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Campaign Systems

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 134
This chapter presents a variety of small tweaks for your campaign, each one focused on giving life to moments and depth to activities in your game. You can use these systems individually or mix and match them together to taste.

Alignment dives into what each of the nine alignments means to different people, and provides new rules for incrementally changing your alignment. If your party loves playing out interactions with merchants and finds selling items at half price a little dull, spice things up with Bargaining.

Classes and feats can grant you an animal companion, familiar, cohort, or other partner. Companions brings new options to your table for using them.

PCs meet interesting and useful allies all the time. Contacts lets you turn those chance meetings and dealings into long-term recurring characters in your campaign.

Exploration takes the time your party spends exploring the unknown lands between dungeons and settlements and makes it a part of your party’s story, giving campaigns more of a sandbox feel.

Many characters follow some code—chivalric, criminal, samurai, and so on. Honor lets you track your personal code and use it to your advantage. With Investment, you can add “entrepreneur” to the list of roles you have in the world, staking your hard-fought gold and silver on an enterprise.

Family is important to many adventurers. Lineage provides many ideas for using your family in the campaign.

Magic Item Creation takes the rules from the Core Rulebook and adds greater depth and detail for casters who love magical research and development.

When you have recurring NPCs, you have the potential for interesting drama. Relationships models that drama between both friends and rivals.

Successful adventurers are well known and respected for their grand deeds. Reputation and Fame marks the tangible progress of fame—good or ill—and shows the rewards of having a high reputation.

If you’re fortunate, maybe one day you’ll put down the sword and wand and run a tavern for the rest of your peaceful days. That’s where Retirement comes in.

As time goes on, your needs as a hero change. Retraining has you covered, letting you change your archetypes, class features, feats, skill ranks, spells known, and other abilities.

When adventurers walk into town with satchels of treasure, everyone wants a cut. Taxation describes the situations where the party needs to part with their silver.

Young Characters provides rules for creating and progressing adventurers who got a very early start in the dungeon-exploring and monster-slaying profession.

Alignment

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 134
Alignment is a curious creature; it summarizes the philosophy and morality of a person, and yet no two characters with the same alignment are exactly alike. Still, alignment says much about a character’s soul and the way she interacts with others.

Each alignment has a list of philosophies or doctrines that characters may follow, together with a list of core concepts to bear in mind while playing a character of a given alignment. You could decide that one word is particularly crucial to your character—be that justice, greed, or self. You’ll find that some of these words appear in more than one alignment. To one person, “freedom” may mean freedom for herself and others, while to another, it may mean freedom to take what she wants.

When thinking of alignments, use a simple test: How would the character treat a stranger in trouble? A chaotic good person who sees a stranger being robbed would rush to his aid—a person in distress needs help. A lawful good character would move to take over the situation and see justice done. A neutral character might stand back and watch developments, acting as she sees fit on this occasion, and perhaps acting differently the next time. A chaotic evil character would join in, and perhaps try to rob both the victim and the robbers. A lawful evil character would hang back, waiting for the fight to end, and then take advantage for his own gain or that of his god or cult.

Bargaining

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 138
An item is worth only what someone will pay for it. To an art collector, a canvas covered in daubs of random paint may be a masterpiece; a priestess might believe a weathered jawbone is a holy relic of a saint. The rules presented here offer you a way of playing through the process of selling off goods brought up from a crypt, liberated from a baron’s bedchamber, or plundered from a dragon’s vault. They also enable players to establish contacts with local fences, launderers, antiquarians, and obsessive collectors.

Companions

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 140
In a typical campaign, each player controls one character. However, there are several ways for you to temporarily or permanently gain the assistance of a companion, such as an animal companion, a cohort, an eidolon, or a familiar. The combat advantages of controlling a second creature are obvious, but having a companion also has drawbacks and requires an understanding of both your role and the GM’s in determining the creature’s actions. This section addresses common issues for companions and the characters who use them.

