A.K.A. Character Generation, post #1

Over on the front page, Nob recruited some people to start up a Pathfinder campaign.

Since my roleplaying experience is largely dominated by game-mastering more than playing, I jumped at the chance.  My initial list of possible characters:

  • A Half-Orc (Urban Archetype) Barbarian – the city thug
  • A Minotaur (Unarmed Archetype) Fighter – the wandering pugilist
  • A Gnome (Synthesist Archetype) Summoner – basically, the sword and sorcery version of Iron Man
  • A Halfling [Multiclassed (Knifemaster Archetype) Rogue + (Bladebound Archetype) Magus] – no, I wasn’t going to name him Vlad
  • A Halfling Gunslinger with a specialization in the Blunderbuss – this just sounded ridiculously (but possibly stupidly) fun

Nob came back with an expressed interest in me playing the Minotaur more than anything else (on Avlis, Minotaurs are rare in the human lands, so there’s room for fun roleplaying moments in there).  We are going with the heroic character generation technique, using 28 dice split between ST, IN, WS, DX, CN, CH (a minimum of 3d6 for each stat).  The Minotaur gets +4 to ST and -2 each to IN and DX, so I split my dice to give myself something of a smarter Minotaur, and even though we’re on the honor system I decided to film the die rolls.

The results, pretty nice actually…

(edited to add)

Reading the rules in the book, as opposed to my apparent mis-reading of Nob’s email, we should only be taking the top three die results in each set, so my actual scores would be:

ST: 20
IN: 15
WS: 11
DX: 15
CN: 14
CH: 16

Which is still pretty good but I probably would have distributed the dice a little differently. But it’s hard to pass up these numbers anyway!


ST: 29
IN: 20
WS: 11
DX: 16
CN: 20
CH: 17

With the normal-range stats for a non-heroic Minotaur in the “Intelligence 8, Wisdom 10, Charisma 10” range, this guy has a pretty strong incentive to go out and seek his fortune outside his somewhat dull brethren.


Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.


  1. Holy crap! We need to do this now? Where does the time go? I’m going to need a little hand-holding here to the extent Pathfinder rules deviate from the AD&D I played back when Ronald Reagan was President. Those numbers Patrick generated don’t make a lot of sense to me on the 3d6 attribute scale that I remember, so clearly there’s a lot of something that I’m missing.

    • I’m itching to get through the character generation process because (a) that’s how I learn the game and (b) I have OCD.

      I don’t think you need to worry about keeping up with me. In fact, if you follow me through it, I’ll be explaining what I’m doing and why as I go along in serial posts, here, so you can see what’s going on.

      Always start with the character concept and go from there…

    • Regarding the stat generation rolls, Pathfinder has different options for generating your ability scores:

      Standard: Roll 4d6, discard the lowest die result, and add the three remaining results together. Record this total and repeat the process until six numbers are generated. Assign these totals to your ability scores as you see fit. This method is less random than Classic and tends to create characters with above-average ability scores.

      Classic: Roll 3d6 and add the dice together. Record this total and repeat the process until you generate six numbers. Assign these results to your ability scores as you see fit. This method is quite random, and some characters will have clearly superior abilities. This randomness can be taken one step further, with the totals applied to specific ability scores in the order they are rolled. Characters generated using this method are difficult to fit to predetermined concepts, as their scores might not support given classes or personalities, and instead are best designed around their ability scores.

      Heroic: Roll 2d6 and add 6 to the sum of the dice. Record this total and repeat the process until six numbers are generated. Assign these totals to your ability scores as you see fit. This is less random than the Standard method and generates characters with mostly above-average scores.

      Dice Pool: Each character has a pool of 24d6 to assign to his statistics. Before the dice are rolled, the player selects the number of dice to roll for each score, with a minimum of 3d6 for each ability. Once the dice have been assigned, the player rolls each group and totals the result of the three highest dice. For more high-powered games, the GM should increase the total number of dice to 28. This method generates characters of a similar power to the Standard method.

      I’m figuring this out as I go, myself. It was unclear from the description Nob sent if we were just taking the three highest numbers (the Ability Modifier table goes to 44-45).

      If we’re just taking the three highest numbers, then, I’m:

      ST: 20
      IN: 15
      WS: 11
      DX: 15
      CN: 14
      CH: 16

      • Argh, that Wisdom of 11 *sucks* for an Unarmed Fighter. Might have to rethink the class, or start over.

        There’s too much dependency on Wisdom for the UF; he’s much more of a Monk-light than I thought.

