Respec'ing a character before the campaign even starts.


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


I have a player in an upcoming campaign I am starting that is powergaming like crazy. I'm fine with that mostly, but he's taken it to the next level concerning his character creation.

Before the campaign has even started, he has respec'd multiple times to do shenanigans (specifically taking a level in wizard to craft magic items at half cost then respec'ing back to barbarian) Would yall allow this? Are there rules that I am missing concerning this?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

If you are looking for rules to block that specific nonsense with, there are magic item crafting guidelines for campaigns. What they say is that crafting feats can effectively increase your WBL above target with the caveat that (1) its limited to i believe up to +50% WBL for multiple craft feats (+25% for one) and (2) GM shouldn’t allow one craft feat to increase groupmates WBL at the same time; though that +50% could be split between groupmates. As such, he could do what he is trying to, but as soon as he retrains away from the feat, you by rule should sqush his WBL back to default (possibly he was robbed if you want to do it in-narrative). You could include his retraining expenses in his ‘wealth’ if you were in a particularly punitive mood.

Alternatively, consider “no.”


Kyle From IT wrote:

I have a player in an upcoming campaign I am starting that is powergaming like crazy. I'm fine with that mostly, but he's taken it to the next level concerning his character creation.

Before the campaign has even started, he has respec'd multiple times to do shenanigans (specifically taking a level in wizard to craft magic items at half cost then respec'ing back to barbarian) Would yall allow this? Are there rules that I am missing concerning this?

I presume that you are talking about retraining. "Respec," AKA respecializing, is not a Pathfinder game term.

First, there is advice that if a character is created at high level with magic item crafting abilities, then he can buy the magic items he makes at 75% full price rather than 50% price or full price. I forgot the source: it might be an FAQ.

Second, the retraining rules, found at Ultimate Campaign Retraining and at d20pfsrd Retraining say that retraining costs money: "Unless stated otherwise, retraining costs gp equal to 10 × your level × the number of days required to retrain." Retraining a level takes takes 7 days unless the two classes are so similar that they have a synergy. Synergy retraining takes only 5 days. Wizard and barbarian don't have a synergy.

Suppose a 5th-level wizard with Craft Magic Arms and Armor wanted to retrain to barbarian (5th-level wizard is the lowest level that can take that feat). Switching to wizard 4/barbarian 1 would cost 7 days of training and 350 gp. Switching to wizard 3/barbarian 2 would cost another 350 gp, etc. The total cost of retraining all 5 levels would be 1750 gp. The character would also want to retrain away the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat, too, since it went inert once the character no longer qualified for it.

In theory, a PC claiming downtime before the campaign begins would mean that all the other PCs can use that downtime, too. Why would that one player's character get downtome but the others don't? If you openly pay them money for downtime jobs while your powergamer pulls shenanigans, then he will realize that he shot himself in the foot. Or claim that they went on the final adventure that earned them their last level while the powergaming character was stuck in barbarian bootcamp retraining, so he is short one level. GMs have complete power over downtime, including denying the character 35 weeks of downtime for retraining from wizard to barbarian.


That's definitely shenanigans and "No" is perfectly approriate. I'm curious what crafting feat he thinks he's using with one level of spellcasting class. Scribe Scroll? Not a barbarian's favorite item, usually.

Are you starting them at 1st level? If so, I also wonder where's he getting the money for all this retraining? It's expensive, and he's retraining levels, feats, and presumably skill ranks (into and out of Spellcraft).

Sovereign Court

Assuming you are using the retraining rules from Ultimate Campaign, simply limit the amount of downtime days they have available for retraining before the campaign starts. Presumably, if they are spending all of their time retraining, they haven't actually spent that much time leveling up in the first place. A class takes 7 days per level to retrain, and a feat takes 5 as already pointed out (aka, ninjaed).

Frankly, at that point, you point out to the other players that they can retrain Hit Points at the cost of 3 days, up to a maximum as if they rolled max on their hit dice for each level. Basically, if you start with downtime, everyone else should use it to have max hp. Also, the cost is based on when they retrain (at least from Ultimate Campaign). Retraining a hit point at level 1 costs: 3 (days) x 1 (current level) * 10 gp = 30 hp. Retraining a hit point at level 10 costs 300 gp. If you have an essentially completed character and decide to retrain the HP you got at level 2 to maximum, you use your current level to calculate the cost, not the level you got the hit points/feat/etc.

