It’s funny how something that seems so minute can end up being so disrupting. Death can be like that.
No, I haven’t been mourning the loss of a family member. More of a society member.
The Pathfinder Society.
My writing had been so motivated lately. The outline for my story was coming along. I was fleshing out characters. Plot was taking on a life of its own. I was stoked. Stoked!
“Are we still on for PFS tomorrow night?” my brother had asked me.
“Yeah,” I said, a bit half-heartedly. I was more excited to work on my story than my Pathfinder character, which can be a good thing. But we were participating in a Pathfinder Society event at a local hobby shop, and it had been quite some time since my brother and I were able play together. Our characters were brothers (awwww) and they had started their Pathfinder careers at the same time. But through unfortunate timing and circumstances, the brothers had been unable to adventure together since then. We’d played a number of home sessions, but either myself or my brother would be running the scenario. That put one of the brothers on the shelf.
This time, the Bash Brothers would ride together and wreck shop.
Except they didn’t. It was a Total Party Kill, and since our characters were only level three we didn’t have the resources to resurrect them. Perma-death.
It was a bitter pill to swallow. Sure, he was only level three. But the night before I had ordered a custom mini from Hero Forge (which I was luckily able to cancel). Plus, I had used him a number of times with my brother’s kids when my brother was GM’ing the scenario. They had come to like him, almost as much as I had. His death wasn’t just as loss to me. It left a hole in the semi-permanent group that we’d run during our home PFS games.
It was back to the drawing board, and that was a damn big board.
I had GM credit for running a Society Module. That gave me 3XP, or an entire level. If I credited this to my new character, he’d essentially be starting off at level 2. A level behind my family group, but high enough to still run with them and get credit for scenarios. Plus, I could make up that level with three hobby shop events.
My brother had been busy and actually had another character that he had been using with his boys. His boys were Strikers, one melee and one ranged. Our cousin played a Cleric. My brother had opted to use a Bard with his boys so he could keep everyone buffed and let them shine. I wanted my character to fill that hole when the Bard was on the shelf, but was still fun enough to play outside the family group.
Down the rabbit hole I went, and there I have stayed. For weeks.
Building a character isn’t the problem for me. I like trying out different and interesting builds. The problem was filling in a niche, while still being flexible enough to stand on his own. Coming from a long line of smasher characters, I had to work on changing my mindset. For once, I wouldn’t be building a character that did a metric shit-ton of damage.
That… took some time to come to grips with.
I started looking at various builds. I looked at a debuffing Cleric, but I didn’t want to step on my cousin’s toes (despite the characters playing in very different ways). I went back to the Oracle well, testing out various mixes and combinations to find one that stuck with me. I had to find the hook that not only kept my interest, but filled the role of support.
The class wasn’t the only sticking point for me. My character needed character. I thought about his motivations and machinations. But to do that, I had to find out what he was. Or would the who end up dictating the what? It was like developing a character for a story, only he was going to be part of an ensemble cast and the plot would change every time I used him. In some cases, so would the cast.
I’ve finally come up with a character that I think might be the one. I’m still feeling him out a bit, trying to get the Who to line up with the What. It’s just like building the protagonist in a story, but with a little less creative license. It’s still just as fun though.
Building character through building a character.