Posted on

5 Questions Every Rogue Should Be Able to Answer

Comparing a fighter with a rogue is a healthy exercise and helpful when trying to understand how these characters are fundamentally different. When in a fight, a fighter walks up to the thing and beats it down until it is dead while a rogue will look for the creature’s weak point and strike there. When trying to get something from a cave where a monster lies sleeping, a fighter will most likely wake it up with the clanging of its armor and then have to kill it before getting the treasure while a rogue will quietly sneak past it and just take it. When trying to talk their way into a room past a guard, a fighter will try to intimidate the guard into letting them pass while a rogue may intimidate but will more likely turn on the charm and convince the guard that they should already be in there. The common thread in all of them is that a rogue relies on looking for the opportunity, and that is where the heart of your character should lie.

To help you flesh out your character, we have 5 questions for you that you, as the player of the rogue should be able to answer through your character’s eyes. If you prefer to play a fighter, cleric, monk, or bard, we have 5 questions for them as well. So lets begin.

1) Why Did You Start Seeing the Opportunity in Every Situation?

Being a rogue doesn’t mean that you look for an opportunity; it means that you just see the opportunity in every situation. You were not born seeing the opportunity. This is a survival mechanism; you were made. So something had to happen over and over again, and you compensated by looking for ways to fight back. This happened so often that it comes to you as easily as breathing. So what was it? Did you grow up an orphan on the street and had to hide in order to avoid the bigger kids? Are you the scion of a noble and were constantly tricked by someone jealous of your station? Was one of your parents an abusive drunk that would beat you until you could find ways to keep the drunk from attacking before the beatings began? In short, something in your life was not pleasant for a long time and this is how you survived. What was it?

2) How Did You Escape that Bad Situation?

You’re an adventurer and are no longer in that bad situation. The story of how you got out of there is one that will hold considerable meaning to you as it will be your goto backup plan the moment the chips are down. Did you run away from your problem? This will probably mean that if the battle turns badly, you may well abandon your friends to get away. It will also mean that you take feats and other class choices that let you move faster and get away without taking attacks from your enemies. Did you finally confront that abusive parent and say, “No more!” If that were the case, you’d probably make character choices that let you attack before anyone else, striking hard with that first blow, ending the fight right away. It also means you would rush into battle faster than the fighter. Did you outsmart your jealous rival, tricking them as you were? This means you will rely on far less conventional tactics than most characters. Maybe you will use a net, whip, or other weapon that incurs some type of penalty onto your enemy. Your method of escape is a proven method of survival in your mind. What is it?

3) When Did You Fight Your Instincts and Trust Someone?

Trust is a difficult thing when you have been treated in some fashion that turns you into a rogue. However, those that do not trust lead very lonely lives. Sooner or later you have to take a chance and trust someone. Come up with three examples. Two of them should be good friends, even if you have moved on and have not talked to them in a long time. The third should be someone that let you down. It could be out and out betrayal, but it could also be something as ordinary as simple human failing. Remembering those that you trust is what keeps you trying to trust again. Feeling that pain of being let down should always temper that trust, keeping you from getting too close.

4) What Actions Will Make You Trust Again?

As mentioned previously, you don’t trust easily. To a rogue, actions speak louder than words. You have heard words over and over again and no longer trust them. “I won’t get drunk and hit again,” “I only want to help you, “I won’t tell anyone your secret.” It doesn’t matter. You’ve heard all the lies. So what does someone have to do to make you trust them? Is it someone that makes sure you get a fair share of the gold? Someone that stands up to a bully? Honesty no matter how much it hurts? What is it that will let you put your guard down to someone?

5) How Does Staying With Your Fellow Adventurers Benefit You?

While you will not sell out your fellow adventurers, you can walk away from them at any time. So why do you stick with them? There must be something in it for you? Money is the obvious answer. Going on adventures makes you rich. Yet you could find another group of adventurers. Why do you stick with this particular group? Do you trust one of them (or *gasp* all of them)? Are you doing it as a favor for someone that you want a favor from? Did someone you trust ask you? Or are you with them only for the moment and could leave when you get paid? Why are you still in this group?

Edward grew up a noble but renounced his birthright because of all the political games he had to play. He did run away, stealing to survive from that day forward. It was the Princess Yolanda that made him trust again. So when the King caught Edward and Yolanda together and he talked with them, Edward trusted the King as well. Now he adventures to prove himself worthy of the Princess’ hand and the King’s approval, trying to amend his past crimes.

