Gaming with the Kids: Let Me Tell You About My Character

Next week my oldest friend (who is also named Andrew),  Monica, and I will sit down with our kids and play Pathfinder. Now Monica and I have played with the kids a number of times but we haven’t really played Pathfinder so this will  be a little new for our kids. Andrew’s kids have played a little Pathfinder so they’ll have a better handle on the rules as we start but they’ve never played with more than one adult (who was the GM). So while this won’t be an entirely new experience for any of us it will be interesting and hopefully a lot of fun.

Having played with my children on a number of occasions I know it can be hard for them to feel like they have the authority to make decisions.  In the past we’ve handled this a number of ways this time I decided I wanted to try something different. In the past we’ve played games where no one really talked about their PCs age and everyone was just treated as if they were generally equal on other occasions the PC’s including my wife’s were all children. Now Andrew had suggested maybe I should play something unusual such as a faerie dragon. He also offered to let me play a little higher level if need be. I took his advice but a little more mundanely.

I’ll be playing an awakened cat (slayer), who thinks of himself as some sort of knight…

I call him Ser Fidelius Felix, aka Shadow. Shadow is the name on his collar but he knows his name is Fidelius and is almost as certain he is a knight.  Not a human sort of knight he is first and foremost a cat just a supernatural one. Now from a story perspective I like Fidelius because, he can offer advice but he has no thumbs and largely won’t be taken very seriously by any NPCs we should meet which means the other character’s will have to take up some of the cat’s slack.

While I’m sure we’ll still have to coach the kids a little I’m hoping this approach encourages them to take center stage  and lead us into (and out of) whatever trouble Andrew has in store for us.

  • The party right now:
  • Human Sorcerer (Katie)
  • ??? Sorcerer (Andrew’s eldest)
  • ??? Fighter (Andrew’s second child)
  • Human Monk with a little Captain America flair (Thomas)
  • a Cat Slayer (me).
  • And a total unknown probably some sort of cleric. (Monica)

If you’re interested in the build I used to make my awakened cat PC here he is:

Ser Fidelias (aka Shadow)

Male cat slayer 2 (Pathfinder RPG Advanced Class Guide 53, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 131)

N Tiny magical beast

Init +5; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +8

Defense

AC 18, touch 18, flat-footed 12 (+5 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 size)

hp 17 (3 HD; 1d8+2d10+3)

Fort +6, Ref +10, Will +2

Offense

Speed 30 ft.

Melee bite +9 (1d3–2), 2 claws +9 (1d2–2)

Space 2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.

Special Attacks studied target +1 (1st, move action)

Statistics

Str 7, Dex 20, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 8

Base Atk +2; CMB +5; CMD 14 (18 vs. trip)

Feats Dodge, Weapon Finesse[B]

Traits dirty fighter, self-taught scholar, student of philosophy

Skills Acrobatics +11, Appraise +4, Bluff +3, Climb +15, Diplomacy –1 (–6 to improve other creatures’ attitudes towards you), Disable Device +10, Escape Artist +7, Intimidate –1 (–6 to improve other creatures’ attitudes towards you), Linguistics +6 (+7 to decipher unfamiliar language), Perception +8 (+9 to locate traps), Stealth +22, Survival +7 (+8 to track); Racial Modifiers +4 Climb, +4 Stealth

Languages Catfolk, Common, Skald

SQ condescending, slayer talent (trapfinding[ACG]), track +1, trapfinding +1

Other Gear collar with name tag marked “Shadow”

Special Abilities

Condescending  You take a –5 penalty on Diplomacy and Intimidate checks to improve other creatures’ attitudes toward you.

Dirty Fighter When you hit a foe you are flanking, you deal an additional 1 point of damage (this damage is added to your base damage, and is multiplied on a critical hit). This additional damage is a trait bonus.

Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in low light, distinguishing color and detail.

Scent (Ex) This special quality allows a creature to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. Creatures with the scent ability can identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights.

The creature can detect opponents within 30 feet by sense of smell. If the opponent is upwind, the range increases to 60 feet; if downwind, it drops to 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above. Overpowering scents, such as skunk musk or troglodyte stench, can be detected at triple normal range.

When a creature detects a scent, the exact location of the source is not revealed – only its presence somewhere within range. The creature can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. When the creature is within 5 feet of the source, it pinpoints the source’s location.

A creature with the scent ability can follow tracks by smell, making a Wisdom (or Survival) check to find or follow a track. The typical DC for a fresh trail is 10 (no matter what kind of surface holds the scent). This DC increases or decreases depending on how strong the quarry’s odor is, the number of creatures, and the age of the trail. For each hour that the trail is cold, the DC increases by 2. The ability otherwise follows the rules for the Survival skill. Creatures tracking by scent ignore the effects of surface conditions and poor visibility.

Student of Philosophy You can use your Intelligence modifier in place of your Charisma modifier on Diplomacy checks to persuade others and on Bluff checks to convince others that a lie is true. (This trait does not affect Diplomacy checks to gather information or Bluff checks to feint in combat.)

Studied Target +1 (move action, 1 at a time) (Ex) A slayer can study an opponent he can see as a move action. The slayer then gains a +1 bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks attempted against that opponent, and a +1 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against it. The DCs of slayer class abilities against that opponent increase by 1. A slayer can only maintain these bonuses against one opponent at a time; these bonuses remain in effect until either the opponent is dead or the slayer studies a new target.

