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Monday, November 27, 2017

Gnomon

(I'm getting caught up on my writing from the past week. This was actually written Thursday night.)

One of the nice things about Pathfinder is if there's a specific vision you have for a player character, you can probably make it happen. Sure, it may take some compromising and some tweaking, and maybe even some hammering, but you can make it happen. And I don't know about you, but I find it immensely satisfying when that happens.

For example, what I really wanted was a Cleric/Rogue hybrid class for an NPC that my players rescued from a dungeon. Poor ol' Erky Timbers, first-level cleric of the goddess of luck and travel, just happened to get unlucky while walking around and got captured by a tribe of goblins. Fortunately for him, the PCs (by then second level) killed all the goblins and set him free, and so as a thank-you he hung around to help keep them alive (and to get some much-needed money, because he was down to rags). 

Later on in the adventure, Erky leveled up and I decided to have him take a level of rogue, as it suited his deity and his fighting style (by this time he'd picked up a spear and some leather armor, so he'd wait until the PCs has grabbed aggro to run in and poke someone in the flank with his spear in between handing out Blessings and Curing Light Wounds). 

By the time the adventure was done, the PCs had hit third level and decided that not only had Erky earned a full share of profits, they wanted him to join their party and come along with them on more adventures. 

The problem is that I just wasn't happy with how Erky was shaping up mechanically. I had no problem with him being a level behind the PCs, but alternating Cleric and Rogue would put him so far behind that he would be less useful. And while that might not be a problem as these things go (he is after all an NPC hireling), it bothered me on some level. So, like any proper GM, I decided I'd tinker with things to see if I could get what I wanted. 

I tried making Erky a gestalt, but that was an over-correction; instead of being forever one level behind the players, he'd be effectively earning 1.5 levels for each one of theirs. Worse, the NPC would commit the unforgiveable sin of stealing player character thunder by being better at their jobs than they were. 

I tried making my own class in Hero Lab based on the Divine Agent, but there's a steep learning curve to the Hero Lab editor, and I was having a hell of a time getting the Sneak Attack to play nicely with the Channel Energy (classes with special abilities have all sorts of complicated coding interdependencies). 

Then I thought, "Well, let's just look at the Vigilante from Ultimate Intrigue. It's a wacky class that does all sorts of weird stuff depending on which choices you take*. Maybe one of them will work."

And to my surprise, it did, and not even in a "hammer the square peg into the round hold until it fits" kind of way, but more like a "round off the edges of the hexagon until it's roughly circular" way. Sure, I picked an archetype that replaced an ability I wanted to keep, but I'm the GM so I can make the call of not replacing that ability. Muahahahahah!

(In fairness, to maintain balance I also disabled the ability which disabled the ability I wanted to keep.) 

So yes, I am pleased to report that a Zealot archetype Vigilante with the Stalker specialization (along with the proper selection of feats and traits) does everything I need it to and gives me what I want: an energy-channeling divine spellcaster with a sneak attack. Sure, I had some trouble finding an Inquisition that was similar to the Luck Doman (Zealots cast spells like Inquisitors), but it's close enough that I'm happy with how it turned out, and it's nearly legal too!


And because we're talking about a gnome vigilante, and because I have a bad habit of making puns involving gnomes yet I didn't do one for Erky Timbers, I give you xkcd's The Legend of Gnome Ann. 

https://www.xkcd.com/1704/


* And it's true. Want to play a Sailor Moon-like Magical Girl in Pathfinder? Play a Vigilante. Want to make a fantasy version of Wolverine, Spider-Man or Aquaman? Play a Vigilante. (Heck, the base Vigilante is practically Batman.) Want to be a split-personality serial killer? Play a Vigilante.

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