Edward stands tall on the cover of Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven. Download this adventure for Pathfinder and Fifth Edition. Download these and all of our books today using coupon code “holiday2017” to get 30% off this and everything else at the JBE Shop now through January 31, 2018.

Posted on

5 Questions Every Bard Should Be Able to Answer

“Why did you think going into the dungeon and singing at the monsters was a good idea?” Let’s just agree that the idea of going into a deadly location armed with a tune is silly concept, at least at first glance. Yet, no one will hear of the hero’s exploits unless someone that is skilled at retelling the tale of heroic is there to witness them. In so doing, they have to know how to stand their ground and meet dangers head on. So it makes sense that they would use what they are best at to full effect.

To help you flesh out your character, we have 5 questions for you that you, as the player of the bard should be able to answer through your character’s eyes. If you prefer to play a fighter, cleric, or monk, we have 5 questions for them as well. So lets begin.

1) How Long Have You Been Training?

Anyone can move to music. Anyone can pick up an instrument, blow on it or pluck a string, and make noise. Anyone read words on a page while changing pitch. These, however, are not the product of years of training, dedication, and long hard work. That is what you have done. Day in and day out you played your lute until it comes to you as easily as breathing. You strengthening certain muscles while hammering your dulcimer, carrying your tuba, lifting your trombone again, and again, and again. Imagine what it was like, being a child on stage performing your dance routine and years later still performing. Not only are you good, you are captivating, enthralling, mesmerizing, inspiring. Your performances are quite literally magical. What were those long days like? Did you enjoy them or were they downright torture? This is actually the perfect intro to the next question…

2) Why Did You Start Training and Keep Training?

First off, why did you start? Did it seem like fun? Did you try it out and liked it? Were you forced by your parents for some village or clan festival? Trying it is one thing; continuing it is another. Children are notorious for trying something and stopping the moment it gets hard. So why did you stick to it? Did you tell your parents you wanted the instrument, they got it for you, you were unhappy when it got hard and your parents made you continue after they spent the money for it? Did they tell you how proud they were of you for doing so? Were you determined to earn someone’s approval by playing hard? Were you trying to emulate the local performer? What made you keep going when it was hard?

3) How Did You Learn a Bit of Everything?

Bards may not be experts in any one area, but they are darn good at just about everything. They may not be front line fighters but they know how to use a number of weapons well. They may not have the spell breadth of a wizard, but they do have a solid number of spells. Their skill selection is diverse. How are you so well educated, so much of a jack of all trades? Did you get sent to college or did you go to the school of hard knocks? Was far more expected of you than most others or were you naturally gifted at learning anything you were shown once. How are you so good at everything?

4) What Drives You To Be Better?

While this answer should always be, “To be better than I was yesterday,” what fun is there in that? If anything this is a great end point for your character—coming to a point where you are in competition with no one but yourself—but not a good starting point. This is a point of professional conflict with your character. Are you trying to be better than someone you consider your equal, that started around the same time as you, but got all the recognition that you feel you deserve? Perhaps you want to be just like your hero, the one person that got you into performing in the first place. Maybe you have this idealized version of yourself and you are forever striving for it but never attaining it. Over the course of the campaign, you should come to terms that you are only in competition with yourself, and talk to your GM about wanting to explore this in the campaign. Maybe your rival or hero can play a part in the campaign and your character can find a kind of peace when they finally see the truth of the situation. This will make your character engaging long after the campaign is over.

5) What “epicness” does your current group of companions present?

If you are going to tell the tale, sing the songs, perform the scene of the exploits of your character and their adventures, their deeds should be worthy of tales, songs, and plays. Maybe they haven’t done anything yet, but you see the spark inside them. What is it that makes you believe in them, and how does being with them make you believe in yourself more?

Sharem is our signature transman samsaran bard. He remembers himself playing instruments and telling tales in previous incarnations and started playing to connect with his former lives. That is what kept him practicing year after year growing up. Today he is more of an actor than a musician. He makes his performances showy, using his whip whenever possible to swing over the audience. He uses similar showmanship when in the dungeon as well. By keeping the monsters’ attention on himself, his companions can take them down with ease.

Sharem and his fellow adventurers are on the cover of the adventure Deadly Delves: The Gilded Gauntlet. Download this Pathfinder book today using coupon code “holiday2017” to get 30% off this and everything else at the JBE Shop now through January 31, 2018.

