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Campaign Tips

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 404
So now you have an adventure or two ready for your players to experience. While you can certainly keep these adventures as separate entities, and perhaps even have your players make new characters each time you start a new adventure, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game assumes that your players will keep their same characters as they go from adventure to adventure, growing more powerful as they accumulate experience and treasure.

So, what happens between adventures? What is the world that those adventures take place in? Who lives there, and what do NPCs who don’t take part in the adventures do? The answers to these questions and more comprise your world, or setting, and the specific progression of adventures your PCs undertake in this setting is known as a campaign.

Many published campaign settings exist—the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting is the assumed setting for most games that use the Pathf inder Roleplaying Game rules, but it is by no means the only one. Dozens of publishers offer intriguing and detailed settings to choose from—you can even use settings from games that use rules quite different than those presented in this book, or settings that are inspired by or lifted directly from a favorite series of books or movies. But for some, the most rewarding part of being a Game Master is the act of creating your own campaign setting and running it for your players.

The act of creating a campaign is no less daunting than creating a world. It can quickly become overwhelming, especially when you start to consider all of the areas you’ll need to become an expert at. If your world has multiple moons, how does that affect tides? If you choose a specif ic shape for your main continent, what does that do to trade winds? Where do the deserts go, and where do the swamps go? How many rivers is too many? What impact would a technologically advanced nation of warriors have on the neighboring shamanistic barbarians? Does your world have chocolate and coffee and avocados? What’s the tallest mountain in your world, and why is it the tallest? Are there salmon and trout in your world, and if there’s not, what do the bears eat instead? If you have a nation modeled on ancient Japan, does that mean you need to learn Japanese in order to name NPCs who live there? Is there gunpowder in your world, and if not, why not? Is the world’s core molten? If it’s not, how would that impact your world’s magnetosphere—would there still be a north pole? How much does a longsword weigh if your campaign world is half the size of Earth? What happens if your campaign world is shaped like a ring?

For these reasons, it’s generally best to assume an Earthlike baseline for your first campaign world. Another handy tip is to avoid detailing everything at once. Staying just one step ahead of your players is often all you need to do—if you know that the first adventure they’ll be going on is an exploration of an abandoned fort, don’t worry about detailing anything but the surrounding 5-mile area, along with, perhaps, a small village for them to start the adventure in. If you know that the second adventure’s going to be in a haunted mine in the mountains, you then have as long as it takes the PCs to explore that abandoned fort to detail the area between your first village and the badlands to the east where the mine’s located. By creating only what you need to run the next few games, you slowly but surely build a larger whole, while at the same time maintaining your sanity.

Yet still, the lure of building an entire campaign setting is great. In a lot of ways, creating your own world is like an entirely different game in and of itself—a Game Master thus gets to play the game more often than his players, since when the actual session isn’t going, the GM gets to design cities and evil temples and nations and dungeons and monsters to his heart’s content. The Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide provides a wealth of advanced advice and tools you can use to build your campaign world, but the remainder of this chapter covers a number of different topics to aid you. These topics barely scratch the surface of the implications and ideas you’ll be facing when creating your own campaign world, but they can get you started.

Cost of Living

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 405
An adventurer’s primary source of income is treasure, and his primary purchases are tools and items he needs to continue adventuring—spell components, weapons, magic items, potions, and the like. Yet what about things like food? Rent? Taxes? Bribes? Idle purchases? You can certainly handle these minor expenditures in detail during play, but tracking every time a PC pays for a room, buys water, or pays a gate tax can swiftly become obnoxious and tiresome. If you’re not really into tracking these minor costs of living, you can choose to simply ignore these small payments. A more realistic and easier-to-use method is to have PCs pay a recurring cost of living tax. At the start of every game month, a PC must pay an amount of gold equal to the lifestyle bracket he wishes to live in—if he can’t afford his desired bracket, he drops down to the first one he can afford.

Destitute (0 gp/month): The PC is homeless and lives in the wilderness or on the streets. A destitute character must track every purchase, and may need to resort to Survival checks or theft to feed himself.

Poor (3 gp/month): The PC lives in common rooms of taverns, with his parents, or in some other communal situation—this is the lifestyle of most untrained laborers and commoners. He need not track purchases of meals or taxes that cost 1 sp or less.

Average (10 gp/month): The PC lives in his own apartment, small house, or similar location—this is the lifestyle of most trained or skilled experts or warriors. He can secure any nonmagical item worth 1 gp or less from his home in 1d10 minutes, and need not track purchases of common meals or taxes that cost 1 gp or less.

Wealthy (100 gp/month): The PC has a sizable home or a nice suite of rooms in a fine inn. He can secure any nonmagical item worth 5 gp or less from his belongings in his home in 1d10 minutes, and need only track purchases of meals or taxes in excess of 10 gp.

Extravagant (1,000 gp/month): The PC lives in a mansion, castle, or other extravagant home—he might even own the building in question. This is the lifestyle of most aristocrats. He can secure any nonmagical item worth 25 gp or less from his belongings in his home in 1d10 minutes. He need only track purchases of meals or taxes in excess of 100 gp.

Monstrous Characters

Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 405
You should decide on how exotic your world is at the start. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game assumes a baseline that all PCs, and thus the majority of the civilized world’s NPCs, are of one of the seven races presented in Chapter 2. You might want to narrow those choices—perhaps there are only humans in your world, or perhaps one or more of the races in Chapter 2 are rare enough to be nearly legends on their own. In these cases, you should inform your players that their choices for races are reduced, as appropriate.

On the other end of things, perhaps your world is much more extravagant than the implied world. In this case, you might allow your players to play characters of races other than those detailed in Chapter 2. The Pathfinder RPG Bestiary has many non-standard races to choose from, but you should note that most of these are significantly more powerful than those presented in Chapter 2. Any race that grants racial Hit Dice is probably too potent a choice for most campaigns. As a general guideline, you should advise your players to choose races of roughly equal power, using a creature’s racial HD (not its CR) as a general guideline. Characters who wish instead to play standard races should be allowed to start at higher level, so that their total HD match the highest HD held by a non-standard race in the party.

Alternative Races

Only more experienced GMs should consider allowing players to play anything other than the races presented in Chapter 2, but if you want to start experimenting, the following races from the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary are good choices for races that are close in power to those listed in Chapter 2.
  • Aasimar
  • Goblin
  • Hobgoblin
  • Kobold
  • Merfolk
  • Mite
  • Orc
  • Tengu
  • Tiefling
The following races are somewhat more powerful, due to the fact that they possess racial Hit Dice, exceptional ability score modifiers, natural attacks, or other unusual abilities. These races are intended as monstrous foes, not as PC races, and if you allow players to play one of these creatures, you should allow characters who pick from the list above or from the seven core races to start play at 2nd level.
  • Boggard
  • Bugbear
  • Dark Creeper
  • Drow
  • Duergar
  • Gnoll
  • Lizardfolk
  • Morlock
  • Svirfneblin