Welcome to Guidance, Private Sanctuary’s source for tips and techniques for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to be looking at an Iconic Design for Mr. Nintendo himself, Mario!
Well, Christmas has come and gone, and to wrap up my Iconic Christmas 2014, I couldn’t think of a better character to design for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game than Mario Mario himself! Lets get to it.
From Wikipedia (because this holiday season, I’m lazy):
Mario was originally portrayed as a two-dimensional sprite, but in later games, he is shown as a three-dimensional, polygonal model. He is depicted as a portly plumber who lives in the fictional land of the Mushroom Kingdom with Luigi, his younger, taller brother. In the television series and film, Mario and Luigi are originally from Brooklyn, New York. Little is known of Mario’s childhood, though the infant version of Mario, Baby Mario, first appeared in 1995 in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island.
Alright, so when I think of “Mario,” especially in an RPG sense, I immediately think of Paper Mario, which was a turn-based RPG, similar to a Final Fantasy game. The build I’m going to present is a mix of the Nintendo 64 Mario and Paper Mario as a result.
- Monk: Although Mario is from Brooklyn, I think the monk class (specifically an archetyped version of the monk) best represents Mario’s abilities.
- Qinggong Monk: Okay, the first of two archetypes that we’ll need to build Mario is the qinggong monk. This will let us trade around some not-so-Mario abilities for much more on-theme ones.
- Maneuver Master: Mario is REALLY good at grabbing, tripping, and throwing enemies around, especially in games like Super Smash Bros and Mario 64. This archetype also removes flurry of blows, which drops Mario’s base attack bonus to 3/4th. Although this usually isn’t preferred, it does fit somewhat with Mario’s role as “Mr. Average” in virtually every game that he’s appeared in.
So, how am I going to take these parts and cobble them into a Mario build? Well, let’s move on to the meat of the article and see!
Early Levels (1–7)
- Classes: Monk (maneuver master, qinggong monk) 7
- Feats: Martial Weapon Proficiency (Human), Improved Trip (Bonus), Improved Unarmed Strike (Bonus), Ki Throw (1st Level), Improved Bull Rush (Bonus), Improved Ki Throw (3rd), Combat Reflexes (5th), Improved Trip (Bonus), Combat Expertise (7th)
- Abilities: evasion, fast movement, flurry of maneuvers, high jump, ki pool (cold iron, magic, silver), ki powers (scorching ray), maneuver defense, maneuver training, meditative maneuver, reliable maneuver, stunning fist, unarmed strike (1d8)
All right, early levels! First off, the key goal of the build is to get through the Ki Throw feat chain as quickly as possible, which is achieved via the maneuver master archetype. Maneuver master allows us to take the Improved combat maneuver feats ridiculously early, so by choosing Improved Trip as Mario’s first feat (a sliding kick to be sure), all of the requirements for Ki Throw are met. I also picked up Martial Weapon Proficiency for Mario’s human bonus feat because there wasn’t much else to give him so early in the game and I wanted Mario to be proficient with hammers for obvious reasons. (Get a good, old-fashioned returning hammer and go to town!) If you don’t need that feat, I would recommend bumping Combat Expertise (which is needed for a later feat) down to 1st Level, which would allow you to take Spinning Ki Throw at 7th level instead of 8th level.
Early on, we trade wholeness of body for scorching ray, which is going to represent our fire flower-given fireball attack. We also get high jump so Mario can pull off his iconic jumps as well as a few neat maneuver-based tricks from the maneuver master archetype. Early on, Mario’s goal is going to be to trip folks and then toss them around using Ki Throw, which is neat. Improved Ki Throw is the real winner, as it’ll let you bull rush your enemies after you trip them, which could allow you to send them flying backwards; exactly what we wanted!
Let’s see how the build progresses into the mid-levels.
