Hey everyone! Thanks for checking into another installment of Guidance!
Like I mentioned last week, I’m getting ready for James’s Dead Suns adventures, and boy am I excited. So far, our group has me (soldier) and ours friend Robyn (armor solarian), Tom (mystic of Triune), and Vic (exocortex mechanic). Things are really heating up as we get closer and closer to our December start date, but in my experience, the most important prep work isn’t your character build. It’s the mountains of bling that you bring with you to the game!
And what kind of bling am I talk about? Thanks for asking, because today in Starfleet Design, I’m going to be talking about how to design YOUR materials for an adventure path! Let’s get started.
1. The Character Sheet
You absolutely NEED to have a character sheet for your adventures, am I right? I mean, I guess you could write everything on paper, but man, I like the nice printed ones you can get online. So you can obviously get the free character sheet from Paizo’s website, but $5.00 isn’t a HUGE amount of money, so I decided to purchase the Starfinder Player Character Folio PDF and check it out. See if it was for me.
So, what’s my final verdict? I like the Starfinder Player Character Folio, but its page order is kind of weird. Like, it puts your class page towards the back of the folio. That’s odd to me. Also, I don’t really need a page devoted to spellcasting on my soldier. What I ended up doing is use the Split PDF website to take my PDF and split it into its component pages. Then I went into the pages I split, took the ones I wanted, put them into the order I liked, then used PDF Merge, a separate website to recombine them into a single document for easy printing. That way I have the pages I want in an order that makes sense to me. (Although I think I’m totally going to keep these helpful rules pages for our table. Especially for the Starship Combat stuff.)
2. The Character Miniature
Maybe you’re not like me (I’m pretty weird), but I LOVE having physical representations of my characters. It really helps me envision and visualize what they look like, which in turn helps me roleplay them—it makes me feel more intimate with them. You guys already know that I made this miniature—you can see it in my Starfleet Design article that I wrote for my soldier last week. What you might not know is where I got it, and Okay, I used Hero Forge. Yeah, I know they can be expensive and it’s always a risk to have a miniature made for a campaign that you haven’t started yet, but this group isn’t typical. James (our GM) and I have been playing with Robyn (armored solarian player) for almost two years now—she is our Reign of Winter GM, a campaign that we’re currently on Book 6 of, a campaign we’re actually scheduled to finish before the end of this year. With such reliable friends, I felt like I could take a risk on a Hero Forge mini for this character. And if it doesn’t pan out, meh. Worse to worse I could play the character in PFS and reuse it there.
Hero Forge’s Sci-Fi selection isn’t great, but I imagined to make a character that I was REALLY happy with. I ordered it in their black acrylate because I like that material best; the detail is awesome, and I would rather have a mini that looked good at the table that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg (I’m looking at YOU, bronze option). After a few hours of painting, my mini was good to go! If you want to check out what my Hero Forge mini looks like in glorious 3D rendering, follow this link!
3. The Character Illustration
Hey, so I REALLY like having physical AND artistic representations of my characters. Because I am visually-oriented and self-indulgent. (This surprises no one, because literally I literally made my kitsune character, Kyr’shin, into the mascot for my company’s Pathfinder line.) So yeah, I went and hired an artist (in this case, Jacob Blackmon) to draw my character for me. I even gave him my mini and my Hero Forge rendering to help him do it! Jacob’s great because he’s super fast (he did the whole picture in two or three days), and I like his graphic novel look for Starfinder illustrations. It cost $50.00 for the piece, and let me take off my blogger hat for a second and put on my Everyman Gaming hat before I continue, Jacob’s prices are SUPER fair. I’m making a point to mention this because I know a TON of people who don’t know what art is worth, so I’m telling you. Super. Fair.
Anyway, you can see Jacob’s picture of my character to the left. If you compare it to my Hero Forge mini and my paint job, it’s REALLY good. It’s really got the “Piecemail MSG: Barbatos” color scheme that I was going for down, and I’m super happy with it.
So now I have a sweet character sheet, an awesome mini, and a sick illustration. What’s next?
