A 'classic' cleric / fighter / rogue / wizard NPC party that's actually not classic at all...


Advice


So I need a rival NPC party for my game. The PCs, most of which are new since the party practically suffered a total wipe (leaving one survivor), are still in the process of finding their new group dynamic, but from what I've seen that should work out great for everyone. Now I want to challenge them a bit since they are pretty confident in their abilities right now. Rightfully so, mind you, and I don't want to be a dick and take that away, but you can't have real success without some kind of challenge, right?

Just for fun I was thinking of creating a rival party of the four classic D&D archetypes cleric, fighter, rogue and wizard. Only that they look and act in a way that the PCs won't figure this out easily - I want this NPC gang to be as wild and crazy as possible, and even switch intended roles if possible.

Right now the PCs are at 2nd level, and I'd love to introduce the NPC rivals around 5th level maybe - let's just say 5th level then. Can you guys help me out with some interesting build ideas and archetypes? The adventure takes place in the 3.0 Forgotten Realms campaign setting, so pretty much everything from Pathfinder's body of rules is game - and I don't mind templates or 3rd party content.

Right now I am looking at the spirit whisperer (wizard) from ACG and the eldritch guardian (fighter) from the Familiar Folio, but there's just so much to choose from...


Have your wizard be an elf going for arcane archer the hard way, the rogue can be an eldritch scoundrel (grants arcane spellcasting), the cleric takes heavy armor proficiency and uses a two handed weapon (gorum worshipper with negative channeling would be good here), and have the fighter do whatever it is RavingDork is doing here to be the skill monkey.


Man, thanks for the fighter skill monkey link, that is just awesome. I'm not sure about the martial cleric yet, since this is something we've all seen at one point or another. My initial impulse was to make the cleric the party's rogue, but where does that leave the actual rogue?


Clostered Cleric who focused on crafting.


Give the Wizard light armor proficiency and Arcane Armor feats, along with Arcane strike and Weapon Focus: Longbow.


Read the book NPCs, by Drew Hayes. No, really.

Old, gnome paladin who has been around a lot, very knowledgeable about the world, and worships the god of minions, and primary weapon is throwing daggers.

The lean built son of a paladin with his father's sword was a member of the town's guard. But ends up being the party's rogue.

The lovely daughter of the town's mayor, who kept getting kidnapped by the local goblin tribe in order to lure adventures to them to kill and loot, ended up being accepted and trained by the tribe and is a barbarian. Because she gets so angry being forced to be the "proper young lady".

And the massively built half orc pub owner that barters like a fiend, and turns out to be a pretty decent wizard, but still finds time to chop things up with his weapon.


Xaimum Mafire wrote:
Give the Wizard light armor proficiency and Arcane Armor feats, along with Arcane strike and Weapon Focus: Longbow.

Arcane Armor is probably not necessary, wizard still has mage armor, shield, blur, etc. Arcane Strike definitely. Weapon Focus, Point Blank Shot too. Long term goals also include Precise Shot and after wizard 12 take 2-4 levels in Arcane Archer to drop antimagic arrows.


Rogue can pretend to be a fighter by being a half orc and carrying a falchion. Give him a mithral breastplate and the Armor Expert trait to look the part. With the Thug archetype and intimidation based feats, he'll be quite respectable in toe-to-toe combat. Make him an Unchained Rogue so that he'll be even better at fighting with Debilitating Injury, and make him more accurate and durable by giving him VMC Wizard (Foresight school) and a Protector familiar.

Here is a guide on optimizing intimidation.


A good idea for a standard party in disguise would be a band of travelling entertainers.

Wizard - Merry Andrew - Jester using enchantments to make people laugh at his jokes and capers.

Cleric of Cayden - Petie Burnham - Large Bumptious Ringmaster and Troupe Leader

Rogue - The Flying Febreezie - Trapeze artist and Acrobat

Fighter - Otto Tuffenegger - Strong Man


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Back in the early '90s, I co-wrote a tournament adventure for a con using the just-released AD&D 2e rules. It was for a 4-PC party with pre-generated characters. We wanted the PCs to be very distinctive and unconventional, and we wanted to introduce players to nontraditional character choices using the new 2e rules that provided more choices in character design.

So, for PC selection, we presented the choices of, "Fighter, Cleric, Magic-User, and Thief."