If a slayer deals sneak attack damage to a target, he can study that target as an immediate action, allowing him to apply his studied target bonuses against that target (including to the normal weapon damage roll).

At 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th levels, the bonuses on weapon attack and damage rolls, as well as the bonus to slayer ability DCs against a studied target increase by 1. In addition, at each such interval, the slayer is able to maintain these bonuses against an additional studied target at the same time. The slayer may discard this connection to a studied target as a free action, allowing him to study another target in its place.

At 7th level, a slayer can study an opponent as a move or swift action.

Track +1 A ranger or slayer adds 1/2 his level (minimum 1) to Survival skill checks made to follow tracks.

Trapfinding +1 A rogue adds 1/2 her level on Perception checks to locate traps and on Disable Device checks (minimum +1). A rogue can use Disable Device to disarm magic traps.

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Campaign Seed: Ravenstone

When last I blogged I apologised for the long delay in the release of a blog series detailing a campaign setting from a village out. No sooner than I hit post I knew the setting I wanted to detail. I won’t promise I’ll be back to this project soon but I hope there is something here you find inspiring.


Ravenstone

Village of Orphans and Nightmares

The black, slightly avian, crystal monolith that towers eighteen feet over the center of Ravenstone’s town square once drew scholars wizards and sages from across the world. These experts in occult and ancient history sought to unravel the mysteries surrounding the Ravenstone but instead helped to found one of the region’s most prestigious academies of higher learning and a thriving town surrounding the university.

The Terrors began suddenly with a lunar eclipse but have continued for five long years. That night every child became trapped in a terrible nightmare until the first faint light of dawn touched the town. Unfortunately, waking did not end the children’s nightmare. The children found they were alone every adult fifteen and older had vanished.

Around the village’s perimeter a dense mist shrouded forest appeared overnight. As the older children ventured into new forest they discovered the fate of the adults. Every tree nearest the village had grown around some neighbor or loved one so that the corpses partially trapped within the trees. Even now five years later the trapped skeletons are still visible. Bleached white skulls stare silently out of the dark bark into the menacing depths of the forest now known as the Blightwood.

Since the start of the Terrors the orphans of Ravenstone have been unable to sleep without suffering deep ensnaring nightmares. As time has passed the nightmare curse has grown stronger. Sleepers are unable to waken from their dreams unless touched by sunlight. Many of the orphans try to remain awake as long as possible while others surrender to the nightly horrors. Only fools or madmen wander into the dark of the Blightwood for any length of time that would require sleep.

That is until recently. A few townsfolk (including the PCs) have been receiving dream messages attributed to the Ravenstone itself. These messages seem to be encouraging them to explore the Blightwood and find a way back to the normal world. But first they’ll need equipment, resources and answers that may only be found in the ruins of the university. Unfortunately, not every member of the community wants an expedition into the wilds. Many fear the monsters such an expedition may rile up others fear the loss of personal prestige.

Over the last five years the orphans of Ravenstone have tried to preserve some sense of normalcy and society. They have had some success although it is a fragile arrangement with numerous factions vying to influence the direction of the village.  This balance is further complicated by the loss of every member of the local clergy and nearly everyone trained in arcane magic.


Ravenstone is a village setting intended to be the starting point for a human centric horror themed campaign. Isolated from the rest of the world, Ravenstone is home to the three-hundred some orphans of the university town’s twelve hundred original residents after magical tragedy claimed the lives village’s adults. While the campaign is intended to occur about five years after the start of the Terrors. A GM could run a horror survival campaign that begins when the children first awaken from their first nightmares.

The principle themes of a Ravenstone campaign include isolation and impotence. The heroes are children and young adults who have been effectively abandoned by every authority they knew: adults, gods, and even the natural world. In time the PCs will discover what caused the Terrors and what role the Ravenstone played in it. Ultimately in order to get home the PC’s will have to face not only the power that caused the Terrors but also the forces of darkness that threaten both the village of Ravenstone and the whole world.

Ravenstone For Pathfinder

A Ravenstone campaign can be run with human PCs and standard heroic classes or for a more horrific feel you could opt to run it with NPC classes only at least to start. My recommendation is for the later and allowing the adept class to cast spells from the adept class list as psychic spells.

PCs younger than 16 are viable character options in this setting. You should at least apply the ability score modifiers from Ultimate Campaign. [Detailed here.]

I also suggest you use the Sanity and Madness rules from the Game Mastery Guide. [Detailed here.]

Low-level Adventure Ideas

  • [A Prelude or Day After Adventure] The town needs to secure new food supplies. An expedition is mounted to head into the Blightwood to see if the nearby Adler’s farm survived the disaster. Either to find help or to bring back needed food stores. Along the way the PCs encounter a number of threats stalking the Blightwood.
  • The PCs nightmares reveal a secret from before the time of the Terrors that may unlock a secure vault beneath the university. What secrets and dangers lurk in the sealed tunnels?
  • A young boy has wandered into the Blightwood at the behest of voices only he can hear. His older brother and sister beg the PC’s aid in finding him. The PCs soon discover his route through the thick underbrush and it leads to an ancient ruins and a small tribe of goblins.
  • The skeletons in the trees around the village begin screaming. Despite the lack of sun every sleeper in the village wakes.