Just how does a character come to be in Savage Pathfinder? Stick around and roll your Saving Throw – we’re about to find out!
We’ve built many characters using Savage Worlds here at the Exploration Society, but they were often part of long-form series and hard to parse because we were covering a lot of players’ decisions. If you’ve watched those, well, Pathfinder for Savage Worlds is not much different from any other Savage Worlds product, but there are some idiosyncrasies to be aware of. With these tutorials you should be able to quickly and efficiently follow along for your own needs!
In this episode we’ll be covering concepts, ancestry, and hindrances. In future episodes we’ll cover things like traits, skills, edges and even more gameplay-related rules. So stay tuned and be sure to Subscribe to be notified when new episodes go up! After this series you’ll be able to tackle just about any Savage Worlds product – not just Pathfinder!
So let’s jump into your character concept.
It’s crucial whenever you begin to create a character that you have an idea of who you want them to be. The in-game world is hectic and filled with wonder and peril – who knows what will happen, and there’s no way to prepare for everything. So it’s important to have a goal in mind so you have something to build towards. Are you a squire seeking redemption after failing your former master? Are you an ex-soldier hoping to earn some extra coin to settle down with? Perhaps you’ve studied the natural world in books all your life and it’s time for you to actually experience it? No matter what, you can always adjust as you go – you should never feel locked into anything! And if you DO feel locked in, well, make a new character!
I’m going to make a dwarven wizard because I almost always go with martial classes and Arcane Backgrounds tend to be interesting. Plus a dwarf wizard just sounds badass!
Here you pick what you’re gonna build everything on. The being upon which you will confer all sorts of life into! Each ancestry gives you certain innate abilities and “perks” that have been gleaned from millenia of evolution. It’s all kind of BS to be honest, feel free to work with your GM to adjust some of these perks or negatives to better suit your concept. The belief that all Elves are monolith and there isn’t, like, some slovenly elf who’s not so good at the Legolas-type stuff but instead prefers drinking mead and hitting things with a large hammer? If we learned nothing from Rudolph and his dentist friend Hermy, elves come in all types – same goes for dwarfs, halflings, humans, you name it!
But OK. This is a GAME after all and part of that aspect is choosing an archetype. If you want, there is some strategy in choosing an ancestry. Some ancestries may be more suited to certain types of play – for instance if you want a stealthy thief type you might choose a Halfling or Elf, both of whom receive Agility bonuses. Or you might choose an Orc or Dwarf for their resilience and Vigor bonuses.
Despite this, I urge you not to get hung up on what the maximum effect could be. RPGs are not video games. And especially with Savage Worlds where even an untrained wizard could score a lucky hit with a staff on the red dragon and bring it down, your ability to minimize weakness to maximize your strengths is less important overall.
So, like I said in my concept, I’m going with a dwarf – I know that wizards tend to be glass cannons and so the Vigor boost will help me stay alive a bit. But from a non-mechanic standpoint I also know I can play against type and have a lot of fun with this combo!
Now a dwarf, like all ancestries, gets certain benefits and drawbacks! Look closely at this list and make a note of anything that will affect your creation down the road. For instance, dwarves have a reduced pace due to their short stature, so we’ll drop that down to 5 (default is usually 6). BUT they start with a d6 in VIGOR rather than a d4, so they’re already a bit tougher out the gate!
We’ll make a note of that along with noting the Stonecunning ability which I can already fold back into my character’s backstory! FUN!
Now here’s where the character really starts to comes out. Hindrances are a Savage Worlds mechanic which gives your character certain quirks or disabilities. In return you get points to spend on boosting traits, adding skills or Edges. More on that next episode!
If you’ve watched the channel you know I’m typically against using disabilities as game currency – that is, giving your character disadvantages for the sole purpose of being able to add advantages to some other aspect. There is a FANTASTIC series about this on WritingAlchemy.net. It gives a lot of great insight AND examples of how to incorporate better systems into these games.
Luckily, the list of hindrances is more than just physical disabilities and it dives into character flaws that actually have an impact on the game. This is a feature I actually truly adore about Savage Worlds – despite its flaws.
You can look at Hindrances in two ways – mechanical and superficial. Some have crossover between the two, but in general there are Hindrances that have an in-game mechanical effect (usually to your detriment), and there are others that strictly affect how you role-play your character.
For instance, the Curiosity Hindrance has no mechanical effect. You suffer no ill-effects from being Curious – unless you’re a cat, I suppose. But I digress. Curiosity is strictly to help inform your role-play. If you don’t play it up why’d you choose it? Playing up Hindrances is a ticket to free Bennies from your GM! And it really elevates the game from being a fancy board game to being something far more introspective and interesting.
On the mechanical end of things you can look at Mild Mannered which gives the character a -1 on Intimidation checks. It can be fun to play up AND you have a mechanical trigger as well
You’ll notice that Hindrances have a Major or Minor designation. This is important strictly at character creation when you tally up the points you get from choosing Hindrances. A Major Hindrance is worth 2 points, while a Minor is worth 1. You can get up to 4 points from Hindrances. This doesn’t mean you can’t choose more Hindrances, but you won’t get any point benefit from taking extra.
You can spend these four points on a few things at Character Creation and only at Character Creation (taking a Hindrance down the line does not give you more points). For two points you can raise an attribute one die type or you can choose an Edge. For one point you can gain another skill point (we’ll get to skills next episode) or get some extra starting cash to buy gear. You can do any combo of these up to the four points you have to spend. So you could get four skill points, or two Edges, or two attribute die raises.
For my dwarf I’m going to pick one Major and two Minor hindrances to get to my four points. I’ll pick Arrogant – my guy has a need to prove himself! This is a Major Hindrance, so that’s 2 points to spend! And then, let’s see, Stubborn is a Minor hindrance and fits well with Arrogant. You’ll find Hindrances often go hand in hand easily. I imagine my dwarf has had to battle a lot of negative perception going into magic rather than the family trade! And as such, he’s developed into a bit of a meany – so I’ll take Mean as my final Minor and make a note that I get -1 to Persuasion rolls! That’ll come into play when we put together our Skills. That brings me to 4 points to spend on the rest of Character Creation.
Join me next time as I tackle skills, traits, and Edges and apply these four points! If this helped you, please consider liking and sharing. And check out the Saving Throw Ko-fi to support more content like this!
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What are your favorite Hindrances? Are you building a character along with me? Feel free to share in the comments, I’d love to see your builds!
Til next time – LET’S DUNGEON!