Gaming

Using a Pathfinder Annotated Stat Block

Example of my Annotated Stat Block for Pathfinder

Building a annotated stat block for Pathfinder was something that I needed to get consistency between my games and how the players had interpreted their character and abilities.

It also helps provide a character for when they are unavailable to play.

Note: this continues on from my post detailing an Annotated Stat Block for D&D 5E. How references are used is first covered here.

What is a Stat Block? well it is short form of Statistical Block – text to describe your character in a reference form so you have something useful (and convenient) in a game session.

What is an Annotated Stat Block? An expanded stat block that provides references to the source material as well as a short form of the abilities that can be used in the game. This can save you from having to look up the text but if you have to check you know which book or source material this is referenced from.

Why do I use Annotated Stat Blocks? Because I’ve seen many variations of character sheets over the years I wanted something simple and consistent within my games so they can be re-used when the player is not there. With the annotated stat block I am able to provide everything needed to run the characters at the table with or without the player present. If they forget their character sheet they have one available and if they aren’t present their character can still be part of the game with far less impact to the overall campaign story if they were to “mysteriously” disappear.

How to Fill Out my Annotated Stat Block

Here is a run down of the various components of the stat block and how to fill them out for my D&D Games.

Section 1 – The Heading

This section contains the following: Name, Sex, Race, Class, Level, Alignment, Size, Type, Subtype, Initiative and Senses.

Example Heading Section

This is the base identification of a creature or character, and in all cases the name is the most important part of the character.

The next row has basic identification information with the sex, race class (with archetypes if any) and levels in that class.

  • Sex – A good thing about most RPGs is that in most cases your character’s sex is a personal thing and does not provide stat bonuses or penalties, only roleplaying opportunities. However if there is any in-game negatives for a specific sex it should be discussed before play.
  • Race – As it’s a fantasy game any race could potentially be chosen. Race is generally a stat or feature option for the game mechanics but once again if it has a negative in the setting it should be discussed before play.
  • Class – The class is the key concept your character is built around. This is nothing more than a guideline for play and contains options for combat and character interactions. For example you could be a weapons specialist who is peaceful and fights as a last resort or a servant of your god who must smite anyone who does not wear the correct shade of purple. So play style is personal preference and is guided by what options are available from your class. It is also possible to have more than one class so separate these by commas.
  • Archetype – Classes can have archetypes that can be used to provide variations of the character class. Normally an archetype changes class features to give you other options by replacing the standard ones. An example is a pirate archetype may replace a fighter’s features for armour or rogues may replace dungeoneering options to each gain sea-faring specific benefits.
  • Level – This is simply the character level obtained in this class to represent the features you have access to from that class.

The following row contains the following: Alignment, Size, Type and Subtype.

  • Alignment – There are nine alignments using two axis of descriptors.
    Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic on one axis and Good, Neutral and Evil on the second. When creating an alignment for your character you combine these such as Lawful Good, Chaotic Neutral, Neutral Evil. When both choices are Neutral then it is written as True Neutral. I prefer not to run games using evil characters however that choice is up to the Games Master you are running with.
  • Size – This is a descriptor of how large you are in comparison to other entities of the game world. Most characters are medium size with a few being small or large. There is a good variation in sizes within the descriptor so 5 to 7 feet tall still makes you a medium creature.
  • Type – This helps describes what you can be effected by when it comes to magic and special abilities, as a lot of magic can only effect a type of creature. Most characters are Humanoid and opponents range from Outsiders, Dragons, Animals and Undead allowing you to know details about it through knowledge and effect them with your abilities. i.e Hide from Undead works on creatures with the undead type.
  • Subtype – This is more specific about the type such as Human and Elf for Humanoid or Angel and Demon for Outsider. Works the same as type but refines it further.

The last line is one of the most used lines in the game, it contains: Init and Senses.

  • Init – This is short for Initiative and is a bonus for determining when you act in a combat situation and can also be used in other situations when order of action is important.
  • Senses – The ability to notice things is one of your most powerful tools in the game. Ignore perception at your own risk (or your party) as not noticing a trap, opponent or important clue can be the difference between death and living to fight another day. This also includes perception options such as Scent, Low-Light vision, Darkvision, and Blindsense.

Section 2 – Defence

Here we have the elements of the character used to defend you against damage and avoiding harm.

Example Defense Section

The first row is all about AC… better known as Armour Class (or your ability not to be hit by targeted effects) and it is broken down into two other options for targeting a person. The first is your touch value: this is how hard is it for someone who just wants to get close enough to touch you such as to impart an Inflict Wounds spell. So this represents your armour class minus your dexterity or dodge abilities. The second is the flat-footed value that is used when you are surprised or otherwise caught off guard.A

HP or Hit Points is the ability to take damage without being knocked out or killed in the game. It shows how many of each hit dice is part of the hit point total. First level is the maximum for the dice and every level after that is half the dice plus one. Example for d10, level 1 adds 10 hp, level 2 adds 6.

Saving throws are covered in the next row. They are Fort (Fortitude), Ref (Reflex) and Will (Willpower). Fort is generally used to resist toxins and harm to the physical form, Reflex for shifting ground and area effects and Will for spells and controlling your actions.

As an optional row we have Immune showing all the effects that your character is immune to. In this case the character is immune to sleep meaning it can’t be effected by sleep effects both mundane or magical. This usually lists effects like Fire, Acid or Cold for creatures.

Another option row here is the SD or Special Defence which is used to list out all of your special defences that will be details further below. An example is a monks ability to Deflect Arrows though this example does not have that ability.

