Friday, May 6, 2011

That's How I Role: My Zen Archer Monk!

by Randy

Introducing That's How I Role, a new category of posts. Whenever we post our own content about a classic pen-and-paper roleplaying game that we're playing in, excluding reviews or general discussion, we'll add that label.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core RulebookHello! Any roleplayers out there? I hope so. Roleplaying games (RPGs) haven't received a lot of wordcount on our blog so far, and, since it's my favorite type of gaming, I think it's time to correct that. Today, I'm going to discuss a character I play in a new Pathfinder campaign. For those unfamiliar, the Pathfinder RPG is an overhaul of the Dungeons & Dragons version 3.5 rules. If you want to check the rules out, they're available for free here; it's an open source system. A spiffy thing about this new campaign is that it was spawned by a discussion on this blog... and I think that's pretty awesome.

I often get excited when new character making options present themselves. A while back, I picked up the Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide, a supplement that added options for players, including new classes and further options for existing ones. Some of these caught my eye; specifically, the new Inquisitor class and the Zen Archer archetype for the Monk class.

Seriously, a Monk?!?!

The Zen Archer archetype made me want to play a Monk; I can't really say I had ever wanted to before. Seriously. The core class, though made very interesting in its Pathfinder version, was a very specific type of character. It's a great set of abilities, but the Asian-themed flavor seems out of place in what is typically a quasi-medieval fantasy. The Zen Archer swaps out a lot of the Wuxia-style abilities for archery abilities. I'm not going to detail all the abilities ad nauseum, but the classic Flurry of Blows for this variant is only for attacks with the bow, and at third level they may use the Wisdom modifier instead of Dexterity for bow attacks. Very interesting! A good base for my character.

Nobody expects the Inquisition!
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player's GuideA new full twenty-level class from the same book, the Inquisitor, also offers some great options. The theme of the class is a divine huntsperson who seeks out enemies of the faith. It offers medium combat abilities, a secondary spell progression and a set of abilities called Judgements. A judgement can be pronounced in a battle upon one's enemies, and gives a bonus of some sort (bonus to attack, bonus to damage, increased ability penetrate spell resistance, healing, some others). Additionally, they also get a geat sprinkling of other fun abilities. An excellent class on its own, but I'm using this as a secondary class to "dip into" to snag some interesting abilities that complement my character idea.

A question of race...

For a race, the answer was simple: an elf. Elves are archers, right? Looking at it, it seemed pretty simple. A closer look at the Zen Archer Monk, though, makes it clear that WIsdom is a very important ability score, and elves do not grant a boost to that. Oddly enoughh, a dwarf would be better. Humans are always tempting, as well as both the half-elf and half-orc, since any of those three would allow a boost to Wisdom as well. My concept fits an elf better, though. So that's what I chose. When I think of the portrayal of Legolas in the Lord of the Rings movies, I kind of see this character being that kind of archer (well, later!). So elf it is!

Introducing... Hallyr!

Pathfinder Campaign Setting World Guide: The Inner Sea (Revised Edition)The campaign, set in the default Pathfinder world of Golarion,  this character is in had a quirky twist to start it off: all the player characters had been turned to stone prior to the start. So I felt a little creative license with that to create a character who had lasted walked the earth over a thousand years before. The scion of a noble house, his family believed him to be the reincarnation of the warrior who founded the house. As such, he was trained to be a warrior and was quickly given command of troops when a Gnoll uprising happened. His lack of experience resulted in being ambushed and losing his whole command and left for dead, he was found and healed by a wandering priest of Sarenrae. Ashamed, he decided not to return to his homeland. All he has to remind him of his past life is his bow Malachiel, said to be created by the founder of his house (and named after him), and his sword. He lived among (mostly) humans for the next several decades, living the life of a traveling scholar... until he encountered a medusa some 1400 years ago. That is the story of Hallyr Narcissar... Currently, he has thrown in his lot with some others who had met similar fates and were awakened with him.

At the time I am writing this, Hallyr has just gotten to level three. He has two levels of Monk and one of Inquisitor. A first level version of him can be found here. I'll skip a stat block unless explicitly asked, but that's the current character I'm playing. That's how I role! :) Anyone else playing something they're excited about? Or want to? Who knows, another discussion here on GUG could spark up a gaming group for someone else... and we love to see your comments, anyway!


  1. You tempt me to join the dark side. I'm running 2 games right now in 3.5. The lack of new material is starting to get to me (which is saying a lot considering 4th ED has been out for awhile now). One group is 10th level and the other group is 13th. I usually don't take campaigns much past 16th (in fact 17th is the longest campaign I have ever run) so I may have to give Pathfinder a try in my next campaign. One of these days I'd like to actually play again. I have 15 players (lots of people come and go) and nobody else wants to DM! I think my wife will DM one of these days...

  2. @Daniel Ivy: Yes, the PFRPG is really awesome. The redesign of the base classes makes them all interesting and playable to high levels, there is a regular stream of high-quality material coming from Paizo (and third parties). I'll keep in mind you want to play and make sure to invite you and Laura if I start a campaign; it certainly gets old to DM all the time!

  3. Great to read more about others who like RPG. I am glad to have found it myself.

    Leonie / Narl - BGG