Fighter: A female human lightly-armored close-weapon fighter with acrobatics and specialization in unarmed combat (punching & wrestling). Her highest stat was Dex.

Cleric: A male human Lawful Good cleric of the God of Honor and Justice. A high-Strength character who wore heavy armor and was excellent in melee using sword and shield.

Magic-User: Female half-elf wizard who specialized in blowing things up. (She was the least-unconventional PC, using the brand-new specialist wizard rules: An evoker.)

Thief: Male dwarf, a professional locksmith, of Lawful Neutral alignment. This was the first time in the rules where thieves could allocate their relative skill level with thief abilities. He was really good at Open Locks, Find Traps, and Hear Noise, was mediocre at Move Silently, and not good at all at Climb Walls or Pick Pockets.

Today, choices like these are commonplace, but 25 years ago, these design choices really caught the players off-guard.


Thanks for the ideas, I'll totally steal some of those.

Are there any recent archetypes I should be aware of? I've seen a lot of discussions about the Armor/Weapon Master's Handbooks lately.

The Exchange

This Feat from the ACG is pretty popular these days...

Bookish Rogue:

Thanks to your preparation, your arcane ability is more varied than most.

Prerequisite: Minor magic rogue talent.

Benefit: By studying a spellbook for 10 minutes, you can change one spell you are able to cast using your minor magic or major magic rogue talent to one sorcerer/wizard spell of the same level contained in the spellbook. This change is permanent until you take the time to change it via this feat again.

... and gives your Rogue a reason to be carrying around a spellbook. Make 'em a Carnivalist (from the Animal Archive book) and they have a familiar too.


"Rogue": Cardinal archetype for clerics. This gives you skills, but cuts your BAB. Alternatively, go with an Ecclesitheurge and take a single monk level: no armor means you can sneak! Alternatively alternatively, a theologian focusing on the trickery domain or one of its subdomains will give you lots of stealth- and manipulation-related spells. For any of these, trickery is an excellent domain; if you stay vanilla cleric, you might consider replacing a domain with the Conversion Inquisition to add WIS instead of CHA to your social skills.

I know the trick here is to use the classic classes in adventitious ways, but, if you're willing to look elsewhere, other good rogues would be 1) the Seeker oracle, probably with the air mystery or 2) a Nature Fang druid with the Crocodile domain. Not quite clerics, but close enough to count as "classic," I think :)--in fact, I think the druid was originally a subtype of cleric back in the AD&D days.

"Fighter": Make the wizard a Hellknight Signifer. Have him/her focus entirely on no-somatic-component buff spells like true strike. For extra fun, take Scrollmaster, because when else will you use that class? At level five, the wizard is just a guy in armor that isn't very good at weapons. At higher levels, it might be useful to give him/her a level in oracle (battle or metal mystery); these mysteries can give you lots of proficiencies and open up Warrior Priest. If you read the text for Hellknight Signifer, it indicates that which features advance are based on which of the two prerequisite feats (Arcane Armor Training or Warrior Priest) you have; if you have both, it seems that you could advance multiple features. Thus, you could take the Extra Revelation feat to take other cool revelations from those mysteries to help out the character's melee ability and those revelations would scale with Hellknight Signifer levels.

I'm going to mention druid again, this time the Goliath Druid archetype. This is cool because it lets you turn into giants. Giants can wield weapons and, when covered in stone plate, they just look like big, old fighters.

~~

I don't have anything really novel for wizard or cleric at the moment, but I'm thinking about it. Turns out it's way easier to turn casters into mundane classes than the other way around. As a general exercise, I submit that you could make a full party of kineticists, each one assuming one of the classic roles (waits for tomatoes to be thrown). Bonus: each one could be a different element!!

The Exchange

To add to the Rogue Carnavalist idea, make the familiar a cat with the Mauler archetype (from the Familiar Folio) so it can be medium-sized with three natural attacks which all get the Rogue's Sneak Attack damage too when kitty and 'wizard' flank the same target. The Rogue could TWF with a quarterstaff (a double-weapon) and wear silk ceremonial robes as armour to complete the effect.

