Friday, March 17, 2017

The Lucky Bastard

"Not laughing now, are you?" Darren Bloodmane snarled. He lunged, his rapier cutting the air fast enough to make the tip whistle. Fabian Burne backed away, but not quickly enough. The blade caught one of Fabian's decorative, steel buttons, and turned at the last moment. The steel tore his shirt, and grazed the skin beneath, but a death blow it was not.

Off-balance from his thrust, his sword arm still extended, Darren couldn't parry the shorter blade streaking toward his middle. Fabian buried the sword in the man's guts, and as the light went out in the master swordsman's eyes he whispered, "Don't feel bad, old son. Today was just my lucky day."

Then again, so is every other day.
Luck, as we all know, is a force in Pathfinder. In fact, it's got an entire bonus type all to itself. But building a lucky character isn't as easy as you might think. If you'd like to try your hand at it, though, here's a few tips for putting together you're own Lucky Bastard.

The Lucky Bastard

The first thing you should do is ask where your bastard's luck comes from. Does he have an inkling of fey blood in him? Was she born under a certain star? Did they experience an accident that marked them in a cosmic sense? Or do they just seem to know when to hold 'em, and when to fold 'em?

In short, you need to think about how your character's luck manifests. Is it comical, like the clumsy rogue who always manages to trip just at the right moment, skinning his knee but avoiding the guillotine trap? Or do little chances keep breaking your way, such as when you rushed in head-first, sword drawn, and the crossbow bolt meant for your heart was stopped by a wood-paneled book you were carrying in your jacket pocket? Are you a daring swashbuckler, trusting in skill and good fortune to see you through? Or are you an instrument of fate, acting as a kind of karmic balancer by bringing justice to the wicked, and aid to the wronged?

Shotgun that last one... that one's mine.
Once you know how your luck manifests, though, you need to add a background trait to your character. Fate's Favored, which is a faith trait, automatically increases any luck bonus you're under by +1. Laugh all you want, but ask how many times your success or failure has depended on an extra +1. You might be surprised at the answer. The next thing you should look over is this list of luck bonuses. It will take a while, but I'll be here when you get back.

Finished? Lovely.

As you can see, you've got several options depending on what you want to do, and how extreme you're shooting for. For instance, do you just want to take advantage of items that grant you a luck bonus? The Luck Blade is the most well-known, granting you a +2 to your saves (and now a +3) while you have it. There's also the 4-leaf clover which adds a +2 luck bonus (now a +3) to one check three times per day. Or there's the lucky horseshoe, which grants you a +1 luck bonus to all saves (+2 now), and a +4 luck bonus on one save once per day (now a +5).

If you want to be able to control luck as a class feature, though, the most obvious choice is the Indiana Jones reference that is the Archaeologist bard archetype. Your bardic performance only enhances you, and it's a luck bonus, which would allow you to benefit from yourself, as well as the competence or morale bonus of another bard if you were lucky enough to travel with one. And you could boost it by +1, thanks to Fate's Favored. However, you can still get some good mileage out of cleric and warpriest spells, like Divine Favor, Divine Power, Prayer, and several others.

Then there's the racial features. Half-orcs can gain Sacred Tattoo, which grants them a +1 luck bonus on saving throws (now a +2). Halflings can take the adaptable luck feature, which allow them to gain a +2 luck bonus (now a +3) 3 times per day on any ability check, attack roll, saving throw, or skill check. There are some others, but these two are the best known, and most widely available since they're base book races.

You Ready To Roll The Dice?

The last thing you should ask is what does your character do with their luck? Are they an itinerant gambler moving from place to place, like you find in my Doc Holliday character conversion? Are they a daring soldier? A charismatic thief? Do they serve a church, or a kingdom, or do they only work to their own ends? Do they take their luck for granted? Or do they go through odd rituals to make sure whatever favor fate has shown them doesn't abandon them at the worst, possible moment?

That's all for this week's Unusual Character Concept. It's a little crunchier than I've been in a while, but hopefully folks enjoy the numbers on this one. If you'd like to support Improved Initiative so I can keep doing more of these, then drop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron. For as little as $1 a month you can buy my everlasting gratitude, and you get free gaming swag to sweeten the deal. Lastly, if you haven't followed me on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter yet, now would be an excellent time to start.

1 comment:

  1. In the last campaign I played in, I got incredible mileage out of Fate's Favored when my GM let us pick a template with a CR adjustment of +1 to apply to our characters. I chose Fortune-Blessed.

    So good.