      • The die roll options look standard to me.
        I’m sorta old school; and the AD&D development pretty much ended with the Unearthed Arcana and Deities and Demigods (both of which I consider to be vital additions). From there, I went on to Warhammer, which is really heavy on saving throws. Everything is a saving throw in Warhammer. If your character takes a sip from a cup, you have to save against dexterity to see if he spills any (with modifiers, for holding the cup with two hands, etc.).
        But I started adding in elements from other games into the AD&D format (iirc, that started from looking for other monsters, and reworking them to bring them into the game). I found a lot of stuff in the original rules that were underplayed that were reworked a bit to bring them more to the front. The grappling & pummeling tables were added to combat, with two unarmed attacks per round (with modifiers increasing or decreasing the unarmed attacks per round). I got that idea from watching the Michael York version of The Three Musketeers.

        From where I sit, the ability scores only go up to 25 (from Deities and Demigods).
        I don’t know what you do with a 29.

        This looks like a cool game, and I really like the character options; but I’m afraid the time constraints do not permit me to commit. Sucks.

      • Usually the way a pooled dice roll system works is you roll all your dice, assign 3 dice to each attribute, and then discard the dice you don’t use.

  2. I’ve always been a fan of something like “you’ve got an 18, a 16, a 15, a 14, and two 10s.” (Or whatever numbers)

    Start with the assumption that the character is Heroic and take chance out of it.

    • The trouble with array systems is that some characters want a few high stats, and a bunch of low ones, others need a bit of everything (or almost everything).

      • Then come out and say “fine, here’s one 18 and five 17s.” Give that to everybody in the party. Then get down to the dirty business of *NOT* metagaming.

        • I mean, seriously: nobody roleplays intelligence, wisdom, or charisma. Strength, Dex, and Endurance are used solely for bonuses (and, nothing wrong with that, +3 turns a coinflip into a 2 out of 3 on a d20). Instead of spending all your time dreaming of gauntlets of Ogre Power, to be replaced with dreaming of a Belt of Storm Giant Strength, dream of the story.

          • Oh that’s totally my attitude Jaybird. Like Pat suggested I have a character concept and I’ll figure out how to make the mechanics fit as we go.

  3. When Nob put up his survey, he asked for examples of fictional characters that I might enjoy playing.

    Among my list was Professor McGonagall, from Harry Potter. Not specifically because I wanted to play a character who spent half her time teaching twelve year olds how to turn teacups into frogs and the other half of her time keeping those same twelve year olds from turning each other’s teacups into frogs. I simply wanted to indicate an interest in playing characters that strayed a little big further away from “standard fantasy protagonist”. (Also on my list: Questionable-advice-dispenser and champion-cocktail-consumer Wallace Wells, from the Scott Pilgrim comics).

    But apparently, Burt’s playing someone who was enrolled at a mage academy and left early. Nob suggested I play a former classmate who now teaches at the same academy. After a bit of back and forth, here’s what I came up with:

    I don’t think my character had any aspirations to join the navy. I’m pretty interested in the theoretical side of magic. Just that description of Andarr suggests that most Academy-trained wizards serve aboard ships, so it seems wind magic would be the sort of thing a body could focus on as a course of study.

    I figure I’m maybe a little seasick, even. For all that I spend teaching a bunch of future sailors how to cast feather fall, I’m at my happiest sitting at a desk in the north library writing papers along the lines of “Constructive interference in artificially created patterns of air pressure” or “Practice of Lightning magic in the first century O.D.”

    So I’m thinking very high intelligence representing my knowledge and expertise. Good wisdom to represent my dedication, and decent charisma to represent my teaching skill. I get seasick, so low constitution. Low strength is traditional for wizards, but a little bit boring, so I’ll give it an extra die. And as interesting as it would be to skimp on dexterity, that ability score is too important for wizards in Pathfinder. So my assigned dice are:

    Str 4d6 = 6, 6, 2, (1) = 14
    Dex 4d6 = 6, 5, 4, (3) = 15
    Con 3d6 = 4, 3, 1 = 8
    Int 8d6 = 6, 5, 4, (4, 3, 3, 1, 1) = 15
    Wis 5d6 = 6, 5, 4, (4, 1) = 15
    Cha 4d6 = 5, 3, 3, (1) = 11

  4. Hmm. Rolled pretty well on the Str and Dex. My character is much more physically capable than I’d planned. While still having lousy Con, which is perfect.

    Wisdom rolled very nicely while Charisma rolled meh, which is fine. It just means I’m dedicated and perceptive but not particularly good at communicating my ideas.

    I was really hoping for a 16 Int, though. Int governs skill points, knowledge checks, and bonus spell slots: The three things I was planning on using to portray my character as an expert of magic. Fortunately I can improve it with my racial bonus.

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