Contacts

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 148
A contact is a unique NPC with useful skills or powerful connections. You can call upon contacts for aid to accomplish specialized tasks without getting directly involved. A low-level contact can dig up a local rumor, tell you where to find a good meal, or impart basic knowledge. However, as you earn more of a contact’s trust, he might perform greater tasks with greater personal risk, such as helping you track down an adversary, bailing you out of jail, or loaning you a magic item.

There are many types of contacts—a contact might be a childhood friend, a former adversary with whom you share a mutual respect, a war buddy, a former colleague, or a friend of the family. They aren’t limited to a specific social class or profession. A contact with few connections is capable of providing only minimal aid to you, but others might have more significant resources. A contact’s ability to aid you might even shift over the course of your adventuring career. Changes to a contact’s profession, rising or falling social status, and other personal events can alter his ability to provide aid.

Sometimes a contact needs compensation for his trouble, or at least reimbursement for costs incurred while working on your behalf. Criminal contacts in particular almost always charge for their services or demand favors in return. A contact from a temple or guild might expect you to give a donation to the temple or pay guild fees. Other times, costs arise out of necessity. A contact who needs anonymity to accomplish a task might require additional funds for bribes or to purchase covert access to a secret location. Likewise, you shouldn’t expect a spellcaster contact to pay for the expensive material components when casting a spell on your behalf.

Two factors influence the effectiveness of a contact: the amount of trust you share with the contact and the amount of risk involved with what you ask of the contact. A contact who doesn’t fully trust you won’t risk his neck to help you, though he might still perform some basic riskfree tasks to see if you warrant additional trust.

Exploration

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 154
Exploration is the epitome of adventuring. An explorer strikes out into the uncharted wild to pursue fortune and glory, facing off against a world of unknown perils that can strike at any time. Beyond the protection of civilization, death can come at the hands of bandit attacks, encounters with feral beasts, and the uncaring whims of the environment. For those brave enough, exploration offers its own kind of reward: the ability to look back on the long road traveled, to recount the many obstacles that were struggled through, and to mark the discoveries made along the way as yours. The summit of every mountain climbed and the length of every trail forged is a victory for the traveler—a chance to look at the world she is conquering.

The following pages present rules for how you as a GM can include exploring large regions of wilderness in your campaign. You can use these rules to run an exploration-themed campaign or to add an exploration component to a campaign, such as searching for resources, scouting territory for the expansion of a kingdom, or establishing trade routes.

Honor

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 161
Beyond life and death, beyond good and evil, there is honor. It is the abode of the eternal, which none can take but which can be destroyed through a single rash act. It is a measure of one’s place within a society, a status known to all and sought by many. Whether in a samurai culture, the frozen viking wastes of the northlands, or the dizzying court intrigues of a byzantine kingdom, honor provides an anchor and stable foundations for your life’s work. If you lack honor, others view you as faithless, untrustworthy, disloyal, and unfair. Honor influences reputation, status, and legend, but transcends them all.

Who has honor varies from culture to culture. In some, anyone from the lowliest peasant to the emperor can pursue honor, and a life lived in accordance with honor is the highest achievement. In another land, honor is a game only for nobility, a scoring method in their battles over status. Honor may be purely a warrior’s code or a more primitive, largely unspoken understanding between combatants.

In some lands, the use of poison is an instant blight on one’s honor. In others, its subtle and effective use might be a mark of the truly civilized person who wants to avert war and avoid innocent bloodshed. The general who fights until his last soldier falls is counted as honorable in some realms; in others, it is the general who surrenders, recognizing that sacrificing her soldiers’ lives would be a waste. A criminal’s code of honor is different from a priest’s, and a school of wizards may have different rules for honor than a cabal of sorcerers.

No matter what form it takes, honor is recognition of a code larger than the individual, a willingness to subsume one’s desires in the service of that code. Honor requires self-sacrifice. It is often neither the most reasonable course of action nor the most practical. It comes with a cost, but is its own reward. Your honor must be protected and upheld at all times; allowing another to besmirch it is almost as great an affront as you performing a dishonorable act. A dishonorable person may try to use your honorable code against you, but honor does not equate to stupidity.

