Generating a Character

From the sly rogue to the stalwart paladin, the Pathfinder RPG allows you to make the character you want to play. When generating a character, start with your character's concept. Do you want a character who goes toe-to-toe with terrible monsters, matching sword and shield against claws and fangs? Or do you want a mystical seer who draws his powers from the great beyond to further his own ends? Nearly anything is possible.

Once you have a general concept worked out, use the following steps to bring your idea to life, recording the resulting information and statistics on your Pathfinder RPG character sheet, which can be found at the back of this book and photocopied for your convenience.

Step 1—Determine Ability Scores: Start by generating your character's ability scores. These six scores determine your character's most basic attributes and are used to decide a wide variety of details and statistics. Some class selections require you to have better than average scores for some of your abilities.

Step 2—Pick Your Race: Next, pick your character's race, noting any modifiers to your ability scores and any other racial traits (see Races). There are seven basic races to choose from, although your GM might have others to add to the list. Each race lists the languages your character automatically knows, as well as a number of bonus languages. A character knows a number of additional bonus languages equal to his or her Intelligence modifier.

Step 3—Pick Your Class: A character's class represents a profession, such as fighter or wizard. If this is a new character, he starts at 1st level in his chosen class. As he gains experience points (XP) for defeating monsters, he goes up in level, granting him new powers and abilities.

Step 4—Pick Skills and Select Feats: Determine the number of skill ranks possessed by your character, based on his class and Intelligence modifier (and any other bonuses, such as the bonus received by humans). Then spend these ranks on skills, but remember that you cannot have more ranks than your level in any one skill (for a starting character, this is usually one). After skills, determine how many feats your character receives, based on his class and level, and select them from those presented in Feats.

Step 5—Buy Equipment: Each new character begins the game with an amount of gold, based on his class, that can be spent on a wide range of equipment and gear, from chainmail armor to leather backpacks. This gear helps your character survive while adventuring. Generally speaking, you cannot use this starting money to buy magic items without the consent of your GM.

Step 6—Finishing Details: Finally, you need to determine all of a character's details, including his starting hit points (hp), Armor Class (AC), saving throws, initiative modifier, and attack values. All of these numbers are determined by the decisions made in previous steps. Aside from these, you need to decide on your character's name, alignment, and physical appearance. It is best to jot down a few personality traits as well, to help you play the character during the game. Additional rules (like age and alignment) are described in Additional Rules.

Ability Scores

Each character has six ability scores that represent his character's most basic attributes. They are his raw talent and prowess. While a character rarely rolls an ability check (using just an ability score), these scores, and the modifiers they create, affect nearly every aspect of a character's skills and abilities. Each ability score generally ranges from 3 to 18, although racial bonuses and penalties can alter this; an average ability score is 10.

Generating Ability Scores

There are a number of different methods used to generate ability scores. Each of these methods gives a different level of flexibility and randomness to character generation.

Racial modifiers (adjustments made to your ability scores due to your character's race—see Races) are applied after the scores are generated.

Table: Ability Score Costs
Score Points
7 –4
8 –2
9 –1
10 0
11 1
12 2
13 3
14 5
15 7
16 10
17 13
18 17

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.

Purchase: Each character receives a number of points to spend on increasing his basic attributes. In this method, all attributes start at a base of 10. A character can increase an individual score by spending some of his points. Likewise, he can gain more points to spend on other scores by decreasing one or more of his ability scores. No score can be reduced below 7 or raised above 18 using this method. See Table: Ability Score Costs for the costs of each score. After all the points are spent, apply any racial modifiers the character might have.

Table: Ability Score Points
Campaign Type Points
Low Fantasy 10
Standard Fantasy 15
High Fantasy 20
Epic Fantasy 25

The number of points you have to spend using the purchase method depends on the type of campaign you are playing. The standard value for a character is 15 points. Average nonplayer characters (NPCs) are typically built using as few as 3 points. See Table: Ability Score Points for a number of possible point values depending on the style of campaign. The purchase method emphasizes player choice and creates equally balanced characters.

Determine Bonuses

Each ability, after changes made because of race, has a modifier ranging from –5 to +5. Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells shows the modifier for each score. The modifier is the number you apply to the die roll when your character tries to do something related to that ability. You also use the modifier with some numbers that aren't die rolls. A positive modifier is called a bonus, and a negative modifier is called a penalty. The table also shows bonus spells, which you'll need to know about if your character is a spellcaster.

Abilities and Spellcasters

The ability that governs bonus spells depends on what type of spellcaster your character is: Intelligence for wizards; Wisdom for clerics, druids, and rangers; and Charisma for bards, paladins, and sorcerers. In addition to having a high ability score, a spellcaster must be of a high enough class level to be able to cast spells of a given spell level. See the class descriptions in Classes for details. The Abilities

Each ability partially describes your character and affects some of his actions.

Strength (Str)

Strength measures muscle and physical power. This ability is important for those who engage in hand-to-hand (or “melee”) combat, such as fighters, monks, paladins, and some rangers. Strength also sets the maximum amount of weight your character can carry. A character with a Strength score of 0 is too weak to move in any way and is unconscious. Some creatures do not possess a Strength score and have no modifier at all to Strength-based skills or checks.

