Posts Tagged ‘Pathfinder Beginner Box’

And Yet Another Campaign Idea

October 4, 2017

I’ve been tossing around a lot of campaign ideas lately.  More than usual, at least.  This is a variation of the Long Winter Campaign, borrowing many of the same ideas and probably using Pathfinder Beginner Box, as well.


So, about two or three hundred years ago adventurers explored the far north, discovering the ruins of many a fallen civilization.  They parlayed the riches gathered from these ruins to eventually build a kingdom of their own.  For roughly a hundred years a succession of strong and capable rulers carved a new civilization from the distant northern wilderness.  They built castles, estates, temples and towns throughout the untamed lands.


Then, a succession of weak and unprepared rulers followed.  Indecision, indifference and infighting allowed the wilderness to slowly claw back the kingdom’s hard-won gains.  Over the course of the past 100-150 years, outpost after outpost fell to the encroaching chaos.  Always was the plan to reclaim that castle from orcs on the following year, or rebuild that pillaged town next spring, or reestablish trade routes to the south after the floods abated…but crisis followed crisis, and there were never enough resources or, eventually, interest to reclaim those remote outposts and distant glories.  The kingdom gradually turned inwards, trying to preserve what was left, until ultimately only the well-fortified capitol remained.


And this is where the PCs step in.  This is essentially a West Marches style campaign.  Adventurers go out, explore the wilderness, and return to town with their discoveries and riches.  Only, this town is isolated from the rest of civilization, so resources are limited.  Horses are rare, and expensive.  Masterwork weapons are not available at all, along with certain types of weapons and armor.  Basic alchemical gear may be available, but there is no market for buying or selling actual magic items (at first, at least).  Hyper-inflation is a real possibility as the PCs flood the remote town with gold and silver.


The twist here is that as the players explore the wilderness, they’re also pushing back against it, slowly expanding the borders of civilization.  When they make contact with certain groups, then certain types of equipment will again become available.  Clearing a castle or fortress may allow the kingdom to reoccupy it, affecting the migration of monsters, and thus altering the encounter tables for the region and generally making it safer to travel.  Reestablishing old trade routes allows the party to more easily sell or trade their new found riches.  And if they decide to establish a foothold of their own out yonder, I’d certainly be willing to work with them on that.

However, the catch is that I won’t tell the players this is happening.  They’ll probably catch on eventually, but it won’t be a stated part of the campaign.  I don’t want to just hand them a to-do list so they can start checking off the boxes and then ‘win’ the campaign.  I want it to be a more organic progression than that, the feeling that their efforts really are affecting the world – by showing rather than telling.  And I don’t want them to feel like they have to do these things.  If they decide to destroy the last vestiges of civilization in the far north, I’ll work with them on that as well.


One big problem with this approach is, as the PCs push back the wilderness, there will be fewer and fewer areas to adventure in.  As castles and ruins are reclaimed by the kingdom, they can’t be repopulated with new sets of monsters.  This becomes most acute for new characters, who could theoretically run out of low-level ‘zones’ to adventure in.    So, instead of the traditional “things get more dangerous as you travel farther from town” approach, I’ll need to spread the pockets of danger around a bit more.  The woods across the river from town may be CR 4 instead of just CR 1, while there could be low-level pockets distant from civilization, waiting for new adventurers to start their journey there.  And some dungeons just can’t be fully reclaimed.  There will need to be some subtle hints, so the party doesn’t innocently wander into a massacre.  But, the world is also a dangerous place, so…:)



PFBB Shaman

January 12, 2015

Shaman - ShardraHere’s the Shaman class conversion for Pathfinder Beginner Box.  Let me know if you have any questions or notice any errors.  Cheers!

  • PFBB Shaman (typo corrected 4/9/2015, after 303 downloads)

Three Years

November 2, 2014

This month marks the three year anniversary of this blog, which comes as a bit of a surprise to me.  I don’t post as frequently as I used to; none-the-less, I still manage to do a few posts a month and will continue to do so.  Also, the number of gaming related posts has dropped somewhat of late, which is something I hope to address in the coming year(s).

With gaming in mind, I thought I’d toot my own horn a bit and post my top five game related downloads from the past three years:

  1. To regular readers it should come as no surprise that the Pathfinder Beginner Box Consolidated Class Conversions comes in first, with 3,936 downloads (yikes!).
  2. A distant second is the Pathfinder Beginner Box Race Addendum, with 1,796 downloads.
  3. Followed by the Pathfinder Beginner Box Consolidated Bestiary, with 1,622 downloads (with many thanks to David Jenks for his contributions).
  4. Fourth up, the Ultimate Grand Unified Junk Table (Analog Edition), with 1,291 downloads.
  5. And finally Pathfinder Beginner Box Consolidated Feats, with 1,218 downloads.

A couple more honorable mentions, the PFBB Class Template (1,148 downloads) and PFBB Kingdoms (940 downloads). BeginnerBox3DSo, four of my top five (and 6 of the top 7) downloads are related to Pathfinder Beginner Box.  Of course, I’m not entirely certain how recent all that activity is, though I can tell you the Class Conversions downloads was just 3,400 about two months ago; so, 500+ downloads in just a couple of months isn’t too bad for a little blog like mine.  Maybe I should take all this as some kind of hint. 🙂

Well, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read my little slice of the Web these past few years; here’s to another three years.  Cheers, and game on.

Infighting – an optional rule for Pathfinder Core/Beginner Box

January 10, 2013

The Roles, Rules and Rolls blog recently posted about making mundane animals properly dangerous.  In the post it was mentioned that some games, like Melee, allowed two combatants to occupy the same space, rather than adjacent spaces methodically whacking each other with swords or clubs or whatever.  Occupying the same space means an attacker is coming in close, effectively inside the range of most swords, axes, spears; in fact, most melee weapons in general.  The only effective weapons at this range are unarmed attacks, natural weapons and melee weapons no larger than a short sword.