Taking 1 level of wizard to craft items? Did he take a whole bunch of caster level increasing traits and effects as well? Brew Potion/Craft Wondrous requires CL 3 and Craft Arms and Armor/Craft Wand requires CL 5.

This sounds like a communication disconnect or a misunderstanding of the rules to me.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Item creation before campaign start?

I'd say "no".

Liberty's Edge

This sounds like a real headache of a player to deal with, honestly...

I'd simply tell them no, and if I got pushback I'd repeat myself with a simple explanation that what they're trying to do is both against the RAW and the spirit of the game. Hopefully, by then they'll get the picture that they're pushing things too far but if not, a kind explanation about WHY WBL matters and how this kind of fiddling with the numbers to exploit unwritten rules can destroy the balance of a game and also frustrate not only the GM but the other players as well.

If they don't accept the three "No" answers, don't play with them, or if they're a really close friend you don't want to upset, try explaining to them that keeping GM agency and Rule 0 in place is important and that hopefully it won't interfere with your out-of-game relationship.


Let him know that the reduced cost of crafted items at character creation is meant only for the purpose of offsetting the cost of the crafting feats. If he starts play without the feats, then he starts play paying full price for the items.


I'll assume you aren't starting at level 1.

Magic item creation feats are disruptive if the player isn't kept in check, either by himself or by stringent rules from the game master.

I believe you should ponder and reflect upon what space you want to give magic item creation by the players. From there, how to deal with the player will come. I've seen many campaigns destroyed by this.
Do you want your players to have free rein upon what magic items they get, making what they loot or not almost irrelevant and at most a rebate, do you want them to be entirely dependant on loot, do you want shops that trade magic items to exist and be commonplace?
Think and decide then carry on.

It could be saying yes to what he does, he read the rules and is taking advantage of this.

It could be saying "yes if".
The "if" could be about wealth by level and tee share/ratio of said item in this wealth. He managed to wriggle the item he wanted, good but not having the feat any longer means his wealth by level is now the regular one and since he powergames, you'll be strict with the rules of loot, giving smaller loot until balance is re-established for the group and each character individually.

It could be a "no unless".
The "unless" could be role-play reasons, retraining wizard for trinkets then re-retraining original class once those trinkets obtained makes no sense story-telling-wise. If there is a reason why the barbarian found enlightenment with the fickle mistress that magic is and then turned back to his old ways, maybe this would work - but I see no reason he'd have crafted an item for a barbarian then.

Or it could a "no". You view this as too much power gaming.

What matters is that you and your player talk. What does he want out of the game and what do you want out of the game. I believe your problem is more meta-game than rules per se.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I would say that the hard and fast rule is that "nothing about a character counts before that character has been played, at which point the character is established."

So you can't rebuild your character before you have played them, this person basically does not exist before you have played them. If you decide "they should be a ranger instead of a fighter" or w/e that's fine, it's just you changing your mind about a character you were going to play. Likewise you can't "pre-craft" stuff before your character pops into the narrative, though I would recommend not allowing crafting to begin with.

But no "Barbarian, retrains as a wizard to craft barbarian gear, then retrains as a Barbarian" should not be allowed. All that is, is just someone trying to game WBL.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
I would say that the hard and fast rule is that "nothing about a character counts before that character has been played, at which point the character is established."

I would allow retraining of hit points, I would allow retraining of feats that were required to qualify for something but aren't needed any longer, I would allow retraining if it works with the background story - and not the other way around.

I wouldn't allow magic item craft skills besides consumables with the exception of those characters to which it is a class feature such as a wizard with a bonded item, who I would allow such crafting before the first game.

Would you not allow those, PossibleCabbage?

To the original poster, the question revolves around the intent of retraining rules. They are here to allow players to alter their characters a bit when they don't like something anymore or realise they have made a poor choice.
Like every rule, it can be abused. Tell the player he is abusing the rule and see what he says. I've been in his situation as a player, what I answered was that we, me, the player, and the game master, should then talk clearly about what is abuse and what isn't.