You apply your character's Strength modifier to:

  • Melee attack rolls.
  • Damage rolls when using a melee weapon or a thrown weapon, including a sling. (Exceptions: Off-hand attacks receive only half the character's Strength bonus, while two-handed attacks receive 1–1/2 times the Strength bonus. A Strength penalty, but not a bonus, applies to attacks made with a bow that is not a composite bow.)
  • Climb and Swim checks.
  • Strength checks (for breaking down doors and the like).

Dexterity (Dex)

Ability Score Modifier Bonus Spells per Day (by Spell Level)
0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1 –-5 Can't cast spells tied to this ability
2–-3 –-4 Can't cast spells tied to this ability
4-–5 –-3 Can't cast spells tied to this ability
6–-7 –-2 Can't cast spells tied to this ability
8–-9 –-1 Can't cast spells tied to this ability
10-–11 0 —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
12-–13 +1 —— 1 —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
14–-15 +2 —— 1 1 —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
16-–17 +3 —— 1 1 1 —— —— —— —— —— ——
18-–19 +4 —— 1 1 1 1 —— —— —— —— ——
20-–21 +5 —— 2 1 1 1 1 —— —— —— ——
22–-23 +6 —— 2 2 1 1 1 1 —— —— ——
24-–25 +7 —— 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 —— ——
26-–27 +8 —— 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 ——
28-–29 +9 —— 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
30-–31 +10 —— 3 3 2 2 2 2 1 1 1
32-–33 +11 —— 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 1 1
34-–35 +12 —— 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 1
36-–37 +13 —— 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2
38-–39 +14 —— 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 2
40-–41 +15 —— 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2
42-–43 +16 —— 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 2
44-–45 +17 —— 5 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3

Dexterity measures agility, reflexes, and balance. This ability is the most important one for rogues, but it's also useful for characters who wear light or medium armor or no armor at all. This ability is vital for characters seeking to excel with ranged weapons, such as the bow or sling. A character with a Dexterity score of 0 is incapable of moving and is effectively immobile (but not unconscious).

You apply your character's Dexterity modifier to:

  • Ranged attack rolls, including those for attacks made with bows, crossbows, throwing axes, and many ranged spell attacks like scorching ray or searing light.
  • Armor Class (AC), provided that the character can react to the attack.
  • Reflex saving throws, for avoiding fireballs and other attacks that you can escape by moving quickly.
  • Acrobatics, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Fly, Ride, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth checks.

Constitution (Con)

Constitution represents your character's health and stamina. A Constitution bonus increases a character's hit points, so the ability is important for all classes. Some creatures, such as undead and constructs, do not have a Constitution score. Their modifier is +0 for any Constitution-based checks. A character with a Constitution score of 0 is dead.

You apply your character's Constitution modifier to:

  • Each roll of a Hit Die (though a penalty can never drop a result below 1—that is, a character always gains at least 1 hit point each time he advances in level).
  • Fortitude saving throws, for resisting poison, disease, and similar threats.

If a character's Constitution score changes enough to alter his or her Constitution modifier, the character's hit points also increase or decrease accordingly.

Intelligence (Int)

Intelligence determines how well your character learns and reasons. This ability is important for wizards because it affects their spellcasting ability in many ways. Creatures of animal-level instinct have Intelligence scores of 1 or 2. Any creature capable of understanding speech has a score of at least 3. A character with an Intelligence score of 0 is comatose. Some creatures do not possess an Intelligence score. Their modifier is +0 for any Intelligence-based skills or checks.

You apply your character's Intelligence modifier to:

  • The number of bonus languages your character knows at the start of the game. These are in addition to any starting racial languages and Common. If you have a penalty, you can still read and speak your racial languages unless your Intelligence is lower than 3.
  • The number of skill points gained each level, though your character always gets at least 1 skill point per level.
  • Appraise, Craft, Knowledge, Linguistics, and Spellcraft checks.

A wizard gains bonus spells based on his Intelligence score. The minimum Intelligence score needed to cast a wizard spell is 10 + the spell's level.

Wisdom (Wis)

Wisdom describes a character's willpower, common sense, awareness, and intuition. Wisdom is the most important ability for clerics and druids, and it is also important for paladins and rangers. If you want your character to have acute senses, put a high score in Wisdom. Every creature has a Wisdom score. A character with a Wisdom score of 0 is incapable of rational thought and is unconscious.

You apply your character's Wisdom modifier to:

clerics, druids, and rangers get bonus spells based on their Wisdom scores. The minimum Wisdom score needed to cast a cleric, druid, or ranger spell is 10 + the spell's level.

Charisma (Cha)

Charisma measures a character's personality, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and appearance. It is the most important ability for paladins, sorcerers, and bards. It is also important for clerics, since it affects their ability to channel energy. For undead creatures, Charisma is a measure of their unnatural “lifeforce.” Every creature has a Charisma score. A character with a Charisma score of 0 is not able to exert himself in any way and is unconscious.

You apply your character's Charisma modifier to:

Bards, paladins, and sorcerers gain a number of bonus spells based on their Charisma scores. The minimum Charisma score needed to cast a bard, paladin, or sorcerer spell is 10 + the spell's level.