Since it’s summer, I’m currently running two home games: one at approximately 6th level now, and the other up at 14th level, so the disparity between the two is phenomenally different, and the time commitment is even more so. Sorry for the delay, and the small amount of content, but I’m publishing legit NPCs this time around, and they’re absolutely phenomenal. This week, I’ll present a few of the builds I’ve been working on while I put the finishing touches on the Reach Master build. In this mixed bag of home game NPCs is a ranger, a rogue, an oradin (life oracle + paladin = best way to be a dedicated healer and still kick a**), a witch, a bloodrager, and an unchained summoner.
The Standard Disclaimer
Hello there you tabletop geeks. Due to the fact that you’re reading this article, I assume it means you’re interested, at least mildly, in my favorite hobby, the Pathfinder tabletop RPG. I’m usually the DM when I play Pathfinder, so I’m almost always on the lookout for good NPCs, and the ones provided by Paizo in their NPC Codex are not only rather lackluster, but are, let’s face it, rather bland. No archetypes, all core rulebook material, and some of them are flat out bad. Cue the NPC Compendium.
I’ve been playing Pathfinder for the past 2 years, and recently finished up a campaign for a group of power-gamers, so I learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t. This doesn’t mean all the characters I create are min-maxed to go against characters like that; they can’t be, and that’s not the purpose of the NPC Compendium. But I digress.
What is the NPC Compendium?
The Compendium is here as an aid to GMs everywhere. When finished, the compendium will have at least one character of every level for a large majority of the classes in the game. The interesting part, however, is that all characters except those of level 5, 10, and 15-20 are randomly generated (except those denoted with a *): a random race, random archetype, and random class features (for example, bloodlines), for the purposes of not only exploring the different options available, but possibly completely re-imagining a class into a different role.
Now, not everything here is super effective at what it does, but if something in the random generator comes up that severely handicaps a build, I change it. None of these NPCs are bad. Some are just average, while others, specifically those that aren’t randomly generated, are usually the best I could possibly come up with. I’ve tried to create some interesting builds. I also provide some guidelines on what to do to with the characters, including synergistic options where available.
I have one last thing to note before I begin explaining what I created for this week. The NPCs at levels 5, 10, 15, and 20 are designed with player gold. This means that none of the NPCs in my compendium are CR 4, 9, 14, or 19. That’s just a symptom of the gold system in Pathfinder. This also means that the NPCs at levels 5, 10, 15, and 20 are created using the standard 20 point buy, instead of the pre-generated stat system presented within the Core Rulebook, so they’re especially better than the other NPCs. Be sure to use these NPCs as Big Bad Evil Guys instead of average mooks or your gold amount will get all out of whack.
This week’s additions to the Compendium: A Mixed Bag of Home Game NPCs
Dumah – The Ranger (Level 8*)
Okay. Okay. I broke the above rules for the compendium for this guy. I chose everything for this character, gave him PC wealth, and used 20 point buy for a level 8 character. Don’t hate me! He’s one of the big bads in my lower level home campaign, and I put a lot of thought into the build, so I though I’d share it. The build focuses on the stupidly good archer tactic of flying into the air where the martial characters can’t reach you, declaring a caster as your mark (the Guide archetype for Rangers is amazing, by the way), and gunning them down with as many arrows as werebat-ly possible. His main weakness is his Will save, though, so be careful around Enchantment and Necromancy casters.
Bloodwing Assassin – Rogue (Level 4)
The only thing not random about this unit was its race. I needed a level 4 rogue to accompany Dumah, so I created one for the Compendium at the same time. Might I just say, Knife Master rogues do a LOT of damage when they land an attack. Especially after receiving dex to damage at level 3! These assassins are built as ALL ROGUES should be: with multiple attacks. What’s the point of rolling a bunch of extra dice and relying on the damage if it only applies once? With two weapon fighting, some masterwork daggers, and a decent enough bonus to hit, these units are actually a threat to parties with an APL of 6, though definitely not as much of a threat as they would be to anything lower. All I have to say is MAKE SURE they drink the potion and shapechange. They need the dexterity.
