Articles By Author - Neal F. Litherland

The Swashbuckling Brute

Precision over power is the credo of the swashbuckler. Daring swordfighters who rely on skill and speed, most people picture swashbucklers as swaggering bravos with dueling capes over their shoulders. However, while a duelist in a feathered hat or a pirate captain storming the deck of a ship may be swashbucklers, it’s important to remember those aren’t the only characters who can make this class work for them. The Mechanics Most...

Martial Flexibility: The True Power of the Brawler

Among all the new hybrid classes in the Advanced Class Guide, few of them got as big a cheer as the brawler. “Finally,” the cry went up, “we can play unarmed fighters without having to take even a single level of monk!” That probably would have been enough, but the brawler gave us even more toys to play with. In addition to the unarmed damage, we got a knockout ability, martial training so we can use brawler levels to qualify for fighter feats,...

What’s in a Name? The Swashbuckler vs. the Duelist

Fighters come in all shapes and sizes, but for the longest time any player who wanted to really capture the flash of steel and the swagger of characters like Inigo Montoya or d’Artagnan had to make do with the duelist prestige class. Then the Advanced Class Guide came out, and it brought the swashbuckler to the table. The usual talk started up about how, now that we had this new expansion, the old class was left in the dust. Even though...

Heavy Metal Bards: The Pros and Cons of the Skald

Bards have a long and storied history of being the butt of a party’s jokes. Fighters and barbarians fight, rogues and rangers skulk, wizards and sorcerers fling spells, and clerics make sure no one dies. What does the bard do? All of that, but none of it very well. While it’s possible for bards to become quite powerful, they have a bad reputation as a useless class, a waste of time, or, at best, something that’s only useful...

Has the Slayer Killed the Rogue and the Ranger?

When the Advanced Class Guide was released by Paizo, every Pathfinder player who could get his or her hands on the book went absolutely nuts over it. It was like the new toy at Christmas you’d been hoping and praying you’d get, and when you did you couldn’t think of anything else. Now that the dust has settled a bit, and players have largely gotten over the initial shininess of the new classes, there are a lot of questions...

Loaded Dice: The Magic Vampire

How to Build a Spell-Siphoning, Counterspelling Arcanist An eternal debate has raged between players who love arcane spellcasters; sorcerer or wizard? The sorcerer has more flexibility, but tends to be a lot narrower in which spells the character can cast, while the wizard knows more spells but has to try and guess which ones will be needed that day. The former gives you a bloodline and special powers, but the latter gives you a school...

Loaded Dice: Fight Smarter, Not Harder

There’s an old saying that no battle plan survives the first touch of actual combat. For players who want to make a party more than the sum of its parts, one of the key ingredients is strategy. While any adventurer might be a force to be reckoned with by himself or herself, no one is tough enough to take on a slavering horde of the undead or a poison-spewing archfiend all by their lonesome. DMs, pay attention; these suggestions work just...

Loaded Dice: Bigger Guns

Why Do Gunslingers Give So Many GMs a Heart Attack? I think by now we’ve all had that argument with our storytellers. You know the one. It has raged across forums and at more Saturday night gaming tables than I’d care to mention after Paizo released Ultimate Combat. It’s the debate that starts with the question, “May I play a gunslinger?” The Argument for Gunslingers The simplest argument is that if a player has the book, and...

Good Versus Evil

How Alignments Can Lead to Better Roleplaying and Deeper Characterization We’ve all had that conversation with a DM. You know the one. You have a really great concept, the character has motivation to join the party, and by and large you feel that you’d be able to push the game forward and heighten the drama of what’s happening. Your DM agrees, except for that one, itsy, bitsy spot on your character sheet. The alignment box....

Loaded Dice: What’s My Motivation?

We’ve all been part of one of those games. The kind where characters come together during the goblin raid, where they watch each other’s backs through the tense nights sneaking into the ogre’s cave outside of town, but when it comes time for the next part of the adventure, the party shatters. The rogue steals everything that isn’t nailed down, the barbarian starts attacking anyone who comes within sword’s reach,...

Loaded Dice: Called Shots

The Advantages, Disadvantages, and What You Can Expect in Pathfinder Dealing damage in Pathfinder can take a lot of different forms, flavor-wise. A good storyteller will look at the weapon a player’s character is using, the spell that was cast, the creature being attacked, and weave together a complete image of what that attack looked like. Mechanically-speaking though, damage, is damage, is damage. Unless, that is, a storyteller allows called...

Keeping It in Character

Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Players’ Heads in the Game Storytellers have a lot to deal with when it comes to running a roleplaying game. They have to construct the world, build the bad guys, assign stats to NPCs, name the taverns, blaze trails through the woods, and do all of that behind-the-scenes work that players never appreciate until they’re on the other side of the screen. As if that wasn’t enough, it all gets a...

You’re in the Army Now

When it comes to putting a party together, it’s important that all the necessary roles are filled. There needs to be a heavy hitter, a trap handler, a healer, and something arcane. That’s the big four that everyone pretty much agrees on, though balances can go one way or another. But what about back stories? How does a lone wolf barbarian, an assassin-in-training, an idealistic wizard afraid of the outside world, and a cleric who...

Calling in the Cavalry: Mounted Mayhem in Paizo’s Pathfinder

From the heavy horse of medieval Europe to the marauding Mongols that dominated Asia, cavalry has been one of the deadliest forces in the history of warfare. In order to bring this kind of combat to your Pathfinder Chronicles game, all it requires is building the proper mounted warrior. Benefits There are certain inherent benefits to playing a mounted character. In no particular order those are: +1 to attack against opponents of equal size for...

The Faces of Rage: Adding Character to Barbarians

I don’t always play barbarians, but when I do, I prefer huge, hulking characters with terrifying battle cries and a frenzied look in their eyes. Anyone who has ever sat at a table with a barbarian has likely noticed, though, that they’re sort of a one-trick pony: it’s all about the Rage, capital “R.” And why not? It boosts your Strength and Constitution scores, gives you bonus hit points and increases your resistance to mental...

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