Player Guide and Character Creation (GM Reference)


Strange Aeons

51 to 86 of 86 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Dark Archive

I've got a group together and based on what I've read so far, it seems like the more complicated (things past scribe scroll and brew potion) item creation feats are not going to be practically helpful, is that true?


My Group wants me to create first level characters for them, with hints at backstories and other things for when they randomly choose. However we are having a disagreement on the level up system for after the campaign starts. There are four options that have been thought of on the table:

1) GM randomly assigns a random fixed spell/skill point/ etc. every level to kinda help revile what the characters old life was like. And players would be in fixed keeping class the same (unless otherwise directed)
2) Players just choose their level ups and give zero F_______ about the original character even as their memories come back. (This is the most argued against and for in the group because the person who suggested it plays the same character with a new layer of paint every game. and its a even 3/3 tie in the group voting for this one)
3) Giving a suggested level up that players can deviate from at their will but can get an idea of what the character specializes in.
4) Creating a level up tree for each individual character so they can keep with the characters old story, however make variation changes as needed. (Example Level 1 ranger could have options of Ranger(2) Druid (1) or Cleric (1) for their second level.)

I personally enjoy options 1,3, or 4. I just want opinions from people who have run the campaign before which maybe the best option for me to run with my players. Any help or alternative Idea would also prove useful.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I would personally favor 2, as it seems that the idea of the fugue state is that it has reset them to 'favtory defaults' as it were, and while they can recover their memories later on, by that time, they've had a *lot* of time to develop in possibly entirely new directions.

Book 3 Spoilers:
At the end of Dreams of the Yellow King, the party faces nightmare versions of their pre-amnesia selves, giving you the opportunity to show off exactly who they were and how that might be vastly different from who they have become.


Revan wrote:

I would personally favor 2, as it seems that the idea of the fugue state is that it has reset them to 'favtory defaults' as it were, and while they can recover their memories later on, by that time, they've had a *lot* of time to develop in possibly entirely new directions.

** spoiler omitted **

In my party...

Spoiler:
...during that fight one side had a cleric of Shelyn, and the other had a cleric of Zon-Kuthon.


So I have a group in the process of creating characters for this adventure path, and I have one person on the fence between playing a regular Investigator or one with the Forensic Physician archetype.

I have all the books, but I've only been able to really dig into In Search of Sanity so far. The impression I have from the encounters in that book and in glancing over the others is that the archetype abilities could be more useful and fun to explore.

Could anyone with more knowledge of the path let me know if trapfinding and trap sense will get good use or if I should nudge the player towards the archetype substitutions? Thanks!


Trapfinding is super, SUPER useful. In later books there are traps all over the place, and a lot of them are really, really nasty ones. The party I'm running for has a trap finding slayer, and his finding the trap has possibly saved lives more than once.

Looking over the Forensic Physician, the archetype doesn't look like it will be useful at all. The disease thing could be useful, but no more useful than a Remove Disease spell. The other abilities border on completely useless outside of reading a few bloodstains in book 1 and some bloodstains in book 4 a few minutes before you encounter what caused them. Anywhere else you're going to encounter the creatures before you encounter their blood.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

All told, there are something like two dozen traps in the AP, and about half of them are magical. Trapfinding makes dealing with the magical ones a snap, but if your player really has their heart set on an archetype, they won't be hurting for trapfinding too badly. Your players will just have to get creative: dispel magic, summon monster, dimension door, etc.

Just make sure someone in the party has a good Perception, hopefully along with a good Wisdom. Trapfinding helps you find traps, but it isn't actually necessary to find traps--anyone who can hit the Perception DC can do that much.

That said, I agree with 'Sani, that archetype doesn't give much. There are some interesting disease things going on in book 5, but not enough to give the archetype any real teeth.

Liberty's Edge

Does anyone have experience running this with other races then core? I have been thinking about giving my players each a set of races to pick from using the core races with some races drawn from the lands bordering with Ustalav like tieflings, Dhampirs, gangelings and ratfolk because I enjoy that race.
Also considering if a Samsaran or android could fit in somehow in this atmosphere?


Davor Firetusk wrote:
I've got a group together and based on what I've read so far, it seems like the more complicated (things past scribe scroll and brew potion) item creation feats are not going to be practically helpful, is that true?

The first adventure is chronologically short, likely less than a week, with no real downtime. The second adventure can technically take more if the DM doesn't push the assassination attempts and plays up the "slowly decaying town" atmosphere. Still, expect perhaps two weeks at most in the second adventure, with a few days of downtime scattered within.