Section 3 – Offense

Original Offense Section based on Paizo Offical Stat block

The offense section of the stat block details what is needed to be effective at attacking in combat. Your movement, your melee actions (and ranged actions) as well as any Special Attacks (SA) that your character may have.

Speed – Represents your ability to move around the combat field of battle. Every 5 ft is considered a square of movement though it does get complicated when you include diagonals as the first diagonal in a movement is 5 ft but the second is treated as 10 ft of movement.

Melee – is the base attacks you have for someone who is within your reach (weapon or natural attack range) and details what the weapon is, what bonuses you have to hit and how much damage it does.

Ranged – is the same as melee but will also includes a range increment which is is how far it can hit before a penalty of -2 is imposed. A thrown weapon can reach 5 increments and a fired weapon can reach 10 increments.

Home Game alteration to Offense Section

What I have done for my stat blocks is implement some D&D 5E changes to make it easier to read and run on the fly. So I replaced the Melee and Ranged sections of the original stat block with Standard actions, Full Round Actions, Free Actions and Reactions.

Standard Action – This details what you can do when you attack on a standard action which means you still have a move action in your round. The weapon here shows its attack, range, damage and type, and Crit range and effect.

I also have a Crit mechanic that increases the chance of critical hits and critical fumbles by the amount listed after Crit. So a Crit 10 means if you equal 10 points above the targets AC you critically hit and if you miss by more than 10 points you critically miss.

Also listed are other standard actions that the character can take. Other weapons would also be listed here. For this character it is their special monk attacks.

Full Round Action – This is for when a character is making two or more attacks in a round. In my home game we have a single bonus on attack rolls for characters so the more attacks you have the lower your chances of hitting with all of them.

Weapons are listed here with how they have their multi-attacks handled. In this case because the character has weapon focus with unarmed strikes they don’t take the penalty for the second attack and the 3rd attack provides a -1 to attacks due to it being a natural weapon. If you take the 3rd attack the -1 applies to reaction attacks till the start of your next turn.

Special full round free actions are included here which include Flurry, Ki Points and a special attack. Each provide an extra attack without multi-attack penalties.

Free Actions – On your turn you can do a number of free actions; listed here are the character specific ones relevant to combat such as what their natural attacks damage types are (if they have 1 ki point) and their style options they can apply to one attack a round.

Reaction – These are the special combat reactions your character can do in a combat round. In this case it is the Panther Parry ability that occurs as a reaction.

Section 4 – Statistics

Example Statistic Section

Statistics is where we go into the less used but equally important statistics that your character is built from. Here is a breakdown of all the sections.

Attributes – This row includes Str (Strength), Dex (Dexterity), Con (Constitution), Int (Intelligence), Wis (Wisdom, and Cha (Charisma). The Modifier is in brackets in the row, and it is based on the following formula:

(Attribute – 10) / 2 round up = Modifier

Examples: 20 – 10 = 10 / 2 = 5 so +5, 8 – 10 = -2 /2 = -1 so -1.

The second row is Base Att, CMB and CMD. The Base Att represents the class Base Attack Bonus and to find out your melee attack you generally add your Str mod and for your ranged attack you add your Dex mod. As you gain feats and class features you add more to these values. CMB is your characters Combat Manoeuvre Bonus which is your ability to do specific combat actions that don’t involve swinging a weapon. CMD is your Combat Manoeuvre Defence which is the target number a opponent needs to effect you by their own combat manoeuvre.

The third line is a list of feats that apply to this character. References to page numbers are useful here but less so if the feats are expanded in detail. A mixture of them is shown here. Source and page references are part of my annotated stat block only (ie. not part of the standard stat block).

The fourth line covers Traits. A character usually has two so one is technically missing for this character. Again references are part of my annotation.

The Fifth line is for skills. The base stat block shows only skills altered by the characters abilities and ranks whereas in the annotated version I show all skills that the character has access to. In most cases special modifiers are not listed.

The sixth line is Languages. Here are all the different languages the character can read, write and speak.

The seventh line is for SQ or Special Qualities which are important aspects of your character that don’t effect combat or defence.

The last line is reserved for a character’s gear. Non- magical gear should be listed here as well as the names of the magical items. There is a section further below to cover the items in detail.

Section 5 – Special Features

Example Special Features

This section is for abilities that are gained in the campaign which are not part of the characters feats, class features or race. These abilities are from the adventure path we are currently playing in referring to Adventure Path 37. Also included are their sourcebook origin with page numbers.

Section 6 – Racial Features

This section is for racial features

Same as special features, this lists all the changes your class makes to your character.

Section 7 – Class Features

Listing all the class features plus references. Here are all the class features selected for this character summarised to what they should need for play.

Section 8 – Feats

Example Feats Section

Listing all the feats plus references. Here are all the feats selected for this character summarised to what they should need for play.

Section 9 – Traits

Example Traits Section

Listing all the traits and their references. Here are all the traits selected for this character, summarised to what they should need for play.

Section 10 – Equipment

Example Equipment Section

Listing all the equipment and their references. Here are all the class features selected for this character summarised to what they should need for play. There are two options in use here: a combination of effects called extra enchantment and buffs called innate bonus.

The extra enchantment – This is literally another magical item merged into the original items. Add the cost of enchantment for the item to the existing item.

The innate bonus – This is a bonus added to existing items (an increasing their cost) for all innate bonuses replacing those items in the game. Such as Abilities, resistance and armour enhancements.

Concluding comments

This is an extensive character write up for a character and is more involved than the D&D character but like the D&D character it does not go into magic or shapechange options.

I hope this is not only useful for my Pathfinder group but for anyone else interested in playing the game with their own group. I will be moving back to my Star Wars posts as my next blog post.

References:

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