You find me a Pathfinder player who wasn’t at least a little excited by that giant picture of dice, and I’ll find a liar for you!
Dice are the BEST, and I like to keep a set specific to my AP characters in my binder so I absolutely never forget them. But this can be kind of expensive, because I like having a TON of dice. We’re talking 10+ d6s, 10+ d8s, 10+d12s, 10+d4s, a couple of d10s, and one of those fancy d% dice in case I fight in the dark or something. Now, luckily, I have a HUGE store of dice saved up—specifically, I’ve bought a few of those Chessex Pound of Dice a few times, so I have PLENTY. But I also like when my dice are themed if possible, so I went through my stash and picked all of the red, white, and blue ones to match my character’s color designs. And, wouldn’t you know it, I had enough dice in those colors at my house to fill out a respectable set. But now, what to put them in….
5. Pencil Pouch
A STAPLES PENCIL POUCH, OF COURSE! We’re getting into dangerous territory, folks—as a classically trained educator AND a gamer, there is NOTHING in the world that I like more then office supplies, and naturally I bring that irrational love with me into ALL my gaming outlets! So, pencil pouch! I like to stick my dice into the front pocket and oooooooh. They buldge and look so great! They stay in place, they travel with me, they don’t fall out because zippers are awesome. But man, they have those three rings on them. I wonder what I should do with….
6. 3-Ring Binder
A STAPLES 3-RING BINDER! Holy crow, this is the absolute PERFECT thing to go with my pencil pouch! Look, it has three rings, it has this nice little plastic folder thing that I can put stuff in on its leftmost side. And I can even pull out the little piece of white paper and label it as “Shoku — Dead Suns” so I can pull it quickly off of my desk’s shelf. I prefer the 1 inch D-series binders because they look snazzy and are built to last. They handle VERY well to wear-and-tear, and that is super important to m, a gamer who is likely to get into all sorts of binder-destroying shenanigans with his friends. But gee, these binders have those nice little inner pockets I was talking about. If only I had something to put in there….
7. Spiral Notebook
A SPIRAL NOTEBOOK FROM STAPLES! It’s a no-brain buy because their colors match the colors of the 3-Ring binders, meaning that EVERYTHING MATCHES! I go hard-core with my spiral notebooks; I use the mostly for tracking loot that we find (although for Dead Suns I’m going to try and start using them to write down plot-important information too). Starting on the 1st page, I usually write the date we met, the scenario / encounter we were in, and the look we got AND who got it. I also have a system for when things are sold and distributed using check boxes. Then, starting from the last page, I start a party loot fund—the party fund is a small fraction of all money that we find that goes into a nest egg for if people die or we need to buy consumables or spell regents. We have money set aside for that stuff so no one needs to go begging. Its fiscal responsibility at its finest! So far things are looking great, but I feel like I’m missing something. Specifically in my snazzy pencil case…OH!
8. Ticonderoga Pencils
THE CADILLAC OF PENCILS! No seriously, these are the best pencils in the world and I will fight you over it. Sure, they break sometimes and their points aren’t ALWAYS perfect, but they FEEL so smooth! Their erasers are super strong too, and they erase cleanly. Sure, you can TECHNICALLY use whatever you want for your binders and whatnot, but personally I only use the STRONGEST materials for my AP characters!
9. Finishing Touches
The last thing that I like to have for my characters is an initiative tent. I don’t know if James is going to use them, but I like having a little piece of paper with all my character’s stats on them, especially since I go to the trouble to have illustrations for my characters. Stick my character’s illustrated face on a card and give it to James! I don’t have one of these made for my character yet, but I’m working on it. But with that, I am DONE!
So, what do you guys think of my prep work? Am I insane? Overbearing? A genius? ALL OF THE ABOVE?! Leave your questions and answers below, and stay tuned for next week when I finish my “Dead Suns Prep” series by talking about my character’s backstory, and how I design characters for play. Trust me, it’ll be FUN to read about my character! Stick around, and see you next week!
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 also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.