Since 2015, the DovahQueen has been taking your questions and giving advice to improve your games. Now the tables are turned in this DovahQueen series; Loren is asking the questions and a panel of guests answers. It’s time to Bend the Knee!
First, let’s meet today’s guests.
Guests – MNmaxed
MNmaxed is an Actual Play podcast focusing on Pathfinder 2nd Edition. We’re a group of longtime friends and fellow adventurers who first had the idea to make an actual play podcast of our shenanigans way back in 2013. At the time we had no good way to record things so it got put on the back burner.
Fast-forward to August of 2019 and the release of Pathfinder 2e. We decided that we wanted to launch this podcast thing in earnest and to coincide it with the launch of this new system which we were all excited to play. We got our Core rulebooks on a Friday, had our session 0 and character creation episode up on Saturday, and our first episode of Fall of Plaguestone (Paizo’s short introductory adventure for PF2e) on Sunday.
It’s been a whirlwind since then and all of us are astonished at and so grateful for the success we’ve found. The show is reasonably popular as far as actual play podcasts go, we have an amazing community of people in our listeners and Discord, and more support through Patreon than we ever thought we would.
MNmaxed aims to be a place where people can come not only for fun and entertaining adventures, but also to learn how to play this great system from Paizo. We strive to be as rules accurate as possible and take a bit of time to talk about game mechanics as we go without interrupting the narrative flow. We strive to be TTRPG ambassadors and we believe these games are for everyone. You can find out more about us at mnmaxed.com
Swany: The Ruleslawyer
Hello I’m Swany. I am the rules lawyer for MNmaxed. I make sure we stay as rules legit as possible while we play Pathfinder 2e and Starfinder. IRL I am a CPA for a small accounting firm in Southern Minnesota where I am part owner. Contrary to many of my D&D friends, I enjoy watching sports, mainly football and baseball. I have a couple tattoos and am looking to get more.
I have been playing TTRPGs for about 18 years. While I have mainly played Paizo products in the last decade, I started with D&D right around the 3-3.5 transition. Like many, the switch to 4e pushed me towards Pathfinder 1e and have been playing ever since. I love the character options of Pathfinder. I enjoy making characters that I will likely never play as there just isn’t enough time to play that many campaigns and I love my characters too much to let them die. When I am not working on the podcast I am spending time with my wife and two kids, playing softball or playing video games.
David: The Talent
Hey there! I’m David, the Talent of MNmaxed. I do all the editing and production for our podcast which I thoroughly enjoy. I’m an audio nerd and I love this stuff.
I started playing TTRPGs with 3rd edition when I was 14, more than two decades ago. My friend wanted to run an epic level campaign which was a great introduction on how not to play D&D. I rolled d20s for my abilities and added my attack modifier to damage. Some might argue I haven’t gotten much better at the rules in these subsequent 20 years.
I’ve been doing music since I was 3 years old and it’s my biggest passion. I sometimes write music for the show and have played in bands for longer than I’ve played TTRPGs. I also do some voice acting, primarily audiobooks. I have a normal dumb job too but it’s boring and nobody cares.
I’m the only member of MNmaxed who doesn’t live in MN. I’m a traitor and escaped down to Florida because if I had to spend one more winter in the frozen north I think what little sanity I have left would’ve been wrenched from me for good. Also this way I get to celebrate the Buccs winning the Superbowl because Kurgess knows the Vikings won’t manage it in my lifetime.
Outspoken anti-racist, anti-fascist, LGBTQ+ advocate.
Ted: The “New Guy”
Hi my name is Ted. I started TTRPGs about 6 years ago playing Pathfinder 1st edition with this same group of guys. Since then I have played a little bit of Starfinder and now primarily just play Pathfinder 2nd edition. I got into the TTRPG scene a bit later than most as I was in my mid 20s and honestly it wasn’t something I ever expected to get into. I had worked with Tyler, David, and Spencer but only really knew Tyler who was on the same team as I at our workplace. One day Tyler convinced me to sit in on a Pathfinder 1e session because he thought it was something that might interest me. After about an hour of spectating his group which consisted of the current core MNmaxed team I was already trying to figure out how to build (and to be honest totally break) my first character. Since then I have been playing with these same people every week.