The third adventure however, has two and a half months of journey, with only random encounters and a few scripted events. Lots of time for crafting. And unless your party goes all in with teleport antics, you could have similar amounts of time in the fourth adventure.

The fifth goes back to a smaller window with less downtime, and the last adventure is a breakneck race to the finish.

So item crafting could be quite useful between levels 7-12. Especially at the early side, its a long time before you get good opportunities to buy gear (and sell it too, technically you leave adventure 2 with a class-locked piece of gear that's too expensive to sell in town!).

I'd consider craft wand or wondrous. Armor and arms will frequently get upgraded unless you are locked into a very particular weapon type. Crafting a few wands of go-to spells with effects that aren't heavily level dependent could be very useful (mage armor, CLW, protection from evil, etc). Wondrous for odd utility items or stat-boosters. Remember, just because the cleric finds a +4 headband doesn't mean the fighter can't wear the old +2 one. You could even select the skills that int headbands boost based on future "hand-me-down" plans. More people rolling knowledge: dungeoneering means more chances of knowing how to not get killed by horrible things!


Jesper Roland Sørensen wrote:

Does anyone have experience running this with other races then core? I have been thinking about giving my players each a set of races to pick from using the core races with some races drawn from the lands bordering with Ustalav like tieflings, Dhampirs, gangelings and ratfolk because I enjoy that race.

Also considering if a Samsaran or android could fit in somehow in this atmosphere?

Yep. Ran the first two chapers twice. unusual races run through include:

Tiefling, Sylph, Catfolk and Sulis.

At least in the first two chapters there's not much problem with race. (though the tiefling had some issues early in the asylum with people trusting them, there's nothing that's unworkable). The characters are recruited by Lowls, he's a decadent King in Yellow guy, so I just had it that he liked collecting unusual employees.

The biggest issue was with the catfolk, as you discover in chapter 2 that Lowls is afraid of cats. So I just worked it into the background that the catfolk was a "gift' to Lowls meant as a joke, and Lowls never let it in the house, keeping it outside sleeping in the stables.


So I just wanted to check and see if there are any unintended consequences for the character creation limitations I'm placing on my players. I have told them to go with a "natural" theme for their characters, mainly because I like the idea of Nature vs Mythos. As it stands, I know that I'm going to have a kinetic Knight phytokineticist, a winter witch, a druid, and a shifter, with two more players undecided. Aside from encouraging someone to take the skills needed for the Dreamlands ritual in book three, is there anything else I should be careful of?


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Hi everyone, my group of players just recently defeated the Tatterman in our last session, so I thought I'd add our experience as a data point. I sometimes see discussion of alternate ways of starting the players out, and what I did was start them with no gear whatsoever. Didn't even let them think about spending starting cash. I did, however, let them know that in advance, and warned them that choosing character classes or concepts which heavily rely on specific equipment would have a more difficult start. As such, the party consisted of a Human Paladin (oath against corruption), Human Psychic (amnesiac archetype, abomination discipline), Elf Ranger, and Catfolk Spiritualist (her Zeal phantom is her deceased brother). In the place where their starting equipment is supposed to be, I instead gave each of them one item as a link to their past, and nothing else.

I also changed Winter to be and inquisitor with no healing spells, and put a hard limit on the number of days before the survivors' food supplies ran out to remove any semblance of a safety net.

It was definitely hard mode, and there were a lot of discussions about whether or not to press on or if they had time to rest, but the general consensus from the players was that it wasn't too hard, and that it was enjoyably different to have even just padded armor be a great find. Thanks to some decent luck and good teamwork, there were no character deaths in the Asylum (though I think everyone dropped unconscious at one time or another).

Overall, I would say that if any GMs are considering starting the AP this way, it's a cool and genre-thematic way to go. Just make sure your players will be warned first.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Hello! I'm about to start this AP in two weeks and I'm in the process of figuring out all the stuff the characters forgot. I'm having one character think they were someone else in a combat they remember having, another is going to be confusing a childhood memory for a recent one, another still will start with a cosmetic Polymorph Any Object spell cast on them.