Posted on

5 Questions Every Monk Should Be Able to Answer

Monks may not have been in every edition of d20 fantasy games, yet most accept them as one of the core classes. If your only exposure to what a monk should be is by watching Kung Fu or by watching bad (awesome!) martial arts movies, then I recommend checking out a few other sources of inspiration. High up on my list is the movie Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring. It is an excellent movie about the life of a monk. It can help you see a monk as a complex person rather than just someone that wanders around spouting nonsense and calling it wisdom (wah). You could also sign up for some martial arts classes and understand first hand the discipline a monk possesses. Unlike learning sword fighting and casting spells, martial arts classes are relative common and should be taken advantage of if you want to understand how a monk sees the world.

If you want to play a monk, here are five questions that will help you get into your character. See our 5 Questions for fighters and clerics here.

1) Were You Born To This Life, Or Did You Choose It?

The fundamental question, how did you get here? This will alter your world view. If you were raised from a small child to be a monk, you will see their ordered way of life as the only natural way to live. Such an austere lifestyle will be something you do not even question. You will recognize the importance if breathing and how it relates to life and fighting. However, you may always wonder who your parents were and why you were sent to the monks. If you joined a monastery later in life, you may choke at the lack of pleasures, chafe at the rules. Like Doctor Strange, you find it difficult accepting their ways and practices. Yet you choose this life for some reason. What happened that made you see this lifestyle as better than the one you previously choose.

2) Why Did You Start Adventuring?

Unlike classes like fighter and ranger that pretty much require adventuring, monk is one of those classes where it would be completely normal to stay in the building where you train and never go adventuring. So why did you? Did your master send you out in the world to gain experience (not XP) so you can achieve a higher plane of enlightenment? Perhaps you walked out of your own accord, not feeling that the reasons you originally joined changed. Did “real” life happen, like a family member die and you are now just wondering around looking for answers before returning to the monastery? For one fleeting moment, did you achieve enlightenment and now are trying to reattain it?

3) What Do You Think Of The World Outside the Monastery?

Now that you have spent time in the monastery, what is it like going out into the world? If you were raised by monks, this place would be strange, almost alien in the way that people do not treat each other with respect and honor. If anything, the monsters of the world might be more familiar to you since you probably have seen your fair share of them, being away from civilization. If you were raised in civilization and choose the monastic life and then returned to civilization, you would definitely be surprised by how your perspective has shifted. Things that once seemed normal to you would seem completely unreasonable. Your “fish out of water” point of view should be evident whenever you enter town.

4) How Do Your Actions Demonstrate Your Philosophy?

Being a monk means you have a philosophy, a way of looking at the world that is part practical, part mystical. Unlike lawful religion that sees things in start terms—good and bad, holy and unholy, worthy and unworthy—monks tend see the world through the lens of discipline because of their rigorous training. But the specifics of what your monk philosophy are up to you. The real question is how does your actions demonstration what that philosophy is? Do you believe in only defending and will only attack those that attack first? Will you always give someone the option to surrender? Are you careful where you step, always cautious of stepping on a bug or a worm? Will you have tea with your enemies? Always think how your actions are different than a typical fighter. They should be very visible to everyone.

5) What Do You See In Your Fellow Adventurers

For a monk to travel with adventurers is a great honor. It shows that they are worthy of you. What do you see in them in worthy? What sets them apart? You should be able to answer that for each of the characters.

Emberwood choose to join the Cragtree Monastery at age 407. Before then, it found life confusing. Humans did not make any sense. The monks were the first such humans that were logical and saw the world in much the same way. All the other students admired Emberwood for his ability to meditate endlessly, since it did not need to eat or sleep. Now that he is over 1,000 years of age, he is the last of his monastery. The numbers of the Cragtree Monastery dwindled over the intervening centuries and yet Emberwood stayed. It was only the building collapsing under it that broke it from meditation. In all that time, Emberwood never achieved enlightenment like the other monks had. It recalled the words of one of an old master, that enlightenment sometimes comes from strange places. So it went in search of those strange places. It continues to meditate every morning but then continues on seeking what it had not yet achieved.

Emberwood is featured on the cover of the Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Do you prefer 5e? Download his kind’s racial traits today in the Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 2. How about 13th Age? Download the Book of Heroic Races: Age of Races 2 today. Be sure to use coupon code “holiday2017” to get 30% off this and everything else at the JBE Shop now through January 31, 2018.