After 6 years of playing Pathfinder I have never completed a full length adventure path from start to finish. Our podcast’s playthrough of Extinction Curse should be my first adventure path completion unless we somehow TPK…
Tyler: The Game Master
Tyler here! I’m the Game Master for the Pathfinder Second Edition shows in the MNmaxed Podcast. I started my dive into the world of table top RPGs as a pre-teen, cramped around a small kitchen table with my best friends. Wow, did we struggle to get the rules right. With hardly any understanding of the system, let alone how to make a character properly, we were describing our characters to each other in vivid detail. Rolling dice against the monster stat blocks. Celebrating natural 20s; lamenting natural 1s. I knew I was hooked, and that was just day one.
I could go on about how every summer for the rest of my time at home was spent playing and thinking about Dungeons & Dragons. Instead, I’m going to speak briefly about one of my favorite things about the hobby: The Table.
The Table is an engine. As a construct, The Table facilitates a space for interpersonal relationships, community building, and most importantly; provides a vehicle for empathy. The opportunity to try and put yourself into someone else’s shoes. If The Table is open and welcoming, it can really allow players to see situations from a different perspective. Working together with their fellow players to overcome challenges as a team.
As much as I love playing around our “Table”, I have a real passion for bringing new people into the game. Inviting them to leave the real world at the door and go on an adventure. Watching a new player light up when they hit that moment that hooks them brings me so much joy.
For the shows, instead of a seat at my Table, I offer you a view into mine. The MNmaxed podcast is how my friends and I play the game. Do we focus on the rules? Yes, The Table loves that. Do we focus on the story? Of course, we’re taking characters we’ve put time into conceiving through these adventures. But both of those elements take a back seat to what truly got us all into this hobby in the first place. Having a good time with your friends.
Hey Spencer here, little about my tabletop history i’ve been playing for over 15 years, 8 of which have been with the same group of guys (MnMaxed). Started playing with DnD 3.5 which I always loved for the amount of content available to build some truly crazy builds, which is what led me to play Pathfinder when it came out and never looked back at DnD. The majority of all the characters I build are hybrid classes druid,magus,warpriest etc. I’m not the best “roleplayer” but I do have a knack for making some really good builds and loving rolling dice. Most of the characters I have built come from the same family of dwarves called the Hicberns, who all run a syrup farm. It sounds silly because that’s all it is. I was definitely hesitant about moving to Pathfinder 2e mainly because I was worried it would take the same approach as Starfinder, which I could never get invested in, but after starting the podcast with 2e I have absolutely loved it.
It’s time to start a new campaign with fresh level 1 characters. Everyone already has all of these really cool ideas for their next character. You *would’ve* had a really great idea too, but all of the classes you like have already been taken or are off the table for some other reason. This time, you have little to no choice; you’re going to have to play your least favorite class AND you’re going to have to do a bang up job with it since everyone else already has such great character concepts they’re going to play.
What is your least favorite class to play and why? How would you build a really cool and interesting character using that class so that you could actually enjoy playing it?
This is likely a strange answer but here it goes. I have trouble picking a least favorite class. I can find something I like in any of them. But if i had to pick one it would be the Paladin. Not because I have anything against the features but because how most people I’ve played with play them as Lawful Stupid. You know the trope, send paladin away so they don’t see you doing anything questionable. When they return and the guy is dead everyone shrugs and the Paladin is ok with it. This feeling of being trapped into playing a certain way is what makes me dislike the Paladin more than the rest.
To play the Paladin I would have to fight the urges to play them too Good. I don’t think they have to be a saint to be a Paladin. Just generally be a good person and follow your God’s tenets. I would build a backstory to explain how and why I became a Paladin and why I picked a certain deity. Having a fleshed out backstory with motivations always makes me enjoy a character more. Those motivations would then help me decide how I would react to certain situations instead of falling back on the Lawful Stupid stereotype. A lot of my enjoyment in playing a character is how I perceive them and do they actually come across to the party as such. I also enjoy taking random stats and seeing how I can make them into an interesting character. So playing a class I don’t like doesn’t really bother me.
You ever take one of those tests where it tells you what D&D class and ancestry you are? I mean, if you’re reading this there’s literally a 0% chance you haven’t, don’t lie you liar. You clicked on it, you dealt with the ads and the shoddy scrolling, you answered the questions, then you pretended the answer was actually what you wanted JUST LIKE THE REST OF US.
So I always take those and deliberately answer in a way to NOT get what I know my IRL class is. I know I’m a bard. Hanging out with friends who play TTRPGs there will inevitably be a time(s) when everyone starts figuring out what everyone’s IRL class is and I am literally the easiest one, everyone knows I’m a bard. And I hate bards.