I'm stuck on the Changeling Oracle in the party, and noticed the character guide said Changelings would be in good to play. Why is that? I know Winter is one, but having only read through the first book I'm not sure what other connection they'll have to the game, if any, and how I might use that to further tie them into the game.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Tetujin wrote:

Hello! I'm about to start this AP in two weeks and I'm in the process of figuring out all the stuff the characters forgot. I'm having one character think they were someone else in a combat they remember having, another is going to be confusing a childhood memory for a recent one, another still will start with a cosmetic Polymorph Any Object spell cast on them.

I'm stuck on the Changeling Oracle in the party, and noticed the character guide said Changelings would be in good to play. Why is that? I know Winter is one, but having only read through the first book I'm not sure what other connection they'll have to the game, if any, and how I might use that to further tie them into the game.

Changelings have strong associations with witches and hags. There is at least one (Night) hag in the AP by default, and more are available through the random encounters tables (there's an interesting hag encounter available as soon as book 2). There are also a bunch of witches throughout the AP, with the grand-mammy of them all being the Briarstone Witch herself. So there are a whole bunch of different options you can use to give your changeling PC a strong, and horrible familial connection to some of the potential antagonists of the adventure.

After all, an unsettling discovery about yourself is a staple of Lovecraftian horror, and will the changeling heed the call after discovering who their parent is? Or will that knowledge break their mind and spirit?

Grand Lodge

My Players are in the midst of character creation right now, and I took a different spin on background drawing from a few snippets I've picked up from forums and podcasts about the AP:

I'm having each player write four 'cornerstone' (tip of the White Hat to Westworld) events for a PC's life and submit them to me directly without sharing their contents with the other players. The guidance that I'm providing is ideally these are seminal events in a PC's life, but ones that could be interpreted in a variety of ways. As an example: "I was the first person to leave my village in a hundred years." A pretty large event in a person's life, but leaves a lot of room for interpretation (Why did they leave? How did they feel about leaving? Did more people leave after? Did they come back?)

Each PC's backstory will be made up of two of the events THEIR player wrote, and two events ANOTHER player wrote. I'm working with each one of them on making sure if there's a very strong theme that they are targeting for their character/class, we can line up either their 2 known or 2 unknown cornerstone events in a way that will support that, but being light on the exact details. I'll then be assigning the Campaign Trait that most closely corresponds to that character's combination of Cornerstones to them during the first session along with a brief overview of what they do and dont remember of their history.

My goal is that this adds another layer to the fugue and helps simulate the guidance that 'You only have hazy memories of the time before 5 years ago.' As hints and clues come up throughout the campaign, players can piece together which pieces of their backstory THEY wrote (and therefore have a decent idea on) and which pieces are more completely lost memories they have to reconstruct themselves (since someone else wrote that entry.)

It also gives the players an opportunity to help each other recall lost memories (since they had been friends for a long time before the campaign) and have some unique RP experiences. If I as a PC wrote a memory that "Your sister is your best and only friend" and then someone in my party finds a picture of themselves and a woman in Thrushmore, I can say "I vaguely remember you describing your sister as having short brown hair and green robes like the woman in that painting at a Tavern one time..." Although they also couldn't be sure that the hint was referencing their Cornerstone and wasn't a red herring.

Interested if anyone else has tried something like this, or other alternate ways of background generation for amnesiacs.


I had a couple ideas, but by the second book, three out of four of my players died and are now playing new characters.


Here is what I did for my AP.

1. The Players made their characters. I did a 25 point buy. I had veto power for any race or class that I felt didn't fit the theme.

2. The Players got to do physical descriptions and some described their gear. (Like the Fighter with his weapon).

3. I wrote their backgrounds. I used the background generator to get some ideas and then went from there. The physical descriptions also helped.

4. In a dream/nightmare, Lowls places a ring on their finger and then they worked for him.

5. In another dream/nightmare (which they have not received yet), Lowls changes their names. So the Fighter Jason became Janos when he 'worked' for Lowls. The Cleric Kyra becomes Klara.

6. I wrote one creepy dream/nightmare for each character which involved them killing someone. At the end of each dream/nightmare, they look forward to get a bonus/reward for the bad thing they did in the dream. So the Fighter beat someone to death, the Cleric sacrificed someone, etc.

7. Any character can have any dream and they are all first person point of view. Because the characters worked together they had knowledge of the dream from either watching the other character perform the evil act or listening to the character brag about what they had done.

8. Anything done for Lowls is a dream/nightmare. Anything related to their background is a rush of feelings and emotions.

9. The only time I use a character name is when it is the Name Lowls gave them. Every other time I use the player name. This has become fun in book 2 because they keep telling the Townfolk that is not their name and the Townfolk tell them it is and some have accused them of lying.

