Character Focus: Doomsday Dawn

With the release of Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, we’re more than a little busy around my house. I took some time to learn the new rules and play around with the character creation process. I made myself three different characters to use via play-by-post. One is a gnomish bard by the name of Amberly Tam, a musical Pathfinder who will have the pleasure of playing through the three PFS Playtest Scenarios. The second is a half-elven esoteric scion alchemist who desperately longs to be a member of the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, like her father and grandfather before her. Her name is Neferet Velaketra, and she’s going to be playing through Doomsday Dawn. My final character is a dwarven mind quake survivor cleric who worships the goddess Desna. Her name is Joliryn Starsoul, and she’s more than a little… controversial among her kin. In addition to loving the open sky, a desperate desire to take flight and travel the stars, and her devotion to Desna, Joliryn has unwavering faith that her ancestor’s Quest for Sky is incomplete! After all, they still live underground. And really, when it comes down to it, surely they’re meant to be among the stars! (She’s more than a little eccentric!). Joliryn is also going to be playing through Doomsday Dawn.

Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook
Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook. Also available as a free download on Paizo’s website.

Once I had the hang of making characters I took the time to teach my family, by walking them through making their first character. And that is the topic of our blog today.

My family has every intention of playing through Pathfinder Playtest Adventure: Doomsday Dawn and all three (eventually all four) of the Pathfinder Playtest Society Scenarios. That means we’re going to be using and testing a lot of characters. But, the first adventure we knew we would be playing was Doomsday Dawn. So with out digital copies of the Playtest Rulebook and Doomsday Dawn in hand, we got to work.

My daughter went first. She had been the most excited for the new rules. She sat beside me while it downloaded literally bouncing in glee. Unfortunately, we had download problems, so as we watched the estimated download time got from 2 minutes, to ten minutes, to four hours, to a day and a half, I told her to go on and play. The download didn’t actually take that long. I tried a bunch of different things, fiddled with it for an hour, and eventually it decided that really, the download would only take another hour. Still, that’s a brutal download time! Especially since it can download for most people in under a minute. Painful! When it finally worked my daughter was right beside me asking to see all the new pictures. Therefore, she got the honour of first character choice.

Deciding a race was easy. She was tempted to make a gnome, but a moment later saw the goblin entry and she was sold. She adores playing goblins. In fact, she has a goblin fighter who rules a tribe known as the ‘Smartheads.’ (You be smart or you be dead!) Admittedly allowing her to GM the goblin characters once on the way to school sent our run of We Be Goblins so far off track we never bothered trying to get it back on the road. Instead we revel in its absurdity.

So, a goblin she would be! Named Samantha! But what kind? She picked out the ‘rough rider’ ancestry feat, which gave her the ‘ride’ feat, and a +1 bonus on Nature checks made to handle goblin dogs or wolves. She decided that she would purchase a pet goblin dog, and learn to ride it into battle! She decided to be chaotic good, and that she had blue skin. Therefore she would name her goblin dog ‘Bloois.’ She would have to pick the goblin renegade background, of course. That granted her the quick repair feat and Criminal Lore as a trained skill. But what class? She glanced at only a few before she decided on being an alchemist. She finalized her ability scores and ended up with Str 10 / Dex 16 / Con 12 / Int 16 / Wis 12 / Cha 12. Happy with that, she applied her class. She had great fun ticking off all the little ‘trained’ boxes, particularly in regard to her skills. She chose to be trained in acrobatics, crafting, medicine, nature, and survival. In addition to gaining ‘advanced alchemy,’ and ‘studied resonance,’ she also got a formula book, in which she chose to learn the formulas for minor elixir of life, acid, cheetah’s elixir, and tanglefoot bags. Then we had to pick out her alchemist feat. We started to read through them, but the moment we hit ‘Alchemical Familiar’ (which is the first feat, by the way) she shrieked:

“THAT’S IT! I WILL MAKE A RABBIT FROM MY ALCHEMY! IT WILL BE NAMED BLOO-EY!”

She was very excited. And so Samantha, Blooey and Bloois would set out into the world of… shopping!

