What will I need to know to get started?
Check the FAQ page first. If you have any questions you don’t see answered here or there, of course you should contact me! The TL;DR is:
- Level 1 characters
- Base Race must cost 12 RP or less
- they have standard starting wealth to begin the game with
- they have 2 Traits (you can purchase another one with a Drawback )
- Attribute Points will be decided a little differently this time.
- Read the undead houserules section carefully
- your character is very likely to do Bad™ things… and is likely dead. Yes, this means you probably should think carefully if you want to try to play a paladin.
How do I determine my starting stat array?
Due to the unique circumstances in which you begin the game, the standard point-buy system wouldn’t work terribly well. I’m not overly fond of strict rolling systems either, so of course a compromise is in order to allow players the maximum flexibility to design the sort of character they intend but with just a dash of randomness to give it spice. Don’t worry, your Ability Scores will be much less important or permanent than in a typical game.
To determine your starting attributes, the first thing you should decide is your character’s Focus and Foible. The ability score which you choose as your Focus starts at a base of 18 just as though you had spent the pointbuy to push it up that far. Then you decide your Foible, your character’s weak point: this ability starts at 8.
Next comes a little bit of randomness. Instead of rolling “down the line”, though, you just need to generate three numbers by rolling 3d6 and adding them to create a single total, and repeating that process four times. The lowest of these four totals, is then discarded. The remaining three numbers can be placed anywhere you like except for Constitution. If your character is not undead, then simply keep all four results.
For example: Loomis decides she likes the sounds of Dexterity and chooses it as her Focus so that it starts at 18. Then, she decides to create a character that isn’t particularly easy to get along with, so she selects Charisma as her Foible to start at 8 before she adjusts it for her race. Next, she needs to roll 3d6 four times to generate four more numbers. Picking up her trusty bones, she gives them a kiss for luck and rolls the first set, which total up 13. She writes this down and continues to generate three more numbers in this fashion: she gets 11, 5 and 8. She decides to create a character with a little more wit than your average bear, and places her 13 into Intelligence. Then, feeling that it would do her little good to have all that knowledge but not enough insight to use it properly, she places her 11 into Wisdom — which leaves the final 8 for Strength since she has discarded the 5. So her character’s ultimate starting array, before she adjusts it for her race, is…
… Not bad!
Special notes on playing undead characters!
Undead creatures are normally intended to be encountered strictly as monsters or NPCs usually antagonistic to the player characters. As such, there are some mechanical differences between the undead and the sorts of creatures that players normally control. For one thing, most undead monsters are designed under the assumption that their Hit Die won’t be far off from that presented in the Bestiary, and they often come with a fistful of special powers, abilities, qualities, and flavorful ecology. Many undead propagate through foul mockery of the natural cycle of Life, but their methods of propagation are no less varied. Some undead have specific and important weaknesses related to their abominable status and relationship to the metaphysics of the cosmos.
Therefore, special consideration is advised while designing your character. While your characters were once typical mortal Men, Elves or Dwarves, and they do still retain at least some of those qualities, what they are now is something very different.
You will want to carefully read the section on the selection of undead creatures available for your character to begin as. The rules of this wiki regarding undead PCs overrides the Bestiary — you’re not playing as just any ole undead monster!
What will all characters need?
A portrait, at the least. A biographical background can help. Specifically, when you design your character’s background, you need to give them a reason for being undead (if they are) and an outlook which is not necessarily opposed to working with such beings. Whether because they were murdered in a cold blooded, senseless, random crime, or because they were a criminal who was executed for justice, or even just that they perished at the end of a long life (don’t forget to adjust the Ability Scores to reflect their age at the time of death!), your characters might begin the game a little bit dead. If I were you, I would purchase starting equipment keeping in mind your character’s life and the circumstances of their death — equip them just as they would have been at the moment they died, given your class’s standard starting wealth.
What happens if my character dies?
If a player character is destroyed and there are no plans to recover them (via Resurrection, Stone To Flesh or whatever the case may be), that player may create a new character with 3/5ths of the total accumulated Shards Of Fate which their previous character had put towards their level progress. Shards which endowed the previous character with extra Feats, Ability Scores or whatever else are lost with the old character which consumed them. Essentially, multiply the total power value of the Shards accumulated which the old character had used to increase their level by 3/5ths and generate the new character at the corresponding level, using the starting wealth of a level 1 character. Your allies (whether Cohorts of your old character, fellow PCs or even NPCs) might see fit to allocate the wealth and equipment of the destroyed character (if they can be recovered!) to your new one. Other rules concerning character generation still apply (see above).
For example: Loomis is the unfortunate victim of a well-aimed Disintegrate spell after she has consumed 157 power-value’s worth of Shards, which means she was character level 12 when destroyed. Her player decides that this was a tragic, but fitting end for her character, and knows that her comrades could not resurrect her in any case either because they lack the spellcasting capability or motivation to do so. Besides, she now wants to play a very different sort of character entirely.
She multiplies the 157 power value of Shards which her destroyed character had consumed by 3/5ths to discover that her new character is to be generated at character level 9 (since 94 is more than the 81 total power value she would need to gain level 9, but still less than the 102 she would need to gain level 10). She decides her Focus and Foible, rolls her four sets of 3d6 and begins building the character level by level starting at 1 until she has a character which is level 9. She’ll miss the extra Feat which her old character had acquired by consuming a Shard which granted her Combat Reflexes, and her new character will introduce herself to the party with only a pittance to her name, but the other PCs are quick to recognize the utility of the new ally (who comes with skills and talents they had need of while facing Disintegrations!) and are more than happy to shower her with some of their spare equipment and cash (some of which was once owned by the disintegrated Loomis!).
What source material is allowed?
For now, I’m using Paizo’s Pathfinder ruleset (which is an evolution of D&D 3.5e), supplemented by Dreamscarred Press’ excellent content and more than a smattering of appropriate 3.5 or older WotC material. All of the Pathfinder material can be found at one of the SRD sites around the internet. I personally like d20pfsrd . You might need your own copy of WotC material if you want to use it, and check the “errata” pages here and/or consult me about it if it needs a bit of editing to play nice with the other boys. I consider Paizo’s Pathfinder material to be the primary design standard.
I’m new! Halp!
If you need advice about character creation and design, I’m always here, of course, but as far as power-building goes, I tend to think it’s probably healthier for players to grow with experience once they’ve got a handle on how to create a character using the rules. For now, you really shouldn’t worry about such things since (in my experience) your ability to enjoy playing depends far, far more on your attitude and collaboration with everyone else at the table. This isn’t the same thing as not knowing what numbers to put in which boxes, or how magic works. Rather, it’s my personal suggestion that you not go reading power build guides because, as theoretical exercises, they’re not meant to serve the entertainment purposes of actual players at the table. Relax and design a character that you find appealing and satisfying to explore, and don’t worry so much about how powerful you are since I’ll always be able to challenge you.
Not that I, strictly speaking, have a problem with powergaming, just that I advise new players that in my experience most of the joy of it comes from figuring things out on your own. Power is one of the rewards of system mastery… though it never has seemed to actually do anyone any good in the end! And, just between you and I? All the easily found / available guides from some googling absolutely fucking suck anyway.
Is there a simple little template I can use to plan my build?
I sometimes use a loosely-organized block of formatted text to keep track of some NPCs’ mechanics if you really want to use it / can’t be arsed to build an entire spreadsheet or use some other tool. My plain little Textile-ized TEMPLATE can be seen here.