT him talking for you, and he doesn't, either.
    Unless you run into savage flesh-eating tribes of goblinoids who just so happen to revere him for plot purposes. Because every now and then a GM needs to give a sign that solo-raiding the bunker full of hundreds of soldiers is a bad idea.

    Deus ex machina - literally. ;)


    Gulthor wrote:

    Might I suggest a Varisian Pilgrim cleric (devoted pilgrim if you're checking d20pfsrd)?

    Everytime I read up on that archetype, I kind of do a double take.... RAW its amazing...I kind of think it needs FAQing!

    For example...a cleric with Liberation as one of its domains by 8th level can effectively grant the entire party a permanent Freedom of Movement spell!


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    Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
    Silver Surfer wrote:
    Gulthor wrote:

    Might I suggest a Varisian Pilgrim cleric (devoted pilgrim if you're checking d20pfsrd)?

    Everytime I read up on that archetype, I kind of do a double take.... RAW its amazing...I kind of think it needs FAQing!

    For example...a cleric with Liberation as one of its domains by 8th level can effectively grant the entire party a permanent Freedom of Movement spell!

    It's still limited by the rounds per day, so it's not too powerful. Still really neat, but not brokenly so.


    My suggestion - adept. You have someone who can wave a wand of cure light wounds, toss out an occasional bless or comprehend languages, and is going to be significantly less powerful than the rest of the party so the others don't rely on him/her as a crutch.


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    Way back in dragon magazine there was an article on best types of NPC cohorts and followers.

    You can have any class be a good GMPC, but the best have an easy to regress to quirk about them.

    My favorite was a relatively physically inept cleric of a god of martial combat. His morning prayer for spells is a wrestling match against a fair opponent, oil wrestling match.

    Every morning he would grease up ritualistically, then pounce a PC and attempt to wrestle them down.

    Great wake up call :D

    My favorite tropes for a cohort are the child adventurer (i.e. Depp's Sleepy Hollow) and the town guard looking for adventure (the crossbowmen that falls in love with the sphinx in the Justicar Series, I cant recall his name).

    Both allow for a low level adventurer to hang around that can dispense information that the PC's might have missed, dole out potions or healing through magic items, or deal with monsters from the periphery.

    My only real recommendation is that you make sure the character is either completely controlled by the PC's in combat or doesn't outshine anyone.


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    mourge40k wrote:
    One's a half-elf sword and board slayer, and the other is going to be a halfling monk.

    Neat!

    Heroes of the story, it is!

    mourge40k wrote:
    Namely I'm torn between a Witch, Life Oracle, or Abjuration School Wizard. Pretty much intend for this to be someone to hand out buffs and debuff the enemy, and not much else. Of course, any other suggestions would be quite nice as well.

    Of those, the witch is your best buff/debuffer.

    The oracle is a healer, which is super-handy, but the witch can partially cover that role, as they get the healing hex, cure spells, raise dead, and reincarnate. The witch covers the rest well, though. If you do go with oracle, I'd recommend the legalistic curse (and a history of problems with that) as a method of ensuring the high-charisma character keeps its mouth shut.

    The wizard makes everything more survivable, but does have the potential to bring greater wrath on others. The main utility of the wizard, I'd say, if you go with that route, is to tank his charisma and strength, make him a duergar, and (after maxing his intelligence), making him a crafter wizard. That'll handle the party's equipment needs, as necessary.

    For me, however, from your three options, I'd tend to recommend either going with the witch, or going with an oracle/wizard mystic theurge. The latter ensures a broad array of utility and lower-over-all power, while still seeming important. The only unfortunate part is the oracle's higher charisma... but I think you could make that work.

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