Corrine Escar – The Oradin (Level 7*)
Okay. Okay. Most of these NPCs aren’t random. I promise I’ll get back to the random NPCs here in a bit, but I’ve GOT to publish these NPCs, because I absolutely love them. Corrine is a Pitborn Tiefling who took an oath to never take up weapons again when she became a doctor. Well, evil came knocking, so she learned how to punch them. And punch she does. Via a combination of Dragon Style, life link, and rage, she’s quite a powerful ally on the battlefield, but I must offer a warning. Corinne has so many options at her disposal, that she’s a rather complex NPC, so take care to understand how everything works together. The basis of the build is life link, which allows you to take 5 damage for an ally, and in exchange they heal it. This happens at the start of the Oradin’s round, unless the oradin spends an immediate action to turn it off. Her lay on hands ability can then be used to heal the damage as a swift action. If she ever dips past 17 damage, she should use this ability, since she’ll (on average) receive the full benefit.
Cold, Cold, Shocking Axe – Bloodrager (Level 6)
What’s scarier than a bloodrager with a double axe? A bloodrager with a double axe that opens combat with a shocking grasp charge, of course! This bloodrager is a pretty straightforward version of a double weapon wielder. They want full attacks, and they will attack anything and everything in their reach that allows them to full attack. When charging, the weapon counts as two handed, so make sure to pile on the hurt!
Dex Down Witch – Witch (Level 9)
Once again, nothing was random about this NPC. In fact, I didn’t even use an archetype (GASP!). It’s just a vanilla witch. However, due to the pure versatility of the witch class, this character is still specialized, and is honestly really, really good at one thing: draining dexterity. That’s right, this witch doesn’t specifically target hit points or anything, his job is to lower the front liner’s dexterity to the point of completely disabling the character. Via a combination of Wracking Ray, Enervation, Fleshworm Infestation, Unadulterated Loating (cast on armor. I’m mean. If players can do it, so can GMs), Ill Omen (usually cast by the familiar), and Shared Sacrifice, the front line character never stood a chance. Be sure to design a fight that uses this NPC to be LONG! Include some high health enemies — I used the Unspeakable Horror summoner below — and some tricky tactics to keep the PCs on their toes. Just be careful, if the witch does cast every spell listed here, he won’t have much left to do (except for his hexes, which are honestly plenty good on their own).
Unspeakable Horror – Unchained Summoner (Level 9)
Again, nothing was really random about this NPC, but this one is so much fun that I hope you can forgive me. The Unspeakable Horror is a shackleborn Tiefling Synthesist Summoner with a Kyton Eidolon designed to rip and tear. A fight against this thing will likely be very frustrating to players who haven’t optimized their characters beyond all get-out. 3/4 BAB classes will have trouble hitting it, wizards don’t stand a chance, and full BABs should still hit a bit less frequently than they’d prefer. However, like all eidolons, the weakness here is the Touch AC. As soon as your players discover that, the fight goes from nigh impossible, to the CR 9 it’s supposed to be. Allow inexperienced players some kind of check to possibly be given the hint if it appears they’re getting frustrated. But I digress.
The Unspeakable Horror uses the wonderful summoner combo of evolution surging to large, and then casting Enlarge Person to get to huge. It’s gross, nasty, and evil, but effective. The only downside is that huge pulls the dex down too much, so the character needs a LOT of buff rounds. Within the stats, I’ve included 4 different states of buffing: unsynthesized, only evolution surged, missing all but the 1 minute per level buffs, and fully buffed. I can guarantee you this character is still quite a force to be reckoned with in every state EXCEPT unsynthesized. If they ever get knocked out of the eidolon, they give up. Immediately. Going so far as to offer all of their eidolon’s items to the party while begging forgiveness.
Next Week: Bloodragers & Doubles!
Now that I’m back on track when it comes to Pathfinder, I can promise you that next week will see more NPCs. In specific, I hope to release Bloodragers 6-10 and 17, as well as a new group of NPCs called Doubles. These NPCs have taken equal amounts of two different classes to create a combo that’s actually quite terrifying. But, more on that next week. For now, stay lucky!