This section presents a system for representing honor, as well as examples of various honor codes, including the chivalric code, the criminal code, and the samurai code.

Investment

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 164
From the lowly copper piece to treasure chests bulging with precious gemstones, the anchor of most parties is treasure. But what is the purpose of a PC collecting this money if not to better her life? Once she’s acquired it, shouldn’t she put it to work for her? After all, adventuring is not a certain prospect—investments are a much safer bet, and the return they offer on the money invested comes without all the dangers involved in adventuring.

But an investment is still a wager, and sometimes these wagers go bad. This section provides a sample of monetary investments a PC might make, and offers the GM suggestions for potential adventure hooks that utilize those investments in the broader campaign. If the PC makes an investment, it should be more interesting than calculating compound interest—give the PC the opportunity to interact with monetary decisions.

The rate of return shouldn’t be more than 5% per year for low-risk investments, though particularly risky investments might see as much as 15–20%. This upper end should be incredibly rare, and situations where the investors’ profit exceeds 25% are almost unheard of. A GM should ration out those high-yield investments carefully. Keep in mind that unscrupulous people are always happy to get between the players and their investment income. Whether these people are legitimate (such as the tax collectors) or not (such as bandits, swindlers, or thugs wanting protection money), the net profit on an investment is frequently less than anticipated.

Lineage

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 166
A hero doesn’t just blink into existence the moment you fill out a character sheet; he came from somewhere. For most characters, that means he has or had a family: a mother and father, who in turn had mothers and fathers of their own, and so on, stretching back into the past in a chain of ancestry. This is the character’s lineage, and it shapes and defines the character, whether he’s consciously aware of it or not. Some lineages are more complex than others—adoption, sorcerer bloodlines, and reincarnation are a few examples—but the idea of family is still important beyond immediate blood ties. Whatever form this lineage takes, it has a profound effect on the character’s life, story, and role in the campaign.

Magic Item Creation

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 170
If you have item creation feats (or access to those feats from cohorts or other NPCs), you might want to use time between adventures to craft magic items, either to create new items from scratch or add abilities to existing items. If the desired item is something out of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook and you have the appropriate feats, the GM’s role is mainly to approve or disapprove the creation of the item (for example, if the GM has decided that the desired item is rare, requires exotic ingredients, or is illegal or forbidden where the downtime takes place). If there is a chance for you to accidentally create a cursed item by failing the skill check by 5 or more, the GM should roll the check in secret so you don’t know whether or not the item is cursed.

If you want to create an entirely new type of item (such as a ring that allows you to cast acid arrow three times per day) or add properties to an existing item (such as adding the flaming property to a holy avenger), the process is more complex and requires discussion and cooperation between you and the GM. The following sections address common concerns and problems about magic item creation.

Relationships

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 176
No villain ever seems to understand that when he threatens a hero’s family, things go south for him. After all, nothing gives the beleaguered champion one last surge of strength like the sight of a loved one in peril. Relationships are the cornerstone of all that heroes are and can be.

This section helps you create dynamic and important relationships for player characters. Building a relationship between a PC and a key NPC can eventually grant that PC unique advantages and boons—whether the relationship is amiable or adversarial.

When your PC first meets a significant NPC (assuming the NPC isn’t already part of your character’s backstory), the GM may inform you that your PC can build a relationship with that NPC. If you are interested in doing so, record the NPC’s name on your character sheet, the current Relationship Score you have with that NPC, and whether the relationship is friendly or competitive. Normally, your Relationship Score for a new contact is equal to your Charisma modifier, but the GM may decide that a relationship with a character tied to your backstory starts with a higher Relationship Score.

A relationship with an NPC can be either friendly or competitive—you get to choose which kind to pursue. Various in-game events can spontaneously change a relationship from one type to the other.