She bought a gauntlet — which would allow her to keep her hands free for both controlling her mount and crafting alchemical substances in a fight. She also bought a blowgun and some darts to go with it. She’d need alchemist’s tools, of course, and riding tack for her goblin dog. Necessities like a backpack, belt pouch, bedroll, rope, tent and so on. She also invested in a lot of caltrops, which she was determined to have fun with. Lastly, she bought a chain shirt. She was good to go.

I taught her how to add up all of her modifiers and what ‘trained,’ ‘untrained’ and so on meant for her stats, and she got right to work filling out all the rest of the sheet by herself. She did an awesome job! Honestly, she probably learned and understood the character creation process better than anyone else I’ve taught so far. She’s six, so that’s more than a little impressive. Haha.

We settled in to make her familiars stats in finished in under five minutes. It was super simple! Honestly, the rules for familiars were so streamlined, but adaptable, that it was a joy. Great job, Paizo! I approve!

And we were done! All told, Making Samantha, Blooey and Bloois took about two hours from start to finish, with gear taking about a third of that.

As I moved on to help her brother with his character she drew me a picture of her character and their pets, and then a wonderful little sign. I’ve taken a picture of it so I could share it with all of you.

We Be (Good) Goblins

Safe to say she’s excited about the inclusion of goblins as a core race.

She’s not the only one. My son’s just as excited but, since his sister already snagged goblins, he decided to go with his favourite race: the eccentric gnome.

My son’s gnome is named Zan. He’s a neutral good druid with a deep love for nature. My son is a budding environmentalist, so he took great care acting out his love of nature, the environment and animals the entire time that we played. He even hopped up from his chair to chant out his spells and wave his arms around like a leaf on the wind. For his ancestry feat he chose ‘animal accomplice,’ which lets him befriend an animal as a familiar. He choose a tiny badger and named him ‘Badger.’ Not only does Badger speak and understand druidic, he can also fly. My son is overjoyed. He finalized his ability scores as Str 8 / Dex 12 / Con 14 / Int 12 / Wis 18 / Cha 14.

As a druid he’s a primal spellcaster. He’s a prepared caster, so for our first adventure he chose to prepare the cantrips disrupt undead, produce flame, stabilize, and tanglefoot. For level one spells he chose to prepare heal and heal. Solid choices! And boy, oh boy, did we end up really needing those heal spells! Such a lifesaver. That said, produce flame turned out to be his go-to attack method of choice. He loved it.

As a druid, Zan has wild empathy, and also got to join a druidic order. My son had a tough time deciding between the Animal and Leaf orders. In the end, he went with Leaf. This granted him an anathema, and training in diplomacy. He gained a spell pool with a single spell power: goodberry. Which was AWESOME. He loved it. We loved it. It was great. He also got the druid feat: ‘Leshy Familiar.’ He was thrilled. But that raised the question: can you have more than one familiar? it was possible, clearly. My son had done it accidentally. But was it allowed? It states under animal companion that you can only have one, but it does not say that under familiar. Familiar’s have the minion trait, so we read up on that, but it didn’t limit it to one, either. After a great deal of digging we turned up nothing that forbade it, so I let him make a vine leshy and away we went. He gave his vine fleshy the ability to fly, climb, and speak and understand druidic. My son was positively thrilled. Literally over the moon.

He chose to be trained in crafting, medicine, nature, survival, and thievery, and then got to work buying his gear. In addition to standard adventuring supplies he invested in a sickle, leather armour, primal focus, artisan’s tools, thieve’s tools, and a basic crafting book which would allow him to make any mundane gear during his downtime. It was very important to my son that his druid be self-sufficient!

Then we rolled up his familiars — again, a simple process — and he was done. Zan, Badger and Leshy were ready to their adventures!

Overall, it took my son about the same amount of time to make his character as it did my daughter. He caught on about as fast as his sister, but where she gleefully ticked off the boxes and did her own math, he complained until his little sister finished filling out the math for him. Cheeky thing. Haha.

Finally, it was time to help out my husband. Knowing we were sorely lacking a melee combatant, he decided to make a dwarf by the name of Toran Goldbrew. He’s a strong fellow, with final ability scores of Str 18 / Dex 14 / Con 14 / Int 12 / Wis 12 / Cha 8. Sadly that meant his resonance would be a big old zero. Haha. Fortunately, he had nothing to spend resonance on anyway, so it worked out alright for him.