TTRPGs are where I go for escapism. If I wanted to be a creative artistic type who is totally useless I can just look in the mirror.
From a mechanical standpoint I always felt bards were the weakest class in 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder 1e. I think that disposition has just stuck with me and has compounded upon my dislike for playing myself in a TTRPG. Consequently I haven’t even read the bard entry in the Pathfinder 2e Core and I produce a popular Pathfinder 2e podcast and the system has been out for going on 2 years.
HOWEVER! I did play a bard once. I cast boring buff spells and I showed up to every session with my mandolin and sang narration for what my character was doing because, go all in. The main thing is I will always enjoy getting together with my friends and playing TTRPGs. It’s pretty much my whole social life these days and I love it.
I don’t really have a least favorite class because if I ever find myself getting bored with a character I just look at multiclassing them. I feel like if you ever find yourself disliking what you are playing you just need to change what they do. That could be adding a spell casting aspect or finding a way to expand on the things you do like about your character. Pathfinder 2e is a perfect system to be able to make your character into anything you want it to be.
Least favorite is tough. Of course part of me wants to say I’d love to play any class. Then I started thinking about the classes I have gotten to play, and I have fond memories of characters using all of the core classes.
Big dumb brute gets angry and smashes things is a character troupe that doesn’t appeal to me as a player. Don’t get me wrong, I get why people love it. That’s just not my jam.
So let’s make it work. Lightening theory crafting time. I want a character who isn’t dumping intelligence for the sake of the flavor of big dumb barbarian. Rage will be a meaningful and impactful choice for this character. He’s smart, he doesn’t want to Rage, as violence shouldn’t be the answer. Sometimes though, sometimes it is the answer. A decision that hurts this character.
This is ringing a lot of bells for me. So to save time, let’s pick a character in fiction that fits. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde meets our criteria pretty nicely.
Now we’re in it. Human Barbarian with the alchemist dedication at second level. How can we show the bestial transformation to Mr. Hyde? Well, fitting to our fictional character base would be the Bestial Mutagen from the PF2 Core Rulebook. Claws? Check. Fangs? Check. Draw the mutagen, gulp it down, and realize in horror that you’ve done it again (ie Rage) . We’re using an entire round for setup though. If we’re lucky the GM might allow that to go off prior to combat, but that won’t always be a guarantee. And we’ll only get a limited number of mutagens per day, so hand to hand combat goes out the window as soon as you’re out.
Okay, I can accept the one round setup. It’s filled with flavor, and if you’ve listened to our Starfinder game at all… I am more than willing to be sub-optimal for flavor.
So let’s find some other way to get our claws and fangs, to allow flexibility in our alchemy choices during daily preparation. Lucky me! The bear animal instinct gives both claws and fangs! Perfect, now we can drink any alchemical item we can create. This gives us a ton more utility, for both us and the party. Perfect!
We know we’ll be getting a lot of the raw power for this build from Barbarian Class Feats, but we also need to sprinkle in those alchemist feats too. So we’ll likely switch back and forth between the two when we get to pick them up every other level. That handles our combat prowess as well as utility through alchemical items.
Last thing will be to find a way to express our character’s scholarly pursuits. Well, since we need at least an Intelligence of 14 for that alchemist dedication. We’re not completely starved for skills. There’s also the option to go with a background that leans into this. Scholar (Occultism) comes to mind. Train in as many knowledge skills as we dare without neglecting the physical skills like Athletics.
With all those skills, now we get access to some fun skill feats that show off our superior intellect. Feats like Eye For Numbers, Glean Contents, Schooled in Secrets, Multilingual. There are so many to choose from. I would lean into whatever fits best into his experience up til that point in the adventure, or lean into an aspect I’m having fun role playing.
Here we are, at the end of talking about how I’d make my least favorite class fun, and now I want to play this character! Curses!
On the question of least favorite class I have never liked paladin/champion mainly because of the lawful guideline and being religious. One of our campaigns we rolled to see what class and race we would play and I ended up getting stuck with the champion. It was also the first character I played in 2e, so not knowing much of the new edition i had a hard time making the character something I enjoyed playing. I think if I were to play one again I would definitely multiclass into a caster class and try not to think about the lawful stuff as much.
I’ve heard from my guests; now I want to hear from you. What’s your style? Leave a comment below, on our Discord, or on Know Direction’s Facebook page.