Reputation and Fame

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 180
Though some heroes content themselves with living off the spoils of their exploits or cloaking themselves in humility, others seek to live forever through the sagas and songs of their epic deeds. History measures a hero’s success by tales of triumph and bravery that are retold down the ages. A hero with no one to tell her story quickly fades into obscurity along with her unsung accomplishments. How others tell of a hero’s deeds becomes the weight by which she is measured, sculpting both her identity and reputation.

Reputation represents how the general public perceives you, whether positively or negatively. This perception precedes you, speaking on your behalf when you are absent and determining how you can expect to be treated by those who have heard of you. Reputation means different things to different types of characters, reflected in the social and cultural values of different regions. A character who embodies the qualities of a hero in one region may be perceived as villainous or disreputable in another. An icon widely revered and respected in her homeland may slip from fame into obscurity upon traveling to a neighboring kingdom.

When using these reputation rules, the GM needs to establish what reputation means to the players and NPCs of the campaign. For instance, a viking-themed campaign might base reputation on pillaging. Regardless, the basic concept for how you earn a reputation remains the same: You gain reputation when word of your deeds spreads. The more fantastic or socially significant your deeds, the better tales they make. If you are able to establish a strong or noteworthy reputation, you may be extolled for your actions and afforded resources beyond those obtainable by lesser-known individuals. Similarly, you can use your reputation to influence people socially, politically, and financially.

Three factors determine your reputation: Fame, Sphere of Influence, and Prestige Points. Your Fame increases and decreases depending on your actions. Your current Fame determines your overall reputation and maximum potential for cashing in on your fame (for a heroic character) or infamy (for a villainous character). Sphere of Influence defines the places where you can apply the benefits of your reputation. You can reap the benefits of your reputation by spending Prestige Points on awards, including temporary bonuses and favors.

Retirement

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 186
Every hero’s journey comes to an end. Ideally this happens at the conclusion of the campaign, but not every hero makes it that far. Some are crippled in battle, killed without the possibility of resurrection, or altered beyond recognition by foul magic. Others lose the will to adventure or their motives for adventuring become irrelevant. Characters can also fall by the wayside for outof- game reasons, such as a player’s schedule changing and preventing participation or the player losing interest in playing the character or the game.

When this happens, you have an opportunity beyond the character walking off into the sunset—you can work with the GM to turn her into an NPC. If you choose this, you’re left with questions to answer. Where does she go? What does she do when not adventuring? Similarly, the GMs is presented with an intriguing dilemma: should the retired character be involved in the campaign as an NPC, and if so, how?

Using ex-PCs to develop the world and advance the story is an easy way to establish a personal connection between the players and the setting, yet overusing them can steal the focus of the campaign away from the active PCs. The GM must also take the desires of the character’s player into account, as few enjoy seeing a favorite PC portrayed poorly.

The decision to include ex-PCs is not one to make lightly, but the benefits typically far outweigh the risks. Continuing to use ex-PCs reinforces the idea that characters’ actions have real and vital consequences for the game world, even after the last battle.

Retraining

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 188
If you are unsatisfied with a feat, skill, archetype, or class ability you chose, you may spend time in intense training to trade the old ability for a new one. Though it is time-consuming and expensive, this allows you to alter aspects of your character without extreme magic or a traumatic event.

Retraining takes all your attention for 8 hours per day for a number of days based on what you’re retraining. You can’t perform any other strenuous activities while retraining, such as marching, adventuring, or crafting magic items. You can retrain only one thing at a time; you must complete or abandon a particular training goal before starting another one. Abandoning unfinished training means you lose all progress toward that training’s goal and all costs associated with that training.

Unless stated otherwise, retraining costs gp equal to 10 × your level × the number of days required to retrain. This is normally paid in full at the start of the retraining period, but the GM might allow you to divide these payments over multiple days. At the GM’s discretion, this training cost could be up to 50% higher or lower, depending on situational factors within the settlement—availability of trainers, local economy, cost of materials, and so on.