Plot spoiler:
10. When they get their memories back, I have a brief introduction that they are going to read to the group basically introducing themselves. I am going to send the memories/background in a private message after the encounter.

11. After they introduce themselves, their Evil sides are going to manifest, have a brief statement about how they are not going to be turned into some bad memories and are going to sacrifice the good portion to Hastur to help cement their power.


I’ve been gaming for around 20 years, but I’ve never run a game. I’ve recently gotten inspired to try my hand at it. I’m planning on running Strange Aeons for a group I’ve gamed with for several years. All that said, I’m looking for some advice:

I want to add a twist to the starting fugue state. I have created characters for my players, and they will spend the first part of the AP discovering their abilities. They will start with blank character sheets, and figure out their abilities by trial and error. At an appropriate point, when they recover their memories, I will fill in any remaining blanks. I welcome any advice.

Note: I recognize that this may not meet the technical description of a fugue state, but I don’t care. :)

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Unless you are changing things up, the characters won't recover their memories until the end of the third book. That might mean it takes a while to fill in their character sheets. How will you handle leveling up prior to that point? Have you thought about HOW players will discover what their characters can do? Will there be hints in their gear? How are you handling the starting gear?


YogoZuno wrote:
Unless you are changing things up, the characters won't recover their memories until the end of the third book. That might mean it takes a while to fill in their character sheets. How will you handle leveling up prior to that point? Have you thought about HOW players will discover what their characters can do? Will there be hints in their gear? How are you handling the starting gear?

I have the first module on order, should get it today. I did not realize that they wouldn't get fully restored until book 3, I'll have to think about that. Ideally, I want a good point in book 1 to hand them their character sheets, and give them the opportunity to tweak if they're not happy with what I've made.

There will be significant hints in their gear (spell books, thieves' tools, holy symbols, etc.), which I have pre-selected for each of them.

I figured when they reached level 2 would be a good time to tell them what class they are and allow them to advance from there.

As for how they'll discover abilities: by doing things, and interacting with people. They roll a Diplomacy check, I tell them what modifier to use. Now they know the total, and they can extrapolate to other things as they gather more information about their stats. I will also provide the flavor text from their Path feat, which should point them in the right direction.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Quote:
I have the first module on order, should get it today. I did not realize that they wouldn't get fully restored until book 3, I'll have to think about that. Ideally, I want a good point in book 1 to hand them their character sheets, and give them the opportunity to tweak if they're not happy with what I've made.

You might be able to make this work better if you don't tie the 'character sheet reveal' to their memories, as such. Maybe once you've read the book, you'll be able to select a better trigger point for the final reveal.

Quote:
There will be significant hints in their gear (spell books, thieves' tools, holy symbols, etc.), which I have pre-selected for each of them.

So, once you read the first book, you'll be more aware, but the characters actually start pretty much without their gear, and then locate their stuff a short way in. This means they won't have access to those hints for the first few scenes...something to be aware of! Also, when they do find their gear, you might want to provide some method of identifying what belongs to who (all gear from one character in one container, and then work from size of clothing/armour? Colour shcemes?)

Quote:
As for how they'll discover abilities: by doing things, and interacting with people. They roll a Diplomacy check, I tell them what modifier to use.

All easy for things like skills, hit rolls, saves and even ability scores. What about hit points? Do you just tell them when they fall over? Also, what about spellcasting? Animal companions? Familiars? Feats? I'm sure there are answers, but these are just examples of questions I would have as a player.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I made the characters for my my players. I chose the stats, class, archetype(s), race, alternate racial abilities, drawback, traits, and feat(s) along with making any 1st level class decisions (oracle curse, spells known, etc).

I presented my characters with a sheet without a character name, a vague racial description (such as "elf-blooded, olive skinned) and "???" where the class, traits, proficiencies, and drawback were. Their class abilities were detailed including spells known, or, in the case of the investigator, which schema/spells they had tattooed on their body.

As they made rolls or took actions affected by their traits and drawback, those were revealed. As they made skill checks, they got to assign the points they would normally have at 1st level. As they came across equipment (all things found in an asylum, like wood working tools, padded coats, and kitchen knives), their proficiencies were discovered.

Once they had filled in most of the blanks, their classes and archetypes were revealed.

At the latest, I planned to tell them when they found the patient records.

Beyond first level, the characters are their's, and they've made all the choices.