The nice thing about a rule like this is that it a) makes mundane animals scarier (since they benefit from their natural weapons while the PC is reduced to fighting with a dagger) and b) provides daggers, knives, short swords and similar weapons with a viable specialized role in combat, rather than just being back-up weapons.  A wild animal gets into infighting range with you and your big two-handed sword is useless; you’ll need to draw a dagger and start stabbing.

So here’s my completely game-theoried, untested, probably bug-ridden infighting house rule for Pathfinder Core/BB:

In Pathfinder terms, I’d say that moving into infighting range (occupying the same space as your target) is a two-step process.  First, you have to move up adjacent to your target normally.  Then, as a full-round action (or standard + move action in the Beginner Box) on the following round you move in to infighting range and make your attack, perhaps requiring a successful Combat Manuever roll to do so.  Naturally, moving this close to your opponent invites an attack of opportunity, as well.  Moving out of infighting range has the same requirements and steps.

Optionally, you may say that all attacks made while infighting are CMB/CMD rolls instead of standard attack rolls.  This accounts for the reduced effectiveness of armor at extremely close range, slipping daggers through gaps and eye slots, etc.  In addition, it makes infighting appropriately impractical with large-sized monsters.

Of course, the Beginner Box doesn’t use Combat Manuever or Attacks of Opportunity.  Typically, an action that allows an AoO in Pathfinder Core simply can’t be taken in the BB, unless you have the appropriate feats.  Therefore, in the BB I’d say you can’t move into infighting range unless you have an appropriate feat, such as Acrobatic Steps or perhaps Combat Expertise (or, if using the Consolidated PFBB Feats, Unarmed Combat; alternatively, just make up a new feat called Infighting Combat and make it available to fighter-types and rogues).  Animals are considered proficient with their natural weapons and so would be able to close to infighting range.  The BB has no substitute or stand-in for CMB/CMD, so you’ll have to stick with standard attack rolls for infighting, with the restriction that melee weapons larger than a short sword cannot be employed.

To be clear, it should be noted that a character only needs the appropriate feat to initiate infighting.  If someone else initiates infighting with the character they can still fight normally with daggers, short swords or similar weapons.

I think such a rule would be of greatest use with ‘mundane’ animals, such as wolves and bears, rather than NPCs or large monsters.  It seems logical that most people would prefer to use their most effective weapon most of the time, so they probably won’t be rushing into infighting range at every turn.  However, should a character lose their primary weapon, there’s a definite advantage to infighting, as it probably neutralizes the other guy’s most effective weapon, too.  It’s also possible that a PC or NPC would choose to specialize in infighting combat techniques, for whatever reason (it would certainly surprise the PCs and throw them off their game a bit).


Beginner Box Transitions – a closer look

September 27, 2012

I’ve had a chance to read through the Beginner Box Transitions document, for converting your Pathfinder BB game to a Pathfinder Core game.  As I mentioned earlier, it is not really a document for continuing your BB game beyond 5th level.  However, a clever GM could use the document to continue on to 6th level, at least for the four classes included in the BB (refer to pages 17-21, just ignore the parts that add new stuff from the Core rules).

The document presents new rules and concepts introduced in the Core rules.  To its credit, it says (or implies, at least) that adding these additional rules is optional, with phrases like “…if you choose to add blah blah…”  However, in practice I think it would require a fair amount of work to transition to the Core rules without including everything.  Maybe you could drop stuff like Attacks of Opportunity or Combat Manuevers (though doing so would render many Core feats and class abilities moot), but the more complex spell and monsters descriptions in the Core rules require a lot more work to BB-iffy.

The Transitions document also details some low level Pathfinder adventures appropriate for use with the BB, with notes on how to read one of them, the free module Master of the Fallen Fortress, for a BB game.  This section is somewhat more useful for someone staying with the BB, but the conversion notes are nothing that you couldn’t have figured out on your own anyways.

If you’ve been playing the BB for a while and you’d like to transition to the crunchier, more complex, Pathfinder Core rules, you’ll probably find this document to be of great use.  If you plan on sticking with the BB, you should still still give it a look over, at the very least for the information on raising characters to 6th level.

Skills or No Skills

May 10, 2012

Early in my gaming life I was a big fan of skills.  The more extensive and detailed the skill list, the better the game system, I thought.  But over the past few years I’ve found I like skill systems less and less.  I’ve written extensively about Pathfinder’s Beginner Box, which clocks in at 17 skills (down from Pathfinder core’s 30-ish skills).  But honestly, that’s still far more skills than I like.  Microlite20 has only 4 or 5 very broad-based skills, which is more to my taste.  But I’ve been thinking about the impact of doing away with skills altogether.

Why no skills?  In my experience they usually become crutches for players or barriers to creative play.  Players and GM come to rely on skill checks as an easy replacement for role-playing or clever solutions to problems.  Or they develop mental blocks:  I don’t have the skill, therefore I can’t attempt that action (or, I don’t enough points in the skill, and will probably fail, so I shouldn’t even attempt the action).  This is particularly acute, imo, with trap finding and diplomacy.

I do see where skills, or something like a skill checks, can be useful in certain circumstances.  For example, players probably don’t want to ‘pixel bitch’ every stone block in a dungeon.  A simple d6 roll to search for secret doors can save a lot of time at the table.  But you can do what OD&D does, make it an ability that every character has, rather than a narrow, specialized skill.

What are your thoughts on the matter?  Would be possible to, say, just remove the PFBB’s skill system?

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