As a dwarf Toran gained the unburdened ability and one ancestry feat. My husband wavered between a few of them, but ended up choosing weapon familiarity so he could wield a dwarven waraxe. He chose the background ‘Pathfinder Hopeful’ which granted him the feat ‘extra lore.’ That left him trained in Pathfinder Lore and Sports Lore! Haha. Toran’s a blast.

So what class would Toran be? Barbarian, of course! This granted him the ‘rage’ ability (which you can use an unlimited number of time per day, by the way), a totem, and a class feat. He loved the idea of barbarian totems and ended up having a tough time choosing one. In the end he went with the giant totem, which gave him the snazzy ‘titan mauler’ ability. This lets him use a large weapon in battle (among other things). This also determines his anathema — which is turning down a challenge of strength, in case you’re curious. For his barbarian feat he chose ‘sudden charge,’ which is a two action ability that lets him take two move actions and a strike! Very handy!

When it came time to choose his trained skills he decided upon acrobatics, athletics, crafting and intimidation. Along with his large dwarven waraxe — which once belonged to his ancestor who they say was a dwarf ‘larger than life’ — Toran purchased darts and a breastplate. In addition to basic adventuring gear he bought a grappling hook, and artisan’s tools. Then it was time to fill in all the final math on his sheet. Switching to the new method turned out to be confusing for him, but as I tried to explain it my daughter cut me off.

“No, Mom! I will teach Dad!”

And she did.

It was absolutely adorable.

With our characters made we set out to play Doomsday Dawn. Unfortunately, Toran Goldbrew didn’t survive. There was a perfect point to have him brought back to life, though, which we took advantage of (Praise Pharasma!) But, with his character technically dead and being remade for the next time he’s used, my husband decided to make some changes. He’s no longer have the giant totem. Instead, he would use the spirit totem. Death proved a little traumatizing.

Sounds fair.

Overall, we had a great time making our characters. The creation system was easy to use and allowed for a lot of customization. My husband particularly liked the ancestry traits, and that each class offers different paths of specialization. My daughter was thrilled to see goblins as a core race. And my son? Familiars! He loves them.

I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into the creation processes of my family’s first Pathfinder Playtest Characters. We certainly had fun making them

Have you made characters of your own? Let me know about them in the comments!

Until then!

Jessica

 

Competitions and Compliments

I’m not one to brag.

I don’t usually do it.

But, I’ve been getting a lot of compliments lately and, as my husband so eloquently said: “You should write about that.” So here we are.

Compliments. That’s not a weird thing, I know. People get compliments all the time, right?

Fair.

But, when your father’s compliments are sweet, pleasant gems like: “You look good. That’s new.” and “Did you lose weight? You’re not as fat as you usually are.” you understand why some nice, no-strings-attached compliments from someone other than my wonderful husband, and adorable children, is a big deal.

So as I was sifting through my personal messages on the Paizo website the other day, I read one that included the words, “I was taking a look through your Paizo profile…and just noticed who you are!”

Huh? I thought. Do I know this person from real life? Have I horribly offended them in the past in some way?

Nope!

He knew me from something I’d created.

This is new for me.

On occasion, Paizo announces design competitions on their blog. These are short, miniature competitions where fans are asked to create a stat block on a theme, or something similar. I’ve entered nearly all of them, and done quite well. The most recent one involved creating Eleven, from the wonderful television show Stranger Things, as a Pathfinder character. Any level, any class… Your choice. Make her. It was a ton of fun! There were a lot of great entries, with a few class variations. In an effort to duplicate her many abilities, most of the entries placed her between CR 6 and CR 11, with a few brave souls aiming for lower CR ranges. I put in a version of El that made her a young telekineticist 7/psychic 4 (click the Spoiler button beside meloriel!). My brother (Theron Pearroc) put in a version that made her a young psychic bloodline sorcerer 9/loremaster 5 that made great use of the technology guide and the lassitude spellblight.

