May 26, 2023
So, we’ve covered what it’s like to turn a build into a character, but what about the opposite? What if you start with a really cool, unique character idea, but you don’t know how to build into it? Well, let’s break it down...
So, we’ve covered what it’s like to turn a build into a character, but what about the opposite? What if you start with a really cool, unique character idea, but you don’t know how to build into it? Well, let’s break it down.
Talk to the GM
You should always talk to your GM about what you’re planning. Give them the full idea of your backstory, every aspect you have with your character, what sort of skills (in a narrative sense, not a meta sense) you want them to be good at, and get into a discussion with the GM.
The reason you want to talk to the GM first is because for starters, you need to make sure that they’re okay with your character and that it fits their setting. You don’t want to make a demigod in what is supposed to be an underdog pirate setting.
The second reason is because the GM can actually help you turn that into a build. Odds are the GM knows a good bit more about the system than you do, so approaching them with an idea can lead to your GM not only helping you make your character, but also learning the system in a safe environment via not having to worry about your character dying when you learn about the Trip mechanic.
Figuring Out Your Class
Most TTRPGs, especially games like Pathfinder 2nd Edition, have a class system and luckily with Pathfinder 2nd Edition, the classes are given simple names to understand the basics of what they do right off the bat. When you see the name ‘Alchemist’ you likely have an idea that they have something to do with brewing potions. When you see ‘Swashbuckler’ you likely get an idea of a flashy pirate or a chaotic hero. Something like Zoro or even Robin the Boy Wonder.
From here it’s nice to make a list of what classes sound like they might suit your character idea based on their names. Page 69 of the Core Rulebook has a list of all the original classes and gives a short description of what they do. The Advanced Player’s Guide has a similar set up with what classes they offer on page 53.
Once you have your list of classes that fit your idea, go check them out, read their descriptions, abilities, and take a glance at their feats. You’ll generally get a good grasp of what a class does by looking at the first 3 levels of abilities and what sort of thing you can focus on by looking at the first three levels of feats (1st, 2nd, and 4th). Go with your heart when making your character and pick what fits your idea over what feels optimal. The amazing thing about Pathfinder 2nd Edition is everything is at least a solid choice.
Ancestry and Background
I like to do this after I look around at classes because then I get an understanding of what sort of mechanics I’ll be relying on. You don’t need Weapon Training on a Fighter, for example.
These choices should be pretty straight forward, but you might see something from one ancestry that fits really really well with your idea, but it means swapping from an Elf to a Dwarf. Luckily, there’s a feat for this called Adopted which can allow you to take feats from other ancestries. The same goes for if you see multiple first level ancestry feats that strike your fancy, the feat Ancestral Paragon has your back!
Background can be pretty straightforward, but you might run into the issue where what you’re looking for just isn’t on the menu. There are a few options you can do in this case, but both require you talking with your GM. One is using a variant rule that allows you to go through a background generator of sorts, picking and choosing what fits your character best, and forming a background from that. Another option is a homebrew background. Each background has a restricted ability boost that can only be one of two options, then it has a free ability boost, then it has a lore proficiency tied to that background, a skill proficiency usually, but not always, tied to one of your restricted ability boost options, and then a skill feat tied to that skill proficiency. It’s easy enough to make without much trouble.
This is pretty basic, but I figured I’d touch up on this a bit. There are a lot of feats in Pathfinder 2nd Edition, between Ancestry, Class, General, Skill, and Archetype feats there is so much customization. If you’re wondering if you can do a thing, check out Feats, because odds are if your basic class doesn’t give what you want, it’s in the feats. Feats can help greatly expand on what your character is capable of or give them a greater focus. Class feats expand on the basic abilities that your class gives, Ancestry feats help make your origins feel that much more specialised to how you grew up and how you are developing as a person, General and Skill feats help flesh out a lot of the tiny details about your character, and Archetype feats can really help you narrow down or even expand to fully allow your concept the depth that it requires. Are you playing a Witch who is in tune with nature? Grabbing Herbalist or Druid Multiclass would be perfect additions to that idea.
Complex Ideas and Patience
Sometimes you might have a crazy idea involving being an archmage, someone who commands demons, a powerful necromancer, or even just an amazing warrior who is unparalleled at their fighting abilities. These ideas obviously aren’t possible at level 1, but they could be possible at level 5 or later. Pathfinder 2nd Edition at the end of the day is a High Power Fantasy RPG, meaning you will be fighting god-like beings, capable of doing absolutely impossible feats, summoning unparalleled magic, and brewing potions beyond anyone’s comprehension, and most of that is hit pretty early on, with the scale ramping up exponentially. By level 5 you’re able to bound across rooftops with relative ease, by level 10 you can climb around like spiderman, by level 15 you’re able to leap across towns, and by level 20 you’re able to become the very avatar of nature. So, if you’re feeling a little upset that you can’t start with the boundless powers that you hoped you could, don’t stress out about it too much, as it won't’ be long before you’re capable of truly inhuman feats.
Another limiting factor that is becoming rarer and rarer to see is the fact that your idea might not exist in Pathfinder 2nd Edition, or at least not yet. There are so many books coming out each year with each one an amazing amount of options.