Mid Levels (8 –14)
- Classes: Monk (maneuver master, qinggong monk) 14
- Feats: Martial Weapon Proficiency (Human), Improved Trip (Bonus), Improved Unarmed Strike (Bonus), Ki Throw (1st Level), Improved Bull Rush (Bonus), Improved Ki Throw (3rd), Combat Reflexes (5th), Improved Trip (Bonus), Combat Expertise (7th), Spinning Ki Throw (9th), Greater Bull Rush (Bonus), Enhanced Ki Throw (11th), Improved Grapple (13th), Greater Grapple (Bonus)
- Abilities: evasion, fast movement, flurry of maneuvers, improved evasion, high jump, ki pool (cold iron, lawful, magic, silver), ki powers (Power Attack, scorching ray), maneuver defense, maneuver training, meditative maneuver, reliable maneuver, stunning fist, sweeping maneuver, unarmed strike (2d6)
Moving on, you’ll notice that Mario gets even better at throwing his enemies around as he picks up Spinning Ki Throw and Greater Bull Rush for maximum pain from the throw. I also use the quinggong monk to pick up Power Attack. Mario also gains some neat grappling tricks in this stage of the game, allowing him to grab opponents if he needs to.
The maneuver master archetype, despite not having a full base attack bonus, has some great special abilities, such as sweeping maneuver, which allows the monk to make two combat maneuver checks as a standard action. Theoretically speaking, you could trip someone, send them flying with Improved Ki Throw, follow the bull rush via the bull rush rules, and then do It all again with a second trip attempt. I’d have to check the rules on that one, but it sounds pretty sweet as a concept!
- Classes: Monk (maneuver master, qinggong monk) 20
- Feats: Martial Weapon Proficiency (Human), Improved Trip (Bonus), Improved Unarmed Strike (Bonus), Ki Throw (1st Level), Improved Bull Rush (Bonus), Improved Ki Throw (3rd), Combat Reflexes (5th), Improved Trip (Bonus), Combat Expertise (7th), Spinning Ki Throw (9th), Greater Bull Rush (Bonus), Enhanced Ki Throw (11th), Improved Grapple (13th), Greater Grapple (Bonus), Extra Ki (15th), Extra Ki (17th), Bull Rush Strike (Bonus), Extra Ki (Bonus)
- Abilities: evasion, fast movement, flurry of maneuvers, improved evasion, high jump, ki pool (adamantine, cold iron, lawful, magic, silver), ki powers (Crippling Critical, Greater Blind-Fight, Lightning Stance, Power Attack, Punishing Kick, scorching ray, slow fall), maneuver defense, maneuver training, meditative maneuver, reliable maneuver, slow fall, stunning fist, sweeping maneuver, tongue of the soon and moon, unarmed strike (2d10)
Final build! Some neat stuff here, designed to help Mario be more like Mario. In my head, Bull Rush Strike is like the “smash attack” of the build, where a good critical hit will send a foe flying away from you. I also picked up Spider Step, which allows you to climb as though you had spider climb, to represent Mario’s wall jumping abilities. (This is also the main reason I bought back slow fall.)
Monk has a lot of not-Mario abilities towards the end game, so I traded quivering palm, timeless body, empty body, and perfect self for Punishing Kick, Greater Blind-Fight, Lightning Stance, and Crippling Critical, respectively. I kept tongue of the sun and moon because Mario literally talks to EVERYTHING. Mushrooms, penguins, you name it, he’s probably talked to it in one game or another. Overall, these components lead to a neat Mario build that is as effective as it is awesome.
Well, folks, that wraps up my Iconic Christmas special. What do you think? Would you play a Mr. Nintendo Build, or is there too many combat maneuvers and not enough bonuses to hit for your taste? Did you enjoy a whole week of Iconic Design? Would you want to see me do it again in the future? How would you have built Mario? Leave your answers and comments below, and I’ll see you next week for the final article of 2014! Hooray!
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex’s favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune plumber. No, not the Ben 10 kind.
You can’t trade out higher level abilities for Slow Fall because the Monk technically has Slow Fall already, it’s just been replaced. See this FAQ (http://paizo.com/paizo/faq/v5748nruor1fz#v5748eaic9qnl)
“Note that if the second archetype replaces a standard monk ability, the character cannot select that replaced ability at a later monk level. For example, the qinggong/healing hand monk can never select wholeness of body, even at a level higher than 7th. In effect, the character has selected wholeness of body at 7th and immediately replaced it with a healing hand ability; as the qinggong archetype only lets you select an ability later if the character “selects a different ki power in place of a standard monk ability” (which didn’t occur), that option is not available for the character.”
So this means your Monk can never gain access to Slow Fall, which means he can’t take Spider Step either.
Despite the flaw that Darrell has pointed out, I think this is a really fun build!
As someone who has never really played a maneuvers based character, it is perhaps a bit over my head in places… yet it seems very cool.
Hope you had a great Christmas and have a fantastic new year, Alex.