I frankly wouldn't allow that. You can't have downtime before the game actually begins, and you can't retrain a level before the game begins either. You can tell him that he'd have to begin with the needed levels of Wizard and can maybe retrain them later, but he can't do it before the start of the game.

Letting a character craft some items before game start is fine though, as long as the character has the feats and gold to do so.


What?! Next are you going to claim we can't be a human for the extra feat and bonus skill points and also venerable for the +3 mental boosts (more skill points) and claim to have been reincarnated into a new young adult body to remove the physical penalties (possibly into a form with even more physical bonuses) before the game starts? Tyrant!


Kyle From IT wrote:
Are there rules that I am missing concerning this?

There is one very important rule that you've apparently missed:

The Most Important Rule wrote:
The rules in this book are here to help you breathe life into your characters and the world they explore. While they are designed to make your game easy and exciting, you might find that some of them do not suit the style of play that your gaming group enjoys. Remember that these rules are yours. You can change them to fit your needs. (...) the Game Master is the final arbiter of the rules (...)

CRB pg. 9

Seriously, you can ban what you consider disruptive for the campaign. You don't need to hide behind some written rule, you can make a rule. You can simply ban all magic item creation (I highly recommend that), or just ban it prior to the campaign start, or ban retraining prior to the campaign start, or ban the combination, or change the price of magic item creation prior to the campaign start, or say that the time the character spend retraining was time he didn't spend gaining experience, so he starts a level or two behind all others.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I think I’d allow pre campaign item creation if the starting level made it make sense.

I wouldn’t allow item creation and then retrained feats/class levels. Because if I did then it would make no sense for anyone not to do it. It’s just a way to increase everyone’s WBL at no cost.


Kyle From IT wrote:

I have a player in an upcoming campaign I am starting that is powergaming like crazy. I'm fine with that mostly, but he's taken it to the next level concerning his character creation.

Before the campaign has even started, he has respec'd multiple times to do shenanigans (specifically taking a level in wizard to craft magic items at half cost then respec'ing back to barbarian) Would yall allow this? Are there rules that I am missing concerning this?

You should simply consider enforcing wealth by level, and tell the player "No, you don't effectively get more money just because you temporarily had a crafting feat."

The developers gave a guideline that one crafting feat should effectively give you 25% more wealth (by level) and two should give 50% more. But it capped there and didn't provide more wealth by level for additional crafting feats beyond 2. This is simply a guideline, but does obviously speak to what the developers intended.

Ask the player, as your character currently sits, how many crafting feats do they have? When the answer is 0, tell them they get no effective increase to wealth by level for that and tell them to quit trying to game the system.

This isn't a misunderstanding of the rules, this is a player attempting to abuse the crafting rules. You could also simply say that no one is allowed to have crafted any items before you actually start playing the campaign.


I personally allow and encourage level 1 Wizards with Scribe Scroll or Level 1 Alchemists/Witches with Brew Potion to use their starting gold crafting items BEFORE the start of a campaign. Wizards start with 2 spells and some Cantrips at will. Looking at the maths, unless the PC has optimized for damage with spells, they likely come up short in hitting average damage expected from a level 1 PC with Cantrips.

That all being said, 2 things:

1. If the player is making a PC, using the abilities of that PC, then retraining their level to another PC class, I'd flat out disallow this. The player is looking to game a system already heavily weighted in the PCs' favor.

2. If you choose to allow this kind of character building, the player and the party should be made very aware that you will have to organize your threat level around challenging THEIR specific PC.

For example, if my players take me up on all possible advantages I lay at their feet before campaign start, a Wizard can Scribe Scrolls before the first adventure. I use the Downtime rules from Ultimate Campaign and all PCs begin with 150 GP worth of starting gold.

A PC Wizard then might have generated and paid for up to 3 Magic Capital prior to the start of the game. This means that they've spent all 150 GP on said Magic Capital, but can in turn use that resource to pay the crafting costs for 300 GP worth of scrolls.

If each scroll costs 12.5 GP to craft, this translates to 24 scroll spells the PC Wizard could potentially start the game with. They wouldn't have any other gear besides clothes and maybe a club, but they'd have 24 spells plus the 2 level 1 spells they could cast in a day.