For the Wizard, I'd have him a half-elf with the Ancestral Arms racial trait to take EWP double crossbow, and make him a Diviner - that way he can always act on the surprise round (where using a double crossbow is actually useful), plus he can spam True Strike spells. He'd use Gravity Bow and Reloading Hands too. Since these aren't spells that require a high DC he can limit his Int and max out his Dex to make him extra good with his weapon of choice (also his chosen Arcane Bonded object). Give him Arcane Armour Training and some mithral studded leather (which the GameMastery Guide confirms we can have) and he looks and acts like a mercenary crossbowman, rather than a Wizard.

Clerics in Pathfinder are a bit beyond 'classic' anyway, as few are stomping around in heavy armour with a shield and a mace. A whip-fighting Cleric of Calistria, clad in leather armour and using the Trickery Domain makes for a good Rogue-like character.

That leaves a Fighter who looks Cleric-like... but luckily any character can be religious and carry around a holy symbol. Specialize him with heavy armour and a mace / warhammer and shield too and you start to look like the old D&D 'standard issue Cleric'.


Make them all sneaky. Every last one of them.

The Cleric can take a diety with the Trickery domain, givingthem some sneaky spells and the proper class skills to make it work. Mithril Breastplate and the Armor Expert trait means no armor check penalty, same for a Mithril Heavy Steel Shield. Mithril Buckler makes it easier to toss a weapon around while casting.

Fighter should take a similar equipment loadout for similar reasons. Dropping the heavy shield for a proper dex to damage feat like works, and you have the spare feats to take Skill Focus: Stealth to pretend it's a class skill.

Wizard? Illusionist. Similar skill feat as the Fighter.

And the rogue? Build it as a social infiltration specialist that can still participate in a fight. Kitsune come to mind, what with the racial feat that turns them into Mystique. Let this one meet the part and even befriend them, and then lure them into an ambush.

Naturally, all of them should have Precise Strike as well. Idealy, in their first fight the party assumes they're dealing with 4 rogues. And then one of them starts to channel....


Rosc wrote:

Make them all sneaky. Every last one of them.

The Cleric can take a diety with the Trickery domain, givingthem some sneaky spells and the proper class skills to make it work. Mithril Breastplate and the Armor Expert trait means no armor check penalty, same for a Mithril Heavy Steel Shield. Mithril Buckler makes it easier to toss a weapon around while casting.

Fighter should take a similar equipment loadout for similar reasons. Dropping the heavy shield for a proper dex to damage feat like works, and you have the spare feats to take Skill Focus: Stealth to pretend it's a class skill.

Wizard? Illusionist. Similar skill feat as the Fighter.

And the rogue? Build it as a social infiltration specialist that can still participate in a fight. Kitsune come to mind, what with the racial feat that turns them into Mystique. Let this one meet the part and even befriend them, and then lure them into an ambush.

Naturally, all of them should have Precise Strike as well. Idealy, in their first fight the party assumes they're dealing with 4 rogues. And then one of them starts to channel....

You missed taking Stealth Synergy for nigh-undetectablility .


Going to have to think of some modification of my Hellknight Party idea (2 consecutive posts) to make an undercover Hellknight party, so here goes:

Hellknight Tactician (still Primary Hammer and Primary Tactician): Tactician Fighter (more Feats than Cavalier, even though one of them has to be spent to get back Heavy Armor Proficiency; has same skill ranks per level as Cavalier and a decent additional set of class skills); should get 6 levels in this before going into the Hellknight prestige class, to get another +1 on Initiative checks as well as another Bonus Feat. Unfortunately, Tactician trades out Weapon Training 1, so methods other than Versatile Training have to be used to get more skills; fortunately, Tactician already gives more skills. Has a disguised persona as a performing sage, and wears Glamered armor (Hellknight Plate, of course) and goes VMC Bard to make it look and sound good, as well as providing very real bonuses in case things get ugly (starting just a couple of levels later).