Some retraining options require you to work with a trainer. If no suitable trainer is available, the GM might allow you to retrain yourself by spending twice the normal time. Even if you train yourself, you must still pay the cost for training (though you don’t double the cost as you do the time). Any option that requires a trainer also requires some kind of training facility for that activity (such as a Dojo—see Rooms).

When you use retraining to replace some aspect of your character, you must meet all prerequisites, requirements, and considerations for whatever you’re trying to acquire. For example, a 6th-level rogue can’t use retraining to learn the Weapon Specialization feat because only fighters can choose that feat. When retraining multiple character options (class features, feats, classes, etc.) in one continuous period, all of the new selections are made at the end of that period in an order decided by the player. If this period is interrupted for any reason all choices must be made immediately. In this way players can retrain class features and their prerequisites at the same time.

Unless otherwise specified, there is no limit to how many times you can use retraining. Options that specify “one” of something refer to once per retraining session, not a campaign-wide limitation. For example, a barbarian can retrain one rage power per training session, and when she finishes a session she can start another retraining session to retrain that rage power or another one.

Some of the options listed below involve retraining features of your character that are essentially permanent parts of your heritage, such as a sorcerer’s bloodline. The cost of retraining these things presumably includes magical or alchemical alterations to your body. The GM might rule that these changes are unavailable in the campaign, are only available under rare circumstances, take longer, are temporary, require some sort of quest, or are more expensive than the listed cost.

The following are the many types of training available.

Taxation

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 192
Even a moderately successful adventurer commands wealth and personal power beyond the means of most normal people in the world. While the common folk adore their heroes and the small-minded envy them, the authorities take a more pragmatic view: How can they and their jurisdictions financially benefit from these adventurers? In the greater campaign, as the PCs advance in stature, they gain the notice of such authorities, who seek a share of the PCs’ rewards in the form of taxes. They claim material goods, utilize the PCs’ talents in day-to-day life, or even enlist the PCs’ services as adventurers. These people see this attention and service as their due for giving adventurers safe haven between quests and, at least in theory, protecting the PCs from the depredations of robbers and swindlers.

Taxes manifest in many ways and from many sources, and go by different names: dues, fees, surcharges, tariffs, tithes, and even requests for charity or donations. The person or organization levying the taxes, known as the collector, varies as well. A collector might be a civil leader (such as a noble or mayor), a professional (such as a dean or guild master), or a religious authority (such as an archbishop or parish priest).

When and how much to tax varies based on the nature of the campaign. Generally, paying taxes should happen between adventures, such as when the PCs enter a new city or return to their regular base of operations. A good rule is for the GM to tax the party once per character level for an amount roughly equal to a single encounter’s total treasure value at their APL. The GM could also split this amount into multiple taxes or fees over the course of that character level.

For example, a party of 3rd-level PCs on the Medium track should be taxed about 800 gp. If the party’s wealth is higher than the normal wealth by level guidelines and the PCs don’t show discretion about this excess, authorities notice this and actively work to separate the PCs from more of their treasure. The GM should shower the PCs with flattery and promises of favors in the future so they don’t feel punished for success.

This section also gives advice on using alternatives to taxation as adventure hooks. Instead of forcing the PCs to pay taxes, the local authorities can request that the PCs complete appropriate services or quests.

Young Characters

Source Ultimate Campaign pg. 194
Not all fantasy characters have the luxury of waiting until adulthood to begin their adventuring careers—take Arya Stark, Sabriel the Abhorsen, the Pevensie siblings, and Harry Potter, for example. The dangers of fantasy worlds don’t discriminate between the ages of those they threaten. Even the infant Hercules had to strangle the serpents Hera sent to kill him in his crib. But though they’re often underestimated, such youths are rarely the ready victims they’re often treated as. By default, newly made characters are adults, their ages randomly assigned or at least influenced by Table 7–1: Random Starting Ages, presented on page 169 of the Core Rulebook. However, should you wish to play a young prodigy getting an early start on her legend, the rules here detail how to bring such a character to life.