They're level 3 and just finished off the dreamer in the northwest tower.

I can post their beginning character sheets later if you're interested.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

While these ideas are interesting...they do take away player agency. For newer players, or jaded players, this can be a benefit. But for the majority of players, they may or may not be on board with having no say in their initial character.


Yeah, I got permission from the players first.


kadance wrote:
Yeah, I got permission from the players first.

That's really cool that your players were on board with that! With the beginning of the AP starting the way it does that's a whole added level of depth that I wouldn't have thought of at all.

I'd be interested in seeing those character sheets if you get the chance.


Sure. Here's a link to them.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A point which the player's guide does not address at all is player character alignment. So, my question is "is this AP well suited for evil characters?" I mostly GM non-evil parties, but it seems that among my players a good number of them would love to play an AP where they can play evil characters. Since I don't own Hell's Vengeance, this seems to be an AP inherently well suited for allowing evil characters. Am I right in this assumption?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's not especially well-suited to evil characters, no. Several base assumptions of the story could be made to suit evil or mercenary outlooks, but a number of the basic threads pit the group against essentially evil groups or adversaries.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

That is not necessarily a reason to say it isn't suited to evil characters. Evil fighting evil for selfish purposes isn't unheard of. The question is rather if the AP assumes that the PC's do things for altruistic reasons (which would make it strongly non-evil suited) or if they can be in for themselves (a good enough reason could be vengeance against whomever the big bad is or mere survival of whatever their condition is).

Dark Archive

I had a very evil character in my group and it worked very well. The initial playing field is pretty level since no one knows what is happening, and once they figure it out revenge was a pretty good motivator.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks, that sounds good. I'll pitch this AP to my players, to see if they are interested in it after we're done with Shattered Star, Hell's Rebels and Return of the Runelords.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

'Not especially well-suited' is not the same as 'isn't suited'. You can make it work, and it won't be super-disruptive, but an all-evil group might well break a few assumptions, and require more work on the part of he GM to keep the story on track.

Specifically, the majority of the plot of book 2 will not be as effective with mostly evil characters, in my opinion. Parts of book 4 will also likely need work.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Also thanks for that info! I'll have to take a deeper look at the AP in the next weeks, when I get time to read a bit into the story.


So I am preparing to run this AP and I came up with a plan of having my players submit some choices to me for their Race, Class, Name, etc; and then cobbling them together. Also, starting them with blank character sheets and slowly revealing who they are by have them realize what they can do and the things they are good at (or really bad at). Any thoughts? I thought it might be a really cool way to play the amnesia and add a bit more despair to the start of the AP. (I'm just picturing a wizard finding a sword and thinking they my be a fighter :-D )


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm a first time GM, and I'm running Strange Aeons. I have a mostly RP heavy group, but I have one murder hobo playing an unchained barbarian. It doesn't feel like Book 1 is stacked well combat-wise for such a powerful character. I know the barbarian's think is smash/kill, and I don't want to take that away from the player, but when he never runs out of rage and can kill every opponent in 1 hit, both he and our healer get pretty bored. Simply increasing XP or using the advanced template hasn't seemed to make a difference, and I find that when I do have an advantage, like with swarms, I have to hold back otherwise I will be seen as targeting the barbarian because my other players are squishy. I've thought about introducing more monsters, but then I have to spread them out among the PC and the barbarian will just move from one to the next and 1-hit kill them. I know magic users are coming at the end of book 1, but I don't know how to balance the game to keep the murder hobos involved and the squishy RP players safe at the same time.


You could swap monsters' feats for improved initiative to give them a chance to act before the barbarian and steal, disarm, or grapple him.

Hand out potions of blur to a few monsters so he'll have a miss chance.

Ghosts or other incorporeal creatures should give him pause while allowing more magical characters to be useful

My favorite tactic would be to sprinkle in a few magical or supernatural affects that require Will saves: like haunts, a concentrated bit of yellow fog, a group of cultists chanting a ritual, etc. Be wary of confusion effects, or your barbarian might wipe out the rest of your party.

If it's not too late, you could implement a sanity system. Perhaps killing something humanoid could cause a point of sanity damage...

Edit: Talk any new rules over with your players or you may face a revolt and arguments about "I would have designed my character differently if I had known we were going to do this"

51 to 86 of 86 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder Adventure Path / Strange Aeons / Player Guide and Character Creation (GM Reference) All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in Strange Aeons