Hellknight Stalker (Secondary Hammer, Assistant Tactician, martial-based Secondary Anvil, and Skill Monkey): Underground Chemist Unchained Rogue (trades out Evasion and some other traditional Rogue abilities for ability to be awesome with alchemical items and splash weapons). Use a Fighter (or Cavalier or Gun Tank Gunslinger, if you're not absolutely strict about using only the 4 traditional classes) dip to get Heavy Armor and Martial Weapon proficiency (the former being required to qualify for the martial Hellknight prestige class. Heavy Armor doesn't hose any Underground Chemist Rogue class features (because Evasion is traded out) except for adding Armor Check Penalty, which Hellknight Armor Training reduces. Goes into Hellknight prestige class after 1 or 2 levels of martial dip (exact amount and timing depending upon feat requirements) + 4 levels of Underground Chemist Rogue (thus losing only 1 BAB); even keeps Trapfinding in case those pesky Chaotic types leave booby traps around. Uses Sneak Attack for debuffing rather than for extra damage. It has come to my notice that this character can actually make good use of the normally bad VMC Alchemist option to make pretending to be an Alchemist look better, because Underground Chemist gets the Intelligence-to-splash-weapon damage that VMC Alchemist lacks (Alchemist's Throw Anything is more powerful than the Throw Anything feat, which might be good to have but isn't enough by itself). Of course, also use Glamered armor to help disguise true identity.

Warrior Priest Signifer (Arm): Cleric (of a Lawful deity, optionally with VMC Inquisitor), going into Hellknight Signifer at 6th level. Goes for Bad Touching and Summoning (and eventually Calling). Pretends to be a Summoner; in this case, no VMC is needed to make it look good, just Glamered armor to disguise Hellknight identity.

Blockbuster Signifer (Anvil): Blockbuster Wizard (Evoker-Admixturer, with VMC Magus to go Gish) with Light and Medium Armor proficiency (feats) or a martial dip to get this (Medium Armor proficiency and Arcane Armor Training feat required for Hellknight Signifer prestige class, which then gives Heavy Armor proficiency), using rider debuff Metamagic such as Rime Spell and Dazing Spell to wreck enemies (and the Arcane School ability Versatile Evocation is not level-dependent, so lack of progression by Hellknight Signifer levels is irrelevant, unlike many other Arcane School 1st level abilities; the Intense Spells passive ability is level-dependent, but doesn't give a big bonus anyway, so no great loss). As noted above, use VMC Magus to go Gish, but be careful of Swift Action Economy (Arcane Armor Training is bad for this). Pretends to be a Magus; in this case, only Glamered armor is needed to disguise Hellknight identity.

As noted above, when going undercover, these Hellknights use Glamered armor to disguise not only their Hellknight identity, but also their classes. Might as well get Glamered weapons, too, while they're at it.

The party in my original post that I linked above was an idea I had for introducing them as combination adversaries/allies in a modification to Reign of Winter:

(Reign of Winter spoiler):

The PC party, which is from Taldor, wouldn't have to compromise their principles and accept Baba Yaga's boon -- the Hellknight party from Cheliax (being less principled) would actually have already accepted the boon(*), but needs the PC party for some skills that they lack, so neither party can get through the AP on their own, and they have to form an uneasy collaboration.

(*)And better yet, the PC/Taldor party finds Baba Yaga's Rider already very obviously murdered by a party of Elvanna's agents who in turn try very hard to murder the PC party, but in the process of taunting the PCs in preparation to kill them, the agents of Elvanna accidentally drop a clue that Baba Yaga's Rider unwittingly revealed to them that the previous party accepted the boon, although they are unaware that the previous party is from Cheliax or composed of Hellknights.

The idea was to have them as GMPCs, but if you had 8 players who were REALLY cool-headed roleplayers and at least 4 of them were okay with playing characters of a preset theme, you could actually do a PbP with 2 semi-allied, semi-opposed PC parties . . . Definitely wouldn't be for everyone, though -- but I think that thte GMPC option could work with a fairly wide range of players of the Taldor party.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Blaster Fire Domain cleric? Maybe combined with the leather and whip idea from up thread?

Archer fighter. Or fighter dressed like a cleric, dual-wielding mace and shield, doing Bludgeoner and Bully (?) feats to Intimidate as free action when causing non-lethal damage.

Half-orc Rogue with GREAT AXE!

Wizard buffer/debuffer like a cleric. Or elf archer bit.

Grand Lodge

Fighter: Lore Warden with the Pragmatic Activator trait so he can umd off of Int, with a level of inspired blade swashbuckler. Who said the fighter needs to be a beat stick?

Cleric: let's make this the beat stick with the heavy armor and greatsword , that ups his damage with her faith towards Gorum! Armor Expert to help lower acp.....

Rouge: Vivisectionist Alchemist for the rogue, with one level of unchained rogue just for the weapon finesse and other skill goodies, because that's not fair.