The first design competition I entered, challenged the entrants to recreate the final villain from Book Five of the Reign of Winter Adventure Path: Rasputin Must Die! using the rules from Occult Adventures. As a huge fan of that adventure path, and all things occult, I had an absolute blast with that challenge, although the stat blocks high CR and the many new rules meant that it was quite challenging! I ended up making him a CR 17 occultist, but if you’ve never played Reign of Winter, be forewarned! Reading my entry (or any entry) will definitely cause you to go “WHAT?!?” and have one of the many great surprises of that Adventure Path spoiled! Beware the spoilers! I earned an honourable mention in that competition, which made me literally jump for joy. Yes, literally, literally. I got at least an inch of air (which is big for me. I don’t jump…)

Happily, this is how my friendly GM knew me. He liked my entry, and not only remembered it, but USED IT. As far as compliments from total strangers go, I don’t think there’s a nicer one than that. Something I made for a d20 game, USED. By someone other than me?! Gasp! Haha. (And there was much rejoicing!)

Druid - Lini.jpg
Lini, Pathfinder’s Iconic Druid. Art by Wayne Reynolds. Lini can be found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook, and many other wonderful Paizo products.

But, it’s the second design competition I entered which made me happiest. In it, we had to recreate one of Pathfinder’s many iconic characters, and make them evil. Delightfully, deliciously, evil. It was really enjoyable to participate, and in the end I made a cruel version of Lini, the gnome druid. And I won. Not only did I win some store credit that I used to purchase some awesome Pathfinder Society Scenarios (the shipping and duty fees are too high to make buying physical books from their website manageable for me), but I also won a custom avatar which I rock on the messageboards all the time. It was a blast.

Now, that’s not the only delightful compliment I’ve received regarding one of my creations lately. I’ve also received a lot in regards to a character I’ve made. Who? My first (and greatest) Starfinder Society character, Julakesh Starfist. Julakesh is a bold vesk solarian who’s strong, proud, and entirely full of herself. She’s prone to accidentally insulted her companions with her generous compliments, getting herself into fights too dangerous to pound with her fists, and generally making people laugh. She’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In fact, in that analogy she’s more of a spoon than a knife. But I love her. She’s among my most fun characters to play. Ever. And that’s saying something.

She’s has been called “hilarious,” “great fun,” and “absurd.” More than a few people have mentioned that they love her, with the sweetest being “<3 Julakesh all the time always!” (Here’s looking at you, ElektraDawns! You made my day! Haha.) She’s received personal invitations to join games, and people seem to be pleased to get to play with her a second time. Her recent acceptance of an invitation to a game included excited squealing and the ever-eloquent (and very flattering) exclamation: “Yayy!” But the best compliments I could have possibly gotten?

“On so many levels she is my favorite vesk character I’ve ever seen!”

“…one of the finest vesk characters I’ve seen played since Starfinder was published.”

Seriously. If either of you are reading this, you’re SO NICE.

Now, I’m not saying Julakesh is everyone’s cup of tea. She’s not. I’m sure some poor person she’s played alongside has wanted to tape her mouth shut, and break my fingers to prevent me from typing. But, I am saying, she’s brought some joy to people–myself included–and I hope she continues to do so as her Starfinder career continues.

So who is this, Julakesh anyway?

StarfinderCover
Check out the Starfinder Roleplaying Game: Starfinder Core Rulebook for more information on vesk!

Julakesh Starfist is a fierce looking vesk with horns circling the top of her head like a spiked crown. Her scales are mottled black that never reflects light and bright white that almost seems to glow. She is well muscled and just under seven feet tall. Clearly a warrior! Curiously she bears only one weapon: a small azimuth laser pistol holstered on her hip. A glowing orb of bright white light hovers around her, following her wherever she goes. During battle she grasps the ball of light and it energizes her fists, making them surrounded by a blazing, bright white light.

Julakesh is brave, bold and adventurous. Like most of her kind she revels in the glory of combat and competition. She loves exploring new planets and—most especially—being off planet. She’s most at home in the depths of space and enjoys floating around with her jetpack outside the ship whenever it is stopped.