Posted on

5 Questions Every Cleric Should Be Able to Answer

Last week we posted an article about 5 Questions Every Fighter Should Be Able to Answer. Well, we decided to make that into a series and share with you our thoughts on 5 Questions Every Cleric Should Be Able to Answer. Like last week, this series applies to any d20 fantasy-based game, such as Pathfinder, D&D 5e, 13th Age, or Swords and Wizardry.

Of the core four classes, clerics frequently get the least respect. In books and movies, they seldom have the spotlight. They can fight, but do not have the selection of weapons that a fighter possesses. They can cast spells but not as good as a wizard. In combat, they tend to have to drop what they are doing because the fighter has a boo-boo.

So why play one, other than the party needs a healer? Well, the role playing opportunities are excellent. The class itself is so full character and life that someone playing a cleric should just drink it up. To help you do this, here are 5 questions you should be able to answer when playing a cleric.

1) Why Did You Join This Church?

In all d20 fantasy games gods are as plentiful as puddles after a rain. So why did you join this church? Please note, this question is not, “Why did you join the clergy?” I’m just asking what got your foot in the door initially here. Was it because your parents are dead, and they took you in and raised you? Were you a merchant looking to make important business connections? Did you like the spectacle of their ritual sacrifices? Did a member of the church save you from an undead attack? Were you hedging your bets for the afterlife? Perhaps it was as pedestrian as, you grew up in a small town and it was the only religion in the area. All of these answers will help provide you with a solid foundation for your character.

2) What Made You Join the Clergy?

You could easily have been just a another member that listens to the cleric speak from time to time, made the occasional offering, and lived the rest of your life, but you didn’t. Why? Do you genuinely believe that the deity’s beliefs and methods are something you agree with, and you can see no other way for you to live your life? Do you have a need to tell everyone how much better their lives would be if they just did what your deity said. Were you in some kind of tragic accident/attack that killed everyone in your town/family/etc and the church is all you have left? Is it that you like to kill things, and this is one of the few socially acceptable ways of doing so in a civilized society. Do you crave the power to tell someone that follows the same faith as you what to do, and they do it, no matter what? How about this answer, its just a job. While we have trouble imagining that today, 500-1,000 years ago, being a priest was not a calling of faith but a way to provide a job to the fifth or eighth child of a land owner that didn’t want to split their territory. This is a defining moment in your character’s life, one that keeps you close to the deity’s power. This should not only color how you see the church but the world as well.

3) What Does Your Character Do To Have Fun?

Sure you can play a stereotypical cleric that loves singing the deity’s songs, reading the deity’s holy books, yet even real life clergy get tired of that from time to time. Heck, some even enjoy watching Family Guy. Not many, sure but still. They all have to kick back and relax. Not only that, some are naturally relaxed and can chill with no problem; others never seem to be comfortable having fun. Is your character socially awkward and makes noticeable but cute mistakes trying to fit in while drinking and playing cards? Are they an entertainer that missed their calling and are the life of the party by singing and juggling? Perhaps your character is more studious and is a voracious reader. This question adds a layer of complexity to the character and provides your character with more depth.

4) Where Do You And Your Deity Disagree?

The all to frequent answer to this is, “I don’t know. I never thought of that one before.” Before being asked that question, most players of clerics just substitute their deity’s beliefs for their own and call it a day. Remember, you are playing a person, not a bunch of talking points. Play someone with their own unique point of view. This can be technical, trivial point that no one outside the church’s clergy would care about or this can be as a serious fundamental point? Perhaps it is that you felt the deity should have acted to save someone from harm and the deity failed to do so. This sets up a conflict between the character and a major part of their life. If you want to explore this aspect, make sure you communicate this to your GM to build something with that in your game.

5) What Is Your Relationship To the Rest Of The Group?

Do you see your party as potential converts and are always telling them about why they should kneel before your god’s symbol? Do you see them as allies on a common mission. Are they just comrads in arms or are they friends? Like I said last time, you should definitely trust your party. However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot have a complex relationship with them.

Runa Cloudsoles is our signature dwarven cleric. Her clan worshipped Marduk and joining the clergy was her dream. She seldom had time for fun, working the cloud silver mines to help her family earn a living. Now that she lives on the ground, she is free to seek adventure. While Marduk believes justice should involve an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, she shows mercy more often than others of her order would otherwise be. She sees her fellow adventurers as friends that work towards similar goals: justice, adventure and wealth. Runa, however, wants to use her wealth to talk to her family and find out if they want to live on the ground with her and make a safe and stable place for them. Read more about Runa here.

