Welcome back to the table. In the last post of Roll Initiative, Budd discussed the process of creating your own Pathfinder character. Today I want to elaborate the process further, discussing each of the individual steps to create a complete character sheet. The first thing you should do is download the document from Paizo and get yourself familiar with the sheet’s layout and all the different sections.
This is going to be your reference sheet for every session of Pathfinder you play. It gives you all the information you’ll ever need about your character, from how fast they run, what spells they know, to what languages they understand. Treat this with care, and be sure to always store it in a safe place or have the GM keep up with them. In our group it’s my responsibility. I keep a portfolio folder with maps, old character sheets, additional reference materials, doodles of characters and anything else we might need during a game. Now back to the steps.. I’m going to be using my oracle character, Liora, as an example. I have to warn you… there is going to be a bit of math involved in the process.
1. Choose a race and class
The first step is the easiest, just decide what your race and class will be. Also make sure you know what level the character is going to be. (When in doubt, ask the GM.) We’ll say Liora is going to start at level 1, like most characters for new players.You’ll fill this information in the top right hand corner of the sheet. In this area you can also write a general description of your character; eye color, hair color, weight height.
ex: Tiefling/Oracle, level 1
2. Generate Ability Scores
Next we generate our ability scores. There are six in Pathfinder: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Think of this as the wireframe for your character. Skills, agility, and difficulty class of your spells are all affected by these numbers. As Budd mentioned in the previous post, there are a few different methods to generate these numbers, but our group traditionally uses the standard method. (Note: you get to boost one of these scores by +1 every four levels.) We’ve found that characters tend to be a stronger than average when using this method.
ex. I got a 12, 13, 11, 16, 15, and 18 originally. After racial mods my final stats are: STR 12 (+1), DEX 15 (+2), CON 11 (0), INT 18 (+4), WIS 15 (+2) and CHA 16 (+3.)
When you plug the numbers into each stat you also have to keep in mind your racial mods. For example tieflings have a +2 to dex and intelligence, but a -2 to charisma. You can always play with arranging the numbers a few different ways until you are satisfied with the arrangement. Some of you might be wondering what the +’s in parenthesis are. These numbers are your ability modifiers, which is basically the game’s way of taking your ability scores into account during game play. The table below shows how these numbers are acquired:
The next step is a bit simpler: rolling up some HP. At level one you usually start with your full hit dice, so easy peasy. Every time you level up you’ll roll that particular die to generate how many hit points you’ll increase. Remember you can gain levels in different classes (this is called multiclassing), but if you choose to level up in what’s called your “favored class,” you are allowed to an an extra skill point or +1 to your HP. It pays off to be focused on one class.
ex. Each class has a specific hit die; Oracles have a d8 hit die, so I begin with 8 HP. I’m going to cash in that favored class point into my HP, bringing my total to 9 since level one characters are extra squishy.
4. Skill ranks
Now it’s time to divvy out skill points! Skill points basically represent your character’s training in certain skills. You can only put as many skill points as your level into one skill. (So at level 1 you may only place 1pt in each category.) If you choose to put skill points into one of your class’s favored skills you gain an additional +3 in that skill’s total bonus. We can plug some of those ability mods as well to generate your final skill bonus in each category. I recommend you put at least one into perception and stealth every level. These are classic skills everyone needs regardless of your class.
ex. Oracles get 4+INT skill points. My INT mod is +4 so the math is simple, I get 8 points to place in whatever skill pools I wish. Check out the sample character sheet to see where I placed all my points.
On to feats! A feat is basically like the perks you get in Skyrim. It can be a passive or active ability you gain as you increase in level. Most players will begin with 1 feat (unless you are a human or a fighter.) You’ll get an additional feat every at every odd level. Some classes allow you to gain bonus feats, and some feats will have requirements.
ex. Liora's oracle mystery is flame, so I chose elemental focus as her feat to give her fire attacks more punch.
Then it was time to shop… for equipment that is. Your class will determine your starting wealth, but sometimes you GM might throw a few extra pieces of gold your way if they like your face (wink.) Start by selecting some armor and your weapons. As a rule of thumb I like to have two or three weapons, at least one close range weapon, and one long range (or at something you can throw.) Always have a backup weapon! What if you throw that amazing flaming dagger you just picked up from the shop and it gets stuck in a black pudding because you didn't know that piercing damage doesn't affect it!? And then it splits into two and you have no weapon to fight with! And don’t think that if you’re a spellcaster you won’t need a weapon, because eventually you will run out of spells per day to use. You should also pick up a some rope, rations, a mirror, a healing potion, maybe some kind of splash weapon (like acid, or alchemist’s fire,) and torch/lantern. If you have any money left over, save it or spend on some fun items like chalk, marbles, caltrops, or a net.
ex. I picked some scalemail for armor, a buckler to raise the AC, and a spear as her primary weapon. Extra items include a few daggers (good for throwing or stabbing,) an aklys (just for fun,) and basic items like what I mentioned above.
7. Calculate saving throws, initiative and attack values
We’re almost done! So you've got your weapons selected, it’ll be good to know how much damage they will do. This part mostly involves plugging in stats where they are need on the character sheet.
8. Select spells (if applicable)
If you’re a spellcaster be sure to select your spells. Choose a good assortment of spells, at least one blasting spell, and one buffing. Never underestimate utility spells like grease, rope trick, and comprehend languages. It’s a spell that can often change the course of a fight.
Voila! You now have a play ready character. Make sure you have your GM review the character sheet to double check everything. No one likes to pause mid-battle because someone forgot to figure out what their armour class is. The more characters you create, the easier it gets to remember all of these steps. Be sure to check out the sample character page below.
Got any questions? Leave them in the comments.