Wizard: Now, there are two ways about this for me.... either the "God" wizard only specializing in conjuration magic, or a divination specialist with conjuration mixed in. Because seeing exactly what the other group is doing, and buffing everyone just before the group gets to them isn't evil at all.....


You guys are awesome. All these ideas really make me want to run a competition game, a bit like the beginning of the Mummy's Mask AP, instead of having just one rival party.


A shape shifting wizard can be fun. Get a mid int, high strength and con, the Knowledge Is Power discovery and take the transmutation shape shifting subschool. For additional fun (and minmaxing) dump wis to make a "all brawn no brain" brute.


Wizard: Use beastspeak spell+beast shape II to make him a tiny talking rat. Use things that conceal spellcasting (I think there is a feat in ultimate intrigue) and have him sit on the cleric's shoulder. Specialize in conjuration and send pits and magma orbs around.

Cleric: Evangelist cleric of Nethys in glamored armor. Looks like a wizard, with a holy symbol spellbook out and a rat familiar on his shoulder. Make bluff checks to have the wizard's spells look like they came from him. Gives the illusion of one foe with 2 turns. Focus on buff/debuff (I would open with prayer, then bane and work from there).

Rogue: Halfling Unchained Vexing Dodger with childlike. You are a little kid who runs up to people, forces them to give you piggyback rides, and then throws a tantrum on their back when they disagee (complete with stabbing and eye-poke dirty tricks.

Fighter: A heavy-armored Two-Weapon Fighter that uses 2 shields and shield slam. His enemies call him "la Tortuga"

Effect: The PCs are fighting a mad child climbing all over them, a warrior beating them back into walls, and a wizard constantly chanting arcane components, throwing out 2 spells every turn.


"Darigaaz the Igniter"You missed taking Stealth Synergy for nigh-undetectablility . [/QUOTE wrote:

Thought about it. Decided not to. Getting 3 or 4 people into a certain position to where they can see each other without being in direct line of sight with their target makes things really awkward.

Then again, if this is a group of NPCs, the GM can design the encounter around this environmental concern.


Antariuk wrote:

So I need a rival NPC party for my game. The PCs, most of which are new since the party practically suffered a total wipe (leaving one survivor), are still in the process of finding their new group dynamic, but from what I've seen that should work out great for everyone. Now I want to challenge them a bit since they are pretty confident in their abilities right now. Rightfully so, mind you, and I don't want to be a dick and take that away, but you can't have real success without some kind of challenge, right?

Just for fun I was thinking of creating a rival party of the four classic D&D archetypes cleric, fighter, rogue and wizard. Only that they look and act in a way that the PCs won't figure this out easily - I want this NPC gang to be as wild and crazy as possible, and even switch intended roles if possible.

Right now the PCs are at 2nd level, and I'd love to introduce the NPC rivals around 5th level maybe - let's just say 5th level then. Can you guys help me out with some interesting build ideas and archetypes? The adventure takes place in the 3.0 Forgotten Realms campaign setting, so pretty much everything from Pathfinder's body of rules is game - and I don't mind templates or 3rd party content.

Right now I am looking at the spirit whisperer (wizard) from ACG and the eldritch guardian (fighter) from the Familiar Folio, but there's just so much to choose from...

There are other ways to make iconic NPC Combinations. You could have a Bear Shaman Druid named Yogi with an Animal Companion Bear named Boo Boo accompanied by a Ranger named Smith. Perhaps more animals travelling with them in a flying ark...

The party might board a ship and let it slowly creep in that there are 5 other passengers, a professor wizard or alchemist, a star bard, a millionare and his wife. Tell them to take comfort. After all, the Mate is a mighty sailing man. The Skipper is brave and sure. And besides, you chuckle menacingly, what could happen on a 3 hour tour...

Dark Archive

If you can hold off until 7th level, you can make the fighter multiclass into Student of War. It lets him use his int for AC instead of Dex. That way you can make a very intelligent fighter while getting a use from that high int score.
Bonus if you grab lore warden fighter archetype, and role play the fighter analyzing the fighting style of the PCs, for the SoW's Know Your Enemy ability.

Also, if you don't mind switching the wizard for a sorcerer, I'll just throw this link out there: Strength Sorcerer

Those Natural Twenties builds also do some really cool things with rogues, too. So that shouldn't be too hard.

Cleric, make them a follower of Norgorber and be all stealthy-like. Or make them an undead raiser. Something to balk the norm.

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