Pathfinder player? Give your cleric a celtic flare and download Book of the Faithful: Celtic Subdomains today. Do you prefer Fifth Edition? Check out the Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1, which includes the cloud dwarf subrace which Runa is one of.

Posted on

5 Questions Every Fighter Should Be Able To Answer

It doesn’t matter which fantasy game you play: Pathfinder, D&D of any edition, 13th Age, Swords and Wizardry, or any other variation on the game, they all have someone that is easy to for a new person to play that generally involves swinging a sword. Some move onto more complex classes; others stay with their tried and true favorite. No matter how long you have been playing the classic fighter class. Just because the mechanics are not terribly complex does not mean that role playing such a character should be stunted. Fighters can be just as involved and complex characters as any other on the board. To help you get into your character and see the world through their eyes, here are five simple questions that can help you immerse yourself into your character even more.

1) Why Did You Start Fighting?

You didn’t pick up the sword yesterday. You have trained for this. You fought against something and you emerged victorious. What was it? Why did you fight? Did you grow up on the family farm and a spider the size of a dog start spitting its venom at your family nearby and you attacked it with your garden hoe? Did the king conscript you into some battle and you happened to survive? Where you sold into slavery and thrown into a pit with another slave and were told to kill the other before the other slave killed you while the crowd took bets on who survived? No matter how you answer that question it will provide you with a solid foundation for your character.

2) Why Do You Fight Now?

Sure, fighting may not have been your choice before, but why do you do it now? You could be sitting in a tavern drinking, in a mine swinging a pick axe, a local guard, someone in the regular military, someone that loads the cargo docks, or one of a hundred other jobs that will probably see you having a longer life expectancy than walking into a dark cave looking for trouble. Are you on the run from someone more powerful? Perhaps you are trying to avenge the death of someone you held dear. Maybe you already killed the person that murdered your loved one and are now just trying to earn enough money to have the dead person resurrected. Did you return home from the war having seen so much that no one you love wants to be around you anymore? Have you been fighting for so long that you no longer know who you are until you are wearing the armor and swinging your weapon? This will help you find out who this character is on a day to day basis.

3) When Will You Not Fight?

“When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like the nail,” is an apt expression for the fighter. “Something is coming!” “I STAB IT!” Fighters are frequently accursed of being from the “Stab first, ask questions never,” school of thinking. But even they will sheath their swords if the right thing is put in front of them. The question is, what is it for your character. Is it an old war buddy that had your back? An old commander, mentor, teacher, or family member that helped you become what you are today? Perhaps it is a wounded bunny rabbit, even if it is sitting on top of a suspicious-looking tree stump with what could be a weird grin on its front? How about instead of it being something that obvious, you will stay your hand for something less expected, like when a member of a religious order appears, even if you do not appear religious at any other time. Perhaps you will not fight on the anniversary of your parent’s death, and you just won’t tell anyone why you are spending the day in a bar. This question is important because it introduces a source of internal conflict in your character, helping them go from an idea to a person.

4) What Are You Afraid Of?

Everyone is afraid of something. Some won’t admit it, but even they are. Are you a sensible person and are afraid of spiders? Did you see your dead buddies on a battle field being raised before your eyes and now have a terrifying fear of dead bodies just lying around? Is the sound of war drums or the way the ground shakes when cavalry is charging right at you? Is it the musty odor of a dungeon or the putrid smell of rotting corpses? Even worse, is the screams you hear every night as you try to fall asleep that can only be quieted by massive amounts of alcohol? Like the last question, having a fear is a source of internal conflict that provides depth to the character, but it also gives the person a way to grow. By standing up the fears, you can make a character that fights not only the demons on the battlefield but also the demons raging inside.

5) Why Do You Trust The Rest Of The Party?

Please note, I didn’t ask “do you trust the rest of the party?” The answer to that question must be a resounding “Yes.” As someone that has played his fair share of games that involved the rest of the party not trusting each other, it can go bad. Like ending friendships bad. Yes, I am speaking from experience on this. Many campaigns start with the group coming together and that is fine, but after a while you all need to have a talk where everyone finds reasons to trust each other beyond “they fought beside me.” Consider having a session where everyone stays in character the whole time around the fire and everyone gets to know the other characters. You’d be amazed at just how bonding that can be to a group.

What Other Questions Should A Fighter Be Able to Answer? Leave Your thoughts in the comments below.

Darlanrea, the elven fighter, is featured on the cover of our adventure Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin. Download this adventure today for Fifth Edition, Pathfinder RPG, 13th Age, and Swords and Wizardry.