Before becoming a Starfinder, Julakesh was a vesk soldier. She spent most of her time policing residents and putting down rebellious behaviour among the barbarous feline humanoids on Vesk-6. She treated her charges with respect but revelled in the opportunity for glorious combat, or competition among her fellow soldiers. As she rose through the ranks her chances for combat increased, and eventually she was given the opportunity to join a combat vessel bound for a fierce battlefield on another planet. She accepted the honour with great enthusiam and left Vesk-6 for the first time since she joined the military.

Unfortunately, a solar flare and the subsequent coronal mass ejection struck their ship, causing most of the systems to fail and the nearly all of the crew to die. Of those few crew remaining, all of them were left changed—three suffered slow radiation poisoning, one’s scales turned a sickly brown, one lost more than half his muscle mass and two suffered terrible mutations. The energy from the corona bonded with Julakesh in a moment of intense pain, leaving her capable of using the very elements of the universe as a weapon—the power of gravity and the power of the stars. She was no longer Vesk, she was something other. Something greater.

Through luck and determination, Julakesh and her fellow ailing soldiers managed to steer the ship back to Vesk-6 where they were taken care of by the military doctors. Julakesh was cleared for active duty, but found the next few years of work unfulfilling. Although she enjoyed combat as much as she always had, her gaze was constantly drawn heavenward, she knew in her heart she belonged among the stars.

Eventually she left behind her promising military career and set out into the unknown on a passenger ship travelling to Absalom station. As they took off into the beautiful void of space, Julakesh finally felt at peace. This was where she belonged.

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Want to join the Starfinder Society? Download the Starfinder Roleplaying Guild Guide for more information. It’s a free download on Paizo’s website. )

Her travels have taken her far and wide since then, but as much as she loves discovering and exploring new planets and stars, she’s always happiest in the void of space, surrounded by silence and stars. She has recently joined the Starfinders, in the Wayfinders, and is excited to push new boundaries and travel the unknown depths of space.

Her love of glory and battle shines through no matter the circumstances, not only from her bright exuberant smiles, but also from her loudly exclaiming her joy for all to hear. She’s easily confused by long words, and has absolutely no understanding of advanced technology. She hacks ‘puters’ with a fist, and never lies. She’s a happy, energetic soul, quick to laugh and often smiling. She doesn’t have much of a verbal filter, and her well-meaning compliments tend to insult her fellow Starfinders.


She offers pleasant and friendly greetings…  

“Greetings, companions! The honour is YOURS!”

“You look at least half-competent! Wonderful! If you’re a quarter as capable as I am we’ll be a formidable team!”

“Hail, friend-bug! We shall soon break bread and bones together!”

She provides compliments and encouragement…

“You are not as feeble as I expected!”

She’s always ready for a good time…

“Ah! Yes! Let us hope there are terrifying beasts and dangerous traps within this ‘mainframe’ they spoke of! THAT WOULD BE GREAT FUN!”

She’s always willing to lend a helping hand…

“Yes! You are very meek and pathetic! Be happy we are here to make you a winner!”

“After my mission and befriending your many soft people, I will pound you into the dirt many times! This will make you stronger! You will know how to use your weapons, then!” She thumps her chest and smiles. “If you are lucky, you will then be as strong as a child among my people! A great accomplishment! You will see! You will be proud! Bring honour to your name!”

She’s understanding…

“Ah, yes! Puters! I know these! When they make noises I don’t like I punch them dead! Many of my fellows do not like this. They caress the puters instead, with fingers and some invisible force called coding. You are one of them, yes? A lover to puters?”

And she’s always ready for a fight…

“BRING YOUR FACE TO MY FISTS!”

“TO BATTLE, FRIENDS! IT IS TIME TO EARN OUR HONOUR! AHAHAHAHAAA!”


All in all, she’s one colourful character, and I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about her as much as I enjoyed sharing her with you today. If you’re one of the delightful people who have given me kind words about Julkaesh, thank you so much for the feedback! It means a lot. To read more about Julakesh, you can check out some of her previous play-by-post games, including The Commencement, and Yesteryear’s Truth. Or, pop in and check out her current misadventures, in The Dire GM’s Solar Sortie.

Until next time,

I wish you honour and glory (and more than a few laughs)!

Julakesh Starfist
Jessica