If my first adventure opened on a Wizard with 24 spell scrolls, I'd modify said adventure to include many more minor foes to threaten the party. Its likely that these scrolls don't add tons of attack spells, but it's entirely conceivable that these extra utilities extend the Wizard's defensive and out-of-combat abilities far beyond being useful for the usual 3-4 combats in a day.

TL/DR: my point is if you allow your players to use all the resources of their character builds prior to the campaign start, be prepared to modify that start to challenge what the PCs end up creating.

Craft skills and even some Professions might translate to more cheap gear than standard PCs begin with. High enough starting skill might even mean Masterwork armor if they have enough starting gold. Potions and Scrolls might also be in the PCs' possession. Imagine if the party Rogue invested in Handle Animal to justify starting with a trained Donkey Rat as a flanking buddy; they could work it into their backstory that they just befriended the thing as a pet and trained it for combat. It would be free essentially, though you could impose some kind of GP cost if you'd like, and it wouldn't be an Animal Companion, Familiar or Mount so it would be a bit tougher for the Rogue to control, but having a way to always get Sneak Attack in Melee might be worth it for them.

However if fighter starts with a golf bag full of cheaper weapons to manage any kind of low-level DR, the cleric begins with a MW shield, the Rogue has their flanking buddy and the Wizard has a dozen or so spell scrolls and hands out cheap Acid Flasks to everyone... plan accordingly.


I'll add to the string of no's. If he is first level then he is replacing his wizard character with a barbarian character. If not then he must pay all costs just as if he was leveling/retraining the character.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kyle From IT wrote:
specifically taking a level in wizard to craft magic items at half cost then respec'ing back to barbarian) Would yall allow this?

Absolutely. I'd even work into it a nice backstory where his crafting wizard, tired of being beaten up and having all the stuff he made stolen by bullies became consumed with rage, began working out, and abandoned his mystical studies for more martial endeavors.

Of course the result of this theft by bullies means that he starts out with the same starting wealth as everyone else.

If you don't have a feat that gives you extra WBL when the game starts, you don't get to take advantage of it for your starting equipment. You benefit from what you have, not what you theoretically had at some point in the past.


Just tell them that you're switching games to Traveller and their character died during character creation.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
blahpers wrote:
Just tell them that you're switching games to Traveller and their character died during character creation.

That you switched to Traveller in which his character died during creation then switched back to Pathfinder before the first session^^


i'll start off with the fact retraining is an optional rule. as a gm you can use it or not, your also allowed to say, you can't retrain without a trainer who MUST be approached and convinced to train you in game (with RP). so until you actually play your character, find and meet the right trainer (who must have the ability you want to retrain into) you can not use retraining.

beside all this...
crafting items take time and money.
retraining take more time and money.

retraining cost can be adjusted to +/- 50% by gm desecration. also retraining without a trainer can be done, if gm allow, but take X2 time.

all in all, you can give him a time limit before the game start, if he isn't finished crafting all his gear and retraining all his levels by then, he''l start with what he managed to get. this would be fair since it would also let you give the other characters time to get things done to.

btw from the sound of it i wouldn't be surprised if some of the gear he crafted was 'costumed' gear (aka true strike\mage armor 2k cost ring etc).
make sure to only let him craft items in that are already in the game (gm can disallow any costumed made item)


Nope. Would not permit.

As for unsolicited advice; how powergamie is the rest of your group? Have you discussed with everyone the intended power level of the campaign?


I got to ask. Is he saying he retrained before the first game to be able to craft magic items for his character before the first game?

That is a level of munchkin that I've not seen in some time.


yea.
if he wanted to craft that much he should have got master craft feat and the craft wondrius\arm & armor feat. not go into a different class and retrain that. 2 feats are easier to retrain.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I read somewhere a suggestion of letting PCs with appropriate item crafting feats buy items at 75% of their price to reflect the fact that they were able to craft some of their items. But if they don't still have those feats at start of play, they should get no discount.

However, I would normally veto retraining before play begins. Your PCs are already gaining the advantage of their builds not having to be viable before start of play. I used to avoid making such builds myself, but now I would just assume that they retrained at appropriate points earlier in their career. The costs of retraining in terms of time and money really don't work well as pre-game expenses.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder RPG / General Discussion / Respec'ing a character before the campaign even starts. All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.