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In a round, a creature receives one turn, during which it can perform a wide variety of actions. Generally in the course of one turn, a character can perform one standard action, one move action, one swift action, and a number of free actions. Less-common combinations of actions are permissible as well, see Combat for more details.
From the sly rogue to the stalwart paladin, the Pathfinder RPG allows you to make the character you want to play. When generating a character, start with your character's concept. Do you want a character who goes toe-to-toe with terrible monsters, matching sword and shield against claws and fangs? Or do you want a mystical seer who draws his powers from the great beyond to further his own ends? Nearly anything is possible.
Once you have a general concept worked out, use the following steps to bring your idea to life, recording the resulting information and statistics on your Pathfinder RPG character sheet, which can be found at the back of this book and photocopied for your convenience.
Step 1—Determine Ability Scores: Start by generating your character's ability scores. These six scores determine your character's most basic attributes and are used to decide a wide variety of details and statistics. Some class selections require you to have better than average scores for some of your abilities.
Step 2—Pick Your Race: Next, pick your character's race, noting any modifiers to your ability scores and any other racial traits (see Races). There are seven basic races to choose from, although your GM might have others to add to the list. Each race lists the languages your character automatically knows, as well as a number of bonus languages. A character knows a number of additional bonus languages equal to his or her Intelligence modifier.
Step 3—Pick Your Class: A character's class represents a profession, such as fighter or wizard. If this is a new character, he starts at 1st level in his chosen class. As he gains experience points (XP) for defeating monsters, he goes up in level, granting him new powers and abilities.
Step 4—Pick Skills and Select Feats: Determine the number of skill ranks possessed by your character, based on his class and Intelligence modifier (and any other bonuses, such as the bonus received by humans). Then spend these ranks on skills, but remember that you cannot have more ranks than your level in any one skill (for a starting character, this is usually one). After skills, determine how many feats your character receives, based on his class and level, and select them from those presented in Feats.
Step 5—Buy Equipment: Each new character begins the game with an amount of gold, based on his class, that can be spent on a wide range of equipment and gear, from chainmail armor to leather backpacks. This gear helps your character survive while adventuring. Generally speaking, you cannot use this starting money to buy magic items without the consent of your GM.
Step 6—Finishing Details: Finally, you need to determine all of a character's details, including his starting hit points (hp), Armor Class (AC), saving throws, initiative modifier, and attack values. All of these numbers are determined by the decisions made in previous steps. Aside from these, you need to decide on your character's name, alignment, and physical appearance. It is best to jot down a few personality traits as well, to help you play the character during the game. Additional rules (like age and alignment) are described in Additional Rules.
Each character has six ability scores that represent his character's most basic attributes. They are his raw talent and prowess. While a character rarely rolls an ability check (using just an ability score), these scores, and the modifiers they create, affect nearly every aspect of a character's skills and abilities. Each ability score generally ranges from 3 to 18, although racial bonuses and penalties can alter this; an average ability score is 10.
There are a number of different methods used to generate ability scores. Each of these methods gives a different level of flexibility and randomness to character generation.
Racial modifiers (adjustments made to your ability scores due to your character's race—see Races) are applied after the scores are generated.
Standard: Roll 4d6, discard the lowest die result, and add the three remaining results together. Record this total and repeat the process until six numbers are generated. Assign these totals to your ability scores as you see fit. This method is less random than Classic and tends to create characters with above-average ability scores.
Classic: Roll 3d6 and add the dice together. Record this total and repeat the process until you generate six numbers. Assign these results to your ability scores as you see fit. This method is quite random, and some characters will have clearly superior abilities. This randomness can be taken one step further, with the totals applied to specific ability scores in the order they are rolled. Characters generated using this method are difficult to fit to predetermined concepts, as their scores might not support given classes or personalities, and instead are best designed around their ability scores.
Heroic: Roll 2d6 and add 6 to the sum of the dice. Record this total and repeat the process until six numbers are generated. Assign these totals to your ability scores as you see fit. This is less random than the Standard method and generates characters with mostly above-average scores.
Dice Pool: Each character has a pool of 24d6 to assign to his statistics. Before the dice are rolled, the player selects the number of dice to roll for each score, with a minimum of 3d6 for each ability. Once the dice have been assigned, the player rolls each group and totals the result of the three highest dice. For more high-powered games, the GM should increase the total number of dice to 28. This method generates characters of a similar power to the Standard method.
Purchase: Each character receives a number of points to spend on increasing his basic attributes. In this method, all attributes start at a base of 10. A character can increase an individual score by spending some of his points. Likewise, he can gain more points to spend on other scores by decreasing one or more of his ability scores. No score can be reduced below 7 or raised above 18 using this method. See Table: Ability Score Costs for the costs of each score. After all the points are spent, apply any racial modifiers the character might have.
The number of points you have to spend using the purchase method depends on the type of campaign you are playing. The standard value for a character is 15 points. Average nonplayer characters (NPCs) are typically built using as few as 3 points. See Table: Ability Score Points for a number of possible point values depending on the style of campaign. The purchase method emphasizes player choice and creates equally balanced characters. This system is typically used for organized play events, such as the Pathfinder Society (visit paizo.com/pathfinderSociety for more details on this exciting campaign).